The Rain of a Child's Tear
The day after setting sail from Arendelle found Elsa sitting by the port railing of the Snowburst, watching the shoreline creep by. She had dressed casually, and had not bothered putting her hair up, or wearing her crown. Gentle waves rocked the ship as it sailed beneath a sky streaked with high clouds.
Elsa still had no idea what to do once she arrived at Cliffdale. Worry and concern filled her, along with dread that she would fail yet again.
She had discussed the matter with Anna after they had returned to the castle and put the children to bed.
“I don't get it, why do the trolls have to talk in riddles?” Elsa had said, her exasperation showing.
“Kristoff told me his thoughts. He thinks the trolls don’t actually know what to do,” Anna related.
“How can that be?”
“He thinks the trolls know we can deal with the problem, but not the details of what we should do. Like Pabbie knew we needed to travel to the eastern plains to find what we needed, but did not know we would find Gerda.”
“So now he thinks if we all go to Cliffdale, we can figure out how to lift the curse?”
“Something like that, yes.”
Elsa had never considered that the trolls were less than infallible, or all knowing. She had gone to bed confused and worried.
Anna, speaking softly from behind, interrupted her thoughts. “It’s all right, you can ask her.”
Turning, she saw Anna standing at the stairs to the lower decks with the two children ahead of her, a hand on the shoulder of each.
Gerda spoke. “Miss Your Majesty Snow Queen Elsa?” Apprehension showed in her voice.
Elsa smiled. “You can call me Elsa, or Queen Elsa if you wish.”
“Is it true you cannot feel love?”
“What?” Elsa showed exaggerated surprise. “Of course I can feel love. Why would you think I could not?”
“I thought you couldn’t feel anything. Not cold, not love, nothing. My father said you couldn’t,” said Kai.
“Well, I don’t know why he would say such a thing. Maybe all he needs is to get to know me better. I can feel love, joy, everything you can. I can also feel cold. It’s just . . . well, have you ever gone outside and played in the snow?”
The two children looked at each other, smiled a little, and nodded back to Elsa.
“You know how you can get so excited, you do not notice that it’s cold, or if you do, it doesn’t bother you?”
Again the two children looked at each other, then nodded back to Elsa, smiling more broadly.
“Well, it’s like that. I can feel the cold, it just doesn’t bother me.”
“Why did you cause that storm?” complained Kai. “My father couldn’t do his job for three days.”
Elsa looked down for a moment. “I’m sorry I did that. It was an accident. I lost control of my Power. I promise you I’ll do my very best to insure it never happens again.”
Both children took a few steps forward, with Gerda leading. She reached to Elsa’s sleeve to feel the fabric.
“That’s not ice,” Gerda commented.
“I don’t wear the ice gown every day. Here on the ship it’s better to dress casually.”
“Queen Elsa?” Kai began. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? For what?”
“I said I would stay with you forever. But now I want to go home, to my parents.”
“There is nothing to be sorry for. I knew you were sick. Those shards were affecting you. Once you were cured, I expected you to change your mind.”
“I remember when they fell on me. I was lying down, looking up at the sky. There was haze up there. But I thought they had fallen back out. Then everything was different and ugly. How did Gerda get them out?”
“Yeah, how?” Gerda added.
“Well, it seems your tears have Power. Surely you have noticed that before?”
“My tears? The flowers! They grew where my tears fell. But that never happened before I went after you and Kai.”
“Well, maybe you did not need it before. My Power has always been with me.”
“You can make snow with your hands?” she asked.
“Would you like to see?” She motioned the children to come to the railing. She extended a hand, and made a large pile of snow in the water, a few yards off the side. They all watched it bob in the waves, drifting past, as the ship sailed onward.
“I told you,” said Kai. Then his face lit up. “Can you make a snow seal?”
“Well, let me try.”
Anna walked back to the bridge where Captain Eric stood at the wheel. “It’s nice to see her like this, playing with the children.”
“Aye. This is a happier voyage than the last. Princess Anna, would you like to try your hand at helm duty?”
“Me? Are you sure that’s safe?”
“I will remain at your side.” Most everyone in the kingdom knew Princess Anna of Arendelle would enthusiastically try most anything. They had also learned to keep a close eye on what she actually did.
Smiling, Anna moved behind the wheel, looking to the Captain for any instructions.
“Steady as she goes,” he said.
“What does that mean?”
“You should keep the ship traveling on its current course, correcting for any disturbances caused by the seas.”
Off to the side, Anna noticed another snow sculpture float by. “That’s a good one,” she said, admiring the snow dragon.
