Chapter 1

It was one year after the Great Thaw.

Queen Elsa of Arendelle leaned back in her chair and stretched. She had just finished this month's draft trade agreements and called a clerk to take them to her council and the lawyers for finishing touches. There was only one more item to deal with and her work day would be ended. If she could get through it in the next fifteen minutes she wouldn't even be late for dinner with her sister.

The item was a thick volume, the Journal of the Corona Royal Academy, with a note from the librarian: "Your Majesty, this volume arrived today. Please direct your attention to page 354."

Elsa opened the book to the indicated page and read the title, "Observations on the Great Thaw of Arendelle." Her pulse quickened, the temperature in the room dropped, and frost covered the pages.

Breathing deeply to calm herself, Elsa felt the frost retreat. No need to jump to conclusions, this might not be a negative report. Corona was an increasingly important trade partner, and after all, the report was on observations during the Thaw, not the freeze. And at least the Corona Royal Academy was acting in the open rather than behind closed doors. She suspected that Royal Academies all over Europe were working on similar analyses, trying to estimate her strengths and find her weaknesses. Elsa started reading.

Fifteen minutes later Princess Anna peeked in through Elsa's open door and paused. Elsa was absorbed in a book and it was obviously upsetting her. A jagged edged patch of ice was alternately advancing and retreating across the floor. Occasionally it would expand, only to contract a few seconds later. As Elsa finished reading she carefully shut the book, leaned back in her chair, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. The patch of ice held steady at 10 feet in diameter.

Anna knocked gently at the door to get her sister's attention. Elsa jerked in her chair as her eyes flew open, "Oh! Anna you startled me." Her voice trembled slightly.

"I'm sorry. What were you reading? It's obviously pretty upsetting," said Anna, pointing to the patch of ice. Elsa blushed, embarrassed at the minor loss of control and made the ice vanish.

"It's a Corona Royal Academy analysis of the events following my coronation and it's simultaneously the most insulting and flattering thing I've ever read," said Elsa with a frown. "Look at the conclusions."

"Blah, blah, drought and flood mitigation, blah, blah, heat treatment of metal and tempering of glass," read Anna.

"He wants to hook me up to irrigation canals or chain me up in a foundry," muttered Elsa, the temperature in the room dropping again.

"Blah, blah. Whoa! Elsa!" Anna read aloud, "Based on the rates of freezing and thawing of the Arendelle fjord, Queen Elsa's fear and despair can absorb energy at a rate of at least two billion horsepower, and her love can supply energy at a rate of at least two hundred billion horsepower."

"He wants to hook me up to a steam engine and power all of Europe," said Elsa. The frost patch was back, and it was expanding.

"Oh, come on. He doesn't actually suggest that. He only says that if your powers could be harnessed they would supply the world's energy needs for.. centuries.. to.. come. Ok, maybe you're right. But where's the flattery?"

"Second to the last sentence," said Elsa.

"Queen Elsa is the vessel of a love of almost inconceivable power," read Anna. "Ok, that's pretty nice. And hey, I like the attitude in this last sentence."

"And love and magic make fools of natural philosophers," said Elsa. She laughed and the room warmed. "At least he's willing to admit it when he bumps up against the unknown."

Anna read the entire paper during dinner. As the sisters finished dessert, she said, "As insulting as it is to be considered industrial equipment, did you notice that this paper isn't the least judgmental? It's just makes estimates from eyewitness reports and describes potential uses. All good things!"

Elsa sighed. "You're right. And he's thought of implications and applications of my powers I hadn't considered." She stood and started pacing around the room. "I've been stagnating. I haven't really extended my powers for a while. It might be interesting to have a natural philosopher on sabbatical suggesting new directions."

Anna looked at the author's name, "Well, 'Observer' is pretty obviously a pseudonym. If you want to work with him, how are you going to find him?"

Elsa stopped pacing and thought for a moment. "We're currently negotiating this year's trade pact with Corona. We can make finding 'Observer' their problem." She grinned. "And if I play up the insult aspect, we may be able to get Corona to pay for 'Observer's' sabbatical."

Anna laughed. "Serves them right for reducing you to numbers."

Frowning, Elsa said, "One aspect of this concerns me. Essentially we'll be inviting Corona to install a spy. Someone who will be working directly with me to help me explore my strengths and determine my weaknesses."

"Oh, come on. What's the worst that could happen?"

"Death? Destruction? Plunging the entire world into never ending winter? Freezing the sun? A year ago I nearly destroyed Arendelle without knowing I was doing anything of the sort and my power is still growing. I control it now, but I feel like the fulcrum of a very big lever. The worst that could happen is devastating."

"You can always say no to his suggestions. If he's a spy, at least he's a known spy. We can read his letters, and then you can be appropriately paranoid."

"All right." Elsa laughed. "Come back to my office with me and help me guilt the King of Corona into paying for an 'Observer'."

A/N - Just to give a sense of scale, 200 billion horsepower is approximately 150 TeraWatts, or about 30 times the electrical power generating capacity of the world in 2010.