Rain of a Child's Tear

Gerda

In the afternoon, four days after leaving Finnoa, Sven pulled the sled to the top of the last pass before home. Soon after, Anna and Kristoff could see a guard shack, manned by two Royal Guardsmen. The guards saw Anna and came to attention.

“Princess Anna, welcome back.”

“Thank you. I have a message for the Queen. Tell her we will proceed to the ice palace directly.”

“Very well,” a guard replied. “Will there be anything else?”

“Tell the Queen we have a cure for Kai,” Anna replied.

“Yes, Princess.” He walked behind the guard shack, and started getting his horse ready.

Kristoff drove the sled along the road toward Arendelle. An hour later they came to the cutoff to Overlook. As the sled started climbing the steep road, Gerda awoke, and rose to her feet.

”Where are we?” she asked.

“Hi, sleepy head. We’re almost there. We should see the ice palace soon,” Anna replied.

Gerda climbed into the front of the sled, taking her seat between Anna and Kristoff. She looked forward with anticipation. As they approached the top, Anna began getting concerned. “Where is it? Did something happen?” She and Kristoff exchanged worried looks.

“You said you knew where her ice place is,” complained Gerda.

“The ice palace is gigantic. We should be seeing some of it right over that ridge. We’ll get a better look once we round that last turn right up ahead.”

Elsa tried to adjust the metal plates protecting her shoulder yet another time. She could not believe Captain Lars had persuaded her to wear the armor. Elsa tried to not think about Anna and Kristoff, as they were late returning. She worried about Anna, and felt she had to do something to distract herself.

Lars and a few Royal Guard waited at the practice field. “Your Majesty, thank you for coming properly prepared,” he said. Along with the armor, Elsa had also put her hair up and out of the way, again on the captain’s recommendation.

”If you could please give us a pile of snow?” requested Lars.

Elsa extended her right hand and did so. She gave the Captain a questioning glance.

“In combat, not getting hit can be more important than hitting your target.”

Elsa watched Lars’ men scoop snow into their hands and start making snowballs. They eyed her with expressions varying from worry to amusement. Elsa suddenly realized who today’s target would be.

“So this is why you wanted me to wear the armor. How do you wear this for any length of time? It’s uncomfortable.”

“Yes. My men throw harder than the children you had at the Royal snowball fight. In addition, you need to get use to wearing armor. This is light infantry armor. The leather allows for a high degree of freedom of movement, something I believe is needed for you to effectively use your Power. The metal plates cover vulnerable areas, such as joints and your vital organs,” Lars reached for and picked up a helmet, “and your head. Now if you would please come with me.”

They started walking onto the field when a mounted guardsman rode up.

“Queen Elsa! Princess Anna has returned!”

Elsa spoke to the rider. “Have her meet me at the castle.” Turning to Captain Lars, “We will finish this later.”

“My Queen, she said she’s going to Overlook directly,” the horseman explained. “She said she could cure the boy.”

Elsa looked a little alarmed. “The snow monsters. They don’t know she’s coming.”

Lars replied, “I told you not to use them. They do not have the proper training.”

Elsa turned to the horseman, “Give me your horse.”

He dismounted, and Elsa started to mount. “I wanted magical guards for a magical problem.” With that, she rode off.

Lars watched her go, her head unprotected by the helmet he still held. “We better get some men together,” he said to his second in command.

One guardsman piped up. “Sir, what’s that?” He pointed to the cliff top a little to the west of Overlook.

Lars looked and, for a second, saw a black winged creature, larger than any bird, before it flew behind the ridge. “Get everyone available. And get them fast.”

The sled topped the road, giving Kristoff, Anna, and Gerda a clear view of the snow covered hilltop. Gerda looked at the simple ice structure sitting in the clearing.

“That’s not much of an ice palace,” Gerda commented.

“I don’t get it. I remember leaving it right here,” Anna said, looking confused. “What happened?” she asked the Royal Guard stationed at the road’s end.

“Princess Anna, Queen Elsa destroyed her ice palace and replaced it with this . . . ice prison.”

Gerda looked confused. “Queen Elsa’s ice palace? I thought you said this was the Snow Queen’s ice palace.”

“Queen Elsa is the Snow Queen,” replied the other guard, some confusion in his voice. While he spoke, Anna waved her hands and made shushing noises, trying to stop him. The guard did not understand her fast enough. Frustrated, Anna threw her hands into the air, closed her eyes, and waited for the inevitable.

