Chapter 18: Go the Distance
As the heavy wooden doors to the cathedral burst open, sending splinters scattering across the chamber, as the group of guards stumbled in, dropping the large chunk of wood they had been using as an improvised ram. Frollo walked in behind them as the dozen of guards moved to surround him with weapons drawn.
"He'll be up in the bell tower," Frollo said as the men made their way across the chamber, "He will not go easily."
"He's just one man, sir," one of the guards pointed out, "How much trouble could he be?"
"That's what I thought for the past few days," Frollo explained, "And yet he keeps finding ways to surprise me."
The group cautiously made their way up the stone staircase to the cathedral's bell tower, weary of attack. As they reached the top, they began to fan out, looking in all corners of the lofty chamber as they made their way to the stairs that rose to the platform above them. As the last one of the guards reached the top of the stairs, another snapped his head upwards as he caught sight of movement above him.
"Look out!" he shouted as a barrel came spinning out from the darkness above them, hitting the last guard with a resounding crash. The barrel broke into a storm of splinters as the guard flew backwards and tumbled back down the stairs out of view. Frollo and the remaining guards looked on in shocks before trying to see where the barrel had come from. As they did, the bells suddenly began to toll, startling all of them as the massive bells swung back and forth.
As the guards continued to look around in confusion, one let out a cry of surprise that was drowned out by the booming toll of the bells as two large hands reached out from the darkness and dragged him in. None of the other guards noticed the man's disappearance as they made their way up to the platform, looking around in every direction in an effort to find Quasi.
"Someone stop those damned bells!" Frollo ordered, his anger rising. The other men nodded and moved to stop the bells ringing all around them. As one of the guards approached a rather large bell, he thought he heard something behind him and turned around to investigate. As he did the bell swung to the side revealing Quasi standing behind it, glaring at the man. As the guard turned around, the bell swung back, obscuring his view. When the bell swung back the other way, Quasi was gone, leaving the guard unaware as he tried to stop the bell.
As the man reached out to grab the bell, a length of rope suddenly shot out of the darkness above him and wrapped around his leg before he was yanked off his feet with a yelp, hitting his head on the platform as he was pulled into the air. As he rose, Quasi descended on the other end, swinging as he did so. Letting go of the rope, Quasi flipped through the air before kicking one of the guard's in the chest with both feet, the force of the blow sending the guard flying through the air before crashing through the railing around the platform, sending him falling and crashing onto the stone floor below.
As Quasi rolled to a stop, the guard caught in the rope fell back towards the ground with a shout of fear before he landed on another guard, sending them both crashing through the platform and smashing onto the floor below. Turning, Quasi quickly hopped through the hole and landing on the two guards as they tried to recover before any of the other guards could react. Reaching down, he picked one of them up, lifted the man above his head and slammed him back down onto the other guard with an angry shout. Picking the guard up again, Quasi turned and hurled him through the air, hitting the guard he had kicked off of the scaffolding with the other man, knocking them both down.
As a group of soldiers began rushing down the stairs from the platform to confront Quasi, he leapt up and pulled himself back onto the platform through the hole, causing some of the guards to crash into each other as they tried to turn around and chase him. Leaping up to the rafters of the bell tower, Quasi disappeared into the shadows as the men climbed back up to the platform, looking around wildly.
As the guards searched for him, the bells came to a halt, their last echo reverberating off the stone and wood around them before becoming silent. For a few tense moments, there was only the sound of their panicked breathing. Suddenly, a shout from the darkness caught their attention as the guard that Quasi had abducted earlier came swinging into view upside-down, completely wrapped up in a length of rope. He screamed as he smashed into another guard, knocking him backwards through the air before he slammed against one of the iron bells, which let out a loud toll as he slid off and slumped to the ground. Meanwhile, one guard caught the entangled one as he swung back around. As the other man tried to help his comrade, the others let out shouts of warning, giving the guard just enough time to look up to see Quasi sliding down the rope before the hunchback landed right on his head with enough force to knock the guard down and punch his head through the wooden planks, sending splinters and wood chips flying in every direction.
As the other guards looked on in shock, Quasi grabbed hold of the entangled guard, stopping him from swinging as he lined him up with the guard that had been knocked into the bell. Taking a mighty swing, Quasi punched the hanging guard hard in the face, shattering his nose, sending blood flying as the man swung away and smacked into the other guard who was just managing to pick himself up, knocking him into the bell again with a loud clang. As the entangled guard swung back again, Quasi grabbed his head before hurling him back the way he had come, smacking him into the bell as well, his blood smearing across the iron surface at the guard hit the bell face, the force causing the bell to swing back. As the entangled guard swung back towards Quasi, the other guard tried to sit up, just in time for the bell to swing back and crack him across the back of the head, sending the guard sprawling. At the same, Quasi reached up and yanked on the rope holding up the entangled guard so hard it snapped, causing the man to fall head first onto the back of the guard with his head stuck in the hole, causing the wood to crack beneath them. Growling angrily, Quasi reached down and grabbed the entangled guards feet, before swinging him up into the air with an angry shout and smashing him onto the other guard's back, causing the wood to break beneath them both and send them falling to the stone floor below, landing with a loud thud.
"Alright," Quasi snarled, glaring at Frollo and his remaining men, all of whom looked at the hunchback with fear as he pried out a loose board in the platform and began to beat it against his palm like a club, "Who gets broken next?"
Chaos reigned in the courtyard of Eglise Soliel as Phoebus and Eugene fought with the guards, both using swords they had stolen off those they had defeated, as Esmeralda freed herself from her cage, tossing the keys to Clopin before joining the fray.
"Nice of you to join us," Eugene quipped as he parried a sword thrust from one of the guards.
"Jokes now?" Esmeralda asked, incredulously as she ducked below a guard's slash, "Really?"
"Hey, just trying to add a little levity to our hopeless struggle against impossible odds," Eugene explained as he kicked a guard in the chest, sending the man stumbling away.
"It's not hopeless yet," Phoebus stated as he decked a guard in the face, "I just wish we could get to Maximus. Then maybe we could get to the king and queen."
"I think I can help with that," Esmeralda said as she turned and scanned the chaotic crowd, before catching sight of Djali moving among them with Pascal on his head.
Moving through the crowd, Esmeralda danced around the soldiers and civilians with an astonishing grace. Reaching the goat, she paused to kick a guard in the face before turning to address the goat.
"Djali," she addressed him, "I need you to take Pascal and find Maximus. They're probably keeping him in the stables. Understand?"
The goat and chameleon nodded.
"Good, now go!" she ordered, causing the goat to take off, Pascal desperately holding onto him. As they left, Esmeralda saw two more guards running at her.
"Esmeralda!" she heard Clopin shout. Turning towards him, Coplin tossed her a stave. Nabbing it out of the air, Esmeralda gave it a quick twirl before spinning around and smacking one of the guards on the side of the head, sending him sprawling. As the other swung his sword at her, she smacked the blade away, with one end of her stave before driving the other end into the man's gut. As the guard bent over from the wind being knocked out of him, Esmeralda snapped her stave up, knocking him on the jaw and sending the guard stumbling backwards. Running at him, Esmeralda stuck her stave into the ground before using it to vault her at the guard, kicking him in the chest with both feet, knocking him on his back, allowing Esmeralda to follow up by slamming her stave onto his head, knocking him out.
