A/N: Merry Christmas! As promised (I know, right?), here's the Epilogue to Ice Fury, "Book" 1 in the Legends Live On series (the original or working title was Heroes' Journey, but I've come to the conclusion that the new one describes the world I'm tailoring better, so… Legends Live On it is).
Don't forget, there's also a thank you letter at the end for those of you who want to stick around and read it. Enjoy!
An impressive pallet of pastels decorated the cloudy crepuscular sky above the land as the sun disappeared behind the horizon. Hidden high above those clouds, Elsa and Wintergale surveyed the area they had just reached. Elsa figured they were the first dragon and rider to come this far west.
About two-and-a-half months had passed since Elsa had left Arendelle. By now, she and Wintergale had explored some of the most prominent islands in Hiccup's map, particularly those inhabited by other dragon-loving cultures, namely, the Wingmaidens and the Defenders of the Wing. During these visits, however, the Snow Queen and the Ice Fury never came into contact with anyone; instead, they had stuck to the shadows, studying dragons and peoples alike in secret and documenting as much as they could.
This was the method Elsa had chosen to bonding more closely with Wintergale. With help from the white dragon, who often noticed certain things that escaped Elsa's attention, the wandering queen would write a small journal's worth of research for each new land they visited. But she wouldn't take any of the journals with her. In her mind, whosoever read her works would not only get an outsider's perspective about dragons and the people that lived with them, but they would also know that the Snow Queen of Arendelle herself had pledged to protect the dragon realms. Thus, what she actually did was to leave each of the journals behind, one for each land they visited, like buried treasures to be found either by their inhabitants or any explorers who happened to venture into those territories. Wintergale would even help carve the crocus that represented the kingdom of Arendelle wherever they both decided to hide the journals as a sign for the keen-eyed.
Although that had been a wonderful experience in and of itself, early on in their journey, an idea for a much bigger adventure had occurred to Elsa. Making it a reality had required them to shorten the amount of time they could spend in dragon territories, but the journey was too tempting to ignore. For she had set her eyes on another land she'd only read about but never actually seen, a land only a few dared venture to: the Americas, as they were called.
The New World.
Flying southwest, crossing the vast expanse of Greenland and part of the Atlantic Ocean, the journey had taken them twenty-three days. Eventually, they had reached the shores of the British colony known as Newfoundland; from there, they had kept flying south, bordering the coastline until they had reached the newly established United States. Elsa was particularly curious about this country that had fought so hard to break with British rule and become the first country in the Americas to earn its independence*. What did this newly freed land look like? How did its people live only a few years after their revolution had ended? How much had they managed to rebuild and expand by now?
For the last week or so since their arrival, such questions had kept her going further inland the further south they went. What she had seen so far was quite encouraging; yes, many people had lain down their lives to achieve this freedom, but those who benefited from it were making the most of it. The dawn of a new age was at hand, Elsa thought, a new era of diverse peoples coming together in harmony to learn from each other and help each other. Oh, she wasn't such an idealist to think that this wouldn't come without a cost; she sensed that many more countries would have to pay a price of blood and tears to break the chains of tyranny and cruelty before they could taste this same freedom. But who knew? Perhaps a century or two from now, the world would look back and thank those brave people for leaving a better way of life as their legacy for many generations to come. Hope for the future, as Hiccup had put it.
Elsa pushed the notion aside for a moment, her mind returning to the present. She didn't expect to spend as much time exploring the Americas, much as she would've wanted to. Winter was only a few days away, but more importantly, by her reckoning Anna's due date should be between seven to eight weeks from now. She would have to turn back and begin the long journey home if she wanted to be there for her sister in her final stage of pregnancy. Elsa had no regrets about having to return soon, but she did have to admit, if only to herself, that she would've enjoyed to have some more time to explore New Spain and—
Her train of thought was lost when Wintergale began sneering at… something. There didn't seem to be any immediate threats nearby, but Elsa knew enough not to distrust a dragon's instinct. "Wintergale? Everything okay?"
Suddenly, the Ice Fury jerked back with such force that Elsa thought she would fall from the saddle, in spite of all the safeguards. "Whoa, Wintergale! What's—"
Wintergale cut her off with a short, distressful roar that made Elsa wish she actually spoke dragon. Something had clearly spooked her friend, and she had to know what it was. And then, the strangest thing happened. A snowflake with a glow of its own that had come out of nowhere landed squarely on Wintergale's nose—and with that, the white dragon seemed to lose all sense of wariness. She began flying around in circles, chasing after a flurry of snowflakes that kept appearing out of thin air, despite Elsa's best efforts to regain control.
After a few moments, the dragon nosedived straight towards earth, and even when Elsa wasn't too scared of this, she was afraid of whatever was causing this behavior. She was already considering jumping off Wintergale's back and using her flightsuit to land, in the hopes that this might help her friend snap out of it, when the Ice Fury finally spread her wings to slow down and glide above the treetops, albeit in a zigzag pattern. Eventually, Wintergale landed on top of a hill overlooking a frozen pond, at which point Elsa came down from the saddle to try and get the dragon's attention.
