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Storm of Spirits

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Prologue: Rumblings of War

Summer 1846, Hotan Prefecture, Western China. 6,000 kilometers from Arendelle.

“On the orders of our glorious leader, Kath Tora, the city of Hotan is now the domain of the Khojah people!” proclaimed Miralai Yaqub, a decorated, grizzled veteran soldier, standing in the town square above a crowd, his voice reflecting off the sand and mud walls of the houses and shops. In the crowd, a mix of Turki and Han citizens stood uncomfortably in the hot, dry winds, watching squads of soldiers going from house to house, listening to occasional screams.

Each house had its door opened; if locked, the door was unceremoniously kicked in by the squad’s largest soldier. Soldiers left some homes alone, while others had the inhabitants forced out into the streets, crying and holding each other.

Once the crowd was fully assembled, the soldiers returned to the square. “Miralai,” shouted one of the soldiers, “all the people are assembled before you!”

Miralai Yaqub surveyed the people of Hotan before him. Hotan was a small village, an oasis in the unforgiving desert. Looking at the crowd, his blood boiled at the sight of so many Han Chinese, an affront to his people and the ground that had been theirs for centuries, before the Qing genocide.

“Soldiers, separate the crowd. Han to my right, Turki to my left,” instructed the Miralai. The crowd split in two. Yaqub continued, “All those who are Turki, kneel now and offer your fealty to our glorious leader, Kath Tora!” Most of the Turki citizens knelt immediately, some with prayers on their lips. A few stood bewildered or angered. Yaqub motioned for his soldiers to seize those still standing and move them into the Han crowd.

Yaqub turned to face the Han. “Soldiers! By order of Kath Tora, you may now claim any of the Han women as your prizes. Choose quickly, separate them, and then march the rest of this filth to the edge of town!” The soldiers eagerly dove into the crowd for their spoils of war, and within minutes had separated out their chosen women, most of them quietly sobbing before their fates.

Yaqub gestured westward, and the soldiers lowered their spears towards the crowd, coercing them out of the square and towards the western edge of the town. As the crowd stumbled through the streets, windows and doors slammed shut in their faces, wide eyes still visible through shutters.

After a few hours, the march ended on a dusty plain with a large, solitary, black, rounded stone in the middle of what had once been fertile farmland, but was now cracked dirt with the occasional tumbleweed. A bearded cleric stood on the rock, white robes blowing in the hot, arid wind, a white cloth cap on his head, standing in stark contrast to his tanned, leathery skin.

Miralai Yaqub strode up to the cleric. “Your Holiness, Hotan is ours!” he proudly exclaimed. The cleric turned his eyes to the Miralai, nodded, and then raised his voice to the crowd.

“Here upon this field, a century ago, your ancestors defiled this land by raping our women and slaughtering our children, in the name of your Emperor. We have waited carefully since that time, in the mountains and villages nearby, to exact our revenge against you for your crimes, and that glorious day has finally arrived,” said the cleric with a feral grin. “Upon this rock, the daughter of my grandfather was taken, raped, and then beheaded. This stone was once as white as the sands around us, but turned black that day from your ancestors’ sins. I have prayed my whole life for the right to justice for my family, and that prayer has been answered. Miralai Yaqub, bring me one of these vermin!”

The cleric stepped to the side of the rock as Yaqub strong-armed a young boy to the rock, kicking him in the back of the legs to force the boy to kneel, head on the scorching black stone. The Miralai held out his curved scimitar, gold and steel reflecting the setting sun. The cleric shook his head at the sword, then smiled toothily.

The cleric raised his eyes and shouted to the wind, “O, great one, I summon you now to help us serve justice for what was taken from us! I offer this sacrifice to invite you to our cause! Arise, and grant us your favor!” The cleric withdrew an ugly curved knife from his robes and ripped it across the boy’s throat, nearly beheading him.

Yaqub’s eyes grew wide, watching this… travesty. This was supposed to be vengeance, not blasphemous worship of some other god.

The red blood immediately sank into the stone and the harsh blue skies of the desert darkened as though a thousand fires’ soot blanketed them. The earth rumbled and cracked. A voice boomed from beneath the feet of the cleric, and asked, “Who shall be my vessel?”

The cleric eagerly shouted, “I am, majestic one! I am Kath Tora, and I offer to serve you!”

The earth rumbled again, and the blood spilled on the black stone suddenly floated into the air, turned black as oil, and then poured into the open mouth of the cleric. The cleric’s eyes turned black obsidian, and his skin an ashen grey. The voice boomed once more, “So be it, servant Kath Tora. From this moment forth we shall be known as Rabi Al-Mawt. After eons, we walk the earth once more.”

Yaqub stared at the former cleric, open-mouthed. He wiped the sweat from his brow, pointed his scimitar, and shouted, “Kath Tora! This is heresy! You said nothing of raising a demon, only seeking justice for our people and punishing the wrongdoers! What is the meaning of this blasphemy?”

“Kath Tora is no more, Miralai. I am Rabi Al-Mawt, and we shall bring justice to all under my rule. You will see the Han fall before us. You will see nations bow to us. You will see all under Heaven worship us,” rumbled the cleric’s voice. “Will you serve?”

“NO! I worship Allah the Merciful, not you… you abomination!” screamed Yaqub, sword held in front of him as if to shield him from the monstrosity before him.

“Very well. I accept that you will not serve in life,” chuckled the cleric. He raised his hand, gestured with his fingers, and Yaqub’s sword turned on its owner and impaled Miralai’s heart. “But you will serve.” He grabbed the dying soldier by the collar and belched oily black smoke into the soldier’s mouth, paling from the effort as he corrupted the soul within and bound it to him.

The cleric turned to the crowd and gestured again. The spears ripped themselves free of the soldiers’ hands and flew like arrows, first through the assembled civilians, cutting them down, and then as eagles circling, flew back and impaled the soldiers. The sand glistened red with blood, bodies crumpled together like puppets with their strings cut.

“Now, my legion, arise.”

The cleric raised both arms high above his head, and the bodies around him lurched to standing, wounds still trickling blood, eyes vacant and black. The army of corpses assembled itself, holding the spears and swords of the soldiers, and turned back towards the town.

The body of Yaqub stood next to the cleric with a lopsided grin. “What say you now, Miralai?” asked the cleric. He could feel his corrupting magic animating the fallen soldier as it had no other; the Miralai was sentient, whereas the rest of the army was mindless.

“I serve you, Deathlord. Let us retake this world and restore you to your glory.”

Author’s Notes

While this is table setting, there actually was a revolt in 1846 in Xinjiang, China between the Turki (now known as the Uyghurs) and the Han Chinese, and this chapter is VERY loosely based on that time period.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: mild icest.

Chapter 2: Waking Worry

Elsa ran through the darkened forest, feeling the shadows closing in on her like walls of the heaviest, darkest curtains. No light, no sound, nothing to tell her what lay ahead of her or what was in hot pursuit of her save for the feeling of absolute dread. All she felt was… cold. “But cold has never bothered me… why am I cold?” she thought, as she stumbled into another set of unseen branches, thorns pricking at her skin, tearing at her dress. The crystals representing the elements had glowed to show her the way, but their light got progressively dimmer as she ran, until they gave out a few minutes back.

She wasn’t even sure where she was going, only that she needed to find her sister before… whatever was behind her caught up to her. Intuitively, she reached out with her magic, felt Anna’s warmth, felt her heartbeat ahead of her, and ran in that direction absent any other clues.

“Anna! Anna! I’m coming to you! I’m coming to find you!” she shouted, but her words seemed to evaporate to nothing as soon as they left her. Elsa couldn’t even hear herself, as though her head were wrapped in a towel, muffled to the world.

The cold grew worse. She felt a heavy weight in her stomach as she realized she could barely feel Anna’s heartbeat in the distance. “Anna! Stay where you are, I’m coming to you! Just stay put!”

It wasn’t that Anna was running away from her. It felt like Anna’s heartbeat was growing slower, fainter, quieter. Elsa panicked and ran faster, until the cold punched her in the stomach. Doubling over, she cried out.

Anna’s heartbeat was gone.

In that moment of darkness, she heard Anna’s voice, but it was muffled. Flat. Her sister sounded like she was underwater or… under the soil.

You weren’t fast enough, Elsa.

Elsa cringed and took a tentative step forward.

You weren’t strong enough, Elsa.

Elsa took another step, tears pooling in her eyes.

You abandoned me, Elsa.

Elsa stepped again, but collided with something cold and firm. She called to the spirits to aid her, but heard nothing in response. Had they abandoned her in her time of greatest need? Had she failed them somehow, too?

You failed me, Elsa.

A sickly green glow began to ooze from the trees around her, and Elsa recoiled in horror. Her sister, her love, her light was standing before her, eyes blackened, clothes soiled, face scratched, skin grey, and fingertips bleeding, as though…

… she had dug herself out of a grave.

Elsa screamed.


“Elsa, wake up!”


Anna shook her sister’s shoulders vigorously, failing to rouse her out of the nightmare she was trapped in.

Anna resorted to pouring a glass of water on her sister’s face, finally stirring her. The moment her icy blue eyes opened, Elsa shot up and clutched her sister to her as though she’d not seen her in a decade, releasing a tearful sob.

“Hey, hey, I’m right here, Elsa. It’s okay. You’re okay. I’ve got you. You’re safe,” said Anna, cradling her sister’s head, feeling her tears soak into her green nightshirt. Anna reached over to the nightstand to light a candle, the moon providing what help it could for her in the darkness of their bedroom.

“We can’t be safe. We’re not safe. Something’s wrong, Anna. I can feel it. Something bad has happened,” said the blonde. “I’ve felt this way for a couple of weeks. It’s why I came back from the forest to Arendelle yesterday, to see if I felt the same here as I did in the north.”

Anna held her close, pressing gentle kisses into Elsa’s hair. “It’s okay. Nothing’s wrong here. Nothing bad has happened. It’s been a beautiful summer, and the farmers say the harvest this year will be bountiful. Even the streets are calmer than normal. When we get up, I’ll ask General Mattias to increase the guard around the castle, and maybe we can… maybe we can send word to Pabbie and the trolls to ask them if they’ve felt anything, okay?”

Elsa wordlessly nodded, keeping her face tucked against Anna’s neck, breathing in her scent. She looked up into the redhead’s teal eyes, the color sparkling in the candlelight. “I can’t lose you, Anna. I have to keep you safe. You’re all I have.”

Anna smiled warmly at her sister. “You’ll always have me, Elsa, through thick and thin, good and bad, hot and cold, chocolate and no chocolate,” she began to ramble, before Elsa tilted her head up and kissed her gently on the lips to intercept the budding ramble. Anna returned it, hugging her sister close until the tension melted away.

Elsa leaned against Anna’s shoulder and drifted back to sleep with a soft smile on her lips.

“All rise before Her Majesty, Queen Anna,” Kai’s voice called out into the Council Chamber as the doors to the chamber swung inward. A dozen men and women shifted their wooden chairs back from a long, grand oak table, standing to attention. The guards posted at the doors struck the floor once with their halberds.

Anna walked into the room, holding hands with Elsa, as Kai quickly amended, “– And Her Highness, Crown Princess Elsa.” The guards thumped their halberds once more. Anna moved to the head of the table, with Elsa at her right, and motioned for all to sit.

Anna began, “Thank you all for coming. Our normal Wednesday meeting–”

Minister Dagmar, a grey-haired noblewoman sitting a couple seats down from Anna, coughed discreetly.

“What? Did I forget the crown again?” Anna patted the top of her head, briefly confused. “Oh, yeah, right, whoops!” Anna giggled. “Sorry, it’s Tuesday, isn’t it? Anyway… the reason I called you here is because Elsa wanted to check that everything’s all right. Elsa?”

Elsa nodded to her sister and smiled, briefly reminiscing. After a bit of adjusting, Anna had taken to the role of Queen several years ago quite well, ruling with far more compassion and kindness than any ruler of Arendelle in recent years. Unlike her and her parents, Anna made it a point to walk the city streets (with guards, of course) and talk to nearly every citizen she could. The Petitioner’s Chamber in the castle was covered in dust, so infrequently did Anna use it, instead meeting citizens on her weekly walks around Arendelle. As a result, Anna was beloved by virtually all of the populace. Elsa’s attention snapped back to the chamber.

“Thank you, Anna. It is good to see you all, and see so many friendly faces. As you know, I have been spending time in the north as well as Arendelle, working with the spirits to nurture our collective nation. The past few years have been bountiful, thanks to the peace with the Northuldra. However, something has changed in the last few weeks,” said Elsa.

Minister Vilhelm, Anna’s master of spies, motioned to speak. He was a gruff gentleman, wearing Arendelle’s traditional green army uniform but with the emblem of an owl on his sleeve in place of a regular army insignia. “Your Highness, please forgive me. My watchers have seen nothing of great concern save for the occasional inept smuggler from Weselton at the western border.”

Elsa raised her hand to suppress a giggle. “It’s nice to know some things never change, Vilhelm. No, this is… a feeling. It’s something magical in nature, something…” Elsa stood up and sighed, releasing a bit of tension. “It’s like the feeling you get when you’re in the fields at night, and you know your home is safe, but somewhere out there in the darkness, you can just feel the wolf watching you, waiting for you to make a mistake. You can’t see it, but you feel its eyes upon you.”

General Mattias nodded with a grim smile. “I know that feeling all too well, Your Highness. Wolves were a constant challenge in the Enchanted Forest during my years there. Is there a threat?”

Elsa glanced out the window momentarily. “Yes, General, but I wish I could be specific. It’s just a feeling right now, but as surely as you know the wolf is watching, I know that something is coming, and it wishes us harm.” The councilors murmured their concerns to each other quietly, wondering what this threat was that brought the former queen back to the castle with such urgency.

Anna cleared her throat. “Well, that settles it. Okay everyone, what can we do to prepare?”

Minister Margit, head of Anna’s Treasury, spoke up first. “Your Majesty, with the help from Her Highness and the spirits, our farmers have enjoyed three years in a row of bountiful, nearly record harvests. Our citizens are well fed with food to spare. The Treasury could accommodate a minor tax increase right now, so long as we retract it before the winter.” Anna nodded in agreement and said, “And honestly, we can do with a slightly smaller winter festival anyway. We always have so much krumkake left over for weeks. I mean, I’m not complaining about extra cake. Cake is wonderful! But yeah, I don’t - I mean, we don’t - need THAT much of it.”

The councilors all chuckled. Few things put them at greater ease than Queen Anna’s unfiltered honesty. General Mattias spoke next, “Your Majesty, we have been somewhat remiss these last two years in pressing citizens into the service of the army. With Her Highness’ powers, none but the most foolish would consider attacking Arendelle for fear of immediate defeat. No army would willingly march into a perpetual ice storm. No navy would dare invade our waters, lest they be frozen in place. So our ranks are a little thinner than usual. With your royal assent, I will task my men to begin recruiting able-bodied citizens again.”

Anna’s brow furrowed at the thought of taking citizens out of the fields and was about to speak when Elsa began. “General, is there a way to do it so that it doesn’t interrupt the harvest? Could you train troops in more of a reserve capacity?”

Mattias gave Elsa’s suggestion a thought. “I… I don’t suppose it would be a problem. After all, it’s not like we need them on the battlefield tomorrow. I could have my men recruit and provide lighter training, just the basics, to make sure they’re ready if we need them. Margit, can you spare a few coins to make it worth their time?” Margit nodded.

Anna clapped her hands together and smiled broadly. “Great! Thank you everyone.” As the council stood and filed out of the room, Elsa stood near the window, looking out at the courtyard pensively.

Once the last councilor departed and the doors closed, Anna took her sister’s hands and kissed her knuckles. “Penny for your thoughts?”

Elsa returned the gesture, kissing the backs of Anna’s hands and then the inside of her wrists, admiring her beautiful skin, feeling the warmth of her pulse against her lips, chasing away the shadows of her nightmare. “Last night…”

“In your nightmare?”

Elsa sighed. “Yes. It was awful. I saw you… and I let you die. I wasn’t strong enough to save you. My powers weren’t strong enough to save you. I can’t ever let that happen, Anna.”

“I know you won’t, Elsa. I believe in you. I know you’ll always protect me.”

“Whatever is coming, Anna… it’s stronger than I am. I can’t fight it, I can’t beat it. I can’t even see it right now. I need to be stronger. My magic needs to be stronger. Pabbie said years ago that he prayed I was strong enough, and at the time I was, but I’m not sure now.” Elsa cast her eyes downward.

“What should we do? Let me find a way to help you, Elsa. Our kingdom is yours. I’m yours. What can we do?”

Elsa kissed her sister, folding her in a tight embrace, fingers running through her copper hair. “It’s not something you can do, Anna. I have to do it. I have to find a way to grow stronger, strong enough to protect you.”

Anna pulled out of the embrace reluctantly to look her sister in the eyes. “I have no doubt, none at all, that you will, Elsa. You’re amazing as it is. But let’s do it together this time, okay?” Elsa nodded as Anna continued, “So, where do we start?”

Elsa looked back out the window, seeing the mountains in the distance. “There’s one place that could have the answers we need. I can go there.” Elsa paused in thought, milling over a decision in her mind as Anna waited patiently, stroking her fingertips against Elsa’s palms. Elsa finished contemplating and looked at Anna. “Can you ask the council to look after the crown for a few days?”

“Of course! I’ll have Mattias sit in for me this week. Not much is happening, so it’s not like the council needs to make any really important decisions beside the ones we just made. Why, where are we going?” asked Anna eagerly.

“To a place I promised I would take you eventually, Anna. To Ahtohallan.”

Author’s Notes

We get to the sisters.

I welcome feedback, especially about capturing the authentic voices of Anna and Elsa.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: referenced icest.

Chapter 3: Homeward Bound

Elsa woke the next morning, briefly puzzled. She felt dampness on her skin, until she realized Anna had spent a sizeable portion of the evening’s slumber drooling on her shoulder and chest. Turning to her side, she saw the redhead’s wild mane as though a North Sea storm had crashed ashore in her hair and giggled quietly. For all the wonder and power her magic gave, nothing compared to the warmth and comfort waking up next to her love, her heart beside her.

Elsa gently extricated her arm from under Anna’s head and slid gently out of the bed. With barely a wave of her finger, a dress sparkled to life around her naked body. Her powers had grown considerably in the past few years; stopping a tidal wave from flooding Arendelle was a substantial effort at the time, but now, similar efforts felt no more difficult than opening one of the castle’s wooden doors.

Elsa gently opened the bedroom door and stepped out into the hallway. Kai, ever faithful, was standing ready to fulfill whatever wishes the royal family wanted. Elsa smiled at him.

“Good morning, Kai.”

“Good morning, Your Highness. How many I be of service to you?”

“May you please prepare clothing and supplies for three days’ travel for myself and Queen Anna, and enough food for the same?”

“Of course, Your Highness. Will the Queen be taking her meal in her chambers or the dining room this morning?”

“The usual when I visit, Kai,” Elsa smiled at him, a laugh tickling her throat. Kai’s loyalty to the royal family was unquestionable, and even after Anna had revealed her… less than traditional relationship with her sister, Kai treated the news as no more alarming than a weather report. When Elsa spent the night, it could take until midday until Anna awoke.

“Very good, Your Highness. Breakfast will be up shortly. I’ll see to it that the staff has your bags packed. How will you be traveling, so that I may advise them how heavily to pack?”

“No need to worry, Kai. Make the bags convenient for you and the staff.”

“Very good, Your Highness.”

“I can barely move my legs, Elsa,” Anna grimaced.

“I told you that last time was one too many, my love,” chuckled the blonde as she watched her sister dress.

“How am I supposed to ride a horse for a day and a half all the way through the Enchanted Forest when I’m so… uh, sore… down there?” she asked Elsa, blushing furiously.

Elsa laughed loudly. “Well, it’s clearly been a little while since you’ve traveled with me, Anna. Because of how urgent this is, we’re going to go a slightly different way.”

Anna blinked, confused. “Different how? There’s only so many ways we can get to the Enchanted Forest, aren’t there?”

“You’ll see.”

A small pile of trunks and bags sat in the courtyard, bound together, ready to be tossed onto a coach wagon. Kai and Gerda waited with the bags, looking around for the horses and carriage that would take the royal family northward. As the sisters emerged from the palace doors, Kai spoke up, “Your Majesty, my deepest apologies. I fear we have somehow been remiss in our duties, as I see no carriage awaiting you.”

Elsa laughed and smiled at Kai. “Don’t worry, old friend. You have not missed anything. Anna and I will be traveling a little… differently.” Elsa turned to her sister. “Trust me.”

“Always and forever, Elsa.” Anna kissed her sister gently.

Elsa wrapped her arms around her sister and tilted her head to the sky. She closed her eyes and her lips moved as though speaking, but Anna could barely hear her saying anything save one word: Gale. Without warning, clouds gathered over their heads and two tornadoes touched down, one over the sisters and one over their bags. Despite the turbulence around them, their clothes and hair barely moved as though they were standing in a light summer breeze.

Anna yelped as she looked around, clasping her arms around Elsa tightly. “Elsa! We’re… we’re flying! We’re so high up!” she exclaimed, watching the soles of their boots over the treetops. “And I’m not vomiting this time!”

Elsa giggled. “What would take a day on horseback will take an hour for us this way. Gale and I have become quite close these past few years, once you restored the balance to the land. We’re completely safe; she’ll treat us much better than our first encounter with her.”

Anna looked down into the swirling maelstrom, noting with amazement that even though the tornadoes were racing across the land, little more than a few leaves were caught up. Herds of reindeer paid little mind to the freak storm, going about their business. Anna swore she briefly saw a few Northuldra as they careened through the Enchanted Forest.

When they reached the shores of the Dark Sea, Gale let the sisters down right at the water line. Elsa thanked Gale with a curtsey and a blown kiss, and the wind vanished.

“We’re a little short of Ahtohallan, aren’t we, Elsa?” Anna noted, looking over the stone-covered beach.

“The spirits try not to infringe too much on each other’s domain. This is Nokk’s domain now, the sea,” said Elsa. As though listening to their conversation, Nokk emerged from the water. “Hello, old friend. It’s good to see you again. This is my sister Anna, and we’ll both be going to Ahtohallan.”

Nokk whinnied, the sound a cross between a horse and dolphin. “Jump on, Anna!” said Elsa, weaving reins for Anna to grip as she gracefully jumped onto Nokk’s back. Anna struggled a bit more but managed to climb up, hugging her arms around her sister’s stomach and pressing her chin into Elsa’s neck.

“What about our bags, Elsa?”

Elsa weaved her hands and a sphere of ice surrounded the bags and trunks that Gale had left gently on the shore. The sphere gently rolled into the water, and two magical dolphins rose out of the water to push the sphere alongside them. Anna gaped in amazement and then started to shake with laughter.

“You’re amazing, Elsa.”

As they rode, Anna’s stomach grew queasy from nervousness. Since discovering her sister was the fifth spirit a few years back, neither had discussed what it meant in any depth. Elsa hadn’t offered to take Anna to Ahtohallan; her descriptions of the glacier made it seem a lackluster place, unlike her ice castle on the North Mountain. Ahtohallan was just a big lump of ice, wasn’t it?

The thought made Anna’s brow furrow. Why hadn’t Elsa ever brought her to Ahtohallan? Was it limited to those who bore magic? She knew it wasn’t selfishness - Elsa shared everything with her. She decided to take the opportunity to ask, as Nokk’s hooves strode on the waves of the Dark Sea.



“Why haven’t we gone to Ahtohallan together before this?”

Elsa considered her response, biting her lip. “Well, for a couple of reasons, I suppose. I never asked the spirits if you were welcome or not. But more than anything…” she hesitated.

“More than anything, what? Is it frightening?”

Elsa turned her head to look at Anna. “No, quite the opposite. I feel… at home there, in some ways. Like it’s where I’m from. It’s a different kind of home than Arendelle, different than being by your side, Anna, but no better or worse. But… there’s something else, something you should know. You’ll see it when we get there, so I suppose it’s good you find this out now. Ahtohallan has a guardian, a spirit of its own. And it will speak to you…”

“How? I’m not a magical being, unless clumsiness is a magical power, in which case yeah, I’m like the spirit of clumsy!” Anna laughed.

“Ahtohallan’s spirit is one of memory. Remember the lullaby Mother would sing to us? The river full of memory, that sings to those who’ll hear?”

“Where we must brave what we most fear?”

“Yes. Ahtohallan’s spirit - it’s like a guardian, a keeper, and it will speak to you in the voices of those you remember. When I first arrived, I saw Mother. Ahtohallan spoke to me in Mother’s voice, Anna.”

“Why wouldn’t you want me to hear that, Elsa? I would love to hear Mother’s voice again!” Anna said, more sharply than she’d intended.

“I’m sorry, Anna. I thought it would be harder on you. You were the one who had to bear witness - alone - to our parents’ funeral, something I still haven’t forgiven myself for. I saw the look on your face, at the ship, when we heard their voices last. I felt your tears on my shoulder, with mine, and I thought… maybe you didn’t want to relive that pain again,” Elsa said as she bowed her head in shame, remembering the past.

“Elsa… I’m not mad - well, maybe a little. That decision, we should have made it together. I’ll be okay. Honestly, I’ll be more than okay. I would love to hear Mother’s voice one more time. Will it be her? Is it her somehow?”

“No, it’s not her. Ahtohallan speaks with the voices of those in memory, but it’s not them. I don’t fully understand how its magic works; I think it draws on our memories in order to speak with us, using a familiar face to put us more at ease,” said Elsa.

“Still… just to hear her one more time. What about Father?”

“I don’t know what will happen with you there. The last few times I’ve been to Ahtohallan, it’s spoken to me mostly with Mother’s voice. I’m not sure why. I’ve never asked the guardian why it chooses the faces and voices it does.”

“Well… I’m sorry for sounding angry, Elsa. I’m excited to hear from… well, whoever, if it means being able to hear or even maybe see people we’ve loved and lost.”

Elsa smiled at Anna’s eagerness as Nokk and the dolphins approached the shores of Ahtohallan.

Author’s Notes

A major part of my motivation to write this story is to dig a little deeper into Elsa’s magic. I felt like Frozen 2 gave very short shrift to the actual magic part, so in the next couple of chapters, I want to explore that some more, including other capabilities her magic might have, and other possibilities in that world.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: none.

Chapter 4: Cold Secrets Deep Inside

Nokk and the dolphins left the sisters on the shores of Ahtohallan along with their belongings, no longer encased in an icy sphere. Elsa wore little more than her dress, walking barefoot again on the crystal blue ice. Anna, meanwhile, rummaged messily through one of her bags to put on her warmest furs.

“It’s so cold here!”

“Anna, this is a glacier. You knew it would be cold,” chided Elsa with a grin. “Come on, it’ll at least be less windy inside.” Elsa reached out and conjured a tether of frost to pull their belongings into the glacier’s entrance.

“I never get tired of seeing your magic, Elsa. Is it different here? Does it work better closer to the source?”

“Actually… it’s different here with you,” Elsa turned and looked at the evening sky. “I feel much stronger than I have the other times I’ve been here. I can feel Ahtohallan’s magic, but it’s warmer, closer. I can’t describe it well. It’s like - have you ever been in a room with people talking, and suddenly you notice that the voices in the room seem much louder, even though objectively the room hasn’t changed?”

Anna nodded. “Usually that’s because whoever’s talking to me is boring and I sort of stop paying attention to them until they clear their throat and then I have a moment of panic, because I’m not sure what they said but it might be legally binding because I’m the Queen now and-”

Elsa interrupted her with a chuckle. “Yes, something like that.”

The sisters walked down the icy hall to a icy bridge supported by massive pillars, crossing over a giant chasm in the ice. Anna reached out to touch the walls of the glacier and they glowed a faint purple. “What room is this, Elsa?”

“I… I have no idea. I’ve never taken the time to name any of them - there’s been no reason since I’m the only person who ever comes here until now.”

They continued past a room full of ice columns into a grand, cavernous space. The moment Elsa’s feet touched the floor, four giant ice crystals in the center of the chamber began to glow. “This is… well, for lack of a better name, the hall of memories. It’s where I first discovered what Ahtohallan’s really about.”

Anna walked behind her sister to the four crystals laid in the floor, looking at them askance. She removed one of her jackets and looked at the purple scarf she wore as a constant reminder of her mother. The same pattern, same diamond shapes, were embroidered into the scarf.

Elsa moved towards the center of the room and stood in the middle of the crystals. They glowed more brightly as her bare feet touched the center where they all met.

“That’s odd.”

“What’s odd, Elsa?”

“Normally, when I come here, I stand in the middle, and Ahtohallan speaks to me. But nothing’s happening,” said Elsa, a puzzled, concerned look on her face.

“Want me to try?”

Elsa nodded and gestured for her sister to stand in the middle of the diamonds. The crystals darkened and the floor shone white light when Anna stood in the middle of them, but nothing else happened. Elsa’s face grew more worried. What if Ahtohallan’s magic was also changed by this formless enemy that haunted her dreams?

Anna recognized the worried look and beckoned Elsa over to her. She held her arms out to hug her sister’s worries away, and the moment they embraced, the crystals flared to life. Anna gasped; she felt the air electrify, the way it feels when a thunderstorm rolls through Arendelle. Blue snow cascaded down the walls of the chamber, revealing a thousand facets of the ice, like looking at a diamond from the inside. She twirled around in wonder, seeing images from her life around her.

“Hello, Elsa and Anna,” said the guardian, its voice reverberating around the chamber.

Both sisters stood shocked in recognition of the voice, eyes wide, before exclaiming together. “Kristoff?”

The guardian’s face took the form of Anna’s former fiancé, looking down at her with a sadness in its eyes. Elsa’s heart sunk immediately. Anna burst into tears. “How is this possible? Who are you? Why do you look like Kristoff?” She stared again at the image as though it were him. “How could you have abandoned me like that and just left me before our wedding?” Elsa held her arms around her sister’s torso for support, instantly knowing what the vision of Kristoff meant, as Anna tearfully looked at the image. “Wait- if you’re here… what? Is this- are you-”

The guardian spoke again in Kristoff’s voice. “I regret you learning Kristoff’s fate in this manner, Anna. I am not him. I speak with the voices of those you most loved in life who have moved beyond. Kristoff did not abandon you, not willfully. Three years ago, you recall he went north, to the lakes near the North Mountain, to harvest some ice in preparation for your ceremony.”

Anna remembered. Kristoff had set out with Sven and Olaf to hunt for the largest, clearest, purest ice possible for their wedding banquet, something that would rival what Elsa could create. Despite an offer of assistance from Elsa, Kristoff wanted it to be uniquely his, a gift to show his love in the only way he knew how.

Kristoff’s image continued. “There was an accident; the lake was much less solid than it appeared and he misjudged how much weight it could bear. He didn’t leave you willingly, and he never stopped loving you.”

Anna’s mind flooded with memories of the aftermath. Her weeks of anguish so early in her reign, just before their wedding, wondering what she’d done to deserve being left without so much as a note. The patrols she sent to look in neighboring villages, all across the kingdom. The shame and humiliation she felt as whispers among the noble families scolded her behind her back for wanting to marry a commoner - what did she expect would happen? Her only consolation was that Elsa sped down from the Enchanted Forest and stayed with her that entire month, consoling her until her anger and sadness dulled.

Anna’s legs gave way and she fell to the cold ice beneath her, sobbing.

Elsa conjured up a bench for her to rest Anna on, then turned to the guardian and asked quietly, “Please, can you change to someone else? This is too much right now for Anna.”

The guardian nodded, the image changing to reflect Iduna’s face once more, and spoke, “I will leave you to tend her. Stand together in the middle to summon me again,” then faded away, leaving only blue ice behind.

Elsa sat on the bench and gathered Anna in her arms. “I’m so sorry, Anna. I didn’t know this would happen. I didn’t know until just now, either.”

Anna let her tears flow freely, snuffling her nose into the palm of her hand. “It’s- it’s okay, Elsa. I’ll be okay. Honestly-” she turned her head to look at her sister’s watery eyes, “it’s actually better. It hurts to think that he’s gone, but it’s also a little bit of a relief to know that he didn’t leave me on purpose, that I didn’t do something wrong, or that he secretly hated me, or, or that the wedding scared him away, or that there was someone else. I blamed myself so much for what happened.”

“I remember.”

“But I wish I could have told him goodbye, that I loved him, that I was happy he wanted to marry me, that it was going to be okay…” Anna murmured. “He was so worried about the wedding and the coronation, I thought he got scared and left. I guess… I mean, I know now that he didn’t mean to break my heart.”

Elsa wordlessly nodded and pulled Anna tighter.

“I guess this is what Mother warned us about, isn’t it?” mumbled Anna thickly through her tears.

“What do you mean?”

“Can you face what the river knows?” Anna sung quietly, feeling a river of her own tears flow down her cheeks.

Anna had collapsed into fitful sleep after the strain of Kristoff’s fate was revealed. Elsa laid her carefully on her side, covered her with the many jackets and furs they’d packed, then walked through the halls of Ahtohallan to give Anna some time to rest. She noticed for the first time a small shelf next to one of the columns with a line of blue diamond-like crystals, gently pulsing with bluish-white light, each inscribed with the water spirit’s sigil on them.

Had they been here the whole time, she wondered. Or did Ahtohallan manifest them when she and Anna arrived? She couldn’t recall seeing them before, and she would have remembered seeing that many; there looked to be at least a dozen of them.

The crystals pulsed brighter as she stepped closer to them. Cautiously, she picked one up and felt it vibrating, humming gently like a bumblebee on a daisy, pleasantly cold to the touch like the feeling of a glass of ice water on a warm summer day. Elsa turned the crystal over in her hands, seeing the Northuldra sigils on one side, and a script she didn’t recognize on the other but looked just as arcane.

Elsa closed her eyes and reached out with a feather-light touch of magic to the crystal’s surface, to see if it was like all the other ice in the fortress. The crystal flashed brightly, and Elsa felt a spike of icy lightning flash into her head, into her brain itself, blinding her, deafened by the thunderclap in her mind. Cold washed over her body, almost as cold as when she froze to death in Ahtohallan’s icy depths. She closed her eyes and surrendered to the cold again.

Elsa jolted awake, no idea of how much time had passed since the cold overtook her. She pulled herself from the icy floor, unsteadily to her feet. The crystal she’d held before she blacked out was gone, though the others remained on the small shelf near her.

Once the fog cleared, her first impulse was to check on Anna. How long was she out? Was Anna awake?

Elsa stumbled back into the great chamber, the hall of memories, and found Anna still asleep on the ice bench. She’d not moved since Elsa saw her last. Elsa sighed relief; Anna was such an active and fitful sleeper normally that she knew almost no time had passed.

Still feeling the effects of the crystal, Elsa laid down next to her sister, wrapped her arms around her, kissed the back of Anna’s neck gently, and let sleep return.

Elsa woke to the smell of something familiar. Anna’s warmth had left her, so her sister must have risen at some point. Elsa sat up, rubbing her eyes, and found Anna next to one of the bags, nibbling on a bar of chocolate she’d brought along for the trip, its delicate smell wafting through the air even in the chill.

“Hey you,” Anna said, pausing her chewing long enough to talk.

“I hope you saved some for me,” she giggled. “How are you feeling, Anna?”

“I’m…” she paused, casting her eyes downward momentarily. “I’m okay. Okay enough. I’m still a little shocked by… everything, by what we’ve learned, but I’m going to be okay. How are you?”

“I don’t know. I touched something, a crystal, and it did something to me,” said Elsa, slowly getting up to join her sister. “I touched it with my mind, with my magic, and it knocked me out for a little while.”

“Elsa! Are you all right? Are you hurt?” Anna wrapped an arm around her sister, pulling her close to her side.

Elsa closed her eyes and searched herself. Something tickled in her mind, like a song just on the tip of your tongue or a face with a name you can’t place. “I’m fine. I don’t think it caused me any harm. It was just a surprise - doubly so because I can’t find the crystal any more. It vanished.”

“Should we look for it? I mean, it’s not like it could have gone very far. Was it round? Could it have rolled away, maybe?”

Elsa laughed. “No, I doubt that. But I do know someone we can ask.” Elsa stood up and offered her hand to Anna. Anna took her hand and stood up, half a chocolate bar in the other hand, and momentarily froze when Elsa started to walk them towards the center of the room.

“Elsa… I can’t. I can’t see him again, not right now.”

“It’s all right. It knows,” she reassured, rubbing Anna’s hand with her thumb gently.

The sisters stepped into the middle, and the blue snow fell over the walls again. Anna felt the same surge of electricity and cold race over her skin, like a late autumn evening’s breeze that hints of the chill in the air. She turned to see a familiar face - the familiar face she’d set out on this journey to find.

“Mother!” exclaimed the redhead, happier tears pooling in her eyes. “I’ve… I’ve missed you. I’ve missed hearing your voice so much.”

The image of Iduna smiled gently at them.

“Hello again, Anna. And to you, Elsa. You have questions?”

Elsa held Anna’s hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Yes, Mother.” For as long as Elsa had been coming here, she addressed the guardian as her mother, with no other point of reference beyond the face it wore. “The crystals in the hall - I touched one earlier with my mind. What was it?”

Iduna’s face smiled, stifling a giggle. Anna’s heart jumped; the image of Iduna was exactly as she remembered her mother - the face, the laugh. She found it difficult to believe it wasn’t her mother, speaking from beyond the grave, unshed tears slowly pooling in her eyes again.

“Elsa,” the guardian spoke, “those are memories as well.”

Elsa shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

“This is a place of memory and magic. Some memories remain in your heart and soul, but other memories can be brought out of you and made manifest in forms you can hold, or even give to others. That crystal was a memory. When you touched it with your mind, it became a memory of yours,” said the guardian.

Elsa blinked, still confused. “I’m sorry, Mother. I still - how is that a memory of mine?”

The guardian smiled again. “Close your eyes and reach into your powers, Elsa. Think of what you know how to do. What can you do with ice and water?”

Elsa obeyed, closing her eyes, steadying her breathing, diving inside herself. She felt the rush of familiar memories and sensations, like pages of a book turning. Memories of making snow in a ballroom. Skating with Anna in the palace courtyard. Raising her Ice Palace from the ground. Stopping a tidal wave from flooding Arendelle. Revealing the ghosts of her parents on their ruined ship.

And something… older. Elsa frowned. She found a memory, like a long-lost belonging under a dresser, covered in dust, of ice, not as clothing, but similar. Elsa touched the memory, pulling it out of hiding in her mind. She saw in her mind’s eye a man wearing clothing that looked vaguely like Northuldra clothing but older, more crudely made, facing a giant bear in the Enchanted Forest. She felt his fear, felt the lurch in his stomach as the bear reared up, teeth bared and claws out.

She watched as the man wove his hands together, fingers dancing in snow and ice like hers did when she was channeling her ice, and in an instant felt the ice snap onto the man’s body like armor. She saw his arms, legs, and torso grow thick with clear crystal ice, dense as rock, and then the same shimmer over the man’s head and eyes.

The bear landed a fearsome blow on the man’s chest, knocking him down, but the ice bore the brunt of the attack. The bear pressed its mighty weight on the man, but the ice held, keeping him from being crushed beneath the beast’s massive weight. The memory faded, as though it were a play in the Royal Theater and the scene came to a end.

Elsa’s senses returned to the present moment; her body was heavy and cold, her mind scattered from the journey into someone else’s life. She turned to see Anna staring at her, mouth wide but eyes smiling.

“Elsa! How did you do that? Is that armor made of ice? It’s so beautiful!”

Elsa looked down at her body and saw the exact armor from the man’s memory covering herself. Were it not clear ice, she would have resembled a heavy infantry knight. She reached into herself again and dismissed the ice, seeing the armor waft away in a breeze of flurries.

“That memory is now yours, Elsa, to use when you need it. The crystals in the hall are other memories that you are welcome to see,” said the guardian. “But be cautious. The process of living another’s memories is a taxing one. Give yourself time to rest in between them.”

Elsa glanced at the door to the antechamber and the nearly dozen crystals remaining, nodding. She felt fatigue creeping up on her again, not as strongly as when the crystal dissolved in her hands, but still tired.

Anna took her sister’s hand, looking up at Iduna’s image. “We will. She will, I mean, and I’ll make sure she rests, Mother. I promise. Come on, Elsa, let’s get you to bed.”

Anna guided Elsa back to the bench where she’d laid Anna down to sleep after the shock earlier. Elsa waved her hand and widened it to accommodate both of them, and Anna piled up the furs and coats on it. Her eyes shaded with the effort, her hand pinching the bridge of her nose in pain from the effort, and she collapsed on the makeshift bed.

