Chapter 6

Four riders rode away from the fjord on a little used trail into the forest. It was one that Kristoff knew well. He just wasn't used to riding it on a horse. He rode at the front of the group with Anna at his side. Elsa and Karl rode behind. The reason there was only the four of them was when the Captain of the Royal Guard objected to the queen venturing out of the castle without guards, Karl commented that he had no fear of attack with the Queen at his side.

"That was well played back there, dearest," Elsa complimented her husband.

"Thank you, love. I suppose it's hard for a life long military man to realize that a mere woman who can put an entire kingdom into a deep freeze has little to fear from bandits, wild animals and renegade trolls," Karl rumbled.

"Mere woman?" Elsa asked with an icy edge in her voice.

"From his point of view, of course," he replied calmly.

Anna leaned toward her intended and said,

"I have to think that Karl is the bravest man alive."

"Or the densest," Kristoff replied.

"Hey, watch that," Anna said, taking a mock swipe at him.

They continued the ride, taking their time as the trail moved up into the hills that rose up from the sides of the fjord. Elsa broke the silence.

"Kristoff, do you come up this way often?"

"More so in the summer. The cave where I store my ice is up this way, so I have to make the trip fairly regularly. And I use a wagon, of course."

"Wouldn't some sort of ice house nearer the town make more sense?" she asked.

"It would be more convenient, yes, but a cave is free and buildings and land cost a lot of money."

When they reached the little valley where the steam vents spouted, Elsa looked around. She thought that it looked familiar but that had been such a long time ago and there was so much of which to be afraid. She did remember the round mossy rocks and as they reined up she looked around more closely at the surroundings.

"It was so long ago, but I remember this place."

"I remember seeing you here with your parents and Anna," Kristoff said. "That was the night Bulda adopted me and Sven."

"I guess that makes me the outsider here," Karl rumbled.

"The consort of the Queen is no outsider," a voice said from the side of the trail.

The four riders looked over and down where a boulder suddenly revealed itself to be an older male troll, who blinked up at them.

"You have brought friends with you, Kristoff," the troll observed.

"More like family, Henkle. Princess Anna and I are betrothed, so I'm to be part of the royal family."

"Bulda will be very happy. She liked the Princess when you brought her here the last time."

It was about this time that the other boulders began to roll toward the riders. In a few moments they were surrounded by squat round bodies with big eyes and green mossy hair.

"Kristoff! You're back," Bulda exclaimed. "And look who you've brought with you."

"Your Majesty, welcome back," Grandpabbie intoned.

"You're the troll that took Anna's memories away," Elsa said softly.

"And warned you about the danger of fear."

"If you don't mind my saying so, sir," Elsa began, "I don't know that that was very helpful. From that day until very recently I lived in perpetual fear. Fear of touching others, fear of myself. I've even been afraid of being afraid."

"Your Majesty, perhaps you and I should talk. Now that you are older and more fully understand the nature of your power, it will make more sense. I feel, perhaps, that I did not do such a good job last time."

"Karl, dearest, would you please," she said, holding out the reins to her horse.

"Of course," he mumbled.

"Kristoff, while Pabbie has his little chat, bring the boys and we'll introduce them to the family," Bulda said.

"Boys?" Karl asked of Kristoff who just grinned sheepishly and shrugged.

Karl was the center of trollish attention as the three humans walked among Kristoff's family. Several of the older trolls nudged each other and whispered in low tones. Anna was the first to notice the scrutiny. She edged closer to Kristoff and said,

"Kristoff, what are they looking at?"

"Your brother in law."


"Trolls live a long time, Anna, they're part rock after all. There's probably still a few that remember what it was like in the old days."

A very small troll, possibly a boy, rolled up directly in front of Karl to stand looking up at him. Karl stopped and looked down, his expression mild.

"Do you sail in a dragon boat?" the young troll asked.

"I'm afraid that I've never set foot on a boat, young fellow. How do you know about those? They haven't been seen in many, many years."

"When Pabbie chants the Troll saga it talks all about them. And the savage warriors that sailed on them to far away places," the little troll explained in his high pitched voice.

Karl nodded and said,

"It is a fine thing to learn about what happened in the past. Perhaps someday Pabbie will chant the saga for me to hear. But do I look like a savage warrior to you? I'm a simple farmer, actually."


"Markle, I think that's enough for now," Bulda said.

