Anna sighed as she watched the men slowly filing into the castle courtyard, ready to volunteer to protect the kingdom. She had put off the job for a while, now, but time was running out, and if Arendelle was going to be attacked, it would be, no doubt, soon. And though it pained her to do so, that meant she needed to get people to help protect the great kingdom.
The cold, early morning sun rose steadily above the horizon, colouring the world in a soft red haze. Anna couldn't help but wonder if her sister was watching the exact same sunrise too.
"Good morning, men." She said, her voice steady despite the fact that she was trembling inside. "I thank you for giving up your time today to come here. I understand how hard that can be. I know how precious time is nowadays, especially considering what day it is today."
She let out a breath she did not know she had been holding, before continuing with her speech more confidently, a little bit more relaxed.
"Okay, so, I never mentioned this before, but I'd first like to say that this is a very courageous thing to be signing up for, protecting the kingdom, so as a thank you, I'm going to give anyone who helps some money. Double what you normally earn. And spread the word, too!"
The mens' spirits seemed to be a little lifted at this - though some, mainly the youngest boys, appeared eager to start, many looked like they were only there to protect their families, not because they really wanted to. The promise seemed to be a welcome bonus indeed.
Anna felt her own spirits lift too, as the crowd began to look happier, even if only slightly, and her confidence rose again. Smiling, she abandoned the act of regality she had been trying to use, and instead converted back to her normal, carefree, joyous self, though of course, she was still haunted by the losses of those close to her. She still feared for them.
"I don't want to be too bossy," She began, and the crowd's attention snapped back to her. The Princess' happier, more casual tone left the people below a lot more comfortable, too, which was good. "Or, at least, even if my husband does say I am always bossy, I don't mean to be. So, sorry if I am. At any rate, I hope that I'll see you later on today to get your equipment and begin training."
A few quiet grumbles echoed through the large crowd, and Anna smiled. "I know, I know." She said, in amusement. "It will be quite hard training, but there will be plenty of breaks, so it shouldn't be too bad. And don't forget, it's the new years ball in just under a week, six days actually, so it'll help you get in shape too! Just think how strapping all you men will look in a nice tuxedo after doing a bit of work!"
The crowd chuckled softly, and Anna smiled, almost laughing at what Elsa would say to her if she was here. Though she dearly missed her sister, the Queen's disapproving glances and scolds were not so enjoyable; even if Elsa was a very laid back monarch, at least in comparison to most others, she still seemed to deem it proper to talk formally when addressing a crowd, something Anna really did not care for. Why should she pretend to be someone she wasn't, after all?
"Training starts at one o'clock this afternoon, so please be here then." She paused, not quite sure what to say next. "Umm... That's all. Don't forget, one o'clock!"
Anna stood still for a minute watching the crowd, and then quickly turned and walked back inside, before she could make a fool of herself, knowing that she probably would if she wasn't careful. Passing through the door, she sighed as she felt herself trip over, glad that the crowd probably could not see her do so, and threw her hands forward to prepare for impact, when she felt herself lifted from the ground.
Kristoff smiled as he placed Anna down, and the Princess stood on her toes as she softly pecked him on the cheek as a thank you. "Careful there, feisty pants." He said, as the pair began to walk away from the balcony. "Good speech, by the way."
Anna giggled. "Thanks, Kris." She replied, then paused for a second. "What were you doing outside the door, by the way. Were you spying on me?"
Kristoff laughed. "What will you do if I say I was?" He asked, and Anna smiled at him.
"Oh, nothing, nothing." She said, sweetly. A little too sweetly. "But of course, if I do nothing, we can't have any fun, eh?" She winked cheekily, and her husband chuckled.
"You little minx." He teased, but his eyes were glinting. "Okay, I was definitely not spying. What now?"
Anna grinned, as she softly kissed Kristoff again on the cheek, then nudged his side. "Tag! You're it!" She cried, and ran off laughing, Kristoff quickly following after once he got over his initial shock.
It was no coincidence that the game finished when Anna reached her shared bedroom. And Kristoff's reward for catching her was not hard to guess, either.
