Chapter 3 - The Spirits
Kristoff had never been one to sugar-coat things. Living in the mountains, he had to face reality and face it seriously. Still, in the past few days he'd spent with Anna, he wondered if sometimes that strategy was better left in the mountains.
"WHAT?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN SOMEONE TOOK HER?!"
Kristoff winced at the loud voice Anna was currently projecting around her room.
"Calm down Anna," He began, holding his hands up. "I'm only saying that this barb indicates that Elsa did not leave of her own free will…"
"OH MY GOSH, WE NEED TO GET AFTER THEM!" Anna was flying around the room throwing open her bureau, pulling the covers on her bed all the way back and sweeping everything on her table to the floor. Kristoff jumped back as she barreled past like a gale, stuffing things into a satchel.
"WE ARE GOING TO NEED FOOD, WEAPONS, CLOTHES, ARE WE GOING BACK TO THE MOUNTAINS AGAIN? SHOULD WE TAKE THE SLED? THE SLED SHOULD BE FASTER…"
"ANNA!" Kristoff seized her by the shoulders and lifted her clean off her feet. "LISTEN TO ME!"
Although Anna knew Kristoff would never hurt her, his outburst was enough to quiet her.
"I think your sister was kidnapped." Kristoff said bluntly.
Anna was silent as Kristoff gently lowered her back to her feet. She seemed to be having trouble processing what he'd just said.
"Whoever took Elsa knew what they were doing." Kristoff continued. He picked up the barb gently with two fingers, careful not to touch the point. "It took half an army to bring her back here from her ice palace, she wouldn't come easily. The fact that no one saw anything and that they didn't attract any attention means that these people are dangerous."
Anna looked at the barb intently, as if trying not to imagine that the blood covering it belonged to her sister. "Why would anyone want to kidnap Elsa?" She asked.
"She made a lot of enemies with the trade severances." Kristoff said. "And I'm sure many people are still suspicious of her powers."
A flicker of pain crossed Anna's face. "Where do you think they took her?"
Kristoff shrugged. "I don't know but this barb is a good place to start. I think I know someone who can help identify it."
Anna nodded, her perky attitude returning. "Right," She said, turning on her heel to scoop up a spare dress from the floor. "ready the sled! Let's go!"
Kristoff held up his hands. "Whoa, slow down there Anna, you're not going anywhere."
Even though he expected it, Anna's response still made him cower. Anna could be quite intimidating when it came to Elsa.
"She's my sister, Kristoff! I just got her back! There is no way you can expect me to just sit here while she's in danger!"
Kristoff silenced her with a kiss. "Yes, Anna, I can." He gently cupped her face. "Arendelle needs you now more than ever."
Anna violently shook her head, tears gathering in her eyes. "I'm going after Elsa!"
"Anna! How would Elsa feel if she knew you left the kingdom now?"
"She'd come after me in a heartbeat, Kristoff. You know that."
"She wouldn't leave your kingdom now." Kristoff pointed out. "Anna this past week, your kingdom went through more rulers than it has in the last 50 years. You are needed here right now."
Anna's gaze dropped to the floor. "You went after her last time," Kristoff told her. "she'll understand why you didn't this time."
Anna nodded. "Go talk to Percy about getting supplies." She told him, avoiding eye contact. "And take Olaf with you. He needs to be somewhere cold."
Kristoff nodded. "I'll go get him from the dungeons and hitch up Sven. We'll leave as soon as we can."
He slipped the barb into his pocket and turned to go. He knew Anna was upset but he was glad she was staying. She had to realize the turmoil her own kingdom was in right now. And this time, there was no Prince Hans to leave in charge. Arendelle needed a ruler now, not another stand-in. With Elsa once again missing in action, that left the kingdom in Anna's hands.
The mountain man turned back at Anna's timid voice as he opened the door to the hallway. "Yeah?"
Anna ran to him, threw her arms around his neck and buried her face in the hollow between his shoulder and throat. He could feel her trembling, feel her shaky breaths hot against his skin. He wrapped his arms tightly around her, holding her securely against him. Even though he'd only known her for a few days, already he was so attached to her that the thought of leaving her behind made him anxious.
"Be careful." Anna whispered to him. "Bring her home."
He kissed the side of her head as protectiveness towards the girl gushed through him. "I will."
"Sorry about Theo." Elsa looked up at Scara but couldn't bring herself to smile. Theo had left several minutes ago. What for, Elsa didn't know or particularly care. What did they mean she had to stay here?
