Rapunzel Act 1byTatewaki©
Rapunzel: Act I - The Beginning
People have long desired to acquire things that they should not. Perhaps this is part of the human condition. Today it is the quest for money, or power, or fame. But once upon a time in an age long since passed there lived an old couple. Rowan the cabinetmaker and his wife Hazel owned a modest cottage at the edge of the Great Wood. The clean air and abundant fresh water and game meant that they never suffered from hunger, thirst or sickness. Rowan adored his wife and she loved him in return.
But unhappiness plagued them.
The source of their misery lay in their childless state. For years Hazel had desired a child and so had her husband. They tried, and tried, and tried some more, but no matter what special techniques they employed she simply could not conceive. Hazel eventually grew past the age were she could bear. When her cleft dried up, the moon-decreed crimson flows staunched for all eternity, so did all of her hopes for a family.
Hazel was no Sarai, and Rowan no Abraham. No Angels had visited them in a mission of mercy to make her fertile once more. Their Christian God shut his ears to their pleas, His mysterious workings quite beyond their ken.
But there were other Gods besides Him at work in the Cosmos.
One morning when the old couple woke up they found themselves with a new neighbour. For right beside them, positioned around the small pool where they had drawn their water for the last fifty years sprawled a manor house of ivory. It gleamed like bits of bleached bone in the desert sun. Its crimson roof tiles sparkled in the morning light like freshly spilled blood on a field of unspoiled snow. The abode was one fit for a king. No, for an emperor!
Or, as they found out much later, for an Enchantress.
Rowan and Hazel paced around the manor house, him admiring the straight lines of the stone, the high peaked windows and the precision of every line and seam. Hazel had eyes only for the splendid gardens that surrounded it. Never before had she seen such beautiful flowers and an odd assortment of plants and herbs.
"Why look," said she, "there be a bed of fine rampion, such the like these old eyes have never seen before. Pray, dearest husband, fetch me a handful so I can make us a fine salad for tonight's repast."
"No, dear wife, the garden does not belong to us. Who knows what wickedness the New Lord might do to us?"
"Did he ask our permission before taking our pond, husband?" Hazel huffed. "We shall take some rampion as payment. See to it." Like a Queen after delivering her edict, so did Rowan's wife depart, striding away with confident, albeit exceedingly rapid steps. She knew her husband would obey her. Her husband doted upon her and would do what she desired regardless of how he personally felt about the matter. So it had always been.
Rowan crept into the gardens and violated the pristine bed of rampion, just as an unskilled suitor plowed into a virgin; tousling her hair, mussing up her sheets and leaving bloody, indelible signs of his clumsy passage. Try as he might, he could not hide the fact that two great handfuls of the precious herb had been stolen. With a heavy heart, he ran away with his ill gotten gains.
He never did see the wizened face of the onyx-eyed Enchantress staring out of the window.
The purloined greens made an excellent repast, and in the joy of consuming the delectable victuals all traces of guilt vanished like a shallow puddle in summer's heat. "See," Hazel told her husband, "the greens are lush and sweet, just as I expected." Then Hazel did something she rarely did these days, she kissed her husband full on the mouth. Rowan felt the heat in her kiss, and rose up in response, his manhood growing with each kiss she pressed against his dry lips. Soon he pushed himself into his welcoming wife, competing with his spearing tongue which penetrated the damp cavern of her mouth. He took her mouth with his tongue even as he took her sodden area of female delight with his cock. It had been a long time since she had given herself to him without complaint. A very long time, indeed. As he tupped his wife on the hard wooden tabletop he thanked God for giving him and his wife good health and a deep love for one another. Most importantly, he thanked God for making his wife desire him this very night.
He never realized that his God had absolutely nothing to do with it.
The next morning Rowan awoke violently, driven awake by the piercing screams from his wife.
"Look, oh look, dear Rowan," she wailed, despair filling her voice. "Look what evil the New Lord has wrought upon us!" She lifted her wrinkled, trembling hand and pointed out the window towards the manor house.
A high crenellated wall of white stone surrounded the manor, the top over two man-heights tall. Hazel ran to the attic and peered out of the small, dusty window in the roof. This high up she could see over the wall. Most of the garden remained hidden from view, but not the delicious bed of rampion! It filled her eyes and her heart with avarice.
