The Final Showdown: Part One
"North!" Merida shouted. "D' ye think I can borrow one of your swords?"
"Well, let me see what I have..." North tapped his chin before taking one of his swords off the wall. "This should do the trick."
Merida took the sword, inspecting it and getting a feel for it before nodding. "It'll do, thank you." she smiled lightly, her expression becoming serious as she approached Hiccup. He had finally found the will to come downstairs, still holding her sword awkwardly. "So this is how it works, lad. I fight for m' sword, you fight for m' forgiveness."
Hiccup's eyes widened. "W- Wait, we're going to KILL each other?"
"No, you-" Merida rolled her eyes in annoyance. "We fight until one of us victors. If you lose, you'll have a lot of making up to do, ye ken?"
"L- Look, Merida, can't we just settle this another way- ah!" Hiccup exclaimed as Merida began to swing her sword at him.
Hiccup was barely able to keep up with her at first, biting his lip as he struggled to block her attacks. He had no idea what he got himself into, but he figured that there was no way he would be able to match her proficiency in sword fighting. However, as he looked into eyes, he realized that he had wronged her as Astrid as wronged him; he had to break this cycle, he had to be a better person. If he couldn't even protect himself, how could he protect anyone else?
If he couldn't believe in himself, how could he believe in anyone else?
Filled with a sudden swell of determination, Hiccup fought back, keeping up with her movements and taking the lead. Merida was somewhat shocked by this, finding that she was becoming less and less of the aggressor and defending herself more. She blocked his attack, attempting to fan his sword down when Hiccup turned sharply, Merida gasping as North's sword flew out of her hands, sliding across the floor as Hiccup held hers to her chest. Everyone who had been watching gasped as well, Merida standing perfectly still as she stared down at the tip of her own blade barely an inch from her. Hiccup breathed heavily, his serious expression disappearing into one of surprise as he realized what had just happened.
"I... I did it..." Hiccup breathed, staggering back a step.
Merida stared at him for several moments, and all the others who had been watching held their breath with anticipation for her reaction.
"... aye... ye did, lad." She replied quietly, straightening up a bit. "Looks like y' have what it takes after all."
"Merida... from the very beginning you had faith in me that I could actually amount to something, that I could be a warrior like you despite my shortcomings. I don't want to lose that... I don't want to lose our friendship." Hiccup exhaled slowly, walking back up to her and holding her sword out to give back to her.
"No, Hiccup." She said, her hands gently pushing his back. "We had a deal, this is yours now. Take it as m' forgiveness, and to remember your loyalty to this kinship."
Everyone sighed with relief, Hiccup giving her a nod as he sheathed the sword on his person. Merida smiled at him lightly, feeling more content when she suddenly sensed something. Her brow furrowed lightly, her outline glowing a bit as she looked around.
"Mer, everything alright?" Bunny asked.
"Something's amiss..." She replied lightly. She floated around, scanning the room as she muttered to herself for a moment. When she stopped, coming to a small realization, she whirled around. "Where's Jack?"
"He's outside, trying to plan our next fight." Bunny replied. "Want me to go get him?"
Merida didn't answer him, floating up to one of the skylight windows to peek out of it. When she saw Jack in the distance, she knew within moments something was terribly wrong as she flew towards him as quickly as possible. It took a minute or two to get to him, but she knelt down once she did, her hand on his back.
"Jack, what's wrong, what happened?" Merida asked worriedly.
"He was here..." Jack choked out, shutting his eyes tightly for a moment.
"Who was it, laddie? Was it Pitch again?" Merida asked.
"N- No... Bumby... he really messed with my head and-"
Merida placed her hands on his head, concentrating for a moment. "That ugly troll is going to wish he'd never met me." She growled as she helped Jack to his feet. "Come on, ye can't stay out here. Your head needs to be cleared." Merida hoisted Jack up, heading back towards the workshop. About halfway there, Bunny and North met up with them, the two becoming concerned as well while they helped Jack inside.
"What's going on, mate?" Bunny asked as they sat Jack down in the large armchair.
"He came out of nowhere..." Jack said as he curled up a bit. "He said he wanted to talk, and I wasn't buying it... he said he would return all the children from Alice's sanctuary if I gave him something in return... I didn't want to listen to him, but... the screaming..." Jack hissed lightly as he closed his eyes.
"Hm… what would he do this for? He is the one who has all the children's souls, for him to come all the way out here by himself is very risky on his part. There is something very bad about this." North said.
"He messed with your head, didn't he?" Bunny asked as he swore lightly under his breath. "Same thing he did to me."
Jack nodded, glancing over as Eliza ran up to him. "Jack, are you okay?"
"Yeah... I'll be fine now that you're here." He smiled lightly, gently ruffling the child's hair.
"So what did he want, anyway?" Hiccup asked. "What did he want you to give him?"
Jack sighed. "He wanted Alice's teeth... he wouldn't say why, and he wouldn't make the screaming stop unless-"
"You didn't give them to him, did you?" Eliza asked in a panic then, her eyes widening.
Jack sighed sadly. "I had no choice, Bumby was hurting me pretty badly. I'm not happy wbout it either… it was the last part of Alice that I had, her memories… don't worry, when we go up against them again I'll try to get it back if you want to keep it-"
"NO!" Eliza screamed suddenly, gripping the sides of her head as she made half the people in the room jump. She shook her head, becoming very distraught. "You have to get them back, you have to go after him right now!"
Kristoff frowned, crouching down to place a gentle hand on the child's shoulder. "Eliza, I know you're upset about Alice, but we can't risk our lives just for-"
"That was the dream I had Jack!" Eliza cried, tears beginning to roll down her cheeks. "It's what I wanted to tell you tonight, Alice came to me in a dream!"
"Wait… what do you mean, she came to you in a dream…?" Jack sighed. "Eliza, I know that… that you're upset about her being gone… believe me, my heart is broken…"
When the subject of dreams came up, Sandy blinked with alertness as he floated over, taking Eliza's hand and patting it comfortingly. He then rested one of his hands on her head, closing his eyes for a moment. He opened them after a few moments, widening them as he waved his hands at Jack, pointing to her with an image of a tooth over his head.
