I woke up the next morning on Jack's chest. I sat up slow because he was still passed out cold. I stood up and slowly made my way to the window seat, where Melody was sitting. She was singing softly, staring up at the rising sun. I smiled, remembering the first time I'd seen her do that.
"Still serenading the sun, I see," I whispered. She started and turned around. She saw it was me and put a hand to her chest. "Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's okay, you just startled me," said Melody. She had a bunch of bandages all over her. I cringed at the sight of them. She rubbed her hand up her arm. "Yeah, I got pretty beat up yesterday."
"You shouldn't have fought. You're too young for that," I said putting a hand on her shoulder. She shrugged.
"Giselle fought. I figured if she was going to fight, then so should I. Besides, they needed all the help they could get. It was brutal, and we didn't even win!" Melody exclaimed softly.
"I know, but still. You should be back in Atlantica. I bet your dad is worried about you," I replied.
"Nah, he knows I'm here. Ariel wanted to come, but she's the queen. She had to stay in the kingdom. She told me to tell you that she misses you."
"Well, the next time you see her, tell her I miss her too. Anyways, I have to go check on Derek. He said he was going to kill himself, but I couldn't go check on him."
"I don't suppose you want me to tell Jack that when he asks where you went?"
"Oh, good God, no. Just tell anyone who asks that I went out scouting."
"Scouting for what?"
"Evil weasels or something. Just make something up. If they don't buy it, well then I'm screwed. I'll be back in an hour at most."
She moved over and I dove headfirst out the window. I swooped up above the tree-line and looked around for Derek's fortress. I spotted it among the trees. I blew a lock of hair out of my eye and flew straight towards it. As soon as I was close enough, I flew to Derek's window. He was inside, and thankfully not dead either. He was just on a chair, staring blankly at the floor. I knocked on the window and he looked up. He stood and opened the window.
"Please, come in," said Derek sarcastically. I touched down in the room and sighed.
"I'm sorry. I couldn't let you into the tower, not when everyone was still mad. I don't know what might have happened," I replied. He didn't respond, so I hugged him. "I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I just fell in love twice. I know that I can't have you both, but I love both of you just the same. He's not any more important to me than you are, and vice versa."
After that, he just pulled my arms off of him. I threw my hands up in exasperation.
"You're very thick-headed. Can't do a thing with you," I said with a laugh. He just looked at me with that 'just no' face. My smile vanished. "Fine, not a time for jokes. I know. But that's just my nature; I am partly a Guardian of fun."
"Vanessa, can you just go? It's really painful to have you around. It's just better if we get our distance for at least a little while," said Derek. I widened my eyes and backed up into the window.
"No buts. I just need you gone for a while. Just go," said Derek, pointing out the window.
"Derek…" I saw on his face that he was serious. "Fine. But if I go, you have to make a promise to me."
"What do you want from me now?"
"If I come back and need your help, will you help?"
"Sure. I pinky swear or whatever. Just go please."
"Okay. I'll go. See you later?"
I flew out the window and was about to head back to the tower, but I decided that I wanted to go for a fly. So I swooped around and around the sky until the sun had risen completely. I was about to go back, but I saw the cloud island that Jack had told me about. I wanted to ask Nuvola some questions myself. I flew over the landscape of trees and little rolling hills to the cloud island. Once I was there, I realized that these cloud-people were very active during the day. Jack had gone at three in the morning. I was there at eight. The streets were bustling. I just flew above them, although that was a little hard to do because they were flying too. I was at the castle gates and was about to go in when the guards at the door stopped me.
"What is your business here, Earth Walker?" said the dude. He had an Italian accent and he said Earth Walker as though he were cursing or something.
"I must speak with the queen," I replied. They looked angry.
"Does she know that you're here to speak with her?"
"Well…no, not particularly. But if you ask her about a Vanessa Frost, she'll know who I am."
"Ha! Don't make me laugh! You have no idea how many people come here with that story. Vada via! Go away!"
"Please, just…" The woman cut me off.
"Andare viada qui, Terra-Camminatore! Get away from here, Earth-Walker!"
I was about to argue more, but a voice from behind me stopped me from doing so.
"Lasciare questa povera ragazza da sola! Qual è la questione con voi? Si tratta di Vanessa. Il Vanessa ho parlato molte volte prima! Dovrei frusta per questo! Si sapeva che stava arrivando oggi, te l'avevo detto! Basta andare a casa. Sei compiti per il giorno sono finiti," said the voice of a woman from behind me. I had no clue what she was saying, all I knew was that she sounded pissed!
The guards quickly left, and when I turned around, I saw the woman that Jack had described to me. This was Queen Nuvola.
"Sorry about that. Good help is hard to come by in this age where money is all that matters. But, no, money does not matter to you very much, does it?" asked Nuvola as we went up the stairs.
"No, not really. But I need to ask you some questions," I said.
"All in good time. Today is not the day for you to ask me questions, although I am very glad that you decided to come here after all. There are two things that I must give to you. Well, three if you want to be specific. Two material objects, and a sort of ominous warning. The ominous warning will come just before you go, so that we don't ruin this visit, bueno?" At the last word, she pushed open the door. The throne room was empty, which was shocking considering all the people everywhere else. She rushed me off to a chest on the side of the room.
She grabbed a key off of the wall and unlocked the chest. She placed the key back on the hook and motioned for me to open the chest. The heavy wooden lid creaked as I opened it. When It was fully open, I reached down inside. There were only two things in there, a map and a key on a chain. I picked them up and stared at them in confusion.
