Chapter OneOnce Upon a Tower
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little girl
That's me there.
I live in a grand villa ...
... with loyal servants ...
... tasty food ...
... and my mother.
Or who I thought was my mother.
But more on that in a minute.
The Villa had three stories seventy-eight rooms, one thousand and twelve chairs.
I know, because I counted them all. There wasn't much else to do.
No one was horribly mean to me or anything.
In fact, one of the guards-Mason-he was right kind.
He taught me tricks when he thought Mother wasn't looking.
Now it seems so strange that I lived all those years in the Villa ...
... and never realized what was going on.
Never saw who Mother really was.
... MY FARM CAN'T GET BY WITHOUT YOUR GROWTH MAGIC ... I SWEAR WE'LL PAY DOUBLE NEXT YEAR ...
And the kinds of things she was capable of doing.
I didn't understand then why I felt the way I did-
-like something lost, like a toy left our in the rain.
And I didn't know why I had that dream again and again.
Or why it always left me feeling as sad as a toad.
THIS MORNING IS ABSURD, RAPUNZEL. YOU SHOULD BE THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN ALL THE WORLD.
I ... I HAD ONE OF THOSE DREAMS LAST NIGHT-
I TOLD YOU TO NEVER SPEAK ABOUT THAT AGAIN, YOU UNDERSTAND ME?
IGNORE THE DREAMS, MY DEAR, AND THEY'LL GO AWAY.
I guess I might've spent my whole life in that Villa ...
... never learning the truth ...
... if not for that darn wall.
Deep in my gut, I believed if I could just look over it, just see what was there, my dreams would make sense. Everything would make sense.
THERE'S A WALL IN THE GARDEN.
YES. IT'S MADE OF STONES.
WHAT'S BEHIND THE WALL, MOTHER?
NOTHING. GO PLAY, RAPUNZEL.
I'M GOING TO GO UP ON THE WALL, JUST FOR A MINUTE, OKAY?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. IT'S TOO DANGEROUS FOR LITTLE GIRLS.
YOU'LL SEE WHEN YOU'RE READY.
ONE DAY, MY VILLA, MY GARDEN ...
... AND EVERYTHING VISIBLE FROM THE TOP OF THAT WALL ...
... WILL BE YOURS.
I'd always know she had growth magic.
I'd seen her make things grow or wilt, as easy as snapping her fingers. But she'd tested me once and I was winter-creek dry of any power.
I'd never dared disobey Mother before, but on my twelfth birthday, I couldn't stand it anymore. I needed to see what was over that wall ...
... whether Mother wanted me to or not.
After all, what was the worst she could do to me?
The stairs had too many guards.
So I found another way up.
Call mo a numbskull if you like ...
... but I never expected anything like what I saw.
I was speechless.
WELL I'LL BE SWIGGER-JIGGERED AND HUNG OUT TO DRY.
WHAT'S GOING ON? WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE? WHAT IS THIS PLACE?
DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW YOU'RE HERE?
NO, BUT I JUST WANTED TO-
SHE SLIPPED OVER THE WALL, THE LITTLE NUISANCE. I'LL HAUL HER BACK.
EASY THERE, BERT.
GOTHEL DOESN'T WANT HER DAUGHTER OUT HERE-YOU KNOW THAT.
I KNOW IT, BUT SHE'S HERE, AND GOTHEL WON'T BE PLEASED IF YOU HURT THE GIRL.
MASON, PLEASE TELL ME WHAT'S-
YOU'LL HAVE TO ASK YOUR MOTHER ABOUT IT, RAPUNZEL. WHY DON'T YOU GO GET A DRINK OF WATER BEFORE BERT WALKS YOU BACK.
HMM? LOOKING FOR A DRINK, ARE YOU?
YOU CAN TAKE A DIP FROM MY BUCKET, SO LONG AS YOU DON'T TAKE A DOG'S AGE ABOUT IT.
YOU LOOK SORT OF FAMILIAR.
DO I? WELL, YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE YOU BELONG IN THE MINE CAMPS. WHAT'S YOUR NAME?
RAPUNZEL ... LIKE THE LETTUCE. THAT'S AN UNUSUAL NAME.
