She took another angry swing at the bush like it would make a difference to her situation anyway. It was the only thing she could do at the moment without making things worse for herself. If she were to do what she wanted to, that was to rant about how unfair things were for her, it would only further cement her status of how wrong she was to the rest of the group. Besides training her left hand gave her an excuse to keep away from the others, as they were the last group of people Cassandra wanted to be with at the moment.
As Cassandra kept targeting the bush, the voice of Lance broke her field of concentration. He was the least bad of the group as Eugene was just plain annoying in general, a conversation with Shorty was like a conversation with a brick wall, and Rapunzel was the reason she was so mad in the first place. Lance could be a pain at times, but he was just an inoffensive presence to Cassandra right now.
“Do you have to keep training, that shrub can only take so much,” he quipped, as he lazily sat back and ate his sandwich.
Cassandra rolled her eyes at that statement. “Well due to Rapunzel’s magic act, I now have to relearn everything with my other arm,” she said a little more about how dangerous the area they were in right now, but was something that hardly mattered to her.
While Cassandra didn’t go into detail about having to start from step one all over again, when talking about it, her tone dripped with a salty venom that burned whoever had to listen with it. There was no intention for Cassandra to treat it as a light matter that could be fixed with a simplified conversation of what she had lost when her hand was burnt to a crisp. Personally, there was a lot of loss for Cassandra with this recent development, especially for the day they would return home.
Whoever the first person to see her new frazzled hand, most likely her dad, that would be the end for her reputation that she spent her whole life building up. Any chance she has at the guard will go up in smoke when they see the condition of it and how it impairs her movement. Then everyone would look at her with pity for what had happened, which was the last thing she ever wanted from anyone. However, that was only the best-case scenario
Her worst-case scenario seemed more likely, which was pretty on-brand for the rotten luck she gets stuck with. Since Rapunzel, princess of Corona, made it clear that this only happened because she intervened with the decay incantation, it would be presented that way when they get home. Once Rapunzel makes that fact clear, she wouldn’t just be a disappointment to herself, but the kingdom as a whole, that fact itself stung the most for her.
Her wallow in self-pity came to a halt when Eugene came back with Maximus closely following behind him. The horse was pulling the caravan, but it was split into two and barely constructed together as it was. It looked like they were going to be here for at least another day putting it back together.
This wasn’t helped by the fact that Shorty just had to touch it leading to both halves falling on their sides. Cassandra swore since they found him inside the wheel, he had been nothing but a nuisance to the group, sometimes she wanted to kick him out and leave him in the middle of nowhere.
“Oh, Cass and I will just go into the next town and get the materials to fix the caravan,” adding a strong emphasis on the ‘me and Cass’ part, meaning that she wanted them alone. Before the princess could notice, Cassandra made a deep frown before returning to a neutral face when addressing her. “Yeah, sounds great,” the sarcastic tone was clear as crystal.
The two began heading towards a meadow, many miles away from any nearby civilization. Just the two of them, possibly for the rest of today and tomorrow, Cassandra couldn’t help but hunched her back at that thought.
The two had trekked for at least an hour with only the sounds of nature being the only thing to hit their ears. This was fine for Cassandra, she had nothing to say and even if she did, it would only cause more trouble. She turned back to have a glance at her face, which showed a high level of discomfort and annoyance. This silence between them was only temporary.
Rapunzel was dragging behind Cassandra just a bit until she was walking right next to her. Despite Cassandra’s desire for silence, she knew that the princess was about to start speaking.
“So Cass, I was thinking of back home and how amazing Attila’s cupcakes were. It’s like a song in your head, but it’s a flavor.” Rapunzel began yammering on about this seemingly busy talk, but Cassandra knew better that this was leading to something else. “Is there anything on your mind you want to talk about,” Rapunzel asked softly.
