The Founding of the Kinship

Troubled Tensions Boiling

Pitch and Elsa stood beside one another, looking at the work they had done. They had built their own domain underneath the foundation of Houndsditch, remaining concealed from their enemies for the time being until they could prepare to launch a decent attack. Elsa's walls of ice formed an inner casing of the dark space, a protective barrier in case intruders attempted to worm their way in. Pitch nodded in approval of what he witnessed Elsa do, floating up to a small area to sit.

"Well, as far as architectural skill, you've got that down pat." Pitch chuckled darkly. "Now we need to see how you fare against enemies. Building pretty things won't deter those who oppose you, both now and when you return to your place of rule in Arendelle."

Elsa nodded. "I know. But Pitch, I have no idea what I'm up against here." She stated. "I don't even know how to fight."

"That is what I am here for, of course. I will describe your enemies to you, and I shall instruct you. Believe me, they will never see you coming." Pitch answered.

"And when they do? What happens when they do know about me?" Elsa asked.

Pitch sighed, tsking her. "Elsa, your first lesson you will learn is to stop doubting yourself. The guardians have defeated me in the past, but does that make me doubt my ability to overcome them? Of course not. You too, have the ability to overcome your enemies. Just remember… your sister's life is in the balance…" Pitch said, whisking his hand as black sand formed into the image of Anna. "Now, you will either destroy your enemies, or they will destroy her." He said, his fist crushing the sand into dust, making Elsa's eyes widen fearfully.

"No… I have to save Anna. Failing to do so is not an option." Elsa said.

"Absolutely correct." Pitch concurred. "But you have to get this notion out of your head that you cannot do something. And if others say you cannot, do not fall victim to their words… but rather, rise above it and prove them wrong!"

Elsa inhaled deeply, straightening her spine as she nodded. "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." Pitch said, glancing up when he heard a whoosh sound. When he saw the Queen approaching them, he took a step forward, clearing his throat. "So, your highness… any news of success?"

The Queen scoffed in response. "You may rejoice for today, Pitch… it seems you and the doctor's words held truth. However, you may thank me graciously later for my excellent hunting skills." She glanced around at the ice formations and structures. "Ah… is this not the work of the cold girl?"

"She does have a name, your grace…" Bumby approached, having been wandering about in deep thought until this point. "A rather pretty one too, to match such a pretty face."

Elsa stood, clearing her throat. Bumby made her a bit uncomfortable, rightly so. "Thank you." She replied politely, and the Queen growled lowly in response.

"Enough stalling! Let's get on with it!" She hissed, placing the pumpkin down and stepping back.

Pitch gritted his teeth silently; the Queen's vanity and envy were getting on his nerves almost quicker than her own temper. He reached over, his hand grasping the stem of the pumpkin. He gave a quick glance at everyone, nodding once before removing it. A great light burst from inside, the pumpkin shaking and cracking a bit as vines began to sprout from inside, extending, twisting and forming limbs as their charred forms glowed with intensity. A pair of legs, a torso rising from where the stem had been, a shape becoming clear before the vines began to retract a bit, the body fully intact. The pumpkin grew in size slightly to remain around the creature's waist, and the creature extended a hand, which was like fingers of branch and vine, opening it as a harvesting scythe materialized in it. All watched in awe as the light finally dimmed. Upon completion, this guardian that had grown from the pumpkin, retained a scarecrow like appearance; his eyes and mouth were hollow inside, dark, wearing a wizard styled hat on his head, a loose shirt and pants with boots, the pumpkin remaining snug around his waist, his legs having broken two holes in the bottom to protrude from. His straw hair hung loosely down to his neck, which like his face had the texture of leather. He glanced around him, looking at his scythe and his hands, grinning.

"Wick, is it?" Pitch was the first to speak. "Welcome. Do you need a few more moments to adjust?"

Elsa stepped back, petrified at such sorcery. "What… what is this being that has come to life before my eyes?"

"Haven't you been listening, child?" The Queen spoke. "He is going to assist us in our conquest!"

"You see Elsa, Wick here was once a free being… however, because he was different from the guardians, they did not like what he was, his appearance, they destroyed him. We have simply resurrected him." Pitch said. "Come now, Elsa… your first test of overcoming your fear is to challenge them. Do not run away from them, but face them head on. Meet our newest friend… no need to be shy."

Elsa bit her lip as Wick giggled to himself, still getting used to being in his body again after being dormant for so long. He turned when Elsa approached slowly, hugging her hands to her chest as she stared at him cautiously. "Hello… Wick." She said softly. "My name is… I- I am Elsa. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Wick tilted his head, as if processing her words. "Elsa… do you like tricks… or treats…?" His voice was like a whispering howl; there was a level of hollowness to it, an echo, almost childlike.

Elsa glanced around, looking up at Wick's hollow spaces for eyes, not sure how to respond. "I like… treats…" She said when Pitch gave her a nod.

At this, Wick grinned a bit more, holding his hands out. From within them, an assortment of sweets appeared, and he ushered her to take one. Elsa took a piece of chocolate curiously, examining it for a moment before popping it into her mouth. Wick tilted his head, his smile a bit lopsided now as she smiled a bit.

"Was it… good?" Wick asked.

"Yes… thank you." Elsa still felt a bit awkward, but thought the gesture was pleasant.

"Well, if this is all this 'guardian' can do, then it seems we've done all this work for nothing." Bumby said finally.

"Trust me, his potential is all for the taking. However, I have taken on the task of counseling Elsa, so I think… the Queen should take on Wick." Pitch said.

The Queen blinked, looking over at Pitch. "You wish to place this burden upon me, then?" She snapped.

"Oh, but you are the most experienced with fire, are you not? No other would be fit enough for this challenge." Pitch responded.

The Queen took his bait, pursing her lip a moment before grinning. "How polite of you to remember that." She said. "Very well, I shall take this being under my wing. He shall be unstoppable!"

"And what am I to do, enjoy the shows while I sip on champagne?" Bumby asked.

"You are an expert of psychological methods, are you not?" Pitch asked.

"Why, of course… I could take children tormented by traumatic events and make them forget everything in a manner of months… they would become the equivalent of living ragdolls." Bumby responded. "What of it?"

"Perhaps you can employ your time devising a method to allow children… to see our new guardian as someone better to be believed in than those others." Pitch grinned. "You are the expert, after all."

"That, I am." Bumby smirked. "Very well. I'll take my leave, then." He gave a firm nod, floating over to a quiet part of their dwelling.

Elsa glanced at the three curiously as they discussed their plans, jumping a bit when she felt a light hand on her shoulder, glancing back to see Pitch. "Come, Elsa. Let us begin, shall we?"