Gerda turned to Anna, her face showing surprise and anger. “Your sister is the Snow Queen? You fibbed to me!” She jumped from the sled and ran through the snow toward the ice prison. Anna quickly followed.

As Gerda drew close, Marshmallow took a step forward. “No one except Queen Elsa and Olaf!” he bellowed.

Gerda pulled to a stop, allowing Anna and Kristoff to catch up. “I am Princess Anna. You will step aside and allow us passage.” She strode forward.

“No one except Queen Elsa and Olaf!” Marshmallow made a grab for Anna. She tried to dodge his grip, but an icy finger caught an arm and knocked her down. The two guardsmen came running forward, drawing their swords. One ran past Anna, while the other helped her back to her feet.

“Now see here, Snow Monster, Princess Anna is Royalty, and has right of command! Stand aside.”

“No one except Queen Elsa and Olaf!” Snowflake roared, as he came beside Marshmallow and made a grab for the guard. He jumped to the left, swinging his sword. He cut the monster’s snowy leg, to no apparent effect.

In the confusion, Gerda thought she saw an opening and made a dash for the prison. Marshmallow saw her and stomped his foot directly in her path. Snow splashed everywhere, knocking Gerda back as she fell to the ground.

“Gerda! Don’t!” cried Anna. She ran to Gerda, with Kristoff following a few feet behind. Anna grabbed Gerda, and threw her back toward Kristoff. The effort caused Anna to slip and fall into the snow. She rolled onto her side, and saw Marshmallow’s foot coming down directly on top of her. With no time to escape, she covered her head with her arms and braced for the worst.

“Stop!”

Everyone stopped. Everyone looked. Elsa, mounted on her horse, had arrived at the road’s summit. Anna took the opportunity to roll from under Marshmallow’s still-upraised foot, stand, and run to Kristoff.

Elsa dismounted and strode forward, her anger clearly showing. “What is the meaning of this? My guards are fighting each other?” She looked at the two snow monsters. “You attack my sister, the Princess?”

“Apologies, Queen Elsa,” said one guardsman, as he came to attention.

Gerda recognized Elsa despite the armor. She ran to Anna, grabbed her leg and hid behind her. Marshmallow looked off into the distance and tapped two icy claws against each other, trying to look innocent.

“But you said…” began Snowflake, but was quickly silenced by an angry glare from Elsa.

Anna caught Elsa’s eye. Moving only her eyes, she looked at Gerda, then gestured with her head toward the ice prison, and finally smiled and nodded to her sister.

Elsa had no idea what had been going on and knew nothing about this young girl. She did know one thing: She could trust her sister.

“Let them through,” she ordered the snow monsters. They took a few steps to either side. Gerda looked to Anna, who smiled back, and nodded. “Yes, you can go,” she said.

Releasing Anna’s leg, Gerda ran to the prison’s steps.

Elsa walked to Anna. “Why did I just to that?” she asked with in an irritated tone.

“That Finnoa woman says Gerda can cure Kai. Gerda lived in Cliffdale. They know each other. They’re next-door neighbors.”

“They’re what? Wait, how can she cure Kai?”

Anna paused; suddenly realizing she had no idea what she had allowed to happen. “I’m not sure. Magic?”

Elsa rolled her eyes, turned, and approached to the ice prison. Anna and Kristoff quickly followed. When they arrived at the doorway, they could see Gerda and Kai near the back, with Kai backing away from Gerda.

“Stay away from me, you ugly little monster!” Kai screamed.

“Kai, it’s me, Gerda! Your best friend!” Crying, Gerda took a few steps forward.

Unseen by Kai, Olaf walked behind him and lay on the icy floor. Kai continued backing away from Gerda, until his legs ran into Olaf and he fell backwards. Gerda took the opening, running forward and throwing herself on Kai. She held him and hugged him, her tears falling on his face. Kai struggled to get up, to push her off. Then he calmed.

“Gerda? Is that you?”

Gerda raised herself off Kai. “Kai! Oh, Kai!” She hugged him again. This time he returned the gesture.

Anna looked at Elsa. Tears were streaming down Elsa’s smiling face. Anna reached for her sister and pulled her close.

Gerda, Kai, and Olaf all stood. Gerda saw Olaf, realizing for the first time he wasn’t a random snow pile. “What . . . who are you?

“Hi. I’m Olaf,” said the little snowman with a large smile on his face. He smiled and waited expectantly.

“He’s here to guard me,” said Kai. “The Snow Queen wants to make sure I don’t get away.”

