The Kingdoms of Fallen Stars

Battles Progressing Unexpectedly

The group reached the edge of the forest, Pitch dismounting off his Nightmare before taking Elsa's hand, helping her down before kissing her hand lovingly. He shot Ralph a side glance as he did so, smirking as the wrecker rolled his eyes in annoyance.

"All of you, keep your eyes peeled. We won't know exactly what we're up against until we meet them head on." Alice instructed, unsheathing her vorpal blade as they ventured forth towards the mountain. As they did so, Ralph and Pitch glared at each other, Ralph cracking his knuckles.

"Hey, Pitch... you like games?" Ralph asked.

"Not particularly... though I'm curious as to why you ask." Pitch replied.

"Okay, I'll tell you what. I bet that I can defeat more bad guys than you can. Oh, and when we get to the boss level, I'm the one who's going to get the final medal." Ralph crossed his arms. "Think you can beat that?"

Pitch's eye twitched for a moment. "This isn't a video game, you moronic imbecile!" He was stopped when Alice had stopped right in front of him, poking her knife at his chest.

"If you blow our cover because you cannot control the volume of your voice, I will make sure you pay the price." She turned around, Jack tugging on the collar of his hoodie as they continued along the incline. Elsa sighed, rubbing her temples with her hands as she continued along.

Once they reached the top of the incline, the other side beginning the downward slope of the mountain's concaved interior, Alice motioned everyone to crouch down as they peeked over the edge to peer inside.

"Where are they...?" Alice breathed, narrowing her eyes warily as her hair blew lightly in a breeze.

"Now I know there was a lot more action going on in there the last time we were here." Jack said.

Elsa furrowed her brows, glancing towards the others. "Maybe they left... they could have seen us coming here."

"That's impossible. They couldn't just move out several armies of their size out this quickly. Something suspicious is going on here." Pitch said.

"Well, what are we waiting for, let's see if anyone stuck around!" Ralph exclaimed, about to hop over but Jack nudged his arm.

"Hang on, don't just go jumping into this without checking first. We should all go in together, stick close." Jack said.

Alice gave him a nod, motioning everyone to go forward, but remain vigilant and not to stray too far from the group. Their eyes darted everywhere; Sandy formed a couple of his sand ropes, Pitch conjured his scythe, Jack held onto his staff. They watched for any signs of movement, surprised when they had reached the center of the mountain without having seen a single individual present.

"Well, this is pretty boring..." Ralph commented.

Alice stomped her foot in frustration. "That bloody Queen! Heaven forbid she actually showed herself so I may have the opportunity to tear her to shreds!"

"Look Alice, Elsa may have had a point; what if they knew we were coming and they went somewhere else? What if they try to attack Emily?" Jack asked.

"That would be impossible. They cannot pass into Emily's forest, her defenses are too strong." Pitch replied.

Sandy was focused on something, narrowing his eyes as his feet touched down onto the ground to inspect something. He pressed his ear flat against the ground, furrowing his brows lightly.

Elsa was the first to notice, approaching the dream guardian. "Sandy, what are you doing?"

Sandy held up a finger to tell Elsa to wait one moment. After about a minute, he floated up, waving his hands at the others to try and get their attention. When they continued discussing the possible whereabouts of their enemies, Sandy rolled his eyes, communicating with Alice telepathically. Jack blinked when he noticed Alice stop in the middle of a sentence, slowly turning to glance at Sandy. When they both looked upward towards the top of the slope, what Sandy had been looking into was finally revealed, making Alice gasp. "Everyone, get to higher ground!" Alice shouted.

Everyone looked around with surprise, gasping as they suddenly heard the Phoenix's screech echo throughout the mountain. From the top of the slope, the firebird, in lava form, began to pour in at accelerated speeds, threatening to burn the group to a crisp once it reached them and pool at the center.

"Oh great, this is going to be Diet Cola mountain all over again!" Ralph groaned.

"Well you wanted action, you've got it!" Pitch shouted, scooping Elsa up and levitating in the air. Sandy whisked his hand, forming a sand cloud underneath Ralph to get him off the ground.

