Taking Daring Steps
Sandy arrived at the pole, waving to Phil to let him inside. Once he did, he quickly found North, a sand image of a question mark forming above his head to ask North what was going on.
"Sandy, I am sorry I had to call you like this… but I have no other way of reaching you, the snow globe will not work to get to Emily's forest." North said.
After a moment of thought, Sandy shrugged, before communicating that Emily hadn't allowed North in because he wasn't with the rest of the group originally.
"Yes, it is what Tooth and I deduced earlier…" North replied.
Sandy perked up at the mention of Tooth, asking where she was.
"She is with Rapunzel, it is safer for her to be in an unknown location so it is harder for the Queen and the Monkey King to find her." North replied.
Sandy let his head fall back, gritting his teeth in frustration.
"I am sorry, Sandy… I know you miss her, but it's important that she is safe." North said, lightly patting Sandy's shoulder. He nodded, before asking why North had tried to reach out to them.
"Ah, yes… hold on one moment." He said, holding up a finger before rummaging through his pocket to produce the small, oddly shaped box in question. "Do you have any idea what this could be? Where it came from?" He asked, handing it to Sandy.
The dream guardian looked it over, pursing his lips and shaking his head. He then questioned where North got it from.
"Eugene brought it to us from Arendelle. Apparently, little Eliza was the one who found it, and it was making her act strangely. It is important to learn all we can about it; it could be an attack from the Queen." North said.
Sandy gave him a nod before asking if he could take the box back with him to see if any of the others knew anything about it.
"Yes, by all means." North said before crouching down, placing a hand on Sandy's shoulder. "Please tell the others to be careful. Call upon us if you need help."
Sandy smiled lightly, giving North a nod. He then took out a second snow globe, backing up as he cast it down to head back to the forest. Once there, he found Jack and Alice, waving his hands at them to get their attention.
"Well, that was quick…" Jack said, he and Alice getting to their feet.
"What did they say?" Alice asked.
Jack glanced at Alice as they communicated telepathically, Alice narrowing her eyes a bit. "Show me." She finally said aloud.
Sandy nodded, producing the box and handing it to Alice. The moment her eyes rested on the object, they widened, glancing between him and the box. "Where in the bloody hell did she find this?!" She shouted, garnering some attention from anyone standing within earshot.
"Alice, what's the matter?" Jack asked.
"Hey..." Bunny said, walking over. "... everything alright?"
Alice held a hand up as Sandy continued to communicate with him. "Eugene brought this to them...?" She glanced at Jack for a moment before looking back at Sandy. "Find him."
Sandy groaned, holding his hands out before crossing his arms. He was taken by surprise when Alice grabbed the dream guardian by his collar, his eyes widening as he held his hands up.
"Do you have ANY idea what this is? Any of you?" She glanced around briefly. "I thought not. Fine. I will find the answers I require myself. This..." She held the box up. "... stays with me." She let go of Sandy, striding quickly over to grab a snow globe, speaking to it briefly before casting down and disappearing in an instant.
"Woah... whatever you said to her, you rubbed her fur the wrong way, mate." Bunny said as Sandy composed himself, blowing out a puff of air inaudibly.
"What was that thing... and why did that set her off so much...?" Jack asked, mostly to himself, biting his lip in concern.
Toothless and Sven both bowed their heads as Hiccup and Kristoff finished lecturing them about Eliza. Feeling terrible for what happened and that they were the cause, Sven grunted to Toothless lightly, nodding his head towards the palace door. Toothless grumbled back, motioning to Hiccup and Kristoff. The reindeer glanced around, motioning for Toothless to follow him as they headed out of the stable area.
Meanwhile, Hiccup and Kristoff headed back into the dining area where Anna and Merida were.
"Well, we gave Toothless and Sven a good talking to..." Hiccup said as he sat. "Where's Eugene?"
"He went to see the guardians in Corona to find out more about the box." Anna replied, rubbing the sides of her head.
"Okay..." Hiccup ran a hand through his hair. "What a mess..."
"Should we check on Eliza?" Kristoff asked.
Before any of them could answer, they all gasped as someone appeared in the room. They turned to see it was Alice, everyone getting to their feet.
