Rapunzel - Chapter 3
Rapunzel examined the blank canvas in front of her, pondering what to paint. There was something strangely powerful about holding a paintbrush dipped in paint in your hand. u could create anything u wanted. u could paint a memory, a landscape, of even a dream (Rapunzel’s usual choice). All u had to do was have the imagination for it.
In the past, Rapunzel had never lacked for inspiration. Even in the dullness of her tower she had still managed to get ideas. But things were different now. Rapunzel always felt too stressed and distracted to be focused enough to paint. She was beginning to worry that she had lost her creative spark.
“Blondie… You’ve been staring at that canvas for half an hour” came a voice from volgende to her, startling her out of her trance.
On a wooden stoel, kruk volgende to her sat her smirking husband. His soulful eyes were full of mirth.
“Forget I was here?” he teased.
Rapunzel flicked some of the paint from her paintbrush at him. A green blob of paint splattered against his nose, giving him a comical look. Gingerly, he wiped it away with his sleeve. Rapunzel couldn’t help but laugh.
“Not sure I deserved that” he zei with pretend indignation.
Rapunzel bumped him lightly with her shoulder.
“Don’t startle me like that Eugene! u know I need peace when I’m painting” she scolded.
Eugene raised his eyebrow and tapped the blank canvas with his ring finger. Absent mindedly, he began to trace swirling patterns with his fingernail.
“Does peaceful mean stationary now? Because I could have sworn u haven’t moved for ages”
Rapunzel pouted, but she did so a little playfully. She secretly enjoyed these little games Eugene liked to play. It made her feel almost as alive as the time she had escaped the solitude of her tower for the first time.
“You should be thankful I didn’t have my frying pan” she pointed out.
Eugene chuckled and brushed her hair from out her eyes. Her locks used to be really short, but they had a grown a bit since then so her hair fell well past her shoulders. She wasn’t sure for how long she would let it grow, but she didn’t have any plans to cut it in the immediate future. Eugene’s hands moved down to caress her cheek.
Rapunzel leaned in to kiss him without even having to thinking about it. She remembered how terrified and excited she had been the first time they had kissed, and she felt the same now (excluding the terror). It felt so right being with Eugene. She felt safe. Security and adventure were the two things Rapunzel wanted most in her life, and Eugene was perfect at providing both.
However, he suddenly stiffened and abruptly pulled away. His gaze was fixed on the floor.
“Eugene?” she asked, concerned.
He didn’t reply.
“Eugene.” she persisted “What is it? u can trust me.”
He took her hand and squeezed it tightly.
“Will u take a walk with me in the garden?” he hedged.
Rapunzel sent him a look to toon him that she knew he was just changing the subject.
“Humour me” he beseeched.
She gave him and hooked her arm through his. To a stranger, it may have looked as if the King and Queen of Corona were simply about to go for a romantic stroll. However, Rapunzel knew much better. This was just Eugene’s way of softening what may turn out to be a huge blow. The gesture seemed a little futile, but she appreciated him taking the time to care about her. Gothel had never cared about her - not truly.
They walked in silence, arm in arm, many things going unspoken. It was getting harder and harder for Rapunzel to hold her tongue, but she resolved to be quiet. Eugene would talk when he was ready.
They passed rose bushes, marigolds, bluebells, pansies, daisies and a huge variety of herbs she couldn’t hope to identify. The fragrant perfume and the vibrant colours of the plants made her think of the time her hair had been braided door flowers on a hot summer’s dag under the shadow of the castle. Eugene must have thought the same. He squeezed her hand and stopped them halfway down the path door the bushes.
“We’ve had some bad news” he confided, watching her carefully.“We’ve had a letter from neighbouring Maldonia. It mentioned the possible threat of outlaws. I didn’t want to worry you. Not while u were painting” he revealed.
Rapunzel was starting to get why he had waited to tell her.
“The Stabbington Brothers. Could it be…”
The Stabbington Brothers were two of the most wanted and vile criminals in Corona. They were thugs, thieves, miscreants and kidnappers who had once tried to snatch her. The brothers used to be safely behind bars, but two months geleden they had escaped under mysterious circumstances. Nobody knew where they were now.
“Rapunzel” zei Eugene “Don’t be scared, it’s probably-”
She raised her hand to interrupt.
“Scared? Is that why u didn’t tell me?” She would laughed if things hadn’t have seemed so dire “Eugene I will never be scared as long as I have u with me. Don’t u remember what I zei on that boat?”
His deep eyes finally met her own. She saw genuine affection and concern in them, meer than she had ever seen in Gothel.
“I’m not afraid anymore” he quoted.
