By Mikael, Senior Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE; SAINT PETERSBURG – Against the odds, the Kingdom of Arendelle has outlasted a months-long Russian onslaught, with General Mattias signing an armistice with Russian leader Princess Katina in the heavily damaged Arendelle Castle.
The armistice states that Russia will promise to never wage a war of aggression against Arendelle again, while Arendelle will return Katina to Saint Petersburg and receive millions of Arendellian kroner worth in an indemnity.
The war cost over a thousand Arendellian lives and even more on the side of the Russians. Several senior ranking officers of the Arendellian army and navy were killed, and the Russian Empire lost all three of its Grand Dukes: Yaraslaf, Nykras, and Sora. Yet the Arendellian victory left Anna standing as the first monarch in the kingdom’s history to have outboxed a continental empire like Russia. Countries like Great Britain, France, and many more had bet on Russia swallowing Arendelle early on in the war, but were proven wrong. Diplomats across Europe are now nervously wondering whether a newly empowered Anna will behave in a hostile way towards said countries.
Just for having outlasted the Russian invasion, Her Majesty has earned a position of power unmatched by those of her predecessors – her own grandfather and father King Runeard and King Agnarr included. From now on, Arendelle won’t be treated as a small power, or even as a middle power – but as a kingdom consulted by the world’s great powers.
The war took an immensely stressful toll on all citizens. However, prior evacuations months before the conflict ensured that non-combatants were either sheltered safely in the mountains, or had relocated to Mundilfari Keep. As this reporter is writing this article, citizens are moving back to Arendelle eagerly. The kingdom is repopulating to its usual bustling numbers. Businesses weren’t harmed, while only the plaza and the docks were heavily damaged due to Elsa and Sora’s battle. In a public statement, Anna proclaimed that rebuilding “wasn’t too hard,” and it was “ensuring that Arendelle will never suffer an attack like this” that would be more difficult.
In an extraordinary act, Princess Katina, for reasons still unknown to the press and the public, surrendered to Anna during the climactic confrontation in Arendelle plaza. She’s being hosted as a guest in Arendelle Castle, much to the displeasure of the editors of the Snow Herald and the Fjord Times. For now, The Arendelle Guardian calls on all citizens to support Anna, the steadfast monarch that gave her all to protect us, in her time of her need. She’s asking for us to rally round her as she navigates Arendelle’s tricky post-war situation. We should watch further developments cautiously but also keep faith in Anna, who’s proven herself a truly good queen and protector in these times.
With several levels still in need of repairs after Elsa and Sora had punched entire holes through the palace during their fight, Anna had to slink her way around one of these holes. She pressed her back to the wall to reach the guestroom, lest she slip and fall down to the second floor. It was unusually noisy, with workmen and architects busy repairing and reflooring each level with wooden boards and carpeting. She arrived at the guestroom, opened the door, and peered at Katina, who was in her nightclothes and sitting absently on the bed, not having gotten up or pulled back the curtains.
“Hey, Katina,” offered Anna, feeling more awkward about the usually dominant and haughty Katina’s “morning look” than the fact that her archenemy was having a sleepover. Even though she wasn’t wearing her military attire, Katina exuded a dread grace, a kind of willowy malignance that, even if frightening, could be quite charismatic.
“Hello, Anna,” said Katina quietly, managing a weak smile, although it immediately returned to a sorry grimace after she spoke. She didn’t say much else. Her pink and brown hair wasn’t done up. She looked outside the window, as if hoping she’d be able to call Sora’s name and she’d already be there.
Anna closed the door behind her. “Are you feeling comfortable here? Food okay? Room comfy?”
“It’s all fine – more than fine. The salmon and berries are a bit dull – as they naturally would be compared to our fine caviar and dumplings – but I’m not sure if I even deserve this treatment. I’m under house arrest, yet I feel more like a guest than a prisoner.”
“That’s kind of the point. You’re not a prisoner. You can leave any time, but you don’t even seem to want to get out of bed.” Anna walked across to the glass doors, pulling aside the frilly curtains and allowing light to spill in. Katina winced, the black rings under her eyes more obvious. “It’s been days since you left this room after signing the armistice with Mattias. Are we Arendellians that unpleasant to be around?” she joked. “Your empire and my kingdom are at peace. We’ll meet whatever tensions that may arise later together. Can’t we just forget about politics and the war and, you know, do some normal stuff? Grab a bite somewhere? Get to know each other better? I don’t think our one meeting in Saint Petersburg counts.” Anna turned to look at Katina, whose eyes didn’t reflect the sunlight. “I know you’re heartbroken, but I can’t bear to see you like this.”