There it was, Rapunzel’s unsubtle attempt to force her to open up about the situation. Luckily for her, the rapid river they were walking up towards gave Cassandra the perfect diversion. “Piranhas,” she said flatly.
Rapunzel gave her a confused face but kept going. “Hmm, that’s interesting, do you want to talk about it?”
Cassandra rolled her eyes at the question, “no.” She then pulled out an apple, threw it in the water, and watched it be devoured in seconds by a swarm of piranhas. Cassandra took a glance around the area to find a way across the river. It seemed to stretch down a good while and there were no large trunks to form a makeshift bridge to head over. She took one look at the trees and knew what they had to do.
“We’ll have to use the trees to get over,” it made Cassandra feel tired just saying that let alone actually going over. She took a strong glance at her armored hand, hailed a deep breath, and began climbing the tree. While it wasn’t like her arm was paralyzed, the state that it was in made it a lot harder to do a task she’d done as a child.
She carefully climbed up the trunk, making sure that her grip was steady at all times. Every branch she reached for made her feel a little scared that she wouldn’t be able to secure it fast enough. Every time she would go higher, she would have her bad hand hold onto the branch she was on and her good hand grabs the next one. It wasn’t easy, but it was manageable.
When she was finally high enough, she swung her body down and reached for the branch, like they were the monkey bars she played on as a kid. Concentrate, just one arm at a time and she would be on the other side. Unfortunately, when she went to reach with her bad arm, she nearly lost her grip and almost fell into the dangerous river.
“Cassandra, are you okay,” Rapunzel called out with concern. Cassandra’s only response was to shake her hand before grabbing the branch again, “Yeah, I’m fine.” Cassandra swung her body again and positioned herself under the tree, where she began crawling her way to the other side.
Once she was at a safe enough distance, she carefully jumped down and joined back with Rapunzel. The princess was giving her a long, sad look, then she went back to staring at the map. “There should be a town right over that hill,” Rapunzel pointed out.
Considering how far the black rocks had spread over the year, she didn’t just trust any old map to lead them to a populated village. “Let’s be sure before we make the climb over.” Cassandra whistled and her loyal owl came flying right to her, perfectly perching himself on her good arm.
“Oh,” Rapunzel began with a disappointed voice, “Owl’s here. I was just hoping it could be the two of us.”
Cassandra shifted her eyes with an awkward expression on her face, while she really wanted to let Owl stay with her, this was still a request from her boss. Even with her anger at Rapunzel, she couldn’t just deny her request.
“Oh, he was just stretching his wings,” Cassandra said, feeling embarrassed. She gently lifted her arm up, giving him the signal to leave. It won’t bother her too much anyway, considering he always tends to stay close by.
The duo hiked up the hill and walked right up to the nearest town, which was deserted due to the black rocks. Lots of damage has been sustained, leaving mostly rubble and debris behind in its wake, with the only thing still standing was a cart filled with a small assortment of items. Meaning that this trip was a waste of time in the end.
There was no time to dwell on that though, at least they could search through some of the wreckage and possibly find something useful for the caravan. If it meant getting out of here as fast as possible to avoid an inevitable chat about her feelings, then she was fine with that.
The girls walked up to the cart to see if there was anything helpful to them. The cart was mostly filled with small vials of powders and strange liquids. Probably belong to some con artist claiming to be able to fix people’s problems. However, one thing did seem to catch the girl’s attention, a wand with a small pink crystal embedded in it.
Conveniently right next to it laid a book, that looks like to be the instruction manual for the item. Cassandra lifted the book up and glared at the cover of it. “The wand of oblivion; erases what you wish to forget,” she read aloud.
How coincidental that she found that book, considering how much she truly wanted to forget about everything since going through the Great Tree. While it would be tempting just to use the wand on herself, she knew deep down that this wouldn’t erase any of her problems. What happened has happened and now the only thing to do was to deal with it.
