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Woodcutter's Grim Series, The Final Chapter: The Amethyst Tower (Paranormal)
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Woodcutter's Grim Series, The Final Chapter: The Amethyst Tower (Paranormal)


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For the ten generations since the evil first came to Woodcutter's Grim, the Guardians have sworn an oath to protect the town from the childhood horrors that lurk in the black woods. Without them, the town would be defenseless...and the terrors would escape to the world at large.


Loosely based on "Rapunzel". The isolated maiden meets her knight in a time-traveler who's come into the future to rescue her from the Warlock Lord holding her captive in the amethyst tower. Where else but in the fairytale-horror town of Woodcutter's Grim?

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  • Karen Wiesner
    Jan 8, 2018, 18:13
    Recommended Read from Dark Angel Reviews
    2008 Dream Realms Award Winner
    5 star review from Howling Good Books
    4 1/2 star review from Siren Book Reviews
    Best Book of 2010 Nominee from Siren Book Reviews

    5 Paw Prints! “Prince has known there is much expected of him. He has known that since the day that he was born. But his dreams of his love, with Rapunzel-like hair, that is locked in a tower somewhere within the confines of his strange town make him wonder if he will ever be what the world need. A thrilling tale to read on a dark stormy night. If you are looking only for a Happily Ever After, then be forewarned this may not qualify, but instead leads the reader through the twisted streets of a town that is steeped not only in superstition but also in fairytales. Beware the streets of Woodcutter’s Grim on All Hallow’s Eve, lest the creatures that prowl the night come to bear witness to the deals you strike with their devil. This is definitely a book that I will reread! And one I recommend to any parent who enjoyed the original tales before they were remade for children. This loosely based story brings to mind just how creepy the original tale was!” ~Howling Good Books
    4 1/2 Stones! “There's a town somewhere in America where evil lurks. Escaping through a portal in time, the darkness torments the town of Woodcutter's Grim by performing acts of mischief and harm by warping those fairy tales most of us grew up reading and enjoying. But, though the townspeople feel this evil in their being, the Protectorate works tirelessly to keep the evil behind the scenes. It is up to them to protect the people from the evil as well as figure out what mischief is being conducted. Getting right to the point: This is a must read! Being one of those people who've grown up on fairytales such as Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin and the likes, I found it so very intriguing how the author not only reminds the readers of past tales, but incorporates the same look, feel and even more emotion for a modern-day audience with a very modern approach to each. This is not a story for kids! I loved the characters and how each played into the overall story, how each story played into the overall book. Karen Wiesner has taken me for a ride into her world and I have to admit, I was saddened to leave Woodcutter's Grim when I finished the book. Karen made my blood boil, my nerves fray and even more importantly, my heart ached for her characters. I would suggest all read this as soon as possible. By all means, sit in your favorite chair on a nice night and let Karen take you for a ride! This is one of those books I would love to have in hard cover, sitting on my bookshelf to pull out at any time to sit and enjoy.” ~Siren Book Reviews
    4 Stars! "In Wiesner's well-written story, familiar fairy-tale characters come to life as horrific monsters in a fictional town with a terrifying life force of its own. Characters are well drawn, but beware the clever townspeople, because everyone is suspect." ~RT Book Reviews
    4 Lips! “Karen sets this story around Halloween and that gives it a much scarier feel when you are reading. Readers, this fantastic book should be read around Halloween. Don't forget, though, when you turn your lights out you may hear things that go bump in the night. Great job, Karen. I love how you combined romance and. I really enjoyed your book, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to review it!” ~ParanormalRomance.ca
    4 Cups! "The weight of the world rests on one man's shoulders, and he is slowly crumbling. This tale is the last in a wonderfully spooky series, and it does not disappoint. Prince is pushed to the edge, and not knowing if he will survive keeps you guessing right up until the end. The Woodcutter's Grim Series takes childhood fairytales to the extreme. They are all somewhat creepy if you really think about them. It is no wonder kids have nightmares after hearing them. I enjoyed them all, but Book 3 is my favorite with its equally strong characters. Sleep tight!” ~Coffee Time Romance
    4 Stars! “This frighteningly amazing story puts a whole new twist on some old fairytales. Written very well, this story captured my imagination with its imagery and the descriptive scenes. The Amethyst Tower is based on Rapunzel and in this version her knight in shining armor happens to be a time traveler. These two were fun to get to know and this was one of my absolute favorite retellings of this story. The characters were well written and the story kept you interested with the different twists and turns. I really liked the fact that the hero was a time-traveler. It was an interesting twist to the story. This story kept me riveted to the pages and anxious to see what would happen next. Fans of wicked romance with mystery and danger lurking in every page will love this series!” ~The Romance Reviews
    4.25 Stars Overall! “This exciting time-traveling romance ties up all the prophecy's loose strings nicely. After I finished reading this addictive book, I was left wanting more to satisfy my craving for Woodcutter's Grim. To my delight, I have been told that the author has another set of stories set within the Woodcutter's Grim Series. (Volume II contains a four-book [novellas] miniseries dealing with a curse on the Shaussegeny family. These stories are also loosely based on classic fairy tales.) The chills just keep on coming!” ~Huntress Reviews