The blonde woman winced apologetically as she laid a plain, long-sleeve black dress out for Elsa. "She can get rather uptight, that's the fire in her for you. Plus it's summer so she's a little hot under the collar...But deep down she has a warm heart."
Elsa still said nothing. She stood, still feeling a bit unsteady and let the blanket slip from her shoulders.
"She took me in when I was only five and cared for me like a sister." Scara told her as she helped Elsa slip into the dress. Elsa paused at this statement but Scara didn't seem to notice. "She helped me discover my powers." The blonde continued as she tied the simple dress closed. "Theo was always there for me during the years I struggled to control it. She has the most scars from when the plants spiraled out of control."
"How old was she when she found you?" The question came out of her lips before she could stop herself.
"Ten." Scara said, sounding like she didn't mind at all. "She and Garret took me in here and raised me like siblings. Theo and I learned control together." The blonde smiled softly as she gathered up the fallen blanket. "She always hated it when she accidentally set my plants on fire so she'd make it up to me by taking me for long walks in the woods, teaching me how to identify the different plants…" Scara chuckled lightly as she folded the blanket. "One time she let me build her a flower garden on the roof…I think it's still there if you want to see it."
"Why do we all have to stay here?" Elsa asked her in a quiet voice. "Is this a prison?"
Scara waved a hand. "No, not at all. This is a temple. We have to stay to care for the temple."
"Scara…I can't stay here."
The girl seemed puzzled. "Why would you want to leave?" She asked, sitting next to Elsa on the bed. She reached for Elsa's hands but Elsa pulled back. Unlike Anna, Scara didn't seem troubled by Elsa's icy reluctance towards human contact. "I know this place isn't a palace but give it a chance, you may like it." She patted Elsa's hand gently but did not prolong the contact.
Elsa stubbornly shook her head. "I have to get back to my kingdom…to my sister."
Scara paused. "…you…have a sister?"
Elsa nodded. Scara's eyes widened. She looked like she wanted to say something else but couldn't decide if she was allowed to or not. Elsa waited patiently, wondering what was on the girl's mind and if she was actually going to tell her.
There was a knock on the door then and Scara leapt up to answer it.
"Yes? Oh hello Goren!"
A small rock rolled into the room coming to a halt just in front of Elsa.
"Greetings Mistress Elsa!" The rock popped open, revealing large rounded ears, wide, bright eyes and a bulbous nose that looked far too big for its face. Elsa smiled finding herself liking him immediately though whether because he had used the honorific or because he had a distinct genuine air about his gravelly voice she couldn't be sure.
"Goren the eighteenth my lady." The troll said, giving her a deep bow, practically touching the floor with his forehead. His scalp was entirely bald. "May I say it is an honor to finally have Winter returned to the temple."
Elsa had met trolls only once before but like every child in Arendelle, she knew all the legends of their powers and ancient age. To have one bow to her was an honor indeed.
"The honor is mine good troll." Elsa said politely, bowing in return. "Please call me Elsa."
The troll seemed a little flabbergasted that Elsa had bowed to him but quickly recovered and turned to Scara.
"Mistress Scara," he said with a bow for her that Scara acknowledged with a smile. "Mistress Theonia requests that once Mistress Elsa is dressed, you two report to the chapel immediately."
"Thank you Goren." Scara said pleasantly. "Elsa just has to add the final touches and then we're all ready to go."
"Only if you're feeling up to it." Scara replied gesturing to the dress.
Elsa glanced down at her plain black sleeves and felt her fingers twitch. Calling to mind the ice dress she had constructed for herself, she began to form the ice. She still didn't have it in her to make an entire dress but that was no longer necessary so instead she just altered the one she had on.
The deep ice-blue pattern crisscrossed its way around the edges of her sleeves and followed the neckline of the dress. For flair, Elsa also made a bit of the ice climb up the bottom of the dress until it resembled a cliff caught in the grip of winter.
The fabric of the dress absorbed the ice completely and burned the pattern, texture and color into the very fabric. When Elsa ran her finger over the finished pattern on the sleeve, it felt like thread but was as cold as ice.
Elsa turned to find Scara staring unabashedly at her.
"It's beautiful." The girl said examining the exquisite and unique detail Elsa had given her dress. "I had no idea you had such fine control over your powers!"
Elsa found herself blushing slightly. "Well…it's a fairly recent development."
