Featured image art by Arute (@ast05water)
By Lukas, Defence Correspondent for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE – Palace and government sources can confirm with our paper that the queen has asked her inner court and most senior advisors to “accelerate preparations for the kingdom’s significant challenges” in the coming year.
In language that seemed to be aimed directly at Katina Romanov of Russia, Anna asked her fiancé and the managing director of Bjorgman House, Kristoff, to focus on securing an economic foothold in the Ottoman Empire, an ancient rival of the Russians.
The Princely House will also send a business delegation to Austria, whose influential chancellor, Klemens von Metternich, distrusts Russian territorial ambitions in Central Europe.
Finally, Anna has granted her top general Mattias sweeping powers to expand the Arendellian army and navy into a heavy-hitting force with a touch of Mundilfari magic through his co-commander, Hilde Von Altheim.
Kristoff’s bailout of his primary business rival, Skau-Krogh, has expanded Bjorgman’s purchasing power significantly. He’s due to make contact with the Austrian Empire’s Metternich, whose careful diplomacy has prevented major wars from breaking out in Central Europe. Central Europe is separated from Arendelle only by the Baltic Sea, which is itself dominated by Russia’s Baltic Fleet. Bjorgman is planning to enter multiple markets in Constantinople, including real estate, fruits like figs and grapes, and olive oil. Colisa and Mari will assist in the diplomatic wooing of the Ottomans by opening a channel of dialogue with Tileke, the commander of the Ottoman army and one of the only female military leaders in the long history of the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomans are struggling to recover from a series of internal disasters and calamitous defeats at the hands of Russia’s Grand Dukes. Russia’s victories led to the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople in 1827, allowing Russia to swallow large swathes of former Ottoman territory into Russia’s imperium. This included most of the eastern shore of the Black Sea and the mouth of the Danube. Naturally, the Ottoman sultan is open to any pathways that can help him strike back at Russia.
But Arendellian diplomats plan to control the pressure exerted on Katina through Metternich, confiding to the press: “Our mission isn’t to facilitate a new Russo-Turkish war, but to leverage Austria and the Ottomans as pressure valves that will tie Russia into knots as they try to push westward to Scandinavia.”
With significant new economic investments in Constantinople and possible common ground with Austria, Arendelle watchers and commentators are concluding that Anna is reaching a new milestone in her reign. “She’s not just reacting to great power politics, like when she was defending Kristoff’s ships from the East India Company or managing Will Harrison’s instigation of a corporate war between Bjorgman and Skau-Krogh,” said Egil, a scholar of the royal family and Arendellian politics. “Now, she’s actively participating in the grand strategic tussle.”
According to Anna’s plan, the standing army will dramatically expand, from several hundred at most to at least a thousand. While this number is still dwarfed by the great powers of Europe, it’s a dramatic increase for a small kingdom with a population of no more than ten thousand. It’s a tenth of the size of Elsa and Colisa’s predecessor alliance, which defeated Katina’s father the tsar in 1840.
Anna’s move to increase the pace of her military reforms isn’t without its controversies. For a kingdom that has known no homeland invasion for centuries, a sudden and drastic expansion of military capabilities might seem like an overreaction, or even smack of imperial ambition on part of Anna.
The palace issued a clarification to help dispel these concerns, noting that the initial proposal to reform the army and navy had passed in both the House of Ministers and House of Jarls. “Arendelle has never initiated a war, and it will maintain its tradition of a defensive military posture,” said Anna and Elsa in a joint statement.
Commander Hilde is expected to incorporate her deadly shock troops into the main divisions of the Arendellian ground force. These troops are fanatically loyal to Hilde and her mistress, Countess Viola Mundilfari, and previously served as their fief’s private army before Lady Mundilfari became Anna’s prime minister. Hilde is known among military circles across Europe as not just a ruthless warrior, but also as one of the strongest living beings on the Continent, her lycanthropy rightly feared by all.
In a separate statement to reporters and in a speech in the Great Assembly, Anna defended Hilde’s involvement, noting that part of her deal with the Countess was to trust her and Hilde to work for the interests of the monarchy. “I’ve literally seen them do nothing except that since they came on board,” she said, “and my trust in them has only grown.”
Arendelle has begun to move against Russia. Now, it will be up to her allies, as well as powers like the Ottomans and the Austrian Empire, to respond.