The grassy plains of Odinland. A short distance from the shores of the Baltic
“Fall back, fall back!”
The freezing Baltic Sea is an expanse of deep sea water between the port of Saint Petersburg and Scandinavia. Arendelle is located on the landmass’s western peninsula. If a Russian general wanted the shortest route to a land invasion of Arendelle, it was quite simple. Just cross the Baltic, establish a beachhead on the eastern seaboard of Scandinavia, then march inland, westward, with a steady supply line.
“These Russians are relentless!”
There were many small towns, villages, and middle-sized kingdoms that stood between any potential aggressor against Arendelle. But that was of little comfort. Russia had already elbowed out any European competitor, including France and Prussia, for dominance of the Baltic Sea. The tsar, Nicholas I, now controlled the sea lanes between Saint Petersburg and the eastern shoreline of the Scandinavian landmass. Everything that blocked Russia’s way would easily be overrun and swallowed by the tsar’s war machine.
“We’ve got wounded. Retreat to Queen Elsa and Queen Colisa! Get out of their range!”
And now Nicholas I had made good on his word: it was time, for the glory and security of the Russian Empire, to take Scandinavia itself and neutralize the small but formidable kingdom of Arendelle.
It was at this flashpoint, this coastline called Odinland and the expansive plains beyond it – where Queen Elsa’s greatest challenge unfolded before her and her assembled allies of Chatho, Zaria, and Vakretta – the precursor and inspiration of future Queen Anna’s Entente of Small Nations.
The allied troops, led by Elsa and Queen Colisa of Chatho, numbered to about ten thousand. The tsar’s combined naval and land expeditionary force? At least fifty thousand.
It was a dull and cold morning, the miserable sky a grey-blue. Cannons from the three largest ships of the tsar’s elite Baltic Fleet – Rurik, Ivan, and Vladimir – had been pounding the coastline of Odinland for weeks now. The deafening blasts had already become background noise for exhausted Russians and allied troops alike over the past few days. The entire landscape was pockmarked by artillery and cannonballs. Chatho, Zaria, and Vakretta had already suffered heavy losses engaging the Russian navy’s beachhead by the shoreline. Hundreds of corpses of allied and Russian soldiers, plus broken down artillery and abandoned weapons, lay scattered along the coast. There were makeshift tents for injured troops and medical wards. Soldiers had engaged each other in vicious, personally charged skirmishes for many days. But something was about to break.
Resplendent in her shimmering blue, snowy gown, Elsa stood behind the front line of her troops, all garbed in deep green military uniforms. Much to Princess Anna’s frustration, Elsa had forbidden her from joining this battle, for so high were the stakes that if Elsa were to perish on this battlefield, Anna needed to be in Arendelle to assume the throne and continue the resistance against Russia’s encroachment.
Beside Elsa was her senior, Queen Colisa, who was surrounded by her Ten Tigresses, Chatho’s royal guard. Each armoured woman that formed Chatho’s shock troops was worth several dozen soldiers. They wielded close-quarter weapons – swords, spears, curved knives and bristling maces – but didn’t fear any rifle or musket. Elsa’s own knightly order, the Order of the Rime, had joined the Arendellian military on a hilly knoll overlooking the shoreline. The command had been given for all Vakretta and Zaria troops to withdraw. As predicted by Elsa’s strategists and generals, the Russian troops had disembarked from their ships and were taking up positions on the grassy plains, amassing in one great force. But now the Russians were exposed.
It was time for Elsa to begin her flank attack: one that, if fate smiled on her, would end with destroying the Baltic Fleet’s ships, crippling Imperial Russia’s sea advantage and supply lines and therefore the tsar’s invasion.
She nodded at her commander. “Your Majesty?” prompted the general. “It’s now or never.”
She pursed her lips grimly. “I hate this. I hate war and everything it entails.”
“Most of us do,” said the commander wryly, as he gave the command in Elsa’s place. “Fire!”
Arendellian howitzers rained down a hail of fire on the Russians, a line of powerful explosions rocking the shoreline. Black smoke enveloped the frontlines, and when it cleared, several battalions had scattered. Still, Elsa’s artillery would only hold off the enemy for a short while longer. The Russian formations buckled, but regrouped as the sergeants gave the order to advance. They had the numbers, but they needed to overrun the grassy knoll to really force back the Arendellians. Elsa, of course, wouldn’t let this happen.
“Colisa.” Elsa drew closer and squeezed her comrade and royal peer’s hand. “Thank you for standing with me today. I feel like a little girl again with you, when the two of us watched over a sleeping Anna.”
“Nothing’s changed. We’re still protecting her.” Colisa’s brown eyes shone. “Should I fall today, I can’t think of a better way to do so than with you, protecting your kingdom and your Anna. I love you, Elsa.”
“You won’t die here, because I love you too. Until the end of time.”
Elsa released Colisa’s fingers and emerged from the front ranks of her men, who stood to attention in one smooth snap of the boots. She calmly and soberly observed the army below the hill that so badly outnumbered her and the allied troops. She clenched and unclenched her small fists. She took a deep breath, praying that she’d be able to protect Anna and Kristoff, and that they could break through the tsar’s lines.
