Featured image art by Arute (@ast05water)
By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle
You may have read in The Arendelle Guardian, my fellow subscribers and readers, all about the celebration of our Queen Anna’s birthday on the 21st of June.
It was a roaring good time and I want to thank all of us who came together and made it the success it was! Sir Alan, Countess Vi, Commander Hilde, Gertrude, Hilde, Tess, Gerda, and myself all pitched in to make this celebration unforgettable! Even Queen Emerita Elsa, my Snow Queen niece, with the help of my Snow Princess great-niece Danny, made a couple of beautiful ice and permafrost sculptures to add a bit of frozen beauty to that lovely, sunny day.
No RSVP’S, no “By invitation only,” we wanted this open so everyone could wish our humble, kind, positive, energetic Queen a special “Happy Birthday!” She wields immense power, yet is very approachable and kind to all.
Everyone who we wished to come, came in! Queen Colisa, even Rapunzel, Eugene, and surprise, surprise, Cassandra from Corona showed up! But one I wasn’t expecting also came.
The Duke of Weselton.
Dear reader, if you remember, it was the Duke and his hired “bodyguards” (IMHO, trained private soldiers) who tried to kill Elsa so long ago, when she was going through what I call her “phase.” It got him banished and all trade agreements cancelled by then-Queen Elsa. He also did some hijinxs on the side that proved unsuccessful.
In fact, I had heard that he was still in some ways the same ‘ol Duke Weaselboy, as I called him back then. But he mellowed a bit, especially after Arendelle’s war against Russia, during which Russian Grand Duke Yaraslaf made mincemeat out of the Duke’s and Hans’ ships in the North Sea. The destruction of the allied fleet must have been humbling, though I take no pleasure in that observation.
On Anna’s birthday, he came in, just as always, proud as a peacock, with his hairpiece still not fully attached! I thought he’d sneak in, but no. There he was, in his full dress uniform. Sir Alan warned me, “He’d better not mess with my Elsa! You’d better keep an eye on him, Michael.”
I whispered back, “I know. He’s a sly one when he wants to be.” Last time he and his goons almost got introduced to Mr. Colt, my pistol. I made the first move. “Well, well, well! Look who’s here!” I exclaimed. “What brings the Duke of Weselton to our fair kingdom today?” I asked, as I looked at him square in the eyes.
“Ah, Trade Minister Michael! How are you this fine day?” he asked, trying to match my smoothness.
“Depends on what you’ve got up your sleeves besides your left and right arms there, Duke old Boy!”
He was going for a snit, until I shot him a look that said “Really?” He calmed a bit and said “I just came to wish Queen Anna a happy birthday and I see you have a grand celebration as well for her. So I thought I’d come over and…”
“Join in the festivities?” I asked. “I’ve heard you’re still the old Duke we’ve known, but you’ve mellowed.”
“I’m still the Duke, but yes, my defeat at that wretched werebear’s hands made me think things over.”
“Kinda surprised you didn’t come over to reestablish trade deals with Arendelle,” I said.
“Queen Anna, along with you, the Countess and Commander Hilde, are showing the world that conquest is undesirable. Free trade, being good neighbors, that’s the direction the whole world is headed.” the Duke said. “Besides, those in power around me in Weselton were going to oust my butt if I didn’t change!”
I chuckled and laughed saying, “I understand!”
Queens Anna and Elsa came in, and couldn’t mask their surprise at seeing him. I explained to them both what we talked about and his part in the war. “Welcome to Arendelle,” said Anna, politely and warmly, but nothing more.
“Oh thank you, Your Majesties!” he replied as he bowed. Yes, his hair piece partially flopped over showing his bald spot! We three chuckled again at it.
We were then joined by the Countess Vi and Commander Hilde. I wasn’t sure how the Duke would cotton up to our resident Vampire and resident lycanthrope. So I did the introductions with some reservation. “Duke of Weselton, allow me to present our Prime Minister, Viola Mundilfari. Also… our first vampire!”
“V… V… VVVAMM… Vampire?!?” He said getting very nervous. He had that look on his face when Elsa’s powers popped up during her coronation reception. Teeth chattering, eyes ready to bug out, hair on his head and toupee ready to stand on end, Anna and I got him and I said “Just chill out, Duke old buddy! She’s on our side! She won’t bite!”
Vi gave Duke her hand and said in her usual haughty, heiress style: “I am pleased to meet you, Duke of… Weaseltown?”
He quickly gained his proud composure and said “WESELTON, erm, ah, yes. Weselton, my dear Countess.” As he bowed again, toupeé flapping downward. It sent Vi in a polite, yet funny chuckle!
“Ah yes, my good friend Master Michael told me all about you. I remember your name now. You, along with Prince Hans of the Southern Isles tried to eliminate Queen Anna and her sister, Queen Emerita Elsa?” Vi asked. “I was quite ruthless to the Southern Isles some time ago.”
“Uh, yes, unfortunately.” the Duke sheepily answered.
“And yet, you two allied with us during the Arendelle-Russo war and lost your own ship?” Vi asked.
