Elsa felt her breath catch in her throat as the strange, blonde woman pushed little Mia down onto the ground roughly, and she felt both of her hands rapidly cool over. With a furious, almost predatory glint in her eyes, she took a deep breath in, and tried to quell her rage.
"Ma'am?" A guard said quietly, and Elsa's large, blue eyes widened in shock, as she spun around and a blast of ice shot from her outstretched hand, thoroughly encasing the man behind her in a large block of ice. Both shock and fear were etched upon his frozen face, and Elsa sighed quietly as she noticed her accidental work, quickly thawing the block. Her eyes softened slightly, but they still retained the sharp edge from anger they had before.
"Sorry," She whispered quietly, "I'm edgy and frustrated, and I can't wait to get my hands on that woman's throat!" Her voice was a snarl, and the Guard's eyes widened, looking at his Queen with a slightly concerned look, as if he feared she'd want to hurt him.
A thud came from behind them, and Elsa quickly spun back around, a low growl resonating in the back of her throat as she saw Mia laying on the floor. Feeling her heart thumping dangerously in her chest, a bright bolt of light burst forth from her palms, and as she rushed over to her niece, she felt a cold, merciless smugness seeping through her veins when she noticed the large icicle which had torn through the woman's dress, very nearly impaling her.
The woman looked down at her dress, then back up at her attacker, and her face broke into a glare; the expression was filled with pure malice, and the hatred in her eyes would have made anyone braver than Elsa quiver with fear, yet she stood her ground all the same.
"What are you doing with my Niece?" Elsa's voice was quiet, but volume did not matter. The way the words rolled sharply off her tongue, each syllable biting through the still air, the sounds harsher than the crack of the whip, made even Ayla's legs feel weak, but she, too, did not back down.
"I have simply come to collect the child." She said, her voice emotionless, making a shiver run down Elsa's spine at the almost unnatural sound. "Do not mind me. I'd hate to hurt anyone, but I have my ways."
Elsa frowned as she listened to the peculiar, clearly dangerous woman before her - something in the way she spoke made her sound familiar, and even more dangerous, as if she was an old foe.
"You ought to know that I have my own, too." Elsa breathed out, but her voice was cold, and there was a lethal edge to it, which gave it's own message: don't mess with me.
Ayla laughed, as if Elsa had said something amusing. "Ah, yes. I know of your little snowy habits. It's interesting to see that your little niece has them too, is it not? But surely you feel let down, Queen Elsa - she had a power so much greater, more significant than your own?"
Elsa's eyes widened for a second, but only from shock, not the least bit insulted by the woman's words. "Not in the slightest," She growled, her palms clenched in fists. "I have my own powers, and if they are to be bettered, then so be it. I am who I am, and I am not going to hide it, nor shall I pretend that I am someone I'm not."
Her foe smiled, and as snow began to fall in the forest, she waved her own hand, a large, spinning snowflake materialising there. Elsa's eyes did widen in shock this time, and Ayla grinned in victory. "So, Queen, do you really think you have anything on me? What can you do, really - make it snow on me some more?"
Elsa's eyes narrowed angrily at Ayla, and on cue, the snow she'd made grew heavier. "Maybe on it's own, something as small as a snowflake may seem insignificant, but you forget that when small, apparently weak things can work together and bring forth a snow-storm!"
Ayla grinned, laughing slightly. "Oh, but of course. I've heard about your little... accident on your coronation, hmm?"
Elsa frowned a little, strangely hurt by Ayla's words. She wasn't normal pained when people mentioned her loss of control five years ago, but the tone in the sorceress' voice was so demeaning, she felt so small.
This small victory made Ayla stand up taller, and she flashed Elsa a large, white smile. "What ever is the matter, Queen Elsa? I'd have thought you'd be used to people thinking badly of you... After all, you did almost kill your entire kingdom. I'm amazed you're so strong about it all, considering how many people nearly died at your hand. Personally, I don't think I could live with the shame of doing something so... abhorrent. The very idea of being a monster... It makes me shudder."
Elsa's eyes widened, and she began to breath a little heavier, Ayla's words finding their mark, and tearing the Queen's heart in two.
A... A monster? Her mind went back to the scene in her palace five years ago, when Hans had said the exact same thing to her.
Queen Elsa! Don't be the monster they fear you are!
Elsa gasped slightly, backing up at the memory, so fresh in her mind as if it had happened just hours ago, not years. She felt her legs go weak, and had to fight with all her might not to fall to the floor.
