Other Fan Fiction ❯ Ice-olation ( Chapter 12 )

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CHAPTER 12: Ice-olation

Elsa, taking guidance from the second lieutenant, successfully
docked at Arendelle’s bay. The crew cheered as the ship stopped.
Dockworkers busied themselves tying up while the crewmen lowered
the ramp. Elsa was the first to descend. Land would feel good
again.

But before she could set a foot down, Anna tackled her in a hug.
« Elsa! Elsa, Elsa, Elsa, oh I missed you. »

Olaf snuggled up to her legs. « Oh, sweet giver of life. Mother
of us all. » He kissed the hem of her skirt.

« I thought I’d never see you again, » Anna said.

« I felt the same way. I should never have left. The whole trip’s
been a big failure. I didn’t even think that if I was lost I’d be
forcing you on the throne. You probably had a hard enough time as
it was. »

« Actually, I didn’t have to do much at all. »

« Even with the ice? »

« You should let me take over more often. It was kind of fun. »
Anna coughed. « Well, except for the whole ‘thinking you died in a
shipwreck’ part. But otherwise, we’ve been having a blast. »

« We? Did Kristoff help you? » Elsa asked.

« Nope. Guess who’s here! »

Anna stepped aside, revealing a woman in a deep purple
dress.

Elsa scrunched her nose. Was she supposed to know this woman
with long blond hair?Then she considered the face.

« Rapunzel? » Elsa asked.

« Hi Elsa, » Rapunzel said with delight. They hugged.

« You look… different. I didn’t recognize you. »

« It’s the haircut, » Rapunzel replied.

« To say the least, » Elsa said.

« There’s actually a story behind it, » Anna said. « And it might
have something to do with the ice storm. »

« Really? Cause I met someone who- » Elsa stopped, realizing she’d
forgotten. She turned back to the ramp, just in time to see one of
the crewmen approaching the captain’s quarters. He knocked.
« Madam? »

Elsa’s eyes widened. Because of the clouds, she had no idea
where the sun was. « No, no! Don’t open-« 

The crewman pulled open the door. « Oh… oh… »

Elsa tripped up the plank running towards them. « Do not look
inside. I order you not-« 

Ariel stepped out. Her bare feet preceded her as gracefully as a
ballerina. She acknowledged the man with a head nod.

« Crewman. You were under orders not to disturb her, » Elsa
said.

« I’m sorry, your majesty. You said she was seasick and we’d made
landfall, so we just… I just… I’m sorry. » He whispered. « She’s
so beautiful. »

« She is a princess, » Elsa said. « And you will do well to
remember that. »

« Yes, ma’am. » The red-faced crewman saluted and returned to
duties somewhere far from the main deck.

Elsa ran up to Ariel’s side. « How did you-« 

Ariel nodded at the horizon. « Another close call. »

« You’re telling me. We’d better find out what this is all about
and soon, » Elsa said. She accompanied Ariel down the plank to meet
her family. Hugs were exchanged all around.

« I love your hair, » Rapunzel said to Ariel.

« Thanks. I love yours, » she responded.

A coach waited at the end of the dock to take them back to the
palace. Anna and Rapunzel sat on one side, dying to hear Elsa’s
story. The day-to-day of Arendelle’s morale wasn’t as exciting as
pirates and shipwrecks and hermit witches. Elsa left out the part
about Ariel’s transformation and true nature, but otherwise told
the whole thing.

« And now you’ve got one more ship, » Ariel smiled. « Not bad for a
day’s work. »

« Lieutenant Handel said it’s the fastest vessel he’s ever
touched. And efficient–you could sail it with two people. But I
think I’ll ask the dockyarders to give it a onceover, patch up the
holes and repaint. I doubt pirates followed many safety
procedures, » Elsa said.

