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.