Anna lay down next to Elsa, wrapping her arms around her. She looked up at the image of Iduna, still smiling gently and watching the sisters, and blurted out, “I know you’re not really Mother, but you– you have Mother’s memories, don’t you?”

The guardian nodded. “Yes. All is found here.”

Anna bit her lip, deep in thought. “Could you… do you remember… could you sing us Mother’s lullaby?”

Author’s Notes

In which we finally find out why a canonical character has thus far been absent from this tale. Kristoff is deceased.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: icest.

Chapter 5: You Have Secrets Too

Anna woke first. She had no way of knowing how much time had passed, but she felt refreshed and joyful, warm under the pile of furs. Ahtohallan’s guardian may not be her mother’s spirit, but hearing it sing their favorite lullaby immediately lulled her to sleep next to Elsa as soon as she asked about it.

Anna reached up with one hand into the icy air and felt her hair in its usual disarray; they’d been asleep at least for some time, her hair having reverted to its natural, chaotic state. In their rest, Elsa had curled up against her tightly, face buried in the crook of Anna’s neck, an arm across her belly, legs entangled around each other. Anna briefly felt a pang of guilt; what would their mother think of their relationship? She reminded herself that the guardian wasn’t her mother, even if it did a splendid job of masquerading as her.

Anna lay staring at the azure walls of the chamber as a wave of memory swept over her. When Kristoff had vanished the week before their wedding, she panicked and sent practically half the Arendellian army to look for him. Every patrol came back with nothing - no sighting, no tracks, nothing that indicated what happened. There was no hint of foul play anywhere, and though Minister Vilhelm’s spies had no shortage of tall blond men sightings at all the pubs and taverns in every town in the countryside, none were definitive sightings. Kristoff had just… left her.

The only thing that kept Anna from completely losing herself was her sister. Elsa had ridden down from the Enchanted Forest as soon as Gale delivered Anna’s missive to her. She did her best to help, asking the elementals if they had seen Kristoff, but neither they nor the Northuldra had spotted him. Powerful though they were, none of them were omniscient.

The first night in the castle, Anna had broken down and clutched Elsa like a cork vest to a drowning woman, asking her to stay with her, to keep her company in the darkness of despair. One night became two, then every night. The worst night was what should have been Anna’s wedding night. It was then that their relationship changed irrevocably.

Three years ago

Anna sat on her bed, sobbing into her nightgown, with Elsa next to her, rubbing small circles on her shoulders and back to comfort her, watching the shadows flicker on the wall from the candle on the nightstand.

“I- I just can’t believe he’d leave me like this, Elsa. What did I do wrong?”

“Anna, you didn’t do anything wrong. There must be some explanation. Every time I’ve been to visit, you two seemed happy. But you’ve done nothing but be supportive and loving to him, especially with all the grief that some of the nobles have given you about wanting to marry a commoner,” said Elsa, tracing her fingers over Anna’s back, occasionally running them through her hair. “This is NOT your fault.”

“We were- this is- I mean, oh God, I can’t. Elsa, we were supposed to be married today. It’s been a week since- and today- it-” sputtered the redhead, words failing her.

“I know, I know. Come here, just let it all out,” Elsa whispered as she pulled Anna to her, embracing her and letting the tears fall onto her shoulder.

Anna’s shoulders heaved with broken breaths. After half a candle’s time, her tears slowed to just hitched breathing and the occasional whimper. Elsa kept running her fingers through Anna’s hair, staying silent, sharing her warmth to remind her little sister that she wasn’t alone.

“… Elsa?”

“What is it, Anna?” she murmured tenderly. “I’ve got you. What do you need?”

“It’s- it’s my wedding night. Or it was. Can you… would you…” Anna stammered as she turned to face her sister.

“Would I what, Anna? Anything for you, anything at all.”

Anna’s voice lowered to a whisper. “Would you kiss me, please?”

Elsa nodded. “Of course!” She pulled Anna into a hug and kissed her cheek and hairline.


Elsa pulled back to look at Anna. “What is it?”

“… I meant- I- can you kiss me… romantically?” Anna whispered again, her cheeks and ears ablaze, almost matching her hair.

Elsa’s eyes widened and her mouth parted soundlessly. She blinked furiously, unsure if she’d heard Anna correctly.

“Please, Elsa. Just once. I… I just need to feel something, anything, that isn’t this overwhelming loneliness right now. I’m supposed… supposed to be feeling more loved tonight than any night of my life and instead, I feel so empty and cold, abandoned… thrown away. Forgotten. The only time I’ve ever felt worse was when I thought you had died. Please… can you just help me feel loved like I was supposed to be, even a little bit? Please?” Anna begged, a fresh tear falling from her eye.

Elsa sighed and nodded. “All right. Just this once.” She gently cradled Anna’s neck and leaned closer to her, gazing at her reddened face and closed eyes, feeling the redhead’s breath on her lips, the heat of her face next to hers. Like a feather floating to the ground, she touched Anna’s soft lips with her own, and felt her heart jump. Anna stiffened briefly, and in the next breath threw her arms around Elsa, crushing their lips together. Elsa tasted the salt of so many tears from the past week, and she poured all heart into the kiss, willing Anna to feel her love and care through it.

Anna had no idea whether they kissed for a second, a minute, or an hour. Unfamiliar but wonderful pleasure shot through her body like lightning illuminating the night sky, warmth filling her for the first time in a week. Elsa tasted like mint, felt like an early spring breeze promising warmth and beautiful days to come, and something inside Anna ignited, like a match tossed onto kindling.

They pulled back to look into each other’s eyes and both shivered simultaneously.


“Wow indeed.”

“Elsa… I’m sorry if that made you uncomfortable.”

“It didn’t. I… don’t know how I feel right now, but it’s not unhappy or uncomfortable, not at all,” Elsa reassured her sister. “Anything for you, Anna. You’ve always been here for me, so it’s the least I can do for you.”

“Okay. Elsa?”


“I love you.”

“I love you too, Anna.”

They laid down together, Elsa flicking a tiny flurry to extinguish the candle, wrapping Anna in her arms as they did every night to keep each other company and warm.

Anna snapped out of her reverie. That night three years ago, everything changed for them. Slowly at first, but over time they realized their love was much more than just sisterly. They kissed again… and again, and kisses eventually led to the most intimate embraces. They became everything to each other: family, friends, lovers, soulmates. While Iduna and Agnarr might not have approved of the details of their relationship, Anna felt deep in her heart they’d surely approve of just how close and loving she and Elsa were.

Anna’s gaze traveled to the sleeping form of her sister next to her, head resting on Anna’s arm. With her free hand, she traced a gentle line down Elsa’s jaw, admiring her flawless beauty, the faint dusting of freckles on her face, the coolness of her skin. She marveled at what Elsa’s powers could do, but marveled even more at Elsa’s boundless love for her now that Elsa had mastered control of her powers.

Elsa stirred at Anna’s wandering touch. “Hey.”

“Hey you,” giggled Anna as she touched the point of Elsa’s nose, then leaned over to kiss it. “I don’t know if it’s morning, noon, or night, but I’ll just go with good morning. How are you feeling?”

Elsa exhaled softly. “Fine. Better than fine, actually. I feel a little stronger today.”

“I’m so glad to hear that, Elsa. This has been amazing, but I’ve got to be honest, I was worried about you yesterday when that crystal did its thing. You seemed so drained afterwards.”

Elsa nodded. “I was. It was… taxing, like after running a great distance. There are so many crystals in the hall; it could take me weeks to learn them all if I pass out for a day after each one.”

Anna turned her head towards the triangular door of the antechamber. “Maybe there’s a special order or something? Were there… I don’t know, any kind of instructions? A scroll, a parchment with some sort of guide?”

“Not that I found when I was looking.”

Anna stood up, shivering in the icy air of the chamber despite wearing several coats, taking Elsa’s hand and lifting her from the bed of furs. “Come on, let’s look together. Maybe there’s more, somehow.” Elsa smiled and wove her usual ice dress over her body.

The sisters walked out into the hall and turned towards the shelf of crystals. Elsa’s eyes narrowed at the sight. “That… that one wasn’t there yesterday.” She pointed towards a new crystal on the shelf, glowing a cheerful green, like new foliage on a tree in springtime. It bore a unique sigil that didn’t match the symbols on the blue crystals.

Anna knelt down to peer at the crystal. “Maybe the spirits were listening? Could this be a guide for you, somehow?”

“Only one way to find out.” Elsa gently lifted the crystal off the shelf, as though it could shatter just from her touch. She closed her eyes, reached out with her magic, imagining a small stream of flurries touching the crystal.

And waited.

Elsa opened her eyes. “That’s unusual. Nothing happened.”


“I reached out to it with my mind, just like the crystal yesterday, and it didn’t respond at all,” said Elsa, looking quizzically at the green gem. Elsa took a few steps back from the shelf. “Let me try again.” She closed her eyes, repeated the process, her brow wrinkling with the effort. “Still nothing.”

Anna shrugged. “Maybe we should go ask Mother for help.”

Elsa inclined her head in agreement. “Here, put this back on the shelf and we can go ask,” handing Anna the crystal.

Anna took the crystal in her hands gently, like holding a songbird, and suddenly it flared a brilliant green… and vanished.

“What- what happened? Where did it go?” squawked Anna. She turned in every direction, squatting down, looking for the crystal.

Elsa stared around, equally flustered. “Anna… do you feel all right?”

“All right? Yeah, I’m fine. Nothing’s changed, I think. I mean, umm - do you think it did something magical to me? I don’t feel like it did. I don’t suddenly remember someone else’s life. I still want chocolate. Oh! Am I glowing? Did I grow wings?” She awkwardly turned her head to look over her shoulders, patting them with her hands. Something felt different; Anna couldn’t place it - but it certainly wasn’t wings.

Elsa giggled, “No, none that I can see.” She clasped Anna’s hands into hers to head back into the hall of memories and felt a sudden, strong rush. Energy flowed through her, more than she’d ever felt before, like the difference between candlelight and the noon sun. “A-Anna…” she breathed.

Anna held Elsa’s hands, an anxious look on her face. “Elsa? Are you okay?”

“Something- something IS different. I feel different.”

“Like, good different?”

“I’m not sure. It’s making me a little light-headed,” she said, “like how I feel after running up the castle stairs, or…”

“Or what?”

Elsa blushed furiously. “Or how I feel after.”

“After? After what?” said Anna, confused.

“After we’ve been together, Anna. Intimate.”

Anna’s eyes bulged. “Oh. OH! Oh, I get it. I mean, I know what you mean. Umm, wow.”

“Let’s go back inside and ask the guardian what just happened,” mumbled Elsa, catching her breath and feeling the warmth in her cheeks slowly receding.

They held hands, walking back into the hall of memories, and together stood in the center of the crystals. The familiar rush of light and energy surrounded them, the walls shimmering with blue snow, and a new face appeared in the ice.

“Father!” exclaimed Anna.

“Hello again, Elsa and Anna. Do you understand?” the image of Agnarr asked.

“No, I’m afraid I- we don’t, Father. What happened to us? Why did the crystal vanish in Anna’s hands?”

Agnarr’s avatar chuckled. “What is your most taxing spell, Elsa?”

Elsa considered for a moment, remembering her initial meeting with Bruni and how it drained her to continuously channel ice. “Anything sustained, I think, that requires me to keep using my magic for a long period of time.”

Agnarr’s image nodded. “Channel something now. This room is larger than it appears. Channel for as long as you can.”

Elsa closed her eyes, reached inside herself, and began channeling a column of ice as wide as a horse and as tall as the eye could see, its top vanishing into the darkness. Elsa’s hands sparkled silvery white, shining with the light of her magic. Her breathing quickened slightly, and her hands glowed brighter.

“Good, Elsa. How do you feel?” inquired the guardian.

Elsa paused her casting, taking a deep breath. “I feel… fine. I feel like I’ve barely used any of my magic at all.” Her eyes widened with the realization that she’d built a massive pillar of ice and should have been brought to her knees by the effort.

“And you, Anna? How do you feel?” asked the guardian, turning his gaze to the redhead next to Elsa.

“I don’t… I don’t feel any different, not really. Maybe a little tired, but nothing some chocolate or a nap couldn’t fix,” Anna smiled, as Elsa glanced at her.

Both sisters turned to Agnarr’s image. “What does this mean? What’s happened?” Elsa asked.

“Do you recall what you said to Anna after she saved Arendelle?” asked Agnarr.

“That a bridge has two sides, that mother had two daughters, and that we’d saved Arendelle together,” Elsa said, her cheeks dimpling with the memory of that reunion.

“Your power has been incomplete until now, Elsa, because you did not realize the truth of your words. You are a bridge with two sides, but you have never recognized the power of the other side, of your sister,” rumbled Agnarr’s voice through the cavern. “Anna is not just your sister, nor just your lover. She is the complement to your powers. When she picked up the crystal in the hallway, she awoke her power.”

“My powers? What powers? I don’t have any powers,” exclaimed Anna.

“Your power is the one you’ve always had, Anna, but you needed to come here to awaken it. Yours is the power of life, the most powerful of the primal energies. When Elsa held your hands after your awakening, her powers connected to you. When she uses her magic, she can draw on both her powers and yours. Did you not realize that even when you arrived, you could not speak until both of you were connected, in this room?” asked Agnarr.

Elsa nodded, the truth sinking in. “Of course. And Anna’s power, the power of life, the power of love, is what’s saved us so many times in the past.”

“You will need each other’s power in the days to come, Elsa. A great battle awaits you,” boomed Agnarr’s voice.

“That was what I came here to ask, Father. What we came here together to find out. Can you help us?” implored Elsa.

“I will summon the others so that we may speak of this and guide you. For now, Elsa and Anna, return to the antechamber and learn what you can. When you have woken from your next sleep, stand together and speak to me,” said Agnarr’s image, as it faded away.

The sisters looked at each other. “Well, I guess we know what we’ll be doing for a little while,” laughed Anna. She took her sister’s hand and dragged her back to the hallway. “Do you think it’ll be easier the second time around for you?”

Elsa shrugged. “I’m not sure - but there’s only one way to find out. I think, however, this time I will sit down for the experience.” Elsa eased herself to the floor in front of the crystal shelf, sitting cross-legged, and grinned as she felt Anna sit behind her, wrapping her arms around Elsa’s stomach. “Ready to catch me if I fall, Anna?”

“Always, Elsa.”

Elsa grabbed another crystal and touched it with her mind. The crystal flared, and Elsa’s mind felt the rush of another’s memories again. This time, the rush felt more like a stream after winter’s thaw, rather than the tidal wave previously. Anna’s power gave Elsa the means to manage the onslaught, tempering and taming it.

Elsa’s grin widened. “That wasn’t so bad at all!” She closed her eyes and wove the memory’s spell with her fingers. A dragon’s head emerged from the floor, looking like an image from a manuscript, but entirely made of blue ice. It breathed out a blast of ice as strong as Elsa’s own ice.

Anna yelped. “What IS that, Elsa?”

Elsa thought to her newly-acquired memories. “It’s a guard, a sentinel. Someone wove this magic to create a sentry that could protect a place from intruders, or hold a place on a battlefield.”

“And how are you feeling?” Anna asked, nuzzling her nose into Elsa’s hair.

Elsa relaxed into Anna’s embrace, leaning her head back to speak to her sister. “I feel fine - not even tired this time. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to make use of the time, and see what else these crystals have to teach us.”

The sisters sat and consumed the remaining crystals over the next few hours, stopping to eat a couple small meals, before finally retiring. Anna stood first, lifting Elsa to her feet, and walked them both back to their bed. She yawned and stretched out, about to snuggle under as many furs as she could, when she realized something was different.



“Something’s changed.” Anna’s eyes looked around, trying to determine what sense felt off.

“How so?” Elsa asked softly, looking around the room as well.

“I- I’m not cold. Like, at all!” Anna exclaimed, realizing she hadn’t shivered even once since picking up the green crystal. She touched the ice around her and while she could sense it was cold, it didn’t make her feel cold at all. It was just there, as though it were stone, wood, or cloth.

“Perhaps.. perhaps this bridge of ours allows you some of what my magic gives to me,” mused Elsa. “Can you try to create ice?”

Anna laughed. “I’m not… uh, not sure how to do that.” She scrunched up her face, held her hands in front of her, and grunted loudly, trying to imagine a snowball.

Nothing happened.

She tried again, and just as she grunted from the strain of concentrating too hard, Elsa burst out laughing. “All right, Anna, I think that proves the point. It’s not all my magic, just a little of it, it seems.”

Anna relaxed and giggled. “Oh well. So much for me making a few snowmen of my own. Looks like I still need you after all,” she winked as she laid down. “I guess this means I won’t need to bury myself like a Northuldra under all these furs to keep warm now.”

Elsa grinned. “That will certainly make it easier to pack for future trips here.”

Anna’s eyes gleamed with a mischievous thought. “You know what else it means…” she said, in a low, sultry voice. “I can go a little… clothing optional now around you without freezing to death.”

Elsa’s cheeks colored, realizing what Anna was saying.

“You did say this felt like home, Elsa. Wanna make it feel more like home?”

Elsa vigorously nodded.

Author’s Notes

Still exploring the nature of Elsa’s magic in the greater context. What happened to Anna here will have larger implications in future chapters.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: icest.

Chapter 6: Ahtohallan’s Warning

Elsa stretched and yawned.

As her senses came back to her, she realized she wasn’t in her hut in the Enchanted Forest, nor was she in Anna’s bed in the castle - yet Anna was beside her, naked and warm despite the frosty air. She turned her head to kiss Anna’s brow, smooth and perfect in rest.

Memory returned to her as she awoke, a smile spreading across her face like a summer sunrise. They’d shared each other before sleep, the newfound realization about Anna’s powers making it even more special.

Elsa turned her head away from her sister and stretched out an arm. Idly, she wove a blast of frost into the air, and felt no drain at all from her magic. She giggled inside, wondering if the bond between her and Anna was stronger after a bout of very intense… intimacy.

Anna’s eyes fluttered, slowly waking.

“Good morning,” Elsa said, her voice soft and warm.

Anna made some kind of incoherent noise before facing Elsa. “G’morning sis. Is it morning?” Her stomach rumbled, echoing in the chamber.

Elsa giggled. “It would seem that your stomach seems to think so. Come on, let’s get you a little something to eat before we see what the guardian has to say today.” She opened up their bags and fetched some of the smoked salmon, cheese, and bread they’d brought along.

“As much as I’ve loved this experience with you, Elsa, I cannot wait to get back to the castle for a proper hot meal! There are only so many salmon and cheese sandwiches I can eat - and that’s saying something, given how much I love a good sandwich,” Anna said before biting into her meal.

“I often thought the same when I was in the Enchanted Forest, too. I love the Northuldra, their culture, the warmth of the people, the respect for nature, but I often wished for anything besides reindeer meat and flatbread,” said Elsa between bites of her own sandwich. “I always looked forward to visiting you at the castle for so many reasons, but I won’t say that it was solely for you,” she grinned.

After finishing breakfast and dressing, the sisters stepped to the center of the chamber, reactivating the guardian’s image. Iduna’s image appeared and greeted them warmly.

“Mother!” smiled Anna. “I was hoping I’d see you again. I mean, I know it’s not really you, but I’m happy to see you anyway.”

Elsa hugged her sister. “I never tire of it either, Anna.” She turned to face the guardian. “Mother, you said the others would be gathering?”

Iduna’s image nodded. “The others are already here, in spirit. Their physical forms are not necessary for us to speak with them. Speak, and they shall hear.”

Anna looked around, confused. “How will we know who we’re speaking to?”

Elsa gestured towards the crystals in the floor. “Each of these is tied to one of the spirits. You know Gale, of course.” The sky blue crystal pulsed, and a soft voice called out. A gentle breeze tussled Anna’s braids, and she heard her name called out in a voice that sounded like musical chimes.

“And you remember Bruni, the fire spirit.” Cheerful chirps echoed in the chamber as the violet crystal lit, warmth flowing from it.

“Nokk, of course, you know from our journey here,” said Elsa as Nokk’s whinny, a cross between a horse and a dolphin, reverberated in Anna’s ears, the teal crystal on the floor shining brightly.

“You haven’t properly met Jotun, the earth spirit, though he remembers you urging his brethren to destroy the dam rather… vigorously,” Elsa chuckled. A deep rumbling sound filled the cavern, vibrating the floor itself as the lavender crystal flared to life.

Iduna’s image nodded to the sister. “We are all here, and we are ready to hear you, Elsa.”

Elsa nodded and continued, “A few weeks ago, I felt something change. My dreams became nightmares, ghastly visions of death and destruction. At first, I thought it was nothing, just some bad dreams. But each night, they became progressively stronger, darker.” She took a deep breath, shaking off some of the most horrific images in her mind’s eye. “But it wasn’t just my dreams. My magic changed, very subtly. Spells that were easy became just a little more difficult. The pulse of the forest felt disrupted, like it was holding its breath. What do these signs mean?”

Iduna’s image saddened its visage. “We have seen these signs before, Elsa.”

War is coming,” rumbled the voice of Jotun slowly, its words echoing in the sisters’ minds.

“What war?”, asked Elsa. “Arendelle and the Enchanted Forest have been at peace for years. We’ve put aside our differences and found our common ground again.” Anna chimed in, “Our kingdom is at peace everywhere. We’ve built alliances all around us, and even resumed trade with Weselton and the Southern Isles. How can there be a war?”

The high-pitched whine of Nokk echoed in the chamber. “Not war among people, children. War against a much older enemy, an enemy made from man but not of man. He awoke in the distant east. We have all felt it.

Elsa wrinkled her brow and considered Nokk’s statement. Elsa couldn’t put her finger on it, but even returning to her own bed, next to Anna’s warmth, didn’t make sleep easier to come by or more refreshing. Between the nightmares and the feeling that something was… wrong… her days were still filled with joy and love, but the light was less bright and the dark a little darker.

“I have felt… something. I don’t know what it is, but it feels dark, unsettling. It feels… dangerous, I suppose. Do you know what it is?”

Bruni’s chirps bounced off the cavern’s icy walls. “Yes. It is an old enemy. It has many names, in many places around the world. Your people have known them as Nattmara, the nightmare, but the most powerful among them has risen and seeks conquest.

“I’ve… heard that name before somewhere. But where?” said Anna, interrupting the conversation. “It wasn’t one of Mother’s stories…” Anna wracked her brain, trying to remember. “Father’s archives in the library! I remember an old book there filled with all kinds of fairy tales.”

Bruni’s chirps echoed again in the sisters’ minds. “You do your people credit, Anna of Arendelle. Those are not fairy tales, but historical record.

Elsa smiled wanly at Anna before continuing. “How much danger are we in?”

Anna jumped in, “We can be ready! I- I can talk to General Mattias and have him speed up raising the army. Minister Terje can send pigeons to our neighbors, asking them to raise armies and help as well.”

Iduna’s image shook her head. “My darlings. Armies of men mean nothing before the nightmare. It has a name: Deathlord. But unlike Hel, the Deathlord does not take souls to Valhalla or even the realms of Heaven and Hell. The Deathlord enslaves them to its will,” said the guardian.

Snow filled the chamber, a blizzard that blinded the sisters momentarily, until it settled. Instead of the chamber’s blue, the landscape was white and rocky. On the floor, a village with unfamiliar buildings rose from the snow, and tiny snow figures in the shapes of men appeared in neat, even columns, clearly an army of some kind.

Iduna’s voice continued. “The Deathlord is raising his army now. Every living person who falls to him is raised in undeath to serve him.” A rabble of people, hardly organized, rose from the snow far outside the village, looking more like an angry mob than any kind of serious military threat. The sisters watched as the mob stumbled towards the village, the snow army marching towards it. As the mob swarmed over the army, the landscape became littered with fallen snow figures, while the mob moved into the town.

Anna gasped. A figure rode on a horse from outside the village, and as it rode across the carnage of the army, the snow figures crookedly rose and followed the rider into the snow village.

“Yes, Anna, raise your armies to fight the bodies of the vanquished, but know that without the Deathlord’s defeat, all will eventually fall to its reign. Their bodies will serve the Deathlord as their souls fuel its power,” said Iduna.

“How do we defeat it?” asked Elsa, her eyes wide with anxiety. Images from her nightmares briefly flashed before her eyes, seeing everyone she loved raised as undead. Her knees weakened at the memory of Anna, her copper hair turned rust, her freckled, golden skin grey and rotted. So strong was the vision that she gasped aloud.

Iduna’s voice softened. “You must defeat it, Elsa. You are the fifth spirit, the spirit that unifies the elements together.”

“But how? My powers are over ice and water, not death! How do I defeat-” she gestured frantically at the decimated snow village, “-that?” Anna clasped her sister’s hand tightly to reassure her, seeing the panic on Elsa’s face.

Nokk’s voice spoke again. “Elsa, I am of ice and water, but you are no longer. You have not been since you came to Ahtohallan three years ago and restored the balance with Anna. You are more than just the frost.

Elsa pondered Nokk’s words. True, she had felt more at ease in the presence of Bruni and Gale, riding Nokk across the countryside, but she never felt her magic beyond her powers over ice and water. “How am I more?”

Iduna’s voice called out again. “Elsa, you possess the capability to use all the elements, not just the one you know. It is time for you to learn how. You have already made great strides in your visit here to master your powers of ice and water. To win this war, you will need to step beyond your powers today. Leave this place, this fortress of solitude.”

Iduna’s image faced Anna. “Go home to the castle. Go to the library, to your father’s archives, and find the book you believe to be fairy tales. In that book, you will find a map given to your mother’s family long ago. Find it, follow the path on it, and you will guide Elsa on her journey to awaken her powers - and your own.”

Elsa’s shoulders relaxed as she let out a sigh of relief. Whatever she had to do to avert the horrifying visions of undeath, she would do. She turned to the spirits to thank them. “I am in your debt again, my friends. Thank you for helping guide me.” Elsa turned to Anna and hugged her. “Looks like we’re about to have a new adventure,” she smiled.

Jotun’s voice rumbled with a final caution. “Elsa. You cannot defeat the Deathlord alone. Do not face it alone, for you will fail. You must confront it with the source of your power.

Elsa shook her head, not understanding. “How do I take Ahtohallan with me?”

Jotun’s laugh shook the ice pillars of the walls. “Not this place, young one. Your power is rooted in love. Take your love with you.

Elsa turned her head and met Anna’s gaze.

“We do this together, Elsa. Always together.”

Author’s Notes

This is the fully-fleshed out version of the one-shot I first posted here. In this version, it makes more sense to have Anna in the room since she accompanied Elsa on the trip, so the end got a bit of a rewrite.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: implied icest.

Chapter 7: A Journey of a Thousand Spells

After departing Ahtohallan, the sisters rode with Nokk and Gale back to Arendelle, the elements urging them along their journey.

Gale’s winds landed them just outside the city gates. By their reckoning, the sisters had only been away for a little more than two days, despite it feeling much longer because of the frequent rests. Kai and several servants hurried out to greet them and gather their belongings.

“Your Majesty! Your Highness! I sincerely apologize - we were not prepared for your return so suddenly. We had expected you tomorrow, not midday today,” said Kai, the portly man breathless from rushing to the gates. “How may we serve, Your Majesty?”

Anna hugged the steward. “It’s so wonderful to be home again! I can’t tell you how tired I am of salmon and cheese sandwiches, even if they were with the best company in the world,” Anna winked at Elsa.

“Very good, Your Majesty. Shall I have baths and a meal drawn for you both?” asked Kai, gesturing towards the castle’s gates.

“Yes!” cried both sisters in unison.

“Elsa, how is it you can come out of a bath looking perfectly put together, while I look like this?” Anna gestured at her head, a mild hint of frustration in her voice as her hair resembled a dense clump of swamp weeds, dripping everywhere.

Elsa softly laughed. “There are some minor benefits to having magical command over water, one of which is that it takes much less time to dry your hair.” Elsa weaved her fingers and Anna’s hair instantly dried, the water beading up and lifting away from her head, her hair cascading like a beautiful coppery waterfall.

Anna gasped. “That’s it! You are never leaving my side again. If I’d have known you could do that, I would never have let you leave for the Enchanted Forest in the first place!” she laughed. She kissed her sister’s cheek, gently stroking her fingertips across Elsa’s bare stomach as she walked into her chambers to put up her hair and dress.

Elsa sighed at the touch, then wove her traditional ice dress into existence while Anna garbed herself in her royal green dress and tiara.

Just as Elsa was about to speak, Anna’s stomach rumbled as loudly as Jotun’s voice.

“It sounds like you might be hungry,” quipped Elsa, drily.

“Just a little. We haven’t eaten since this morning and it’s already well past noon. Shall we?”

Both sisters giggled, clasped hands, and headed for the palace dining room.

As they walked down the halls of the palace, Anna paused, lost in thought at the guardian’s words to them. “Hey Elsa?”


“Let’s stop by the library. It’s just down the hall from the dining room and we can look at Father’s book over our meal.”

Elsa nodded in agreement.

A book slid down a polished oak table. “Here it is!” shouted Anna, pulling herself off the floor.

Elsa picked up the book, a dusty, leather-bound tome smelling lightly of tobacco under the fine layer of dust on the cover, the word Folkeeventyr on the cover.

Elsa tucked the book under her arm as the sisters made for the dining room just a few doors down. Kai and Gerda opened the doors for them. No pronouncements needed to be made, as it was just a quiet meal for their return.

Anna sat at the traditional head of the table in one of the many high-backed, ornately carved chairs, Elsa to her right, as servants brought out their meals.

“Finally, something warm to eat!” exclaimed Anna happily, slathering a crust of warm bread with butter and admiring the food in front of her. The castle’s kitchen had years of practice making Anna’s favorite sandwiches, and had plated a perfect toasted brunost sandwich for her.

Elsa chuckled. “Living in the Enchanted Forest for so long, warm meals were more the exception than the rule,” she said thoughtfully, memories of the years floating through her mind. She took a bite of her own meal, a delicate braised herring and mashed potatoes. The kitchen staff had years to learn Elsa’s preferences as well when she was queen, and easily remembered her favorites.

After they sated their hungers, the sisters grabbed the book they’d brought from the library. Anna craned her neck to look at it; frustrated at the large, appropriately regal wooden chairs that refused to allow her closer to Elsa, she simply moved to sit in Elsa’s lap.

Elsa wrapped an arm around Anna’s waist and opened the book, seeing the traditional tales told and retold by their people for generations - Doll in the Grass, the Two Stepsisters, The Seven Foals, and dozens more. “Remember when Mother would read these to us?” Anna wistfully said.

“I do… but these were terrifying, Anna. At least to me! Sisters falling down wells and being condemned to serve sorcerors - these stories were something else. Almost as bad as Father’s stories about the Enchanted Forest.”

“Well, we know how that story really turned out. You discovered the true story, Elsa. Besides, a collection of grim fairy tales is exactly where I’d expect to find mentions of those nightmare creatures, wouldn’t you?”

They leafed through the pages, seeing familiar stories, but not the map the guardian spoke of. When they reached the end, Elsa’s thumb brushed across the end paper, making a crinkling sound. She bent down to look closely at the book’s back cover and saw that the end paper had been re-glued at some point in the past.

Anna bent down to look as well, her cheek flush against her sister’s, feeling the pleasant warmth of Elsa’s face next to hers. “That doesn’t look right,” she murmured.

“Let me try something.” Elsa traced a finger along the paper, tiny shards of ice sparking around the tip, gently cutting the glued paper on the book’s case. She traced her way around the entire back of the end paper, and the page fluttered away from the book, revealing a carefully folded piece of beige parchment. Elsa picked up the parchment and inspected it, turning it over and around. “I… don’t see anything here, do you?”

Anna shook her head. “Nope.” She sniffed the parchment. “Do you smell that, Elsa?”

Elsa sniffed the paper and shook her head. “No, what is it?”

“For a second, I thought I smelled eggs,” Anna mused. “Hang on, I remember something. Try your powers on this paper, Elsa. Just make it colder.”

“Why?” asked Elsa, puzzled.

“Well, when we were growing up, and I, uh, couldn’t see you at all, I spent a lot of time in the library. There are so many books in there, Elsa, but over the years I think I managed to read them all. There was one, a book on spies - I remember, because Father thought it wouldn’t interest me at all - that talked about how spies even as far back as ancient Rome would write messages and maps with secret inks, inks that could change colors. Most of them used fire and heat to change color, but a rare few would change color when cold,” Anna spoke quickly, remembering the years curled up in one of the library’s nooks. “One of the chemicals was a kind of sulphur, and I remember reading about it because…” she faded off.

“Because what?” asked Elsa, gently.

“Because it said it turns the paper a snow white and the ink a royal blue. I remembered reading that and thinking that it must be beautiful like you,” Anna murmured sadly.

Elsa hugged her tightly. “Oh Anna. Even after all these years, I’m still so sorry you had to endure that.” After a few moments and a tear, Elsa released her sister’s arms and held her palm over the paper. Fog and vapor coalesced around her hand as the air became frigid, the paper crinkling with ice crystals. Faint blue lines began to appear in the parchment.

“Elsa, look! It’s working! A little more, I bet, and we’ll be able to see it.”

Elsa twitched her fingers, dropping the temperature further. The paper’s lines became sharp against the whitened background.

“Of course. It would make sense that something intended for you, the fifth spirit, would be using an ink that could only be made visible by someone with magical abilities. Or, I guess, the willingness to take it up to the North Mountain or outside in the wintertime,” Anna grinned. “It’s…”

“A map.” Elsa looked at the indigo lines drawn carefully on the parchment, flattening it with her palms. “All right, dear sister, let’s see how well the Royal tutors taught you. This map has the shapes of continents and countries, but no names or borders of nations. There are… five, it looks like, stars on this map around the world.”

Anna peered at the parchment. “Elsa… it’s fading a little.”

Elsa raised an eyebrow. “So it is. That’s… quite clever. Only someone with magical powers could use this map on an ongoing basis, or they were in a cold enough location to make a copy.” She picked up the parchment and lay it in her palms, exuding cold into the back of the map. The lines jumped out again in stark relief.

Anna studied the drawing. For something supposedly ancient, it was quite detailed and correct - she could make out Hindustan’s shores, Siam, the Russian Empire, Persia… and the stars on the map looked more like… “Diamonds! Elsa, those are the diamonds - I mean, the crystals in Ahtohallan. This map was definitely made for you. All right, let’s start easy. This first crystal is in the ocean - that’s Iceland. Which spirit is that?”

Elsa squinted at the map while holding it steady in her palms, suffusing it with continued frost. “That looks like Bruni’s sigil, so fire.”

“All right, so fire in Iceland…” Anna giggled. “What in Iceland could possibly be on fire?” She shook her head. “This next one looks like it’s in southern England.”

“That’s Jotun, the earth spirit.”

“Okay. This one up here, that’s definitely where Ahtohallan is, so I’d bet that’s water. There’s one way over here to the east. This body of water looks like the Caspian Sea… so this one’s probably in Russia.”

“Mmm. That’s Gale’s sigil, so that’s wind.”

“And this last one here, it’s just to the west of the Black Sea, so that would be… Hungary, right?”

“Very good, Anna. Looks like you paid attention to your tutors after all,” Elsa smirked, quietly laughing to herself. She looked more closely at the last diamond. “I- I don’t recognize this sigil at all. I’ve never seen it before, not even in Ahtohallan. Can you draw it quickly?”

Anna looked around for something to draw with, but found nothing. She paused, looking at Elsa’s half-eaten dinner, and grabbed the plate. “Got it!” she exclaimed, smearing the mashed potatoes flat with her hand and roughly sketching the unknown symbol into the potatoes. Elsa rolled her eyes and giggled.

“If the ancient spirits who gave this map to Mother’s family only knew how her descendents would make use of the knowledge within it,” said Elsa, suppressing more laughter. Elsa put the map down, and the ink began to fade immediately. Within moments, the parchment appeared plain again.

Anna looked at the design in the mashed potatoes. “Elsa… all those places are incredibly far away. How are we ever going to get there and back? It takes two weeks just to get to Hungary from Prussia.”

Elsa turned away from the table to stare out the window. “I- I don’t know, Anna. We’ll think of something, I suppose. For now, let’s put this map somewhere safe.”

Anna nodded. “I should see General Mattias and make sure nothing urgent happened while we were away, too.”

Elsa dropped the parchment map off in Anna’s bedroom, tucking it carefully into one of the leather satchels in her closet. She picked the satchel furthest back, one that Anna often took adventuring, then walked to the palace gardens to think. The trip to Hungary would easily be a month’s travel, and Iceland could take even longer; a steamship could make the thousand nautical mile journey, but at a snail’s pace.

She wandered into the fruit trees, bearing cherries, pears, and plums in the summer’s sunshine, fragrant and vibrant. Elsa loved the summer; the season reminded her so much of Anna’s warmth. Even in her exile as a child, she would stare out her window and imagine the sun’s warm light was a hug from the sister she could never see or touch.

Elsa sat at the foot of one of the sweet cherry trees, cloudberry plants blooming around it. After the Great Thaw six years ago, she made an extra effort to enjoy the gardens in the palace, having rarely seen them growing up, and had brought back many plants from the Enchanted Forest to add to the gardens. Cloudberries grew everywhere in the Forest, prized for their delicious tartness.

Enjoying the warmth of the late afternoon sun on her face, Elsa’s eyes drooped closed.

“Magus, what are you doing?” asked a young voice.

“Watch, young trust, and learn,” said an old man, beard and hair white as snow, dressed in lavish purple robes.

I must be dreaming, thought Elsa. She looked around in what was clearly a stone castle of some kind, but didn’t recognize the halls as Arendelle’s palace. An older man and a young boy stood in the middle of the stone room, surrounded by books and reagents scattered carelessly everywhere. A black crow stood on a perch in the corner of the room, watching wordlessly.

The older man’s hands glowed violet as he wove them in a circular pattern. Swirling circles of magenta light surrounded the man’s feet. Elsa felt a crackle in the air, her fingers twitching in reaction to the energy. Her lips murmured along with the man’s. The older man finished his spell, and an oval appeared in front of them, with what looked like a picture… no, a window, as though they were looking out on a foggy day.

“Where is that, Magus?” asked the boy.

“That’s the city, of course. You can see the city square clearly,” said the man. “Step through, my apprentice, and feel it. Then come right back.”

The boy hesitantly stepped forward, and promptly vanished in a flash of white light. Elsa gasped at the sight. Where had the boy disappeared to? Did the elder man just kill him with magic, destroying his body? Moments past; Elsa became aware of the distant sound of a clock ticking the seconds. After what felt like hours, the window flashed again, and the boy reappeared, none the worse for wear. Elsa sighed in relief. She wasn’t witnessing a horrific crime after all.

“Magus! I was there! I saw the beer garden and everything!” exclaimed the boy, brimming with excitement.

“Now you know how it works. Can you remember the sequence?” asked the older man, clearly someone with strong magical powers of his own.

“I… I think so, Magus,” said the boy, nervously.

“Time for you to give it a try, then,” said the elder magician, but he was no longer addressing the boy.

He was staring straight at Elsa.

Elsa woke with a start, finding herself still under one of the cherry trees. She’d been asleep for a while, the sun turned golden as it headed for its own rest. Elsa brushed herself off, chiding herself for the lack of decorum. Though she’d been living in the Enchanted Forest for years, she still felt a duty to uphold her manners and appearance while in her family’s castle.

Elsa walked back inside and paused. Where would Anna be this close to sundown? She smiled wryly and headed off in the direction of the dining room.

As she walked, she puzzled over the dream. It felt so real, so lifelike, but she’d never seen the man or boy before in her life that she knew of. What was he casting? It was clearly some kind of spell, but nothing that she’d ever seen or even heard of in all the books and tales of magic in the castle library.

Before she knew it, she found herself at the door of the dining room. Kai bowed and held the door. “Your Highness. The Queen is inside, awaiting you.”

“Thank you, Kai,” she smiled, entering and finding Anna at the table, chin held in her hands.

“Anna? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know how you did it for so many years, Elsa,” she huffed. “After I found General Mattias, he let me know that while nothing urgent happened, two noble families started a dispute about the boundaries of their lands, and no fewer than fifteen petitions about grazing rights and water rights were waiting for me to look at, too. And I can’t even begin to count the number of papers requiring royal assent on this or that matter. We were only gone for two days!”