Alice sighed as she hugged her knees, not bothering to try to sleep from having frustration added to her anxiety. Jack lingered in the doorway a bit, clearing his throat. "You should try to get some sleep, Alice."

"Don't worry about me. You need the rest yourself." She replied.

Jack exhaled, walking over to sit beside her. "I know what's bothering you, Alice. And… I'm gonna talk to him in the morning-"

"What that oversized hairball said is the least of my problems." Alice said, cutting him off. "It only reminded me of the real reason why I should be out there. My inaction has cost so many lives around me in the past… both in my Wonderland AND in the real world. I am sick of standing around allowing everyone and everything that matters to me slip through my fingers like dirt."

"Alice... you were just a little girl. What could you do?" Jack asked. "You can't keep blaming yourself."

"I could have done SOMETHING, Jack…" Alice replied, standing to pace the room a bit. "I could have screamed, I could have run to mother and father, or… or I could have stopped him from going into Lizzie's room… called for help… but I didn't. I stayed in my bed with my quilt pulled up to my face and shook like a leaf in fall!" She shook her head, exhaling deeply. "And then all those children… he twisted every one of their minds, I witnessed it and I did nothing to stop it. All these years later and I'm still just a little girl hiding under a blanket from monsters."

Jack got up, going over to her. "Alice, what happened to your family, those children… it doesn't have anything to do with anything you did or didn't… you're not like those monsters."

"Oh… no, you're right about that. I'm worse… because I could have saved them all." Alice whispered.

Outside the room, Bunnymund flickered his ear as he eavesdropped. He still felt bad about what he said, and he didn't feel any better from having but a taste of Alice's story; a life of damnation. He wanted to apologize, but was afraid that the hurt from the sting of his words may still be a bit too raw to make any sincere gesture mean anything. He turned to go back to his resting area, when he stopped short upon nearly walking right into Merida, floating and raising a brow.

"Curiosity turned the rabbit into stew, hm?" She said, crossing her arms. "If you're feeling that badly, why don't you just say you're sorry?"

Bunnymund sighed, glancing back a moment before replying. "She's only going to try to skin me now, mate. I ain't gonna mess with her, what with that blade and all. She's full of fire, that one."

"You did say some nasty things, earlier. You told me yesterday I was a strong warrior… that I am, but it takes one to know one. If you're really meaning what you say, you'll forget your doubt." Merida replied.

Bunnymund smiled lightly at that, and Merida squeaked when he ruffled her hair, making a face at him and giggling. "Maybe I'll have more of my warrior strength in the morning. Thanks, Sheila."

Merida tilted her head. "It's… Merida."

Bunny rolled his eyes. "None of you lot know anything about Australians, do you?"

North crossed his arms, pacing back and forth for a few moments before stopping, turning to face the group standing in a line, side by side. He seemed quite cross, exhaling sharply. Jack, Alice, Bunnymund, Merida, Hiccup, and even Toothless, in that order, faced North, with Sandy and Toothiana floating behind him. He was silent for a bit before speaking.

"First, I would like to address you, Sandy." North said, turning around to face the glowing guardian, who in response pointed at himself before holding his arms out with a confused expression. "I told you to keep an eye on them and make sure they didn't try to sneak off." Sandy threw his arms up, pointing at himself, before making a gesture to communicate that he had been sleeping, a comical irony; well, except North was not laughing this time. He rolled his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose before turning to face the others once more. "It is a good thing that you all ran into someone who needed our help instead of our enemies unprepared!"

Toothless had been eyeing one of the elves walking by with cookies, his head following the small creature's movements until Hiccup elbowed him lightly, snapping him out of it and the dragon stood up straight, at attention.

"I thought it was you that said that this so called 'guardian' that you believe our foes are creating must be stopped at all costs?" Alice said, and Jack glanced down awkwardly at her challenging North; he was surprised to see tension leaving North's shoulders as he nodded.

"Yes… I believe it is partially my fault I made you all act in haste. But what Jack said just before I called this meeting is right; and I should have said it first… we need a plan. If we are not prepared, they will destroy us." North said.

It was Alice's turn to throw her arms up, sighing with frustration as she shook her head. "So you expect us to just stay here and twiddle our thumbs all day?"

"Well, I suppose it could do us some good to stay here and help each other train a bit-" Bunnymund had tried to initiate conversation with Alice, but one threatening glare from her silenced him. She glanced around, surprising Jack a bit when she took him by his shoulders, moving him to where she had been standing, and she went around him so that Jack now stood between Alice and Bunnymund. Jack groaned, rubbing his temples for a bit.

"Okay. One thing we can ALL work on while we're staying here is actually acting like a TEAM. We've got all this… arguing and fighting, and we're supposed to be fighting together?" Jack said.

"And I have absolutely NO clue what in Odin's name is going on around here, so if someone can just sit me down and explain who… and maybe WHAT all of you are, that would be fantastic. And maybe how to help my dragon, because a dragon without flame is pretty much like rain without water… oh, and how to get me back home… I'm kind of the chief of my village; they kind of need me to, um…" Hiccup noticed everyone looking at him as he talked, feeling a bit on the spot as he cleared his throat. "… I'll just stop talking."

"No no, it's okay!" Toothiana smiled, her wing now completely healed. She fluttered over to Toothless, who watched her curiously. Her small hands gently lifted his lip to get a good look at his teeth, Toothless glancing at Hiccup with a confused expression. "Wow! One of these would be worth at least… ten thousand quarters! They're so big and shiny!"

"Uh, you may not want to do that… he IS a dragon, you know…" Hiccup said.

"Oh it's okay, I'm the Tooth fairy! Ooh, let me see yours!" She beamed.

"Wait, how about you no- ah!" Hiccup exclaimed as she lifted Hiccup's lip, examining him. "Hm… you've got a few missing there… someone needs to tone down on the dangerous activity!"

"Well, being a Viking isn't so much dangerous as it is an occupational hazard…" Hiccup said as he rubbed his cheek, glancing over at Merida when he noticed she was laughing at the scene.

"Alright, enough of this nonsense." Alice said, standing up. "Hiccup… " She started, before stopping, shaking her head, glancing at him. "Is that really your name? If you're trying to be funny I'd like this joke to be cut short."

Hiccup raised a brow, he and Toothless exchanging confused glances. "Uh, yeah, that is what my mother and father named me."

"Oh, and what are your friends named, spit, snot and slobber?" Alice asked sarcastically.

"Uh, close… my buddy is named Snotlout, his dad is Spitelout, and my dad's friend and my mentor is named Gobber, not exactly slobber but-"

"Oh, enough!" Alice snapped. "This is not the time for jokes! This is not the time to be having quaint little conversations and becoming best friends! There are evil forces out there currently plotting our downfall!"