Trying to stand up straighter, Elsa attempted to send a glare to her foe, although she succeeded in doing little more than scowling at her. Ayla laughed at her feeble attempts.
"I do admire your courage, Queen." She said, her eyes shining with malicious happiness. "It's a shame I cannot take away your bravery and persistence and give them to myself, for my magic won't seem to allow me to do so, but oh, it truly is a shame. It would make a nice addition to my personality."
Elsa snarled quietly, her emotions slowly beginning to settle down, allowing her to stand a little taller - stupid baby messing with her mind! - and as she came back to reality, out of the land she'd been pushed into by Ayla, she heard a scuffling coming from behind her. She tried not to frown as she realised that it was her guards who were creating the sound, and she wondered what to do; she didn't want the sorceress to know they were there, because not only could they be great back-up if she needed help, no matter how much she would hate to be indebted to them, she also didn't want any of them to get hurt.
And this Ayla person was clearly bad news. If Elsa did nothing, her men could be hurt when the sorceress found them - if she acted, they could be hurt when she noticed their presence.
Ayla took the decision from her as one of her men rushed forward, and as Elsa spun her head around to watch, she gasped in horror as she heard the click of fingers coming from behind her. The guard's eyes seemed to widen too, and he seemed to be trying to stop himself, but he was running too fast; with an almighty bang, his body plowed into something shimmering in the air, and he crumpled to the floor, his body still.
Elsa had to hold back a scream as she saw the man's lifeless corpse laying upon the floor.
She spun back around to look at Ayla, her eyes narrowed in a deadly glare, her hands clenched into fists. Behind the woman, Elsa could make out something shimmering in the moon light - a dome of invisible matter, a shield.
"You killed him!" She snarled through gritted teeth, her blood boiling with fury at the woman. Elsa could see clearly just how bad Ayla felt for killing the man by the way she shrugged, as if she were saying, That's a shame.
"No, I didn't." She replied, frowning. "Although I must admit, it would make life easier if I could. See, the thing is, my magic can't be used to kill anyone directly... Sound familiar at all? Surely you recognise me, or is your memory so bad that you can't remember the events of two years back?"
Elsa frowned for a moment, and then she gasped, her eyes widening as another memory washed over her, for the second time that night.
"Well, here's the thing. There's something strange, about royal blood. Or, at least, a few samples of it. That is to say, it has strange properties." Karleif took a few steps forward, before continuing. "The first Kings and Queens, and this is a little known fact, but the first monarchy had magic. At the time, only a little, turning grass blue, for example, and over the years, it has lay dormant in their descendants, growing ever stronger. Take yourself, for example, Elsa. Your magic is, I must admit, astounding."
Anna froze as she felt the wall behind her, and looked around, panicked - there was no way out!
"So, it's simple, really. All we need is a bit of magical blood in our system, and given the right... conditions, shall we say, we should gain the powers ourselves, and be able to harness them."
A low growl escaped her throat, but when she looked at the sorceress before her, Elsa couldn't help but feel stupid. She understood, now, that the woman before her had obviously been Karleif's brother, and she was kicking herself mentally for not realising it sooner. She shared so many things with her brother - the same face shape, same height, roughly, and her mother... she could still remember the mother, with her eyes, the same piercing blue as Ayla's.
One final memory rolled over her, and the thought made her shiver.
"Well, here's the thing," He said, and he indicated to the people all around him. "Only a few royals actually have the magic in their system, because so many have lost the magic over the years, or else, the original family died out. So, of course, only a few still have the magic running through their veins, except it is very hard to know who does and doesn't. Out of all the royals who we've... tested on, shall we say, only five, so far, have been positive."
Elsa paused, thinking, then suddenly, something hit her. Frowning suspiciously, she stared at Karleif, who had stopped advancing now, and was simply standing there, waiting to finish his story, so that he could finish them off too.
"Who were the two positives?" She asked, but she already knew what the answer was.
Karleif laughed harshly. "Do I really need to answer that, Queen Elsa?" He said, grinning, and Elsa's eyes widened at the confirmation.
"You killed my parents." She said, straight out, and deep down, her blood began to boil, whilst the frost snaked all over the floor like wildfire.
"You have my parent's blood in your veins!" She snarled angrily. "You used their blood in the same way your brother and Mother did!"
