Obstacles With Preparations
Alice stood, her eyes scanning upon the others. "Ralph." She started. "We're a bit unfamiliar with your fighting style... so we need to see what you're capable of."
"Uh... really?" Ralph raised a brow, holding up his fists.
"Looks tell me nothing. Action says it all. Just because you have the power doesn't mean you know how to utilize it properly. We need to have someone for you to demonstrate on..." Alice replied.
"I'll volunteer." Pitch said, rising and taking a step forward. "I too, am curious to see what Ralph has to contribute to our cause."
Bunny snickered, lightly elbowing Ralph and nodding towards Pitch. Elsa gave Pitch a flat look, but he ignored it as he and Ralph gravitated towards a small, but clear area just outside of the encampment, the others following. Sandy tapped Bunny's shoulder, nodding towards them with a question mark above his head. Bunny whispered to him what was going on, Sandy's eyes widening as he raised his brows.
Jack crouched down next to Alice as she sat herself on a flat rock, Vanellope hopping around and fist pumping the air. "Go Ralph!" She exclaimed. Elsa groaned lightly, looking up at them as she held her head in her hand.
"Please try not to kill each other..." Alice said, noticing the visible tension between the two. "This is just... a demonstration."
"Oh, I'll demonstrate, alright..." Pitch smirked, whisking his hand as he conjured his scythe and a small group of Nightmares, the dark equines scratching their hooves on the ground and snorting threateningly. Ralph gritted his teeth, clenching his fists.
"You think some creepy horses are going to scare me? I wreck buildings for a living, pal!" Ralph exclaimed.
"Oh, I'll have to change that." Pitch said, snapping his fingers, his Nightmares charging forward.
Ralph growled lowly in response, rearing his fists back to strike. One by one, he turned the Nightmares into black sand that dissipated into the air, soon leaving just the two remaining once more. Vanellope cheered her friend on, beaming as she punched the air.
"Ooo, that was real tough!" Ralph waved his fingers at him.
"That was just an introduction." Pitch grimaced darkly. "You may have great strength... but let's see how quick you can move on those oversized feet of yours!" He then reared his hands back, shooting several bursts of black sand at Ralph in quick succession.
Ralph's eyes widened, crying out as he bounced on his feet, standing up straight and ducking comically to avoid Pitch's attacks. When one was going straight for him, Ralph panicked as he yanked a huge rock out of the ground, using it to block the sand burst. He cracked an eye open, sighing with relief as he lowered the rock. As soon as he did so however, Pitch was right there, grunting as he reared his scythe back. Ralph cried out in surprise, barely ducking in time as Pitch made the return swing. He tossed the rock towards Pitch, who burst into black sand and reappeared a few feet to the side. He shot three bursts towards Ralph, who did not move quickly enough as they all hit his stomach, knocking him back a bit. As Pitch was about to bring his scythe down upon him, Ralph grunted as he landed a heavy strike, Pitch crying out in surprise as he flew back, smacking into a tree and sinking to the ground. His scythe embedded into the tree next to him, the Nightmare King groaning as he slowly got to his feet.
"Yeah! Ralph's the man!" Vanellope cheered.
Ralph smiled triumphantly at first, but cleared his throat when he noticed Elsa go over to help support him. Ralph decided to be the bigger person, going up to him and offer his hand. "Good fight, huh?"
"Oh, bite me!" Pitch snapped, Elsa shooting him a look.
"Pitch, stop being so hostile to him!" She said in a hissed whisper.
"Why?! Look at them!" Pitch waved his hand at Ralph and Vanellope. "She's a manipulative little brat, and he's a hormonally driven simpleton! By rights they both belong in a freak show attraction!"
Elsa glared at him, shaking her head. "They are in danger and have dealt with misfortune just like we have. How could you criticize them just because they're different? We suffered the same treatment and you have the audacity to turn around and do the same to someone else!"