Rapunzel placed a quick kiss on his cheek.
“That’s right Eugene. As long as u are with me, I’ll always be brave. Nobody will scare me.” With one exception
, Rapunzel thought, but Gothel couldn’t hurt her now.
They turned to leave the grounds, but a strange noise rang through the air, making her falter. It had sounded almost musical, like a luit string being plucked in an odd way. She had never heard anything like it before. It was such a strange sound. She turned to Eugene to commentaar on it, but she was met door a grotesque sight. Her eyes widened with horror. A scream escaped her lips. It all made horrible sense now. The noise had not been a luit at all. It had been caused door something far meer deadly and dangerous. A bow.
A few seconden ago, Rapunzel had felt happy. Strong. Perhaps even invincible with Eugene beside her. She should have known it was too good to be true. Rapunzel had never been allowed to be content for long. The same was true now.
She stared horrified at the single wooden arrow was buried in Eugene’s side.
Rapunzel had never been allowed to be content for long. Credit to 12Rapunzel
Mulan - Chapter 4
As she walked up the grand stone steps to the great Chinese palace, Mulan couldn’t help but feel happy. The greatest thing that had ever happened to her occured in this very place. Subconsciously, her hand fluttered to her neck where a great golden medal had once hung. This had been the place where she had defeated the huns. This was the place where Shang had stopped hating her. This was the place where she had finally proved herself, and all of China had bowed for her.
Mulan had never known she was worth bowing to.
From volgende to her on the steps, Shang nodded to her. She could tell he was remembering past events too. The two had found they were often on the same wavelength over the years. It was one of the reasons they worked together so well.
They continued the ascent towards the palace, but Mulan’s mind had soon turned to their purpose there. The emperor had requested their presence. The problem was, neither could guess why. Shang had zei jokingly that perhaps they were going to get arrested. Mulan thought that it was a probably a much meer serious purpose. The emperor was getting old, after all, and part of her was scared that he may be dying and wanted to say goodbye.
Fervently, she hoped not. It would all just be too tragic for words. The emperor couldn’t be dying as well. Not so soon after her father’s death…
“Am I overthinking this?” she asked aloud to Shang.
He flashed her a grin.
“Probably” he admitted. “The only time u don’t over-think is when a battle is involved. In that case, u don’t seem to think enough”
Mulan knew he was teasing, but to her astonishment she realised he was probably right. Shang was a perceptive guy. However, he was exceptionally perceptive when it came to soldiers, and sometimes she wondered if he still saw her as Ping. Maybe Shang still saw her as a soldier.
They reached the palace doors and were immediately ushered inside door one of the emperor’s attendants. Mulan recognised him because of the rabbit emblazoned on his robes. The emperor had taken his role in the jaar of the Rabbit ,and since then it had became a sort of sigil that could be located all over the palace. Even his personal servants wore the furry animals.
Deftly, they moved towards the center of the building and the emperor’s apartments. They passed many sites that Mulan recognised from the battle door burns and slashes that still remained. She shuddered. Those swords had been meant for her, not the pillars and walls. It made her feel a little on edge. They eventually arrived in a large room full of ornate oriental furniture. Mulan supposed the emperor must use it as a study/sitting room.
The emperor himself was sat in a wooden fauteuil examining a book. When he saw Mulan and Shang, he rose to his feet and walked over to them. They were soon embracing.
“Fa Mulan. Li Shang. It has been too long” he zei sincerely.
Mulan bowed as a mark of respect.
“You are so kind, emperor” she replied.
The emperor raised a silver eyebrow.
“I could be called kind indeed Mulan but tell me: Should an emperor be kind of wise?”
She felt there was meer importance to her answer then he was letting on. Uncertainty, she hesitated. She considered for a moment, weighing both sides carefully.
“Wise” she finally decided.
The emperor’s face did not let on if the answer pleased him. He was as inscrutable and majestic as ever. Secretly, Mulan thought he could be a bit intimidating.
“But wouldn’t the people love him meer if he was kind?” he argued.
This time, Mulan didn’t hesitate to reply. She had already considered that.
“An emperor’s purpose is to rule fairly and justly. He should not go out of his way to be loved”.
A beam broke through the emperor’s uithangbord of nothingness. He chuckled and nodded slowly.
“Just so. u may be wondering, of course, why I am asking u all this. I should imagine u are quite perplexed”
Her mouth oddly dry, she nodded. She didn’t know why she felt so… Suspicious. Mulan had no clue why she felt so wary about all this. Because of father
, a tiny voice in her head whispered, but she shut it out like she always did. If she ignored the pain, it usually went away.
