"Oh my gosh, Anna..." Elsa whispered, quietly, nervously. "I'm not sure I can do this..."
Anna smiled at her sister softly, placing her palm upon her sister's icy cheek. "Don't worry, Elsa," she reassured, as she helped to plait her sister's hair. "Most of the kingdom knows you're pregnant by now anyway, so don't worry. Gossip spreads like wildfire 'round here, you know, and you' eh never been fat, so people aren't going to assume that you' eh eaten too much."
Elsa couldn't help but smile softly. "They made that mistake once with you anyway," she teased, though her heart was only half in it. "Everyone thought you'd been eating too much chocolate when you announced it."
"Yeah, yeah, I know." Anna groaned. "Don't remind me. Kristoff wouldn't stop calling me chubby for weeks."
Elsa smiled again, as she took a deep breath to calm herself. "Well, it's now of never, I guess." She said quietly, "Considering I'll be off to the Southern Isles this time tomorrow."
Anna's eyes shimmered, and she placed the brush down on the vanity table softly, sighing. Elsa felt dreadful, knowing how hard this was for her sister.
"I'm sorry, Anna." She whispered, as she brushed a stray lock of fiery red hair behind The princess' ear. "But I have to go. I can't just let the soldiers go alone. I'd feel awfully guilty, and I can help protect them."
"But you can't protect yourself!" Anna moaned, her eyes falling to the ground in a sad way, locked on her feet, not looking back up. She didn't want to face the truth, and the easiest way was to ignore it completely.
"I'll be fine, Anna," Elsa assured, and just like that, she was no longer the one needing comforting. "And I'll make sure my baby's okay, too. I promise." She took her sister's hand, squeezing it softly. "I'll get Odd back, and I'll get Mia back too. But I can only do that if you stay strong, and help our people. Many will have family or friends going off to war... You have to be their shining star while I'm away to lead them and keep them strong. If you can't, then I'm afraid we will probably be attacked. If our kingdom falls weak then we'll be easy prey."
Anna looked at Elsa sadly, expectantly, and she softly squeezed her sister's hand back. "You must guide them, but if you can't be strong yourself, they've got no hope."
The princess weakly smiled, sighing. "I guess you're right, Sis." She said sadly, but then she smiled. "But, hey. We'd better get to the balcony. The people are waiting for us, and we can't leave them outside in the cold."
Elsa nodded slowly.
"Please, though... stay with me. I've never done anything like this before."
Anna smiled at her sympathetically. "Don't worry. Like I said, most people know anyway. But they'll be thrilled!"
Elsa smiled, more confidently. "Thanks Anna. That helps." She walked over to the door, and pulled it open, beckoning for her sister. "Let's go."
Bulda looked out across the valley, and sighed.
She didn't want to be the troll Queen; she had always been just fine and had been perfectly happy before. Now, the weight of responsibility that rested upon her shoulders was great, and with her new magic, a gift reserved to only the leader of the trolls, she had a deep connection with earth and sky, two forces so very different, but essential for each other's existence. The link only hurt her core, the separate forces so strong and clashing sending her emotions into an almost incontrollable pit, and it left her ever-so confused and down-heartened most of the time.
A small aurora flickered in the distance, and Bulda couldn't seem to keep her eyes off of it, the lights calling to her in an almost irresistible manner, as if they carried a message. Waving her hand slowly, the display grew bigger as it drew nearer, and as it came closer, the Troll Queen could recognise the distinct shape of an image playing in the lights.
She squinted, as she reached into the aurora, and her eyes widened, turning cloudy as a scene began to play out before them, in her mind.
A small town, in a kingdom similar to Arendelle. Smoke filled the air, hanging over the villages like a cape of despair, gloom and despair seeming to radiate from every street, every building. Flames flickered against the wreckage of wooden houses, and cobblestones were torn up and smashed, debris scattered across the roads. Horses trapped in fallen down stables thrashed about, trying to escape, while their owners lay on the ground, slumped over the wreckage, unmoving, staring at the few surviving creatures with wide, glassy eyes that were devoid of any life, trails of blood dribbling from their mouths. Sea spray battered the lifeless town, and a low chuckle reached Bulda's ears.
Gasping, she drew her hand back, away from the aurora, and the vision ended. Breathing deeply, Bulda recoiled, knowing somehow that what she'd seen was real, a vision of the recent past, or perhaps the present, she couldn't tell which.
Quickly, she curled up into a ball, rolling down the slope from her 'look-out point', heading towards the kingdom of Arendelle.
She had to warn them.
