"Tara did just that, she sought out Ethan upon her return to the palace."
A portion of a wall slides away, and Ethan's head appears, looking around. He comes out of the secret room and starts to slide the door shut, a door at the far end of the corridor slams open and Ethan quickly slides the wall into place... nearly... a certain rat wasn't quick enough to get out. "Squeak, squeak... hello..."
Tara comes storming down the corridor, as soon as she sees Ethan, she heads right towards him. "Ethan!"
Ethan bows, spreading his cloak to cover as much of the gap in the wall from view as possible, he also uses this opportunity to slam Amy back into the secret compartment with his foot, allowing the wall to slide back into place fully. "How may I serve you my Princess?"
There is no mistaking the look of anger on Tara's face as she speaks, "The guards took a girl from the market place earlier today, on your orders."
Ethan pauses, it looks like he's thinking about which girl Tara could possibly mean. "Well, the Sultan has charged me with keeping peace in Agrabah, she was a criminal."
Tara raises her eyebrow, her voice is impatient and not just a little sarcastic sounding, "And what was her crime?"
Ethan looks at Tara as if she should already know, "Why, kidnapping the Princess of course."
Tara's voice has found it's stutter again, "I-I wasn't k-kidnapped, I r-ran away."
Ethan feigns shock on his face, "I am so sorry my Princess, how upsetting this is, and quite embarrassing. If only I'd have known."
Tara looks fearful as she asks the question she already half knows the answer to, "W-What d-do you m-mean?"
"Sadly, the girl's sentence has already been carried out."
"W-What was her s-sentence?"
Ethan leans in, his voice taking on a sinister tone, "Death, she was beheaded just an hour ago."
Tara's eyes fill with tears, she shudders and leans against a wall for support, "N-No. H-How c-could y-you?"
"I am frightfully sorry my Princess."
Tara gives him one last look before running away, crying. She runs into her chambers and collapses onto her bed, Rajah looks up and walks over to her to comfort her. She looks down at him and pets him, a tear falling onto his coat, "I-It's a-all m-my f-fault Rajah, I d-didn't e-even know h-her n-name."
"So Tara thinks that Willow is dead, the first spark of romance, snuffed out. Yet, in the dungeons, Willow awaited another fate."
Willow sits on the cold dungeon floor, her wrists held in place on the wall by a heavy bar, locked into place. Rats scurry on the floor, and skeletons of past prisoners remain manacled to the wall as she is. A grim promise of what is to come.
Willow shivers as a gust of wind blows through the window, then her sharp ears pick up a meow. She looks up at the window and sees the form of Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty jumps down the wall and runs over to Willow. Miss Kitty rubs herself on Willow's leg before putting her head into her pocket, when she comes out, we see that she has Willow's set of lock picks in her teeth... what Miss Kitty wouldn't give now for a pair of opposable thumbs...
Miss Kitty places the picks point down into the floor and manages to wrap her tail around them, (don't ask how... I'm only the author), a bit of jangling later, and Willow's hands are free, she sits for a while rubbing circulation into her wrists, then she pets her furry compadre. "Thanks Miss Kitty," Willow reflects on what got her into this situation, "Man, I don't believe she is the Princess. I musta sounded so stupid, talking about the palace when she's trying to get away from it."
Miss Kitty meows, her tone pretty much telling Willow off. "Don't worry, I'll never see her again, she's a Princess remember. There's a law, she has to marry a Prince. I guess she deserves it over some scoundrel like me eh?" Miss Kitty plops herself down on Willow's lap, and Willow pets her for a while. She sighs, "I'm a fool."
"You're only a fool if you give up girl," a low voice came from a darkened corner, hey... hey...where was this guy when his thumbs would been useful with a pair of lock picks? Startled, Miss Kitty arches her back and hisses. An old guy limps into view, his hair is white and he has a crooked back... still... he does look a little familiar.
Willow gives him a look up and down, "Who are you?"
"Just a lowly prisoner like yourself my girl, but perhaps together, we can be more."
Willow's ears perk up, "I'm listening."
The old man coughs, Willow winces at the sound, harsh and croaking. "There is a cave, a cave of wonders, there is gold in this cave beyond even the Sultan's wildest dreams, enough to impress your Princess I wager..."
Willow is about to speak, but there seems to be a squeaking coming from inside the old man's clothes... meh... musta been her imagination.
"But she must marry a Prince, that's the law.
"Have you ever heard the golden rule?" The old man enquires, "Whoever has the gold makes the rules." Again the old man wheezes with laughter.
"So, if you know about this, why would you share it with me?"
The old man gives his croaking laughter again, wheezing as he breathes, "Do I look like I can just go there and get it myself? No, I need someone young with a strong back to carry the gold."
Willow looks a little excited, though she mainly masks this, then she hits upon the key problem... "One thing, the cave is out there... and we're kinda stuck in here, and "in here" seems pretty much impossible to escape from."
The old man gives his croaky laugh again, "Not everything is as it seems," he taps a stone with his cane, then looks confused as nothing happens, he tries again, a little harder.
A voice comes from the other side as the stone moves a little, then stops, "Ow! Don't worry Willow, I'll get you out sis!" There is a scraping noise as the stone moves back, being pulled out of place. When the stone has moved, a dirty face pops through, "Hey Willow... ooooh, party, can I join?"
Willow raises her eyebrow, "If you wanna stay here, feel free, this party's just about to leave."...
"Who disturbs my slumber?"
Willow kneels in front of the tiger's head, "It is I, Willow."
