For the Last Time in Forever
I remember it like was yesterday. But it was many, many years ago now, back when I was no older than you are today. Grandfather had taken me up into the mountains, the deep snowy mountains far from our village, just as I am taking you today. And just as you will in turn when your time comes. And if you can keep quiet for two minutes, I'll tell ya why. You see, it's all to do with this weather we've been having….
I was still young, back then, barely into my teens. Grandfather had roused me from sleep painfully early one morning, a lantern shining in his large, wrinkled hand. I stared at him, blinking in the glare.
"Come. It is time," he told me.
"Where are we going?" I asked as soon as I could get my brain moving again.
"Deep into the mountains, to the North Peak. It's a two-day journey. Hurry up and don't ask questions."
He bade me keep quiet, so as not to wake the others, and we tiptoed out of our home. For the first day, climbing up through the foothills, following old trails, we were blessed with relatively good weather. Perhaps as we were largely in the trees, or out of the wind. We made good time, heading higher and higher up the side of the fjord, and I was actually quite enjoying myself. The feeling was not to last.
"Where are we?" I asked, trying to get my bearings as we finally reached the top of the ridge. I could see a narrow inlet far below, an arm of the great fjord of Sogne. The wind whipped around me like a living thing, slicing into my very bones, and I was glad of my warm cloak.
"We've just crossed into the kingdom of Arendelle," Grandfather said, his voice distant.
"Arendelle? That's not a kingdom!" I exclaimed. "It's just a tiny, poor fishing village, only lived in by the few stubborn old men that can survive its constant winter."
"Aye, it is that… now." Grandfather sighed, and paused. "How soon we forget the past…."
"What do you mean?" I asked, my eyes narrowing suspiciously as I looked down at the clustering of hovels huddled under the lee of the mountains.
"Arendelle may be that now," Grandfather said. "but it was once a glorious trading port, capital of a small but prosperous kingdom that ruled over this entire area."
"So what happened? I mean, this is all Norway now. Did they get conquered?"
"Conquered? No. They were never conquered. But they were defeated…."
"Who by? King Olaf? King Haakon?"
Grandfather gave a bitter laugh. "No outsider could take them, and believe me, many have tried. No, it was their own queen who wrought ruin on this once-fair land."
"Their own queen? How? Why?"
"I'll explain later, once we're closer," Grandfather said. "It's too windy here, for one thing."
"Indeed," I agreed, moving back to the forest, out of the worst of the howling gale blowing down from the mountaintop. "Couldn't we have waited for another few days, and maybe better weather?"
"I told you, it must be now. The date cannot be missed. You will understand why, once this is over."
We struggled on, climbing ever up, and as the forests thinned, the storm once again hit us with its full power.
"When will this wind ever stop?" I asked, squinting my eyes against the icy blast. "It's just been getting worse and worse. And I'm sick of it blowing always in our faces."
"It won't," Grandfather said. "The wind never stops up here. It is this wind that brings the constant winter, the snow and ice that have so devastated the land. And it blows in our faces because we journey to its heart, high on the mountain."
"Wind is based on atmospheric pressure differences" I argued. "It doesn't have a heart."
"This wind does." Grandfather stopped and looked over at me, his eyes sad. "Aye, there is indeed a heart at the centre of this wind, but one that has not beat in many a long year…."
We made camp for the night in a quiet hollow, sheltered by low trees that were barely even shrubs. Grandfather soon had a fire blazing, and was stretching out his short, powerful arms to it, enjoying the rare warmth as the winds howled and moaned between the rocks like an animal in agony.
"The Snow Queen is angry tonight," he muttered, and I smiled. It was a common saying, used by the older folk to mean a bitterly cold and snowy night.
"Yes, a high-pressure system is probably moving in from the north," I told him. "That'll be what's causing this."