The cheer that met Elsa's statement was deafening, and the kingdom seemed to be completely thrilled with the idea of a new Prince or Princess. Still, there was more news to be delivered; despite the pain it brought her, Elsa knew she had to announce the second update now, or never.
Nodding to one of the nearby guards, she closed her eyes tightly as the sound of a horn being blown sounded across the courtyard, and the excited, murmuring group of people silenced quickly, glancing up at the Queen, waiting patiently, expectantly.
Elsa took a deep breath. She'd thought, at first, that announcing her pregnancy would have been the hardest thing, but now she knew she couldn't have been any more wrong. "Well, I..." She fumbled for words, and took a breath, calming herself. "I'm sure you have all heard that the Southern Isles and the kingdom of Westleton have gone to war with our sister Kingdom, Corona. As allies, it is our duty to help them with this war, as they would help us."
The crowd began to murmur again, but this time it wasn't the excited, enthusiastic voices that had come from Elsa's previous statement. She felt her heart beat faster as some of the people looked up at her in sadness and, occasionally, anger, and she could see ice forming on the balcony edges, and around the edges of the courtyard, something which her people were quick to notice too.
It was as if the balcony was a cursed place; every time she, or Mia, stood there, ice seemed to come from one place or another.
Closing her eyes, she focused on her family; the adoration from her sister, the love from Odd. Slowly, she raised her palms, and sighed as the ice thawed away, feeling a slight weight of pressure leave her shoulders. Anna softly slipped her palm into her sister's, and Elsa could feel the wave of confidence flow through her.
"Thanks," She whispered behind to her sister. She'd been so worried recently, what with everything going on, and no doubt her pregnancy was wreaking havoc on her emotions as well. "So, uh, like I was saying..." Elsa continued, still a little nervous, but generally better than she was before. "We need to help Corona. We have a strong navy, one of the strongest in the world, in fact, so we should be able to help greatly."
Her people looked unsure, and she felt grief weigh down upon her heart at the sight. "There is not much time to waste. This may be hard, but we must leave tomorrow morning, at the latest. And, I am afraid we will be away over christmas." A murmur of frustration passed through the crowd, as Elsa continued. "All of the men in the royal navy must come with me to the Southern Isles, where we shall attack and destroy the heart of the enemy's operation. Thus meaning, with the Soldiers absent, we will need people to guard and protect Arendelle. No doubt we may be attacked during my absence, so I should hope our kingdom will be prepared if that were the case."
She sighed, and looked out at the setting sun, while she let her words sink into the minds of her people. After a few seconds, she finished her short speech. "All men in the navy should report back here at tomorrow morning, 9 am. My sister, Princess Anna, will take care of the Kingdom in my absence, and she will organise the protection too."
A few wary glances were exchanged, and Elsa couldn't help but smile softly at the nervous looks upon her subjects' faces; though her sister was respected, people were still unsure of her. She'd always been very spirited, and her clumsy nature was almost award-worthy.
Anna smiled a little also, behind Elsa, blushing slightly, giving her freckled cheeks a light red tint.
"I understand this is hard for everyone to accept, but I will do all in my power to bring this all to an end as soon as possible. Thank you for your time." Bowing her head, Elsa turned back into the castle, her sister following, and slouched against the wall, her hand on her head, sighing.
"That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do..." She moaned, and Anna wrapped her arm around her sister, softly. Elsa relaxed at the touch, her body becoming slightly less tense and worked up.
"Come on, Sis." Anna said, pulling Elsa away from the balcony. "We need to go and find Kris, and tell him what's going on. And we need a nice christmas meal before you leave. Although... we'll probably have to have it for breakfast, it's late now."
Elsa smiled, rolling her eyes at the young Princess' antics. "Sure, sure, Anna." She said in amusement, following after her little sister, wondering how her mind worked.
Kristoff and Sven glanced up as the sound of a rock rolling over cobblestones met their ears, and quickly their gazes spun to the open gates, where a large, mossy boulder was hurtling towards them.
Bulda popped out of her disguise before she'd even stopped rolling, tripping from the momentum, gasping for breath. "Kristoff!" She cried, "Thank God I've found you! I must tell you this: Corona is under attack!"
Kristoff frowned. "We know." He said, "The Southern Isles are trying to attack them."
Bulda shook her head urgently. "No, no! They've already destroyed half of the coastline villages - I fear it is only a few days, at this rate, until they reach the castle of Corona itself!"
This caught Kristoff's attention, and he quickly thanked Bulda, before sprinting quickly into the castle to find his wife and sister in law.
He had to warn them.
The war was really and truly on, now.