Jack stepped in then, waving his hands downward. "Oookay guys, let's just try to calm down and-"
"I am NOT going to let that mountain troll come between us!" Pitch shouted.
"So you think I'm just going to up and leave you? Don't you trust me at all?" Elsa asked.
"It's not you I don't trust, it's THEM I don't trust!" Pitch snapped.
"Well THEY are on the same side as we are, so you're just going to have to learn to tolerate them! I don't want to hear another word of this!" Elsa said, turning around and storming off.
Pitch growled lowly, shaking his head. Vanellope whistled mockingly as she raised her brows, Pitch whirling around and hissing at her before he too stormed off.
"Crikey..." Bunny chuckled quietly. "... don't you think they should be saving this pent up anger for the Queen?"
Alice rolled her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose. "All of this drama is making my head spin!"
Emily sighed, floating forth. "My father is only ever concerned with what he desires. He cares for no one else unless it conveniences him. The sooner you destroy your enemies, the sooner you may all be rid of him... and if the mortal queen knows what is good for her, she shall do the same."
"Tell me about it..." Bunny rolled his eyes. "I'm sick of just sitting around here!"
"Fantastic, because we're going to launch an attack in the morning." Alice said. "I've had about enough of all this nonsense."
Evening was falling, everyone preparing to rest up for the night. Alice smiled lightly when she felt a pair of cold hands gently massaging her shoulders.
"I still can't get over how freezing cold fingers don't bother you." Jack smiled as Alice leaned back against him a bit.
"Well as you know, I'm not a fan of fire. I'd take your hands over anything." She smiled back, glancing back at him briefly. "Unfortunately not even your fingers can completely soothe me as long as the Queen is still alive."
Jack sighed, leaning forward to kiss her cheek. "We'll get her, Alice. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the next day... but we will."
"I don't want this to cost anyone their life, Jack... the Queen knows how resilient we are, and she is going to try to be equally as so." Alice said.
"We'll be okay. We made it last time, we'll do it this time, too." He hugged her close, resting his head on her shoulder as she closed her eyes.
Vanellope was pouting, having tried to see Elsa but Pitch had intercepted, shooing her away. She was muttering to herself angrily, plopping down and resting her head in her hands. She perked up when she noticed a glowing light, tilting her head when Sandy approached her.
"Hey, you're that guy who talks with pictures." Vanellope said.
Sandy smiled, nodding and giving her thumbs up. He noticed she was down about something, tilting his head as a question mark appeared over his head.
"I don't know which is worse..." Vanellope sighed. "... being at home where everyone hates you and you have to stay cooped up in some mountain and hide like a hobo, or being out here where some big meanie keeps you from saying goodnight to the one friend in the universe I have who's a girl... I mean, I like Ralph and everything... but I feel like girls understand some stuff better."
Sandy rolled his eyes playfully at that, before waving his hand to show he was joking around. He then formed a picture of Pitch's head next to another question mark.
"Yeah... he's even worse than King Candy... Turbo... whoever he is." Vanellope grumbled.
Sandy sighed inaudibly, forming more pictures to show that Pitch had been evil for a long time; that it would be hard for him to change how he treated others overnight... if he ever DID change.
"How does Elsa even deal with him? I mean, Ralph is no prince charming and all, but at least he's not a jerk..." Vanellope rested her head in her hand. "It's all fine and well he even HAS a family to hog. Ralph is the only family I have." She said sadly.
Sandy frowned, floating over to sit next to her. He pointed to himself, before patting her shoulder. He then asked her through pictures what her greatest dream is.
"I want to be a champion kart racer!" Vanellope beamed, but frowned a moment later. "It'll never happen though... I don't even have a kart anymore..."
Sandy thought for a moment, a light bulb appearing over his head. He whisked his hand, Vanellope gasping when a sand kart appeared before her, Sandy raising his brows and nodding.
