Chapter 1: Frosted Feast
The man walked through the empty halls of the abandoned section of the castle. It hadn't always been like that, but ever since that day, since they had locked her in that room, it seemed all life had been sucked from the neighboring walls.
Despite the lit candles, the hall felt cold and empty. Chilled air bit through his skin, stealing every bit of warmth they could take. A frosty wind howled through the winding corridors around the tower, and yet, whenever he dared to focus on the sound, it seemed to disappear.
It was no wonder the servants avoided this area like the plague. It felt like the cold touch of the icy mountains themselves had taken hold of this specific part of the castle.
What a terrible curse, it is, that has been placed upon us. He thought darkly with a scowl.
He let out a frosted and angry breath of air, trying to use that anger to force out the fear in his heart. The fear that, much like the frost creeping on the castle, was covering his heart in a fragile shell. It sunk deeper and deeper into his heart each day, and each day he tried to deny it, because he didn't know how to fight it.
With each step he took that fear crawled further and further inside and that cold bit deeper and deeper. He clutched his cloak closer to his shivering body to try and keep it out, but the action seemed more and more pointless the closer he got to that dreaded door.
Finally, he arrived. Stopping right outside the door, he raised his hand to unlock. As he did, his hand froze, momentarily, as he thought about what he was doing. Here, his fear reached a peak, as the thought of what opening that door meant.
It would be so simple He thought To just turn around and walk away.
After all, who could blame me? Even the guards are scared of patrolling up here.
In the end, he steeled himself as he took in an icy breath, filling his lungs with that cutting cold air.
Opening the door in one swift movement, leaving no room for further hesitation, he stepped through the doorway and into the room at the top of the tower. The moment his foot passed the threshold, he heard the Crunch of frost collapsing under his boot. Looking up in a mixture of surprise, wonder, and terror, he saw that the entirety of the room was covered in frost and ice crystals, a layer of fog hovering over everything.
And at the center of it all, was a little girl sitting near the window sill, a bird in her delicate hands.
"Elsa." The king spoke as a puff of hot breath escaped his lips.
At his words, the girl's head snapped up to meet his gaze. A wide smile broke upon her face as she jolted up to her feet, dropping the bird in her hands. Her icy blue eyes lighting up in joy and recognition, her platinum blonde hair.
"Papa!" She cries out exuberantly.
As she races to meet him, the bird in her hands does not right itself and fly away. Instead, it falls to the ground, silent and still, until it finally crashes against the ground. It shatters into hundreds of crimson shards of ice.
One piece in particular, the eye, comes rolling to a stop at the King's foot. As he looks down in mute horror, the frozen eye seems to stare back up at him in turn.
As the girl approaches him, arms outstretched wide for a hug, he instinctually takes a step back, unable to hide the abject horror filling his being. Upon seeing his reaction, she falters and stops.
"P-papa?" She questions, fearing the reason why her father would look at her like that, why he would react like that.
"I-it's nothing." He says with a forced smile, trying to bury his feelings. He did not want to fear his daughter. He was the King of Airendale, he would not allow himself t tremble in terror before his own daughter, he would not let his own weakness keep him from doing his duty to his children.
"E-Elsa…" He begins, shivering under the depth of the cold. The temperature in the room made the air outside look positively balmy. He could feel the cold seeping into his bones, biting through cloth and flesh to take its toll on him.
"W-why is it so c-cold in here?" He asked.
"Oh…" She said, looking down her simple, yet regal, dress. "I don't really know."
"B-but isn't the ice pretty, papa!?" She brightened, looking back up at him.
The man doesn't have the heart to sink that bright heart of hers. Its times like that that he can hardly believe what the trolls told him. That within her lay a darkness so dark and deep it made the evils of man seem trivial. It was as if death itself would follow her wherever she went, they said.
So instead he just smiles and nods.
"So, what was with that bird, Elsa? Did you make it?" He asks, hoping and praying inside that she did.
So his heart plummets when she shakes her head.
"No, papa, it came in from the window." She answered.
"S-so y-you did that to the b-bird?" He asks, trying to keep the disgust from his voice.
"Er, well…" She says, looking down again, unable to meet his eyes.
"Elsa?" He presses, needing to know the answer, no matter how dark and horrifying it is.
"I was hungry!" She shouts.
He blinks, and it takes all he has not to recoil away, not to draw his sword at her outburst.
"I-I was just so hungry, and it was just there, a-and I just reached out to pet it, and it didn't fly away, a-and it was just so warm and then I just-I just." She stammered, trying to explain herself.
And there it was, the other shoe dropping. The reason why the King could believe what the trolls told him. He's reminded of what she did to her sister, Anna. What she almost did, if the bird is any indication. It was nothing short of a miracle they were able to save her life.
"Elsa" He begins with a frown
"I-I'm sorry, p-papa." Else sniffles, looking down at her hands. "I-I'm just so hungry."
Its times like this that he wished he could hug is daughter. Unfortunately, he just doesn't feel safe doing it. Not with what she can do with but a touch.
How disgusting is that? I can't even bring myself to touch her? He thought, suppressing an angry snort.
Instead, he sighs, resigning himself to this fate.
"Well, I suppose it's a good thing I brought some food with me, isn't it?" He says with a forced smile, dropping the large bag slung over his shoulder to the ground.
Opening it, he reveals, much to Elsa's exhilaration, everything they need to cook a nice meal themselves up here. Wood for a fire, flint and steel to start it, cuts of venison and beef with pieces of cheese and potatoes to eat.
She looked on eagerly as he lit the fire and hung the sticks speared with meat over it. The scent of cooking deer and cow filled the air, and for a moment the fire pushed out the crushing cold. Flames danced in her icy eyes as her father stoked them, reminding him how beautiful and precious she was. She was still young and innocent, she didn't deserve the scorn and hatred that would be directed to her if the kingdom knew what the trolls told him, if they knew of her darkness. She had to be kept safe and protected, and this was the best way, the only way to do it.