As the lava filled the mountain, higher and higher from below, the group gasped as all around them, playing cards began to swirl and descend upon them from around the mountain, card guards standing upon them as they wielded their spears. They hissed as they swooped down, Alice whipping out her pepper grinder and trying to shoot some of them down, Jack shooting ice sparks at them and staying close to her. Pitch whisked his hand, conjuring a Nightmare for Elsa to remain seated on as she sent ice blasts towards the card guards. Pitch shot bursts of black sand, Sandy using his sand ropes to send card guards flying into each other and into the lava below. As they were doing this, a portion of the lava began to rise, the Phoenix's head beginning to tower above Jack and Alice behind them, unknowingly separating them from the rest of the group.

"Alice!" Ralph shouted from the back of the Phoenix's head, its cry causing Alice and Jack to whirl around in surprise.

"Get behind me!" Jack shouted, gritting his teeth as he shot ice sparks towards it. He was able to freeze small portions of it, but the ice would just melt as more of its fire and lava washed down upon it. Alice's back was to Jack's, still trying to take down card guards. As the Phoenix opened his mouth wide to devour them both in boiling hot magma and flames, its head shook as something seemed to impact it from behind. It screeched, turning slowly as it narrowed its eyes. Elsa was there, still mounted on the Nightmare as she extended her hands. She gritted her teeth as she shot a continuous ice blast, biting her lip as the rate of her ice forming began to exceed the rate of the Phoenix producing more of its magma.

"Take me around it!" Elsa shouted to the Nightmare, the horse neighing as it galloped on the air around the gargantuan sized creature.

Jack pumped his fist into the air, smiling. "Yes, go Elsa!" He shouted, turning to assist Alice with the card guard army.

"Man, I need to actually GET somewhere!" Ralph exclaimed, looking all around him. When he spotted a card guard coming right towards him, he readied himself, rearing his fist back and knocking the card guard right into the lava below. At the same time, he managed to hop onto the flying card, waving his arms and crying out in surprise as he tried to regain his balance. "Woah… sweet!" He chuckled as he narrowed his eyes in determination. "This is what I'm talking about!"

When nearly all the card guards were taken down, and Elsa took in a deep breath as she managed to freeze a large portion of the part of the Phoenix emerging above the leveled lava, she held onto the Nightmare, the action having taken a lot out of her.

"Elsa, are you alright?" Pitch asked as he caught up with her, remaining close.

"Yes… I need a moment to rest…" Elsa said.

"You were brilliant." Pitch smiled, sneaking in a kiss and earning a smile in return. Just then however, a distant sound made Pitch turn, scanning the horizon. "I hear something!"

"So do I!" Alice shouted, keeping vigilant. "Where in the bloody hell is Bunny?" She asked, irritated.

"I have no idea, I thought he was right behind us, come to think of it… I swear, if he bailed on us I am going to freeze him solid." Jack replied.

Suddenly, upon the edge of the mountain, just before the slope dipped down to the inside, Maharaja emerged with his army, forming a ring around the group.

"Pitch Black! Bi kheden zuuny tursh yavj baina, ta nar odoo asran khamgaalagchid temtsekh ni songokh ve?" Maharaja shouted.

Pitch curled his lip a bit. "Trust me, fighting alongside the guardians is the last thing I expected to do… but it seems we both share a common enemy in the Queen!"

Maharaja laughed. "Bi tüüntei khamt ünench kheveer ilüü ter tand zuun jiliin ömnö yarij chadakhgüi züil khuuchin naiz ... biyelüülj chadakh uu gej ... nadad Toothiana darga amlasan."

At the mention of Tooth, Sandy's eyes widened in anger, clenching his teeth.

Pitch shrugged. "Well then… I do hope that you don't take it personally when I help to take down your army."

The Monkey King's smile melted into a grimace, growling lowly. "Daraa ni ta ööriin songolt, Pitch Black... tsergüüd khiisen! Todorkhoi!"

"Hey… those are the guys who tried to kidnap Vanellope when I first came here!" Ralph shouted.

The group readied themselves as the monkey minions set up their bows and arrows, Maharaja holding up his hand as they waited for his command to shoot.

"Zorilgotoi av!" Maharaja shouted, all of the minions pulling back on their drawstrings.