"What... what are you saying, Sandy?" Jack tilted his head.
Sandy formed more sand pictures over his head, one still shaped like a tooth with an arrow pointing to an image of Alice, and a second arrow pointing from Alice to the tooth.
"He's saying that as long as Alice exists, so does Wonderland, and vice versa..." Tooth said, her head feathers flickering a bit.
"I- I know that, Cheshire Cat told me when I was able to look into Alice's memories." Jack said.
"You saw Cheshire Cat?" Eliza exclaimed. "Jack, if we don't get those teeth back, there will be no more Cheshire Cat, or the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, the Dodo Bird, anything!" She cried. "Alice said that Wonderland still exists because of the memories in her teeth... that as long as they were alright that she would stay there and be safe!" Eliza exclaimed.
Jack's eyes widened when he realized then what Eliza's words were conveying, that her dream had not just been a dream, but a vision, a message from Alice. "Oh no..." He breathed, standing to his feet. "If Alice is in Wonderland, and it's still in the memories kept in her teeth..." He staggered a bit. "That's why he wanted them so badly... he knew..."
As the rest of them discovered this realization with Jack, they all stood in shocked silence.
"Jack, you must think about this carefully." North said. "They will expect you to go after them once you know-"
"I don't care." Jack cut him off, turning to look at him. "I don't care if they expect us or not. We're getting our weapons and we're ending this, today." He said, walking over to the armchair to grab his staff.
"Jack, wait! North has a point, if they know you're going to go after her teeth, they may have an ambush waiting for you once you get there!" Tooth exclaimed.
"I made her a promise, Tooth." Jack frowned deeply. "I promised Alice that I would protect her, and I failed." He shook his head. "This is probably the only chance I will ever have to bring her back. I'm not going to lose her again." He turned to North. "I have faith in them." He motioned to Bunny, Merida and Hiccup. "I know they'll put up a good fight with me. And we're going to bring someone they won't expect." He glanced at Anna, who straightened up and stepped forward, Kristoff by her side. "If we can get Elsa to join us, it'll be a huge help. We don't have much of a plan to go off on, but I'm not waiting until it's too late for Alice. You, Sandy and Tooth keep an eye on things here in case any unwelcome visitors show up… and keep watch over Eliza."
"Oh, don't worry Jack, Eliza and I always stick together!" Olaf smiled, making Eliza smile a bit with a hug, but Jack could see that there was still a hint of worry in her features.
Jack managed a small smirk, nodding at Olaf as he and the others quickly suited up to go back to the cavern in London. As they did so, Jack grabbing a few snow globes, North furrowed his brows as he watched them all gather. Sven grunted sadly, tilting his head at Kristoff.
"Don't worry, we'll be okay. Stay here and make sure Olaf doesn't make a mess of things." Kristoff replied.
Toothless chirped, holding out his paw and giving Sven a nod. Sven managed a small smile, fist bumping Toothless with his hoof.
"Be careful…" Tooth said, forcing a smile as Jack gave her a determined nod.
"We'll be back faster than melting ice in the outback." Bunny smirked, chuckling when Jack rolled his eyes.
When the snow globe was cast and the group disappeared, Sandy glanced up at Tooth, gently patting her back.
"This is going to be it, isn't it? There's no turning back." Tooth said.
"It's do or die, yes." North replied, looking up as the moon began to hover over them in the sky. "They will need a lot more than luck on their side to make it through this."
The Queen glanced over, standing when she saw Bumby approaching. She strode quickly towards him, craning her head to see if he had anything new on his person. "Well? Did you retrieve it?" She asked.
"Like taking candy from a baby… nothing that I haven't done many times before." Bumby replied, holding out the tooth case for the Queen to see.
Upon observing it, her expression melted into a sinister smile, glancing up at him. "You've done well, doctor. Now, you may do with it what you will."
"That would be my intention, your grace." Bumby replied as he extended his arm out, gripping the case as his hand began to glow like melting lava. After several minutes, the glow diminished, returning to the dark exterior as he looked upon the case quizzically. "I don't understand… how is it still intact?"
"Allow me, doctor." The Queen said, taking the object into her hands before opening her mouth unnaturally large, spewing flames from it. When not one mark was left upon it, she too stared at it quizzically for a moment, she and Bumby exchanging glances. The Queen then attempted to crush it in her large hand, becoming infuriated as her strength failed to affect it. She threw it against the cavern wall in anger, growling. "Curse this uncooperative contraption!" She spat.
"Perhaps it must be opened and the contents inside destroyed." Bumby suggested, picking up the case as the Queen breathed heavily. He attempted to open it, but wasn't even sure about where the opening even WAS. When he let the Queen give it a try, she twisted it in her large hands, trying to pry and break it open, but to no avail.
"Well, the least we can do is keep this out of their hands until we can deconstruct the cursed thing." The Queen hissed.
"In the meantime…" Bumby started, taking the case into his hand. "… perhaps I can make some use of this…" He closed his eyes, the case glowing as he seemed to absorb its essence into his hand. After a few moments, he tucked it into his suit, patting it lightly.
Meanwhile, Wick winced a bit as Pitch shouted at him. "P- Pitch, the Queen said that she would make sure nothing would happen to-"
"You are really dim-witted, aren't you?" Pitch spat, gritting his teeth. "I give you one simple task, I make my request VERY clear, do NOT leave her alone, do not allow harm to come to her, and you cannot manage that! If one scratch, ONE had been inflicted upon her, I swear Wick I would be stuffing that head full of hay into that oversized gourd around your waist!"
Wick bit his lip. "I'm sorry… I really thought she was telling the truth, she's really scary sometimes, and I thought if she was going to help Elsa that I could at least-"
"Well I'm going to be far scarier than she could fathom if you ever allow this to happen again!" Pitch snapped. "She's going to say whatever you want to hear so she can get YOU out of the picture so she can execute whatever she's got planned!"
"So I just won't believe her next time, right?" Wick asked, twiddling his branch like fingers.