"Excellent all the same," Goren said. He then curled up into a ball and began to rock back and forth. "Follow me." He rolled out of the room and down the corridor.
The three of them walked down several long and narrow hallways, all of which were lit with small floating globes of fire.
"Theo's work." Scara said. "They burn brightest in the wintertime. It really helps with the lighting when its gets dark in the winter!" Elsa only nodded and forced herself not to admire the beautiful floating globes that looked like self-contained snowballs of fire. She was trying to memorize the route they were taking and look for an escape at the same time.
The temple appeared to be entirely made of stone except for the places where vines and small plants grew thickly over them. The walls were completely devoid of any other decorations and the floors were without carpets or furniture.
They passed a few rooms but Elsa got barely more than a glance as they hurried down the twisted hallways. A long room full of pots and pans and chairs…a room full of sand and tiny glass balls…a room completely bare of anything except a black mat…
Finally, Goren rolled to a halt in front of a heavy, black door shaped like a large triangle. But instead of opening up, the rock went motionless.
"Oh…he's asleep…hold on…" Scara gently prodded the troll with her foot. "Goren! Goren!"
The troll sprang back to his upright form, seeming mortified that he had drifted off. "Sorry! Sorry! I'm fine! Let's go in."
He shook his head several times and pushed open the heavy black door.
They entered a large room with a high vaulted ceiling that let in a single slant of light from a high window Elsa couldn't see. The room had a distinct atmosphere of tranquility to it, you felt like every sound could be heard by everyone in the room. Silence was to be kept. Theo was sitting at the head of a wide circular table talking softly to a young man with tight, curly black hair who had a broadsword strapped to his back. They both looked up as Elsa, Goren and Scara entered.
When her eyes met the black ones of the man, Elsa froze in place. A bolt of lightning seemed to pass between them in an instant and Elsa shivered violently. The man's eyes lit up in recognition and Elsa could have sworn they flashed blue for an instant.
"Oh great…" Theo muttered as the man dashed from her side and fell to his knees in front of Elsa.
The man gently gripped Elsa's wrist with his left hand. "Elsa." His voice was rough like he was still in the process of changing from boy to man. But his body clearly showed that he had left that age many years previously. "Your Guardian Garret is here before you." The man said, his eyes on the floor. Elsa found she was unable to move as he spoke, not from shock or befuddlement but simply because something seemed to be physically restraining her. The man drew the sword from his back and placed the blade along his left arm. "I pledge my sword to you, Queen of Winter." He softly drew the sword against his arm, opening up a small horizontal wound. "As well as my fists, my muscles and the very blood that runs in my veins." To Elsa's horror, he dipped his finger in the cut and traced a small circle on the inside of her wrist. But instead of painting her skin, the blood vanished upon contact with her, leaving only a slightly warm circle where his finger had touched. When he had finished, he looked up at Elsa. She was startled by the way that his deep, black eyes seemed to penetrate to her very core. "I vow I will die to protect you if need be."
"Stop staring Garret, you'll make Elsa feel more at home…" Theo called across the room. The man called Garret blinked and dropped his gaze and Elsa found she could suddenly move again. Garret dropped her hand with a grin.
"Sorry about that." He apologized to Elsa, his eyes warming considerably as he gently took her hand again. "I'm afraid I'm bound by blood to complete that ceremony the moment I first lock eyes with you." He respectfully kissed Elsa's knuckles then released her hand and stood. "I am Garret and if there is ever anything you need, just call my name and I'll be there."
Trying to fight the shock from her momentary paralysis, Elsa fought to regain her regal demeanor. "Thank you Master Garret." She thought she might be blushing but didn't mind at all.
Garret winked at her. "You're in charge here, not me."
"Great, well, now that we've got the logistics out of the way…" Theo said drily, taking a seat in a chair. "To business."
Goren leapt up onto the table alongside Garret and pulled a roll of linen from seemingly nowhere to wrap the man's arm with. As the troll began to bandage the cut, Elsa noticed two other scars on the man's left arm below where the one he'd cut for her lay.
When Goren had finished his work, he bowed to Theo, Scara and Elsa in turn then jumped off the table and rolled backwards out of the room. The door slammed behind him.
Elsa started to make her way closer to the head of the table but Scara caught her attention.
"You sit there." She said, pointing at a different seat. "Opposite Summer." Elsa circled back to the far end of the table, where Garret was holding the seat out for her. She slid into it with a smile of thanks.
