Maiden Armour Chapter Two: Rapunzel
Rapunzel ran the brush through her long hair that had grown back over the years. Of course it wasn’t as long as before but it ran to her feet, where it was unusually comfortable for her and where she kept it. A small smile formed on her face as laughter was heard out in the courtyard. She nimbly went to the window and looked down to see the twins outside giggling and running around playing. Their voices pulled on her heartstrings and she felt a little bit better. It had been hard giving birth to twins alone in the middle of desert land but she never regretted it. She watched them for a little longer and then closed the window.
She turned on her toes and sat on the bed placing the brush mindlessly on the table. Rapunzel started to braid her long blonde hair and looked down at the sheets of her bed, thinking about how empty they looked with him gone. She missed every inch of her husband Persin. She missed holding his warm body in the middle of a cold night, she missed watching him play with the children, and she missed his rich deep voice whispering in her ear at the boring formal dinners. He was her best friend and her lover and these past few weeks she missed him more than ever.
The pain of his absence reminded Rapunzel of her days in the tower with the witch, her “mother”. She remembered listening to her bird sing and waiting patiently at the window for her prince to come. And when he did he held her close and swayed with her, dancing to the music that played in their heads.
Her hands stopped braiding as she closed her eyes and leaned back onto the headboard, recalling when he had said goodbye those weeks ago.
Persin walked into the bedroom, his tall fit frame covering the doorway and looking lovingly at Rapunzel. She looked up at him pitifully with tears in her eyes. He was so handsome in his suit of Armour. The blue and green of his cloak was clean and proud, his face as handsome as ever. He smiled at her, taunting her with his beautiful brown eyes. Rapunzel came to him and rested her hands on his chest as his arms wrapped around her. She looked up into her departing prince.
“Why do you have to go,” she asked, “I thought that the war was getting better…”
Persin shook his head solemnly, “You know I’d rather be here with you. Rapunzel, these are my people that are dying, I have to fight for them.”
Rapunzel’s face crinkled in sadness because she knew he was right. She laid her head on his chest and he ran his fingers through her long hair.
“I don’t want to lose you,” she said, “What if some thing happens…what if…”
“Shh,” he said rocking her and holding her tight.
She pushed away for a moment and looked up at him.
“You could die,” she said tears running down now.
He guiltily looked at her face stained with sorrow before kissing her tears and softly whispering to her.
“I promise you that I will not die,” he said, “I promise that I will come back and when I do I will take you in my arms and never let go. You have to believe me.”
When he finished he kissed her deeply on the lips, they both kissed each other like it was goodbye…because they didn’t know.
“Daddy,” Numida called as she ran in.
Gavidae followed behind but stayed inside the doorway as Numida ran into her father’s arms. Persin picked his daughter up into his arms and smiled at her beauty, she looked just like her mother, beautiful blue eyes and long blonde hair. Her eyes were wet with tears.
“Daddy don’t go,” she said hugging him around the neck, “I don’t want you to go.”
“It’s only for a little while,” he said smiling, “But you’ve got to be a good little princess while I’m gone.”
“I will,” she said determinedly, “I’ll be the best one there ever was.”
Rapunzel looked at her son who stood stubborn in the doorway, he had his father’s brown eyes and light brown hair, his strong frame.
“Aren’t you going to say good bye to your father,” she asked.
“No,” said Gavidae angrily.
Persin frowned and handed Numida over to Rapunzel, the girl's hot tears stained her mother’s shoulder. Persin kneeled down in front of Gavidae and put his hands on the boy’s shoulders.
“Gavie,” he said, “You’re going to be king someday and you’ll understand why I have to go.”
Gavidae looked at him hurt, “Why can’t I go with you?”
“I need you to take care of Numie and your mom while I’m gone,” he said smiling, “You’ve got to be the man while I’m gone.”
Gavidae finally let tears fall down as he nodded and hugged his father close. The family all came together to hold each other and said goodbye.
Rapunzel had taken it hard being by herself after that but she was getting better. She was constantly writing to Persin and he was thankfully writing back. But there was something going on that was frightening her, she wasn’t sure what it was exactly but she knew that it was close to surfacing. She was starting to have bad dreams, dreams about the tower, the witch murmuring familiar curses and her children…in danger.
She wanted to just brush the dreams away, tell her self that they were just dreams but the twins had been acting strangely lately. Numida had begin talking to herself, or at least it seemed that way…Rapunzel would always find her outside speaking alone. And Gavidae was always running away and disappearing for hours, she would chase him for hours but he would be gone. They were more distant and to themselves than usual. At first Rapunzel thought it was the separation from their father, she asked the priest to come over and talk with them but he said they were fine. However something about the priest made her blood run cold. His intentions did not seem good.