The tiger pauses, "Proceed, touch only the lamp."
Makyrah gives a nervous giggle, "What, you're not even meant to touch the floor?"
The old man croaks to Willow, "Remember girl, first bring me the lamp, then you shall have your reward."
Willow walks towards the steps, Miss Kitty by her feet. As they step in, they notice that the walls are made of gold and the whole cave is full of coins, gems, rubies and fine silks. Willow looks in awe and gasps. Miss Kitty bolts towards a ruby that has caught her eye, "No! Don't touch anything."
Willow walks on, Miss Kitty walks over a rug with all the colours of the rainbow with rainbow like patterns. As Miss Kitty passes it, the carpet hops up and creeps up behind her. Miss Kitty looks suspicious and whirls around, to find the carpet flat on the floor. Miss Kitty walks on but again the carpet hovers above her, when Miss Kitty whirls around, it is rolled in a corner.
Miss Kitty freaks out and runs to Willow running circles around her legs. "Miss Kitty, quit messing around. Quit it."
Miss Kitty walks behind Willow, chuntering to herself (however cats do that). She sees a shadow beneath her and whirls around, she can't see anything so she spins a full circle, again unable to see anything... cheeky little rug. Miss Kitty walks on until she feels a tug on her tail, this time she sees the carpet and screeches, both Miss Kitty and carpet look scared and run off in opposite directions. Miss Kitty jumps up onto Willow's shoulders screeching away. "What are you, crazy?"
Willow turns around to see what has spooked her compadre and sees the carpet sorta shyly looking back at her. "Ooh coolies, a magic carpet!" The carpet flies over to Miss Kitty but she swats at one of his tassels, still screeching loudly. The carpet droops as it slowly "sadly" walks away. Willow glares slightly at Miss Kitty and tries to coerce the carpet to follow her, "C'mon, I won't hurt ya, not lil ol' me no sir. Maybe you could help us?" The carpet straightens out and flies round and round Willow and Miss Kitty looking excited. "We're looking for this lamp..." The carpets gets even more excited (if that's possible) and flies forward waving a tassel in a "Follow me" gesture.
Willow and Miss Kitty follow the carpet and they eventually see a river with uneven stepping stones. On the other side is a set of stairs, and on a pedestal is a lamp. Willow looks down at Miss Kitty, "Stay here, and don't touch anything."
As Willow hops across the stones, Miss Kitty's eyes get drawn to a pedestal, this pedestal has a ball of gold fleeced yarn on top and it draws Miss Kitty closer. Carpet tries to grab her tail as Willow puts her hands on the lamp, she mutters quietly "This is it, this is what we came down here to..." Willow sees a reflection in the lamp of Miss Kitty straining towards the yarn, she breaks free of carpet and... "Miss Kitty! NO!!!"
Miss Kitty tackles the yarn and bats it around with her paw, The cave's voice growls "INFIDELS! You have touched the forbidden treasure! Now you will never again see the light of DAAAAY!!!" Miss Kitty scrambles away from the yarn as it slowly turns into lava, the floor leading from the entrance to the cave is also turning into molten lava. Miss Kitty heads towards the stepping stones as the water also turns a hot orange. The ground shakes as Willow heads for the stairs but they turn into a slide, she falls but Carpet catches her just in the nick of time. Meanwhile, Miss Kitty has hopped onto the middle stepping stone and stepping stones from both sides begin exploding.
Miss Kitty looks panicked as she is now standing on the last stone, Willow whizzes down on Carpet catching Miss Kitty just before she takes a lava bath, Miss Kitty latches onto Willow's face causing her to be unable to see. Willow tugs at the shivering form, "Miss Kitty! Now is not the time to panic no sir!" The whole cavern shakes as rocks fall and Willow tears Miss Kitty from her face, she then sees a solid rock wall coming towards them, "Start panicking!" The carpet turns upside down, throwing Willow and Miss Kitty into freefall and catching them as it again spins round going lower to where there is a gap in the wall.
Carpet turns to it's side causing Willow to tightly hang on to the side of the carpet and onto Miss Kitty, she kneels up for a second as the carpet becomes straight and she narrowly ducks a flying rock. They are past the lava bit but rocks still fly at Willow as Carpet manoeuvres to avoid them. The cave begins to growl and close as Willow, Miss Kitty and Carpet are near the top, Makyrah looks on in fear as the old man pushes her away. A large bolder lands on carpet causing it to fall but Willow grabs onto the ledge.
The old man kneels down in front of her with his hand out, "Give me the lamp!"
Willow struggles to climb out but can't, "I can't hold on. Give me your hand!"
"First throw me the lamp!" Willow unbuckles the lamp from her belt and throws it up. Willow has struggled her way to having one knee on the ledge as Carpet tries to free itself below.
Makyrah tries to help Willow but the old man throws her aside and grabs Willow's arm. Willow looks up at him in fear, "What are you doing?"
The old man sneers, his wig falls off to reveal Ethan, "Giving you your reward scoundrel, your eternal reward." Ethan pulls out a crooked dagger and looks set to stab Willow but Miss Kitty jumps on his face, Ethan throws her off into the cave and she screeches as she plummets. Makyrah runs towards Ethan but he trips her and she also falls, hitting the walls a few times on the way down. Carpet finally frees itself as Makyrah falls and catches both her and Miss Kitty as the cave closes and Willow lets go of the ledge, also hitting the wall and falling unconscious, Carpet catches her and floats gently to the ground.