Once upon a time, a young princess named Gerda was betrothed to Kai, the young prince of the neighboring kingdom of Arendelle. The two best friends grew up together – one year, she would spend the summer with his family; the next, he would spend the spring with hers. She was staying in Arendelle one winter when her grandmother, the old dowager who had accompanied her, told them both the story of the Snow Queen, a strange, magical being from another world who had incredible power over ice and snow. She didn't create all snow, but she was able to cause blizzards, ice storms, and the bitterly cold winds that froze everything in their path whenever she pleased, until her power was weakened by the spring sun. During autumn and winter, however, everyone lived in fear of where her icy wrath would strike next.
Kai, who was becoming a man by now, thought someone should stop her, and bragged that, when he became king, he would ride north to her ice palace and melt her with a burning torch, freeing the world from her terror forever. Gerda declared he wouldn't go without her. The Snow Queen accepted their challenge, and a vicious snowstorm struck Arendelle that night. But it was no ordinary snowstorm. Floating in the air were tiny shards of ice from the Snow Queen's mirror that froze any human eye or human heart they struck. At first, an infected eye merely saw all the world as dark and ugly, containing nothing but pain and despair, and an infected heart felt nothing but hatred for all around them. If the shard wasn't removed, however, as time went on, the heart would freeze into a lump of ice, slowly freezing the victim from the inside out until they turned to solid ice... if the Snow Queen let it progress that far, for alive, the victim's mind belonged to her, feeling only what she wanted them to feel, thinking only what she wanted them to think.
This was what the Snow Queen had planned for Kai. From the moment the ice struck his eye and heart, he belonged to her. She let him torment Gerda for a few painful days with his strange behavior before she took him away. He disappeared in the storm, and Gerda was the only one who knew he wasn't dead, for, of course, no one else believed her grandmother's stories about the master of snow and ice from another world. She realized she would have to rescue him on her own, so she mounted her horse and rode north towards the frozen lake where the Snow Queen's ice palace lay.
The Snow Queen watched the journey of the girl who dared to challenge her in her Mirror of Reason, eagerly anticipating the moment when she would finally give up or die, both victories equally satisfying. The girl ran into plenty of obstacles and friends along the way, from a newlywed prince and princess and their two helpful pet crows, to the daughter of a band of robbers who at first intended to keep her for herself but grew to care about her and let her go. No matter how cold and treacherous the terrain got, no matter what she lost, the girl kept pushing on. To her surprise, the Snow Queen realized she would reach her palace before long. She couldn't wait to see the look on her face when her beloved refused to leave with the girl he couldn't even remember!
The Snow Queen prepared to give her guest a proper greeting, but such a violent blizzard had started just when she was getting close – courtesy of either some magic of the girl's or some other source – that she couldn't see her even in the mirror. She left to go search for her, but she could find nothing in the grounds surrounding her castle. When she returned a short time later, her captive was gone, leaving behind nothing but the word he never should have been able to remember, carved indelibly and irremovably into the icy floor. She had been robbed of her victory by that horrible human magic nothing could withstand – they called it True Love.
The Snow Queen didn't bother to pursue them – there was nothing she could do to harm them after the girl's tears of True Love had dissolved the ice in the boy's heart and released him from her power. There was great celebration throughout Arendelle when they returned home. Kai's father the king warned them never to speak of what had happened, lest their account of the Snow Queen's horrifying power spread fear and panic throughout the land, but, of course, rumors leaked out. Contrary to the king's fears, however, the story of Gerda's victory filled the people not with terror but with hope. The story was eventually embellished to the point where it ended with Gerda's love for Kai melting the Snow Queen herself, defeating her once and for all and freeing the world from her evil forever. Kai and Gerda, forbidden to speak of it, ignored the rumors, and the people gradually did, as well. The story was repeated less and less frequently until it was all but forgotten, along with the fear of the Snow Queen.
