All right, so it'll be this chapter today and then the final chapter comes out on Saturday.
A line of soldiers with drums began the execution drum rolls, calling everyone to the square. There was now a very large crowd, almost the same size as the one at the festival. Frollo walked up the steps of the platform with a scroll in his hands. Next to him was a large man in an executioner's hood, holding a torch. I could hear the choir chanting the score.
Frollo unrolled the scroll and read it off for the crowd to hear. "The prisoner Esmeralda has been found guilty of the crime of witchcraft. The sentence: death!"
Shouts of outrage went up from the crowd. People tried to push through the soldiers, but were held back.
"Let her go!"
"She is innocent!"
The choir stopped singing.
Frollo took the torch from the executioner. He turned to Esmeralda and leaned in. "The time has come, gypsy," he said, leaning closer to her as he spoke and Esmeralda pressed herself against the stake. "You stand upon the brink of the abyss. Yet even now, it is not too late. I can save you from the flames of this world, and the next. Choose me, or the fire."
Esmeralda spat in his face.
Frollo recoiled and wiped his face. He looked at her in surprise as she stared back at him in defiance.
"The gypsy Esmeralda has refused to recant," Frollo said to the crowd. "This evil witch has put the soul of every citizen of Paris in mortal peril."
I stopped listening. Instead, I turned my attention back to Notre Dame where Quasimodo was. I could hear the trio of gargoyles, Hugo, Victor, and Laverne pleading with him.
"Come on, Quasi! Snap out of it!" I heard Hugo say.
"Your friends are down there!" Victor cried.
"It's all my fault," Quasimodo said quietly.
"You gotta break these chains!" Laverne told him.
"I can't," Quasimodo responded with an edge to his voice. "I tried. What difference would it make?"
"But you can't let Frollo win!" Victor argued.
"He already has," said Quasimodo, defeated.
"So, you're giving up? That's it?" Hugo questioned in disbelief.
"These chains aren't what's holding you back, Quasimodo," said Laverne.
"Leave me alone," Quasimodo snapped.
"Okay," said Hugo. "Okay, Quasi, we'll leave you alone."
"After all, we're only made of stone," said Victor.
"We just thought maybe you were made of something stronger," finished Laverne.
I could see Quasimodo chained up to the pillars between the towers. Nearby was the trio of gargoyles facing away from him and frozen in stone. Quasimodo had his head bowed in defeat.
"You're stronger than this, Quasimodo," I encouraged. "You know what Frollo is doing is wrong. Stand up and fight back. Fight!"
Frollo's words brought me back to my cage. "For justice, for Paris, and for her own salvation, it is my sacred duty to send this unholy demon back where she belongs." He touched the torch to the bundles of kindling and set them ablaze.
"No!" I heard Quasimodo scream.
There was the cracking of stone and the ringing of the bells as he shook Notre Dame with his strength.
"You got this," I muttered. "You got this."
Through the smoke rising from the pyre, I could make out some of the pillars collapsing. Quasimodo was free. I looked at Esmeralda. She wasn't doing so well. She was coughing and hacking, leaning hard against her bonds.
I looked back up at Notre Dame, trying to spot Quasimodo. "Come on, come on." I was getting anxious. Esmeralda had to get off the pyre now!
Quasimodo swung down from the side of the cathedral and out over the crowd. The crowd gasped and cried out as the hunchback landed on the pyre. He grabbed Esmeralda and easily tore the ropes holding her away. He turned and saw several soldiers climbing up on the platform. He grabbed the stake Esmeralda had been tied to with one hand and ripped it up. He swung it at the soldiers and knocked them back. He quickly reached around and grabbed the rope as it came back around and jumped off the platform, swinging back to Notre Dame. The crowd cheered wildly.
"Quasimodo!" Frollo shouted, enraged.
Quasimodo grabbed the side of the building and started climbing with Esmeralda on his back. He stood on the balcony of the rose window and held Esmeralda above his head.
