Featured image art by Alanna (@alhuart)
By Goethe, Home Affairs Correspondent for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE; NORTHULDRA – In an extraordinary move, Queen Anna has elevated Honeymaren to Home Minister, the first Arendellian ministerial post held by a Northuldra. “If Arendelle is to re-integrate with Northuldra, then its people must have a real say in Arendelle’s political and civic life. We’re one people,” declared Anna in a press statement.
The monarch cited Maren’s arrest of the Northuldra huntress Amira and her help with keeping Arendelle safe for her promotion. She told the Big Three papers that as Home Minister, Maren will exercise greater responsibility over Arendelle’s domestic security and immigration. “Maren’s diplomatic role as Head Liaison of Northuldra-Arendelle Relations is outdated,” she said. “In fact, there will come a day when Northuldra and Arendelle are one sovereign state and a Northuldra embassy is no longer needed.”
When asked for comment, Lady Maren simply said: “I believe in Anna and what she wants for Northuldra and Arendelle. I don’t know if I deserve this huge honour, but I definitely plan not to disappoint her.”
Anna has also disclosed that she hopes to grant clemency to Amira with a bespoke deal that would serve as Amira’s penance while also showing her that Arendelle takes Northuldra’s voices seriously. When asked by reporters why she paid so much attention to Amira, our queen insisted that while Amira’s attacks on Arendelle had to be stopped, her grievances were borne of a profound and justified mistrust of the kingdom’s past and current sins against Northuldra’s people.
Arendelle watchers aren’t sure exactly what Anna’s proposition to Amira will be, but the government claims that any arrangement between them will be highly sensitive and classified.
Maren walked down the winding stone stairwell and made her way to the dungeon cell, the dark durance in which Elsa had once been incarcerated by Prince Hans. She nodded to the sentry, who saluted and inserted a key in the wooden door’s lock. “Take as long as you need, Ma’am,” said the guardsman.
“Thanks.” As Maren walked in, the guard closed the door behind her, and Maren’s eyes fell on the young woman sitting at the end of the small room, just under the prison cell window, where the sunlight streamed weakly into the room from behind the bars. Amira raised her emerald eyes at Maren’s voice. “Hey, Amira. Have you been eating?” asked the new Home Minister.
“I don’t like the meals the pantry sends down here. I prefer foraging for berries and fresh fish back home,” said Amira, smirking darkly as she lifted her face from her curled knees. “I had a feeling you’d come see me sooner or later.”
Maren approached Amira, bending her knees so she could observe Amira eye to eye. “Why wouldn’t I? We’re fellow Northuldra and it breaks my heart that you’re sitting in here. Have you ever thought about how tough you’ve made it for Yelena, Ryder, and me? For everyone in our tribe that wants peace with Arendelle? Yelena is trying her very best to build some state infrastructure for our land, and all you can think of is how despicable Arendelle’s old guard behave toward us. If you had any idea of how much crap Anna has had to take from them, you’d realize that she’s on our side.”
They stared at each other. “Anna’s right about something else. The world is changing, and now that we’ve opened up to the outside world, we can’t pretend that we can just hide in the forest and no one will notice us. We’ll need to make friends… and prepare for enemies even more malicious and colonialist than Runeard’s Arendelle.”
Amira didn’t reply, staring sullenly at Maren. Trying to convince her with mere promises from Anna seemed a losing prospect.
“I don’t want to see you languish in here,” insisted Maren quietly. “I want you to serve a fair term, and then get out of here so you can live and be free. Give me a chance to show you how much Arendelle has changed since Anna became queen.”
“None of us are free as long as Arendelle dictates the terms of unification. No high-minded dream can change the fact that it’s Anna who’s telling Yelena what to do,” said Amira. “She’s only going after the supporters of that horrible Children Act because she feels guilty about her grandfather’s role. She’ll purge the ghosts of the past, but expects us to forgive her family for assuming the right to decide our future.”
“I’ve been promoted to Home Minister,” said Maren suddenly, and Amira looked surprised for the first time. “That’s right. Me, not just a go-between, but sorting out the kingdom’s immigration and security matters – including for Northuldra.”
Maren reached out for Amira’s chained hands, running her fingers along her calloused hunter’s knuckles. “Amira. Anna did this with you in mind. She promoted me because she wanted you to see that you and all of us Northuldra have a place at the heart of her government. No tricks, no deception. I’m not a toady or turncoat. Runeard wanted to dictate Northuldra’s future, but now I have a say in Arendelle’s. Anna wants you and all us Northuldra to have one, too.”
Amira lowered her gaze, her eyes faltering. This was a surprise indeed. She didn’t think that she’d see the day when Northuldra tribespeople were actually in the Arendellian government. “I admit that Anna’s done something Runeard would never, ever do,” she conceded. She lowered her gaze, uncertainty flickering across her visage. “I know only my fight with Arendelle. Even if I decided somehow that Anna was worth my goodwill, I’m not sure what you want from me or what I can offer.”
“You once trusted Arendelle, and then its people broke your trust. I’m not expecting you to rebuild it overnight, but I want to show you that we’re taking baby steps. Oh, and if you can cooperate with Anna, you’ll serve an commuted sentence comfortably. I’ll support an early release, I swear it.” Maren’s chestnut eyes gleamed. “As it turns out, your skill set is far from redundant. There’s a task that, if you accept it, could mean a huge difference to the entire kingdom and its people. From criminal to heroine. But can you keep the mission a secret between us?”
For the first time, Amira let out a quiet laugh. “I’m not going anywhere, am I?”
The two young women shared an ironic snicker at the bizarre situation – two Northuldra in Arendelle, trying to work out Amira’s place in this brave new world, and to a lesser extent, Maren’s own. “That’s true. Then here goes. I’ll tell you.”
Maren stood up stretching her arms. “Do you fancy a trip to the magnificent city of Saint Petersburg?”
Amira blinked, not quite following. “Come again?”
The door opened as the guard peered in. “Everything all right, Minister?”
“No problems at all. I was just about to leave.” Maren stared down at Amira. “I beg you. Say yes.”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” laughed Amira in disbelief. “What does Russia have anything to do with this?”
“If you want to find out, you’ll agree to my suggestion so I can get you out of here. Let me explain everything to you with our friends over a proper dinner. No hostility, no arguments. Just an honest conversation about a shadow hanging over our lands.”
Maren smiled cheekily as she turned to go.
“Aren’t you the least bit curious about Imperial Russia’s impending invasion of Europe, and the mortal threat it poses to Northuldra and Arendelle?” she asked.
She didn’t need to look back, for she could feel Amira’s horrified gaze on her. She fell silent, waiting for Amira’s reply.
Amira’s deep green eyes glinted, her face an intrigued grimace. “You win. Tell me more. At least you can feed me something nicer than the slop I’m getting down here.”
Maren laughed, and for another brief moment, the two shared another chuckle. “Deal, sister.”