Disclaimer: I don't own Frozen.
They docked late afternoon the next day. Damages to the ship made them have to quarter their speed in hopes of not sinking. It wasn't as terrifying as it sounded, considering the captain withheld the information until they reached a safe distance to land.
Anna knew he had some ulterior motive for giving them chocolate for breakfast.
The Southern Isles was a small place. Built upon steep cliffs, its harbor could only fit a handful of ships at a time. The capitol was the only place for civilization for miles. Steep mountains capped in glossy snow prevented any real habitation.
"Keep 'er steady!" Anna heard Captain Roy yell somewhere behind her when another wave crashed against their exposed backside. Nature was practically throwing them into the harbor.
The princess shivered beneath her thick winter clothes, frozen sea mist doing nothing to help her freezing body. Once they got to land, it would be warmer with the cliffs blocking the incoming wind.
"It's so…tall," Elsa mumbled, leaning against the stairs on deck. She partially hid behind them like a child behind her mother's skirts.
Anna glanced at her. The capitol housed just as many citizens as Arendelle's in some not-so-safe feat of architecture. Houses stretched several stories tall and leaned precariously over narrow streets. People bustled about everywhere on foot like ants in a kicked hill.
There was a loud smack when the gangplank was lowered onto the short dock. Anna turned to her blonde companion, frowning when Elsa retreated further behind the stairs.
The redhead sighed and walked to her side. "Elsa…" The taller woman flinched when she touched her arm but settled when she recognized the hand. She didn't look up.
Anna cocked her jaw, both frustrated and concerned. This was exactly why she didn't want her to come. Too many new faces and places for her to fear.
"I…" Elsa thickly swallowed. "T-They'll see me."
Anna's frustration evaporated in a millisecond. She'd forgotten the blonde's adversity to common folk. Even in Arendelle where the news spread by her father hailed her as a hero, she couldn't so much as walk through town square without hyperventilating. It wasn't that she had a bias against the poor. They just reminded her of crowds that she would sooner want to forget.
Anna wordlessly unclasped her black velvet cloak (meant as a decoration when she was received at the castle) and wrapped it around Elsa's shoulders. The blonde blinked at her questioningly when she snapped the silver clasp in the front and pulled the thick hood over her head.
"There," she said, patting Elsa's sides and shoulders to smooth the long material and brush off imaginary lint. She tucked any visible platinum hair into the hood and pulled it further over her face. She kissed the still confused blonde's nose. "No one will give you a second glance. Though they'll be wishing they were able to. I mean you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. But hey, if you want to deprive these Southern backwash folk, that's your burden."
Elsa hesitated before a fanged smile split across her face. The relief and thankfulness that melted her tense features was overshadowed only by the raw affection in her gaze. "Thank you, Anna."
Anna grinned in return, grabbing Elsa's hand from somewhere in the folds of velvet. "Now come on. The sooner we get to the castle, the sooner we can get some decent sleep." The two women carefully walked off the icy gangplank, heading towards a small open-roofed carriage that was waiting for them. The driver at the reins didn't give them a second glance when they approached. "I might cry when I get into a decent bed."
Elsa laughed. "Go ahead. I won't judge." Anna playfully swatted her arm.
Anna climbed into the wagon with Elsa's assistance, the blonde jumping up right after. They had to adjust so that Anna was half-sitting in her lap in the single narrow seat. It looked and felt rather awkward, but arriving at the castle separately was out of the question.
Kristoff—clad in his ornate royal armor with his very heavy two-handed sword strapped to his back over his cape— had to hang on to the back.
The driver whipped the reins as soon as Kristoff was situated, though he nearly fell off as soon as they started moving. The ground was all uneven cobblestone hidden under a concoction of snow and dirt sludge.
Elsa kept her head bowed during the uncomfortable ride. Only Anna could catch even a glimpse of her face. She rubbed her thumb over the back of her hand to calm her. City goers shot them glares and curious glances as they paved their way through the overly crowded street, a pair of dogs running alongside the carriage to clear the way ahead of them.
Elsa lifted her head only when Anna said they had arrived and even then only enough to catch a glimpse of the castle. The blonde had to bite back her gasp of awe. Either the Southern Isles were gaudy or Arendelle modest, but either way the behemoth of stone in front of her overshadowed the familiar image of Arendelle.
The palace was situated in front of a stone hill. It arched away from it towards the town in the shape of a large crescent moon, the only way in or out being over a heavily guarded drawbridge. Unlike the stone and wooden Castle Arendelle, this was entirely stone and iron with a mountain to its back and forests to either side.