"Hey, what's got your kilt in a ruffle?" Merida shouted, floating over. "Y'think we don't already know that? We might as well get along if we're going to be working together!"

"I did not ask for this. You think I enjoy being here with you lot? I had more help from my deranged companions who speak in riddles and nonsensical babble than from all of you! If anything, I am being hindered!" Alice shouted.

"So don't let the gate hit you in the rear, lass." Merida narrowed her eyes, which began to glow as she angered. Hiccup cleared his throat awkwardly.

"Alice…" Jack approached her and Merida, wanting to break up this feud as quickly as possible.

"Y'know, Bunnymund's right. You just don't get along with anyone. No wonder you like Jack, you're colder than he is!" Merida shouted.

"You don't know anything about me!" Alice shouted back, and a new weapon materialized into her hands; her hobby horse, which was a large horse head with a long handle to hold, and functioned like something along the lines of a war hammer. "Maybe I get along with him because he's the only one who cares to understand my plight!"

"Oh, wee lamb… do y'plan to hurt me with that?" Merida took out her bow and arrow, ghostly like her.

"Guys, come on, stop fighting…!" Toothiana frowned.

"Sandy, if this gets out of control, you must knock them out. With your SAND." North exclaimed.

Merida loosed an arrow, and Alice quickly switched to her umbrella, opening it up and deflecting the arrow so it ricocheted back at Merida. She gasped, disappearing and reappearing a few feet away to dodge it, and the arrow missed Hiccup by inches. Upon seeing this, Toothless' pupils shrunk, roaring as he charged up to Alice, growling threateningly as he stared her down.

"Oi! That's enough Sheila, just calm down, walk-… er, float it off!" Bunnymund exclaimed to Merida. She glared at Alice, floating over to Hiccup and yanking her arrow out of the post, placing it back on her person and watching the back of Toothless as he tried to corner Alice.

"Toothless, bud, it's okay!" Hiccup shouted. "Toothless, down boy!"

Alice stared darkly at Toothless as she held onto her hobby horse, her eyes narrowing when she suddenly felt the wall at her back, unable to move any farther. She gripped her weapon tighter, ignoring Hiccup as he ran over to try to keep the dragon at bay. She then noticed Sandy out of the corner of her eyes about to toss some of his sleeping sand at her. She deflected it with her umbrella and it hit Toothiana instead, who drifted down to the ground gently, fast asleep. This stirred Toothless however, whipping his tail around and sent Alice flying across the room.

"Toothless!" Hiccup shouted, running around to stand in front of the dragon before he could pounce after Alice. "That's enough!"

Jack helped Alice up, who groaned as she felt something wet against her head. She furrowed a brow, seeing blood on her fingertips. She glanced up, her vision blurry as the sight of Toothless in the background began to warp, and she began to hear an unpleasantly familiar voice.

"You selfish, misbegotten and unnatural child! You smelled the smoke, but you were in dream land taking tea with your friends… you couldn't be bothered… your room was protected and spared while your family roasted in an inferno of incredible horror!"

The voice of the Jabberwocky seemed to echo around the room, and while her vision continued to distort into the sight of him and his lair, fire blazing and swirling around her, the entire room stopped when she screamed on the top of her lungs, screaming incoherent sentences and pleas as she experienced a mental breakdown. Jack gasped, catching her as she finally passed out.

"We've got to get her help!" Jack shouted, carrying her to the nearest bedroom to lay her down. Hiccup grabbed a towel that had been lying around, wrapping it around her head.

"I'm sorry… Toothless is pretty protective, I tried to stop him but it's hard to when he's that angry…" Hiccup said.

Merida floated in the doorway warily, her anger waning as she actually began to feel sorry for Alice… was this a taste of the torment she and Bunnymund had heard Alice describe the night before with Jack? Bunnymund had never witnessed this side of Alice since he had met her; she always seemed so headstrong, determined, sound, but he saw that she retained a part of her that was far from that. She was a survivor, but still unstable, still so haunted by her past.

Jack stood to his feet, the tips of his fingers bloody from helping care for Alice. He exhaled deeply, turning to face the others as they had watched in shocked silence. "This…" He motioned to Alice. "… is what these new enemies Pitch has joined do to children. Alice barely managed to survive it, but it's done so much damage." Sandy helped Toothiana up, who was just waking from his sand that had accidentally hit her. "This is why we are all here, and what we all need to prevent. They're going to do much worse. And whether you're here because they've taken something from you, or have yet to take everything you have or everything you are, stand for… we're all here, and we all have a responsibility to every single child out there." Jack stood up a bit straighter. "So if we're all in this, we all have to work together. It doesn't matter who you are, what you are, where you come from. We all have something we have to do. We may not exactly be a family, or friends, but we can become that. But we at least have to be something that can fight as one."

Merida floated forward a bit, glancing at Alice before looking at Jack. "In my clan… we all vowed to stand together and protect each other. Back in m' homeland, we had one enemy, his name was Mor'Du. M' da told me as a girl, that we weren't just a clan that joined together in harmony and celebration, but in times of danger and war as well. He said clans fight and brawl and have their disagreements, but the strongest clans always settled those differences in the end. He told me that the clans that always remained the most loyal and true were more than just clans and families… they were a kinship. A kinship is a family not by blood or lineage, but by faith and trust."

Jack gave a nod, smiling. "I like that. Kinship."

"Well, if you're going to be in it Sheila, so will I." Bunnymund said, taking a step forward. "We've got some ankle biters to save."

Hiccup glanced at Bunnymund, still a bit bewildered by him, but he knew he had as much of a stake in this as the others. "I'm the chief of my clan back at home… so I know how important it is for us to work together." He stepped forward. "Whatever Toothless and I can do to help, we'll do our best."

Sandy gently elbowed North, motioning towards the group and smiling. He blinked when he heard Alice stirring, tugging at his collar nervously.

Jack turned back to her, helping her to sit up and keep the towel adjusted around her head. "Alice, you okay?"

Alice hissed lightly at the pain of her head, blinking her eyes open to look around, furrowing a brow. "Why is everyone staring at me?"

"Look, Alice… we're all here for a reason. We all have something to offer in this fight, but not if we keep fighting each other. We need you, your knowledge. You've suffered more than any of us here. You're stronger than any of us, but we can lift you up when you fall back into those dark places." Jack said, and Alice glanced around the room once more before looking at him.

"I surely must be dreaming… last time I recall everyone was out for my head." She replied.