Ayla laughed, looking like she was enjoying her foe's distress, and Elsa had no doubts that she actually was. "You know, I really ought to give you more credit." She said in a cheerful voice. "You're quite smart, really - it's a shame you're the enemy, because if you weren't, I'd think about recruiting you!"
"That's a coincidence, because you don't seem that smart at all, if you think I'd want to join a barbaric murderer like you!" Elsa sneered, and small icicles began to poke up through the dirt, missed by Ayla, who was enjoying herself too much to notice.
"Oh, come off it, Queenie - I'm not a murderer! My magic can't be used to kill directly - I mentioned that only a minute ago. Your memory truly is horrible."
"Your shield caused his death! That's close enough to murder for me!"
Ayla suddenly sighed, looking bored, and she waved her hand dismissively. "Ah, well. Think what you want - your opinion won't make much difference when you're dead. Which, might I add, won't be me killing you, just the results of my magic."
"You astound me with your logic - mind you, the way you look at life is so peculiar, I don't believe it can be classed as logic at all."
"That's strange, because you seem to have a habit for trying to throw your life away. You always end up running head-first into dangerous situations... I don't think highly or your self preservation."
Elsa's eyes narrowed scornfully, and Ayla grinned, but both looked around quickly when they heard a low moan to their right. The small body of a child slowly shuddered, and Mia lifted herself up onto her hands unsteadily, attempting to stand for a moment, before wobbling and falling over, weak and confused.
Elsa quickly began to move, but Ayla was faster - a large circle of flames trapped Mia, and though feeling exhausted and unfocused, her eyesight blurred, the smell of the fire and the bright glow, accompanied by the intense heat, was enough to warn her what was going on, and she screamed.
Behind her, out of the corner of her eye, Elsa could see the rest of the guards warily trying to force their way through the magical shield separating them from their Queen, but to no avail. Through gaps in the flames, Mia's eyes, wide, foggy and shining with fear, could occasionally be seen.
Elsa's blood boiled again, and a jet of ice shot towards Ayla, bright blue and sharp enough to slice through any rock easily. The sorceress' blue eyes widened as she quickly jumped out of the way, but now she was no fast enough - the ice slashed through her arm and fresh blood rose to the surface quickly, at an alarming rate.
Ayla hissed in pain and recoiled slightly, backing up against her own shield as she sent a strong blast of magic at her foe, something which clearly made her feel fatigued. Her breathing became labored and much louder afterwards, and as Elsa felt her limbs stop working, moving at only a snail's pace, she could see Ayla squeezing her eyes shut in pain, as she placed her hand over the wound, and her weariness grew obviously greater.
As she fought free from her restrictions, Elsa could not hold back the gasp that came next - the wound had stopped bleeding, and, more horrifyingly, looked as if it was nothing more than a deep paper-cut, not a slash from an icy blade.
Ayla remained against the shield, and though she was clearly exhausted, she still smiled smugly.
"See?" She gasped out, between breaths. "You can't defeat... me! I have... magic which you don't! You... will never have power to... match mine!"
Another loud scream echoed throughout the dome as flames began to lick at Mia's side, and Ayla laughed wheezily. "Tick tock, Elsa..." She breathed out. "Your precious niece hasn't... got long left..."
Elsa's eyes widened, and in a second, she knew what she had to do. Rushing over, she shot a blast of ice at the flames, but to no avail - it simply evaporated away the second it touched the fire, and seemed to only make it larger, more powerful.
Mia's scream came again, but neither Elsa nor Ayla could anticipate what would come next.
From the center of Mia's palms, a string of snowflakes burst forth, and settled in the flames, instantly evaporating, as the young Princess cried out in pain. The fire slowly began to part, and as they did, the small hands of the child grew increasingly red-raw.
Crawling out, Mia collapsed once she made it past the flames, and the second she stopped concentrating, the pain in her thoroughly burnt hands overwhelming, the fire stopped obeying her commands. For the second time that night, she passed out from her pain.
Ayla laughed softly. "What a development," She said, her breathing slowly going back to normal. "I never expected that. I... knew she could control people... but items too?... She's powerful, for sure."
Elsa's eyes narrowed, as she quickly bent down and cradled her young niece in her arms. "And she's my family, so if you don't mind, I shall be going now."
Elsa wasn't surprised when Ayla blocked her path, using her powers to make the grass grow massive in less than a second, and it was impossible to get through. Then again, it was pointless, really, because she wasn't sure how she'd get past the shield anyway. Still, she'd rather be at the other side of the dome, than half way closer to Ayla.