    “I don't like short stories. To me, short stories have always seemed like an easy way out. Someone comes up with a good kernel of an idea, and just writes that, without fleshing it out all the way into a story. I'm always left frustrated. Why did they make that decision? How is that they reached this age and didn't know something that was crucial to the story? What happens next? They never have closure; to me, it seems the story usually stops without being finished. That is not what happens here. Karen Wiesner has a story that’s fully formed on its own. Karen Wiesner here has called what we normally call a fairytale, “classic tales of horror.” This choice really emphasizes that most people don't realize how scary and frightening children's songs, television shows, and stories really are. For example, did you know that ring around a rosy is a song about dying from the bubonic plague? Do you realize that Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water, and Jack fell down and hit his head so hard that it split his head open? Think about how frightened Jill must have been as she ran to fetch the nanny. Woodcutter’s Grim Series stories are all re-tellings of fairy tales. It seems that evil took hold of the town Woodcutter's Grim one day, and the evil likes to possess the town and its inhabitants and force people into reenacting fairy tales. This isn't a happy possession; no Cinderella or Snow White here. The problem is that the evil has begun to seep outside the town limits and the town's protectors aren't able to keep the evil restricted to Woodcutter's Grim anymore. The Amethyst Tower is an explanation of why Rapunzel's hair grew that much, how the prince found the tower, and what happened when they climbed down her hair.The overarching story of the evil of Woodcutter's Grim, introduced in Papa, is explained and dealt with in the remaining stories. All have elements of horror but also a healthy dose of romance between our protagonists. In each, they struggle with the evil that threatens to overtake and destroy their relationships and their lives. These women almost lose their Prince Charmings through depression, infidelity, the death of a parent, etc.—things we can all relate to. In this book, not only does love prevail, but good triumphs over evil and you get two happy endings for the price of one.” ~Happily Ever After Reviews
    "A classic fairytale with a new twist. Woodcutter’s Grim is a town that has been plagued by evil for ten generations. They have also been protected by the Guardians for just as long. Without the Guardians, the terrors found in the woods of Woodcutter’s Grim would put the town and the world at risk. This book was very well put together. The storyline was well developed and resolved at the end. The story is definitely for adults, and was written in a way that made me care for all of the primary characters. The dialogue was realistic and I was entertained. Some elements were a little harsh, but it set the tone of the story." ~Paranormal Romance Reviews
    "This was a great story set or based around the town of Woodcutter's Grim--a place that I would not recommend living in or visiting at anytime...especially on Halloween. This was a nice, scary read with a modern fairytale twist. The Amethyst Tower is based on the story of Rapunzel but it is set in the future with some interesting pieces to add to the story of Woodcutter's Grim. Paranormal romance and full of horror, this is a book that shouldn't be read late at night. Things that go bump in the night would be afraid of Woodcutter's Grim. The author can write a good story. If you like something unusual, love and little mystery, then this is something worth having a taste of." ~Front Street Reviews
    "Instead of spending your Halloween handing out Trick-or-Treat candy or watching reruns of classic horror movies, spend it with a fantastic novel of four romantic horror stories and a glass of mulled cider. Enjoy a spine tingling experience with the awesome genius of Karen Wiesner. She has taken a classic Grimm’s fairytale and rewritten it in her own unique style turning it into a new modern horror tale. Terrifying and weaves perfectly into the next." ~Writers Unlimited
    "The final chapter of the series, The Amethyst Tower brings Rapunzel to life. The innocent fairy princess will either be saved or sacrificed, ultimately restoring or dooming the world. A world-weary knight must find the castle, destroy the beast, and save the princess. A bit grimmer than Grimm's fairy tales, the Woodcutter’s Grim Series will take you on a chilling journey through the darkness of night. Take a ride with author Karen Wiesner to see if the characters make it to the light." ~Romance Reviews Today
    5 Stars! "A beautiful adult fairy tale. Retelling classic fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, The Pied Piper of Hamelin and Rapunzel) has been done many times over the years. Few authors keep them classic yet scarier like Karen Wiesner has achieved with this series; the audience will feel they are entering the woods of Woodcutter’s Grim and sense they may not get out. The key that makes this series superb is the feeling everything starts out normal. Then Ms. Wiesner deftly changes the venue in each into frightening fantasy novella. This is an excellent book in which the readers will want more stops in Woodcutter’s Grim, sort of like a Hotel California adult fairytale location." ~Harriet Klausner
    “All-in-all, horror fans will find this the perfect way to spend a stormy night alone.” ~Detra Fitch for Huntress Reviews
    "Karen Wiesner's WOODCUTTER'S GRIM SERIES, presents tales based loosely on classic tales. Make no mistake however; these are powerful, contemporary tales of the paranormal, with a sprinkle of romance mixed in. The Amethyst Tower, features the classic lovelorn heroine/captive in a completely unpredictable plot. Although presented as a twist on an old tale, this story features a very original plot and emotional characters in evocative situations. A haunting, dark quality pervades, adding to the plausibility of some otherwise bizarre events (not to mention characters). The haunting quality is often derived from recall of the past, or a specific character's reflection on the past. The slower times contrast sharply with the more spine-tingling times. An enjoyable read, although best perhaps NOT at bedtimes!" ~Long and Short Reviews
    “Since I'm a big fan of retold fairytales, I enjoyed this innovative variation on the theme very much. This book contains genuine horror, so don't count on finding unequivocal happy endings.” ~author Margaret L. Carter