Anna jumped in her seat. « Ooh, you should think of a new name
for it. Do you know what it was called before? »

« I don’t think I want to know, » Elsa said. She noticed the feet
of all her compatriots were bare. Ariel had a legitimate reason.
The family knew of Rapunzel’s penchant for barefootedness. And Anna
didn’t like to wear shoes unless going outside. « How about the
Barefoot Maiden? Since most of us seem to be so. »

Rapunzel laughed. « Ooh, that’s great. » Anna flexed her pink
toes.

The coach passed through the palace gates, past royal servants
standing with hands clasped.

« Um, not to sound rude, but will there be food at the castle? »
Ariel asked. « I don’t think we’ve eaten since… well, there was
that gruel they tried to feed us. » Ariel stuck out her tongue.

Anna laughed. When the coachman open the door she stepped out
and raised her finger high in the air.

« Listen up, » she said. « By royal proclamation, as I’m still
queen-regent until Elsa steps out of this coach, I declare that
Princess Ariel is a royal guest of the kingdom. And a feast shall
be prepared for her and the rest of us. Everything you’ve
got–duck, gravy, pineapple, salads, fresh bread. Ooh! » Anna turned
to Ariel. « Have you tried chocolate before? It’s delicious. » To the
servants, « All the chocolate! »

Elsa stepped past Anna. « I’ll take mine in my chambers
please. »

« But… but we’re having a feast. A party, » Anna said.

« There’s a lot of work to do. I’ve got to catch up on everything
I’ve missed and then figure what there is to do next. It’ll take a
few hours. But you all have fun. » She turned to the assistants.
« Gerda, Kai, can you start putting together an itinerary? And
summon anyone waiting on urgent business. Time-sensitive by
priority. »

« Right away, your highness, » Kai said.

« It’s good to have you back, my queen, » Gerda said.

Elsa walked into the palace, the door shutting behind her. Anna
turned to Ariel. « Is she okay? »

« Oh yeah, » Ariel said. « It’s a thing she does. »

« A thing? » Anna said.

« I think she just needs to relax after all the adventures we
had. If it gets too much, she gets all… » she waved her arms in
the air, « frosty. »

Anna nodded. « Ooh, that reminds me. The chef just came up with a
new thing. Chocolate frosting. You can put it on cakes, muffins,
biscuits… »


« So then we float into the lagoon. It’s just about dusk. There’s
flowers and animals trilling. Romantic music is playing. Fireflies
are floating all around us. It’s so beautiful. And he still has no
idea. »

Anna and Rapunzel fell back in laughter, for the umpteenth time
during the story.

« I was making eyes at him so hard I thought they were going to
fall out of my head. A couple times, I thought he understood. But
then he just kept rowing. »

« He could guess your name, but had no idea what you wanted? »
Rapunzel asked.

« I know! » Ariel said. « But finally, FINALLY, he starts getting
the idea. Then he leans forward, and just at the last second, the
boat tips over. »

Anna and Rapunzel laughed like screaming monkeys.

« How could he be so blind? » Anna asked. « You were the only one
in the rowboat. How do men not get stuff like that? »

« I have no idea. But it all worked out, I guess. »

« Wait, I got one better, » Anna said. « It was Kristoff’s
birthday, so I wanted to surprise him at work. I went to the lake
with the ice workers and I jumped on his back and said hi. Then he
turned around and it was this big mustached guy. I was so
embarrassed. Everyone’s wearing the same parka, with the hood up.
How was I supposed to know? »

« Flynn and I went to his orphanage, » Rapunzel started. « He
wanted to show me where he grew up. One of the kids was really
cute, he was buddying up to Flynn. But I guess he used to be a
pickpocket. He replaced all the things in his pockets with eggs.
Then he went to pull out something, and he was like ‘what are all
these eggs doing in my pocket?’ He just kept pulling out eggs.
There was a dozen at his feet. It was hilarious. All the kids were
laughing at him. »

Gerda walked in, followed by the castle’s clerics, each holding
an armful of junk. « Princess Anna, here are the documents and books
you asked for. Plus the chef whipped up some snacks for you
all. »

The servants placed maps, ledgers, and documents in the middle
of the table. They’d asked for all the information possible about
their three respective lands and what they might have in common. In
addition, each girl received a dark chocolate cupcake.

