There’s a graveyard tucked away in the mountains further to Arendelle’s eastern settlements, beyond the Great Assembly parliament building and the Grand House of Viola Mundilfari, Arendelle’s dark protector and its regent. It’s a private cemetery reserved for the most honoured Arendellians: war heroes that gave their lives in service of the kingdom. In an otherwise egalitarian kingdom, to be interred here is almost like a mark of immortality, bestowed by the royal family and blessed by the Arendellian Church. There are fewer than several dozen gravestones here, for Arendelle has been at peace for so much of its history that among the very few times it has gone to war, an even smaller circle of heroes earned the right to be buried here.
“Thanks for opening up the place for me, Your Grace. I won’t be long.”
“Not at all, Your Majesty. Take as long as you need. You do the kingdom’s fallen heroes honour by coming here.”
Shortly after the Russo-Arendellian War, long before Anna and her fellow Exalted began their trip to China, the queen visited the grave of Sergeant Severin. She paid her respects to the bishop, who was the only person who carried the keys to the cemetery gate, and stood before a small tombstone that read simply:
Severin. Much more than just a sergeant. 1786 – 1844.
Anna stared at the tombstone, crouching and placing a small bouquet of flowers before it. She stood back up, aqua eyes shining. “You didn’t tell me if you were ever married; I suspect you weren’t. You never had children. There were whispers about a few broken hearts that you’d left behind, though gossip is a dangerous source of information, especially about a spy who has enemies everywhere. But whatever your personal life, your heart only really had enough room for me, kind of. At least, for what I try to represent and embody every day: Arendelle, this kingdom of freedom and kindness, of comforting winter and bright summer.”
She smiled at the thought of his jovial but often serious face. He could always be seen at General Mattias’ side; briefing him on the kingdom’s relationship with Britain or France or some other nation. “You helped me reform our Ravens, making them a world-class agency for keeping Arendelle safe. Thanks to your great network that stretched across Europe, and your well-placed Ravens in the Americas and Asia, you practically co-wrote my foreign policy with me. Arendelle’s underbelly was at your mercy. And all these years, I knew you could be entrusted with it.”
She sighed, closing her eyes as she continued to speak to no one. “When I learned that I’d lost you at the Battle of Arenfjord, in our first great clash against Russia’s Baltic Fleet, I was devastated. But to my great shame, I’d never thought of your own loved ones and how your death would impact them – partly because you spoke so rarely of them. But that’s not an excuse. I’m going to make sure your only remaining family, Selene Severin, is taken care of. You said she loves books, knowledge, and reading. Well, guess what? If she wants to be the royal librarian, I’ll appoint her to the post right away.”
She gazed down at the final will written by his hand. “I’m fulfilling another vow to you, Severin. I’m delivering this letter of yours to Selene. Just as you requested, before you set off for battle with Hilde and Mattias. My heart shudders at the thought of her reaction. She’ll definitely be shattered when I give this to her.” She gripped the piece of paper more tightly, nearly scrunching it, and clenched her jaw in resolve.
“But a promise is a promise.”
Anna gave the gravestone of Severin a respectful caress, then headed down the hillside alone.
The letter in her hand read:
My angel, my darling, my life – Selene.
By a stroke of luck, I was given the honour of serving King Agnarr as an officer, before being able to work with Mattias, a true lion among military men. And I’ve never been happier serving Anna, perhaps the best queen Arendelle has had yet. But in my line of work, your life is but a piece on the board that can be sacrificed at any time. I’ve long prepared for that day to come. And now that the Russian Empire’s Baltic Fleet is at our doorstep, led by that monster of a Grand Duke Yaraslaf, I must be realistic and prepare my will.
Perhaps I might come back to you, perhaps I might not. Should the latter turn out to be true, be certain of two things: first, that I bequeath everything in my possession to you, dear niece, so that you’ll have all the tools you need to secure your position and do whatever you feel would be best for your future. I doubt you’ll follow in my footsteps and become a woman of the Ravens. But you can serve Anna in many other ways, and my intelligence network, well… it couldn’t hurt for it to be at your disposal if I’m ever gone.
The other thing is this: should I not come back from this war, please don’t let hatred or vengeance burn in your heart – not for the Russians, and certainly not for Anna or anyone on our side. Remember: I signed up for this. It’s part of the job. If anything, I’m blessed to have lasted this long as a veteran. What would be terrible is if you don’t live your life as YOU want. Don’t fixate on lost time with me and lose sight of the life you can rebuild with others.
I know things haven’t always worked out for our family. Especially for you, to have lost your parents so early on, to be alone for so long until fate brought us together. You’ve been such a light in my life, and I loved being your best friend. We had a great run. I won’t regret giving my life in the name of my queen, but I’m not blind to how you’ll feel about that. It’ll hurt for a long time, no kidding. But please find it in your heart to forgive, for your own good.
The best revenge is a life well lived after loss.
It was well past midnight, but the trade minister, Michael, was running as fast as he could down the castle corridors, banging hurriedly on Danny’s door. He scooped up a sleepy and confused Danny, then rushed to the room of Tess, Countess Vi’s retainer and companion. “Danny! Tess! Get your things together. I’m going to ask Kai to get the horses attached to a wagon. We need to go to the woods where Vi and Hilde are, they may need our help, fast!” He strapped on his own special Colt, and to her groggy surprise, Tess saw that he was carrying his shotgun, a formidable armament upgraded by Commander Hilde. Michael urgently took them to the castle courtyard, where Kai (even he looked sleepy) awaited.
“Master Michael, Danny’s too young for this! Couldn’t she get hurt badly or worse?”
“I know that,” said Michael, “but I need Elsa, and she’s not here. Danny’s the closest thing to her mummy I need to help Vi and Hilde.” Kai sensed his urgency and helped Michael to hitch the horses to the wagon. The trade minister was frenetic. “I’m going to the woods where Vi and Hilde are. I’ve found something and I believe that they’re in trouble! If anyone wants to join me, get ready now!”
SELENE SEVERIN ENACTS HER REVENGE!