Prologue


1757, Prophecy: "There is but one born who can destroy the evil. Lo, even drive it back to the black hole whence it came. The chosen one is born and then born again, destined to take away the power of the evil. Destined to save what was for so long impossible to save. Destined to redeem the future for the past."

~History, Knowledge, Governing and Prophecy of the Protectorate


2008, Prophecy: "The redeemed child will die and will be reborn as many times as need be for the purpose of saving the Innocent in the Amethyst Tower, where the Great Evil lives. Only in time--when the chosen child lives, grows, and goes forth with courage in his hand to do the will of the Protectorate--will the barriers containing the evil be restored, its power weakened or even destroyed."

~History, Knowledge, Governing and Prophecy of the Protectorate


Woodcutter's Grim

October 31, 2007


"Amethyst!"

The cry came as though ripped from Prince's own throat. His father, Gabe Reece, leapt into the Time Tunnel as moonlight seared the Guardian symbol on his chest. Failure seeped into his blood, as demoralizing as defeat. He couldn't save Amethyst. Her old man had sold her to the evil taking over the town, breaking down the barriers they'd erected against it. The very evil that had stalked her since she was a little girl. 

A mad whirling of wind inside and out surrounded his entry into the tunnel. He knew what he would see when he got to the other side. The demon who'd claimed the soul of the woman he loved. He'd tear the beast to pieces--

But the fairytale world he should have entered didn't bring forth the manic, dancing creature or his bonfire of abomination. In this netherworld between reality and nightmare, the Protectorate symbol glowed within a wreath of flames looming in the night sky. 

Hope...?

Gabe had come back to this place fully intending to commit the sin that had plagued the Guardian lineage for centuries. He'd come to bargain with the evil, to break his sacred vows. Out of selfishness. Out of love. He had been warned that any choice he made would bring about loss. He couldn't win. His beloved Amethyst was dead, consumed by the evil he'd only wanted to protect her from to the exclusion of all else. 

When the cry came, Gabe ran in the direction of the sound. He ran to the son Amethyst had borne him.

* * * *

Through the eyes of a newborn child, Prince saw his father emerge from the forest and kneel before the place his mother had hidden him. The medallion signaling the transfer of guardianship was now permanently marked on his young chest. He didn't cry. He had been born for the purpose of living and dying until he saved the world. 

At the last minute, his father Gabe had sacrificed his life to save his son, the next Guardian. He'd done it because he believed in a long-held prophecy. A prophecy Prince understood through the ages that he could never fulfill.


Chapter 1


October 28, 2043


Her eyes glowed silver as she looked up at him, trusting him to save her. He saw the fear behind her desperation.

"I've loved you through lifetimes, Rapunzel, even when I wouldn't let myself believe any of this. You have to leave the tower with me. Now." He held her tightly against him, tight enough to make her gasp for breath.