“An emperor is only permitted to serve for so long before he must pass his role onto another. My time is almost at an end. I am ready to chose a successor. I need somebody who I know has the qualities of a great leader, but also one who China already knows and loves in these uncertain times. Can u think of such a person, Mulan?” he asked.
She did. The answer was blatantly obvious to her. She was no fool.
“Shang. He would make the perfect the emperor. He already has the love and the respect of all the people.”
Her gaze turned to Shang, but he was shaking his head slowly and smiling at her in disbelief. She didn’t understand why he was doing that. Didn’t he understand he would soon be named emperor?
The current emperor rested a hand on her shoulder, causing her to whirl back around and face him. He too was smiling in a way that mirrored Shang.
“Shang would indeed make an honourable emperor. But my councillors and I were thinking of you”.
Aurora - Chapter 5
“Dun Broch?” zei Merryweather “Never heard of it. Sounds like a kind of disease.”
Aurora found herself trying to hide her smile. They were in the middle of a court session, and it would not be proper to laugh right when her husband and her were trying to deal with official business. A message had arrived from a far of embassy. The writer had claimed to be from somewhere called manen, dun Broch.
“I must confess I’ve never heard of it either” Phillip announced “Perhaps a visit to the bibliotheek is in order.”
Slowly, Aurora nodded.
“Just so. But u would do well to ask my mother as well. There is little she does not know.”
Phillip smiled at her, the same smile that had made her first fall in love with him.
“Wise words, my beautiful queen” he complimented, looking deep into her eyes.
She felt herself blush furiously. In an effort to regain composure, she gestured to Merryweather to carry on.
“The letter reads - oh.” zei Merryweather, frowning, her whole face scrunching up.
Fauna fluttered over to her, concerned.
“What is it dear?” she asked “does the letter bring bad tidings?”
Merryweather looked sad.
“Yes, but that’s not what it was. Your majesties, the letter is addressed to the late King Stefan and the Dowager Queen Leah”
An ache that Aurora had not felt for a while rushes through her. Her father had died five years ago, leaving her and Phillip to inherit his crown. Not a dag went door when she didn’t miss him. However, her mother was missing him much more. Queen Leah had not been the same since he had died. Her mother hadn’t smiled in half a decade.
“This manen, dun Broch doesn’t seem to be very up to date. This leads me to believe it is not one of our liege lands. I think the time has come to fetch the dowager Queen Leah, she may be able to shed some light on all this” Phillip announced.
One of the servants hurried from the room and soon returned with Aurora’s mother. She wore a veil to cover her face and her clothes were all black in a form of mourning. Aurora felt another stab of pain course through her hart-, hart at the sight of her grief.
“Your majesties” she zei respectfully, and gave a low courtesy “you sent for me”
Aurora wanted to run to her and fling her arms around her mother’s neck. She resisted. She wasn’t the naive little sixteen jaar old who waltzed with strangers anymore.
“Dowager Queen Leah, I am sorry to have disturbed you. It’s just there was a letter addressed to u from manen, dun Broch”
A flicker of interest ran across her face. Eager but still somber, she approached Merryweather and examined the letter. She stared at it for a long time, not uttering a word. Then, she looked straight up at Aurora and almost smiled. Almost.
“Your grace, I was wondering if I could speak to u privately about this letter. It’s rather a personal matter to me” she requested.
Uncertainty, she glanced at Phillip. On the one hand, she wasn’t supposed to leave a council meeting before it finished. On the other, she was intrigued to hear about the letter that interested her mother so greatly. Phillip patted her hand reassuringly.
“My beautiful queen takes her duty far too seriously” he announced to the people assembled, who all laughed good-naturedly.
Aurora thanked him graciously and went to her mother. She placed a tender kiss on Leah’s cheek and the two left the hall together.
They ended up in the library, a huge room full of thick volumes. Most of them were records, Aurora had been told, but some of them were novels as well.
“This is an invitation door Merida of manen, dun Broch, daughter of my friend Elinor” her mother announced.
She sat down at a table.
“An invitation to what?” she asked.
“Elinor’s funeral” she replied softly, her tone melancholic “but that’s not the most important thing contained in this message”.
With the grace of a queen, she rose to her feet and walked to the nearest book shelf. She ran her hands along the spines until she reached the dustiest shelf right at the top. From it, she pulled out a book with a blue cover.
“In our youths, Elinor and I had an idea. We wanted to restore an ancient tradition that has been almost completely lost for centuries”.
She dumped the volume on the heavy oak table. On it, written in fancy golden letters, it read: The Council of the Queens.
The Council of the Queens