"There isn't going to BE a next time!" Pitch shouted. "You are not responsible enough to protect her! The idiot I am, you were never meant to protect, you were only meant to destroy! So I shall employ you to what you are good at doing and keep this fact in mind."
Wick bowed his head, frowning deeply. "… I'm sorry, Pitch… I didn't mean to mess up."
"Don't apologize to me; apologize to the one who endured the Queen's and Bumby's hostility… AGAIN." Pitch said, exhaling sharply.
As Pitch scolded Wick, Elsa sat in another part of the cavern alone. With him and Wick both there to keep a watchful eye on the Queen and Bumby, he wasn't as opposed to Elsa having some time to herself.
However, he didn't know that there would soon be unwelcome visitors making their way into their midst.
When she heard a sound, Elsa glanced up, finishing the braid in her hair as she rose to her feet. "Pitch?" She called, receiving no answer as she approached a shadowy part of the cavern. "Wick?" When someone emerged from the darkness, she gasped upon seeing who it was, waving her hand as she shot a burst of ice at him. Jack's expression was serious, waving his staff to block the attack. She was about to attack again when her eyes darted towards new movement, Bunny emerging from the shadows a few yards parallel to Jack. Elsa held up her hands, furrowing a brow. "You both made a grave mistake coming here. Pitch vowed to make you pay for what you've done."
"He should speak for himself." Bunny scoffed.
"We're not here to fight you, Elsa." Jack spoke calmly. "All I have to do is call one name, and you'll feel the same."
"All I have to do is scream one name, and it will be the end of you, Jack Frost." Elsa replied as she glared at him.
Jack took a step forward, holding a hand up. "Elsa… please… just give me a chance to show you-"
"Pitch!" Elsa shouted, glancing behind her. "Pitch, they're here!"
Bunny threw his hands up. "So much for being a bloody diplomat, Jack, this operation's gone to sh-"
"It's too late for you, there's no possible way that he didn't hear me." Elsa smirked.
Pitch had been wrapping up his discussion with Wick when he heard Elsa's cry, whirling around and inhaling sharply. "Stay here." He said to Wick before speedily heading towards Elsa's direction.
"Why won't you just open your eyes, Elsa? Pitch is lying to you, you've been nothing but a pawn in his game to try to fight me! He doesn't really care about you, he only cares about himself!" Jack exclaimed.
"Pitch has helped me more than you know." Elsa replied. "I don't care what you think, everything I have ever loved, my family, my home, it's all been taken from me!" Her voice shook. "My sister… who you've taken from me, whatever you've done to her has resulted in me having nothing left to live for except for the one who is about to stand by my side."
Right on cue, Pitch arrived, clenching his fists. "You just don't learn, do you Frost…?" He raised his hands to strike, but Bunny unsheathed the blades in his boomerangs.
"Leave one mark on him, you filthy bloke, and I'll slice your hands clean off." Bunny said as he narrowed his eyes.
"Enough!" Elsa shouted. "I have had enough of these games; it's time to end this once and for all! There is no one that's going to deter my loyalty to Pitch now!"
"Yes there is!"
Elsa had rose her hands to attack, gasping deeply as her eyes widened, swaying a bit when the sound of the voice that had spoken reached her ears. Her mouth hung open, her brows furrowing deeply as someone new emerged from the shadows. Pitch's eyes widened as well, whipping his head to the side as he glanced away. He could feel his chest tightening, his spine stiffening as a young woman with auburn braids emerged into the light. Elsa stood perfectly, still, paralyzed by her inability to grasp the reality of who was now approaching her.
"She's been waiting all this time to see you, Elsa. She's stayed with us, safe and sound." Jack said.
Anna took a step closer, her hands extending towards Elsa's to lower them, taking her sister's hands into hers. "… Elsa… it's me… it's your Anna…" She spoke barely above a whisper, gently squeezing her hands as she smiled through fresh tears. "I'm alive, Elsa… I'm okay…"
Elsa began to take short, shallow breaths as her eyes also welled up with tears, shaking her head in disbelief before throwing her arms around Anna in a tight hug. Unable to speak, she broke down in tears as Anna hugged her back. The others stood silent, allowing the sisters to share this moment of reunion.
"Anna… I'm so sorry…" Elsa whispered, wiping tears from her eyes. "Everything I've ever done to you… hurting you, shutting you out, every single thing, I want to take it all back..."
"You have nothing to apologize for, Elsa. I will always love you, we will always be sisters. All I want is for you to come back home, for us to be a family again." Anna replied.
Elsa nodded, holding one of Anna's hands in hers. "Yes. We're going to leave this place, leave this all behind us. We will be safe; with Pitch watching over us, they will never harm you or threaten either of us again."
Anna frowned deeply, glancing back at Jack and Bunny. She was seeing now how twisted her perception was because of Pitch's lies, and he too realized this, mentally cursing himself as he closed his eyes. Anna looked up, glaring at Pitch as his head was turned from them. Mustering up courage, Anna broke away from Elsa to march right up to the Nightmare King, harboring no fear, as he would soon see.
"So, you must be the infamous Pitch Black." Anna started. "So you're the one who whisked my sister from our home, lied to her, kept her here and risked her life for YOUR benefit and-"
"Anna, what are you doing?!" Elsa pulled Anna back, turning her around to face her. "You know who he is, he is the one you called upon to help me before you froze over!"
"I NEVER called upon him, Elsa. I never even actually MET him until right now, and he's going to get a piece of my mind!" Anna shouted as she shot a glare back at him. Elsa turned her back around, shaking her head. "What are you talking about, Anna?"
"Please listen to me, Elsa… Pitch never meant to help you. When I collected a handful of his essence in a satchel and brought it to Pabbie, he said that it's a force that… turns people's fear against them. He said that Pitch would use your powers for evil purposes, that if you followed him, that you would become evil yourself." Anna bit her lip. "Please trust me on this, Elsa… Jack and Bunny aren't your enemy, he is!" She exclaimed, pointing behind her at Pitch.
