ARENDELLE; MOSCOW – From investing heavily in Arendelle’s allies to growing the political influence of its executives in foreign lands, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman is playing a frontline role in Anna’s showdown with Katina Romanov.
With his supercargoes furiously criss-crossing the seas in state-of-the-art clippers, the royal consort and boss of the Princely House is determined to turn up the heat on tsarist business interests with his own services and products. Bjorgman is nicknamed the Princely House for its prominence in the business community, and as a nod to Kristoff’s fairytale romance with Anna.
Kristoff has come far since the orphan first began sledding and cutting ice on the outskirts of Arendelle. His Princely House has a plan: to pile pressure on Russia’s exporters, manufacturers, and financiers. In order to hobble Katina’s war effort, a massive endeavour that has demanded immense domestic expenditure, Bjorgman is snapping at the heels of Russia’s oldest and most prestigious business dynasty, the Stroganovs.
Since the 15th Century, most aspects of Russian life and commerce have passed through the Stroganovs’ hands: salt, pepper, textiles, real estate, shipping, roads, and so much more. Bjorgman seeks to make a big dent in this dynasty’s dominance of Eurasia through not just Arendellian alternatives, but also by entering into partnerships with companies of Ottoman, Austrian, and other nations opposed to growing Russian power. These jointly-listed, stock-backed companies have already set up shop in various Russian cities, and are attempting to attract investors in the borders of Russia itself.
Commerce analysts and tai-pans of trade observe that while Kristoff’s unexpectedly ambitious plans could work if the gods of fortune smile upon him, he should also tread carefully. Katina and her allies are mindful of the Princely House’s movements, and the larger Bjorgman grows, the more devastating its fall could be.
Director Leif swaggered into the boardroom, adjusting his necktie as he approached the long mahogany table. The older director Jacques sat at the head, and Kristoff, as usual, preferred to stand, staring outside the window to the docks and anchored Bjorgman clippers. The thirty-four year old Leif sat down a few seats away from Jacques. “You’re almost twenty minutes late,” pointed out Kristoff shortly. Leif blanched. Kristoff rarely told him off for being late. But there was more.
“I can’t seem to get through to you about the importance of punctuality,” sighed Kristoff, his big hand rubbing his brow. “It’s impossible to run this trading house and its subsidiaries, scattered across five continents and twenty-four cities, without executive responsibility. If you pull this on Jacques and me again, you’re losing your end-of-year bonus.”
Flush with embarrassment, an unsettled Leif tensed as his insides recoiled at the idea of losing his plum 100,000 Arendellian kroner Christmas bonanza.
“Well, sorry,” he half-snorted, feeling rather insulted but unwilling to get on Kristoff’s bad side. Something seemed to be on Kristoff’s mind. He was a quiet fellow and almost never expressed frustration in this way. It was usually just a straightforward telling off, and then everyone moved on. But now the boss was making a point to hold cocky Leif’s feet to the fire… something that the talented but spoilt executive wasn’t used to.
Elbows on the table, Jacques clasped his hands together, a sapphire ring shining on his left pinky finger and an onyx counterpart glinting on his right index. He stared at Kristoff, who turned around to speak again. “We’ve managed to get the Ottomans interested in signing several trade deals with Anna. But Metternich is getting cold feet and if Austria joins Britain’s Palmerston in abandoning Anna, all the economic leverage we have won’t help to alleviate the political and military pressure Katina is piling on her.”
Anna’s oaken-built beau bit his lip. “Leif, I need you to take over our Continental branch. Concentrate on hitting Austria’s, Hungary’s, and Prussia’s chambers of commerce. And Metternich needs to understand that neutrality by the Europeans will only isolate Arendelle and our allies.”
“A ‘Eurotrip,’ eh? Yes, yes, I’d like that,” said Leif happily. A professional fiefdom of his own? And meeting girls across the Continent? How could he refuse?
“Good. A ship will be ready for you tomorrow morning. Get your bags packed.”
“Wait, what?” said Leif, face falling. “But that’s impossible – “
“I understand it’s abrupt, but I need you in Vienna to shore up our trade delegate. Stay there and settle matters, then come back to Arendelle and report. Got it?” asked Kristoff, voice tense.
“But I have a boozy lunch with my corporate connections at the Nokk Club. We’re betting on the Winter Games and I want to see if our sledder wins!”
Kristoff glared coldly at Leif, his brown eyes focused and angry. “If you’re not on that ship tomorrow, you lose your directorship.”
“Why the urgency?” yelled Leif, enraged.
“Because this matters to Anna,” cried Kristoff, raising his voice for the first time, “and I’d sooner let all the ice in our warehouses melt than let her fight this fight alone.” He leaned over the table, looming over Leif and Jacques. It was easy to remind others how big he was. “I never gave a rat’s butt about being the Princely House, but if we’re going to be big shots, then we’re going to act like big shots and help the queen instead of screwing around.” Jacques simply looked at Leif silently. Leif opened his mouth to say something, but changed his mind, staring at the table and fuming. True, he was of more privileged birth than Kristoff, but Bjorgman was Kristoff’s kingdom. “Cool,” said Kristoff, turning to face the window again. He exhaled loudly. “Should you succeed with the Austrians, your salary is tripled.”
“Anything else? Boss?” asked Leif quietly.
“Yes. Don’t be late for that ship. That’ll be all.”
Leif got up from his chair and stormed out, and Jacques breathed out his tension. “You’ve come a long way since you were hiding out in Oaken’s barn, singing to Sven and grumbling about a certain young lady’s demands,” he observed wryly.
“Leif will someday find out for himself that you’ll be a better businessman when you’ve something you care about… or someone you want to protect,” said Kristoff, hands behind his back. He still felt slightly out of place as an executive, his free spirit yearning to join Sven in the wilds where they would ride and ride and ride. Nothing would ever replace that feeling of being on Sven’s back, wind in the face and hooves trammelling the soil and grass. Not even being a top trader or tai-pan.
But he thought of how Sven was always close to him, here in Arendelle, and he reminded himself that despite still feeling awkward in a suit, Anna benefited most from his leadership of the Princely House. “I just never knew that the lady who barged into Sven’s and my song would be the very one I could devote my time and energy to.”
“Truly a fairytale,” chuckled Jacques, shaking his head. “Hence, our Princely House.”
“I never really bought the happily ever after idea,” said Kristoff quietly, as he made to leave the boardroom. “No one ever talks about what happens after the wedding, right?” he said, winking. “By the way, this is the furthest from a fairytale. This is Katina Romanov. Anna’s barely holding it all together. She’s protecting us, this whole kingdom, from the biggest threat it’s ever known.” He walked out of the boardroom, leaving Jacques to his thoughts while muttering to himself:
“And I plan to be of some help to her story.”