"Wow! It's like the real thing!" Vanellope hopped up, jumping inside and sitting down. Sandy chuckled inaudibly, whisking his hand again as the sand kart began to float, flying around and through the nearby trees. Vanellope laughed and cheered, turning the sand wheel as she soared. "Man, I WISH karts could fly!"
Ralph heard the commotion, coming out of his resting place to see Sandy and Vanellope. He blinked, smiling gently as he approached them, nodding lightly at Sandy when he waved.
"That's what this kid needs... a chance to actually BE a kid." Ralph smiled gently.
As Vanellope flew around, Sandy slowly waving his hand to make the sand car move, he smiled and nodded at Ralph, trying to look into his mind for a moment. He then briefly whisked his other hand, a burst of sand swirling into the air above Ralph's head as the wrecker glanced up curiously. His eyes lit up when it formed a shape, lowering down to rest around his neck.
"Wow! My own medal!" Ralph exclaimed, beaming. "Thanks, Sandy!"
Sandy gave Ralph a thumbs up, chuckling inaudibly.
Meanwhile, from afar, Emily was seated on a tree branch, watching the activity. She smirked ever so slightly, shaking her head at Sandy's antics. She would never fully understand him, she deduced, but he was one of her oldest and best friends, through and through. She was distracted when she heard a sound, one of her leaf shaped ears flickering lightly as she glanced behind her. In the moonlight, Bunny approached, smiling at her lightly as he gave a small wave. Emily raised a brow, rising from the tree branch to float down, her feet touching down gracefully.
"Is there something you require of me?" Emily asked.
"N- No, no..." Bunny waved his hand at her. "Just... taking an evening stroll, stretching out my tail muscles..."
Emily tilted her head. "You seem to like to take these... 'evening strolls' often. Is there really so little I know of you? I suppose my isolation has left me quite ignorant to your nature, Bunnymund." She floated past him, kneeling down to tend to her moon flowers once again. "I am not particularly fond of the man in the moon..." Emily started to say. "... I do not always understand his ways, for he is very mysterious. But I respect the truth that he possesses greater power than all of us... he has great influence over our lives, he governs us all. This is a reminder to him each night of my acknowledgement of this."
Bunny approached her, crouching down a bit. "You know... the way you handled things... with Vanellope... I'm um... proud of you. I know that took a lot."
Emily glanced over at him, surprised by this statement. "I suppose I am left with little choice but to compromise until this all passes." She replied.
Bunny sighed lightly. "Look, Em... I don't know a whole lot about you either... maybe that's the problem. You can't trust someone unless you really get to know them."
"And what if I do not trust who I come to know?" Emily asked, her fingers producing droplets of water as they seemed to dance over the moon flowers.
"That's what life is. It's... full of disappointment and pain, at times... but you have to hold out hope that things will get better... that there are good times ahead." Bunny said.
"What do you hope for, Bunnymund?" Emily asked. "I ask because I am beginning to see that perhaps you are worth my interest. You and the other guardians seem to have so much to dispel the darkness within your hearts... and even when you have lost, you somehow still prevail over it. My father... somehow could not do the same. Perhaps he was always meant to fall. Even now... he still holds so much of it... am I destined to follow the same path? Is neutrality, a middle road where I don't have to choose between light and dark, truly impossible? Is the test inevitable?"
Bunny watched her as she stood, floating over to her throne within the shallow pool of water. He stood beside her, taking a moment to answer. "Of course I hope to always bring joy to children... it's what I was chosen to do."
"But it was not your choice. Therefore, it is not your hope alone." Emily replied. "I do not wish to have my actions chosen by another. Yes, the man in the moon influences my actions, he guides me, but in the end, I decide my own destiny."
"Sometimes, we don't always control what happens to us." Bunny said.
Emily glanced at him then before turning to resume looking into the water. "Then perhaps... if that is to happen to me... that is when the test shall present itself, and I must choose a new path to travel upon."