Only the lovers and the Snow Queen herself never forgot it. To be beaten by a lone, young, unarmed, human girl was the most humiliating defeat she had ever experienced. She vowed she would have revenge on both of them! She would freeze their kingdom in an eternal winter... no, if this True Love could protect them, perhaps it could protect their people as well. She needed to find a way to break that defense. She would have to be patient. She had to bide her time. She no longer drew attention to herself by sending blizzards, frigid winds, and blankets of frost throughout the world, lest some other starry-eyed adventurer protected by this power of love come to slay her before she could have her revenge. Leaving the weather to its own devices for now, alone in her castle, watching the world in the Mirror of Reason, she waited for just the right opportunity.
It came when her enemies, now grown and married and ruling Arendelle, were expecting their first child. Their love might protect them, but not their children! When the young princess was born, the Snow Queen cursed her with powers over ice and snow exactly like her own. Her parents would know – they would know how and why. The child they loved, transformed into what they loathed – let them try to love what they must fear! Let them try to protect her from the people who would cast her out once they knew! They had taken a precious victory from her – now she would take their most precious treasure from them. What would they do when they saw their beloved daughter wielding the same power as their arch enemy?
At first, they did nothing except live in a heightened state of awareness and anxiety, particularly when their second daughter was born. It was amusing, watching them struggle against the fear they felt over the years. That all changed as soon as the princess unintentionally shot a splinter of ice in the other girl's eye, unable to control it or awaken her from the trance. She survived, but their happiness was over. A living nightmare had begun for their entire family. From then on, their lives were ruled by fear.
However, even after she was finally able to end their lives in a mighty storm at sea, the Snow Queen was not satisfied. Neither they nor their children had suffered enough to pay for the humiliation she had suffered at their hands. No matter – the girl couldn't keep it inside forever. Her power cried for release, demanded to be set free. The harder she foolishly tried to repress it, the more it destroyed her from within. It was only a matter of time before she lost control and doomed herself and her kingdom by her own hand, and then their punishment would be complete!
It was worth the wait. The outcome was better than she expected. Nothing could compare to seeing the anguish it caused the girl to helplessly turn her entire kingdom into a frozen wasteland! The Snow Queen knew that, no matter what she could have done on her own, it never would have been as painful for the girl as causing it herself. She hated and feared herself as much as her people did! The best part, however, came when her sister went chasing after her as foolishly as their mother had gone chasing after their father all those years ago; within a few minutes of finding her, she had a shard of ice lodged in her heart. Of course, because the girl had no idea what she was doing, her sister didn't get the full effect; it didn't cloud her mind like it had their father's, but it did begin freezing her from the inside out, and unusually quickly, at that. Once the queen realized she had killed her beloved sister, she would either die from a broken heart or cast herself off the highest point of her ice palace, if her people didn't hunt her down and execute her as a wicked witch. Either way, the children of Kai and Gerda would pay at last for their parents' audacity, as would their kingdom, and the Snow Queen's revenge would be complete...
Or so she thought. Her second defeat was twice as infuriating as her first. Victory was right within her grasp, snatched away at the last second! Was there no way to overcome this human power of True Love? Nothing that was a match for it?! Princess Anna's love for her sister was strong enough to heal her frozen heart; Queen Elsa's love for her sister was strong enough not only to end the eternal winter but help her realize how to control her powers. Once again, True Love had ruined everything! It was impossible! There must be a way to fight it! She would not rest until she found it!
Ashamed of her latest failure, the Snow Queen remained secluded from the world in her ice palace, watching over the unsuspecting Queen Elsa and her sister through the Mirror of Reason, ever on the lookout for any possible advantage or sign of weakness. Not only had her plan failed, but her curse had backfired. Fully in control of her icy abilities, Elsa was just as powerful as she was, if not more with that power of True Love on her side. It wasn't supposed to end like this! Elsa's powers were supposed to destroy her, not strengthen her! How could she ever get her revenge now?
The Snow Queen kept a vigilantly close eye on all the sisters' allies and enemies, on all those who came and went to and from Arendelle, never letting the slightest opportunity go unexplored. The only interesting figure to cross their path was a man suffering from a curse of his own who left as quickly as he came. She kept an eye on him out of desperation but saw nothing and nobody she could use against Kai's and Gerda's daughters. As the months passed, she began to lose all hope of victory. Where would she ever find a force that was a match for Elsa?