Part 16/20

To Help!

As Little Al and the others flew through the air towards the faraway blue sea, Fox Captain Lili got rid of the pocket-size dragon that was trying to burn Gilbert's tail. Peter the Dragon flew away after Arthur to burn him this time. He didn't like being summoned in the middle of his sleep. Gilbert stood up straight and, blushing slightly, ordered the chuckling foxes into straight lines. Then he told Lili to blow the horn once more.

A new wave of barrels rolled down the mountainside, blocking the way of the helpers and filling the stream.

"I'm awesome," mumbled Beilschmidt, smiling, and he led his foxes to the path between the Mirror Mountains and continued the chase.

But in the Beer Valley, the residents of Hubbub Town pushed and hammered and kicked the thick barrels in front of them with all their might.

"Stupid barrels!" swore the black lift cat. "The crooks are leaving!"

Denny the innkeeper sliced one of the barrels with his axe. "We know that!"

They continued to push and kick, and even the old granny donkeys ran to help with their umbrellas, hitting each other on the way. The Hidinglanders called for reinforcements to help with the barrels, but the more they pushed closer, the more they were forced into each other. And if someone tried to get to the foxes up the hill, the guards just rolled more barrels down, laughing their tails off.

"We have to come up with an idea quickly," growled Ice at one barrel, annoyed.

Then, suddenly, Crow Gupta spread his wings and flew into the centre of the flock of Lord Edelstein's birds. Then they all rose and started flying towards the south with Gupta leading them, and soon they disappeared from sight.

"Now even the birds are leaving!" sniffed the female lift cat, and the brown cat hugged her tightly.

The helpers sat on the grass, sighing. They had lost.

"Stop whining!" ordered the masked granny donkey suddenly.

The other granny knocked on one small barrel with her umbrella. "That's right. Do you just plan on sitting there and leaving a little donkey who's in trouble?"

"That's right! We came here to help them!" continued the other one. "Put your money where your mouth is! I can't believe how weak young people are these days."

"That's right," the other granny nodded.

"Wow, they agree..." Tino stared, utterly surprised.

"This might be the first time," Nor said. "An interesting phenomenon..."

Berwald nodded and howled, long and deep, to get everyone's attention.

Denny joined the howl with his slightly higher voice and raised his axe above his head. "We won't leave the prince alone!" Berwald's and now also Tino's howls marked his orders.

"We won't leave the prince alone!" repeated everyone, and they started to work again. And they worked harder and harder as time went by. Noon came and they worked. Noon passed and they worked. But the pile of barrels didn't get any smaller. And finally they were all out of breath and utterly exhausted.

Then the black lift cat looked at the sky and started. "Hey!" he shouted, and everyone stopped working.

"What is it, Kiku?" asked the brown cat.

"The birds!" shouted Kiku, delighted, and pointed to the sky. "The birds are coming back!"

Everyone raised their gaze to the sky and...

A miracle!

There flew the whole flock of Lord Edelstein's white birds with Crow Gupta in the lead, quickly coming nearer and nearer, back to the valley. And in their beaks they carried a big silver-coloured net and the figure that was sitting in it. A magic wand sparkled in the sun.

"Rose Lady Francoise!" whispered the residents, standing up to see better. "Our friend Francoise Bonnefoy is coming!"

The dogs of the Inn of the Flickering Lantern started hopping and dancing around. "Little Al has freed the rose lady! They've broken the curse!"

"They've done it!" rejoiced Ice and the female lift cat.

Everyone started to work harder again, inspired. "Hail the donkey prince and his companions!"

The birds dropped the net carefully onto the grass and Rose Lady Francoise hopped lightly onto one barrel.

She smiled, raised her wand and whispered. "Huphurlup."

At that moment, a soft, rosy wind blew through the valley. Everyone closed their eyes and sniffed the air, and for a little moment enjoyed the scent of roses. When they opened their eyes, they saw the source of the scent: every single barrel had changed into a fully blossomed rose.

But before anyone could say anything, Lady Francoise turned around and glared up at the foxes, who sat with their mouths open in bewilderment at the top of the hill. She raised her wand again and...

"Huphurlup."

A vine of yellow roses started to climb up the hill towards the foxes.

"Help!" screamed the foxes, and they turned around and ran away from the flowers, turning somersaults and sneezing on the way as the vines started to tickle their tails. "Killer roses!"

But now with the road opened, the residents of Hidingland started running as if there were fire behind them, heading towards the Mirror Mountains. And ahead of them in her net flew Lady Francoise Bonnefoy, her wand glimmering in the sun.

But when they arrived at the foot of the mountains, there wasn't anyone there.

"Oh," said Denny frustrated. "They got away."

