Having Better Understanding
Sandy floated over to Jack, tapping his shoulder lightly and motioned towards Alice, a question mark over his head. Jack glanced over, sighing. "All water under the bridge now..." He used his staff to help himself to his feet, stretching out his neck. "This whole thing is messing with all our heads. The sooner we all get our strength up and bring down the Queen, the better." He looked to Emily's throne, his expression becoming determined.
Bunny stretched his arms, wincing a bit as he held his healing one for a moment. When he saw Emily look at him with a hint of concern, he cleared his throat. "It's fine, I'm fine... just gonna get something to satisfy my appetite." He smiled lightly, about to head off when he glanced back at her. "Oh, uh... Em?" Emily raised her brow in response. "... this was uh... nice. You know... the meditating and all."
Emily tilted her head curiously for a moment before smiling lightly, nodding. She looked to the ground, whisking her hand to produce a leaf that sprouted from the ground. She plucked it, rising to her feet to hand it to him. "This should help to ease the aching. Consume this with some of the fruit that grows just south of here, it shall also help with your hair regrowth."
Bunny nodded, thanking her quietly. He went up to her, taking Emily by surprise when he gave her a brief hug. She was taken aback by the gesture, watching after him as he left. She slowly hugged herself to recreate the feeling, smiling inwardly.
It had been an age since she knew the warmth of something as simple as a hug. She received many as a child, loved by all... especially her parents. She had learned in her life to become accustomed to not having physical closeness with anyone, for it associated with trust; an aspect she had forsaken long ago.
Her thoughts were broken when Jack approached, turning to look upon him. Her expression became serious, straightening up.
"Hey, Emily." Jack started. "I was hoping I could talk to you."
Emily narrowed her eyes for a moment, giving him a nod. "You have proven my misjudgment of you, Jack Frost. Your maturity and wisdom has certainly surpassed that which you had years ago. I am curious to know what you desire to discuss with me."
Jack took a step forward, clearing his throat and nodding towards Bunny. "How's he feeling?"
"He is well. He regrets any harm he has done unto you." Emily smirked lightly. "I know he feels very strongly for your human mate. I also know it is quite difficult to deny Bunnymund anything he desires. He must truly find a friend in you for him to reconsider his actions. Perhaps... both of you have changed much these last few centuries." She began to slowly pace around him. "First impressions upon any form of love is very strong. Alice is your first love, is she not?" She asked.
"Y- Yeah..." Jack furrowed a brow. "How did you know-"
"I have seen many things, Jack Frost." Emily smiled knowingly, approaching the shallow pool which her throne sat in. "The sacred water reveals many origins to me. Many answers are shown to me in regards to your character." She turned to look at him. "I also know the true reason you have sought me out in this moment. Do you think me ignorant to the outside world because I remain here?" She asked. "I know the perils that lie beyond my domain. You once again seek my offensive assistance in this fight. I regret to tell you that I cannot give you what you seek."
Jack exhaled sharply, closing his eyes tightly for a moment. "You've seen what they can do to us Emily... y- you told me last time that you have power greater than any of us here." Emily smirked a bit as she continued to pace around him. "... I can see that, looking all around me... no one could make a protective barrier like this. But if you could just... you could destroy the Queen in a second with your power, I know it. Please, Emily... please help us, just this once..."
Emily looked up at him, smiling a bit gentler. "Your heart is in the right place, Jack Frost. It is indeed noble and worthy of a hero's treatment. However... I have lived far longer than you. You know this. There is much in this world you do not yet understand." Emily turned back to look into the pool. "Do you believe my power alone is enough to defeat this... Queen in the Phoenix's mountain?" She asked.
"I think it could be." Jack said. "Now I've never seen your full potential, Emily... but I would feel bad for anyone who did."
Emily chuckled lightly. "A true sentiment, Jack. You certainly know your place. However... you are wrong about one thing. It does not take simply power alone to win a war... especially this one." She waved her hand over the water, Jack taking a step closer to it to peek over. "I know very little of this Queen... but I know she is very cunning, and ruthless. She bears no warmth or mercy to friend or foe. It is for this reason she is the most dangerous of all."
"I know you can stop her, Emily... I have faith... I know the others would too." Jack said.
Emily exhaled slowly, shutting her eyes for a moment before reopening them, turning to Jack.
"Come. Look into the water… what you shall see inside will point to the reason for my reluctance… and why you too, should be wary of the force you have reckoned with." Emily said, waving a hand over the pool and stepping back.
