Good evening to you, General Mattias. I write with growing concern about Princess Danielle’s recent abduction. You’ve met “Danny” many times before, I believe? She’s the little princess who has ice magic, like the Queen Emerita. For some time, Elsa had been taking care of Danny, sharing with Anna the task of adjusting her to wider society and guiding her through her trauma healing (she was abandoned by her birth parents and suffered many other misfortunes).
A few nights ago, armed men – broke into Arendelle Castle, overpowering the night guard and capturing Danny. We’re confident that the men haven’t gotten far. The Countess has dispatched Hilde Von Altheim to help Elsa and Anna to retrieve Danny. So please don’t worry, and look forward to Danny’s safe return to Arendelle. The concern I have is the possibly global fallout.
Anna might have her political rivals, but she’s been queen for too short a time to earn such enmity. Her Maj and Elsa have deduced that this abduction was intended to strike at the Snow Queen rather than Anna. Elsa believes that the only woman who hates her with such a passion is Princess Katina Romanov, heiress to the Russian Empire. Russia’s humiliation during Elsa’s reign – the fact that she stopped the tsar’s takeover of the Baltic sea routes with an alliance of smaller nations – is well-known to all. It burns in the memory of the Romanovs. Katina has openly expressed her wish to make Elsa’s life hell. We therefore have credible reason to believe that Danny’s abduction was ordered by an agent acting with direct permission from Katina.
Anna doesn’t want to risk giving Russia the excuse for open conflict with Arendelle, which Princess Katina would crush us in. But many of us in the Arendellian military worry that artificially containing this conflict could embolden Katina to tighten the screws on Elsa and Anna. If she can’t draw us into a ruinous war with her, she’ll continue goading and tormenting the sister-queens, subjecting them to a long winter of degradation while Anna struggles to build her grand alliance.
The queen also made a point of not telling China’s prince regent, the most powerful ruler she has a close friendship with, about Katina’s despicable hostage-taking of a child. Anna’s calculation is that asking for the assistance of the Great Qing could escalate into an all-out dispute between Russia and China. Indeed, the queen wishes to show the Qing court that she can resolve this crisis without its intervention, keeping things local and regional rather than allowing them to spill into a greater war involving multiple powers.
Arendelle’s spy network, the Ravens, actually have plenty of intelligence about Yixin and the way he does things. His Manchu imperial house, the Aisin Gioro, came north of China’s Great Wall, overrunning the previous dynasty, the Ming, and establishing the Qing in 1644 (we in Europe had just emerged from the horrific wreckage of the Thirty Years’ War). In this sense, the Qing emperors weren’t too different from their predecessor invaders, the Huns, who many centuries ago had tried to take over China in a similar fashion. Unlike Shan Yu, who was beaten by a legendary lady who disguised herself as a male soldier, Lord Yixin’s forebears not only conquered China, but assimilated into the Confucian culture of their new empire. How relations developed between Arendelle and the Qing, as they say, is history.
Queen Anna, and all of us who are responsible for the kingdom’s safety, feel increasingly under pressure from humongous powers. We have credible intelligence that the mysterious club of the Exalted, a group of the world’s most influential political forces, includes among its membership Katina, with Yixin as leader. Make no mistake: the Russian leader is using her lofty position to deprive Anna of options. And our queen, as loyal, kind, and fiercely honourable as she is, is determined to tango with Katina and her minions alone. “She’s not worth Lord Yixin’s time,” she said to us. “I’ll be enough trouble for her.”
Fair enough. But I just worry – what if there are other members in the Exalted that have malevolent intentions towards her – or, spirits forbid, try to discredit or disgrace her in the prince regent’s eyes?