Anna was adjusting a brazier’s setting on a stone block, which itself had been placed on carpeting, when Olaf wandered to her side.
“What’s all this for?” asked Olaf.
“The guests will need something to keep them warm. All this will keep the heat from melting the floor.”
Right after Elsa had first created Olaf, he did not understand heat, or know that snow could melt, yet had been fascinated by the idea of warmth and summer. He continued to enjoy both. To protect him from melting, Elsa had given him a small personal snowstorm that hovered a few feet above his head, following him as he waddled about.
Standing up, Anna surveyed the room, looking at the six walls. She felt good at how the preparations were proceeding, and excitement for tomorrow’s ball. Starting from the entranceway, she saw the area for the musicians, the tables for the food and refreshments, an empty area, then the grand stairway supported by the lest two walls, with the coat check nestled beneath. Anna slowly turned in place, admiring the beauty of her sister’s creation. She noticed Elsa, standing on the landing at the top of the grand stair.
“Would everyone please stand away from the walls,” Elsa requested.
“She must have finished everything on this floor,” Anna remarked. “Olaf, why don’t you go up there and look at the view? Elsa will be making the catwalk and the balconies next. I have to change.”
“What are you changing into?” the little snowman asked as she ran off. “Will I get to pet the cats?”
After the servants had moved toward the center of the great hall, Elsa raised her right arm to her side, and then followed with her left. Narrow stairs formed against the walls, starting at the landing, climbing an additional dozen feet. She slowly brought her hands together in front of her, causing a balcony to form along the inside wall, encircling the room.
A few minutes later Elsa returned to the ground floor. She and the architect were checking the plans when Anna came running to them, showing off her new dress. Elsa took one look and tried to suppress a giggle. Anna wore a glacial blue, off-the shoulder dress, with powder blue sleeves. A gossamer cape decorated with snowflake patterns extended from the bodice to the floor and beyond, forming a short train. Elsa immediately recognized the dress as an ice gown; similar to the ones she made for herself.
“Where did you get that? And . . . how? When I’ve tried to take ice gowns off and save them, they fall apart. Aren’t you freezing?”
“I had this made. It’s not ice, its cloth,” answered Anna.
“Cloth? Look, an ice gown is made of ice.”
Elsa dropped her hands to her side and then slowly raised them. A white wave formed at her dress’s hem and quickly moved upward, transforming the cloth into a glittering blue gown made of woven ice.
Both Anna and another man, the Royal Tailor, spoke together. The tailor closed his eyes and sighed. Too late, he thought. Another garment from Her Majesty’s wardrobe destroyed.
“Ah, Elsa?” Anna said, her expression showing mild trepidation as she pointed to the Royal Tailor. He held out a blue-white item of folded fabric. “I had one made for you, too.”
Elsa reached for the garment, selecting a corner and inspecting the cloth. She cocked her head to Anna, a question on her face.
“We had the idea a little over a month ago,” Anna began. “The Royal Tailor came to me and asked if I could talk to you, to see if I could get you to stop turning your clothes into ice gowns.”
“Many times I’m not wearing one. Then guests come to visit and say they want to see it,” Elsa interjected.
“Right, and you destroy whatever dress you’re wearing with your magical transformation,” Anna said, with a gently sarcastic tone, as she raised her hands to her sides and waved them about.
“Do you remember how much your coronation gown cost?” the tailor asked.
“And now it’s gone,” Anna said.
“Didn’t a woodsman find the cape several weeks ago?” Elsa asked.
“Unfortunately, the cloth had been too badly damaged by the elements and animals to be repaired,” said the tailor.
“At least we recovered the clasp,” Anna said. “And I kept one glove.”
Elsa frowned upon the mention of the glove.
“Anyway,” Anna continued, “the tailor said he could make you a cloth version of the ice gown. Now you always have one. As long as he was making you one, I asked him to make me one too. Also, it’s just more practical. Hugging you is, well, cold when you’re wearing ice. I know, I know, some people are worth freezing for. And I hope this time you will dance with the guests. How will all those men hold you? Now, don’t tell me you don’t dance, I just saw you.” Anna raised her hands above her head and danced a little trying to imitate Elsa making the ice palace. After a few steps and a turn, she had become entangled in the dress’s train.
“Careful,” Elsa warned, as she helped untangle the cape.
“Whoops! I guess I need more practice.”
Elsa lifted another item, a large, silver ring sitting on top of her new dress. She found herself holding a crown. Different than the one she currently wore, this new one would completely encircle the head.
“I had that made too. Now you have a crown to wear when you have your hair down. I know you prefer that style.”
“Mother always wore her hair up.” Unconsciously, Elsa raised her hand to her head, touching the antique crown she wore. “The only crown I found in her jewelry collection is worn as a hairband. The one I wore at my coronation is the same way. Neither support themselves very well.”
“Right, you have to wear your hair up to support your crown. Well, not with this.” Anna replied, pointing to the new silver crown.
“Chancellor Johan has been after me to always wear my hair up when in public. He says decorum is important, and it’s the proper way for a monarch to present herself. I’m surprised he approved this”.
Anna put her hands behind her back and smiled. “I may have forgotten to tell him about it,” she said, with a small sway of her body.
A sly smile formed on Elsa’s face. With her naturally slanted eyes, the expression fit her face perfectly. Conspiratorially, she mouthed tomorrow to her sister.
Replacing the crown, Elsa turned and faced the back of the great hall, where the floor was empty.
“All the construction on the ground floor is done, except for one section. Would like to try it?” Elsa asked.
“Who, me? Now? Are you sure?”