"Where are you going, Queen Elsa? You can't leave." Elsa glared at Ayla, who smiled cruelly as she pushed off from the wall, feeling stronger now that she'd had a rest. Her hand opened slowly, and a ball of light flickered there, like a mini sun in her palm. "What do you think? It's mesmerizing, is it not?"
And as Elsa stared into the ball of light, she could feel herself slipping away slightly, not thinking straight... Her mind went foggy for a moment, and all her worries disappeared...
A soft thudding was coming from outside the dome, and Elsa felt herself snap out of her trace like world as Ayla's concentration broke. Both women spun their heads to look at the edge of the dome, which was becoming worryingly full of smoke now, and a soft gasp escaped the Queen's lips, as she saw someone hammering at the shield.
That someone being Odd.
Elsa smiled as her husband pounded fiercely at the dome, and as he did so, the place of impact grew increasingly whiter, more apparent... Something which did not go unmissed by Ayla. Her face went red with fury as Odd slowly began to destroy her shield, and with every blow, she appeared to be weakening.
Behind her, another man appeared, one who had haunted both Elsa and Anna's nightmares for months when they were first re-united.
He ran up to the dome, and Ayla spun on him, her eyes wide with panic as she watched Odd breaking her shield. The strong, burly guard had not done anything to damage it when he hit it at full speed, and yet with every blow, the Prince was able to break the dome more.
Hans ran around the edge, and it was all Elsa and Ayla could do to watch him, both transfixed on what was going to happen. Odd seemed oblivious to the man who was running at him like a bull, looking like he was going to simply plow into him and knock him out, and the Southern Isles' Prince's eyes were bright with a hunger for revenge. On Odd, perhaps, but more likely on Elsa, her family and her kingdom.
Slowly, as Hans grew ever nearer, Odd turned, as if in a trance. He stood still as the other Prince came nearer, and then, at the last second, ducked down - Hans, caught off guard, felt strong hands clasp his ankles as Odd stood back up, effectively throwing his foe over his back, letting him fly through the air, before landing awkwardly on his feet, grunting in pain as he landed, his ankle bent at an awkward angle.
Ayla's eyes widened as she watched Odd pound her shield ever harder, effectively bruising his hand, but not paying it much attention, as Elsa's fellow guards came over to help, though despite their size, they made very little difference.
It was then that she understood - as Odd slowly looked up at her, Elsa could see the desperation shining in his eyes, more than any of the other men, and she realised what was letting him break the shield, when the others couldn't.
"Don't you get it, Ayla? Your shield's made of hatred, but Odd can break it with his love! You don't stand a chance, don't you see?"
Ayla looked panicked for a moment, and then she snarled at Elsa. "There are things stronger than love. Power, for one." She glanced over at Hans, and sighed, seeing him struggling. "This isn't over, Queen Elsa. Just you wait."
With an almighty crack, the dome began to crumble and, in an instant, it all fell away in tiny pieces, raining Elsa and Mia in an onslaught of strange, glass like matter, which scraped their faces to pieces, and left bloody trails down their cheeks.
Ayla growled, and Elsa's palm opened, as four knives materialised there. Before she could grab them, however, someone else snatched them away, and she watched in both horror and awe as Odd threw them masterfully, even with a very stiff arm, and two blades impaled her palms, while the others pinned her back against a tree.
The sorceress howled in pain as she blinked, as if trying to get her eyes to focus, and she let out a yell of anger - magic burst forth from her fingers and struck Elsa, making her double over in pain, and Odd tried to catch her, but was a little too stiff in his movements and missed her by inches. Bending down, he cradled his wife's head as she moaned, and watched in horror as her stomach began to swell rapidly.
With a final, exhausted yell of fury, a wave of energy burst forth from Ayla, and Odd gripped Elsa and Mia tightly as they were all thrown back by the blast, along with Elsa's guards, and anyone else who was not a member of the Southern Isles.
With a moan, Ayla's eyes shut as the knives evaporated from her hands, and she slid down the tree, not dead, but barely alive, either. Magic radiated off of her in waves, and a few minutes later, if one was to watch from a little way away, they would see the kingdom of the Southern Isles disappearing completely.
Anna gasped as she saw the fleet of ships coming towards her kingdom.
"Kris..." She called out, and when she received no response, she raised her voice to a yell. "Kristoff! Come here, quick!"
