Odd laughed as he ran away from Elsa and Anna, who were both giggling gleefully, as they pelted him with snowballs. He knew he deserved it - he had, after all, just sent a tidal wave of water at them, sort of. And he was pretty proud of it, too - he'd made himself a simple canon, the physics of which he'd taught himself as a boy, and then had filled a large balloon with icy cold water.
It had been difficult to find the balloon - they were only recently invented, and often broke. It had taken him an hour to actually fill it with water without it breaking, a very difficult feat to achieve, but he'd managed it. After placing it in the catapult, he only had to wait for the two royals to come outside, something that was inevitable on such a warm day as today, and the moment they did, bam!
Of course, now, he really had no chance of escaping the snowball flying above Elsa's head, one metre in diameter. He called for Sven, considering his own horse was still nowhere to be found, but the reindeer just grunted, as if to say, "You deserve whatever you get."
Odd groaned, and Kristoff, who had just walked outside, chuckled at the scene before him, but he wasn't too concerned. This wasn't the first time it had happened, and besides, he didn't want to intervene - though he didn't love Elsa in the same way as he did Anna, she was like a sister to him, almost, and he cared for her. With the Queen's marriage just a week away, she was naturally very nervous, considering the chaos of before, so it was good to see her completely relaxed again.
"Help me, Kristoff!" Odd called out, but the man shook his head.
"You wish!" He called out, and he glanced at the massive snowball above Elsa's head. He couldn't help but laugh at Odd's amusing worried face, and he chuckled at the sopping wet Queen and Princess following him, their hair plastered to their face, their dresses clinging to their bodies, but they were both too caught up in chasing their 'prey' to be concerned about their garments.
Mia, hearing the commotion, came trotting out on her short little legs, and squealed as her mother, Aunt and to-be-uncle went running past, and, giggling, she opened her palm, sending a snowball flying at Odd. He grunted as it connected with the back of his head, and he tripped in surprise.
Elsa laughed, mock evilly. "There's no where to run, little man!" She teased, as the snow fell over and buried him.
Odd sat up, coughing and spluttering as he spat snow from his mouth, and he turned to look at Mia.
"That was you, wasn't it, Mia!" He accused, but his voice was lighthearted. Mia laughed, as Odd stood up and made his own snowball, chasing her.
The child squealed as she ran away. "Papa! Mama!" She cried out in her high pitched, young child's voice. "Odd chase! Odd chase me!"
Anna laughed, and ran over to catch up, while Elsa giggled and walked over to Kristoff to watch from the sidelines.
"There's no where to run, Princess!" Odd called out, as he cackled playfully. He threw the snowball, but Mia was ready, and she laughed as she sidestepped, her little feet seeming to skim the ground. Odd's mouth fell open in surprise - most one year olds probably would have just stood there, then began crying when they were hit. Admittedly, he didn't like it when they cried, but Mia had always been a quiet baby anyway.
"Ha, ha, Odd!" Mia called out, teasing him, as she stuck out her tongue playfully. For her age, she was very advanced, at least three or four months ahead of what she should be, according to the average child, intelligence wise. "You miss me!"
She laughed as she ran again, and then she skipped over to the field, where her little reindeer calf was stood, munching some sweet grass happily, with Anna's grey mare, Misty, and Elsa's white gelding, Syklon. The little doe bleated in greeting, bobbing her head happily as her friend came over, and the toddler jumped, trying to get on the animal's back.
The reindeer lowered her head again to take another mouthful of grass, as she bent to allow the child to get on her back. Mia laughed, as she locked her eyes with Odd, as if she were challenging him.
"Go, 'Ysse!" She called out, mispronouncing the name 'Lysse', but the doe understood anyway, and set off at a trot, with the toddler clinging tightly onto her fur, bouncing around as she went.
The girl was an amazing rider, at least for her age, as ever since she'd been ten months old, give or take a little, she'd been riding. Starting the day that her father had brought the little deer back from his work in the mountains, after finding her following him and Sven all the way to the kingdom, the young Princess had been riding, at first held by her mother, but quickly, the child showed a natural talent for it. Soon, she was easily able to sit up on her own in walk, and as it was, so long as she held on firmly and wrapped her legs tightly around the animal's belly, she could trot with ease, although she hadn't mastered sitting in her seat without bouncing.
