"Elsa, open your eyes."

The soft feminine voice caressed her ears like a gentle whisper and slowly tickled her mind awake.

Slowly, the world came back piece-by-piece as she mentally crawled out of the thick haze of deep slumber. Above her was the grey, mottled ceiling of her room - except it wasn't her room at all. In place of the painted livery of her personal quarters was the drab, natural roughness of barely-lit hewn rock.

'I must have fallen asleep working again,' she thought as she rolled her head to one side to stare at the same unpolished rockwork that also formed the walls of the room. As soon as the weight of her head rolled beyond the cushion of her thick hair, she felt her cheek touch cold, hard stone.

Elsa sat up to realize something was wrong. So terribly wrong. Wherever she was, it was uncomfortably dimly-lit. Her eyes flicked around until they were drawn to a tiny spot of light a few feet away from her. The light was coming from a small oil lamp that sat in the middle of a very crude wooden table several arm lengths away. The only problem was the set of thick iron bars that stood between her and the table.

Panic hit her as she tried to crawl backwards, almost immediately hitting the cold, stone wall with her back. With what meager light the lamp accorded, she could see that she was in some sort of cell, no more than a few feet from wall to wall. The only piece of furniture present was the stone slab upon which she awoke. That, and a grimy wooden bucket that sat on the floor against the wall in the far corner. 'Far' being a relative term, she realized as she drew her legs in to avoid touching the stained wood.

"No, no, no!" Elsa forced herself up and rushed forward and tightly grasped the bars that kept her prisoner. They wouldn't budge, the cage wall being firmly anchored to the stone floor. For a moment, she considered squeezing through them but they were spaced just far enough to let a leg through but not her head or chest. "Help!" She screamed as she tugged futilely at the metal rods. Elsa felt confused. Among the cloud of words and fears that swam in her head, one stood out among the rest. Ice.

Of course, she remembered. She was the snow queen of Arendelle, with mastery over ice and cold. These bars couldn't hold her, she thought to herself as she concentrated on freezing the metal into brittleness. It had worked once before, when she was chained in the dungeon beneath the castle during the great freeze. It took her some time but the metal bonds that held her cracked open, brittle with the cold. She gripped the iron bars tightly and willed them to freeze. Nothing. No snowflake patterns crawled across the dark, grey metal. She held her hand out, palm upwards and commanded the ice. Nothing. No ball of snow crystallized above her hand. It wasn't as if it wasn't just working. The magic was just not there.

"Help! Help! Somebody! Guards!" She shouted in panic, wondering how her magic had failed her. As well as being an ice sorceress, Elsa was the ruling queen of Arendelle, and had been for a few years now. The guards should come. If this was still Arendelle. Her eyes widened and brows knotted as she fought back tears at the thought. She couldn't possibly be far from the castle, if these weren't the dungeons. She hadn't been down there…here? - since the week of her coronation, when she had frozen the kingdom and ran away, only to be dragged back home in chains. Everything worked out fine after that, and she never ventured back down there. They simply held too many bad memories. This looked nothing like she remembered.

A thought occurred to her. "Anna?" She called her sister's name. Ever since they had reconnected after her coronation, Princess Anna had returned to her playful self. Always pulling the queen into crazy situations and pulling pranks. But Anna's pranks were always harmless, benign. Nothing like dragging her sister and locking her up in the dungeons as a joke.

Besides, even as light as she was, the queen was far too heavy for her sister to carry. She would have required help, from someone stronger. Someone accustomed to carrying large, heavy objects. Someone who moved heavy things for a living. Someone who would do pretty much anything for the princess that he loved.

"Kristoff?" Elsa asked into the darkness. After a minute or so of silence, she asked again, calling for the former ice harvester and current love of her sister. Kristoff Bjorgman had helped Anna find the queen during the Great Freeze, as the week when Elsa had frozen Arendelle was called. He was instrumental in saving the princess more than a few times that fateful week, and Elsa had bestowed upon him the title of 'Arendelle's Royal Ice Master and Deliverer' in gratitude. Although for the most part, that was to the ice harvester an excuse to frequent the castle on 'official business' as he and Anna had fallen for each other back then.

The two were going on almost two years now and Elsa was dreading the inevitable marriage proposal that would formalize their union. For the most part, Kristoff was a perfect foil for her sister – cool-headed, responsible and rather straight. Almost as straight-laced as the queen herself, she realized. And yet Anna usually got the normally-well-behaved Kristoff to play along with her pranks.