“A little to port,” instructed Eric. Anna turned the wheel. “Your other port,” he said.
“Oops,” Anna said as she turned the wheel the other way.
“I wish we knew what to do once we get to Cliffdale,” she said wistfully.
“Perhaps you need to be there before you can figure it out. We’re making good speed. We should arrive tomorrow morning.”
Who am I? The Snow Queen, or the Queen of Arendelle? Elsa sat on her bed looking in the mirror, once again wondering about herself. She also worried about what to do when they arrived. She felt the motion of the ship subside, indicating they had entered the harbor. Yet she had no idea how to help Cliffdale. Despite her uncertainty, she could clearly see who she needed to be today.
For inspiration, she dressed, and made herself up to appear as she had when she first accepted her Power, wearing the ice gown with her hair in a single braid laid across her heart. She made two compromises to her look, wearing Anna’s gifts: the tailored version of the gown, and the silver ring crown. Folding the train of her gown across her arm, she left her room, and made her way on deck. Everyone else wore warm clothes against the morning cold. A few low, grey clouds drifted through an otherwise blue sky.
The ship stood a hundred yards off the pier. A small boat with four of the ship’s crewmen on board had been lowered to the water, and they were rowing to the dock. Captain Eric saw Elsa, and walked to her side.
“All the harbor facilities appear to be abandoned. I’m sending some men to the pier to handle the lines.”
Elsa saw Anna and the children near the bow, and walked to them. The two children looked at her, fear showing on their faces. “What’s wrong? Can you fix it?” asked Kai.
“I’ll do my best. You two need to be strong. I don’t know what we’ll find there.”
They all watched and waited, as the crew guided the ship into dock, and made the ship fast with the mooring lines. Soon the men lowered the gangplank into place.
“Do you think we should take the children with us?” Anna asked.
“Remember what Pabbie said,” replied Elsa. “All of us need to be there.” Then to Eric, “Captain, please assign me four men.”
Anna, Elsa, Kai and Gerda all crossed the gangplank to the dock. Captain Eric ordered two men already ashore, plus two others, to accompany them. Together, they all moved along the dock toward the village. Once she cleared the gangplank, Elsa checked behind herself before releasing the train of her gown.
They reached the pier’s end, and moved into the village proper. The warehouses near the water’s edge stank of rotting fish, the smell worse than Elsa’s last visit. As they moved onward, they looked down side streets that seemed devoid of life. The smell of decay joined the smell of rot. Then, they heard a scream in the distance. Other signs of life became evident. In an alley, a figure moved quickly from one doorway to another. From a nearby building, they heard a woman sobbing.
Anna saw a man, wearing filthy, torn clothing, lying on the ground in the shadows, near a barrel. She approached to check on him.
“Sir? Are you all right?”
He looked at her, and screamed in terror. He scrambled off a short distance, stumbled to his feet, and ran away. Anna turned back to the group, looking both worried and scared.
“Are you all right?” Elsa asked her sister.
“Should we really be here? This place feels hopeless. Can we really do anything? Maybe we should just go home.”
Elsa took Anna by the shoulders. “Anna, don’t lose hope. It’s the curse; it’s affecting you. Fight it!”
Anna closed her eyes and nodded. “Right. The curse. Let’s keep going.”
Elsa turned to a seaman. “Go to the palace. Tell King Ragnar we’re here. Tell him we are going to Kai’s house.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” he said. The seaman gave a short bow, and moved off.
“Let’s at least get Gerda and Kai back to their parents,” Elsa said to the others.
The group walked uphill, along the main road, and then turned onto the side street Elsa remembered from her first visit. Soon, they came to the two houses connected by the planter boxes. On seeing his house, Kai ran up the steps to the front door. He tried to work the latch, only to find it locked. He banged on the door.
No one answered his call. He turned, looking at the others, wondering what to do. Elsa held out her hand, calling him back.
Anna took Gerda’s hand. “Let’s try yours.” They went to Gerda’s house and knocked on the door. Shortly, Gerda’s mother opened the door.
“So, you came back?” she said. “What makes you think we want you back? You ran away. You’re a very naughty child.”
“But I found Kai. I brought him back. He’s better now.” Gerda replied.
“No child of mine would run away. Go away! I never want to see you again!” She slammed the door in Gerda’s face. Everyone stood there, stunned. Gerda stood very still, trembling, unable to understand what just happened. She began to cry.
“No, I need to stay strong,” she said in a tiny voice. She raised a hand to wipe her face.
“Wait,” Elsa said, as she walked to Gerda. She reached to Gerda’s cheek. On the tip of her finger, Elsa caught a single tear, stared at it for a moment, and then gave Anna an uncertain look.