“Yes, I did, Countess.” the Duke repeated.
Vi then said, without her usual cold tone, “Thank you for your sacrifice. Without it, the Battle for Arenfjord may have ended in our defeat. I almost lost my dear friend, Hilde, in that battle. I appreciate what you and Hans did to help stop Yaraslaf.”
“You are too, too kind, Countess Viola.” the Duke answered.
“Call me Vi.”
Then I introduced him to Commander Hilde. “Hmm, yes. I have heard of you. Your knowledge, strategic skills and knowledge of weapons are well known, Commander. I’ve heard of your conquests and victories in battle. Very impressive.” the Duke complimented.
“Thank you very much, Duke. I’ve heard of you and your reputation as well – one of betrayal and constant defeat,” said Hilde, ever the direct one. “I’m not sure which of the two is more embarrassing.”
“Well, ahem, yes. That is in the past my good Commander,” said The Duke.
“That is good, because both betrayal and failure are unacceptable to me.” Hilde said, while her eyes flashed a brilliant yellow and a slight werewolfish growl came from deep within her.
“She’s a lycanthrope. A werewolf!” I said softly. The Duke got nervous again. I reassured him by saying, “they’re our very good friends, especially mine.”
“They are, Michael?” he confirmed worriedly. “For my own sake, I hope you’re telling the truth.”
“Yes, indeed.” I answered we regaled him with tales on how we met, Vi’s and Hilde’s bond and our special friendship, especially with Vi’s horrible past and how Anna saw the good that Vi could do. How when Hilde was near death after being destroyed by Yaraslaf, I visited her, Tess and Vi that terrible night. How Hilde as the Werewolf saved little Danny from a kidnapper, and so on.
“Amazing,” he admitted. “I have to say, you have some heartwarming memories to share.”
“Indeed,” I said as we went on to meet more guests. He got to meet Princess Danny, the Time Spirit and my ice princess niece. Raps, Eugene and Cass, Selene and Gunther, my “right hand man.” Also the Northuldrans’ Leader, Yelana, Home Minister Honeymaren, and her brother Ryder, who heads the Northuldran Trust.
It was then time for the dinner buffet. All the food on the great table, as The AG described, was fantastic. Lovely fare and good conversation as we “broke bread” and dined with our friends. We did leave room for some pie, cake and libations.
Most stayed to dine on desserts in the main hall while those of us who enjoyed dessert and conversation with some good tobacco went out to the balustrade. I found out ole’ Duke likes his pipeful of mild English now and then to relax by. I tried some as I shared some prime Kentucky Burley that came from America. The others there enjoyed either pipe or a good cigar. I gave some Punch cigars from England to try.
Later, we joined the others for the music of the Arendelle Philharmonic and the operetta Luna at the Kingdom Hall for a lovely performance. The Duke joined us as I explained to him before the performance how Countess Viola, with her fortune from the Mundilfari family, funded the Philharmonic for the cultural enrichment of both Arendelle and Northuldra. The performance was exemplary.
As our international guests either were leaving or staying on their boats on the Fjord, the Duke, myself, Queen Anna and Vi with Sir Alan, escorted him to his ship. He had to get back for “pressing business,” he said.
“I want to thank you all for the most wonderful time I’ve had here,” the Duke exclaimed. “You can be sure Weselton will be a great trading partner and ally to you, Queen Anna. Oh yes, Happy Birthday, Your Majesty.”
“Thank you, Duke. Seeing you here now is present enough for me. It seems you have changed for the better,” Queen Anna observed.
As the Duke was going up the gang plank to his ship and we were saying our goodbyes, I noticed a circular object in The Duke’s right hand coat pocket and at the same time, the tobacco tin missing from mine.
“Say Duke, whatcha’ got in your coat pocket?” I asked.
“Heh, heh, why nothing, of course.” he answered.
“Of course,” I said. “COUNTESS! ALAN!”
Vi flashed her brilliant red eyes, fangs and nails while Sir Alan reached for his sword and I uncovered my Colt. Elsa’s right hand started glowing winter blue.
Startled, scared a bit, the Duke reached in his pocket saying, “OOO, UH, yes, well I seem to have your tin of Burley Tobacco and a couple of cigars of yours! Hehehheh, now how did they get in there?” he said with a cheesy grin.
“Aww what the heck, I would have given them to ‘ya anyway, Duke! You can keep them. Just ask next time.” I said. Sensing the tone, Vi, Alan and Elsa backed down.
“Thank you, Master Michael,” the Duke humbly said, given the appropriate scare – not too cruel, but just enough for him to know that we knew what he was like.
We watched his and the ships sail out the next morning. Yep, Duke may have mellowed, but you gotta keep an eye on him! He can still pull a fast one or two.
Note on my desk:
Dear Trade Minister. Thanks for the cash advance on our agreement!
Signed, the Duke Of Weselton.
“Cash advance? What the? MY WALLET! THAT WEASELBOY STOLE MY WALLET! STOP THAT SHIP! WAIT’LL I GET MY HANDS ON HIS SCRAWNY ASS!