Rapunzel left her room and contemplated what was going on as she climbed down the stairs. She looked outside one of the widows again and looked on at her children with worry.
Numida giggled as she ran from her brother who cornered her into a tree and hugged her tightly.
“I caught you,” he said laughing, “It’s your turn!”
“All right, all right,” she said pushing him away, “Go hide!”
Gavidae did not need to be told twice, he ran off into the bushes somewhere as she closed her eyes. She sat down not worried about staining her dress.
Gavidae ran around the courtyard desperately looking for a spot to hide, he looked at some potential bushes.
He looked at the foundation of the castle, looking for a nook to fit in.
He ran up to the tallest tree.
“She’d never find me up there,” he thought.
Desperately he tried to climb the tree but couldn’t get hold of the firm bark. His mind reeled back to what the priest had said, he told them they weren’t sick…they had special powers and they should practice them. Gavidae smiled and closed his eyes tightly, he felt his body moving through space and suddenly he was in the tree, on the highest branch. He smiled mischievously.
“Thirteen…fourteen…fifteen…Ready or not, Here I come!”
Numida opened her eyes smiling and started to quickly look for her brother, giggling. Her bare feet skipped along the wet grass, she ran through the bushes and looked about for tiny nooks, but nothing… The air started to chill and the sun began to hide behind the clouds and she was suddenly not having so much fun.
“Gavie,” She called feebly, “I don’t want to play anymore…can you come out now?”
Her voice echoed against the castle walls and she got no answer. She backed away into a tree and sat down wishing he would just come out. Suddenly she heard a bird singing sweetly. She looked up to see her dove and smiled happily. She stood up and walked over to the bird. Brushing blonde curls from her face and looking up at the pretty little dove with her blue eyes.
“Clover,” she exclaimed, naming the dove after a present it had given the girl, “Clover you have to help me.”
She didn’t think using her power was bad, talking to animals just seemed normal to her…but only Gavidae and Matthew knew.
“Tweet, Tweet,” the bird replied.
“It’s my brother,” said Numida, “Did you see where he went?”
Without responding the bird flew across the courtyard, Numida following closely behind. She had spent many days chasing the bird when it wanted to show her something pretty that she might miss. The bird flew over and eventually slowed it's fluttering to rest on the tree branch next to Gavidae.
“Hey,” Gavidae spat, “There’s no room for you!”
Numida giggled and pointed up at her brother. She should have known he would be in a tree.
“I found you,” she called giggling and spinning around in victory.
Gavidae frowned angrily and transported himself back to the ground. He was so frustrated that he pushed Numida down onto the grass.
“You cheated,” said Gavidae, crossing his arms.
Numida started to stand and brushed the dirt from her dress, “You cheated too!”
“How do you know,” asked her brother challengingly.
“There’s no way you climbed that tree! You used your power!”
“Quiet,” Gavidae, yelled looking around to see if anyone heard.
“Matthew told us not to tell," said Gavidae thinking of the priest who had threatened danger if it got out.
“I don’t care, Matthew isn’t our father.”
“No our father left us,” said Gavidae, furrowing his brows.
“He’s coming back,” screamed Numida suddenly upset.
“No he’s not, he’s never coming back!”
“Take that back,” said Numida crying, she missed her father more than anything.
“He’s not coming back!”
“I’m telling Mother,” she said with hot tears, “I’m telling her everything!”
With that Numida ran across the courtyard towards the door to the castle. Gavidae’s body filled with worry and fear, he ran after her for a while before transferring himself in front of her and grabbing her from the front.
“I can’t let you tell her,” he said, holding her tightly as she tried to pull herself from him.
“Why not,” she said starting to stop fighting and just crying on his shoulder, “I hate holding it in…I hate lying to her…”
Gavidae became cynical and cold, “She’ll think we’re mutated and ugly, we can’t trust her…she’ll send us away.”
The words hurt Gavidae to say as much as they hurt Numida to hear. He knew the preist was right, people would think of them as freaks and he didn't want his mother to turn him away.
“That’s not true,” she said now hugging him, “She loves us…”
Gavidae hugged her tightly and gently rocked his sister, “This power we have, it keeps us together, together we are more powerful than anyone…but we have to keep it a secret.”
“I’m scared,” said Numida, “I don’t want to lose mommy.”
“That’s why we can’t tell her.”