Elsa laid her palms on her sister’s shoulders in sympathy before taking her own seat. “I know. I remember those days, only somewhat fondly. If you need me to help, I will. I may not be queen, but I am still a crown princess who can speak for the crown - at the Queen’s pleasure, of course,” she winked.

“I can think of many other things that are my pleasure that are NOT paperwork,” Anna giggled, taking Elsa’s hand. “Perhaps later, you might indulge your queen in such pleasure?” she said with her best attempt at a haughty, regal tone, blushing slightly and struggling to hold back a laugh.

“I am yours to command, Your Majesty,” Elsa countered before bursting into laughter, Anna joining her immediately.

“So,” Anna asked, after overcoming her fits of laughter, “what did you do while I was suffering through meetings and paperwork?”

“I took a nap.”

“That is SO unfair, Elsa!” Anna scowled. “Did you at least dream about me?”

“No, but I did have an… interesting dream,” said Elsa, recounting her dream in detail to Anna as servants brought plates of food for them.

“Hmm. Elsa, are you sure that was a dream?”

“What else would it be?”

“Did it feel like the memory you explored in Ahtohallan after you used one of the crystals?”

“I- you know, I didn’t think of that at all, Anna. I should have. That may be what that was. I can still feel the magic in my fingers, like… you’re right, like it was something I remembered.” Elsa smiled at her sister. “You know me - and apparently my magic - better than I do. Perhaps I should try that spell myself, see if it’s more than just a dream.”

“Tomorrow, dear sister. Tonight,” she gazed at her sister hungrily, tracing a finger down Elsa’s forearm, “you have a queen to pleasure.”

Author’s Notes

There is an unnamed nod to another franchise in here, because Disney’s digging into magic is sparse, to say the least, so I’m borrowing little bits from this other franchise. Some of you will doubtlessly identify it immediately. No knowledge of said franchise is needed to enjoy the story, nor does any of the rest of that franchise show up, hence I haven’t marked this as a crossover. It’s more just repairs, trying to patch over the glaring holes in the Disneyverse’s implementation of magic.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: mild icest.

Chapter 8: This Was a Triumph

Now you know how it works. Can you remember the sequence?” the old man had said to the boy. Elsa’s fingertips twitched with the memory of the dream, standing in the castle’s empty ballroom as the first light of day trickled in the windows. What was the sequence he spoke of? She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. If this was a memory rather than a dream, perhaps she could summon it.

Her fingers twitched again. The faint smell of electricity wafted in the air, the slightly acrid scent of a breeze after a thunderstorm. In her mind, sigils and symbols of a foreign language jumbled together, unfamiliar to her even though she was versed in half a dozen languages. With her own ice magic, she only had to feel, wordlessly, and the magic would spring into place, from the smallest snowflake to walls of ice higher than the castle. This magic from her dream seemed foreign, far more complex.

She sighed in frustration, her head beginning to ache from the effort. What good was a memory if she didn’t understand it?

Elsa yelped as arms suddenly reached around her middle, breaking the moment.

“Good morning!” said the voice of her love.

“Anna! You startled me. I didn’t hear you come in. Are you alright? Is everything okay?”

“Yes, silly. You weren’t in bed when I woke up, so I came looking for you,” said the redhead, wearing a purple nightgown that had once belonged to their mother, her hair still in disarray. She kissed the back of Elsa’s neck. “Are you all right, yourself?”

“I couldn’t sleep. The thought of that dream, that memory woke me and wouldn’t let me rest, no matter how comfortable I was,” Elsa said, turning her head to kiss Anna on the cheek.

Elsa closed her eyes again, relaxing into Anna’s warm embrace. “It’s important somehow, I know it. Somehow, the boy in my dream traveled a distance using magic. If we are to solve the mystery of the map we found, that dream might be the answer, if only I understood it.”

Elsa sighed, frustrated. To the outside world, she was a sorceress without equal; most viewed her with the reverence of a minor deity. Inside, she still had days when she felt like a little girl locked in her room, trapped by her talents and what she could or couldn’t do with them.

“Maybe that’s the secret, then. You said the boy in the dream recognized the place that the magician was conjuring a picture of, right? What if you thought of a place you wanted to go?”

“Like where?”

“What about your ice palace on North Mountain? You know it better than anyone.”

Elsa reluctantly stepped out of Anna’s embrace and envisioned her ice palace, blue and purple against the North Mountain’s white snow. She imagined the great hall, ice chandelier sparkling in the morning sunlight, feeling the chill in the air.

Without warning, the jumbled sigils from her dream sparkled and floated in a circle around the image in Elsa’s mind, like fireflies circling in the night. The symbols organized themselves, like pieces of a puzzle gently snapping together, and in her mind’s eye they glowed a brilliant violet as each fell into place. When the last piece fell into place, Elsa felt a weight release from her shoulders and her breath relax out of her lungs. Distantly, she felt a hand on her shoulder and heard a noise.

“Elsa! Look!” Anna gasped.

Elsa opened her eyes to see the image from her dream, only instead of a town square in the middle, she saw her ice palace. The image shimmered and glowed, looking like vapor rising off a lake in the winter.

Anna jumped up and down, giggling. “You did it! You did it, Elsa! I knew you could. Is that really your ice palace? How does this work? What happens next?”

Elsa laughed, watching Anna react like she was opening a new gift at the holidays. “I’m not sure. In my dream, I saw the boy touch the picture and vanish, only to return moments later.”

Anna grabbed Elsa’s hand. “Let’s do it. Let’s see what happens!”

Elsa hesitated. “What if it’s not safe? What if I did it wrong?” she worried. Magic was so fickle as it was, so dangerous if not managed carefully. Despite years of practice since the Great Thaw, Elsa still worried about what her magic could and couldn’t do - and who it could hurt again.

Anna squeezed Elsa’s hand and grinned. “I’ll say it until you listen to me, Elsa. I believe in you. Now, let’s give this a try!” Anna dragged Elsa forward and reached out her hand to touch the shining image…

… and fell.

At least that’s what it felt like, falling from a great height. Anna’s stomach lurched, her breath caught, her feet and hands tingled, instinctively wanting to grab onto something but nothing was nearby. She closed her eyes and screamed.

Until the ground rose up under her. Shocked, she felt her feet on the floor again, her body unbroken from such a great fall. Her mind tickled with the realization that even though she fell, no wind had messed up her hair or blown up her nightclothes. She could still feel the warmth of Elsa’s hand in hers.

Anna opened her eyes.

Ice blue walls surrounded her. She was standing in Elsa’s Ice Palace, and the shimmering image was behind her, showing the palace ballroom. Anna squealed in delight. “I- I wasn’t falling. Elsa, you did it! It worked!” She let go Elsa’s hand to walk around a bit, seeing the familiar sights, reassuring herself that it was all real. The sun’s morning rays shone in, refracting on the walls and the chandelier still hung from the ceiling.

Elsa stood still, shock coursing through her veins. She did it. She cast a powerful spell from memory that took her and Anna from the palace to the North Mountain in seconds, when it took more than an hour on foot to reach it. Even on horseback, it was easily a half hour’s ride. She broke out into a grin, exhaling her relief.

A rumbling roar greeted them moments later, shaking the floor of the palace.

“Marshmallow! Relax, it’s just us,” yelled Anna, scolding the giant snow monster as it came plodding into the chamber. “We’re only visiting for a few moments, we’ll be out of your hair… err… snow soon.” She turned to her sister. “So, I guess we just do that again to go back, right?”

“I guess so - that’s what happened in the memory.”

Anna grabbed Elsa’s hand again and reached out to touch the image. She recognized the falling sensation again, but knew what to expect this time and clutched her sister in a tight embrace. They fell together, back to the palace ballroom.

After arriving, Anna giggled. “Nothing quite like traveling a great distance from the palace in only your night robe. I’m glad we didn’t go anywhere we could be seen. Imagine the scandal, the queen in bedclothes!”

Elsa smirked. “At least you’re wearing that. Trying this last night would have meant a completely naked queen roaming the land.”

Anna blushed and cleared her throat. “Yeah, well… umm. You’re right. Good thing. Maybe we should, uh… get some breakfast.”

“After you get dressed.”

“I wonder where else we could go, Elsa. I mean, this is pretty amazing. Would your powers let us travel to… I don’t know, Hamburg? London? Maybe even America?” wondered Anna, finishing the last of her scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.

Elsa wrinkled her nose. “Ugh, who would want to go there? It’s a crazy place constantly at war, where slavery is still legal. Even now, their president is waging an unjustified war against its southern neighbor. But yes, I see your point. I’m not sure how we’d test it, but it might be the solution to our map mystery.” Elsa finished off a sliver of cheese.

She stood up, an idea popping into her mind. During her three-year reign, she’d corresponded often with Queen Aurora of Bavaria, but hadn’t had the opportunity to make the journey to Neuschwanstein, Aurora’s beautiful castle. From what she had described in her letters, it was nestled in the mountains, next to a great forest.

Anna turned to watch, still chewing. Elsa closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to imagine Neuschwanstein.

Nothing happened.

She furrowed her brow in concentration, and the violet energy crackled in the air again, rings of magenta surrounding her. A shimmering image of Oaken’s trading post appeared, then vanished. Another image of her hut in the Enchanted Forest appeared and then faded. Finally, an image of the great hall in Ahtohallan appeared.

Elsa opened her eyes, gasping from the strain. Anna stood up and grabbed her sister’s hands, concerned. Elsa shook her head. “I’m… all right. Those spells take a lot out of me. It was much harder this time.” A bead of sweat ran down Elsa’s forehead. “But I think we can get answers in a more timely manner, now that we don’t have to take an hour to get there,” she smiled.

“Hello, Mother,” said Elsa, a small smile on her lips.

“Elsa, my darling, how your power has grown. I see you have learned how to make portals,” said Iduna’s image. “But where is your sister?”

“She’ll be along momentarily. She just… got distracted getting some chocolate from the kitchen,” Elsa giggled.

“Be cautious, Elsa. Your magic is stronger with Anna; when you can, do not go without her in these dark times,” warned Iduna’s voice.

A flash of white light signaled Anna’s travel through the portal. She appeared, eyes closed, hugging tightly to a small silver bowl filled with truffles. “Mother! It’s wonderful to see you again. Sorry, I was just…” she glanced down at the bowl.

“Quite all right, Anna. You have questions?” asked Iduna, looking back to Elsa.

“Yes, about the map and traveling. I was able to travel to the North Mountain early this morning with no trouble, but when I thought about Bavaria earlier, I wasn’t able to create a portal there. I was able to create one for a few other places, including here. Why is that?”

“Your powers are limited to the places you can see clearly in your mind and memory, Elsa. If you have traveled there, if you can see there, you can create a portal. That is the limit of your abilities, and for good reason,” said Iduna. “And you have noticed the strain traveling by yourself. Be careful; if you travel alone, too far, you may not be strong enough to travel back or protect yourself if you travel to someplace dangerous. Your magic will be too depleted.”

“I understand. We found your map, Mother, in the fairy tales book, just as you said. But I don’t understand - how are we to travel to these places, if I’ve never been there?” pondered Elsa.

“Elsa, the darkness is spreading across the land. Time is growing short. You must step into your powers fully. Go. The spirits await you in the places on your map,” warned Iduna’s voice, more hurried than it had been in the past.

“But I still don’t understand-”

“Remember my lullaby. Now go, Elsa.” urged Iduna’s voice.

“All right. Thank you, Mother.” Elsa grabbed Anna’s hand and reached for the image of the ballroom.

“I wish I knew what the guardian was trying to tell us, Anna. It’s so… frustrating.” Elsa turned over the trip in her mind. What was making the guardian seem so… rushed, so panicked? It had never spoken to her that urgently in all the years she’d been coming to Ahtohallan.

Anna held Elsa’s hand as they walked down the stairs in the palace, their feet gliding over the rich maroon carpeting. “Well… let’s see.” Anna began to sing, “Where the north wind meets the sea, there’s a river full of memory…”

Elsa paused in the middle of the stairs to join in. “Sleep my darling, safe and sound, for in this river, all is found…”

Anna turned to face her sister. “That’s it, Elsa!”

Elsa blinked. “I still don’t-”


Elsa stared wordlessly at Anna, waiting for her to explain.

“Your memories, Elsa! You may not have been to the places on the map, but all those crystals from Ahtohallan that you absorbed with your magic - they all came with memories!”

Elsa brought a hand to her forehead sharply. “Of course. I can’t believe that didn’t occur to me. Thank goodness for you, Anna. You know me better than I do at this point.”

Anna giggled. “I should hope so!” She sighed. “I have a full day of meetings with the council and then hearing a backlog of disputes. But let’s continue this after dinner tonight, all right?”

“All right. I love you.”

“And I love you, too, sis!” Anna hugged her tightly and kissed her lips hungrily before running off in the direction of the council chambers.

Elsa smiled. It would give her a chance to rest and reflect on the discoveries of the day; the portal she cast to Ahtohallan had drained her more than she thought it would.

Author’s Notes

Historical note: President Polk in 1846 was indeed fomenting war with Mexico, hence Elsa’s commentary. Bavaria, for those who don’t remember, is part of present-day Germany but was a kingdom unto itself in 1846.

Fun fact: Neuschwanstein, located in Bavaria, is the castle that Walt Disney used as inspiration for Cinderella’s castle.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: violence, mutilation, blood and gore, death of a minor, suicide, death of a Disney character from another franchise. If you’re uncomfortable with innocent people being maimed and killed, this is not for you.

Chapter 9: Tidings of War: Agrabah

Agrabah, in the Seven Deserts 3,800 kilometers from Arendelle

Hakim squinted into the desert’s winds from his perch on Agrabah’s outer city walls. Watching sand and wind was about the height of excitement on guard duty at the outer walls; little had happened in recent years to merit any concern, and the outer walls posting was where trainees and insubordinate soldiers were sent, to keep them out of trouble. A dark cloud grew on the horizon. He shouted to the next minaret. “Hey! Sameer! Looks like rain headed our way.”

“Rain? I saw nothing about rain when I passed the Royal Observatory this morning on the way here. The hygrometer said it was going to be a hot, sunny day,” spoke Sameer, an older guard injured in the line of duty and stationed on the outer walls to ease his retirement. His long, grey beard blew in the wind. Sameer pulled up his spyglass.

“What do you see?” shouted the young guard, so young that he could grow no more than the tiniest stubble of a beard and thin mustache, the mark of someone not even out of his teenage years.

Sameer stared intently at the horizon. The cloud was no rain cloud. It looked like black dust, like the sand had turned as dark as the midnight sky, and it was hugging the ground. “I can’t tell! It looks like blackened sand from here.”

“Think we should send word to the palace?”

“Over a sandstorm? Only if you aren’t attached to your head, boy,” laughed the older guard.

“My lord, we approach the city of Agrabah at your command,” said Miralai Yaqub, or what was left of him. The journey across the sands of the Turkic desert and the Seven Deserts had caused the body of the former soldier to decay and rot, loose strips of grey flesh hanging from its uncovered face, oily stains covering the military uniform that clothed the walking corpse.

The Deathlord fared little better in the cleric’s hollowed shell. A guttural laugh echoed from his body, wheezing out holes in his throat and face. Clumps of beard and hair had abraded away in the desert trek. “Good, Miralai. These bodies will not serve us much longer without healing. Let us find sustenance so that we may continue our quest. I feel magic here; there is strength in this city we shall take for our own.”

The Deathlord turned to face his army. No word needed to be said, no provisions needed to be given. His army of the dead numbered in the thousands, marching in perfect obedience, even as their bodies crumbled beneath them. Some were fresher than others; they had conquered many villages, towns, and trading posts along the way from Hotan, through the mountains of Afghanistan, through Iran and finally to Agrabah. An ordinary army would have taken months to travel such a journey, but an army that needed no food, water, or rest made the arduous trek in just a few weeks. Every step the army took, the ground blackened beneath their feet, a grim harbinger of the fate that awaited anyone in its path.

“Which way, my lord?”

“I sense magic on the outskirts of the city. We will march first to the northeastern section, where I feel magic most strongly, then to the heart of the city,” said the Deathlord. The army marched faster as it turned towards the city proper.

“Sameer! That storm is coming closer - and it’s not in the sky any more!” cried Hakim.

“What are you talking about, boy?” The elder stood up in irritation and raised his spyglass, dropping the book he’d been reading. “There’s nothing but-”

Sameer squinted harder through the spyglass. The boy was right. That was no cloud, no sandstorm. The black sand trailed in clouds behind a massive army on foot. It looked like no army he’d ever seen, and he’d seen his fair share over the decades. Where were the horses, the cannons, the archers and musketeers? For that matter, where were the weapons at all? Only a few of the soldiers - if they even were soldiers - carried anything in their hands. And they were marching straight towards them.

Sameer felt a distinct sense of unease. No army would march so brazenly at a city like this without some kind of advantage; otherwise, such an approach would be suicide. Agrabah had been at peace for the past few years, too. There was no reason for any of the six kingdoms nearby to suddenly march on the Sultan’s palace. Sameer briefly looked skyward and murmured a prayer to Allah before turning to his young charge.

“Boy! Get to the guard post. Warn the city. Tell Captain Kassim that we’re under attack,” shouted Sameer. Sameer grabbed his musket and began loading it while Hakim scrambled down the wooden ladder from the wall and headed to the hitching post.

“My lord, the denizens rain fire upon us,” Yaqub idly commented. No weapon of man would cause his troops to flinch in pain, for they felt nothing at all. Another shot rang out from the minarets of the city walls. One of the men near Yaqub fell down briefly from the impact, but staggered back to his feet, a gaping hole in his chest.

“Let us correct that,” rumbled the Deathlord. With a smile, he raised a hand towards the city and his army raced forward, swarming the city wall like locusts in a field. Bodies piled against the city walls; more bodies clambered over them like a stairway made of living corpses until the invaders had made it into the city.

Sameer screamed. None of his shots, nor any of the other guards’ shots, made the slightest bit of difference as the hostile army approached. Panic grew in his belly as he loaded and fired his musket as fast as possible, wondering why his trusty weapon was failing him. He was a skilled marksman with decades of experience, and rarely ever missed by more than an inch, even hundreds of feet away.

Then the wind shifted, and he smelled the reason.

Death. Rot. Decay.

This was no ordinary army. This was why he couldn’t strike fear into them. Few armies in the world were as lavishly furnished as the Sultan of Agrabah’s army, with the finest musket rifles, gold inlaid scimitars, anything an army would need to repel invaders. But the dead feared nothing, felt no pain, and would not stop coming.

As the undead army climbed the wall, Sameer drew his scimitar. Bodies reached for him, and he hacked off limbs as fast as he could, but the bodies kept coming. The floor of the minaret grew slick with ichor and pus from the decayed bodies attacking him, until one grabbed his collar from behind and threw him out of the tower entirely.

His last thought before his neck broke was a prayer on his lips. Merciful Allah, take kindness on your servant. Please let me die. Don’t allow me to become one of them.

His prayer was not answered.

The first wave of the army of the dead had easily breached the outer walls of the city and opened the gates for the remainder of the army to march in, unhindered. Agrabah was a huge city, its eastern edge facing the Seven Deserts. Sprawling hovels and neighborhoods separated the outer reaches of the city from the wealthier sections closer to the Sultan’s grand palace.

Undead soldiers began seizing and killing victims indiscriminately as they tore through the poorest sections of the city, their ranks swelling with every casualty. A man ran from grasping, bony hands, only to be stabbed through the gut with a scimitar. Moments later, he rose in service to the Deathlord. A woman raced through the streets, holding her child behind her. Two arrows flew from undead archers, impaling mother and child through the eye. They too rose in service. No one was spared, no one safe from the Deathlord’s legions.

“Deathlord, I bring you sustenance,” said Yaqub, dragging a young boy by the throat to his master.

The Deathlord grinned, a hideous rictus upon his rotting face. No magic was as powerful as life magic, and his was the domain of life and death. While most of his army were mindless dead, a few such as himself and the Miralai were still sentient, still capable of thought. Their bodies needed sustenance to heal, to repair the damage that the elements did to them on their journey, and only the blood of the innocent living could do that.

He snatched the boy from Yaqub and bared his teeth, sinking them into the boy’s throat.

“CAPTAIN! CAPTAIN KASSIM!” screamed Hakim, breathless from the ride from outer walls to the command post.

Kassim looked up in annoyance at the whelp interrupting his afternoon tea. A soldier for life, he’d fought the Sultan’s battles and won the peace that Agrabah enjoyed, and his reward was the years of quiet since the battles against the traitor Jafar and his mutinous crew. “What is it- Private?” he asked, squinting at the child’s uniform.

“Sergeant Sameer sent me! We are under attack from an army at the Eastern Outer Wall, Captain!”

Kassim scoffed. “Attack from the east? Attack by who? There hasn’t been an army that would survive the march across the Seven Deserts in all our history, boy. Has Sameer been drinking again?”

“No, Captain! I saw it myself - a black cloud of men marching across the desert, at the eastern walls.”

“How many cannon?”

“None that I saw, sir!”

“How many horses?”

“Also none, sir!”


“No, sir!”

“You mean to tell me, private, that an army without horses, without guns, without cannons or siege weapons, is marching on the eastern wall. What are they going to do, attack us with their sandals?” Kassim barked. “Go back to your post, boy, before I have you disciplined for abandoning your duty to tell me obvious lies, and tell Sameer that I’ll be speaking to him about watching his charges more strictly.”

“But sir-”

“You are dismissed, private! Another word out of you and-”

Another runner arrived breathlessly and saluted. Kassim rolled his eyes. “Now what?”

“Captain Kassim! Corporal Zain, sir. I bring word from the Central Eastern Wall. We have been overrun, sir, by an unholy army that is conscripting our fallen soldiers!” wheezed the new arrival.

Kassim glanced sidelong at Hakim’s conflicted face, relieved that he was not lying and fear that what he saw was worse than he believed. Kassim stood up, put his uniform jacket on, and checked that his revolver was loaded. “Very well, men. Let’s see what this is really all about.”

Kassim didn’t have to go far. Within moments of stepping outside, a mad rush of Agrabanian citizens hastened past the command post in terror, racing for the safety of the Palace. Kassim turned to look east and saw a vision straight out of Jahannam - hell itself. A host of undead soldiers scrambled over the Inner Eastern Wall with alarming speed, knocking down citizens and murdering them in the streets with crude weapons or just blackened hands that resembled claws. Black sand mixed with crimson blood as the host advanced on the command post’s position. He blinked again and saw that half the undead host were dressed in Agrabanian garb. Corporal Zain’s report was true as well.

Kassim looked at his revolver, recognizing the futility of six rounds of ammunition against such vile necromancy, and saw his fate written as the newly risen citizens, some with horrifying wounds, clambered up from where they had fallen.

He would not give the enemy the pleasure or honor of his death.

Kassim held the gun to his head and squeezed the trigger.

The Deathlord licked the last of the blood from his newly restored fingers, grey flesh regrown over the exposed bone from the life energy he’d feasted on. He was whole again, his body strong, his magic even stronger as every soul taken fed his power.

“Miralai,” said the Deathlord, as he stepped over the dessicated corpse of the boy, a dried out leathery husk of what was once a human, “we are near the source of the magic I feel here. We must find its source. Bring me living prisoners to interrogate.”

Yaqub fetched three nearby Agrabanians cowering in an alcove, grabbing them roughly and forcing them to their knees in front of his master. Terror’s rank stench lingered in the air, the people nearly mindless with fear, clothes stained with blood and urine from their loss of bodily control.

The Deathlord approached the first, a middle aged man in traditional Agrabah garb. “There is a place of strong magic nearby. Tell me where it is and you will have an easy death.”

The man kept his eyes closed, repeatedly chanting and begging Allah for deliverance from this evil.

The Deathlord sighed, drew a knife, and stabbed the man in the mouth, the blade protruding out the bottom of his chin, a gurgling scream bubbling from his throat as he choked on his own blood. The Deathlord gestured, and Yaqub shoved the man face first into the ground, his head angled back as the blade jammed into the hard earth. Yaqub motioned and four undead soldiers clambered onto the prone man with teeth bared, biting into his legs and feet, beginning to consume him.

The Deathlord turned to the next victim, an elderly woman with stained hands and half her teeth. “Speak, grandmother, and you may avoid his fate,” he said loudly to be heard over the wet screams of the man being eaten alive. “I- I know of no magic here, hon-honored soldier. I am but a simple weaver, and no one tells me anything except what cloth they wish to be made. Please, I beg mercy of you.” He looked at the woman’s hands and saw the truth written on her worn, cracked fingers; she was little more than a peasant who never traveled beyond her hovel. He motioned to Yaqub; the sound of neck bones shattering followed.

As the woman’s corpse clambered to its feet and stood next to Yaqub, eyes lifeless and head canted at an unnatural angle, the Deathlord moved to his last victim, a young girl barely into puberty. “Speak, girl, and you may avoid their fate.” The girl looked at the grisly, half-eaten remains of the man and the risen woman, and prostrated herself. “There… there is a cave to the north of here, a cave said to be cursed by a genie, a powerful spirit, filled with relics such as magical carpets that can fly. I have been to it with my brother. If I take you there, will you let me live?”

The Deathlord laughed, an ominous, hollow sound. “I will consider it, if you lead us true. If you do not lead us true, one of my men will devour you from the toes up, and I will use my powers to ensure that you will remain alive and feel the pain of every gnawing bite until he rips your beating heart from your chest.”

The girl swallowed and nodded. “A-all right. Follow me.”

Yaqub held the tarnished oil lamp before his master, kneeling in a pool of blood next to the young girl’s ruined, headless corpse. “My lord, the waif said that the magical power we seek is brought forth by rubbing this lamp and summoning forth its magic.”

The Deathlord grinned toothily, taking the lamp from his general. Scores of his undead troops stood in a circle in the cave, awaiting his command. He traced his grey, clammy fingers over its surface, then rubbed it with his palm. The lamp took an eerie red glow; blue smoke poured out of the lamp’s spout, and a disembodied voice echoed off the walls of the cave.

“The ever impressive, the long contained, often imitated, but never duplicated, Genie of the–”

The blue apparition stopped, staring at the risen cleric’s shell, his ebullient cry turning into a guttural growl.

“I know you. I know you, and you don’t belong here,” seethed the spirit, “Al-Masih ad-Dajjal. You were banished a thousand years ago.”

The Deathlord’s grin widened. “Barqan Abu al-’Adja’yb. How the mighty have fallen, one of the seven djinn kings reduced to a parlor trick, encursed within a cheap merchant’s lamp.” He opened his mouth and oily black, foul smoke poured from it, surrounding the djinn. “Now, Barqan, give me what I came for and I will permit you to die peacefully,” the Deathlord hissed.

“NO! Dajjal, you will not conquer me! My powers are not yours to possess!” shouted the djinn, casting white-hot blasts of fire at the Deathlord, blue smoke intermingling with black like blood spilled in water. Flames burst from the walls of the cave, instantly incinerating some of the Deathlord’s lesser soldiers. The djinn’s screams began to shatter the rock in the cave, the air thick with smoke. The Deathlord pressed his advantage, his black smoke burning the skin of the djinn as its flames lost their intensity.

“Virupakha! Ra! Chantico! Bruni! Dajjal has risen! Warn the fifth spirit!” cried the djinn, and in its final moment, it released all of its magic as a giant explosive fireball, a massive shockwave that reverberated through the mountains.

The massive, fiery explosion erupted from the cave, expelling the Deathlord and the Miralai, the only two survivors. A full third of the Deathlord’s soldiers were reduced to ash in the explosion, and it was only the presence of several rows of troops that protected the two of them from instant incineration.

Yaqub stood, looking back at the smoldering hill. “My lord, what happened?”

The Deathlord chuckled. “I defeated an old adversary, Miralai. Barqan was one of the spirits that condemned me to my prison generations ago, but in the time that has passed, my power has grown; his did not.”

“Were you able to take his powers?”

“Only one, unfortunately. He was still strong enough to kill himself, rather than give them to me. But it is a power more valuable than he might have thought, the ability to keep a mind within a body,” smirked the Deathlord, satisfied at his conquest.

“I do not understand, my lord.”

“Do you remember your life before your pledged service to me, Miralai?”

“No, my lord. I awoke in your service, and I remember nothing else. I need remember nothing else, except to serve your glory.”

“That is the difference, Miralai. Should I choose it now, I could have kept your memories intact, a most useful skill on our quest to retake this earth from the spirits that have enslaved it.”

Yaqub kneeled before the Deathlord. “Truly, I am humbled to serve such a god, my lord. Let your powers grow in accordance with your glory. Where shall we turn our attention to?”

“North, my friend. We have more magic to gather.”

Author’s Notes

Being Agrabah, yes, that was Aladdin’s genie. The English word genie is derived from djinn, an angel made of fire. We find out the Deathlord’s true name here, Al-Masih ad-Dajjal, and I took the liberty of using Barqan Abu al-’Adja’yb as the genie’s actual identity. If you Google his name, you’ll see some of his attributes and characteristics - the name translates to Two Thunders, Father of Wonders. I don’t know whether the writers for Aladdin intended for the genie to be Barqan or not, but it fit - right down to his blue skin.

And yes, the Deathlord is the Islamic equivalent of the antichrist. Appropriate for a being that can raise the dead demonically. In much later chapters, there will be some more backstory about this.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: icest and mild smut.

Chapter 10: Fire Walk With Me

Elsa woke in Anna’s chambers, feeling the morning sun’s warmth stream through the windows, the late summer breeze carrying wonderful smells of meat roasting in the city marketplace, fresh bread baking in ovens and homes, and Anna’s faint but unmistakable fragrance lingering in the bed. The pleasant surroundings dispelled the previous evening’s nightmares. She turned to look at the clock on the mantle just as it chimed eleven o’clock.

Elsa shook herself awake and sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes with her palms. It was unlike her to sleep so late; the portal to Ahtohallan drained her more than she thought it would. She nodded silently to herself. It made sense that such spells required tremendous power and exacted a heavy toll on the caster, else magical beings could wreak havoc on the world. Someone with that power and no consequences could easily use it to be a master thief or worse, ally with a despot and conquer the continent, perhaps the world.

Dressing, she spotted a note on the nightstand in Anna’s script.

Sorry about last night - lunch? Love, me

Elsa chuckled to herself. Anna had returned from an exhausting marathon of council meetings and open court and had collapsed face first on their bed, the gold tiara bouncing across the floor. Kai followed shortly behind her, carrying a tray of kumla, a bottle of wine, and a gigantic bowl of chocolate krumkakes. Elsa had arched an eyebrow at the sight; Kai smirked, “Her Majesty has declared that no other business of state shall proceed any longer unaccompanied by refreshments, and has thus adjourned court.”

The sisters had indulged in the dinner nearly wordlessly, Anna’s mind “more mush than a bowl of lutefisk” as she’d declared after the third glass of wine, and begged Elsa to hold her. The redhead had fallen asleep almost immediately, not even undressing for the night.

Elsa smiled as she meandered to the palace dining room. Along the way, she stopped to cast a few of the spells from memories she’d learned, summoning the ice dragon’s head and dismissing it almost immediately so as to avoid scaring the palace staff, weaving an additional layer of armor on the suits of armor displayed in the halls, even weaving a giant ball of ice that emitted intense cold, causing everything near it to freeze. Each spell from others’ memories got easier the more she repeated them and made them hers.

She found herself in front of the dining room door and reached for one last spell, a peculiar one whose memory was rooted in the mysterious wizard’s tower from her dream. She wove it carefully and felt her vision change. The world lost its color, becoming hazy and grey. Elsa reached for the door and opened it, hearing the usual creak of the wood echo, as though she were much further away.

“Hello? Who’s there?” came Anna’s voice from the dining room. The queen was seated at the head of the table, waiting for the staff to bring the meal, Elsa’s place setting awaiting her next to Anna’s. A glass of cloudberry wine in her hand, she turned to see the dining room door open and close itself. Anna paled; the castle had no shortage of secrets, but haunting was not one of them.

Elsa’s heart dropped at Anna’s look of fear, and dismissed the spell quickly with a wave of her fingers. Her vision returned to normal, a wave of fatigue washing over her–

“WAAAAHHH! ELSA?” Anna shrieked, the glass of wine shattering on the floor.

“Anna! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to frighten you so-”

“Elsa! How- what- where did you- what just happened? I wasn’t daydreaming, I swear!”

Elsa laughed despite herself. “No, you weren’t. I’m so sorry, Anna. I was trying one of the spells from memory,” she breathed, sitting down in the chair next to her sister and enveloping Anna’s trembling hands, “and I didn’t think about how it would affect. Will you forgive me?”

Anna nodded. “I still don’t understand. How did you suddenly just appear? Did you just travel here or something?”

“No. I was… I think I was invisible to you. I walked through the door normally, just moments ago.”

Anna’s eyes widened. “Invisible? You were INVISIBLE? Oh my God that’s so amazing! You can turn invisible! Do you know what this means?”

Elsa shook her head, amused at her sister’s sudden change of mood from fearful to glee.

“You could get chocolate from the kitchen WHENEVER YOU WANTED AND NO ONE WOULD KNOW!” Anna whooped.

“Anna… we are the royal family. We are allowed to ask for chocolate whenever we want,” Elsa shook her head, quietly giggling.

“I know, but it’s not the same as being able to get it without anyone knowing! Think of how useful this would have been when we were little!”

“I suppose, though I think I would have more preferred it to elude Hans back in the day,” smiled Elsa, ruefully. “In any event, I wanted to pick up where we left off, with your idea about using memory with the traveling portals.”

Anna nodded again, her mouth full of a bite from her open-faced sandwich. “Rht, wm shld ty wmp,” grunted Anna, chewing. She swallowed. “Sorry, we should try with our map, see if your memories tie into the map somehow.”

The sisters finished their meal, and before the staff arrived to clear it, Anna turned to Elsa, a gleam in her eye. “Elsa? Do you think… do you think you could make ME invisible too?”

Elsa cocked her head. “I’m not sure. This is all so new to me. I suppose we could try it?” She stood up and held out her hand. Anna rose and gently clasped Elsa’s hand in hers, a gesture that was practically automatic for them now.

Elsa felt a warm rush of energy flow through her, calming and centering her. She filed the feeling away for later introspection and reached inside herself, weaving the invisibility invocation once more.

“I think I’m gonna be sick! Elsa, what’s happening?”

Elsa hugged her sister tightly. “It’s okay. It happened to me, too. Somehow the magic that makes us unseen to the eye messes with us, too. Come on, let’s see if it gets better.” She walked out of the dining room, gently tugging Anna along behind her. Once outside and with no castle staff in sight, Elsa dismissed the spell. Curiously, she noted, the wave of fatigue was absent this time. Perhaps the spell was unusually burdensome the first time.

Anna breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s worse than being drunk. At least when I’m drunk, everything is funny!”

Elsa rolled her eyes as they walked into the palace ballroom, their favored place for trying out new magic. Partly, they loved the history of the room, from when they played in the snow Elsa conjured as children, and partly because there was enough room for the unexpected, with its high vaulted ceilings, and a lock on the door to ensure some privacy.

“So, the first place on that map that I remember was Iceland. I’ve never been there, but I’ve always wanted to go - what do you remember, Elsa? Do you have any memories of something, of someone? It was Bruni’s sigil on the map, so maybe a memory of fire?”

Elsa closed her eyes and stretched into her mind. A moment, a breath, a feathery thought flickered past her eyelids. Heat. Hot. Sulphur. Smoke. Ash. Red. Black. An elderly man chanting, perched precariously on the side of a cliff, embers rising past him. Elsa’s knees weakened, and she felt Anna’s arms around her, supporting her. The memory grew stronger. Unbidden, she saw an image of a mountain on fire, and a portal began to form in the middle of the ballroom.

“Elsa, look!”

Elsa opened her eyes. In the glistering image was a barren landscape of blackened ash, like dark grey snow, under a foreboding sky. Large, jagged black rocks protruded from the ground, and wisps of steam meandered just over the surface. “What… is that?” she gasped.

“It’s a volcano, Elsa. At least, I’m pretty sure it is. It looks like the ones I’ve read about in the geology books in the library,” said Anna. “Of course, that makes total sense, doesn’t it? I mean, where else would a fire spirit be more at home than a mountain that’s literally made of fire?” Anna chewed her lip for a moment, her eyes to the ceiling. “Remember last year, when a messenger arrived from Denmark? Last fall?”

Elsa shook her head. “I was in the Enchanted Forest then. What happened?”

“A messenger arrived from King Christian, asking for aid from Arendelle for the people of Iceland. They needed food; all their cattle had died and they were starving. We sent a ship of fish and reindeer meat to them until more aid could arrive. Some of the refugees left and came back to Denmark, then settled in other kingdoms. There’s an Icelandic family in the western suburbs of Arendelle that runs a small cafe.”

“I remember now. You’d sent a letter to have me ask Gale to speed along their journey. I recall you said the ship got there in record time,” mused Elsa.

“The cause of that famine was a volcanic eruption - if I’m not mistaken, this volcano - Hekla. The gateway to hell, the locals call it.”

Elsa paused to admire Anna. Once a girl with few aptitudes in the academic realm, she’d taken to learning during their long separation, voraciously devouring the entire castle’s library. As Queen, she’d gone even further, learning everything possible about Arendelle’s neighbors and affairs on the Continent, to better serve her people. Hearing her talk about current events as they pertained to their quest lifted her heart and brought a small smile to Elsa’s lips.

“Well, I suppose we should see what’s on the other side, hmm?”

“Do you think it’s safe, Elsa? It did just erupt last year.”

“Then perhaps a precaution or two is in order.” Elsa wove ice armor around herself and Anna, thin and light. It might not provide much protection against a mounted knight, but should be more than up to the task of dealing with heat. As long as she kept the spell empowered, any ice that melted would re-freeze. They clasped hands and entered the portal.

“It’s still pretty hot!” exclaimed Anna, watching steam rise from her armor. Her feet were steaming; the ground was still glowing dull red in spots. Had they walked through the portal without protection, serious injury would have been immediate. Anna smirked and playfully punched Elsa in the arm. “Told ya so!”

Elsa rolled her eyes, then surveyed the landscape. The reddened rocks glowed gently, hinting at the heat they exuded; the rest of the volcano was covered in sharp black rocks and shifting black sands. Anna was right; the red lava rocks were hot enough to boil water. She could feel the gentle tug of her magic sustaining their armor; the rocks beneath their feet turned jet black as the ice magic cooled the rock.

“Over there, Elsa! It looks like… what is that?”

Elsa turned to see what Anna was pointing at. A large boulder sat in the midst of the lava field, looking almost like an obsidian table. The sisters walked to the boulder and found it to be hollow in the middle, more like a cauldron. Inside, they found four glassy black stones shaped like diamonds, inscribed with fire spirit sigils identical to Bruni’s on one side, and the arcane script Elsa didn’t recognize on the other - the same as the crystals in Ahtohallan.

Elsa increased the thickness of the ice around her hands and reached in to grab the stone crystals. The armor sizzled and sputtered; the stones appeared black and solid, but had just as much heat contained in them as the ground they stood on. After a few seconds, they darkened further, looking like patches of a moonless night sky in her hands.

“I can feel your magic drawing on me, Elsa. Are you okay? Maybe- maybe we should get back to the castle. I don’t want you to tire from the effort.” Anna clasped Elsa’s upper arm, seeing a small bead of sweat on her sister’s forehead.

Elsa nodded wordlessly and walked them back to the portal, still shimmering in space a few inches above the lava flow. Anna reached out to touch it and felt the ground fall away again.

The ice armor dissipated once they set foot in the ballroom and the portal faded away soundlessly. Elsa held the four black stone crystals in her hands. They were cool to the touch now, having no heat in the environment to soak up. She moved to sit on the floor in the center of the ballroom, Anna splaying her legs out and sat behind Elsa in case she needed the support, arms wrapped around Elsa’s waist. Three of the crystals lay on the maroon rug while Elsa held one in her hands.

“Let’s see what happens, shall we?” said Elsa quietly, a smile on her face. Anna peered over her shoulder eagerly, looking at the stone in Elsa’s hands.

Elsa closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and reached out with her magic to touch the stone. She felt the cold tendril flitter down and tap the surface of the stone.


The tendril of magic danced around the surface of the stone, like a string being dangled by a child.

The stone sat, immoveable, unresponsive.

Elsa scrunched her brow and strengthened the push with her magic. The tendril became heavier, more assertive. Frost began to rime the surface of the stone.


In her mind’s eye, it felt like she was knocking on the surface of the stone, the same way she’d knock on a flagstone in the castle’s walkways - and with about the same effect.