Meanwhile, Djali raced across the city, his hooves beating hard against the cobblestone streets. Soon enough, the two animals found themselves outside one of the guard's stables, from which came the sound of angry whining and thrashing.
"Sun above!" they heard a guard exclaim from inside, "What's wrong with this horse?"
"Phoebus must have trained it to act like some sort of attack dog," another stated, followed by a loud crash.
Djali glanced up at Pascal, who climbed down onto his nose to better look the goat in the eye. He signaled for Djali to wait, earning a nod from the goat, before Pascal hopped off Djali's nose and scurried across the cobblestone. Unbeknownst to either of them, a black stallion stood in shadows, watching them with angry eyes.
Pascal masterfully snuck through the stables, hiding in piles of hay and behind tools in order to remain hidden from the two guards who were trying to keep Maximus contained within a pen. Stealthily, Pascal crawled up to them, using his camouflage to remain undetected as he considered his options.
Crawling up the leg of one of the guards, Pascal scaled the man undetected until he sat right on the guard's shoulder. Seeing the chameleon on the guard's shoulder caused Maximus to pause for a moment. Glancing up at the horse, Pascal winked at him, while the guards looked at Maximus in confusion before they slowly followed his gaze, the guard upon which Pascal sat glancing sideways at him. Pascal took the chance to give the guard a smirk and a little wave before opening his mouth and shooting his tongue into the man's ear. The guard let out a disgusted and shocked cry as he released Maximus' reins, waving his hands to get Pascal's tongue out of his ear. Maximus took this opportunity to shove one of his front hooves through the slats in the pen door, striking the guard in the stomach and causing him to double over in pain while Pascal hopped off the man's shoulder. Free from the guard's grip, Maximus spun around before kicking the pen door with both feet, shattering the boards and kicking the guard in the face, sending him rolling away and crashing into a support beam.
As the other guard backed away and reached for his sword, Pascal let out a loud whistle. A moment later, Djali came barreling into the stable, slamming his lowered head into the guard's legs, sending the man flipping through the air before he landed hard on his back. Groaning in pain, the guard tried to pick himself up, but was stopped when Maximus walked over to him and slammed one of his hooves onto the guard's stomach, knocking the wind out of him and knocking him out.
Maximus whinnied happily as Pascal climbed back up onto Djali's head, smiling as the goat bleated excitedly. Pascal made a gesture for Maximus to follow them as Djali turned and led them out of the stables. As they moved to return to the courtyard, they were stopped by an angry whinny. Turning, Djali had just enough time to hop to the side with a bleat of panic in order to prevent Frollo's horse from running him down.
Turning, the black stallion reared up on its hind legs, kicking the air angrily as it prepared to charge again. It was stopped however when Maximus slammed into its side, nearly knocking the other horse over. The black stallion snorted angrily as it turned to face Maximus, biting at the air in a rage. Maximus snorted as well before he reared up on his hind legs and kicked at the other horse. The black stallion dodged the attack, before lashing out and biting onto Maximus' leg, drawing blood.
As Maximus screeched in pain, Djali darted forward, charging into the black stallion's hind leg. As the black stallion let out its own pain filled screech, Maximus recovered, allowing him to rear up again and smack the other horse across the jaws with one of his hooves. The black stallion stumbled back before shaking its head to recover its bearings.
Maximus reared up again to strike the black stallion with his hooves for a second time, the other horse following suit. The two horse remained on their hind legs for a few moments, batting at each other with their hooves, hitting and bruising one another. As they came back to all fours, Djali charged again, driving his horns into the black stallion's flesh, drawing blood. The stallion neighed angrily before lashing out with a kick, hitting Djali in the side and sending the goat sprawling. At the same time, Pascal leapt from Djali's back and crawled up the black stallion's leg and along its back and neck before he perched right above the horses eyes. Reaching down, he grabbed onto the stallion's eye lid, before pulling it back and letting it go, causing it to snap into the stallion's eye. The horse screeched in pain as it thrashed its head back and forth in an attempt to shake Pascal off. Seeing his opponent distracted, Maximus pressed his advantage. Rearing up again, Maximus struck the stallion across the face with his hoof. As the stallion reeled from the blow, Maximus struck him with his other hoof. As the black stallion tried to recover, Maximus spun around and kicked the stallion in the jaw with both feet, shattering the other horse's jaw, causing it to sway on its feet before collapsing to the ground.
Maximus whinnied in victory as he reared up on his hind legs, kicking the air in triumph. Pacal meanwhile rushed over to Djali who was pushing himself unstably to his feet. As Pascal looked over the goat for any serious injuries, Djali shook his head to clear it, blinking his eyes rapidly as he did. Maximus trotted over to him, grunting as if to ask the goat if he was okay. Djali nodded his head before indicating that they should head towards the cathedral. Maximus nodded before the three of them took off, racing through the streets towards the chaos in the cathedral courtyard.
His iron horseshoes sparking off the cobblestone road, Maximus came roaring into the courtyard, Djali with Pascal working hard to keep up. Before them, they saw Phoebus, Eugene, Esmeralda, Clopin, Hook, Big Nose, Vladimir and Shorty fighting off a large group of guards, their struggle seemingly in vain against their opponents superior numbers.
Rearing up on his hind legs and whinnying fiercely, Maximus charged into the fray, Djali and Pascal right behind him. Leaping over a group of guards, Maximus quickly lashed out with a kick to two of them, sending the men flying and knocking down half a dozen more.
"Maximus!" Phoebus exclaimed happily, running over and wrapping his arms around his old friend's neck, causing the horse to neigh happily.
A moment later, as one of the guards tried to pick himself up, he was bowled over as Djali slammed into him head first. The goat quickly trotted over to Esmeralda's side, who cooed sweetly as she pat her pet on the head.
"Okay, we got the horse," Eugene said as he parried on of the guard's attacks before punching him in the face, hissing and shaking his hand afterwards, "Now what?"
"Now this," Phoebus stated, pulling himself onto Maximus' back, kicking a guard in the face as he did so. Astride his mount, he turned towards where the citizens of the city had been corralled, looking at the unfolding chaos before them in confusion and fear.
"People of Corona!" Phoebus shouted, sitting as tall as he could upon Maximus' bare back, his words booming even over the fighting that surrounded him, "Men and woman of my fair kingdom! Brothers and sisters all!"
As Phoebus caught the attention of the citizen, the guards tried to stop him, but were prevented at every turn by Phoebus' allies, who fought valiantly to keep the guards away from him.
"My good people, you have been deceived!" Phoebus continued, Maximus beating his hooves in against the ground in agitation, "There is no grand scheme at work against you! No shadowy organization working against our fair kingdom! The only corruption that permeates Corona is within Minister Frollo's own forces! He does not seek to ensure your safety! He seeks to ensure your subjection! This very night, he did not seek to stop a conspiracy but to bring his to fruition! That was not a witch he tried to burn this night, but your Lost Princess!"
A gasp went through the crowd as they tried to decipher the meaning behind Phoebus' words, murmuring amongst themselves.
"It is true!" Phoebus continued, "That young maiden was none other than the King and Queen's lost daughter. Phoebus sought to end their line tonight, so that he may set up his own tyrannical regime. One backed by guards who have sworn themselves to protect not your lives but their power!"
"Why should we believe you!" a man in the crowd demanded, "For all we know, the king and queen are the ones becoming tyrants! And we're supposed to just believe that this girl is the Lost Princess!?"
