A/N: Hello there you guys! Summer here, and, well, this is my story, based off the blog I ran on Tumblr: ask-thenewestguardians! I still pop in from time to time over there, for those who wonder, but I've taken a break from it for a little while because of personal issues going on that need my direct attention before Tumblr.
Therefore, without further ado, this is the story of the Fantastic Four.
QS: Where there is good, there is always evil, and where evil has been vanquished, it can always come back. Unfortunately, not all Happy Ever After's have one final closure, like we believed for our beloved Lost Princess, Mr. Overland, the Dragon Tamer of Berk and High Queen of the Lands. From the far reaches of the Earth and time, something dark has been brewing for over thousands of years, and unlike anything that has ever been fought before.
The Man in the Moon has known it was coming, just like his counterpart Pitch, and has made a deal with the Sun in the Sky to gain Rapunzel, saved Merida from a fate of being forever invisible, has watched out for a cursed Hiccup, and gave Jack Frost the position of Guardian, all so that in the present day, they would serve him right, and come together to fix what evil is breaking the Earth down the middle.
The question is: can the Fantastic Four really do it? Or will they die trying?
CS: The tragic story of how Princess Rapunzel became a Guardian.
PROLOGUE I: LET DOWN YOUR HAIR
"She's nuts!" A plump, young baker's wife bellowed out in strangling fury, raising her gleaming wet pitchfork high, higher, highest in the air, waving it around like a sword leading the way for battle. The other meaty, gripping hand was clutching a silver dough roller, still covered in fluffy, white baking powder. It flickered in the extremely dangerous lights of the falling foreign kingdom.
"The Princess is a freak!" A wrinkling, elder man called louder than any of the others, yanking his arm back exceedingly, only then launching his torch, aflame, at the broad, beautiful castle's main wooden doors. It only took a moment; the fire seduced and licked the inside of the quite large entry way immediately, making the entire pathway fall apart, down, to ashes and dirt and dust. A beat of tedious engulfment, and the mob gave a horrible battle cry and rushed inside.
Only then, did it begin to pour.
Even Mother Nature was present now, showing how much of a mistake the Kingdom of Corona was making, warning them to stop.
They did not listen.
"Lock her up!" A blonde little boy with a wooden sword rasped through his missing teeth, crawling throughout his father's hairy, large legs to see the commotion of the uproar. "Forever, and ever, and ever!"
Rapunzel couldn't help herself.
So floored and flabbergasted by her people, at their dark and utter ruthlessness, their sheer bitterness, her pretty little hands flew up over her mouth to keep herself from absolutely screaming. From where she was skillfully hidden in the shadows of the highest balcony, of the main tier's front, her heart jammed into her throat, pounding like a gong again and again and again. Subconsciously, over her head, she pulled harder on the heavy, wool black cloak's hood, trying to keep herself well kept from the light of the torches and fire red lanterns that burned everything in their path. It made her appear like a shadow, that is, if she wasn't so pale, and shaking like a tree in the swift winter breeze.
"Your Highness," The voice behind her shocked her into a small jump, but she would have no need to fret. It was only her favorite, most trustworthy guard, Charles, who called for her, tightly grabbing onto her forearm. No, not just grabbing onto her arm, but shielding her, as there was a horrible quake, a scream, and he was ducking his arms around her for safety. A shudder in the Kingdom Wall vibrated under their feet, "this way, quickly, please!"
There was no argument, even if she had wanted one. Which, she didn't, and therefore letting him, Rapunzel was silent as her protector yanked her along the paved path, from one burning side of the castle to the next. The Lost Princess restricted and stopped just in the nick-of-time to grab a heavy, dirty frying pan from yet another guard who begged her to take it (he'd had just taken out an astray cook, with a look in his eye that meant he agreed with the mob. They were now completely unsure who was good and who was bad in the castle, and this particular friend wanted the Princess to stay safe. Most of the Royal Protectors still were faithful to the Family).
Whirling around a corner, almost slipping and tripping in horrible puddles of water that poured in through the castle's open hallways every few steps, the frightened, panting brunette Princess ran straight into the one person on this Earth, in this brutal city, she was looking so desperately for.
Had the Prince heard the rumors? The truth? The lies? The screaming?
"Rapunzel." Eugene was so rushed, so entirely without time, and for this, he grabbed onto her, forcing her into a tight hug. Unlike the Princess, he was all-knowing of the fate down the road, rather than she, who knew nothing at all. She had no clue what was about to happen to her. If she did, for sure she would be kicking and screeching and, in reality, would simply just never, ever let it happen. Now, because of this, he only had a couple seconds to be with her; if this was it, this was it.