"Anna? Kristoff? I know you're out there." Elsa lied into the darkness, hoping it wasn't as empty as it had seemed. Nothing.

"Let me go!"

"Nobody's here, you know." A female voice said from the darkness. It was deep and raspy, almost old-sounding. It was also somewhat familiar, as if she had heard that voice before. Something was off about it though, something that raised red flags in the back of Elsa's mind.

"Who's there?" The queen shouted into the darkness. The voice had come from the shadows, from beyond the tiny spark of light that barely illuminated the interior of her cell.

The light had somehow moved backwards - no, Elsa could now make out two, slender hands holding the brass pan on both sides. She followed them back up the arms they belonged to, which led to a shadow of a figure, a silhouette behind the flickering flame.

"Where am I?" Elsa demanded. She felt her fear slowly being taken over by a more active emotion - anger, as she now had something to focus her feelings on. "Why am I here?" She added, a silent boiling within threatening to burst through her well-guarded facade. "Who are you?"

The figure laughed. Elsa could see the shadow of the figure's shoulder bobbing up and down as the other woman appeared to be amused by the queen's predicament.

"Where do you think you are, Elsa?" The woman answered. She knew who the queen was, Elsa realized. She squinted into the darkness but the light was just right where it was interfering with her vision. Her eyes refused to become accustomed to the dark and the woman remained in shadow.

"If you know who I am, then you know what I can do." The snow queen threatened, holding her hand outwards as if to cast a spell. She hoped the other woman wouldn't catch on to the fact that right now, she was entirely bluffing.

"Oh please, Elsa. We both know you're more queen and less snow right now." The woman said, almost taunting. She knew. Elsa reached inside for the magic, but found herself still empty. For an instant, she remembered all the instances in her life when she wished the magic away. This was not one of those times.

The woman continued. "Actually, you're less queen as well." She said as she pushed a familiar object on the table towards Elsa. The sound of metal scraping against wood, plus the distinctive shape of the object alerted Elsa. It was the royal crown of Arendelle. Her crown.

"Where - how did you get that?" Elsa's hands instinctively went up to her hair, where she normally had the tiara-like crown on. Her platinum blonde locks felt grimy, oily. Her hair, usually done in a loose, single braid that she let hang over her left shoulder, was in a long, flowing mess that reached beyond the small of her back. For the first time, she realized she was wearing a thin slip of a nightgown instead of her more conservative daily attire. The cold stone floor below her made her realize, whoever had dragged her into the room didn't even bother to get her shoes. She felt cold. A first in a long time.

"Oh Elsa," the woman said. "To answer your questions. Where are you? You're in a cell." She laughed again, calmly stating the obvious. "As for why you're here? That's why I'm here right now. To help you find out why you're trapped in that cell right now, alone, powerless." The woman stood up and moved to the side, avoiding the small wooden table that was the only discernible piece of furniture outside the cell.

"And as for who I am?" The woman's voice trailed off as she stood, lamp still in hand. Slowly, more and more of her figure became visible as she stepped closer to the bars of Elsa's cage. It was the body of a thin, slender woman, just a bit taller than Elsa herself. She was dressed in a dress that seemed familiar and yet not to the powerless snow queen. It was reminiscent of her risqué ice dress, but tight and long with a low cut bodice and a frill around her neck.

As she neared the bars, her head and face finally became clear. The woman looked for lack of a better comparison...like her. Elsa was confused. The other woman had very similar features, except for the fact that her hair, short and spiked upwards into a point behind her cowl, was as black as the darkness itself.

"You should know who I am," the woman said with a sly smile.

"Who-" Elsa was at a loss for words. It was like looking at a mirror, if she were a few years older and with completely different hair. The other woman looked like what it would have been if she and Anna had an older sister. If. Elsa was the eldest, hence her succession to the throne when their parents' ship sank somewhere in the North Sea. A close relative perhaps? Elsa couldn't remember any, not anyone on their mother's side of the family, who Elsa was the spitting image of. A previously unmentioned aunt? No, too young. Probably a cousin.

"Who ARE you?" The befuddled queen asked her captor, her voice rising far above a level she typically used.