"Oh and sorry for shooting you last night…" Garret muttered to Elsa as she sat down. Elsa's head whipped around in surprise but Garret was already moving back to the head of the table to stand next to Theonia.
"Garret is our Guardian." Scara explained from her seat on Elsa's left. "He was chosen by Mother when he was in the womb and has dedicated his life to serving us."
A little overwhelmed, Elsa asked the simplest of the many questions currently running amuck in her mind. "Why do we need a guardian?"
"Someone has to keep us in check." Theo told her. She nodded at Garret who bowed respectfully back, his hands clasped behind his back. "Garret knows all of our secret fail-safes," Theo continued "if need be he can render myself or Scara and now, yourself, powerless with a single touch."
Elsa recalled how she had been unable to move as Garret performed his 'ceremony' and was suddenly a little apprehensive that this stranger could seemingly render her immobile with a single touch.
"We live in a world of men." Theo was continuing, oblivious to Elsa's feelings. "A world of stupid, suspicious men who call us witches because they fear the gifts we have been granted. No offense, Garret."
He shrugged, clearly used to such words.
"Garret faces those who are foolish enough to think they can overpower us the way a man tries to overpower a woman. He protects the Mother's temple from harm at all costs."
Elsa nodded in understanding. "And Goren?" She asked, folding her arms defensively against her chest.
Theo nodded towards the place where the troll had vanished. "Goren is our scribe and our healer. He succeeded his father, Goren the seventeenth only a few years ago. He keeps the library in order, brews up spells, treats our injuries and watches the scrolls for births and messages. Goren's line predicts all our births."
Elsa tilted her head slightly. "If he can predict all our births, why did it take you so long to find me?" She asked flatly.
Theo's left eye twitched in irritation but she didn't reply.
"That's just the thing…" Garret said softly, his voice carrying effortlessly through the entire room. "his father didn't predict yours."
"Your birth went unrecorded by the Isen scroll." Scara said just as quietly as if the words were not to be uttered in this space. "The scroll of Winter. We've been looking for you for years." Her green eyes peered curiously at Elsa. "For the first time, a host's birth was not recorded."
"What makes you so sure it's me?"
"Stupid question, who else would be capable of conjuring up ice and acting like a little..."
Garret cleared his throat loudly to cover up Theo's comment. She ignored him but drew a deep breath.
"Isen's host can only be born on the summer solstice in the year following the death of the previous host." Theo explained, pressing the tips of her fingers together and apparently forcing herself to calm down. "Isen's last host was killed twenty-two years ago."
"It happens sometimes." Garret told Elsa. "A Guardian fails in his duty or a host is slipped poison. Its very unusual though. Then again, that's not the strangest thing that has happened in the last twenty-one years…"
"You've noticed it I think, little things that shouldn't be." Theo continued, her fingers falling in on themselves until she appeared to be praying. "Seasons changing too fast or too slow. The Southern Isles had all of their crops inexplicably die this autumn past instead of bearing fruit. Weselton's previous spring saw a frost late into July. Corona was scorched by summer heat so badly that it was without water for several weeks. And these things happened 'naturally', not like your summer 100-years blizzard." From across the table, Theo's eyes scrutinized Elsa's form, as if just noticing the dress she wore. Elsa might have imagined it, but she could have sworn a slight blush colored Theo's cheekbones. Theo folded her hands tightly and leaned back in her seat. "Something isn't right. And we need Autumn to find out what."
"Where is Autumn?" Elsa asked, looking around the room. Theo refused to meet her eyes. Scara met her gaze and shrugged, Garret showed no emotion.
Theo paused for a moment. "We don't know…" She finally admitted.
"We have tried before to reach out to the Autumn spirit, Død, but we have never been able to get through to her." Scara said. "But maybe with three of us we'll have better luck."
"The Autumn spirit?"
Scara nodded enthusiastically from her seat opposite what Elsa now assumed was Autumn's empty one. Suddenly, Scara's eyes lit up.
"Oh wait! You haven't met the other spirits yet!" She turned to the head of the table, tiny leaves beginning to sprout from where her hands gripped the wood. "Theo we have to meet Isen and introduce everyone!"
Theo briefly closed her eyes. "Scara, they've all met before, we are the hundred and fifteenth generation of hosts…" She rubbed her temple with a hand, as if warding off a headache.
But it seemed that, very much like Anna, once Scara got an idea in her head, no amount of effort could hold her back.
