The Kingdoms of Fallen Stars

Traitors Burning Bridges

North and several of his elves exited a portal from one of his snow globes, approaching a stone barrier in the tundra of eastern Siberia. It was the original land of Santoff Claussen, a place where some of North's oldest and wisest allies dwelled. North took in a deep breath, taking a step closer to the barrier. Moments later, the ancient stones groaned as they began to open up, allowing North access inside. He traveled along a long path until he reached a gargantuan tree, entering inside the opening where he ascended the winding stairs as the air was filled with small orbs of light. A shallow body of water lay below, more ancient stones levitating several inches above it. When North reached the top, there were several beings there, surrounded by treasures of unmeasurable worth. Upon a throne of vines and leaves, much like Emily's without it resting in a shallow pool of water, there sit a wizard who was nearly as old as time itself. Accompanying him, a young woman to his left, gently petting a white goose resting in her lap. To his right, a shimmering, ancient Spirit of the Forest, adorned with jewels and diamonds to compliment her beauty. North approached them, bowing his head lightly as they each smiled upon him.

"North, my old friend..." The wizard greeted, before coughing a bit into his hand. "How nice it is to see you again."

"And the same to you, Ombric." North smiled lightly.

"Are the time travelling globes serving you well?" Ombric asked.

"Yes, upgrade very good!" North answered. "Though it is always good to see you, I am here to speak with the Spirit; it is very urgent."

The air filled with a soft, airy whisper as the Spirit floated forth, smiling lightly. "What is it you seek, North?" Her voice was soft and airy, much like her essence.

As North slowly withdrew the wooden box from his office, his elves were becoming a bit distracted, one slapping another's hand when they went to touch the treasure. He opened it, taking out the single, small object inside. "I have come to ask you about this."

The Spirit chuckled lightly, shaking her head. "North... all of the other guardians have already given back to the world with the gifts I bestowed upon them; Bunnymund with his weapons carved from my bark, Toothiana with her ability to recall treasure to give to the children, and the Sandman with the essence fragment of my divine powers. Are you still having trouble?"

"I need to know one thing. You told me long ago that the powers contained in this stone would present itself when the time was right." North said.

"Yes, this I did say to you." She replied.

"Is the glow of the stone a sign that this time has come?" North asked.

The Spirit smiled knowingly. "Perhaps you have finally found good use for my gift, North."

North's expression brightened, his hope and optimism renewed. "You have been a great help, Spirit. I cannot repay you for this."

The Spirit gently took North's hand in hers for a moment. "The kindness and generosity you bestow upon the world shall be considered a suitable payment. Always remember this and be guided by it."

"I will. Thank you, a thousand times, thank you." North replied, bidding them all farewell. As he turned to leave, the Spirit called upon him softly.

"There is something you must know about the power of the Stone of Lesnyye El'fy. The creature which its power is granted upon, and all things derived upon it, shall prove valiant and generous, but also wild and free." The Spirit said.

The young woman with the goose rose, still holding it as she smiled. "It was good to see you again, North. I wish you the best of luck."

"And you also, Katherine." North gave her a nod, motioning for his small elves to follow him as they took their leave.

Vanellope slowed her mega kart to a stop, putting it in park as she hopped out. "Well, this is the cave he told me to go to..." She said as she approached it. Ralph and Elsa got out behind her, the larger man scratching his head as he yawned.

"Why are we coming out here again?" He asked.

"I don't like this..." Elsa sighed. "I'm still angry with him from yesterday, but... I have a bad feeling about being separated like this."

"I have no idea what's going on, he wouldn't spill the jelly beans. I hope everything turns out okay." Vanellope said, the three of them going in to sit within the very mouth of the cavern.

"Well, he did have a pretty rough day yesterday..." Ralph added. "Maybe he's just trying to figure some stuff out."

"I wish he would just... trust me." Elsa sighed, holding her head for a moment. "I feel like even after all we have done for each other, there's still somewhat of a barrier there. He doesn't trust himself completely, so it's still difficult for him. He still has a bit of a skewed vision of what's right and what's wrong."