Elsa sighed, her shoulders slumping. She felt Anna reflexively squeeze her, sensing her mood change.

“What is it, Elsa?”


“It’s not nothing-”

“I mean that in the most literal sense, Anna. I’ve tried with the same effort as the crystals in Ahtohallan and… nothing. It’s like I’m knocking on a door that won’t open.”

Anna giggled. “I’ve had a little experience with that,” she smirked. “Are you… are you trying to use ice magic on a fire spirit?”

Elsa turned her head to look at her sister, squinting. “… yes.” Elsa turned back to the stone, her cheeks reddening from the embarrassment of not seeing the obvious problem. Bruni loved to interact with her precisely because her magic cooled down its fire, but it was an animate spirit, not a stone forged in fire. She reached out, just with her mind and intent, no ice or cold powers.


Still nothing. She sighed again. Moments like this made her doubt herself and her powers. How could she be this spirit of legend when she couldn’t even do the magical equivalent of opening up a book to read it?


“Hmm?” She turned to look at her sister.

“How do you thaw?”

“I… don’t understand, Anna.”

“Yes, you do. Come here.” Anna leaned back a little, opening up space between them. She guided Elsa’s head down to her lap, winding her fingers through the blonde locks. Elsa yielded, relaxing into her sister’s legs. Anna leaned over and brought her lips to Elsa’s, gently caressing them. Elsa awkwardly half-embraced Anna over her head with one arm, still holding the stone in the other hand and parted her lips to let Anna’s tongue in.

After a few moments of spirited kissing and weaving their tongues together, Elsa sat up, turned around, and lay on top of Anna, holding the black stone in one hand while stroking her fingers down Anna’s jaw. Anna traced a line down Elsa’s spine until settling on her lower back. She smiled inwardly, hearing Elsa’s sharp intake of breath, knowing how much her sister loved the feeling of stroking fingers down her back. Her whole body warmed, feeling Elsa’s fitting to her perfectly as though they were made for each other. Anna raised a knee gently, rubbing against Elsa intimately. She felt her sister’s embrace grow tighter, her breath shorter, her skin hotter.

Then much, much hotter. The stone sparked to life in Elsa’s hand, flashing bright orange like the heat of a blaze in the hearth. Elsa paid the stone no mind as it vanished in a shower of sparks and a brilliant burst of heat; her other hand was suddenly free to embrace Anna fully. Curiously, she felt nothing but Anna’s bare skin despite not remembering undressing her, but she took advantage of her good fortune, tilting Anna’s head back and kissing the length of her neck, down to her collarbone.

A different kind of magic became far more important to them both.

Whether it was minutes or hours later, neither sister could tell, only that they woke in a comfortable, warm tangle of bodies. Despite being stark naked in the middle of a ballroom, neither felt the slightest chill. Anna was the first to wake, feeling the cool wooden floor against her back, smelling the last embers of the hearth.

Something tickled her mind as she shook off the haze of sated lust. In the second year of her reign, she’d had the ballroom floor carpeted, to keep the room warmer during Arendelle’s winters. And she hadn’t lit a fire in the room’s hearth after dinner; they’d immediately summoned a portal to Hekla.

Anna sat up and yelped, shaking Elsa awake.

“Mmm… just a few more minutes, Anna, please,” she murmured with a subtle smile, one arm still wrapped around her sister’s waist.

“Elsa! You’re… going to want to see this.”

Elsa cracked her eyes open, seeing Anna’s beautiful body next to her. “I always want to see-” she started, then recognized the panicked look on her sister’s face. “-what is it?”

Elsa sat up. They were sitting in a circular bare spot in the ballroom, the carpet burned away in a five foot radius around them. The wooden floor was scorched underneath them, as though it had been exposed to a flash of intense heat. She blinked rapidly.

“Well… we’ve been saying we needed to redecorate here anyway…” Anna mused. “What do you suppose happened? I mean, besides the obvious. We- you- I- that happened. Boy, am I glad you locked the door.”

Elsa looked around. “I’m not sure… the stone is gone, though. I don’t remember that happening like it did in Ahtohallan.”

Anna snort-laughed. “We were a little busy… but it looks like I was right!”

“How so?”

“Love thaws, remember? If love thaws your ice, then I thought perhaps love would warm that stone. Do you- do you remember anything new?”

In between giggles, Elsa closed her eyes. She extended herself into her memories and just as Anna had predicted, she found a new memory and spell to accompany it. She grasped its foreign sounds and pulled it from the depths of her mind, mentally chanting it. Without warning, her hands felt as though she had plunged them into a bath made far too warm. She opened her eyes and saw they were aglow, blazing with purple fire.

Anna stared wordlessly at Elsa’s fiery hands, an ear-splitting grin plastered on her face.

Elsa raised her hands and gestured towards one of the chairs pushed against the ballroom wall. Purple fire shot from her hands, igniting the chair ablaze. She squeaked and summoned ice around it instantly, extinguishing the flames before they could cause further damage.

“We really need to redecorate now,” joked Anna. “It’ll give Kai something to do, keep him from boredom,” she smiled mischievously.

“Perhaps… with the few remaining stones, we should move to one of the towers. They’re made of solid stone and aren’t quite as… combustible,” said Elsa sheepishly.

“Good idea. Let’s gather our stuff and head upstairs. Hey Elsa…”


“Where are our clothes?”

“I… think we incinerated them.” She rubbed her palm against her forehead. “I wondered why you were suddenly naked, and I just assumed you were eager and I missed it somehow. I can fix it for now,” as she wove ice dresses for the two of them.

They gathered up the remaining stones and opened the door to the hallway, Anna making a mental note to leave word for Kai that the ballroom wasn’t usable for a little while. As they headed down the corridor to one of the castle’s stone staircases, an impish grin grew on her face.

“Hey Elsa…”


“We have three more stones for you to learn.”

“We do, yes,” Elsa acknowledged as they started up the cool stone stairs into one of the towers.

“So,” Anna smiled, her cheeks coloring and her grin widening, “guess we’ll have to do that three more times!”

Elsa instantly turned redder than the volcano’s lava field.

Author’s Notes

I always thought it was weird that Elsa was the fifth spirit, the bridge between magic and humans, but at the end of F2 still could only cast water/ice spells. So, time to fix that.

Thank you for the folks who have been leaving comments, kudos, and bookmarks. Please continue leaving constructive criticism and thoughts!

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Chapter Text

Warnings: mentions of icest, but no smut.

Chapter 11: We Will Rock You

Elsa sat under the cherry trees in the secluded castle garden, leaning against the trunk of one, basking in the midday sun. Since she had consumed the remaining fire stones nearly a week ago, she felt… connected. Closer to everything and everyone around her. Everything was a little brighter, a little warmer, a little better.

Ever since she was a little girl, she’d had to conceal her emotions, in part to protect everyone around her from her magic, but equally because she was required to embody the grace and elegance of the queen she was to be. After her parents died, she froze her own heart to avoid feeling anything at all, and stayed that way until her coronation.

With Anna elevated to the monarchy, she’d felt… lost. Who was she, if she wasn’t the one thing her parents, her family, her nation had groomed her to be? Being a conduit for the spirits sounded majestic and noble in theory, but the day-to-day reality was much less exciting. Other than staying attuned to what the spirits had to share, she hadn’t had much to fill her days - a primary reason she felt herself returning to the castle more and more over the years since being anointed the fifth spirit.

After Kristoff’s abandonment and now death, she’d dove deep into her connection to Anna, the absolute familial love she had for her sister. When Anna reciprocated that love and transmuted it into profound, romantic love, she accepted it, enjoyed it, and embraced it, supporting her sister every way she could. Loving Anna felt like swimming in the warmest springs, surrounded by her energy, her closeness, her effervescence.

She loved Anna her whole life, but she’d fallen in love with Anna piece by piece over the last few years, and still had hesitation and doubt. Yes, Anna was queen and she was crown princess; their word was absolute in the kingdom, and any subject truly daring to defy them risked bringing the heavy weight of the crown upon their heads. No one could object to their relationship with any authority; doubly so because Elsa’s powers virtually guaranteed their safety from any conventional threat.

But her doubts had lingered. What about an heir to the throne? Would the revelation of their relationship bring enough scandal that it would make it more difficult for Anna to govern? Could she ever really be enough to fulfill Anna’s heart for the rest of their lives?

Until the fire stones.

What Elsa thought she had felt towards Anna beforehand was a candle to the inferno that now roared in her heart, a blaze that chased every shadow out of her heart, any lingering doubt incinerated. She’d felt her connection grow deeper with Anna after the first stone, and by the fourth stone, she swore she could feel Anna’s heartbeat in her own chest, next to hers. Every facial expression, every change in emotion, every breath - Elsa felt as though Anna’s body, heart, and soul were an extension of hers. She could no more suppress her connection to Anna than she could ignore the feeling of a hand or foot.

And it felt… marvelous. For the first time in her life, Elsa felt whole. She’d felt her whole life that something was missing, like she was perpetually forgetting something, until they’d made fierce, fiery love that day and late into the night. After that, everything felt right, complete… perfect. Her doubts about their relationship were gone; between the power of the crown and her burgeoning magic, they would conquer every challenge before them.

So strong were her feelings for Anna that her ice powers were the only thing holding her back from combusting, or so it felt sometimes. Even still, she felt heat flare in her chest. Elsa opened her eyes to see Anna walking down the cloistered walkway to the garden and stood up to greet her.

Anna’s eyes met Elsa’s and she broke into a run to embrace her. No matter whether they’d been apart for a minute or days, Anna always felt the need to embrace Elsa, to remind herself that her sister was really there.

“Anna? What’s wrong?” Elsa could feel the tension and anxiety in Anna’s stomach reflected in her own.

“When we were in Ahtohallan, the spirits warned us about the nattmara, the nightmare. They said war was coming, Elsa, but they didn’t say when.”

Elsa nodded. “That’s why we’ve had to go on this journey to collect all these stones, these memories. What brought this up?”

Anna handed Elsa a small, dusty paper scroll, no bigger than her thumb. “This arrived just a little while ago, by carrier pigeon. It had the Sultanate of Agrabah’s seal on it.”

Elsa unrolled the paper carefully, absorbing the delicate, flowing script hastily written on it in blotted ink.

To: Royal Court Arendelle Agrabah besieged by ghouls City has fallen Refugees escaping to Potamia and Uthman Begging any assistance you can spare Food and tradesmen most needed Be warned Evil is marching northwest Al-salaamu alaykum, Sultan Navid

Ghouls, Elsa thought. The undead? “This is dated four days ago. How many pigeons did it take to get here?”

“At least two, maybe three. You can see the marks on the cover from when they changed carrier pigeons,” Anna pointed out the discolorations and impressions as she put the scroll back in its carrier tube, sand and dust rattling around in the metal container.

Elsa turned away, biting her lip, wringing her hands. “We’ve lost so much time, Anna. We should have gone after the other stones already. It’s my fault for just lounging around the castle, for not taking this more serious-”

“Hey! No. No, no, no, nope. There’s no fault, Elsa. The spirits never told us how soon this war would be coming, did they? So there was no way you could know. We’ll make up for the time, as long as you’re able. Tonight, we’ll finish gathering the other crystals or stones or whatever, okay? We’ll be ready - please don’t worry yourself.” Anna hugged Elsa tightly, feeling the tension in her sister slowly give way.

Once dinner was finished, the sisters stopped by Anna’s room to get her leather satchel with the map in it, then went to the ballroom. Kai had managed to put a new throw rug down over the fire damage; while it wasn’t fixed underneath, the throw was tasteful enough to look like a conscious design choice and not the hiding of a problem. Anna rolled up the rug and put it to the side, in case the next elemental adventure was as messy as the previous one.

Elsa sat down, pulled the map out of the satchel, and unrolled it on the floor, her hands still trembling with the thought of war headed for Arendelle. The Sultan’s script was etched into her mind. Evil is marching northwest. Northwest from Agrabah was the continent. While Arendelle was separated by the North Sea, it was no guarantee they would be safe from harm. Just what kind of nightmare were they facing?

“All right, Elsa. We’ve been to Ahtohallan, so that’s water. We’ve been to Hekla. Which one do you think we should try next? Earth, or wind, or this other weird little one?” Anna gestured at the parchment.

Elsa pondered Anna’s question, her lips pursed. Agrabah had a renowned army, and had still fallen. The desert had plenty of wind, and that hadn’t helped them. Perhaps earth was the way to go. “Earth.”

“Earth it is.” Anna rolled up the map, put it in the satchel which she put over her shoulder, then sat down cross-legged in front of Elsa, taking both hands into hers. She rubbed Elsa’s knuckles with her thumbs before planting a kiss on each hand.

Elsa felt Anna’s energy and warmth flood through her hands. The fire stones amplified everything about Anna; when they touched, Anna became the midday sun in her sky. Elsa closed her eyes and dug into her memories, looking for hints of the earth spirits.

A wave of familiarity passed over her. The smell of grass after a rainstorm. Cool. Damp. The sounds of sheep bleating. Rolling green hills. Puffy clouds pregnant with rain. As the memories flowed through Elsa, so too did her magic, and a portal radiated open in the middle of the ballroom floor. She felt Anna’s hands squeeze hers.

Anna squinted at the hazy image. “Is that… I think it is. Elsa, that’s Stonehenge!”

Elsa opened her eyes. The massive stone pylons felt familiar, both from her reading the same books as Anna in the castle’s library, and the distant echoes from someone else’s life long ago. She tugged on Anna’s hands, motioning them to the portal. “Let’s go find out!”

“It’s so beautiful here, Elsa!” Anna took a deep breath, grinning. “It smells just like the Enchanted Forest, the northlands.” It was early evening, and the sun was just beginning to set, casting long shadows through the bluestone trilithons.

Elsa looked about, staring wide-eyed at the massive stones. In her mind, she heard the rumble of a voice from long ago, felt the earth move. Letting go of Anna’s hands, she walked to the center of the stone formation, fingers gently brushing over some of the stone surfaces. “I can hear them, Anna…”

“Hear who? I don’t hear anyone!” her sister stage-whispered, her eyes searching in every direction for the unseen party.

“The stones. They’re.. alive. Like Jotun, or the trolls. These stones are slowly speaking to me. I can’t- I can’t exactly make out what they’re saying, but they’re saying something.” Elsa knelt down in the middle of the stones. She reached out tentatively with her magic, hoping she was reassuring whatever spirit was nearby that they meant no harm.

Greetings, little ones, growled a deep voice, shaking the pebbles and dirt around the sisters.

“Oh- hi. I mean, hi, great spirit of the stones!” chirped Anna. Elsa suppressed a giggle.

Tell me of your land.

“We are from the kingdom of Arendelle, spirit. A land east and north of here, across the North Sea,” said Elsa softly. “We come in search of answers. A map left to us by our ancestors said this was a place of magic, that it might have answers to save our people.”

Why do your people need saving?

“A great enemy marches across the world, and the spirits of Ahtohallan warned us it was an old enemy that we could not fight alone and win. Will you help us?” asked the blonde.

Only earth knows earth. Let me taste your land.

The sisters looked at each other, puzzled. “Taste? How?” asked Elsa.

Rock. Sand. Dirt. Place it in the middle of these stones. A taste of your land.

“Oh!” Anna exclaimed, smiling. “I might have something that could help!” She opened her satchel, humming as she pulled out the contents onto the green grass - the map, a necklace, a bread crust from a sandwich long ago, a pair of gloves, a small metal tube, a hat, a scarf, and finally, some stones she had gathered on a walk to the pond outside the castle walls. “Here you go,” she laid the stones in the middle of the trilithon.

You come from a strong place. The land there is at peace with the other spirits. You treat the earth well. I will help you, little ones.

Elsa breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, spirit. Please share with us what we can do.”

Do you have a taste of the enemy’s land?

“I’m afraid not-” started Elsa, before Anna interrupted. “Wait! Maybe!” Anna rummaged through the pile of items still on the grass, searching for the metal tube. “Here it is - the scroll from Agrabah!” Anna opened the tube, shaking loose a few grains of sand and dust.

The earth immediately trembled and shook, as though it were quaking.

He has returned.

“This is the enemy that Jotun, our earth spirit warned us about?” asked Elsa, quietly.

Yes. Tell me, little one, what do you fear?

“I fear… I fear losing to this enemy, seeing my kingdom destroyed,” Elsa murmured.

No. What do you fear?

Elsa swallowed, her throat tight with fear, eyes watery. Nightmarish images flickered in her mind. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I fear losing Anna.”

And your companion? What does she fear?

Anna spoke without hesitation. “I fear losing Elsa. More than anything, I fear her sacrificing herself to save me, and having to go on without her,” Anna said, her voice thick with sadness.

That is what you must defeat first. The ancient enemy will feed on your fears. I will help you.

The ground trembled again, and two small spheres of solid granite emerged from the soil, rising up like apples dunked in a barrel of water. Each sphere, no larger than a lemon, had a sigil carved into it.

Take these. Learn from them. One for each of you. Your enemy comes closer to your lands.

The last rays of the sun winked out, leaving them in the twilight. Anna quietly gathered everything back into her satchel including the two new stones while Elsa sat motionless, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Hey,” Anna whispered in her ear, putting an arm around Elsa’s sunken shoulders. “It’s going to be okay. We’ve gathered the magic here, we’re closer than ever to solving the mystery of this map and how to stop this enemy.” She hugged Elsa tightly, letting the tears fall on her shoulder.

“I know, you’re right. I know. I just- I can’t get that nightmare out of my head, the one where I couldn’t save you, Anna. It scares me so much,” she cried softly.

“Let’s go back. It’s dark now, we can get home and just put this day behind us,” Anna murmured into Elsa’s hair. She helped her sister to her feet, and carefully walked them both out of the trilithons, the stones once again silent. Crickets chirped their farewell as the sisters touched the portal to return to the ballroom.

The next morning, Elsa woke quietly and contemplated the stones sitting on their nightstand. Anna had carefully unpacked them on their return to the castle, resting them on a pair of gloves to keep them from rolling away. She stretched gently, avoiding waking Anna, and reached out to the stones with her mind and magic.

Nothing. The fire stones had outright rejected her magic, but these earth stones simply felt like… normal, ordinary rocks. No sense of magic about them at all. Elsa stifled a giggle at the memory of what they’d had to do to wake the fire stones. While she certainly wouldn’t mind doing that again, she doubted that earth magic needed the fires of passion.

She rolled to her back and stared at the ceiling, idly wondering what the earth stones would need to unlock their secrets. Anna let out a hilariously loud snore and rolled over to lay her arm over Elsa’s stomach, mumbling something incomprehensible.

In the distance, Elsa listened to the bell tower chime nine times. It would soon be time for them to start their day. As Crown Princess, she hadn’t had much more to do than when she served as guardian of the forest, save for helping out in those cases where the queen wasn’t able to spare the time. She idly wondered if Anna’s time as Crown Princess was equally dull, and a wave of guilt washed over her.

“Psst! Anna!”

Another unintelligible mumble emerged from Anna’s lips, mashed into Elsa’s shoulder. Elsa giggled and ran her fingers through Anna’s wild mane, slowly taming it.


Elsa quirked an eyebrow and pulled her shoulder away from Anna’s mouth.

“…that feels nice, Elsa…”

“Come on, sleepyhead. It’s past nine. We should probably be getting up,” Elsa sighed. Were she still queen, she could have simply told the staff that the day would be a little late getting started, but that was only Anna’s prerogative now. “I bet Kai has breakfast ready…”

Anna’s teal eyes shot open. “Breakfast!” She sat straight up, then bolted out of bed and ran for her wardrobe. Elsa shook her head. Anna was the only person she’d ever met who could go from slumber to full wakefulness in the drop of a hat, when motivated properly.

As Anna dressed, Elsa took the two stones in her hand, rolling them around in her palm. They were cool to the touch and as smooth as glass, speckled grey and black flecks reflecting the spots of sunlight in the bedroom. She still felt nothing magical about the stones at all; they would make fine garden decorations, but little else.

Elsa’s reverie was shattered by Anna’s hand, towing her to the dining room with alacrity. “I can smell the bacon from here, Elsa! Come on!” she giggled as she ran, pulling Elsa like a horse bucking its rider. It was all Elsa could do to hold onto the stones as she fought to keep pace with the redheaded blur.

They crashed through the dining room doors, startling the staff. At least under Anna’s rule, no one felt the need to pay strict attention to formal decorum; the queen set the example by not even giving Kai the chance to pull out her chair, so eager was she for breakfast. Kai shook his head gently and motioned for the servants to bring out the dishes.

“How long were you awake, Elsa?” Anna asked, between large bites of nokkelost quiche, the bacon as delicious as it had smelled.

“Not too long. I was contemplating the earth stones. They’re… unresponsive.”

“Well, we had to take… umm… extra measures for the fire stones, right?” Anna giggled, blushing.

Elsa followed suit, her cheeks and ears pinkening. “Yes, well… I get the sense the earth spirit isn’t quite as… passionate. I’ve tried gentle versions of the different spells I know from memory, and the stones just keep… being stones.” Elsa stared at the stones, sitting quietly on the table next to her untouched meal.

“Are you still worried, Elsa? I mean, I’m sure you are. After all, some mysterious shadowy undead army enemy is marching this way and you’re the only one who can stop it, and- umm, I’m going to shut up now,” Anna blurted, “…but you really should have a bite of breakfast. This nokkelost tastes amazing!”

Elsa paused, frozen in thought.


“That… that’s it, Anna! That must be it. You’re a genius!” she shouted with glee, grabbing Anna’s hand and plastering kisses over it.

“What’s it?”


Anna scrunched her nose. “Taste. Taste? You mean, like eating a rock? You can’t do that - it’ll ruin your beautiful smile!”

“Not eat it, Anna. Just taste. Like the earth spirit at Stonehenge, remember? It kept asking for tastes of earth from places we’d been.”

Elsa grabbed one of the stones off the table and held it up. She parted her lips and delicately stuck the tip of her tongue out, pink flesh barely touching the stone’s surface. The rock’s surface shimmered and rippled, then in the blink of an eye, it melted, sinking into Elsa’s palm like a raindrop on dirt.

“ELSA!” Anna leaped from her chair and grabbed her sister’s wrist with both hands to no avail. The rock was simply gone, as though it had dissolved into her.

“I- I’m okay, Anna. It’s okay. I’m not hurt.”

Anna scrutinized her sister carefully, her eyes burning a path from Elsa’s arm to her face and body. Nothing appeared wrong; Elsa looked and felt the same. She ran her hands over Elsa’s arms and shoulders, searching for any sign of disorder, Elsa giggling at the touch. Anna closed her eyes and reached for the sense of connection she’d had with Elsa since the fire stones, and felt Elsa just as strongly as before.

“Are you sure? Should we get the royal physician, just to make sure you’re alright?”

Elsa took a deep breath, smiling. “I’m fine, Anna. It’s no different than those other stones that just vanished. This one just did it a different way.”

Anna bit her lip. “All right, if you’re sure you’re okay.”

“Don’t forget, Anna. You have one too, remember? The spirit at Stonehenge said one for each of us.”

Anna’s eyes darted to the sphere still on the table. “O-okay, I guess.” She picked up the stone hesitantly, holding it at arm’s length. She gave it a squeeze.

Elsa giggled. “It’s not a piece of fruit, Anna. Just… go ahead, give it a taste.”

Anna sighed, bringing the stone to her lips, and stuck her whole tongue out playfully, like she did when she was a child. Her stone rippled and vanished as soon as she touched it with her tongue; she yelped as it sank into her palm.

“And are you all right, Anna? Your face-”

Anna’s face still bore a soured expression on it. “I’m okay. It just tasted like dirt. Blegh!” She reached for her cup and saucer of coffee to wash away the taste. “So… now what? I don’t feel any different. Should I?”

Elsa shrugged. “I’m not sure.” She closed her eyes and reached inside herself, looking for memories that weren’t hers, opening them a few moments later. “I don’t have any new memories, either. I wonder what this is all about?”

Elsa tossed and turned in bed that evening, dreading the inevitable nightmares. Every day as this ancient enemy approached, her fears of losing Anna grew greater, and her nightmares became more horrifyingly vivid. Sometimes, Anna walked the earth as an animated corpse. Other times, she was just out of reach as she fell to her death, drowned, or burned alive. Anna was already asleep next to her, so she pulled the covers tightly around her and crept out of the room silently.

Elsa smiled softly to herself as she walked the moonlit halls of the castle, idly wandering towards the courtyard gardens. She could hear Anna’s snoring in the distance; no matter how mature or regal Anna became as queen, Elsa was fairly certain some things would never change.

She walked barefoot into the courtyard, staring up at the moon through the cherry tree leaves. Her eyes closed momentarily, seeing one of the nightmare visions flash before her, and she clenched her toes in the soft grass, tensing.

The ground shuddered. Her eyes sprang open, looking around for the source of the sensation.

Nothing. No one. The garden was silent, save for a few crickets.

She furrowed her brow and sat down, leaning against the tree, her eyelids shading slowly in the dark. Another vision appeared, this time of Anna horribly burned and dying. Elsa’s fingers dug into the soil as she stifled a sob. Another rumble as the earth shook gently. Elsa kept her eyes closed, unable to turn away from the appalling vision. It slowly shrank, looking less like a memory and more like a painting on a cave wall. The stone wall shook, the painting beginning to crack and chip.

What is happening to me? she wondered.

Accept your gift, rumbled a voice deep in her mind.

What gift? I don’t understand, spirit. Please help me understand.


Elsa watched as the image of Anna dying began to crumble, the stone fracturing and turning to dust. It resembled a miniature avalanche, one made of stone instead of snow. As the image shattered, so too did the fear in Elsa’s heart, its fist unclenching, losing its strength.

How are you doing this, spirit?

I am not. Accept your gift, the voice thundered.

Elsa opened her eyes. Her hands and feet were blackened with soil, and suddenly she understood. The earth stones. Somehow, she could control the visions, the fears, by grounding herself in the earth. The earth’s strength was her strength, and no matter what happened, she could be resolute in the face of harm, immoveable like a mountain.

Nokk’s words in Ahtohallan rang out in her mind. You are more than just the frost. The stones weren’t a gift from the earth spirits she needed to accept. The stones were a reminder, a prompt that her gift - being the fifth spirit - meant opening herself up to all the spirits, all the elements. She leaned over and pressed her head to the soil, thanking the earth spirits for their help.

The rest of that night, she slept entirely without nightmares.

Author’s Notes

Each of the spirits has a sense or emotion tied to it. Earth is confidence, strength, resoluteness. Water is clarity, coolness, calmness, distance. Fire is passion, connection, love. Wind is benevolence, kindness, and evasiveness. I’m borrowing from old Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan traditions here to flesh out each of the spirits in the Disneyverse.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: blood and gore, suicide, major character deaths.

Chapter 12: Take These Broken Wings

“Such a magnificent host, my lord,” murmured Yaqub, watching the army sweep across the land, more than half of it mounted now on various deceased beasts of burden - horses, oxen, goats, anything that could pull or carry the undead. The army had swollen into the thousands as they swept across the land, from the Ottoman Empire through the Austrian Empire, to the border of the kingdom of Bavaria.

“Indeed,” rumbled the Deathlord atop a deceased steed, an arrow still stuck in one of the horse’s eyes. “The djinn’s power of memory had unforeseen consequences; beasts were beyond my thrall because they were raised completely mindless, but with their memories intact, they too can serve. We have made better time by half than it took to reach Agrabah. How far until we reach the kingdom of Bavaria?”

The Miralai consulting a ragged, blood-spattered map. “Hours, my lord. The host has indeed made excellent time with the enslaved beasts. We’ve traveled across this continent in a little more than a week.”

“Good. I sense we are growing close to the next source of magic.”

“My liege, if I may ask, what is the goal we work towards? I do not remember anything before you raised me to serve,” said Yaqub.

The Deathlord chuckled. “I was wondering when you’d ask, Miralai. I gave you sentience to best serve me, and that comes with curiosity. Look around you. Look at the world that we traverse. Look at the men we fight.”

“What of them, master?”

“They are sick. They are decadent. They have taken their power, their gift, and perverted it to profane uses. The power of life and death, Miralai, is the greatest power of all. And what do they do with that power? They chase after imagined gods, worship idols of coin, and pursue each other like rutting animals. They are raindrops falling from the sky in disorder, when they could be the mightiest river.”

“And you will unify them?”

“I will. In death, they serve. In death, they obey. In death, they are one. Their absurd individuality, the crass jokes they call ‘lives’, are removed from them. Choice is removed from them. And they become a part of our greatness. I once served life, and look what these filth have done with the power of life. So I embraced the power of death instead. In death, Miralai, all are equal. None suffer less or more than another. Luxury and poverty are meaningless. Illness and health are the same. It is the great equalizer, the great balancer, and the master I serve.”

The Deathlord’s eyes darkened, remembering a distant past. “The spirits of this earth punished me eons ago for wanting to make men better, imprisoned me for finding a better way for them to use their gifts. So in my imprisonment, I became obsessed with the power of death. I mastered its secrets, and I am its avatar, its messenger. I am here to complete my vision, and you-” he gestured grandly at his army, “are my instrument to do so.”

In the distance, the spires of a grand castle, pearlescent white walls and blue tile spires, rose above the rocky mountains of Bavaria. Lower Bavaria was King Phillip’s domain, after a mighty struggle with his father-in-law, Stefan. Since a series of mysterious events involving Queen Aurora’s godmother, Bavaria had been on its guard against… unusual magical events. Their castle, Neuschwanstein, was heavily fortified and warded to deal with foes of many kinds, including even the occasional fire breathing dragon.

Which is why messenger pigeons from outposts on the outskirts of the kingdom were flocking to the castle like it was spring migration. Guards, spies, even concerned subjects of the kingdom were all sending word to the castle that a massive army was just over the Austrian border, an army that looked like no other army. Soldiers were preparing for battle, readying firearms and siege protections from the parapets. As quickly as pigeons arrived, castle staff were releasing new ones, sending orders to the kingdom.

“My king!” shouted one of the guard captains, his hands full of tiny scrolls from pigeons, as he approached the Queen in one of the castle’s hallways. “An army approaches on our southern border, in Tyrol. They are marching quickly; our scouts report they may cross into Bavaria in two hours.”

Queen Aurora thanked the captain and sprinted to the throne room to find her husband. “Phillip! Have you heard-”

King Phillip embraced his bride quickly and nodded. “Yes, Minister Leopold just informed me as well. An unholy army marches this way. I have sent word to each of our garrisons along the Tyrol border. Have you spoken to your godmother?”

“Not yet. I will head for the scrying tower and warn her. If the army is able to get past us somehow, the Moors will be the next place they cross, just to our west,” said the Queen, worried.

“We will not let that happen, Aurora. No castle has dealt with more - and crazier - events than this one. We will stop them in their tracks,” assured Phillip, gently rubbing Aurora’s hand.

“My lord,” Yaqub spoke, “Good news! We have captured a commoner who says that terrible magical creatures dwell in Bavaria, just over the border.”

The Deathlord smiled. “Tell me more good news, Miralai.”

“In a magical forest, there is rumor of a black dragon that breathes fire. I have brought the commoner here for you, my lord.” Yaqub dragged the man, an elderly peasant dressed in poorly-mended linens, covered in dirt from working the fields, before the Deathlord.

“Now, Miralai, let us make use of the new power granted to me by the djinn we defeated in Agrabah,” chuckled the Deathlord. He drew his sword and in one smooth motion impaled the peasant’s heart, killing him almost instantly. The body fell to the ground, gushing blood from the fatal wound. The Deathlord held up his hand, casting an eerie green glow around the body. “Rise, and remember.” Moments later, the peasant stumbled to his feet.

“Speak, my servant. Tell me of the magic in this realm,” soothed the Deathlord.

“My lord, I was Franz Bauer in life, now your loyal servant. For five decades I have lived in these lands. To the north, in the kingdom of Lower Bavaria, is a forest known as the Moors. Inside this forest dwells all manner of magical creatures, fairies amongst them. They possess terrible magics and control evil beasts. The worst of these is a creature known as Bösartige Geliebte. Her power is most terrible of all. It is said she can control weather and force someone into an endless sleep, and can even control minds,” droned the peasant.

“Miralai, this is good news indeed. Speak more, Franz Bauer. How well defended are these Moors?”

“My lord, the kingdom to the north is the domain of King Phillip the First, king of Lower Bavaria. Their kingdom has fought against magical creatures before and they are versed in repelling magics. Their queen was cursed by the dark fairies and they were able to free her. The Castle Neuschwanstein sits between the Austrian Alps and the Moors. It is well-fortified, my lord, and will pose a challenge to overcome, especially because of the terrain,” said the commoner.

“Terrain matters not to those who can feel neither cold nor injury, Franz Bauer. I thank you for your knowledge. You will join our army and be a part of the glorious campaign to bring the Deathlord’s might to this world,” said Yaqub smugly. “My lord, shall we proceed?”

The Deathlord inclined his head in assent. It was time to claim the magic of the land for his own.

Aurora ran up the stone stairs of the highest tower as fast as her feet would carry her. Atop this spire lay a large crystal scrying glass, a magical connection to her godmother. The glass sparkled in the afternoon sun; the moment she touched it, it swirled to life, green and gold smoke within.

“Mother! Something- something terrible is on the way!”

Dark horns and sharp cheekbones came into view. “I know, daughter. I sensed their presence. The Moors will stand with you. My armies will be at your gates within the hour, and you should see the fairies overhead in moments. Get yourself and your child to safety.”

True to her word, fairies of every color filled the sky, their wings fluttering in the updrafts. Many of them carried enchanted wands and other magical items from the Moors; Aurora’s heart soared to see their forces.

“Thank you, Mother! I’ll tell Phillip. Be careful, please.”

“And you, daughter. This foe is magical in nature. We are all at risk.” The glass clouded with green smoke and then cleared, a simple sphere of glass once more.

“My lord, we have reached the outer walls of the castle,” Yaqub reported.

“Send our siege beasts, Miralai. I must have this land and its secrets.”

Hundreds of cattle, horses, and even some mountain elk charged the walls of the castle. Already dead, the beasts mindlessly slammed into the stone repeatedly, slowly cracking it. Body parts and gore covered the crumbling bricks as the beasts expended themselves upon it, until a section of the wall collapsed. The undead army swarmed through like a blackened flood bursting its dam.

The Deathlord looked up. Flying creatures were harassing his army from the sky, shooting green bolts of magic from enchanted wands as they dove towards the ground. He laughed mirthlessly. “I know these creatures. Miralai, instruct the archers to use iron arrowheads, and the grenadiers to use iron shot. Those are fae sent against us. I will have them.”

Yaqub relayed the orders to the infantry troops, who complied immediately. Blasts from crude guns echoed throughout the mountainous valley as fae began to fall from the sky, harmed by elemental iron. The Deathlord closed his eyes, knelt down, and reached out with dark tendrils into the ground. As the fae fell and death claimed them, he consumed their magic and returned their bodies to the air as his servants.

The battle seemed to go with ease for the undead army, the mix of soldiers from the castle and the fairy armies falling beneath the Deathlord’s might…

… until the earth rumbled.

Vines of every kind stretched up from the ground, ensnaring low-flying undead and capturing the Deathlord’s infantry. The field of battle and the castle grounds, once flat, open plains looked more dense than a jungle. Cheers rang out from the castle as the soldiers witnessed their reprieve against an enemy that seemed unstoppable moments ago.

The Deathlord cried out in rage. “NO! I KNOW YOU ARE HERE, TAYIR AL-FYNIQ! FACE ME!”

Sultry, dark laughter filled the air as the vines tightened, rupturing the bodies of the Deathlord’s troops like grapes exploding in a child’s tight grasp. Though they could fight on despite terrible injury that would have brought a living man to his knees, they could not function when wholly dismembered, and the vines tangling the troops grew sharp, piercing thorns, tearing apart the undead army. Gruesome carnage erupted as the vines shredded the bodies of the dead, the land covered in curdled blood and fluids, body parts reduced to mincemeat by the razor edges of the plants.

More than half of the Deathlord’s army was ruined in moments.

“Not so strong without your minions, are you? I remember you, Dajjal. Look around carefully, for this will be your final resting place,” the languid voice reverberated. “Your army will be food for my plants. And you…”

Burning wind accosted the Deathlord’s position, scorching the ground and charring the Deathlord’s clothing. A giant black bird landed in front of the Deathlord, a ring of fire surrounding it on the ground. The bird transformed into the form of a woman with giant black horns and a black staff with a golden crystal atop it. “… you, Dajjal, will be ended. No more banishing. No more exile. No more mercy. The magic of this world condemns you to that which you worship: death.”

The Deathlord laughed. “Tayir Al-Fyniq. You couldn’t defeat me before, ten thousand years ago. What makes you think you can stop me now, especially without your little spirit friends to help you?”

Al-Fyniq raised her staff, glowing with golden energy, and cast at the Deathlord, her eyes glowing topaz with anger. A giant ball of orange fire leapt from the head of the staff, enveloping the Deathlord. In turn, he raised claw-like bony hands and summoned vivid green energy from the corpses around him, matching the intensity of the fire. Both spellcasters strained for advantage, the energy clashing so fiercely that the ground beneath them cracked and burned.

“You cannot resist me forever, Dajjal. You’ll run out of harvested souls long before I run out of forest,” Al-Fyniq grinned, pressing her advantage and increasing the intensity of her fire. As she cast ever more fire and light at the Deathlord, black, leathery wings opened to draw more magic from the earth. Her eyes shone so brightly that the glow was visible across the field of battle.

The earth blackened around the Deathlord and his clothing began to singe and smoke. Golden fire blazed in a sphere around his body, so hot that the long dead skin dried and cracked. His face contracted into a hideous snarling rictus as he concentrated his magic to protect himself, unable to see from the brightness.

“And your… arrogance… undoes…” sputtered the Deathlord, kneeling from the onslaught, shaking with the strain of his own magic. With every second, more corpses fell to the ground and dissolved as he drew on their essence to maintain his power. The half of his army that survived Al-Fyniq’s vines was reduced by half again from his spellcasting.

Al-Fyniq squinted. Why wasn’t this offal already destroyed? What was he waiting for? He couldn’t hold out forever. She pushed harder, watching the dirt begin to melt under her enemy’s feet, clothing ablaze as his magical wards began to fail him. With one last concentrated push, she would-


Her spell broke. Her staff fell to the ground. Her wings folded. She looked down to see an iron blade protruding from her chest, thick black blood oozing from the wound. Then she saw nothing else.

Yaqub stood over the corpse of the demigod and pulled the sword he’d stabbed her in the back with free, black blood turning to dust in the breeze.

The Deathlord rose to one knee, flames sputtering out to wisps of smoke. “Miralai… your timing was impeccable,” he breathed. More corpses fell apart as he drew essence from them to recover. He looked at the woman’s broken body in front of him. “Pity. She would have made a fine general had I been able to enslave her while she lived.”

“Can you not raise her to serve, my lord?” asked Yaqub.

“No. Dark fae are different from creatures of purely flesh. They cannot rise again; they are more magic than flesh, unlike their lesser brethren. Her corpse may still have some use. Take her body and drain the blood from it into bottles. There may be enough of her magic left for us to get some use from her. Such a waste,” the Deathlord shook his head. He turned to leave and stopped.

The Deathlord bent down to pick up Al-Fyniq’s staff. Perhaps the day wasn’t a total loss, he thought. The crystal atop the staff looked familiar, like one he had possessed long ago. Carefully, he touched it with foul green magic, and the crystal changed color to match it. He smiled.

“Miralai. The day is not lost. Behold, the lost crystal of Al-Qiama.”

Yaqub looked at the pulsing green crystal, its sickly glow casting unholy shadows on his face. “What does it do, my lord?”

“Until now, the dead served us as long as they were mostly intact. A pile of bones did us no good, nor a long-dead body. Al-Qiama’s crystal rectifies that,” the Deathlord crowed gleefully. “Behold!” He pointed the staff towards the forest floor, withered vines littering it, rotted body parts everywhere. The staff shot out a pulse of dark green vapor, the color of rotting vegetation in a late autumn’s garden, and a nearby pile of body parts began to move.

Within moments, flesh and bone congealed horribly, forming a golem, a twenty-foot monstrosity of blood, muscle, sinew, and bone. Al-Fyniq may have reduced the undead army’s numbers considerably, but the staff she unwillingly left behind would ensure that the army’s brute strength and appalling nature would be stronger than ever.