I USED TO LOVE RAPUNZEL LEAF....
WHEN I WAS PREGNANT MY HUSBAND ESCAPED FROM THE MINE CAMP AND SNEAKED INTO MOTHER GOTHEL'S GARDEN JUST TO GET SOME.
'COURSE HE GOT CAUGHT. FOOLHARDY MAN, BUT BRAVE AS THEY CAME.
GOTHEL WAS POWERFUL MAD-SAID SHE'D DEMAND PAYMENT ONE DAY. THREE YEARS LATER ... WELL, I WON'T BREAK YOUR HEART TELLING THAT PART OF THE STORY.
YOU WANT MY ADVICE? JUST STAY AWAY FROM THE VILLA AND THAT OLD HAG GOTHEL.
SOME DAYS I'D LIKE TO, BUT THAT'S A MITE HARD, SEEING AS HOW I LIVE THERE.
GOTHEL'S MY MOTHER.
GOTHEL IS ... IS YOUR MOTHER? SHE NAME YOU RAPUNZEL? YOU LOOK THE AGE.
IT IS POSSIBLE ...?
THEN THIS IS HER, MASON? SHE'S ALIVE? THIS IS MY LITTLE GIRL?
R ... RAPUNZEL?
IT'S YOU. MY GIRL, MY FLOWER, I KNOW IT'S YOU! I PRAYED YOU WERE ALL RIGHT.
I DO KNOW YOU ... DON'T I?
YOU'VE BEEN GETTING WATER LONG ENOUGH! BACK INSIDE!
GET BACK INTO CAMP NOW.
I'M YOUR MOTHER. THAT WOMAN TOOK YOU FROM ME! ALL THESE YEARS, I THOUGHT SHE KILLED YOU.
IT WAS MY FAULT. I WAS PREGNANT AND CRAVING GREENS.
GOTHEL THREATENED PUNISHMENT FOR THE THEFT, BUT WE NEVER IMAGINE SHE'D TAKE YOU, OR WE WOULD'VE-
PLEASE DON'T TAKE HER AWAY AGAIN! PLEASE!
I SAID THAT'S ENOUGH!
MY GIRL ...
I'M SORRY, RAPUNZEL.
IS ... IS HER HUSBAND IN THE CAMP, TOO?
NOPE. KATE'S HUSBAND WAS KILLED IN THE MINES A FEW YEARS BACK.
SOME OF THE MEN DON'T LAST TOO LONG. HEH.
I guess you could call it magic of a kind, but the moment that woman touched me, all the hazy memories in my head became as real as rain.
I knew that woman. Kate. Momma. I remembered being her little girl before I became Rapunzel.
The whole world shimmered with a new idea-my momma loving me and me loving her back.
YOU LIED TO ME.
BACK THEN I DIDN'T HAVE SUCH A GOOD WALL. NO ONE WILL STEAL FROM ME AGAIN.
SO IT'S ALL TRUE?
YOU SAW HOW THAT WOMEN LIVES. THINK WHAT I SAVED YOU FROM.
SHE'S ONLY IN THE MINES BECAUSE YOU-
UNGRATEFUL CHILD, SLAVES ARE NECESSARY TO BUILD UP MY EMPIRE. OUR EMPIRE.
OUR? IF I'D KNOWN WHAT WAS GOING ON, I WOULD'VE RUN AWAY LONG AGO!
When she quit arguing, I actually thought I'd won. For one amazing moment, I really believed it was going to be happily-ever-after right then and there.
I didn't anticipate the whole sticking-a-sack-over-my-head thing.
Her henchman, Brute, used to give me piggyback rides. This time, being thrown over his shoulder wasn't so fun.
We traveled for days.
It got pretty hot and stinky under that sack.
Brute didn't let me see again until we were in a forest as green as Mother Gothel's garden.
It wasn't exactly the kind of place I'd care to take an afternoon stroll.
Mother Gothel had grown a creepy tree ...
... with a hollowed-out room high up ...
... perfect for imprisoning a trouble maker.
PLEASE, BRUTE! DON'T LEAVE ME HERE.
MOTHER GOTHEL SAYS YOU'RE NAUGHTY, SO HERE YOU GO.
I was able to make some helpful observations before he was out of earshot.