"Sanctuary!" he yelled.
The crowd cheered.
"Sanctuary!" he yelled a second time.
The crowd let out another cheer.
"Sanctuary!" Quasimodo yelled a third time.
The people let out their loudest cheer yet.
"Yes!" I yelled, punching the air.
Quasimodo disappeared inside with Esmeralda.
"Captain!" Frollo barked.
The comic relief soldier, the lieutenant with the oversized mustache who tried to kill Phoebus earlier, snapped to attention. "Sir?"
"Seize the cathedral!" ordered Frollo.
A group of soldiers was quickly gathered together and ordered to charge. But before they could attack, a heavy wooden beam fell from the top of Notre Dame. The soldiers scattered and the beam landed directly on Frollo's carriage, crushing it and scaring the horse away.
Frollo was startled by the fallen beam so much so that he lost his hat. "Come back, you cowards!" he shouted at the soldiers. He ran up to the new captain and snatched his sword from his hand. "You men, pick up that beam. Break down the door!"
The soldiers around the cages were quick to obey, except for the fat comic relief soldier. Phoebus reached out and got his arm around the soldier's neck.
"Alone at last," Phoebus remarked with a smirk. He hit the soldier in the head, knocking him out, and grabbed the ring of keys.
The soldiers who picked up the beam went up the steps of Notre Dame and used it as a battering ram to try to break the door down.
Phoebus got his cage open and grabbed a fallen spear. He climbed up on top of his cage and shouted at the crowd.
"Citizens of Paris! Frollo has persecuted our people, ransacked our city! Now he has declared war on Notre Dame herself!" He pointed with his spear.
The soldiers hit the door again with the battering ram, adding more weight to Phoebus's speech.
"Will we allow it?" Phoebus raised his spear above his head.
"No!" the crowd yelled.
They overthrew the remaining soldiers holding them back and broke open the cages, releasing the gypsies. Armed with torches, pitchforks, hatchets, and whatever else was at their disposal, they attacked Frollo's men.
My cage was opened.
"My lady." Clopin stood with his hand held out to me.
I took his hand and hopped out of the cage. "Thank you." I slipped off the charm and handed it back to him. "That's yours."
"Cecelia, wait!" Clopin caught my arm. "Where are you going?"
"To help," I replied. I took his hand from my arm. "Don't worry. I'll be fine."
I ran off into the battle.
Phoebus jumped down from his cage and joined me.
"Nice speech!" I said.
"Thanks." He punched a soldier in the face, knocking a several teeth out.
I saw the soldiers were putting up ladders and climbing them only to get knocked off by rocks thrown from cathedral. Frollo was still trying to break down the door with the battering ram. There was no way I was getting in that way.
I weaved my way through the fighting, trying to get around to another entrance. A soldier grabbed my arm and jerked me around hard. I took my free arm and slammed the heel of my hand into his nose. He let go and I kept running, ignoring the throbbing in my shoulder. I was definitely going to feel it when I woke up.
I continued on without any other incidents and made it to the side of Notre Dame and found there was fighting there as well. I ran up to the door and tried it. It was locked. I took a few steps back from the door.
Go through the door. Go through the door.
I ran right at the door.
Go through the door!
I went through the door like it wasn't there. I stumbled to a stop inside the cathedral and looked around.
"Yes!" I cheered quietly.
I turned and ran for the stairs leading to the bell tower. Upon reaching the stairs, there was a loud bang on the door. I turned and saw the door leading outside was beginning to give. There was another loud bang and the beam came through the door. Any second now Quasimodo would pour the molten lead down from above. I didn't wait around to see it. I ran up the steps and through the door leading into the tower and face first into the Archdeacon.
The Archdeacon held me at arm's length, whether puzzled at how I was in the cathedral or how I looked, I don't know.
"Quickly, go upstairs, Lady Lafayette," he told me. "I will try to put a stop to this madness."
I nodded and ran up the stairs.