It kindof looks like an ant, Elsa thought absentmindedly. Like those big pincers that the fat red ones have.
They rocked over the drawbridge and into the large courtyard until finally they were allowed off. Anna had bitten her tongue in the round-a-bout and was cursing low enough for only Elsa to hear. The redhead saw her small smirk when she helped her off and stuck out her swollen tongue, to which Elsa's grin grew into a smile.
But when Anna reached up to pull down her hood, her smile instantly vanished. She jumped back from the princess and pulled the velvet closer around her from reflex.
Anna cocked her jaw, glancing at the arrangement of guards and scribes and servants busying about the courtyard. "Elsa, you need to take the hood off," she whispered, barely moving her lips.
Elsa blinked. "Why?"
The redhead turned to the doors and straightened her dress. "When we go inside, we're going to be received by King Anders. His temper is as fragile as paper thin glass. At least, that's what Papa said. I've never met him in person. But if I bring a guest—a bodyguard—draped like an assassin, gods know what fit he'll have." She glanced around to check for unwanted eyes before turning to the blonde, smiling in an effort of comfort.
"It'll only be for a few minutes," she continued, her hands finding the edge of the hood and slowly pulling it down. Elsa's brow furrowed into a frustrated but submissive line. Anna could hear her teeth grind when she was fully exposed.
"Look at me." Elsa reluctantly dragged her eyes upward. "Nothing is going to happen. You're safe with me, remember? And I with you."
The blonde sighed. "I kno—"
Elsa jumped when the large oaken doors to the castle were thrown open.
"Princess Anna!" a baritone voice harroled from the entryway. Metal scratched against metal as a handful of armored men rushed to line the stairs that led from the snowy ground to the doors. They carried banners of blinding gold and blood red.
Elsa moved closer to her redhead, glaring over their armor and weapons and calculating escape routes.
"Please excuse my current state of dress, princess. Had I known you were arriving, I would have made myself presentable," the same deep voice said, accompanied by a click of boots on stone as it approached them.
Elsa looked up at the approaching man. Her body stopped mid-breath. That face. That auburn hair. Those queer green eyes and haphazard smirk.
A growl boiled in the back of her throat. She slowly crouched beside Anna, baring her fangs and glaring murder. She could feel herself slip into some primal instinct the more she stared at him.
A jab to her side made her look down into hardened teal. "Elsa," Anna said through gritted teeth. The blonde stopped growling, confused. The princess folded her hands in front of her. "Behave."
Anna curtsied when the footsteps stopped in front of her, one of her hands pulling Elsa's cloak to force her into a bow beside her. "King Anders," she coolly greeted. She straightened her back, ignoring the glare Elsa bore into her head.
The blonde snapped her head to the man with a partial snarl. He wore crisp white trousers with freshly shined riding boots and a golden double breasted jacket heavy with metals and tassels, all complete with a deep red sash around his waist and across his chest.
Elsa quickly sucked in her growl. This man was not Hans. Everything was the same, right down to those grotesque sideburns, but this man was different. He was much older. He had a stronger jaw and wider shoulders, a weird shape of beard that only surrounded his mouth and chin.
Elsa was broken from her thoughts when Anna extended her hand for a kiss. It was the strangest greeting the humans ever conceived, but she was glad Anna had told her about it prior to now. She may have accidentally hurt the king.
"Your Highness," he reverently said, lips as pink as earthworms after a storm grazing Anna's knuckles. What Elsa assumed was his crown—the ridiculous thing couldn't be anything but—didn't so much as slip when he bent forward, like it was glued to his head. It was rather curious considering Elsa had never seen Anna's father wear his. "I must say that our meeting is much over due. It is an honor to receive such a beautiful woman into my humble castle."
Elsa couldn't hide her sneer. Humble?
The ornate king closed his mouth from what surely would have been another obnoxious declaration when a man appeared from behind him. Elsa blinked in confusion at the newcomer. She hadn't seen him. She hadn't seen him. He appeared behind the monarch like he melted from his shadow.
Curious, the blonde cocked her head to try to catch what was being whispered, her eyes never leaving the strange man. He must have been someone important if the thousands of swirls etched into his silver armor were anything to go by.
Anders swatted his hand. "Yes yes very well. Away with you then," he grumbled. The ebony-haired man stood back, keeping his gaze down. He bowed and mumbled his thanks to his king before repeating the courtesy to Anna.