"Well, we're trying a different approach." Hiccup said. "Toothless, do you have something to say?" He said, looking at the dragon and raising a brow.

Toothless groaned lightly, trotting over to Alice, plopping down next to the bed and bowing his head, looking up at her sheepishly and grunting lightly, as if to apologize.

Alice leaned back a bit to look at the dragon, pursing her lip thoughtfully. Everyone watched anxiously, but relaxed when she smirked weakly, drawing a soft chuckle from her lips. "I suppose you aren't much like the Jabberwocky after all. He was quite hideous, and crass."

Toothless tilted his head, his lips pulling back to do his signature smile. Everyone giggled lightly at that, the tension dissipating quickly from the room. North took a step forward, nodding proudly as a smile graced his features.

"So you have found your kinship then. A great founding indeed! This, what you have here, is more important than even the greatest power. I have faith that all of you will conquer our enemies. Now you can learn to fight together and become the greatest guardians the world has ever seen!" North exclaimed happily.

"Um… someone does still need to tell me exactly what… who… whatever it is we're fighting here." Hiccup interjected.

Jack chuckled. "Don't worry, we'll get you on the same page, Hiccup." Jack pat his shoulder. "We'll get everyone on the same page. When Alice is feeling better, I'd actually like her to help me." Alice perked up at that, looking at Jack as her expression softened. "That is, if you want to." He glanced back at her.

"Yes…" Alice gave a nod. "You'll get nowhere without my help, of course." She smirked playfully.

As Jack, Hiccup, Toothless and the other guardians left the room, Jack wanting Alice to recover a little bit more before joining them, Merida floated over, crouching down a bit.

"Sorry about earlier, Alice." She started. "I jus' don't like seeing others get pushed around."

Alice gave a nod. "I suppose I was a bit harsh; darkness weighs heavy on the heart. I have far too much of it for my own good, and with Bumby and the Queen out in the world to make it their breeding ground for destruction, it's pushed me that much closer to the edge."

Merida nodded. "If y'need anything, give a shout." She smiled lightly before floating out of the room to join the others.

Bunnymund had been hovering in the doorway, glancing in at Alice as she sat in bed, staring aimlessly out the window after Merida left. He took in a deep breath, slowly entering the room, clearing his throat to get her attention. She glanced over at him, staring at him warily. Alice said nothing; she could tell there was a different air about him since they had last quarreled directly. She wanted to hear what he wanted to say first, waiting ever patiently for him to begin speaking. Yes, she was still cross with him, but the boiling anger has diminished to a low simmer from then to now; much had occurred between then.

"Hey, Alice…" Bunnymund started. "Feeling… better?"

Oh, he was going to play nice first, ease himself into it. Hopping around the issue, she inwardly smiled at her own pun. "Yes, very much thank you." She replied simply, but said nothing else. She was only going to answer his questions and nothing more; he'd have to do all the hard work himself.

"That's good…" He replied, shifting his weight to his other foot as he scratched behind one of his ears. "Look, I… I know I said some nasty stuff to you the other night… I was pretty tired and crabby, and- I mean, it ain't an excuse, not saying that… but I was just being a stupid bloke and, uh… I wanted to say sorry. I mean, if you're still mad and all… well, mad as in angry, not uh… the other, kind of mad… I-"

"Stop." Alice said, trying to hold in a chuckle of how uneasy he was becoming. It was quite amusing, really. "Not because I'm not fond of what I've heard, but because you're stumbling over your words now, so before they fall flat on their face, I'll leave you where you stand, and accept your apology."

Bunnymund blinked a moment before sighing with relief, smiling lightly. "Thanks." He glanced back, rubbing his arm. "So, uh… you up to going out there?"

"I think my head has suffered enough trauma to know how to handle itself." She threw off the covers, holding the towel to her head as she swung her legs to the side to get out of bed.

"Oi, that's gonna get annoying after a while." Bunnymund went over, taking some fabric North kept around his workshop and tore off a thick piece, going over to wrap it around her head as gently as possible. She stared up at him as he did this, grinning lightly.

"Well, who knew that a talking rabbit without gentlemanly attire like the ones I know could turn out to be more so than they?" She chuckled, thanking him before attempting to stand up, but the blood loss immediately made her dizzy when she tried, and Bunny held onto her arm to prevent her from falling.

"Come on Sheila, you're not getting anywhere on your own in this state." He said, hooking his arm around hers as he helped her out of the room. She stared up at him, impressed with how much he was trying. Bless his soul, she thought. If he could turn himself around, what other miracles could she fathom to come true?

The Queen made her way to a higher part of the dwelling towards a plateau, Wick following close behind, though not as poised as she… if poised is what you would call a tentacle ridden being like she.

"Now that it has been explained to you why you have been resurrected, let it be seen that you are able to live up to the new purpose that has been assigned to you." The Queen said, reaching the plateau and walking across it, turning to face Wick with an air of pompousness. "Summon your weapon, now."

Wick grinned widely, his scythe materializing into his hands. The vines that encompassed the staff were thick and sturdy, making it a choice weapon to equip oneself with. "When do I get to kill the guardians?" He asked eagerly.

"Not now, that's for certain. You must prove yourself first." The Queen responded, extending her hand, opening her palm upwards to summon several of her card guards.

Wick gripped his scythe, narrowing his eyes as the card guards lunged forward for an attack with their spears. Wick floated forward, he wasn't very quick on his actual feet, slicing his scythe through the air. He managed to decapitate one of the guards, the Queen chuckling darkly at this as she licked her lips. When he swung it through the air, the blade went into one of the guard's holes where their card shape was, Wick spinning them around and sending the guard flying into the others, before bringing his scythe down, stabbing them all at once. He turned back, giggling lightly at the Queen.

"I did good?" He asked hopefully.

"You accomplished your first task; it's hardly the first step to becoming 'good.' Let's see how much you are able to tolerate and then I shall make a judgment." The Queen replied. She raised her hand again, conjuring more card guards than before, as well as one of her armored guards. She observed as Wick went again against them, but found himself having some difficulty; when he would swing his scythe or come down upon an enemy, those behind him overwhelmed him. "Playing croquet with your weapon is not going to be enough! Do something else!" She shouted at him.

Wick frowned, backing up from the remaining guards and the armored guard. "But, I don't really remember what else I can do yet, it's still coming back to me…"

"Then figure it out faster, you twit!" The Queen hissed.

Wick glanced around worriedly, shutting his eyes tightly for a moment as he tried to remember. His eyes popped open when something sparked in his mind, crying out as he pointed his scythe at one of the guards, blasting fire at him and taking him down with one shot. He did this to the others, but when faced with the armored guard, who came down upon him with his own staff, roaring as Wick tried to block it, skidding back a couple inches as he tried to hold up its weight. The armored guard was relentless, pushing Wick down to his knees. "Why… won't it stop…?" Wick grunted.

