(Requested by crafordbrian17)
Merida let out a yelp as she was flung from Angus' back. Her landing wasn't too hard, thankfully, but she bet there would be a bruise soon. She wiped her eyes and glanced around her, they were now in the ring of stones! She glanced at Angus, she gave him no direction to where to run, and he obviously was no big fan of the stones, so why did he come here? She heard a soft sound and turned, a little wisp was watching her on the other side of the stones. Merida walked towards it, her tears and pain having given way to curiosity. As soon as she got close enough to touch the wisp, the wisp disappeared. She glanced around, surprised. Where had it gone? She heard another little sound. Another wisp, or maybe it was the same one, had popped up a few feet away. She got closer, and it disappeared. Then more appeared in a line. They were leading her somewhere. Inhaling and exhaling deeply, she decided to follow them wherever they led, Angus not far behind her.
Merida raised an eyebrow when she saw the that wisps had led her to a tunnel. Straight into a tunnel. She looked on either side of the tunnel. Trees grew thick and high on the left, while the right side looked fairly clear. She blinked as she looked through the tunnel at the wisps. "Couldn't I go around this?" The wisp disappeared and reappeared in the same spot, as if goading her to continue following it. "But I could get stuck!" The wisp only did the same thing. "Ugh, fine!" She crawled into the tunnel, following the wisps down it. But as she found as she continued, there were branches sticking out, and some would get stuck in her hair. The first couple of times she was able to get her hair unstuck without too many problems, but the further she went in, the harder it became.
"Ugh! This stupid hair! These stupid branches!" she blurted when she had to pause to get her hair out of a really bad snag. "Ugh!" She glanced at the wisps. "Why are you taking me this way? Wouldn't going around it have been much faster?" She grunted as she finally got her hair unstuck and got back to crawling again. "It certainly would have been easier. I would have been able to keep my hair!" She grumbled a bit more before letting out a cheer. She was almost at the end! She crawled a little faster, she was done with this tunnel. She took a breath of air when her head cleared the tunnel before continuing to crawl out, and got stuck. "What the?" She squirmed and wiggled, but she was undoubtedly stuck. She tried pushing herself back into the tunnel, but that wasn't working either. "Ugh. Angus!" The wisps seemed to giggle. "Oh you think it's funny, eh? What, were you insulting my hair and now my hips?" The wisps just seemed to giggle louder. Merida groaned and went back to trying to free herself.
Fiona MacIntosh made it her duty to continue her reading lessons out in the woods every day. It gave her a chance to get away from the rowdiness and it kept her father happy. He hadn't wanted her to come as it was well known that most of the men in each tribe were going and no women. Something about a show of arms? But Fiona's mother had insisted so Fiona would have a chance at meeting a man who would one day be her husband. But Fiona and her father came to a happy agreement, and she would spend each day out in the forest away from everyone else. She was happy, she had a book with her, that was really all she wanted at this time in her life. A couple of tiny strands of her dark hair that didn't like staying put kept falling into her eyes from time to time and she had to keep pushing them back behind her ear. It had annoyed her at first, but soon it became a habit and she kept on reading and walking. She could ignore the majority of the sounds of the forest, but there was one sound that made her completely stop. It sounded like someone calling for help. Fiona walked closer towards the sound, and the words became discernable.
"Help!" Fiona broke out into a run. Who was out here? What had happened? She finally found the source of the cries for help, a girl about her age with fiery red curls who was stuck in a tunnel.
"What in the world? How did you get in there?"
The girl looked at her, annoyed. "Well I was just exploring this here tunnel and didn't realize this side was too small for me."
"The other side's bigger?" asked Fiona.
"I know. Can you please help me out?"
"Oh, yes, of course! Let me put my book down first." Fiona quickly placed her book down and turned back to the girl. She rolled up her sleeves, grabbed the girl's arms, and began to pull. "Why . . . would you . . . go into . . . this tunnel . . . anyway?" shouted Fiona as she strained.
"Because . . . the wisps . . . said to!" The two screamed as the girl finally got free, sending the two sprawling onto the ground. The girl sat up as she rubbed her hips. "Ow, ow ow OW!"
Fiona stood up first and looked at the girl incredulously. "The wisps? Wisps told you to go into the tunnel?" A soft sound, unnatural to the forest, made Fiona turn her head and saw a tiny figure wreathed in a blue flame pop up. She screamed and hid behind the girl. "Wh-wh-what is that?"
"That is a wisp," said the girl nonchalantly. "And I'm done with them today. I'm going to get my horse and go home. You coming?"
"W-well, I don't know, I did promise my father to stay out of sight while we were visiting . . ."
"You're with one of the tribes?"
"Yes, I'm Fiona MacIntosh." The girl snorted. "What's so funny?"
"You're a MacIntosh? Is Young MacIntosh your brother?"
"Yes, and you are?"
The girl seemed to somber up a bit. "I'm Merida Dunbroch."