Elsa glanced behind her, her brows furrowing deeply upon seeing his pained expression, the lingering silence from him as he made no efforts now to fight the accusations being claimed against him. She concentrated deeply, trying to think of some of their experiences that had transpired over the course of the last couple months as she tried to comprehend what Anna was telling her.
"I'll do whatever I have to do to save her."
"Just keep saying that to yourself… just keep saying it, for it is your motivation."
"Time is of the essence; if you want to save your sister, you will become proficient sooner rather than later."
"You may not be on a conquest for power, but those who are will attempt to subdue you any way they can. Jack Frost, at the forefront."
"You do remember that your sister is still possibly stuck at home, defenseless against any who may mean her harm… I could take a nice little vacation to Arendelle, drop by, say hello… but, uh oh… clumsy me, I might just bump into her by accident… one little slip, and she'll break into a million pieces!"
"Do you know why I am so disappointed in you? You have the potential, you simply hold yourself back from achieving it."
Elsa's mouth hung open as she began to see the true intention beneath the surface of Pitch's past words in context to what Anna had claimed, finally seeing the truth. She looked at Pitch, staggering over to him as she inhaled sharply. "You never meant to help me… did you…?" When she received no answer, she shook her head, clenching her teeth as new tears began to pour down her cheeks. "This whole time… I was nothing more than some plaything in your game of vengeance!"
Pitch finally gathered the willpower to look at her, his expression pained to see her in this state. "Elsa… I know it may mean nothing more than empty words to you now… but I'm sorry." He went to take her hands, but Elsa yanked them away from him, Pitch closing his as he held his hands slightly extended. "Yes, my original intention, because I had discovered your ability to conjure and control ice similar to Jack Frost, was to use you to fight against him and hopefully, ultimately destroy him. But you must know, surely you must know that everything we have experienced together here has held great meaning, what we felt cannot be-"
"I don't want to hear any more from you." Elsa shook her head, grimacing at him with a disgusted expression. "All of the strife you have made me endure because I thought I was doing what I had to in order to have even a fraction of a chance to save my sister, all of the pain, the abuse…" She choked out a sob. "… all of the feelings I had developed for you, the loyalty I swore to you… everything was built on lies!"
"Halleluiah, took her long enough for her to finally get what we've been trying to tell her." Bunny said flatly, Jack elbowing him and shooting him a look before stepping forward.
"If you really cared about her Pitch, you would have let Elsa go back to her home and out of this hell hole a long time ago. You would have never kept her away from the only family she has." Jack said.
Pitch's expression was filled with remorse as he stared at Jack for a few moments before looking back at Elsa. The way she stared at him now with such contempt, such hatred, as if he were the most despicable creature she ever encountered; as if he were a monster… it had come to the point where he could no longer ignore the sinking feeling in his heart, as if it were descending back into the darkness. The light that Elsa had illuminated his heart was now fading, and the one thing the Nightmare King had feared was finally realized.
And like an animal, when fear cornered it, Pitch was now poised to strike back.
No, he wasn't going to do this here, not with Elsa. He was going to bait Jack into going after him, away from Elsa and Anna, so that he knew they would at least be safe. He hoped deep down that he could find a way to make her forgive him, but for now, he wanted Jack to pay for his persistence, and eventual success, in separating them. Granted, he knew that he was to blame, but he still loathed Jack with a passion. Calculating his next move, He reared his hand back to attack, before quickly pivoting and shooting a burst of black sand right at Bunny. Jack gasped, dashing quickly to Bunny's aid to deflect it.
"If you want to bring me down, Jack Frost, than you'll have to get past the others!" Pitch shouted before retreating.
"He's an idiot if he thinks he's gonna outrun me!" Bunny shouted as he took to chase.
Jack whirled around to Elsa and Anna. "Go back to where we first arrived; wait there and we'll all know where to meet up when we're going to head back!" He shouted before taking off.
Meanwhile, Toothless, Merida and Hiccup had been waiting in hiding in a part of the cavern closer to where Bumby and the Queen were conversing. Toothless' ears flickered and clicked as he listened for the others, perking up and his eyes widening when he sensed conflict from farther away.
"This is it lad, we'd better get a head start on them before they decide to." Merida whispered, crouching down as she floated closer to where the Queen and Bumby were. She slowly peeked around the corner, Bumby standing a bit closer with his back slightly turned to her. She knocked an arrow, narrowing her eyes a bit and exhaling slowly as she pulled back on the drawstring.
"So tell me, doctor, exactly what sort of effect will absorbing the essence of Alice's teeth have?" The Queen asked, tilting her head.
As Merida aimed for Bumby as stealthily as possible, he smirked lightly, chuckling to himself. "I suppose we'll find out now, your grace." He said before whirling around as Merida shot an arrow, his hand forming into something akin to Alice's pepper gun; the black ooze solidifying as shots rang through the air. Merida's arrow split one of the bullets in half as it soared through the air, and she threw herself against the wall to avoid the sting of the peppercorns.
All hell broke loose, the Queen speeding out to grasp at Merida, only for Toothless to pounce, knocking her off her feet. Hiccup ran forward as Bumby pursued her then, about to shoot her down with the pepper gun when Hiccup jumped in, yanking her down and holding up his arm to activate a shield, several metal plates extending into a full circle to protect them from the assault of peppercorns. Merida's eyes widened, beaming.
"Very impressive, laddie!" She shouted.
Her joy did not last long as Bumby phased into his ghost form, whisking through the air as he teleported in a similar manner to Alice, appearing behind Merida to phase back into his ooze form, grabbing her and flinging her back as if she were a rag doll. Upon landing, she jumped back to her feet, crying out as she soared back at him with one of North's swords she had taken with her.
Bumby's hands reformed into swords that looked much like Alice's vorpal blade, moving quickly as he managed to keep up with both Hiccup and Merida's own movements with their wielded swords.
Meanwhile, Bunny looked around, Jack not far behind him as he swore under his breath. "Where in the hell did Pitch go…?" He whispered, his ears flickering as his eyes darted around.
Jack sighed. "Well, we should see if the others need help, Pitch will turn up-" His sentence was cut off when blasts of flame were shot at him, Jack barely reacting in time to defend himself.
