Thugs, A Lost Princess, A Thief & Everything Else

A Tangled Fill in

From a prompt by Wolfram - and - Hart Sauron (with permission)

"She kissed me," Hookhand smiled as he watched Blondie and Rider disappear into the depths of the tunnel. He touched his cheek in wonderment.

"I know," Big Nose answered with a smile. "You'll never wash that cheek again,"

Everyone laughed.

Hookhand lost the smile, turned around and raised the axe above his head.

Everyone stopped laughing and cringed.

Hookhand looked around the common room and started to smile, then it became a giggle. That grew into the most amazing laugh that would EVER come out of Hookhand's mouth. There would never be another like it. He laughed so long and loud that it became infectious. It soon had the rest of the Thugs doubling over with laughter. It went on for a good half hour before Hookhand stopped and threw his axe against the wall, almost knocking off Big Nose's helmet.

Everyone quieted down and went about their chores and continued with their hobbies. Hookhand climbed onto the stool and began to play his favorite music ever, next to Mozart, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

"I don't think that's Mozart," the proprietor of the Snuggly Duckling said. "And I know I'm right, aren't I?"

Hookhand smiled. "You're so perceptive, Mr. Innkeeper. It's Beethoven who created some of the most beautiful pieces in the world. Well, in my opinion anyway. He happened to meet Mozart when he was just 16 years old."

The innkeeper shook his head. "Nice tidbit of information, Hookhand, but I'm sure some of us didn't really care."

"Why don't you just stop playing altogether?" the Pirate Thug spoke up. "I guess you're feeling real special now just because some long haired blond gave you a peck on the cheek."

"Well, it's not everyday that some cute young thing walks in here with a handsome wanted thief," Gunter added, "especially one that pays attention to you when others won't."

Hookhand stopped playing and grabbed his axe again. This time he meant it.

He was about to throw it at the wall when the innkeeper put his hand out to prevent him from doing so.

"Alright guys, that's enough. Let's have some peace and quiet around here. One pretty young kid comes in here with her boyfriend and everyone goes ballistic? Let's get a grip, guys."

Big Nose looked around the room. "Where's Shorty?" he asked. "It's not like him to be out so long without saying something to at least one of us."

"You're right," Tor said, watering a few of his well kept plants in the corner of the room.

As if on cue, Shorty wandered into the Duckling looking dazed, confused and a bit tired. He was shaking his head. "That old witch," was all he said.

"Where have you been?" the innkeeper asked, placing a drink on the bar. "Everyone's been asking about you? And who's the old witch?"

Shorty eyed the shot glass, grabbed it and lapped it down hungrily. "You know her, barkeep. It's the old witch who is living in the valley in that tall tower. You've seen her. She passes by here every day."

Hookhand climbed off his piano stool. "She's the one with the cape and the basket. She goes foraging for food every day." He looked at Shorty. "What about her?"

"Did you ever notice how she gets back into that tower?" Shorty asked.

It was then everyone gathered around to hear Shorty's tale about knives, thieves and the beautiful girl with the long blond hair.

"You mean," Vladimir said, looking up from his collection of ceramic unicorns. He was at the other end of the bar.

"That girl is being taken advantage of," Shorty said. "Somehow, we've got to protect her. We need to get her away from that witch."

"And that thief," Fang called out from behind the puppet stage.

"No," Hookhand said, shaking his head. "Not yet. She needs him right now. We have to hold off until after the lantern festival, then we can go after him. She's got a dream, remember? We've got to protect the two of them."

Big Nose nodded. "I agree. There's more than enough of us here, we just have to get off our butts.

"But what's in this for us?" Vlad said, giving up his unicorns. He had lost count anyway.

"If that witch is keeping her in that tower," Big Nose continued, "and she won't let her go, believe me, there's something up, big time. Did you ever notice that woman never grows older?"

No one said a word, no one moved. They all stared at each other.

"Okay," Hookhand said, nodding. "I'm in. Does anyone else care to join me?"

Shorty nodded. "I'm in too, but where do we start?"

"Listen, you guys," Bruiser said, looking up from his knitting. "We've got to get ready for market day in the courtyard tomorrow. I've got all kinds of stuff to sell and I know that Killer has some great shirts, trousers and gowns."

"Great suggestion, Bruiser," Attila piped up, "we can start there. I'm in with my famous cupcakes."

XXXXXXX

Market Day was always busy and there were always great bargains, if you knew how to get them. There were many booths and stands to choose from. There was Tor and his plants, Gunter advertising his interior design business. The line snaked around Attila's bakery booth with Big Nose and Shorty serving. Bruiser was selling tons of scarves and mittens for the upcoming winter and Killer was haggling with some woman over two lovely gowns.

Ulf was the first to spot the long hair blond and the thief. They had just crossed the bridge into the courtyard itself. He couldn't miss them; the villagers were tripping over her hair. He pointed them out to Big Nose who nodded and alerted the others.

Everyone took their places and all went according to plan. Ulf kept the guards away with his expert pantomimes. Fang kept everyone occupied with his puppet shows. They watched and waited to see what Rider was going to do as well.