She would throw everything she had into this fight, giving as much of herself as her allies had done for Arendelle’s sake.
A glorious, bloody last stand by Elsa and her friends. Watch over me, Anna, she thought to herself.
Her lips slowly parted. “Fagra, grýttur land, heimr Árnadalr!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. The ancient Norse hymn of her coronation became her war cry. “BEAUTIFUL, STONY LAND, OUR HOME OF ARENDELLE!”
“Fylgið dróttningu ljóssins!” A great, deafening roar from behind answered Elsa and reached up into the gray skies. “FOLLOW THE QUEEN OF LIGHT!”
Emboldened, blood pumping in her hot ears, Elsa summoned a miniature, howling blizzard around her. She launched herself at the enemy, conjuring a sleet of ice on the ground that sent her shooting with dizzying speed towards the distant mass of assembled Imperial Russian troops. Colisa raised her sword, shouting her own battle cry and breaking ranks to join Elsa. The bellowing Arendellian soldiers and Rime Knights behind her launched into an epic charge, yellow, green and purple banners representing Arendelle’s national crest billowing behind them. They ran en masse at the tsar’s men, and in response, the flags of Imperial Russia were raised high: a double-headed eagle clasping a sceptre and orb in its talons.
Heartened by Elsa’s fearlessness and lead from the front, the allied troops’ roars and yelling only grew louder as they got closer and closer to the waiting Russian army. Their melee weapons drawn, Colisa’s Ten Tigresses rapidly outran the Arendellians and almost caught up with Elsa as the Russian troops aimed their rifles – hundreds of them – at her. “Take the Snow Queen down!” shrieked the uniformed Russian commander, Grand Duke Sergei, pointing at Elsa from atop his white horse amidst his men.
As she continued to slide directly at them, Elsa’s magical armour of hard ice began to creep up from her high heels. It solidified around her lithe body, encasing her from the bent legs up, along her slender hips, and then crystallizing around her arms, torso, and shoulders. Her majestic Viking helm of rime encased her head, leaving only her blonde braided ponytail free, which blew behind her, struggling to catch up with her. The coalescing suit of armour also left exposed her determined blue eyes, just as she and the Ten Tigresses crashed into the Russian throng, hurling dozens of men into the air. She threw herself into the fray as metal bullets flew off her armour, bayonet blades clanging against her body and sabers bouncing off her. “Stop her! Stop her before she overwhelms us!” screamed a Russian lieutenant.
Panting heavily behind her helm, sweat dripping all over, Elsa blocked a swing from a pike and shot an icicle into her attacker’s leg, before lunging forward and conjuring a sword of bitter frost that slashed downwards and cut the arms of two more, forcing them to drop their firearms. The battlefield descended into chaotic bedlam as the allied troops collided painfully with the imperial army. Arendellian rifles exchanged fire with Russian ones. Bayonets and lances brutally hacked apart limbs and lances plunged into bodies. With each blow, Elsa struck surgically, aiming to incapacitate rather than kill. So did Colisa. “Now!” roared the Chatho monarch to her Ten Tigresses, as she twirled her sword, cutting open the legs of two infantrymen, who went down screaming. She gracefully ducked under the swing of a bayonet and parried another saber, twisting and striking the soldier in the face, breaking open his nose. “Durga! Nidhi! Priyata! Clear a path for Elsa so she can sink Rurik, Ivan, and Vladimir!”
Fighting atop his mount, his horse whinnying and trampling his Arendellian enemies, the Grand Duke overheard her, and his eyes widened in horror. “Stop them! Don’t let her get to the shore,” he snarled, making for Elsa. But the Ten Tigresses surrounded Elsa, chopping and carving and shooting and bashing aside infantry as Elsa continued to hurl bolts of ice around her, fending off anyone trying to get near her. She grabbed two rifles aimed at her and squeezed, ice rapidly forming around the barrels. She stomped her foot, and a burst of icicles burst from the ground, impaling five men in the knees. They screamed in agony, out of action. The Ten Tigresses and Rime Knights weren’t so merciful as Sita’s halberd gutted two soldiers in a swinging arc, and a Rime Knight plunged his sword into a gurgling infantryman. But the Arendellians were also taking heavy losses, an entire row of brave soldiers falling before a barrage of rifle fire. Roaring, bloodthirsty men on both sides began to fight with sabers, daggers, and cutlasses as the pandemonium continued and brutality intensified.
Meanwhile, Colisa managed to pull Sergei down from his horse, but the Russian commander was much larger and stronger than her, and he hurled her away. He scrambled up, drawing his sword, and charged, clanging it against Colisa’s. “Your gamble is failing, Queen of Chatho,” he growled, his moustached face glaring wildly at her. “Just as Elsa will fail. The tsar will make you both his slaves. Your Ten Tigresses are dying around you!” he declared, as the Russians’ numerical superiority began to outpace the Arendellians. One by one, Elsa’s knights and soldiers fell to the bullets of a rifle or the blade of a Russian sword. Sita, one of Colisa’s warrior women, dropped her swords and collapsed, stabbed in multiple directions by bayonets. Durga and Nidhi screamed in rage and grief, but were forced back as Colisa fell on one knee, blocking desperately blow after blow from the Grand Duke.