“I think you have had enough practice.” Elsa moved behind and to Anna’s side, placing a hand on her sister’s shoulder. They had discovered this trick a few weeks ago. Whenever they touched, Anna could borrow her sister’s Power. Elsa had tried to see if anyone else could do the same thing, without success. So far the effect had worked with Anna alone.
“We need a dais and two thrones,” instructed Elsa.
“Two? I get one?”
“Why not? You deserve it.”
“All right, here we go.” Anna reached forward with both hands, allowing Elsa’s Power flowing through her. A low irregular ice sheet formed on the floor, from which rose two somewhat chair-shaped lumps. Anna dropped her hands, cocked her head, and stared at the result, frustrated.
Elsa suppressed a giggle. “You’re trying to use the Power as you would a tool. It doesn’t work that way. Visualize what you want, then release it.” With a wave, Elsa dispelled Anna’s efforts.
Anna raised her hands again, and closed her eyes. A moment later she opened them and let the Power flow. Again ice rose from the floor.
“You did much better this time,” Elsa said. They both stepped onto the dais for a closer look. Elsa walked to her throne and ran her hand along the edge of the backrest, feeling the delightful coolness of the ice. Anna felt hers and then pulled back, frowning at the cold hard seat.
Elsa circled around behind her throne, stepped to the front and beside the right armrest, took one step sideways, and sat. The maneuver left her long cape expertly draped across the right armrest, and trailing back behind the throne. “Something wrong?” she asked, with a smile, as she stroked the ice. She had yet to experience anything cold enough to hurt her.
“I’ll freeze sitting in that.”
“You and your magical immunity to cold! It’s freezing. Whose crazy idea was it to have a ball in an ice palace?”
Elsa put a finger to her lips as if deep in thought. “I think that was yours,” she answered.
Anna glared at Elsa, scowling. “I’m freezing. I have a fur cloak around here somewhere.”
“Go get it. I’ll have your throne covered. Literally.” She motioned to a servant, who brought a white blanket. By the time Anna returned, bundled up and warm, the servant had spread the blanket over Anna’s throne.
“Care to go for a little ride up to the balcony?” asked Elsa.
“A ride? What do you mean?”
Olaf came from the doorway leading to the back rooms. “Can I come too?” he said, excitedly.
“Oh, there you are. Where have you been?” asked Elsa.
“I’ve been exploring. This palace is wonderful.”
“Of course you can come with us.”
The architect pointed to one of the six main pillars supporting the palace. “The spiral stair should be placed near that pillar, Your Majesty,” he explained.
“Lead on,” replied Elsa.
The architect led them to a spot near the area reserved for the musicians. “The center will be right here,” he said, indicating a spot on the floor.
Elsa positioned herself. “Everyone get close,” she advised.
She waited for the others to crowd about her. “Anna, you need to pull in your train. Here, fold it over your arm, like this.” Elsa demonstrated the process.
“I really do need to practice,” Anna said, as she copied Elsa.
Elsa dropped her train to free her arms. With a sweep of an arm she raised a circular banister around the group. She dropped her hands to her sides, and then slowly raised them. An ice pillar, a dozen feet wide, grew from the floor, carrying herself, Anna, Olaf, and the architect upward. As the column grew, a spiral stair appeared, incised into the cylinder’s side, wrapping around it. The pillar continued to grow, until the top had the same height as the balcony.
Elsa looked at the plans being held by the architect. “What does the connecting bridge look like?”
The architect opened and presented the plans. Elsa studied them for a moment, turned, and made a short bridge to connect the pillar’s top to the balcony. An additional gesture added the banisters.
The architect looked at the result, then the plans. “That’s it. We’re done,” he said, smiling at Elsa. With a nod, she dismissed him. He bowed in return, and then walked to the banister, to better admire the palace.
“Shall we go to the outside balcony and see the view?” Elsa asked.
“Sure,” Anna replied.
Most of the servants had finished and were already leaving, heading back to Arendelle. The two sisters worked their way around the inner balcony in the virtually empty palace. Anna glanced at Elsa and saw her smiling. “You look happy.”
“It feels good to use my Power, to really cut loose and use it without holding back. It calms me. It calms the Power.”
“Maybe we can find other ways you can use your Power on a large scale.”
“Such as?” asked Elsa.
“Well, you could make a Royal barge.”
“A Royal barge,” Elsa said dubiously.
“Or freeze the fjord again, turn the ocean into a giant skating rink.”
“You’re suggesting I practice with my Power by creating navigational hazards and causing natural disasters?”
“Oh, don’t be like that. You can always dispel the ice. Besides, I’ve been thinking about how you have a need to use your Power.”
Anna paused, composing her thoughts.
Elsa waited for her to continue. She had rarely seen her sister look serious.
“It’s as though your Power will be expressed, either by you deciding to use it, or by it spilling out, without control. Your Power must be expressed. You cannot just suppress it. No more than you can suppress hunger by not eating. Or satisfy thirst by not drinking.”
“That is one of the best ways I’ve heard it explained.”
They walked down the stairs leading to the landing at the top of the grand stairway. Turning, the pair walked though a short passage through the outer wall and onto the outside balcony. Standing at the railing, they could see the evening sun dropping toward the sea. The fjord and the village had already fallen into shadow, although sunlight continued to bathe the ice palace. On the water, two ships could be seen, one anchoring and lowering her sails, the other entering the harbor.
“I see some guests have already arrived,” observed Anna.
“Shall we welcome them to the First Arendelle Michaelmas Royal Ball?”
Elsa passed one hand over the other. Snow formed, building a ball between her hands. Once large enough, she threw the ball upwards, and then pushed it farther into the sky with her Power. As blue-white light streamed from her hand, she could feel the ball’s weight pressing onto her palm. Several hundred feet above the palace, she let the ball explode, filling the air with a starburst of white.