♦ The pain went up his side; it was blinding, white-hot. He fell to the ground, writhing, wishing this away, and screaming. This was unlike anything he’d ever felt before—and he’d felt a lot of pain before.
♦ “Jack? Jack, where are you?”
♦ His screams were suddenly silenced. He reached his hands to his throat, and he tried to say something. Anything. Nothing came out. He had no control of this place, but it had control of him. Jack tried to force himself to stand, only to collapse back on the ground as his knees gave out.
♦ “Jack, answer me…this isn’t funny…”
♦ He felt around blindly for his staff while Rapunzel’s voice grew desperate. He finally felt the piece of wood, and his fingers locked around it. He managed to get off one blast of ice before the staff sent a shock through him. He dropped it, clutching his hand with his other. What was that? Was he powerless here?
♦ He couldn’t dwell on it. Rapunzel was upon him in an instant, throwing herself over him. He caught her, pulling her into a hug that he, too, needed.
♦ “You’re okay. I was so worried about you, and then Hiccup said he saw something and went to investigate, and he took Merida with him, and so I went to look for you and I just…” Rapunzel stopped mid-sentence. Jack arched one eyebrow.
♦ “Punz?” he asked, his voice returning suddenly. That was odd.
♦ “Merida and Hiccup. They went off, and they never came back…do you think…?”
♦ “So, um, how do you suppose we should get out of here?”
♦ “You’re usually the one with the plan!”
♦ Hiccup opened his mouth to retaliate when he ducked, pulling Merida down with him as a dark object whizzed just over their heads and disintegrated in the dead grass behind them. Toothless roared at the item and blasted it, blowing a hole into the ground.
♦ “What was that thing?” Merida asked. Hiccup shook his head, motioning Merida onto Toothless’s back.
♦ “No idea. I have no idea what that was, how we got here, why Pitch has us here, or why we’re running out of time. I also don’t know how the heck we’re going to get out."
♦ “Hmm, that’s nice. Looks like he’s got us right where he wants us.”
♦ The trio took to the eternally dark skies, looking down below for any signs of life. Rapunzel and Jack were down there somewhere. Possibly separated. In the back of her mind, Merida winced at the fact that they left Rapunzel alone to hunt for Jack. They should’ve stayed together. They could have been dead…that screaming before sure sounded like someone was dying.
♦ “See them?” Hiccup asked.
♦ “No,” Merida replied. The ground was far below, she realized with growing concern. If they fell from here, they would die—
♦ What was she thinking? She’d done this plenty of times before from a lot higher up. That’s when it occurred to her the effect the entire place was having on her.
♦ “We need to find them soon and get out of here,” she told Hiccup. She held on tighter to him, wishing they could all go home.
♦ Then, then, she vowed, she would kick Pitch Black’s butt.