« These look fantastic, » Rapunzel said.

« Ooh, then you’re going to love dinner. Chef’s been fixing his
specialty–stuffed yams, » Gerda said.

Ariel cocked her eyebrow. « Gerda, do you have any relatives
south of here? Like in another kingdom? »

« No, I don’t think so. Why? »

« No reason. You just reminded me of someone I know. »

« Where’s Elsa? » Anna asked. « We can’t start without her. »

« She’s in her chambers. The day’s taken its toll and she wanted
to relax, » Gerda said.

« We haven’t gotten much sleep, » Ariel added.

« I guess we can start without her, » Anna shrugged.

« I’ll take the map. Ariel, you take the books. » Rapunzel pushed
the pile of history and magic tomes toward her. « Anna and I already
looked through them. »

« Yeah, I can’t stand to search through any more. » Anna leaned
over the map. « Can I help? » Anna stuffed her cupcake into her
mouth. Crumbs fell into the ocean area surrounding their three
kingdoms. « What if we make a triangle between them. Does that do
anything? »

Rapunzel penciled in points equidistant from their countries.
She scribbled notes about current rulers, known exports, mountain
sites. Nothing jumped out at her as significant.

« You know what we should do? » Anna said. « Elsa can take us all
sledding. I design the course and she makes it. It’s a blast. You
guys haven’t experienced a thrill until you’ve gone sledding with
us. »

« I don’t think Elsa’s in the mood for that right now, » Rapunzel
said. « Besides Elsa’s curse affects her entire kingdom. Whereas,
for me and Ariel, it was just us affected. »

« Right. What did happen to you again? » Anna asked Ariel.

« I- it was… personal. Just… something from my past.
Something I used to be, like Rapunzel. »

« But it’s not something we can see? » Anna asked.

« I got… control of it. Somewhat. » Ariel bit her lip. In
addition to watching the sun like a needy puppy, now she was lying
to her new friends. Even if she could be human part of the day,
this handicap was making her annoyed and sick.

« Oops. » Anna spilled a glob of ink on their spare paper. Her
hand came up smeared and dark black like tar. « Uh, guys? Can
someone hand me a washcloth? »

Someone knocked on the door. Kristoff came in, undoing his neck
scarf.

« Yay! » Anna jumped up and hugged him. « Are you all done? »

« We’ve finished the roofs and roads. But that ice isn’t going
anywhere. » Kristoff picked up a half-eaten waffle and ate. Mouth
half-full, he said, « You can walk again without slipping, and the
roofs won’t cave in, but still. There’s weeks of work ahead. And I
don’t know about the farms. I heard Elsa was back. »

« She is, but she didn’t really find anything. »

« Ahem, » Ariel said, smiling. Kristoff noticed the new face.

« Oh, Kristoff. This is Princess Ariel. She’s a friend of Elsa’s
and she’s helping us. »

« Another princess? » Kristoff goggled. « Just how many are you
going to end up with? Are you recruiting them? »

Anna laughed. « And guess what. We all like going barefoot. »

Rapunzel lifted her undressed foot. Then Ariel. Then Anna sat
back in her chair and did the same.

« We should call ourselves the ‘barefoot beauties’, » Anna
said.

« Can I join? » Kristoff bent over and began unlacing his
boot.

« NO! » Anna leaped forward, pinning Kristoff’s arms.

Kristoff smiled. « So you all are back to square one, eh? »

Ariel said. « Whatever Elsa was looking for didn’t work. But now
that we know we all have the same problem, we can all work together
to solve it. »

« That’s what all this is for. » Anna gestured to their workspace,
as if caretaker of a garden. « We’ll have this licked in no time.
Hands off the chocolate. »

Kristoff was about to pick up her uneaten cupcake. « But you
weren’t eating it. »

« That’s before I saw there was still some frosting on it.
Anyway… » Anna turned to the girls. « Is it okay if I take a break?
Kristoff’s been gone for so long, I haven’t had a chance to see
him. »

Ariel and Rapunzel wore blank expressions. They hadn’t even
started and she already wanted to take a break?

