By Michael, Trade Minister of Arendelle
“The best part of any trip is the trip home.”
This saying was so true when our travellers came back from Arendelle.
Queen Anna, Snow Queen Elsa, Kristoff, Sir Alan, Queen Colisa of Chatho, and Peony Sinclair returned safe and sound from the Celestial Empire of China, where they met with not only the mysterious Lord Aisin Gioro Yixin, but also with Lady Kam Chik-leoi, the very beautiful and intelligent comprador of the Princely House, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman.
She’s also the head of the Crocus and Lotus, the Arendelle-allied but illegal triad society (according to the British overlords in Hong Kong) that’s locked in ongoing turf warfare with Harrison’s criminal allies, the Floodgate gang.
When the Floodgate thugs attacked our party, Kam’s triad fighters were Johnny-on-the-spot to defend our friends from Wily Will Harrison’s hit squad.
But I digress. It’s time to greet our weary travelers!
Thursday morning came early as the call from the fjord guard posts reported Anna’s ship, Pride Of Elsa, approaching the harbor docks. I had gotten up and dressed to meet our returning royals. Our First Vampire and regent Vi, who’d been injured in the fight with Selene Severin, was doing better, but still needed more rest from her wounds. Princess Danny did a fine job of using her ice powers to help close up Vi’s wounds. She needed blood, so Tess Gaunt and myself donated some. Hilde and Tess stayed with Vi until she got more of her strength back.
Speaking of Princess Danny, she heard the call in the castle and was up out of bed with her best gown all resplendent in white, with her powers lending her a glowing aura. As we left, that little stinker of a Snow Angel practically beat me out of the castle, she was so anxious to see her Mummy! I smiled while calling out to her: “Hey! Wait up for us old dudes!”
We rode down in one of the carriages that was to take our friends back to Castle Arendelle. Danny exited the carriage first, followed by me. They weren’t even completely off of the dock when Danny raced up to them, shouting gleefully; “Mummy! Auntie!”
I simply grinned happily, because the little Snow Princess was just so happy to see them back home. Elsa hurried over to Danny and met her with a tight, warm embrace. “Hello, darling!” she cried, as Anna came over to both Danny and Elsa, hugging them tightly as well.
Elsa said, with much simmering emotion behind her voice, “We’re back.” She gave Danny a long and loving cuddle, savouring the feeling of holding her in her arms once more. “It’s been too long,” she whispered. “I missed you so much too, my lovely girl.”
Anna also drew close and gave Danny a tight squeeze. “I’m sorry we took so long,” she said.
I quickly came over and embraced Anna and Elsa with Danny and said, “Thank you, Lord, my family is home!”
Danny had begun to cry once in the royal sisters’ warm cuddle, enjoying being lifted up and held. “I missed you so much,” Danny replied between tears.
But no sooner than that was said, a little blue head popped up from behind Danny’s crown, with that familiar smile on his face and a happy tail wag. Bruni, the Fire Salamander, hopped into Danny’s hand, circling and giving a happy look at his friend, Elsa. “I missed you too, sweetie!” Elsa exclaimed.
Danny told Elsa, “We had so much fun playing together. He loved the little snowflakes I made for him.”
I had walked over to them, adding: “Danny really missed you. It did give a chance for her, Vi and Hilde to become closer friends. Bruni was the right tonic too for Danny as well!”
I hugged them both, then Anna hugged the stuffings out of me! “We missed you, Uncle,” cried Anna.
“I missed you guys too.”
Sir Alan, Kristoff and the rest of the New Exalted came over for warm, welcoming hugs as well. I bowed my head at Colisa, shook Peony’s hand, and then asked Sir Alan, “Did you get a chance to open a new can of whoop-ass on Will?”
“No, but I saw him eat some crow and got some schadenfreude!” said Anna. She went on to explain how a man named Robert Bennet Forbes, ship captain and another tai-pan, stopped Will’s nefarious plan in its tracks during a tense meeting with Anna at the Qilin Cabaret, Harrison’s centre of power.
“Oooh, I know of him.” I said. “We’ve kept in touch occasionally. Sometimes he asks me for my business opinion, and I of him. Let me know if you need a quicker line to him in the future.”