"Take my hands." She told Elsa, reaching around the table for them. Elsa hesitated for a moment, her fear of human contact rising within her but before she could come up with an excuse, the Spring girl seized her hands and clasped them tightly. Elsa stared at the blonde as the girl closed her eyes and began humming under her breath. In order for their hands to reach, both of them had their arms fully extended around the edge of the table. Scara was practically lying on the table.
No one moved for a few seconds.
"Where's your spirit?" Scara asked, opening her eyes and giving Elsa a puzzled look.
Elsa pulled her hands free and tucked them into her chest. "My what?"
Theo rolled her eyes. "This." She sat up straighter at the head of the table, closed her eyes and in a clear strong voice called out: "Branna!"
An enormous ball of flame shot from the tips of her fingers, the top of her head and the tips of her hair. It clung to her shoulders and head, stretching upward into the air as a writhing, twisting pillar of flame.
Now Elsa understood why the high ceiling was important.
The tower slowly boiled down to a fat ball of flames which rested just above Theo's head. Softly, the crackling flames bent into and out of shapes, embers flying in all directions, smoke and heat dissipating upwards. A wave of crippling heat rushed through the room. Distinctly in the midst of all the movement, Elsa caught sight of a face. Looking at it made something deep inside the Queen writhe and shiver but the feeling was merely a shadow of discomfort rather than an actual feeling.
"Elsa," Theo said, her eyes opening again. "meet Branna. The Summer spirit."
"A pleasure indeed, to meet the host of my dear Isen." The words came out of Theo's lips but the voice was so different that Elsa knew it was the spirit speaking through the woman rather than the woman herself. The shimmering eyes of the summer spirit closed briefly then reopened as if she had bowed to Elsa.
Unsure of what to do, Elsa inclined her head slightly.
"My turn!" Elsa tore her eyes from the summer spirit to look at Scara.
Scara's hair began to whip upwards as if climbing an invisible tree. When it reached its fullest height, it paused for a moment then slowly fell back into place, leaving behind a distinct golden impression of a woman standing on Scara's shoulders and head.
"Elsa, meet Livet." Scara said, her bright voice taking on a hint of strain. "The Spring Spirit."
The golden women smiled at Elsa, reminding her of spring warmth and causing her nostrils to flare briefly as a floral scent entered them.
"Greetings." Scara said in the same half-conscious voice Theo had used when Branna had spoken through her. "I am sorry you can not see more of me. As the summer wanes, my powers are at their weakest." Elsa nodded mutely in understanding. Livet's form was indeed so thin that Elsa could see the stones in the wall behind her through the woman. The spring spirit faded briefly into a pollen-like cloud but quickly reformed itself to its womanly shape. "But it is good to see a host for our beloved Isen again." She said warmly to Elsa.
Elsa felt tears come to her eyes but whether from the heat, the smell of flowers or sheer inability to comprehend and witness what was currently happening, she didn't know.
"Watching them takes some getting used to." Garret whispered in Elsa's ear. She had been so preoccupied with watching the spirits that she hadn't noticed the Guardian making his way back around the table to her. "Generally they are very docile though. But don't test Branna as Autumn sets in…" He advised her. "She doesn't like losing power."
Wordlessly, Elsa looked from him to the towering fire-spirit and back. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Theo smirk and tried not to let her annoyance show on her face.
"How did they find you?" The spring spirit asked Elsa kindly, a wave of pleasant-smelling pollen wafting over her.
Elsa fought to regain her regality that had been trained into her from years of preparation to be Queen. "Well," She began in a voice she had spent hours practicing alone for use in council meetings "they broke into my palace last night, drugged me and kidnapped me." Her voice was entirely controlled and pleasant, without a hint of spite.
"Elsa here, lost control of her powers and caused an eternal winter in the kingdom of Arendelle and beyond." Theo said drily, her normal voice startling Elsa as it burst from her mouth. "It nearly reached the temple." She spared Elsa a glance that looked more like a challenging glare. Elsa only lifted her chin and gave her a small smile.
Branna glanced down at her host then back up at Elsa. "But you retrieved her only after its end…" The fire spirit said. Slowly she leaned forward to peer at Elsa. The heat coming off of the spirit was enough to make Elsa feel like she was melting but she held the thing's gaze. She was a Queen greeting a diplomat, nothing more. After a moment, Branna turned to Livet/Scara in question. Both of them nodded.
