Three and a half years before the Great Freeze
Ivan Ushkui, sometimes known as Ivan the Brutal, or the King of Pirates, looked upwards towards his ships main mast, where one of his crew was manning the crow's nest.
"Off to port, 5 miles!" The man called down. "They're showing the flag of Arendelle!
Excellent. This should make things easy.
He turned, his bulky frame brushing against the ships wheel as he stepped around it.
"Well, boys," He called out as he came to the edge of the poop deck, "It looks like we've finally found some customers! Batten down the hatches and let loose the sails! Things are about to get rough!"
A cheer went up from his men, a rough but professional crew. Then they scrambled about, locking down the numerous hatches of the Akula. Several of them climbed upwards into the rigging, rolling or folding the ships sails so that they would be out of the way.
Most would think it strange that a pirate ship would furl its sails just as a chase would start. But most pirate ships don't have what I have…
"Sluga! Where's my boy at?" He yelled towards his first mate. "Hurry and get him on deck!"
His first mate, short, fat and ugly, nodded at his order, disappearing below the deck. Moments later he led a young man out.
Donner Ushkui was a lanky lad, his brown hair a few shades lighter than Ivan's own. His face had the wide, high cheekbones of Ivan's wife, while his nose was large and wide, like Ivan's. But if not for his… abilities, he would never have brought his son along, for he could do very little aboard a ship such as this. He'd be sixteen by the end of the summer, if Ivan remembered correctly.
"Don," He said, using his sons preferred nickname, "I need you to use your gift. Only once more."
He looked into Ivan's eyes as he stepped upwards onto the poop deck, coming to stand before the ships wheel. His blue eyes had a slight defiance behind them, though he knew what a defiant attitude would get him.
"But that's what you told me last time." His son said, not making direct eye contact. Instead he looked up into the clear blue skies above them, feeling his rough spun clothes flap in the gentle breeze. He could taste the saltiness in the air, though the overpowering hunger and greed of his father and his crew hung in the air like a fog. "Why do I have to do this?"
Ivan's anger swelled, and he straightened himself, rising to his full six-three height.
"Because I tell you too, boy!" He said viciously, his hand flashing out to leave a red mark upon his sons face, "Now do it, before out prey slips away!"
His son cowered before him, but Ivan did not continue his assault as he would have done. As his anger commanded him to. He needed his son.
Well, I need his ability, not him. He corrected himself. If I could find a way to harness that myself, I could leave him with that vicious mother of his back in Valdiston.
But he didn't know how to do that, and the trolls that had given his son that gift were all dead, though he still knew where to find some of their kind. So he'd settle for this sniveling little wretch.
"Will you hurry up and do it?" He said impatiently, as his son straightened, the red mark standing out from his fair skin.
Don turned, and walked to the edge of the deck, where it overhung the water. The air crackled with electricity, and the ship began to pitch as the sky darkened.
His son screamed. A high, keening noise, more fit to escape the throat of a dying animal than a young boy. Lightning leapt from his hands upwards, while a strange talisman like object formed above them. Dark clouds began to gather, and the sea became a seething mass. The Akula rose as its rode over mountains of water, a swirling light show erupting from its stern.
And still his son screamed, something that began to grate upon Ivan's nerves.
"She's foundering, captain!" The man in the crow's nest called, from his swinging perch. "And there she goes! She's over! She's over!"
Ivan turned to Don.
"That's enough." When his son didn't rein in his powers, Ivan broke. "Damn you!"
His fist connected with the boy's skull, sending him immediately into unconsciousness. The lightning ceased immediately, and the sea calmed noticeably in only a few moments. Sunlight shone a few moments after that, and it was as if the sudden storm had never happened.
Except for the ship now dead in the water, its masts snapped off like twigs. Easy prey.
"Unfurl the sails, you dogs! We have a prize to take!" He turned to Sluga, who was doing picking up the limp boy from where he lay upon the rough deck. "Take him below, then make sure the men are ready to board."
The Akula leapt forward as the wind caught its sails, its great flag, blue with the prancing bull of Valdiston, popping in the wind behind it. Its bow cut through the water, closing in upon the ship from Arendelle.
But for all Ivan cursed his crew, calling them lazy and doing his best to rally them, nature had its limit. It took nearly an hour for them to come up alongside. Ivan rode the Akula as a man would a horse, or so it would seem. Like a man riding a horse, he nearly became one with his ship, feeling every creak, every wallow. He could feel its own hunger, as if the ship had its own beating heart that yearned. It beat in time with Ivan's, growing faster and faster as the distance decreased. His hands tightened on the ships wheel as they drew even closer.