They mostly had to do with his odor and bathroom habits.
I hoped he might come right back, that it was just a joke.
But for all I Knew, he'd been eaten by a wild boar in the forest.
A girl can dream ...
There I was.
Nothing to do.
Besides a little housekeeping.
Again and again, I'd daydream about sneaking into the mines, saving my momma, and running away to a place where we could be happy and safe.
But I was stuck in the tower like an ant in a drop of honey.
So I did everything I could to keep from thinking.
Winter was the hardest.
Mother Gothel's magic tree sealed up my window tighter to hoop in the warmth.
But it kept me in, too.
In the winter all I could do was think.
You bet I fantasized about escaping. And saving my mother. And teaching Mother Gothel a lesson.
And I had no idea how to do it.
My bed was made up of leaves. No blankets, so I couldn't tear them up, tie them into a rope, and lower myself down like any sensible girl would.
At least I always had plenty to eat. Another trick of Mother Gothel's growth magic.
And speaking of growth ...
my hair was getting ridiculously long ...
... and I had to file down my nails every day.
I guessed that forest must've been teeming with growth magic-the beasts got huge ...
... but I only got long hair and nails.
Gothel never bothered to explain to me how the magic worked.
She came by once a year.
HAVE YOU GOTTEN OVER YOUR FIT OF REBELLION?
THERE'S A FEATHER BED AND CLEAN CLOTHES WAITING FOR YOU AT HOME.
THANK YOU, MOTHER. I'M READY TO GO HOME. AND BE A GOOD GIRL.
I hoped she'd believe me and let me out so I could escape and go free my mother.
But I guess she could see through my act.
She always left quickly.
Being alone became unbearable all over again.
Sometimes I cried myself silly.
Sometimes I got out my anger in other ways.
There were three books in the tower.
By the second year, I had them pretty well memorized.
And then I started to find other ways to pass the time.
To keep from going batty, I made use of my dratted hair.
As soon as I thought my locks were long enough, I tried to lower myself out of the tower.
It turned out they weren't quite long enough.
The last time Mother Gothel visited was my sixteenth birthday.
Happy birthday to me.
OUT OF EVERY LITTLE GIRL IN THE WORLD, I CHOSE YOU, RAPUNZEL!
WELL, CHOOSE SOMEONE ELSE. MY REAL MOTHER NEVER WOULD'VE PUT ME IN THIS ... THIS CAGE.
HMPH. THE TRUTH IS, YOU WERE LESS IMPORTANT TO HER THAN A HANDFUL OF LETTUCE LEAVES.
MY OWN PARENTS GOT RID OF ME WHEN I WAS STILL A GIRL.
WE'RE THE SAME, RAPUNZEL.
WE'RE NOT! YOU'RE A THIEF!
BE MY DAUGHTER AND CLAIM THE BIRTHRIGHT I MADE FOR YOU, OR STAY IN THIS TOWER AND ROT.
I guess I'd never stood up to Mother Gothel before, and I don't mind admitting I was scared spitless, but I knew I couldn't pretend anymore.
So I told her to go to ...
... someplace less nice.
In hindsight, that might've been a fairly stupid thing to do.
Fortunately, every day my hair had been growing longer, and the tree outside my window had been growing taller.
I didn't have much time to practice. As soon as Mother Gothel left, the food stopped coming, and the window seemed to be shrinking with the intent to close forever.
My first few attempts weren't extremely successful ...
... but they weren't completely fruitless either.
And then at last ...
... I managed to lasso the tree ...
... swing gracefully From my prison ...
... climb down the tree's branches ...
... and land triumphantly on the forest floor.
I knew I had to skedaddale before-
WAIT, YOU EVIL HUNK OF HAM!
I wonder if I could've ridden that boar clear out of the forest and all the way back to Mother Gothel's mine camps, if not for-
OW! WHAT IN THE-
ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?
AM I ... AM I ALL RIGHT?
WELL, I WAS UNTIL SOMEONE SHOT MY NEW PET PIT
I WAS GOING TO CALL HIM ROGER.
YOU'RE WELCOME! ALL IN A DAY'S WORK. I'M AN ADVENTURING HERO.