Emily held a hand over the water, allowing a single drop to fall from the tip of her finger. It landed into the pool below, creating a ripple that spread outward. The pool glowed, Emily narrowing her eyes a bit as the water's glow slowly transitioned to a crimson hue. "Though they cannot physically penetrate my borders... their eyes can... hers can."
Bunny raised a puzzled brow. "What are you talking about...?"
"They are watching us." Emily glared into the pool before looking at Bunny. "This... Queen... she is anticipating retaliation from you and your collective. Be wary, Bunnymund... for I can see clearly she has great ambition. This ambition is for your blood to be spilled upon her hands."
Bunny's eyes widened a bit, nodding. "Yeah, that sounds like her alright." He said quietly, glancing over at the pool to see a pair of green and red swirled eyes appear, spinning in a dizzying frenzy as their next confrontation loomed upon them.
The Queen narrowed her eyes, standing up straight as she looked down into a pool of blood at her feet. She waved a hand over it, absorbing the blood back into herself before exhaling slowly. "They will launch an attack against us tomorrow." She said, turning to look upon her four allies; Turbo, Hans, the Phoenix and Maharaja.
"Did you not promise the human child you would withhold your forces? How are we to defend ourselves?" The Phoenix asked.
"I did... however, that does not speak for a situation in which they come to confront us. Defense is not offense... the child is far too young to understand this play on words." The Queen said.
"Khüükhed ööriin sadan törliin khokhirch üzvel, ter ni ersdeltei baikh bolno... kheleltseert tany tögsgöld ankhdagch gej avch bolno." Maharaja said.
"The mind of a child is malleable; as is her heart. All you must do is guide her in another direction... if you can conjure a sound explanation, twist the words in such a way where you can place a veil of truth upon a lie... you succeed in manipulation. Let me ask you this... why do you think the child came to us?" The Queen asked.
"Who cares?" Turbo asked, yawning into a clawed hand. "I just want to get out there and tear that glitch a new one already."
The Queen raised a brow at him, looking to the others for an answer.
"Because... she wants to protect those she loves." Hans answered.
"Ah... it goes deeper than that, Hans... venture past the surface..." The Queen said. When no others spoke, she smirked lightly. "It is because she desires someone to protect. She wants her own place in this world; yes, she is a child, but a growing child... she is beginning to understand her own capabilities, and discovering her potential. Her mind and heart are fresh, ready to be filled. If there are none to fill it, a child fills their own mind and heart... unless someone else wishes to do so."
"What are you implying?" Hans asked.
The Queen pondered for a moment. "The child shall come tonight, after the confrontation with Alice has ended. We shall tidy up the mountain to make her feel welcome, and I shall slowly but surely gain her trust and take her under my wing. She shall come to learn that my methods are far more desirable."
"You honestly think you're going to make some snot-nosed brat listen to you? I was surrounded with the annoying little things for over ten years, toots, they don't listen for a second if your trophy depended on it." Turbo commented.
The Queen's facial muscles tightened a bit, forcing a smile. "Well then, Turbo..." She began tensely. "... you shall come to learn that it is in my nature..." She approached him, grabbing him by his circular disc-shaped neck, dragging his head down so he was face to face with her as she smirked darkly. "... that I am very, very, persuasive." She released him then, turning to stride in the opposite direction, waving her hand. "Make preparations for Alice's arrival, remember the plan we discussed!"
Turbo winced, rubbing his neck a bit. "Man... I have to teach that lady to loosen up a little... always so serious..." He looked around as Hans and Maharaja went along their own way, doing a double take when the Phoenix stared at him ominously. "Hey... bud, try blinking a little, would you?"
"You see this all as amusement. Remember you are within MY mountain. You will either assist in destroying the forest nymph, or you shall perish with her. My patience is wearing thin." The Phoenix said.