"JACK!" Bunny cried, gritting his teeth and throwing an egg bomb at Wick as he dove in to try to slice at Jack with his scythe. He made a direct hit, buying Jack some time to collect himself. He then heard a sound from behind him, whipping his head to see the Queen hissing ferociously from under Toothless as her tentacles emerged from under her dress to wrap around Toothless' claws, prying them off of her and tossing him off.
"Bunny, I've got this, go help Toothless!" Jack shouted, gripping his staff as he deflected another series of fire blasts from Wick.
Knowing Jack could handle himself, Bunny nodded, jogging over to where Toothless was to take out his boomerangs. He let them rip, the soaring object slicing through the Queen's tentacles to give the dragon a hand. The Queen cried out in pain, whipping her head towards Bunny as he caught his boomerangs.
"I… despise… RABBITS!" She roared, charging towards him.
"Crickey!" Bunny shouted, speeding away from her as she spewed fire in his direction. Toothless snarled, pouncing towards the Queen to collide with her head on at her side, knocking her into the cavern wall where they began to tear at each other again.
Jack grit his teeth as he sent a wave of ice fragments at Wick, who shielded his face as they embedded into his clothing and the large pumpkin around his waist. When the ice settled, he lowered his arms, grimacing darkly at Jack as he floated forward, illuminating a bit as the ice fragments sticking in him melted.
"Listen to me, Wick… Pitch used Elsa and he's using you too! She finally realized that and so can you!" Jack shouted.
"Shut up! You just want to tear my family apart!" Wick shouted, roaring as he sent a stream of fire at Jack.
"Pitch is no one that you want in a family, trust me! If you want to protect someone, why don't you get Elsa and her sister out of here?!" Jack exclaimed.
"Not until I get YOU first!" Wick screamed, swiping his scythe through the air in an attempt to slice at Jack. He bit his lip, dodging the attack as he realized that Wick would be harder to convince than Elsa.
As Bunny continued to fight off the Queen, he tossed an egg bomb, hitting her right in the face as she screeched, her hands rubbing at her face as she squeezed her eyes shut. Toothless then knocked her down from behind, having hovered in the air for a few moments before dropping down. Bunny fist pumped the air, laughing to himself.
"Still got the aim!" Bunny exclaimed. Toothless looked up, flashing Bunny his signature smile.
The lighthearted moment was broken when Pitch suddenly materialized behind Bunny, glaring darkly as he reared his scythe back to strike. Toothless' eyes widened then, crying out as he tried to warn Bunny. Lucky for him, he got the hint and whirled around just in time to duck, tugging his ears down to avoid any lost appendages. As soon as it was safe, he hopped back to his feet, not wasting a moment to try and land a few attacks on Pitch. It was a bit more difficult being his weapons were all long-range, but when Pitch got close enough, Bunny sent his foot shooting forward, kicking Pitch hard in the chest to send him staggering back.
Without Bunny to help him, Toothless cried out in surprise when the Queen's hands reached behind her, flipping the dragon over her head so that he landed on his back. She kept him pinned, smirking as her eyes became crazed. "I'm in the mood for dragon wings for supper; it's quite a delectable treat!" She cackled, using her tentacles to pin him down as she attempted to tug at his wings with her hands.
Meanwhile, Hiccup was still fighting Bumby, Merida going behind him quickly to shoot an arrow. The doctor hissed as it embedded into his shoulder, shoving Hiccup back so he could whirl around and unleash more peppercorns at her. Merida dodged them easily, about to shoot another arrow at him when he teleported to avoid being hit again. As Hiccup got back to his feet, he suddenly heard the distressed cries of Toothless, whirling around and gasping. He quickly looked to Merida, his eyes widening.
"Go, Hiccup!" She shouted before he could even ask the question. "I'll handle this troll, hurry before Toothless is harmed!"
With a firm nod, Hiccup ran as fast as he could, sword in hand. As the Queen was about to tug hard at Toothless' right wing, Hiccup used some of her back tentacles as steps, his momentum allowing him to jump high enough to come down upon her, the sword stabbing her through the arm. A pained shriek echoed throughout the cavern, the Queen using her other hand to yank the sword out, flinging it away. Hiccup ran after it, quickly snatching it up before running back at them as fast as he could to attack again. This allowed Toothless to shove the Queen off of him, shaking himself off a bit as he regained his composure. Hiccup soon joined his side, a determined smile in his features.
"You alright, bud?" Hiccup asked. The dragon nodded, both refocusing as the Queen glared at them both, nursing her injured arm. "We can do this bud, we've got to hang on a little longer!"
"I will not tolerate your hostility a moment longer…" The Queen growled lowly, glancing behind her as another army of card guards began to march forth from behind her.
Hiccup groaned, his arms hanging at his sides. "Oh come on, how many more of these things can she possibly conjure up?!" He whined, Toothless nudging him lightly to keep him in focus.
"Come on, you heartless coward!" Merida shouted, shooting another set of arrows at Bumby as he tried to evade her. He seemed to be looking for something, dismissing Merida as if she were not even a threat.
Becoming infuriated, Merida emitted a battle cry as she flew at him with North's sword, bearing it down upon him as she left a huge gash in his back. It was difficult to tell, but she smirked a bit when he cried out in pain, staggering to turn around as she held up the sword to show some of his black ooze dripping on it. Having provoked him, Bumby grit his teeth as his arm once again reformed into the vorpal blade. They dueled, Merida doing well to keep up with him, blocking his attacks with ease. As she did so, her blade ran along his as she forcefully shoved his arm to the side, quickly flipping her wrist to slice towards him. He moved back, but not quickly enough as she left a smaller gash on his shoulder. Beyond enraged now, Bumby's hand replaced the blade, teleporting behind her before his hand reformed into something like Alice's hobby horse. Before she could whirl around in time to defend herself, he swung at her, smacking right into her side as it collided into harshly. Merida cried out as she was hurled through the air, Bumby teleporting to where she was about to hit the cavern wall only to bring the hobby horse extension down upon her, Merida slamming into the ground so hard that it left cracks around where she now lay unconscious.