"Give him some time." Vanellope said. "He's still a doodie head sometimes, but he's getting better. He's alright in my book." She smiled.

"Do we really have to stay here ALL day?" Ralph asked.

"That's what he said..." Vanellope answered. "Don't shoot the messenger."

"Did he say if he was going to come at any point?" Elsa asked.

"No, but... we'll just have to wait and find out." Vanellope replied.

Back at the encampment, everyone was just getting started for the day. Emily and Bunny were not too far outside its range, tending to the flora and plants as she did each day.

"I'm sorry about yesterday." Bunny said, sighing lightly as he helped Emily beside her.

She glanced over at him, pausing her work for a moment. "Why are you sorry?"

"Because…" Bunny bit his lip for a moment. "… I caused all this trouble. AGAIN."

Emily turned to face him fully, taking his hands into hers. "Why are you at fault for simply loving me?"

"The same reason I was apparently at fault when I was in love with Alice." Bunny replied. "Because I always piss off someone who doesn't like it."

"You speak of two separate instances, Bunnymund. Yes, it is understandable that Jack Frost was cross. Alice was already claimed. Do you regret loving me?" Emily asked.

"Of course not. I just regret all the grief I caused you." Bunny replied.

"Then you are not at fault. It is my choice whom I give my heart to. I choose to give it to you. My father's prejudice and spite is no fault of yours, it is his alone. As long as we remain true to one another… you have absolutely nothing to be sorry for." Emily said.

After a brief pause, allowing her words to sink in, Bunny nodded slowly. "I guess you're right. Em, I… I really just… enjoy being around you now. I've seen a brighter side to you. That's what I love the most."

"Bunnymund, you must love me wholly. For how can one tell the light from the dark if there is no dark?" Emily asked, smiling as she leaned forward. She and Bunny kissed for a short while, when the moment was suddenly broken upon Emily sensing something. Her ears flickered, whipping her head back to glance behind her.

"Em…? What is it?" Bunny asked.

"Shh…" She stood to her feet, concentrating as her eyes narrowed slightly. She looked to the treetops, she felt the air around her, her toes twisted lightly upon the soil. She looked towards her throne, soaring over to it as she knelt over the water surrounding it. She lifted her head, standing up once more before turning to Bunnymund. "Something is wrong. I can sense it deeply. A foulness has suddenly become present in the air. Alert the others, tell them to remain vigilant. I must venture further."

As she was about to turn and soar deeper into the forest, Bunny grabbed her wrist. "Em, if something's out there I'm not letting you go by yourself."

"Do not go against what I've asked you. Remain here and help the others keep watch." Emily demanded.

"But Emily-"

"None shall challenge my power and survive. Now go!" She exclaimed, Bunny regrettably letting go as he watched her disappear into the trees.

Jack, Alice and Sandy glanced up when Bunny jogged back to the camp, shaking his head.

"Bunny? What's the matter?" Jack asked, standing up.

"It's Emily... she said she felt something was wrong. I don't know if it's a real threat, but she said to keep watch." Bunny replied.

Alice stood, not taking any chances as she wielded her vorpal blade. "Go get the rest of our party. If something is indeed coming for us than we need everyone present."

Sandy nodded, floating over towards the other side of the encampment. As he did so, Alice, Jack and Bunny gripped their weapons, their eyes darting everywhere and listening for any unusual sounds. Moments later, Alice turned as Sandy approached them, appearing a bit distressed.

"What is it?" Jack asked.

"What do you mean they're gone?!" Alice snapped, Sandy holding his hands up defensively.

Before anyone could respond, everyone jumped and whirled around as a loud, distant screech echoed through the air, and the sight of a large plume of fire and smoke rose into the sky in the direction Emily had gone in. Bunny's eyes widened, his heart skipping a beat.

"No... EMILY!" He screamed, not hesitating another second as he bounded deeper into the forest.

"Bunny, wait!" Jack shouted, soaring after the Pooka as Alice and Sandy joined him.