"You may all want to wait, but I'm not a patient woman!" Alice shouted, gritting her teeth as she readied her pepper grinder, unleashing a series of scalding pepper corns at the minions, knocking a few down right off the bat as they tumbled down the outer wall of the mountain.

Maharaja whipped his head towards Alice's direction, crying out angrily. "Galyn! Khünii okhin ni galyn!"

The minions cried out, all shooting their arrows towards Alice. Jack cried out, forced to hesitate to avoid being hit in the assault of arrows himself. Alice gritted her teeth, ceasing her attack to burst into butterflies, scrambling to dodge the dozens of arrows flying through the air straight for her. She reverted back to herself when she was flown back into the frozen Phoenix head, hissing as an arrow had embedded into her shoulder.

"Alice!" Jack cried, flying towards her to shoot ice sparks at the minion army below them as they began to set up more arrows.

Elsa gasped as she realized the impact of Alice hitting the Phoenix's head made the ice begin to crack, steaming vapor rising from the growing cracks. She bit her lip, having regained some of her strength as she extended her hands, trying to keep the Phoenix incapacitated. As she did this, Pitch kept her covered, shooting bursts of sand at Maharaja's army.

Ralph was about to dive down to one side of the army to attack, when a distant, but unpleasantly familiar sound reached his ears, his eyes widening. "Uh, guys? We've got company!"

Sandy turned as he finished knocking out a few more minions, gasping inaudibly as all around them, the eerie glow of a horde of cybugs, led by Turbo, began to close in upon the mountain as they approached from all directions. Alice's expression darkened when she noticed that Turbo was not alone.

On his back, the Queen was seated, her eyes hungry for satisfaction as she grinned wickedly.

"Now, Jack." Alice breathed.

"Now what?" Jack asked.

"Now… this confrontation is truly beginning." Alice answered, her right hand reaching over to the arrow sticking out of her left shoulder, wincing lightly as she yanked it out, discarding it to the side.

Pitch hissed as an arrow just barely grazed him, growling as his patience for Maharaja's army was wearing thin. However, in the next moment, this would not even be a thought.

Hans, who was using his own flying card to travel by, smirked darkly when he saw that Pitch was distracted by the minions, Elsa not far behind him but not paying attention as she tried to keep the Phoenix from breaking free from her encasement of ice. He dove down, his speed accelerating. By the time Elsa saw him coming straight for her, it was too late. The Nightmare attempted to flee, but Hans shot a burst a flame, dissipating the Nightmare into black sand. Elsa gasped with horror as she felt herself falling for a split moment, that moment cut off abruptly when Hans grabbed her hand, making a sharp turn upward as he carried the ice queen with her.

"PITCH!" Elsa screamed as she was carried away, the Nightmare King whirling around and gasping in shock. His expression then twisted into one of pure rage, soaring after them.

"Alice, wait!" Jack cried as Alice soared straight for Turbo and the Queen. She took out her teapot cannon, flying all around them as she sent wads of tea steaming towards them, Turbo having to stop short and avoid him or the Queen being hit. Jack tried to follow her, but stopped short when a group of cybugs surrounded him.

"Get out of my way!" Jack shouted, waving his staff and shooting ice sparks into their face. He then used his staff to smash at their frozen faces, incapacitating them. When one came at him from behind, unhinging its jaw to eat Jack whole, it was impacted from the side at the last second, descending into the lava below. Jack whirled around to see Ralph, each of them giving each other a nod before readying themselves, more cybugs closing in.

"We can take these guys, it'll be a piece of cake!" Ralph said.

"But Alice is out there by herself!" Jack exclaimed.

Ralph looked to where she was, pointing. "No she isn't!" Jack looked in the same direction briefly, sighing a bit with relief when he saw Sandy flying towards her. "Thank you Sandy…" He whispered.

"Queen of hearts!" Alice screamed, her eyes full of anger. "Dismount immediately and fight me yourself!"

The Queen glanced up at her, chuckling lowly. "Poor little Alice, I suppose Jack just can't service you in this manner… I suppose he does in other ways; after all, why else would he remain with a delusional lunatic?" She laughed.

"You're one to talk about being delusional!" Alice snapped, Sandy joining her side as he too narrowed his eyes.