« Go ahead, » Rapunzel said.

« I feel like going to sleep for three weeks, » Kristoff said. « I
told Sven he could take over as foreman. I’d hibernate. »

« Ooh, speaking of hibernation, we had a bear on trial here. »

« A bear? For what? What do you sue a bear for? »

As soon as they left and closed the door behind them, Ariel
leaned into Rapunzel. « Is she always like that? »

« Who, Anna? Kinda. I thought maybe Elsa keeps her straightened
up, but nope. Sisters, huh? »

Ariel sat back. « You’re telling me. I’ve got six older
sisters. »

« Six? » Rapunzel exclaimed.

Ariel nodded. « And I’m the oddball among them. They were into
typical things–fancy looks, boys, dancing, gossiping. Do you have
any siblings? »

Rapunzel shook her head. « No, my parents were too somber to have
any more children after I was kidnapped. I guess they didn’t want
to risk the same thing happening. But they had each other, thank
goodness. Otherwise, Corona would have been ruined. »

« I’ve heard it’s nice. Does your… does your kingdom have to
rely on fishing? » Ariel asked.

« No, I suppose not. But it is on the ocean. That’s a large part
of why it’s so prosperous, » Rapunzel replied.

« So you can have a thriving kingdom without fishing, as long as
there are other resources. »

« Well, I guess it depends on a lot of things. Corona’s got a lot
of good farmland for grazing and agriculture. And there’s always
good sun. The soil gets plenty of moisture from the mountain rains.
And the river makes it easier to transport goods. But if we relied
solely on that, we’d fail. There’s just not enough. Why are you
asking? »

Ariel realized she was letting too much slip. « No reason. Um,
just wondering about geography. Anyway, let’s get back to
this. »

Rapunzel worked with the map, paying special attention to the
routes between their three kingdoms. She cross-referenced areas
with their histories, searching for any keywords involving magic or
superstitious acts.

Ariel dug through tomes of forgotten lore and legend. Since she
was unfamiliar with the fables and folk tales of the north, she
took her time reading. « There sure are a lot of trolls in these
books. »

Rapunzel kept her eyes down and didn’t say anything.

« What’s this? » Ariel pulled off an envelope stuck to the leather
of the book. It was addressed to Elsa.

« Oh, I remember that. That came a little after Elsa left. Anna
must have used it as a bookmark. » Rapunzel grimaced.

« I’ll take it to her, » Ariel said. « We should check on her
anyways. »

Ariel got up and left the room. She asked a page where Elsa’s
chambers were, then walked through quiet halls to where the palace
faced the fjord. Elsa must have had a beautiful view when she woke
up each morning. Alone in the corridor, she quietly knocked on the
door.

« Elsa? It’s me, Ariel, » she said. « Can I come in? »

« Sure, » she said.

The smell of hot black tea lingered with fresh ink. Elsa wasn’t
napping. She was sitting at an upright draft board. With pen
pressed against paper, she drew circles within a spinning stencil.
The result was a beautifully carved fractal design.

« What are you doing? » Ariel asked.

Elsa sighed. « This helps me calm down. It’s a little device that
makes hypotrochoids and epi-… it’s a geometry thing. »

« Geometry? »

« Yeah, I don’t know why, but I love doing it. Maybe it’s like
puzzle solving. You start with a bunch of disjointed pieces then
condense them to get a single answer. » Elsa sat back. « Makes me
feel back to normal. »

« At least as normal as an ice sorceress who’s friends with a
mermaid can be, » Ariel added. « Here, we found this. »

Elsa took it. « Who’s it from? »

« We don’t know. Rapunzel said it came a little bit after you
left, but it got lost in their research. »

Elsa opened it with her pen. « You didn’t have to deliver it
yourself. »

« I… I came because I felt like I should apologize. For what
happened on the ship. I should have listened to you. I should have
left for help. » Her eyes glanced to the purple wound on Elsa’s
forehead.