Anna looked back, and gently shook her head in confusion.
Then Elsa smiled her sly little smile and passed one hand over the other. A ball of snow began to build between her hands, the tear trapped within. Power gathered about her as she concentrated on the ball. She planned to make this snowball large, but more importantly, she wanted to launch the ball high. Snow and Power continued to gather, circling about her ever faster.
“Everyone, get back, give her room!” Anna called to the others, yelling to be heard above the roar of the wind whipping about Elsa. They all backed off, leaving Elsa alone in the middle of the road. Power and snow swirled around her, mostly hiding her from view.
This time there will be no compromise she thought, and launched the ball upward. With her right arm extended vertically, she continued to push the ball into the sky. The Power, swirling about her, spiraled into the ball’s wake, forming a column of light and snow. Elsa felt the ball’s weight crushing back into her hand, the strain threatening to drive her to her knees. Refusing to give up, she continued forcing the ball ever higher. Silence fell as everyone watched the ball climb, the roar of wind replaced by the gentle hiss of Power emanating from Elsa’s hand. The ball climbed, higher than the clouds, higher than the top of the cliff. Finally, she let it explode. A white cloud slowly spread across the sky.
Elsa collapsed to the ground, physically spent. Frost spread from where her hands hit the road.
“Elsa!” Anna yelled, as she ran to help Elsa to her feet. Reaching for her, Anna could see Elsa was losing control of her Power.
Elsa reached and took Anna’s hand. Exhaustion showed in her voice. “You’ll have to finish it, do the last step,” she stated, her voice barely more than a whisper.
“What? What last step?”
“Bring back summer.”
“But, I’ll destroy all the snow you just made.”
Elsa shook her head. “No, you only need warm the air,” she said, weakly.
“That’s possible? I can do that?”
“I know you can.”
“But . . . ”
Elsa looked up at the snow, still falling, still well above the ground. “Do it! Quickly!” She sagged back down, while continuing to hold on to Anna’s hand.
Anna had never done this before, never tried this other aspect of Elsa’s Power. Even so, she remembered what Elsa had told her. She looked at her sister, and felt their love. Closing her eyes, she slowly swept her arm around herself.
The air warmed. A soft summer breeze blew across the village. As the still-falling snow encountered the warming air, each flake melted to a drop of liquid.
The rain of a child’s tear fell across the village.
Rain began to patter on the ground around the group. The smell of a fresh spring shower replaced the scent of rot and decay. They watched, as the village appeared to change before their eyes. Moments earlier, Anna saw Kia’s home as a dingy and old. Now she saw the structure as quaint. Nothing had actually changed, yet everything looked different.
With Anna’s help, Elsa regained her footing. She turned her head to the sky and let the rain wash away her fatigue.
An ugly old woman stormed from a house across the street, her deeply lined face twisted with anger and hate. She pinned Elsa in her gaze. “What nonsense is going on now? What have you done? Why I ought to . . . ” She stopped and looked up. Rain fell on her face.
A beautiful, old woman looked at Elsa, who could hardly believe she was seeing the same person. The old woman’s smiling face showed lines of character and wisdom. “Look at everything!” she said. “Look how beautiful it all is!” She slowly turned about.
Someone grabbed Elsa’s hand and spun her around. A man she had never seen before took her other hand and began to dance. “Oh, everything is so wonderful!” He exclaimed. He released her and danced off along the street. Other people began coming out. The street slowly filled with happy, dancing people.
Elsa turned, and saw Kai back at the door to his house, now open. His parents were standing there, hugging him. She walked to Gerda. “Go try again,” she suggested.
Gerda started moving to her house, and then stood still, fearing what she would find. Anna came up behind her.
“Let’s do it together.” They ascended the steps to the door, and knocked. The door flew open and Gerda’s mother stepped out, her faced filled with anger. She stood looking at Gerda, who backed into Anna, bracing for the worst. Then, her mother’s face changed.
“Oh, Gerda! It’s you!” She stooped and took her daughter into her arms, then called for her husband.
As Elsa watched Gerda being reunited with her mother, she heard someone call her from the side.
She looked to see who called her. The Royal Guard of Cliffdale walked along the road toward her, along with the seaman she had sent to the castle.
“The King requests your presence.”
Elsa raised a hand, “I will be available in a minute.” She turned back to Gerda. Her father had come from the house to welcome his daughter home. Gerda’s mother saw Elsa’s approach.
“Did you bring our daughter home?”
“Yes. She is a very talented little girl. She helped save your village. You should be proud of her.”