"Yeah!" a woman agreed, "The Lost Princess is blonde, how could that girl be her!?"
"The captain must be telling the truth!" a new voice exclaimed from the crowd. Finding the source of the voice, Phoebus realized it was the shop keeper he had saved a few days ago.
"Many of the guard are interested only in lining their pockets with our gold!" the shopkeeper explained, "They'd jump at the chance to completely take this kingdom!"
"I think that girl really is the Lost Princess!" another voice called out, which Phoebus identified as one of the little girls who had braided Rapunzel's hair on her birthday.
"I saw her on the Princess's birthday, she was wearing the same dress as she was today!" the girl, no older than ten, "She had really long blonde hair that day too! I thought she looked just like the Lost Princess all grown up!"
"Your fellow citizens are not the only ones who have seen the signs," Phoebus told the crowd, "Not only have the king and queen already proclaimed this girl their daughter, but research performed by the Archpriest himself proves it! That girl is the Lost Princess. And when did you all become so quick to abandon your king and queen? At the simple words of a power-hungry madman?"
"I know that feeling stirring in your heart. That is fear," Phoebus continued as the fighting died down around him, "You cannot let it overcome you or it will warp your mind and your senses. Already you have shown yourselves ready to throw your lot in with a murderous charlatan over the king and queen who love you as their own family. But fret not, my fellow Coronians! You can overcome your fear! Deep within each of you is a reservoir of courage that no doubt dwarfs even my own! Tap into that and we can stand together, proud as a people! Together, we can take down this murder, this thief, this despot who would dare call himself your king! Together we can save the king and queen, we can save the Lost Princess! Tonight, each and every one of you can be a hero, you need only choose to be!"
"Guards!" he exclaimed, turning towards the gathered group of armed men who watched him with almost as much rapt attention as the gathered citizens, "I know that not all of you are corrupt and vile. You are not bullies. You are not crooks, not thieves, not murderers. You are men! Your family members stand with the rest of the citizens of this fair city. Would you have them oppressed as Frollo wants? No! You are caring men, men with the love of humanity in your hearts! You did not become guards to squeeze your fellow man for his last gold coin and rob him of his dignity! You chose to put your life at risk to defend those who could not defend themselves, and never has there been a nobler goal then that! Now, I beseech you, find that honor and courage again and stand with us! Do your duty! Defend your kingdom!"
As his words, the guards began to murmur amongst themselves uneasily, many glancing around to see what the others would do. After a few tense moments, a guard stepped out of the crowd, ignoring the glare some of his comrades gave him as he cautiously stepped towards Phoebus.
"Is what you say true, sir?" he asked, trying to sound braver than he felt.
"Every word," Phoebus replied earnestly.
"Then I am with you, sir!" the guard shouted before striding across the courtyard, causing the crowd to cheer.
"Me too!" a second cried, quickly following.
"Me as well!" said a third. Soon enough, dozens of men were striding across the courtyard. Once they all had crossed though, a sizable chunk of the guard remained facing them.
"It seems your forgetting one thing!" Drake shouted across the courtyard as he held onto the king, "We still have an ace up our sleeve!"
"Or a king and queen, as the case may be," Fletcher added, pulling Susanne over to him and holding his sword up to her throat.
"I told you before!" Henri exclaimed, before throwing his head back, hitting Drake right on the nose, causing him to lose his grip on the king's arms, allowing Henri to turn and punch Fletch in the face, sending the other man reeling, "DON'T TOUCH MY WIFE!"
As the crowd cheered, Phoebus quickly turned to address them.
"Now's our chance!" he exclaimed, "Are you with me!?"
The crowd roared in affirmation.
"TO THE KING AND QUEEN!" Phoebus bellowed pointing his sword towards the royal couple as Maximus reared up, neighing loudly. As Maximus' hooves hit the cobble stone, he began to charge, his friends flanking him and the crowd of citizens and gathered soldiers following swiftly behind him.
High above the chaos of the battle, Gothel sat in Quasi's makeshift bedroom, cradling Rapunzel's body, tears streaming down her face.
"Please come back," she whispered into her daughter's hair, "Please, I'd give anything."
"Give back what you have taken," a voice she did not recognize whispered into her ear.
"What?" she asked, startled, lifting her head and looking around for the source of the voice, "Who said that?"
"Give back what you have taken," the voice said again, ignoring her question. This time, she could hear it was coming from outside Quasi's room. Scooping Rapunzel's body into her arms, Gothel walked out of the room, leading her to a balcony that looked over the courtyard. Looking to the horizon, she saw the sun peaking over the rooftops of the city.
"Give back what you have taken," the voice repeated as the first rays of sunlight struck Gothel, causing her to squint.
"How?" Gothel asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Say the words," the voice stated from the east, "Give back what you have taken."
Looking down, Gothel noticed something unusual about her skin. It had a shine to it that seemed familiar to her. It took her a moment to realize that she was glowing. I look of realization passed over her features as she turned to look back at the sun.
"I understand," she said as she laid Rapunzel's body down on the floor before standing back up.
"Flower, gleam and glow," she sang as the battle raged below her, her skin glowing brighter as she did.
"Let your power shine," she continued as Quasi fought with the guards within the bell tower, smashing a board over a guards head, shattering it as he sent the man tumbling to the ground, blood oozing from the back of his head.
"Make the clock reverse," Gothel continued as Eugene and Esmeralda stood back to back, fighting off the guards. Eugene ducked a slash from one of the guards, turning as Esmeralda rolled over his back, kicking the guard in the chest as Eugene stood up and uppercut another guard, knocking him on his back.
"Bring back what once was mine," she continued as Clopin drew a pair of daggers, twirling them as he parried an attack from a guard. Meanwhile, Shorty drunkenly stumbled under a slash from a guard. Spinning around, he kicked the guard in the stomach, doubling him over. Standing unsteadily in front of him, Shorty grabbed the man's face and breathed right in his face. The man went cross eyed before collapsing to the ground, unconscious as Shorty smiled at him.
"Heal what has been hurt," Gothel sung as Hook grabbed the neck of one of the guards with his hook before pulling him down and slamming his knee into the guard's face, releasing him and allowing the guard fall to the ground.
"Change the Fates' deign," Gothel's words carried over the courtyard as a guard knocked a young peasant woman down, causing her to drop the knife she had been wielding. The guard grinned savagely as he approached the woman, who tried to scurry away. Before the guard could get any closer, a spear shot out from the side and knocked the weapon out of his hands. As the guard turned to face him, Big Nose spun his weapon around and smacked the guard in the stomach with the shaft before spinning it around and smacking the man in the face with it again as the man doubled over, knocking him onto his back. Turning to the woman, Big Nose offered her his hand. She looked up at him in wonder before accepting it with an eager smile, causing a blush to spread across Big Nose's features.
"Save what has been lost," Gothel sung as Vladimir stood in the center of a group of guards. Holding his hammer in one hand, he began swinging it around in a large circle, hitting each and every guard surrounding him, striking them on the side of their heads, knocking each of them to the ground.
"Bring back what once was mine," Gothel sung louder as her skin became more radiant. Meanwhile Phoebus, on foot again, dueled with two guards, their swords clashing. He lashed out with his foot, tripping one of them before punching the other man in the stomach. Grabbing the guards arm, he flipped the man over, causing him to fall onto the other man, knocking both guards to the ground.