"Hey, come on, I'm a social guy! We're all stuck here in some big mountain, let's just sit back, relax, have a chocolate shake together and-"
"I am not allowing intruders into MY mountain to 'make friends!'" The Phoenix shouted, igniting brighter as he loomed over Turbo, growing in size. "You shall destroy the forest nymph, and then you shall all be dismissed from me as I overtake the land!" He whirled around, diminishing deeper into the mountain to prepare for the morning.
Turbo curled his lip, raising a brow. "Jeez, looks like everyone has a stick shift stuck up their cabooses... alright; pipsqueak, gears, Turbo Jr. and Rosie, get over here and help me do this stuff or whatever..."
Four cybugs emerged from their small enclosures, skittering along as they followed Turbo to do the Queen's bidding.
The sun rose with the swift arrival of the morning, fresh dew dotting the trees and patches of lower growth as the early-risers began to awaken. Elsa was one of the first, stretching her arms as she rose to her feet. She ventured out, picking some apples and using a knife to cut them. She conjured an ice spike, breaking off the pointy tip to mash the fruit into apple sauce with a consistent texture, taking some cinnamon sticks out of a small satchel as she began to cut them into smaller pieces to crumble and sprinkle into the bowl. As she was cutting them however, she hissed lightly as she accidentally cut her finger, crimson blood beginning to emerge.
Ralph had awoken, scratching his back as he blinked the sleepiness out of his eyes. When he heard someone whimper quietly, he glanced around, spotting Elsa sitting on a rock, her back facing him. Ralph tilted his head, approaching her.
"Hey, what'cha doing? O- Oh! Your uh... your finger is bleeding..." Ralph pointed.
"Yes, I know..." Elsa replied, biting her lip a bit. "I don't have anything to properly bandage it with..."
Ralph glanced around, trying to find something. He then looked down, noticing one of the many tears in his worn out overalls. He tore off a small piece, crouching down. "Here, I'm not the best at fixing things, that's my, uh, friend's specialty... I can try though..."
Elsa watched him curiously as Ralph tried to fumble the small piece of cloth, his fingers too large to wrap it around Elsa's slender finger. After becoming frustrated with himself, he stopped when Elsa placed her other hand on his, smiling gratuitously. "It's alright, Ralph. I'll take care of it from here."
Ralph stood completely still, her hand brushing against his as she gently took the cloth from him. She wrapped it around her finger, taking some twine out of her satchel to secure it. Ralph coughed a bit into his hand, smiling crookedly. "Well, uh... that worked out, huh?"
"Yes." Elsa smiled, exhaling lightly. "Thank you for your help."
Ralph was about to say something in response when he felt a sharp jabbing against his back, wincing a bit as he turned to see Pitch standing there, grimacing at him.
"Good morning." Pitch sneered. "It seems that you both weren't the only ones awake before I was." He bent down, showing remnants of green frosting in his hair. Ralph's eyes widened as he snickered, covering his mouth as he stifled a laugh. Elsa raised a brow, trying not to smile as she cleared her throat, approaching Pitch.
"Now Pitch... you saw yesterday how Emily worked out her differences with her... can't you do the same?" Elsa asked.
"... Elsa, the child is a pathological liar, a con artist and a mischievous prankster all in one, you expect me to actually REASON with her?!" Pitch exclaimed. "This is insanity!"
"Hey, watch what you say about Vanellope." Ralph warned.
Elsa rolled her eyes. "Fine. You have until we leave for the mountain to get on civil terms with Vanellope. If not, you can help your daughter babysit her. I will forbid you from coming with us."
"I- wha- Elsa!" Pitch exclaimed. "This is not festival we're participating in here, you're going to leave me here and possibly add MORE risk to your life simply because of a petty conflict I'm having!"
"That's exactly what it is, Pitch, it's petty. She's a wonderful little girl and if you got to know her, you would see that." Elsa handed him the bowl she had been holding. "Now enjoy a healthy morning breakfast with her and settle your differences. If you care about my life that much, you'll make an effort to succeed." She turned to take her leave then, leaving both Pitch and Ralph dumbfounded. Ralph raised his brows, smiling a bit.