Cassandra noticed that Rapunzel was examining the wand, even waving it around a little. “Ohh, a memory wand. I wonder if it works,” she said in a fascinated voice, waving the wand as if she was performing a spell with it. She then proceeds to drop the wand, lift it again, and do the same thing she did a moment ago. Cassandra showed some concern over that, the last thing she needed was Rapunzel to be stuck in a loop.
She went to do it for the third time but stopped in the middle of it. “Hey, did I get you?” she asked as she playfully elbowed her. Cassandra cracked a small smile, “Ha, real funny.” This was probably the first time Cassandra had smiled since everything went down, sadly that only lasted about five seconds. Then Rapunzel started talking again.
“Too bad there isn’t a ‘get your friend to open up to you’ wand,” Rapunzel said in a dejected voice. Rapunzel’s attempt to force her to talk wasn’t happening that easily. “What happened in the tree, I didn’t have another choice.”
Cassandra took a strong deep breath and responded to her. “If you feel that way, then it’s fine.” She knew it wasn’t fine and Rapunzel knew it wasn’t fine. But the moment Rapunzel pulled rank in their argument, Cassandra knew things between them just couldn’t be fine anymore. The only choice for Cassandra now was just to deal with whatever comes her way and hope that it doesn’t end up hurting her too much.
The two stayed silent after that exchange, the silence went on for another hour or two leading into the sun setting leading to the transition of day to night. The two got ready to rest finding spots in the dirt, Cassandra rested out in an open space, with only a book to use as a pillow. For Rapunzel, she rested right under the cart, undoing her braid to sleep on her hair.
Rapunzel adjusted her body up, calling out to her handmaiden. “Cass, we both need to talk about what is going on between us.” Cassandra was starting to lose her patience with this, why couldn’t Rapunzel just leave her be.
“I told you I’m not upset, Rapunzel,” she said very agitatedly. “Yes, you are,” she responded back.
“Yeah, and makes you sure you know how I’m feeling,” Cassandra angrily questioned. “Friends, just have a way of knowing.”
It was a simple response, but it was a response that made Cassandra feel angry. It should just be the fact that she was recently humiliated in front of everyone in the group and ending up with a brunt arm should make anyone feel upset. You shouldn’t have to be a friend of someone just to guess that about them.
“Raps, I said it’s fine,” her voice was firm and sharp, this conversation couldn’t finish soon enough. “It’s okay if you’re angry at me, I’m angry at you too. I told you I had it under control and you didn’t listen. So if you’re upset, just tell me.”
What was the point of going on with this, every time she attempted to have this conversation it only went in a circle anyway? Rapunzel will say something that will try to get her to open up and Cassandra will only brush it off to get her to be quiet about it.
“Know what, I’m not doing this right now. I am going to sleep and in the morning, we’ll go back and drop it completely.” She knew this wasn’t the best thing to say right now, but her anger at the situation was really starting to get to her.
“Cass, come on. Are you really going to be this stubborn to avoid this conversation? Are you always this stubborn?”
“Raps, drop it. Please just drop it.” She knew her pled would be ignored, what was the point of wasting breath?
Rapunzel was becoming increasingly frustrated by Cassandra, so much so that she accidentally bumped her head on the shelf above, with the wand landing in her hand. Cassandra instantly noticed and call out to her. “Uhh, Raps.”
Rapunzel ignored that, as she continues on with her rant. “I know a lot happened at the tree, with Adira and Hector, then with your arm, but that isn’t a reason to stay quiet about it. Please, I want you to open up to me about it.” Her words were becoming desperate, any attempt to get her to open up about what happened. But Cassandra was refusing to budge.
“You know, I just wished you were back to how you were before.” As soon as she finished that sentence, a pink light began to emit from the wand, growing brighter within every second. Before she knew it, Cassandra's mind went blank for a second.
After recovering from that, the handmaiden blinked her eyes as she stared at this open field, with no knowledge of knowing how she ended up here in the first place.