Grandfather looked at me, a slight smile on his craggy face. "You young folk. You think you know everything, don't you? You ignore the old tales at your peril, for, as you will see, there is much truth in them. Now go to sleep. We have a hard day ahead of us tomorrow."
I gave him an odd look, but couldn't be bothered arguing. Whatever we were up here for, it was important to him, so I let it be. And I was too tired to worry anyway.
I dropped off to sleep almost immediately, despite the moaning winds. But I slept fitfully, my dreams disturbed, and woke to find a world of white. A fresh layer of snow had arrived in the night, so it was a while before we got everything ready.
"We'll be there in a few hours," Grandfather said as we left our little hollow and subjected ourselves again to the full force of the winter gale.
"I don't care where we're going as long as we can get out of this wind," I muttered, knowing Grandfather always had a reason for everything he did. So when he didn't reply, I just shouldered my pack and headed after him, slowly trudging through the deep snow.
As we climbed, the blizzard grew stronger than ever, and soon we could see nothing further than our hands. Grandfather was just barely visible as a grey shape ahead of me. Then, just as I was feeling ready to turn back anyway, whatever Grandfather said, the wind suddenly dropped and the blizzard cleared. I gasped, unable to believe my eyes. In front of me, across the valley, was a towering, glistening, castle of ice, shards sparkling in the sudden sun, with turrets, roofs, windows, filigrees, all formed from the purest, clearest ice I have ever seen. The strange structure caught and refracted the low northern sun, creating scintillating rainbows of colour that flashed and shone, twinkling as the light changed.
"It's beautiful," I breathed. "It's incredible. What is it?"
"That is Isfjell, the Ice Mountain," Grandfather said solemnly. "Home of the Queen of Winter."
"The Snow Queen? But that's just a story!" I protested. "A legend no one believes!" Yet even as I said that, I was suddenly no longer sure any more.
Grandfather shook his head. "Nay, not just a story. Nor yet a legend. Come, we must get closer, and I will tell you the tale of how Isfjell came to be, and why its heart is so cold."
"Is it to do with the Snow Queen? What is she?"
"Ah, the Snow Queen," Grandfather said. "Few now are who remember it, but the Snow Queen was once a human girl, a princess, heir to the throne of Arendelle. But she was born with a special gift, or perhaps I should say, a curse. When she was just a baby, one bitterly cold winter's night, the fire in her bedroom went out by accident. In the morning her old nurse was found dead—frozen to death in her sleep. But the baby was completely unaffected. The king and queen soon realised that their child was immune to the cold—no matter how fierce the winter storms, she never needed a coat; she never needed a fire.
"And then they discovered something else. Their daughter could control and manipulate snow and ice. It started out as just small flurries of snowflakes. But as she grew older, stronger, so too did her icy powers. And then one day, there was an accident." Grandfather paused, his eyes unfocused. "The princess was playing with her sister, and accidentally struck her in the head with her ice."
"Her sister?" I gasped. I had never heard this part of the legend before. "What happened?"
"I was just getting to that," he told me crossly. "She was brought to the trolls, to see if they could heal her."
I stared at Grandfather. I had never heard any of this before, and wondered why not. "Was she saved?" was all I could manage to ask.
Grandfather nodded. "But at great cost. Not to the younger princess, but to her sister, who was kept apart, taught to fear her power. She was told that emotions drove her power, that fear had caused this accident, and fear would be her biggest enemy. So she learned to shut herself off, to control her emotions, isolate herself from those around her to protect them. But it could not last. She was the heir, and would have to take her place on the throne one day."
"As the Snow Queen?" I asked.
"Don't interrupt," Grandfather said, looking annoyed. "As Queen of Arendelle of course. But there was a tragedy at her coronation—her powers were exposed, unleashed, with disastrous consequences. For ice can be sharp and dangerous, deadly as the finest steel blade…. Afraid, both of harming others again, and for her own life, the queen fled deep into the high mountains, to the home of eternal ice and snow, and there, where none could ever reach her, she used her magic to build her great castle: Isfjell."