He left back into the castle without so much as a glance at Elsa.
The blonde followed his retreat until his steps faded away, her attention brought back by Ander's loud voice. "I apologize for the interruption. My knight has some prior engagement to attend to." From where the first man had exited, another one entered. Though he was wearing patched together parts of iron armor and looked like he had just woken up from a drunken stupor. He didn't bow to either monarch.
Anna just smiled, clasping her hands in front of her to warm her numbing fingers from the cold. "It's no problem at all, Your Majesty. You have my thanks for receiving me at this hour. I hope you will forgive me for my tardiness."
Elsa looked at her like the princess had grown a second head. She'd never heard her talk so…princess-y before.
Anders laughed. It was a strange guttural sound, almost like he was choking. "It is no fault at all, princess. You're not the last to arrive. I am simply thankful that you reached us safely. Please forgive me for saying again, but word of mouth does not do your beauty justice. And never have I ever seen such a peculiar birthmark. It's quite stunning."
Anna blinked in confusion before processing his words. "O-Oh. Yes," she laughed nervously. She touched her head where the streak of platinum white trailed through her braid. She had almost forgotten about that. "I was born with it. Though I dreamt I was kissed by a troll."
The king laughed again. "Ah, I see Agdar's daughter inherited her mother's looks and her father's humor! Though, if you pardon my saying, it does look like you could do with a hot meal after such a long journey. Please, join me in the dining hall. I insist. It is a rather strange hour to dine, but I would not be opposed if I am in your company." His eyes found their way to Elsa, nearly forcing another growl out of the blonde. "Your slave can take your things to your room while w—"
"She is not my slave," Anna loudly interrupted. The king looked taken aback by the fierce change in demeanor. But the princess' deadly glare quickly reined itself back to a gritted smile. "Your Grace," she politely finished.
As much as Elsa really wanted to both kiss Anna and maul Anders at that particular moment, she couldn't entirely blame him for the assumption. She hadn't bathed since leaving Arendelle, and she was wearing the same sleeveless shirt, trousers, and boots from when they were attacked by the pirates. She probably looked like she was fresh from the market.
Anders hastily collected himself. "My ugh…My apologies, princess." He glanced back at Elsa. "I meant no offense. I have never seen someone so…exotic. I only assumed—"
"Your prior statement made clear what you assumed," Anna bit back. "Lady Elsa is my bodyguard and a royal knight of Arendelle. It is the fault of your pirates that you would dare to make such an assumption."
The king's eyes widened. "Pirates?"
"Yes. My ship barely made it into port from the attack. Everyone on board my ship including myself would be dead if not for her. If you would be so kind as to remember that and not her exotic appearance like she so deserves, I would greatly appreciate it."
Anders said nothing as Anna continued. Smart choice, Elsa thought.
"You have my sincerest apologies, princess," the king said, though it sounded forced. "The laws and practices in our countries are very...different. I make the same assumptions on my guest as I do my own people, and that is my folly. The mistake will not be made again, I assure you."
Anna straightened her back, looking very much like a striking cobra though her features looked to be relaxing. "Thank you. And I'm afraid I will not be taking your offer to dine, King Anders. I am very tired from my journey and require nothing more than hot water for a bath and a meal brought to my room. I hope you will excuse my absence from dinner later tonight."
Anders puffed his chest and lowered his brow. He wanted to say something. That much was easy to see. "Very well," he gritted, his words dripping with something akin to venom. "I will make sure your ship is repaired." He gestured to the man standing behind him. "Merikh will show you to your room."
Anna smiled and curtsied, Elsa giving a shallow bow beside her and Kristoff somewhere behind her. "Thank you, Your Majesty."
The room was very spacious, as was expected. Though it did have a rather dull air to it since it was all stone. The only uplifting feature was the royal purple duvet and the broad window that overviewed the neighboring forest.
Kristoff was sent to his own quarters somewhere down the hall. Elsa would be sleeping with Anna in her room. It wasn't uncommon practice for monarchs and knights of the same sex to share a room when visiting allies. Though the practice was exclusively male since a female knight was unheard of.
They had only been there an hour and Elsa was already getting restless. A strange place in a strange land with people she didn't like wasn't exactly the most calming atmosphere.
Not to mention the unknown fate of Hans and wherever he was.
"I'm ugh…I'm going to walk around," Elsa said, getting up from the bed and heading to the door.