“We have conquered this day after all, Miralai. Now, I sense a great magic to the north. Let us gather our host, ravage the land to swell our numbers once more, and move towards it.”

“As you command, my lord. Glory to you and your kingdom to come!” cried Yaqub effusively.

Aurora’s tears fell freely as the scrying glass showed her godmother’s fate. The unholy army was on the move again, heading for the castle once more - and now supported by giant, monstrous creatures that looked like giants, rising from the battlefield. She watched in horror as a platoon of soldiers moved to surrender and were instead cut down, only to rise as undead moments later.

She quickly bounded down the stairs to one of the smaller spires and called for carrier pigeons and paper. A page brought her the writing supplies immediately. “Boy! Where are the pigeons? I need pigeons for Corona, Lyon, Geneva, Hamburg, London, and Arendelle, quickly!” She dashed off warnings to her allies as quickly as she could, ink staining paper as rapidly as blood stained the battlefields below her.

Within minutes, the pigeons were off, carrying her words to distant kingdoms. She watched the last one take to the skies as she held her toddler son in her arms, then turned to look at the castle walls. The undead army had already reached the inner city gates, and the screams of her subjects rended her soul.

This enemy was invincible, unforgiving, and would show neither mercy or kindness to anyone. Her fate was sealed; it was a question of how she reached it. Aurora closed her eyes, tears flowing down her cheeks, kissed her son for the last time in her arms, climbed to the edge of the tower and jumped.

Author’s Notes

Tayir Al-Fyniq is, of course, Arabic for Phoenix, the power that Maleficent wields. Between killing and absorbing the Genie’s power in Agrabah and capturing Maleficent’s staff, he’s pretty well geared to bring the fight to our favorite Ice Queen and Fifth Spirit, so future installments will show the drive north to Arendelle, with a couple of pit stops along the way.

We also have a bit more understanding into the Deathlord’s motivation, with more to be revealed in future chapters.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: blood and gore.

Chapter 13: Wind Beneath My Wings

Kai raced as best he could down the castle hallways with the carrier pigeon tube in hand. “Gerda!” he wheezed, “Have you seen the Queen?”

Dignified as ever, Gerda nodded her head, pointing Kai down the hall. “The Queen and the Crown Princess are in the ballroom, Master Kai. The Queen did leave instructions they were not to be disturbed, however.”

Kai nodded but moved to resume running. “I believe- I believe she will want to see this!” he shouted, his voice echoing down the hall.

Moments later, he arrived at the ballroom and true to Gerda’s word, the doors were not only locked. He raised a pudgy hand and rapped on the door sharply. “Your Majesty! I have urgent news!”

He waited a moment for a response and heard a faint giggle. He knocked again, more agitated. “Your Majesty! An urgent message has arrived for you!”

Kai waited impatiently, tapping his foot, and finally fished out the master key on his keychain. Normally, for him to unlock a door locked by the queen would be an action of the highest impropriety, a breach of protocol that could land you in the dungeons, but he was carrying a message sealed from Bavaria and embossed… with the wrong seal, the seal of the House of Ullstead. When it had arrived, he suspected forgery - under no ordinary circumstances would one royal house use another’s seal. But upon opening it to inspect it for forgery or foul play, he read the contents and knew the queen must see it immediately.

So he inserted the key, turned the lock, opened the door, and walked straight into…

… a wall of ice.

Fortunately, the butler’s portly physique colliding with the ice made enough noise to properly alert the ballroom’s inhabitants. The wall promptly dissolved into snow flurries, whisked away on an unseen breeze as it revealed the royal family sitting on the floor, staring at what appeared to be a blank piece of parchment.

“Your Majesty, Your Highness. Please forgive the interruption, but a most urgent letter has just arrived from Queen Aurora of Bavaria,” he said stuffily, his nose still sore from colliding with the ice.

Anna and Elsa both took to their feet immediately. “Thank you, Kai-” Elsa looked down, taking the letter in hand. “-this letter is open. That’s most… irregular, Kai?” she said, inquisitively.

“Indeed, Your Highness. Pray look at the wax seal.”

Elsa carefully handled the letter as Anna looked over her shoulder. The seal, barely broken, was the double-headed eagle of Ulstead, not the winged lion of Bavaria and the Moors. “Why would Aurora be using the wrong seal? Phillip has been married to her for years now and they’ve always used Bavaria’s royal heraldry.”

“Do you suspect this to be a forgery?” asked Anna.

“No, Your Majesty. I suspect in her haste to send this letter, Lady Aurora paid little heed to the mundane,” said Kai, gesturing that they should read the letter.

Anna gently took the letter from Elsa’s hands as Elsa wrapped her arm around her sister. She opened it to reveal Aurora’s distinctive handwriting, but it was clearly rushed, ink smeared over the page and blotted in spots with dried tears. Elsa gasped, having read faster than Anna.

Queen Anna, I pray you receive this letter. By the time you read this, I will likely be murdered, along with my family. A most fearsome army is at our gates, its soldiers walking corpses, and siege weapons made of riven flesh sewn together with foul necromancy. I know not which direction this army of the damned will go after they have slain us, so please prepare as though they mean to march on Arendelle. I have sent similar letters to the nearby kingdoms, but I know your sister has special abilities that may be able to stop this monstrosity and grant us justice. May she save us all. I will see you in Heaven. God bless and preserve you. Aurora

Anna trembled as she closed the letter, a tear rolling down her cheek. “Th-thank you, Kai. Please take this letter to General Mattias and ensure he reads it in its entirety. He is to summon our army reserves immediately. Thank you - please go swiftly.”

“At once, Majesty.” The portly servant exited swiftly.

Once the ballroom door closed, Anna clutched Elsa to her, letting the rest of her tears flow freely. She felt the familiar hollow in her stomach, a portent of fear and dread. Bavaria had fallen to this faceless, nightmarish army? “Elsa- I- I’m terrified! I don’t know if I can do this! Phillip and Aurora-”

Elsa nodded, dragging her fingers through Anna’s hair and resting the redhead’s face in the crook of her neck. “I know. They had one of the largest garrisons in the world, especially combined with the armies of the neighboring forest kingdom. Whatever is coming, it was enough to defeat them.”

The memory of Anna’s risen corpse flashed in Elsa’s mind again, causing a swift shudder. She would do anything, sacrifice anything to keep her sister, her love from such a fate. “Let’s keep making progress on our quest, Anna. That will help us prepare for this… army of the dead that Aurora wrote about.”

Elsa picked up the map from the floor and chilled it to reveal the next location as Anna wiped her eyes. She closed her eyes, took Anna’s hand, and dove into her memories. Sensations rushed into her mind. Dry. Desert. Sand. And wind, so much wind. Appropriate for a wind spirit, she thought to herself.

A portal opened, showing an ancient, windworn sandstone temple of some kind with low stone walls, curved doorways, and a covered altar in the middle of a rough, rocky yard. Elsa stepped forward, holding onto Anna’s hand, and they felt the familiar free-fall of travel.

“Blech!” Anna exclaimed, sand blowing in her eyes and mouth. “Did you know it would be so windy here?” she shouted over the gale force winds. At least the sand and dry wind dried the remains of her tears quickly.

“It’s the wind spirit’s sigil on the map for a reason, silly!” Elsa shouted back, towing Anna towards the covered altar. She looked at the architecture; from the books in the Arendelle library, the stone altar was shaped like some of the Mohammedan temples of the east, but it was emblazoned with a sigil she’d never seen before. It looked like the head and torso of a man, with the body of a giant bird.

The sting of blowing sand lessened under the altar’s stone roof. Strangely, it felt much larger inside than it looked from the outside. Anna looked around, eyes wide. In the middle was the altar itself, little more than a cube of rock with a small flame burning from a hole in the center. Despite the high winds, the flame remained unaffected. Around the altar’s edge was… the impossible.

“How in the world is there a tray of fresh fruit here, in the middle of a sandstorm?” asked Anna. “I didn’t see any people here… and hey- the food on this tray has absolutely no sand on it whatsoever. That’s impossible!”

Elsa poked Anna’s arm.

“Is that-”

“It does look like…”

“Elsa, who left a Christmas cake here?”

Elsa stared at the altar. Around the edge were a series of items - a golden tray of fresh fruit, a wooden tray of flowers, a silver tray of what looked like sticks and a wooden spoon, and an honest to goodness cake. It was flat, round, and resembled Norwegian fruit cake. Elsa leaned down and sniffed. It was definitely not mor monsen; the traditional holiday Norwegian cake smelled of lemon and almond, whereas this smelled… foreign. Spicy, almost like cinnamon but stronger and more pungent.

Elsa turned to Anna and shrugged. “The magic of the spirits is certainly… mysterious. Let’s leave this alone in case it belongs to someone. Do you see anything that looks like Gale’s sigil here?”

The sisters walked around the altar, inspecting every stone surface, looking high and low. After a few minutes, they stopped, frustrated. “Nothing,” sighed Elsa. “I’m not sure what to do.”

Anna chuckled. “Well, there is a cake…”

Anna walked towards Elsa and stumbled on an uneven stone in the floor. She reached out and flailed to catch her balance, knocking the silver tray off the altar. A wooden spoon went flying by Elsa’s head as Anna collapsed into her.

“… oops,” she muttered, embarassed at her perpetual clumsiness. Three years of being queen hadn’t refined that particular trait well. She grabbed the silver tray and put it back on the altar.

Elsa fetched the spoon, restored it to the tray, and knelt down to pick up the little sticks that had gone flying. Upon closer inspection, they weren’t sticks at all, but some kind of wood powder pressed into long conical shapes. She sniffed it carefully; it smelled fragrant, warm like the scent of embers in the hearth. As she put the last one on the tray, she noticed the bottom of the cones.

There was Gale’s sigil.

“Anna! Look! Gale’s sigil is on the bottom of a few of these… cones.”

Anna peered at the tiny wood pieces, carefully gathering the marked ones. “I’m guessing we’re only supposed to take the ones with Gale’s sigil on them, right?”

Elsa nodded in response. Across the stone yard, the wind began to die down and Elsa heard what sounded like voices conversing. “Come on, Anna, I think someone’s nearby. Let’s go.”

The sisters scrambled out of the covered altar and touched the portal, falling back to the palace ballroom just as two bearded clerics emerged from one of the crescent shaped doorways into the temple courtyard.

Elsa sat on the padded bench in the queen’s chambers, looking out the lofty triangular window at the hills of Arendelle. The three sigil-marked cones carefully sat in the sill, absorbing the afternoon sun and releasing a gentle, warm fragrance. The perfume filled her heart with calmness and peace, a much needed respite from the earlier news.

Which was shattered by Anna’s abrupt entrance. “Did they do anything yet?” she asked, rushing over to the windowsill and grabbing Elsa’s arm by the elbow.

“Nothing yet. I’ve tried my magic on them a few different ways, and there’s been no reaction.”

“What about… uh, smelling them? Sticking them up your nose?”

“Anna! That’s… absurd.”

Elsa giggled. The mental image of either her or Anna putting the little wooden cones up their nose was absurd, but also very much the sort of silly thing they’d do for fun. She felt fairly certain that the spirits wouldn’t have quite that sense of humor or lack of decorum, though using the fire stones certainly lacked decorum…

“Well, if sniffing them doesn’t help, and sticking them in your nose isn’t the answer, what is? The meal that was set out with the small fire in the middle… that must have meant something, don’t you think?”

Elsa contemplated Anna’s words. Perhaps these little cones were like the myrrh or frankincense used in the censers at Mass. “I think you might be right, Anna.” Elsa channeled a small fire spell from her fingertip, igniting the top of the cone with an orange ember. Sweet perfumed smoke wafted from the cone.

“Ugh, what is that smell? It smells like… I don’t know, like someone poured rancid reindeer lard on a hearth fire!” exclaimed Anna, holding her nose.

Elsa stared at her. “What- what are you talking about, Anna? It smells wonderful, like a creme brulee!”

Anna shook her head vigorously. There was no way that stench smelled anything like a delicious dessert. Perhaps whatever magic it contained wasn’t intended for her, she thought. Fortunately for her poor nose, the cone’s ember flared, released a final puff of smoke, and promptly vanished, sparing her any more olfactory assault.

“How do you feel? That awful smell is gone,” remarked Anna, looking carefully at her sister.

Elsa paused. The scent of cream and vanilla lingered in the air, and for a second, she swore she heard a child’s laughter in the distance. Her heart fluttered, but from what, she couldn’t tell. “I feel… lighter? More free? I’m not sure. I feel like I’m looking at paintings from the past, a little. Nostalgic.” She closed her eyes and leaned her head on Anna’s shoulder.

Memories trickled through her mind. She and Anna playing in the ballroom. Playing outside in the sun-drenched courtyard. Waving to the people of Arendelle with their parents at the holidays. Handing out alms to the poorer citizens on Sundays. She felt Anna tugging her hand like she always did, excited for the day. Elsa smiled, lifting her face up into the gentle breeze as Anna pulled her hand a little harder. Why was Anna so excited about this celebration?

She opened her eyes and saw what looked like a tiny tornado in the middle of the room, swirling dust motes and the ashes of the first cone around. Anna in the here and now had been tugging at her hand to break her reverie.

“Elsa! That’s a- a baby tornado. In the ballroom.”

“It… would appear so.” She concentrated on the feeling of the wind to no avail. She could feel it, but couldn’t control it. “I- I can’t seem to get a hold of it, Anna. It’s too… slippery, almost.”

“Well, hot is the opposite of cold, and love thaws ice. What’s the opposite of air?”

Elsa opened her eyes and looked at Anna, a lopsided smile forming on her face. She thought back to the stones of the Enchanted Forest, the gateway to the northlands. Each stone was inscribed with an elemental sigil. Fire opposed water, water opposed fire. That would mean earth and air opposed each other. Elsa summoned the feeling of earth, the feeling of being grounded. Unbidden, the words leapt from her lips, her voice raspy and low. “Oh, just stop it.”

The tornado dissipated instantly, like a child caught playing with something they shouldn’t have been. Her grin spread. “Thanks, sis. I needed that.”

“Which reminds me… we’ve got them all, don’t we? Earth, water, fire, and wind, with you as the fifth spirit?”

“I think so? Where’s the map?”

“I’ll go get it. It’s in our bedroom.”

Anna scrambled out of the ballroom, nearly colliding with one of the maidservants. She still doubted her place in this grand mystery; after all, while she was Queen of Arendelle, she was no fifth spirit, and despite her interactions with the guardian and several of the stones, she felt no different, beyond no longer getting cold. This was a magical battle, and she had no magic to speak of. She fretted about Elsa taking on too much, and above all the real possibility of Elsa dying to whatever this monstrosity was that they faced.

So lost in thought was she that she had to backtrack down a corridor, having walked right past the bedroom. She grabbed the satchel with the map in it and headed back to the ballroom. What else could she do to support Elsa, to ensure that they both survived against whatever shadowy enemy marched against them?



“You walked past the ballroom. Are you okay?”

“Yeah… just worried, that’s all. I don’t want you to get hurt, Elsa.”

They locked the ballroom door again and settled on the floor next to each other, legs touching. Anna treasured the feeling of warmth from touching her sister even tangentially, like a lifeline from the sea of worry.

Elsa rested the map in her hands and chilled it to bring back the markings. “There it is again - that sigil near the Black Sea. I don’t recognize it still, do you?”

Anna shook her head. “Nope. It wasn’t on any of the stones in the Enchanted Forest, and I haven’t seen it in our travels. The only place else we’ve seen it is in a plate full of potatoes, and we put it there…” Anna’s voice drifted away for a moment.


“Wait… we have seen this before, Elsa!”

Elsa quirked an eyebrow. “Where?”

“In Ahtohallan!” Anna stood up and started pacing. “When we were in the antechamber to the hall of memories. Where… where was it? I remember it. It was on something…”

Elsa’s eyes widened. “The green crystal. The one you touched.”

“Yes! Yes, yes, yes, that was it! That was where we saw it, until that crystal vanished.” Anna sat down again, wrapping her arm around Elsa’s shoulders. “In your memories, does that help?”

Elsa closed her eyes, leaning into Anna’s warm touch. She reached inside, swimming down into her memories. A breeze. Mountains, tall, sharp, jagged and majestic. Cold castle walls, brick and mortar. Dripping water. Was it water? A scent of something metallic and yet cloying. And then-

Elsa screamed. Moments later, Anna screamed with her, looking at the image that formed in the portal that appeared. They saw the walls of a castle, high upon a mountaintop, perched on a rocky outcropping, long shadows cast in the dwindling light of the evening. To the right of the stairs were two large poles… and at the top of those poles were two human bodies dressed in tattered rags, impaled from between the legs, with the sharp tips of the poles emerging from their upper backs, just below the neck. Blood was dripping from their wounds.

“Elsa…” Anna cried, squeezing her arms tightly, “… pl- please- please tell me we don’t have to go there.”

Elsa swallowed, a lump in her throat and a sick feeling in her stomach. “I… Anna, I think we have to. I…” she shuddered, “I remember this place.”

Author’s Notes

For anyone so interested, the temple referenced in this chapter is based on the Baku Ateshgah in Azerbaijan, a Zoroastrian temple. Baku is known as one of the windiest places on earth. You may recall in Chapter 7 that this was mentioned as being in Russia, which in 1846, it was.

As for where they ended up at the conclusion of the chapter… a part of Hungary in 1846. Stay tuned!

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Chapter Text

Warnings: blood and gore.

Chapter 14: The Price of Magic

The falling sensation of traveling by portal was made worse by the sisters’ anticipation of what they’d find on the other side. Queasiness became outright nauseated. Just before touching it, Elsa surrounded both herself and Anna in ice armor; the image of impaled bodies clearly communicated that danger was afoot.

As soon as her feet found firm earth, Elsa readied her magic. The ice armor protected her and Anna from imminent harm, but better to stop any danger proactively. The last light of day had faded, leaving them mostly in shadow. Elsa cast a levitating snowflake that glowed from within, bright blue light illuminating the area.

Anna gulped as she appeared next to the upright staves with the bodies mounted on them, like depraved hunting trophies. Though the wounds were fresh enough to bleed, it was clear to her that life had left these men before they’d opened the portal. Anna bravely tried to suppress the urge to vomit, but couldn’t hold back, lifted the ice visor of her armor, and heaved the contents of her stomach on the blood-soaked ground.

The metallic smell of the pooled blood began to nauseate Elsa. She cast a beam of frost across the area, freezing the blood and vomit solid, then aimed at the bodies, locking them in ice. Instantly, the smell dissipated and she sighed in relief.

“Elsa… what is going on? What are we doing here? There’s no way the spirits meant for us to come see-” she gestured at the blocks of ice, “-this and gain something from it, is there?”

“I don’t know, Anna. There’s a memory of this place, an old one from hundreds of years ago, but I don’t know what it means - and there’s no memory of a spell that goes with it, just that this place was important somehow.”

A soft rustling sound overhead made the sisters turn. In the dim light, they saw a figure on one of the castle walkways above them. The figure, clad entirely in black robes, turned to face them and clapped softly, slowly.

“Welcome, children,” said a dusky, feminine voice. The figure sniffed the air for a moment, then looked down at them. “I know you. Both of you. You-” the figure said, pointing at Elsa, “are ötödik szellem. And you-”, pointing at Anna, “are életszellem. I have been waiting a very long time for you.”

“Who are you?” Anna shouted. “What kind of monster are you to do this… this torture to someone else? It’s inhuman!”

The figure laughed again. “My name is unimportant, child. But if you must call me something, you may call me Countess. Come, and I shall explain everything to you, including why you are here,” she beckoned.

The sisters glanced at each other before Elsa subtly nodded her head. She turned and began to walk up the rocky pathway to the castle’s doors. The castle itself appeared to be in a state of ruin; the walls were crumbling near the tops, and the doors hung unevenly on the stones. The castle had definitely seen better days; for that matter, it probably had seen better centuries.

Torches and candles lit the sparse stone interior, a thin fog covering parts of the floor. Chairs rested against the walls and a dark wood table sat alone in the middle of the room. The room was otherwise ominously empty; no paintings hung on the walls, no comforts of any kind. Elsa kept her palms in front of her, ready to freeze any threat as soon as it materialized.

A gust of cool air blew over them, and the Countess suddenly stood before the pair, hooded in what looked to be a satin black robe, face obscured. “So nice of you to visit me, children. I so rarely get visitors… at least ones I want here.”

“Countess, I am Elsa, Crown Princess of the kingdom of Arendelle, and this is Anna-”

“Your lover and blood.”

Elsa’s words tripped. “My… how can you tell?”

“I can smell her on you, dear child. Your mortal names are of no interest to me. I know who you are, because we have met before. Please, sit,” the Countess gestured at two high-backed wooden chairs resting against the wall of the stone room. The chairs glided across the floor to rest near the table. She sat in a third chair on the opposite side of the plain table.

“You will forgive me, Countess, if I am not reassured of your hospitality based on the two people we saw outside,” said Elsa formally, hands still at the ready to cast.

The Countess laughed throatily. “Those brigands met their fates attempting to steal from my home. Their punishment is just under the laws of our principality, of which I am governess.”

Anna squinted her eyes. “Steal what? There’s literally nothing here except an empty table and some chairs.”

The Countess regarded Anna carefully. “Remove your armor and I shall show you, child.” She turned to Elsa. “There is no need to fear, ötödik szellem. I intend you no harm.”

“What does that mean, ötödik szellem?” asked Elsa.

“In your language? I suppose the closest would be the fifth element, or fifth spirit.”

Elsa’s jaw dropped. “You know who I am? I mean, who I really am?”

“Of course, child. I told you already, we have met before,” disdained the Countess. “Remove your armor, and I will show you everything.”

Elsa looked at Anna, who inclined her head. With a deft weaving of her fingers, the ice armor evaporated.

The Countess acknowledged Elsa’s actions and lifted a pale white hand from her robes. Dense, cool fog filled the room instantly, and the dark, cold stone chamber vanished before their eyes. In its place was a warm parlor with a roaring hearth; the bare table had doubled in size and was covered in delectable sweets and liquors. Iron candelabras shone overhead, bright and cheery, illuminating the gorgeous cherry wood walls and heavy red drapes.

And the dark, mysterious, unseen Countess cast her black robes onto the back of the chair, revealing a stunning, raven-haired woman with a snow white complexion, razor sharp cheekbones, a substantial bust corseted in leather, and a mischievous grin. “You saw what I chose you to see, életszellem,” she said to Anna. “Now you see what is.”

“How do we know this isn’t another illusion, hmm?”

“My, you are a lively one. No wonder the spirits chose you,” laughed the Countess, seemingly unoffended by Anna’s defiance. “Taste one,” she gestured at the foods on the table.

Anna gave her a sideways glance as she reached for what looked to be a chocolate petit-four. She bit into it cautiously, expecting it to vanish, until the taste melted over her tongue. Her eyes widened and she grinned widely. “Oh my god, Elsa! You have to try this, this is delicious!”

Elsa relaxed a little more, the tension easing out of her shoulders. She took one of the tiny cakes and nibbled on it, nodding in agreement with Anna. “So, Countess. You said we have met before, but I’ve never even been to… where are we?”

“You are in my ancestral home, Poenari Citadel, on the border of the two states of Wallachia and Transylvania,” she gestured proudly. “And to answer the question you are about to ask, I have not met you in this body, but I have met your soul before. We last met here in 1462, when you asked me to watch over something for you. You were in a different body then, the body of a boy with the same color hair and same abilities as you, but I would know your soul in anyone.”

“That’s impossible. You can’t possibly be 384 years old!” exclaimed Elsa.

“Can’t I? What do your memories tell you, ötödik szellem?”

Elsa stared at the Countess’ face. She did look vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place how. Unbidden, a memory of walking down a road with bodies impaled on either side flashed into her mind, and she gasped.

“Remembering your first visit here, I take it?” asked the Countess. “You reacted better this time than the last,” she chuckled.

“Last time… it was your husband I met first, and then you,” Elsa murmured, her eyes closed. “I asked you to keep some magic… something magical… for safe keeping. For a rainy day. In exchange for…”

“You remember, ötödik szellem. You were but a young boy then, but so powerful. You saved my life by incinerating my husband before he could impale me. He accused me of witchcraft and ordered my life forfeit, to be another body on the stakes outside. I swore fealty to you and you asked me to keep this safe.” The Countess gently pulled on the chain of a necklace that plunged well into her breasts, withdrawing a green diamond crystal, pulsing with bright light.

“I still don’t understand how you can be almost 400 years old,” said Anna, confused. “No one can live that long, much less live that long and look like you do. You look like you’re twenty!”

Anna blushed, her hand over her mouth as she realized the gaffe she’d made. Thankfully, the Countess seemed to be the forgiving sort, which was good. Gaffes among royalty led to more than hurt feelings; improper enough, they led to wars, and Arendelle didn’t need any more conflict.

“Why thank you, életszellem. A lady never likes to hear that the years are creeping up on her,” the Countess curtsied.

Anna’s eyes widened. The crystal necklace the Countess was holding bore the mysterious sigil on it, the one from the map and the green crystal in Ahtohallan. Wordlessly, she reached out to touch it before realizing what she was doing and withdrew her hand.

The Countess seemed to ignore Anna as she carefully took the necklace off and handed it to Elsa. “My promise is fulfilled, ötödik szellem. Thank you for saving me those many years ago, and thank you for relieving me of this burden now.”

“I… I am glad I was able to help, I suppose. Tell me, do you know what these crystals do, how they work? We have been sent to the corners of the earth in search of them, but we still know so little about them,” asked Elsa.

“I do not know the origins, but in the time that has passed, I have learned what this one in particular does. Your lover asked how I am this old. This crystal has prolonged my life far beyond what is natural. Injury does not hamper me. Illness does not wither me. It is a terrible curse, one I am glad to be rid of,” sighed the Countess.

“How could that be a curse? You’re never sick, you never age-” interrupted Anna.

The Countess silenced Anna with a glare. “But everyone around you does. You outlive your child. And their child. And their child. Friends are born, age, and die - and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You bear witness to lives, nations, peoples rising and falling. And you must keep moving, or become a recluse, so that no one sees that you never age,” said the Countess bitterly. “You are the stone in the field that witnesses life and death, never changing. And with that unchanging perspective, you realize that nothing is permanent. Love until death do you part is a tragic illusion. Joy? Wonder? Surprise? Happiness? They crumble to dust, as everything does. You lose everyone you ever loved,” she spat.

Anna swallowed. She hadn’t ever considered that. What would she do if she were so cursed? The thought of outliving Elsa, of one day having to say goodbye to her love brought tears to her eyes. Perhaps that’s why the castle outside was crumbling. What was the point of maintaining the illusion that it would always be there?

The Countess gathered herself and continued. “This crystal permits other skills as well. With it, a touch can heal. A hand can revive. But its powers come at a terrible cost. This crystal trafficks in life energy, and life energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only moved from one living being to the next. To use this crystal’s power requires you to take life energy. When it is depleted, a terrible hunger overtakes you, until you sate it with more life energy. And because the bearer is immune to harm, you must take the life energy from someone else.”

Elsa’s eyes widened. “Does- does it kill them?”

“If you wish it. You may draw a little or all that someone has. The first decade I wore it, I didn’t understand what it was doing or how to control it. The fields around the castle went fallow and the livestock just withered and died. I was drawing all the life energy around me. Over the centuries, I could sense when it was hungry, and I refilled it when necessary,” she remarked.

“How long has it been since you… fed… it?” asked Anna.

“A few hours. Those brigands who broke into my castle did so with the intent to murder me and take my belongings. I returned the favor and took all they had. They were not from here; locals know to break into this castle is to ensure your certain death. This is how I have kept it fed over the centuries, on the lives of the guilty.”

“How… uh, how often do you need to feed it?”

“It is a life for a life. Those brigands would allow the bearer to live another hundred years, perhaps, if you did not use the energy for something else. For a time, about one hundred years ago, I would go to the jails in nearby provinces and find those violent criminals who took delight and pride in their crimes and drain them. I masqueraded as a distant relative, and by the time the local constable realized his prisoner was dead, I was long gone. The crystal is charged with enough life energy to perhaps last a thousand years now before it hungers again.”

“How does it work? Do you just touch people and… they die?” whispered Anna.

“There is an incantation. With the words spoken, your touch becomes poison until you chant its cancellation.”

Elsa spoke up. “You mentioned if you did not use the energy for something else. What else would you use it for?”

“Life energy is potent. You can heal. You can rejuvenate. And the most dangerous of all, something I have only attempted once - you can give rebirth to someone if their soul has not yet left their body,” said the Countess solemnly.

Both sisters’ eyes went wide at that. Magic so powerful that it could reverse death?

“I beg you to remember the price you pay for using it, ötödik szellem. For one to benefit, another must suffer. There is no other way, so be cautious in how you permit this to be used,” warned the Countess sternly.

“Why permit, Countess?” asked Elsa, puzzled.

“Because, my child, you are incapable of using this magic. I can see it in your aura, smell it in your blood. You are not its intended, ötödik szellem.” The Countess turned her gaze to Anna. “You are.”

“Me?” Anna squeaked.

“Have you not wondered why I call you életszellem? In your language, that means life element, life spirit. It is your destiny to bear this burden.”

Anna’s mind raced to a dread-inducing vision of the hill where her parents were commemorated, the two large rune-engraved stones bearing their names, with a third stone and a fresh grave dug with Elsa’s name in the stone. “But- but I don’t want it! I don’t want-” Anna burst into tears, “-to live without Elsa! I can’t bear to lose her, not in a hundred years, not in a thousand years, not ever!”

“I am sorry, child, but the choice is not yours. You know this. You know this because the crystal called to you as soon as you saw it. I saw you reach for it, enthralled. It is meant for you to bear. When it is time-” the Countess turned back to Elsa, “ötödik szellem, give her the necklace, and she will know what to do. But do not wait long, for an enemy marches the earth in search of powers such as these, and the power to consume life energy directly would make it invincible.”

Elsa nodded. “Thank you, Countess. Do you know anything about this enemy? The spirits have warned that it is ancient and powerful.”

The Countess nodded. “It is. It is as old as time, and legends of it are legion in this part of the world. You have heard its name?”

“Deathlord,” murmured Elsa.

“A poorly fitting name. He is not the lord of death, but the cheater of it, stealing souls in a type of death magic that is the perversion of your lover’s necklace - and of natural law. That is why this necklace is so dangerous. The Deathlord-” she snorted contemptuously, “-can only animate corpses after capturing and binding their souls. He cannot consume their energy directly until he has this necklace in hand. With its power, he would become unstoppable.”

“Then we shall guard it with our lives, Countess,” swore Elsa steadfastly. She absentmindedly handed the necklace to Anna as she contemplated what the Deathlord could do with the ability to directly steal life itself. The entire world would be at risk.

As happened in Ahtohallan, the moment Anna’s skin touched the green surface, the crystal vanished in a flash of bright green light, leaving only the golden chain and the setting for the crystal. Anna shrieked. “Oh no! What- what happened? Elsa, where did it go?”

The Countess nodded to herself. “It would appear that now is the time. She is risen. She is truly életszellem now. This is most fortuitous; the necklace can no longer be captured or stolen, now that it is back with its rightful owner.” She conjured with her hands until a pale scroll appeared on the table in front of them, then stood to dismiss the sisters. “Take this, child. These are the words you must learn to use the power of the crystal, the magic.”

Elsa regarded Anna, who was shivering in shock. “I will help her. Thank you, Countess, for your help. May you finally find the eternal rest you’ve sought for so long.” Elsa began to weave the spell for the portal back to Arendelle.

“Fare well against your enemy, ötödik szellem. And you, életszellem, be cautious with the power you’ve awakened in yourself.”

“Anna. My name is Anna,” she grumbled.

“And my name was once Countess Dolingen, heir of Basarab, Voivode of Wallachia, but in my imprudence with that magic, I am only known by one name any longer.”

“And what’s that?”

“Vampir.” With that, the Countess restored the illusion, and the sisters found themselves in the cold stone room again, the parlor and the Countess gone, Elsa’s portal shimmering next to the bare table.

“Let’s go home, Elsa,” Anna said, shaking.

Author’s Notes

The Countess Dolingen was Bram Stoker’s first narrative in the Dracula universe. I have her speaking Hungarian because Wallachia and Transylvania would have been part of the Hungarian empire in 1846. This chapter takes place at Poenari Citadel in Transylvania; Google it. In Google Street View, you can see some statues at the historical site that inspired the beginning of this chapter. They’re really quite chilling.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: blood and gore, mutilation.

Chapter 15: Weselton’s Demise

The Deathlord rode his undead steed across the rich verdant plains of Prussia, in the midst of his revitalized army. After destroying the remainder of the dark fairy’s forces and conquering the castle at Neuschwanstein, he raised every intact body possible to serve him. Those victims too broken or battered to walk, he used Al-Fyniq’s staff to sew into massive flesh golems.

Al-Fyniq’s staff served an additional purpose. Since his summoning, he’d been on a quest to acquire as much magic as possible. The staff glowed in the presence of magic, and acted as a divining rod leading him towards his goal. He grunted. “Soon, I shall find you.”

“Find who, my lord? Say the word and I shall have them summoned,” entreated Yaqub.

“It is not so simple, Miralai, or else I would have done it already. Do you know why we march to the north?”

“No, my lord. I was blessed by you to know our goals before we defeated Tayir Al-Fyniq, but I know not why we chase magic. Mine is but to obey, not to question.”

“And obey you do, Miralai. There is only one thing on this wretched earth that can stop me, that can oppose my inevitable glory, and that is the Al-Ruwh Al-Khamisat. In whatever form it takes, it is the last thing that could oppose my reign,” rumbled the Deathlord, staring into the distance. “I have fought it before, and it was responsible for my imprisonment because I did not possess strong enough magic. This time, it shall be different.”

“That is why we march to the north, my lord? To face this Al-Ruwh Al-Khamisat in battle?”

The Deathlord nodded. “It is. Al-Ruwh Al-Khamisat walks the earth always, in the guise of a human being, but empowered with the magic of the spirits. It has been called it the fifth element, the fifth spirit, and other absurd names, but it is always the same magic. Sometimes it is less powerful; other times, it borders on being a god if its power has been awakened. If it is not fully empowered, I will be victorious and consume its power for my own. I will imprison the spirits, rather than they imprison me, and I will show them the true power that rules this earth, the power of death itself. How large are our numbers now, Miralai?”

Yaqub turned to look back at the host. The march from Neuschwanstein through Munich had given them tens of thousands of new bodies, and as they marched from Bavaria into Prussia, they had reaped another several thousand. The army had recouped all its losses from the battle with Al-Fyniq and was now four-fold larger. “In the tens of thousands, my lord. More than enough to conquer the kingdoms ahead of us.”

“What is ahead of us?”

Yaqub consulted a bloodied map taken from a soldiers’ encampment just north of Munich. He looked to the horizon, where the sun was breaking just over the green fields of a city in the plains. “It would appear to be the… Duchy of Weselton, my lord.”

The tower of Sparrenburg looked over the capital city of Weselton. Heavily fortified, with massive ramparts at the cardinal corners, Sparrenburg was the fortress and home of the Duke of Weselton. A lavishly-decorated structure, the Duke spared no expense on himself or his retinue, paid for with both trade and taxes on the subjects of Weselton. Sentries roamed the battlements, guarding against all those who would dare to take the Duke’s sizeable fortunes.

The Duke himself wandered the top parapet of Sparrenburg’s tower this morning, admiring his lands and fortune. He’d worked hard preserving his father’s legacy, building Weselton from an agrarian province to the commerce center it was today. Even dealing with nitwits like the King of the Southern Isles was tolerable because of the fortunes it brought him. His only lasting irritation was that Arendelle still hadn’t restored its trade to the volume it was prior to that annoying woman’s coronation. To think, he raged to himself, that a woman would insist on fair prices for anything. It simply wasn’t their place to insist on anything, especially from a noble family like his.

“Your Grace,” First Minister Eduard addressed the Duke, “I have word that a large army is headed this way and is capturing or killing everything in its path. Shall we evacuate to your manor in the mountains?”

“What? Minister Eduard, that is patently absurd. Sparrenburg is the finest castle, nay, fortress in all of Weselton and greater Prussia! I have spent a king’s ransom to make it so!” exclaimed the diminutive man, pointing his finger in the air and jumping around like a marionette operated by a drunk. “Close the keep gates, put musketeers across the battlements, recall the soldiers to the keep, lock my vaults, ensure we have sufficient supplies to outlast this army, and let us show them that Weselton is not to be trifled with!”

Eduard immediately issued the orders to a page, who scrambled down the tower’s stairs to issue the Duke’s commands. “Your Grace, there are about four dozen villagers in the inner courtyard, mostly peddlers. What should we do with them?”

“Toss them out of the keep, of course, you ridiculous man. I’m not expending any of my valuable supplies on peasants,” cried the Duke in a high-pitched whine, incredulous. To think that he might have to care for peasants was absurd at best. He paced for a few minutes until the page returned and whispered in Prime Minister Eduard’s ear.

“We cannot force the villagers out of the keep, Your Grace. The drawbridge to the rest of the city is already already up.”

The Duke sighed. “Then take them up to the battlements and throw them over the side for all I care. They can swim to the opposite side of the moat. And check their pockets before you do. Any coin they have, confiscate as our fee for protecting their lives and not executing them outright. Oh, and confiscate their carts and stands as well.”

“Does this… Weselton have any indications of magic, of power, Miralai?” asked the Deathlord, as the undead army stood just on the outskirts of its capital city, idly waiting to be commanded.

Yaqub shook his head. “None that I can tell, my lord. It is supposedly a wealthy city-”

The Deathlord snorted. “These frail humans and their obsession with bits of metal that they treat like magical talismans. So, they have no real power, nothing that will advance our cuase. Very well, let us raze the city, claim their population for our army, and move along. What opposition will we face?”

Yaqub looked at the map, puzzled. “Most unusual, my lord. This city is like no other; the city proper is unguarded, with a central fortress in the middle, rather than large walls around the entire city. The fortress is tiny compared to the city as a whole; it is as if it protects only a few people. Whoever designed this city never intended to protect it.”

“Good. We will raise an even greater army here with such little resistance,” smiled the Deathlord.

He gave the command, and the army lurched forward, a deluge of death flowing through the streets.

“Your Grace, the enemy is upon us!” shouted Eduard over the din outside Sparrenburg.

The Duke rushed to one of the tower’s windows. “Are we in any danger yet?” he asked meekly, his monocle quavering as he looked around.

“The army is attacking from the south, and the merchant quarter has already been lost, Your Grace,” said Eduard. “Without the guards in their usual posts, there is nothing to stop this army.”

The Duke shook his head vigorously, his toupee behaving like a frightened animal attempting to flee a predator. “Not the city, you idiot, ME! Am I in any danger? Is my money in any danger?” he screeched.

The minister looked out the window, filled with regret. He’d taken this position because the Duchy had a reputation for prosperity and the Duke for generosity if you helped grow his wealth. He’d never once seriously contemplated having to face any kind of real emergency. Focusing his eyes outward, he watched the undead army surge towards the walls of Sparrenburg like a river flood rushing down a gorge and sighed. “Not yet, Your Grace, but once they have conquered the city, I would assume they will turn their attention to us, and you will be in peril.”

“Send word immediately to- to- to King Georg of the Southern Isles, to King Phillip in Bavaria, to- to Arendelle! Ask them- no, DEMAND they send troops to save us! We are the most important trading partner in this region!” squawked the Duke, red-faced and hyperventilating.

“As you wish it, Your Grace. We will dispatch carrier pigeons at once.”

Moments later, a flock of pigeons flew from Sparrenburg tower in every direction, bearing the Duke’s demands for assistance. The First Minister climbed down a flight of stairs into the fortress proper to avoid the Duke’s rambling and steel himself in preparation for his fate.

Within hours, Weselton was vanquished.

“My lord, the city has fallen and its residents claimed as ours. We lost very few troops in this assault, thanks to the city’s poorly-thought out defenses. All that remains is the fortress in the center. It has fired shots at a few of our soldiers but has not presented itself as an obstacle. Should we lay siege to it, or continue northward?” asked Yaqub, watching the army finishing off the few remaining survivors.

The Deathlord ruminated on the Miralai’s question. What was so special about the fortress that would cause a ruler to design his city to be abandoned, forsaken in the face of danger? Surely, no sane ruler would make such a choice without something of exceptional value. He turned to the Miralai. “Something piques my curiosity here, Miralai. I see a city sacrificed to save something of great importance. Let us see what it is, and perhaps take it for ourselves. It may not be magical in nature, but perhaps if it is a weapon, it will aid us in the battles ahead.”