"Ah… I remember you briefly…" The Queen smirked. "Such an insignificant little pest, you shall be dealt with soon enough!"

"It's gonna be fun crunching your bones up, girlie!" Turbo grinned, flexing his claws.

"Oh, sod off, you cur!" Alice shouted, diving straight for the Queen. When Turbo tried to grab her, Sandy lashed out his sand ropes, snapping them at Turbo's hands to keep them away from her. The Queen spat fire at Alice, dodging her attacks and slicing at her tentacles as they emerged.

Meanwhile, Pitch continued his chase after Hans, growling as he burst into black sand and managing to stop the arrogant prince when he materialized in front of him. Forming an arrow out of his sand, he narrowed his eyes darkly.

"If you value your pitiful life, boy, you shall release her immediately." Pitch spat.

Hans maintained his balance on the card, glancing down at the dangling Elsa in his hand for a moment as he smirked at Pitch, shrugging. "Have it your way, then." He chuckled, letting go of Elsa's hand. The young woman gasped as she felt herself falling, the lava below coming closer and closer to her.

Pitch widened his eyes, crying out her name as he dove after her. Hans laughed, he himself diving after Pitch in an attempt to prevent him from catching her.

Jack and Ralph had done a good number on the cybug swarm, the ice guardian gasping when he saw Elsa falling, threatening to land into the magma below. He whirled around, calling out to Ralph.

"Elsa is in trouble, I have to help!" Jack cried.

When Ralph saw what was happening, his heart skipped a beat. "I'll take care of these guys, go, go!" He shouted.

Jack sped as fast as he could past a few cybugs, narrowing his eyes when he saw Hans about to attack Pitch. He went straight for him, colliding right into Hans' side to get him off of the Nightmare King's tail. Nearly falling off his flying card, Hans took a few moments to regain himself, shaking his head before glaring at Jack for a moment. He then thought to himself as the ice guardian levitated with his staff pointed at him. His eyes momentarily looked towards the Queen before refocusing on Jack; he knew nothing of Jack's strength and abilities hands-on, and he would certainly be doing the Queen a service if he kept him distracted, at the very least. Hans held his hands up, trying to soften his expression.

"You must be Jack Frost… am I correct?" Hans asked.

"Yeah… what about it, Hans? Yeah, I know who you are." Jack replied, maintaining his position.

"Look… I'm going to tell you something that the Queen wanted to tell you herself, but she's a bit in a bind right now." Hans said.

"Yeah, I kind of see that… with MY girlfriend." Jack said, glaring at the prince.

"The Queen doesn't want all of this animosity… all of this fighting, all of this struggle…" Hans said, furrowing his brows. "If you would just… compromise… all of this can stop, right now…"

Jack gripped his staff tighter. "Give me one reason why I should believe that." He growled. "You think I don't know what she wants? She wants to kill Alice… I'm not going to let that happen!"

A hole emerged just outside the mountain, ears poking out of it and flickering for a moment before he hopped out, looking around and dusting himself off. "Blimey, I've lost my touch when it comes to directions…" He looked up, seeing the mountain and all of the fighting going on. "I've got to get up there!" He exclaimed, dashing up the mountain. Not anticipating what was there, when he saw monkey minions keeping their posts at the ring of the mountain, he skidded to a stop, eyes widening when he was mere feet behind them. Ahead, he saw that the inside of the mountain was filled with lava, gulping inaudibly as he attempted to tiptoe behind them. When his foot disturbed a few rocks that tumbled down the mountain behind him, he winced, one minion glancing behind him. The monkey's eyes widened when he saw Bunny, the Easter guardian chuckling nervously as he waved at him comically.

"Tuulai asran khamgaalagch end baina! Tüüniig avakh!" The one minion shouted, getting the attention of the others.

"Oh bloody hell!" Bunny groaned, grabbing his boomerangs and unhinging the latches so the blades inside could pop out. He sent them flying so the nearby minions would duck, giving Bunny the chance to throw egg bombs at them and knock them over. Maharaja looked to his right, seeing Bunny in the distance. He shouted angrily, telling a group of minions near him to go after Bunny. He bit his lip as he scrambled for a way to get out of this sticky situation, doing a double take when he saw what looked to be a large playing card hovering in the air close to the slope's edge. He glanced behind him, seeing the minions gaining on him, before bracing himself for the jump. He grunted, crying out as he landed onto the card, wobbling a bit as he gained his balance. When he looked down, if his complexion could be seen, it would have been drained of color. "I hate heights… and volcanoes…" Bunny whined, taking a short time to become familiar with the mechanics of the floating card.