WELL, IT'S NICE TO MEET YOU. IT'S NICE TO MEET ANYONE REALLY.
CAN YOU GIVE ME DIRECTIONS TO-
I WAS GETTING SO BORED WATCHING THE WORKERS FARM MY FIELDS ALL DAY.
SO I LEFT BEHIND THE CIVILIZED COMFORTS OF HUSKER CITY, FOLLOWING TALES OF A BEAUTIFUL MAIDEN TRAPPED IN A HIGH TOWER.
OH! THAT'S SO NOBLE OF YOU TO COME ALL THIS WAY TO HELP HER.
YES, NOBLE IS A GOOD WORD FOR ME.
I CAN'T ACTUALLY RESCUE HER, OF COURSE. THE WORD IS SHE'S MOTHER GOTHEL'S PET AND I WON'T RISK CROSSING THE OLD LADY.
BUT I CAN TELL HER I'M GOING TO RESCUE HER.
SHE'S BOUND TO BE TOO NAIVE TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE, AND BE SUCH FUN THE MEANTIME!
SO, TINY RAGAMUFFIN, AS PAYMENT FOR SAVING YOU FROM THAT RAMPAGING BEAST, YOU MAY POINT THE WAY TO HER MYSTICAL TOWER.
UH, YEAH, THE TOWER IS A HUGE TREE JUST BACK THAT WAY, BUT ... BUT SHE'S SLIGHTLY DEAF. IF YOU KEEP CALLING OUT, SHE'LL HEAR YOU.
AND I'M OFF.
REMEMBER TO YELL AS LOUD AS YOU CAN!
This is where the "once upon a time" part ends, with yours truly finally free from that perpendicular prison.
HERE I GO.
Besides being hungry enough to eat poor old Roger, all I could think about was saving my mother and feeling again the way I had when she'd held me.
And along the way, I had a though to teach Mother Gothel that she can't be a bully without earning a swift kick in the rear.
Chapter TwoRustling Up Some Grub
So it was pretty hot.
Actually, it was more ugly hot.
Other people! I wanted to talk the ear off the first person I saw, but all I could manage was-
ALL RIGHT, BUT THEN YOU AND YOUR INTERESTING HAIRDO HAD BEST GET ON.
After four years In a tower, it wasn't quite the welcome I'd been hoping for.
DOWN FROM THE CARRION GLADE, ARE YOU? NOTHIN' GOOD COMES FROM THERE.
OH. WELL, I'M NOT FROM
I WAS JUST, YOU KNOW, ESCAPING.
IS THAT SO?
I GREW UP IN A VILLA WITH MY ...
... WITH A WOMAN NAMES GOTHEL.
SAYS SHE'S FROM GOTHEL'S VILLA! THAT'S A GOOD ONE.
YOU'VE HEARD OF IT?
COULD YOU GIVE ME DIRECTIONS?
WE DON'T TALK ABOUT MOTHER GOTHEL, IF YOU DON'T MIND.
WELL, I'M MIGHTY HUNGRY.
YOU CAN STOP OGLING MY STEW.
FOOD DOESN'T JUST GROW ON TREES, YOU KNOW.
ACTUALLY, SOMETIMES IT-
YOU WANT SOMETHING, GIRL, YOU GOTTA EARN IT. CLEAN UP AND YOU CAN HAVE A BITE BEFORE YOU GET ONE.
I was beginning to worry I really was as naive and helpless as that rifle-toting ninny in the forest thought I'd be.
GOOD AFTERNOON, MA'AM.
I WAS WONDERING IF YOU HAD SOME HONORABLE BARMAID WORK, AND IF SO, I WOULD BE EAGER TO APPLY FOR SUCH A POSITION POSTHASTE.
TARNATION, GIRL, YOU AIN'T GOT THE FACE FOR FRONT WORK.
YOU TOLD HER RIGHT!
HEY, HOW MUCH YOU WANT FOR THAT GOOSE? THAT BIRD LOOKS LIKE GOOD EATIN'.
AS MUCH AS I'D LIKE TO ACCEPT YOUR OFFER, BEING IN URGENT NEED OF GOLD, THIS PARTICULAR GOOSE IS NOT FOR SALE.
