Hans was not, in fact, dead. After diving into the freezing water he swam hard and fast downstream, waiting till he was well out of sight before coming back up for air. Gasping and soaking wet he emerged from the water and sat on the shore. The cold winter air cut through him like knives, his soaked clothes amplifying the feeling. Though he was exhausted and dizzy he knew he needed to get warm, and fast. He quickly checked his surroundings and saw that he was on the outskirts of the town, in what looked like a very shady area. The houses were run down, all the windows and doors shut tight. A few men conversed in the shadows of what looked like a tavern, talking about something on the wall in front of them.
Hans did a quick check of his body, making sure nothing was broken or missing, before standing and walking towards the tavern. He knew that he had to get out of town, but first he needed to get out of his wet clothes. He lamented his appearance, knowing that even though he wore a simple peasant tunic and pants he would be easily recognizable to a passing guard or villager. As he moved towards the building his boot hit a stone and sent it skittering across the road. The noise startled the two men, and their heads snapped to see what had caused it. Hans didn't know why but he instinctively ducked into the alley to his left, breathing heavy.
"Damnit." He muttered to himself. Hans shivered as he sunk to his knees. He felt his wet clothes start to freeze to his skin and knew he was running out of time, but his instinctive move had made him seem suspicious, and he didn't know those men. They could be working for Elsa for all he knew. He couldn't just go back out there.
He sat there for a few moments, planning his next move and shivering, before a hushed voice broke the silence.
"Hey, is this you?" one of the men, short and skinny held up a poster. A wanted poster, which to Hans' great disdain, had a drawing of him plastered across the front.
"Hans, right?" The man continued, but all Hans could do was stare. 'Of course Elsa would do this,' he thought bitterly, 'She couldn't just let me go. She's probably too worried about her precious trade agreement with my brothers.' At least the reward was small, no where near as high as it could be for someone who tried to kill the queen and her sister. But still, 100 coins was a lot for some and there were many men who would do more then capture a criminal for that sum. Hans was suddenly wary of the men in front of him. He could take on one of them, but not both.
The short man nudged his taller friend and chuckled, "I was right it is him! Aw man we hit the jackpot on this one!"
Hans knew he only had one chance and took it, dashing between the two men. He was stopped by a rough hand around his arm. He gasped as the strong grip forced his frozen sleeve tighter against his skin, but he pulled away with all his strength. It wasn't enough, and the tall man yanked him close enough to get his arms around Hans, and held tight.
"Nice catch, Thurman!" the short man exclaimed, "We gotta take him back to Hayden, she's gonna be so happy!"
"I dunno Charles...this might not be a such a good idea." the tall man, Thurman said. His voice was deep but it had no traces of cruelty or malice. The man, who was, now that Hans could get a better look at him, more of a boy grabbed Thurman's arm and pulled him towards the tavern.
"It'll be fine, don' worry. Hes a real, honest to god noble, and one who hates the crown as much as we do! This could be our ticket, Thurman, hes just what we need!"
The boy, Charles, did a little dance and laughed. Hans sighed, this was the last thing he needed.
"L-listen kid," Hans said, shivering, "I r-really don't t-think that I'm the p-person you are looking f-for."
"What do ya mean?" Charles said, finally addressing Hans directly.
"R-realy, I dont w-want anything t-to do with w-whatever it is you h-have planned. I j-just want to g-get out of town." Hans struggled against Thurman's arms trying to minimize the contact his skin was making with the wet clothing.
"Oh come on Hans, give us a chance. We all know what happened last year with you an' the queen," He said the word 'queen' with a sneer, "You hate those stupid royals as much as we do, you can help us and we can help you." Charles looked pleadingly at Hans, but he was still skeptic.
"Come on Thuman, lets get him back to the tavern. We'll get you in some warm clothes and food, yeah? Then we can talk more, how 'bout that?"
Hans nodded, thinking over the situation. 'This might not be such a bad thing,' he thought. He didn't know exactly what this kid had in mind with this whole needing him and getting back at Elsa and her family, but it was interesting. Part of him didn't want to have anything to do with it, still wanting to get out of Arendelle as fast as possible, but with the added bonus of warm clothing and food, he figured going along with these people couldn't hurt. It might even work in his favor.
Charles nearly ran for the tavern while Hans and Thurman awkwardly shuffled forward, his captor still not willing to let go of him completely.
When the reached the door Charles stopped for a moment, looking for once, unsure. He turned to Hans and whispered, "Now...just don' say anything ok? Let me do the talking. These people are good but they ain't' quick to trust outsiders...especially nobles...eh..," The boy shrugged lightly, "Most who live like we do are that way. Anyways, just don' open your mouth alright? Maybe we'll get lucky an' no one'll recognize ya." Charles gave a small glance at Thurman before pushing open the door.