Turbo's patience was wearing thin, growling as he grabbed Sandy in his large hand. "Gotcha, you little cereal crisp!" He cackled, lifting Sandy to drop him into his mouth, but blinked in surprise when he opened his hand to find just a small remnant of sand fall from his palm. He inspected his hand quizzically, snapping out of it when he felt a sudden light tapping at the top of his helmet. He looked up, his eyes crossing to see Sandy bend over, standing on top of his head, waving. Turbo scowled angrily, about to grab him when Sandy backed up, punching his fists into the racer's helmet. "Hey, what the- no- stop that- oh you are so going to get it, you little pile of crust!" As he began to move erratically, the Queen was jostled to and fro, crying out as she lost balance, slipping off of Turbo's back. "Oh, yikes!" He grabbed her with his legs, holding her snug to him.

"I can't very well fight her from down here, you clumsy imbecile!" The Queen shouted. She gasped lightly when Alice lowered to her level, raising a brow and smirking when she held up her pepper grinder, taking aim.

"Any last words, your highness?" Alice asked.

Hans was continuing to try to be diplomatic with Jack when out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that the Queen was in a bind. He narrowed his eyes, glancing at Jack once before whirling in the Queen's direction to attempt to send a fire ball at Alice.

"NO!" Jack shouted, lunging forward to pull Hans back, his arm flailing a bit and missing its aim.

In the distance, Alice noticed the fire ball soar past her, missing her by a few feet. She looked back to see if there was a new threat upon her, the distraction giving the Queen an advantage. She smirked, noticing a floating card hovering nearby. She broke free from Turbo's hold, cackling as she landed upon the card, getting away. When Alice realized she had missed her opportunity, she screamed on the top of her lungs, chasing after her.

Turbo finally managed to grab hold of Sandy, growling and rearing his hand back, hurling the dream guardian so he went soaring back towards the center of the mountain.

Bunny had been heading towards Alice to help her when he saw Sandy hurling through the air straight towards him. He tried to stop, but was unable to in time as Sandy collided right into him, sending them both reeling backwards as they collided into a wall of ice.

"Crickey, Sandy!" Bunny cried out, stabilizing after a few moments, helping Sandy to remain afloat as he shook his head. "What the hell happened, mate?"

Sandy grimaced, making a sand picture of Turbo followed by a flicking motion with his hand.

Bunny winced. "Oi… alright, let's see what everyone is up to so we can-"

In that moment, Sandy cut off Bunny's sentence as he tapped his arm, pointing behind the Easter guardian. Bunny turned, tilting his head as the ice behind him began to crack, water vapor rising from the cracks as frozen magma seemed to begin to move inside the huge ice encasement.

"Uh... Sandy? Mind telling me what the hell this is, mate?" Bunny asked, pointing at the steam rising as Sandy grabbed on his arm, Bunny moving back on the floating card as chunks of ice began to fall into the bubbling magma below.

Meanwhile, Elsa and Pitch were fighting off Maharaja's army as well as a few remaining card guards, trying to knock down minions and avoid their arrows and spears. When Elsa heard the Phoenix breaking from his icy prison some distance behind them, she furrowed her brows. "Pitch, I have to help, they won't be able to fight him!"

The Nightmare King glanced back, swearing under his breath. "Very well, I can handle myself here!"

Elsa gave him a nod, patting the Nightmare she was mounted on to turn on its heels, galloping through the air towards the Phoenix, Bunny and Sandy on the other side of the head. She was nearly there when the Nightmare skidded to a stop, neighing as the Queen rose up to block them, chuckling on the floating card. She grinned darkly, licking her lips. "Well, well... if it isn't little Elsa, still as graceful as a swan... I shall make sure you fall just as gracefully to your death!" She hissed, whipping out tentacles towards her.