His fingers only lightly grazed her face, tracing her jaw, and she only felt his gentle farewell kiss for a split of a moment. But before he could whisper his love for her in her ear and make his promise that he'd break her out soon, he was furiously grabbed from behind by a man in the red uniform and pushed up on a soaking wet marble railing. His breath was knocked right out of him, and though he began to fight back, he was hushed down by a guard who told him: "by direct order of the King and Queen of Corona, Flynn Rider was to report to the Mess Hall for Battle Strategy and Crowd Control." Something else was muttered between the two that Rapunzel could no longer here, and whatever it may be, had calmed Eugene down enough to sigh and give up.
Flynn said no words to his wife, but his eyebrows pinched together in regret. They were more than apologetic. They were more than saddened.
They, his eyes, were heartbroken.
Flynn Rider was heartbroken as he watched the scene unfold in front of him.
On the other hand, Rapunzel was entirely different. Her normal, calm, quite quiet composure had transferred and snapped into little pieces. She was acting like a Greek Fury, fighting and clawing, especially when Charles was yanking her onward without her consent. She tried to wiggle free, snarling and biting, and she even swung the frying pan once or twice, but all she got from it was more scratches on her own body than his, and bruises from slipping around on the tiled, dirty, damp floor, drenching herself in disgusting, grimy water. She was up against two well-trained, well-known, well-loving and good spirited, let alone muscled, guards, who'd taught her almost everything she knew.
Before she could whack one of them across the face, the cooking pot was dropped to the floor, forgotten. They had to take it away from her.
"Eugene -" She struggled for him now, arm outstretched in his direction, but he was gone, and they'd reached their final destination. A flight of stairs later, a key lock and a soft, sorry push into a Tower on the High Side of the Castle later, and Rapunzel realized her dilemma. She realized why her husband had looked so crushed for her. Why she had no previous knowledge on where she was going. Why no one would tell her.
"Mother, no!" She was suddenly sobbing, fingers prying at the door that slammed shut behind her, keeping the fair Princess locked away like a bird in a cage. This was a tower, the tower, the highest tower in the kingdom, and she would remain there for however long it would take for the mob to calm down. What sickened her was that on the other side of the bars, in the tiny window dividing her from the outside world, were her real parents. Her mother, the Queen, had crystal tears gleaming in her eyes. Her voice broke and shivered as she spoke.
"I'm so sorry, Rapunzel. Returning home, only to be locked up again." Rapunzel protested like an animal, fists banging on the doors. She begged her father to help her, but he couldn't look at her. He had to leave. He couldn't watch his daughter in her state - so broken, and she hadn't even been locked in yet. They still were struggling with the padlock that was drenched and rusty with rain. "This isn't what we want for you. But you're not safe in the outside world."
Mother Gothel had told her the exact same thing, except this time, it was the truth.
Or had it been the truth all along?
After all, the woman had been right. They all wanted her dead, her head on a platter, gone.
"When everything blows over, we'll let you out."
The brunette's heart hammered in her throat as she gazed down her family.
Did they not know? It would never blow over. The mob was ready to kill her without hesitation, would kill the family without hesitation if Rapunzel wasn't put down.
After only a couple months of her reign, the people had completely changed their minds on the bubbling blonde. At first, they welcomed home their Princess with the widest of open arms, her Prince included, let them wed, and there was even rumor that she was with child. But the Kingdom was easily fooled and switched by a soothsayer, and found her random explosions into song, random nervous laughs or tears, how she spoke with animals, all signs of witchcraft - or just plain crazy. She befriended murdering men, and used to have hair that gleamed like the sun when she sang. She was pretty and delicate, sure, but they also learned of her strength, of her brutality when she had a mind set, and called her a threat.
It would never blow over.
The Princess knew that. Something in her mother's eyes said she knew that too. The guards looked to the Queen in shock for the fib they all knew it was.
"Until then," She continued to lie to her daughter's face, strong chin pointed upwards, "you must stay here."
"Please, mother, don't do this!"
Rapunzel's voice was lost on the whispering wind. However, even if it had been an echo that carried for miles, all the guards were absent, except for one who was raised hard-of-hearing, who was glad to have a task he'd be perfect for. After all, now stationed in front of her door, he didn't have to hear the heart shattering noise of the Princess weeping her eyes out. Quite honestly, no one did, or would.
The thunderstorm raged like a monster, a beast.
Corona had unleashed a beast.
