By Erik, European Bureau Chief for The Arendelle Guardian
Arendelle’s beleaguered queen is in good spirits after the reserve forces of Katina Romanov were ambushed and annihilated by the Ottomans’ modernized Mansure Army near the Black Sea. Over several thousand well-trained Russian soldiers (almost equal to the numbers deployed at the Battle of Arenfjord) were killed or captured over just several days. The elite force was led by Ottoman serasker (military commander) Tileke, a strategic prodigy who’s rumoured to be a ferocious warrior as well.
Russia has condemned the attack as a violation of the rules of war, since Husrev Pasha, Lord High Vizier, had not yet declared war on Katina before sending Tileke on her offensive. Russia maintains that its war against Arendelle is a legitimate one, having declared hostilities before making incursions on Arendellian soil.
Despite few major powers voicing public condemnations of Russia’s actions, the Romanovs’ outcry will find little sympathy: the bad blood between the Russians and the Ottomans was so intense that war was probably inevitable at some point.
The annihilation of Russia’s remaining land forces (and the mopping up of the remnants of the Baltic Fleet, which was crippled after the sinking of Yaraslaf’s armada) means that Katina is now entirely dependent on her two remaining Grand Dukes. Nykras possesses his own army of the undead and the angel Sora’s power is unsurpassed, short of Elsa herself. However, the entry of the Ottomans on the Central European front has put significant pressure on Katina’s resources, who remains focused on destroying Anna’s defences in Northuldra and the Arendellian heartland.
Observers of the war say that the latest events simply highlight the unpredictable back-and-forth nature of Anna and Katina’s conflict. Just a couple of weeks ago, Anna’s alliance was effectively put out of action, after Russia forced a quick surrender from Vesterland and cut off supplies of the kingdom’s raw materials to Arendelle. While Vesterland, the Southern Isles, Weselton, and Chatho all seem neutralized, Tileke’s rapid dominance tactics have shifted the balance slightly against Katina. The Russians must move swiftly to crush Arendellian resistance if they are to maintain their momentum. With Tileke threatening to blunt her early successes and blunt her country’s military superiority against the much smaller Arendelle, Katina no longer has the advantage of time.
While the grudge between the Turkish and the Russians is openly acknowledged by both empires, remarkably little is known about Tileke, the champion of the former. Rumours persist that she was raised in secret by Husrev Pasha and kept out of the public eye for fear of any misunderstanding that could scandalize the sultan’s household. Even Arendellian sources have confessed to newspapers that Anna and her general, Mattias, were unsure of what to expect when the Ottomans made good on their promise to help.
Despite the rumours surrounding this accomplished soldier, her actions have spoken and the Arendellians are making no secret of their elation. Anna released a press statement after receiving news of the Russian defeat, remarking: “I have every faith that Tileke will soon coordinate her ongoing campaign with General Mattias, and stop Katina from wreaking further havoc and loss against our people.”
She didn’t reveal to reporters whether Tileke will visit Arendelle, due to the sensitivity of Arendelle’s and the Ottomans’ military alliance. However, private communications intercepted by journalists seem to indicate that Tileke is already on the warpath through Central Europe, tearing through Russian forces and bases in her path and leaving a trail of destruction in her wake. Spies have tracked her rapidly moving straight for the Kingdom of Prussia, an Ottoman ally. It’s likely that she’ll board an Arendelle-bound ship from a port in the Duchy of Holstein.
This poses an intractable problem for Katina: unable to stop Tileke from reaching Prussia and then Arendelle, the Scandinavian kingdom will be be bolstered by an elite Ottoman force, raising the stakes for Katina’s own champion, Sora – who is on record as being against the war.
In her conference with reporters, Anna added one more dig against Katina: “My family, friends, and I can’t wait to roll out the red carpet for the serakser.”