"These were left to me by my dear friend Camille the Fair, from the town of Berk," said Nuvola. I gasped.
"Hiccup's mom!" I exclaimed.
"Yes, she was indeed the mother of your good friend Hiccup. She gave these to me shortly before she died, saying that one day I was to give them to Hiccup. I knew that Hiccup would never find his way here alone, so I am doing the next best thing. I will entrust them to you to pass on to Hiccup."
"Where does the map lead to?"
"A cave somewhere in the woods. I know where, but where's the adventure in telling you before you even begin to search? Inside the cave is a chest. Hiccup will recognize the crest of Berk on the clasp of the chest. Inside the chest are three things, two placed in there by Camille for Hiccup, and one placed in there by me for you. One of the two things left for Hiccup is a letter. The other is a surprise. What I left for you is also a surprise, but you're going to need it."
"Santo cielo, non! Goodness, no! But you will need it, no matter how far off into the future it is that you will need it. This is your next quest. You will not face many perils along the way, but you will find the one you seek. Open the map." I did so and looked it over. I saw the big red x. Nuvola pointed to a little cluster of trees not far from where the x was. "The Earth Mother lives there. She will gladly help you, and she is not far off. This quest is so that not only can Hiccup feel a connection to a mother he barely remembers, but so that you can be taken right to the Earth Mother. OF course, you can always just sit in the tower until the next battle comes…"
"NO!" It wasn't until the word left my mouth and it started echoing off the pillars that I realized I might have said it a bit too loud. I cleared my throat. "I mean, I would love to go on this quest. Who will need to be there?"
"Hiccup of course. Merida too. Also you and Jack. And I know this might be a bit complicated, but you will need Derek as well. He plays an essential role, but none of you realize it yet. That is all you will need. A small group will travel faster, but you all have to be there."
"That's really going to raise the tension. Jack and Derek? Together? On a quest through the woods? With me there as well? It's probably not going to end well."
"I know. But it might go by a bit more smoothly than you'd think. Take these back to Hiccup. I'm sure he'll be very eager to depart."
"What about that ominous warning?" I asked, standing up after folding the map.
"Oh, yes! My, I must be getting old. This isn't really for you; I want you to tell this to Jack. Tell him that late is late. Even if it's as little as twenty minutes, it's still late. Tell him that he's going to be late when it really counts." I looked up at her with wide eyes. She was right, that was ominous.
"I'll be sure to tell him. Thank you. For everything you've done for Jack and me. It feels like Manny is against us, or trying to hurt us instead of helping us."
"He means well, and you'll be surprised to know that he is doing well. You'll never understand fully the plan he has laid out until the events come to pass. Now be swift, my young Guardian, and return to your friends." I smiled and bolted for the door, hugging the map and key to my chest.
I burst through the door and swooped up into the sky. I was ecstatic that we were finally going to get a break from all the killing and carnage. I just wanted an adventure, and this was our key. Plus, I knew Hiccup was going to be so excited when he found out about it. I was soon back at the tower. I burst through the window and almost stuck the landing, but I landed on a rug and it slid out from underneath me. I tumbled to the ground, but I managed to keep a grip on the map and key. I landed on my back and soon Merida, Rapunzel and Jack were crowded around me.
"Are you okay?" asked Jack, helping me up. I was so out of breath that I couldn't say a thing. Hiccup was sitting on a chair not far away. His leg was much better now; Pocahontas could work miracles like that. It appeared to be completely healed overnight.
I unfolded the map as I stumbled towards Hiccup. On the back was his mother's signature. I flipped the map over and managed to get it on his lap before I fell again. He looked down at the map in confusion until he read the signature. He sat forward in shock and gasped.
"My mother drew this! Vanessa, where did you get this?!" he exclaimed.
"Nuvola…map…cave…chest…your mother…letter…" was all I could get out.
"Okay guys, let's give her some room," said Jack, helping me up again. Hiccup stood and Jack sat me in the chair. Rapunzel came running back into the area with a glass of water. After I had a drink and some time to relax I could explain.
"Okay. Nuvola gave me this map and this key," I said, holding up the key. Hiccup took it. "She was friends with your mother. Your mother gave her this key and map before she died for safekeeping until you could come for it. This map leads to a cave. Inside is a chest that has three things inside, one for me that Nuvola placed there, and two for you, both from your mother. One is a letter. The other is something. Nuvola wouldn't tell me what it was."
"That's…amazing! We have to go find this chest, right now!" said Hiccup.
"We'll go in just a minute. Nuvola told me who was to come with us. Hiccup, obviously. Merida as well. Me and Jack. And…um…Derek…" I trailed off.
"Seriously?" asked Jack with a groan. I sighed.
"I know, you don't like him. But honestly, Nuvola said that we'd need him. Please be reasonable, just this once?" I pleaded. He sighed.
"Fine. Let's pack up and go get Derek," said Jack. I smiled.
"Can I come?" asked Rapunzel. I didn't want to leave her behind. She was one of my best friends, but I wouldn't need her this time.
"I'm sorry, but no. You hold down the fort for me while I'm gone, okay?" I asked. She seemed a little upset, but she nodded.
After ten minutes, we were ready. Jack and I flew out the window with our elbows under somebody's armpits. I had Merida, Jack had Hiccup. We set them on the ground. Hiccup whistled for Toothless and Merida called for Angus. Angus came barreling out of the woods and Toothless landed down in front of Hiccup. They each climbed up onto their saddles and Jack and I flew. Soon, we were headed off to Derek's fortress.