Jack stepped up to the water, a small ripple disturbing the calm water as it began to glow, illuminating his face. He began to see something, crouching down a bit as he saw a girl with raven hair and emerald green eyes laughing, calling for her papa as she was embraced by a man wearing golden armor. "Pitch…" Jack breathed, the waters now showing Pitch, formerly Kozmotis, pointing his sword to lead an army against the vile dream pirates, defending the city. It then changed again, showing a beautiful woman with white hair humming lightly to herself, gasping when intruders- dream pirates- broke in. She took a doll bearing resemblance to her precious daughter, throwing herself through the window and falling to her death. Jack furrowed his brows when he witnessed Kozmotis crying out in agony, holding his dead wife in his arms. Jack then saw him outside the prison, gasping when he heard the voice of his daughter calling him. Jack gasped himself when he saw Kozmotis become overtaken by the dream pirates, turning him into the Boogeyman.
What Jack witnessed in the waters next shocked him.
He saw himself.
It was when he had first begun to help the guardians, Baby Tooth with him as he followed the sound of his sister calling him into the depths of Pitch's old lair. He furrowed his brows deeply as her echoing voice made the water turn red, his eyes widening when he saw his sister changing, turning into someone very sinister as her now crimson red eyes burned into his. She began to call Alice's name now, smirking wickedly as she was soon replaced by the Queen, hissing as she seemed to reach out to grab him. Jack cried out, throwing himself back as his heart raced in his chest. The water steadied then, calming as he slowly got to his feet, his eyes remaining upon it for a few moments just for good measure. He closed his eyes for a moment to get his breathing under control, using his staff for support. He glanced back at Emily, who was staring at him through narrowed eyes.
"I saw… I- I saw my sis-"
"I know exactly what it is you saw, Jack Frost… for the wellspring of the sacred waters and I are deeply connected." Emily said, taking a step forward. "Your loved ones are doomed to suffer the same fate as those of my father… one by one, she will find your weaknesses; any strength taken from one leaves a great vulnerability. The strength you draw from your loved ones shall be destroyed." Emily glanced back towards the encampment. "One by one, the Queen shall destroy you all by breaking the bonds between you. The process has already begun. This is how the Queen shall subdue even those with greater power than she. Those she cannot overcome with power alone, she shall use tactic, manipulation and stealth to seize the day. In so doing, she shall watch triumphantly as her enemies destroy themselves."
Jack shook his head. "No… no, we're not going to turn on each other… I won't let that happen, Alice won't let that happen. And my sister, she's safe in Arendelle… if the Queen tries to get her, the others there will fight her off."
Emily raised a brow. "Do not be so confident, Jack, as to underestimate the Queen's capabilities. Come, I shall show you one last thing." She said, motioning him to follow her. He did so, following her to the edge of her forest where some of the trees were becoming bare, lacking leaves. She narrowed her eyes, bending down to see that some of their roots had been torn out before those responsible were impaled by her thorny vines. She graced a hand over the broken roots, rising to face Jack. "You see, Jack… imagine yourself to be this tree… and the roots you bear to be your loved ones." She pointed to the dying tree. "See how the roots have been forcefully cut, and how ivy is overtaking it, completely encasing it? It is what happened to my father… it shall also happen to you if those you draw strength from are taken from you."
Jack bit his lip, sighing. "Emily… you said yourself I have a good heart. I'm not going to let myself become evil, otherwise… I'd just disappoint my family… my friends."
Emily smiled sadly. "I'm sure my father would have thought the same as you long ago." She glanced at Jack for a moment before waving her hand over the tree, giving it new life. "You see Jack… you and the others most likely think I maintain this forest as I do to keep others out… and indeed, that is true. However, I also keep myself inside… away from the outside world. I do not wish for it to pollute my heart, to fall into darkness as my father did. I shall not follow in his footsteps."
Jack frowned at this. "Emily, you have to give yourself a chance… this is no way to live, being alone all the time. When no one could see me, before I became a guardian, I was miserable."
"I was given a chance, Jack… long before you were a thought. After my mother died, I had to flee from my home; remaining there would have led to my death. I traveled many miles on my Schooner until I found a man by the name of Typhan, who lived upon his own constellation. He took me in as his own for many years. During that time, he realized I possessed great power, power I did not know I had at the time, for I had been a carefree child. He taught me how to better harness and control my powers. As the years passed, I awaited my father's return, for him to fulfill the promise he made to me. Each day that passed, my disappointment grew. That disappointment turned into sadness, the sadness into bitterness… and the bitterness into anger. One day, the anger has festered so much in my heart, it had grown so great, that I unleashed it upon an innocent ship passing by. In mere minutes, I had utterly destroyed the entire vessel with my power. Horrified and disgusted by what I had done, he trapped me inside a shooting star as punishment. He told me I would only be released when it would fall upon a planet of its choice; it would give me ample time to think upon my ill deed and reflect. It was in that time I met Sandy." Emily smiled lightly. "He harnessed the shooting star and became a dear friend. He was the one who guided me away from the path to darkness, showing me the light and granting pleasant dreams upon me. It is the reason that even to this day I shall regard him highly." She turned to Jack then. "But as you can see… I was so close… so close to the edge of falling into the deepest darkness as my father had… to travel along the same path as he."