"How can I, my prince?" she cried. "He will never let me go. And there is no way for both of us to leave the tower."

He reached out and captured the five-inch thick braid that trailed behind her in a seemingly endless satin rope. "Same way I came up. I'll cut through this and tie it to the bed. Your hair was strong enough to hold me before. We can both climb down it now. Just trust me."

Abruptly, her gaze darted to the corner of the room, and she wailed, "He is coming! There is no escape for me."

Prince sat up on the sound of her scream carrying over evil laughter. He could hear both and swore out loud to quiet them. Dizzy and weak, he fought the nausea that rose at the images, as real as the insane ones he saw every day and night in reality. 

Sleep was never enjoyable. Not when only pain and evil greeted him--and the whisper of prophecies he alone could fulfill. Could. And couldn't.

Hell.

Failure. It tasted of bitterness in his mouth while images filled the blackness behind his eyelids. 

Eventually, always, he dreamed of the amethyst tower, his love Rapunzel, and the Warlock Lord. He faced his own failure each time he opened his eyes. He was only a man, yet he'd been born a savior. In all his lifetimes, he'd been unable to reconcile himself to either role.

And I have only three more days, three final days to succeed. My last chance or it begins again. Hell.

By habit, he reached for the more-than-half-empty bottle on the nightstand and drained it in one draught. Then, shoving himself to his feet, he ignored the sweat covering him from head to toe. In the bathroom, he turned on the water in the sink and cooled his face with handfuls of it. He didn't dare look at himself in the mirror, knowing what he'd see. The unnatural health and strength given to the Guardian when, inside, the disease of his own defeat and disbelief ate at him, ravaging and sickening him by the hour. Constantly drunk, he could face going on though he no longer felt the full effects of the alcohol. Nothing could cover his pain, not even a numb haze.

He heard a sound when he straightened, ignoring the water dripping down his scruffy face to his bare chest. He followed it to the kitchen, where he saw his father in the soft glow of the stove light. A glass of water from the purifier sat in front of him on the table.

Gabriel Reece rarely slept any more. Not since he'd chosen his vows over love. He'd done the only thing he could to save the future. Yet it haunted him. For what? For a lifetime of loneliness, regret, uncertainty.

"It's glowing," his father said, pointing to the medallion around Prince's neck. Always, it seared him. The anguish never ended. It wouldn't, unless he succeeded. He'd lost hope--and not for the first time--that he ever would.

"The dreams again?" Gabe asked while Prince pulled an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels out from under the kitchen sink. His father had long since stopped lecturing him about his drinking. He wasn't an ordinary eighteen-year-old. No, he'd lived lifetimes. He'd seen the ages. He felt ancient.

"Always. She screams for me, but I can't save her. Can't even friggin' find her..." He broke the seal and drank from the bottle while his father looked at him with empathy and that perpetual damn pity. Gabe understood, yet he couldn't know what it was like to have the burden of continued life, the burden of purity, the salvation of the present and future squarely on his shoulders. All his responsibility alone

The vidphone buzzed, and Prince wanted to throw the bottle across the room and shatter it. Yet he growled the word to put the call through. Tanner Russell's stocky form filled the screen. 

Prince felt nothing but acceptance that everything was beyond control when Brother Tanner said, "We've got a situation."

* * * *

Hell yeah, the evil liked to have its little joke. Sick joke. One as gruesome as only a fairytale could paint it. Once before within Woodcutter's Grim borders had it manifested itself in mythology come to life, but never since.

In a crouch, Prince surveyed the bloody, macerated remnants of a man trapped in a huge spider web. The eyeballs were long gone--sweet and tasty--and the body had been drained of life-giving blood. He'd obviously been the web owner's supper not long ago. 

The stench of bowels loosed in fear filled Prince's nostrils, and he muttered maniacally, "'Tell me, pray, how are you now?' says the spider to the fly. 'You fools will never wisdom get, unless you dearly buy; 'Tis vanity that ever makes repentance come too late, and you who into cobwebs run, right well deserve your fate. Listen, listen, listen, foolish little fly; listen, listen to me, foolish, foolish little fly.'"

Tanner glanced down at Prince. His expression became disturbed when Prince grinned in mock amusement.

The barriers were failing. Evil ran amok constantly now.

Prince rose and walked to the Trailblazer before his stomach heaved its contents. Evil won each battle. And the Protectorate was damn worthless protection against it.

