By Elsa, Queen Emerita of Arendelle
There’s a joke told among the gentlemen (all of them are men) of the shi da fu, the elite scholar-officials that govern the Qing Empire. I find it very tasteless, but it’ll serve the point I’m trying to make: “Good tea for one’s wife, better tea for one’s mistress, and the best tea for an old friend.”
In the Qing, there’s no one more precious than an “old friend.” That’s what I want to discuss today in my column: to appeal to our allies as an old friend. I don’t make this appeal lightly, but do so in the face of an enemy that threatens to make us helpless hostages to his ultimate goal of controlling Arendelle’s economy and threatening our sovereignty.
All this just to prove a point to my Anna: that she should never defy the Exalted.
When I abdicated and passed the monarchic duties to my precious sister, I promised to never be drawn into politics. That was for Anna’s sake. She’s her own woman, the strongest I know. But I never expected that two members of the Exalted would set their sights on Arendelle, the scale of their ambitions almost too overwhelming to comprehend. One of these members, Will Harrison, has instigated a corporate war between Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman House and Lars Krogh’s Skau-Krogh. By swinging behind Skau-Krogh with his considerable financial resources, Harrison is betting not only that Bjorgman is vulnerable, but also that he can drag the Crown into this business conflict.
His final objective? In the wake of Bjorgman’s ruin and Skau-Krogh’s subordination to Harrison’s interests, the Virginian heir will be able to insert himself into Arendellian economic policy.
No one, not even Countess Vi, knows how Harrison obtained the balance sheets of Kristoff’s company. As Uncle Michael suggested, it probably happened when Anna and I were preoccupied with Princess Danielle’s abduction by Katina’s agents. Katina and Harrison are coordinating with each other even as both Exalted members have different goals: one wants to seize Arendelle’s trade rights with the Qing, the other wants Russian control over the North and Baltic Seas.
There are two events that make me feel a sense of responsibility to Anna and Kristoff. The day I was born, on the Winter Solstice, Qing emissaries arrived with an imperial decree from Lord Yixin. His congratulatory gift to our family was a long-coveted title that the Qing granted to only one kingdom every generation: Most Favoured Nation, a status that gave Arendelle unrestricted access to the whole market of the Celestial Empire.
The second event was when after the Great Thaw, I made Kristoff our family’s Ice Master. Skau-Krogh was already a dominant trading company, but quickly lost ground to Bjorgman House, which was only founded that year. Lars took over from his father, but swore to regain Skau-Krogh’s pre-eminence.
At the most recent inner court meeting, my sister decided to ask her government to execute, with immediate effect, the grand alliance that had been in diplomatic incubation since the beginning of her reign. The current signatories alongside our kingdom are Chatho, Zaria, Vakretta, Weselton, and Corona. We had hoped that more countries would sign on, but the shadow of Harrison’s wealth and might is exactly the kind of threat that Anna’s been preparing for. Now is the time to respond. As I’m writing this, the Entente of Small Kingdoms is being formally inaugurated by Countess Vi and Anna. Our ambassadors will take copies of this finalized treaty to the other five countries.
Anna has already opened a channel of dialogue with Queen Colisa of Chatho, one of her strongest international allies. Colisa has known Anna and I since our childhood days, and still visits Arendelle. To our delight, the Royal Bank of Chatho has promised to provide a line of credit to Bjorgman so that Kristoff has a fighting chance against Skau-Krogh.
There is one more matter as nations pick their sides, pawns in a “great game” instigated by Harrison and Katina.
Who deserves to be the Princely House?
Anna swore to face the Exalted’s hostile members without asking for the Qing’s intervention. But today, considering what she’s up against, I must break ranks with my sister. Forgive me, Anna.
Lord Yixin, when I was queen I never asked you for a favour, for I knew that your gift on the day of my birth was an unprecedented gesture of favour and goodwill. I hope my short reign reflected my gratitude. I also know that by publishing this in my newspaper column, I’m making a public plea. I’m doing this because you’ve always praised my sincerity. Well, here I am. Here for my sister.
I ask for your friendship. I ask for your support.
Arendelle is under no illusions that losing its trade rights to Harrison could in fact be more lucrative for China. In the short run, maybe he’s the better bet.
However, this means that Skau-Krogh would replace Bjorgman as Arendelle’s primary commercial interface with the Qing.
Can you risk Kristoff’s place being taken by a new Princely House that doesn’t share Anna’s and my long friendship with the Celestial Empire?
Don’t you rely on old friends as well?