Anna shot up from her seat by the dresser. Her open suitcase tumbled off the whitewood. "What?! No no no no no." She strode to Elsa's side and bared the door with her body. "Not happening, blondie."
"I won't be gone long. Promise."
"I. Don't. Care." She glared up at the scowling blonde. "This is exactly why I didn't want you to come. You're going to get yourself killed doing something stupid."
"Out of the two of us, you really think I would do that?"
Elsa rolled her eyes, rubbing her sore brow. "Anna, I came here to keep you safe. If anything happens, our only escape is out that window," she said, pointing at it. "It's at least a fifty foot drop. You can't run away if you have broken legs if you survive the fall. I'm just going to look for…alternatives. You don't know if we might need them."
Anna crossed her arms, leaning against the door. "What, so you're a scout now?"
"No." She gently grabbed Anna's upper arms. "I just want to make sure you're safe."
Anna sighed, closing her eyes. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but fine. Go forth young soldier and scout the perimeter."
Elsa smiled. She kissed the forehead of the exasperated princess before opening the door. "As you command, my liege." She stepped out, smile not leaving her face as she looked down at Anna's pout. "I'll be back before you're done bathing."
"You better be."
Elsa closed the door with a small creak. And just like that, she began her cautious walk down the hall, memorizing her surroundings and the many sounds and smells that accompanied them. The decorations weren't that much different from Arendelle. Suites of armor, paintings, ornate rugs, tables carrying random bobbles—the whole nine yards. Except for wallpaper, of course.
The castle was seemingly endless. It felt like nearly an hour before Elsa found a window low enough to the ground that might serve as an escape route. It was one of those fancy ones with all the colors painted onto them like puzzle pieces to form a picture. In Arendelle they only had them in the building with the dress men and the bells. She was quite fond of them.
"You're quite a ways from your room, Lady Elsa."
Elsa nearly jumped out of her skin. She spun around, crouched in preparation to defend herself. She was met with a smirk and a small pain in her eyes from the gleam of the newcomer's etched armor.
She looked over the ebony-haired man's figure. She didn't hear even the smallest scrape of metal from his approach, and yet he was donned in armor from throat to foot. This was the second time the king's knight had managed to surprise her. And nobody surprised her.
The man took a few steps forward. "Forgive me for sneaking up on you. I saw a figure in rags and thought an intruder. I suggest you change your dress next time you wander the hall, m'Lady, else you be found by someone who doesn't recognize you as part of the Arendelle party."
Elsa straightened up, her brow furrowed into a scowl.
The man tilted his head. "Though—if you pardon my asking—how is it that you can wear such clothing in this weather? My armor is padded with beaver fur and my cloak heavy with bear, and yet I yearn to sit next to the fire in my quarters."
Elsa pulled her cloak closer around her to hide herself, though it was too late. She glared at the man, wanting to snarl and scare him away like she could with all her enemies.
Elsa stared curiously at the man's eyes. They were two different colors—one a green as dark as pine and the other a shade of freshly cut ice.
So she wasn't the only peculiar one in the castle.
The man noticed her stare and ducked his head to smile. Elsa didn't like that smile. It was like he was laughing at some inside joke she didn't understand.
"Please forgive my rudeness," he said, looking back at her with that same smirk. "I seem to have forgotten my manners. I hope you will forgive me for leaving your company prematurely, but I had other business to attend." He extended a gauntleted hand. "It is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance. I am Ser Coen, royal bodyguard to King Anders of the Southern Isles."
Elsa stared at him a moment longer before looking down at the gesture.
"I'm not going to kiss it if that's what you want."
Coen's eyebrows shot to his hairline. "Um…no. I don't. You shake it." When Elsa still didn't move, he reached for her hand. "Like thi—"
Elsa backed away, her growl barely suppressed but her bared teeth and scowl clearly telling him to get away from her.
The man grasped his extended hand into a fist before bringing it back to his side. He looked away for a handful of seconds before looking solemnly back at her. "Well…I seem to have overstepped my courtesy." He stiffly bowed. "M'Lady."
Elsa stared holes into his back as he retreated down the hall. His footsteps barely made a sound on the carpet.
What a strange man.
Maybe he really was just a shadow.
Elsa loved warm bathes more than life itself.
But not more than Anna, of course.
Though sitting in the large tub of steaming liquid almost made her question it.
The one thing she liked about the Southern Isles was that their tubs were the kind she could lay in with her arms and legs over the sides while her face remained partially submerged. It was heaven. Even when she morphed.