Her husband hurried over, and he, too, gasped when he saw the oncoming advance.
"They're not our ships, are they?" He muttered, voicing Anna's own fears, and the Princess shook her head, her ginger pigtails scruffy and falling out. "Damn- the men haven't had much training yet!"
Anna's eyes widened. "Oh, God, Kristoff! We're dead!"
Kristoff huffed. "We've got about an hour before they get here - we'll gather the men and get ready to fight. You can use the magic Elsa gave you, right?"
Anna nodded, as she began to slide down the banisters, but for speed, not for fun- this was not a time for such trivial things as enjoying oneself, when people's lives were at risk.
Before long, she was stood out upon the Arendellian docks, her hands shaking, and she clutched onto Kristoff desperately.
"Oh, God!" She cried, "I can't do this! I can barely go a day without falling flat on my face, let alone protect a kingdom!"
Kristoff squeezed her hand gently, and gave her a reassuring smile. "You did a pretty good job before, saving it from an eternal winter. And you helped get rid of Karleif and his Mother. You're more than capable, and I'll bet Sven's carrots you'll do fine. Just don't tell him I said that."
Anna smiled feebly and nodded, facing out to the ocean. "On three!" She yelled. "One!"
Wait, was that boat shimmering?
My eyesight's bad, they look like they're flickering...
Anna raised her hands to fire, and began to freeze the sea below her, when the fleet just... Vanished.
Everyone gathered looked around blindly at the command, confused; where had the ships gone?
Anna felt her legs go weak from puzzlement, and Kristoff picked her up, as the crowd filtered away when there was no attack.
"It must have been a trick of the light..." She murmured, and her husband nodded, but he quickly got onto Sven's back, pulling Anna up with him.
"Mm-hmm." Kristoff murmured his agreement, "But it still seems strange. I'm going to see the trolls - are you coming, or shall I drop you back at the castle?"
"I'm coming, Mister." Anna teased, "Don't think you can lose me that easily!"
Rapunzel closed her map slowly, and sighed as she looked out over her kingdom.
"What am I meant to do about all the Southern Isles' wrecked ships?" She asked, frowning, "There are so many of them..."
Eugene shrugged. "Dunno," he said, thinking, "Stick 'em in the fire?"
Rapunzel shook her head, smiling. "I think there's too much wood there to just use for the fireplaces... Maybe a public bonfire?" She joked, but Eugene seemed enthral led by the idea.
"The little kids would love that, I'd bet! That actually makes sense - a celebration to commemorate the end of the fighting!"
Rapunzel nodded. "I guess that does sound fun," She agreed, smiling. We'll have to get some chalk so the little ones can draw pictures too!"
Eugene raised his eyebrows. "The little ones?" He said teasingly, and Rapunzel laughed.
"Fine, fine, me. But you know how much I love to do art, and - hey!" She gasped as she looked out over the ocean. "Where did the ships go?"
"They just... Disappeared. Must be some sort of magic, I guess... Damn it, I guess we can't have a bonfire then."
Rapunzel sighed, but then smiled. "Can we still do the chalk?"
No one saw as the Southern Isles disappeared off of the map completely.
"Hmm... There's a lot of magic in the air tonight, Kristoff..." Bulda said, and she looked frustrated, as if she hated having to be posh and regal. "Unless I'm mistaken, I do believe something has happened to the kingdom of the Southern Isles, to make their fleet disappear but I don't know what."
Anna and Kristoff nodded, and smiled at each other, and slowly, the gorgeous yellow rose grew even more magnificent. It's bud turned into petals, and before long, the petals opened, to reveal a small, hand sized stone carving. Bulda grinned excitedly, as she brought the miniature statue up to her lips, and placed a soft kiss upon its forehead. She then placed it down on the flower, and watched as it grew and grew.
Kristoff's breath caught in his throat. "Pabbie?" He asked, unsure, and the wise old troll chuckled.
"It'll take a miracle to kill me, m'boy." He said, chuckling, and he looked so happy, so fresh and bubbly. "Come on, Bulda- let me take the crown from you and you can go back to being yourself again."
Bulda laughed and ran off with her father, but Kristoff frowned slightly, over the initial shock by now.
"Come on, Anna. We'd better get back- I think a storm's coming." He said, and Anna, still gobsmacked, nodded blindly.
Quickly,by, they began to make their way back, not knowing that the very same storm was blowing up out at sea, too.