He rode his bony steed to the moat of the keep. The drawbridge had been raised, and a small pile of corpses lay on the opposing side, as though they had been thrown over the tall battlement walls. The Deathlord signaled, and several giant flesh golems, newly assembled from the carnage of Weselton’s former citizens, easily stepped over moat and began battering the drawbridge to pieces, tearing away at stone and wood.

In a matter of minutes, they had crushed the drawbridge and thrown the broken pieces into the moat, permitting passage. The Deathlord and his retinue crossed into the fortress and rode up to the base of Sparrenburg Tower. Musket fire immediately began to rain down on them.

“Most irritating, Miralai.”

Yaqub signaled and several of the risen lesser fairies from their conquest of the Moors flew up and plucked the riflemen out of their perches, dropping them from high above the tower onto the cobblestones in the courtyard. The heavy doors at the base of the tower burst open, a platoon of four dozen burly soldiers, garbed in the finest maroon uniforms with shining swords and brand new revolvers, storming towards the Deathlord. He grinned and laughed, a deep, ominous rumble, as he raised the staff of Al-Fyniq high.

The scattered, ruined remains of the riflemens’ bodies, splattered all over the ground, coalesced into another flesh golem and immediately began battering the platoon of soldiers from behind, while the broken peasants just outside the drawbridge marched in, harrying the soldiers from the front. The Deathlord eagerly dismounted his steed and drew the bejeweled sacrificial knife from his robes, whirling into the soldiers like a dervish of death. The blade parted throat after throat, and within seconds, the platoon of soldiers was defeated, save for one prisoner.

“Murderer! Thief! You will not steal the treasure of my lord, the Duke of Weselton, and get away with it!” shouted the husky soldier defiantly, struggling despite being held by several of his now rised compatriots by the arms.

“Let us see what treasure you protect, soldier,” sneered the Deathlord. He stepped forward and stabbed his blade into the soldier’s heart and twisted it, destroying the soft flesh immediately. In moments, the light left the soldier’s eyes as blood poured down the front of the guard’s maroon uniform. His eyes blackened as green glowing smoke emitted from the staff of Al-Fyniq and surrounded the body. “Rise, and remember,” cast the Deathlord.

“My… lord… how may I serve?” asked the former soldier.

“Tell me what treasure you guard here.”

“In life, I served the Duke of Weselton who cowers at the top of the spire behind us. Inside the tower is a staircase that goes up to the Duke and down into the fortress, where the Duke’s treasure sits. The treasure is a sum of tens of thousands of Prussian Reichsthalers, fifty thousand Dutch guilders, nearly one hundred thousand Kronenthalers, and the greatest treasure of all to the Duke.”

“What treasure is that, soldier?” asked Yaqub.

“The Duke himself, of course. He sees himself as the greatest treasure to this Duchy and to the region as a whole.”

“So there is no other treasure besides various piles of coinage and a single, unimportant living human? No magic artifacts or mysterious objects from antiquity?” pressed Yaqub.

“None. If it is magic you seek, King Georg of the Southern Isles and his thirteen sons have more knowledge of magic in this region. You will find them about two days’ ride to the north east of this place,” mumbled the soldier’s corpse.

“Excellent. You have served your lord well, soldier. Gather your compatriots and meet our main forces in the northern part of this city,” said Yaqub. He turned to his liege. “My lord, there is nothing else of value here.”

“So it would seem. Imagine such an egomaniacal ruler, Miralai, to sacrifice everything to save himself and a pile of worthless metal. This is what I am here to correct. When we conquer this world, men like this will no longer waste and ruin everything they touch. We shall build a dark paradise that serves a true, united purpose and paves the way for my ascension to godhood. Men of the earth will worship something far greater than pieces of metal,” scoffed the Deathlord contemptuously. “The men of this earth will worship the one ruler that is permanent and welcoming to all. They will worship death, and I as death’s prophet will lead them. Gather our forces. It is time we head for these Southern Isles that-”

“YOU! STOP AT ONCE!” squawked the Duke of Weselton, appearing at the base of the tower with a pistol in hand. “YOU WILL NOT STEAL MY FORTUNE, THIEF! LEAVE!”

The Deathlord turned, incensed at the vermin accusing him of being a lowly thief. Yaqub moved to intercept the tiny man, but the Deathlord waved him off.

“Thief? You dare accuse me of such a filthy thing?” thundered the Deathlord. “You have no claim here, tiny man, and as you can see, your soldiers serve me now. I care not for your piles of worthless metal. I give you one chance only, recant your words and kneel in submission to me, and I promise you an easy death.”

“These traitors turned because you probably offered them more pay! Treason most foul! I will do no such thing, monster! You will submit to ME!” frothed the Duke, oblivious to his toupee dislodged and tilted badly off his head. He pointed the pistol at the Deathlord and pulled the trigger, the tiny gun’s report echoing in the dusky evening air.

The Deathlord looked at the tiny wound in his chest as it closed up, and smirked.

“Very well. I accept your answer, tiny human. Here is mine.”

The Deathlord motioned and one of the Duke’s former guards picked up the small man by the chest, holding him fast. With bony hands and fire in his eyes, the Deathlord gripped the Duke of Weselton by his forearms and ripped both arms from their sockets, a hideous wet sucking sound matched only by the Duke’s anguished cries. The guard dropped the mutilated man on the ground impassively, not hearing the fading, wet screams from the noble.

“Onto the Southern Isles, Miralai.”

Author’s Notes

We get a bit more background about who this Deathlord is, and spend some time with the Duke of Weselton. I thoroughly enjoyed thinking of all the ways to kill him and settled on dismemberment because he deserved it for his role in the treachery against Elsa and Anna. They may not hold a grudge, but I sure do.

Sparrenburg Castle is a real place in Westphalia, which I’m fairly certain is what Weselton was supposed to represent. If you look at the way the Duke was dressed in Frozen, he is dressed very closely to the way Otto von Bismarck was dressed in the same time period.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: none.

Chapter 16: Frozen Fractals All Around

The messenger pigeon landed gracefully on the parapet of Arendelle Castle’s southern spire, snowflake crystals sparkling in the rays of the setting sun, where a pigeoneer detached the message tube from its foot, placing the bird in a roosting box to give it food and shelter. The pigeoneer unrolled the envelope from the tube, saw the diplomatic seal on it, and summoned Kai immediately.

A few minutes later, Kai appeared at the door of the Queen’s chambers, knocking loudly. “Your Majesty! A diplomatic message has arrived by pigeon from Weselton!”

Anna jumped at the sudden sound, dropping her spoon into her fiskesuppe soup, splattering cream and bits of chopped dill on her green dress. “Uh-” she stuttered, wiping herself off with her napkin. Ever since they’d had news from Bavaria, she’d been on edge, more nervous and accident-prone than usual. “Come on in! I was just having dinner.”

Kai entered and promptly handed the queen the diplomatic communique. He moved to leave, but Anna motioned for him to stay while she broke the seal on it. “This is from… Weselton? What in the world could that little weasel possibly want?” she muttered.

She opened the paper scroll and read.

Queen Elsa of Arendelle. The Duke of Weselton requires your immediate aid. Weselton under attack by an unknown army. No flag or insignia but strong disposition. Estimate size is ten thousand or more. Weselton will compensate Arendelle for assistance. Come at once with as many soldiers as you have. First Minister Eduard on behalf of Duke of Weselton.

“Did he forget who was queen? It’s only been three years since my coronation and grudging restoration of our trade ties with them,” huffed Anna. “And he requires - REQUIRES - my aid? He’s got some nerve, that little- little- WEASEL.” She slammed the paper to the table, jostling her meal further.

“Indeed, Your Majesty. Shall I fetch General Mattias?” asked the steward calmly.

“No, not yet. I need to talk this over with Elsa. Where is she, Kai?”

Kai furrowed his brow. “I believe Gerda last delivered the midday meal to her in the library, Majesty. I have not seen her since.”

Anna thanked the man and headed for the library, the missive in hand. Despite her ire at Weselton, she knew the news was more dire than she let on. This mysterious army had decimated Agrabah several weeks ago, and wiped out Bavaria less than a week ago. That Weselton was under attack only a few days later concerned her. From what she remembered of her schooling, it took far more time to move an army than it did a single person; a solo rider on a horse could cover ten times the ground that an army on foot would cover. Bavaria was seven days’ hard riding from Arendelle to the Tyrol border. How was this mysterious army moving so quickly?

Her thoughts turned to Elsa. Of everyone in Arendelle and the northern lands, she was most at risk. It would be her magic that would stop this army, and Anna despaired of keeping her sister safe from harm. Arendelle certainly was in no condition to fight; the city’s population was a mere two thousand thousand, and the number of able-bodied men and women who could fight was a fraction of that. Their army, such as it was, numbered to only a few hundred. Bavaria’s army was in the thousands, and they were defeated by an army that had been on the march for weeks. Elsa wasn’t their last hope - she was their only hope.

Anna quietly opened the library doors. What was that purring sound? Did a cat get loose in the castle? She walked in, seeing the castle librarian’s desk empty this late at night. A few candles lit the foyer, but nothing else.

She turned the corner past one of the stacks and found Elsa, face down in her folded arms and slumped over a reading table, snoring. That was the mysterious cat purring sound. Anna giggled to herself; her sister was adorable in this state. Around her lay scattered a dozen tomes, papers, and ink. Clearly she was researching something but Anna couldn’t make out what; most of the writing was in a symbolic language unfamiliar to her.

Anna sat down next to her and gently rubbed the blonde’s back, massaging away the inevitable soreness from sleeping in such a position. Elsa stirred, then startled with a yelp, sitting up ramrod straight. “Anna!” she exclaimed, breaking out into a smile. “What time is it?”

“Just after sundown, sis. What’s all this?”

“Trying to piece together the mystery of this Deathlord and what it might take to bring him down. There were some legends the Northuldra told of a god of illness and death, Ruohtta, that rode across the land on horseback, and I was trying to see if we had anything here in the library that might have captured the story more thoroughly. Unfortunately-” she gestured in futility, “-there doesn’t appear to be much, and what was captured was biased by grandfather’s prejudice against the Northuldra.”

Anna nodded, listening raptly to Elsa, before leaping from her seat. “I forgot! This arrived a little while ago from Weselton,” she said, handing over the diplomatic message.

Elsa’s face soured at the mention of Weselton, but she took the scroll in her fingers and read it carefully. Her eyes widened. “Weselton is… about a day’s march to the Southern Isles on a very fast horse. Two to three days from here if the winds aren’t favorable. Have you talked to Mattias?”

“Not yet, I wanted to talk to you first. What do you think we should do?”

Elsa contemplated the situation. “The Southern Isles has an army about the size of ours, maybe a little larger. Granted, both our nations have armies considerably larger than Weselton because that cheapskate little weasel refused to spend his money on anything that didn’t directly benefit him, but together we probably muster… maybe a thousand men in total?”

“And Minister Eduard says the enemy has ten times that.”

“As much as I dislike them, we have to warn King Georg,” Elsa sighed.

“Why, Elsa?”

“If Weselton sent the same pigeon to King Georg, the King would probably be likely to send some troops to help out his ‘most valuable trading partner’-” she scoffed, “and in the process, divide his forces. The Southern Isles will be defenseless…”

“… and that puts the enemy that much closer to Arendelle.” Anna shuddered. The longer they could delay the inevitable, the more they could perhaps find a way to stop this that didn’t involve putting her sister on the front lines. She reached out and took Elsa’s hand. “I know that I’m Queen, Elsa, but at times like this I wish I didn’t have to be. You… you’re so amazing. You know exactly what to do, and I feel like you have to bear the burden of saving us all.”

“I do because I’m the fifth spirit. You are the one who’s amazing, Anna. You’ve done a wonderful job being Queen of Arendelle, far better than I ever did. Frankly, far better than our parents did. The people love you. They look to you for hope… and so do I. You don’t have to be the smartest, or the toughest, or the most clever to be a great Queen. You have to give the most hope to your people - and that’s you, Anna. If I and my powers can save us - save you - then I will gladly bear that burden and any others to keep you safe. Besides, the spirits themselves seem on our side for this, warning us, helping us.”

“And I’m grateful to them, and to you. This situation…” Anna’s shoulders heaved with a deep breath as she took the gold, crocus-patterned tiara from her auburn hair and brought it to rest in her hands. She looked at it for a long moment, then nudged it into Elsa’s hand. “I’m not- I can’t… Elsa, I just can’t. You’re so much better prepared to lead us.”

Elsa nudged the crown right back. “You can. You are the Queen of Arendelle, and I am here to support you in every way I can… except that. I will tell you the same thing you once told me, Anna. I believe in you. More than anyone or anything else. You can do this. We can do this. You’re not alone, not any more, not ever again. Together, we will save Arendelle.”

A tear fell from Anna’s eye as she stared silently at the crown, nestled in their hands together. She closed her eyes. As long as Elsa was safe, she could do this, lead Arendelle into a war that might get her loved ones killed, because the alternative was to do nothing and see everyone certainly killed.

“Al-alright. As long as I have you,” she breathed, slowly putting the golden crown back on her head, feeling its weight a hundred times more than the actual metal. She stood up and lifted Elsa from her library chair by her hand. “Let’s go find General Mattias.”

“Magic, huh? We have a little experience fighting magic,” said Mattias coyly, leaning back in the council chamber chair he sat in. “We held a thirty-four year stalemate with the Northuldra who had the spirits on their side and outnumbered us badly. That said, we weren’t trying to wipe them out, we were just trying to survive.”

“What worked for you, General?” asked the Queen.

“Well… when you’re fighting against magic, it’s never a fair fight. Magic- pardon me in advance for any offense, Your Highness-” he said, looking at Elsa, who nodded, “- gives any force an unfair advantage. We had to be nimble, to move where we weren’t expected, to attack and retreat quickly. You can’t win in a toe-to-toe engagement against someone with magic; they will almost always beat you.”

Elsa paused. Memories swirled in her mind, faces from her past and the distant pasts she inherited from the spirits’ crystals. In her mind, she remembered the tactics of generals on battlefields, spies sneaking into enemy fortifications, courtesans plying secrets from clients, the sum of lifetimes of experience. She heard her name in a dozen different languages, always the same. Al-Ruwh Al-Khamisat. Ötödik Szellem. Daseos Jeongsin. The fifth spirit. Remembrances of lifetimes past floated in the air, symbols dancing together, and crystallized into a vision, a map of what she and Anna would need to do to prevail.

She opened her eyes with the wisdom of leaders past and looked at Mattias warmly. “Consider our strategic position, General. The enemy has fearful magic on their side; we’ve been told from the spirits of Ahtohallan and diplomatic missives that the enemy has the power to raise the dead to fight for them. We have my magic on our side, the power of the spirits and the elements.”

“Hmm. It would help to know what you’re capable of, Your Highness. You gave us a brief display in the Enchanted Forest a few years ago, but I’ve honestly never seen much of it first-hand. Are you equal in strength to the enemy? Greater? Weaker?” he quizzed Elsa.

“I honestly don’t know. I can do what you’ve said, and more. Recently, when Anna and I went to Ahtohallan, I learned some new spells, but I’ve never put them to the test. My concern is the key power of this enemy - every soldier that falls is a soldier that joins the enemy unwillingly,” she grimaced.

“Then we’ll have to borrow from our Enchanted Forest experiences. Quick strikes. Small squads. Keep our casualties to a minimum, keep moving, don’t let them pin us down. Stay at a distance, more snipers than grunts. Try to find the leaders and take them out quickly. If we had more men, we’d be able to harry them from multiple sides, but even with the recruitment program we started a month ago, we still number about 400 total, Your Highness.”

“Four hundred against ten thousand…” murmured Anna.

“It’s not great odds, Your Majesty. We should seriously think about retreating. Perhaps, while there is time, we could evacuate the civilian population somewhere - to the Crown Princess’ ice castle, maybe?” remarked the General, considering the nearby places they could potentially march those Arendellians who would be unable to fight and would only become enslaved to this monstrous enemy.

“Elsa, what about Marshmallow?” asked Anna.

“Hmm? What about him?”

“Could you make another one? Or several?”

Elsa tilted her head to consider it. “I… I could, yes. I’m not sure how many I could make, but at least a few, more than enough to help support our soldiers. Plus, they’ll draw attention.”

“And they’re made of snow, so it’s not like they can be turned into zombie snowmen, right?” asked Anna.

“Right. They’re not technically alive, so they also can’t die.”

“Uh, excuse me. I’m a little confused. How are a few marshmallows going to help us, Your Majesty?” quizzed the General, bewildered.

“Sorry, General. About six years ago, Elsa created an ice palace on the North Mountain, which you’ve seen on the main road to the Enchanted Forest. When I was trying to get her to come home, she created a giant snowman that we nicknamed Marshmallow. I was saying she could create a few more.”

“I see. Forgive me, Your Majesty, but you’ve never mentioned this at all in the last three years. How will a… um, marshmallow snowman… help us?”

“He’s about twenty feet tall, coated in razor sharp, yard-long icicles, and is impossibly strong. Don’t throw a snowball at him, it makes him mad,” quipped Anna.

“That’s… quite a snowman, Your Highness. Yes, if we had a few of those, that would certainly be of benefit. Arendelle doesn’t maintain any heavy weaponry, and we have only a few dozen cavalry, so-” the General coughed, uneasy with his words, “-a few giant, razor-armed snowmen could be quite helpful, especially if they can attract enemy fire. I never thought in my career I would say those words.”

Anna turned to Elsa. “Okay, what about the people? The North Mountain is a couple hours on foot for the people, but this enemy moves really fast. Will that be enough?”

Elsa shook her head. “I’m not sure, but probably not. They conquered Weselton shortly after Bavaria. The North Mountain isn’t far enough. If we could at least get people to the Enchanted Forest, that would be a better place to fight. It’s terrain we know, but the enemy doesn’t, and the Northuldra - no offense, General,” Elsa smiled, “- can harass even the best trained soldiers in the woods they know best.”

“Boy, can they ever. Yelana’s people are crafty and strong. They’ll be in danger too, so we’ll have to have some of our troops help get their civilians to safety with ours,” mused Mattias.

Anna looked out the council chamber’s windows, gazing at the harbor. “If only we had enough ships to get the people to sea,” she sighed. “We could sail them to France or Corona, maybe even to England if we got word to Queen Victoria.”

“We’ll have to make do with the Enchanted Forest. Perhaps I can ask the spirits to place the enchanted fog around it again - maybe that could offer some protection, once we get everyone evacuated,” said Elsa.

“That certainly kept us in the forest for quite some time, Your Highness. So… with your permission, Your Majesty, we can get this plan rolling?” said Mattias, still puzzled but glad that the royals had some kind of plan that would deny the enemy the chance to kill and raise citizens against their own army.

“Indeed, General. And if you have soldiers who you feel are not up to the fight and would be liabilities rather than assets, let’s have them assigned as guards to the civilians. They can accompany the civilians to safety, leaving you only with your best soldiers,” said Elsa.

Mattias nodded solemnly. “I will take my leave, Your Majesty, Your Highness, to begin preparations immediately.” The general bowed and left for the barracks.

Anna paced a few moments before sitting down next to Elsa. “I feel a little better after talking to General Mattias, don’t you?”

Elsa nodded. The General’s question nagged at her. She had no basis to say whether she was stronger or weaker than the monster they faced. She could hurt and kill a person with no trouble at all, like nearly killing her sister. Could she stop an army?

“Anna, I think we should test out my powers, somehow. See just how strong they are, so that we know what my limits are.”

“How? I mean, where? I’d like to know too, selfishly, so that we know when it’s time to retreat to safety rather than stick it out,” Anna said.

Elsa rubbed her chin with her slender fingers. “What about at the North Mountain? Any new marshmallows I create won’t melt there, either.” She closed her eyes and envisioned the steep slopes of the North Mountain, her crystalline ice palace nearby, and saw the symbols in her mind gently slide into order.

Anna took Elsa’s hand. “All right, let’s go.”

In moments, they stood in the cold wind of the North Mountain, snow blowing lightly in the dark. The moon overhead softly lit the pristine white drifts.

Elsa kept hold of Anna’s hand as she started the spellcasting for another Marshmallow. She smiled sadly, thinking of the first time she’d passed this way and cast Olaf into existence. She hadn’t seen the little guy since he went with Kristoff three years ago. Whatever happened to them, it was enough that she couldn’t feel his magic any more.

Anna felt the gentle tug of Elsa’s magic drawing on her latent power. She brought Elsa’s hand to her lips and kissed the back and knuckles gently. Despite the cold and wind, she felt as warm as sitting in her chambers, thanks to her bonding with Elsa and the mysterious green crystal.

Elsa reached her free hand out. A small snowstorm swirled on the ground, and another Marshmallow rose, blue eyes glowing. “I feel all right, Anna. It’s not draining at all.”

“And I’m okay, too. I can feel your magic, but it’s not hurting me at all. Try a little more!”

Elsa smiled and conjured another five small storms. Five more snow golems rose to their feet.

“Go bigger, Elsa! Let’s see when we really start to feel it.”

Elsa closed her eyes, seeing her magic like the Northern Lights in her mind’s eye. She waved her arm in a semi-circle and twenty new storms appeared on the ground, heads and arms emerging. Elsa drew more and pushed a wave of energy into each. A golem stepped out, and another immediately began to form. In just a few minutes, nearly a hundred stood on the slopes of the mountain.

“I’m starting to feel it a little, Anna. How are you?”

Anna blinked. She felt a little fatigue, like after a brisk ride through the countryside. “Not bad. A little winded, but not bad. How many… oh wow. That’s practically an army, Elsa!”

Blue, unblinking eyes stared out at them. Elsa spoke aloud, “My children! Stand watch over this place for now, and guard it carefully. Let no one inside the ice palace until I say.”

A hundred heads slowly nodded and icy feet began to shuffle around.

Elsa turned to look at the long, winding road that led up to the North Mountain. “All right, Anna, it’s time to see what we can do… together.” She reached deep inside herself, summoned her power, and shot a wide beam of glowing blue frost at the sides of the road.

“Whoa,” Anna said, stumbling. “That’s… that’s a lot of energy you’re channeling, Elsa. It’s making me a little light-headed.”

“Just… another… moment,” Elsa breathed, straining. The frost touched the open plains around the road and exploded, growing into rows of long, sharp icicles pointed forward, like rows of shark teeth. The rows were easily six feet high, fifty feet deep, and half a mile long in either direction around the road. Anyone not on the road proper would find it impassable, lest they impale themselves on the ice.

“With… with enough time, perhaps we can fortify Arendelle and give ourselves as many advantages as possible to winnow down the numbers of the enemy. If we can get the people past this point, they’ll have more cover to evacuate to the Enchanted Forest,” said Elsa, panting from the exertion. She doubted she could have cast that large a spell alone, but with Anna, she had enough to and still be able to fight if she had to - or flee.

Anna’s lightheadedness subsided. She could feel her own energy slowly refilling; mentally in her head she felt like she’d let some water out of a tub and it was slowly filling back up. “We’ll start evacuations tomorrow. It’ll take a day to get everyone to the north, but this will definitely slow down an army of ten thousand.”

Elsa gestured and wove another portal. “Let’s go home and get to bed.”

Anna nodded vigorously, her fatigue enticing her to bed and her sister’s warm embrace.

Author’s Notes

One of the challenges of writing Elsa - and her magic in particular - is that you can do a LOT with snow and ice. Look at all the cryomancers in stories. Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat. Killer Frost and Mr. Freeze from the DCEU. Frozone from the Incredibles. Frost mages and wizards from Warcraft and Diablo. Cryomancers from Skyrim. If we base magic on the prevalence of the element, then water is by far the most abundant power, since it makes up some 70% of the surface of the planet and is in literally everything.

So, the challenge is to either come up with an antagonist that is equally matched in power, or place limitations on the powers themselves. As you’ll read in the rest of the story, I’ve leaned more towards the former than the latter.

For those who’ve been keeping track, you’ll be pleased to know that the story as a whole is completed, so this will not be one of those fics where you’re left hanging.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: blood and gore, mutilation, offensive and sexist language

Chapter 17: Prince Hans of the Southern Isles

King Georg Westergaard, reigning monarch of the Southern Isles, sat heavily on his throne, his grey beard and long hair a mess, his steel crown askance over bloodshot eyes. The wine goblet in his hand sloshed as an aide brought him a diplomatic pouch.

“What is- oh, it’s the little weasel again. What’s he want this time, more potatoes at a discounted rate?” he grumbled, staring at the seal on the envelope. He looked around the throne room, the thirteen chairs against the walls, each with engraved names upon them. Carl. Christian. Johan. Marius. Niels. Peder. Valdemar. Jens. Peter. Alfred. Kristian. Aage. Hans. His thirteen sons, all but two absent at this late hour. Carl and Christian shadowed him around the clock, ostensibly learning what it would take to be king, though he suspected they just bided their time waiting for him to die. He snorted and handed the envelope to the eldest, Carl.

Crown Prince Carl opened the envelope, cleared his throat, and read aloud.

King Georg of the Southern Isles. The Duke of Weselton requires your immediate aid. Weselton under attack by an unknown army. No flag or insignia but strong disposition. Estimate size is ten thousand or more. As our most valuable trading partner, in your best interests to assist us. Send troops immediately. First Minister Eduard on behalf of Duke of Weselton.

“Ten thousand? What’s that little weasel been drinking?” Georg shouted. “No one could march an army across the continent that large without our spies knowing about it, and we’ve not heard from the Prussians at all.”

Prince Christian nodded his head. “Yes, Father. Not a word from any of our allies. Perhaps it is a prank, a hoax? Maybe Weselton had a bit too much obstler.”

Carl spoke up. “What if this isn’t a joke, Father? Let us ready our army, just in case. We don’t have to send anyone to Weselton, but it would not harm us to be prepared.”

Georg grumbled and drained the goblet. “Fine. Carl, you marshal the troops. Christian, you marshal our reserves. In the morning, Johan is to take a small company on horseback down to Weselton and see what this is all about. If it’s a joke, I’ll have that little bastard’s head on a pike - right after I shove his ridiculous hair up his arse.”

“By your command, Majesty,” the sons echoed. Georg snorted and motioned for a servant to refill his drink.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, Georg mused to himself, laying in his chambers alone. The Southern Isles by rights should have already possessed Weselton, but that sniveling little man managed to be valuable enough to keep as an ally, but not valuable enough to outright conquer. And to the north, Arendelle. A few years back he’d sent his youngest, most worthless son to establish better trade and he instead ended up returning in irons for attempted regicide. Now some foolish girl sat on the throne, and all of Arendelle’s wealth was squandered on its people instead of in tribute to him.

He threw a goblet across the room in anger, taking slight pleasure in hearing something shatter. Ever since Queen Ane had died, every dream of his had turned to ash. His sons wanted nothing more than to fight for the throne over his dead body, his allies picked his pockets at every opportunity, and he had no one he could trust not to literally stab him in the back.

So every other night, he decided to make things easier. His enemies, his friends, his family - they were all the same, they all wanted the same thing. Why not let them have it sooner rather than later? He stumbled to his armoire and opened the top cabinet. A row of green crystal bottles sparkled in the candlelight, an expensive import from Neuchatel, absinthe. Georg removed the stopper from one of the crystal bottles and poured a lowball glass almost to the rim.

He stared at the pale green liquor, reminding him of his late wife’s eyes. When she lived, their sons respected him out of love for her. Even the little brat, Hans, was at least civil. After her death, all they saw was an old man standing in the way of their throne. He drained the glass. At least his country would remain in the hands of ambitious men who would secure the future of the nation, he consoled himself. He had nearly choked to death with laughter when his old rival Agnarr produced two girls and didn’t immediately arrange marriages. What good were unmarried girls, he drunkenly scoffed, except as whores and servants?

Of course, had he not been drinking so much when he’d said that to Agnarr’s face, perhaps the Southern Isles might have had a stronger alliance with Arendelle. He poured another glass. Water under the bridge. Hans failed, but he’d send another of his sons to woo the Arendelle queen and one way or another annex Arendelle. He might not live to see it, but Arendelle would eventually be his. Were he younger, he’d do the job himself, he thought. He wouldn’t mind a young maiden queen in his bed.

One last glass before bed, he mused. Take the edge off. Ridiculous, he thought, an army of ten thousand. He felt the familiar warmth of absinthe fully overtake him, warming his distended belly, making his head light and easy. Tonight was better than usual, he thought to himself. His left arm tingled, and suddenly he felt Ane’s tight embrace around his chest. How he missed her, he smiled.

Morning broke. Carl paced the length of the palace’s war room, a map of the region painted on the large oak table. The room was formerly the queen’s parlor, but since her death, his father had erased every public trace of her. Weapons and armor replaced floral arrangements. Gardens were paved over or torn up for training grounds for their soldiers. All paintings of her were draped in black cloth turned grey from years of dust accumulating on them.

Sometimes, he struggled to remember what his mother looked like.

Breathless, his brother Johan burst in.

“Johan! Where the devil have you been? I called for you half an hour ago-”

“Car- Your Majesty, my apologies,” Johan panted.

“Your Majesty? Have you been drinking too, brother? I know I have father’s eyes, but-”

“Father is dead, Your Majesty. You are now King of the Southern Isles,” Johan said, kneeling.

Carl swallowed and a slow smile spread across his lips. He bore no great love for his father, but he’d waited patiently almost four decades for this moment. The throne was finally his. Now all he had to do was keep it from his 12 other brothers. “How?”

“The royal physician says his heart gave out. Too much absinthe.”

Carl smirked, the mental and emotional bruises from beatings in his youth fading away finally. Now he was king, and he would impose his will on his subjects. “Serves the old bastard right. Very well. Before he died, Father bade me to prepare our armies for an attack from Weselton-”

“The little shit finally grew a pair, did he?” snarked Johan, momentarily forgetting his brother’s new title.

“No, someone’s supposedly attacking them. You are to take a company on horseback and ascertain the situation, then report back, brother.”

“As you command, Majesty,” Johan practically shouted, turning to head for the barracks.

Johan and two dozen horsemen rode southwest towards Weselton. It would take the better part of two days to reach the little Duchy nestled inside Prussia, and they’d been on horseback already for nearly a day. “Jens!” he shouted to his lieutenant, “how much farther until Hamburg?”

“About an hour, Major General. We’ve made good time today, the weather’s kept the horses from overheating. Stiff breeze at our backs helped too,” said the lanky soldier. They’d crossed into Prussia a few hours earlier and would make camp on the outskirts of Hamburg, just past the Elbe River.

Johan nodded in agreement, taking a long pull from a canteen as they slowed to a trot. The Southern Isles were inconveniently located in the North Sea, making them far to travel to nearly anywhere, save Prussia or Sweden. At least he had only cavalry to look after; this trip would take thrice as long with infantry.

Just after crossing through a small town on the main roads to the Elbe, the horses spooked. Johan wrestled him under control; one of his less experienced riders ended up dumped on the roadside as his horse bolted. Johan looked around. There was nothing obviously wrong, nothing that should have sent the horses into a frenzy.

Until the wind shifted.

Jens made gagging sounds; a few other men outright vomited. Johan held up a handkerchief to his nose. “What in heaven’s name is that stench?” he yelled. “It smells like a rotting corpse!”

“My lord, a mounted party approaches our position to the north,” said Yaqub from his mount. “What are your orders, my liege?”

The Deathlord laughed. “Capture them, that we may know who is so bold to approach our army instead of fleeing in fear, Miralai.”

Yaqub nodded his head and rode forward to meet the enemy.

“Whatever it is, it’s headed this way,” said Jens thickly, a handkerchief tied over his nose and mouth to block out the worst of the fumes. “Look! I see a silhouette of a rider approaching us, and a large body of infantry behind him. God in heaven almighty, there must be thousands of them.”

Johan turned to look-

-and felt a stabbing, blinding pain in his eye. He screamed in equal parts pain and terror, his good eye recognizing the shaft of an arrow protruding from his face. He slumped over the back of his horse, the pain so great that consciousness fled him.

Arrows whistled through the air and cut down five of his riders immediately, as well as two horses. Jens immediately turned and galloped away, two other riders with him. The remainder, unsure of who to follow, tarried a moment too late and were cut down by another hail of arrows.

Yaqub rode to the casualties and looked upon them dispassionately. He sensed the spark of life in one and motioned for the unconscious rider to be dragged to his master.

The Deathlord joined Yaqub a moment later. “Well done, Miralai,” he waved his hand, the dead Southern Isles soldiers rising and joining his army. “Let’s see what this one knows.” He rode up to the unconscious body of Johan Westergaard and without hesitation or compunction, drove his knife into the man’s back, piercing his heart. Within moments, life left him, and Johan’s corpse sat up in the saddle. The arrow still protruded from his ruined eye.

“Rise, and remember.”

“My lord,” he slurred, “how may I serve you?”

“Tell me who you are and what your mission was, soldier,” rumbled the Deathlord.

“I was Johan Westergaard, third in line to the throne of the Southern Isles. I was sent here by my brother, King Carl Westergaard, to ascertain the fate of Weselton and discern if something threatened our kingdom,” said Johan’s corpse flatly.

“Very good, Johan Westergaard. Tell me of the Southern Isles and the magic within it.”

“I know of no magic in the Southern Isles, my lord, but a sorceress inhabits the kingdom to our north, the kingdom of Arendelle. My brother Hans was defeated by the sorceress.”

The Deathlord cackled. Finally, a name to the feeling, to the sensation of strong magic that could oppose him. Arendelle. Arendelle would be the place he would find this fifth spirit and destroy it, destroy the lone obstacle to his reign over the earth. He could taste victory, closer than ever.

“How many soldiers does the Southern Isles marshal against us, Johan Westergaard?” asked Yaqub.

“We number nearly eight hundred.”

Yaqub turned to his master. “We will add their eight hundred to our numbers. With those we have gathered along the way, we will number close to twelve thousand by the time we reach Arendelle’s borders, my lord.”

“Good, Miralai. No individual wizard could stand against an army as large as ours. Let us make haste for this Arendelle by way of the Southern Isles. We will capture their army and weapons and make them ours for our final assault on the fifth spirit and this Arendelle,” crowed the Deathlord. “Let us find this brother Hans to see what he knows of the sorceress.”

“King Carl! KING CARL!” screamed Jens frantically, his horse near collapse as he rode through the gates to the palace. He’d ridden through the night, pushing his horse to the limit; the two other riders had fallen back a few hours ago, their horses unable to continue on. Jens dismounted and the beast collapsed dying in the courtyard. The night guards approached him, weapons drawn, until they recognized Jens’ uniform.

“Lieutenant, what’s the meaning of this?” asked the night watch commander.

“I return from the expedition to Weselton, Commander,” Jens said heatedly, “with news of the army on its way here to attack us! I must see the King immediately.”

“Where is Major General Johan, Lieutenant?”

“Dead, Commander, as we all soon will be.”

The commander nodded gruffly, motioned for a guard to accompany him, and led Jens to the palace. Within minutes, aides had summoned the new king to the throne room and lit candles to chase away the night.

Jens knelt before the king and several of his brothers. Carl tiredly motioned for him to rise and tell his tale.

“Your Majesty, I return with news from Weselton,” Jens started. He sniffed the air quickly and smelt alcohol and black licorice. Like father, like son, he thought to himself before continuing. “We encountered a large army halfway to Weselton, and as soon as we came upon it, many of us were cut down by arrows. We had no chance to return fire, and I barely made it back here alive.”

“What of my brother, Johan?” asked the king.

Jens shook his head silently.

“Very well. Thank you, Lieutenant. You may take your leave. Christian, as the second eldest brother, I appoint you Lord General of the Royal Army. Marshal our forces and prepare our defenses. It would seem we shall shortly be under attack. Have each of our brothers take command of a regiment.”

Christian, sitting to Carl’s right, smirked. “Even Hans?”

Carl rolled his eyes. “Yes, even Hans. Give him the Royal Flag Guard regiment and have them guard the northern ramparts.” The Royal Flag Guard regiment was something of a joke in the kingdom, as the regiment’s sole purpose was things like ceremonial parades and the music corps. Assignation to it typically fell to soldiers who were disgraced in some way. For several years after his capture and ignominious return, Hans literally shoveled shit in the regiment’s parade grounds support corps.

“Why the northern ramparts, Your Majesty?” asked Niels, one of the middle brothers.

“Because, you dolt, they have no weapons or armor. They’d be useless on the actual battlefront. Best to keep them out of the way,” snapped Carl. “Now, all of you, get moving!”

The room cleared quickly.

“Prince Hans!” an elderly page approached the red-haired man, carrying what appeared to be paper stamped with the royal seal.

“Yes, what do you want?” Hans sighed wearily, dropping his pen on the small, dark wooden desk he labored at. His ongoing humiliation since the affair in Arendelle six years ago had made him bitter and resentful. For the last several years, his bastard of a father had put him in more and more meaningless positions in the kingdom. His most recent posting was cataloging antiquities, something his father had had a passing interest in, but not enough to warrant doing the work. Georg had left the tiresome work to Hans.

The page unrolled the paper and needlessly shouted aloud, “By order of His Majesty King Carl, you are hereby declared Lieutenant General in the Royal Army and assigned to command the Royal Flag Guard regiment to defend the Southern Isles in glorious battle. You are to bring the Royal Flag Guard to the northern rampants and defend the castle against invaders!”

Hans barked a humorless laugh. It would seem his eldest brother Carl would be continuing the fine tradition their father set down, putting him in charge of the army’s musicians and parade groundskeepers. “Inform His Majesty,” he sneered, “that I will answer the call of the king.” He stood, looking at the piles of scrolls cataloging meaningless antiquities for a father who never loved him, and with a small, mean grin, knocked the candle off the desk into the papers, setting them ablaze.

“Let’s go.”

Dawn broke on the Southern Isles, and the Deathlord’s army swarmed the flat plains in front of the palace castle. He watched with mild amusement as a colorful regiment of the enemy’s army came marching out of the castle to meet his troops, led by an equally colorful peacock of a man on a gold-trimmed horse.

“Stop! You face the mighty army of the Kingdom of the Southern Isles. I am General Christian Westergaard, and we are peerless in these lands for our military might. Turn back now, or face your ruin!” shouted the rider.

“Such arrogance,” murmured Yaqub, standing next to his master. “What are your orders, my lord?”

The Deathlord grinned. “Kill them all, of course.”

Yaqub raised his sword, and the host swarmed the Southern Isles regiment. Gunfire sounded across the field of battle, insistent and fast and first but dwindling quickly as the musketmen realized their weapons had no effect.

As the undead troops decimated the first regiment, another Southern Isles regiment rounded the castle. These soldiers gave a spirited shout before charging in, a shout that quickly turned to a cry of despair as they saw their comrades in arms rising from the dead to fight them.

“Your Majesty! Your Majesty!” a bloodied infantryman raced up to a very bored Hans.

Hans turned to look at the youth. The boy was bleeding from what looked like claw marks on his legs, the uniform shredded and torn in many places. “Who are you calling Majesty… undercorporal?” he asked, squinting at the boy’s tattered rank on his sleeve.

“Your Majesty, you are all that remains. You are king - everyone else has been killed by the invading army! Long live King Hans!”

“Impossible! We had eight hundred soldiers and fifty cannons. I heard the cannons earlier. No one in this part of the world could defeat us,” said Hans. Except that ice bitch in Arendelle, he thought bitterly.

“The enemy is too strong, Your Majesty. Your regiment is all that is left. What are your orders, Majesty?” begged the boy, hoping against hope this prince could be their salvation.

“All regiments except this one are dead, Undercorporal?”

“Yes, Majesty, and worse. Our enemy possesses some foul magic that raises the dead to serve in their ranks!”

“Well… fuck that. The order is given, boy: retreat. Evacuate. Flee. If my twelve idiot brothers couldn’t make a stand against this army with eight hundred men, a band of fifty musicians and gardeners has no chance whatsoever.” Hans turned to the soldiers on the rampart. “Time to go, boys. Run like your life depends on it, because it really does,” he said, already running for the rampart’s stairs ahead of his soldiers.

Just as he reached the bottom of the stairs and saw the stables on the other side of the courtyard, Hans flinched before a soul-rending shriek. He turned to see the skeleton of a horse, eye sockets alight with blue fire, and a pale grey man atop it.

“Who the fuck are you?” roared Hans.

“You are in no position to ask questions, whelp,” thundered the Deathlord.

