By Elsa, Queen Emerita of Arendelle
I have two memories of the Exalted, this secret society of the world’s most influential rulers. The first was during Christmas in 1840, while I was queen. His Imperial Highness of the Celestial Empire enjoys receiving letters from the monarchs of Arendelle. That year’s Winter Solstice, he asked me to write him a letter without my Chinese translator, so that he could teach himself Arendellian. Instead, I wrote him a letter all in Chinese characters. He couldn’t stop showing my writing off to his imperial harem (much to his concubines’ annoyance and my embarrassment). It’s a story our diplomats fondly recall from time to time.
The second memory is exactly one year later, after my allied armada of Vakretta, Zaria, and Chatho had repulsed the Russian fleet in the North Sea. I met the tsar in Saint Petersburg for negotiations, and he was rotten, ill-tempered, and bitter about everything the entire time. Despite being the aggressor that tried to divide and rule us smaller kingdoms, the tsar acted as if I had wronged him. I’ll never forget the lady by his side, several years younger than me, who glared at me with pure hatred for daring to resist her father.
Princess Katina Romanov.
I believe that I, and Arendelle’s allies, did the right thing in 1841. None of us were inclined to become client states of the tsar. But it’s clear that my leadership of the alliance that resisted Russia became the fuel for Katina’s fire. She struck first by tasking one of her agents to capture Princess Danielle. Just to remind Elsa and I that she plans to carry on with her Baltic ambitions. What kind of capricious cruelty is that?
Danny is safe now, but no child should have to go through such an ordeal.
I’ve told Anna everything I knew about the Exalted’s members. We agreed that we’d resist appealing to their leader, His Imperial Highness, for help. Yes, what Katina did was despicable. I’m still shaking with anger at how she could employ an agent to abduct our, my Danny. Yet we must think coolly. If we’re too quick to draw in Lord Yixin, what began as a personal dispute could very quickly spiral into a regional, possibly even continental conflict. Then there’s Will Harrison, the young master of that fabled First Family of the Virginian state across the Atlantic Ocean. Given the general atmosphere of the Exalted’s membership, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone was plotting against each other.
My advice to Anna would be to be extremely careful of him. He is a truly dangerous man.
Thanks to the vast host of nations scrambling to trade with the Qing, the hand of Lord Yixin is in the economies of almost every country Anna deals with. Harrison’s country began business with the Celestial Empire shortly after America’s revolutionary war against Great Britain. Harrison has considerable investments in Canton, thanks to his huge fleet of clipper ships that deal in opium and tea. Last time Anna checked, Kristoff has four large ships – pretty impressive for an Arendellian company. Harrison has nineteen! Arendellian intelligence has known for years that his port in Boston and plantations in Virginia fund his clout in the political organs of the United States.
However, we in Arendelle have been trading with the Qing for more than a century. Decades ago, the emperor granted our kingdom the privilege of “Most Favoured Nation.” It’s only one milestone in a long history of friendship between our ruling houses. I have no doubt Harrison has set his sights on ingratiating himself to Lord Yixin and wrenching away Arendelle’s trade privileges for himself. I dare not think of how deep he’s commandeered his own government for selfish ends.
Katina is already more formidable than any geopolitical adversary Anna has known. Were Harrison to also get involved, or even join forces with her…
Well, our queen, my dear sister, would be in for a titanic geopolitical tussle. One that would need not just me, but Countess Viola, Commander Hilde, and a host of many of our friends to protect Arendelle.