Initiating Necessary Discussions
Everyone stood in shock, Elsa widening her eyes and turning Pitch to face her. "H- How do you know she's alive?"
"When I saw Alice's visions... I knew then. She has kept herself well concealed, but her connection with Alice is still strong; I'm not sure if she is even still aware of it." Pitch replied.
"You knew about this and failed to tell anyone?" Elsa asked, shaking her head. "You know what she's done to me in the past, how could you keep something like this a secret?!"
"Elsa, I didn't believe that she could be a threat... you know I wouldn't allow anyone to harm you." Pitch said, taking her hands.
As they quarreled, Bunny and Sandy exchanged uneasy glances, Bunny knowing firsthand what kind of a force the Queen was.
"You had better decide where your loyalties lie, Pitch. And very, very quickly." Alice said.
"What do you- you aren't implying that I'm still her accomplice?!" Pitch choked a bit.
"Your behavior is stating otherwise, so I would place a great effort in improving upon that." Alice replied before slowly looking over at Jack, glaring at him. He opened his mouth to say something when she shoved past him, storming out of the room.
Jack frowned deeply, glancing back at Bunny who gave him a nod to go. He hurried out of the room, glancing up and down the corridor and wandering a bit in an attempt to find her. He ended up going up to the next floor where some of the bedrooms were, hearing voices coming from one of them. He peered in to see Alice sitting beside Eliza, the child complaining of a stomachache. Alice looked towards the door, Jack taking a step back in surprise as her eyes burned into his. She got up, going into the bathroom to rummage around a bit. She took some clothes and medicine, bringing it back into the room to place by Eliza.
"Alice... look, I'm sorry I-"
"I'm currently occupied with something." Alice cut him off, giving Eliza some medicine before handing her the clothing. "You may wash up in the lavatory and change." The girl nodded, slowly getting out of bed and going into the bathroom. Alice remained where she was after Eliza closed the door, Jack slowly sitting down beside her. He reached for her hand, gasping lightly when Alice yanked it away from him.
'For the majority of my life I have been lied to and deceived by the people I have placed my greatest trust in, and here I am experiencing this phenomenon yet again!'
Jack hissed, holding his head when he heard Alice's voice screaming. He held his hands up defensively. "Okay, can I just... explain what-"
'No, what happened was you kept very significant information from me!' She shouted again in his mind.
"Alice... I wanted to tell you, I told Pitch I wanted to go out there and see for ourselves what she may be doing, where she is... he told me not to say anything!" Jack exclaimed.
"So you listen to him then?" Alice said aloud this time, leaning forward a bit. "Jack, I know I've kept secrets from you before... and I still regret it. However, I did so because I thought I was protecting someone. Who were you protecting by retaining this fact from me? Or rather, who are you helping Pitch to protect?"
"Come on, you really think that Pitch is trying to cover something up?" Jack asked.
"I have no idea. Even Elsa was ignorant to this, which was quite evident." She sighs. "All I know is that Eliza cannot go back to the workshop."
"Wait, what? But if she isn't going to stay there, then who's going to take care of her?" Jack asked. "You're going to keep her here with Pitch, who you just said in the same breath you don't trust?"
"Where else can she go, Jack? Where, where can we take her? She must stay here in Arendelle. There are more people here, it's a more densely populated area that the tundra. More eyes to see." Alice replied.
"Alice, she's not used to this place, I don't want her to be uncomfortable..." Jack said.
"So you would rather place her life at risk, then?" Alice shouted.
As Alice and Jack bickered, Eliza peeked through a crack in the bathroom door, frowning as she lingered there. The arguing stopped when she began to sniffle, Alice hearing her as she went over to open the door the rest of the way. "Alice, it's like my nightmares... I could see them fighting because of me..." Eliza began to cry.
Alice sighed lightly, running a hand through her hair as she knelt down, hugging her close. "I'm sorry, love." She said quietly, petting Eliza's hair. "We're just both concerned for you, is all."
"That's what my mother and father would say to me when they fought..." Eliza said. "I remember it now... I have dreams about it each night. And then they sent me away to England, they sent me to the doctor."
