I felt bad about it, but when I woke up the morning before the attack, I quietly left Elsa sleeping in her bed, got dressed and went to wrap up preparations. I put on a simple white t-shirt, black pants, soft blue shoes, and the leather jacket I had worn the other day.
Before I even got down the hallway, I was accosted by a messenger who told me I was requested in the main courtyard by the guards. I made my way down to find five of the loyal guards waiting. They were all dressed in green clothes and had on either brown light leather armor or heavy metal plate armor, all equipped with weapons ranging from swords and maces to crossbows and throwing knives.
"Ah, Sir James, thank you for joining us." the leader greeted. He was wearing metal plate armor edged in gold trim with a large broadsword strapped on his back. He had dark brown hair, almost black, with lighter brown eyes and a small smile. "My name is Franz, I'm the captain of the guard. We've just received a report from a scout that you need to hear about."
I shook the man's hand with a small nod. "Good morning, Franz. Now, what is so important about this report?"
"As we previously assumed, the Southern Isles and Weaseltown are working together, sending messenger hawks back and forth, preparing for a joint assault. But what we didn't know is that they are technologically advanced. The Southern Isles has developed massive siege weapons including scorpions and siege towers, and according to an intercepted letter between the two, Weaseltown's navy is equipped with multiple cannons and a few key ships are carrying long-range mortars." he reported grimly.
"That's definitely a problem. Do we have anything to counter these?" I asked.
"Well, our alchemists banned together yesterday and created a massive store of gunpowder and Greek fire." A guard from behind Franz said.
"That might be able to take down a wooden siege tower. But that doesn't help with the long-range weapons." I said to myself, racking my brain for a solution to this problem.
"We've thought about this for a while now." Franz said tentatively. "We believe that with Princess Anna's help, we could be able to defend the city on the land. And that Queen Elsa could help us on the sea."
I immediately wanted to shoot the idea down. I was actually hoping that Elsa and Anna could stay away from the main fighting. Maybe hang back with some forces stationed near/in the castle. Or even better, to stay safely in the castle in perhaps a fortified section. Keeping them from getting hurt was my number one priority.
But I couldn't make that decision for them. I couldn't and I knew it, I would have to tell Elsa and Anna about it and let them make up their own minds. I sighed, my mind giving in to logic and reason. "Alright, I'll tell them. But they'll make up their own minds, I won't be forcing them to do anything."
"Of course, we'd never force anything on anyone." The guards reassured, I doubt they could force Elsa and Anna to do anything anyways, but it was nice getting their verbal word as well.
"Anything else?" I asked, wanting this meeting to be over as my stomach growled demanding I sit down for breakfast.
"We'll need to recheck the arrangements." Franz said. "After that we'll have a list of things to go over."
"Naturally," I said under my breath. "Alright, go do your thing. You'll be able to find me later."
I turned and quickly made my way back into the castle, towards the dining hall. Once I entered I was met with a strange sight. Elsa, Kristoff, and Anna were all in there seemingly trying to put on armor.
Kristoff was struggling to put on a standard set of Arendellian armor, he couldn't get his arms around his large form to reach the straps and ties. He had managed to half put on a chest piece, crooked and backwards. Anna was trying to create a set of armor out of her flames like Elsa did with most of her clothes. She wasn't very successful. She had managed to make a star-shaped burn mark at her feet and to singe all of her clothes, covered in black soot.
While all of this was happening Elsa was calmly sitting at the head of the table, one leg crossed over on the other, sipping a cup of tea. She was wearing a set of custom-made ice armor. It sparkled as per usual, but looked like a formidable set of armor; think yet flexible, and form fitting. It was light blue, with snowflake designs etched in to the chest. It consisted of a chest piece, guantlets, grieves, and a skirt of ice plates that went a little bit further down than her knees.
She looked serenely calm, like her family struggling to get ready for a fight was normal. She had a small smile on her lips, making me think that she was drawing a little satisfaction from the calamity. Her eyes found mine and she gave me a sly wink, making me smirk. It was quite a scene.
I walked over to her, pulling up a seat next to her, a server had already placed a tray of food down for her but she was only nibbling on a piece of bacon so I decided to have my way with the rest of it. "You're not going to help them are you?"
"I might, Anna might burn something. But Kristoff is just plain hilarious." She told me.
I chuckled. Then said to the other couple, "You know guys, the fight is tomorrow, if you had the armor premade for you then you don't have to try it on."
The two of them stopped and looked at me, not saying anything for a second as they processed the information. Then looked at each other, then Elsa. After a time they said, "OH COME ON! Elsa! Why didn't you say anything? We've been trying to get into armor for the last hour!"
Me and Elsa laughed at their misfortune. Kristoff angrily stripped out of his armor as Anna tried to dust off her now permanently soiled green dress. They grumbled the entire time.
"And besides Anna," I said, standing up. "This is how you make a set of armor."
I gestured to myself and magic blue flames sprung up from my feet, growing and spreading across my body for a second or two. Then they quickly died out, revealing a set of armor that I had been think about for a while.
The chest piece was a dark blue, without any design on the front. An elaborate black sword belt appeared on my waist, even though it didn't have a sword attached to it, I had lost my sword in the ocean during the ship wreck. I had light shoulder pads, vambraces an shin guards. Also what had appeared, even though I didn't depict it in my mind, a blue cape with gold trim appeared around my neck. It attached to the shoulder pads and flowed down to my ankles. Oddly enough a symbol was stitched into the cape in gold stitching, a crown with two swords crossed through it. That and it came equipped with a hood.