"Captain, all the men report ready!" Sluga yelled out, returning from below decks. He stood with the twenty men who would lead the boarding party, their swords and axes and maces drawn. "We have the grapnels ready!"
"Good! Now brace for impact!"
Ivan waited until the last moment, as the Akula's bow came in at the other ships aft at an angle, before heaving the wheel over. The rudder fought him, not wishing to turn, but his muscles fought it around, and the bow slowly, oh so slowly, came about.
Impact was less dramatic than one would think, as Ivan had judged the turn perfectly. The railings of the ships butted up against each other before recoiling away from each other, and a dozen grapnels were flung across. Winches began to turn, as the Akula's momentum carried both ships around, spinning in a slow, pantomime of a dance.
The railings touched again, and the twenty boarders flung themselves over the side, deftly landing upon the other ships slightly lower deck. Ivan was right behind him, having picked up a sword as he vaulted onto the other ship.
Don's powers had done an even greater bit of damage then Ivan had at first thought. His blade was almost unnecessary, as only a trio of men stood in his way. They looked frightened, as the boarders secured the windswept deck.
Ivan put the tip of his sword to the oldest of the trio's throat, who wore the clothes that a high status servant would.
"What is your cargo, Arendellian? Speak now or die!"
The man fell backwards away from the blade, his clothes making a squelching sound as he tried to slink away.
"W-We're carrying a delegation bound for Corona!" The man said, "We don't have any cargo!"
Ivan swore under his breath, before turning an evil eye towards the men.
"Well, then it looks like you're out of luck."
Moments later, Ivan paced in front of the rest of the ship's crew, wiping the blood from his sword. It had been a welcome surprise to see the men and women being dragged from below the decks, all of them festooned with valuable gold jewelry and fine clothing. It had raised Ivan's spirits slightly, right before he recognized one of the men's face.
"You!" He yelled, stomping across the deck towards him, "What is your name!"
But he already knew it, having been invited as his father's heir to this man's coronation.
"You're the King of Arendelle!" Ivan said aloud, looking at the terrified woman beside him, "And you've even brought your Queen!"
"And you're Ivan of Valdiston," The King spat back, his face bloody. "King of Pirates."
There was an accusation in the King's voice, a defiance bred of desperation.
"I see you've heard of me." Ivan said, sweeping a bow, "I'm sorry I can't offer you any refreshment. But I can offer you a swim!"
He plucked the other man up by his collar, and carried him over to the opposite side of the deck. Ivan slammed him down so that he was bent over the railing, his lankier frame not able to fight against Ivan's strength, forcing him to look down out over the water.
"Seventy years," Ivan declared, "Seventy years Arendelle has lorded itself over this part of the sea. From the time of my grandfather until now, you have held back my people. But no more! Our revenge is now!"
Ivan's sword flashed, and with a twist of his shoulder, he sent the limp body sliding over the side, where sharks would soon begin to gather. A scream erupted from the Queen, and all of the men lurched forward a little at the sight.
"Alright men, we need to get rid of them. Over the side with the lot of them." Ivan kept his voice conversational, though his prisoners reacted as if he had yelled. "Make sure you get anything useful or valuable off of them before they go!"
Moments later, desperate screams were chopped off suddenly, followed quickly by a series of splashes. Ivan watched with a detached interest as his men looted the ship, piling the goods upon the deck. Feeling a slight crawling feeling on his neck, he turned and saw Don standing at the railing of the Akula. His eyes were wide.
Good, maybe that will toughen him up a bit. Ivan thought to himself as he began to peruse the steadily increasing pile of loot. The boy needs it.
He saw something that interested him, a small black book that was laid atop a chest.
"Where did you find this?" He said to one of the men organizing the loot.
"In the ships stateroom, packed in with the Queen's dresses." The man said, scratching his scraggly beard. "I'd guess it was her diary or some such."
Ivan nodded, gesturing for the man to return to his work, and began to peruse the book.
By the third or fourth page, he was enraptured, and regretted sending the Queen over the side.
The beginnings of a plan began to form in his mind.
Look's like I'll have to pay a visit to those trolls of mine after all, and make Donner forget.
Elsa looked up from her desk as Kai, her steward, stepped in. She'd been looking over the details of a trade agreement with the city of Arskall, an inland princedom that was looking to use Arendelle as its main port. Unfortunately, they kept trying to stipulate that the agreement should be bound 'in the folds of love'. Which in their minds meant a royal marriage between their Prince and herself.