"The Ice Mountain," I breathed. "I always thought that was the name of the peak…."
Grandfather shook his head. "Nay. It was always known in Arendelle as Nordfjell, North Peak. Isfjell is the towering mountain of ice the Snow Queen created as a place to live, far from other humans, somewhere safe where they could never follow her. A fortress of solitude, to rule a kingdom of isolation."
I raised a sceptical eyebrow. "So she lives in there, and causes eternal winter? That's it? Nobody tried to stop her?"
"Her sister did," Grandfather said. "The one person who had never given up on her. Risking her own life to find the Snow Queen, to plead with her to stop the sudden winter that blanketed the town. Blithely confident that her own sibling would never harm her, she left her betrothed behind and, with a guide, made her way to the very peak we are heading towards now."
I looked up, and whistled. It was not an easy climb for us hardened mountain-dwellers, still less for a pampered princess. She must have been driven by a desperation I could only imagine. "So what happened? Nothing good, I assume, considering it's still winter…."
Grandfather nodded. "The Snow Queen was not so eager to return, not so willing to believe she had caused so much unwitting destruction. And, I think, even more than that, she was afraid—afraid of her people and what they would think of her, and afraid, more than anything, of her own terrible power. A fear, she was soon to find, would be more than justified."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you have to keep interrupting?" Grandfather growled.
"Sorry," I said as we headed around an outcropping, and the wind picked up again, scattering flurries of snow. Isfjell glinted in the last rays of the setting sun, almost blinding me. We were closer now, and its true size and complexity was becoming increasingly apparent. I shivered as I thought about the witch-queen who dwelt at its heart. Though I was no longer sure if it was because I was afraid of her, or afraid for her.
"We're nearly there," Grandfather said. "So listen, because you will need to understand. The two sisters argued, and there was another accident, when the Queen's powers controlled her. But this time the Snow Queen's ice penetrated the princess's heart, not her head. Horrified, her guide took her to the trolls, who told them that only an act of true love could save her. So her guide raced the princess down to the city, to find her prince before it was too late."
"And he saved her with love's first kiss and they lived happily ever after?"
Grandfather snorted. "This is reality, not some fairy-tale from books." His face grew dark. "No, he betrayed her, leaving her to die, and imprisoned her sister, the Snow Queen. He was going to usurp the throne and rule the land. But the Snow Queen escaped, and tried to reach her sister before the princess's frozen heart spread throughout her body. Look lively now, lad—we're at the bridge."
I glanced up from the snow, and saw a delicate, graceful bridge of spun ice, a filigree of frost that leapt lightly across the chasm in a single gravity-defying arc.
"So beautiful," I breathed.
"And deadly," Grandfather told me. "That ice is too fragile for the likes of us. We would not get more than a step across that bridge before we were cast down to our dooms. No, this is how we must cross."
He indicated two ropes a little way off from the bridge, white with snow. One was above the other, and Grandfather showed me the way to cross, with my feet on the lower rope and my gloved hands gripping the upper one for balance, and looping a rope from our belts around it as well. The wind howled like Hræsvelgr, the great Corpse Swallower himself, was beating his wings directly at us. Inch by frozen inch, we passed along the flimsy bridge, until finally we dragged ourselves up over the far edge and lay panting in the soft snow.
Once Grandfather had recovered, we struggled to our feet to find Isfjell rising sheer in front of us, glowing and sparkling in the norðrljós, the mysterious northern lights that shimmered and shifted like great curtains of green fire.
"Are there no guards?" I wondered. "Can we just walk straight in?"
Grandfather shook his head. "Few would dare climb the mountain, and fewer still brave the wrath of the Snow Queen. Think you the Snow Queen has need of human guards? Every flake of snow, every crystal of ice is in her service. Our family has… special dispensation."
"What do you mean?"