Once Queen Anna addressed the press, we all got in the carriages and returned to the castle. We headed to see the Mundilfari household: Vi, Hilde and Tess. Vi was still recuperating. During our reunion, we told Anna about the confrontation with Selene Severin and she only stopped her campaign of vengeance against Hilde after I showed her her late uncle’s will. “Selene’s had a hard time,” I explained to Anna. “She’s lost her mom and dad and Sergeant Severin was like a father to her. She blamed Hilde for his death during the Battle of Arenfjord, because he was all she had in this life. I got Sarge’s will to show her that she was cared for and now has a new family around her.” Hilde and I had convinced Destin not to just throw her into a dungeon and “melt the key,” but rather that this was her first offence. Given the circumstances, the general agreed to show leniency.
Anna listened in concern but also relief. “So Selene hurt Vi and Hilde that badly, yet you managed to stimulate her remorse and compel her to lay down her arms. I don’t know what would have happened to our friends, or even to Arendelle, if you hadn’t helped out like that. And speaking of leniency – remind me to speak to Selene later. Like Amira of Northuldra, I have an idea for her that she could consider.”
I told Anna that Hilde and Selene even managed to sit down together to talk together about the late Sergeant. And even though Vi can’t have mortal food, she would join us for a private welcome dinner that evening. “Ooooh, dinner. What are we having?” asked Anna.
Elsa and I looked at each other and I said, “It’s a surprise!”
I hadn’t told Anna yet, but while in China Elsa had Gale send me a note, telling me that Anna really wanted some decent roast chicken. So, I’d asked Olina and Gerda to do a surprise roast chicken dinner for Anna and our returning entourage. I also went to Anna’s favorite sweet shop, Vera’s, to get some dessert with tea, punch, and coffee afterwards.
That evening, the queens Anna and Colisa, Elsa and Sir Alan, and Kristoff and Peony joined Vi, Commander Hilde, General Mattias, and Danny in the dining hall for dinner. The delicious smell gave away the secret to Anna right away! Gerda, Olina, Kai and the staff did a fantastic job setting the table and the dishes that were laid out there! Roasted chicken with fresh roast and mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, no shortage of lingonberry sauce, and an assortment of fresh fruit. I asked Selene to join us, as this would be a good time for more love, forgiveness and healing. Selene reluctantly did. She needed to know that she still had something to live for: even though Uncle Sarge was gone, she still had us. Once we sat down and the blessing was said, we dig into a very delicious, scrumptious dinner celebrating our friends’ successful trip and safe return home.
Afterwards, dessert was had in the family’s drawing room. To say Anna was ecstatic was an understatement! I looked at her and said “Happy Belated Birthday, punkin!” We gave her a piece of krumkake with a candle lit on it. She made her wish and blew out the candle as we applauded her. We enjoyed desserts and libations as Anna, Elsa, Colisa, Peony, Kristoff and Sir Alan regaled us with the stories of their trip to Hong Kong and China. Then they got to the part of the Qilin Cabaret. Even though it was the “bad” part of the story, especially their meeting with Harrison and Tiffany, they fondly remembered the music and the dancing. In the lounge of the Cabaret, they saw a cosmopolitan future where the world was interconnected and things were… really lively. Someone hummed out the tune and the next thing I knew, Anna and Kristoff picked up their dance where they left off!
Elsa then invited me to dance with her, so I did. Then Alan cut in, to dance with Elsa, and I wound up dancing with Anna. Colisa with Selene, Hilde with Vi, everyone was dancing (except for Peony, who amusedly stood back! I fell back into my chair exhausted, but laughing as I said, “That’s it, my dance card is empty! I’m getting to old for this! Oohh my word! Hahahahaha!”
Colisa turned around and said to me playfully: “Oh, Michael, you’re only as old as you feel!”
We laughed and had a great time until it was time to retire for the night. I went out to the balcony with my tea and a good cigar to chill before bedtime. Hilde and Selene went back to the library to talk more as Selene was under a nominal house arrest, and had a curfew placed on her. This meant that Hilde could keep a close eye on her for a few weeks, although in reality it meant that they could get to understand each other better. There was one more benefit: Selene’s intelligence network, coupled with Hilde’s military prowess, would make Arendelle’s defence ever more formidable.
It was a wonderful evening for all of us. I believe that Selene will be a valuable asset with not only her brilliant mind, intelligence network, and the ancient Kvelduf arms at her disposal. Anna could really use her help in the search for the elixir of life.
I hope and pray that I’m not wrong.
From your Trade Minister’s desk,
Welcome home, guys.