The three suddenly halted when cybugs began to fly right at them, Alice gritting her teeth as she whipped out her pepper corn gun. She turned the crank rapidly, taking down any within a close range.

"It would be nice if the other half of our team was here!" Jack shouted, he and Sandy working together as he froze the cybugs, and Sandy's ropes shattered them.

Bunny dashed as fast as he could, more screeching filling the air. When he skidded to a stop, he widened his eyes in horror when he saw Emily taking on not one, but two opponents; the Phoenix and Turbo. He noticed she was mounted on her majestic elk, the creature raising itself on its hind legs as she sent powerful winds towards Turbo. The winds kicked up small debris like leaves and twigs, making it harder for him to concentrate as she conjured up water to attack the Phoenix in a steady jet stream. As Turbo was about to lunge, Bunny cried out wrathfully as he whipped out his boomerangs, the cybrid having to duck to avoid them. He growled, swiping his hand through the air and hitting Bunny, but he landed well on his feet and skidded to stop his momentum. He pounced back, crying out once more as he tried to attack Turbo again.

"Get out of my way, you annoying little pest!" Turbo growled, smashing his hand down on Bunny as he chuckled. "Squashed like a bug!" When he lifted his hand, he blinked when rather than a crushed Bunny, he saw a single flower sprout out of the ground. "What the- where did it go?!"

Emily screamed loudly, pushing the Phoenix farther back as storm clouds began to release heavy rain, waving her hands as she sent another stream of water at him. The fire setting many of her trees ablaze was being tamed by her rains, and she wielded two long swords not made of metal, but of bone and antler. As cybugs attempted to attack her, she stabbed and impaled any within close range while still mounted upon her elk.

Meanwhile, as Jack, Alice and Sandy were still fighting their way towards Emily and Bunny, Jack hissed when a larger cybug left a nasty scratch on his arm. They were becoming difficult to handle, some adapting and trying to catch some of whatever was being thrown at them in their mouths so they could take on its features.

"Get down!" Jack shouted, one having caught one of Alice's pepper corns in its mouth as it shot at them. Jack whirled around, shooting an ice blast at it to knock it hard into a tree, plummeting to the ground as the light in its eyes dimmed.

Sandy clenched his teeth as his ropes wrapped around two cybugs, straining as he yanked on them so the two creatures smashed into one another, parts flying in all directions.

"We have to get to Bunny!" Alice shouted, opening her umbrella to deflect an icy cybug's attack. It ricocheted, blasting it back into another couple of cybugs and destroying all three. She then got to her feet, whirling around. "Take Sandy and find him, I shall handle this!"

"Are you out of your mind?! You can't-"

"Jack, you are well aware I'm out of my mind; and I will have to apologize to Emily when I find opportunity!" Alice exclaimed as she moved quickly on her feet, planting her little jackrabbit bombs around the area. She burst into butterflies to deflect attacks, whirling around again to press the detonator. As the bombs went off, destroying most of the cybugs within the vicinity, she gasped when she saw one being swallowed up just before the bomb went off. Jack and Sandy had taken cover, emerging once the smoke cleared.

"Well, that seemed to take care of them." Jack said as Sandy gave her a thumbs up. When they noticed her wary expression and that she was looking for something, their smiles faded. "Alice? Are you okay?"

"One of my bombs were consumed... I don't know if it perished or if it still- JACK!" Alice exclaimed, soaring towards him as the cybug in question lowered right behind where he was standing. A sudden, enormous explosion blew them all back, Alice crying out as she skidded along the ground. A few moments later, she groaned as she got to her feet, the smoke once again clearing. "Jack?" She looked all around, coughing as she waved her hand in front of her face. "Sandy?" She saw a flash of gold then, moving quicker when she identified it as the dream guardian. "Are you alright?"

Sandy silently rubbed his head, waving his hand at a few small sand birds that were circling around his head. He exhaled silently before nodding to her, signaling that he was okay. Alice looked around, biting her lip. Sandy knew she was looking for Jack, joining her as he remained alert. When he heard Alice gasp suddenly, he turned, keeping up with her as she fell to her knees.