"WHAT ONCE!" Gothel called throwing her hands out to the side, causing glowing sparkles to fly from her fingers.
"WAS!" Gothel sung as she threw her hands over her head, showering Rapunzel and herself with golden sparkles.
"MINE!" Gothel finished as she fell to her knees and slammed her hands against Rapunzel's chest. As she did, the light suddenly left her body, flowing down into Rapunzel's, the golden energy creating a sunburst pattern around Rapunzel's body. Rapunzel's chest heaved upwards as she gasped, her eyes flying open as air flew into her lungs.
An ecstatic smile crossed Gothel's face as she sat back on her legs, tired from all the energy leaving her as Rapunzel drew in a few more choking breaths, struggling to sit up.
"M-Mother?" Rapunzel asked as she pushed herself up, looking at Gothel in confusion.
"I'm so happy to see you alright, flower," Gothel said, smiling broadly but appearing short of breath.
"What happened?" Rapunzel asked, holding her head as she blinked rapidly.
"You were gone," Gothel explained, "But I brought you back."
"How?" Rapunzel questioned as she shifted to her knees.
"That's not important," Gothel said, dismissively.
"Where are we?" Rapunzel asked, standing up and looking around.
"The cathedral," Gothel explained, "Quasimodo rescued us."
"Quasi!" Rapunzel exclaimed, suddenly aware of everything that was happening, "Where is he!?"
"In the bell tower, fighting Frollo and the guard," Gothel explained.
"I have to help him!" Rapunzel shouted, turning away.
"Wait!" Gothel yelled, reaching out and grabbing Rapunzel's hand, stopping her, "It's too dangerous!"
"I have to," she said, yanking her hand from Gothel's grasp, "I love him."
Gothel paused, stunned by Rapunzel's intensity. Eventually, she brought her hand back and smiled at Rapunzel.
"Be careful, Rapunzel," she said gently.
"Are you alright?" Rapunzel asked, concerned.
"I'm fine, dear," Gothel replied, waving Rapunzel away. Rapunzel nodded before turning and running off. As she did, Gothel reached up and grabbed a strand of her hair, pulling it in front of her face. Looking at it, she could see it slowly turning grey before her eyes.
"Just fine," she whispered to herself.
Meanwhile, Rapunzel raced along the cathedral balcony, trying not to get lost in the unfamiliar area. Eventually, she came to the spot where Quasi had been chained up, the whip used to torture him at her feet.
Suddenly, a crashing sound came as a door nearby burst apart while a guard came rolling into view, slamming against the stone bannister. He groan of pain was quickly followed by a savage roar as Quasi leapt threw the doorway onto the man. Reaching down, Quasi grabbed the guard's sword, before reaching up to stab the guard with it.
"Quasi, stop!" she shouted.
Quasi was so shocked by the sound of her voice that he dropped the sword as he whipped his head around to look at her.
"R-Rapunzel…" he whispered as he stepped off of the guard towards her, "You…You were…"
"I know," she said, walking up and placing her hands on Quasi's shoulders, smiling at him "Somehow Mother brought me back."
"I…I thought I had lost you…" he whispered, tears in his eyes, before she pulled him into a hug.
"You did," she whispered, "But now I'm back."
As they hugged, Rapunzel heard the scrapping of metal on stone. Glancing up, she saw the guard Quasi had been fighting with approaching them with sword in hand, raised to strike.
"Quasi, look out!" she shouted as she pushed him away before hopping back as the guard slashed at them. Looking down, she saw the whip lying at her feet. Reaching up, she touched her hair, a thoughtful look on her face, before she quickly reached down and picked it up. Turning towards the guard, she lashed with the whip experimentally before striking out with it, snagging the guard's wrist. As the man hissed in pain and dropped his sword, Rapunzel pulled him towards her, causing him to stumble. As he stumbled towards her, Rapunzel released the grip on the man's wrist as she twirled around him, before lashing out and snagging his ankle, tripping him, causing the man to slam face first onto the stone floor.
"Wow," Quasi whispered.
"I totally didn't know I could do that," Rapunzel replied with a smile, "I guess all that practice with my hair wasn't a waste."
Hearing the sound of approaching footsteps, the two readied themselves.
"We're not out of the woods yet it," Quasi commented as the two of them prepared to meet the approaching guards.
As the battle raged in the courtyard below, Phoebus and his allies managed to slowly push the guards back. As he scanned the battlefield from Maximus' back, Phoebus looked for any sign of the king and queen. Glancing through the crowd of people, he saw the queen stumble and fall to the cobblestone, pursued by Drake Stabbington. His eyes narrowing, Phoebus clicked Maximus' sides, causing him to charge through the charge towards Drake. Sliding from Maximus' back, he stumbled as he landed on the ground, before tackling into Drake Stabbington, knocking them both to the ground as the queen looked on in shock.
Sitting up, Phoebus quickly punched Drake in the face, before pulling his arm back to do it again. Before he could though, Fletch ran up and kicked Phoebus in the side, knocking him off. Phoebus rolled to his feet, keeping his grip on his sword as Fletch helped Drake stand up. Phoebus' eyes narrowed as Fletcher and Drake drew their swords, sneering as they approached him.
Drake rushed Phoebus first, swinging his sword down at the guard captain, who parried the blow with his own blade. Shifting his weight, Phoebus pushed Drake to the side, before spinning around and blocking Fletch's following swing. Grabbing Fletch's arm, Phoebus pulled the other man towards him and drove his knee into Fletch's stomach. Pushing Fletch away, Phoebus spun around and blocked Drake's attack. Drake pushed Phoebus back, punching the captain in the gut, before grabbing the back of his shirt and tossing him, sending the guard captain stumbling away. As Phoebus stumbled, Fletch grabbed him by the shoulders and drove his knee into Phoebus' face, knocking the guard captain onto his back.
Fletch grinned as he lifted his sword up before bringing it down on Phoebus. Before the blade struck Phoebus though, another intercepted it. Looking up, Fletch saw Eugene smiling at him before he punched Fletch in the face. As Fletch stumbled away, Eugene reached down and helped Phoebus to his feet.
"Looks like you could use some help," Eugene commented as Phoebus wiped his busted lip.
"You kidding?" Phoebus asked with a good natured chuckle, "I could take these guys with one hand tied behind my back."
"Oh well, this should be easy then," Eugene quipped as he and Phoebus turned to face the Stabbington brothers.
"Drake is mine," Phoebus stated, spinning his sword in his hand.
"Fine by me," Eugene replied, before the two of the charged at the brothers. Eugene and Fletch met first, their swords clanging off of each other. Fletcher, being the bigger man, pushed Eugene back, before taking a large swing at him. Eugene ducked the blow before shouldering Fletcher, causing the bigger man to stumble back. Raising his sword, Eugene charged at him, but Fletcher parried the blow sending sparks flying as the blades met.
At the same time, Phoebus hopped out of the way as Drake stabbed at him before kicking the other man in the back, using Drake's forward momentum against him and causing him to stumble away. Pushing his advantage, Phoebus charged at him, dragging his sword along the cobblestone before swinging it upwards, knocking Drake's sword out of the way as the other man tried to turn around and block. As Drake's sword was knocked out of the way, Phoebus followed up by kicking Drake in the chest, sending him stumbling backwards again. Catching himself, Drake managed to block Phoebus' follow up attack, before turning the captain's sword to the side before backhanding Phoebus, causing him to stumble away. Roaring in anger, Drake charged Phoebus with his sword raised, the captain just managing to block the attack, the two men snarling at each other as their blades struggled against one another.