Hans nearly moaned as the warm air hit his freezing skin. He closed his eyes and relished in the feeling, not noticing the quiet chatter of the bar die down. He opened his eyes slowly, fearing that he had entered a much worse situation. The tavern was populated by a myriad of people, tough burly men mingled and drank with even tougher looking women at the bar's many tables. He could tell instantly that this was a place of trust and safety for those who found refuge in its walls...a trust that he was not welcomed in.
Charles let out an indignant groan before snapping at the patrons, "What are ya lookin' at huh? Ain't nothin' to see here."
Before any of the patrons could even make a sound a loud crash was heard from a room behind the bar, followed by loud footsteps and the sound of a woman shouting, "He's gone and done what now!? Oh that crazy little bastard's gonna get us all killed. I swear Im gonna ring his neck I am. CHARLES!"
The door behind the bar slammed open revealing a tall but skinny woman not much older than
Hans himself. She looked less angry and more distressed than her voice let on as she stomped over to them. "Charles what on earth were ya thinkin'!? You can't just bring...HIM here! Half the kingdom is lookin' fer that man and if they find him here...lord I don't want to even think about that. He has to go. Now. An' you had better be grateful that Im not telling Hayden about this. If she knew she'd do a lot worse than ring your neck..."
"But Agathe! He can help us, I know he can, just let me talk to Hayden I know she'll understand. Please!"
The woman Agathe sighed loudly, "What have you told him about us, anyway?"
Hans had deduced at this point that there was some sort of resistance at work here. He knew from his studies of Arendelle and her politics long ago that the king, though kind and fair, was more or less caught up in his own affairs, especially after the palace was shut up(he now knew that it was due to Elsa and her powers) but this had left a large gap between the rulers and the peasants. The King had left a lot of the work running the factories and other such places to governors, these men were not cruel, but were focus on work and productivity. This left a lot of gaps for the poor and sick to fall through with no safety net of any kind to catch them and put them on their feet again.
Though it seemed cruel and misguided, it was how a lot of kingdoms were run, and he was not surprised that Elsa had done nothing to change her father's policies. He wondered if she even knew of them or how this side of 'Fair Arendelle' was run and the danger it posed to her rule. It was stupid of her, he thought. Such a lax rule over the general populace while these measures were in place was a recipe for disaster and rebellion. His own family had once faced such issues until his father came into power and began setting things right. It required an iron fist, but it was what needed to be done to keep his crown.
Then Hans, for the first time since his failure to take the crown, found himself thinking of ways that this could work to his benefit. He knew that if these revolutionaries were serious, helping them could land him a good seat of power in whatever government they eventually put in place. Though looking at their size from the tavern patrons it wasn't likely that they had a chance of succeeding yet, he wouldn't be surprised if it went far beyond the people sitting here. Elsa had lived so long wrapped up in her own life that some of these people could be quite close to her without her knowledge, working at the palace perhaps. And the very fact that they still could meet and talk ment she knew little to nothing of them. "But...they could also be few in number..." he thought, and without proper weapons they stood little chance against Elsa's powers. But he knew her weaknesses, her faults, how to get at her...
Hans shook his head. He was getting ahead of himself. For now he would try to get on their good side, it was never bad to have connections and people who trusted you(however misplaced that trust would be) and if things went wrong he could plead ignorance. He would have to keep his questions few and just observe, take in as much information as he could...it would be tricky but it could work. He could make it work.
"Excuse me ma'am, I assure you, this boy has told me nothing about you aside from the fact that you hate the royalty in these parts...a hatred that I happen to share." Hans interjected.
"See!" Charles shouted, "He hates them. He can help us, you have to give him the chance. Give me the chance. Please Agathe."
The tavern owner sighed loudly and put a hand to her head, "...Alright fine...I'll let Hayden deal with this one. But don't get mad at me if she kills your 'friend' here. I wouldn't put it past her. Really Charles, you need to start thinking before ya do things like this...ah well." She suddenly stood up straighter and glared about the room, "But if we get caught I deny everything, if this man was here I didn't know about it and neither did any of you, ya got that?!" The patrons murmured in agreement, some looking away in fear and feigned ignorance.
"Oh thank you Agathe!" Charles looked over the moon, but Hans felt a seed of worry plant itself in his head. He was good with nobel women, but they were often ignorant and quick to fall for a charming smile. Peasant women were different, and this Hayden was sounding less like someone who would be willing to negotiate.