Fiona gasped and quickly curtsied. "Your majesty! I didn't know what you looked like!"
"Obviously, but I have seen your brother so I can see something of a resemblance. I'm just laughing because now I know who got all the brains in the family."
Fiona laughed. "Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, I'm afraid my brother is somewhat lacking in the, um, mental department, shall we say?" The two burst out laughing.
"So, do you want to go back to the castle or not? I could show you this lovely place by the lake. I could use a little more time away from the castle myself. The tournament was . . . strenuous, to say the least."
"Oh, I can imagine. Who won?"
Merida crossed her arms and humphed. "It was supposed to be me."
"It was supposed to be me! The rule was apparently that only the firstborn of each clan could compete. Well, I'm the firstborn of Clan Dunbroch, so I competed for my own hand. And I won. But my mother thinks otherwise. That's why I'm out here."
Fiona looked at her in surprise, thought a moment, then nodded. "Then the lake it is. After we get your horse, of course." Merida smiled and led the way back to Angus. They found him pacing around, apparently anxious over his mistress.
"I've been calling for help for the past several minutes. Where have you been?" Merida berated him. The horse nickered, and another wisp showed up. "Really? Ugh, I am really done now. Come on you two, let's go to the lake."
Fiona followed Merida to the lake with Merida leading Angus by the reins. "Stupid wisps!" muttered Merida. "They knew my hips couldn't fit through that hole! And now they hurt like crazy!"
"Do you want to ride your horse?" asked Fiona.
Merida shook her head. "That could make it worse! Besides, walking will help me cool down."
Fiona chuckled slightly. "Sounds like complaining does too."
Merida threw up her hands without ever letting go of the reins. "They knew I couldn't fit! So why in the world send me through there? And after the day I've already had?" Merida stopped and let out a frustrated yell. Fiona clamped her hands over her ears while birds flew away and little animals scampered across the forest floor. "Ugh! My mum is always making a fuss about my hair . . ." Merida paused. "Were the wisps trying to tell me she was right?" She fingered her fiery curls. "That my hair is pretty problematic?" Her left hand touched her hip and winced. "Then what about my hips?"
"What about them?" Fiona asked slowly when Merida paused.
"What, do they think they're too big or something? Those cursed wisps! How was I supposed to know that I couldn't fit! And now they hurt! Ugh! This is one time I wish I could take them off and get new ones!"
"Are we actually heading to the lake?" asked Fiona nonchalantly. She was starting to get tired of the complaining. She had heard enough of it at home.
"Yes, we're almost there," mumbled Merida.
"Good, because I'm getting hungry." As if to emphasize her point, Fiona's stomach growled.
Merida laughed. "Alright, we can start walking a bit faster. I'm starting to feel hungry too." After a couple minutes of walking, Merida began grumbling and complaining again. Fiona sighed and tried to divert her attention by asking about her. Fiona learned that Merida liked archery, horseback-riding, exploring, climbing, and not having to take classes. Merida learned that Fiona preferred books over people, she liked nature but didn't like interacting with it too much, walks, and legends about finding true love. They finally got to the clearing during their complaint session about their respective mothers.
"Why, it's lovely!" she exclaimed with delight.
"Isn't it? It's the perfect place to get away from my overbearing mother."
Fiona chuckled. "I hear you. I can see why you like it."
"Well, if you don't mind getting a fire rolling, I'll catch some fish," said Merida, tying Angus's reins to a tree. The two separated, Fiona to gather wood and Merida to catch fish. They had a pretty good meal of the fish and some berries that Fiona found. They continued to chat as the sun got lower in the sky.
"Why are you taking your hair out of your braid?" asked Merida.
Fiona huffed. "Because a couple of strands came out and I want to fix it before the sun goes down." She ran her fingers through her dark waves.
Merida came closer and helped. "Wow, your hair's really nice."
Fiona smiled. "Thank you. Your hair must be a lot of fun too."
Merida huffed. "Sometimes it can be annoying, but my mum has learned how to handle it. So have I."
"All hair can be annoying until you know how to work with it," said Fiona with a knowing smile. "It's why I wear mine in a braid, otherwise, my hair would be flying all over the place in the wind. Curly hair doesn't move as much because I think it's a little heavier." At that moment a gust of wind blew past and blew their hair into their faces. Merida pushed her hair back and saw Fiona's hair floating around her. She burst out laughing. "You see?" said Fiona before she too burst out laughing. With Merida's help, she was able to get her hair back into its braid before another gust of wind blew it all over the place. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Merida glanced at how low the sun hung in the sky. "I think we should head back."
Fiona nodded. "I think so too." They quickly put out the fire and began the trek back home. "So, which one of the three fine lads will you choose, Princess?"
"Ugh, maybe none of them. I might end up having to look for a Viking to marry." The two laughed.
"I guess we'll just have to wait and find out then."
"I guess so."