Catching his breath, Bumby smirked as he touched down on the ground, nodding to himself proudly as he reared a foot back, forcefully kicking Merida's side. "Women; they think they are such a fearsome thing to behold… and in some respects, they are correct, as correct as I shall allow them to be." He scanned the cavern, taking note of the battles ensuing and taking account of everyone who was currently in combat. "Hm… it seems that dearest Elsa isn't in attendance… I think I need to remedy that." He chuckled, grinning to himself as he retreated into the shadows.
Elsa held Anna's hand as she led her and Kristoff through the passage under the foundation of Houndsditch, coming to the opening where the cavern could be accessed from the hole in the ground floor. Anna's eyes widened as she saw the battles that were ensuing nearby, prompting her to stay a bit closer to Elsa before they stopped. A low light was cast upon them from above, and upon looking up, they could just barely see inside the abandoned, decrepit building from below. Elsa turned to them, taking Anna's hands in hers.
"I need you to get out of here; climb up through there and wait outside the building." Elsa said.
"No, I'm not leaving you alone down here, please just come back with us where it's safe!" Anna begged.
"Anna, if I go with you, they may come after us, I am not putting your life at risk; you're in enough danger as it is."
"Elsa..." Anna teared up, her bottom lip trembling. "I just got you back... all I want is for you to come home... I don't want either of us to be hurt anymore..."
The ice queen smiled sadly, gently drawing Anna into a hug which she gladly returned. "I don't want us to be hurt either... this is why I want you to stay out of harm's way. As long as I know you're safe. I'll be fine."
"So... what are you going to do?" Anna asked.
"I'm going to set things right." Elsa sighed, frowning a bit as she thought of Pitch. She still couldn't believe his betrayal, her heart pained by learning the truth.
"You don't have to do this." Kristoff said. "You don't have anything to prove, you've been through enough."
"I know... but it's my obligation to protect my people and my family, and I'm going to do that now." Elsa smiled, nodding to Kristoff. "I am indebted to you for watching over my sister."
Anna smiled lightly at him, gently nudging his shoulder. "I'm sure it wasn't too hard." Kristoff rolled his eyes playfully in response, a hint of a blush in his cheeks as he did so.
Elsa was about to usher her sister towards the opening to Houndsditch when Anna gasped, her eyes widening and surprising Elsa. Elsa whirled around in reaction, jumping a bit when she found herself suddenly face to face with Bumby, who smirked darkly upon being discovered.
"Now, isn't this a lovely family reunion?" He chuckled lowly. "I'm sure you all want to spend some quality time together, but unfortunately, miss Elsa here has a prior commitment."
Elsa narrowed her eyes, clenching her fists as she took a step forward. "That is Queen Elsa to you." She warned. "I will no longer tolerate your disrespect."
"Well now, you sound much like the Queen of Hearts... it would be rather taxing if I had to deal with two of you."
"I am nothing like her; I will not have my authority and my dignity be trampled on for another second!" Elsa exclaimed.
"Funny... someone I once knew said something quite similar to me once... she was a queen in her own right, her beauty unparalleled... she tried so hard to resist me, but when I finally reached my limit, she couldn't stop me no matter how she tried... and I suspect I shall soon say the same for you. You see… the corruption that the Queen of Hearts embodies originates from that which I imposed upon said person before her 'tragic death...'" Bumby leaned in, speaking quieter. "There is a reason why Alice had in the past called the Queen by her elder sister's name."
Anna gently tried to tug Elsa back by her arm, furrowing her brows as she looked up at Bumby. "Don't hurt her... please, don't hurt my sister-"
"Kristoff, make one promise to me." Elsa called out to him without turning around. "Whatever happens, you do not allow Anna to come in here after me."
As Kristoff widened his eyes a bit, Anna shook her head as she became distressed. "Elsa, no, I'm not leaving you down here to-"
"Your word, Kristoff!" Elsa shouted as Bumby smirked upon them.
"I won't let anything happen to her, you have my promise." Kristoff said, Elsa snaking her arm out of Anna's grip and turning to look at her.
"Stay in the light." She said. "I love you, Anna."
The princess gasped as Kristoff pulled her back, closer to the spot just under Houndsditch into the light as Elsa had instructed. Anna watched with great anxiety as Kristoff hugged her to him from behind. Elsa remained in the shadows, thrusting her hands forward as she sent a blast of ice at Bumby. He smirked, teleporting and dodging the attack easily. Elsa's eyes darted, whirling around and shooting an ice shard at him, embedding into Bumby's previously uninjured shoulder. He hissed, growling as he yanked the shard out and cast it aside, black ooze dripping from it. He then reformed his arm into the pepper grinder, Elsa gasping as she collected her dress, running as fast as she could to avoid an assault of peppercorns firing at her in a wave. She gasped when she suddenly lost her footing, falling forward and turning over in an attempt to scramble backwards and get back on her feet. As Bumby approached her tauntingly, she thrust her hand out, the crazed doctor hissing as she froze one of his arms. This bought time for her to get up, Bumby growling as he slammed his arm into the wall to break chunks of ice off. As he pursued her once more, she waved her arm up, sheets of ice and spikes rising from the ground in an attempt to slow him down. His arm reformed into something similar to Alice's teapot cannon then, the appendage whistling and shaking violently before shooting out a dark, tea like substance to melt all of the obstacles Elsa had conjured. She bit her lip, running back around diagonal towards where Anna and Kristoff were. She knew if she did not stop him soon, he may attempt to harm them to get to her.
Anna gasped when Bumby teleported between them and where Elsa was, Elsa crying out as she ran. Just as she dreaded, he began to float towards them.
"GO!" She screamed, her heart pounding in her chest. "Anna, run!"