« I understand. You didn’t want to have to leave me behind. »

« Actually, that was part of it. The other part was that I
didn’t… I didn’t want to leave the trident behind. I couldn’t. It
turned me from human to mermaid and I don’t know of anything else
capable of that. Doesn’t sound like there is anything, from what
Dame Naidra said. »

Elsa nodded. « I’m sorry too. I should have used my power from
the start. Forget what anyone would have said, I put you in danger,
those fishermen in danger. And all I could think of was how they’d
think of me. I… I was foolish, selfish. But you’re right, you
couldn’t let the trident go when it was in the wrong hands. At
least no one can use my powers except me. »

« It’s not just falling into the wrong hands that I’m worried
about. It was my father’s. It was like his symbol. » Ariel closed
her eyes. They had to get this done as fast as possible. « I’m the
one that took it. I can’t lose it. It’s got power even I don’t
understand yet. It’s too important for me to lose it like that. But
that doesn’t mean you need to be put in danger. »

« We all tend to make bad decisions when we get stressed or
lonely or scared. » She held Ariel’s hands. « We’re going to solve
this. »

Elsa pulled the contents of the letter out. Nothing but a blank
page, front and back.

« I don’t get it. It’s a piece of paper. »

« Maybe it’s a secret message? » Ariel asked. « I’ve heard there’s
some ink you have to rub lemon juice on it to get it to show
up. »

Elsa picked the slice of lemon out of her tea and rubbed it
against the page like an eraser. Nothing happened.

« What a wizard made it so only he could read it? Maybe there’s a
spell, » Elsa asked.

« Spell… What time is it? » Ariel looked out the window. The sun
hadn’t set, but it was getting ready to. She had maybe an hour.

« Don’t worry, » Elsa said, smiling. « I made arrangements. I told
the servants to run your bath. And there’s gift in your room–a
giant pot of authentic Arendelle sea salt. »

Ariel’s shoulders relaxed. « Thank you. I’m so tired of this
hiding. I can’t wait until all this is over. »

« If Rapunzel or Anna ask, I’ll just tell them you weren’t
feeling well, or you were too tired. You better go on before anyone
keeps you. »

Ariel left, saying her thanks.


Anna slipped back into the room, as if she could be unnoticed.
« Sorry about that, » she said. « Kristoff was so tired he fell asleep
on the couch mid-sentence. Then I went looking for where the chef
hides the baker’s chocolate. It was all the way on the top shelf. I
don’t know why they put it there. » She slid into her chair.
« Where’s Ariel? »

« She went to see Elsa. »

« Kristoff said that the grass near the coast is warm enough that
we could have a picnic there sometime. We could ride horses out
there tomorrow. »

« That sounds fun, but I think we should get as much done as
possible. » Rapunzel hated to use her « serious » voice, but she
couldn’t return to Corona until they had exhausted their options
here. And Anna’s gaiety was grinding on her nerves. This « curse »
was affecting more than a one kingdom.

« Okay, what can I help with? » Anna asked.

« You could take over for Ariel. Check the notes she made. »
Rapunzel pointed to the stack of books with slips of paper sticking
out.

Anna took one. The whole stack fell down. « Oops. My bad. I hope
those weren’t organized. » She stacked them back up and began
checking each denoted page. « Why is this bookmarked? It’s talking
about some guy named Temeris. »

« Temeris? That’s the name of the cult leader Dame Naidra told us
about. She thought he was the only one with the kind of magic to
make this happen. »

« There’s something about that here. » She checked the spine of
the book–True Tales and Anecdotes from Adventurers of
Nobility
.