“This is your end,” he cried, “and the end of Arendelle’s defiance of His Imperial Majesty!”
BOOM. BOOM. The Russians roared in triumph as a fresh round of shelling from the Baltic Fleet blasted holes in the Arendellian vanguard, sending soldiers and body parts flying everywhere. Elsa’s lines were collapsing, and even the already decimated Zarians and Vakrettans were charging back in the fray, desperately trying to hold the line as the Arendellian army began to be forced back. Colisa looked at the increasingly distant Elsa, before she felt the Grand Duke’s boot smashing into her cheek. “Ugh!” she groaned. She felt her jaw crack painfully as she flew back, and the surviving Ten Tigresses rushed to guard her. They were bloodied and out of breath, worn down, and demoralized. Sergei advanced. He drew his pistol, aiming it at them.
“Scandinavia belongs to the Motherland!” he crowed, his finger pressing the trigger –
SHHRRAAACCK. Suddenly, a new blast of light swept across the raging battlefield, its glow blinding everyone and its shrill screech causing Colisa’s ears to bleed. Wincing, she squinted into the distance – and sure enough, there was Elsa, having frozen the coastal waters as she ran out to sea. She’d shattered her ice armour, allowing herself freer movement. Reaching upwards into the sky, her fists clenched so tight that her palms began to bleed, Elsa screamed as she summoned the full might of the oceans, pleading with the Baltic to hear her call. A huge wave exploded from the waters, several hundred feet high and almost blocking out the sun. And before the Russians and the allies’ stunned stares, this colossal wave… froze. Not only did it stop moving, which was surreal enough, but it literally began to turn into ice.
“Elsa,” breathed Colisa, her heart skipping a beat. “It’s Elsa’s magic!” she cried, scrambling up and raising her sword. “Look, everyone!”
“Shut up, woman!” cried Sergei, but it was too late as a great cheer rose from the beleaguered allied troops. Elsa’s magic froze the colossal, gravity defying wave, seemingly turning it into a great tower of hard, indestructible ice. It must have been hundreds of feet tall. Colisa wasn’t even shouting anymore, stunned into silence as even the Imperial Russian troops couldn’t resist looking in awe at Elsa’s tower. Some men even stopped fighting and watched speechlessly as its shadow fell over the entire sea, looming over the Russian navy.
“What in the holy mother of – ” stuttered Sergei, as the Russian troops began to scatter.
Sweating profusely, Elsa screamed, yanking her clenched hands down. At her command, the gargantuan tower of ice tipped forward and came down on the Baltic Fleet’s three warships. With a mighty, cacophonic crash, Rurik, Ivan, and Vladimir splintered and began to sink, all destroyed in one devastating blow from Elsa. Sailors could be seen abandoning ship with those that had already fallen in the freezing waters. Sergei watched in horror at this cataclysmic turnaround. The queen of Arendelle had just destroyed three of the Baltic Fleet’s best. Just like that. And without Rurik, Ivan, and Vladimir, there was no way to coordinate supply lines between Russia and Scandinavia.
He bit his lip so hard that it bled. “I should have surrounded and killed her when I had the chance,” he growled, raising his sword, but Colisa scrambled at him and slashed him across his midsection, sending him crashing to the ground. Clutching his side, Sergei winced as Colisa placed her blade under his chin.
“If you wish to survive, you’re going to ask your tsar to negotiate with us. Shall Elsa and I accompany you to Saint Petersburg?” she said coolly, but her heart was dancing inside. They’d actually turned the tables against Imperial Russia itself, an empire that dwarfed all the allies’ kingdoms put together. While the Baltic Fleet had many more ships, its invasion of the Scandinavian heartland was impossible without wasting valuable weeks resupplying – weeks that the allies would take advantage of to crush the trapped Russian invaders. Nicholas I’s dream of annexing Scandinavia and subduing Arendelle was dead – at least, for now. Colisa looked at the wreckage of the Russian ships, beaming as Sergei bowed his head in defeat.
“You’re beyond amazing, Elsa.”
Far away from everyone else, Elsa slumped onto the frozen sheet that was supposed to be the sea. She raised her head, closing her eyes and spreading her arms slightly as she listened to the jubilant cheers of her troops and those of Zaria, Vakretta, and Chatho. No autocrat would be riding into her castle. No Russian troops would assail her people, nor would any warship of the Baltic Fleet be sailing into Arenfjord.
She sighed, hoping she’d never have to speak of this bloody battle to Anna… now or ever.
Little did she know that shortly after her abdication and Anna’s accession, a certain member of the Exalted – Katina Romanov, princess of the Russias and daughter of Nicholas I, would begin her plans to avenge her father’s defeat at this battle in 1840: the Battle of Odinland.