"Hey girl, what do you see that I don't?" she asked soothingly, noticing that Wintergale still had her eyes fixed on something—or someone.
And then, she saw it.
Cast by the rising full moon onto the icy surface of the pond, a shadow other than Elsa's and Wintergale's was reaching out for the dragon's snout—and the Ice Fury was actually accepting this invisible touch!
"W-who's there?" Elsa asked from behind the visor of her leather helmet, adopting a defensive stance. Even if Wintergale seemed trusting of whichever ethereal entity that was trying to tame her, Elsa was not about to let her guard down. "I mean you no harm, but I warn you, I can defend myself and you won't like it if I do."
The shadow seemed unfazed by this decisive warning. Trying not to lose sight of the 'empty' space in front of her, Elsa glanced repeatedly at the pond to take a better look at the shadow. Something about it was familiar, like she'd seen it in her dreams or in visions…
That's it! It's… him!
The young shepherd in the brown coat.
It was an unmistakable silhouette. Whoever the faceless shepherd she often pictured in her mind's eye was, it now appeared like he was real. She could feel it. She could feel her fear being swept away. She could sense his presence, and it was comforting, as though it had been by her side most of her life.
Losing the cautious stance, she lifted her visor and fixed her gaze on the spot where the shepherd should be standing. The Moon shone more brightly for an instant… and there he was, staring right back at her. He was hazy, like a ghost or spirit, but it was clearly someone! She could swear she heard his voice, like a distant echo, calling out her name. Slowly but surely, as Elsa focused on the voice, she could start making out some of his features: oval face, scruffy white hair, ice blue eyes that shone with a deep longing…
Then the moonlight was gone, and so was the mirage that had been taking shape before her.
Elsa looked up to the sky in distress. Storm clouds had amassed overhead, concealing the Moon and taking with them any chances she might've had of finding out who the shepherd was. More distressing was the fact that she could still feel the spirit's presence. Part of her wanted to scream, to ask out loud if 'he' was still there. Her lips actually parted for a split-second, but no words came out. Apparently, no matter how safe she felt around this entity, her self-preservation instinct would keep telling her not to trust the unknown.
Moreover, before they had landed, she had taken notice of a settlement close by. The Ice Fury hadn't exactly kept a subtle approach, and Elsa feared someone could arrive at any moment to find out what was causing such a fuss. She still intended to remain in anonymity during this journey, and so, against her own wishes to remain and wait for the spirit to appear again, she decided it was time to leave. "Let's get out of here, girl," she told Wintergale as she climbed back atop the saddle.
The white dragon didn't seem too happy to leave either, but at least now she was willing to follow Elsa's instructions. They both looked at the now-empty space one last time, and then Wintergale took flight.
As they put some distance between them and the frozen pond, a sinking feeling in the pit of Elsa's stomach grew. Irrational though this could be, she felt like she had just found whomever she'd been hoping to make the only kind of deep connection she was still missing in her life with—and she had lost her one chance at it. Logic dictated that pursuing such kind of relationship with an invisible entity like that, even if it was real, could only mean trouble. Why, then, couldn't she shake that feeling of despair?
She tried to draw some comfort from the thought that, perhaps, if this was more than a figment of her imagination… perhaps their paths would cross again… someday…
*Friendly reminder that, back in Chapter 10, I stated that this story took place circa 1780. I know that Word of God has already established that Frozen actually took place in 1839. Frozen 2 backs this up by showing a photograph of two characters; this time period was more or less when earliest photographs were being taken. Regardless, for the purpose of the upcoming series, my time frame will remain circa 1785, which is shortly after the American Revolution. I hope that helps clarify things.
A/N: And thus (finally) concludes "Ice Fury".
Boy, have we come a long way! I must be honest, never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine this story would evolve the way it did. No, seriously, even with the imminent release and the hype train of HTTYD2, at first I hadn't even considered weaving that plot into my story. I didn't even have a proper story! All I had to begin with was this image of Elsa riding on a dragon, which then became an image of her riding on a white dragon that could breathe ice, which then became an image of her riding on a white Fury… well, you can imagine how that thought process went. The point is, the only tie-in to the HTTYD-verse that this story had when it was conceived was this one dragon, the Ice Fury. I didn't even picture this story being longer than 11 chapters.
Now, here we are, five-and-a-half years and 31 (!) chapters later, and all I can say is that I'm thunderstruck.
Obviously, as I kept writing and inspiration struck, the final product took proper shape. I kept adding more and more chapter summaries to my drafts, which then translated into chapters themselves. Over time, not only did this story evolve drastically but my writing style as well; looking back at my first chapters, this becomes pretty evident. Many things changed, and some others were added later on, as time passed and the story progressed. I've already talked about Heather, but I must also say that, at times, I feel tempted to write about what it would've been like if Stoick had not lived. In the end, though, I'm actually happy with how this story concluded.