They were surprised as to what transpired during the day, well at least Shorty was. Rider seemed to be behaving himself. He was not the cruel hardened thief that those wanted posters made him out to be. It seemed to him that he had softened somewhat toward the girl with the long blond hair and was not only listening to her, but getting along with her as well. Shorty kept a keen eye on those two and Shorty was beginning to understand Rider's fascination with her. She had spunk, a no nonsense attitude and from what he saw at the Duckling, she was a go getter. He watched Rider's transformation and he became more and more convinced that both of them needed their help. Flynn Rider wasn't the only one who was having strong feelings for this spunky blond kid from the tower.

Shorty observed Rider's eagerness to please her. Rider rented a small boat and Shorty watched as he helped the girl and her little green pet inside. He watched as they disappeared into the darkness of Corona Harbor.

There was a horse on the dock eating apples, forlornly watching Rider and the girl sail off. It took a while for the horse to acknowledge him and when he did, the two stared at each other.

"It's alright, Maximus," Shorty said, reading his identification tag. He stroked his mane. "We're all watching over her. I'm glad to see you're with us."

Shorty fed him more apples and left over goodies from the bakery as the Thugs gathered around the two of them. All they could do now was wait and watch.

XXXXXXXX

Most of the Thugs went back to the Duckling except for Vlad, Attila, Shorty, Hookhand and Ulf. They were getting tired keeping vigil with Max on the dock and had wandered into the woods to sleep.

So it was the white horse that had first spotted the thief, alone in the rented boat and with the stolen crown in his hands.

The guards grabbed a surprised and struggling Rider as he repeatedly called out the name of the blond haired girl.

From what Max gathered, her name was Rapunzel and she was in big trouble. The white horse briefly remembered that he had heard the old witch call out that same name, but that was old news. Something had to be done and done quickly. There was no mistaking where the guards were taking him. They had to get Rider out of prison and they had to save the girl. This was his chance to help out.

He crept into the woods to wake the other Thugs.

He came upon Shorty first as he always slept separately from the others. He seemed to understand what Max had been trying to tell him. He nodded, grabbed the reins and escorted the white horse over to where the rest of Thugs had fallen asleep. The plan to break Rider out of his prison cell and save the girl from the old lady of the tower was devised at that instant. The six of them worked out the details in a hurry.

XXXXX

The King paced inside his study, every once in a while acknowledging the two Pub Thugs that were sitting opposite his desk. He shook his head. At first, the King couldn't believe what they were saying, something about how they had discovered the Lost Princess in the courtyard with the notorious wanted thief, Flynn Rider.

"The resemblance was unmistakable," Big Nose told him, with Greno nodding just to prove the point.

"And you two say she's in trouble," the King spat out. He stopped pacing and stared at them. "Alright, let's say I believe your story. Where's Rider now?"

"You've got to let the others go," Big Nose said. "They've got more information then we do. I'm sure they've come up with a plan."

The King stared at them, rolled his eyes up and shrugged his shoulders. He wasn't in the habit of listening to thieves, even semi-reformed ones, but there was something about these guys that told him that they meant business. From the King's vantage point, they seemed to be telling the truth. Big Nose actually stated that they wanted nothing more than to save his daughter and return her to her proper place.

"Alright," he said, "Let's get this show on the road, shall we?" He opened the door to his study and left it ajar. Big Nose and Greno stared at one another as they heard muffled whispers; then footsteps running down the hallway. The King walked back into the room and closed the door.

"It's done," was all he said. The King sat down behind his desk and waited.

XXXXXXX

The rest of the Thugs confirmed Big Nose's tale. The twins confessed they had set Rider up with the crown and set him adrift on that boat. The twin with the sideburns also mentioned that the old lady had let it slip that the girl with magical golden hair was worth every coin in the realm and then some.

"And then she deceived us," the twin with the eye patch continued. "How do you think we ended up in that cell."

"If what you two say is true," the King asked , "how come we could never find that tower?"

"She set a spell," Sideburns answered. "Anyone searching for the girl would never find her. Rider found it by accident, at least that's what she led us to believe."

"So Rider's on his way to rescue this girl on the smartest, fastest and bravest horse in all of Corona?"

All the thugs nodded in unison.

The King stared at all of them. He had to believe that they were telling the truth, why else would they be here? They weren't looking for anything else, not even to wipe their slates clean.

"Alright, we'll make a deal. If Rider returns her to us and she IS my daughter, you'll get your freedom, a bonus and then some. But if no one returns and she's not who you say she is, it's straight back to your cells, understood?"

All the thugs nodded.

"What about us?" Sideburns asked.

The King smiled. "We'll figure something out, but you're covered either way."

XXXXXX

And so everyone waited. It took two days and a lot of convincing and conniving, but the Thugs were true to their word and kept their part of the bargain. As promised, Maximus and Flynn Rider delivered Princess Rapunzel safely to her parents inside the castle.

And the rest as they say, is history.