A flash of concern appeared on the woman's face, just for a split second, before it reverted back to a smug smile. "Just someone who wants nothing more than to help you get out of the mess you're in." The woman's smug smile dissipated from her lips as a more serious, somber look took over her sharp features. "A damn, big mess, Elsa..." Her voice trailed off as she shook her head, her ducktailed hair waving from side-to-side as she did.

"Mess?" Elsa felt her brows knot as the woman's words took a few minutes to sink in. She was in some sort of prison, that much was certain. But why? And how? For a moment, Elsa pondered the possibility of her being abducted or captured by...someone? Perhaps a small group who didn't exactly have the best interests of Arendelle in mind? No, she thought. There was nary a bruise on her body, as far as she could feel. No signs that she had been forcibly taken. Drugged perhaps? She did wake up with a throbbing headache, albeit one that had already subsided into a dull pressure on her temples.

"Look, whoever you are, you know who I am. I don't know what you want, but if it's money, you kidnapped the wrong queen. Arendelle is a small country-" She was stopped by the woman raising her hand.

"Stop, Elsa. Just stop." The way she shook her head made her short hair sway again. "You have not been kidnapped." Her voice was not reassuring at all to the frantic snow queen. Former snow queen, Elsa realized as she once again checked inwardly for the magic that wasn't there. Empty.

The strange woman walked even closer to the bars and set the lamp she was holding down on one of the flat surfaces of the cell door crossbars. And then she did something completely unexpected. Elsa froze in place as the other woman reached in through the bars and grasped her hands. They were cold, much colder than what the snow queen was used to. And noticeably cold - which was a surprise to the queen as she was normally used to touching things made of ice.

And yet, there was a certain sense of warmth emanating from the woman's palms as she gently eased Elsa's hands through the bars as she pulled them close together. "Elsa, listen to me. Anna's not here. Kristoff's not here. Nobody's here. I'm all you have right now and right now, it's my job to get you out of here before...before they...before you…" Her strong voice trailed off as her gaze drifted upwards to a tiny opening in the ceiling that Elsa hadn't noticed before.

"What? What's going to happen to me?" Elsa tried to pull her hands back but the other woman's grip was surprisingly firm. She felt a certain sense of panic inside of her. The last time she felt this swirling mass of uneasiness in her gut, she froze the entire kingdom and fled in terror. 'No'...a horrifying thought entered her mind.

The snow queen squeezed the hands that were holding hers', eliciting a look of astonishment from the woman. As their eyes met, Elsa couldn't help but have the eerie feeling of staring into a reflection of herself, not in a mirror, but on the waters of a dark, deep lake. "What did I do?" She asked in a whisper, silently dreading the answer.

The woman smiled, a calm, sympathetic smile this time, without a trace of smugness or malice in her eyes. "Now we're getting somewhere. That's what we're here to find out." She released the queen's hands and reached upwards, through the bars and touched Elsa's cheek softly.

"Call me Alia."

"Alia..." The queen repeated. Elsa couldn't shrug off the feeling that she had heard the name before, despite the fact that this was the first time she had met this woman. The first time that she could remember, she corrected herself. Elsa could barely remember what transpired before she woke up a few minutes before. In fact, pretty much everything she tried to recall was an indistinguishable blur.

"What happened?"

Alia looked deeper into her eyes. "You tell me, Elsa. What happened? Only you can answer that question."

Elsa pulled her hands free and stumbled backwards. "I don't know!" She shouted as she hit a stone wall with her hand.

"Elsa, calm down." Alia reached towards her with arms past the bars. "Come, let me help you."

"No! I don't trust you!" Shouted Elsa back. She had no idea who Alia was, or if indeed that was in fact her real name. This might be some ploy by her captors. To get in on her good side.

Alia sighed as she went back behind the wooden table and pulled out a wooden stool from behind it. She set it down right outside the bars and sat down. "Elsa."

For some reason, the queen felt drawn towards her. Elsa, shoulders slumped, slowly took the few steps towards the metal bars. A thought came to mind, one that made some sick sense and yet none at all. "Are…are you my advocate?" Elsa asked. "Am I on trial?"

Alia's face lit up in response to the queen's words, as if she had struck a nerve. "You could say that," she responded.

Her answer left Elsa more confused than satisfied. Only members of the royal family in line for the throne could place the ruling monarch of Arendelle under arrest, and that was the only possibility she could think of where she would have been on trial for anything. There was only one other person in line for the throne.

"Anna? Is this because of her?" Elsa asked the other woman.

