Without further ado...I give you the next chapter in Winter, otherwise known as the "angsty arendelle chapter" - C.
…We only have each other
It's just you and me…
Chapter 15: Frozen Fractals
"Hold still, this is going to hurt a bit." Anna poured a generous amount of brandy onto the strip of linen and held it against Fannar's arm.
He sucked in his breath.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it was going to hurt, hurt. Just, you know, maybe sting a little. I thought the brandy would help and…"
He reached out with his good arm and patted her hand. "It's ok, Anna. I know you're trying to help." He took the bottle of brandy out of her hand and took a gulp. "Brandy cures all ills."
"We need to get you to a healer." She reached down and began to tear more strips from her petticoat, fashioning a bandage to wrap around his wound. The bleeding had slowed down to just a slight oozing, but she was worried that was merely because he hadn't that much blood left to lose.
"We will, but we need to make it to the coast before Gunnar's men find us. They can't be far behind." Fannar slowly stood up, ignoring the way lights sparkled behind his eyes when he did. "Your cousin and his ship are waiting for us there, they'll get us to safety and we can plan our next move."
"My sister…" Anna choked on the words. "She's trapped and…"
"The ship first, my lady. We will find a way to save her, I promise."
"You'd probably want to hurry to that ship, friends." The troll, Sten, called from the clearing. "The King's men are mobilizing, and you haven't much time."
"Come." Fannar touched Anna lightly on the shoulder as she stared back from the woods to the castle where she last saw her sister. Would she ever see her again? Wiping a tear from her cheek she turned and walked with her soldiers deeper into the woods.
Eric walked up to his cousin carrying a large knitted shawl. "Here, this might help the chill. We should be out of the fog soon, the sun will warm things up quickly." He draped it over Anna's shoulders, lightly squeezing them in comfort.
"Thank you." She pulled the warm wool tightly around herself. "Is Fannar…?"
"He'll survive. My healer is working on him now. You did good back there, you saved his life."
Anna stared out beyond the Sea Witch. "But I couldn't save my sister. This is my fault. If I had only warned her, if I…"
Eric shook his head sadly. "The world is full of whispered 'what if's. You couldn't stop your sister from trying to save you, and you couldn't warn her of the trap. She's alive, Anna, you saw them trap her. That's what you need to hold on to for now. We'll find her." He gently took a hold of her elbows and turned her to face him. "For now, though, I need you to tell me everything that happened. There must be some clue as to where she has gone."
Anna took a deep breath and began to tell him the story, leaving out no detail. He asked a few questions, but for the most part Eric just watched her, thinking. When she came to the end, Eric stood silent for a moment before asking her once more: "Are you certain it was the Dark One?"
"Absolutely. And when Fannar is well again, he'll say the same."
"Then I need to set sail for Misthaven. That is where the Dark One's castle lies."
"You? What about me?" Anna narrowed her eyes.
"Cousin, with your sister missing, you have a country to run. As soon as you are safe again in Arendelle, we will plot a new course for Misthaven. Fannar can join me, if he is willing."
"Please, Anna, think of your people."
"How can I think of anything else when the two people I love the most are lost to me? It's not just my sister missing, Eric, my ….my Kristoff is… he's gone." The tears threatened to flow once more.
"Miss Anna?" The youngest of the trolls, Sigrun, slowly walked towards her. "Miss Anna, my brothers and I were talking, and…" she looked down at her feet for a moment before meeting the Princess' eyes. "…and we think we know a way to save our other brother."
Eric stood up a bit straighter as Anna's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"
Sigrun looked up at the prince, her eyes unblinking. "Those of your land, my Prince, would call it Fiddler's Green."
He started. "But that's impossible…"
"What's Fiddler's Green?" Anna dropped the shawl and knelt down to put herself eye to eye with the young troll.
Eric answered first. "It's a myth, Anna. It's the land where the music never ceases to play, and the rum flows freely. It's the afterlife of every man who sails the open sea."