Hans drew his ceremonial gold sword from its scabbard. He wouldn’t go down without a fight, he swore to himself. No matter how much dishonor he’d brought to the family, no matter how humiliated he’d been, he wouldn’t give up now that he was king. King Hans would not die in disgrace.

The Deathlord chuckled. “Your arrogance is astonishing, child. Your twelve brothers each made lofty proclamations and baseless threats before they died, their words drowned in their blood. I am of a mind to see such arrogance tamed, and yet I need the information in your head. So I grant you one chance. Tell me what I wish to know, and I will grant you an easy death. Who is the sorceress of Arendelle?”

Hans laughed bitterly. “Even in death, my brothers mock me. You mean that bitch, Elsa? She was the queen of Arendelle, and she humiliated me. Are you going to attack her?”

“I plan to consume her, boy. She is all that stands between me and eternal rule.”

Hans smiled, teeth bared like a predator, and knelt on one knee before the Deathlord. “Please. Let me join you. Let me fight by your side. If I can have my revenge on her, I’ll help you every way I can. I’ll show you where she is. I know where her secret ice castle is. I’ve been there personally. All I ask is that you let me strike the killing blow.”

The Deathlord turned to Yaqub, who had joined his side. “This one is volunteering for our crusade, Miralai. I do believe that’s a first,” he smirked.

Yaqub stepped forward. “You would swear allegiance to Rabi Al-Mawt, the lord of death?”

Hans grinned ferociously. “I will do whatever it takes to see Elsa dead.”

“And what about afterwards? Will you continue to serve as we usher in a new era of darkness in this world?” asked Yaqub.

Hans struggled to avoid laughing. This army was tearing through the region. It didn’t stop in Bavaria, left no fortifications or bastions behind in Weselton… they were on a mission, and that mission clearly didn’t involve occupation. That meant dozens of cities, towns, and territories were up for grabs. If I play my cards right, I’ll be King of the Southern Isles, Prussia, and Arendelle because no one will be left to govern, he schemed.

“Afterwards, we can go our separate ways and you can do whatever you like. I won’t interfere or stand in your way. Just let me kill Elsa. And maybe, if you can spare it, give me her sister as a prisoner. I have some unfinished business with her as well,” he spat.

Yaqub looked to his master, who nodded his head. Yaqub extended his hand.

Hans switched his sword to his opposite hand, to shake this strange lieutenant’s hand and seal the deal.

As he shook it, Yaqub seized Hans’ sword, turned it on him, and stabbed him through the heart. Crimson stained his white military uniform.

“There is no room for anything but absolute, eternal loyalty to Rabi Al-Mawt, worm,” hissed Yaqub. “Now, in death, you serve without question. But take note, my master is true to his word. Yours is an easy death.”

Hans blinked, feeling his body grow cold and limp as it hit the ground, his attention narrowing to the searing pain in his chest. As his last breath left him, he waited for the sensation of being lifted from his body, only to instead feel like he was falling, drowning in darkness.

“Rise, and remember.”

The body of Hans rose from the ground to kneel before the Deathlord. “How may I serve you, my lord?”

The Deathlord grinned. “You will take us to this… Elsa.”

Author’s Notes

I debated how much of a role I wanted Hans to have in this story and decided… very little. I don’t like his character, and him being the primary antagonist is a strong trope in Elsanna fanfiction. I get it - it’s literally canonical, but it’s… well, a trope at this point. The wonderful thing about writing your own story is that you get to decide who gets the limelight, and in this story… it ain’t pretty boy Hans. In fairness to him, there was no scenario in which the Deathlord wouldn’t kill him, even if he’d pledged absolute loyalty forever. That’s just how demigods roll.

For Georg, I had in mind someone that looked like Theoden while Saruman had infected him - but with alcohol instead of dark magic.

Thank you to everyone who’s left reviews, comments, kudos, and more. I appreciate it greatly.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: referenced icest

Chapter 18: Here I Stand

Wagons and sleds lined the roads to the North Mountain. Even in the late summer, winter’s grasp never left the area of the mountain, and Arendellians knew to dress for the occasion. It had taken Anna and Elsa the better part of a day to organize the city’s inhabitants, assign them to different regiments of the army, and have everyone escorted into the hills, but they’d managed the impossible. The city itself stood empty as its people made the journey northwards.

Elsa rode Nokk’s frozen form at the rear of the caravan with Anna’s arms around her, ensuring that no one was left behind. Relocating two thousand people was a tall order under any conditions, but so rapidly was even more difficult. By her estimations, they had either two days if the army of the dead chose to travel by boat, or three days if they marched through Sweden to reach them. They had a day’s advantage or less, enough time to get most everyone to the Enchanted Forest, but barely.

Anna watched the procession wordlessly, eyes brimming with unshed tears as she clung to Elsa’s waist. She had always put aside ego and pride, but looking at the people - her people - on this long, cold road, she wondered if she’d be remembered as the Queen of Refugees, the Queen who let Arendelle fall. What was Arendelle? Was it a place on a map, a collection of buildings, or the people who followed her? Was this what her parents would have done? Would Elsa have done the same?

“Anna!” Elsa whisper-shouted.

Anna blinked, snapping out of her trance. “Um, hi, sorry about that.”

“Are you all right?”

“As all right as I can be, given-” she gestured, “-all this. Did we do the right thing, Elsa? I can’t help wondering what Mother and Father would have done.”

Elsa nodded firmly. “You did exactly the right thing, Anna. Mother and Father… they wouldn’t have known what to do. My magic alone was enough to frighten them and force them to make some bad choices-”

“-Like forcing you into hiding for thirteen years and cutting you off from your only sister!” Anna interrupted.

“Yes, like that. This situation, they would have tried to deal with it conventionally, and their fate would have been the same as Bavaria, the same as Weselton. You’ve taken the only course available to you, Anna. You’ve denied the enemy a chance to use our people against us.”

“By putting my only sister and my great love directly in the path of danger,” Anna said sullenly, resting her chin on Elsa’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Elsa. I know you have to do this. I just wish there was another way. I’ve had this sense of impending dread, ever since we got back from Transylvania. It’s like I can feel this enemy, feel it like ants crawling over my skin.”

Elsa nodded, rubbed her fingers over Anna’s laced hands around her. “Your magic may be able to sense them better than even I can, Anna. It wouldn’t surprise me if this army of the dead is somehow opposed to your life magic.”

“About that…” Anna let the tears fall, “I’m so scared, Elsa. I didn’t want to say anything to make you worry, but…”

“But what?”

“When that necklace vanished… what the Countess said. What if I can’t die now? I can’t go on without you. I mean, I know that we’re not literally dying right now, but we kind of are. Or I was. What if… what if I outlive you?” Anna choked through tears.

“I don’t know, Anna, but let’s worry about that after we deal with this nightmare. If we live through this and get our people through safely, we can ask the spirits at Ahtohallan what to do about it. Sound good?” Elsa soothed her sister. Her own worries and concerns would do nothing to help the situation or make Anna feel better. She’d deal with them later.

Anna nodded again, words failing her.

They rode on, watching the scenery go by slowly as Anna’s tears ran dry, until the sound of hoofbeats interrupted their thoughts. Elsa reflexively wove ice armor around her and Anna as she turned Nokk to face the approaching riders, ready to cast against a threat.

“Ryder! Honeymaren!” exclaimed Elsa, her magic dissipating.

The two Northuldra had raced to catch up with the Arendellian procession. “Elsa! Queen Anna,” shouted Ryder. “Something- something awful is behind us!”

Honeymaren spoke up. “We were patrolling the western lands, not far from the border of Arendelle, and what looked like a hundred horses and riders were in a ship, maybe more. The smell, Elsa! It smelled like a rotting carcass in the woods on a hot summer afternoon. As soon as the boat was in range of the shore, they all jumped off and splashed into the water.”

“From what we could tell, they were headed in the direction of Arendelle - and they were fast. Something was wrong with those horses. It almost looked like their eyes were glowing. We didn’t stick around to find out what they were up to - we raced here as quickly as we could,” said Ryder, his words tumbling out of him as fast as his labored breath.

“You made the right decision. If your reindeer can manage it, ride ahead and tell Yelana. Make sure everyone in the village is ready to move if need be. You just barely escaped death itself,” warned Elsa.

Both the Northuldra’s eyes widened. They spurred their mounts and sped off to the north.

“This isn’t good, Anna,” breathed Elsa. “A hundred cavalry can catch up to us very quickly, and most of the caravan isn’t at the North Mountain yet. We need to slow them down somehow.” She turned Nokk to the caravan and galloped until she reached General Mattias.

“General!” both the sisters shouted.

“Huh? Oh! Hey, we’re making pretty good progress-” started Mattias with an easy smile before seeing the expressions on their faces.

“General, a hundred cavalry landed in Arendelle not too long ago and are likely headed this way. We need to slow them down before they catch up to us. They’ll be able to inflict terrible harm on the civilians,” said Elsa.

“Okay - we’ve got about fifty cavalry of our own here. Most of the rest rode ahead with the civilians to make sure the roads were clear. But I gotta say, I don’t like those odds, especially if we’re fighting magical soldiers,” he frowned. “We’re not going to be able to slow them down much.”

Anna swore. “Damn it, we can’t just- Elsa, there’s got to be something we can do, so that we- you don’t-?” Fear gripped Anna’s insides, her stomach winding into tight knots. It’s too soon, too soon to send Elsa into battle, too soon for her… to be hurt or worse.

Elsa sighed, her shoulders slumping. “I didn’t want to have to leave the caravan, but I can probably fight them off, certainly enough to buy us time.”

“No! No, Elsa, I can’t- I- I won’t let you just throw yourself at them. I know you’re strong, I know you have powers, but…” Anna shouted louder than she intended. “Can’t you send some of the marshmallows after them?”

“It’s too warm, Anna. They’d melt before they got there.”

“Then- then-” Anna sputtered before her eyes brightened. “Make it not warm! Elsa! Bring back the eternal winter!”

Elsa turned her head to stare at Anna, gaping. Did she really just suggest that, the pinnacle of her failing to keep control over her magic, over her emotions? Her stomach felt like it dropped into her feet, roiled by the memories of that day, of losing Anna.

“Uh, what’s an eternal winter?” asked Mattias, confused.

“A few years ago - you were still trapped in the Enchanted Forest - Elsa froze all of Arendelle into an eternal winter. It snowed like crazy in the middle of summer, everything was frozen,” said Anna, recalling the memories. Elsa looked down, embarrassed at the years-old tale still.

“Wow. You can do that? You can change the seasons?” Mattias asked, shocked.

Elsa nodded. “I was scared and lost control of my magic. But this time…” She looked towards the south. Enemies were gathering, gathering to hurt her, to hurt her people and kingdom, but most of all, to hurt Anna. No one hurts Anna ever again. She grasped onto that feeling. “I’m scared, but I control my magic. Anna’s right. Are your soldiers trained for winter combat, General?”

Mattias laughed. “Your Highness, forgive my impertinence, but… please. We are Arendellian! Our soldiers are better in the winter than most armies are in the summer. We got this.”

“All right. I’ll bring winter as far as possible from here to the south. I’ll avoid impeding the caravan itself. Keep your cavalry at the rear of the caravan in case any escape from us. They can intercept any remaining enemies, but don’t send them into battle with me. I need to be able to work without interference. Can you send someone to the front to let the citizens know they’ll want to make sure they’re bundled up a little extra? The North Mountain is already cold, but this will make it colder.”

“You got it, Your Highness. This could be a real advantage for us. Alive or dead, it’s harder to march anyone or anything through a few feet of snow, and my soldiers can handle it,” smiled the General, riding off to give orders.

Once Mattias had rode off, Anna apologized, her head hung in shame. “I didn’t mean to put you on the spot like that, Elsa. I’m sorry. It’s not my place to ask you to-”

Elsa took Anna’s face gently in her hands, compelling her sister to turn up her downcast eyes. “It is, Anna. It’s your place as Queen to protect our people, to use everything at your disposal. And it’s your place as my sister and my love to ask my help protecting you. Let’s see what we’re up against.” She turned Nokk to the south and urged him into a gallop.

Just as they rode over the mountain pass into Arendelle’s city limits, they saw the enemy. Anna looked past her sister’s shoulder, squinting and muttering. “Ryder must be used to counting reindeer. That’s a lot more than a hundred cavalry.” She shuddered. Her head ached the closer they got to these… ghouls, the Sultan had called them.

The city of Arendelle was crawling with them, mounted riders walking everywhere in the city. Some rode on horses, others rode on oxen, reindeer, even a few on dire wolves. The only thing they had in common was death. Every rider and mount were both clearly deceased, some in advanced states of decay. It reminded Anna of lifting up a rock and seeing black insects crawling and scurrying away, only these undead weren’t scurrying. They were sweeping through the city and massing at the palace gates, readying to head up the trail towards the North Mountain. She clutched Elsa’s waist harder and buried her head in her sister’s shoulder.

For her part, Elsa watched wide-eyed. Until now, everything had been whispers, warnings and dreams. This was their first encounter with the undead army, likely their first conflict. Would her magic even work on them? At least Anna was with her; she couldn’t possibly do this with her separated.

“Elsa,” Anna whispered in her ear, “I’m… terrified. I’ve never been so scared in my life, not even when… when you died. How are we going to be able to save our people from… that?”

Elsa felt her shoulder dampen, as Anna’s tears soaked into the fabric of her tunic. “We will, Anna,” she reassured her sister, leaning back to lightly kiss her on the cheek as she buried her own fear. Conceal, don’t feel came unbidden to her mind. She wove ice armor on the both of them, thick and heavy, to avoid giving the enemy easy shots to take. The rays of the setting sun glinted off the crystal ice…

… and into the eyes of the undead riders. Heads turned in the sisters’ direction, and with howls and shrieks, they broke into a run towards them. Several mounted archers loosed arrows at them.

Anna screamed, feeling the arrows clattering off her ice armor, the sound like hail on a rooftop.

In that moment, time stopped for Elsa. She felt Anna’s terror, saw the enemy’s gleeful hunger, and something inside her heart broke free of its chains. Fear gave way to anger. How dare they, she thought. How dare they defile my city, intimidate my people, terrorize my sister?" She gritted her teeth; sigils and symbols leapt into her mind unbidden from memories and generations past, swirling like snow in the wind, until they clicked together, crystallizing. Energy flowed from Anna to her, through her, amplifying her powers.

Elsa felt a ball of ice gathering in her stomach, in her heart, as her anger turned to cold fury, a rage that was ice and fire together. Her ice-blue eyes took on a luminous azure glow, pupils and irises vanishing in sheer blue light. She released the symbols from her mind, from her mouth, from her heart, lifting her hands high as Nokk reared up.

To Anna, it sounded like Elsa was singing.

A giant snowflake pattern sparkled in the sky, clouds blotting out the setting sun. Darkness settled over Arendelle, as though night had fallen in the blink of an eye. Waves of snow-laden winds exploded from her in expanding rings, gusting down the hills towards the city. The air turned sharply colder.

The riders slowed their approach, steeds struggling to move forward into the gale-force winds and blistering snow. Several fell from their mounts, unable to withstand the gusts.

Dimly, Elsa heard Anna whooping and cheering behind her, practically bouncing on Nokk. She refocused her attention. New symbols lined up as she thought the word Sharper. The glow in her eyes became radiant, flaring brightly like small blue stars. She released the symbols from her fingertips, blue-white fire pouring into the storm.

Snowflakes became ice crystals, crystals that lengthened into diamonds shaped like the stones of Ahtohallan. The crystals took on knife-like sharpness and the winds became a tornado as the temperature fell further. The steeds of the undead army froze in place, undead flesh freezing as surely as water on a pond in winter, taking on a dull blue hue. The riders, impervious to feeling but not to physics, urged their steeds onward futilely.

Then the crystals began to strike them like loosed arrows. The tornado of ice whirled furiously around them, biting into frozen flesh, cutting into armor, blunting weapons, knocking arrows out of the air. Ice crystals covered in stale blood turned the tornado black as midnight as the storm ground the enemy down like grain on a stone, pulverizing them. Howls of hunger for conquest turned to shrieks of despair before their throats were shredded open by the storm’s ice.

Anna’s cheers subsided as she watched her sister’s magic unleashed, a fury unparalleled. Her stomach turned, seeing flesh ripped from bone and bone shattered into dust in the ice storm. Hundreds of cavalry vanished in moments, blackened shards of ice and small chunks of frozen flesh their only legacy. I had no idea Elsa was this powerful. She could have leveled the entire city at any time she chose, wiped out any army in the world, she thought.

Elsa lowered her hands, the glow in her eyes dimming. Her song quieted on her lips and the storm dissipated, leaving a wintry wonderland. Save for a few pieces of armor, bits of metal weapons, and some blackened snow, no trace of the enemy cavalry was left.

She exhaled, slumping her shoulders from the effort and expenditure of so much magic. “We’re safe for the moment.”

Anna shook. “Elsa… that- that was amazing… but also a little scary.”

Elsa turned her head and leaned back to look at Anna. “I know. I got… I got so angry. Thinking of them, thinking of what they wanted to take from us. They wanted to take you away from me, take away everything I love and destroy it. I won’t let them, Anna, ever. They…”

Her eyes flared blue again for a moment.

“They are not fighting me. They are not fighting Arendelle. They are fighting the power of the spirits, of nature itself, and I will never let them win,” she thundered, her voice dripping with power, tiny flakes of snow radiating off her skin.

Elsa’s eyes returned to normal. “They will never take you from me,” she whispered, nuzzling Anna’s cheek with her own.

Anna swallowed, nodding with words stuck in her throat.

“We should get going. That was only the beginning, and we will face much worse before this is all over.” Elsa spurred Nokk to head back up the mountain pass road.

It was well into nightfall when the sisters rode up to the caravan, which had just made camp below the North Mountain. Gentle flurries wafted through the air. On their way through, Elsa cast behind her, closing up the icicle barrier on the road that she’d created the previous day. Marshmallow golems patrolled in front of the barrier, waiting to smash anything that dared approach.

Once in camp, Anna dismounted and found General Mattias while Elsa headed up to the Ice Palace to prepare for the evening and recuperate from the battle. “General, how are we doing?” she asked cheerily.

Mattias smiled and waved his hand towards the caravan. “We made great time today, Your Majesty. Everyone got through to here. We’re probably a day’s march to the Enchanted Forest as long as the weather holds. I assume that you and Elsa won against the enemy cavalry?”

Anna nodded. “She did. It was- it was amazing. A little scary. I’ve never seen her magic so strong, General. It was like watching… well, honestly, I don’t have anything to compare it to.”

“What happened?”

Anna recounted the tale of watching the enemy army frozen in place and pulverized by Elsa’s ice storm, Mattias’ eyes bulging at the amazement.

“That’s… unheard of, Anna. Did you know she could do that?”

Anna bit her lip and shook her head. “It was a shock to me. I thought she was just going to make it snow a lot or something. I didn’t know she could just put together a whirling cloud of instant death by ice knives. She’s… a lot more powerful than I thought. Not that I’m complaining, of course-” she laughed nervously, “I mean, I’d rather just sit there and watch the enemy get crushed like grapes at a winery than have to actually fight anyone. But yeah. Wow.”

“I’m so thankful she’s on our side. Could you imagine if she wasn’t a good person, if she didn’t have you? She could conquer the entire world with power like that… That makes me wonder, though, what are we up against that we had to evacuate Arendelle? If she could do that to hundreds of cavalry units so easily, what’s coming that we needed to leave, that she couldn’t have just fought off standing at the docks?” mused Mattias, stroking his beard.

Anna turned her eyes to the south horizon. “I don’t know. But I know now, whatever it is, she can handle it.” I just hope she’s truly herself, she thought.

Anna climbed the stairs of the ice palace, admiring the beautiful crystal. Elsa had restored it to its full glory one fall, fixing the damage that Hans and the Duke’s men had done to the place. When she reached the upper bedroom, she found Elsa kneeling down in front of a wall in concentration, murmuring to herself.


“… almost got it…”

Anna slowly walked over. Elsa had created an indentation in the wall that looked almost like a hearth. She suppressed the urge to giggle. What good was a hearth in a building made entirely of ice? Looking more closely, Elsa was weaving a frost spell of some kind with her left hand, tiny snowflakes sparkling around the tips of her fingers. To Anna’s surprise, tiny flames licked the tips of Elsa’s right hand. The ice in the room took on a subtle blue glow, a sign that magic was permeating it.

“There!” Elsa exclaimed triumphantly, making Anna jump in surprise at the sudden outburst.

“Got what?”

“Take a look,” Elsa said, quite pleased with herself.

Anna gasped. The hearth had a real fire - a warm fire - burning in it, as the ice around it maintained its temperature and solidity. While Anna still felt no discomfort from cold, she welcomed the cheeriness of the fireplace with a broad grin. “How did you do that?”

“It’s two opposing spells that feed off each other. Fire energy and ice energy, but instead of canceling each other out, they loop into each other,” she said proudly. “I recalled something from my past memories about the different spirits and how they could complement each other, rather than oppose each other.”

“It’s so cozy. I wish we had a nice sofa to enjoy it on,” murmured Anna.

“Your wish is my command, Your Majesty,” Elsa smirked with a lopsided grin. She wove her fingers and a couch made of ice matching the one in Anna’s parlor appeared. Elsa sat down and spread her arms, beckoning Anna to join her.

Anna settled into her sister’s arms, sighing contentedly. She turned her head to place gentle, feathery kisses along the side of Elsa’s neck. “Can I tell you something, Elsa?” she said in a small voice.

“Anything, Anna, always,” Elsa said warmly, her arms around Anna’s as they lay comfortably in front of the fire’s light.

“You… you scared me a little today. Not that I thought you would hurt me-” she said quickly, “Just… you didn’t sound like yourself. I wanted to make sure you were okay, that the magic wasn’t…”

Elsa looked into Anna’s eyes, concerned. “Wasn’t what?” she said gently.

“Wasn’t taking you away from me, or turning you into someone else - something else. Corrupting you, you know? It’s still really you, isn’t it?” Anna breathed.

Elsa smiled and touched the tip of Anna’s nose. “It is me, Anna, wholly and completely. When I was fighting earlier, I could feel and hear the memories from the crystals, but it was like listening to echoes, or looking at paintings of the past. It wasn’t them or their ghosts or anything - it was me channeling the lessons they had to teach us to defeat this enemy, but only me.”

Anna relaxed, sinking into Elsa as her tension drained away. “I’m so relieved to hear that, Elsa. I was a little worried. Okay, more than a little worried.”

“Always and only me, and always yours, Anna.”

“And no other side effects? Nothing for me to worry about?”

A small, mischievous grin spread across Elsa’s lips. “Well, that much magic and excitement did have a little bit of a side effect…” She gently picked up Anna’s hand and let it rest high on her thigh, near her womanhood.

Anna returned the grin and inched her hand to touch Elsa with her fingertips. “Now I know it’s really you,” she giggled.

With her final conscious thought, Elsa slammed the icy doors shut.

Author’s Notes

And so it begins, the final conflict. This sort of thing is what I referenced in the author’s notes on chapter 16. Someone with the power of ice and water is going to wreck a conventional army, even if it’s undead. The battle ahead will not be between boss and trash. It’ll be boss vs. boss because that’s the logical outcome here anyway.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: violence and bodily injury from fire

Chapter 19: First Blood

Morning broke over the capital city of Arendelle, the sun shining brightly on the snow and ice, reflecting rainbows and sparkling fragments of light everywhere. The city was silent, save for the occasional animal or bird.

Miralai Yaqub noted this with some dissatisfaction. This city should have had close to two thousand people in it, a surge of their troops which would have given his master the final amount of power he would need to defeat this fifth spirit and vanquish the tyranny of elemental spirits that imprisoned his liege. Still, with over fifteen thousand soldiers at the ready, they had more than enough to find and conquer anyone in their path.

“Miralai, where are the bodies for us to raise?” rumbled the Deathlord.

“I do not know, my lord. It would appear the city is abandoned entirely.”

“And what of our cavalry? We sent half of it ahead to prepare the population for my arrival. They should have slaughtered the city wholesale.”

Yaqub looked around, seeing a road leading out of the city into the hills with darker snow on it than the surrounding land. He pointed wordless at the snow-laden road. “My master, I cannot see through all this… snow. It is hampering our ability to bring our troops here.”

The army of the dead had marched through the Southern Isles, then taken a coastal road through Sweden to reach Arendelle. The Deathlord had warned that taking boats was too dangerous; with the flick of a finger, a fifth spirit could freeze a harbor and condemn their army to a watery imprisonment with little effort. Moving over the land gave them the ability to replenish their troops as well, conquering towns and hamlets along the way.

Until they reached the outskirts of Arendelle and found snow. In late summer. Drifts piled high along the roads, wind whipping up crystals in the air. Anyone from the region would have guessed it was late December instead by the snow and ice everywhere.

“Let us see what is at work here,” muttered the Deathlord, raising Al-Fyniq’s staff and casting green fire at the darkened snow on the hill. The intense heat melted the snow, revealing tiny shards of metal in a large circle on the ground, a glittering field that denoted the resting place of their cavalry.

“Impossible!” shouted Yaqub. “No one withstands the might of Rabi Al-Mawt, the lord of death!”

“It is very possible, Miralai. The fifth spirit was here. Look carefully. The ground is scarred from whatever destruction this Elsa wrought. She is clearly a water spirit,” he sneered. “This bodes well for us. Water spirits are the easiest to destroy. They cannot fight, only run away and hide. Fear is their element and their weakness.”

He raised his staff higher, but nothing happened. “Feh! She so thoroughly destroyed their bodies that there isn’t enough left for me to raise. Very well. We will take our revenge for her insolence another way. Gather our troops and let us begin the march north.”

Within thirty minutes, the undead host was on the northern outskirts of the city, white hills with large stones protruding from them. “Look, Miralai. The fifth spirit attempted to deny us reinforcements somehow, but she does not know who her enemy is, or what I am capable of.”

The grave markers of countless generations of Arendellians lined the hill, with the most prominent stones for Iduna and Agnarr atop the hill. The Deathlord held his hands high and green smoke flowed over the white snow. Within moments, skeletal remains dug their way out of the earth, clawing their way to freedom. Yaqub nodded in admiration. Animated skeletons lacked much of the strength and resilience of more robust corpses, but they still served some use, especially for their psychological impact.

“Curious, isn’t it, that the two largest markers have no bodies beneath them,” mused the Deathlord. “I do not read or speak this language, but this shows some prominence. Perhaps something else of value is here. Hans Westergaard, step forward!”

Hans’ corpse lumbered forward, his military uniform now a dull grey with bits of pale green mold and rot infesting the chest wound that killed him. “My lord?” he said with a gravelly voice.

“Speak, Hans, and tell me the significance of these graves.”

“These are of the parents of the fifth spirit. They died at sea, and no bodies were recovered. There is nothing of value here that will aid you in your crusade.”

“So the fifth spirit is a sentimental creature with emotional attachments in this lifetime.”

“Yes, my master. She has a younger sister named Anna who is queen of Arendelle and Elsa’s strongest emotional attachment.”

“Good, good. If we are to defeat the fifth spirit and drain her magic from her, she must be alive for me to do so. We will find a way to use this sister to our advantage. Thank you, Hans Westergaard. Return to our troops.” The Deathlord grinned, assured of victory over the spirits and the living.

The Edge of the Enchanted Forest

“We’re almost there, everyone. Just a little further!” yelled Anna from the back of Nokk, trying to cheer up the caravan. It had been a grueling two days to move the population of Arendelle to the lands of the Northuldra, but it would be worth it if they could keep everyone out of danger. They’d been lucky so far; barring a few minor injuries, no one had been seriously hurt or killed so far.

Yelana and the council of elders met the Arendellians at the spirit gates, the giant stone monoliths that denoted the edge of the Enchanted Forest. “Queen Anna, Fifth Spirit. Bures boahtin - welcome. The Northuldra greet you in friendship,” she said, placing her hand over her heart.

Elsa returned the gesture. “Giitu, Yelana. Thank you for your warm welcome. I only wish it were under better circumstances. Ryder and Honeymaren warned you?”

Yelana nodded. “You face Ruohtta, the god of sickness and death. Elsa, this is something no one has ever seen. We have legends and tales of the past, but never dreamed we would be facing a god ourselves.”

“With luck, you won’t have to face him at all, Yelana. This is my battle to fight, and only the magic of nature will save us. How far north could you move the people?” Elsa asked.

“Not far enough, Elsa. We cannot flee from a god. Where could we go?”

Elsa closed her eyes, tears pooling. The Northuldra were practically a second family to her. While she hadn’t always been comfortable during her stay with them, she could not deny their warmth or beautiful natures. To think of them enslaved to this god of death made her sick to her stomach.

“All right. We’ll do our best to fortify this place so that you can keep the people moving as best as you can. I am sorry, Yelana. I wish I could do more,” cried Elsa.

“Maybe you can, Elsa. Ask the spirits about the barrier. It kept us safe for thirty four years. Perhaps they will consent to protecting us again,” said Yelana calmly.

Elsa nodded. “I will. I’ll call to them in meditation once everyone is safely inside the forest.”

The North Mountain

“My lord, an impenetrable ice barrier stands in our way. Our troops cannot cross it,” shouted Yaqub from his mount, standing at the front of the army’s formation. He gestured at the miles-long, yards-deep barrier of razor sharp icicles just a mile ahead, sparkling in the sunlight.

The Deathlord laughed heartily. “Perhaps you cannot, but this little spirit is nothing more than a water wisp. This is the best she could do?” He raised his staff to set the ice barrier alight when a thunderous sound echoed through the valley.

Before he could pinpoint the source, a cadre of his soldiers simply… vanished, as a wall of ice and wind rushed past him. The Deathlord turned to look at the barrier and saw… snow creatures? “Miralai, what are those?”

Yaqub raised his spyglass. “They appear to be golems, my lord, made of snow and ice, quite tall, and throwing large chunks of snow and ice at us.”

“The girl must be close, perhaps in that ice tower up the mountain. Come, we are nearing our victory!” The Deathlord stopped a massive column of ice from crushing him by casting green fire at it. Fire met ice in mid-air and sizzled into steam, vanishing. He launched a ball of fire at one of the Marshmallows and burned a hole through its chest, causing it to fall to the ground and shatter into snow.

More boulders of ice crashed into his army, crushing corpses into paste, but as soon as they were smashed, the Deathlord summoned their remains into flesh golems and sent them lumbering towards the snow golems.

The Enchanted Forest

Elsa stumbled, sitting down next to a campfire ring as the caravan unpacked and got settled in the forest. The spirits had not answered her call for the magical barrier around the Enchanted Forest to be restored. In fact, they had not answered at all.

“Elsa? What is it?” asked Anna, immediately rushing to put her arms around Elsa’s shoulders.

Elsa closed her eyes. She could feel her magic under assault, feel her creations slowly coming undone. The sensation felt like numbness, a sensation of parts of your body prickling with discomfort that wasn’t quite pain, but not pleasant either. “It’s… it’s the North Mountain. The enemy has reached the North Mountain, Anna.”

Anna gulped. “That puts them about a day away from us. Elsa…” she started, her voice low and quavering, “We’re not going to make it, are we? We’re not going to be able to save our people.” Anna looked around her. The people had made a valiant evacuation, but she couldn’t ask more of them. Families were setting up camps, making small meals in the forest with the help of the Northuldra.

Elsa gripped Anna’s trembling hands. “Yes. Yes we will, somehow. The spirits didn’t answer about the magical barrier. I think they want us- me- to stop running. To stand and fight. If we could just get our people out of harm’s way, clear the field except for the strongest of us, then we could stand our ground.” She sighed. “I can travel to the North Mountain and try to buy us some more time.”

“Elsa, that’s suicide. You can’t take on an entire army yourself. No. No, I won’t let-” Anna stopped in mid-sentence, her finger in the air, mouth gaping, as though time had frozen.


“That’s it! THAT’S IT, ELSA! Traveling!” Anna screamed gleefully.

Elsa quirked an eyebrow. “I’m… not sure I follow you.”

“Can you create a portal big enough that we could send people through it?”

“I don’t see why not. Where would we send them, though?”

“AWAY FROM HERE!” Anna shouted, louder still. A few families nearby turned their heads to look at the sisters, concerned. “Elsa, think! We’ve been to Iceland, to Hungary, to Transylvania, to- to- ENGLAND! Elsa, Stonehenge! It’s a huge open countryside, nobody around to interrupt or inconvenience, and it’s hundreds of miles from here. And we’re friendly with Queen Victoria, so our people wouldn’t be in danger when they arrived. It would take that army weeks to marshal up enough boats to get to England and weeks more to sail from here to there.”

Elsa’s eyes brightened. “Yes, yes you’re right, Anna! Why didn’t we think of this before? Even if I can’t stop this army, it will buy our people far more time.”

“Don’t talk like that, Elsa. Okay, how long do we have?”

Elsa frowned. “We’ll need to create a portal now, get everyone together, and start sending people through. We can’t just shove everyone all at once, it’d be like a bunch of people trying to get through a castle doorway. So probably a few hours at least, closer to a day, especially since we’ll need to evacuate the Northuldra too. We will need Mattias and the entire army to get everyone moved out; we won’t be able to spare them to fight.”

“And the enemy is a day’s march away, at the North Mountain,” Anna groaned.

“Or less. Remember that they don’t need to eat or sleep. So we’ll stick with the plan. I’ll create a portal here, you get everyone through it, and I’ll travel to the North Mountain to slow down the enemy as best as I can before retreating here and following you through,” Elsa said firmly. Even if she buried the army under an avalanche, that would be a couple of hours bought.

“No! Absolutely not. The spirits warned us both at Ahtohallan that you can’t do this alone, Elsa. Yelana and Mattias can coordinate the evacuation, but you need me, you need the power I have to help you, and you know it,” Anna shouted.

“Anna, it’s too-”

Anna placed a finger over Elsa’s lips. “Don’t you even say it. Now come on, let’s find Yelana, Mattias, and get moving.”

Yelana and Mattias made for a great team, Anna thought. Together, they’d have the Northuldra and Arendellians through to Stonehenge in just a few hours. Elsa had announced the decision that Mattias and Arendelle’s soldiers should accompany the people; fighting the Deathlord would just ensure more soldiers joined his army. Mattias was displeased at not helping to fight for his queen, but reluctantly agreed to get the people to safety.

Time was short; Elsa had felt most of the marshmallow soldiers fall, with just a few remaining. Once they were defeated, the undead army would be free to move past the North Mountain and begin their march towards the Enchanted Forest and their people.

Elsa concentrated, drawing on Anna’s powers and her own, and opened a new portal to the gates of the Ice Palace, overlooking the field of battle. She armored both of them thickly, and they fell through to the North Mountain.

Upon arrival, Elsa surveyed the carnage. Five of the two hundred marshmallows were left on the battlefield, surrounded by foot soldiers who were being cleaved in two with the ice swords that made up the marshmallows’ fingers. Elsa immediately cast five more ice storms and new marshmallows began to rise from the ground to supplement their brethren.

Across the field, a figure sat on a skeletal horse, holding a staff that glowed vivid, sickly green. Whoever it was, he wielded magic as well, launching green fireballs at the marshmallows, damaging them with each impact. That must be the enemy leader, the Deathlord of my nightmares, thought Elsa. Time to put a stop to this.

Elsa began casting. Snowdrifts started to pile up all along the ridge of the North Mountain, from the front door of the ice palace down.

“She has arrived,” the Deathlord noted with satisfaction. “She must have been hiding in that ice castle all along. Miralai! It is time for us to claim what is rightfully ours, capture the fifth spirit, and vanquish this earth. Victory awaits! Turn our forces on that palace!”

Yaqub raised his sword, and the horde of undead abandoned their fight with the snow golems and began to swarm towards the mountaintop, like a flood washing down a canyon. The mindless dead trampled each other in blind obedience to their masters.

As soon as they reached the bottom of the rocky cliffs, the flesh golems took their places, standing atop each others’ shoulders to provide a ladder of bodies up to the top. The cliffs, two hundred feet high, were an obstacle to most who sought entrance to the magical palace, but with no fear of falling, the undead would surmount it.

The snow golems moved to attack the troops, but in doing so made themselves easy targets for the Deathlord, who cut them down with blast after blast of green fire.

“My lord,” noted Yaqub, “It appears the cliff is… growing taller. Is that possible?” He pointed at the upper ledge, covered in snow. The ledge did appear to be growing taller, slowly.

Elsa cast one final burst of snow on top of the ridge, covering it in heavy chunks of ice. “How are you doing, Anna?” she shouted over the wind and snow.

“Good! Whatever was in that necklace the Countess gave me, I’m not tiring at all. Keep casting!” the redhead replied.

Just as the first line of ghouls reached the top of the flesh pyramid, the massive pile of snow Elsa created gave way, and an avalanche began. Snow, rock, and heavy ice poured down on top of the mountain of bodies, crushing many and damaging most. The wall of frozen water behaved like a tidal wave, sweeping the undead army back down the cliffs.

Across the valley, the sisters heard a scream of anguish mixed with rage. A wall of green fire swept across the valley; some of the corpses in the snow disintegrated immediately, but the snow and ice were reduced to steaming water in seconds as flames consumed Elsa’s work. In moments, the battle had reset; the dead were massing at the bottom of the cliff once more, and the melted snow flowed away, leaving bare, wet, muddy soil behind.

All the snow and ice in the area was gone, and the vegetation uncovered was aflame. Ponds and lakes nearby thawed and even caught fire, the wintry coating evaporated by the unholy fire.

Elsa squinted, concentrating, as she readied another spell.

“ENOUGH! This spirit thinks she’s so clever with her weather parlor tricks. I will show her the true power of magic,” seethed the Deathlord. He raised the staff of Al-Fyniq high, summoning the energy of death around him. The crystal at the top of the staff shone like the sun at midday as hundreds of his soldiers disintegrated, their energy gathered from their formerly animated corpses.

The Deathlord focused his glowing eyes at the Ice Palace and saw the fifth spirit’s hands shimmering with blue ice, preparing a counterattack, no doubt. He bared his teeth, stretched out his arms, pointed the staff at the fifth spirit, and hurled a massive ball of fire the size of a locomotive towards the girl.

Elsa’s eyes widened. Time slowed. She saw the gigantic green flame leap from the enemy in the valley atop his horse, the air distorting around it from the infernal heat.


Without consciously thinking, she cast an enormous block of ice around her sister, encasing her in it, and began to form a wall of ice in front of her.

The fiery orb crashed into the wall, shattering it and exploding with the force of a thousand cannons. Shards of ice cut into her as it exploded, breaking away pieces of her ice armor. Flames engulfed Elsa, Anna, and the front of the Ice Palace, burning so hot that the walls of the palace began to crack. Elsa screamed in pain as the fire melted through the rest of her armor and her ice dress, scorching her skin, burning her hair and clothing.

Had she not been standing in front of the ice palace, she might not have survived. The fire, unholy in nature, didn’t dissipate quickly, but the meltwater and ice shards from the collapsing palace finally were enough to suffocate the flames when they collapsed on her.

The Deathlord savored the easy victory over the fifth spirit. Clearly, she was a novice spellcaster. He could taste her power from such a great distance, but she barely used any of it, and obviously had no experience fighting other magic wielders. His attack harmed her, he sensed, but did not kill her, leaving her weakened and ripe for the taking. He salivated at the thought of consuming her power for himself.

He swiveled his head to survey the surroundings. The false winter they had been fighting in was dissolving quickly, now that he’d injured the fifth spirit enough to break her spells. He looked at the nearby forest and lakes and savored the stench of death, new and old. The snow golems had damaged many of his soldiers, but not irreparably, and the land would provide more.

The Deathlord lifted Al-Fyniq’s staff and bellowed to the sky. “Yartafie! Rise, my soldiers, and bring me glory! BRING ME THE FIFTH SPIRIT!”

Earth broke as bony bodies rose from it. Corpses buried in the soil, unlucky travelers ambushed years ago on the dangerous mountain pass resurfaced. Frozen bodies of ill-fated mountain climbers exhumed themselves. The lakes and ponds boiled as animal carcasses lumbered from their depths.

Pointing his staff at the mountain, the Deathlord commanded his army to strike.

Blue. All Anna saw was blue, blue ice everywhere. She could barely move her body, encased in some kind of ice cocoon by her sister.

Then the flare of green light. Through the distorted lens of the ice, Anna watched a wall of fire like a meteor shooting out of the sky slam into the silhouette of her sister. The ice surrounding her instantly thinned and became more clear, the heat of the green fire melting it. The ground shuddered beneath her feet, and a deep rumble began behind her.