* * * *

Prince pressed the medallion against the mold of the Protectorate symbol. The internal locks on the door of the circular building behind Woodcutter's Grim's small police station sprang open, and he shoved the heavy door inward.

This single room held the histories, laws and wisdom of the Protectorate, the body of men sworn to protect Woodcutter's Grim--and the world at large--from the evil pervading it. Only the Guardian and the Brethren were allowed among the sacred documents Prince had read over and over, for two lifetimes. 

He'd served as Guardian since he was born the first time on October 31, 2007. Amethyst Phillips had been his first mother. He'd been born again on October 31, 2025 to Margaret Russell. Every day he knew he was getting closer to October 31--the date he'd died, succumbed to the evil for a time, and was re-born to try again. He'd been eighteen years and ninety days old: six thousand sixty days. He couldn't be sure there was significance to the number--only that if he died again, he would have to start all over again in fulfilling the prophecy. Each time he did, it would become harder, the evil would spread faster, and eventually he would fail for all time. 

Gathering in the room with him were the ancient lineage of the Chosen Seven: Tanner Russell, Ray Bohunk, Malachi Jones, Pearl and Priscilla Jones--Malachi's twin sisters, Alan Anders, and the eldest, Rory Anders. Rory had yet to follow in the footsteps of those who had come before him as a sleeping prophet who experienced visions in a seeming stupor. They'd had no prophecies since the one that foresaw Prince's own birth, and death, thirty-six years ago.

Prince sat at the head of the table shaped like an eight-pointed star. Marked in the center was the Protectorate symbol--a cross with multiple rings fitted over it. The sickness in his body seemed to undulate under the news from the watchtowers surrounding the town in all four directions. Damn, but he wanted a drink. 

It was getting worse. The evil metastasized. They could no longer fight it.

"Mischief makers," Ray told him, "in the east quadrant. Around dawn."

"And in the north," Malachi added. "Same time."

"Any reports from the west and south since?" Prince asked needlessly.

Both men shook their heads. Though he expected it, it frustrated him nevertheless. The woods were mirrors. If mischief makers frolicked harmlessly in the east and north, the true evil had taken place in the west and south. 

Prince clenched his teeth. Like his father and grandfather before him, his inability to distinguish between real threats and mere pranks done by the mischief makers annoyed him. After all this time, why in hell couldn't he discern the evil for what it was? Now the real evil had disappeared without a trace and wouldn't be discovered until much later--when it was too late to help anyone.

"Foreseen anything, Rory?" 

Prince lifted his gaze to the small but muscularly built prophet. Rory had shaved his head when he swore an oath to serve the Protectorate. His black eyes were strange, otherworldly, casting out all light. Rory shook his head, his face expressionless.

"Pearl and Priscilla, what about incidents outside of Woodcutter's Grim?"

For more than fifty years, the evil had escaped the barriers they'd erected. But lately the evil had gone much further. Just as the prophecy predicted, the barriers were breaking and the world was becoming infested with the evil. 

Prince's own sickness spread accordingly as he listened to the story of those who feared the jet-black night, the long hall leading to sleep because of the crooked shadow that crawled from the corner and took them screaming to the Land of Nod.

I have three days to change the present, the past, the future. Sure. No problem. Three damn days. 

Why me? Why, when I don't have a hope in heaven or hell of defeating this evil?

* * * *

It was after midnight when the calls stopped and he could go home. Exhausted and hungry, he felt the weight of his burden to the point of death. Death he knew but couldn't remember. He'd died before--the first time...

No, not the first. Gabe told me I died an hour after Amethyst gave birth to me. Someone...Luther Kominski, one of the Brethren...gave his life to return life to me. 

But Prince didn't remember that any more than he remembered his first death and what led to it. Years after he'd been born to Margaret and Alan Russell, and they returned him to Gabe, his father had told him that no one knew how he died. They believed he'd succumbed to the evil. His body hadn't been discovered. Gabe and the Brethren had known he'd been reborn to Margaret from the moment he emerged from her body because the Protectorate symbol had been seared into his chest and the medallion found nearby. 

From the moment he'd entered the world the first time and the last, he'd comprehended what he had to do. But how do you find a person you've never seen outside of relentless dreams? Rapunzel was her name, not a natural name in any time period except the ancient past, in fairytales. Yet she was an integral piece of himself, like the Guardian scar on his chest and the medallion. His heart would recognize her at first sight. 