I DON'T RECALL GIVING YOU A CHOICE.
EASY, FOLKS, NO CALL FRO TROUBLE.
PIPE DOWN, RUBY. WE HAVEN'T SEEN A GOOD TUSSLE IN WEEKS.
NAME A FAIR PRICE, LITTLE LADY. I'LL BE TAKING THAT BIRD WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. SO SORRY TO TREAD UPON YOUR PEACEFUL AFTERNOON, FINE FOLK.
IF YOU'LL BE SO KIND, I'LL JUST TAKE MY EXIT.
NOT SO FAST ...
HEY, HOLD THE FORT-THAT'S A BOY!
I used to daydream about the real world.
I imagine happy families ...
Places where people fell in love and wonderful things happened.
NOW WE GET A LITTLE SUPPER!
And instead I find people grabbing whatever they want, no matter who they hurt.
I didn't think twice before pulling out my braid.
Only this wasn't like whipping flies off the tower wall.
THAT RAGGEDY LITTLE GIRL WHIPPED ME!
I'LL SHOW HER....
SHE'S TRYING TO BE A HERO.
AIN'T THAT CUTE?
HENRY! RATTLESNAKE! GET IN HERE AND BRING YOUR GUNS!
COME ON, WE'VE GOT TO SCAM.
BUT ... BUT I WAS HOPING FOR SOME STEW.
YOU'LL BE THE STEW IF YOU DON'T HUSTLE.
ARE THESE YOUR HORSES?
UH ... SURE. YOU EVER RIDDEN A HORSE BEFORE?
WELL, THERE WAS THIS BOARD....
THESE ARE THEIR HORSES, AREN'T THEY?
YOU TELL 'EM GOLDY!
THE NAME'S JACK, BY THE WAY.
WELL, I'M RAPUNZEL. HOWDY-DO AND ALL BUT ...
HOW DARE YOU TRICK ME INTO STEALING HORSES?
HEY, IT WAS EITHER THAT OR GET A BEHIND FULL OF BUCKSHOT. YOU SHOULD THANK ME!
YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO TURN ME INTO A THIEF-
AROUND HERE, IT'S ROB OR BE ROBBED. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT? WHERE'VE YOU BEEN?
IN A PRISON.
WAIT, DON'T GO. YOU SAVED MY GOOSE, AND I'M SORRY ABOUT THE HORSES.
LOOK, WE SHOULD TAKE A REST HERE TONIGHT, AT LEAST. IT'S DANGEROUS OUT THERE, AND I'M ITCHIN' TO CHANGE MY GARB.
YOU ARE ...
... I'VE BEEN IN THIS DRESS FOR FOUR YEARS.
HAH! GOOD ONE!
OH ... RIGHT. FOUR YEARS.
IT'D BE NICE TO HAVE TROUSERS TO WEAR FOR RIDING. HERE'S SOMETHING ...
I'M CHANGING DON'T LOOK.
WHAT DID YOU SAY?
AAA! I SAID DON'T LOOK!
DON'T LOOK AT WHAT?
MY UNDER CLOTHES!
UM ... THEY LOOK A LOT LIKE OUTER CLOTHES TO ME.
OH. SO THEY ARE.
OKAY, NOW IT'S YOUR TURN NOT TO LOOK.
AREN'T YOU DONE YET?
HOLD YOUR HORSES.
TECHNICALLY, THEY AREN'T MINE.
YOU'RE IN UNDER CLOTHES!
HOLY BEANS BUT THAT'S SURE A MESS. HOW ABOUT A BELT?
WELL, THAT IS A RIDICULOUS HAT.
IT'S THE STYLE BACK EAST. I'M FROM SHYPORT, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE THE LARGEST AND MOST FASHIONABLE CITY IN ALL THE NEW WORLD TERRITORIES.
OH. IT STILL LOOKS FUNNY.
MAYBE WE SHOULD KEEP MOVING. I DON'T WANT TO GET CAUGHT BEFORE I HAVE A CHANGE TO RETURN THE HORSES YOU STOLE.
NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT THIS SPRING.
HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT IT?
HIDEOUTS HAVE BECOME MY SPECIALTY. I'VE BEEN ... ER ... LYING LOW FOR A WHILE.