Elsa dropped the tome in frustration, reclining back in her chair to rub her eyes. She's scoured every book in the town and castle library with no luck. Three weeks earlier, she'd gotten a notice of engagement—her engagement. An arranged marriage that her parents had agreed on when she was born. Not that anyone had mentioned this to her of course, and now she was preparing for the arrival of her future husband, a gallant prince from the southern continent.
Elsa snorted, opening her eyes. A gallant prince… not that she needed one, but a queen could not rule alone forever. Would a Southern Prince even make it through an Arendelle winter? With a sigh, she rose from the chair surrounded by piles of ancient and newer books. It had taken her a week of freaking out, inadvertently creating raging Thanksgiving ice storm that her subjects patiently put up with before she'd confided the news to Anna.
Her sister had the remarkable advice of inviting the Prince for a visit to put Elsa's fears to rest. Either he could handle her, curse and all; or not—in which case, politics aside, any considerate person could find another person to marry. Plus, who wants to marry someone they've never met? Anna really was remarkable under her impulsive and sometimes scatter-brained behavior, and life with Kristoff seemed to be really good at grounding her. Elsa was proud to have a younger sister like her.
Back to matters at hand, she'd spent over a week pouring through endless books for some explanation or "cure" for her curse. Not for herself, she had come to terms with her powers and anyone who had issue with that an issue with her—but with the prospect of a husband meant heirs… children; and she couldn't bear the thought of someone having to relive her struggles. Elsa was determined to find some scrap of hope that she could be the last in the Arendelle line with the curse.
She made one last trip through the castle library, re-reading countless titles of old books as she passed each section.
"Elsa!" Anna cried from the far end of the library. "Elsa! Are you in here?"
Elsa made her way to the old records aisle, following the sound of Anna's dust induced coughing.
"Anna?" Elsa found her sister covered in dust under a pile of old manuscripts and scrolls.
"I can't move." Anna grinned sheepishly. "I don't want to damage anything."
With some exasperation, Elsa gingerly pulled the pile apart so Anna could stand up.
"What are you doing here, Anna, I thought you'd be preparing for the ball. The Prince will arrive in a week."
"Well I was—er, well I did; but then I had this thought about this time I was in the library and I found something that I thought was interesting, but it didn't occur to me at the time—but then I thought you'd be in here, so I could find it and show it to you."
"Okay…" Elsa started shelving the manuscripts. "What is "it"?"
"Ta~da!" Anna pulled a large scroll box out of the pile, proudly turning it so Elsa could see the gold-plated label.
"The Arendelle Royal Family Tree?" Elsa quirked an eyebrow.
"Well, I figured, since the curse is in the family line, maybe this would have some sort of… I don't know what kind of clue, you know?"
"Maybe." Elsa smiled, grateful for her thoughtfulness. "Let's open it up anyway, I'm done researching for today."
Anna hopped excitedly and sprinted to the oak table in the library center. She unbuckled the scroll box and gently unrolled the aging scroll on the table, setting books at the corners to hold it open.
The tree went back over 400 years, the generations intricately woven together with miniature portraits of the royal family. At the bottom where Anna and Elsa's names without portraits, probably added when they were born. Elsa made a mental note to have their portraits taken for the tree as she browsed up the line. A curious pattern began to emerge as she studied her family's lineage.
Every generation or two, the first born child did not marry or have children, and if they were the only heir of that generation, a cousin or close relative succeeded to the throne. Even in one instance where there where twins, neither had an heir. Then, Elsa noticed a small detail next to each portrait that had no successors, a small snowflake in silver ink.
The realization struck her like lightning. These members of the family that spent their lives alone, they were those that inherited the curse. Not a in a single instance did those with a snowflake next to their picture have a child, the next line of succession was a nephew or cousin or aunt…
"Elsa?" Anna was looking at her intently. "Elsa, what's wrong?"
She cleared her throat. "Don't you see the pattern? No one with the curse in our family has gotten married or has had children. They were alone."