"Something like that," Alia replied. She wasn't helping at all. With every answer came more questions, more confusion, more maybes. Elsa felt her forehead knock against the cold metal bars.

"Did I go crazy again? With my magic?" the snow queen asked the inevitable question. If something was the matter with her, it would most probably have been the magic. It was always the magic. The magic that wasn't there anymore.

Alia held her hand into the cell, mimicking Elsa's gesture for casting a spell. Of course, nothing came out. There was only one snow queen of Arendelle. Unless there was finally none. "The magic. You tell me Elsa. You know exactly what happened. Think." Alia's voice sounded powerful at that particular moment.

"I…I don't remember," Elsa tried to think of the events that happened in the past few days. But pretty much like the magic, her memory was empty. It wasn't a jumble of mixed images and events like that time she nursed off a massive hangover. This was just…blank. As if she had lost time and there was no trace at all of anything that she did the past few days.

"Look, Elsa." Alia looked at her. "I can be your guide. I can help you remember, but you have to help me help you." The woman grasped Elsa's palms once more. "Will you let me help you?"

Elsa nodded quietly. There was nothing left to lose, if Anna had betrayed her like this. If indeed it was under Anna's orders that she was here, powerless, Elsa had to find out why. She had to.

"Alright. Close your eyes and listen to my voice." It was a rather soothing voice. The slight baritone echo actually touched a part of Elsa's mind in some way, reverberating in her ears, slightly smoothing what little memories she could muster. "Think of the magic." Elsa summoned up images of herself creating snowdrifts for her sister while they played as children. Elsa remembered that fateful mis-aimed blast that hit Anna squarely in the forehead and set the events of the rest of their lives in motion. She remembered thirteen years of isolation, and her magic growing in strength while her control over it grew weaker. The queen remembered that day, two years ago when she first became queen and then immediately froze the entire kingdom in eternal winter. Images of herself running through snow, evading a pack of wolves, reaching the North Mountain and creating her ice palace in the span of a few hours. Oh how she wished she were there right now among its icy spires instead of here.

"Elsa, focus!" Alia's voice brought her back to her flood of memories. She remembered arguing with Anna, although she didn't quite see how she had magicked her sister a second time. She remembered seeing Kristoff slide in on the ice and embrace her sister. And then there was Marshmallow, the giant snow monster she had accidentally made to carry her sister back down to Arendelle. For some reason, she had very little memory of the assault on the castle, when treacherous Prince Hans of the Southern Isles sought to bring her back to Arendelle. That particular memory was all yellow flashes of images, as if she were seeing another person entirely. Elsa remembered waking up in the dungeon, freezing the chains off and the wall and then running onto the frozen fjord. And then there was Anna.

The image of her sister, all crystallized and magically frozen was burned into her eyes, into her mind, into her heart. The one most important person in the world to her and she had magicked her away. Thankfully, that didn't last and the next few images that flashed through the queen's mind were happy ones of her using her magic to amaze the townsfolk. She remembered making an ice sculpture of Anna for their first yuletide celebration, although Kristoff had to help fix the icy princesses' features with his chisel. He was surprisingly artistic, for a former manual laborer, and very hefty. Her sister was very lucky.

"Elsa, you're losing it again." Alia's voice pulled her back again, drawing her mind across the line between memories and daydreams. Elsa kept her eyes closed and thought harder, remembering to focus on the magic. The magic. The magic. She remembered occasionally using her magic for mundane tasks, like cooling a pitcher of water for Anna and Kristoff. She remembered trying to give Olaf the Snowman a friend of his own. Olaf had been one of her accidental creations during the great freeze, and had stayed with them long after the thaw. She had sought to give him a companion snowman to spend some time with but nothing worked. And then Elsa recalled an event just a few weeks ago – one where she remembered using her magic to create an ice sculpture in the middle of the fjord to commemorate an event. What was it? It was pretty important to Anna, and Kristoff for that matter. It was about Anna.

An image flashed through Elsa's mind.

Her eyes shot open.

The snow queen looked at Alia. She felt her throat run dry.

"Oh my god," Elsa whispered. She lifted her gaze towards Alia, a horrified look on the queen's face.

"What? What did you remember?"

Elsa felt the strength ebb away from her legs as she crumpled to her knees, while still maintaining eye contact with the woman sitting outside her cell.

Elsa whispered. "…someone's dead. Someone's dead. And it's all my fault."