This work will forever hold a special place in my heart, especially since I myself have grown with it in many ways. Writing it in both English and Spanish gave me the opportunity to practice what would later become my profession; moreover, it helped me discover, along my other fanfiction works, just how passionate I was about writing. Nowadays, I'm close to finishing two non-fiction books (both of them in English and Spanish), with more non-fiction and fiction works on the way.
For all of the above, part of me wouldn't want this to end—and technically, it won't just yet. After all, this story has grown to the point where it is becoming a fanfic series with multiple –verses coalescing into one. But Ice Fury itself does need to conclude so that these other stories may begin.
I would like to thank all of you, my dear readers and followers, for sticking to this story for so long. I never imagined this would become such a popular fanfiction work (558 reviews, 427 favorites, 488 followers, and inclusion in 7 communities at the time of this chapter being uploaded!), but you made it possible. There aren't enough words to express my gratitude. Your support, reviews, suggestions, and even criticism, have helped make Ice Fury—and, consequently, my upcoming Legends Live On fanfic series—what it is today, probably more than you could ever imagine. And, since we are on the topic of reviews, how about one last hurrah? (Going forward, I'll keep updating this final chapter with replies to any new reviews, so keep an eye out for those.)
Ghost: Oh, Christmas just got a whole lot better if I do say so myself, hehe. It was bound to happen, indeed (and I do see what you did there ^^). I do hope you get to see the third installment of HTTYD soon, even if you've already been spoiled (I know, right? Those ghastly people…). FROZEN 2 WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! (Samantha… XD) It does change my plans for the series I'm writing, but not necessarily in a bad way. I've missed you too, my friend, and I do hope to keep hearing from you in Winter Love and beyond ;). Merry Christmas, and thank you for your wonderful review!
Guest: On the contrary, thank you for reading it! It is my joy and pleasure to share it with you, and I'm glad you've enjoyed it. Merry Christmas!
Lunasen: Awww, thank you so very much! I'm absolutely glad that you liked that poem and dance ^^. So, Hiccup's goodbye is supposed to mean "Farewell, my dear sister and friend/comrade", but I'm not well-versed in Old Norse, so it might've been incorrectly adapted into that language (O.O); still, thanks for thinking of it as sweet. And I'm sooooo glad to know that the sisters' relationship does come across the way it should. I'll do my best not to keep you waiting with Winter Love ;). Merry Christmas!
I would be remiss not to acknowledge that there were a few setbacks along the way, including, but not limited to, a couple of hiatuses (more like half-a-dozen; sorry again about that). I never intended to take five years to write this story from beginning to end, especially since I had it all mapped out since year one. I'm not trying to make up excuses but, during those five years, I also went through some sad experiences for the first time in my life— numerous romantic heartbreaks (even though I've never been in an actual relationship of that kind); the loss of not one but five loved ones in three years, including a girl that I loved like I never have another and probably never will; being let down by some of my closest friends and relatives…
Maybe I'm being way too candid here, but I think it's important for some people to understand that we writers are still human. Forget for a moment about the fact that we have lives outside of writing—that we study, we work, we graduate, we hang out with friends and whatnot. What I want you to realize (and I know most of you get it, but there are those who don't) is that we also go through down times and times when we feel down; there are seasons in which we've lost our drive and our motivation to do the things we normally enjoy, because life goes tough on us too. That is why any form of encouragement—a nice review, a PM asking for our well-being, a fanart, a TVTropes page, you name it—is not only appreciated but, at times, needed. I, for one, am grateful for all of those.
To end this on a higher note, I'd like to include a special shout-out once again to some of my most vocal supporters and followers: Supreme Bookworm, GraceSophia, PascalDragon, MysteryGirl7Freak, musical . swan, Ali, Ghost, Crystal12, Hang Tuah, SerenityQuill, Bteam, UnknownBlackHand, White Hunter, Halley Vanaria, ArmyWife22079, ScarletAvenger, warorpeace, purpleflower . bgz, V01dSw0rd, Lunasen, thefandude, AnileX09, darkdan-sama, and soooooo many others. Your constant support and encouragement over the years—and in some cases, your feedback and ideas—have meant more to me than words could ever express. I must say, I haven't heard from many of you in a very long while (and this is not a complaint; I understand you have lives of your own, as I said above), and I really miss you. And even if I'm not actually that acquainted with all of you outside the realm of FanFiction (though I'd really love to be), I think of you as my friends more than just my readers. I love you all, people!
Finally, I know I promised you a simultaneous Winter Love update, but as you can imagine, the holidays and family reunions got in the way of that a little bit. Still, I just need to finish polishing that, so expect the aforementioned by New Year's Eve (because I definitely want to end the 2010's in the best way possible) Stay tuned as well for updates on my other upcoming projects, and in the meantime, please feel free to share this story with other fans of both franchises, maybe even online forums and social media (I'm… not exactly a forums-and-social-media kind of guy, so that would be greatly appreciated).
I'm Piero217, and this has been "Ice Fury".