Vash sighed. "Keep a dog and bark yourself. Those useless idiots..." he shooed the yellow chicks away from his head. The birds had made his head and ears their nest.
"Don't be so sad, leader," said the blue-clad vixen beside him. "Here, have a herring."
"Aren't ya confusing "sad" with "mad" here, Chel? And why on Earth've you got a herring?" asked one of the guards, and then suddenly he saw Matt. He came closer and looked at the puppy carefully. "Wasn't it you who stole my hat?"
Matt remembered the guard fox Yao had been working for. He wondered for a moment what he should say before answering: "Thank you for lending it to me."
The fox looked at him in surprise and then sighed. "You're welcome, kid," he went back to the other foxes, who were waiting to be transported to their comrades. "I hope it was useful."
"You're breaking the code," Chel noted. "One musn't be friendly with the enemy."
"Leader can hear you."
"I don't care," answered Vash, leaning his muzzle on the ground and snorting. He gave up trying to make the birds leave him alone. "Can we just get on with this?"
"Francis said that he can't participate without first brushing his mane so we have to wait for that bastard," anwered Fox Witch Kirkland, also snorting. "And that leaves me stuck here with you guys when I could be helping make food for tonight!"
"Wise decicion of him then," Chel mumbled to the wall.
"I stayed with you," Matt reminded him. "Or did you forget me already?"
Kirkland sighed. "No, I didn't. Sorry. But I still think I have better things to be doing than waiting for that old frog to shine his hooves. Damnit, he's definitely doing this on purpose."
The blue-clad vixen looked at him, offering her paw. "Herring?"
Sigh. "No, thank you."
.*** *** ***
That night was busy for everyone. The city had to be cleaned and every remaining beer-dreamer had to be woken up. The most difficult part was cleaning the castle, but somehow they made it in time for the huge party the donkey lord had organised for everyone. The residents of Hidingland gathered into the castle to celebrate the return of their ruler and enjoy all the tasty food that was brought from all over the country as fast as possible. Huge tables were set all over the castle and even out on the streets, and everyone joined in the general rejoicing. But only water was offered to drink.
And now the Hidinglanders had a brand new prince to celebrate too, and everyone wanted to talk to Little Al and hear about his adventures. Al, however, was more dedicated to eating the oranges he was now tasting for the first time in his young life. He stuffed so many of them into his mouth that Yao and Matt had to stop him from eating more before something bad happened. Fox Witch Kirkland sat next to the sovereigns near Lady Héderváry and talked with her for the whole evening.
A reddish moon had risen high and the celebrations were at their highest peak when Lord Edelstein rose from his chair. He was wearing his own straw hat and a mantle had been draped around his shoulders. The lift-cats raised their guitars and everyone started singing a happy, beautiful song that hadn't been heard for a long time: their national anthem. When the song ended, the donkey lord thanked everyone and called everyone who had aided Little Al on his journey before him.
"To show my gratitude to all of you who helped my son on his journey, I will now reward you to prove your irreplaceable role in this story," lord Edelstein said, and lady Héderváry waved to a few young cats who brought a platter that was full of platinum ear medals that looked like little white flowers.
Im Yong Soo got a medal. And Puppy Matt and Black Cat Yao too and the lift-cats and the dogs of the inn, Crow Gupta and Gossip Mouse Feliks and the silver guardians and the Windsorcerer, Fox Witch Kirkland and Rose Lord Bonnefoy and the leaders of the chocolate mice. Elder Antonio and the granny donkeys had the golden cross of merit and the birds of the donkey lord had an extra share of seeds laid out for them in the moonlit garden of the palace.
To Lady Héderváry the donkey lord gave a huge bouquet of roses, presented by the Rose Lord and a flower-shaped hairclip for her mane. He also gave her, to everyone's surprise, a frying pan, but since the donkey lady laughed at her present and hugged his husband to thank him, everyone assumed it was just a joke between the two of them.
The last one to be rewarded was Little Al. He was called to the table and suddenly he felt something being put on his head. Al realised that now he had his own straw hat.
The donkey lord smiled. "Here you can see my son and heir. He himself has earned his position with his small but brave heart. Let this heart always beat to the rythm of this country and make it the place we all want to live in or come back to even after time has passed. Long live the prince Little Alfred of Hidingland!
After this, everyone came to Little Al and patted him and kissed him. Fox Witch Kirkland raised him onto his shoulders and carried him around the hall to meet everyone. Al's new hat slipped from his head, but Matt appeared beside him, riding on the shoulder of Rose Lord Bonnefoy (who was dressing like a man for the occasion) and straightened it for him.
Finally, after his tour around the huge room, Little Al opened his mouth to speak. "Without my friends I couldn't have done a thing. Thank you all for helping me. Hurray!"
And once again the cry of joy made Hidingland shiver. The party continued all through the night until the morning. But a little while before the sunrise, Lord Edelstein and Lady Héderváry carried tired Little Al to his own new bed. And in his sleepy head, Al noticed how they both leaned over to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight.
Little Al heaved a sigh and closed his eyes. "Home, sweet home," he mumbled and fell asleep.