"Because you are weak!" The Queen screamed, her tentacle shooting out to lift the armored guard, snapping its neck and tossing it aside like a ragdoll. "Do you think you even have a slight chance of holding up in battle if you cannot even overcome these simpletons? You'd best find a more useful employment for yourself or I shall cast you from whence you came!" She roared. "Now get out of my sight!"

Wick whimpered, grabbing his scythe and floating off the plateau, upset with himself that he already disappointed the only 'family' he seemed to ever have.

Elsa glanced from side to side, Pitch's nightmares closing in. She seemed to be faring better than her team mate, blasting ice at them as they galloped forward. She began to move back as others closed in, freezing several as she did so.

"Do not retreat from your enemies, Elsa… face them head on, advance upon them." Pitch stood behind his equine minions, slowly pacing back and forth as he observed his pupil. He was luckily far more patient and his critiques more useful in fostering actual productivity.

Elsa glanced up at him for a moment before refocusing on the nightmares, their glowing eyes burning into hers. She shot another blast of ice at one, but missed, and as it charged towards her, she barely dodged it when she swiped her hand, the sudden jagged wall of spikes allowing it to barely miss her.

"Don't be clumsy, focus! Concentrate! Fill yourself with knowing you will overcome them! There is nothing to fear unless you make something to fear!" Pitch called out.

Elsa grunted, thrusting her hands out and blasting away several more nightmares; however, by the time she realized one had crept up behind her, she was halfway turned when it collided into her. Elsa gasped, her breath shaky as her eyes widened, trembling before falling to her knees.

"Oh no… Anna! Mama, Papa!"

Elsa whimpered as she held her head. "No, make it stop…" She whispered.

"Only you can do that, Elsa, and until you master your power, your enemies will master you!" Pitch approached her, taking her arm and pulling her up to her feet. "And I don't mean just the enemies we are to face… I mean your fear. That is your greatest hindrance."

Elsa inhaled deeply, catching her breath as she regained her balance. "I- I'm sorry… I'm trying, I'm not used to using my powers like this."

"Well you had better learn a bit quicker. Time is of the essence; if you want to save your sister, you will become proficient sooner rather than later." Pitch took a step back. "Think on what you must do, I'm going to take a stroll." He said, turning to walk away.

Elsa stared at Pitch a moment as he walked away, before looking down at her hands, closing her eyes for a moment. "… no." She glanced up, noticing Pitch has stopped, not yet turning around. He glanced to the side, intrigued of what she had to say. "Again." She stood a bit straighter. "You're right. If I'm to learn, I have to keep practicing. So let's try again."

Pitch smirked, impressed by the girl's boldness. Maybe she was a quicker learner than he thought. He turned, taking a few steps towards her. "Your determination is admirable. Maybe you aren't as weak and helpless as you seem. However, you've had quite a long day. Retain that ambition for tomorrow, and then you may resume your progression."

Elsa nodded, sighing lightly as Pitch left her to herself. As she ascended towards the higher parts of the dwelling, she heard the sound of someone crying, tilting her head curiously as she turned a corner. Her expression softened as she witnessed Wick curled up, smoke coming from his eyes like vapor. Was this his way of crying, she thought? She found it interesting, but still seemed sympathetic. The creature had just been reborn and he was already miserable. She took a step closer, trying to be quiet, but quickly retreated a bit when he heard her, turning to look at her. She noticed that he seemed to feel instant relief upon seeing her, a smile slowly inching across his face as he got to his feet, floating a bit closer and extending his hands, only chocolates appearing in them this time.

"Your favorite." He said quietly, holding them out.

Elsa cautiously took one, glancing up at him unsurely before biting into it. "Thank you." She said before finishing the piece. "But… how do you know that… chocolate is my favorite?"

"You picked that one first, the first time." He said, urging her to take another piece. She forced a smile, taking another.

"It's something I enjoyed with my sister as children." She smiled sadly, walking past him to look out through a crack in the underground cavern covered by her ice; she was able to look out because of its transparency, the moonlight shining in upon them.

"Sister…?" Wick tilted his head. "What's… a sister?"

Elsa turned at the question, a bit surprised for it. She twiddled her fingers together, trying to put together an answer in her head. "Well… a sister is… a sister is someone who is a part of a family. When two girls live in the same family, they are sisters." Elsa started, taking a step closer and exhaling audibly. "I have one sister. Her name is Anna, and I love her very much. She is why I am here… you see, I… hurt her very badly. I have not been a good sister to her. I love her, but… I haven't done well in showing it."

Wick took a few moments to try to understand what Elsa was telling him, his expression lighting up. "Can… we be sisters?"

Elsa surprisingly laughed a bit at that after a few moments; it was as if she was speaking to a child, and she found it heartening. "Well, you would be a brother. A boy within a family is a brother. How does that sound, hm?"

"I can be… your brother?" Wick smiled.

"Yes… if that makes you happy." Elsa replied gently.

"Do brothers and sisters protect each other?" Wick asked.

"Yes… they are supposed to. It's why I wasn't a good sister to Anna. I hurt her instead of protected her. I hope to return home and restore her… she's the only family I have left. All she wanted was to reach out to me… and… I was never able to tell her I loved her…" Elsa's throat tightened, blinking her eyes as they filled with sudden tears, turning back towards the moonlight as she hugged herself.

Wick tilted his head, frowning as Elsa tried to keep her emotions under control, but could not help but allow a few quiet sobs to slip out. Wick floated over, looking upon Elsa as she closed her eyes, tears still leaking through. As he reached a hand out to her face, the tips of his branched fingers glowed lightly, turning her tears into vapor painlessly as he touched them. Elsa opened her eyes, stepping back in surprise as she watched the vapor dissipate into the air. She looked at Wick, not understanding why she had said what she did or was exposing her emotions to him, but perhaps it was his child-like nature and his state; their state together. They were both here because they had been given one chance to rise above the ill qualities that shackled them.

As Wick watched the vapor disappear, he giggled lightly, taking in a breath and blowing out rings of smoke. Elsa watched silently with interest and fascination at his ability, wiping the moisture from her eyes. Wick continued to blow out smoke from his mouth, concentrating until he extended his hands, whisking them so the smoke swirled into moving pictures in the air. They were simplistic in nature, forming into different shapes, like cats prancing or a bat fluttering through the air, a witch circling around Elsa's head. She chuckled lightly, thinking to herself for a moment. Elsa whisked her hand then, a small string of snow essence gliding through the air, and Wick giggled, his hands grabbing at the air to try to grasp it. He stumbled, falling on his rear as he sat up, laughing. Elsa couldn't help but giggle, her hands circling each other to form a snowball. She approached Wick, who resumed hovering off the ground when he eyed the snowball, eyeing it curiously. She gently placed it in his hands, allowing him to inspect it. He then tossed it up in the air, and it burst into a visual array of swirling flurries, making him laugh more.