"Come, she is waiting for us," he said, ignoring my question. "And I have just enough time to tell you the rest of the legend."
"You mean when the queen saved her sister?"
Grandfather sighed deeply. "She did not. The Snow Queen was too late. There was nothing she could do. The troops of the traitorous prince had caught up with her, and she was about to be executed as a witch when her dying sister came out of nowhere, putting herself between the sword and the queen."
"She… she sacrificed herself?" I gasped, caught up in the ancient tale despite myself.
"She did. The princess sacrificed herself to save her sister, giving up hope of her own life, the chance to be saved by a kiss from her guide, the man who truly did love her."
"Oh," I said. I was surprised how caught up in the tale I had been, how much I had been hoping for a miraculous recovery, like in all the stories. "So… she's dead, then?"
"Come," Grandfather said. He eased the great ice front door open, and I marvelled at its beauty and construction. We stepped into the Great Hall, and all the winds immediately died down to nothing.
And there I saw a sight I will take to my grave. In the very middle of the great ice hall, with its ornate and delicate traceries of crystals, stood a solitary statue of the purest, bluest ice I had ever seen. It was a young girl, bending backwards as if to protect something, and holding up her hand to ward off a blow from an invisible opponent. So perfect was the ice sculpture that I was entranced, and moved towards it to look more closely. But the nearer I got the colder the air became, until I was beaten back by the bone-cracking cold, the air so frigid it seemed the very oxygen had been frozen out of it.
"Stop." Grandfather grabbed my wrist from behind, and dragged me back as I was gasping for breath. "Do not approach the Princess."
"Princess? Did the Snow Queen make a statue of her sister?" I asked in my naivety. Embarrassingly, even then I had not realised the true extent of the tragedy.
Grandfather's expression saddened as he shook his old head gently. "That is no statue."
"What do you mean?"
"It is the Princess herself. Princess Anna of Arendelle."
I looked at the girl of blue ice again, and gasped something unintelligible.
"That is the Princess," Grandfather said, his voice calm. "She has been like that ever since that fateful summer day when her heart was frozen by her sister."
"But you said she was killed by the prince!" I burst out. It was impossible to believe—that this small, delicate girl could have been killed by her own sister.
Grandfather shook his head again. "I told you that the prince was in the middle of striking the fatal blow on the neck of the Snow Queen when her sister appeared, throwing herself between them. And at that moment, she froze solid, shattering the steel blade. She was gone—transformed into a solid block of magical ice."
"Ice!" I gasped, looking again at the statue—no, the Princess. Indeed, no statue of ice could ever look so lifelike, with every hair perfect, every detail exact. "What happened then?" I whispered, regretting my loud, uncouth outbursts in this hallowed hall of sorrow.
"Winter… and death," Grandfather said. "Enraged beyond imagining, the grief-stricken queen killed every guard around her, sending needle-tipped icicles straight into their hearts. Then she summoned a blizzard the likes of which no man had ever seen, and both she and her sister vanished into the white storm. That winter she brought, so many years ago, has never ended, and none have set eyes on them since."
"And so the Snow Queen keeps her dead sister up here, as a memorial? Like her tomb?"
"Not quite. You see, the princess is not dead. Not as such. She is merely… transformed. To await the day that true love can save her. Determined to keep her sister safe until that day, the Snow Queen has wrought this eternal freeze."
"So that man you mentioned, the regent…. If he wasn't her true love, then who was? This other man, the guide?"
Grandfather shook his head. "True love takes many forms. The princess's sacrifice for her sister was an act of true love purer than any kiss."
"But… if that was the act of true love, why is she still frozen?"
"The sisters are bound together. They must both share their love, or be cursed to remain frozen for all eternity. They are locked together by love, and only by both loving the other equally can they be saved."
"So… uh, what's stopping the Snow Queen?" I asked. "Can't she just go up to her, uh, sister and say she loves her?"
