Featured art by Big椿 , from: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/78244721
By Maren, Head Liaison of Northuldra-Arendelle Relations
Greetings from the forests of Northuldra, where the night sky awes you with its vastness and blankets of constellations. Where the streams and glades are so clear you could probably use our water as a mirror. Where magic and nature aren’t two but one: just ask our resident Snow Queen.
I’ve been having a blissful holiday with ten kindergarteners, whose Arendellian parents kindly entrusted to my care. Five boys, five girls – all of them beautiful and darling. We’ve been singing Northuldran folk songs by the campfire, snuggling in our yurts under the star-studded sky, and goin’ fishing, not without reminding the boys and girls to say a Northuldran prayer of apology and thanks to the spirit of the fish.
Can you imagine that? A classroom in Arendellian preschools full of kids from this forest? And just last year, it was unthinkable that kids like those by my side would ever be up here, picnicking with me or watching the reindeer and birds. They even played with the spirits (The Wind and Fire Spirits are particularly popular – they seem to love entertaining these little souls too).
You can’t imagine how the kids squealed and laughed when Elsa rode on the Water Spirit to greet them. I have to admit, my heart was aflutter to see Elsa play with them. It was a magical day.
It’s kind of a prelude to what I hope to do on a larger scale with Anna’s support – cultural exchanges between kids from our tribes and the children of Arendelle. We need Northuldra youth to learn to embrace Arendellian culture and the modern world. We need Arendellian kids to be able to call the trees and leaves by their names, to love fresh waters and clear skies more than riches and fame…
This is the point. For human beings and spirits to meet each other, to become friends and to play and live together. That’s Anna’s endgame with this whole partnership between Arendelle and Northuldra: for unity between spirit and human. Speaking of reindeer – I prefer real reindeer to the phoniness of the Reindeer Room. If you haven’t heard of it, you haven’t missed much. It’s a dining room inside the Nokk Club, which I also hate. And that’s one thing I can’t stomach about my new life and job here: how the Arendellian establishment aspires to be like their counterparts in Continental Europe, or the British Isles – stuffy, preening, and luxuriating in overpriced food and drink. They’re so ambitious and selfish, but in a crazy way, also so fake – how does that happen?! I’m a Northuldran. I prefer the feel of coarse but fresh bark against my hand, curling my toes in dew-kissed grass, and the feel of my reindeer’s fur along my own skin. I have no patience for artifice.
Anna tells me that Arendelle is entering an age of industry, fast communication, and modernity. I dread to think what ways of life have already been lost – and, with a chill, what we in Northuldra might need to consider sacrificing to survive in this predatory new world.
I even had difficulty with Anna’s political mentor, the editor of The Arendelle Guardian. I know that she’s now my editor too. But the first time I met her was in the Nokk Club, and I made no secret about my distaste for her haunt, and it took her a while to convince me that we were on the same team for the queen.
“So, you’re the one Anna calls Chief,” I had said on a misty day in Arendelle, looking down at my host. I was pretty annoyed at how this Club had a “dress code.” I really preferred my Northuldran garb, although I didn’t mind dressing up for Anna. “I hope you’re not as fake as this place seems.”
“Welcome, Lady Maren! It’s quite something that a hitherto unknown Northuldran lass, with no political experience or social capital in Arendelle, be catapulted into the position that you’re in right now,” replied the editor, a woman in her late thirties to early forties. “I wanted to celebrate Jarl Volker’s resignation with you, as well as the successful introduction of the re-integration bill.”
“Why?” I asked, sitting down into the stiff chair.
“Because you’re instrumental to Anna’s success. You helped marshal pro-Northuldra support, and our opponents recognize that you speak with the weight of an entire region and people. You’re not the average politician or diplomat.” Chief gestured at my empty plate. “Oysters? Salmon? The Club has some of the best seafood in all Arendelle.”
I wrinkled my nose. “I’ve had the salmon in Arendelle. It’s not quite as fresh as what we have up north.”
“Fair enough. Just soda,” said the editor, gesturing at the waiter. She steepled her fingers as she peered at me, a glass bottle pouring the beverage into my glass quietly. I looked back slightly defiantly.
“All the pieces are in their right places, Lady Maren. Woe betide the foes of Northuldra while the Snow Queen protects it. Anna stands poised to surpass her predecessors, King Agnarr and King Runeard – the mark of a truly good successor. And you’re the perfect choice to help the queen. Elsa herself decreed it. But you’re not like Her Majesty – you have no exposure to our kingdom’s professional classes. They’re the new establishment, the new men and women of relevance. Leverage. Power.”
“I’m sure Anna admires you and your associates very much,” I said tersely. “But Anna trusts me to shape my own opinion about the kingdom’s power-brokers, including you.”