She gasped, the Nightmare reeling backwards to avoid being attacked. Elsa tried to shoot ice blasts at her, but it was difficult from the Nightmare jostling her around. She furrowed her brows, noticing Alice coming to her aid. However, not only was Turbo right on her tail with a small cluster of cybugs, but the Phoenix had just about broken free, shaking off any remaining ice off and igniting with renewed vigor. Its screech echoed through the air, looming over Sandy and Bunny menacingly.

"Let her be!" Alice shouted to the Queen, stopping short when cybugs surrounded her. She took out her pepper grinder, unleashing pepper corns and keeping them at bay as quickly as possible. If Calhoun had been there to see her, she would have considered her an expert. As she whirled around to confront Turbo, his hand slammed into her hard, Alice having to use all of her strength to stop herself from soaring through the air. Circling around to gain momentum, she wielded her hobby horse, scowling as she soared back towards Turbo.

"Oh, well this is just bloody fantastic!" Bunny screamed, he and Sandy trying to flee from the Phoenix. Out of the corner of his eyes, Sandy noticed Turbo joining the Queen to fight Elsa, and in the other direction, Jack and Hans sending ice sparks and fireballs flying. He then looked farther behind him, gasping lightly when Pitch was hit in the back of his shoulder with an arrow when he turned and tried to go to Elsa's aid. Sandy exhaled sharply, soaring over in his direction.

Alice screamed as she reared her hobby horse back, the weapon colliding right against the side of Turbo's head. As they battled, Elsa returned her focus to the Queen. When she heard Pitch grunt in pain behind her, she and the Nightmare whirled around.

"Pitch!" She screamed, about to abandon the Queen to go to him.

"Don't you turn your back on me, girl!" The Queen shouted, about to pursue her when a sand rope wrapped around one of her tentacles, stopping her from grabbing Elsa. She whipped her head towards the dream guardian, screeching in anger.

Elsa stopped near Pitch, her hand reaching out to take his. "Pitch, are you alright?" She gasped lightly, his fingertips covered in black blood.

"I'll be fine, don't worry about me." Pitch replied. "I took out most of the minions out on this end, we just have to keep an eye out for anything else that will try to attack us-"

Elsa gasped then when she saw the Phoenix hot on Bunny's tail; quite literally, as Bunny was trying to fan the flames from his tail while trying to keep some distance between him and the ruthless fire bird.

"Of course, it all just grew back and you're getting me down to the skin again!" Bunny screamed, trying to dodge another jet stream of fire when a bit managed to graze his arm, the Easter guardian crying out in pain as the impact knocked him off his floating card.

"Bunny!" Elsa cried, urging the Nightmare to move quickly. They dove down at accelerated speeds, Elsa biting her lip as she shot her hand out, making a curved shaped iceberg for Bunny to land on. He slid on it, Elsa moving her hand so the ice continued upwards from the quickly melting iceberg, drawing near to take his hand. She winced when she noticed his other arm was badly burned, grunting as she helped him onto the Nightmare.

"I owe you one, Sheila!" Bunny exclaimed, hissing as his burned arm began to tremble from the bodily shock. "I'm in bad shape, Elsa..." He groaned.

"It's alright, we'll get you back to safety before your wounds get any worse. Pitch is hurt also, I need to get back to him." Elsa replied.

Jack cried out as he flew at Hans, the prince trying to take a defensive approach as he dodged most of Jack's ice sparks. One managed to graze his leg however, Hans hissing as he staggered a bit on the air. He took this opportunity to look around, gasping when he noticed a very injured Bunny had been rescued by Elsa, Alice was fiercely fighting against Turbo, and Sandy was trying to keep the Queen off Alice's back. He saw Pitch coming to their aid as well, but he too was injured as he nursed his shoulder. He was about to help Alice when he noticed the Phoenix speed past him, going straight for Bunny and Elsa.

"No!" Jack shouted, pursuing the Phoenix and shooting ice sparks at him to slow him down. Elsa gasped, holding both her hands up as she sent blast after blast of ice at the fire bird. With Jack and Elsa both unleashing their ice attacks, the Phoenix decided to back off for now, diving down into the mountain to recuperate. He had not been out of dormancy long, his power not yet fully regenerated. Jack exhaled sharply, floating over to Elsa and Bunny. "Hey, are you two alright?"