"But you know that now." Jack said. "Emily, in order to trust other people, you have to trust yourself… I don't think you do." He surprised Emily just as he had done last time when he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I trust you, Emily. I hope it helps you to do the same someday."
Emily gave him a firm nod. "I believe we have both said we all needed to say on this subject."
Jack nodded in response, removing his hand. "Just… one more thing…" He started. "… your dad… he's really trying. It may not seem like it, but… he's really changed. Maybe… you should give him a chance. He really loves you."
"As well as your intentions may be, Jack… I allowed you to speak your mind on the subject of my father last time. I shall tell you now that how I resolve to act towards him is my decision and mine alone." She glanced at him with a serious expression. "Am I understood?"
Jack blinked a bit, clearing his throat. The last thing he wanted to do was anger her. "Y- Yeah… sorry."
Emily straightened up a bit. "This conversation has been enlightening for both of us... but I have much to think about, and you as well. I bid you farewell for now, Jack Frost." She said, giving him a nod before her arms formed into wings, flowing up through the trees in a wave of green essence. Jack watched in awe for a moment, sighing to himself as he turned to head back to the encampment.
Eliza covered her mouth as she yawned, rubbing her eyes as she wandered into the kitchen to get herself something to eat. As she entered, she stopped when she noticed someone duck behind the bags of flour, tilting her head curiously. She reached over, giggling lightly as she grabbed a Viking helmet, placing it on her head.
"Hey, give that back or- oh... it's you." Gustav rubbed the back of his neck.
"I think I want my own Viking helmet someday, or some sort of authoritative headdress." Eliza smiled, taking it off and handing it back to Gustav. "Better I find you in here than the others."
"Yeah, you're telling me... they barely feed me ANYTHING and expect me to do stable duty all morning!" He groaned. "You won't rat on me, will you? Merida will kill me for sure."
"Of course not... though, I would like for you to do something for me in return... being cooped up in this castle all the time is dreadful... even Olaf is allowed to go with Sven and Kristoff to their ice deliveries, so he hasn't been able to play with me." She frowned. "I could use some company being everyone else is always too busy."
Gustav snickered a bit. "That weird snow creature? Well, if you expect me to 'play,' that's not going to happen. I'm a Viking! I do tough, adventurous stuff!"
"I love adventures... hm..." Eliza thought. "I tried to ride Sven not long ago, but I was by myself and I fell. I've always wanted to learn how to fly a dragon, but Hiccup said I'm too young. May you teach me?"
"Pfft, you're not too young!" He waved a hand. "May I? Of course I can! I'm the youngest dragon rider of Berk, I'm pretty much an expert!" Gustav waved Eliza over, speaking lowly. "Look, if I'm going to be here a while, I need to earn a reputation around here; if other kids start to see how tough I am, Hiccup will have to take me off stable duty. I'll tell you what. You help me sneak Fanghook out, gather a crowd, and take us to a good flying spot, and I'll teach you how to fly him. We can do this every day. Deal?"
Eliza smiled, shaking Gustav's hand. "We have to avoid being caught." She said. "I think I have an idea." She stopped for a moment, pointing to his helmet. "I may need to borrow that."
A short while later, Eliza peeked around the corner before waving Gustav on. He hurried out to the stables quickly, placing a dummy of himself to stand out there, placing a broom in its hands.
"This was genius!" Gustav chuckled. "Now we have to go see Fanghook. You don't think Toothless will give us a hard time, will you? Hiccup was pretty clear with him."
"I'll distract Toothless. Take Fankhook over to the meadow I showed you on the map. I'll go out and I'll call upon some of the other children in the marketplace and meet you there." Eliza said. Gustav gave her a nod, the two heading to where the pair of dragons were staying. Eliza approached, Toothless perking up and smiling upon seeing her. She held a fish up, giggling as she fed it to him. "Good morning, Toothless..." She spoke to him gently, petting his face. Gustav watched her as he snuck in, unlocking Fanghook's cage to let him out.
"Huh... she's pretty good with him." He said to himself quietly, Eliza's hands petting him. She pursed her lips, finding the spot on his neck to make Toothless fall asleep, pressing the spot gently as the Night Fury passed out. "He's so adorable." She giggled.