Anna watched as Sigrun nodded. "It is also Elysium, The Fair Aisle, and Hel. Souls who travel there before their time, well, there is always a way…" She stopped herself and blinked. "It's a dangerous journey, Miss Anna….one that you wouldn't be guaranteed to survive. But Pabbie would know. Pabbie knows everything."
Eric lowered himself as well, and touched Anna's arm. "You cannot even think of such a thing, it's too dangerous."
Her green eyes flashed with a spark of determination. "I need to go home, Eric, and I need to see Pabbie, now."
Anna waved until the Sea Witch faded away into the horizon. She had to trust that Eric and Fannar would find where Elsa was taken. For now, she had a date with a Troll King.
"Sven, are you ready?"
The reindeer snorted and shook his antlers in agreement.
"Good. Ok you three, let's go."
The young trolls jumped and suddenly resembled round boulders, running away down the path in front of her. On the back of Sven, she raced behind them, thinking all the while of her sister, trapped somewhere without her. Of Kristoff, falling into the abyss of darkness off the mountainside. So much loss, so quickly. There had to be hope, otherwise, where would she be?
What would she do without them?
The shining silver walls seemed to mock Elsa where she stood, her reflection slightly warped in front of her. Wide, oversized blue eyes gazed back at her. With a small shriek, she pounded her open palms against the walls, a metallic ring echoing throughout the chamber.
Nothing had worked. No amount of magic she threw at the walls of her prison seemed to make them move an inch. It had to be an accepted fact now; she was trapped. Sitting down on a floor cushion Elsa contemplated those last moments before her capture for what seemed like the thousandth time.
Anna's eyes, wide and scared, her mouthing for Elsa to run, to get away from Hans and his evil father.
Was she ok? Did she and Fannar escape? She felt like she'd know if her beloved sister had died, somehow. And if she was still alive, then there was hope.
Something she was going to have to hold on to, Elsa supposed.
It seemed to be the last thing she had.
"My dear child, you cannot mean to travel to Hel itself? There is no guarantee your love has not crossed over to the other side completely. While a soul can be brought back from the mists, if they are truly dead, well, even the greatest magic cannot change that." He held out his stony hands in a gesture of entreaty. "I don't wish for you to give up your hope, but you must know that it is unlikely he hasn't crossed the final river."
"Pabbie, I have to go. If there's even a chance that he can be rescued, I have to try."
The older troll smiled indulgently at the young woman. "My dear, sweet little Anna. If anyone can succeed, it's you. However, you will need to be vigilant. There are many dangers where you travel, and the way to Hel itself is not for the faint of heart."
She nodded once, sharply. "I know, Pabbie."
"Then listen well. Drink or eat nothing of what you find there, no matter the hunger or thirst. Your heart lives and beats with a pure love, which will protect you against many of the threats you will encounter. No matter what, do not lose sight of what you feel for Kristoff, for your sister. That love, true love, is a magic more powerful than anything known to the world."
He gestured out with his hand and a flash of light surrounded them. Suddenly, he held a rolled up parchment, which he handed to the princess. "Take this map, it will guide you to the cave of sorrows, where the rivers of the underworld flow into the world of the living." Another flash of light and he held her a small bag. "In here, you will find what you need for passage from the ferryman."
He walked over to her and held out a chain of gold with a large crystal dangling from it. "Finally, take this crystal and go with our blessings and protection. It will give you courage, though the Earth knows you have plenty to go around."
Anna took the items and safely stowed them in her satchel. Then, after giving the Troll King a huge hug, she stepped back and smiled. "I will bring him back to you, Pabbie, to all of us."
Moisture shone in the corner of his eyes. "I hope and pray you do, my child. I hope and pray you do."
...and we're back, folks! I'm cleaning up the next few Chapters this week, so look for them very soon! I hope you're still on board and enjoying the story... let me know what you think, please! - C.