Meanwhile, Eugene desperately ducked underneath Fletch's swing, only to receive a kick to the stomach for his troubles. As he stumbled back, he managed to raise his sword to block Fletch's follow up attack, but was struck with an elbow to the face, followed by a kick that knocked him to the ground. Groaning in pain, Eugene reached for his sword, which had slipped from his hand, but Fletch kicked it away, sending it skidding across the cobblestone. Fletch followed with kick to Eugene's ribs, sending him rolling across the ground. Hissing in pain, Eugene tried to push himself to his feet. As he lifted his eyes, he saw something laying on the ground a few feet away. A frying pan. One which one of the citizens must have been using as an improvised weapon.
"Hello, beautiful," he whisper, crawling over to it as Fletch walked over to him, sword raised. Leaping the last foot, he snagged the pan, before rolling over and blocking Fletch's stab. Kicking Fletch in the chest, Eugene pushed him back far enough to pick himself up.
"Really?" Fletch asked with a laugh, "A frying pan?"
"You won't be laughing in a moment," Eugene replied, "I guarantee that."
Growling, Fletch charged at him sword raised. As brought the sword down, Eugene swung the pan, knocking the blade to the side. He quickly followed by swinging it back around, hitting Fletch across the face, sending him stumbling away. Grunting in pain, Fletch caught himself, holding his head. Turning, he found Eugene running at him, holding his sword up to block high. Grinning as Fletch fell for his feint, Eugene spun around and jabbed the pan into Fletch's stomach, causing him to double over in pain. Eugene followed up by swinging his pan upwards, hitting him on the face, flipping Fletch onto his back.
Fletch quickly rolled to his feet, picking himself up and blocking as Eugene swung down at him, the two struggling against each other. At the same time, Phoebus and Drake continued to push against each other. Simultaneously, the two brothers spun their swords around, trying to disarm their opponents. They succeed in disarming their opponents, but also lost their weapons as well, sending the three swords and the frying pan scattering across the cobblestone road. The four men looked at their lost weapons in surprise before snapping their heads back to look at each other.
Before the brothers could react, Eugene and Phoebus lashed out with simultaneous right hooks. The two men stumbled backwards, bumping into each other as Eugene and Phoebus rushed them. The two men ducked the defensive punches the brothers threw at them, before countering with a one-two punch combo of their own. As the brothers reeled, both Eugene and Phoebus punched their opponent in the stomach. As the brothers desperately tried to catch their breaths, Eugene and Phoebus followed with simultaneous uppercuts, knocking the brothers to the ground, out cold.
"I like your style," Eugene said, pointing his finger at Phoebus.
"I like your moves," Phoebus replied, pointing his finger back at Eugene.
Up on the balcony of the cathedral, Rapunzel and Quasi continued to battle the guards. Two men were left, charging the couple with swords drawn. As one swung at Quasi, he ducked under the attack, allowing Rapunzel to lash out at him with her whip, knocking the sword out of his hand. As the guard hissed in pain, Quasi wrapped his arm around the guard's stomach, before lifting him off his feet and slamming him against the ground.
As Quasi slammed the man down, Rapunzel spun around and lashed out with the whip, striking the guard across the face with it, creating a large gash on his face. As the man stumbled away, Rapunzel lashed out again, wrapping it around his arm before she yanked him back towards her. As he did, Quasi spun around Rapunzel, before stepping towards the guard and holding up his arm, clothes-lining him, causing the guard to flip around and land face first on the ground, groaning in pain.
Rapunzel smiled triumphantly as she pulled the whip back to her. Unbeknownst to her, however, the first guard was picking himself up, grabbing his sword and raising it to attack.
"Rapunzel!" Quasi cried, pushing her out of the way as the guard swung his sword down. The blade missed Rapunzel, but sliced Quasi's arm, causing him to cry out in pain as blood slowly oozed from his wound.
"Quasi!" Rapunzel shouted as Quasi tackled into the guard, knocking him into the bannister. While the guard struggled, he accidentally pushed himself over the bannister. As the guard struggled against gravity, he accidentally pulled Quasi over the bannister with him. The guard screamed while he plummeted to the ground, Quasi managing to reach out and grab a gargoyle, holding on by his fingertips unable to lift his other arm due to the wound to it.
"Quasi no!" Rapunzel shouted as she lashed out with the whip, grabbing Quasi's wrist as he lost his grip on the gargoyle. Quasi's weight almost pulled Rapunzel over the edge, just barely stopping her fall by bracing her foot against the bannister, hissing in pain as she scrapped her foot on the rough stone. She grunted in exertion as she held the whip with both hands, desperately trying to hold on. People below gasped in surprise and shock as they looked up at the dangling hunchback, alerted by the falling guard.
"It's okay, Quasi!" Rapunzel called down to him, "I've got you!"
"Not for long," an all too familiar voice growled at her from behind. Turning to look over her shoulder, she saw Frollo walking towards her, a sword in his hand.
"The two of you have proved very difficult to properly kill," Frollo growled as stood next to Rapunzel, who looked up at him with fear in her eyes as she kept her grip on the whip, "But it looks I have been given the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, as it were."
"Do you see!?" he bellowed down to the people watching below, "Do you see how our Lord shows his support to my cause!? He serves my foes to me on a silver platter. Despite all of your struggles, despite all of your effort, there is nothing you can do to stop me!"
Stepping up to the bannister, he grinned down at the people, who had stopped in their fighting to watch the spectacle before them. Henri watched on among them, wrapping his arms around Susanne, who clung to him.
"Now, I will dispatch these miscreants, and after that, all those who have opposed me will suffer!" Frollo shouted, his voice reverberating off the walls as the sun continued to rise above the rooftops, "None can stop me from achieving my destiny! I will rid this country of all those fools who would corrupt and weaken it. I will be your king!"
"Boo!" a voice exclaimed from behind them. Turning around, both Rapunzel and Frollo were shocked to see Gothel. She aged, appearing now to be an ancient woman. Her skin was wrinkled and her hair was pure white. She walked with a stooped posture and appeared to be over a foot shorter now. Her dress hung loosely off her smaller frame.
"Mother?" Rapunzel asked in confusion.
"What…What is the meaning of this!?" Frollo demanded.
"Boo!" she repeated, stepping forward on uneasy legs, "Your destiny, you say? You know nothing of destiny! You know nothing of what it is to lead people! I am better suited to be king then you! You are nothing but a tyrant, a power hungry monster trying to disguise himself as some kind of savior."
Frollo was too shocked to speak, allowing Gothel to walk up to the bannister and look down at the gathered crowd.
"So if that is what you want, then bow down to him!" she called, gesturing to Frollo, "Bow down before this despot!"
"Boo!" Gothel shouted again, glaring at Frollo, who flinched away from her, "Tyrant! Murderer! Boo! Boo! BOO!"
Frollo looked on in horror as Gothel walked right up to him, grabbing him by the front of his robe.
"Now come here, Minister," she said with false sweetness as she pulled him close, "Give us a kiss."
Leaping forward, Gothel flung herself at Frollo, pushing the both of them over the bannister.