Rowan's cajoling accomplished naught. Hazel would not budge from her window seat. Three days passed, three long days where Hazel moved not. She sipped on the potted water Rowan brought up for her and chewed listlessly on some of the dried meat and stale bread that remained in the kitchen, but she refused to leave the window overlooking the garden. Rowan noticed with alarm that the rampion bed grew large and juicy while his frail wife grew smaller and weaker, as if her vitality seeped into the rich earth that nourished the verdant plants.
Her disease knew only one cause, and only one cure. "Please, dear husband, steal out into the New Lord's demesne and fetch me some of that Ambrosia. Without it, I shall surely perish." Rowan knew her pleadings to be the truth. Without the rapunzel he would be a widower by month's end.
Rowan departed that night for the Lord's manor for a second time, his legs trembling frightfully the entire away. He approached the massive double doors, gates crossed by thick spars of oaken timber. He knocked thrice upon the gate, then waited patiently.
"What if he isn't here," Rowan thought to himself. "My wife may well perish before he returns to his land. He has many fine plants in his garden, not just the rapunzel. Surely he would not begrudge me just a little bit." So he scaled the wall with a limberness that surprised him. His body had been like this for almost three days, ever since he and his wife had eaten of the succulent greens from the New Lord's garden. His joints had stopped aching in the nighttime and he had more vitality than he possessed since he was in his thirties. More importantly, he knew again the insistent stirrings of lust, something he had thought extinguished years ago. Every waking moment he desired to bed his wife, though in her near catatonia he had been forced to relieve himself in other, less wholesome ways. The thought of his own wicked acts shamed him.
The cabinetmaker's feet touched the earth on the far side of the wall, making no more sound than did a moonbeam creeping across a creaky wooden floor at night. He stealthily traversed the garden until he faced the rampion bed. His hand reached out, trembling in his eagerness to collect that which would restore dear Hazel to normalcy once again.
It was not to be.
The entire garden lit up, flooding with daylight as if the sun's rays shone in this garden alone. But such was impossible. It was well past mid-night!
"Hold, thief!" A reedy female voice called out. "Who dares rape my garden?"
Rowan dropped to his knees, knowing that not even a powerful Lord could summon daylight to pierce Night's sable cloak. He now knew what kind of person had constructed this perfect home and garden in a single night. A magus had taken up residence beside him.
Rowan watched the small figure step out of a blazing sphere of amber luminescence. She dressed herself in shimmering robes of silk and brocade, the topaz cloth as brilliant as the mystic sphere itself. Fine velvet slippers embroidered with thread-of-gold adorned her petite feet. But she was old, much older than the cabinetmaker or his wife. Old like the world was old, if not older than that. Her eyes, though. Those merciless black pits looked eternal.
Looking into her serpent eyes, Rowan knew fear.
"Please, Great Mistress," he whined, prostrating himself in front of her, "my wife needs some rampion or else she will die. She craves it like nothing else in this world. Upon tasting it the first time she was merry and gay. Now she resembles a walking corpse, only existing in hopes of one day tasting your sweet vegetable again."
"I care not," the woman said. "Why should I fret over the fate of thieves? I saw you steal my crops, shiftless man. You took that which did not belong to you. That is why I do not care if she does perish."
"And you stole our water!" Rowan replied hotly. If he was to lose his beloved Hazel, he didn't care to go on living. Whether he died of a broken heart or in a burst of flames from a sorceress's caress, death was death. "You claimed the only fresh water for almost a quarter day's journey in any direction."
"Did I? For that I apologize. I meant no harm to you or your wife. Here, please accept this rampion plant as payment for your water rights." She pulled out the tallest, healthiest plant and handed it to him, roots, leaves and flowers all. He cupped the bulbous, long white roots in both of his hands as he gazed up at the bluish-white bellflowers that swayed gently in the nighttime breeze. Her sudden generosity stunned him. He never expected the Noble Lady to apologize, much less offer any reparations for her wrongdoing. The rich took and the poor paid; was that not how the world operated?
"Tell me more about your wife, stranger. How did the leaf effect her?" You see, this was Dame Gothel's true objective. If all the people in the world became the sands of the Sahara, the number of those who could use the rapunzel would amount to less than a thimbleful of sand. If the man's wife could truly use the plant it would mean much to the future welfare of the aged Enchantress. She needed more information.