Bumby approached her and Kristoff, grinning darkly as he moved slowly. Kristoff narrowed his eyes, moving Anna behind him as he took out an ice pick to hold as a weapon. Bumby chuckled mockingly at what he considered to be a pathetic attempt, his arm forming into the pepper gun and blasting the ice pick out of Kristoff's hand. He hissed while nursing his hand, gritting his teeth as he still stood firm to protect Anna. Bumby's eyes darted to the side as he sensed Elsa was within a few yards from him now, rearing her hand to attack him when he disappeared, teleporting behind her and phasing in mere seconds to grab Elsa by her shoulder. His hand reformed into the vorpal blade as he yanked her back, shooting his hand forward at the same time. It all happened so fast, hitting Anna like a ton of bricks when she realized her sister had been stabbed right before her eyes. Elsa's pained gasp hit her ears, Bumby chuckling triumphantly as he twisted the blade now sticking out of Elsa's stomach from behind her.
"ELSA!" Anna shrieked, trying to run to her from behind Kristoff. He held her to him once again, intending to keep his promise despite the sudden devastating occurrence. Anna struggled against him, Kristoff having a hard time holding her as he begged for her to stay. Elsa's extended hand lowered slowly as she weakened, blood pooling around her feet. Bumby grunted as he yanked the blade out, shoving Elsa forward. She stumbled a bit towards Anna, falling gracefully to the side as tears rolled down Anna's cheeks. The sound of her sister screaming her name over and over began to muffle, as if Elsa were underwater. All she could do was stare up at her distraught sister helplessly as Bumby approached, taking his blade hand and licking his lips as he stabbed her repeatedly.
Meanwhile, Pitch growled as he reared his scythe back, about to bring it down upon Bunny when he stopped suddenly, staggering a bit. The scythe dissolved into black sand, his breathing ragged as he clutched his chest. Bunny had reared his arm back to send one of his boomerangs flying, stopping when he saw this.
"The hell's eating you, you bloke?" Bunny shouted, confused by this sudden hesitation.
"Elsa..." Pitch whispered, and Bunny was shocked to see Pitch's expression slowly turn into sheer panic, looking towards the direction Elsa was.
Wick had just deflected one of Jack's ice blasts, stopping when he heard Anna's distressed cries; he and Jack were located closer to them than Pitch was. When he witnessed Bumby stabbing Elsa, his hollow eyes widened, shaking his head in horror. "ELSA!" He cried, dashing quickly towards her.
The Queen, not far from Wick and Jack, heard him crying out Elsa's name. When she realized that he was going to attempt to stop Bumby, she grimaced a bit as one of her tentacles shot out to wrap around Wick's arm. Despite his struggle, she forcefully yanked him back, flinging him against the wall harshly. Wick groaned painfully from the impact, sinking down the wall as he whimpered Elsa's name weakly. He slumped over to the side, falling unconscious. The Queen glanced back to see that Elsa had indeed fallen, grinning wickedly.
Jack gasped at this, whirling around as Bumby opened his mouth wide, absorbing Elsa's soul upon her final breath.
"NO!" Jack cried out, gripping his staff as he flew straight for Bumby. As he did so, Bumby whirled around, his arm reforming into the teapot cannon as he blasted a shot of tea at him. Jack dodged it, but was unable to see the hobby horse coming as Bumby made a direct hit, the extension smacking right into Jack's chest as Bumby suffered from part of Jack's ice blast. As he quickly tore chunks of ice off of himself, Jack landed onto the ground hard and skidded back several yards, his head spinning from the impact as he too fell into unconsciousness.
Bumby turned, his hand extending over Elsa as her half lidded eyes begin to blacken over. Anna gasped in horror as he took Elsa under his control, the ice queen slowly rising as her skin became like cracking, chipping porcelain, her hair fraying as an eerie blue aura enveloped her form. Her mouth cracked into a jagged, gaping smile, her eyes hollow as she rose a few inches above the ground.
"Kill them both." Bumby said before turning, smirking to himself. "I have other business to attend to." He floated off, leaving Kristoff and Anna defenseless against Elsa.
Not long after Bumby left the scene, Pitch's feet touched down as his eyes darted everywhere. He glanced down, seeing Jack was unconscious not far from him. He did not regard him for long, Anna's frightened scream snapping him to attention as Elsa loomed nearer towards her and Kristoff.
"Elsa, listen to me please, it's your sister, it's Anna!" She shouted, gasping as she sobbed.
Kristoff ushered her behind him once more, holding a hand out in a desperate attempt to protect her. Elsa's hands rose, dark ice essence glowing in them as she prepared to unleash an attack. Upon seeing this, Pitch jolted into action, speeding towards them. As Elsa thrust her hands forward, Kristoff and Anna shutting their eyes tightly to brace themselves, Pitch waved his hand as he came between them, barely making it in time to deflect the blast. Anna's eyes snapped open, gasping when she saw what Pitch had done. Elsa hissed as her fingers curled, preparing another attack.
"Anna, you must leave here; as long as she is under his control, she will try to kill you. She no longer recognizes who you are or what she's doing." Pitch said over his shoulder.
The young princess shook her head. "I'm not going anywhere as long as she's-"
"I will not bring any more harm to her, I will deter her from pursuing you. If anything happens to you… she will never forgive herself. Now go, quickly!" Pitch shouted, waving his hand to conjure two Nightmares.
Despite Anna struggling against him to stay, Kristoff pulled her back, helping her to mount one of the Nightmares before he went on the other, the two taking to the air as they ascended upwards, touching down once on the first floor of Houndsditch. Pitch turned to face Elsa, his brows furrowing as he gazed upon her state.
"I look upon you, dearest Elsa… and I see my greatest fear standing before me." Pitch said to her, Elsa hissing in response as she prepared for another attack. "I was afflicted by the powers of darkness once, and it snuffed out those I truly loved… I shall not allow it to happen again!"
As Jack lay unconscious, inside, he could feel himself falling once more, landing on the ground with a hard thud. He groaned, shaking his head as he slowly got to his feet. His eyes widened when he gasped, the sky swirling and blowing around debris violently as he stood on a floating chunk of dry, barren piece of land. He saw similar floating islands in the distance, biting his lip as he witnessed Wonderland being torn apart as if by a devastating storm.
"Seeking refuge from the wicked world? Perhaps things only 'look' like they've gone to hell."
Jack whirled around blinking when he saw Cheshire Cat. "What's… what's happening-"
"I said that exact phrase Alice the last time something like this happened… different circumstances, similar results, I'm afraid." Cheshire Cat replied.