It was late and the twins had still had not come in from playing. Rapunzel was running around desperately trying to find them and asking every cook, maid and attendant if they had seen the children. All gave the same answer, in the courtyard playing.
Rapunzel had run out into the courtyard searching everywhere, calling out their names. Branches hitting her face and the wet grass staining her dress. She got down on her knees looking benath the shubs and around the castle.
Rapunzel stopped dead in her tracks as she saw an old woman’s frame in the doorway. The glow of a flame that hung on the wall shone on her aged face, giving her a magic look, as if a sorceress. She stood like a spirit, left to watch the misery of those still living.
“Hannah,” Rapunzel asked, trying not to lend a quiver to her voice.
The sight of the Priest’s wife Hannah, had always frightened Rapunzel for no particular reason. She thought perhaps it was the way the woman seemed to act biblical, or her trembling voice that reminded Rapunzel of her false witch mother…but as she saw the woman approaching, wobbling as if she was about to die, she felt chills down her spine.
“Hello Mistress,” said the elderly woman, “How do you fare?”
“Not well,” said Rapunzel harshly, “Where are my children?”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” said Hannah letting her gray eyes look away and fumbling with a rosary that hung from her neck.
Rapunzel watched the woman suspiciously. She had always been frightened of their severe religious states, she believed in God of course but the way that Matthew and Hannah spoke almost seemed like a religion deformed. Rapunzel suddenly felt like her children may be in deeper trouble than she imagined. She tried to think back to her last conversation with Hannah and remembered her saying that Matthew was sick.
“How is Matthew,” Rapunzel asked, looking at Hannah for a deeper meaning.
Hannah smiled and looked back at the queen, “He’s much better.”
Rapunzel felt her hands ball into fists as her mind raced.
“You know where my children are don’t you?”
“They are in good hands,” said Hannah in her cryptic tone.
Rapunzel grabbed the woman fiercely, “Tell me where they are!”
The woman’s eyes were suddenly cruel, “Let go of me… You are a foolish woman…your children are…possessed.”
Rapunzel’s face took to confusion and she let go of the woman. But suddenly she was full of anger, “How dare you say that to me? Just because you think you have God on your side?”
Rapunzel ran off towards the stable, she was going to find them.
“Don’t interfere,” called Hannah from behind, too old to keep up.
But Rapunzel was determined, she would find her children.
Numida and Gavidae stood in front of the alter scared. They held each other tightly as Matthew read verses in Latin. The angels of the statues and stained glass windows seemed to stare down at them in disappointment. Numida was especially frightened by the intense voice and the glare of God; Gavidae put his hand over her eyes and whispered to her gently.
They had come to Matthew to ask for his help…they thought he could help them control their power and the priest had agreed happily. They now wore white robes that were too large and lay mostly on the floor, draped over their small frames.
“What good is this doing,” asked Gavidae, looking up at the priest.
“Remain silent child,” exclaimed Matthew in a booming voice, “And keep your eyes closed.”
Gavidae did so reluctantly and held on tighter to his sister. The words began to sound more aggressive and violent. Matthew’s voice steadily got faster and harsher, less praer like and more like a curse. And his voice got closer and closer. Gavidae could feel his presence, his hot breath over his body. He opened his eyes to Numida’s scream.
The girl pulled away and ran down the aisle of the church and Gavidae turned to see Matthew madly slashing the air with a dagger.
“Die demon child,” the old man screamed.
Gavidae ran after his sister and pulled her into the nearby closet as the man ran after him. He quickly barricaded the entrance with the many boxes and books. In the dark he took his sister’s hands.
“Concentrate,” said Gavidae, “We can do this together.”
Numida nodded thought tears as they held hands, they closed their eyes and focused on their goal. They had to stop Matthew at any cost. They said their prayers over and over to comfort each other and Matthew beat at the door, attacking it.
“Now I lay me, down to sleep. I pray thy lord, my soul to keep. If I should die..”
They were interrupted by the man’s scream as he grabbed at his chest and gasped for air. He fell to the ground and went silent. They sat there in the quiet for a long time before slowly removing the objects from the door. As they came from the closet they were horrified by Matthew’s body laying lifeless on the floor.
Rapunzel ran into the doors of the church and gasped as she saw them and the priest. She stood there for a moment, she looking at her children and they looking at her. She let a few tears fall before holding them tightly.
“Oh God,” she said, “Don’t worry, It’s not your fault.”
She looked into their eyes and tried to look confident.
“Numida, Gavidae,” she said, “You’re going to have to be brave now…we have to run away.”
The End of Chapter 2
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