After several long days and nights, Gothel felt she had finally grown more accustomed to having Rapunzel in her care. It had her take time to read through several books and constant use of magic, but she seemed to be getting the hang of caring for an infant. When she first had to change Rapunzel’s dirty linens, Gothel used a charm to hold the book that explained how to do it properly up in the air so she could lay the baby on the table.
The only thing Gothel wondered more than why she continued to call this child Rapunzel was what happened to her parents. Did they intend to leave their daughter in her care? Gothel recalled Carlos’s tone when he stated, ‘we’ll be right back.’ It did not sound that convincing. She just wished she had picked up on that at the time.
At the sound of Rapunzel’s crying Gothel immediately rushed over to her and picked her up consolingly, “Shh, it’s okay sweetie.”
For the first time, Rapunzel stopped crying within moments of Gothel holding her. This time, the infant child lifted her tiny hand up to touch Gothel’s cheek and smiled.
Gothel beamed as well, holding the child a bit more tightly. She enjoyed the precious moment until a thought came to her.
Her eyes moved down to the little girl she held, and she took in a deep breath muttering, “Oh no, I am getting too attached to you.”
It did not seem like a poor prospect to raise a baby in her care to Gothel. The only potential problem would be that there remained a slight chance of Carlos and Lillian returning for their child. At this rate, Gothel feared she might not have the heart to give up this little girl.
“That’s it,” Gothel said aloud to Rapunzel. “If your parents are not going to come back here then we are going to seek them out.”
With her mind made up, Gothel dressed Rapunzel, used a spell to summon the wanted posters of Carlos and Lillian the guard gave her out from the clutter and prepared to leave. These two seemed to be quite well known for their misdemeanors. Gothel figured there rested a chance someone would have seen them in recent time.
While carrying Rapunzel in her arms, Gothel approached the nearest village in the kingdom of Tiare. As she drew closer, the people gave her wary looks. Some even quickly scampered indoors. The sorceress let out a sigh as she went to the nearest peasant woman selling fabric.
“Excuse me.” Gothel moved Rapunzel to one arm so she could fish out the parchment from her pocket. “I am looking for this couple. Have you by any chance seen them recently?”
The woman took a frightened step back. “Please Gothel, your sister has already interrogated us for information on those two. She even tortured one poor gentleman. We still do not know anything about where they are.”
“I assure you I am not here to torture anyone,” Gothel replied as she thought of what this woman said. “Wait, why is Rengonda seeking out this couple? They are only thieves.”
The woman spoke in a hushed voice. “It is not the thieves she wants, but their child. There is a prophecy, you see, that their firstborn child is the key to cross over the river to the temple containing the Grapes of Eternal Youth.”
Gothel knew the temple this peasant spoke of though she had only seen it once. A river surrounded this building. The water would burst into flames if anyone dared cross it without the key. It was rumored that inside the temple were silver grapes that if eaten would make a person forever young.
The woman studied the child. “That is not her, is it? The child of the prophecy?”
“Oh no.” Gothel quickly shook her head. “This is just the daughter of a friend of mine.”