Featured image art by OZJim (@OzJim11)
By HM Queen Anna
Dear citizen – or you might be a visitor from elsewhere, passing through Arendelle – how are you?
I’ve been in a pensive mood lately. You can’t see me as I write this, but I look and feel exhausted, with big dark rings under my eyes.
It’s been weird since I confiscated and decommissioned Muspelheim. I expected the Countess to rage and try to exact revenge somehow, but not only has she backed off, but our correspondence has grown more frequent, our words more tender and understanding. The mood isn’t one of raring-to-go rivals, but somewhat reluctant combatants.
The Snow Herald continues to wrangle with this paper (which has my column), over the kingdom’s direction. Vi’s supporters in parliament and commerce are still too strong for my liking. I’m furious with Vi for hurting Maren, and Maren’s eager to have a rematch with her. But apart from the tragic loss of several of Mattias’ men and Vi’s Runic Knights, things are pretty much the same here after the Battle of the Fjord.
I think when Vi saw that I’m not someone who’ll just accept a gift and bend the knee, she realized that she couldn’t deal with me like how her predecessors handled Father or Grandfather. Just like Arendelle itself, Vi and I are a work in progress. It’s messy, complicated, and can’t be concluded in just a few months.
We’re stuck with each other for a while.
I’ve been reading up on Mattias’ books about strategy, including his father’s notes about Clausewitz. In one of the books is an ancient philosopher who said that to know your enemy is to know yourself in a way more intimate and raw than even your best friend. I don’t know about that (Elsa will always be my soulmate), but I admittedly haven’t felt this drawn to a mortal enemy since… well, since never. Hans is a menace and a coward, but he’s small fry, a thug in prince’s clothes. Lord Palmerston of Great Britain isn’t a true foe; as the Brits say, they have no friends or enemies, only interests. Vampire Vi is unique. Her damaged heart, her acute intelligence and cunning, and her complex convictions reflect my own life, even if in a refracted fashion.
That philosopher also had another saying that’s kept me up the past few nights: “When pulling weeds, make sure you get rid of the roots.” The roots of the Mundilfari clan go deep in Arendelle, deeper than my royal family. Still, Elsa and my roots are strong too – she’s the Fifth Spirit, for crying out loud; the ancient enemy of Vi’s clan. It’s going to be hard for Vi to pull up my roots, and mine hers.
And I’m coming to the uncomfortable conclusion that it mightn’t even be a good idea to totally uproot each other.
Vi lost her battle with me on board Muspelheim not because I’m a better fencer than her. She lost because she couldn’t stand the idea of killing me once I dropped my sword and asked her to take my life. Accepting her gift of Muspelheim would mean that I surrendered to everything I stand against – imperialism, conquering Northuldra, a violent, terrible reign. When Elsa came to rescue me, she had every reason to strike down Vi then and there. But she knew that killing her was the last thing from my mind. So all she did was send her flying into the fjord, a safe distance from me.
I owe an apology to Elsa. The easy route, for both Vi and me, is right before us: to plunge a sword in each other. Yet neither of us want that. We balance each other, somehow. If either of us destroys the other completely, the one left standing would probably leave little Arendelle and tyrannize the world beyond.
Maybe I’m just making excuses. In my heart of hearts, I’m looking forward to my next visit to Vi’s castle. We’ve promised each other not to discuss politics. In its place will be walks in her gardens and enjoying the view of Jotunheimen Mountains from her ramparts. She’s promised to play her grand piano for me. We’ll have a soak in the thermal, mineral-rich springs in her private forest – it’s been a long time since I enjoyed dipping in a hot spa. And dinner under her creepy chandelier, of course.
She never answered that question I posed her in the heat of our battle: what could we be, if we hadn’t met as foes?
See you soon at Keep Mundilfari, Vampire Vi.