“I’m Olaf . . .?”

Gerda suddenly understood what Olaf wanted. “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Gerda.” Then to Kai, “we need to get out of here. It’s cold and we need to get out.”

“I know. I wasn’t cold before, but now I am. But I can’t leave. The Snow Queen will not let me go until I solve a puzzle.”

“A puzzle? What puzzle?”

Kai looked around, trying to find the blocks. “Somewhere around here I have some puzzle blocks. I have to arrange them to spell ‘Eternity’.”

“I don’t know how to spell,” said Olaf.

By the door, Anna turned to Elsa. “A puzzle? He has to solve a puzzle?”

Elsa wiped away a tear. “I think that puzzle will just happen to be solved.” She extended a hand and made a small circle. With a gust of Power, some ice blocks on the floor rearranged themselves.

Kai and Gerda walked about the room, looking at the floor. “I know I left them around here somewhere. Oh, there they are.” Kai looked closer. “What happened? I don’t remember solving them, but look!”

They both looked at the blocks. Kai last remembered seeing them scattered at random. Now they spelled the word, ‘Eternity’.

“Does that mean the Snow Queen will let you leave?” asked Gerda.

“I‘m not sure. I told her I would stay with her forever once I solved the puzzle. Now I don’t want to. I just want to go home, with you.”

“You wanted to stay with the Snow Queen? Why?”

“I don’t know. Everything I saw looked ugly, except for her. She had this beautiful darkness. I felt I had to stay with her.”

“Maybe she put a spell on you.”

“Elsa would not do that! She’s the nicest person I know.” said Olaf.

Kai looked at Olaf. “Do you think she will let me leave? Let us go home?”

“Sure!” Olaf practically jumped off the floor with enthusiasm. He looked past the children and waved. “Hi, Elsa!”

Kai looked to the entrance where Elsa and Anna stood. They both smiled back, and Anna raised her hand and wiggled her fingers at the children.

“Yes, Kai, you can leave.” Elsa said, in a gentle voice, as she stood to the side. The two children walked forward, warily. They moved to the side of the entrance, opposite where Elsa stood, then stopped, apparently unwilling to actually come close enough to her to leave the ice prison.

“Maybe you should move over there,” Anna said to Elsa, indicating a location well off to the side, away from the entrance. Elsa looked at her, exasperated, annoyed at being treated as a problem. Despite her annoyance, she moved aside, letting the children sidle out. They looked at her, and then ran to Anna.

“Would you two like to go home now?” Anna asked.

“Yes, Princess Anna,” answered Gerda.

“Who’s she?” Kai whispered to Gerda.

“She’s the Snow Queen’s sister. But she’s nice.” Then, in a louder voice, so Anna would be sure to hear: “Even if she did fib to me.”

“I’m sorry, Gerda. I thought you would be scared of me if you knew. I always wanted to make Kai better so he could go home. So you both could go home. Can we still be friends?”

Gerda nodded.

“Thank you. What do you say we all go to my castle? We can stay there the night, then tomorrow, we’ll take a ship to your home.” Anna turned to Elsa. “And this time you’re not going to leave me behind.” She put an arm around Gerda. “They’re more comfortable with me anyway.”

“Are you sure? Can you handle the effects of the curse?” Elsa asked.

Anna looked into Elsa’s eyes. “I’m sure we can handle it.”

Kristoff had seen something inside the ice prison, and had gone inside to look.

Anna looked in, then at Elsa. “Why did you destroy the ice palace, and make this?” she asked, gesturing at the ice prison.

“I made one last attempt to cure Kai, to thaw his spirit. All I did was dispel the palace. I had to make this as a replacement.”

“You tried to cure Kai?” Gerda asked, looking at Elsa.

Elsa smiled back. “Yes, I did.”

“I remember that,” Kia exclaimed. “But all I thought was happening was you were going to free me so we could be together.”

Near the back of the ice prison, Kristoff knelt and picked two items off the floor. “There is something odd here.”

Anna and the children watched as Kristoff walked back to the entrance. He held two small black rock shards.

“Anyone have any idea what these are?” Kristoff asked.

Elsa walked back to the entrance to take a look. At her approach, the two children retreated behind Anna.

“I don’t know. Where did you find them?” asked Elsa.

“It looks like obsidian, except that type of rock is rare in these mountains. There’s none here on this hill. I found them in the back of the room, where the two kids were.”

Anna looked at Gerda, then at the shards. “Do you think they were what was in Kai? What was poising him?” she asked.