"Alice, what are you doing here?" Anna asked.
"We need to talk." Alice replied.
"Oh boy... never a good thing when Alice needs to talk..." Hiccup gulped.
As Alice sat to discuss things with the small group, Eliza took in deep breaths as the effects of the aura from the box began to wear off. She shakily opened her drawer, taking out the snow globe inside. "Show me Alice..." She whispered to it. Her eyes widened when she saw she was just downstairs, almost dropping the snow globe. "No... I have to save this so I can see them..." She said to herself, running over to the door to open it, only to discover to her horror that it was locked. "Alice!" She began to pound on the door. "Alice, let me out!"
Sven and Toothless tiptoed through the palace, moving quickly past the dining hall. Toothless accidentally knocked over a vase with his tail, wincing as Sven looked back, signalling to him to just keep moving. They clumsily made their way up the stairs, surprising a few servants as they made their way to the bedroom corridor. Toothless flickered his ears as he heard Eliza crying from inside her bedroom, the two quickening their pace as they stopped outside her room. Sven grunted, lightly scratching at the door with his hoof to let her know they were there.
"Sven?" Eliza called. "Sven, Alice is here, please let me out! I want to see her! The door is locked!"
The reindeer nodded, nudging at the door before motioning Toothless to come over; his paws were more flexible and able to grab onto things. The dragon sat on his behind, sticking out his tongue in concentration as he tried to turn the handle. When it resisted, Sven looked closer and realized that there was a keyhole. He whimpered, grunting to Toothless they would need a key to open the door. Toothless gave him a flat look, tightening his grip around the door handle as he grit his teeth.
Downstairs, Merida's eyes widened. "No wonder the little lass was acting like a she-demon..."
"This is a rage box. I encountered them the first time I faced off against the Queen in Wonderland; if you think that bloody mass of tentacles looks like a horror now, you should have seen her then. Do any of you have any idea where Eliza found this?" Alice asked with a serious tone.
"Sven said she found it when they snuck out into the meadow the other day... they saw it from far away and when she fell, she must have snuck it back with her somehow." Kristoff said.
"... I'm sorry, did you say that she fell?" Alice said, her expression dead serious.
"Ohhh, you should not have said that." Hiccup tugged on his collar.
"I leave you all in charge of one child, and you cannot manage to keep her in good condition for a week?!" Alice's voice raised as she stood to her feet. "Do you have any idea the damage she could have caused with this? To herself?!"
Anna held her hands up. "A- Alice, I know this seems bad, and we're going to keep a closer watch over her and the-"
"I know none of you have much experience with children, but you had better learn quickly!" Alice snapped.
"Maybe it was a good thing Eliza found that... I mean, if someone stronger had found it, things would have turned out worse." Kristoff said.
"No, it is NOT a good thing this was found by her! Don't you all see? This was no isolated incident, this was MEANT to be found!" Alice slammed her fist on the table. "If you cannot even monitor a child properly, who is to say the Queen won't just stroll in here and cause havoc?! I am more angered by the lot of you neglecting her than the Queen having the audacity to attempt to cause her harm; and believe me, if this happens again, I will come for you all as soon as I go back and give the Queen a piece of my mind!" She shoved the box into her dress, straightening up as the four sat in shocked silence. "I don't care what you have to do, make sure she's comfortable." She said, taking a snow globe and casting it down before disappearing.
Moments later, the four remaining adults heard footsteps just outside the dining hall. The door burst open, Eliza running inside and stopping as she glanced around.
"Alice... where is she? She was here..." Eliza spoke.
They all stood up, Kristoff shaking his head. "We locked that door, how in the hell did she-"
"Toothless, I see you back there!" Hiccup shouted. "Come out here right now!" The dragon squeezed into the dining hall, hanging his head as he held the door knob in one of his paws. "What did I just tell you about not getting into trouble! Give it... Toothless!" Hiccup snatched the broken door knob and pocketed it. "No evening flight for you today, now go back to the stables!" Toothless whined lightly, Kristoff throwing his hands up when Sven entered the room, following behind Toothless.
"I swear, those two lads are becoming a handful!" Merida exclaimed.