“I’ve advised the sister-queens for years now, and my paper’s been shaping public opinion since their daddy’s reign,” she replied. “My qualifications are considerable.”
I shrugged. “Chalk it up to my primitive upbringing in the middle of nowhere, in a tribe where we believe in sharing and cooperation, but I’m not impressed or intimidated by prestige, let alone prestige that doesn’t mean anything to my people. As I said, I’ll make my own judgement.”
The Chief began to laugh, clapping her hands. “And this – this is why Elsa chose you. Don’t you see?”
I smiled for the first time, and relaxed slightly. Our conversation would continue for well over an hour, and I finally felt relaxed enough to laugh with her. I even started writing for her paper. Now I’m taking Arendellian kids to Northuldra and showing them all the secret groves and springs where I played as a child myself.
I’d say I’m making pretty good progress.
7 thoughts on “Northuldra Nights with Maren: I Hate the Reindeer Room”
Anna and Elsa have chosen well. I foresee big things from you Maren. I understand your concerns about the new ways of life in Arendelle and the rest of the world and how it may affect the Northuldran way of life. I have every confidence that you and the sisters will protect both the Northuldra and nature itself.
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Thank you very much. It’s a delicate balance, and Anna and I agree that both our lands must learn from each other. I have total faith in Anna and Elsa too.
I see that you and the Arendellian kids had a great time in Northuldra as they learned about your culture and your folks got a little bit of something from theirs. The re-integration will be a huge success with you, Queen Anna and Snow Queen Elsa at the helm.
The Nokk Club, that’s where the business and political big wigs hang out. I can understand your distaste as you have lived amongst the animals live in nature. I’m a bit of a country boy myself. As I’m getting a frieght busness started here, it’s a good place to meet future customers as the imports roll in and out. I hope to meet you as well and visit Northuldra, and try to establish a regular route. Besides, I miss seeing Elsa!
I know that it’ll be rough sledding during this re-integration. I hope to see is that the best of the new from Arendelle can merge without trashing the best of the old from Northuldra. The best of both worlds coming together for these changing times. Proof? Look at Elsa and Anna. The best of both.
Thank you for your heartening words. Anna and I have shared hearts and minds on many a long night, and we agree that Northuldra needs roads, bridges, and infrastructure to be able to function effectively as an equal “state-partner” to Arendelle. Of course, I would be happy to facilitate your freight lines, and you’re always welcome to visit Northuldra (I’m working on a sustainable tourism program with her). I know that Elsa and Yelena would love to see you too.
This infrastructure program is all part of the need to work the forces in Parliament, which I’ll be there to help Anna with. It’ll be hard, but I have faith that we can do it.
Oh, I couldn’t stand the Nokk Club. Apparently I’m seen as Anna’s new right hand, so I’m willing to play along at the palace. But honestly, I’d rather have work picnics with Anna by the Arendellian hillside. That sounds much nicer to me.
Absolutely – the best of both. That is what Anna and I are hoping for. She and Elsa embody that to me too.
My best wishes,
Thanks. I know about the bridge project going on at the old dam site. That will be more beneficial to both and is a great start into getting the needed infrastructure.
I’ve been there at the Club a couple of times. A good beer, soda or coffee and a good cigar after some salmon or steak is pretty cool, although wild from the river sounds great! Sometimes, like The Chief, a stogie in the lounge relaxing is fine. But the outdoors overlooking the forest or on a mountain ridge when you can take your time with a cigar or good pipeful and just relax and take in the sunshine, gentle breeze, smells, and watch the wildlife, and contemplate how everything was created by a Master’s plan. No, the Reindeer Room nor the Lounge can beat it.
Thank you for backing my idea. It will benefit everyone with the new trade agreements in place. I love Elsa nd Anna like family and I look forward to Northuldra.
Dear Mike, I think we’d both prefer the outdoors. Nothing in the Club can really match nature’s grandeur. I hope one day your wares arrive in Northuldra once we’ve built a viable road between the two regions, and our tribe and kids can learn more about the wider world from you.
I think I’ve adjusted to my new life in Arendelle, and it’s taken some getting used to, but like you I love Elsa and Anna very much. I care about them and I’ve decided to be their voice in Northuldra as much as I’m Northuldra’s voice in parliament. It’s a bit strange, isn’t it?
There’s a saying for that. It’s “Wearing more than one hat!” You’re Northuldra’s voice in Parliament and Queens Anna and Elsa’s voice to your people. Strange, but normal. It’s a big job and the sisters have a ton of confidence in you.
Those wares will be what come from the local stores or warehouses to the customers. My Frieght wagon will be for hire to them to haul a customer’s freight to it’s destination. It can go from where the sea and fjord ends at the docks and where the railroad tracks aren’t.