At least, that's what he told himself.
As the meat cooked, they ate the potatoes and cheese together on the floor. Even a scene like this wasn't free from the influence of Elsa's darkness.
The orange tongues of flame all seemed to lean toward Elsa, not dangerously close, but as if attracted to her. As if drawn in by her aura.
They tried to ignore it, tried to make everything feel as normal as possible. The king told of all that had happened in the castle. How her mother and sister miss her.
He told her about how the city was doing and the kingdom as a whole. She always did have the head for politics that her younger sibling lacked. It could have just been a factor of age, or a sign of things to come.
Most worryingly of all was when he came to an inescapable subject.
Arendale was getting colder. There was no escaping that.
It was only early fall, and already they had had their first snow. It was unprecedented, and the idea of a long, harsh, winter spelled bad news for the kingdom. They tried not to think about it, but how could they not?
The cold weather, Elsa's powers, there had to be a connection, did there not?
Is this my fault? Elsa thought Is it because of me the kingdom is in danger?
Her heart, still so big and innocent, hurt for all the souls she thought she might be hurting. She had never really wanted to hurt anyone, only wanted to make people happy. And now it might be ruining lives.
Her father, however, had much more fearful thoughts.
I can't let them find out He thought. If the kingdom found out about her, they would blame her for the winter. She'd be a scapegoat for everything bad happening to them. They'd hate her, scorn her, maybe even kill her.
He shook his head, trying to push the dark thoughts of his baby girl bare and in chains, being roughly dragged to the execution block to placate the raging masses.
No He thought sternly. I will never allow that to happen
"Just bury it. Bury it all inside yourself and don't let anyone see, don't let anyone know the wrongness inside you." He told her.
"Remember Elsa, you are a danger to yourself and everyone around you. You can never let that power of yours control you. You must deny it, suppress it, and purify your soul. It is the only way to save yourself."
It was just another day when it first happened. It had always been there, however. I'd always felt it. That hunger lurking deep inside. No matter how much I ate, how much I tried to satisfy myself, there was always this feeling in the bottom of my stomach, calling out for more.
And so it was, on that day, that I finally listened to it.
Anna and I were playing in the snow, no different than usual. I used my powers to make snowmen and snowballs, powers I had since I could first remember. Power over ice and snow to create it from seemingly nothing. Despite that, I knew it didn't really come from nothing, and that every action had a price to pay. The more I used my powers, the more that pit in my stomach expanded, the more that the hunger grew.
So it was, after a long day of playing in the snow and using my powers, Anna slipped and fell on the ice. Nothing serious, really, she was fine, she just had a bruised knee. Still, seeing her hurt, I ran over to try to help her up.
As soon as my pale flesh touched her more rosy skin, I felt it. The warmth in them seeping into my body.
Warmth, a comforting, enticing, and enthralling feeling I rarely had the pleasure of experience. I was always cold, so cold. After a while, it didn't bother me, but whenever I felt the impact of warmth on me, suddenly I realized what I had been missing, and the feeling of losing it again was agonizing. The feeling of going from the kind warmth that soothed my soul back to the pins and needles feeling of the cold was torturous, but it was something I had to deal with every day.
But today was different.
As I felt that warmth sink into my hands and travel up my body, I couldn't pull away. The hunger was too strong, the cold too deep, and I didn't want to me immersed back into so. I gripped tighter, inched closer, my mind filled with the warm buzz of comfort filling it.
"E-Elsa…" Anna choked out in a pained voice, but I didn't listen, I clenched tighter. I drew my left hand to rest on her shoulder while my right grasped her hand, my head resting next to hers, my nose hovering over the crook of her neck as I breathed in the hot air rising off her.
I need more, more! I thought internally, unable to be satisfied by the meager warmth filling me. I need more, and I need it now.
And as I thought these dreadful thoughts, I reacted on instinct. Something...inside me, reached out into Anna's body through my contact with her, and pulled. As it pulled, my mouth opened wide to take in the heat from her body. I could feel the muscles strain as they forced the jaw well beyond the extent it should have gone, bones popping and contorting in pleasurable pain.
"E-Elsa...p-please..." Anna moaned, strength fading from her voice.
I breathed in the scent of warm flesh inches away from my maw, inches away from being consumed. My mouth watered and my soul trembled in anticipation. I wanted it, needed it.
I was hungry, and I needed to feast.
"I-it hurts…" She begged as her pulses slowed.
And like that, I blinked, and realized what I was doing.
Quickly, I dropped her, recoiling from her body in disgust and fear at what I was doing to her. Anna dropped like a doll cut from her strings, crumpling onto the ice. Her skin was pale, her breaths short and ragged, and her auburn hair marred with streaks of white. Worst of all, the light in her eyes was dying, fading from this world. I rushed back and hovered over her, holding her in my hands, but careful not to try to do...whatever I had done before
Her hands were cold, colder than they had any right to be, and yet they were still warmer than my own. Her pulse was weak, almost nonexistent.
I looked down at her, tears prickling edges of my eyes at what was happening, "ANNA!" I screamed, begging her to stay with me.
Soon mother and father came to see what was wrong. They took her from me, desperate to do whatever they could to help her. Before I could see what they did, however, I succumbed to the emotional turmoil within me, and the world fell to black around me.
As I faded to exhaustion, as horrified by what I had done to my sister as I was, I realized one thing.
For the first time in forever…
I finally felt full.
She tossed and turned as she remembered where it all went wrong. When she almost killed her sister, almost devoured her. She remembered that it felt so good. It felt so right.
But that was the dark corruption of the evil inside her, her father told her. That was what she must deny. And how could he be wrong? Every time she gave into it, something terrible happened.
What would happen if she couldn't stop herself?
What would happen if she gave into the darkness that lay within her heart?
It was thoughts like these that brought tears to her eyes. Frozen tear tracks made their way down her face as she cried to herself in her room. She was all alone again, her father long gone and the fire empty and dead.