"I asked you a question!" Eliza shouted, getting everyone's attention as they turned to look at her. "Where is Alice?!"
Anna went over to Eliza, taking her hand. "Alice had to go back... she wanted to make sure you were doing okay."
"Then why didn't she ask me herself?" Eliza asked, tearing her hand away. "Does no one care for me anymore?"
"Of course we do..." Anna said, furrowing her brow. "Eliza, this is hard for all of us... I promise you, things will get better as soon as the Queen is taken care of... it's hard to be there for someone when you have so much on your plate... I know it's hard to understand... but we just have to try to listen to each other, alright?" She frowned as Eliza began to tear up, hugging her.
"I'm sorry... I... I don't know what happened to me..." Eliza whimpered. "I was frightened."
"I know... we all were too." Anna replied, sighing as she gently pet Eliza's hair.
The four young adults were relieved that Eliza was somewhat back to herself, but worried that she wasn't taking this whole situation as well as they anticipated.
Ralph sighed contently, looking up at the trees as he breathed in the fresh air. He had started to become friendly with the others, feeling like perhaps, he finally belonged somewhere. Sure, there was the Anon Anonymous group back in the arcade, but their conversations were scripted in a way, they spoke about their problems and struggles and nothing really else. They were there for support, not for any other social reason. Though the same could be said to an extent for this situation in particular, Ralph somehow felt in his heart that there was a possibility that at the end of all of this, that could change.
Unfortunately for him, a certain Nightmare King approached behind him, tapping the wrecker's shoulder and breaking him away from his thoughts.
"Might I have a word with you... Ralph?" Pitch asked. "Let's take a walk down that way."
Ralph blinked, standing up. "Oh, uh, sure... what was your name again?"
"Pitch. The name is Pitch." He answered, nodding his head towards the path. He used his scythe as a walking stick, Ralph glancing at it.
"That sounds an awful like something that would make Calhoun knock someone's lights out..." Ralph mumbled to himself. "So, uh... that's a neat... we don't really have weapons in our game..." Ralph said, trying to make conversation, as Pitch's intimidating silence was beginning to unsettle him.
"It certainly comes in handy." Pitch finally spoke. "However... I assure you, that this is no game, Ralph." When they were far away enough, in one swift move, Pitch used the scythe to miraculously take out Ralph's legs, making the wrecker fall with a great thud as he sat up. His eyes crossed a bit when he was met with the point of the scythe just inches from his face.
"Hey, what gives, man?!" Ralph whined, holding his hands up. "You ask to go on a walk so you can trip me and-"
"Be quiet." Pitch said lowly. "Now... you're going to tell me all about your little plan to have that little brat of yours win over MY woman with her big boo-boo eyes so you can have her all to yourself!"
"Woah, hang on, what are you- oh boy, what did Vanellope do now?" Ralph rubbed his face. "I swear, that kid is going to be the 'game over' of me..."
"It would seem so. If you are truthful in not having some conspiracy against me, I'll simply tell you this. Elsa is MINE. If she chooses on her own that she does not wish to be with me, perhaps I will spare the life of the one she does choose- for her sake. If you try to take her from me forcefully... I shall destroy you in any and every manner possible. You have been warned." Pitch let up then, still holding his scythe as he walked away from him.
"Jeez... that guy needs to lighten up a little..." Ralph said to himself as he got to his feet. "I've barely even talked to her, anyway..."
Meanwhile, Jack was in the middle of speaking to Bunny, Sandy and Elsa when Alice returned, the four of them turning to face her.
"Hey..." Jack said, immediately seeing tension in Alice's features. "I was just going over the plan with Bunny and-"
"We have a new plan. You and I are going to have a little talk with the Queen." Alice interrupted, taking Jack's hand without hesitation and dragging him away from the others, who looked on in bewilderment.
"Okay, hang on- where are we- what about all of the- Alice!" Jack exclaimed, stopping when Alice whirled around, holding the rage box up to his face.
"The Queen somehow found opportunity for this to fall in a particular pair of hands... a pair of hands that I now understand belong to someone who she may intend to manipulate to her benefit because of us. Eliza found this box, this is not mere coincidence, it was purposeful. This was meant to harm her, our friends, and us. She trifles with that child, she trifles with me." Alice said, tucking the box back into her dress before resuming to storm towards the edge of the forest.