Gabe was waiting when he arrived home. He didn't need to speak for Prince to see the uncertainty in his eyes. He'd counted the days, too. Without a word, he set food on the table. Once Prince had his bottle, Gabe his purified water, they sat together. 

"You don't look well," Gabe said softly during the simple meal. His father understood that he looked a hell of a lot better than he felt.

"Will you be strong enough...when the time comes?"

"Have to be, don't I?" Prince said, ignoring his dinner in favor of the burning alcohol.

Their eyes met across the table. His father stared at him with frustration before he set his fork down hard. "I wish..."

Wished Amethyst hadn't given her life so Prince could fulfill his destiny... to what end, when little if any hope existed? Wished the sacrifice of saving his son over the woman he loved hadn't rewarded him with an unnaturally long life and vigorous health. Prince knew through and through what his father wished. At times, he wished it himself. But the prophecy was the only life he'd ever known and he'd lost all faith in it because of his own failures. 

What was the point of the loneliness he faced continuously without her? His life...lives... had been unfathomable to any other human being. From the womb, his destiny had been determined. He'd always been the Guardian, the chosen. Times beyond counting, he'd searched every word in the Protectorate history, laws and wisdom in hopes of discovering the means to bring salvation to everyone but himself. 

The Time Tunnels, like Ireland's Druids' Altar, pointed heavenward from a stark limestone megalith, visible only before the portal dolmen appeared to allow entry.

He'd used one of the countless Time Tunnels to revisit the past, when the prophecies about him were uttered. He'd used them to look for the innocent one, his love. But how could he find her when he had no clue where to look? 

Permanent death would have been preferable to his existence, but he didn't have that option. All he had was suffocating responsibility, voracious need and an overwhelming fear of failure. Certainty of failure. He had to save her. But even he, the world's poorest excuse for a savior, didn't pretend to know how.

* * * *

"The Black Woods is where the heart of the evil lurks. Foolish to get near the forest, let alone enter. Inside is a maze from which there can be no escape. At the edge, never to be found, is rumored to be a beautiful maiden trapped forever in an amethyst tower with no way in or out. Her guardian? An evil creature, that devil of old, who destroys the world and the innocent with it."

The Warlock Lord. 

The desperate woman had given him the words and the warning, but Prince hadn't been swayed by either or the fear leaping in the eye of every bedraggled soul. When night fell, the dark things came out to play. Nightmares came to life. Prince had felt the poisonous fire-breath of the creature that stalked him, he'd heard the dragging footsteps of the zombies with faces he knew, souls long consumed by the evil. He would have no place to hide when he stepped foot into the thick, black woods. 

A hand, gnarled with long, yellowed fingernails, came down on his shoulder. Fetid breath filled his nostrils as the lips opened and what came out was even fouler. "What's the matter, play-Prince? Lost, are we? Again? How many lifetimes will you wander and seek fruitlessly? Do you feel death, Guardian of the sacred Protectorate? It is coming for you. You cannot win. Like all before you, you will succumb to me, and I will fill the world. Every soul will belong to me. The innocent shall be mine, prophecy or no prophecy. You have run out of time, play-Prince." 

Nails stabbed at his eyes and he screamed, covering them. Blood gushed between his fingers...

Prince woke to his own screaming. While he sat up in the bed, his hands flew to his eyes. Only sweat came back. His eyes weren't blind, not gouged. Another nightmare. Another image of the desolate future, if he didn't succeed.

His heart pounded hard enough to kill him. 

When, you bastard, when you don't succeed. The prophecy... the prophecy is worthless. I'll never fulfill it. I'm good as dead in less than three days. 

He swung his legs out from the comforter, putting his bare feet on the cold floor. With his body drenched in sweat, the frigid air chilled him straight to the bone.

Against his will, he pushed the words of the prophecy past his unwilling lips: "'The redeemed child will die and will be reborn as many times as need be for the purpose of saving the Innocent in the Amethyst Tower, where the Great Evil lives. Only in time--when the chosen child lives, grows, and goes forth with courage in his hand to do the will of the Protectorate--will the barriers containing the evil be restored, its power weakened or even destroyed.'"

"'Only in time...in time...'"

Shock filled his brain. Shivering violently, he faced the truth he'd never realized before. The clue to how to rescue Rapunzel lay buried in the prophecy. He'd searched the past, searched the present, for any glimpse to how to save the future. Never had he considered going to the future. Only in time would the evil be destroyed.

In the future, only in the future, would he find the innocent one and save the world. The Warlock Lord had hidden her in the future, where, stupid fool that he was, he'd never considered looking. 

 

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