The silver tiger opened her maw in a wide yawn, almost asleep in the water. She probably should get out, though. She heard a crack in the porcelain a few minutes ago.
Reluctantly, the feline crawled out of the warm water, fur saturated with water and as heavy as lead. She stretched before shifting back to her human self. She would be doing that more often.
A towel dry and a change into a set of sleeping clothes later, Elsa emerged from the bathroom feeling ten pounds lighter without caked layers of dirt and sweat on her body. She stretched her arms over her head again, relishing the way her bones popped.
"Someone's happy." With her arms still over her head, Elsa opened one eye to find a pair of teal glancing at her middle where her shirt lifted from the stretch. And where her pants (lent by Kristoff) sagged at her waist.
Elsa smirked and folded her hands behind her head. "Like what you see?"
Anna rolled her eyes, though the effect of a chiseled body and midriff still shining in a light sheen of water vapor did not go unnoticed by her hormones. The blushing redhead shifted on her bed and stared at her plate. "Not now I'm eating."
"But isn't that what—"
"Elsa." The princess chanced another glance at the blonde. "This isn't the place for—"
Anna paused. Elsa was leaned over the dresser, picking up a familiar box. Though it was a little unrecognizable from its current state. The snowflakes were smeared out of recognition, and the ribbon was pulled out into a greasy knot.
Icy blues looked at her questioningly. "You didn't open it," she stated.
Anna looked away. "Not yet, no."
Elsa looked down at the small gift, turning it over in her hand before looking back up. "Do…Do you not want it?"
"Of course I want it, Elsa. I just don't want to open it until I give you yours."
Elsa put the box back on the white wood dresser. "Oh." She walked over and hopped in the bed, situating herself against the headboard. Anna handed her a plate from the nightstand. It was filled with meat and something green. Both smelled heavenly.
Anna rolled her eyes. "Gods, Elsa. The meat's already dead." Said blonde paused with fork in hand, ready to go for another stab. Cerulean eyes innocently blinked at her before jabbing the meat at a slower pace.
Anna picked up her wine and took a sip, mumbling under her breath. "One of these days I'm gonna have to teach you proper manners."
Elsa paused, her nostrils flaring slightly. She turned to Anna and her drink. "What's that?"
"Hm?" Anna managed through another swallow. "Oh. You won't like it. Trust me."
"Let me try it."
"But I wanna try it."
"It's disgusting. You won't like it."
"I can figure that out for myself, thank you."
Anna glanced at her blonde. Knowing Elsa, she would just grab it from her and spill half of it in the process. She was very adamant about trying human things. Well, human things that she wanted to try, anyways.
Anna's sigh of defeat was met with Elsa's grin when she handed over the glass. The blonde held it to her face and gave it a curious look over and sniff.
"There you go again, smelling everything. Can't you just drink it like a normal person?"
To her surprise, Elsa jerked the glass away like it was poisonous. Her face scrunched in disgust and she shoved it back into Anna's hands. "Holy hell!" she squeaked, coughing and rubbing furiously at her nose. Wide blue eyes stared terrified at the red liquid. "You drink that?!"
Anna lost it, wheezing and snorting and laughing till her abdomen burned. She couldn't help it. Of all things, Elsa was disgusted by wine.
Her laughs died down and she took another swig before putting the glass back onto the nightstand. "You never cease to amuse me, Elsa."
Elsa leaned away from her. "Oh gods, your breath." She plugged her nose. "It smells like it."
Anna smiled and leaned towards the blonde the more she tried to get away. "Come on Elsie. Wanna kiss?"
Elsa pushed her face away with her free hand, the princess puckering her lips. "That's disgusting." She put her plate on the nightstand to avoid any ceramic causalities and surprised Anna by pulling her onto the bed, her face pressed against her chest in a hug.
"Elsa," Anna whined, trying to free her head and kiss the blonde.
She squeaked and bucked when one hand moved away to wiggle cold fingers against her exposed side. "No kisses till morning or I swear I'll tickle you till you cry," Elsa threatened, though her laughs inflected each of her words.
"Fine I give I give! Deal!"
Elsa released Anna's head, revealing a very pouty freckled face. Elsa kissed her brow and situated the redhead against her side like they usually slept.
"You started it."
"Shut up." Anna buried her face in Elsa's side. "I want my kiss in the morning."
Elsa ran a hand through her hair, fingers catches her white streak. "Deal."