Anna and Kristoff looked at me with a mixture of awe and irritation. Elsa looked with a smirk and a look of approval. I watched them for a while with a smug grin on my face for a while, before flicking my wrists, turning the armor into blue smoke that disappeared after a second or two. Then I sat back down next to Elsa, both of us smirking at the other couple who were still steaming to themselves.
"Speaking of tomorrow," I started carefully. Everyone looked at me curiously. "I just talked to the guard captain about strategy."
"What about it?" Kristoff asked.
"Well, they suggested that, considering the enemies advanced technology, Elsa and Anna join the fight."
Their reactions were mixed. Elsa looked a bit apprehensive but seemed to sink back into an internal debate. Anna, ever the optimist, looked excited and started rapidly asking questions. Kristoff looked severely offended, the idea seaming absurd to him., his face got all red and he started stumbling over his words.
I patiently waited for everyone to settle down. Anna finally took a breath, calming down and waiting for me to talk again. Kristoff stopped fuming, and decided not to keep trying to articulate his sentence and instead wait for me to elaborate. And Elsa seemed to come to a decision in her mind and silently waited for me to continue.
I waited a second. "Now, I told them that I would tell you what they thought, but I made sure they knew I wouldn't let them force you into anything you don't want to do."
Kristoff was the first to start talking. "There's no way they're going on the battlefield. It's way too dangerous for them!"
"That's not a decision you can make, Kristoff!" Anna scolded, turning on him faster than even I expected.
"I just don't want anything to happen to you two." He said, looking down.
"If we fail to stop either the Southern Isles or Weaseltown it won't matter, it might be worse if we get captured than if we fight." Elsa said reasonably. To which Kristoff couldn't respond. Then she turned to me. "Although, I think we should hear the detail before we decide if we're in or not."
"Well, they believed that it would be helpful if you went to counter ships out in the cove, and if Anna helped burn down the siege weapons."
Kristoff blanched. I'm pretty sure that Anna fighting in what would most likely be the most bloody front was his worst nightmare. I couldn't blame him, the idea of either sister being on the battlefield frightened me as well, probably even more so. He didn't say anything, but he didn't have to, both sisters seemed to be reluctant with that idea.
"I know what you're thinking," I said trying to ease them but not trying to convince them. "But I know I would be able to convince them to allow Kristoff to fight with Anna."
"Like that would do much good." Kristoff said with spite.
"And the trolls taught me a little something about enchantments." I continued, not giving any response to Kristoff's hostile tone. "I'm pretty sure I'd be able to equip you guys with some magic gear, maybe some speed or some durability."
It didn't totally erase their fear, but it did lessen. After a second Anna spoke up, "Well, I'm not just going to sit back and watch my home be attacked."
Next was Kristoff. "And I'm not going to let Anna go alone. I'm going with her, no exception." I gave him a smile, hearing the fierceness in his voice.
And then Elsa, who spoke with queenly authority and absolute determination. "And I'm not going to let my sister risk her life by herself, I'll fight as well." I wrapped an arm around her shoulder, brining her in close for a hug as Kristoff did the same with Anna.
We all sat in silence, reflecting over the decision we just made. The waiters came and took away the empty plates, offering a round of drinks. Elsa took a glass of red wine, me and Kristoff took a mug of ale, and Anna a glass of weak wine, not being allowed to drink regular alcohol because she wasn't quite old enough.
At one point, Franz came into the dining hall asking about their decision. Elsa informed him in a quiet, yet not weak, voice. Franz then bowed and walked away to make the final arrangements. Silently agreeing, we all then moved into the library with mugs of hot chocolate for each of us. Anna and Kristoff lying together on the couch, because I was too tall to fit, and Elsa sitting with me in a big comfy chair. Each of had a book to read, although mine and Kristoff's had been forsaken as we started to read the books Anna and Elsa had. It was just like before all of this catastrophe, except for mine and Elsa's thing. I smiled as I thought back to those times, not worried about what was coming or what could happen, before I knew what I was.
We didn't leave the library for the rest of the day. Servants came in to replenish our drinks, and we continued reading our books. All of us finished our books, and we sat in silence as we watched the sky. In the time we took to read the sun had gone across the sky and started to set, painting the sky a multitude of different colors. Once it set, we quietly got up from our seats and moved towards our rooms. Before we parted, still without saying anything, we all hugged each other, then went our separate ways.
Me and Elsa entered our room quietly, the lighting created by melted down candles. Elsa went into the attached bathroom to get ready as I did in the room. She came back in and we slipped into bed, Elsa curled up in a ball tight to my chest as I wrapped my arms around her.
"James," Elsa whispered. "I'm afraid, afraid that something is going to go wrong and one of you will get hurt."
I mulled this over in my head, coming up with a response that would soothe her, at least to let her sleep for the night. It took a few seconds but I finally said, "Elsa, I promise, I will do everything in my power to keep us safe, all of us."
"But what if something does happen?"
"Then I won't rest until I find a way to fix it, to make everything the way it should be." I said under my breath in determination.
I lifted her chin to face me, and I kissed her, trying to transfer as much confidence as I could through my lips. "I promise."
And we fell asleep in each other's arms. And there we stayed until the early hours of the morning. Each other's presence deterring the nightmares that were sure to have come on the night before a battle. The comforting presence of each other allowing only pleasant dreams to visit us. And that's the way it was, and how it should be.