It took a couple days and nights, a lot of bribery and lies, but the mob finally left the Castle.
Yet, nothing got better in the Kingdom.
Mother Nature was more than livid with the men and women of the Lantern City, who had locked up such an innocent precious flower, and brought non-stop thunderstorms for them to loose all their crops in. The Sun was so disgusted that her daughter, her magic baby girl born from her life, was locked away in the shadows once again that she did not shine for them. Rapunzel's own birth parents wept until they couldn't anymore, and stood quiet, waiting, wishing, praying. Eugene did everything he could to get the release, but to no avail. He couldn't even bust her out if he tried (which, he had, more than anyone but himself would understand).
On the fourth evening of her imprisonment, Rapunzel would have dug her way out until her nails were gone if it meant she'd get out. But she knew that wouldn't work, and therefore disregarded that thought.
Finally, when all else failed, she resort to her faith.
She resort to her roots. The one thing that would be strongest in her sea of darkness.
"I," She began, yet having to stop and swallow down. Her throat was sore and closed from all the yelling and sobbing, and she hadn't used her vocals in the longest of times, "I w-was born from the sun, I know."
She was softly leaning out her window now, fingers digging into the wood to keep her steady. Those wondrous green, doe-eyes that once were full of life and curiosity and golden sunshine were dull, worn down. They were looking straight at the Moon in the Sky, the orb vibrant and white and beautiful. Legend spoke that there was a Man up there, just like a Woman in the Sun that hadn't shined for her, or her misled Kingdom. If she could not reach the Sun, she would talk to the Moon instead. "I-I know I shouldn't speak to you; we come from separate Fables of Old. But there's only so many options -" She sniffed a little, tears welding in her eyes yet again.
Oh, could she just run out of them already? It would do her so much good.
No, they fell freely, and she brushed them away with her fingertips.
"All I ever wanted was to be free, and I'm trapped up in a tower once more."
Then, she began to pray, silently, mentally, emotionally, physically, her heart whispering a beg to the Sky. She began to ask for help within her thoughts, lost in her words.
What she didn't know, was that somewhere close behind her, a whisk in the center of her dark cellar hold was such a strange sight to see: out of the center rug made of strings beaded red, whirled an entity of black smoke, silently slipping up from the floor. It rose and morphed and rose and changed and rose and finally, an outline had formed, just barely visible in the moonlight that creaked through the rafters. Whatever it was, it was made entirely of dark, meshing sand, forming the shadow of a curvy, tall woman. But there was no face - except for a wicked grin that looked to twisted to simply be human.
If only Rapunzel had seen the grin, she would know it by heart.
She'd seen it for 18 years.
"Please, let me be free." The brunette leaned out just a bit more, as if the Moon didn't hear her the first time, and that maybe perhaps it would help if she was closer. Mother Nature even moved the clouds just for the Princess, but by then, there was no use. It was too late.
"Your highness, he cannot help you."
Rapunzel's lightly closed eyes sprung open in astonishment, and she gasped through her teeth, turning on her heels, searching the cellar for the voice. It hadn't sounded real - like several different strands laced together in one bind. The growl of a bear, a screeching noise, a sensual woman and fear itself, soaking together. Each voice whirled into one throaty gurgle that pushed the limits of her mind into confusion.
Yet Lost Princess lived and breathed hope, even if it made no sense.
Was someone here to finally let her go?
"But," The sand shadow suddenly vanished to the ground in a layer, then twirled and flicked across the floor like a snake in attack mode, inching closer, closer, closet to Rapunzel. It hovered over her in an embodiment of a man now, tall, lanky, strong and confident. Rapunzel's terrified eyes grew double size when yellow mirrors pierced her in the soul like a stab to her heart. She couldn't possibly breathe, for fear choked her around the neck with it's invisible hands, "your wish is my command."
And then, she was falling from the open window, gravity pulling her towards the damp Earth. Strangely resembling Mother Gothel's final moments, Rapunzel's heavy winter cloak was fluttering around her, like dark wings, as if the angel had fallen from Heaven itself.
Mother Nature turned her head away, unable to watch.
The Sun instantly cried for her lost daughter.
The Moon made a deal with Death, and promised the Sun he would take good care of her.
