When she became of age, Rapunzel's parents locked her in a room at the top of a distant tower surrounded by a moat to keep their princess safe. But Rapunzel had other plans. She was itching to escape and to see the wide world.
She crafted bright baubles out of her crown jewels and hair ribbons to attract the birds flying overhead. They came down like arrows, screaming for the shiny riches, but she hid them in her bodice. Except for one which she gave to a mighty eagle, charging him by her royal blood to deliver it, with her offer of marriage, to the King of Birds.
The eagle flew far and wide to reach the Bird King, who laughed heartily when he heard of the sassy human. His interest piqued, he visited the lonely tower where he found Rapunzel brushing her long, long hair. She rose, politely bowed, and strode around the mighty bird, winding long, soft tresses around his clawed feet until she had formed a soft nest into which the Bird King sank - as if unconsciously.
Your majesty honors me with his presence, she cooed smoothly, stroking the long, white feathers forming his right wing.
An offer so ridiculous should be seriously considered and then rejected, he replied, catching himself and rising with a swoop.
But is it so ridiculous? As she spoke, Rapunzel pulled her hair slowly through his feet back to her where it lay like a silent waterfall. I want to fly away and you, my dear lord, have wings. You have no royal consort and I am Princess of the realm below. I'd say that makes us fairly well suited.
The Bird King closed his piercing eyes; her hair felt like water golden water carressing his sensitive feet. When she had drawn her hair back altogether and was braiding it delicately, he opened his beak to reply but she held up a hand to stop him.
Do not answer me today, my lord. But let me accompany you to your nest and let us see if I can please you.
He agreed and she flew on his back across half the world to his gigantic tree standing 30 men high. There she stayed, cleaning his feathers, twining her copper hair around him as he slept, and journeying with him on many hunting trips where he taught her how to provide for herself in the wild. Back at the nest she would rub his feathers with oils to make them blindingly bright in the sun's rays, plucking the parasites that pestered him from soft down.
After many months, she and the king decided not to wed and he agreed not to return Rapunzel to imprisonment in the tower. Out of respect and gratitude, Rapunzel gifted him her greatest jewel and he to her, a hunting knife etched with feathers. She tucked it with the rest of her jewels into her bodice for safe keeping. They said their goodbyes and she climbed down the tree and out to find her path through the world.
The art and story are copyrighted by me, by the way.
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