"Not me, mate, I'm about halfway to a roasted rabbit dinner..." Bunny groaned lightly as his burned arm trembled.

"I need to get back to Pitch, he was hit by an arrow and I need to make sure he's alright. Will you be able to take Bunny?" Elsa asked.

"Yeah, I can handle him." Jack said, carefully helping him to transfer from the Nightmare onto his back, balancing him securely before giving Elsa a nod. "Please keep an eye on Alice, I'm going to come back as soon as I can." Jack said before soaring off into the distance swiftly.

Alice cried out as one of Turbo's large claws grazed her side, leaving a thin but stinging cut. Alice had left quite some damage, but still had a lot of strength to burn through. Sandy noticed that Alice was becoming weary out of the corner of his eyes, using a sand rope to whack the Queen's face with it, making her shriek angrily. He took this opportunity to make a sand ball, sticking his tongue out to concentrate. He then tossed it, the sand ball hitting Turbo right on his forehead. He blinked for a moment, his wings still fluttering as his head hung limply. He snored lightly as the dream sand put him to sleep, little sandy cars driving around his head.

The Queen hissed, her hand shooting out to grab at Sandy when Alice dove in, slicing a rather large cut into her palm. The Queen cried out in pain, using her other hand to back hand Alice. She inhaled deeply then, about to spew fire at her. As she did, Pitch suddenly swooped in, shielding Alice with his black sand to avoid being burned. After several moments, the Queen stopped, her expression softening a bit as her spine straightened.

"Thanks for that!" Alice exclaimed.

"Your prince charming is escorting Bunnymund back to the forest, he was badly burned and most likely needs your help." Pitch said to her.

Alice shook her head. "I'm not going anywhere until I murder that bloody Queen-"

"I'll handle her, go." Pitch said lowly.

Alice narrowed her eyes warily, glancing back to see Maharaja scowling angrily as he retreated his army. Alice realized they had certainly left a dent today; though she would not be satisfied until the Queen was dead, she knew that Bunny must have been harmed quite badly for Jack to have to take him out of the fight. "Fine... but don't be long." She said, soaring off into the distance, Sandy following her after taking a quick glance at the area.

Pitch watched Alice leave for a brief moment, turning to conjure his scythe as he faced the Queen. He gripped the handle tightly, about to rear it back when the Queen spoke.

"It doesn't have to be like this, Pitch..." The Queen spoke, allowing the blood from her injured left palm to run down her fingers, dripping onto the card she was floating on.

"You're not going to talk me out of what I need to do, your highness." Pitch spat. "My mind is not so easily swayed."

"Oh, I know it isn't. I always admired your strength." She replied, her voice a bit quieter. "What is your reasoning for your desire to kill me? Have I done anything so terrible to you?"

"Yes, you have... you will forever pursue Elsa's life so long as you're breathing." Pitch replied.

The Queen closed her eyes tightly for a moment, reopening them as she inhaled sharply. "You should know that love... or the loss of it, rather... can make one do great and terrible things." The Queen said.

"And help me to understand, how can you know of the loss of love when you have never felt it to begin with?" Pitch asked.

"Oh, but that is where you are wrong, Pitch... how do you think I saved you from Alice's blade in the tundra when you ventured there to confront her and Jack Frost? I felt it here... that you were in danger." She placed a hand on her chest, leaving a bit of blood on her dress. "Every fiber of my body was screaming to save your life, that I could not let you die..." She gravitated closer to him, furrowing her brows. "Can you understand that?"

Pitch hissed, narrowing his eyes. "I already told you, my mind will not be swayed by your words."

"And I already expressed to you that I know this, my darling... however, that does not speak for your heart. It is so difficult to maintain light in your heart... such an inconvenience... but to allow it to continue to dwell in the darkness, it's so easy..." The Queen spoke barely above a whisper, Pitch's brow twisting as the Queen's hand extended to rest on his, not offering any resistance as she lowered his gently. His scythe burst into black sand, dissipating as he felt himself unable to move.

Elsa had finally spotted where Pitch was, the Nightmare galloping towards him. When she saw him lower his weapon, the Queen drawing closer to him, she exhaled sharply, her eyes widening as her expression became a mixture of shock and confusion.