"All the snow had faded once we reached the city." Scara said. "We were lucky it was mid-summer so that it cleared up quickly."
"It was easy once I learned how to reverse the storm." Elsa told the room with a humble chuckle.
Every eye in the place snapped to her.
Branna turned back to Elsa, tiny embers flying off of her and vanishing into the air. "You shouldn't have been able to lift that winter yourself." The fire spirit said sternly as if Elsa had wronged her greatly. "Only I can lift the spells of Isen's host."
"But I did lift the winter." Elsa said patiently. "I'm in complete control of my powers now, look." She turned in her seat and sculpted a large snowflake next to the door, far enough away from the waves of heat pouring off the summer spirit that it wouldn't melt right away. It seemed the effects of the potion had indeed worn off entirely, she felt great. The snow and ice were hers again, they moved at her command. When she finished, she separated her hands and the snowflake burst into a million tiny particles of ice and vanished. She heard Garret inhale sharply and felt a twinge of intense pride. She must certainly be in better control than either Theo or Scara if he was this shocked by her display.
"Impossible." Elsa heard Livet say though Scara. She turned around to find everyone in the room staring at her in horror.
"Isen's host cast an eternal winter in mid-summer and lifted it herself?" Scara said, her eyes widened in surprise.
Branna appeared to be for all intents and purposes, in a fiery rage. The fire spirit blazed taller, her towering flames blocking the light from the window and causing Theo to flinch slightly under her.
"What are you doing Isen?" The spirit bellowed, her crackling voice echoing around the high ceiling. Little tendrils of fire whipped from her body around the room, filling the space with light and small rings of smoke. One of the whips of flame cut straight through Livet, making her dissolve into pollen again then reform with a tired expression on her face. "Why do you cower inside your host and toy with her? Why do you not face us?" Branna screamed. A jet of flame shot from Theo's mouth. She flinched but otherwise appeared unhurt.
Terrified, Elsa sat as far back in her chair as she could, suppressing the desire within her to run and never look back. "I don't know what you're talking about…can't you all do this?"
She glanced at Garret but he had backed away from her, his black eyes flashing. He stood beside Scara and Livet who was still struggling to regain her form as more tendrils of flame cut her apart.
"How dare you? Have you forgotten all we have been through?" Elsa was beginning to guess where Theo's fiery bursts of temper came from.
Livet had almost entirely dissolved and seemed to be unable to reform fast enough to keep up with Branna's whips. Scara had started to sweat and tremble.
Garret placed a gentle hand on Scara's shoulder. Seeming relieved, Livet faded entirely and Scara shuddered as the spirit re-entered her body. Theo shot a glance at the blonde and her eyes narrowed in concern. Above her, Branna followed her gaze and deflated a bit, coming back to her initial height. The flames stopped flying around the room. Garret still had his hand on Scara's shoulder, offering the exhausted younger girl support.
"How did you stop the winter?" Branna asked Elsa in a growl.
Elsa looked the spirit straight in the eyes. They glowed like two hot coals. "I discovered that love thaws a frozen heart."
Her simple statement seemed to pierce the spirit right to her core. "No…no that can't be it…" The fire spirit shrank dramatically, becoming no larger than a dog and burning softly on Theo's head and shoulders. She was silent for a long while, seeming to have withdrawn herself into contemplation.
"Theo and I should have been the only way to lift that winter from your kingdom." Branna said. Theo nodded curtly in response, her hands curled tightly around the table. Smoke was starting to rise from her palms. "We are the warmth that banishes winter's cold, as you and Isen are the cold that soothes our heat…" Branna looked at Elsa. "And yet you conjured it when your powers were weakest and banished it just as quickly…" Branna continued softly.
"Could there be some other way?" Theo asked in her normal voice, turning her eyes upward to gaze at the fire spirit as best she could. "Perhaps the trolls have intervened?"
The woman in the flames shook her head. "The trolls are wise and skilled but they hold no power over our magic. The only other way would be if Elsa and Isen had already sealed their bond and come to their host agreement. As you and I did."
Theo's eyes snapped back to Elsa and narrowed. Elsa ignored her, choosing instead to focus on Theo's bodily companion. Branna had grown again and was now leaning forward again. She peered so intently at Elsa that she was looking right into her soul Elsa was sure. The Snow Queen shivered.
"But I can tell just by looking at you that you two haven't done that." Branna said in a voice like a hot gust of wind. "You have never spoken to Isen. And she has not made herself known to you."