"You know, Elsa is a really awesome lady-"
"Say one more word and I will see to it that every time you close your eyes from this day forward, it is a living hell for you." Pitch snapped before whirling around, grumbling as he headed to where Vanellope was.
The raven-haired girl chuckled to herself, smirking as she hid a small pack of frosting in a small corner. She turned around to head out, jumping back a bit when Pitch was standing over her.
"Hey! Don't you know how to not sneak up on somebody?!" Vanellope shouted.
"I'm not in the mood for your back lash today; we seem to have come to a crossroads and it's time we settle this feud between us." Pitch said, taking a seat near her.
Vanellope blinked, raising a brow as she smirked. "You got in trouble with Elsa, didn't you?"
"I- I did not! I have a mind of my own!" Pitch exclaimed. "I figured that being I'm stuck with you, I should try to figure out SOME way to tolerate you otherwise I may very well KILL you."
"Ohhh no, you're not gonna fool me, buster." Vanellope rested her arm on her knee, shaking her finger at him with her other hand. "I see what game you're playing... make your pretty girlfriend happy by making up with me and being mister nice guy." She leaned back a bit, Pitch staring at her with a dumbfounded expression. "Tell ya what. If I get something out of this, then I'll play along."
Pitch forced a laugh. "Here I am, the king of nightmares, making a bargain with some... some street rat!" He threw up his hands.
"You gonna play along or not?" Vanellope asked. "If not, I could just tell Elsa that Ralph's available when she breaks up with you!"
"If you suggest that notion one more time, I'll-..." Pitch clenched his fist, gritting his teeth as he growled lowly. "Fine... what would you like to receive in exchange for your efforts... miss VonSchweetz?"
Vanellope grinned to herself, resting her head in her hands and kicking her feet lightly as she thought. "First of all, you can call me 'champion racer Vanellope' from now on."
"Oh for the love of darkness..." Pitch groaned. "Very well." He waved his hand. "Now, let's discuss-"
"I'm not finished yet! I'm gonna squeeze every drop of monkey's milk I can out of this..." Vanellope interrupted.
Pitch blinked, letting himself fall back so he was staring at the ceiling of the small shelter. "You have got to be joking..."
"... let's see... I want my own kart, being mine was left with that 'mean Queen' everyone around here is always yakking about." Vanellope said.
"And where do you expect me to find such a thing in the middle of a FOREST?!" Pitch exclaimed as he sat up.
Vanellope shrugged in response. "I don't know, that's your problem. Oh! And one more thing- and he better thank me for this- you have to let Ralph be friends with Elsa." She smirked, crossing her arms.
"Why, you- that is out of the question!" Pitch freaked out.
Vanellope shrugged once more. "Fine, have it your way. Elsaaaaa!" She whined, making her bottom lip tremble as she began to act like she was crying.
"Will you- stop that- be silent this instant or- alright, fine! FINE! Your requests are granted, you little brat!" Pitch stuttered.
"Ap ap ap! I'm sorry, I don't think that's the name we agreed on calling me, mister Boogerman..." Vanellope smirked, cupping her ear and leaning in closer.
Pitch glared darkly at her, his spine tensing. "Oh, when my Nightmares get their hooves on you..." He muttered. "... very well, 'champion racer Vanellope...'" Pitch said as he made air quotes with his hands.
"Aww, now was that so hard? And I'll be nice and postpone you making me a kart until after you get back from fighting those bad guys... if you make it back in one piece, that is!" Vanellope chuckled, hopping off her seat as she walked past him. "It's been a nice chat, Boogerman!"
Pitch was boiling with anger, growling as he ran his hands down his face. He grabbed a spoon, grumbling as he ate his apple sauce with frustration.
Meanwhile, everyone else was now awake, Alice approaching Jack. "I need you to gather everyone here. Make sure they're ready so we can set off."