"Jack? Jack?!" She cried, holding him to her as she saw how badly he had taken the impact; he had been thrown back right into a tree so strongly that it had cracked, the wood splintering as the ice guardian rested unconscious against its trunk. "Sandy, get him away from here. He will be vulnerable if he remains this close to the chaos. I must find Bunny."

Sandy nodded, worried for his fellow guardian as he waved his hand. A sandy airplane materialized, Alice helping to carry Jack over to it and carefully resting him inside. Sandy then hopped in, lowering his goggles and mentally telling Alice to be careful. She nodded, soaring deeper into the forest as Sandy travelled eastward. Upon their departure, Black sand suddenly appeared from behind one of the intact trees, Pitch narrowing his eyes as he made sure the coast was clear. He stealthily followed where Alice had headed, being sure to remain unseen.

Bunny's stone Easter egg statues were holding off the cybug forces, giving Bunny clearance to fight Turbo one on one. He hopped onto Turbo's back, running along his spine as he wrapped one of his boomerangs around his long, thin neck to yank him back. Turbo groped the air as he choked, growling angrily as he curled up into a ball to roll rapidly, hoping to get the Pooka off his back. His plan backfired, smacking right into a tree and flinging himself back, sprawled out as he hissed in pain.

The Phoenix and Emily were fighting fiercely, the nymph having commanded her Elk to gather the woodland animals and take them to safety. They soared through the trees, the Phoenix whirling around to shoot fire at her. Emily was very quick, dodging his attacks and gaining the upper hand. She screamed, sending another wave of water at it to take it down.

Bunny shook his head, recovering from being tumbled around as he got to his feet. When he saw Emily get the upper hand, he smirked lightly.

"That's my girl." She said to himself, exhaling deeply.

Emily glanced behind her, smiling lightly when she saw Bunny was alright. She turned, the Phoenix rising up again as she conjured one last wave to finish him off before he could attack. As Bunny gazed upon her, he failed to notice something coming up from behind him, taking him by shock as tentacles suddenly wrapped around his waist. When he cried out in surprise, Emily whirled around, her eyes widening.

"BUNNYMUND!" She screamed, sending her attack at the Queen and dousing her in water. Distracted, Bunny freed one of his arms, slicing at her tentacles with his boomerang to free himself.

The moment of opportunity, much to their disadvantage, had passed the moment Emily turned away from the Phoenix. He quickly recovered, the Queen crying out in pain as she hissed ferociously. Inhaling deeply, he spewed a strong wave of flames straight towards them. Knowing Bunny would not survive, Emily cried out, wrapping her arms around the Pooka as she enclosed him in her essence. Bunny winced, shutting his eyes tightly as she cried out painfully. Moments seemed like eternities before the assault upon them ceased, the Queen smirking as the Phoenix screeched loudly.

Emily's eyes widened in horror as the Phoenix sent a wave of fire around them, setting the entire area ablaze.

"Emily, we have to get out of here!" Bunny said, smoke beginning to collect in the air.

"No, no, I must stop this!" Emily cried, but Bunny held her back.

Alice touched down then upon seeing Bunny. "It's too dangerous here, we must make haste and head east!"

"I cannot leave my forest to perish!" Emily exclaimed.

"If we don't leave now we're all going to die!" Bunny shouted, hoisting Emily up and helping her away from the fire, Alice leading the way. As they did so, Emily struggled, crying out sorrowfully as she watched all the beauty of her forest burn to ashes.

The Queen leaned against a tree, watching the Phoenix overtaking his new domain as the others fled. Suddenly, she gasped as she was yanked back, suddenly face to face with a very angry Pitch Black.

"We had a deal. That deal entailed to exert minimal damage here, and to kill the rabbit, and you have done neither." Pitch growled.

"His death shall come in time. They have fled now, but they shall be ours for the taking soon enough." The Queen said.