Agathe escorted them to a back room all the while grumbling about the situation. The room she led them too had a small table and window that was blocked by a thick curtain. Charles immediately sat down in one of the chairs and propped his feet up, while Thurman deposited Hans in another chair finally letting him out of his tight grasp. Hnas rubbed his arms and hands, trying to get some warmth back into them while Agathe once again began lecturing Charles.
"Hayden will be back soon, she had to get your sister. You can wait here, Ill send someone with some dinner and fresh clothes for your guest." She sighed and went to leave, but on a second thought she turned to Charles. "And don't you tell him anymore about us, you don't want to get in any more trouble than you already are."
"Agathe, don' worry so much. I won't say anything."
But Charles' words of comfort did nothing to sate the woman's fears, "Really Charles...you go about like this is some kind of game. Peoples lives are at stake here, and you need to learn how serious it all is and be more careful."
Charles simply shrugged and looked away, and with another loud sigh Agathe left.
"Don' worry Hans, when Hayden gets here she'll understand, and I'll make sure you won't get killed or anything." The young boy seemed so sure of himself, but Hans' worry only grew. Though the promise of food and warm clothes was alluring, he didn't want this meal to be his last. Hans briefly considered trying to escape, but he knew that he couldn't fight the whole bar, let alone Thurman, who was still uncomfortably close to him.
Eventually a young lady came and gave Hans some still shabby but clean clothing and a hot bowl of stew along with a strong drink. He changed quickly after the woman left and feeling better with dry clothes on his back scarfed down the stew and drink.
"So...," Charles started, after Hans had swallowed the last of his food, "I know I wasn't supposed to say anything...but-"
Before Charles could finish the sound of heavy boot falls was heard echoing through the halls. Charles flinched slightly, "Well...here we go..." just before the door slammed open.
Hayden was tall and muscled. She looked stronger than Thurman and wore a tunic with trousers and boots, all covered by a long coat and scarf. Her hair was pulled back into a loose bun. But it was her face that was most shocking. Though Hans knew she was angry, he could practically feel it radiating off of her, her features were stoic. She gave a quick glance between the three men before reaching over her left shoulder, unsheathing a long blade and pointing it directly at Hans' throat.
"Hayden, wait!" Charles shouted, jumping to his feat. She turned to him and glared and he looked scared, as if she wouldn't think twice about putting the sword to his own neck. "Please, let me explain, he can help us," He continued, his voice slightly shaking, "Its Hans! You know what happened this morning, you saw the ships too. He was in the palace and by the looks of it someone wants him to stay there. We can use that, Hayden, you know it."
Hayden only glared more and brought the sword tip closer to Hans' throat.
"I dont need help from someone like him." she said, her voice filled with hatred, "I know his type, only in things for himself, he'd betray us soon as things looked bad just so that he would make it."
Hans' eyes widened. Before he could stop himself he whispered, "How do you..."
She only pushed the blade closer to his skin, "Shut up."
"Hayden please!" Charles begged, "We need all the help we can get, this is a good idea just give him a chance."
"Charles you have no idea what you are talking about. This plan has been put into danger too many times already I am not risking it again." She pulled the sword back, ready to strike, when another young girl came running into the room.
"Guards!", She shouted, "From the palace! We have to leave, NOW!"
Hayden jumped into action, disregarding Hans entirely. "Charles go get Elin and get out of here, I'll be right behind you. Thurman, go with them, head to one of the safe houses and stay there,If I'm not there by the end of the day get out of town, do you understand?" Thurman nodded, and stood, grabbing Charles and pulling him out the door.
Hayden turned to the door and Hans saw his chance, he leaped to the window, hoping to make a quick escape, but Hayden's attention snapped back to him and she grabbed him, shoving him down into the chair. He struggled against her, and managed to stand again before she got his arm and threw him against the wall. He groaned in pain and tried to get up, but his head felt foggy and he stumbled. It was easy work for Hayden to shove him down and draw her sword up to his neck, ready to strike.
Hans looked in fear at the sharp blade, before sighing and closing his eyes, ready for the worst.
"Theres one in here, and Hans, we found him!" Hans' eyes snapped open to reveal a guard standing at the door, sword at the ready, "You're not getting away this time." He barely had time to think before Hayden was off of him and diving out the window. The guard ran after her, hopping through the broken window, leaving Hans to lie there. He tried to stand, but two more guards rushed into the room and grabbed him before he could take a step.
He fought against their grip weakly, but the pain in his head grew and he felt himself succumbing to weakness and injury his world going black.