She didn't want to be here, but she knew her father was right. She was too dangerous to be around normal people. She had to be up here for their safety.
She wanted to see mama and Anna again, but she knew she couldn't. Not yet.
"One day," He father had told her, "One day you'll be able to come back down and we can be a family again."
"But that can't happen until you're fixed. Right now it's like you're sick, and we need to make you better. Until then, you need to stay in your room. It's for the best."
So while she cried, she knew that she had to do this, that this was necessary. That it was for the best.
"When is she going to come down." His wife asked him.
He sighed, knowing full well where this conversation was going. It was futile, really. He had made up his mind, and nothing would shake him from it.
"She'll come back down when she's safe. When we've managed to purify this curse from her." He explained.
"Do you have any idea when that will be?" Idna glared.
"No." He answered with a frown.
"Do you know how you're going to care for her until then?"
"I'll go up there when I can find the time to spend time with her, give her food."
"You mean when you can be bothered."
"Idna" He scowled, becoming angered at the line she was dangerously close to crossing.
"That you had no idea what you were doing when you locked our doughtier up in that tower." She scowled back. "Face it Agnarr, you were scared and panicked. Those trolls told you Elsa was filled with evil and you believed them."
"I believe she is cursed, Idna. If you think for one moment that I've forgotten that she is our little girl, maybe I need to remind you of all the duties that lie upon my head."
"Your most important duty is as a good father."
"Does that make the rest inconsequential?!" He roared, tired of her accusations
"I have an entire country I have to run. While I may love my daughters, I cannot drop everything for them. Already, the winter frosts are coming in fall. The people fear of a long and cold winter." He continued.
"And you blame Elsa for that!" She glowered.
"Are you even listening to me, woman!" He growled, "If I don't make the proper preparations, hundreds could freeze or starve this winter!"
"That's not Elsa's fault!"
"I never said it was!"
"You said plenty."
"Dammit, Idna, not everything is about Elsa!" He finally shouted.
His final words cut through the argument, leaving a deafening silence in their wake. The room seemed to empty of feeling, only distaste left remaining.
Finally, Idna got up from the bed.
"Maybe you should rethink your priorities, Agnarr." She said before exiting the door of the bedroom.
The King sighed deeply. This not how he had wanted things to go.
"…Papa?" A small voice said from the door.
Jolting up, Agnarr saw a small head of read peak through the door fearfully.
"Anna…" He said, at a loss for words.
He knew that face, he knew what it meant. She had been there for the argument. She might not have heard all of it, but she heard enough. Idna, in her rage, probably marched out the door without even noticing the poor girl.
"Come her, Anna." The man said, sitting up on the bed and patting his lap for her to sit on.
Glancing around, Anna finally entered the room. Slowly at first, before running up and scrambling upon his lap.
"Papa, what did you mean when you said not everything is about Elsa?" She asked, looking up at him with her big blue eyes.
He sighed again, truly regretting his words now. No, more how he said it. He meant what he said, but he could see that it wasn't the best way of putting it.
"Anna, darling, your Papa is the King of Arendelle. Which means I have a lot of responsibilities. That means, as much as I might want it, I can't just drop everything to help one child. Even if it is one of my own. Especially in times like these." He began.
"Why not?" She asked.
"Because I need to make sure the people of my kingdom are safe and happy. Right now, a big winter is coming. It's going to get very cold. If I don't make the right preparations, a lot of people could suffer for it. You wouldn't want hundreds of thousands of people to suffer just for one person, would you?" He asked.
"Oh…" Anna realized, looking down at her lap.
Finally she shook her head, no, just like he knew she would.
"I didn't think so."
"But Papa, when will I get to see her again? What do you mean she's cursed? Do you and mama hate each other now?" Anna rattled off.
"Elsa…." Her father began searching for the best way to explain this to his 4 year old daughter.
"Elsa is cursed with a disease, Anna, she's sick. So she needs to stay far away from us so she can get healed." He explained.
"Oh…" Anna said, absorbing that knowledge as fact "Do you-"
"We don't know when she'll get better, Anna." He interrupted "It could be a very long time, and it's going to take a lot of work, so remember to keep your sister in your prayers."
Anna nodded her head seriously at his words.
"Good girl, Anna." He smiled
Then, he grimaced as he turned to the less pleasant topic of her mother.
"Your mother…she's just worrying over Elsa. Not that there isn't anything to worry about, so it's understandable." He began.
"She's just frustrated, I guess." He mused out loud, absentmindedly stroking his beard. "She's a mother, she's supposed to be there for her child, but in this instance there's nothing she can really do, and it's driving her mad."
"So what can you do for Elsa?" Anna asked impatiently.
"Well, we're going to get a cleric and a healer, and see what they can do." He answered
"But how do you know that will work?" She pressed
"Have faith, Anna."
"B-but I remember when Aunt Gertrude got sick, then I never saw her again, what if it's like that?" Anna inquired, balling up her fists as tears pricked the edges of her wide and worried eyes.
"Anna, I promise you…" Agnarr began, pulling his daughter into a tight hug as he spoke in strong and comforting tone.
"Elsa will return to us, and we will be a family again." He declared to her with such surety that she couldn't help but believe him. So as she relaxed and sagged into his warm arms, Agnarr let out a relieved breath.
A breath that came out in a cloud of mist.
His eyes opening wide, Agnarr felt panic flood his body as that biting cold hit him once more. Before he could even react, he felt his strength leave him. He saw frost growing upon every inch of space in the room. The floors, mirrors, even his own body. He breathed one last gasp of sinking terror, before he knew no more.
All throughout the castle, this scene repeated itself, frost creeping upon every surface as people were frozen in time. At the heart of the castle, in the throne room, lay the nexus of this phenomenon.
First, a large circle of frost grew in the center of the room. As it thickened more and more, soon becoming a sheet of ice, fog started to appear in the room as the temperature plummeted. Before long, a line appeared. A line in the air, too dark to be called black, spawned at the center of the circle of ice, and rose 2.5 meters into the air. The fog in the air seemed to be drawn to this 2-deminsional object that seemed to defy the natural order.