"You're slacking." Pitch spat. "Either do what I ask, or-"

Pitch gasped in surprise as he felt himself being lifted, soon face to face with Turbo. He narrowed his eyes, clenching his teeth as he glared at the Nightmare King.

"Listen here, you little burnt crisp." Turbo growled. "Stay away from her or you're gonna get crunched." He then flicked Pitch away as if he were nothing, the Nightmare King having to use all of his force to slow down his momentum. He caught sight of Emily being pulled by Bunny and Alice eastward, soaring over the treetops towards the cavern area.

The Queen hissed lightly, bowing her head. "I was handling the situation."

"Didn't seem like it to me. I told you, I don't LIKE that guy." Turbo growled.

"I know that." The Queen sneered. "And not just because he is the opposition."

"Listen queenie, we've got future glory in the making here, so don't do anything to mess it up!" Turbo snapped. The Queen, in normal circumstances, would have taken Turbo's head for talking back to her. But now, she only glared at him, glancing to the side when the Phoenix appeared before her.

"We should pursue the nymph and her collective." He said.

"And we shall." The Queen replied. "For now, you have claimed this portion of your land back, make it how you see fit. Once you settle here, I shall send out forces for their capture." The Phoenix nodded to her, finally grateful that the Queen had managed to keep her promise to him. She walked over to Turbo, mounting him as he flew her back to the mountain. "I need rest." She sighed, her expression fatigued.

Bunny scooped up Emily, carrying her bridal style. Alice quickened her pace when she heard Jack's voice in the distance. They were away from the fires in the eastern end of the forest, the way they had come from in the very beginning. They approached the outside of the cavern, seeing Jack arguing with Elsa, Vanellope and Ralph.

"What in the bloody hell is going on here? Where were you lot?!" Alice shouted.

"That's what I'm trying to find out!" Jack exclaimed, hissing as he held the back of his head.

"You need to rest, no more exerting yourself." Alice hissed, making Jack sit down as Sandy angrily tapped his foot at Ralph and Elsa. "Explain yourselves this INSTANT. Do you not see the distant pandemonium and destruction?! Half the forest is burned to the ground! We may have stood half a chance if you had been present! For goodness sakes, Jack nearly had his head blown off his shoulders!"

Bunny gently set Emily to her feet, the nymph glaring darkly at the three. She would be doing all the yelling herself, but she was weakened from battle and Alice was doing a pretty good job as it was.

"Alice, we were TOLD to come here, the three of us specifically." Elsa replied. "We were on our way back to you when we noticed the smoke in the sky, we heard all this noise and we were coming back to help-"

"Someone betrayed us." Emily finally spoke up, staggering a bit as she took a step forward. Bunny stayed close to help support her. "My forest was impenetrable. None could pass through its borders without my granting. For the Phoenix and his allies to... to destroy everything..." He voice shook, overcome with grief as her facial muscles tightened. "They had assistance from one of you!"

"Are you crazy?! Why would we help THEM?!" Ralph exclaimed.

"SILENCE!" Emily screamed.

Elsa took a step forward. "Emily, please... what happened was terrible, but... we must work together to-"

Emily growled, about to attack when suddenly, black sand materialized between them as Pitch appeared. Emily hesitated, glaring up at him.

"Step aside, father. I must end those who have turned against me." Emily spoke lowly.

"You shall not lay a hand on her." Pitch said. "I will tell you exactly who it was who betrayed you."

Vanellope had stood silently the whole time, her eyes wide as silent tears rolled down her cheeks. She finally looked up when Pitch appeared, and before he could speak, she marched up to him.

"What the heck is going on here?!" Vanellope shouted at him.

Pitch glanced over at her. "Vanellope, this is not your concern. I shall handle everything from-"

"You told me to tell Ralph and Elsa to come out here but that everyone else would be okay! Now our whole camp is burned down!" Vanellope screamed.

"Wait, what?" Jack shook his head, getting to his feet. "Pitch, why would you tell them to come out here- no... you all set this up!"

"I didn't set anything up, all he said was to tell-"

"Vanellope, be SILENT." Pitch growled.

