Princess Rapunzel wiped the tears from her cheeks. "Why did Papa ever marry her?"

In a matter-of-fact way, Barnabas replied, "After your mother got out of her tower, she encountered your father while he was riding his horse through the woods. She hypnotized him into bringing her back to his father's kingdom, then hypnotized your grandparents so that they wouldn't object to her becoming the prince's bride."

"Then what?"

Barnabas gave her the scowling expression cats had perfected over generations. "Shortly after your birth, your grandparents lost their lives under very suspicious circumstances. Your mother took all of the power she and your father were meant to share. She tracked down her birth parents and..." He didn't feel it necessary to finish that sentence.

Rapunzel began to pace back and forth. "What will she do to me, Barnie?"

"I don't know, child, but you might have a chance to survive if you break your mother's scepter; Gothel's wand is inside of it."

The door opened, and young Rapunzel cowered as her mother entered. The tall, willowy Queen was beautiful in her simple white dress and diadem, which was identical to her daughter's, and her golden hair, significantly shorter than in her youth, albeit still extraordinarily long, cascaded down her back. But there was something about Queen Rapunzel that unnerved everyone who set eyes on her, though no-one could quite figure out just what it was.

"Mother," Rapunzel whimpered, "please don't-"

"You disobeyed me, daughter," said the elder Rapunzel, raising her scepter. "I distinctly forbade you from mentioning your father in my presence, and now you must-AAAHHH!"

Barnabas had just bitten her ankle, and the scepter flew from her hand. The princess caught it and ran for the open door.

"Oh no you don't!" bellowed Queen Rapunzel. Her hair came to life and stretched out to wrap itself around the little girl's waist. The scepter floated back to the Queen.

"You two will never stop me!" Queen Rapunzel cried triumphantly, her hair and eyes (which had become yellow and pupil-less) glowing almost blindingly. "Say hello to your father for me, Zellie!"

Screaming and yowling, Princess Rapunzel and Barnabas hurtled through a dark void, then found themselves in a round, dusty room with a bed, wardrobe, wash-basin, and bookcase. A thin figure slept on the bed.

"I don't believe this!" Barnabas whispered.

The person on the bed sat up. "Who's there?"

Rapunzel squinted. "P-Papa? Is that you?"


Rapunzel ran into her father's embrace, her tears falling onto his clouded eyes and clearing them. "I never thought I'd see you again!" she sobbed.

"I never thought I'd see anything again!"

"What do we do now, Papa?"

"I don't know, Zellie," Arthur said sadly. "I just don't know."

Rapunzel looked beseechingly at Barnabas.

"Don't ask me. I am but a cat."