“And she removed them somehow? How could she do that?” asked Elsa.

“We saw her do some strange things. I’ll tell you about it later,” replied Anna.

“I know someone who will know all about these shards,” said Kristoff. Both women knew what he meant. The time had come to visit the trolls again.

“Alright. We’ll go tomorrow. It’s getting late and the sun’s about to set. Let’s get back home,” said Elsa.

Anna and the children turned and started walking back to where Elsa’s horse and Kristoff’s sled waited. Elsa paused until the others had walked a short distance ahead of her before following. Once they were all well away from ice prison, Elsa turned to the structure with a determined look on her face. She extended her arm, made a fist and then raised it over her head. A large icicle shot up through the ice prison roof. A second gesture, with both arms, sent two more icicles through the sides. The roof broke and fell, walls shattered, and, in a shower of snow, the entire structure collapsed into a pile of icy rubble.

Anna stared at Elsa, startled at what she had done. She had never seen Elsa so wantonly destructive before.

Elsa turned to her horse and strode past Anna. “You have no idea how good that felt,” she said, fiercely.

She had gone only a few steps when a small black figure walked into view from behind a rock pile. The creature came forward with its bat-like wings folded behind its back, regarded Elsa with glowing red eyes, and bowed.

“Queen Elsa,” he said, in a sarcastic, condescending voice. “I am Damion. I have come for the child.” He pointed to Gerda.

Elsa stopped, examining the creature, a head shorter than herself. She drew herself up, fully adopting her regal poise. “I rule this realm. You have no right to demand anything. You will not take anyone. Leave my land.”

“Oh, I’ll leave. With her,” Damion pointed at Gerda a second time.

From behind her, Elsa heard Kristoff. “Careful, that’s a hobgoblin,” he warned. “I’ve heard of them, although I’ve never seen one.”

Elsa raised her right hand to chest height, her upturned palm cradling the white glow of Power. “You have no claim to her,” she said. Behind Damion, she saw the two Royal Guardsmen had slowly drawn their swords, and were creeping toward him, trying to catch him by surprise.

Damion took a slow step forward. “Oh, I have every claim. She has Power of her own, Power that stands in my way. Give her to me, or I will take her!”

“You? You can do no such thing.”

Damion extended his wings and with a few flaps, jumped into the air. “How about now?”

Elsa eyes followed him upward. Behind Damion, she saw a hundred more hobgoblins flying up from behind a ridge. Her eyes grew wide. She looked about, trying to figure out what to do. She saw the Anna and the others, similarly frozen at the spectacle. Elsa swept her arm at them, pointing to the ice rubble. “Get back! Get to cover!” Then, she turned to the hobgoblins.

Damion flapped in the air, cackling at her. Elsa formed an ice bolt, aimed, and let loose. He easily dodged to the side, his laughter growing. Elsa shot another at him, only to see the ice bolt hit his obsidian hide, and shatter. A few others had turned on the Royal Guardsmen, forcing them to retreat down the road. Coming behind Damion, she saw some of the other hobgoblins flying toward her, each carrying a rock. When they flew within several dozen feet, they threw their rocks at Elsa.

Almost instinctively, Elsa raised a tower of ice to protect herself. Rocks smashed into the structure, which filled with cracks, shattered, and collapsed. Elsa threw her arms across her face to protect herself from the flying shards. As she did so, she took two steps backwards, tripping on something hidden under the snow. She fell, while ice bounced off her armor. Frost splattered outward from where her hands hit the ground. The forward most hobgoblins pealed off to the sides, and a second wave moved in behind them, each taking aim with their rocks. Elsa stood, and ran for the rubble of the ice prison, arms thrown over her head while rocks showering about her.

Off to the side, the two snow monsters tried to bat hobgoblins from the air. The flying creatures had little trouble dodging the snow monsters’ icy claws. As Elsa reached the rubble, she saw Snowflake catch one and throw it to the ground. Elsa took advantage, and with a quick gesture, entombed the hobgoblin in ice. As she did so, a rock crashed into the ice at her left. Startled, she dove into the rubble, joining Anna, Kristoff and the children.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

The children were terrified, holding each other. Anna had placed herself to cover them, trying to protect and comfort them. Kristoff kneeled, peeking from behind the rubble, trying to see if he could do anything to help. Elsa could see they all were unhurt.

“What are we going to do?” asked Anna.