"Do that again!" He exclaimed.

"How about something different?" Elsa said, tapping her foot on the ground to make ice, and Wick floated down so his feet could touch it. He held out his hands to the side as he wobbled a bit, trying to keep balance.

"Woah, this is weird!" Wick said as he chuckled.

Elsa took his hands, helping him become steady as he smiled. She got an idea, spinning him around and letting him slide over to one wall, but created a curved wall of ice so he would bounce gently off of it, his pumpkin around his waist acting like the buffer of a bumper car. Each time he would come close to another cavern wall, she made a small curved sheet of ice to make him bounce, and he giggled more and more as he slid. Elsa began to furrow her brow when he began to move a bit faster than what she could keep up with, biting her lip as her hands trembled. Panic set in, and a blast of ice shot from them, gasping when it hit Wick, quickly turning him into solid ice as he slid to a stop.

"No…" Elsa breathed, covering her mouth as she ran over to him, her hands shaking as she touched the sheet of ice. She fell to her knees, the memory of seeing Anna frozen solid crippling her as she relived her horror, covering her face as her heart raced in her chest. Before her grief drove her over the edge, the sound of crackling made her head snap to attention, getting to her feet as she noticed Wick glowing from within the ice. Her eyes widened as the glow grew brighter, gasping lightly when the ice began to crack more and crumble, some bursting a bit in different directions as she held out her hands to protect herself. She stared in absolute shock as Wick hovered in the air, shaking any remaining ice off his hat.

"Boy, that was fun! Can we do that again?" Wick asked.

Elsa shook her head a bit in disbelief, approaching him. "I don't understand… I froze you. How were you… I don't-…"

Another pair of footsteps suddenly caught both Wick and Elsa's attention, making her turn towards the sound to see the Queen approaching, and she did not look pleased in the slightest. Upon seeing her, Wick's smile instantly faded, holding his hands to his chest as he bowed his head a bit, lowering himself so his feet touched the ground.

"I hope you are both enjoying yourselves." The Queen's expression sparked into a sneer for a moment before glancing over at Wick, staring daggers at him. "Do you know… that possibly the entire city of London can hear your incessant guffawing because you seem to not know that we are trying to remain in HIDING?" She screeched, her eyes burning into his as Wick cowered more, and Elsa glanced between the two, furrowing her brows uncomfortably at the Queen. "Do you think this is a joke, some sort of child's play? This is indeed a game, but it is a game of chess! A game of waging war, not merriment! Oh, the aggravation, the frustration, the inconsideration!" She spat. "Am I to be destroyed by my own taxing obligations, I daresay it may just come to be so!" She clenched her fists.

Elsa frowned more as Wick closed his eyes tightly, whispering apologies as he hugged himself. Elsa glanced back at the Queen, taking a step forward. "He was just having a bit of fun. There's no need to be so angry with him. As a matter of fact, I think he made some very valuable discoveries about what he is able to do during our-"

"You dare to speak out of turn?!" The Queen roared, storming forward, making Elsa move back in response as the Queen marched towards her. "I already told you once your pretty little face won't save you, so do not think you can usurp my authority! I alone express my discontent without question or retribution; anything otherwise shall cost you your slender neck to be mounted for all to look upon like a bust made of marble!"

Elsa's eyes widened with intimidation, holding her hands up in defense. "Please, all I'm asking is to not be so harsh on him, we've only just begun this-"

"You do not command or advise me, I shall teach him how I please!" The Queen's voice deepened, her sharp teeth coming out of the folds of her inner gums. Elsa bit her lip, feeling the cavern wall against her back, the moonlight being blocked out by the Queen looming over her. "You will oblige me, girl!"

Pitch had been casually walking about the cavern when he heard the Queen's outburst, narrowing his eyes a bit as he stealthily made his way up to where they were. He materialized just outside where the Queen was currently distressing Elsa, watching in silence as he was curious to see how this situation would end up.

Elsa cracked open her eyes to see Wick in the background, staring at them fearfully. Something about his expression reminded her of how frightened Anna was the night of her coronation when she first saw her vulgar display of power, how much she wanted to make that shock go away. She stood up straighter, taking in a deep breath as she met the Queen's gaze. "No, I will not, and I think you've said enough. You will leave Wick and I to ourselves for the remainder of the evening until you can treat us with a little more dignity. You may not like it, but I too am a Queen, and I will display my own authority!"

The Queen's pupils shrunk as her rage was pushed over the edge. She shrieked threateningly, two of her tentacles shooting out to grab Elsa's wrists, pinning her against the wall. Elsa's hands found a way to grip onto the tentacles, gritting her teeth as she froze them. The Queen screamed as Elsa dropped to the floor, grunting as she landed roughly, looking up as the Queen went to attack her again. Elsa's breathing quickened, thrusting her hand out as she blasted one tentacle after another that shot towards her, taking one slow step after another as she pushed forward, the Queen eventually back on the other side of the room.

"Leave me alone, go away!" Elsa screamed, breathing shakily as she slowly opened her eyes, gasping as she looked back, seeing how far away the wall was now from her. She whirled around just as the Queen was about to spit fire at her, but Pitch finally interjected, materializing in between the two females before things really got out of control.

"Now, ladies… let's be rational, shall we?" Pitch stated calmly, holding up a hand.

The Queen was breathing heavily, still seething as she pointed at Elsa. "Her insubordination shall be punished!" She shouted.

"Actually, your highness…" Pitch chuckled lightly. "I believe I owe you my gratitude. You see, you have provided Elsa with the means for her to progress… look at what you have helped her to accomplish!" Pitch laughed as he waved his hand at Elsa. "Never before this day would she have stood up to someone as fierce and powerful as you if you had not motivated her with good reason!"

The Queen's anger dissipated a tad, tilting her head at Pitch as she stared at him warily. "What are you saying? That her disrespect to me is to be praised?"

"Of course not, your highness… merely, that her boldness is to be admired… after all, you have said yourself that your greatest enemy Alice has ample of the quality… Elsa can certainly use that against her when the time to fight against them comes." Pitch responded.