6 thoughts on “Elsa’s Column: Old Friends – United!”
“I love this Elsa. We gotta band together in the face of Harrison and Katina’s fuckery. I would suggest seeing about Corona and Dun Broch as well, see if we can get them on board. Would be a smart idea if you ask me. Strength in numbers is key.
I know Anna doesn’t want to get Yixin involved. I mean, he is a part of the Exalted, but unlike Harrison and Katina, and even the previous Exalted group, Yixin actually gives a damn about Arendelle, about you and Anna, and what we are trying to do, alongside Northuldra and such. Ultimately, its Yixin’s choice to say “fuck you” to Harrison and Katina and leave them out to dry, or not, depending on if he even has to make that choice. Personally, I hope he does leave them, but at the same time, the implications and issues that could come about are monumental in the hypothetical sense.
All in all, I know Anna will figure this out. With out help of course.”
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Thank you for your encouragement, Sir Alan. In my years of building friendships and alliances with other kingdoms, multilateral treaties like this one were always the most difficult. I’m so proud of Anna for pulling this off.
His Imperial Highness sees Arendelle as a reliable port and bulwark in Northern Europe, and when I was queen I helped to balance the diverse and competing interests so that no region would be destabilized. In that time I was vaguely aware that he led the secret society that Katina and Harrison belonged to. When I confronted him about it, he was honest: that the Exalted was comprised of not just the largest and most powerful kingdoms, but those kingdoms’ most influential people, and his role was to maintain the group’s hold on global power. An internal conflict within the Exalted could easily mean a large-scale regional conflict.
I know that Arendelle isn’t always the first priority of mightier rulers. I have faith, but Anna must work as if there isn’t.
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You’re very welcome Elsa, I am happy to be of encouragement. Its good to have these alliances and such, we need it. I am definitely proud of Anna too.
That’s good on you Elsa, very much so. You’re very right, any sort of conflict could turn the Exalted against each other. That would be insane. And deadly in a way.
Yeah, Anna has a lot of work to do. We need to bring everyone together.
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Elsa, There’s another old saying that goes “Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I know that you wanted to let Anna be her own Queen over Arendelle and she’s doing just great. It’s just sometimes life has to deal out more jokers than just 2 in a deck of cards. Anna just did a deal with Colisa from Chatho for a loan to Lristoff to stave off Lars for the time being. Vi got very upset at the party when that Tiffany Hunsecker bragged her bosses plans to Viola. However, all Tiffany did was tip her hand to everyone in this poker game. I think that Anna and Viola will have something to counter Lars and Harrison’s house of cards. Harrison may overplay his hand. If he does and has “Favored Nation” from Yixin, it will a collapse and Yixin may lose face to the Emperor.
I think Anna will forgive you for printing this plea to your old friend Yixin. I wrote him an open letter in my column introducing myself, asking him to reconcider Anna’s move making Viola PM and personally vouching for Viola. With your history with him and the Qing, common sense will prevail and Yixin realizing that with Will, Tiffany and Katina, you are dealing with poisonous snakes.
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Hi Uncle, Miss Hunsecker did seem to give away something quite important in her attempt to intimidate the Countess. While it’d be better if Harrison didn’t somehow have such sensitive information on Bjorgman, I wonder if Anna might be able to discern any weaknesses in this new collaboration between Lars and Harrison. The pressure is on Skau-Krogh to outmatch Bjorgman; only then can Harrison have the excuse he wants to force Arendelle to hand over our trade rights. But if Anna and Kristoff can deflect, counter, and outwit Lars..
I read the letter you wrote to His Imperial Highness, and I so agree that Anna was in an extremely tight spot, as she is in now today. I have faith that he’ll deal with Harrison and Katina as he sees fit within his society of the Exalted. Our task – everyone’s task – is to show what Anna’s Entente of Small Kingdoms can do, fight off Lars, and give Harrison a nasty surprise. He wants to disgrace Anna in His Imperial Highness’s eyes. Has he thought about what might happen to his plans if a group of smaller kingdoms bests him?
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He may or may not. I suggested that one possible weakness is that Harrison’s greed makes him go for the quick profit without any long term planning. All that cash infusion to Skau-Krough without any back-up plans for any unforeseen changes in the markets will leave Lars and Will vulnerable and brung that partnership crashing to earth fast.
I’ve always had confidence in you two and in Viola. You’re smart ladies, and that’s what we neex to be. Very smart and ready for what Will and Katina could do next, and even beat them to the punch.
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