She looks like a little rag doll, Odd thought to himself as the pair came bouncing over to him. As Lysse was so young and growing so quickly, not only would it be unfair to make her a saddle, but impractical as well. She'd easily go through them every month, and Mia didn't seem to mind riding bare-back.
Mid-way between their starting point and Odd, who Mia had been planning on coating in a nice, thick layer of snow as punishment, Lysse skidded to a stop, and quietly grunted, as she flicked her ears back and forth, with her nostrils flaring.
It was obvious something was not right. Sven had shepherded the two Fjord horses to the opposite side of the paddock, as the leader of the three animal herd, minus Lysse, and would bite at them every time they tried to see what was happening.
Meanwhile, the little, light-brown reindeer calf was beginning to sidestep nervously, and Mia, shocked by the sudden movement, slipped onto the floor. It wasn't a long fall - about a third of a metre, if that, but she landed with a grunt anyway, more from surprise than pain.
Lysse now had her back turned to Mia, and was snorting at the long grass before her, pawing the ground and throwing her head around, as if she were a grown male reindeer, displaying his antlers threateningly. Not that she had any, but still.
A slight rustle came in the grass, as Anna rushed over to her daughter, with the other adults alongside, concerned and, at the same time, curious.
Lysse bleated loudly, before she reared up on her little legs and pawed the air. She began to attack the grass, flattening it, until all that remained was a delicate flower, a bright red rose.
Anna giggled. "What's all the fuss over a flower?" She asked, happily, but then something struck her, from a book she'd once read. A Shakespeare novel.
Lysse grunted and snorted and began thrashing around, as if she were possessed, and she stomped on top of the flower, squishing it cleanly. Still, the petals seemed to be alive, as they rippled and moved, and a little head peeked out from underneath.
Mia gasped, as she tried to pull Lysse away. "Bad!" She cried at the creature. "Bad snake! Mean! Go 'way! Go 'way!" She continued to tug at her reindeer's fur, but the animal would not budge, still staring down with the snake. The serpent slithered out a little further, and Elsa gasped, shocked and scared.
"G-get away from it!" She cried, desperately, as she sent a beam of ice at the creature, which dodged it at incredible speed. "It's a, a black mamba! They're one of the deadliest snakes on earth!"
Anna gasped, and quickly snatched Mia up, who, wanting to save her pet calf began kicking wildly, as her mother' stress began to freeze up, despite the warm weather. The older Princess groaned, as she quickly retreated from the snake.
Everyone followed suite, besides from Lysse, who was now trying to step of the snake, it seemed, unaware of the danger she was in, only interested in destroying the threat.
"But, Elsa," Odd said, "Black mambas live in Africa, not Norway!"
The Queen groaned, as she squeezed her eyes shut and, squinting, aimed at the snake again.
"I know," She muttered, her eyes wide with fear as the snake turned it's head to her, beady eyes staring. "But here it is."
Kristoff nodded in affirmation, as he looked around for something to throw at the snake. "Yeah," he said, distractedly. "That's definitely a Mamba."
Elsa frowned in concentration, as she tried to hit the creature once again, but it was no use. Odd pulled her away.
"Elsa. Those things can move at twenty kilometres and hour. You'll never hit it."
The queen's eyes widened, and Anna looked at her sister worriedly, distracted, and it was just enough time for Mia to squirm out of her grasp and run to Lysse.
"P'ease, 'Ysse!" she called, as she wrapped her chubby arms around the snake's neck and tried to pull away, but the calf was going nowhere. Anna shrieked, as she ran - or, rather, tried to run - to her daughter, but Kristoff grabbed her in his strong, muscular arms.
"Shush, Anna." He reassured. "Lysse will take care of her. As it is, the snake's focused on Elsa and Odd, mostly, but if you run over to it then you'll get bitten and, then, so will Mia, in turn."
Anna sent a despairing glance towards her daughter. Kristoff took her hand, gently.
"Come on," He whispered, "If we can go around the edge, we can get Mia without alerting the snake, hopefully."
Anna was terrified now. "And if we do?"