The Queen hissed lowly, shooting a look at Elsa. "Mark my words, girl. Trifle with me once more and you will be reduced to ashes and bones!" She then looked to Pitch, leaning in a bit closer so they were eye to eye. "And you mark my words as well… there will come a time when you will not be there to protect her… and like a beautiful, fragile doll on a shelf, she will fall from grace… and when she hits the bottom, no one will be able to save her broken form." She whirled around, descending into another part of the cavern. She glanced back up for a moment, smirking darkly and chuckling to herself as she continued on.

Elsa winced lightly at the Queen's sharp words, but stood her ground nonetheless. Pitch turned to look at her, and in the background, Wick emerged from his cowering state.

"Well, I am impressed." Pitch started, striding up to Elsa. "What could have sparked such courage from you, I wonder?"

Elsa sighed, glancing back as Wick approached them cautiously. "I… saw how frightened he was. I realized that… maybe I'm not the only one I have to protect others from."

Pitch smirked, lifting Elsa's bowed face with the tip of his finger. "You are quite a fast learner, Elsa. Indeed… you are not the biggest or worst thing out there. If you think your powers are crippling… there are others far hungrier than you. 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. Do what you did here, and rise above the threat." Pitch took a step back, observing Elsa for a moment. "Rest on that, and we will continue tomorrow. I'm not more eager to see how you fare."

He turned, leaving Elsa to smile ever so slightly at his approval… maybe she was getting somewhere after all. She turned when she felt Wick gently tug at her sleeve, holding out a chocolate to her. She smiled gently, taking a piece to chew on. "Come, let's take Pitch's advice."

North, Toothiana and Sandy stood in the back of the room, watching as Alice, Jack, Bunnymund, Merida, Hiccup and Toothless stood in a circle.

"We are all warriors and fighters in our own right." Alice started, materializing her vorpal blade in her hand. "That is certainly a benefit we all possess… but we need to realize the full extent of what makes us warriors, and use them as a unit." Her head was still wrapped up, and she signaled to Jack to conjure some ice spikes to sprout from the ground. "Thanks." She said briefly to him, before turning back to the others. "We are going to try out what works, and improve upon what doesn't. Jack, Bunny and I have already gone over what we know of our enemies… so with that knowledge, we need to counter them." Alice turned to one of the ice spikes, slicing her vorpal blade through the air, and as she turned, the tip of the nearest ice spike slid and shattered on the ground, leaving a clean cut on the remainder. "We join in groups of three. Merida, Hiccup and Toothless shall be one group, and I shall join Jack and Bunnymund. After some time we shall exchange places a bit. Critiques are to be encouragement based."

Merida turned to Toothless, tilting her head a bit. "So… what can a dragon do without his flame, then?"

Hiccup sighed a bit. "It definitely would help at a time like this, but I still wouldn't mess with him."

"What a beauty, he is." Merida commented, giggling as Toothless put a paw on his face bashfully at the comment. "So how do you fight, Hiccup?"

"Well, uh… vikings use a number of weapons like clubs, maces, swords, um-"

"Don't tell me, silly! Show me!" Merida laughed, taking out her bow and arrow, approaching one of Jack's ice spikes sticking out of the ground. She stood back, a few yards, observing them. She knocked the arrow, narrowing her eyes to concentrate, the arrow shooting into one. She knocked a second and shot it, a third, a fourth, all in quick succession to display her expertise. She then took three at once, turning her bow to the side, shooting all three at once so each embedded into a different ice spike. She turned, smiling lightly at Hiccup, who stood with his mouth ajar. Toothless trotted over, using his tail to lift up Hiccup's jaw.

"Well, remind me not to get on your bad side." Hiccup commented.

"Come now lad, you must have a bit of skill in something!" Merida encouraged.

North was rummaging through one of his trunks, taking out some old weapons lying around, some of which Hiccup was familiar with. "Here you go, son!" North handed them to Hiccup, who grunted a bit as they were plopped into his arms. He cleared his throat, glancing around awkwardly as he took the club, weighing it in his hands a bit. He then glanced at the sword, picking that up, deciding this was the most effective weapon of the bunch.

"I guess I can give this a try…" Hiccup said.

"Give it a go then!" Merida gave a nod, taking out her own ghostly sword.

"Wait, hold on, I thought you meant I was going to try it out on the ice th-INGS!" Hiccup exclaimed as Merida swung at him, barely giving Hiccup time to defend himself.

"Come on, Viking chief! What happens when someone attacks your clan, will y' just crumble?" Merida exclaimed, circling around him a bit, Hiccup trying to keep up.

"Well, that's kind of what we have our dragons for, they did do a pretty bad number on us before they became our friends!" Hiccup replied, trying to keep up with Merida as she swung at him.

"And that's great! But what happens when your dragon can't protect you, hm?" She asked, Hiccup blocking her attack so their swords formed an X shape. "You've got to defend yourself, lad. Can't always defend on Toothless. What if HE needs YOU?" She smiled lightly, lowering her sword and taking a step back.

Hiccup sighed, nodding. "You're right… who am I kidding, I can't fight a seagull without Toothless. Without Toothless, I'm… I'm just a useless dork again."

"I wouldn't say that… you just need to learn, is all." She gently poked the side of his head, giggling lightly.

"Easier said than done…" Hiccup muttered.

"So let's get to doing then, lad!" Merida stood beside him. "Come now, show me your attack stance. No, no, that's not an attack stance. Stand straighter, puff out your chest, raise your shoulders… not that much!" She giggled.

"Okay, this is not working." Hiccup groaned.

"You give up to easily! You can do it, just give yourself a chance!" Merida exclaimed.

"Ohhh if Astrid were here now, she'd be laughing a fit at me. She's right… I'll never be a good chief at this rate."

"Well no one's laughing at you now." Her expression softened. "And you can be a good chief. You've got it in you, lad. I'm going to help you realize that." Merida said, continuing to assist Hiccup with the art of sword fighting.

Meanwhile, Alice grunted as she came down upon several of Jack's ice spikes with her hobby horse, taking in a deep breath as she turned to face them. She snickered lightly when the two stood dumbfounded.

"I have a number of weapons at my disposal, so you may want to make more targets." Alice said.

Jack blinked, nodding as he conjured more ice spikes to pop up from the ground. "There you go, have at it…"

Alice gave a nod, turning to materialize her pepper grinder into her hands. She narrowed one eye as she turned the crank, shooting a series of pepper corns at the spikes, leaving them full of holes. She then materialized her tea kettle weapon, the thing whistling and wobbling before shooting out a ball of boiling hot tea, blasting and melting one of the spikes at the farther end of the room.

"Well, we should have no problem fighting Pitch off with you around." Jack said.

"Success is not based simply on weaponry, Jack. It encompasses far more than that." Alice replied. "So, let's see what you both can do." She said, taking a step back.