Gerda’s mother knelt, lowering herself to Gerda. “We have always been proud of you.” Then to Elsa, “Thank you. Would you like to come in? Get out of the rain?”
“Not now, thank you. I have to see the King. I will try to return and see you before going home.”
Elsa waved, and walked to where Kai and his family were standing.
“You did it! You cured our son! Thank you so much!” said his mother.
“I didn’t cure Kai. He was cured by his friend, Gerda.”
Kai parents looked across to Gerda’s, and exchanged waves and smiles.
Gerda’s parents gave Elsa a hug. Elsa turned to Kai. “I need to go now. I’ll try and come back to say goodbye before leaving for home.”
“Can I come and visit you?”
“Of course you can! Now be good.”
Elsa gave Kai one last hug, and then turned to the Royal Guardsmen. She noticed the rain had gotten heavier. No longer a light shower, she and everyone else began to get wet.
“Your Majesty, this way.” The guard led the way through the village, winding their way through the crowded streets, in a generally northward direction. Anna and the four seamen brought up the rear. Ahead they could see the great cliff looming over them, then the walls and turrets of King Ragnar’s castle came into view. Drawing on her training, Elsa could see that, by virtue of being built against the cliff, the castle had a strong rear defense.
All the happy people celebrating in the streets slowed their progress toward the castle. Several wanted to dance with Anna and Elsa. The two sisters found the villager’s enthusiasm hard to resist; everyone bubbled with infectious happiness. About half way to the castle, Elsa saw the King making his way toward them. Everyone parted enough to let the two monarchs approach and face each other.
They both gave each other a little bow.
“You did it. The curse has been lifted,” said King Ragnar.
“It was not my efforts alone,” Elsa gave a short explanation of what she, Gerda, and Anna had done.
“I knew Gerda had the power to break the curse. She had done it with Kai. But I couldn’t figure out how to use it. I couldn’t ask her to cry all over the entire village.” Elsa said, finishing her explanation.
“And it took just one tear to do it all. It’s amazing.”
Elsa raised her hand, palm up, and created some snow. With her other hand she reached to Anna and pulled her close. “One tear, with a little help.”
As they talked, the rain grew stronger, turning into a downpour. Everyone reflexively reached for their cloak, folding the cloth over their heads for protection. Elsa reached for her cape, and found herself holding a handful of gossamer web work cloth, decorated with snowflake patterns. Resignedly, she looked into the rain. It’s just a little liquid snow, it will not hurt me, she thought.
“Perhaps we best to get to my castle,” Ragnar suggested. He turned and led the way.
Anna came to Elsa’s side. “What about this rain? Do you think we caused some new disaster?”
“I hope not,” replied Elsa. “I could try something to stop it, but I don’t want to make things worse. Especially now, I’m not feeling at my best. Let’s wait a bit before interfering again.”
The heavy rain had caused most of the villagers to retreat indoors, allowing the group to make good speed through the streets. As they approached the castle wall, the wind started to whip up, blowing the rain sideways. By the time they arrived at the castle gates, everyone had gotten almost as soaked as Elsa.
The guards let them in immediately. A short walk across the courtyard brought them to the entryway.
Once inside, Anna struggled out of her dripping cloak. “That’s some storm. I’m soaked.”
“You think you’re soaked?” asked Elsa.
Anna looked at her dripping wet sister, tried her best to suppress a giggle, and failed. “Maybe you should have worn something else? Why didn’t you just . . .?” Anna waved her hands over her head like she was trying to use Elsa’s Power.
“You may have seen how I lost control a bit? I was so spent after launching that snowball I couldn’t even stand. I was not sure what would happen if I tried to use my Power. Even after I started to recover, the villagers surrounded us, taking my hands to dance with me. I didn’t want to risk hurting anyone.”
“Do you think your efforts caused this storm?” the King asked Elsa.
“Most likely. I have never tried using my Power this way before. I had no idea something like this could happen.”
Servants brought in towels, and began handing them out. Everyone began trying to dry off. Elsa handed her crown to a seaman, and began drying her hair.
Anna walked to a window and looked out. “It looks like the rain is letting up. I think we just set off a summer shower.” She examined the sky in different directions. “I can even see some blue up there.”
“Good. I really did not want to try to use my Power to stop the storm. It’s better to let nature take care of the weather,” Elsa said, looking at everyone trying to get dry. “At least it wasn’t a cold rain.”
Anna put her hands on her hips and glared at her sister, frowning. Everyone else stopped and gaped at Elsa in disbelief.
Elsa smiled, looking embarrassed. “Oh, right.”