Jack stood still for several moments, shaking his head as he took in Alice's words. "W- Wait... you don't mean... you don't mean Eliza, do you?" He called after her, running to catch up with her.
"That's precisely who I mean." Alice replied without diverting her gaze.
"Oh no..." Jack breathed, understanding Alice's behavior a bit better now. "Alright, alright, um... you know... we could get there a bit faster if we fly."
Alice stopped then, smirking lightly. "Now you're talking." They gave each other a determined nod, taking each other's hand as they took to flight.
Outside the perimeter of the mountain, card guards stood at their posts, watching vigilantly for any signs of movement from the edge of the forest. One glanced over as something caught their eyes, pointing as a cluster of blue butterflies sped towards them. Alerting nearby guards, they pursued the butterflies, which began to swirl in a maddening frenzy around their heads, the guards trying to swat them and swing their weapons at them. Some hit each other with their weapons, the card guards not being the brightest minions out there.
As this happened, Jack snuck up on other card guards while the first group was distracted, shooting ice sparks at them with his staff, freezing and bringing his staff down upon them to shatter the ice into millions of pieces. When enough were taken down, the remaining card guards began to flee, Jack looking towards the cluster of butterflies.
"Alice! They're retreating!" Jack called.
The butterflies materialized, Alice wielding her vorpal blade as she whirled around, three remaining card guards moving in to attack her. She made a full circle as she swiped her blade, falling to one knee as the guards stopped short. Moments later, all three of their heads rolled onto the ground, their bodies falling limply. Alice stood to her feet, sheathing her blade.
"Good. They will tell their evil mistress we've arrived." Alice replied without a hint of worry.
Inside the mountain, the Queen was monitoring everyone's progress when she turned, noticing her card guards approaching. Chatter began to stir among the monkey minions, the Queen holding her hand up as the card guards knelt before her.
"Chimeegüi bai! Ankhaaral ni zogs!" Maharaja shouted, his minions quieting immediately and forming neat ranks in anticipation.
"What do you have to report?" The Queen asked her card guards. At their response, her eyes lit up, grinning wickedly. "I knew it would be soon... the time has come! Our enemies show themselves! All of you remain here, I require only one to bring with me." She said, tapping her chin as she glanced around.
"Your highness..." Hans asked. "I would be more than happy to join you." He volunteered.
As the Queen pondered, her gaze gravitated towards Turbo, who was cackling as he made two cybugs fight each other for his own enjoyment. She smirked lightly, glancing over at Hans momentarily. "That won't be necessary, Hans... continue to perfect your abilities." She approached Turbo then, who upon noticing the Queen walking towards him, waved his hands at the cybugs.
"Okay stop now- nono- cut it out- HOLD IT!" He shouted, the cybugs clicking as they skittered behind the hybrid racer. "Hey, Queenie, we're uh, working real hard over here, but I'll give you a few minutes since you're kind of important. What's on your mind?"
"It seems a few trespassers have arrived... I require your presence to deal with them." The Queen said.
"Oh alright, I guess I can make room in my super busy schedule here..." Turbo sighed as he followed behind the Queen.
As Turbo went off with the Queen, Hans narrowed his eyes resentfully at them before returning to his prior task of training with his fire powers.
Alice arrived at the top of the mountain with Jack as the Queen and Turbo made their way up. She held out a head from one of the decapitated card guards, the glowing light from within the mountain illuminating her face with an eerie glow.
"Queen of Hearts!" She shouted on the top of her lungs. "You and I have a score to settle!"
As the Queen came into view, Turbo trudging behind her, Alice tossed the head forward, just missing her as it tumbled down the internal slope of the mountain. The Queen regarded it for a moment before turning to look Alice in the eyes, Alice's burning into hers as Jack grit his teeth angrily.
"Indeed, my dear Alice... we do." The Queen said lowly, smirking. "But first..." She said after a brief pause. "... I would like to introduce to you a new friend of mine... this is Turbo, ruler of a land called Sugar Rush. He will be assisting me here."