"You will never be harmed by him again." Alice assured. "Jack and I love you. Now get some rest, you look exhausted. I'll come fetch you in a little while." She walked her over to bed, glancing once at Jack before walking out of the room, towards her guest bedroom. Jack followed her, and Alice was about to leave the room when he held her hands as gently as possible. "Jack, I don't want to see you right now."
"Alice, I'm sorry. Pitch said he didn't want you to know because he didn't want you to panic, and I just agreed with him because you've been so stressed lately." Jack sighed.
"And now I am even more so, not just because the very thing I feared has come to fruition, but because you kept it from me. What if she came after us? What if she came after Eliza? Do you have any idea the devastation I would feel, do you have any idea how frightened I am to lose all the people I love? I can't go through this again Jack!" Her voice cracked as she held the sides of her head, and it was her turn to cry now as Jack hugged her close to him. "I'm trying so hard to be strong... for her... but when will my past cease its haunting of me?"
"Look... we got Bumby, Alice... and if the Queen tries anything, we'll get her too." Jack said. He lifted her face, smiling a lightly. "Just remember you've got a whole group of expert warriors on your side... including yours truly." He smirked a bit.
Alice stared at him longingly for a few moments, when suddenly, she took his face into her hands to kiss him with much need. Taken aback quite a bit, Jack barely kept up for the first minute or so as she coiled her arms around his shoulders. She finally broke the kiss, staring into his eyes.
"You promise not to keep anymore secrets from me?" Alice asked. Jack could not speak, only nodding his head as he stared at her. "Excellent… I think we can both agree I need this release…" She leaned back in to kiss him, sighing into it. Jack was utterly confused as to how and why Alice suddenly made this drastic switch, but by the moon he was not going to question it.
Meanwhile, Pitch and Elsa stood alone in the drawing room, Elsa looking out the window. "Alright, Pitch... you made me come clean to you, now it's your turn." She said before turning to face him. "Tell me what you know and how."
Pitch exhaled slowly. "Very well. Yesterday, during the party, and I believe while you were speaking to Jack... Alice came to me, requesting I assist her with some nightmares she had been experiencing."
"What did you see?" Elsa asked.
"I saw a great struggle. Initially, I thought it was Alice continuing to struggle internally with lingering guilt. But I then realized that it was pointing to something else that lingers... or rather, someone." Pitch said.
"The Queen of Hearts... you saw her in Alice's nightmares?" Elsa frowned as she hugged herself lightly. "... so... is she really alive?" She closed her eyes for a moment as Pitch nodded. "How is this possible?"
"I'm not entirely sure of that, or her current whereabouts and what state she's in. All I know is that she and Alice still have a very strong connection." Pitch said.
"So can't Alice find out those things?" Elsa asked.
"Possibly... but if the Queen were able to know that Alice was seeing into her mind, it may make things worse for us." Pitch answered.
"So what do we do about this?" Elsa asked.
"The same thing I told Jack: to not panic or jump to conclusions." Pitch responded.
"Give me one reason why I should not be concerned about this, Pitch." Elsa took a step closer. "I am her enemy now, so if she is out there, she's going to-"
"-do absolutely nothing to instigate us. Think about it Elsa, all of her prior allies no longer stand by her. Bumby is dead- good riddance to him- Wick is a guardian, and you and I have formed a civil relationship with the remaining guardians. She has no resources outside of those she can conjure herself, no gathering, no connections. She isn't in Wonderland anymore where she can turn the simple-minded folk there to do her bidding. She is in the world outside of Alice's mind. Even if she did find someone to fight alongside her, I have great doubt they would be a match for all of us." Pitch tried to assure her.
Elsa stared at him with a serious expression for a few moments. "Would you bet my life upon that?"
"What do you mean?" Pitch asked. "I wouldn't bet your life upon anything."
"Would you bet my life that everything you just said is guaranteed? That there is no chance of a different outcome? That is a yes or no question, Pitch." Elsa stated.
Pitch's expression softened as Elsa's became more serious, approaching her as he took her face into his hands gently. "No." He answered. "I would bet your life upon nothing." He sighed, his hands moving to take hers into them. "If you feel I should look into this... then I shall do so to ease your worry."