"Okay." Jack replied, nodding as he briefly took account of who was already gathered. He noticed Pitch was not present, stopping when Vanellope was passing his way. "Hey, Vanellope." He smiled, crouching down to give her a fist bump.
"Ready to fry some bad guys?" Vanellope beamed.
"Well, I'll be freezing them, not frying them." Jack chuckled. "Maybe we can have another snowball fight when we all get back."
"Yeah!" Vanellope frowned a bit then. "You'll be okay, right?"
"Don't worry about me. Just hang out here while we're gone, okay?" Jack glanced around a bit. "Have you seen Pitch?"
Vanellope burst into laughter then. "He's in mine and Ralph's little hut thingie over there..." She continued along her way, still laughing as Jack raised a brow, smirking a bit.
"Oh boy..." He said to himself, making his way to Ralph's shelter. He poked his head in, seeing Pitch place down a bowl and cross his arms angrily. Trying to stifle a laugh, he headed inside. "Hey, Pitch?"
"What do you want? I've been bothered enough for one morning!" Pitch snapped.
"Well, you're about to get bothered a lot more because Alice wants everyone to get ready to go to the mountain." Jack said. "She's feeling pretty antsy so I wouldn't keep her waiting."
"Oh, lucky me..." Pitch rolled his eyes, sighing as he rose to his feet. "You know Jack, if I had a list of impossible things I would have bet my life on to never happen, fighting alongside you would have been quite close to the top of the list." He said as he and Jack headed towards the rest of the group.
"What would have been number one?" Jack asked, smirking.
Pitch took a few moments to answer, narrowing his eyes as he saw Elsa and Ralph speaking to each other a short distance away. "... potentially losing my mate to the incredible Hulk. That's a clear winner."
Jack tried to hold back a laugh, Pitch shooting him a glare as he was not very successful. They finally reached the others, Alice rolling her eyes.
"You lot are slower than an elderly snail! We'll travel by faster methods to the edge of the forest; from there, we shall move by foot." Alice said.
As Alice, Jack, and Sandy levitated off the ground, Ralph held up his hand. "Uh, guys? Um... Bunny, Elsa and I can't fly like you guys can, so is there a way we can hitch a ride or-"
Pitch conjured a Nightmare, helping Elsa onto it before mounting the equine, seating himself behind her. "As you can see, Elsa is accounted for, so you'll just have to meet us there." Pitch smirked arrogantly.
"Pitch, don't be ridiculous..." Alice sighed.
"Don't worry about me, mates…" Bunny tapped his foot, a hole forming in the spot. "I've got myself covered."
Sandy perked up then, whirling his hand to make a sand airplane big enough to fit the two of them. He gave Ralph a nod, motioning to the plane before hopping on, conjuring safety goggles to lower onto his face.
"You're the best, Sandy." Ralph smiled, about to board when someone called out his name. He turned, his expression softening when he saw Vanellope glitching towards him, hopping up to hug his leg.
"Ralph, be careful, okay?" Vanellope said, frowning.
Ralph crouched down to hug the child, smiling lightly. "Hey, come on, look at me. You think anyone or anything is going to get past these?" He held up his fists. "They should be scared of me, not the other way around. I promise, I'll be back before you know it, kiddo."
Vanellope nodded, smiling lightly. Ralph could still see a hint of worry in her expression, glancing around at the rest of the group as they gave her a wave. Emily floated up to them, Vanellope glancing back at her as the forest nymph placed a hand on her shoulder.
"You must let them go, child." Emily said. "Allow them to do what must be done. You cannot be weak as they venture into uncertain battle, only those who endure are worthy of their company."
Vanellope reluctantly took a step back, allowing Ralph to board Sandy's plane and seat himself. He waved at her, giving her an assuring smile as they all took to flight. When they left, Vanellope glanced up at Emily, kicking her foot in the dirt lightly.
"Do you have any candy apples around here?" Vanellope asked, Emily raising a brow warily at her before floating over to a blossom tree to tend to it.