The line pulsed, before opening wide, not unlike an eye stood upon it's side, forming an oval shaped portal, leading to a never-ending sea of darkness.
Then, a boot stepped through. Following it came the rest of a figure wrapped in a frayed grey cloak covered in ice and snow. The figure cared a large walking stick in one hand, a lantern attached to the end, while the other lay hidden under their cloak.
As soon as the figure stepped through the portal, it closed shut with a quiet snap, causing a blast of wind to expand out due to the sudden pressure change left in its wake.
"So this is where she is."
I was hungry again.
I had been ever since I had woken up to that strange tingling feeling.
Dinner with papa last night had been nice, especially when he read me the story. But now I was hungry again. It wasn't that bad, it wasn't the same agonizing, gnawing, hunger I had felt my first couple nights here. But it was still there. As far as I knew, it would always be there.
The only time it completely went away were the times I…
No I shivered, trying not to think about it.
Those are bad things I told myself.
I clutched the pillow in my arms closer to my chest, trying to push the bad thoughts out. The thoughts about how good doing that to Anna felt, how it felt to take everything from those birds. It felt so good to just-just…
I shook my head again, struggling to right myself. I got up and began to pace around the room, trying to think of what to do. I could read, papa had left me a lot of books to read. But a lot of them were boring or too hard to read on my own. I wanted to draw, but all of the ink froze when I touched the pen.
"Maybe I could play with the ice again?" I said to myself, drawing on an old habit of mine.
"I could work on making the perfect snowman." I nodded seriously to myself, "Maybe he could be my fri-"
I stopped, hearing the loud crunch of ice and frost under pressure pulling me from my thoughts. I turned to the door from which the sounds came from. I waited with baited breath as the sounds grew closer and closer, finally stopping before the door itself.
Is it papa? I wondered. It had to be, who else would come to visit me?
As the doorknob turned, creaking loudly against the ice built up on it, I excitedly thought, Two visits in a row! He never does this!
Finally, the lock clicked open. The door hinges screeched in protest, the wood groaned in strain, and the floor cracked under pressure as it slowly creaked open.
"Pa-!" I began to cry, but my voice soon died in my throat.
The man before was not papa, nor could he have ever been.
He was tall, almost having to stoop down to enter through the door. He wore a dark grey fur cloak covered in snow. A hood from the cloak, momentarily shielding his face
His hair messily spilled out of the hood's shadows, ending just before the chin, and being of an aged grey color. He had a thick grey beard that engulfed his chin and fell halfway down his chest. In one hand he held a large staff with a strange crystalline lantern on the end glowing a cold blue color.
Stepping through the door, he stood back up. He looked around the room, his silent gaze taking in contents and a slow and methodical pace. As he turned, the light from his lantern briefly lit up part of his face, revealing its gaunt appearance. His skin was pale and taut against his bones, almost translucent, making him seem skeletal.
Then, his head turned toward me.
Startled, I backed up, trying to push myself as far from him as possible. My back hit the cold stone wall on the opposite side far sooner than I wanted. I was trapped and I knew it. There were only two ways out of this room. One was the door right behind him, the other was the window right behind me.
He looked down at me, one eye shrouded in shadows, the other gleaming a pale icy blue.
Just like mine.
"…Hello, little one." He finally said in a deep, rumbling, cold, monotone.
"W-w-who are y-you?" I stammered, fear filling me.
Instead of answering me, however, he continued to start at me. As if he saw something interesting
Despite that, I couldn't help the curiosity building within me. There was something about this man, something that drew me to him.
Then, without warning, he stepped toward me. I tried to back away, but it was already against the wall.
"W-what are you doing!" I yelled as he got closer and closer.
He extended a hand to me, reaching out for my face. His pale and skeletal hand stretched out to me, trying to caress my face.
No no no! Too close! Too close! I panicked.
"Get away!" I screamed, thrusting my hand up in defense
We both just…stopped.
Everything froze for an instant as I looked on at what I had done.
The ice...it had listened to me. It had done as I had commanded so many times before.
But never like this.
This time, instead of making a snowman, freezing a lake, or even making a wall, it had done something terrible.
Up from the iced over floor shot up three large spikes of ice, each one spearing through the old man that had walked through the door. One through his heart, one through his gut, and one through the arm that had stretched out to me.
I killed him I thought in shocked horror.
I am dangerous I shivered, I am a monster.
I looked up toward his face. Against my better instincts, I looked into his face, terrified of what I would see. I looked up, and I saw him gazing down at me, his one visible eye widened ever so slightly in surprise, the only change on his face.
No anger, no fear, just surprise.
Then, just as soon as they had appeared, the spike cracked and shattered. At first into hundreds, then thousands of pieces. With each moment, they shattered into smaller and smaller pieces, before they were just sparkling dust in the wind.
In the absence of them, the man stumbled forward a step, pausing a moment to process what happened. Then…
Then he just stood back up. As if nothing had ever happened. There were still gaping holes in his clothes, but he didn't appear affected by them. No blood fell from the wound, gasps of pain escaped his mouth.
B-but…how? I thought, confused and afraid.
There was a flash of movement, and before I could react I found his hand wrapped around my forehead, with his face too close to mine. His cold fingers gripped by skin tightly, his strength preventing me from moving, but for some reason I didn't feel like I was in danger.
I paused as I just…felt. I closed my eyes as I focused on what was happening to me. I felt a calming feeling coming over me, letting me just relax and think.
His hand was cold.
Everything I had ever touched was warm to me. Everything alive, at least.
It was in interesting feeling, different from my general coldness. More intense, but at the same time less painful. Not like pins and needles on my skin, more like…a cool kiss. The more I thought about it, the more it felt like...
"…Interesting…" Came his quiet voice, pulling me from my thoughts.