"What do we do now?" asked the lift cat Kiku

"I might be able to help!" announced a voice from above them. Arthur Kirkland appeared from behind some rocks, eating chocolate. It looked as if he'd been eating for a while already.

Quickly, everybody backed away from him, and Francoise stepped forward, holding her wand ready and glaring at the witch.

But to their surprise, the witch just raised his thick eyebrow. "Francis... are you still doing that?"

"Huh?" everyone wondered, looking around to find out who was he talking about.

Francis Bonnefoy on the other hand gestured to the witch to keep him quiet. "Shh, you idiot witch, don't ruin my reputation!"

"Why, I would gladly do that," answered Arthur, biting into his chocolate. "But I can't see what reputation a man has left to ruin after dressing himself as a woman for God knows how many years. In any case, aren't you a bit old to be luring boys to you that way?"

"Shut it, Kirkland!" the rose lord silenced him, although the Hidinglanders had already heard. "Anyway, are you going to oppose us? Because if you are, I'll have to–"

"Do you honestly think you have a chance of beating me with magic? But you don't have to be afraid of me," answered Arthur, coming a little closer. "Anyone who's an enemy of Gilbert Beilschmidt is my friend."

"What?" asked Francis, lowering his wand. "I thought you were friends with him."

"That damn brat cheated me and I didn't like it, so no, not anymore," Arthur explained, taking a new piece of chocolate from under his pointed hat. "Can you imagine? He didn't tell me about the chocolate I'd been practically sitting on for years."

"Doesn't that just mean you're stupid?" asked Rose Lord Francis, still resentful at Arthur for exposing his gender in front of everyone.

"No! And a man who dresses himself as a woman, doesn't have the right to call me stupid, Francis!" Arthur shouted. Then he sighed. "Anyway..." He plucked his own wand out of thin air and hopped in front of the mountainside, his eyes turning bright green again. "Look carefully, everyone. I'm a far better magician than that old frog. Now..." He closed his eyes and started to mumble something that no one could hear. The air turned green around him. Then, suddenly, he opened his green, shining eyes wide and shouted. "Chick and chirp, my realm! Split and roar, my mountain! Arise and obey, my underground resources!"

The mountain rumbled again, and somewhere they could hear a sound like little birds chirping. And then, there in front of the helpers, a long, wide, white-coloured slide appeared.

"Now, everyone who wants to go and help Little Al, sit down here and slide straight to the Kolkolkol Coast," said Arthur, and he laughed at their surprised expressions. "Surprised at seeing real magic? That's a white chocolate slide. You can eat some of it on the way so your strength returns." Then he remembered. "Oh yeah, and remember not to laugh. No laughing on the Kolkolkol Coast."

"Long live Arthur Kirkland!" shouted the Hidinglanders, and they started to run towards the slide.

"Hey... did you hear what I just said...?"

All of the helpers, one by one, jumped onto the huge slide and...

Wheee!

One after the other, they started disappearing around the corner, and the group resumed their chase after Little Al and Gilbert Beilschmidt.

"Kick that stupid mule's arse!" shouted Arthur after them when the last one had disappeared.

He was just about to leave when...

"Huphurlup," someone whispered in his ear.

Arthur lost his footing and a second later he realised that he, too, was now on the slide, gliding towards the green bushes of the Kolkolkol Coast.

He raised his furious red eyes up to the sky and shouted to the flock of white birds. "Fuck it, Francis!"

And what happened then?

You'll find out next time...


A/N: What's different in this chapter (warning: a lot):

Sealand, of course. I though about making him a full-sized dragon for a while and make it a grand duel between him and Prussia, but then I'd probably had had to kill him or at least hurt him and it din't fit anyway, so pocket-size it is.

The barrel scene is longer. There are more lines, the Turkey-Greece part had only one line in the OS for example and the dogs didn't howl. They didn't, but... I just had to, sorry. They were my only adult dogs in this (Matt's a puppy) and they just had to howl (forgive my inner Nordic-fangirl-mode). Also, most of the lines didn't have anyone special to say them or they were general shouting so I just handed them out to available characters like the lift cats.

The whole Francis vs. Arthur -part. There was nothing of this sort, it's completely my invention, including the crossdressing part: the rose lady really was just the rose lady, but this rose lady just happened to be France, so there had to be something behind it. The two didn't also know each other on the personal level, the rose lady didn't say anything in the OS. Also, England's spell has as much to do with the original chant as the words "split" and "mountain", and the slide was ice cream (again), but I hadn't had it earlier so I didn't put it here. And falling to the slide should have been his own error, but France needed a revenge and England must have some pride left later on.

Now imaging how short this chapter originally was.

Thank you to everyone for everything