Elsa nodded, allowing her hands to be enveloped in Pitch's. "If she were to come after me, I would not be the only one in danger... my sister, my home, my people... and you would be in danger."
"I suppose I hadn't thought of that..." Pitch bowed his head a bit. "I may need Alice's assistance for this task."
"Yes... I don't want you going off after her alone, anyhow." Elsa replied.
"Indeed... I'm honored that you fret over me." He smirked then. "By the way... what was that little thing you slipped up earlier...? I do wonder what it implied..."
Elsa furrowed a brow, tilting her head. "What are you-" She realized what he was referring to then, gasping lightly as she blushed. "W- Well, I... it was an accident, I didn't mean to embarrass you-"
Pitch chuckled lightly. "Embarrass me? You could never do that... I was- am, rather... quite flattered."
Elsa sighed lightly, smiling to herself. "I'm sure you know now that I've thought about it... I always thought marriage was a silly thing, something that Anna would enjoy more than I, but... I'm starting to change my mind. I think I'm becoming more receptive to the idea."
"I believe I am as well." Pitch smiled lightly, drawing Elsa closer to pet her hair. "And as soon as we get all of this fretting out of the way... when you're ready... it's certainly something I'd like to progress." Elsa nodded in response as he held her close.
The Queen slowly opened her eyes, exhaling slowly as she nodded. "Yes... I see what I need..." She glanced over at Hans then as he looked around.
"Where are we?" He asked.
"We are just outside the Altai Mountains... where I shall hopefully find the next individual I am seeking out." The Queen replied.
"So these... guardians... have allied themselves with Arendelle?" Hans asked.
"Indeed. They shall prove to be a formidable force, so we need to prepare ourselves for that if we are to overtake it... among other locations." The Queen made her way into the mountain, Hans following close behind. They ventured deep into them, reaching a portion where bones lay, the skulls present... not quite human. They eventually reached what looked like an abandoned camp; huts and other primal structures lingered, having fallen into ruin long ago. The Queen approached a large stone then, Mongolian written upon it as she surveyed the area. She knelt down, taking some of the rocky soil into her hand and sniffing it. "He is here." She said lowly. Before Hans could ask yet another question, the Queen opened her hand, revealing the small feather. She turned it into ashes, sprinkling it upon the grave. She took a step back as the sky began to darken, narrowing her eyes. "I have made my offering... arise from your resting place... arise so you may fulfill that which remains appointed to you!"
Hans gasped lightly in cautious fascination as winds picked up, the Queen not flinching for a moment as the sky filled with the cries of a thousand souls in a chaotic chorus. The earth beneath them trembled, a deep crack appearing where the grave was, breaking the headstone into two pieces. When the phenomenon ceased, a hand, renewed with the vigor in his soul, emerged from within the ground to climb upon it. When he stood, he approached the Queen, walking through the snow covered ground as he extended his hand. The ashes from the feather swirled around it, reforming into the feather as he snatched it out of the air. He reopened his hand, the feather sitting in its palm as he inspected it. He glanced up at the Queen, standing taller. The creature looked like something between a man and a primate, donning armor and a spear.
"Kherev ta ööriin takhild zoriulan khariud ni minii yuu khüsch baina ve?" He asked in Mongolian.
"I seek assistance in destroying my enemies... and in exchange, I shall help to ensure your vengeance... giving you opportunity to destroy the source of the feather you hold in your hand." The Queen replied. "For she, and the other guardians, are also my enemies."
Hans watched between the two of them silently, trying to understand what was going on. He glanced up at the Queen. "Who is this?" He asked her.
"This is the Monkey King." The Queen replied. "I saw him in connection to the feather he holds... as well as through the snow globe. He sought out before his untimely death to end the life of one of the guardians... unsuccessfully of course. He shall be joining our cause..." She said as the ground began to tremble a bit once more, Hans looking around as he discovered that the abandoned camp was no longer so, more creatures coming out from under the snow. "I have revived him and his army to assist us."