Slowly, he pulled his hand from my head. He stood back up to his full height. Despite how he loomed over me, I couldn't help but feel that he had…relaxed, somehow.
"It seems it's just as I thought." He murmured.
"W-what is?" I stammered.
"You are, indeed, the one I seek. And you are what I thought you were." He answered, speaking softly and evenly. Even still, his voice held a trembling power in it. It seemed to drown everything else out.
"I-I am?" I wondered. Then, his words fully reached me.
"W-wait, you know what I am? You know what's wrong with me?!" I shouted, passion finding me once more.
This man, he knew what was wrong with me. He could fix me. If he fixed me, I could hug Papa again. I could see my family again!
I can go home! I thought, hope fulling me.
"I do." He said simply.
"Then you can fix me, right?" I asked, once again filled with hope for the future.
"Fix you?" he questioned, sounding confused.
At this, I faltered.
"Y-you're a Priest, right? You're here to heal me." I said.
"I am no Priest." He answered
"I…you…you're not a priest?" I said, bewildered.
He shook his head calmly in response.
"Then…" I gulped, fear beginning to seep into me. "W-who are you?"
But as I recalled what he had done before, how he acted before, and how he felt before, I restated my question.
"What are you?"
He stopped for a moment, seeming to consider my question, thinking about how to properly respond. With each second he waited, my suspicion and fear grew and grew.
"…I…" he began finally, rubbing his long beard in consideration, "I suppose you could go by the name many know me by."
"It is not my true name, but it suites me well enough." He reasoned
"I am Death."
My eyes went wide, and my blood froze in my veins. The fear within me fell to waves of utter terror. Death itself stood before me, I had no doubt of that. What else could be impaled upon spikes of ice and barely even acknowledge it? What else could feel cold to me, than the cold grasp of death itself?
"D-d-death?" I stammered, shrinking further into myself. Any hope of salvation fleeing my mind.
"Y-you said you were looking for m-me. You're here to k-kill me, a-aren't you? Y-you're here to t-take my soul." I stuttered, terror filling me as the only logical conclusion took hold of my mind.
"I-I don't want to die. I-I'm sorry for the bird. I-I didn't mean t-to, I-I was just so h-hungry." I tried to explain, panicking
"Hungry…" He repeated with a deep rumble.
"I'm just so h-hungry." I said, repeating myself.
And now that I thought about it, I felt even hungrier than I had moments ago. I felt starved, like my stomach was completely empty. I could feel the empty pit within me begin to gnaw at my sanity, now that I knew of its presence.
"…That hunger…" He said, pulling me from my thoughts, "…would you like to do something about it?"
"W-what?" I asked, startled and confused by the questioned.
"…I…am not here to kill you." He began.
"I am here…because you are special."
"Special?" I repeated, thrown off by the fact that Death…wasn't here to kill me.
"You have…a connection…to me. A piece of the Void has found quarter within your soul, connecting it to itself, and to me." He explained.
"What's the Void?" I asked, the hunger of curiosity overriding my fear.
"The Void…" he trailed off.
"…It's…difficult to explain." He admitted.
"…I suppose you could call it the end." He finally said
"The end of what?" I wondered.
"The end of everything." He responded.
I blinked, "The end of…everything?"
"A realm of death, and the end of everything. It's….not a perfect explanation." He confessed, "But I suppose it will do."
"A-and I have it…in me?" I clarified.
"So it seems." He responded.
"Can you fix it?" I asked, desperately hoping he could.
"Fix it?" He questioned.
"Yes." I said, "I'm wrong, and it hurts. I-I want you to fix me. Make me better."
"Please." I added.
"But…" He paused, confused, "You aren't broken."
"Yes I am!" I shouted, anger and frustration filling me.
"I'm broken and wrong and dark and evil!" I ranted.
I clenched my fists, my anger at how everything had all gone wrong filling me. My frustration of how helpless I was to fix this, at how I couldn't be with my family fueling me.
"I want to be fixed! I want to be normal!" I fumed.
Frustrated and despondent tears traveled down my face, freezing soon after leaving my eyes.
"I-I-I just want to be able to hug my papa again." I admitted, anger giving way to desperation and despair as I tired myself out.
"I just want to be able to see my family again. I want them to be safe around me, I don't want to hurt anyone anymore." I confessed, collapsing on the ground.
He stood there, looking at me as bawled out onto the frosted ground, crying my heart out. Finally, he spoke up.
"…then in that case." He said.
"You should leave with me."
"L-leave with you?" I sniffled, looking up at him in surprise.
"Yes…" he said, crouching down to sit on the floor, putting himself on a more even height with me.
"I would take you from these walls, out to the mountains and forests." He said, gesturing our towards the frosted window.
"What? No! I want to stay with my family!" I cried.
"Do you not love your family?" He inquired.
"Yes, but-but there has to be some way to do it here!" I stammered, "I mean, you could ask my papa. He's the king, I'm know he could find out a way to make it work."
"Potentially." He acknowledged.
"But in the meantime, you are a danger to your family."
"I…what?!" I stopped.
I knew I was already, but there seemed to be more…weight…with him when he said it.
"If you let your hunger grow too much, and if you let it rule you, you will be the greatest danger they ever face." He began.
"The hunger…" He said, summoning a small ice sculpture of me in his hand, "Will grow inside you. If you do not feed it correctly, it will change you."
"You will lose your sanity," He explained, the sculpture of me changing and twisting in his hands. "You will lose your mind."
"And you will lose your humanity," the sculpture of me turning into a twisted, crystalline, facsimile of a human. A massive maw with jagged teeth, sunken eyes, long spindly limbs, and wild frayed hair characterized the being.
My eyes went wide and my heart stopped as I gasped at the sight.
It was a monster.
I'm going to become a monster I thought in horror.
"If you stayed here, this is all but assured to come to pass. Should it happen, there is very little anything in this castle, of even this kingdom, could do to stop you on your rampage." He told me. "Even if I was here to stop you, it would not be immediate, and it would not be clean. I could not guarantee the safety of your family if you were in their presence."