"MOTHER!" Rapunzel cried as the two figures disappeared over the bannister. Seeing the figures falling, Quasi grunted as he reached out and grabbed Gothel with his injured arm. He let out a cry of agony as he held onto the old woman, who grabbed onto his arm with both of hers. Fresh blood oozed from the wound on his arm as well as those on his back. Frollo meanwhile managed to grab hold of another gargoyle, wrapping his arms around it in fear. Rapunzel let out a cry of fear as she felt herself being pulled over by the combined weight of Gothel and Quasi. Before she did though, she felt powerful arms wrap around her stomach, stopping her. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw Laverne behind her, her arms wrapped around Rapunzel. Feeling a grip on her arms, she saw that Victor and Hugo stood flanking her, grapping her arm.
"Don't let go, Rapunzel!" Laverne cried.
"Yeah, we've got you, kid!" Hugo exclaimed.
"Many hands make light work!" Victor added.
Rapunzel smiled at the gargoyles, before a look of determination crossed her face and she braced herself against the bannister with her other foot.
Meanwhile, down below, Frollo desperately hung onto the gargoyle, his grip constantly slipping as the sunlight from the rising sun approached him from above.
"Claude Frollo," he heard a voice whisper to him, louder and angrier than before.
"Who are you!?" Frollo demanded.
"Look at the innocent blood you have spilt," the voice said from behind him as it grew louder.
"Oh no," Frollo whispered as realization came over him, "Please, I didn't know it was you!"
"You can lie to yourself and your minions!" the voice cried as the sunlight came closer.
"I'm sorry!" Frollo exclaimed, desperately holding onto the gargoyle.
"You can claim that you haven't a qualm!" the voice boomed, growing even louder.
"Please, I beg of you!" Frollo cried.
"BUT YOU NEVER CAN RUN FROM NOR HIDE WHAT YOU'VE DONE FROM THE VERY EYES OF THE SUN!" the voice boomed as the sunlight struck the gargoyle Frollo was hanging from. As it did, the stone seemed to heat up as if it were on fire, searing the flesh of Frollo's hands. Frollo cried out in agony as he tried to hold on but eventually the pain became unbearable, forcing him to let go. Letting out a cry of mortal terror, Frollo fell through the air, his burnt hands desperately trying to find something to grab onto as he fell. Eventually, he came crashing onto the still burning pyre below, sending the flames reaching towards the sky as they belched out a black cloud of smoke.
"Well," Flynn said, his eyebrows raised in surprise, "We know he's dead."
From above, Rapunzel managed to peer over the bannister at Quasi and her mother.
"Quasi, are you okay?" she called down to them.
"I don't think I can hold onto her much longer!" he cried back, a worried look on his face.
"It's okay, Quasimodo," Gothel said, causing Quasi to look down at her. His eyes widened in shock as he realized she was even more ancient now than she was moments ago.
"It's okay," she repeated, a smile on her face, "I'm not afraid anymore."
Quasi nodded in understanding.
"You'll have to take care of Rapunzel now," she stated, "Promise you will."
"I promise," Quasi said, straining to hold onto her.
"Mother, what's happening!?" Rapunzel called down to them.
"I have to go now, flower," Gothel told her.
"No!" Rapunzel exclaimed, tears welling up in her eyes.
"I'm sorry," Gothel apologized, "But I will always be with you. I love you!"
"I love you more!" Rapunzel replied, tears streaming down her face.
"I love you most," Gothel finished, her voice barely above a whisper as she released her grip on Quasi's hands. People below let out cries of shock and surprise as Gothel fell through the air. As she fell, a golden glow surrounded Gothel, golden sparkles falling off of her. Moments before she hit the ground, her entire body burst into a cloud of golden sparkles which was quickly caught by the wind and carried above the crowd, which looked on in amazement.
Quasi took a moment to watch the sparkles with wonder, before looking up at Rapunzel, who was weeping openly.
"Do you have me?" Quasi asked. Rapunzel nodded in response. Reaching up, Quasi slowly pulled himself up with whip until he got to the stone gargoyles and climbed up along the wall. Vaulting over the bannister, he found Rapunzel sitting on the ground weeping, surrounded by Laverne, Victor and Hugo who were doing their best to comfort her. Seeing him, Rapunzel launched herself at him, pulling Quasi into a hug which he quickly returned.
"It's okay," he whispered to her, ignoring the pain in his arm and back, "It's all over, everything is going to be okay."
For a while they just sat there, holding each other as Rapunzel cried, while the gargoyles looked on silently.
"I can't believe she's gone," Rapunzel whispered between her sobs, "She really loved me you know. She said so when we were in the pyre."
"I believe her," Quasi said, pulling back so he could look Rapunzel in the eye, "I think she sacrificed herself to bring you back. Only a loving parent would do something like that."
Rapunzel let out another sob as fresh tears fell down her face.
"She made me promise to take care of you," Quasi stated, smiling at Rapunzel, "And I always keep my promises."
Rapunzel smiled sadly at him before pulling him into another hug.
"I think it's time for you to meet your parents," Quasi said as he pulled away, wiping away her tears, "I think both you and they have waited long enough."
Rapunzel nodded, a small smile spreading across her face. Slowly, the two of them made their way through the cathedral, enjoying the silence as they held hands. Eventually, they made it to the ruined remains of the front door. At the doorway, Rapunzel paused, a frightened look on her face. She looked down at Quasi, who squeezed her hand reassuringly and motioned for her to go outside. Taking a deep breath, Rapunzel let go of his hand and stepped out into the morning light.
As she stepped outside, she blinked against the light as she was greeted by a roar of applause. As her eyes adjusted, she saw her friends, along with the gathered citizens of the city standing before her. Looking around, she saw the guards that had chosen to follow Frollo restrained, unconscious, or dead. Stepping forward, she smiled as she saw Eugene and Esmeralda standing at the foot of the stairs, looking overjoyed to see her alright. She moved to run to them, but stopped when she saw something else.
Slowly, hesitantly walking towards her were the king and queen, Henri and Susanne. Her parents. They stopped a few feet away from her looking at her in wonder. She could tell they were hesitating, almost unwilling to believe she could be real. Feeling tears well up in her eyes again, she nodded her head to let them know, yes, it was her, before she ran towards them. Susanne didn't hesitate to run to her, wrapping her up in a hug, the two women crying as they fell to their knees. Henri walked up behind her, tears in his eyes as he kneeled down and enveloped the two of them in a hug. They stayed that was for a while, saying nothing as they hugged, while everyone else looked on with smiles on their faces. Eventually, the three of them pulled apart, Susanne cupping Rapunzel's face with both hands, smiling at her.
"Hi," Rapunzel said, reaching up and touching Susanne's hand.
"Hi," Susanne replied with a chuckle, before a thought came to her, "I don't even know what to call you."
"Rapunzel," she replied, chuckling.
"That's a very pretty name," Susanne stated.
"Thank you, my mo…" Rapunzel trailed off, realizing what she was saying and trying to stop, but she could tell Susanne understood as a sad and slightly hurt expression crossed her face.
"You loved her, didn't you?" Susanne asked with downcast eyes.
"Yes," Rapunzel said after a moment, "I did love her and she loved me. I know she did a lot wrong, but one thing I know for sure is she loved me."
"Then, if nothing else, I know she raised you right," Susanne stated, smiling at Rapunzel, "I just hope one day you can see me like that."
"I already do," Rapunzel said, smiling back at Susanne, "After all, you're my mother."