“Stay down,” Elsa raised herself enough to look over the rubble. Marshmallow and Snowflake had wandered farther off, chasing hobgoblins. She saw two hobgoblins using rocks and talons to break free the one she had encased in ice. She started to take aim at the pair, when they broke the last of the ice, and the trapped hobgoblin flew off. One rescuer threw a rock at Elsa’s head. She ducked, splinters showering over them all as the rock struck the icy rubble.

Everyone stayed down, protecting themselves from flying ice shards. Rocks continued to hit the ice rubble, gradually destroying their cover. Elsa looked around, not sure what to do. She noticed frost spreading from where her hands rested on the icy rubble. Elsa suddenly realized she was terrified. She felt her fear growing, her heart racing, and her control of the Power slipping. Should I use my Power? Or will it spray about, without control, hurting everyone?

The hail of rocks stopped. Elsa started to rise and take a look when she heard claws landing on ice. Several hobgoblins had landed on the rubble, and were closing in.

“Come out, come out, my little snowflake queen,” called Damion.

Elsa looked his direction, seeing his black-horned head showing above the ice, his wings slowly flapping.

“You are surrounded. There is no escape. Give us the child!”

Reflexively, Elsa moved to cover the children with her body, to protect them for as long as possible.

A crossbow bolt shot over Damion’s head. A second punctured his wing, making a jagged hole as if the skin were glass.

“What? Who dares?” Damion looked off to the side, and then took flight. His companions followed.

Elsa raised herself and saw Captain Lars had arrived, accompanied by a dozen Royal Guard. They made for the Queen’s position, only to be quickly cut off by a cloud of hobgoblins. Captain Lars came forward as far as he could.

“Your Majesty!” Lars raised his right fist and brought it down. “Be strong!”

“He’s right,” Elsa whispered to herself. “I’m doing it again. I’m panicking.” Then louder: “It’s time to fight!” She vaulted over the rubble.

Elsa strode forward, with her last step planting her foot solidly on the ground. The snow transformed into an ice sheet, spreading outwards. Before her, she could see Lars’ men pinned down, fending off the hobgoblins with swords and shields. The hobgoblins had all been distracted by the arrival of the guard. Now, several saw Elsa and broke off, flying back toward her. They took aim with their rocks.

Elsa waited until they were about to let loose, then, with a gesture, she raised a wall of ice, a dozen feet high and yard thick. The rocks hit, chipping and cracking the ice, doing little overall damage. A few hobgoblins, those who had not yet thrown their rocks, flew to the left and right to get around the wall. Elsa followed the three going right; ready to catch them as they came in range. Focusing on them, she barely felt Anna’s hand on her shoulder.

As each hobgoblin came around the ice wall, the creature would hover for a moment to take aim with a rock. Elsa took advantage, hitting the enemy with her Power to entomb the creature in ice. After those three were falling from the sky, she turned to get the two who had gone to the left. Anna stood beside her, one hand on Elsa’s shoulder, the other arm outstretched to the left. The two hobgoblins lay on the ground before her, covered in ice.

With an ear to ear grin on her face Anna turned to Elsa. “This is sort of fun. You should have told me about . . . LOOK OUT!”

Elsa turned to see a storm of rocks hitting her wall. Despite the thickness of the ice, the wall could not stand the onslaught. Elsa pulled Anna to her, turned her back to the wall, and covered her sister. Ice and rock showered about them. As the debris cleared, the two stood.

“Are you all right?” asked Elsa.

“I think so. Are you?”

“A few bruises. I’ll be feeling this tomorrow.”

“Wow, that armor really works. Do you think maybe I could get some?”

“You’re asking now? Get back to cover!” Elsa ordered. “Protect the children.”

“Kristoff and Olaf have them. I’m staying here. The best way to save the children to take them out.” Anna pointed to the hobgoblins. They had flown off to get more rocks.

“Their tactics are odd, why didn’t they press their advantage? Maybe they don’t know how. They’re not acting like a fighting force, just a mob,” Elsa said, thoughtfully.

The hobgoblins returned, and started circling around, Damion trying to organize them to attack from multiple directions at once.

Elsa took her sister’s left hand. “If you’re going to stay, you need to do two things. First, don’t get lost in the Power.”

“And the other?”

“Don’t hold back!”

Elsa looked across the battlefield. “Marshmallow! Snowflake! Here, stand over the children, protect them!”

The two snow monsters lumbered back to the rubble and took their positions. Elsa looked to Lars, and saw he and his men still pinned in a defensive position by several hobgoblins. She made two new walls extending from herself to either side of the guards. Lars understood her intent and took advantage. “To the Queen!” he ordered.