"Well, when she ate of it, what happened?" Dame Gothel pressed.
"She became excited."
"Very warm and loving," Rowan said.
"How loving?" The clipped tone from the Enchantress revealed her anger. She quickly shed her facade of amicability. Rowan knew this intuitively, and did not wish to offend her further.
"I saw in her the sweet young lamb she had been long ago," he whispered. I saw my dear Hazel as she looked a lifetime before."
This is what the old Dame wished to hear. "I see," she said coolly. "Then I offer to her as much of the rampion as she desires, provided that the first child she bears becomes mine."
"Child? Great Lady, my wife is as old as I am. We will not be having any children. God has seen fit not to give us any."
"Don't be so sure, stranger. Is it not said that your God works in mysterious ways?"
"Your God as well, my Lady."
The Enchantress only smiled at the cabinetmaker's naivete. "Well, if you do not expect to have any children, then it should be an easy bargain for you to strike. Your firstborn child for unlimited amounts of rampion. Do you give your consent?"
The vehement response shocked him to his toes. He never imagined he could challenge the will of any Lord, much less a sorceress! He didn't believe for one moment that Hazel would ever bear children. But if she did conceive by the grace of God, there could be no way he would ever give the child up. Not for the entire contents of the garden and the whole bloody manor house along with it!
The old Enchantress smiled, her thin lips twisting into a smirk that did not reach her black eyes. "Then take your single plant and go, stranger. Make sure you never return to this place. It is your life if you come back here." The aged Dame placed a tiny hand upon his shoulder. The next moment, the confused cabinetmaker stood in the kitchen area of his modest cottage once more. He placed his booty on the table lest he spill it upon the floor.
Rowan bounded up the stairs and fetched his weeping wife. Her eyes filled with joy as soon as she saw the beautiful plant sitting on the tabletop. "Dearest Rowan, you have fetched me a whole plant?" Fat tears ran over her sallow cheeks. She reached out and caressed a tender leaf with the same gentle touch she lavished upon his staff when they coupled.
"The Enchantress insisted that I take it as payment for our water."
"Enchantress?" Hazel said idly, not removing her gaze from the wonderful plant. Rowan related everything to his wife. She shook her head sadly. "I couldn't bear to part with my child. You did the right thing to deny her request." While he spoke, she had been preparing a wonderful salad from the greens, topped with the sugary-sweet slices of the crispy rampion root. She pounced upon her salad, finishing her plate in three heartbeats. Then, seeing Rowan not eating his, she claimed his plate and set about eating that, as well.
Rowan had not been eating because of the startling changes the Divine Food brought about in his once-aged wife. As she ate the years tumbled off of her, each mouthful stripping off a season, at least. Right before his eyes her body reverted to that of a young maiden. Rowan's mouth dropped open in shock.
"What is it?" Hazel snapped, then she clapped wrinkleless hands over a rosebud mouth suddenly rounded in surprise. Instead of her thin high pitched voice, her tones had been the satiny, lilting notes she had once possessed as a young maiden of eighteen summers.
"What has happened to me?" Hazel said, voice filled with disbelief.
"You are young," Rowan said in hushed tones. "You look as you did the first day I spied you in your father's fields. You are my young Hazel, come again."
"Can it be?" Hazel said, whispering in a voice as low as her husband's. "Can it be that this plant has such power?" Slowly, piece by piece, young Hazel stripped off her garments, standing in the little room as naked as the day she was born. The cabinetmaker and his wife owned no mirror, the cost of the silver too dear for their modest means, but she could well read the lust reflected in her husband's eyes. His throbbing cock told her everything she needed to know. He had spoken the truth. "If it be so," she said, smiling, "let us do what young lovers do, dear husband." Hazel leaped upon her man, tearing off his clothes and raining kisses upon his face, neck, and shoulders. He was too stunned to resist. But what older man would resist any advances from a young, buxom woman? Especially if the delicious morsel was his lawfully wedded wife! She straddled him and rode fiercely upon his cock, working him in and out of her until he fired great gobs of semen deep into her belly. This short, albeit hard, ride failed to satiate her. She bit, tweaked and fondled him until he became rigid again. Then she took her man again for a longer, more leisurely canter to the Plains of Paradise.