The Monkey King bent down on one knee before the Queen, head bowed. "Namaig sergej neg üüreg güitsetgene." His monkey army followed suit, chanting the same phrase once as they all knelt down. The Queen smirked lightly, holding her head high in a triumphant manner.
"Now... we must seek refuge for ourselves and this magnificent army... once there, I shall fully explain our purpose and my intentions for all of you." The Queen said, taking a snow globe into her hand and narrowing her eyes. "Show me." She hissed at it, shaking it until another mountain, this one concaved, came into view; it rested just beyond the perimeter of a vast forest. "Ah... now this is quite intriguing... we shall take up residence there before I continue my search. Come! Gather closer so you may enter the portal more swiftly." She said before casting the snow globe, entering the portal once it opened up.
Anna rolled her eyes as Kristoff and Sven acted like goofballs in the courtyard, threatening to make a mess of things. She looked towards the door, wondering if Elsa was coming out to scold them. She was met with the sight of Alice instead, smiling lightly as the young woman smirked at the pair, glancing at Anna and raising a brow. They both chuckled, Alice approaching her.
"So, you had a pleasant birthday weekend, I hope?" Alice asked.
"I did, thank you." Anna replied.
"Do you suppose we could take a turn about the town? I would like to see more of this place. It's quite lovely." Alice suggested.
"Sure! I'll give you a tour." Anna replied, the two girls making their way out of the courtyard as Sven toppled over a table head first, Kristoff guffawing as Sven got up, shaking his head and sticking his tongue out at him.
Alice looked around the market place once in town, Anna pointing out certain things and even buying a few items for Alice, much to her gratitude. They eventually reached the dock, Alice biting into a green apple. "What a breathtaking view." She commented.
"I love it here." Anna replied. "It's so peaceful, and I love to watch the boats travel in and out of the port."
Alice sat in deep thought then, thinking of Eliza. She began to realize that this would be a much better environment for her, and though she was a bit wary of Pitch and Elsa still, she knew she could trust Anna with her, even Kristoff, despite his aloof ways. "I was hoping to ask you something." Alice finally spoke.
"Sure, what is it?" Anna replied.
"With the unidentified intruder back at the workshop... I have been reluctant to return Eliza there to stay." She said. "If it isn't a great burden... I was hoping she could remain here in Arendelle, at least until I can find new arrangements."
"Of course she can stay! Olaf is always happy when she's around and she's such a sweet girl." Anna smiled.
"Thank you." Alice smiled lightly. "I would feel great relief just knowing that she's safe."
"Yeah... but Alice... I heard that the Queen is still alive... do you think she'll try to come after us?" Anna asked worriedly.
"It's certainly a possibility. I hate to place this kingdom under risk, but it's more likely that defenses will hold up here than at the workshop where we're so isolated." Alice replied.
"True... and with Elsa reinstated and better established now, our kingdom's defenses are definitely a better help." Anna remarked.
Meanwhile, Jack sighed lightly, smiling blissfully as he finally willed himself to leave his and Alice's room. He was still reeling over Alice making out with him earlier, shuffling through the halls in a love sick daze. Bunny stared at him flatly as he walked by, sighing as he glanced around awkwardly. All of these... couples around him, it definitely weighed his heart down knowing he could not enjoy the same comforts. He noticed Sandy sulking as well, sitting beside him and patting the smaller dream guardian's back.
"Least you've got someone to mope about." Bunny said. "She'll be fine... North is with her, and as much as I hate Wick, he can put up a fight."
Sandy nodded, looking up at him and forming sand pictures to say that Bunny would find someone someday also. Bunny smiled lightly, nodding.
"Thanks, mate." Bunny said before glancing over to see Eliza approaching him. "Hey, little ankle biter. Feeling better?" He asked, the young girl giggling a bit when he ruffled her hair.
"Yes." She replied. "I'm a little hungry."
Sandy piped up then, smiling as he formed a sand picture of cake over his head. Eliza giggled, nodding and beaming.
"Well, there's your answer. Come on, there's some left over." Bunny said as she went towards the dining hall.
Alice and Anna returned then, meeting up with Jack inside the palace.
"Hey, Eliza is feeling better. She's having some cake with Olaf." Jack said, smiling.