Katina’s hands were on her lap, and the young woman looked truly shattered. She did turn herself in to Anna after Sora’s descent into hell, after all.
“I’ve been a fool, Anna,” she declared, looking down. “I can’t stop being livid at myself. With how I was the one who did Sora the worst of injustices after so many years under her care. All she wanted to do was to stop the war between you and me while helping me to escape from Lord Yixin’s clutches.” She sounded like she wanted to cry, but it was as if she’d run out of tears already. She just sounded tired, weak, and shaky.
“At the end of the day, I should never have invaded your kingdom. That was what Sora’s loss taught me. What a cruel irony that I deserve.” She looked up at the Arendellian queen. “Your Majesty, I offer you my apologies. I’m truly sorry. Sora’s loss showed me how futile and stupid my designs over your kingdom were. If she thought it folly, I should have just listened to her. We’d still be together if I did. My ingratitude towards her destroyed me, and I inflicted unbelievable damage on your people. If you could ever find it in your heart to forgive all the pain and damage I’ve wrought…”
Elsa’s injured and shattered body flashed momentarily in Anna’s mind, but she reassured herself that it was just her attachment and unusually acute fear of losing the Snow Queen that made her tense up. Anna admired just how much courage it took for the Russian princess to say sorry. She knelt down by the bedside and took Katina’s hand in hers. It was smoother than Anna’s, more elegant and well-kept, with carefully painted nails whereas Anna preferred to keep hers short and unvarnished so that she could get her hands dirty if needed. “I’ll be honest. It’ll take time for me to forgive you, especially for what happened to Elsa,” she responded to Katina softly, “but over time I hope to understand you more, so I can appreciate your bond with Sora and honour the angel by working more closely with you.”
Anna lowered her head, still holding Katina’s hand, and gently kissed it. Katina gazed at Anna, eyes soft, as Anna’s touch left her knuckles. “I recognize a fellow soul that has endured hurt at an early age. Don’t fear, Katina. You have someone who sees you, right here. I’m a lame replacement for Sora, but feel free to turn to me as you did to her.”
Katina looked out at the window, all her usual arrogance and rage swept out of her. “Thank you. I’d like to get some fresh air. Can we stand at the balcony, Anna?”
“Of course. Anything you want.” She and Katina slowly moved away from the bed and parted the glass doors, so that the seaside breeze blew in and they could breathe in the scent of the fjord waters. They walked across the stone balcony to put their hands on the balustrade. Katina was still in her pajamas, barefoot. Anna smiled, putting a hand on Katina’s shoulder. “I knew you were doing your best for Russia. I don’t begrudge you for pursuing what you saw as your nation’s interests. Perhaps we can fulfil that through some kind of an alliance, rather than war?”
“I don’t even deserve that credit. I convinced myself I was acting altruistically,” said Katina calmly, looking out at the calm waters. “Perhaps Europe might have been better under the Russian yoke. Well, even if that were true, Sora got it right when she told me I was trying to avenge my father’s loss at the hands of your sister, Elsa, years ago.” She turned to Anna. “I’d understand if you thought my apology to be empty, or even a ruse to trick you. That’s why I wish to offer you a gift that should prove quite valuable to you.”
“What’s that?” asked Anna, looking at Katina quizzically.
“You joined the Exalted at Yixin’s request and expelled me, didn’t you?”
Anna shifted uncomfortably. This was a matter she’d half-hoped to avoid. But since the Exalted was now so entwined with her and Katina’s destinies, dodging it didn’t seem so useful or realistic. Indeed, it was because of Katina and the threat against Arendelle and Elsa that made her take up this radically new and powerful position of the Exalted’s leader in the first place. “That’s true, unfortunately. I mean, if you want back in – “
For the first time, Katina laughed. “Hell, no. I’m glad you kicked me out. I’m not about to go back while you have Yixin’s backing, he’s going to tear my throat out! I think Sora anticipated this: when you screw up as royally as me, you’ve got to go into exile for a while. While I’m not heading to Siberia, I’d like to re-examine myself in peace, in one of my palaces in Saint Petersburg or Moscow. I can, however, help you from behind the scenes.”
She gazed at Anna, eyes glinting. “I’m proposing to give you all the information I have on each member – something that you’ll need if you want to kick out Will Harrison, the American tai-pan, and stop him from striking back. I know you dislike him. Winning power is hard, my queen. Keeping it is even harder. Now that I’m out, I can help you fully.”
Anna smiled, feeling a similar thrill at the rush of gaining leverage over enemies and rivals. She put her hand on Katina’s. The princess’s information would be especially important, now that she was leader of the Exalted.
Her journey to becoming a true leader among the world powers was only starting.
“Teach me, Your Highness.”