By Elsa, Queen Emerita of Arendelle
After much discussion with Anna, I’ve decided to make a deeply personal choice that has been hanging in the air between Her Majesty and I since my last visit to Arendelle. I wouldn’t give up my new life in Northuldra as the Enchanted Forest’s guardian for any worldly gain or power. Yet my conscience has told me that I must involve myself more closely in my sister’s affairs of statecraft. Not just because she’s asked for it, and certainly not because I presume that I can do a better job. No, Anna is the best queen Arendelle has ever had. She’s better than her predecessor as far as I’m concerned (she’ll vehemently deny it, so we’ll have to agree to disagree on that).
Anna has no plans for me to assume any governmental role, and I don’t wish to get in the way of her daily administration. The title that she kind of made up and bequeathed me, Queen Emerita, should give me enough “cred,” so she calls it, as an elder stateswoman to join her at official functions, domestically and outside of the kingdom.
Anna is so cute, even as my queen.
Two factors compelled me to accept Anna’s invitation to keep a closer eye on our kingdom. First, Anna has more or less found her feet as the executive of our government, with our parliament, the Great Assembly, united behind her. Where bills are debated or delayed, they seem to be discussed or disputed in good faith – not like in the early days of Anna’s reign, when there was an active bloc of ministers and jarls that supported our grandfather’s bigoted ideas against Northuldra. Most lawmakers within that bloc were in thrall to Countess Vi and the Mundilfari family. In the early days of Anna’s reign, Vi shared a rivalry with my sister. She was set on attacking Northuldra and challenging me – with the ultimate aim being to take my power for Mephistopheles so that her family might finally be free from their generational enslavement to that demon.
Now Vi is Anna’s prime minister, and despite their occasional clashing opinions (we can’t agree on everything anyway!), the noblewoman’s support has ended much of the Great Assembly’s opposition to my involvement in Arendelle’s affairs. If there was ever an ideal time to rejoin the conversation, now is as good as any.
My second reason is simple: great powers steered by formidable personalities have turned their attention to Arendelle, and the stakes will determine our people’s future (both Northuldra’s and Arendelle’s) for the next several decades, perhaps for the next century.
I’m so relieved that Anna hasn’t been shy in asking for help. As a member of the Exalted, Mr. Harrison was just a taste of things to come. My own fear is the looming shadow of Imperial Russia. I’ll never forget what the tsar, Nicholas I, said to me when Colisa and I travelled to Saint Petersburg to negotiate terms.
After our victory at the Battle of Odinland and our defeat of the Baltic Fleet’s invasion against Scandinavia, my goal was to prevent further loss of life. Colisa herself was in low spirits, having lost several of her comrades in her royal guard, the Ten Tigresses. Imperial Russia’s crushing might was nothing like we’d seen or fought before, and I didn’t want to delay the peace process. Yet His Majesty’s priorities were quite different:
“Our great land has always been invaded from the west, Queen Elsa,” he’d said to Colisa and me. “Napoleon Bonaparte struck at us from our western flank. Your own ally, Charles XII, tried to attack us from the northwest, from Scandinavia itself. In the future, there will surely be other monsters from your direction. Russia needs Scandinavia as a buffer, along with the Baltic and North Seas. There will be no goodwill between us. My daughter will take up the fight.”
And true enough, his daughter, young Katina Romanov, sat beside him, her hateful gaze fixed on me. Her eyes still haunt me to this day, and it’s those eyes and the hate within them, that Anna must watch out for.
Katina is unlike any foe Anna has ever faced before. As a member of the Exalted, she’s as implacable as Commander Hilde, more well-resourced than Countess Vi, and still more malevolent than Grandfather could ever hope to be. She has the entire apparatus of Imperial Russia at her disposal. Anna’s Entente of Small Kingdoms couldn’t have come at a better time.
It would be my honour to assist our queen through the coming storms.