"Good." Alice smiled back. "Is Pitch about? I would like to speak with him."
"Oh... I think he's with Elsa in one of the meeting rooms..." Jack said, his smile fading a bit.
"I'll seek him out there, then." Alice said, making her way up the stairs.
Jack sighed lightly, rubbing his forehead. "She won't rest until she gets to the bottom of this. I'm really worried about her."
"She's just trying to protect her family... I know she would never admit it, but she and my sister have a lot more in common than they realize." Anna said.
"I guess..." Jack said. "But if the Queen is still alive after all this time, wouldn't she have tried to pull something sooner if she was sure we weren't aware of it?" He asked.
"Who knows, Jack... I don't know as much about her as you all do, but from what Elsa told me, she's very dangerous. It's safe to say that you can't put anything past her." Anna replied.
Alice reached a door, knocking on it lightly. A few moments later, the door was opened by Elsa.
"Oh, hello Alice. Can I help you with something?" Elsa asked.
Alice glanced past her to see Pitch in the room before returning her attention to her. "I would like a moment with Pitch. It doesn't need to be in total privacy."
Elsa was about to say something when she felt a light hand on her shoulder, looking behind her to see Pitch give her a nod. "Come in, Alice. I've been meaning to speak to you as well."
"Perfect." Alice said as she headed inside, taking a seat.
"Elsa and I have been discussing the situation at hand. I apologize if you felt my actions were disloyal in nature, but that was not my intention. I am well aware how you like to jump to conclusions first and ask questions later. I was trying to avoid panic, is all." Pitch explained.
"That's all very well, but there is nothing that would have caused greater panic than if you would have let it progress so far that she was standing right at our doorstep. Is this guaranteed to happen? Of course not. But is it possible? Knowing her better than anyone, absolutely, and it is not something I want to risk." Alice replied.
"Very well. So here is a probable solution. Is there a way you can locate her without her being aware?" Pitch asked.
"In what manner?" Alice replied.
"I sense a very strong connection still remaining between you and the Queen, Alice. She may be physically separate from you now, but mentally and emotionally, far from so." Pitch said.
Alice nodded in understanding. "I see what you mean. This is something I will spend the day in an attempt to find an answer to. If I can get at least a vague grasp as to her whereabouts... we can- at least, I assume you're implying this- take care to observe her in secrecy?"
"Precisely." Pitch said.
Elsa watched between them in silence, glancing at Alice as she pursed her lips in thought.
"Alright then, I won't hesitate any longer to get started." Alice said, standing to her feet. "Pitch, Elsa..." She gave them a nod. "It's been a nice chat." She then took her leave, exiting the room.
"Well, that went better than expected..." Elsa commented.
"For both of our sakes, I'm glad for that." Pitch said, releasing the breath he had been holding.
The Queen arrived at their destination with Hans, the Monkey King and his monkey minions, approaching the concaved mountain. She took a moment to survey the area, nodding to herself. "This will do. Come! We shall rest here, and then I shall speak to all of you."
They began to make their way into the mountain, the Monkey King shouting commands to his minions as they followed. Upon entering, the inside was flat, save for one stone like structure protruding from the very center, encased in hardened ashes. The Queen held up a hand, sensing something. She slowly approached it, narrowing her eyes as she stopped mere inches from it.
"It looks like something is curled up inside it..." Hans remarked.
"Indeed, it does..." The Queen answered, extending a hand to touch it. When she did, a pair of eyes popped open, and everyone scrambled back as black smoke began to emerge from the unfurling creature, bursting into light. It resembled molten lava and ashes, the creature growing in size. The Queen stared with awe as it unfurled its wings, emitting a loud screech that shook the mountain. She held her hands up as it loomed over them, its wings spread wide in a threatening stance.
"Only I command the forces of this mountain and the streams of fire that flow through it. Any who trespass shall not leave this realm with their lives, for they shall suffer by my fiery hunger!" The creature spoke, towering over all of them like a gargantuan bird engulfed in flames.
As the creature was about to unleash all hell upon the group, the Queen hissed ferociously, her mouth opening wide to reveal her sharp teeth. She emitted her own flames at the creature, who reeled back in surprise at the attack.