Kristoff frowned. "We improvise." He replied, shrugging, and then, with the careful footsteps of a man used to stalking prey and hiding from predators, a true mountain man, he led the way, sneaking around silently.
Mia could see her parents coming, but she ignored them, as she continued to tug at Lysse. She let out a yell of frustration, and then, the snake's head whipped around, glaring at her. The sudden outburst was, to the serpent, a challenge, or a threat, and it riled it up greatly. Raising itself up, it flicked its tongue menacingly, and lunging for Mia, who only managed to avoid it when she slipped over on some ice Elsa had conjured up.
Anan screamed, and by now, a crowd of villagers was gathering at the gates. She rushed in quickly, trying to reach for her daughter while avoiding the lunging head which could kill her just like that. Kristoff rushed in to help, making noise, trying to confuse it enough to get behind and restrain it, perhaps strangle it.
Odd, having also grown up in the wilderness, quickly caught on, and rushed to help Kristoff, while Elsa ran over also, taking advantage of the snake's distraction to freeze the lower end of it's tail to the ground.
Mia ran to her mother's arms, petrified, and Anna quickly backed away, trying to comfort her scared, trembling daughter, who was now sobbing, muttering, "Save 'Ysse, Mama." The little voice broke Anna's heart, but she didn't know what she could do.
The snake lunged, confused at the increase in noise, riled up by the fear floating on the air. Its teeth scraped gently against Lysse's side, and the reindeer calf bleated, rearing and stomping her two front cloven hooves on the thick, scaly body, bucking as she did, transferring all of her weight onto the snake. Angrily, the creature flicked it's tongue, this time stroking the leg of Odd's pants, and Kristoff snarled.
Almost in synchronisation, the mountain man wrapped his strong hands tightly around the serpent's neck, blocking its airways, as Elsa's magic formed an icicle through the body.
The snake hissed feebly, before it fell to the floor, dead from the cold, and suffocation.
Anna frowned as she watched a dozing Kristoff cuddling a sleeping Mia close to him. The little toddler was definitely a daddy's girl, and in the future, she was going to be so spoilt.
Oh, life. It was such a fleeting thing. And to think, it seemed only yesterday she and Elsa were playing together as kids.
Before the accident, of course.
Still, it made her see, for a minute, how precious everything was. She smiled warmly, and a hope registered in her mind.
Hopefully me and Kris will be able to have lots more children. She thought, Hopefully everything will work out okay.
She glanced down at her abdomen and rested a hand on her stomach. Oh, how wonderful it would be to have another child, a sibling for Mia, and a young baby around the castle once again. Certainly, some aspects were bleak - the nappy changing was horrible, and Anna was grateful Mia was showing an interest in being potty trained now. Still, what were servants for?
She giggled to herself, although she knew full well that she'd never lay off all the not quite so nice (aka, horrible, she thought silently to herself) jobs on the servants. That would make the child feel like their's, not hers, and she didn't want that.
Just then, the door opened, and the Queen entered, her hair up rather un-regally in a towel. Elsa sat down next to her, and Anna, unfazed by the appearance, turned to her sister.
"I've been wondering, Elsa..." She said, the happy thoughts of earlier replaced with more serious ones. Anna was still slightly shaken up after the day's events. "How did a black mamba get here, all the way from Africa?"
Elsa sighed. "I think it was sent here. But I'm not sure why."
Anna looked down at her hands, then at the small rose in a vase on the table. "Look like the innocent flower," she recited from memory, "But be the serpent underneath it."
Elsa looked around herself worriedly, and Anna instantly knew that what she'd said had hit home.
"Is there a connection?" She asked, more to hear her fears declined than to hear them affirmed.
"What does it mean?" The Princess queried, her face a mask attempting to hide the fear, the sorrow, and the pain under it.
"It means," the Queen began, as she stood up, wobbled, and fell down again. Her ice-blue eyes were shining fearfully. "That someone's out for our blood, again."
Anna glanced at Elsa, then Kristoff, and finally Mia, before she lay her head in her hands and cried. Elsa wrapped her arm comfortingly around her sister's shoulders, and together, exhausted, they fell asleep like that, their hearts heavy.