Anna read « ‘When I was a wee one, I heard talk about the three
faults of Temeris. Parts of an old religious leader’s body. But
when I arrived at the site, they’d already been taken. By a group
of three explorers: Omis Ravir, Lowther Vonde Brackridge, and
Arcius Cansteth the « Dawnslayer » You might, dear reader, wonder how
I know the nomenclatures of those culprits? Because Temeris had
thoughtfully written it in the master text. If there was any
evidence of clairvoyance, it’s that he described how the three
faults would be stolen. And by who.' » Anna flipped through the
book. « That’s about it. Who were these guys? And why would anyone
take old body parts? Yuck. »

« They could have been bandits. Or grave robbers. Or loyal
followers of magic. Or strangers who got lucky. What were those
names again? »

« Omis Ravir, Lowther Vonde Brackridge, and Arcius Cansteth. »

« Omis Ravir… Omis Ravir… why does that sound familiar…? »
Rapunzel tapped her pencil.

« It sounds pretty sinister, » Anna added.

« That’s it! That’s the guy that tried to assassinate me the
night my hair came back. It makes so much sense. There’s no way he
could have learned of it AND entered the castle unless he had
magic. »

« Then that means… »

Rapunzel slammed her book shut. « We’re going to Corona. »

Anna stood up from the table. « Let’s go tell everyone. »

Rapunzel and Anna ran out of the room. Finally, they had a
direction to go. They turned a corner and ran into Elsa. She and
her sister bumped chests and fell backwards.

« Elsa! Elsa! Where’s Ariel? » Rapunzel asked.

« She’s in her room. She’s-« 

« Guess what? We were going over the maps and the books and
thinking about what we already knew and then- » Anna said.

« The three men that the witch mentioned. One of them- » Rapunzel
started.

« No, no, let me tell it, » Anna said. « I was looking through the
books and we came across this thing about Temeris. You remember
telling us about that creepy witch lady–Name Dryad. »

« Dame Naidra? »

« Right. And all of the sudden-« 

Rapunzel figured this might take some time so she backed away
and headed off to tell Ariel. Neither Anna or Elsa noticed her
leave.

Rapunzel headed to the back of the castle alone. She knocked on
Ariel’s quarters. « Hello? »

Nothing. She opened the door a little ways.

The room was empty and the lights were out. Was Ariel even in
here? Then she noticed light under the bathroom stall.

Rapunzel tip-toed up to the door–her bare feet silent as
silk–and pressed her ear to it. She knocked.

« Don’t come in! I’m in the bath! » Ariel shouted.

« I’m not! It’s me, Rapunzel. I have important news. »

« What? »

« Me and Anna discovered something. »

« You and Anna what? »

Rapunzel rolled her eyes. « Can I open the door? Just a
crack. »

« Okay. »

Rapunzel turned the knob. « Ariel? »

« Yes. I… I’m naked. »

« I hope so. That’s how you usually take a bath. »

Ariel giggled. « What’s the big news? »

« We found one of the names you heard the old witch say. And
guess where he is? Corona. »

« That’s where you’re from, right? » Her legs flapped against the
water.

« Yes. Anna’s telling Elsa right now. I bet they’re making
arrangements to leave. »

« We’re going back to sea? » Ariel asked with a whine.

« Well, not until tomorrow. It’ll take time to get a ship ready
and packed. »

« Okay, good. I’m… feeling pretty tired. I think I’ll go right
to bed after my bath. But thanks for telling me. »

« Sure. Good night. » Rapunzel shut the door. She figured she
would rejoin Elsa and Anna, hoping Elsa wasn’t so determined that
she’d spend all night on working. True, she had business in
Arendelle to take care of but-

Her head jerked back, as if gripped by something. A cord of taut
hair extended from her scalp, caught in the bathroom door. Rapunzel
laughed at herself and reopened the bathroom door.

« Sorry, my hair was caught in the- » Rapunzel glanced in the
mirror.

Ariel lay in the bath. Her head at one end. A gigantic green
fishtail at the other.

The Gloves Come Off
The Little Blockade