After that second journey no amount of her sexual teasing could make him stiff again. She contented herself with cuddling with her husband upon the hard packed earthen floor.
"It is true. I am young again," she said, kissing Rowan's neck and cheek. "I am young after partaking of only one plant. Who knows what more could do? You will go back to the Enchantress and say that we accept her bargain. Our firstborn child for as much rapunzel as we wish."
Rowan protested mightily. He would not give up any child of his! Hazel, ever the voice of cold reason, placed a long tapered fingernail over his wrinkled lips to silence him. "Remember, dear husband, I am young. You are not. I will quickly lose interest in the old dried up rake you have become. You shall go back to Our Lady and get more rampion for us to eat together, so you shall regain your youth and vigour. Then we shall live out our lives again with a houseful of children to keep us company. Would that not be wonderful? Remember, my dearest heart, if I can bear one child I can bear a second, and a third ...
Her voice trailed off as she laid gentle kisses upon his cheeks and lips. As if by some kind of enchantment – which it most assuredly was – he grew stiff yet again. He pulled his young wife to him and laid her across the table, plowing into her with long, vigourous strokes. It had been a long week without his wife's company. Now he used her for his pleasure and his relief. The liquid sounds of their union showed her to be enjoying her husband's attentions as well. Never before did Rowan remember ever lasting so long, or plying his staff so skillfully. His beautiful wife writhed under him, brought to the highest plateaus of pleasure at least three times before he concluded the act by filling her thirsty womb with seed, as God had intended. Rowan's newfound puissance bled from him, as if it leaked out of his scepter along with his seed. He collapsed upon his woman. Rowan felt as if he had just run an entire day without stopping! But the pleasantness of this particular stripe of exhaustion would be welcome at any time.
"Will you do as I say, dearest husband?" Her languid voice stroked his eardrums the way it used to so many years ago. Rowan did not answer his wife, but neither did he protest again. His silence signaled compliance. Hazel had an accomplice in her sin.
The next day Rowan rose with the sun, just as he had every day of his life. He dressed quickly and did his morning chores, as if nothing was amiss. Performing his daily routine helped him to steel his nerves against that which was to come. Soon he must confront the Enchantress and perhaps meet his death. Had she not promised to slay him if he ever returned? But for his wife's happiness he would risk destruction. He went to the manor house and shouted over the wall. "Lady, sweet Dame, please open the gate. My wife and I agree to your terms!" But no one answered his cry. For three hours Rowan stood there, shouting until his voice grew hoarse and his hands ached from his incessant pounding upon the implacable gates. No one opened the gates for him. Upset and weary, the cabinetmaker finally returned to his cottage and his anxious wife.
Hazel did not take the news of his failure well. "Go back at night as you did before, dear husband. Go back at night and seal the bargain." Just as before, Hazel would not be dissuaded. Her piteous cries melted his heart. He could deny her nothing. Rowan waited until the sun had set and Darkness swaddled the land in her ebon tresses. Only then did he return to the manor house, with fear weighing down his every step.
Two things shocked him. One, when he approached the gate he found it to be wide open. The second, the old woman stood in the center of the opening, wearing nothing but a transparent slip spun out of spider's silk. Her breasts were wrinkled, flaccid sacs sewn onto her chest and her belly a puffy roll about her midsection, but still did he feel the blood rush to his groin to stiffen his scepter. The old Dame exuded a primitive sensuality that her age did could not efface. Without being commanded, Rowan the cabinetmaker stepped through the gate and into the Demesne of the Enchantress.
"You have returned as I expected," Dame Gothel said smugly. "Do you agree to my terms?"
"Yes," Rowan said.
"Tell me exactly what it is that you shall do for me."
Rowan cast his eyes heavenward, as if to make sure God was not looking as he confessed his sin. "Our firstborn child will be your child. Hazel and I relinquish all claims to it. Son or daughter, the child will be yours."
The Enchantress smiled at this and laid a wrinkled paw upon Rowan's chest. She hissed, as if her palm burned. Her eyes narrowed, peering at Rowan from beneath tiny slits. He took a step back in alarm. "Hold!" she said with an iron voice that could pulverize stone. Rowan stood fast, so frightened he feared he would soil himself. The crone circled him slowly, eyeing him from all angles, but not daring to touch him again.