"No, let her speak, Pitch, let her tell us how you all turned your backs!" Alice shouted.

"Pitch told me that something was coming!" Vanellope exclaimed. "That's all he told me, and I told him that I should have gotten the rest of you but he wouldn't let me! He didn't tell me it was going to be this bad, he didn't say anything else!" She plopped down on the ground, beginning to cry more. "This is all my fault..."

"Why did you tell them to come here, father? Why just them, and not me? How did you know something was coming, how did you know they would penetrate my defenses...?" Emily asked.

"I will tell you why." Pitch pointed his finger at Bunny. "I witnessed him make a pact with the Queen."

Everyone gasped, Bunny reeling back. "You're insane!" Bunny shouted. "Why in the hell would I-"

"Because you thought you could get back at me!" Pitch growled.

Emily looked between them all, confusion thick in the air. Everyone was accusing each other, pointing fingers, but she was determined to find the truth.

"Are you lying, father?" Emily asked.

"I would not lie to you." Pitch said. "The Pooka is a traitor. I did not want the others to be involved. Leaving you to perish was my mistake, I... simply had so much faith you could overcome their forces..."

Emily nodded, glancing back at Bunny for a moment. The Pooka shook his head, tears filling his eyes as Emily glared darkly at him.

"Em... you know I wouldn't... I would never do such a thing..." His voice cracked.

Emily glanced down at the ground, shutting her eyes tightly for a moment. "I'm sorry... but you leave me no choice. I am weak, but... I must expend this power, I must know the truth." She whirled around then, taking Pitch off guard when she grabbed his wrists. Vines extended from her hands, wrapping up his arms as they glowed. She was able to see fragments of his recent experiences in her mind, the vines retracting seconds later as she emitted a loud scream. She staggered backwards, Bunny catching her as she stared at Pitch with a mixture of shock and disgust. "Why?! WHY?!" She shrieked, reducing everyone to silence.

"What is it?" Alice asked. "What did you see?"

"I wanted so much to believe you... I wanted so much for you to be the father I once loved, the one who would never hurt me!" Angry tears streamed down her face. "How could you do this to me?!"

"I desired so badly to shield you from all this, Emily. I was forced to do what I did." Pitch said.

"No! You alone made this choice to hurt me! All of us!" Emily screamed. "YOU HAVE BETRAYED ME!"

Jack shook his head in confusion. "Emily, what-"

"It was HE who sought out the Queen! It was he who used his own BLOOD to grant them entry! And it was HE who manipulated the child!" Emily pointed at Vanellope.

"What?!" Bunny shot a glare at Pitch. "And you have the nerve to try and make ME out to be the bad guy!"

Alice seethed, wielding her vorpal blade and jabbing it at Pitch's chest. "You'd better have good reason for pulling this stunt or I will cut your heart out!"

"Do you really want to know why? I did this, I let her in here, so she could kill YOU!" He pointed at Bunny. Everyone gasped in shock.

"Pitch... you didn't..." Elsa covered her mouth, her breath hitching.

"You have brought this destruction upon us, father." Her voice shook. "You have brought this upon me!"

"I never meant for it to get this far... the Queen assured me she would simply kill the rabbit and-"

"And you BELIEVED her?!" Jack exclaimed.

Ralph ushered Vanellope closer to him, shaking his head with disgust. "You know, I thought you were pretty rotten. But I never thought you could sink this low, Pitch."

Pitch barely regarded them, exhaling shakily as he tried to approach his daughter. "Emily... you know I never would have wanted you to be harmed like this... I was only trying to-"

"Do not come near me." She said lowly, Pitch biting his lip as he tried to reach out for her hands. When he came too close, she shrieked loudly, wrathfully, all of them jumping as a loud crack of thunder erupted in the sky. "TWICE YOU HAVE CURSED ME!" She screamed. "Leave..."

"Emily, please-"

"LEAVE NOW!" She screamed, another crack of thunder sounding in the sky. "And they may leave as well!" She pointed at Ralph, Vanellope and Elsa.