"Cheshire Cat, h- how do I stop this? How can I save Alice?" Jack asked.
"There is one source that answers both questions, and you know what that source is already." Cheshire cat answered. "What you mean to ask, is where you can find her… think upon my words from last time. If you truly hold Alice close to your heart, then she is the treasure kept hidden away, and you already have the key to unlock her vessel."
Jack shook his head, furrowing his brows. "I understand what your words meant now… the- the tooth case was the box, her teeth were the treasure… I lost it, I was so stupid to give that up…"
"Do not mistake a moment of stupidity for a moment of weakness, they are two separate entities. But as I told you, vessels come in many forms… when you see it, you shall know." Cheshire Cat said before disappearing.
"W- Wait, don't go, I-…" Jack sighed in defeat, looking around him before taking to the air. He had to avoid being pelted with flying debris at some points as he searched the barren, broken landscape, his heart breaking as he realized that he was the cause of this formerly beautiful land's destruction. When something suddenly caught his eye, he halted to a stop, tilting his head as he floated down towards what looked like to be a standalone door positioned on a smaller floating island. Jack touched down, walking up to it as he read the lettering at the top just over the door. "Liddell…" He exhaled sharply then. "That's Alice's last name…" He leaned forward a bit and looked through the intricately designed glass pane in the door to see flames roaring from inside. He bit his lip, knowing that he had to go through here. His hand hovered over the doorknob, grasping it after a few moments to turn it.
To his shock, the knob was locked.
Panic setting in, he began to tug on the doorknob, knocking on the door. "Alice!" Jack cried. "Alice, it's me, open the door! I know you're in there, you have to be…" He shook his head, closing his eyes and biting his lip as he turned to rest his back against the door, sinking down as he slid against it to sit on the ground. He shook his head, leaning it back as he sighed in defeat. "I'm so sorry, Alice… I broke my promise…" A few minutes passed, Jack watching the deteriorating landscape somberly before he felt something. He sat up a bit, tilting his head as he looked down, his eyes widening a bit when he saw a blue butterfly perched on his knee. He slowly extended his hand, taking the butterfly on his finger and gazing upon it. The butterfly fluttered off his finger, perching on his sweatshirt where his chest was, remaining there for a moment before fluttering away. Jack reached out towards it, but gasped when he saw something glowing from under his sweatshirt then. His hand reached under his collar, realization hitting him when he took out the key he had on a chain tucked inside. Taking the chain off from around his neck, he turned, scrambling to try it on the doorknob. When he heard a click, his expression illuminated with hope as he slowly opened the door a crack. Upon looking inside, he saw that instead of the entire Liddell residence, it was just Lizzie's bedroom. He opened the door the rest of the way, gasping when he saw someone sitting on the edge of the bed, their back to him. He immediately felt his eyes watering up, standing perfectly still in an attempt to determine if this was some kind of trick or not. When he determined that this was in fact, as real as it could be in this circumstance, he carefully ventured forward, stopping a few inches from the bed.
"Close the door, will you? The current conditions outside are quite distasteful."
Jack stood still for a few moments, finally shaking his head to help himself snap out of his stupor as he turned around, closing the door as he was instructed. He slowly turned around, once again approaching the bed as he mustered the will to speak.
The young woman before him rose to her feet, turning to face him. Jack exhaled deeply, emotion overwhelming him as she smiled calmly. "Well, it's about time you've arrived… I thought I was going to be waiting here forever."
"I'm so sorry…" Jack whispered the apology, wiping tears from his eyes. "I was supposed to protect you… and I've failed… twice."
Alice tilted her head a bit, observing him for a moment before she slowly walked around the bed over to his side, Jack looking over at her before pulling her into a hug. Alice returned the gesture, petting Jack's hair as he cried quietly.
"You have never failed me, Jack Frost." Alice finally spoke. "Possessing my sister's precious key, the most valuable object I ever kept, only proves that."
Jack sighed lightly, nodding. "Bumby… made me give him your teeth. They're locked in a case that was given to me by Tooth, but he has it now and he can use your weapons, your abilities… h- he killed Elsa… I'm probably as good as dead; he did a good number on me… I don't know if he can be stopped, Alice."
He felt Alice's fingertips lift his chin, the young woman looking into his eyes. "I will not listen to such talk. You have more power than you realize. You are a guardian, you must live with hope." She smiled lightly, taking his hands. "But… I will give you two choices." Jack looked at her curiously as Alice gently rubbed his hands with her thumbs. "The first choice is that you may stay here… remain with me until there is nothing left of Wonderland, and we both fade with it; we shall disappear together into the unknown and shall be the last thing we experience in this life." She paused, smiling a bit more as she watched Jack. "The second choice is… that I bring you back to the outside world… and I shall remain here, and always remain your secret. Upon destroying Bumby, Wonderland shall be restored… and you shall always have somewhere to run away to… a place where the grass shall tickle your feet, where you can taste the sweetness of the clouds… and a place where you and I both shall know nothing but bliss."
Jack smiled sadly, leaning forward as his forehead rested against hers. "I like the sound of the second option better."
"As do I." Alice replied before Jack enveloped her in his arms, kissing her lovingly. This moment seemed to last forever, lingering as he felt like they were floating. He could feel light surrounding him despite his eyes being closed, its warmth inviting, uplifting.
When Jack finally opened his eyes, he inhaled deeply as he allowed himself a moment to take in his surroundings. He realized that he was back in the cavern, not having any idea how much time had passed since he entered what seemed to be a surreal dream; it may have been mere seconds, it may have been an eternity. He slowly rose to an upright position, looking around as he took note of all the battles still ensuing around him. The sounds emanating from them were muffled at first, but slowly sharpened, became clearer as he took his staff into his hand to rise; rise to his feet, rise to the task that was placed before him, rise to conquer over any and all who opposed the forces of light, hope and order.
Jack came to rise a full and true guardian in this moment, embodying the fearlessness, spirit, and resolve to overcome the remaining threat upon him and his kinship.