Jack stepped forward, using his abilities against his own spikes, his staff sending shots of ice through the air like sparks, frost covering the nearby walls before he waved a hand, making it thaw. The spikes were now cracked, broken and shattered.

"I think we need better targets." Jack said.

"Well it wouldn't be wise to use them on each other…" Alice said. "But you're right. We need something real to display our techniques with, but what?"

Bunnymund glanced around, some of North's elves bickering as they walked through his legs. He flickered an ear, smirking lightly as a thought formed in his mind. Some time later, Alice finished fitting a pot on a Yeti's head, all of the Yetis and elves having been fitted with pots, pans, barrels, and other common items to be placed on them as low grade protective gear.

"Well, I suppose that's somewhat of an improvement…" Alice commented, tilting her head as she placed her hands on her hips. She glanced over at Merida, Hiccup and Toothless, approaching them. "We have some better targets to practice with if you'd like to try."

"I think I'd better take Hiccup upon myself for a time, he needs to learn the basics before he gets ambitious!" Merida commented.

Alice raised a brow at him, shrugging. "Very well. You there, dragon! Why don't you join us, then?"

Toothless perked up, looking around before pointing at himself with a paw and nodding. When Alice smiled, giving a nod, Toothless chirped happily, prancing past Hiccup over towards the other group. Hiccup couldn't help but chuckle at that, he loved when Toothless was playful like that.

Merida glanced over at Hiccup, rolling her eyes playfully. "You want to feel included, don't you lad?"

Hiccup looked from her back to the others, scratching the back of his neck. "Well sure, I'd like to try out whatever they're-"

"We'll practice together later, let's line up!" Merida beamed, floating over to where Alice, Jack, Bunny and Toothless were all lined up, Hiccup shrugging and joining behind her.

On the opposite side of the large room within the workshop, the elves and Yetis stared back at the group, shifting nervously in their "protective" gear.

"Maintain your proficiencies… improve upon your weaknesses." Alice said, glancing on either side of her to gain a nod from everyone standing in line with her. "Attack!"

Elves and Yetis began to run about the place, confused and quite shaken that they were being used as training dummies. Alice materialized her hobby horse, locking her eyes on one of the Yetis and pursuing him. She slammed the weapon down, missing, before bursting into butterflies to catch up with him, appearing in front of the Yeti to rear the weapon back like a baseball bat, sending him flying across the room. Jack used his staff to shoot ice sparks through the air, resulting in some of the elves covered in frost and shivering. Bunny sent his boomerangs soaring through the air along with some egg bombs, but used some of his tai chi as well; his feet were excellent weapons in themselves for close range combat. Merida loosed one arrow after another, some of the elves covering their heads after she pinned their hats to the wall. Toothless pranced around, swiping his tail to send Yetis and elves alike flying, pouncing on some with his paws as well. He may have not had his flame, but he was still a strong asset for the group. Hiccup groaned, swinging his sword about the room, but regardless of how hard he tried, he could not hit one target. Merida glanced over after shooting another arrow and noticed his struggle, snickering to herself and shaking her head before unsheathing his sword, running over.

"Come on lad, attack like you mean it!" She exclaimed, deciding that perhaps he needed her help sooner rather than later after all. She didn't want to hurt him, but she didn't quite go easy on him either, forcing him to concentrate on her as she seemed to cut the air with her sword.

At first, Hiccup barely kept up with her, especially with all the action going on around him, he had a lot to be distracted with; he was an expert dragon rider, but in his heart he knew he needed to learn how to fight on his own. Merida had brought up a very critical point; what if he really DIDN'T have Toothless? They weren't attached at the hip after all, and if he found himself in a situation where Toothless could not assist him in time, he needed to live up to his position as chief and know how to protect his loved ones. With Merida's encouragement, he soon began to get the hang of her technique; he was a fast learner after all, and worked best with trial and error. He fell a few times and stumbled, but he picked himself up. With a last swipe of his sword, the sound of metal clanging to the floor seemed to stop the whole room despite all the chaos ensuing, everyone glancing over in a surprised fashion to see Hiccup holding up his sword to Merida, hers having been knocked out of her hands by him.

"Woah…" Hiccup breathed. "Did I just… do that?"

A smile slowly made its way across Merida's face before she giggled. "Y'did, Hiccup! That was amazing! You've bested me in such a short time where in the beginning of this activity you couldn't hurt a sparrow!"

Alice tilted her head lightly, smiling. "Well, I am impressed. Hiccup has proven to have extracted some hidden potential inside him, and Merida has proven to be a very effectual teacher."

"Well, I think this was productive…" Jack nodded as he stood next to Alice. "I think we've all got some great skills we can work off of. Though we seem to fight better as a group, some one on one to improve certain techniques wouldn't hurt either."

North clapped his hands together, he and the other guardians stepping forward. "I think you all fought valiantly. You may all go and rest up, Sandy, Tooth and I will help clean up. As for you, young lady, I never thought I'd see another wield a sword better than myself, but I have been proven wrong!" He laughed heartily.

Hiccup gently pat Toothless when he trotted up to him, heading to his resting area as Merida joined him.

"Hey, um… thanks, Merida. I… you may have already guessed it, but I was kind of the weak link before I met Toothless. Short, scrawny, a big wimp…" Hiccup sighed. "I was never really the warrior type."

Merida frowned a bit. "Hiccup, you can do anything you put your mind to. You can command the skies with Toothless just like I command the Earth with m' bow and arrow, and m' sword." She pat his back once. "Soon, you'll be an expert… and then you'll have to teach me how to fly."

Hiccup chuckled at that. "Sounds fair enough… you wouldn't mind that, right bud?" He asked Toothless, who tilted his head with interest before giving Merida a nod, shifting his weight happily.

North smiled to himself as he watched the others head into their resting areas for the night, turning when he heard Tooth fluttering up to him.

"They're really some group, aren't they?" She asked, smiling lightly. "But North… do you think they'll be able to defeat Pitch and his new cronies?"

"Of course they can! Look at them!" North replied. "Together, they are unstoppable! They will restore joy and light to the children of the world. I have faith in them."

"So do I, but Pitch is no amateur. I know he's got some plan up his sleeve. As strong as they are, I still worry for them." Tooth said.

North sighed, placing a gentle hand on Tooth's shoulder. "We have to have faith in them, Tooth. Just like the children have placed their faith in us. It is up to us to keep this place safe while they defend everything we stand for." He said as Sandy floated up to the other side of Tooth, giving a nod of understanding. They all turned to look up at the moon, full and bright, knowing they would do anything to protect each other in this unpredictable and dangerous time.

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