Damion suddenly realized he was losing control of the battle, and abandoned his attempts for an organized attack. Desperately, he urged everyone forward.

“Walls!” Elsa called to Anna. Elsa moved forward, turning to the left. Left hand in left hand, Anna spun around to face to the right. Both gestured with their right hands, raising walls from the ice sheet. Elsa looked at the one made by her sister. “Wider, thicker! Remember, don’t hold back!”

With annoyance showing, Anna swept her hand upward a second time. As her wall grew, the ice, by chance, trapped a hobgoblin who had been trying to fly in, claws extended.

A few hobgoblins had let loose with their rocks prematurely, right when the sisters formed their walls. The projectiles thudded into the ice ineffectually. The others started circling around or flying upward, trying to get a clear shot.

The Royal Guard flooded in, surrounding the two women. Lars walked to Elsa and shoved a helmet at her. “You forgot something,” he snarled angrily. Elsa took the helmet, looked at it for a few seconds, then turned and placed it on Anna’s head.

“What’s this for? Are you sure?” Anna asked.

“You said you wanted armor. Now duck!” responded Elsa.

“Raise shields!” called Lars. Rocks rained from above as everyone ducked under the protective cover. Elsa stood and caught several hobgoblins as they started to fly off to get more rocks. She turned with a dance-like motion, sweeping a hand at the wall. Power flowed, repairing the cracks. Anna followed her lead, turning, catching a few enemies herself. Soft thuds could be heard when a rock hit a snow monster and became buried in their bulk.

Anna saw one female hobgoblin flying toward her at high speed, screaming, wings tucked in, claws extended. Anna aimed, and covered her in ice. The hobgoblin, already at high speed, continued falling toward Anna’s head. Anna gathered some Power, and pushed the hobgoblin away as hard as she could. The hobgoblin virtually stopped, mid-air, and fell to the ground. At the same time, Anna was thrown backwards, into two guardsmen. All three fell in a tangle.

Elsa felt her sister’s hand ripped from her own. Turning, she said, “You need brace yourself. When you push with the Power, it pushes back just has hard.”

“Nice to know. Good tip,” Anna said, as she climbed back to her feet and reseated her helmet on her head. “Shall we finish this?” Anna extended her hand and Elsa took it.

With Elsa and Anna defended by shields and ice walls, the hobgoblins didn’t stand a chance. Several tried to rush the group. They were met with swords and icy claws. Marshmallow caught one and threw him to the ground at Elsa’s feet. The hobgoblin tried to crawl away, while a guardsman fended the creature off with his sword. He did not get far before Elsa covered him with ice. Anna swept her arm in a wide arc, and a wave of snow caught several, knocking them to the ground. Before they could recover, they, too, were entombed.

Hand in hand, the two women danced and fired. Hobgoblins rained to the ground. Within seconds, only a few remained in the air. They flapped off to a safe distance. Elsa took aim, attempting to catch them despite the range.

“Wait,” advised Lars. “Let’s see what they have to say.”

“You won’t get away with this! We’ll get you!” one screamed.

Another, a fallen hobgoblin shouted back, “Gnash! What are you doing? You cannot leave me here! Come back and fight!”

“This is all your fault, Damion. We never should have followed you here. We should have taken the girl while she as all alone in the woods, like I wanted.”

“You coward! Get back here and free me!”

Two hobgoblins came forward, flying to where Damion lay encased in ice. “Those you should get,” suggested Lars.

“I’ll take left,” Elsa said to Anna. They both fired, and two more enemies lay encased ice. The remaining hobgoblins screamed in rage and fled.

Elsa released her grip on Anna.

“Whooo whee!” Anna raised her hands over her head and spun around, skipping. “We have got to do this more often!”

“Calm down, it’s over.” Elsa turned to where Kristoff and the children hid.

Kristoff stood, brushing some snow and ice shards away. “We’re all fine,” he said.

Anna swept the helmet off her head, tossing it aside. She ran to Kristoff, grabbed him and gave him a big kiss. “Did you see me?” she said, excitedly.

“Some of it. You were amazing! But, I was sort of busy.” Kristoff looked at the two children.

“Oh, right. That was so exciting!” Anna jumped onto a piece of rubble. “I feel wonderful!” She balanced on one foot, spun around, and then let herself fall toward Kristoff. He caught her in his arms and spoke to Elsa. “This is like when Sven gets a fresh bag of carrots.”