It was a while until Elsa finally fell to sleep.
She was thinking about Ska—her mother again.
She only really knew her for a small part of her life, but that didn't mean she stopped thinking about her. Here she was, sleeping in a castle with the woman she loved, safe and loved and protected. It felt like almost a crime for her to enjoy herself. To simply enjoy the ability to sit down and not worry about what would happen when night fell or where her next meal was coming from.
Her mother deserved this luxury, too.
Anna was the best catalyst against her sorrow. Her scent or even just her touch was enough to remind her that she was okay and safe. That her actions were justified and that she made the right choice that day on the fjord. Even if it was just the lesser of two evils.
And eventually the blonde found peace and allowed her mind to drift into the comfortable compound of sleep.
Until she was woken up, of course.
The noise that woke her sounded like a rat scurrying around the room. She twitched in her sleep and rolled over, hugging Anna closer and willing herself back into unconsciousness.
Elsa's eyes snapped open, alertness jolting her body awake like cold water.
Footsteps. They're footsteps.
She stayed perfectly still, trying to hear where the intruder was before she got up. They sounded like they were at the edge of the bed.
Elsa slowly unwrapped Anna's hand from around her waist and sat up. The person—a man?—had his back to them. He looked more like a child judging from his size, his head barely reaching over the dresser. His skin was the darkest she had ever seen, topped with strangely curled auburn hair.
She slid out of bed without making a sound, crouched and ready to defend the redhead still peacefully sleeping.
The man shifted around the dresser, moving things and mumbling gibberish. It was only when his small hands found Anna's present that his gibberish turned into silent mutterings of urekia.
Elsa sucked in an angered breath. The man froze, body straightening and looking towards the door like a frightened rabbit. He was still for a long second before he turned around.
His eyes widened to saucers, and with a squeak, he bolted out the window, Anna's present in hand.
Elsa raced to the window and looked down, expecting to see a splat of tiny human on the ground below. Instead, the short man was scaling down the wall like a gecko.
No no no! She looked back at Anna before making up her mind. Dammit!
She nimbly crawled down after the man, her larger body having a harder time keeping hold on the small leverage that the stones gave. She was only half-way down the wall when he reached the bottom and took off into the forest.
Elsa snarled in frustration. "This is gonna hurt." She jumped down and tried to roll out on the ground. The move was clumsy, but at least she didn't break anything. She took off after his scent trail as soon as she found her bearings.
It didn't take long to catch up to him. He may be a better climber, but she was a faster runner. The little man dodged trees and ran in pattern to try to get rid of her, but she had lived in the forest long enough to master something as simple as a run through the trees.
The treeline spaced out as the incline rose. The man was looking back every so often in terror before his little legs would pelt faster.
Enough! Elsa shifted into her tiger form, easily overtaking him. He squealed when she pounced, and they rolled several feet before she pinned him down. She snarled and roared in his face. The man screamed some more (and probably wet his pants), but still he would not let go of the gift.
Elsa roared again to try and frighten the man into given it up.
The last thing she expect was her roared to be answered.
She looked up in surprise when something tackled her from her front. The single glimpse she got before they collided caught a picture of thick black stripes, fiery red fur, and brown eyes, all complete with a spitting snarl and outstretched claws.
Her surprise vanished when the rival tiger clawed at her belly and bit into her shoulder. Her instinct kicked in and she sunk her fangs into its arm and clawed at its face, chest—anything she could touch until it released her.
They both roared when they separated, trying to make themselves bigger than the other. Her rival began circling to her right, so she copied it until they were stalking each other in a wide circle.
Like a strike of lightening they reared on their hind legs and attacked. Elsa bloodied its chest with a few choice swipes but didn't notice it lunge for her until she was too late to react. She landed flailing on her back, powerful jaws clamping deep into her throat. She clawed and kicked at whatever she could reach, frantically trying to escape having her throat ripped open.
Desperate, she shifted back to her human self and shot a bolt of ice at the beast before it could crush her more vulnerable human neck. It roared in pain and was flung away from her.
She quickly found her footing, hands at the ready and humming with magic. The tiger circled her, snarling and twitching to attack.
Something whistled in the air, and Elsa suddenly found her back against a tree. She reached to her neck and felt metal, the horseshoe-shaped device nailing her against the bark.
She only got to tug at it once before black hair entered her vision. Then something hit the side of her face, and her world went black.
Ahhh chapter 29 woohoooooooo