"Okay, okay, come on before someone sees us!" Gustav whispered, Eliza following him. He hurried with Fanghook towards the meadow, Eliza off to the marketplace. Once the young Viking reached the meadow, the Monstrous Nightmare grumbled with relief, happy to finally be able to stretch his wings out a bit. "Yeah, I'm happy to be out of there too. You and I have been miserable since we got here."
About twenty minutes passed, Gustav beaming when Eliza approached with about a dozen children from town. They all gasped and chattered with awe when they saw Fanghook, some jumping up and down.
"Wow, it IS a real dragon!" One child exclaimed.
"Is it true it can set itself on fire and not burn?" Another asked.
"I want to see it fly!" A third shouted.
"Okay, okay everyone, I know you're all amazed by the magnificent Fanghook! But be warned, only an expert like me can handle him, so stand back!" He then looked to the dragon. "Fanghook, light up!" When the Monstrous Nightmare ignited in flames, all the children cried out with amazement, some even a bit fearful until the flames died down. "Alright, so I'm going to be helping Eliza here learn how to fly him, so all of you can take a seat and watch all of the awesome tricks he can do!" Gustav beamed. He went over to Eliza, who blinked a bit when he took her hand to help her up, sitting in front of her once they settled in. "You can just watch me fly him today, being you're new at this." He said, smiling lightly when she nodded. "Thanks for this, by the way... no one on Berk would have ever done this for me."
"You're welcome." She smiled softly, blushing a bit when she held onto his waist lightly.
"Alright, everyone ready?" He shouted, all the children cheering him on as he pat Fanghook's side. "Okay, take it easy for right now, Eliza's new at this, okay?"
The dragon grunted lightly in response before taking to flight, Gustav pumping a fist into the air and Eliza exclaiming with excitement as they took to the air. The children below gasped and cheered, jumping to their feet and running to keep the dragon in their sight. They flew steady for some time, Eliza getting used to the feeling of being in the air. "Alright, let's take this up a notch!" Gustav shouted, Fanghook giving him a nod as he began to weave from side to side, making sharp turns as he gained speed. Eliza laughed, the view from this far up in the air breathtaking as she was able to see the entire kingdom of Arendelle from their position.
Hiccup stretched his arms, taking a break from his wedding plans to take a quick glance outside. He noticed Gustav being a bit idle outside, rolling his eyes as he was about to go out and check up on him. Just then, he was stopped by Rapunzel when she lightly tugged on his hand.
"Oh, Hiccup, come quickly, you have to see this!" She exclaimed, the Viking following her with a bit of alarm. She shushed him, joining Merida and Eugene who both rolled their eyes a bit.
"Eugene, your wife's a piece of work, isn't she?" Merida asked.
"Hey, be nice..." Eugene said. "As much as that lizard annoys me, I admit I'm happy for him."
"Can someone please explain to me what's going on here?" Hiccup asked.
"Shh..." Rapunzel squeaked lightly, beaming as she pointed around the corner. They all looked, Pascal and Baby Tooth in the garden as they squeaked and chirped to each other, both of them behaving bashfully towards each other. The small fairy blushed, giggling as she took the chameleon's hand in hers, leaning in and kissing his cheek, avoiding poking him with her nose. Pascal turned a deep shade of red, smiling widely as he covered his face. Rapunzel whimpered a small 'aww,' resting her head in her hands. "Look at him, I've never seen my little guy so happy."
"Well, it is kind of cute." Hiccup smiled. "We'll be doing something similar soon, right Mer?" He nudged her playfully, drawing a small giggle from her.
"Yes, yes, you've made your point, lad... it is a bit heartwarming. Maybe we all need a little something like this with all the strife going on." Merida said.
"Let's give them a little privacy, we've seen enough." Rapunzel said, giggling quietly as they all headed out of the garden area.
Meanwhile, Eliza cried out with excitement as Fanghook did a nosedive, making a sharp turn upward as they ascended once more. Once in the air, he did one last sharp turn before hovering a bit, making a smooth landing and trotting forward a bit before settling down. Gustav hopped off, Eliza smiling gently as he offered his hand once again to help her off his back. The children chattered and clapped as they ran up to Gustav, who bowed his head lightly and tried to answer all their questions, showing Fanghook off proudly. After some time, he took a step back.
"Alright everybody, we've got to get Fanghook back so that's all for today!" He chuckled when the others groaned with disappointment. "Don't worry, we'll be back tomorrow, I promise!" He waved goodbye, happy that he had finally found some fans as they went back to town. It was just him and Eliza now, the three of them heading back to the palace where they found Toothless still asleep.