They do their best not to mention that their Prince is nearly sixty, incontinent and incompetent. But luckily I have other resources to rely upon.
Turning her attention to Kai, she set down her pen.
"You wanted me to remind you an hour before your sister is supposed to return," He said, and Elsa covered her face with her right palm. She'd forgotten that Anna, Kristoff and Olaf were supposed to return from what her sister had insisted upon calling a 'honeymoon', but what Kristoff vehemently referred to as a vacation.
Elsa stood, sliding the chair back under her desk, and stretched. Kai led her down to the main hall, where the sunlight was slowly disappearing.
"My goodness," Gerda, he lady in waiting said from where she sat, "The weather sure has taken a turn for the worst!"
Elsa couldn't agree more. As she came to stand by the window, the first drops of rain came down. The sky was dark, and a peal of thunder made the windows shake slightly.
"Hmph," Her steward came to stand by her, "Today was supposed to be another sunny day! But then again, you can never trust a weatherman!"
"I wonder if this will effect when my sister arrives…" Elsa squinted to see through the driving rain. "Oh, I see them now."
Anna and Kristoff strolled into the main hall, shaking off their soaking wet clothes, while Olaf and Sven clopped in behind them.
"Hello, Elsa!" Olaf yelled, coming up to give her a hug. "You should have seen us! Those people in Cryaal didn't know what hit them!"
"Oh, stop it Olaf," Anna said, "It wasn't that bad!"
She rolled her eyes, and Elsa had to stifle a laugh as Olaf went into a melodramatic rendition of their escapades. With what she guessed was a large dosing of hyperbole, and a slight infusion of metaphor.
"Well, it's nice to have you all home," Elsa said quietly, as they all took a seat near the windows. The rain was coming down even harder, and lightning arced across the sky like a giant lattice. "My goodness, this weather is ungodly!"
"You can say that again!" Kristoff retorted, draping himself across a chair. "It swept in on us all of a sudden. And now look at it," He gestured towards the window, which was still rattling from the last peal of thunder. "We'll be lucky if we don't see a bunch of flooding."
Kai arrived a moment later, setting down a tray of sandwiches and a cup of tea for everyone. Olaf took his cup, and tossed it back, creating for a hilarious little display as the hot liquid melted completely through him, spreading out in a puddle below him.
"Gosh," He said, placing the back of his left hand to his forehead, "This stuff always runs right through me!"
A chuckle ran around their little group. Though Elsa could see Kai sigh, as he grabbed a towel to clean up the mess.
"So," Elsa did her best to break into their subject easily, "How did your vacation go?"
Anna and Kristoff responded at the same time.
"Great!" "Terrible!" Respectively.
Then they eyed each other, and Anna stuck her tongue out at him. Elsa looked between them, speechless. Kristoff was the first to break the silence.
"It wasn't my fault!" He said defensively, before closing his eyes and sighing heavily. "Okay, it was totally my fault. There, are you happy?"
"No, you still lost the tickets to that show!" Anna said, "And I am still mad at you!"
But her tone of voice said she wasn't. That was one of the best parts of Anna's character, being able to forgive people so easily. Elsa knew that she'd used quite a bit of her sisters forgiveness for the loneliness she'd caused her in their childhood.
"So, how was Cryaal?" Elsa asked.
"It was alright, a little bit strange," Anna replied, sipping from her tea, "They kept asking me to use my ice powers." She rolled her eyes, "It took nearly the whole vacation to convince them that I wasn't the one with the magic. And the nobles kept commenting on how much I looked like mother… "
Anna hung her head slightly, and Elsa's heart skipped a beat at the mention of their parents, until Kristoff put a hand out and patted her shoulder.
"You should have seen the architecture though," Kristoff tried to change the direction the conversation was taking. "Those Cryaalians really know how to-"
The sky outside lit up, and a great reverberating boom seemed to shake the entire palace.
The doors at the front of the Hall opened, and a single guard, his uniform totally soaked through, ran in. Kai intercepted him just short of Elsa and her family, and they spoke in short, quiet tones. Kai turned towards the group, his eyes wide.
"My Queen, this guard reports that the men at the northern lighthouse are reporting a ship trying to tack into the bay," Kai shook his head slowly as he spoke, "They report that it's about to wreck upon the outer shoal. What should we do?"
Elsa stood, straightening her gown.
"Bring me my coat, if you would, Kai. I must see this for myself!"