Susanne beamed at Rapunzel, fresh tears running down her face as she pulled her into another hug. After a few more moments, they pulled apart and Rapunzel turned her attention to Henri.
"Hello, Father," she grinned at him.
"Hello, little one," he said, cupping her chin and stroking her cheek with his thumb, "I can't tell you happy your mother and I are to see you."
"I wouldn't be here at all if it weren't for my friends," she said, standing up and pulling from her parents, and looking for her friends before running into the gathered crowd.
"Clopin!" she said, running up to the man, enveloping him in a hug and kissing him on the cheek, "He might seem like a clown but he's one of the bravest men I've ever met."
"And Hook!" she cried, running over to him and hugging and kissing him too, "Why, he's the best pianist you'll ever hear, though he may not look it."
"Big Nose, and Vladimir and even Shorty!" she called running up and embracing each of them in turn, "Each and every one of them worth ten men! No, more!"
"Phoebus!" she called running up and embracing the blonde man, who laughed as she kissed him on the cheek, "You made a good decision making him your captain, Father. Never has there been a braver or more loyal man."
"Nor has there been a more noble steed than Maximus," she continued, hugging the horse around his neck, causing him to whinny happily.
"Eugene!" she said happily, running up to him, embracing him and kissing him on the cheek, "You might know him as Flynn Rider but I think Eugene Fitzherbert is a much more fitting name for a hero."
"Hey, easy there, Blondie," he said, before looking at her hair and laughing, "Well I guess I can't really call you that anymore. Still, I'm spoken for."
"What do you mean?" Rapunzel asked in confusion. Eugene merely glanced at Esmeralda in reply, who smiled back at him. Rapunzel's eyes widened in surprise as she realized what he meant.
"Really!?" she exclaimed, turning to Esmeralda, who nodded, causing Rapunzel to envelop her in a hug, "That's wonderful!"
"This is Esmeralda," she said, addressing her parents, "The sweetest and bravest girl you'll ever meet."
"I'm sorry but that title belongs to you, sweetie," Esmeralda replied, smiling at Rapunzel, who pulled her into another hug. As they hugged, Djali walked up to their side, bleating happily.
"Djali!" she exclaimed happily, kneeling down as pulling the goat into a hug, "A heroic goat if there ever was one."
As she hugged the goat, Pascal crawled off his head and leapt onto Rapunzel's shoulder. He ran up to her cheek and rubbed his head against it, causing her to squeal in delight.
"Pascal!" she cried, standing up and taking him into her hands before she kissed him on the head. She then turned and ran up to the king and queen, presenting the chameleon to them.
"This is Pascal," she exclaimed as the chameleon smiled at the bemused royals, "My oldest friend in the world."
She quickly placed Pascal on her shoulder before she turned back to her parents.
"Oh but none of it would have been possible without…" she paused as she looked around in confusion, "without…where's Quasi?"
At her question, everyone glanced around for the hunchback, but nobody could find him. Eventually, Rapunzel's eyes settled on the doorway to the cathedral. Walking over to it, she peered inside, finding Quasi hiding in the shadows.
"Quasi, what are you doing?" she asked, confused.
"I…I can't go out there…not after…" Quasi mumbled, casting frightened glances towards the doorway.
"Quasi, you're a hero," Rapunzel explained to him, "Everyone is going to see that. I saw that the moment I laid eyes on you."
"You mean right before you knocked me unconscious?" Quasi asked with a smirk.
"You know what I mean," she said, grinning at him before leaning down and kissing him. The kiss lingered for a few moments, before Rapunzel grabbed his hand and began to lead him outside.
Quasi held up a hand to shield his eyes from the sun, blinking as he stepped outside. As his vision cleared, he saw the assembled people looking at him with a mixture of confusion and happiness. His eyes then fell on his friends, who beamed at him with looks of joy and pride. Finally, he looked at the king and queen, who stared at him for a few moments. Fighting the urge to run and hide, Quasi watched as Susanne stepped from Henri's side and slowly made her way up to Quasi.
As Rapunzel stepped to the side, Susanne kneeled before Quasi, looking intensely into his eyes. Slowly, she raised her hand and touched his cheek, causing Quasi to flinch. She ignored it as a smile spread across her face, causing Quasi to visibly relax as Susanne wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into a hug, which he gladly returned. The crowd cheered as Quasimodo and the queen embraced.
"So you are the Quasimodo who has stolen my daughter's heart," Susanne commented as she pulled back.
"She stole mine first," Quasi replied, glancing at Rapunzel, who blushed.
"I can see that," Susanne commented, pushing herself to her feet and smiling at her daughter as the king walked up to them. Seeing him approach, Quasi began to bow, but Henri held up a hand stopping him.
"My friend," he said, addressing Quasi with a smile, "There is no need for that. You are this kingdom's hero. You are my hero. You have brought the most precious treasure in my life back to me. In this kingdom, with the Sun as my witness, you bow to no one."
To prove his point, the king kneeled before Quasi, lowering his head as he did so. Looking around in astonishment, Quasi saw the Susanne give him a curtsy as well. Scanning the courtyard, he saw Eugene give him a dramatic bow, while Esmeralda curtsied next to him. Phoebus and Maximus both gave him a salute, while Clopin doffed his hat and bowed. Hook, Big Nose, Vladimir and Shorty followed suit, as did the entire crowd in the courtyard. Eventually, he turned to look at Rapunzel, who beamed at him and curtsied as well, Pascal bowing on her shoulder.
Clopin smiled as he stood back up, placing his hat back on his head as he turned to address the crowd.
"Three cheers for Quasimodo!" he shouted, throwing his hands into the air, "Hip hip!"
"Hurray!" the crowd cheered as Rapunzel ran over to Quasi pulling him into a hug as she kissed him.
"Hip hip!" Clopin called again.
"Hurray!" the crowd roared again, as Eugene slid his arm around Esmeralda's waist. Turning to look at him, she smiled before grabbing his head and pulling him into a kiss.
"HIP HIP!" Clopin bellowed, his jovial voice ringing off the walls of the courtyard.
"HURRAY!" the crowd cheered as they rushed up to the cathedral. Vladimir smiled as he reached down and hefted both Quasi and Rapunzel onto his shoulders, carrying them through the crowd as they threw their arms up and cheered.
Phoebus and Eugene stood next to each other cheering with the rest of the crowd. As they did, Henri walked up behind them, placing a hand on each of their shoulders to catch their attention.
"You know," he began, "I suddenly find myself without a Minister of Justice. Perhaps you would be interested in following in your father's footsteps, Phoebus?"
"I'd be honored, sir!" Phoebus exclaimed happily.
"Excellent," Henri replied, before turning his attention to Flynn, "Which means I find myself in need of a new captain of the guard."
"Me?" Eugene asked, dumbfounded, "You can't be serious."
"I'm completely serious," Henri replied with a smile, "You've proven yourself quite the hero today, and I think I'm going to need all the loyal heroes I can get."
"I'm not sure I'm cut out for the whole law and order thing, your majesty," Eugene admitted scratching the back of his head. As he did, Esmeralda danced up, leaning on his shoulder as she whispered in his ear.
"Did I ever tell you I find the captain's uniform to be incredibly dashing?" she asked with a smile.
A shocked look crossed Eugene's face, quickly replaced by a smile as he turned and shook the king's hand.
"I'm your man, sir!" he shouted.