On the other side of the clearing, Pabbie found Elsa a place to sit, a clear patch on a large boulder. As she began to sit down she looked around quickly and then she heard Pabbie laugh.

"Have no fear, Your Majesty, I would not have you sit on one of the family. It is but a boulder, as it looks."

Elsa smiled and blushed a bit and then settled herself on the stone. Pabbie looked at her and said,

"Your Majesty, it was never my intention for you to live your life in fear of who and what you are. As you have discovered it is possible to use your power in ways that are beneficial for yourself and others. Had I the chance to do it over, I would have kept you here for a day or two, perhaps a bit longer, so that you could have learned more and feared less. But your parents were eager to get your sister home after what she had been through. But I cannot change that which has happened. And you have already learned all you need to know about how to use your power well. But I can still council you and this is what I would say. You must be wary of fear."

"But, Pabbie, you just told me I need not fear my powers anymore. That I can control them and use them to do good things," Elsa said in confusion.

"The fear of which you must be wary is not your own, Your Majesty, but the fear others may have of you. Something new has entered the kingdom from the north. It brings a chill with it. Not unlike the chill one feels when the wolves howl at night. I don't know what it means but for now I would council caution."

"Thank you, Pabbie. And thank you for Anna. Twice I did wrong by her and twice you were there to help her. I owe you much," Elsa said.

"We do not speak of debt, Your Majesty, nor obligation. Only of family, and love. Oh, here comes Bulda."

"Well, have you two solved the problems of the kingdom with your serious talk?" Bulda asked.

"Not really, Bulda," Elsa replied. "But I think we did address a few. I can't ask for more than that. And that's not the real reason we came out here. Karl is my husband now and I will be relying on him a great deal in the years to come. He may not be a king or a prince but he needs to know what kind of kingdom I rule. That it is more than meets the eye."

Pabbie looked up at the man who towered over him.

"Perhaps in name he is not these things. But what is a name? What would you have us tell you, Karl the husband?"

"I would know the story of the trolls."

"A long story, indeed."

"Perhaps the most important parts, then."

The sun had nearly disappeared by the time the four were passed through the gates of the castle and the captain of the guard could finally stop holding his breath. Dinner that night was a quiet affair with just the Queen and her consort. Karl had been quiet on the ride home and now Elsa sought to bring him out and talk for a while. Her plans for the rest of the evening did not include a distracted husband.

"What did you think about the day, dearest?"

His eyes fixed on hers and there was nothing distracted about that gaze.

"I've heard the stories, of course. Scholars of folklore were not infrequent visitors to the farm. But hearing the story from an actual troll, sitting amidst an entire family of trolls, with a troll child sitting on my lap, it certainly put it in a different light."

"They seemed to warm up to you quite nicely, especially the little ones."

"They have a certain charm, although I think they left a few bruises from jumping up into my lap."

"Oh, dear, and here I was just getting ready to sit there myself," Elsa said with a pout.

"I wasn't bruised that much," he said with a small smile.

Elsa took that as an invitation and had him pull back his chair so she could perch there for a moment and then sort of melt into him, cradled in his arms. With her head resting on his shoulder, she looked up at him and asked,

"How are you doing with all this, dearest? Are you feeling comfortable with your new life?"

"Comfortable? I'd not say that. It is certainly becoming more familiar but there is still much to get used to. Then again, I don't know that I'd ever want to be comfortable. Another word for that might be complacent and that's never good. But regardless, as long as it's just us two at the end of the day, all the rest is more than manageable," he said, giving her a squeeze.

"That's funny, I was thinking about something like that myself. How all those stuffy diplomats and bureaucrats will be wondering why I'm sitting on my throne with my small smile as I think about what waits for me at the end of the day."

"I don't know if that's a good idea, love. With that kind of distraction you might wind up starting a war with our neighbors and not even realize it."

Elsa laughed a silvery laugh and then reached up to pull his head down to kiss him soundly, getting an early start on their evening. Elsewhere the evening wasn't quite so pleasant. One side of the table in the dockside tavern was a tall man of advanced middle years, wearing a reindeer hide robe that had seen much usage. Several men, who by their dress were sailors of several nations off the ships in port, loading and unloading goods, sat around the rest of the table.

"Does it not strike you odd," the older man was saying, "that a kingdom should be ruled by such a one as the Queen? So young and inexperienced, and if the stories can be believed, possessed of strange and powerful magic. Does that not make the leaders of your lands uneasy?"