"No longer. For the Snow Queen's heart is just as frozen as the princess's. Despair and fear have taken her, and she has given herself up entirely to her power, her curse; has taken the very form of winter. This snow that piles upon her frozen sister is her tears."
"I… I don't follow you. You mean she's not human any more?"
"She is a hibernal spirit now. Instead of her magic being the thing that harmed her sister, she sees herself as the thing that harmed her: her magic has defined her, so much that she has become it entirely. In her grief and anger she has forgotten how to love, yet it is that very love that drives her mourning, if she could but understand."
"And this… this is going to last for eternity?"
"There is a way it can end," Grandfather told me. "Once a year, on the anniversary of these tragic events, the Snow Queen has a chance to thaw her heart. Each year she comes closer and closer, and each year the grip of winter slowly lessens, as the Snow Queen remembers how to love. One day she will cease to mourn; one day she will remember. And when she does, the love in both their hearts will break the curse, restoring the princess to life and returning spring to our frozen land."
I looked over at the doomed princess, biting my lip. She looked so frail, so delicate. What was the expression on her face? Was it fear? Anger? Hope? Sorrow? I realised I could never know.
"Now we must wait." Grandfather sat down on the ice, and removed some ancient stones from his pack, carved with runes. He had been teaching me this ancient language, but the only one I recognized was "Guð hialpi salu," "God help her soul." He began chanting over them in an archaic tongue, the language of our ancestors.
Being rather less fluent in the old tongue than I am now, I just spent the time gazing at the ice princess. Even in this semi-death she was beautiful, and I found myself wondering what she would have looked like in life. What colour would her hair have been? Pale blonde, like the first rays of the morning sun? Blazing golden like a summer's day? Dark and warm as night? Or red like fire, as passionate as her soul?
"Arendelle never recovered from her loss," Grandfather said softly, butting in on my thoughts. "The kingdom had lost its king and queen just a few years previously. Now they lost both princesses. The shock was too much. With no immediate heir, rule passed to the House of Bernadotte, the distant relations who currently rule Norway, ending over a thousand years of history as an independent land. Ah, young lad, thus passes the glory of the world…."
I took a deep breath, trying to shake the feeling of loss for a princess I had never known, nor ever would. "So what is our role?"
Grandfather nodded. "We must try and restore the Snow Queen's memories of her sister as she was, before this… this happened. The first time her sister was injured by her magic, her memories were extracted, and adjusted. We can no longer return those memories to the princess, but we can try and give them to the Snow Queen. So that she will once more understand how much the princess loved her, how much joy her gift brought them in those far-off days when both were young and innocent and before fear drove them apart."
"Gather up that snow," Grandfather ordered. "And shape it as I tell you."
Confused, I nevertheless did so, collecting the snow that had fallen around the ice princess and packing it into a series of rough spheres as he directed. Grandfather placed them carefully together, forming a homunculus no taller than himself.
"Meet Olaf," Grandfather said with a broad smile.
"Um, Grandfather…" I began, wondering if the old man had been nipping at the akevitt again. I was even more suspicious when he removed two sticks and a carrot from his pack, and stuck them into the snowman, giving him arms and a nose. "Are you… sure?" I asked, not actually daring to accuse him of being drunk.
"I am," he said. "Now step back, and give the Queen some room. To touch her is death."
"The Queen? Where is she?" I looked around, but apart from the princess, encased in her eternal tomb of ice, we were alone.
Then a sudden flurry of snow and ice blew into the room, further dropping the already cold temperatures. To my astonishment, as it swirled around the ice princess it slowly coalesced, the snow packing together to form a human figure, that of a tall and elegant woman. Her pure white skin was formed from the very snow itself, her dress and hair were traceries of frosted ice, and her eyes were two blue orbs taken from the heart of a glacier. She was both wondrous and terrifying to behold.
"That's… that's her? The Snow Queen?" I gasped under my breath, more frightened than I had ever been.