Hans had recovered from Jack's ice spark hitting his leg, growling angrily to himself. When he noticed that Elsa had suddenly become a sitting duck however, he smirked darkly, discreetly soaring towards her.

"Ugh, finally! I thought those cybugs would never stop coming!" Ralph exclaimed, dusting some small parts off his shoulders. He looked around, his eyes narrowing cautiously. "Okay, where did like, half of our party go...?" He asked himself, doing a double take when he saw Hans speeding towards something. When he realized that this something was Elsa, he gasped, growling lowly as he used his own floating card to go after him.

At this point, Elsa's expression twisted into anger, rearing her hand back to send a spike of ice at the Queen. Before she could do so, a fireball collided right into the Nightmare, nearly knocking her off balance as she gasped. Hans dove in, about to attack Elsa again when she countered his next fireball, the two bursts cancelling each other out.

"HEY!" Ralph shouted, skidding to a stop as he stood by the ice queen. "Leave her alone!"

Hans chuckled lowly, sending a fireball straight for them. Ralph grunted, punching the fireball with his fist to deflect it, Hans widening his eyes in surprise as it smacked him right in the chest, his own attack sending him soaring backwards. Ralph yelped in pain, his hand on fire as he tried to wave it out.

"Hold still!" Elsa cried, waving her hand to make a snow cloud, the flurries putting out the flames.

"Oh man... thanks, Elsa." Ralph smiled.

"You too..." Elsa replied, not as enthusiastically as she returned her attentions to Pitch. Ralph noticed this, raising a confused brow as she began to speed towards them.

The Queen's face was inches from Pitch's, her eyes half lidded before her head ducked down a bit, regarding his injured shoulder. She placed her good hand upon it, using her limited regenerative ability to slowly heal his wound. Her eyes flickered back up to his face, observing him for a moment. "Twice now, I have saved you..." She spoke barely above a whisper, whirling around when she heard Elsa and Ralph coming for them. With one last fleeting glance at Pitch, she fled, soaring down into the mountain in retreat. Pitch was left dumbfounded, only snapped out of his stupor when Elsa finally reached him.

"Where are the others?" Elsa did not hesitate to ask, avoiding his gaze.

Pitch motioned his head behind him. "They followed Bunny and Jack into the forest... presumably to help- what are you doing?"

Elsa dismounted the Nightmare, stepping carefully onto the floating card Ralph was standing on. "She can take you back, you shouldn't have too much trouble sitting upright now." Elsa glared, Ralph clearing his throat before using the card to go to the edge of the mountain. It would not go any farther than that, the two starting to head back by foot.

Pitch glanced back at her, sighing as he pinched the bridge of his nose. He glanced up when the Nightmare snorted at him, looking at him with an expression of disapproval. "Don't do that." Pitch sighed, mounting the equine before following Elsa. He slowed when he reached her, the Nightmare trotting alongside her. "Elsa, please allow me to take you back, we can discuss why you're frustrated when we-"

"I'm going to walk home, so let me be and just go." Elsa said without looking at him, quickening her pace. Ralph remained silent, not knowing what to say and not wanting to interfere this time. When Pitch had the Nightmare trot in front of her to block her path, his expression tensed a bit.

"Elsa, you must know that you are jumping to conclusions with whatever you are assuming I-" Pitch stopped when Elsa extended her hand, freezing his hair solid. She placed her hand to the side, glaring at him.

"This is my last warning. Step out of my way and let me pass." Elsa said, and Pitch sighed as he reluctantly obeyed. He and the Nightmare took to the air, entering the forest in the distance.

Elsa watched him, hugging herself as the anger dissipated in her expression. She closed her eyes for a moment, exhaling sharply as she continued onward. Ralph frowned when he noticed Elsa wiping her eyes with her hands, moisture collecting on her eyelashes. She blinked when she felt something hug around her side, glancing up to see Ralph placing a hand around her in a comforting gesture. This was not for competition or sport, or because he wanted to earn brownie points.

She had become his friend, and he simply wanted to help to ease her sadness right now.

Elsa allowed him to draw her close, whispering a small thank you as they headed back into the forest.

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