Pitch felt his chest tighten up, glancing around him as they all glared at him. Everything he tried to work for came crashing down, taking a few steps back. As he did so, his eyes caught Vanellope, clearing his throat as he approached her. He stopped when she took a step back, shaking her head at him.

"I want to apologize... for placing you in the thick of this. I hope you know that... I appreciate our friendship." Pitch said quietly.

"Friendship? FRIENDSHIP?!" Vanellope shouted. "Yeah, I finally DID have that here, I finally BELONGED somewhere and you just took that away from me!" Vanellope cried, stomping her foot.

Pitch sighed. "I did not intend for the backlash to fall on you, Vanellope... I just wanted to keep you safe-"

"No, you're a rat!" She exclaimed. "And I don't want to see you anymore!" Her voice shook as she cried more. "I was wrong about you, you're nothing but a sorry sack of dirt!"

"Vanellope... I was just trying to-"

"Stay away from her." Ralph said with a serious tone, narrowing his eyes. "Or you'll have to deal with me."

Pitch said nothing more, nodding lightly as he began to retreat slowly away from them. He stopped for a moment to gaze sadly upon Elsa, who furrowed her brows as she met his gaze. He slowly continued past her, the ice Queen hugging herself for a moment as she sighed shakily.

"Come on, Elsa..." Vanellope said, she and Ralph walking to the mega kart. "Let's get out of here."

Elsa bit her lip, glancing from them and back at Pitch. She sighed, approaching the child and kneeling down to take her hands. "Vanellope... I care about you very much... and I want you to find happiness. I know it hasn't been easy for you." Elsa bowed her head lightly. "I'm sorry, but... I have to go with Pitch."

Vanellope shook her head with confusion. "Wait, what? Why?"

"Because..." Elsa shifted her weight a bit. "... because I can't leave him alone. I made a promise that I would stay by his side even if things became very bad."

"But you promised ME that we were best friends..." Vanellope whined, shaking her head. "That's not fair, Elsa... he threw us all under the bus, he deserves to be alone!"

"No one deserves to be alone, Vanellope. I will always love you like a sister... but I cannot just leave him to himself." Elsa replied.

Vanellope's expression angered then, tearing her hands from Elsa's. "You're no better than he is... you're a good for nothing liar just like him!"

Ralph crouched down a bit behind Vanellope. "Hey, don't say that, she's just-"

"Go then!" Vanellope shouted. "Go on, get out of here! You're all liars and I don't need you!" Her face twisted, running to the mega kart as she started to sob.

Elsa slowly stood, her lip trembling as she mouthed an 'I'm sorry' to Ralph. She gave him one last lingering glance before turning, walking in the direction Pitch had gone.

When only Bunny, Emily, Alice, Jack and Sandy remained, Sandy watched the mega kart drive off into the distance sadly, plopping down on a rock. Emily gazed at the smoke rising in the distance, falling to her knees as her once beautiful and nurtured forest became ruins. She let her head fall back, crying out in despair as she took in deep breaths. Bunny kneeled down by her, hugging her from behind as she sobbed painfully.

Jack was the first to break the silence, shaking his head. "This is all so messed up." He spoke lowly, sighing. "How could everything go so wrong?"

"... it was our fault for not murdering the Queen when we had the chance." Alice said, growling with frustration as she stabbed her blade into the ground. "I hope that idiotic bastard is happy with himself... any advantage we had staked in this war has just been robbed from us."

"I'm going to gut every one of them for this." Bunny said darkly, holding Emily so her back was pressed against his chest. "And then I'm gonna go right up to Pitch and gut him."

"Let's just try to regroup here for now." Alice sighed, yanking her blade out of the ground and sheathing it. "We can decide our next steps in the morning."

Despite being guardians of hope and faith, everything seemed bleak as they realized the severe misfortune that had been dealt to them today. Half of their party was gone, and their enemies were overwhelming them. It was difficult to tell if things would get better or worse from here, but the group had no choice but to push on through what obstacles or triumphs laid ahead of them.

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