"Anna…" I whispered, remembering that day when I nearly killed her.
I shook my head as I tried to push the thoughts from my mind.
I can't, I won't let that happen! I thought with frantic firmness.
"Besides…I doubt you would want your family to see you in such a deplorable state. They would not understand." He pointed out.
I pursed my lips, and almost cried again, but I realized the truth of his words.
"I…I don't want to hurt them. I want them to be safe." I admitted.
"But couldn't you tell them where we're going? Couldn't we visit them or something?" I exclaimed, desperately clinging to a dying dream.
"I would prefer not. They would not understand. These are not things for mortal comprehension. Human morals might get in the way. They might come looking for you, trying to take you home or give you comfort. Instead, they would arrive at the worst time." He denied.
"It could be while you hunger for the flesh and soul of humans, or while you are consuming something yourself. Either way, if they saw it, they could never look at you the same way." He explained.
"Imagine if they surprise you? If your father comes and tried to just carry you home? What if you reacted much the same way you did me?" He put forth.
I shuddered as I recalled what he said.
What if I used my powers, and hurt them? I feared.
"You're very touch is dangerous to them. You walk as a shadow of death itself. Very little is safe from you." He continued.
"And you are?" I questioned.
At this, he laughed. A deep, bellowing laugh that seemed to shake the ice in the room. Winds seems to summon themselves out of thin air, swirling around the snow and fog in the room in connection to his chuckling.
"Girl, I am Death, whilst you are just a disciple. You cannot harm me." He chuckled, mirth dancing in his eye.
I pouted, but conceded his point. Impaling him with three spikes had done nothing but delay his progress, and I doubted that it would have done even that had he actually tried.
"So…" I began, "If I go with you…you'll teach me?"
"You'll help me get better, learn how to control myself?"
"Yes." He answered.
"And when I'm done…you'll let me come home?" I questioned, making sure this was a good idea.
"You are free to do whatever you wish to do. I am simply giving you options. You can leave for home whenever you choose, whether ready or not. You can even stay here, if you so choose." He explained
"When…when would I be able to come home, if I was trying to get complete control over my powers?" I asked.
"Hard to say…" He mused, "I've never had to deal with a disciple such as yourself."
"What do you mean?" I asked
"A human. A young one at that. Usually it would be things of great innate power, or normally isolated beings. But you? You are a human. Something innately weak and social." He pointed out.
"You don't seem so great yourself." I frowned, feeling slightly insulted by his words.
"That is only because you are a disciple." He chuckled again, "Had you been anyone else, you would currently be a frozen corpse in this room."
I stopped, my eyes widening again at his implications.
"Yes, it's quite cold in here right now." He noted, gesturing to the fog in the room. "The air itself is turning to liquid, it's so cold. That, in it of itself, is more than enough proof of what you are."
"You mean…" I trailed off, not wanting to think of it.
"If your 'papa' was here with us, he would undoubtable be dead." He finished, not giving me the luxury of ignorance.
"It's one of the reasons you're so dangerous. Merely being in your presence will eventually be enough to take someone's life, regardless of your intent." He explained.
I thought about what he said, the truth of it reaching me. I recalled how cold papa seemed last time he came here. Up until the fire was up, he could barely stand it.
Will it get worse? I wondered. Am I the reason it's all falling apart?
"You can help me get better, right?" I pleaded. "You can get rid of it?"
"Perhaps eventually, but not here. Not right this moment." He answered.
I lowered my head in defeated acknowledgement. All that he had said to me traveled through my mind. I processed all of it, thought about all the consequences.
I wanted to stay, I wanted to be with my family, but…if I did…I could kill them.
Then I thought about what my father said about being ruler.
He said, "It's not about what you want, it's about what's best for the kingdom, what's best for everyone. Many times you're going to have to make personal sacrifices, terrible ones, in order to do what's best. But you have to be strong, and do it for the good of the people."
I have to be strong I thought resolutely, steel growing within me
"…I'll do it." I said quietly
"Hmm?" He said with quirked brow.
"I said I'll do it." I declared more adamantly
"I'll go with you. I'll learn how to control myself, and maybe even cure myself of this curse." I told him.
"Alright." He said, standing up from the floor.
"In that case…" He turned, stepping to the middle of the room. "Let us be off."
And with that word, he slammed the butt of his staff down on the center of the room. With it, a blast of air exploded out from the center, before rushing back in. It all coalesced into a small, tiny really, black dot in the middle of the air. The dot extended into a black line, hovering there. It pulsed, then opened like an eye into a great black portal into the unknown.
I started at in wonder for a few moments, feeling something tugging me toward it, calling me…home.
"Come along, child." He chided, waiting at the door for me.
This is it I paused
There's no turning back after this
He blinked as he began to perceive again. He began to process again, to think again. Remembering what had happened, he started.
"Papa?" Anna said in his arm fearfully, worried about what had happened. "What happened?"
"Anna I-"He stopped himself. He had an idea, not a great idea, but an idea nonetheless. And that idea terrified him. But did he want his child to know? Did he want his child to experience this terror too?
"Nothing, Anna, it was nothing." He hastily comforted her.
Soon, the door to his room flew open, with an irate, confused, and fearful Idna coming through.
"Agnarr, what was that? With the frost and the…" She paused, searching for the words
"Darkness?" She finally said, fear seeping into her voice.
"Was it…" She gulped, not wanting to think of what it could have been.
"Idna, take Anna." Agnarr hurriedly said, handing Anna to her.
"Wha-where are you going?" She said frantically, out of her depth.
"To check on Elsa." Was all he said, before he ran out the door.
Agnarr was deaf to the cries of his wife, instead running at full speed to the empty section of the castle. The frost was gone, like it was never there to begin with. All along his way, Agnarr saw people walking about in a daze, as if everyone in the castle had been put to sleep by the spell put over them.
With each person he saw, his fear grew.