Anna studied the family tree for a moment and then took a deep breath. "So what? That's the past! You're not alone Elsa, you've got me—and you've figured out your powers, so it's not a problem!"
"Oh Anna." Elsa wished she could feel reassured. They hadn't beaten the curse, but mastered her powers. Maybe… If they could do that, then there may be a chance they could find a way to break the curse for good, before another generation suffered.
"We have to find a way to break the curse forever; not just for us, but for future generations."
"Wow." Anna ran her hand through her bangs. "Is that really what you want, Elsa?"
Elsa smiled at her sister. "Anna, I love you; and I know without you I'd never learn to control my powers, but when I think about another person having to go through what we did; I can't bear the responsibility. I have to try."
"I understand. I think it's a noble quest, and I'm rooting for you!" Anna glanced around at the stacks of books. "So… any progress yet?"
"Kristoff said there's a large monastery in the Eastern Mountains that has an extensive library, with books even older than anything we have in the castle. Maybe there could be something more there."
"That's a great idea!" Elsa hugged Anna. "Thank you; I'll send them a letter by pigeon and see if they can help; any scrap of information about how the curse started might help!"
Francis wove through the ancient stone corridors, sandaled feet clacking against the cobblestone as monks in grey and brown robes passed by. As a junior monk, he should have better timing skills for making lessons with the Grand Master Abbot—but his love of books had once again consumed him, and for the umpteenth time this month, he was late to his Saturday Apprenticeship.
He rounded the last corner and bolted for the tower stairs, lifting his frock dangerously high to leap up[ the stairs three at a time, heart racing as the nones bell began to chime—a gong-like sound that resonated and grew as he wound his way up the tower. He burst through the heaven oak door to the Abbot's chambers as the final; crescendo of the bell faded.
Grand Master Abbot Belgr was a man with long wispy hair that crowned a marvelously shiny bald head with an equally long beard to match that village girls loved to plait in the spring. Belgr had the stern face of a miser but the soulful heart of a saint. His sharp eyes, however, were as deadly as any daggers ever forged, and they were currently piercing Francis.
"Ah!" Francis dropped his robe, trying to catch a fleeting gasp of air "Sorry… library… Chronicles… Faust…"
"How uncommonly." The Abbot coughed. "Late yet again; how am I to trust you as the successor of this Monastery when I cannot even trust you to be on time to learn the secrets of the Fjord monks. Is it a thirst for knowledge or a lust of books that motivate you, Junior Monk?"
"Uh…" Francis glanced around the room, avoiding the imposing figure. "Both?"
"I see." Abbot Belgr sank into the old leather chair by the fireplace and Francis scrambled to stoke the fire for his Master.
"I suppose," the old monk pulled a small red leather journal from his inner robes. "In light of that, this is the perfect day to discuss this."
Francis glanced from the rejuvenated fire. "So, I'm not in trouble?"
"If you have to ask," a glint of mischief flashed in the wise eyes. "Then yes, you are—yet I haven't decided on your punishment."
Francis' heart fell.
"Here." He was handed the leather journal. "Today the only time limit to our lesson is the fire. You will keep it stoked and read this to me. It is a dark, sad tale—yet it is one that we must know; for we're the only ones who remember and one day we may need to share this knowledge."
Francis glanced at the worn out book in his hands, the edges frayed and the leather cracked, almost unrecognizable as leather. He could feel a weak hum of magic covering the surface of the book. A preservation spell? So this was an original, very old book. There were very few such volumes in the library, mostly books which held forgotten secrets or had a value as an original— his curiosity was thoroughly piqued.
Grand Master Belgr lay an aged hand across Francis'. "Before you open this book; let me caution you… you must not speak of its contents to anyone nor ever have it transcribed. Do you understand?"
Francis nodded, slightly confused. What could lay in this journal that the Abbot would be so secretive about? Was it a journal that had belonged to a famous Grand Master Monk or King? The Abbot was very serious about this, so Francis knew whatever he held was important; and he wouldn't let his master down.
"You may read it now." The Abbot sat back in his chair, closing his eyes.