"I can't believe this worked! I hope I can fly a dragon as well as you someday." Eliza said.
"You will learning from me, that's for sure." Gustav smiled. "You know, you're not so bad, for a girl." He smiled, nudging her arm lightly as she pouted at him playfully. "Most of the girls from Berk aren't as nice as you are... although, pretty much EVERYONE just makes me do menial jobs and stuff... finally, someone knows how awesome I am!"
Eliza giggled. "I'm glad to have someone who understands me, also. No one seems to be paying attention to me, lately..." She sighed.
The two moved their dummy of him behind the stables, Gustav taking his helmet to place it back on his head. "We're going to have to make a fake helmet to go along with this guy... feels so wrong not having anything on my head." When his stomach growled, he blinked, Eliza giggling more.
"I think you need a spot to eat first... come, I'll get us something from the kitchen." Eliza said, smiling as she headed into the castle.
As Gustav watched her head inside, smiling lightly to himself, Maximus stuck his head out from inside the stables, having just awoken. He stopped when he noticed Gustav staring after her, making a face as me motioned for Angus to look, the two horses smirking at each other. They both inhaled deeply, neighing loudly so that Gustav became startled, stumbling when he lost his balance. He sat up, readjusting his Viking helmet as the pair of horses neighed with laughter.
"Oh haha, very funny! Just you watch, I'm going to start being appreciated around here, you'll see!" Gustav shouted at the pair of horses as he stormed off.
Hans peeked around the corner, seeing the Queen once again counseling Turbo. The narcissistic prince growled lowly to himself. Why was she focusing so much of her attentions on him? He realized it was more than likely because unlike the cybrid, they were able to handle their own without assistance. However, he couldn't help but feel there was more to their interactions than they were letting on; he did not want to miss out on his opportunity to advance within this collective. He drew in a deep breath, striding forward as he cleared his throat to gain the Queen's attention.
"Your highness, I'm sorry to interrupt... but if you don't mind, I would like a private audience with you." Hans said to her.
The Queen glanced at him, tilting her head curiously before snapping a finger at her card guards.
"Continue your activities, I shall return shortly." The Queen commanded, turning back to Hans as she followed him into a secluded area. Once there, she conjured a chair for him to sit in as she paced around.
"Would you like to sit also, your highness?" Hans asked.
"No, thank you... I need to stretch out my tentacles a bit." She smirked. "Now... what's going on in that mind of yours?"
"I heard the Phoenix and Maharaja speaking to each other." Hans started. "Of course, I cannot speak for the latter because I don't understand his language... but I was able to grasp a basic concept of what they were discussing based on context."
"And what significance is this to me?" The Queen asked. "Are they plotting against me?"
"Of course not... if I may-"
"Are they planning to form their own faction?" The Queen interrupted.
"N- No, it's not that, it's-"
"Then tell me why you believe that wasting my time with your little eavesdropping reports benefit me? Yes, I see the way you sneak about, trying to find anything there is to know about anything; though I find this admirable, I shall not find appreciation in it until it results in something fruitful!" The Queen snapped.
"An idea they are suggesting may allow us to launch an attack upon our enemies." Hans spoke a bit quicker, allowing his whole thought to be verbalized. The Queen stopped, glancing at him unsurely.
"How do you mean? We cannot reach them so as long as they remain in their sanctuary." The Queen replied.
"They had brought up a valid question, your highness; how does the forest know those who is allowed and those who aren't?" Hans asked.
"From her, of course..." The Queen answered. "The nymph who governs over it."
"Can her eyes truly be everywhere at once? The forest must have some sort of method to sense enemies. Maharaja and the Phoenix... they determined it may possibly be the blood of those who attempt to enter which the forest detects." Hans said.
The Queen tapped her chin lightly, pacing about as she took in Hans' words. She then turned to him, wearing a serious expression. "I shall send you out along with several of my guards. Collect a portion of the vegetation that reacts with hostility to you; a small piece shall do. Return it to me and I shall look into the possibility of such a notion." She stood a bit straighter. "If what you have reported to me is the truth... you shall be greatly rewarded."
Hans stood, nodding firmly. "I won't fail." He said before taking his leave.
The Queen raised her brows, smirking lightly as she watched Hans go along his way. Looking him up and down, she was only distracted when Turbo was thrown into a wall by the Executioner, the Queen having taken a lot of her power to conjure him up again.
"Ow, that smarts!" Turbo shouted, growling as he curled into a ball, spikes popping out to roll after him.
The Queen glanced back briefly before shaking her head, rolling her eyes. He was going to be the source of much aggravation, she thought to herself.