Featured image art, “Ancient Fury,” by PURY (@puryartist)
By Mikael, Senior Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE – Our newsroom received breaking news in the early hours of this morning that the fleet of Chatho, one of Arendelle’s closest allies, suffered a horrific rout in the Arctic Ocean by Russian Grand Duke Yaraslaf’s Baltic Fleet.
Conflicting accounts of the battle have emerged, especially about the true scale of the casualties. However, General Mattias and his lieutenants have grimly concluded that most of the Chathan navy was wiped out. Arendellian command also received word that Chatho’s elite shock troops, the Ten Tigresses, all fell in battle against Yaraslaf. The leader of Chatho and Anna and Elsa’s childhood friend, Queen Colisa, has been reported as missing.
The Chathan force was supposed to hit the Baltic Fleet after a series of raids by Prince Hans and the Duke of Weselton. But Yaraslaf anticipated Anna’s strategy and destroyed the Weselton and Southern Isles’ vessels (Hans and the Duke are also reported missing), before quickly making straight for Colisa’s fleet.
Yaraslaf’s ambush was too swift for Anna to send reinforcements against, even though Her Majesty wasn’t tricked by Yaraslaf’s fake letter claiming Arendelle didn’t need to dispatch help. She has ignored Yaraslaf’s misinformation and continues her preparations for her confrontation with the Grand Duke.
The most credible reports point to a lightning fast offensive launched by Yaraslaf, who personally took command to surprise the Chathan fleet with a vicious ambush in reprisal for the Duke and Hans’ first strike. The Baltic Fleet quickly sank several battleships belonging to Colisa. The Grand Duke then struck at the heart of the disoriented navy’s command, ramming his flagship Poseidon against Colisa’s own flagship and boarding the vessel. The Ten Tigresses were on deck, having prepared for his arrival.
Together, Colisa and her royal guard fought a desperate battle to hold back the werebear admiral, but Yaraslaf’s elemental power and brute strength were too much for the Chatho forces. The Ten Tigresses, who once bested the privateers of Katina Romanov’s fellow Exalted member, Will Harrison, were overwhelmed by Yaraslaf. Colisa, however, refused to abandon her troops. Eyewitnesses say that she threw herself at Yaraslaf, engaging in a brave and spirited melee with him as her remaining bodyguards gave their lives to delay the Baltic Fleet’s journey to Arendelle.
Here, accounts get muddied and contradictory, with some claiming that the merciless Yaraslaf dealt Colisa a grievous and mortal wound with his battleaxes, and others suggesting that the Grand Duke overpowered her and threw her overboard. Her whereabouts are so far unknown in the current confusion.
Nevertheless, news of her crushing defeat has caused Queen Anna great distress. “The ties between Chatho and Arendelle are far deeper than simply one of allies. Colisa was Elsa’s friend, and I inherited their bond. I’ve received her representatives as friends before,” she said in an angry statement to the press. “If Colisa is hurt in any way, Arendelle won’t forgive or forget. I won’t forgive or forget.”
Her Majesty is planning her next step against the approaching Baltic Fleet, although the window for offensive action is narrowing. The disastrous rout of the Chathan fleet has thrown Anna’s Entente of Small Kingdoms into chaos. In the span of just a week, Katina’s admiral has crushed and demoralized three of the Entente’s five members, with only Arendelle mounting a credible resistance against Russia. Vesterland has committed to providing logistical support, but is in no economic or military shape to challenge Katina.
While Chatho and the other kingdoms could conceivably marshal more troops to throw at Yaraslaf, the disappearance of their sovereigns, not to mention heavy losses of seamen and soldiers, make it logistically impossible. Anna has tapped into her diplomatic channels, with the Ottoman Empire promising to commit resources to assist in disrupting the Russian campaign. The major powers of Europe like Britain and France, to Her Majesty’s great frustration, still claim neutrality and refuse to be drawn into the Russo-Arendellian conflict.
The princess of Russia and supreme commander of the invasion, meanwhile, has warned Arendelle’s allies to surrender to her empire. “Yaraslaf leads the way, but I have two more Grand Dukes waiting,” she told Russian newspapers and gazettes. “I’m not my father, and the Baltic Fleet isn’t my father’s fleet. Anna will save many lives, most of them on her own side, if she agrees to an unconditional surrender in the coming few months.”
Our queen must now pin her hopes on General Mattias, who is scrambling with Commander Hilde, Countess Vi’s champion, to prepare for a cataclysmic confrontation with Yaraslaf in the North Sea around Arendelle. We’ll update you, kind reader, as more news arrives on our newsroom’s desk.