"None have ever challenged me, none have ever come forth with such power!" It exclaimed. "I shall not fret, for I shall still destroy you!"
"I don't think so!" The Queen shouted, winds picking up. "You shall suffer for your-"
"Wait, your highness." Hans stepped forward suddenly, surprising the Queen. The creature looked upon Hans warily, narrowing its eyes. "Is there no service we can provide in exchange for your mercy?"
"There is not one thing you can do for me that I cannot do for myself; your offer is immaterial!" It shouted.
"So there is not a single thing that you need assistance with? Nothing for you to gain, nothing in this entire world that you cannot overpass?" Hans asked.
The creature was about to speak, when it hesitated. The Queen noticed this, looking between them and smirking lightly.
"There is one being... one I seek to destroy and overtake this land, but her powers are ancient in nature, and her domain is impenetrable without her grant." It explained.
Hans nodded. "If we were to assist you in overcoming this obstacle... would you allow us to keep our lives?"
Tension that could be cut with a knife lingered in the air, moments seeming like an eternity passing before the creature gave its answer. "If you were to assist me with this, then I shall grant your request. You would find solace here and share this realm without harm from me."
Hans thanked the creature, glancing back when the Queen rested one of her large hands on his shoulder, nodding to him in approval. She then turned to the creature, taking a step forward. "What are you called?" She asked.
"I am Fire Phoenix. I draw my strength from the molten core of the earth, it is what fuels my ambitious nature." It said.
"I too, am ambitious... each one of us here is. We all have enemies and obstacles we seek to surpass, and I shall make sure it comes to pass. I am the Queen of Hearts... and your decision to not make an enemy of me was wise. You shall see in time that it shall benefit you." She spoke. She turned to the Monkey King, giving him a nod. He then turned to his minions, calling out to them.
"Khuaran tokhiruulakh khangamj tsugluulj! Id shid zevseg!" He shouted, his minions chanting in response before rummaging about and around the mountain, finding rocks, twigs, branches and other things to set up huts inside the mountain, make fires and weapons.
After some time, the Queen stood in the center of the mountain, gathering everyone's attention. The Phoenix shrunk down to a smaller size, still standing tall and proudly. The Monkey King was able to understand the Queen, and the Queen could understand the Monkey King due to her ability to read hearts. Hans watched and listened curiously, hoping to finally grasp a full understanding of what was to happen, where they were to go from here.
"As you may know by now, I am called the Queen of Hearts. I was part from an inception from a world called Wonderland. The creator of this world was my enemy. She had allied herself with several of your enemies here... Elsa of Arendelle... Toothiana and the other guardians who stand by her. In Wonderland, there were those few who remained loyal to me, and they were destroyed for it. But now, I have almost everything that I require to build a new empire. I require a Jabberwocky... a knave of hearts..." She looked to Hans. "... a Jub Jub Bird..." She glanced over at the Phoenix, nodding in satisfaction. "... and a Bandersnatch." She glanced over to the Monkey King and his minions. "All of you have fit into those roles so far to my standard, but there is one more I must find. Once I find this last creature, we can begin to turn our intentions to action. Our enemies, and those who fight alongside them, shall be shown no mercy. As Queen, I bequeath all of you rewards when we are to succeed in their destruction; Hans, you shall receive the kingdom of Arendelle. Maharaja, you shall receive Tooth Palace. And you, o great Phoenix, shall receive the land of the vast forest once it is overtaken." She received silent approval from them, smirking lightly. "Your task is simple. Swear loyalty to your Queen, destroy your enemies and mine by my command, and I shall give you everything you desire."
"Daichid, övdög sögdön! Khatan khaan ni möndör!" The Monkey King shouted, he followed by all his minions bowing in servitude and chanting. Hans glanced at them unsurely before kneeling himself, bowing his head as he looked around silently. The Queen smirked as she nodded, turning to the Phoenix and raising a brow. She tilted her head, the Phoenix sensing not only the power she retained, but also the power of her influence. Finally, it slowly bowed its head, making the Queen smirk wider.
"Soon... soon, this war shall begin in earnest." She said lowly, chuckling to herself.