"Oi don't know 'bout the leaders, but those o' us that 'ave ta come 'ere find it worrisome," offered one.

"Don't know if'n we'm 'ill get trapped in port like thems that came ta the coronation," said another.

The old man nodded but was kept from saying anything more when a large man with significant facial hair just short of a full beard approached the table and said,

"You should watch what you say about the Queen, fellows. Despite recent happenings, she's very popular with her subjects."

"And what of you?" the older man asked.

"I am not one of her subjects."

"Were you to look, I'd imagine you'd find those who weren't so happy. And as you heard, nor are many of her neighbors."

"One could ask, what is it to you? Why should you care who sits the throne of Arundel?" the big man asked.

"Let us say I put great store in what is natural. This young queen is most certainly not of nature, no matter how well she may control it."

"Perhaps there is someone you need to meet," the big man said.

Elsa would have recognized the large man, but likely only if he was dressed in a maroon uniform and pointing a crossbow in her direction.

The following morning Elsa awoke and was happy to find that her husband was still next to her in bed. She glanced over and saw that he was awake and she smiled softly.

"I like it much better when I see you there, instead of staring morosely out of the window."

"I'm still getting used to being a married man, luv. I was still awake with the sun but I had no reason to get up, so I just watched you sleep."

"Such powers of concentration," she teased as she snuggled up against him and he wrapped her in his arms. "Hmmm, so nice and warm."

"I thought the Queen of Snow and Ice didn't mind the cold?"

"I don't, but I don't shun the warmth either, especially when you are the source," she smiled and kissed him lightly.

He gave her that serious look of his and said,

"You know, I heard what you said to Pabbie about fear. I think someone erred badly in what they did. Suppressing knowledge is never a good thing. If something is known, you have to deal with it. From what I know of Anna, she would have been a great help to you, dealing with your abilities as you grew."

"I think you're right, there, my dear. I don't think Mother and Father really knew what to do about it all. One of the things I think is most tragic is that they never saw that I came to grips with it all."

"I doubt they ever would have."

"What do you mean?" she asked, looking into his blue eyes.

"I think that if your parents had lived to a normal age, and you had not been forced to confront yourself, you would have eventually been unhinged by your unending fears with disaster as a result."

Elsa looked away and thought about this. The idea and the possible consequences sent a shiver down her spine and Karl hugged her tighter. There was cold and then there was cold. They were still officially honeymooners and they were in no hurry to start their day. In fact, it wasn't until midmorning that the bell for breakfast was wrung. They were enjoying a second cup of coffee, sitting on the window bench, dressed in robes when the door swung open and a very animated Anna hurried in.

Elsa had just enough time to hand Karl her cup of coffee and stand to meet her sister's rush. The hug that followed was tight and long. When they separated Elsa asked,

"What's that for?"

"Elsa, please. I've spent the majority of my life wondering why my own sister was rejecting me. We had always been so close until, you know. But now that I know everything that happened and why, and you and I are really sisters again, I have a lot of time to make up for."

Elsa resumed her seat next to her husband and Anna dropped down into a nearby chair. Anna then said,

"I think that's what hurt the most. You were always so caring when we were little, always with an arm around my shoulder or willing to show me some of the magic. I just couldn't understand what I had done wrong to push you away."

"I'm so sorry, sweetheart. It wasn't you at all. I'm not really sure what Father was trying to accomplish by keeping us apart. I guess he was afraid that I would hurt you again."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to put a damper on your morning," Anna apologized, "it's just I'm so happy that's behind us, and it brings me to what I wanted to discuss with you."

"Would you like some privacy?" Karl asked.

"Oh, no, this is for both of you."

"Go ahead, then, Anna," Elsa said.

"Kristoff and I have talked it over. I can't bear the idea of being away from you, not after having found you again. We'd like to live in the castle after we are married, at least until we start a family, if that's alright with you. Kristoff believes he can still run the business from here and he thinks Sven can get used to the Royal Stables. At least that's what he said."

"Who said?" Elsa asked, "Kristoff or Sven?"

"Well, Kristoff as Sven," Anna said and then added, "I think they spent far too much time alone together."

The Royal couple laughed and then Elsa pulled her sister out of the chair and the two sisters shared a hug at one end of the window bench. It lasted for a while. Karl thought on the idea of someone being so utterly alone, even in the midst of family. It was his turn to shudder at the chill.