"Somehow that realm doesn't seem to suit you... Turbo." Alice said bitterly. "We'll become acquainted in time, I assure you... this is about us right now." She returned her focus to the Queen, her hand shaking from anger as it clutched the handle of her vorpal blade.
"Now, have I done something to make you cross?" The Queen said with fake innocence, pouting a bit. Alice growled angrily, producing the rage box and throwing it at her feet. The Queen raised a brow, her face stretching into a grin again as she chuckled lowly. "Ah... it seems someone has found my little gift. Tell me... did your sister enjoy going on a rampage? Oh... but I almost forgot, silly me..." The Queen stepped closer, chuckling mockingly. "... you don't have a sister, do you?"
Alice was about to come back at her when Jack stepped forward. "Well, I do." He said, narrowing his eyes. "And if you even think about coming near her again, I'll-"
"You'll what? Freeze me to death?" The Queen laughed. "Did you fools honestly think you could come here and face this army all by your little selves?"
"I believe I could slice through this army in my sleep, but we came here to warn you." Alice spat. "We shall come swiftly... and if you cease your actions now, I'll consider sparing your wicked life!"
The Queen snickered at this. "Oh, your threat cuts to the quick! My very bones tremble with fear! By the way... how is my dear Pitch doing?"
Jack scoffed at this. "Just peachy... he and Elsa are living the good life."
The Queen's arrogant smile faded at this, scowling lightly. "No matter... Elsa shall be dealt with soon enough."
"Yeah right, you think that's going to make Pitch any less repulsed by you?" Jack asked.
"You headstrong little fiend! I'll teach you some manners!" The Queen shouted.
As she reared her hand back, Alice did not hesitate to wield her hobby horse, smacking the Queen's hand as it came forward so it was forced back, hitting Turbo and making him sway to keep his balance.
"Alright, no one makes someone else hit me in the face and gets away with it!" Turbo growled, charging forward. Jack's eyes widened as Alice was about to lunge at the Queen.
"Oookay, time to move!" Jack shouted, grabbing Alice's arm and hoisting her up just as Turbo snatched at them. The hybrid racer chuckled, licking his lips.
"Hey, I can fly too, suckers!" He said, his wings beating quickly as he too took to flight.
Alice struggled against Jack as they made their way back to the forest. "Jack, we are not leaving until I've at least left a mark on her-"
"Are you crazy?! Look at that thing behind us!" Jack exclaimed.
"You think you can outrun me? I'm the greatest racer ever, and don't you forget it!" Turbo shouted, his hands outstretched.
Alice whirled around, teapot kettle in hand as it steamed up. She shot one wad of tea after another at him, Turbo's eyes widening a bit as he dashed back and forth to dodge them. Growing aggravated, he sped towards them, Alice conjuring her vorpal blade to strike. Jack shot an ice blast at him, Turbo gritting his teeth as his hand iced over. Turbo shot a glare at Jack, whipping himself around in the air so he smacked his tail right into the ice guardian. Jack went flying, crying out as he fell through the tree tops, unable to regain his balance. Alice gasped, giving Turbo one last vengeful glare before soaring after him.
"Jack!" She cried out as she entered through the tree tops.
As Turbo attempted to pursue them, lightening cracked as he attempted to go near the forest, making him hesitate and back up in a quick motion to avoid the assault of electricity coming from the sky.
"Yikes! That spells 'game over!'" He cried. He never liked to run away from a challenge, but he decided that he would have to make an exception this time.
The Queen watched from the distance, having collected herself as she saw Turbo coming back towards the mountain. She chuckled lightly, nodding to herself.
"Yes... he has great potential." She said to herself.
Meanwhile, Alice's feet touched down as she looked all around her. "Jack? Jack!" She cried, furrowing her brows a bit. "Curse my negligence..." She whispered to herself, gasping when she finally spotted him. She ran to him quickly, crouching down as Jack tried to sit up.
"A- Alice... you are officially insane..." Jack groaned.
"Well, glad to see you're well enough to state the obvious..." She said, helping Jack to his feet.
"What did we accomplish by doing that?!" Jack hissed as he dusted himself off.