How far did this go? He wondered.
And is she safe?
He ignored the painful cold as he entered the tower. He ignored how somewhere, deep inside, he knew it wasn't as cold as it should have been.
He burst through the door, not even bothering to knock. Stumbling inside, he found the frozen prison much as he had left it. With one exception.
Elsa was nowhere to be seen.
"ELSA!" He yelled, calling out to her in some desperate hope she was still nearby. But deep in his heart, he knew the truth.
Elsa was long gone.
He feel to his knees, weeping for his lost little lamb. But as he looked at the ground, he saw there, written in frost, one last message.
"I'm sorry Papa, but I realized that I was too dangerous to be around you and Mama and Anna. It's just like you told me, the ruler has a responsibility to protect their people, regardless of how much it hurts them. So to protect you, I've gone away."
His tears fell and his heart bleed upon reading these words, knowing he had told her these things, hoping to shape her into a good Queen one day.
But I never meant this He cried.
It is unfortunate, however, that he wept as he did. For his falling tears fell upon the last lines of her final letter. They melted and obscured the last lines, the critical lines where she vowed to return.
So when Agnarr looked down again, and saw nothing more than a frozen puddle of his tears, he thought little of it.
Instead, he got up. Wiped the tears from his face, and walked out of the room with a firm look on his face. He marched back down the tower, steeling himself with each step.
When he finally arrived in the castle proper, he rounded up as many men as he could. He ordered his knights to search far and wide for his little girl, proclaiming a kidnapper had stolen her from the castle, but also ordering them to keep the public from knowing she was gone.
So out the knights went, on horseback they rode into the forests of the kingdom. Trackers looked for any and every sign of her presence, and the royal guard looked around the castle grounds.
But they never got far.
For on that day, a massive blizzard came in. Unprecedented for it's time, all were caught unawares. The knights were forced to turn back, lest they become lost in the wilds. The trackers had to return inside, lest they freeze to death. And there was no sign of her within the castle itself.
Agnarr's frustration grew, but there was nothing he could do. All barricaded themselves inside in the face of the frozen onslaught. It was all they could to do hope to survive.
The blizzard lasted for 2 days, and by the time it was over, all his advisors told him that any hope of finding the girl was lost. In fact, not knowing the strangeness about the girl, they told him that any hope she was even still alive out there was realistically insignificant. They told him to give up, that even if they could find her after all the snow fall, she would be nothing but a frozen corpse.
Despite this, the King never truly gave up hope. He knew that she could survive a Blizzard. Deep down, he even suspected she made it herself to cover her tracks. How, he had no idea, but he knew she was alive.
But he also had more pressing concerns. His kingdom was buried in snow. He wanted to send his armies out to search for his precious daughter, but he couldn't. He needed them here, helping his people recover from this storm.
Idna ranted and raved about how cold he was being. About how he need to find their little girl. They fought and fought for hours, days, weeks, until finally they stopped. Both of them were tired. Agnarr even more so, having the weight of two worlds on his shoulders.
They realized that they had forgotten someone. Little Anna cried by herself, wondering why her mother and father were fighting, wondering why she couldn't see Elsa, wondering why all these terrible things were happening to her.
Had she been bad?
Had she made this happen?
Did she deserve this?
Seeing their daughter distraught, and their kingdom in chaos, they realized they couldn't keep on like this. Something had to give.
If not for the love they shared for their daughter, it would have been their marriage. They would still be King and Queen, but there would be no love between them. Their relationship would be nothing more than a façade.
But Anna did exist, and she needed both of them to come out of this tragedy.
So they did their best to put aside their differences and work to become a family again.
Even though the put the issue of Elsa aside, they never forgot about her. They still believed, deep down, that Elsa was still alive out there.
And one day, we'll bring her home.
This…I thought, mildly surprised, is not what I expected.
It was…silent. I expected…well, I'm not really sure what I expected. Perhaps the wails of the damned? The Sound of ruin and decay? Howling winds? Chanting?
Instead, there was just deathly silence. I could hear my own heart beating in my chest, it was so quiet. A small sign I was still alive, and that this was all real.
Turning, I saw…Death…take his place beside me. He spared me a look, before gesturing forward with his staff. Looking ahead, I saw a path rise before me.
The Void was…just that, really. A void. An empty place of nothingness. It was an empty black that seemed to stretch on forever.
And yet…I wasn't unsettled by it, strangely enough.
At his command, a path of white ice seemed to rise up from nothing, directing a path forward. I tentatively put my foot upon it, finding the whole thing odd, and not sure if I should trust it. But, when it held firm, I let my second foot follow suit. Soon I was walking upon the icy path, each step making a resounding Clack.
Before long, something…odd…happened.
I began to see shrubs, trees, and even an actual terrain appear around me. Each was desolate, dead, and empty. The trees and shrubs were just the pale bones of what they once were, a stark white against the black of the world around them. The ground was cold, dead, and dark. It was like a dead image of the real world.
But again, despite all of this, I never truly felt uncomfortable.
Sure, my conscious mind found it strange and unsettling, but underneath, my gut felt…right. I wasn't cold, I wasn't hungry, I felt…normal.
Normal I thought Is it because this is where I belong?
In the land of the dead?
"…Is something wrong?" His voice echoed out, pulling me from my thoughts. Startled, I turned around to look at him.
"N-no, i-its just…" I trailed off, not really knowing how to voice my thoughts and concerns, or even if I should.
"Do I belong here?" I finally asked.
"…hmm" He considered, looking around.
Now that I looked at him, I saw that his crystalline lantern acted as a beacon of light in this endless dark. At first I had thought that the path more or less grew in front of me, but behind me I could see the light of the lamp fading into dark nothingness. Something that made me step closer to the being that was my guiding light.
"…I'd say it is because your soul has a piece of this place in it. That piece has a powerful influence over your soul, and it recognizes that it is back…home" He explained.
"It's nice…" I murmured.