I felt a strong, reassuring hand on my arm. "There is nothing to fear," Grandfather said. "She only has eyes for her sister. I doubt she is even consciously aware that we are here. She has rejected our world almost totally: only her sister keeps her anchored here, the only part of the Snow Queen that is still human."
"But… what's that snowman got to do with it?" I asked, keeping my voice low. "I mean, I was expecting something more…. I don't know. Less… silly."
"You weren't expecting something that children might play at?" Grandfather asked softly, a twinkle visible beneath his shaggy eyebrows. "Ah, but the queen and the princess are children, at least in their memories. This happy little man acts as a guide, a beacon, helping to draw out the memories, and restore them. This is an ancient magic, the old knowledge that my grandfather taught me, and that I am now teaching you. And that you, when your time comes, will teach to your own grandchild."
"Why us? Why are we here? What can we do?"
"We are here because it was our family, through our carelessness, that let this tragedy unfold. We are here to try and correct that error of so many long years ago."
"What error?" I asked. "What did we do?"
"When the princess was brought to the trolls, she was told that fear would control her power, but…." Grandfather sighed heavily.
"But what?" I asked.
He shook his craggy head. "She was not told that love would let her control her power. Fear would control her, but she could control herself through love. She was warned about the power of fear, but not told about the power of love. And so the poor princess shut herself away, hiding herself from others, never allowing herself to express her feelings, in the hope that this would allow her to control her magic. It was a… a mistake."
Grandfather sighed again. "You cannot control emotion by pretending it does not exist. If you always act as if you do not feel emotions, then, eventually, you do not. You know that they exist, but your heart is so closed off you cannot sense them. The Snow Queen desperately wants to love her sister, but she has forgotten how. Thus it is that we must help restore her memories."
"So what do we do now?" I asked.
"Nothing. It is all up to the Queen. Watch."
"Watch what?" I asked, but a pressure on my arm from Grandfather stilled me.
The Snow Queen came up to the snowman, her feet as silent as falling snow. She leaned forwards, reaching out a pale arm, caressing the creature, appearing to talk to it, though no words came.
"She sees it," I gasped under my breath.
"Aye, she recognises him, somewhere in that part of her that is still human. He was created by the queen for her sister on that fateful night, and represents the love and friendship they used to share. It is that love that she gropes to understand, and to feel again. Now, be patient and watch carefully."
For a while, nothing happened. Then to my astonishment I heard the tiniest of sounds, a drop of water falling on the floor. In this silent chamber of sorrow, it was like a thunderclap. Looking over at the ice princess, I saw a faint glow, deep within her. It flickered, and grew slightly, and I could see the princess's fingers start to change from blue ice to warm, pink flesh. More and more drops fell, and even the air seemed to grow warmer.
"Look! It's working!" I gasped. "She's alive!"
Grandfather shook his head, motioning at the queen, whose expression was one of frustration and anger. She dissolved into snow and ice, scattering throughout the hall. Then the snowman burst asunder as a sudden squall smashed through it, instantly dropping the temperature. I saw the faint, flickering light inside the princess's heart fade and go out as once more she was consumed by the ice. Then the storm abated as quickly as it had started, and I realized that we were once again quite alone.
Grandfather sighed, and shook his head. "She came so close tonight," he said. "Closer than I have seen in a long time."
"I thought the princess was going to melt," I said, motioning towards the girl as Grandfather started to collect his things. "But then it just… it just stopped, and the light went out. What went wrong?"
"Nothing went wrong," Grandfather told me. "But it is not an easy process, learning to love again. One day, perhaps many, many years from now, she will finally be able to. But until that day comes, it is our family's fate to come here and create this guide once a year, on the anniversary of that long-ago night when the two princesses played together for the last time in forever."