And then -
"The Princess is dead!" A guard bellowed in pure anguish, falling to his knees next to the lifeless Rapunzel, pulling her up in his arms like a rag doll. "Remember it here: the greed of the Kingdom on a Flower so Sweet has killed the Woman hardly that." Disgustingly, some cheered in happiness, now truly ready to go back to their normal schedules. But, those true of heart, those others who cared, swarmed the girl to get a look and gasp in horror for their fallen future Queen. A mother of two who still believed in the child's gift had begun to bawl, cradling her twins. An old cobbler bowed his head. The Queen screamed a horrible shriek, fainting in Rapunzel's sobbing Father's arms.
It was a gruesome scene.
As a final gift to her brave, heroic daughter who shouldn't have died so soon, The Sun gave her one thing back: her powers, her hair. She would receive it in the next world, in a different time. But in this reality, beginning at the dark roots of her hair, the tiny fibers of her brunette locks beamed a bright light of yellow. The stretched, and etched, drew and slew, curling around the Lost Princess and fixing broken bones, her heartbeat and spine, restoring the 70 feet of blonde tangles that people stepped out of the way to see. Her purple dress faded into green, to match the grass she lay in.
And the wind, a friend of a Jack Frost who happened to stumble by that next day to hear the news the world would read all about, sang a Incantation meant for a Queen who would never be.
When the last notes dimmed, her lullaby over, so did she. Rapunzel, shocking the kingdom onlookers, shimmered like gold, like a new coin, turned into a bright, beautiful light, and crossed from the visible land, to a story.
She was gone, vanished into thin air.
Yet, just then, her heart began to beat.
"Am I dead?" She whispered to herself, just herself, throat hoarse from under-use. She expected no reply, as there was no one around, however one came, and not from who she would expect. Unlike a man who'd been born into this life 100 years previous to her (one she'd meet soon enough, a Mr. Jackson Overland Frost), she remembered everything: from the fall, to the pain, then the silence, the terrifying scream of her Mother, the funeral music.
And after that?
Nothing but the push and pull of the world, and the whispers of spirits granting her passage to her destiny.
Yes, child. There was no mistaking that the voice had come from the Moon - there was only one voice in the Universe that could sound like that, the Man in the Moon being it. And, then yet, no, child. You are no longer alive, but you're far from death.
"Did you kill me?" Like a pixie, she allowed herself to stand from her crouched stance in a graceful, dance-like move, noticing the strangest thing: her hair that curled on the forest floor where she'd fallen, and hung from trees, around a log, in a tiny pond - all 70 feet of it was stretched out across the hills she laid in. She almost didn't believe it until she pulled on a good, tight piece, and felt the stretching pain in her skull. It burned for a moment, but then dimmed into a cool release, a normal feeling she'd almost forgotten. Almost.
Slowly bringing it in like a fishing line, breath hitched, she felt that familiar feeling of warmth between her fingertips. Continuing to reel it up and around her arms, when it was all around her, she took a soft seat on it's plush qualities.
Gazing at the orb in the sky, she waited for an answer.
No, child. I did not end your life, nor did the Sun. However, I did save you from Death's grip.
"Why haven't I moved on?" She tilt her head to the side from where she rest her chin on her hand, eyebrows knitting a pattern on her forehead together. "Why did you keep me here?" There was no way she could hide the sadness and remorse in her tone - Death had been right next to her. He told her it would be an easy trip - that her purity would bring her prosperity in the next life. But then he was gone, and she awoke to find out she was still alive, but not still alive, and was having a legitimate conversation with the Man in the Moon.
You have moved on to a new you. You'll be the light in a dark time to come in the distant future.
"I don't understand." She clawed her dress lightly, then put her head in her hands, nervous habits she couldn't help but have. She would have made a joke about them dying hard, but it was positively not the time. "How can I be light when there is only the dark? How can I be dead, yet so alive? I feel my heartbeat, and have to breathe, but I remember the sobbing at my own funeral and felt the heartbreak of my family."
You will be the light in a dark time to come, young one. The Man in the Moon repeated. You are unique, lost Princess Rapunzel of Corona. You must follow a destiny. The path is yours.
Rapunzel didn't want to choose her path. She didn't want to follow her destiny. Not now. Now, she wanted answers, and her family, and her husband, and her Kingdom.
She cried for her long gone past.
Do not weep for your forgotten life, Rapunzel.
She sniffed, gazing at the orb that hung in the Sky.
"Than what should I cry for?" She whispered in depression. The wind carried the message to outer space.
Do not cry, period. Instead, dearest spirit, shine bright for the future.
It took a moment, a real long moment for her to consider it, but she did see a point to his madness. Perhaps it would all be okay. That was all it took, too, for her soft smile was an acceptance.
She shimmered into the sky like a bolt of lightning. She was a daughter of the Moon now.