Anna ignored the comment and looked at the children. “Here, let’s get you two out of there.” She slipped from Kristoff’s arms, and, along with a guardsman, extracted Gerda and Kai from their hiding place. They looked basically all right, although shaken. Anna climbed through the rubble, and both children moved to her side and held onto her.

Suddenly, Olaf’s head fell from the sky, landing with a thump on an ice wall. “That did not work at all,” he said, looking quite disappointed. “Little help please?” He looked around, and saw a snowball rolling toward the base of the wall. “Oh, look! There’s a foot!”

Elsa waved her hand and brought Olaf back together. “What happened to you?” she asked.

“Hobgoblin, claws, rocks. I did have a nice flight,” replied Olaf.

Slowly, they all filed out between the walls and various pieces of icy debris. Soon, everyone had gotten clear, fallen hobgoblins on every side. Elsa surveyed the battlefield, catching Captain Lars’ eye. He nodded back to her, looking proud. Then he looked at Anna.

Captain Lars walked to where Elsa’s helmet lay, and with some frustration, picked it up. He carried the headgear back to Anna. “Never leave your equipment scattered about the field,” he said, presenting her the helmet. “You never know when you might need it.”

Taking the helmet, Anna looked at Lars, her eyes twinkling with excitement. “As long as you’re training Elsa, can you train me too?” she asked.

“I don’t see why not. You need to be able to protect yourself as much as the Queen does,” the Captain replied. He looked to Elsa to see if she would allow it.

Elsa opened her mouth, preparing to deny the request, and then realized the utter futility of trying to prevent Anna from doing anything she really wanted to do. Resignedly, she nodded to Lars.

“Fine,” said Lars. “As you have no Power of your own, I’ll teach you how to use a sword, among other things. You are right handed?”

Anna practically jumped for joy. “This is going to be so much fun! Yes I am, but I can do most anything with my left that I can do with my right.”

“Interesting. Maybe you can learn to fight with two swords. We’ll see how much ‘fun’ you have on your first run from Arendelle to the top of this hill while wearing armor.”

Anna calmed a bit. “Really?” she said. A Royal Guardsman, standing behind Lars, caught Anna’s eye and gave a knowing nod.

Elsa lowered her head, placed a hand to her forehead and slowly shook her head back and forth.

“What’s wrong?” Kristoff asked.

“I just had a vision of Anna running around Arendelle with two swords,” Elsa said.

“Don’t worry. Responsible use of all weaponry is part of my training,” explained Lars.

Hearing that, Anna put her hands on her hips, flushed with anger and embarrassment. “What do you mean by that? All I want is to be better prepared for the next time I run into something like those robbers!”

Elsa looked concerned. “Robbers? What robbers?”

“We ran into some on the way to Finnoa, in the foothills, before the eastern plains,” explained Kristoff.

“Don’t worry,” Anna said, somewhat off-handedly. “There were only six of them. They didn’t even have swords. Just clubs and crossbows.”

“They threatened you with crossbows?” Elsa said, with increasing concern.

“Oh, they weren’t very good with them. They kept missing.”

“They shot at you with crossbows?” Elsa took a step toward her sister, her concern clearly showing.

“I can send some men to round them up,” offered Lars.

“You do that,” Elsa said. She looked back to the fallen Hobgoblins. “Marshmallow, Snowflake, gather the hobgoblins and pile them over there.” Elsa ordered, pointing to the east side of the hilltop, where the ground rose sharply. Then to Lars, “What do we do with all of them?”

“My men can take care of them,” replied Lars.

“It will be better if we took care of them,” said a new voice.

They all turned and saw a troll standing nearby.

Kristoff took a step forward. “Pabbie! What are you doing here? What are you doing outside your valley?”

“We are needed here.” As he spoke, several other rocks rolled forward and turned into trolls. Pabbie walked to where Damion lay, little more than his head and a wingtip protruding from the ball of ice. “Damion, what mischief have you gotten into now?”

Startled, Elsa asked, “You two know each other?”

Pabbie turned to Elsa, lowering his head a bit. “Your Majesty, I regret to say we do. We and the hobgoblins are . . . related.”

“Oh, Pabbie, you should have seen it. It was so beautiful, so evil,” bragged Damion.

“What was?” asked Elsa.

Damion looked at Elsa, and replied with nothing more than a cackling laugh.

Kristoff approached Pabbie. “Maybe it has something to do with these?” He opened his hand, revealing the two small obsidian shards. Pabbie held out his hand, and Kristoff placed the two shards in his palm. Pabbie placed his other hand, palm down, on the first. A yellow glow emanated from between his hands.