Anna struggled to turn her head, and screamed. The facade of Elsa’s ice palace was shattering and crumbling. She pushed against the ice to no avail.

Until something fell on her icy shield like a spatula hitting an egg. The walls of her icy confinement cracked and gave way. She looked around and realized it was chunks of the ice palace falling from high; one of them must have struck Elsa’s protective shell she’d woven around Anna in the last second before the attack.

She clawed her way out of the ice like a newborn chick, forcing her way out. A wail escaped her lips as she saw her sister, badly burned, lying unconscious on the ground in front of her. Elsa’s clothing was mostly melted, her skin red and black in spots, cracked and blistered. Her beautiful face was marred with angry red blisters and charred flesh, and most of her hair cut short, melted and burned away from the flame. Her ice armor had saved her from the worst of the flame, but she had still suffered grievous injury. Her chest unevenly heaved; she was still breathing. Thank god, Anna thought. I haven’t lost her.

Anna looked back. The portal Elsa had cast to bring them to the Ice Palace was still open, but it was half as large as it had been and was shrinking quickly. With her unconscious, perhaps the energy that kept it open was depleted, Anna realized. She gingerly put her arms under Elsa’s and picked her upper body up, dragging her towards the portal.

The ground trembled more. She could hear, feel, and smell the approaching army of the dead. Creatures of every kind would be upon her in seconds. Anna searched inside herself for the strength to save her sister, found it in abundance, and lifted Elsa like a bride. The smell of burned flesh and hair filled her nose, and she suppressed the urge to vomit. Elsa. Elsa was all that mattered. Anna ran for the portal and reached out her hand to touch it.

Just as she reached it, the first wave of undead rounded the mountain trail, a hideous sight. Creatures in every state of decay mindlessly scampered towards her like life-size roaches. In front was a bloated undead rider on what looked like the remains of a reindeer.

In the blink of an eye, she recognized them.

Kristoff. Sven.

She screamed, touched the portal, and fell to safety.

Author’s Notes

Elsa’s never fought another magic user in canon. She tangled a bit with the spirits, but she’s never gone head to head, so it stands to reason on her first outing, she’d probably not do so well. Did the Deathlord one-shot her? Yeah, pretty much. Boss versus boss is like an old fashioned gunfighter duel. Whoever gets the first most accurate shot off wins. It’s not a stand in the middle of the street and empty your six guns at the other person, it’s one shot, may the best shooter win.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: descriptions of bodily injury from fire

Chapter 20: Invisible Touch

Anna knelt on the forest floor in the abandoned Northuldra camp, cradling Elsa in her arms, tears falling on her burned body. What had just happened? How was it possible that she saw Kristoff again after all these years? Did the evil… whatever he was? Did he find Kristoff and enslave him just to torture her?

She shook her head clear of the thoughts and the shock. The most important thing, the most important person in the world was in her arms right now and needed her help. Elsa. Her sister. Her love. Her life.

Carefully, Anna rested Elsa’s head against her thighs while she pulled a slip of paper from her tunic. Blood from her sister’s cracked, charred skin immediately began to stain her trousers as she looked at the scrawled, barely legible paper in the last light of the setting sun.

Sângele meu la sângele tău, inima mea la inima ta, viața mea la viața ta. Mă doare ca să te vindeci. Eu mor ca să trăiești.

The words made no sense to her. She didn’t even recognize the language. What was it? Hungarian? Gypsy? Moldavian? Anna sobbed again in frustration. How was she supposed to use these powers, that mysterious necklace the Countess gave her, if she didn’t even understand a word of the incantation?

Elsa’s breath grew more shallow. Anna panicked. If she didn’t do something, she’d lose her sister to the horrible injuries she’d suffered in battle. Anna closed her eyes. Maybe, just maybe, there was a memory that could teach her, the way Elsa could draw on memories of the past for her magic.

Seconds passed, and Anna felt nothing. No mysterious old man in a tower, no Northuldra in ancient clothing, nothing. A wail escaped her lips, echoing in the forest’s cavernous emptiness. “Please, Elsa! Please! Don’t- I can’t lose you. I can’t live without you! Please tell me- tell me what to do, how to fix this!” Anna looked up, her voice hoarse as her screams echoed in the woods. “Bruni! Gale! Nokk! Mother! ANYONE! Please- I don’t- I can’t… SOMEONE HELP ME!”

Anna collapsed atop her sister’s form. Her breath hitched, a final sob escaping her. Something inside her shifted, as though a door, long closed, finally opened.

She heard the gentle breeze of the wind moving the leaves of the forest.

Felt the strength of the earth beneath her.

Tasted the salty tears on her lips.

Smelled the embers of the fire still smoldering in the cooking fire pits.

In the back of her mind, she heard whispers, echoes in her mind. Were these the lives the Countess had taken, or previous bearers of the mysterious crystal? Wherever they came from, they brought Anna solace and what felt like understanding.

She looked at the paper in her trembling hands again. The words may have been written in another language, but she read them as clearly as if she’d written it in her own hand. Anna spoke them aloud, a firmness in her voice not entirely her own.

My blood to your blood, my heart to your heart, my life to your life. I hurt so that you heal. I die so that you live.

Whether she said them in the writer’s native language or her own, Anna didn’t know, but she felt warmth in her hands. The Countess’ words echoed in her mind. “A touch can heal. A hand can revive.” Her no longer trembling hands began to glow, and she pressed them to Elsa’s burned face, cradling her blistered cheeks in her palms. Anna leaned over and kneaded her lips to Elsa’s broken, blackened flesh.

Anna felt energy flowing from her into Elsa. She whooped with joy as golden light flowed from her hands across Elsa’s body. Charred flesh mended. Burned skin healed. Elsa’s form glowed with light as Anna’s magic rejuvenated her slowly, undoing the destruction the enemy’s magic had wrought. Anna held Elsa’s body close to her in the night, the soft glow illuminating the forest floor as she began to restore her sister to health.

Elsa sat cross-legged in the main chamber of Ahtohallan, her snow white dress pooled around her legs. Her mother looked down from the blue crystal walls, and the spirits’ crystals flared to life.

“Mother… I failed. I wasn’t strong enough to defeat the Deathlord. He bested me easily, with one shot,” she said, ashamed. The only silver lining to her humiliating defeat was that she was at least able to protect her sister momentarily, but dread crushed that small victory. She had spared Anna from the blast, but earned only a short reprieve against the seeming inevitability of defeat at the Deathlord’s hands.

“You are strong enough, Elsa,” intoned the guardian in Iduna’s voice. “You are more than strong enough, especially with Anna’s help. Even now, as you lay unconscious in her lap, she is using her power to heal you.”

“Why couldn’t I beat him, then? Why couldn’t I fight off his magic?”

Iduna chuckled gently. “Listen to yourself, Elsa. What is wrong with what you are saying, even now? What word are you using that’s the answer to your question?”

“I don’t understand.”

“There it is again, dear.”

Elsa drew her lower lip between her teeth, frustrated. What was it the guardian was trying to tell her?

The image of Iduna glowed, blue mist flowing around it, and then Iduna herself stepped out of the wall to gather her daughter in a warm embrace. Elsa gasped. “Mother… is it really you?”

“My dear Elsa, this is our fault, Agnarr’s and mine. We raised you to stand on your own, to not need anyone, to stay away from everyone, to keep everyone safe from you - especially your sister - and I regret it with all my heart. Doing so cut you off from the source of your power,” she murmured into Elsa’s hair.

“Love,” Elsa answered.

“Not just love, Elsa. Anna’s love. You are trying to do this yourself, trying to protect Anna, trying to shield her from harm. Your love for her does you credit, but in doing so, you are fighting with a hand tied behind your back. Every time you say ‘I’, you speak the reason you were defeated by the Deathlord.”

Elsa nodded. “I wasn’t using my power and Anna’s.”

“Nor were you using all your power, Elsa.”

Nokk’s voice whistled in the air. “You are more than just the frost, Elsa. Stop relying on it alone.

Elsa leaned her face into her mother’s chest, tears falling from her eyes onto Iduna’s purple robe. “I’ve been such a fool, Mother. I thought I could keep everyone safe, that I wouldn’t have to tap into things… things that weren’t mine.”

“The magic you have been given by the spirits isn’t theirs, Elsa. It’s yours. They gave it to you freely, as the fifth spirit. It is yours to use to save yourself, to save Anna, to save this world from being conquered by death. Use it all, please, I beg you,” Iduna said softly, her hands rubbing gentle circles on Elsa’s shoulders.

Elsa savored the warmth from her mother’s hug. Whether it was a dream, magic, or a near-death experience didn’t matter. All she knew and felt was deep gratitude, to rest herself in her mother’s arms one more time, especially after being unable to say goodbye or hug her. She hadn’t had control of her powers the last time she stood in front of her mother, couldn’t risk touching her.

“I will, Mother. I know what I need to do now. Thank you, thank you so much. You’ve always been there for me when I needed you most,” she said through grateful tears.

“I am always with you, Elsa. With you and Anna. Now please, Elsa, it’s time to…”

“Wake up! Please, Elsa, wake up,” Anna breathed, stroking Elsa’s healed, restored cheeks, the new flesh reflecting the early morning sun’s glow shining through the trees of the forest.

Elsa inhaled sharply, her eyes snapping open.

“Elsa!” Anna shrieked, pressing her lips forcefully against her sister’s.

“Mmph! Anna!” Elsa responded, pushing back slightly to create enough space to talk. “What- where’s Mother?”


Elsa rubbed the fatigue from her eyes, realizing that her time in Ahtohallan must have been a dream. She paused to look at her hands, the skin fresh and pink. Her last conscious memory was feeling her skin burning away under the Deathlord’s flames. She slowly sat up, expecting pain and finding none.

“Did you heal me, Anna?”

Anna nodded quietly, biting her lip. Her first attempt at using the power given to her by the spirits worked out in the end, but the experience was far more harrowing than she thought it would be. How Elsa managed to do so with ease astonished her, until she remembered that Elsa spent thirteen years fearing her powers, and only mastered them in the last six years.

“Thank you,” Elsa said, pressing a gentle kiss against her sister’s blushing cheek. “I wouldn’t have survived without you.”

“And I wouldn’t have survived if you hadn’t shielded me instead of yourself, which, by the way, was crazy of you. If you had died, I would have been trapped in that ice!” Anna protested. “Next time, think of yourself first, okay?”

“I can’t, Anna. I never will when it comes to you.”

Anna’s face soured momentarily, then relaxed. In truth, she’d always make the same choice as well, putting Elsa before herself. She couldn’t blame her for loving in the exact same way she did. “Now what?” she asked, listening to the quiet of the forest around her. The portal to Stonehenge had long since closed, the Arendellians and Northuldra safely away from the field of battle.

“Now we finish this. When I was… healing, I had a vision, a vision of Mother in Ahtohallan, telling me how to win this battle.” Elsa recounted the details of her dream in detail.

Anna nodded. “All right. Will- will you listen to Mother? Will you stop shielding me and let me fight beside you, empower you?”

Elsa sighed. “I have to. If we are to win, I have to surrender my fears. We have to protect each other.”

“There’s… something else. Speaking of fears, just before I pulled you to safety, I-” Anna took a deep breath and released it, her shoulders sagging, “I saw him, Elsa.”

“The Deathlord?”

“No… Kristoff. Kristoff and Sven. They- they weren’t alive,” she muttered, a tear forming at the corner of her eye.

Elsa turned to embrace her sister. “Oh, Anna. I am so sorry, sorry that you had to see that, sorry that this war is stirring up so much.” Elsa rubbed her hands down Anna’s back, soothing her as her sister sobbed into her shoulder. Cold fury boiled in her stomach again, seething blue fire she would hurl against the Deathlord for breaking her sister’s heart all over again.

“It’s okay. I know it isn’t really them. I was just… shocked to see them again, in any form. Elsa… if we- I mean, when we defeat this Deathlord, will they be… able to rest?” The redhead shuddered, the mental image still stuck with her of her fiance and his best friend leading the charge against her and Elsa.

“I don’t know, Anna. I hope so. I would imagine without him to control the dead, they’ll just be returned to… the way they were, I suppose.”

Anna’s lips firmed, her mouth a thin line, her jaw tightening. “Then let’s finish this. Let’s put an end to this once and for all so that my… our friends can be laid to rest properly, at long last.”

Elsa turned her head to look towards the south. If she’d been unconscious for the whole night, then the Deathlord and his army would have moved past the North Mountain. They would be entering the Enchanted Forest soon. She felt Anna’s determination steel her own. “Yes. Let’s end this,” she declared.

Author’s Notes

The last fluff before the final battle.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: major character death, violence, blood and gore, suicide.

Chapter 21: Endgame

“Stay close to me, Anna. I need you,” Elsa breathed, as they stood among the trilithons at the edge of the Enchanted Forest, the spirits’ sigils carved like wards in the stone above them.

Anna sighed happily. “I never get tired of hearing that.”

Elsa smiled briefly, squeezing her sister’s hand. “It’s time.” She gazed at the horizon, contemplating everything that had happened these past few years. Hugging Anna at this very spot after dying in the depths of Ahtohallan. Falling in love with her. Even after all they’d been through, and the terrible danger they faced, she wouldn’t trade it for anything, for a moment less than what they had. A small smile crept to her lips briefly.

The grasses in the amber fields waved in the breeze as the Deathlord’s army approached, a dark cloud across the ground. Elsa closed her eyes and reached out with her magic. Bruni. Gale. Jotun. Nokk. Mother. Be with me, please. Give us your strength to win this day. As if to answer, the wind whipped around the sisters.

Across the expanse, she heard the hoarse shout of the Deathlord’s chief minion echo.

“Behold, the lord of death! Fifth spirit, tremble before my master’s greatness! If you surrender now, he promises you and your companion an easy death!” bellowed Yaqub’s voice.

Elsa smirked and reached into her magic. In an instant, Yaqub’s body turned solid blue, frozen in place, his rotting flesh turned to blackened ice. “If you want me, come and get me, Deathlord. Stop sending your minions to talk us to death.” She flicked her finger, and Yaqub’s body shattered into tiny ice shards, crumbling away.

Green fire answered her call, but Elsa was prepared this time. Instead of ice, she raised a wall of solid rock from the ground, and the fire dissipated against it with little damage done.

“So, the little girl has finally realized she has more than one power,” thundered the Deathlord. “Good. It will make my victory that much sweeter when I rip each element from your broken body and devour it before your eyes.” He raised the staff of Al-Fyniq and summoned a giant rock monster, boulders ablaze in green flame, and commanded it to attack Elsa as his troops swarmed around him, rushing towards the elemental obelisks.

Wind and ice washed over the field, freezing many of the enemy soldiers in place and beginning to erode their bodies, the same way Elsa had defeated the Deathlord’s cavalry. The fiery stone golems shoved their way through the ice, their fire dampening but not extinguishing. Elsa furrowed her brow and cast more energy into her ice storm.

Anna felt her sister’s tugging at her energy and closed her eyes. Behind her eyelids, she saw face after face swirling in an emerald mist and realized she was seeing the life energy that the Countess had drained into the necklace, now within her. The Countess hadn’t told them the truth; there were thousands of faces in her mind. How many souls had she consumed in her hundreds of years of existence? As Elsa drew power from her, she saw one of the faces grow dim and slowly drift into smoke. That gave Anna a benchmark of how much she had to lend Elsa to win this fight, the power of a thousand lives or more.

Realizing the wind and ice had no effect on the stone golems, Elsa wove another spell, and vines leaped from the earth, grasping the stone golems and tearing them apart. Broken, the green fire faded away and the earth swallowed up the errant stones back into itself; the ice that had frozen the foot soldiers dissipated and they began their march forward again. She returned the Deathlord’s elemental attack with one of her own, giant chasms opening up under the battlefield and swallowing hundreds of the Deathlord’s soldiers.

“I will have you yet, fifth spirit!” seethed the Deathlord. A gout of flame burst from his staff, molten rock and fire spewing at Elsa. The remaining vines burned away, as she countered with a beam of pure frost, the two streams of energy negating each other while surrounding her and Anna with ring after ring of razor-sharp icicles to keep the foot soldiers at bay. Where their energies collided on the battlefield, nothing survived. The air shimmered with energy and the soil melted back into lava, so intense was their contest of powers.

A column of soldiers circled around behind Elsa’s position and flung themselves onto the ice spikes. Body after body impaled themselves, breaking the ice slowly, until a carpet of corpses paved the way for a few riders to make their way to the center, to the sisters.

“You cannot defeat me, little girl!” taunted the Deathlord. “Do you know why? Do you know why your magic cannot beat mine? It is because we are the same, Elsa!” he sneered, mocking her name. An ill wind filled with black, choking ice blew towards the sisters, threatening to blind them, but Elsa anticipated it and poured sand on it, forcing the wind to the ground.

The Deathlord cackled. “Do you understand yet, child? I am also a fifth spirit! I control the same powers you do, only I have the power of death as my ally!” A wall of green fire raced towards Elsa, who swiped her hand in front of her and blocked it with a thick wall of snow. Unlike ice, the snow absorbed the fire more easily and melted into the earth. With another wave of her hand, her snow turned into raging fire, a burning red wave racing towards the Deathlord.

Dimly, Elsa heard Anna scream.

The first rider over the wall of corpses was Kristoff, riding atop the undead Sven. Both of their corpses lacked eyes, hollow black sockets staring at Anna as they approached. Anna repeated the words of healing that came to her yesterday, her hands limned with golden light again. She thrust her hands out and a beam of light impacted Kristoff’s chest.

The corpse slowed but did not stop. Anna pushed harder, willing her powers to break Kristoff free, and restore him to life. More maniacal laughter echoed across the battlefield. “So you are the source of the fifth spirit’s power, little redheaded child. How delightful! After I consume her, I will drain you as well! Save your energy for me - you cannot heal a corpse with no soul,” the Deathlord snickered at her before turning his attention back to her sister.

Anna screamed wordlessly and her light brightened, cracking the corpse of Kristoff from within. Sunlight fractured his skin, breaking the body apart like a dam threatening to overflow. In one final burst of light, Kristoff’s body shattered, leaving only black sand in the air.

Anna fell to her knees, exhausted from the effort, and was knocked flat on the ground by another corpse soldier, this one wielding an ugly, curved knife with sigils carved in the handle. Anna blinked. The knife bore the sigils of the elements. She rose from the ground to intercept the wielder but missed grabbing his sleeve by bare inches.

Elsa turned, a moment too late, and felt the knife rip into her solar plexus. Heat and pain radiated from her core like lava from a volcano as she looked into the face of her attacker, her hands around the hilt. Blood stained her clothing, spreading slowly across her abdomen.

“Hans!” she growled through gritted teeth as she sank to her knees.

“He can’t hear you, fifth spirit, though he did harbor quite a bit of animosity towards you before he died,” mocked the Deathlord, walking closer, savoring his victory. “I’m not sure what you did to him, but he was willing to gamble his life to deal the killing blow to you. I can feel his soul in me, and what’s left of him is satisfied. I kept my word to him after all,” he grinned.

“ELSA!” Anna crawled over to her sister, cradling her once more. “Let me… let me heal you, let me fix thi-” Anna’s words seized in her throat as the Deathlord gripped her by the neck and lifted her off the ground.

“Hush, child. Do not interfere, and I will grant you an easy death.” With his free hand, the Deathlord gripped Elsa by the throat, lifting her bloody body high. He bared his teeth to reveal rows of sharp fangs and a forked tongue. “Now, fifth spirit, it is time for me to consume you before life leaves your body. Give me your powers. Give me everything.”

The Deathlord brought Elsa’s face close to his as if to kiss her.

Anna closed her eyes, her head swimming from the lack of air. What could she do to save her sister before she was… violated by this demon? Before she could act, Elsa gasped out one final word.


With her remaining strength, Elsa robbed the Deathlord of his prize by pulling his inscribed dagger upwards into her heart. She knew his endgame, to steal her powers, and she knew that her death would save thousands of lives, perhaps more. Her last conscious thought was Anna. By denying the Deathlord his victory, she hoped he’d be distracted enough for Anna to escape. I love you, Anna. I’m so sorry, but I have to go. Take this chance and save yourself.

Elsa died.

The Deathlord howled. “NO! I will not be denied your power, spirit! I will not be denied my victory!” He tossed Anna aside, then threw Elsa’s body to the ground, ripped out the knife, and stabbed her again, blind with rage. “I will not!” he stabbed once more, “be denied! I will not lose to the spirits again! I will-”

Anna shrieked, words failing her entirely, seeing Elsa’s corpse being mutilated by the Deathlord. She stumbled to her feet, her body wanting to flee but her heart wanting to stay. Rage and sorrow warred in her soul, pulling her apart.

At that moment, the Countess’ words echoed again in her mind. “Life energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only moved from one living being to the next… you can give rebirth to someone if their soul has not yet left their body… remember the price you pay for using it…

Pay. The Deathlord would pay.

The face of an old woman appeared to her, dressed in ancient garb, flowing robes as black as night. The woman whispered in Anna’s ear, in her native tongue, but Anna understood her as clearly as if she were having tea with her in the palace. Vér a vér, a lélek a lélek. Annyira fájsz, hogy meggyógyuljak. Meghalsz úgy, hogy éljek. Az élete úgy végződik, hogy kezdődik az enyém. Elítélek. Meghal!

Anna’s eyes opened, her irises glowing fiery, bright red instead of teal. She rushed forward, one hand grabbing the kneeling enemy by his throat, her impossibly strong fingers crushing flesh and cartilage. With her other hand, she reached down and placed her palm on her sister’s unmoving, bloody chest. Anna shouted the words the woman whispered to her in righteous fury.

Blood to blood.

Soul to soul.

You hurt, so that she heals.

You die, so that she lives.

Your life ends, so that hers begins.

I condemn you.


The Deathlord wailed in agony.

Bright green energy poured out of his body as every soul he’d devoured broke free from his control. The energy of tens of thousands of souls flowed through Anna’s hand and changed color over her heart to a bright golden color, the color of the first rays of sunrise, as she poured life energy into Elsa. The knife’s handle glowed, the sigils shining with the colors of each element as the blade expelled itself from Elsa’s chest and the wound sealed.

What was left of the Deathlord quickly disintegrated. Flesh melted, sinews snapped, bones crumbled, and in one final gasp of anguish, the corpse exploded in a flare of white light. Both Anna and Elsa glowed with the brightness of the summer sun, their bodies surrounded in white light. Anna’s eyes were suffused with golden light entirely. She cradled Elsa’s body in her arms, waiting patiently.

Elsa gasped, her eyes snapping open.


“Elsa!” Anna hugged her sister tightly to her.

“You seem to be in the habit of repeatedly saving me,” Elsa chuckled as the light surrounding them seemed to sink into their bodies. She looked around at the plains. The Deathlord’s army was reduced to black sand, Gale’s winds already sweeping them away. Scattered weapons and armor littered the field, along with piles of clothes and rags, but nothing else remained. Anna picked up the remains of the Deathlord’s belongings, the dagger, and a satchel.

“There’s nothing I’d rather do more than save you, sis,” Anna laughed. Her heart still felt like it was shining as bright as the sun. Long ago, she’d wondered what more she had to give to her kingdom, and today she found the answer in herself. She’d done it. She’d brought Elsa back from the dead, and defeated the enemy bent on enslaving her kingdom. For the first time, she felt like the weight of the crown was light upon her brow. She’d earned the right to wear it by freeing her kingdom and her love.

Elsa hugged Anna tightly. “Come on, let’s get everyone back from England,” she giggled.

The sisters sat in the dining room of the palace as staff bustled around, helping citizens get re-situated and putting supplies away. Kai and Gerda directed what seemed like endless flows of people up and down the halls.

At the table, over a simple meal of some flatbread and smoked salmon, Mattias and Yelana listened as the two royals recounted the tale of their fight to defeat the army of death.

“Incredible, Your Highness,” said Mattias, shaking his head. “To think that an entire army was stopped in its tracks by two people, one of whom came back from the dead! This will be the strangest chapter in Arendelle’s history books - and it looks like I didn’t need to recruit all those soldiers anyway!”

Elsa smiled. “I’m sorry about that. I know how hard you worked to get everyone ready, but this was a case where-”

“Hey, I get it. I really do. They always say that the only victory that matters to a soldier is surviving, and it’s true. Besides, what could we have done, Your Highness? Eight hundred men with conventional weapons against what? Ten thousand? Twenty thousand? We would have just been more casualties of war, more soldiers to fight against you.” Mattias shook his head again more vigorously. “I’d rather not aid and abet the enemy, even unwillingly.”

“Besides,” Yelana spoke up, “It wasn’t just two ordinary people. It was the fifth spirit, the guardian of the forest protecting us,” she spoke reverently, looking at Elsa. “And of course, Your Majesty, who it would seem is a different kind of spirit magic entirely. Perhaps it might be wise for you to consult the spirits in Ahtohallan and learn what just happened?”

Anna nodded to the Northuldra leader. “We’ll be doing that shortly, once everything is all put back in place here. Thank you for your help and for being so willing to let Arendelle’s people come into your lands, Yelana. It was wonderfully gracious of you, and I’m sure it caused some alarm.”

“Some, perhaps, but our people still remember the debt we owe you personally, Queen Anna, for breaking the dam and freeing our land. We will be repaying that for many years to come,” smiled Yelana. “Well, we should be taking our leave. We all have much to do as we clean up from this… event. May the spirits and the sun guide you wisely, fifth spirit. Báhcet dearvan.”

Yelana and Mattias stood, bowed, and left the sisters to eat the light repast quietly. “It’s a shame you can’t conjure food, Elsa,” Anna smiled saucily as she put down her salmon sandwich. “Imagine what a useful set of spells that could be!”

Elsa rolled her eyes. “If I could conjure food, we’d literally do nothing else, I’m sure. Especially if it were chocolate,” she smirked. “Yelana is right, though. We should visit the spirits and learn what happened to us, what we should do next.”

Anna walked over to Elsa’s chair and perched herself on her sister’s lap. “What we should do next is relax and recover. You died, Elsa! I- that’s not something I’m going to be able to just put aside and come back to later. We… I need some time to hold on tight to you.” Anna put her arms around Elsa’s neck and kissed her forehead.

“I did die, but I knew I would be okay, Anna.”

“How? How did you know, because I sure didn’t?”

“Because I had you at my side the entire time.” Elsa pressed her lips to Anna’s tightly as she pulled her out of the dining room by the hand, towards their bedroom.

“Hello, Mother,” Anna said quietly, the walls of the hall of memory sparkling blue with frost.

Iduna’s image looked down at the sisters, smiling. “Hello again Anna, Elsa. We are happy you’ve come, and we imagine you have questions.” The crystals in the floor shone with the happy voices of the spirits as well.

“Yes, we do have some questions. I assume we don’t need to tell you what happened?” asked Elsa.

Iduna’s image shook her head. “All is found here.”

“That said,” Jotun’s voice rumbled in the chamber, “we owe you a great debt, the two of you. You did what we could not, what we did not, many generations ago. You defeated Al-Masih ad-Dajjal.”

Elsa nodded. “We did - together. What was he? He said something…” Her brow wrinkled at the Deathlord’s taunt. Was he truly a fifth spirit? If so, how did he fall so far - and was that a fate she might share?

“He spoke the truth, Elsa,” said Iduna. “The creature you fought, Al-Masih ad-Dajjal, was once someone else. Long ago, he was a fifth spirit, as you are. He was born into this world with our gifts and blessing, to protect and look after nature and humankind. But he grew ambitious. He desired power, the power to remake the world the way he thought it should be.”

“When we chastised him, he rebelled. He took up arms against us, tried to defeat us,” said Nokk’s high-pitched squeaks. “In turn, we spirits imprisoned him in purgatory, hoping that he would realize the errors of his ways. Instead, he turned against life itself, growing to worship death. He believed that only in death could people be free of our powers and influence.”

“Why did he want my powers?” Elsa asked, hugging her sister tighter to her.

“His powers were fading. The more he traded with death, the weaker he became in the elements. The powers of life and death are not compatible with the powers of the spirits,” said Gale’s wispy voice. “That is why Anna’s powers and yours are separate. They could not co-exist in the same person. When Al-Masih ad-Dajjal embraced death’s powers, they slowly began to ruin his elemental powers. He sought to re-empower himself by devouring yours.”

“Is that why you didn’t kill him?” Anna wondered aloud. “You imprisoned him instead of destroying him?”

“Yes, Anna, just so. We do not hold the power of life and death. That is beyond our gifts to give to a fifth spirit when he or she is born to this world,” Gale whispered again.

“So… where does my power come from, then?”

Nokk laughed musically. “From life itself, Anna. Just as Al-Masih ad-Dajjal’s power came from his alliance with death, yours comes from life, life energy. The Countess explained to you as much, what you are capable of, and the price you must pay to use your powers.”

Anna paused. In the battle against the Deathlord, she hadn’t felt her powers draining, but she also had no idea what she was doing with these abilities. All she knew was that the faces she saw when she was healing Elsa and using her powers against Kristoff were gone, but the hunger that the Countess warned her about hadn’t arrived yet.

“The Countess said I have to feed off life energy for my powers to work, and I sure used a lot of them to battle the Deathlord. Why don’t I feel the need to go all…grrr?” she asked, miming a vampire monster. Elsa stifled a giggle at Anna’s theatrics.

Iduna’s image looked to the crystals in the floor, as if seeking answers or approval from the spirits. Her eyes turned to Anna. “You did not use your powers to defeat the Deathlord, Anna. You used his. You took the energy of the tens of thousands of souls he had enslaved and you ripped them free from him. When you consumed his power, you transmuted it from death to life. Death and life are opposite sides of the same coin. That is how you brought Elsa back from the dead and destroyed the Deathlord’s army - by stealing his power and his life.”

Anna teared up. “I didn’t… I never wanted to be a killer, to take someone’s life. That’s not who… what… not something I ever wanted to be. I just- I had to save Elsa, and then this old woman whispered something in my ear, and she said I could bring Elsa back, and I don’t remember- oh god, what did I do?” Tears flooded Anna’s eyes at the thought of her harming anyone, even an unrepentant mass murderer.

Nokk’s peals filled the room and a soft blue light suffused Anna’s body, calming her emotions and cooling her. “You did what was necessary, Anna, to save thousands more lives. You took one life to spare your entire nation and many other nations. It is not hyperbole to say that you may have saved the world, and you will find the reward commensurate.”

Both sisters echoed, “What reward?”

Iduna spoke. “Look inside yourself, Anna. Do you see the faces of the lives the Countess stole?”

Anna shook her head.

“Elsa, do you feel different after Anna revived you?”

“I do, yes. Lighter. Happier. I feel like she cleansed me of something, took away something that was haunting me.”

“She took away the death energy that Al-Masih ad-Dajjal had been poisoning your dreams with when she wrested his power from him. His hold over you is broken, and you are free of death’s embrace,” said Iduna. “That is the reward Anna has given you, and has earned for herself in turn.”

“I don’t understand, Mother,” Elsa said, puzzled.

Anna’s eyes widened and she inhaled sharply, a grin threatening to burst through the calm on her face. “Is it true?”

“Yes, Anna. You know the nature of your powers, the blessing and the curse they confer upon you. Old age, illness, and death may not claim you. In resurrecting Elsa with Al-Masih ad-Dajjal’s own power, transmuting it from death to life, you have granted her the gift of eternity as well. Barring extraordinary circumstances, you will both live forever, in all that entails.”

Anna squealed with delight and charged into her sister’s arms, squeezing her tightly. “This means we can be together, Elsa! I never have to watch you leave me! Oh god, thank you, thank you spirits!” She breathed a sigh of deep relief. Knowing that she’d never have to watch Elsa age, wither away, and eventually die lightened her heart more than anything she’d ever experienced. They’d be together, literally forever.

“Injury and illness may still cause her harm, Anna, but as long as you are with her, you can absolve her of those burdens as well.” Iduna’s image smiled upon them.

Elsa took her sister’s hand and kissed it, inhaling Anna’s subtle warm scent. “We promised that we’d do this together, and now it looks like we will.” She smiled at the thought. The lingering guilt of hiding away from her sister for thirteen long years suddenly evaporated at the thought of spending many, many more years together. “Together.”

Author’s Notes

This, or something like this, is how I wish Frozen 2 had ended. We would have understood the nature of Elsa’s powers for real. We would have seen what they could really do. The lyrics implied we would - show yourself, step into your power - and the elemental spirits all made themselves a part of her dress. So, what happened?

I don’t know. I suspect we will never know, beyond what’s already been published. But that was the motivation for this entire story, to see what else Elsa could do.

When I watched the clip from Ralph Breaks the Internet and the different Disney princesses spring into action, all we saw of Anna was doing some sewing with a mouse. That’s the best our favorite princess/queen could do, in Disney’s eyes? Talk about stereotype. Fine. We fixed that in the story, too. Now Anna has usable powers.

This is the official end of the story, at which point we will veer from canon. There’s an epilogue coming shortly, and then at least two one-shots that have been completed, and possibly a longer story set within the same universe.

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Chapter Text

Warnings: none.

Chapter 22: Epilogue

“Honey, I’m home!”

The screen door to a modest Cape Cod-style house slammed shut in the warm summer breeze. Anna tossed her car keys in a ceramic bowl on the kitchen table, hung up her nurse’s coat, and put her sunglasses on the bar.

“Olaf! Sven! Kristoff!” she greeted, patting each of the Norwegian Hygen hounds that came running gleefully on the head. “Where’s Mama?”

“In here!” Elsa called from the bedroom, half-dressed as she changed from her workday. Anna hugged her, relishing the feeling of Elsa’s bare skin on her arms. Even after 174 years, it never got old. She never tired of Elsa’s embraces, her quirky smiles, her bouts of awkwardness that became smoother over the decades, but never went away fully.

“How was work?” the elder sister asked, just over 200 years old but not looking a day past 26. She kissed Anna warmly, returning the embrace, before putting a t-shirt on and tying her hair back in a simple ponytail.

Anna opened a blackberry alcoholic seltzer from the kitchen and flopped down on the overstuffed couch in the sitting room. “Not bad. Had the usual rounds with the kids, but everyone’s doing fine. Janie had a close call this morning, but she made it through with a little nudge,” Anna smiled. Being a pediatric nurse suited her, and with her healing powers, she could save those most in need of being saved without raising suspicions. Kids were resilient and could pull off miracles unassisted, so it was perfect for her to silently lend a hand. “What about you?”

“Oh, the usual. Busy now with all the tourists, but it keeps me busy at least!” Elsa smiled. Queen Elsa’s Frozen Delights was Anna’s clever name for the ice cream shop, a local favorite. It was also incredibly profitable since they spent nearly nothing on refrigeration besides early outlays for equipment, in order to maintain appearances. “Pizza and a movie tonight?”

Anna squealed with delight. “Yes! I’ll order. The usual?” she asked, opening the delivery app on her phone. Pizza was one of Anna’s favorite discoveries since moving to America, and in the modern era, the ability to summon a pizza with a small rectangular piece of glass and metal was just as magical as her own powers.

Elsa nodded, pouring herself a glass of pinot grigio, then joined Anna on the couch. She picked up the TV remote, opened the Disney+ app, and started their favorite dinner movie.

The setting sun glinted off her left hand, her wedding band sparkling. So much had changed, she mused, since the event, the battle that had changed their lives permanently and literally forever. Her eyes softened as the memories washed over her, the movie all but forgotten.

Two years after the battle with the Deathlord, Queen Anna had followed their neighbor Norway’s lead in establishing a constitutional monarchy, giving Arendellians the right to govern themselves. Elsa smiled at the thought, Yelana being elected the first Prime Minister of Arendelle. A few years later, the citizens of Arendelle voted to join Norway and take part in the cultural revolution happening there. Arendelle became the principality of Arendal, and Elsa watched with a combination of pride and nostalgia as her sister, the former monarch, dissolved the last of their rule.

The fall of the Southern Isles in the war led to its incorporation into Denmark, while the remains of Weselton was consumed by Westphalia, part of Prussia. After her brief stint as Prime Minister, Yelana led the Northuldra to join with the northern Sami people, bringing their knowledge of the land and spirits to them. Everyone and everything the sisters had known changed over the years, fading away.

They’d stayed in Arendal until it became painfully obvious that neither was aging and after they’d laid Kai and Gerda to rest, the sisters chose to move on. They’d had stone carvers add their names to the memorial stones of their parents on the great grassy hill near the mountains, to close the final chapter on the Arendelle monarchy. History mostly forgot about Arendelle; the only remnant of its legacy was that the sisters had taken their kingdom’s name as their surname, and some fanciful fairy tales told to children about a Snow Queen.

They’d spent a decade in Paris, learning various trades, then London at the turn of the century, never spending more than a decade or two in any one location. After a half-century moving around Europe and Asia, they journeyed with many of their former countrymen to America just after the Great Depression.

It was then that Anna found her calling, taking work in nursing. While she could never make obvious use of her powers of healing, every ward she served in found those who suffered most relieved of their suffering willingly, and many injuries that should have been fatal instead seeing the patients pull through somehow. She’d gained a reputation in many hospitals as a good luck charm, though only she and Elsa knew why.

Elsa was content to study their powers deeply, learning and fine-tuning what each was capable of. With her ability to travel, she spent her days visiting Ahtohallan and the spirits’ power centers around the world, communing and practicing. The spirits had made clear that the world wasn’t ready to deal with people like her and Anna, and to avoid revealing their powers or interfering too obviously in the affairs of mortal men. For the most part, they kept a low profile even during events like the World Wars and afterward, only intervening at the spirits’ request when the balance of nature and humanity was temporarily disrupted.

Her affinity towards the spirits and elements, especially earth, allowed her to finance their lives. Every so often, she’d “discover” an unusually valuable gem while out walking and find a willing buyer to pay handsomely for it. Over the years, a few neighbors questioned what she did for work or why neither of them had married, but Elsa would joke that she was an eccentric heiress from an old European family and that was usually enough to mollify people’s curiosity. Every other decade or so, she’d start a small business and then sell it off after it succeeded, further cementing their financial security.

Most of all, the sisters spent their years learning to love each other deeper than any other. Elsa had secretly worried that Anna would grow tired of her companionship, that they’d drift apart over the years, but the opposite happened. With all they’d been through, they were more inseparable than ever. Those first thirteen years of separation, now a blink of an eye, still defined their relationship nearly two centuries later. She often joked that every time Anna saw her, she raced to hug as though she hadn’t seen Elsa in years, even if Elsa had just stepped out to mow the lawn for a half-hour. Eternity suited them well.

In the greatest irony, for over a century they had to tell others that they really were sisters and not lovers until the legalization of same-sex marriage in the early 21st century. They’d journeyed back to Arendal in 2009 and married on Anna’s birthday, then moved to a suburb of San Francisco, finally able to publicly present as wives instead of sisters. Elsa looked at her left hand again and smiled.

“Isn’t it funny how badly they got Arendelle’s harbor wrong?” Anna giggled through a mouthful of pizza, drawing Elsa’s attention back to the movie.

Elsa rolled her eyes. “You say that every time we watch this,” she smiled, kissing Anna on the cheek, one arm around her sister’s shoulders. “I love you.”

“I love you too, sis.”

The End

Author’s Notes

I thank you, my friend and dear reader, for enjoying this fiction all the way to the end. We’ve now set the stage for the sisters as an AU, with their powers fully realized, and almost two centuries of adventures and stories to be told.

I’ll be publishing some one-shots in this universe but at a drastically slower pace than Storm of Spirit was published at; it took 34 days to write the entirety of Storm of Spirits, because the story wanted to be told. There are still a ton of loose ends that will be wrapped up along the way, along with a sneak peek into the sisters’ lives over the centuries.

Two one-shots that are completed and will be released about a week apart from each other: - Anna working in a World War 2 hospital, which explains how she continues to empower her abilities - Someone attempting to mug Elsa in Boston’s Combat Zone in the 1970s

Unlike Storm of Spirits, these will be little slices of life, rather than fully plotted, arced stories, for now. I’m of the mind to do some other interesting little themed things too, but I won’t promise you something that doesn’t exist, because no one likes a perpetually unfinished work.

If you’re an author who would like to write in the Storm of Spirits universe, you have my blessing to do so as long as you promise not to veer from the premise (feel free to fork and make your own universe if you want to) and you promise to use a grammar and spelling checker aggressively on your work.

Thank you for reading my work!

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As always, please review, kudos, comment, like, follow, all that good stuff. I appreciate it.