A low, pained moan sounded through the still, dank air of the dungeon cell. It echoed around the cell, replayed over and over, gradually growing quieter and quieter with each repeat.
What do they want with me? Odd thought, slowly, as his hands curled into fists. I can't be of any use to them now. Dagvin is dead, he's no longer posing as me in Arendelle. They don't need me to give them anymore answers.
He clenched his fists tighter, felt his blood boiling hot in the freezing cold room. His constant frustration and anger were the only thing that kept him alive, he was sure - his irate thoughts were the only thing he had to focus on, and without them, he would no doubt slip away, and not even realise.
I can't believe I couldn't resist. I could have killed Elsa, or Anna or Kristoff. Or little Mia, if they've found her yet.
Odd moaned again, as a rough rope dug into his wrists, the weight of his hanging body causing excruciating pain, only overruled by his anger.
If only we'd never had that fight... I was so very foolish... Why did I have to run off like I did? I should have listened to Elsa... She was right, it was dangerous not to stay inside.
His whole body felt like lead, though he'd lost sensation in arms by now, which were tied behind his back, and had been holding up all of his weight. It was by nothing more than a miracle that he had not dislocated his arms yet. His eyes were blindfolded, so he had no sight, and breathing was difficult in the atrocious air, which both burned his throat and tore it to pieces with every breath. This was made even worse by the position he was held in; with so much weight pulling down on his rib cage, taking a breath was impossible. The only way he could get any more oxygen was by pulling himself up with his arms, and pushing up on a small board beneath his feet, but it was hard, and extremely painful.
He did not have enough energy to do it often.
She had magic, and she was strong, but I was so weak... I should have fought harder, should have resisted!
Odd's head began to spin once again, and he slowly, weakly, pulled himself higher to take a breath, to give his body the oxygen it needed to carry on. His anger was strong, but not great enough to give him air.
As he lowered himself down, he groaned at the burning pain in his arms, wondering why he was being put through this torture. Why don't they just kill me! He thought desperately, I'm no use to them now that Dagvin's gone, they don't need any more information from me, so what is purpose here?
He felt his head spin a little again, but he'd just taken a breath, and knew that very little blood was getting to his brain, all draining to his feet - he was slowly, painfully suffocating.
A small creak sounded from the doorway, and though he hated himself for it, Odd felt his heart beat a tiny bit faster, relieved. He knew what came when someone came into the cell - he'd be let down for a few minutes, enough to keep him alive.
He hated being so dependant on them, hated himself for letting them control his life.
He bit back a sigh as he felt the roped being held together tightly, then slashed, and felt his legs give way at the extra weight, felt himself flop forward onto the cold stone floor. He enjoyed the feeling of breathing freely again, and felt the blood rush through his veins freely as the guard behind him pulled him backwards, tied him loosely to the wall so that his freedom was limited. He could lie down, shuffle a few feet, or crouch, but that was all his freedom extended to.
He heard the familiar sound of a metal plate being placed upon the rock, and he suddenly noticed how hungry he was. He felt a surge of relief when the guard pulled his blindfold off, and then took off, to return in just a few minutes, no doubt.
Odd shuffled over to the plate and began to eat, awkwardly, and he was embarrassed that he had been reduced to eating like a dog - with his hands tied behind his back still, he had no other choice.
As he ate, Odd's thoughts wandered back to his wife and family. That intruder had better not have hurt them, He thought savagely, and a thought struck him as he ate quickly, a thought he, surprisingly, had never had before. What if he took advantage of her?
His wheels in mind began to turn quickly, and he felt his anger building greater and greater. He clenched his fists harder than he ever had before, felt blood trickle down his wrists, and with a yell of anger, with a strength he never knew he had, he pulled the rope away from the wall, strained until they snapped, and he fell cold on the floor once again.
He breathed deeply as he stood up straight, pulled his arms forward painfully and stretched. He felt an amazing sense of power he hadn't felt in a long time.
And he was not going to let himself fall back under the Southern Isles' control again.