We left the frozen hall to make our way back down the mountain in silence. There was nothing to say, but as we reached the final outcrop, I turned to get one more glimpse of Isfjell, and the sorrow that lay beneath its gleaming spires. Already it was nearly obscured by cloud and driving snow, but I knew I would be back. The next year, and the year after that, and the one after that—as many as it took before the curse was lifted.
Grandfather was waiting patiently for me to make my farewells to that sad place. He nodded in sympathy as I finally turned, ready to journey back down to join our people, and begin the cycle anew. As we slowly walked down, I finally realised what the young princess's expression was. It was radiant, shining love.
It has been a lifetime since that first journey up North Mountain, but my memories are as crisp and clear as ever. For many years after that, I journeyed up the mountain, at first with Grandfather, and then alone. And today, I journey up with you, so you will finally see the castle of ice, the beautiful maiden who stands entombed within it, and learn why here in Arendelle, the winter never ends. There, under the crest of the highest peak, it remains: Isfjell, the castle of the Snow Queen. It will stand, solitary and splendid, sheltering these two women of winter—one of ice, the other of snow—within its frozen walls. And our family, my young troll, shall remain its guardians until that day when the heart of the Snow Queen finally melts, and spring returns to the world.
. . .
This came about as I was watching the end of the movie, when Anna turns to ice. I knew it wouldn't last—it was Disney, for heaven's sake. They would never kill her off. But between the animators and Idina Menzel, Elsa's sorrow and devastation still made it an emotionally powerful scene, still gave a sense of overwhelming loss. I wanted to retain that image, enshrine it, and so I visualized Anna, the Ice Princess, standing in eternal winter safe inside the ice castle as the Snow Queen kept a lonely vigil, hoping to love again. I had absolutely no idea how to achieve this idea, however, at least remotely consistently with what we are shown in the film. So the very end was written first, then everything else forced into leading us there. I hope it doesn't feel too forced...
I do feel that in the movie it was Anna's act of true love that saved her, not Elsa's, but I'm sure Elsa's love helped, and so here I've made the requirement be that both sisters love equally. After all, it was only when Elsa mourned Anna so much that her heart actually melted.
I have also made brief mention of what might have happened to Arendelle if the winter had never been lifted. The seas around western Norway have always been rich in fish, cod especially, so I figured that while it could no longer survive as a kingdom, the town, reduced to a village, might still be there.
I got rid of Marshmallow, and Olaf is not sentient. I was originally going to get rid of him too, but then I realized I couldn't—he's the link between the two sisters, the symbol of their love for each other. But he doesn't have to be alive; he just has to be there to remind Elsa.
And now for some factual notes. Readers of my Monsters vs Aliens stories will know that I love adding endnotes laying out all the interesting (I hope) facts behind my fiction.
"Isfjell" is Norwegian for "iceberg"—it literally means "ice mountain" (which is what "iceberg" actually means as well, though from the Dutch). I rather like it as a name for the castle.
"Akevitt" is Norwegian for "akvavit" (aqua vitae), the traditional drink of Scandinavia.
In Norse mythology, Hræsvelgr (Old Norse for "Corpse Swallower") is a giant who takes eagle form. According to Stanza 37 of the poem Vafþrúðnismál from the Poetic Edda, he sits at the end of the world (or the northern edge of the heavens) and causes the wind to blow when he beats his wings in flight. Thank you, Wikipedia.
"Guð hialpi salu" is a genuine Norse runestone quote, the only one I could find that seemed remotely applicable. Most of them say things like "Klakki's sons had this stone cut in memory of their father who died in the West."
Incidentally, while "Grand Pabbie" is clearly meant to be similar to "Grandpappy," the actual Norwegian for "grandfather" appears to be "Bestefar."
Anyway, this is my first foray into the wide, wild world of Frozen fanfic, so I will be very interested to hear what people have to say about it—if anything. I do try and reply to all reviews, however, and if you spot even so much as a spelling mistake, feel free to sing out.