"Excellent!" Henri exclaimed, patting both men on the shoulder, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have much overdo fathering to catch up on."
With that, he walked away, leaving Eugene, Esmeralda and Phoebus behind. The two men glanced at each other before smiling.
"Minister Phoebus," Eugene said, swatting Phoebus on the arm, "Has a nice ring to it."
"Not as nice as Captain Eugene Fitzherbert," Phoebus replied, swatting him back with a laugh. As they laughed, their eyes turned to the bound and unconscious Stabbington brothers.
"What should we do with them?" Eugene asked.
A thoughtful expression crossed Phoebus' face as he pondered the question. Slowly, he turned around and lifted his eyes to the cathedral. As he did, a smile spread across his lips.
"You know, speaking of open positions," Phoebus began, grinning, "I know of another position that just opened up. One these two would be perfectly suited for."
Eugene and Esmeralda raised their eyebrows at him, before turning around as well and following Phoebus' gaze, smiling as realization struck them.
"I like the way you think, Minister," Esmeralda chuckled.
Smiling the three of them turned to look at Quasi and Rapunzel, still sitting on Vladimir's shoulders. Reaching out, they grabbed each other's hands before pulling together and kissing over the giant man's horned helmet. As the crowd cheered, they broke apart, laughing happily before throwing their clasped hands into the air triumphantly.
"And that, dear children, is where our story ends," Clopin chuckled as he looked down at the gathered children, sitting on the edge of the cart's window.
"Was that all true?" a young girl asked.
"Every word, child," Clopin replied with a grin.
"Even the part about Frollo being smote by Lord Soliel?" a young boy questioned.
"Especially that," Cloping answered, pointing at the boy in question.
"I don't believe a word of it," a young, brash voice exclaimed. Glancing over, Clopin smiled as he saw the owner of the voice. It was a young boy, no older than ten. He had wavy, jet black hair, green eyes and a tan complexion. He wore a yellow colored tunic over a pair of red leggings and brown shoes covering his young athletic build. He crossed his arms in front of him as he glared at Clopin.
"And why is that, young Zephyr?" Clopin asked.
"You expect me to believe that the Queen had magic glowing hair that could heal people? That she spent eighteen years locked up in a tower, until the Prince Reagent just happened along while he was stealing her crown? That Lord Soliel himself smote the infamous Minister Frollo? That my father once bested a man with a frying pan?" the young boy, Zephyr, listed, "Sounds like a bunch of baloney to me."
"It's true!" a new voice called out. Turning his attention to it, Clopin's smile grew. The voice belonged to a girl around Zephyr's age. She had long, auburn colored hair that was done in braid that ran down the length of her back. He emerald green eyes glittered angrily as she glared at Zephyr, her fair cheeks red with annoyance. She wore a lilac colored dress over her slim frame with no shoes on her delectate feet. A silver crown decorated with dozens of the finest gems sat on her head, glittering in the setting sunlight.
"All of it's true, Zephyr!" she proclaimed, "Mother and Father told me so."
"You'd believe anything they said, Emilee," Zephyr replied, sticking his tongue out at her.
"That's because they don't tell fibs all the time like your father," the girl, Emilee, shot back, sticking her tongue out as well.
"Now, now children," Clopin admonished, "Let's not fight."
"Can we have another story, Clopin?" a young girl asked, looking up at him hopefully.
"Perhaps," Clopin replied, a thoughtful expression on his face as he looked up at the sky and tapped his chin, "Have I told you all the story of the Highland Princess and the Dragon Rider?"
Before any of the children could answer, a cry from across the courtyard caught their attention.
"Zephyr!" the voice cried, belonging to an older Esmeralda, who waved to the children from across the courtyard, an equally older Eugene sitting mounted on a white horse with a black mane next to her, "Emilee! Time for supper!"
"Alas, it appears our time is at an end," Clopin said, earning a disappointed groan from the children, "Tomorrow is another day though, and with another day comes another story, if you all so wish it. Until then, you all should hurry off before your own mothers come calling. Salut, my friends."
With that, he closed the window of his cart as the children began to disperse, saying their good nights as they all headed for home. Emilee and Zephyr quickly made their way over to Esmeralda and Eugene.
"Hello, Auntie Esmeralda," Emilee greeted with a smile and a quick curtsy.
"Hey Mom," Zephyr greeted with a nod.
"Did you two enjoy your day with Clopin?" Esmeralda asked.
"He tells wonderful stories," Emilee commented.
"Even if he's making it up," Zephyr added.
"I told you already, it's all true!" Emilee snapped at the boy, earning a chuckle from Eugene.
"Whatever you two are arguing about now will have to wait," Eugene said, "Zeph, you head home with Mom, I have to take the Princess back to the castle."
"Ok, good night, Em," Zephyr said as he and Esmeralda began to walk away.
"Good night, Zephyr," Emilee replied, smiling as Eugene helped her up onto his horse.
"Come on, Achilles," Eugene said, clicking the horse's sides, sending it into a trot, "Back to the castle."
As the horse trotted across the courtyard, a thought came to Emilee.
"Uncle Eugene, is it true you defeated one of the Stabbington brothers with a frying pan?" she asked.
"Well," Eugene began with a laugh, "Let me tell you about that…"
Clopin laughed to himself as he hitched his cart up to a donkey, before hopping onto the driver's seat and clicking the reins, driving the cart towards another part of the city. As he did, the bells from the tower above began to ring.
"Sooo here is a riddle, to guess if you can," Clopin sung as he led the cart across the courtyard, "sing the bells of Eglise Soliel."
"What makes a monster and what makes a man?" Clopin sung as the bells continued to toll. Up in the bell tower, the Stabbington brother toiled away at the bells, their feet bound in chains, their bodies clothed in rags.
"Put your back into it!" Hugo shouted down from a rafter as he, Laverne and Victor laughed.
"Did you hear something?" Fletcher asked, pausing in his work
"Just shut up and ring," Drake snapped as he continued to pull the long bell ropes.
"Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells," Clopin continued as his voice floated across the city. On a balcony attached to one of the highest towers in the royal castle, Rapunzel and Quasi danced arm in arm to music only they could hear. As Quasi spun Rapunzel, her long, chocolate brown hair whipped around, held together by the long braid that came down almost to her feet.
"Whatever their pitch, you can feel them bewitch you, the rich and the ritual knells!" Clopin's words echoed across the city, as Emilee rushed to her parents on the balcony, throwing herself into her father's strong arms. Quasi beamed as he caught her, lifting her up into the air as she squealed in delight. Spinning her around, he brought her up to Rapunzel, who smiled and kissed her daughter on the cheek, before leaning down and kissing her husband on the lips, earning a disgusted look from their daughter.
"OF THE BELLLLLLS OOOOOF EGLIIIIISE SOOOOLIEEEEEEEEEL!" Clopin's song carried high up into the sky, where the setting sun hung, casting the sky in purple and orange. If one looked close enough however, a small drop of golden sunlight could be seen falling from the sky to the ground far, far below.
A/N: The End! Thanks to all of you who supported me throughout this whole story and made it my greatest one ever. I thank you all for being such loyal and patient fans! I hope you enjoyed the ending as much as I enjoyed writing it. I have some other ideas coming down the pipe, including the fact this won't be the last time we see Quasi and Rapunzel. But until then, thank you all for making this a blast to write, one last humble request for you all to please review and have a fantastic New Year!