Pabbie turned to Elsa. “Your Majesty, I must apologize. When I heard of the trouble at Cliffdale, when I saw Kai, I had not considered this possibility.” He turned back to Damion. “Why did you shatter it?”

“Shatter what?” asked Elsa, her frustration showing.

“That part was an accident,” Damion admitted. “But it was still glorious! All the shards fell over that village. It was so fun watching it die. And the village will still die. There is nothing you can do to stop it!” Damion had directed his last comment at Elsa.

Pabbie turned to Elsa. “There exists a spell, difficult to perform, and requiring rare materials. I thought it beyond the capability of Damion and his tribe. This spell makes a mirror, one that distorts all that it reflects.”

“The mirror distorts nothing! It shows everyone the way the world really is!”

Pabbie ignored Damion’s outburst. “Were you to look into this mirror, all reflections of things that are good would be diminished in size, and all that are ugly would be magnified.”

Elsa and the others exchanged glances, comprehension beginning to replace confusion. “These shards, they are part of that mirror? And they got into Kai? They poisoned him?”

“Yes. With the shards in him he could see nothing but ugliness wherever he looked.” Pabbie looked at the two children, taking a few steps closer. Both retreated farther behind Anna.

“It’s all right,” Anna reassured them.

“This one, the girl, this wonderful girl. She cured him?” Pabbie looked to Elsa for confirmation.

“We think so, but we have no idea how. Kai appeared to get better when Gerda embraced him.” Anna said.

“Did her tears fall upon the boy?” asked Pabbie.

“It’s possible. Both of them had fallen to the floor.”

“It is one of her gifts. Her tears have the Power to lift curses.”

“I touched those shards. Am I going to be all right?” asked Kristoff, sounding worried.

“Her tears have the power to counter the enchantment. The shards are no longer a danger to anyone,” replied Pabbie.

“What about Cliffdale? How do we cure an entire village?” asked Elsa.

“Working together, you have the capability to do so.”

“How?”

“You will know when the time comes.”

Elsa looked at Pabbie, exasperated. She had become weary of the riddles.

Anna walked to Elsa and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t let it get to you. I’ll explain later,” she said, quietly.

Twilight had begun to descend on the hilltop. Through the gloom, Elsa could see the snow monsters had finished gathering the fallen hobgoblins. She suddenly realized she had created a problem for herself. What does one do with giant snow monsters when you don’t need them any more? She decided to ask them.

“Your tasks here are done. What do you two want to do with yourselves?”

The two snow monsters looked at each other, and then turned to Elsa. “Stay here with you. It gets lonely in the mountains.”

“I cannot have these two at the castle,” Elsa said softly. “They’ll scare all the visitors.”

Olaf heard her comment. “Why? No one is scared of me. Well, almost no one. At least not anymore.”

“Look at them, they’re giants. You aren’t.”

“Why do they have to be giants?”

“Maybe they don’t,” Elsa said, uncertainly. “Let me try something.”

She extended both hands toward the two snow monsters. Power flowed, enveloping them both in a white cloud of snowflakes. When the snow cleared, both Marshmallow and Snowflake were smaller, about as high as Olaf.

“Are you two all right?” Elsa asked.

Marshmallow looked at himself. “I’m small,” he said, in an elevated, but still deep voice.

“So am I,” said Snowflake, in a higher voice. Elsa looked at the small snow monster, noticing certain details for the first time.

“Why, you’re a woman!”

Snowflake looked at Elsa in surprise. “You didn’t know? You made me.”

“Hello, gorgeous,” Olaf said, as he sidled to Snowflake’s side. Marshmallow looked at the pair with suspicion, arms folded across his chest.

More trolls rolled in, each collecting a hobgoblin and carrying it off. Elsa decided she did not want to know what fate awaited them. She walked to Lars. “Are all you men in good shape?”

“Some cuts and bruises, nothing serious,” he replied.

“Including the two men who were stationed here?”

“Right here, Your Majesty,” one of them replied.

“Good. No need for you to stay here anymore, there is nothing left to guard.” She turned to the Anna and the others. “Shall we try to get home now? I want to get out of this armor.”

“You could always turn it into another ice gown,” suggested Anna.

Elsa considered, closed her eyes, and dropped her hands to her sides, palms down, fingers angled outward.

“Your Majesty, please don’t,” requested Lars.

Elsa gave him a little smile, turned, and walked to her horse.


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