"Can I stay here?" I asked on a whim
"I could train here, right? And I wouldn't hurt anyone?" I continued.
"…I…do not recommend that." He warned, "It would not be a good idea."
"This is the realm of the dead, for the dead and that which belongs in the abyss. It is not for mortals. Even though you could stay here without fear of death, as you know it, you would not be unchanged." He cautioned. "…In fact…I doubt you would even want to return after too long. Even if you did, your family would not recognize you as the Elsa they cared for."
"o-oh..." I stammered, frightened by the picture he painted.
"So where are we going?" I asked
"Here." He said, stopping abruptly.
I stumbled forward, startled by his sudden declaration. Headless of my clumsy movement, he instead tapped his staff against the ground once more. Just as before, an opening appeared, much like an eye. This time, however, it was a bright white.
I looked at him for a moment, searching for some sign of what he wanted me to do. But, instead, he just stood there, much like he was waiting on me to continue.
So, with much trepidation, continue I did.
Stepping through the portal, I let my foot hit the ground outside the Void.
Looking down, I was somewhat startled to see my foot landing deep into a snowy forest. Pulling the rest of myself through the opening, I was assaulted by an explosion of sudden sound as I entered the real world once more.
Winds howled as they whipped thick clumps of snow around. Despite how cold I logically knew it should have been, I couldn't help but feel as if it was nothing more than a nice cool breeze. Looking around, I could easily see that there was a blizzard going on.
But it's only mid fall. How can this be happening so soon? I worried
Hearing another soft crunch behind me, I turned to see Death enter behind me, the black oval closing behind him.
"Where is this?" I asked him
He paused, seeming to think about how to phrase it properly,
"…several dozen kilometers from the outskirts of the city. In the Frostback Mountains." He finally answered.
My eyes widened at what he had said.
But…that's several days' worth of traveling. I thought in shock, we couldn't have been walking for more than a few minutes.
"We should probably make camp." He announced, pull me form my thoughts.
And without another word, he began walking in a direction, headless of the heavy snow. His lantern once again acted as a beacon in the storm, it's cool blue light leading the way through the thick winds.
It was weird, following him through the storm. Not as weird as the Void, but still strange. It was a case of logically knowing I should be having trouble, despite finding that everything actually felt more clear than normal.
It was as if…as if I could sense the snow. As if I could feel through the icy winds and frozen snow itself.
Strange… I considered, but I suppose, considering what all I can do, it makes a certain amount of sense.
Finally, we reached a thick cluster of trees creating a layer of cover for us. There was relatively little snow on the ground here, and the winds weren't as fierce. Not that either mattered to me, evidently. It's probably why we stopped here instead of someplace else that would offer more protection, like a cave.
"…Here should be good for now." He announced, sitting down upon a suitable rock next to a particularly large tree in the center of the area.
I sat down, leaning against the snow covered tree, and letting myself slide into the snow. Instead of feeling cold and wet, it felt soft and comforting, like I was resting upon a cool bed.
No sooner had I sat down, than did I feel a level of exhaustion come over me. I yawned loudly, trying to force away the feelings of sleep.
Why am I so exhausted these days? I wondered.
Seemingly reading my mind, Death spoke up, "…You should rest. You are undergoing a period of transformation, your…otherness…is coming into effect more. Your body is compensating by requiring more rest for the changes to occur." He explained.
"Changes?" I said worriedly.
"Yes. Your hunger only became so strong recently, correct? It is because of these changes that it happened."
"Can you stop them? Reverse them? Something?" I panicked, not wanting to become more inhuman than I already was.
"Patience, girl." He stopped me
"Your answers will come in time, but for now, it would be best if you rested. We can talk more when you awake." He said.
"But what about you?" I asked.
He simply gave me a curious look, as if wondering what I could possibly be worried about.
I blushed nervously and looked away, realizing that worrying about Death itself was probably foolish.
So, turning around and lying upon the snowing ground, I tried to imagine it as nothing more than a soft, fluffy, bed, and let my mind drift to sleep. As I did, I had one final thought.
Papa, I hope you got my note I prayed.
Because it might be a long time before I see you again.
Alright, well that was eventful
Yes, Elsa is going to be growing up outside the kingdom
Yes, she isn't going to be heading back anytime soon
And yes, she is essentially lesser walking death.
As I continue working on this, I'm going to try and get across Elsa's otherness, how inhuman she is. Finding a blizzard a cool and comforting breeze is one of them.
I'm also taking a somewhat classical interpretation of death.
I've always liked the versions that were more subtle, more subdued. They did run around kicking and screaming, because they didn't need to.
They were Death.
They were inevitable
What could they possibly fear?
So yes, I'm going to try and express inhumanity in each of them. Something I find quite fun.
Anyways, going from here, a lot of changes are going to take place. We've taken a hard turn from canon on chapter 2, and unless I want to pull out some bull shit, it's going to be hard to go back.
I'm also not going to be taking an immediate time skip to the timespan of Frozen, or when they become young adults in general.
There will be time skips because I don't feel like taking 15 or so literal years to get there, but there isn't going to be one sudden hard one where I'm like "10 years later, durring which all of the development happened". I mean, I got so much shit I can pull out of these developmental years.
Do you know how much fucked up shit I can go through during that time?
The answer is a lot.
But that's all to come later.
As for the air turning to liquid thing, that's just an example of how she's going to be expressing death. Instead of it being violent and bloody, it's going to be through sheer absence fo energy, or "cold". Now, air's a complicated mix of a lot of things. Two of the major components of air are oxygen and nitrogen. Nitrogen turns to a liquid at temperatures of about -320 degrees F, or -195 degrees C. Which is really fucking cold. It wasn't technically quite that cold in the room yet, but it was approaching that.
Either way, it's not a temperature you could survive.
And they survived just fine because...magic. Doesn't have to make sense.
But in effect, Elsa has a body temperature well below freezing, and dropping the hungrier she is. Again, not dead cause magic.
Everyone else? Not so much.