"We got a taste of what we're up against. Turbo, her new pet, has speed and agility on his side, but he's a hot head and he's an easy target much like the Queen is." Alice said.
"Yeah, that's why you missed every shot, right?" Jack asked.
Alice chuckled. "You don't think I was actually trying, do you?" She asked. "I wanted to see what he would do. His reflexes, his movement, his tactic."
Jack blinked, shaking his head. "You know, in a scary way, you're kind of amazing." Jack smirked a bit, wincing as he leaned on his staff. "I do need to take a break from this."
"Very well, let's get you back and cleaned up." Alice said, coiling an arm around his waist to help support him as she planted a kiss on his cheek. "Hopefully she won't trifle with our little Eliza again..." She said, her smile fading.
"Yeah..." Jack sighed. "At least now that the others know about it, they'll be more watchful."
"They had better be... or they won't like what I'll do about it." Alice replied, approaching the main area where the others were waiting.
Eliza gasped, her eyes widening as she shoved the snow globe back into the drawer, climbing onto her bed and hugging her knees. She took in a deep breath, closing her eyes tightly for a moment. She bit her lip, getting up and opening her door slowly. She pursed her lip, heading into the corridor when she saw a familiar someone waddling about. She remembered what had happened between her and Olaf while under the influence of the rage box, feeling terrible. When Olaf noticed her running down the hall, he was taken a bit off guard as she threw her arms around him, hugging him close.
"Olaf!" She cried. "I'm so sorry for what I did... I didn't mean it, I was just... I was so angry, I felt so angry at everything..."
"Aww... hey, it's okay... I heard what happened, it sounded pretty scary..." Olaf frowned. "Lucky for me, I can't feel pain!" He beamed.
"It still wasn't right... Olaf, I need you to keep another secret." Eliza said quietly.
"Okay." Olaf said.
"I've been watching Alice and Jack with a snow globe I'm keeping in my room." Eliza said. "They just had a fight with the Queen, and this big monster."
Olaf gasped. "Are they okay?"
"I think so… but Olaf, she's the reason why they haven't been paying attention to me… the others too. And she's the reason why I was so mean to you… I could have really hurt you… I don't want that. You're my best friend." Eliza frowned.
"You're my best friend too…" Olaf smiled.
"I have to do something about this. I can't just stay idle in my room all day." Eliza said. "You can't tell anyone, alright?"
"You're not going to go anywhere by yourself, are you?" Olaf asked.
"Don't worry. I'll be careful." Eliza kissed Olaf's forehead. "I'm not a little girl anymore. I have to help protect my family, like the others."
Olaf's eyes widened as Eliza turned to go back to her bedroom, grabbing her hand. "You can't go on your own!" He frowned. "I can try to help at least..."
"I can't bring you along, Olaf. I saw the mountain, there's a lot of fire there and I don't want to risk you melting. Just remember you can't tell anyone." Eliza said.
"But what if you get hurt?" Olaf asked.
"I won't. I found this around the castle." Eliza said, glancing around for a moment before taking out a small dagger. "I can use it to protect myself like Alice does with hers. I can also run really fast."
"Okay... I'll wait for you to come back." Olaf said, the two sharing one more hug. They heard footsteps coming down the hall, Eliza quickly concealing the blade.
"Alright Eliza, it's getting late. Time to get some sleep, you need to rest." Anna said. Eliza hugged Anna tightly then, making her blink before smiling. "I'm glad you're feeling alright."
"Me too..." Eliza smiled lightly. "I'm sorry I've been acting badly..."
"It's okay... just remember that we're here for you, and Alice and Jack are doing all they can to protect you." Anna said, kissing Eliza's forehead once she escorted her to bed. When she gently closed her door, Eliza cracked an eye open, tip toeing to the door to press an ear against it, making sure no one was outside her room or approaching.
"Well, I'm going to protect Jack and Alice, too." Eliza whispered to herself, taking out the dagger. She grabbed a small satchel, packing a few things in it to take with her on her journey. She finally took out the snow globe from her drawer, taking a deep breath as she held it up. "... Take me to the Queen." She said to it quietly before casting it down, biting her lip as she entered the portal with cautious determination.