AN: Sorry this took so long to get posted. Life has been a bit crazy for the past few weeks, but hopefully it'll be calming down soon, which will allow for more frequent posts. Hopefully, you all will like this!
Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled. Disney does.
In his life, there had been many times that Eugene had been afraid.
When he had been an orphan, he had been afraid of the dark, scared that the monsters that the older children said haunted the orphanage after sunset would come and get him, stealing him away for their midnight feast. When he had been a thief, he had been afraid that, one of those days, he would finally be captured by the guards and hung, sent to meet Death long before his natural time. More recently, he had often been afraid that his hopefully future royal in-laws would find some fault with him and declare him unfit to court their daughter, banishing him not only from the castle, but forcing him away as far as they could to keep him from her.
But never had he been more afraid, more terrified, then when he saw Rapunzel trying to climb onto the back of Corona's most feared war horse so the two of them could go for a ride through the country.
Not that you could tell just by looking at the creature that she was really a blood thirsty death bringer that was still picking bits of brain matter out of her hooves five years after the last border skirmish. In fact, just looking at her, without the prior knowledge of her history, one would think that she was the perfect horse for a beginning rider. With her pure black coat, her small stature, almost three hands shorter then any of the other horses in the stables, and her large brown eyes, one could be fooled into believing that the monster before him was a sweet as a puppy.
That someone would be wrong and most likely dead.
A few years before hand, tempers had run a bit high between Corona and one of her neighboring countries over a question of land ownership. Nothing big really, just a particularly wet summer had caused a lake on the border to expand into the other country and the people living nearby had started to fish in it, catching what they could and poisoning the rest. The situation had quickly, in his own opinion, gotten out of hand, and within a few weeks of the matter first coming to light, the King had rode out with his army to settle the matter once and for all through war.
And he had ridden out on the back of a young, untried mare named Destiny.
Many had claimed that the King had finally gone insane, his madness taking the form of his insistence that he would use a horse that was barley strong enough to carry his weight as his charger, a horse that had never seen battle and had been breed to be used as a trainer, to help get new guards use to riding a horse. She was unfit for the challenges of war, and the King was going to get himself killed riding her.
Then came the battle.
A master of trickery and deceit, Eugene had easily been able to avoid getting tangled up within that silly battle that had commenced over a few dead fish, though he had been able to understand the villager's anger when he visited their warehouse one night and found it empty of anything of value. But even with all his pretense, even he hadn't been spared the gruesome details that had followed many of the men home a week later, scared in mind if not body.
"A monster," they had whispered, huddled into balls over a mug of beer, trying to drown away the thoughts that had plagued them for so long. "A demon in a horse's body, thirsty for the blood of the enemies of the man who had somehow tamed the beast and set it to his will. A creature like no other, one that took its greatest pleasure in using it's steeled hooves to smash their heads in and devouring their brains, always hungering for more."
Of course, they had also said more, the poor men raving like lunatics about 'eyes of fire' and 'commanding the shadows.' They had gone on and on about how the King had returned covered in blood each night for the three days the war had raged, though his sword had never left its scabbard. And they had always ended their tales with a body count greater then any man could have, each time raising the number until it sounded like the horse was Death herself. Most of the men that had accompanied the King were now housed deep within the kingdom's asylums, locked away from the world where they could do no harm, to themselves or others.
Eugene couldn't help but feel as if he wanted to join them.
The moment the horse had been brought out into the courtyard, a chill had fallen over all who were present, their very souls shuddering at the vibe of darkness that had rolled away from her flanks, as if the Sun itself forsook her presence. The pronounce limp in her twisted back leg did nothing to sooth her glare, the flames in her eyes dancing as she watched, waiting for the perfect moment to strike the decisive blow that would end them all. The rippling scars that traced her body sang of the few battles she had been in before a lucky sword strike to her flank had ended her days as a war horse, keeping her locked within the castle as a breeder for future stallions that would one day lead the charge against the threat of Corona. Although each one was only a fraction as bloodthirsty as she was legend to be, they were all just as or even more fierce then she could have ever been.
It made sense, considering Maximus was their father.
But it was not these facts and legends that scared Eugene the most. In fact, had it not been for one thing, he would have felt comforted in her presence, safe in the knowledge that, no matter what, his beloved would be safe upon her. Except for one, little thing. The thing that scared Eugene the most was that Destiny, the pretty pony from Hell, hated Rapunzel.
Glancing up at the horse that stood besides him, Eugene was shocked to find that even Maximus, the Head of the Royal Guard, was shying away at the sight of his mate, his terrified eyes never leaving her twisted scowl as he slowly backed away, quietly trying to escape notice for as long as he could. Nervously patting his friend upon the nose, Eugene watched as Rapunzel timidly began to walk forward, her hand hesitantly stretched out to lightly touch the mare on the nose, her fingers shaking slightly as the creature's eyes continued to bore into her, never once blinking as she watched the princess's approached. Not a single whispered words left the lips of those who watched, their hearts pounding faster and faster as the girl they had all sworn to protect came within inches of the most dangerous beast to reside within Corona's wall, sure that within moments, there would no longer be a princess at all.
A collective sigh of relief echoed threw the halls of the castle as Rapunzel's unharmed hand lighted gently against Destiny's nose, a look of wonder crossing her face at her achievement even as the horse let out an irritated snort, rolling her eyes in disgust at the woman before.
A sense of victory falling over all present, it didn't take long before Destiny was saddled up and ready to ride, her head held high in a dignified silence as the pages helped to load her precious cargo. Slowly walking forward at Rapunzel's command, the two females had soon drawn level with their male counterparts, twin blooms of excitement showing in their vastly different eyes. It had been a long time since either of them had been allowed past the city gates, and pangs of longing for the outside had clutched at their hearts, urging them to find some way to leave their crowded home behind and find some solace within the countryside. Watching as the guards opened the gates, Eugene swiftly glanced over to Rapunzel, his heart swelling as he saw the excitement and worry that crossed her face. Unconsciously reaching over, he clasped her hand within his, drawing her attention to him for the moment.
"Are you okay Eugene?"
Shaking himself from his thoughts, Eugene offered her a slight smile before it once more fell into his trademark frown, his eyebrows drawing together just so to show just how he was truly feeling to the woman besides him.
"I have a bad feeling about this Blondie. I can't explain it, but I just don't think we should do this today."
"It'll be fine Eugene," Rapunzel reassured him with a smile. "You're just nervous after being stuck in the city for so long. I am too. Who knows that adventures will be waiting for us today? But we'll never find out if we never go. Come on!"
Nudging Destiny into a fast trot, the most the mare could do with her leg, the two took off over the bridge that attached the capital city of Corona to the mainland, both eager to be free of the confines of their home.
Kicking Maximus into action to follow their women, Eugene couldn't help the growing feeling that something horrible was going to happen as the four of them were swallowed by the shadows of the forest that laid before them.