When morning came, it found all the residents of Hidingland still sleeping. But soon they would wake up and restart their lives in the kingdom ruled by Donkey Lord Roderich Edelstein and Donkey Lady Elizabeta Héderváry and live their lives happily ever after. The happiest of them is the young donkey prince, who now has his own straw hat to wear on his head and both mother and father to raise him and love him.
Here ends the story of Little Al of Hidingland.
A/N: Thank you for everyone.
For the last time, about this chapter:
1. The beginning with the "villains" is a completely new scene
2. There was no frying pan =)
Otherwise, this goes relatively according to the OS, excluding that this all was originally in the part 20. Anyway, thank you so much for all of you again.
Hazel, I owe you the internet.
The list of characters (in case you didn't recognise someone =D):
*(character name) chapter(s)/20 + epilogue = Appears in the story
The main party:
Little Al of Hidingland – America (Alfred F. Jones) 1-13,15,17-20/20 + epilogue
Puppy Matt – Canada (Matthew Williams) 1-7,9-12,17-20/20 + epilogue
Pitch-Black Cat Yao – China (Wang Yao) 2-7,9-13,15,17-20/20 + epilogue
Mother Donkey/Donkey Lady Héderváry – Hungary (Elizabeta Héderváry) 1,6-7,9-13,15,17-20/20 + epilogue
Im Yong Soo – Korea (Im Yong Soo) 4,6-7,9-13,15,17-18,20/20 + epilogue
Elder Donkey Antonio – Spain (Antonio Fernandez Carriedo) 6-7,9-13,15,17-18,20/20 + epilogue
The Hubbub Town residents:
The lift-cat I – Japan (Honda Kiku, the black lift-cat) 3-4,14,16,19/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
The lift-cat II – Taiwan (the female lift-cat) 3-4,14,16/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
The lift-cat III – Hong Kong (the brown lift-cat) 4,14,16,19-20/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
Denny the innkeeper – Denmark ("Den"/"Denny") 5,8,14,16,19/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
The dog from the inn I – Finland (Tino) 5,8,16,19/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
The dog from the inn II – Sweden (Berwald) 5,8,16,19/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
The dog from the inn III – Norway ("Nor") 5,8,16,19/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
The dog from the inn IV – Iceland ("Ice") 5,8,16,19/20 + epilogue (as part of the group)
Ice's bird – Puffin 5,19/20
The granny donkey I – Turkey (Sadiq Adnan) 14,16/20 + epilogue (as a half of a pair)
The granny donkey II – Greece (Herakles Karpusi) 14,16/20 + epilogue (as a half of a pair)
The helpers along the way:
Rose Lord/Lady Bonnefoy – France (Francis "Francois" Bonnefoy) 10,16,18-20/20 + epilogue
The Rose Lord's maid – Belgium ("Bel") 10/20
Crow Gupta – Egypt (Gupta Muhammad Hassan) 8,11,14,16/20 + epilogue
The chocolate mouse I – Estonia (Eduard von Bock) 12-13,15,18,20/20 + epilogue
The chocolate mouse II – Lithuania (Toris Lorinaitis) 12-13,15,18,20/20 + epilogue
The chocolate mouse III – Latvia (Raivis Galantis) 12-13,15,18,20/20 + epilogue
The silver guardian captain – Belarus (Natalia Arlovskaya) 17-20/20
The silver guardian vice captain – Ukraine (Katyusha) 17-18,20/20
The Windsorcerer – Russia (Ivan Braginski) 18,20/20 + epilogue
Mule Lord Beilschmidt – Prussia (Gilbert Beilschmidt) 1,5,7-8,14-20/20
The fox captain I – Germany (Ludwig) 3-5,8,13,18,20/20
The fox captain II – Liechtenstein ("Lili") 14-18,20/20
The head guard fox – Switzerland (Vash Swingli) 2-3,6,8,14/20 + epilogue
Yao's ex-boss – Cuba 2,8/20 + epilogue
The blue-clad vixen – Seychelles ("Chel") 3/20 + epilogue
The fox guarding the beer barrel I – North Italy (Feliciano Vargas) 9/20
The fox guarding the beer barrel II – South Italy (Lovino Vargas) 9/20
The fox guarding the tower – Australia, 19-20/20
Fox Witch Kirkland – England (Arthur Kirkland) 12-13,15-16,18-20/20 + epilogue
Gossip Mouse Feliks – Poland (Feliks Łukasiewicz) 7-8,11-12,17,20/20 + epilogue
Donkey Lord Edelstein – Austria (Roderich Edelstein) 1,19-20/20 + epilogue
The green-clad donkey – Vietnam, 10/20
The fox witch's raven I – Northern Ireland ("Noire") 15,17/20
The fox witch's raven II – Scotland ("Scott") 15,17/20
The fox witch's raven III – Wales ("Ales") 15,17/20
The fox witch's dragon – Sealand (Peter Kirkland) 15-16/20
Shadow that follows Al & co. in the town – Hungary (Elizabeta Héderváry) 4-5/20