Interlude: The Queen and Her Plan

Anna wanted some time alone. When Elsa wasn’t around, she would go to a place that represented not only Arendelle’s rise to world prominence and prestige, but also served as a symbol of her political savvy and ability to build bridges. This was Arendelle Hall, which had been built with Viola Mundilfari’s sponsorship and where the Arendelle Philharmonic performed regularly. Arendelle Hall represented, to Anna, everything that she was focused on protecting: a community center around which the whole kingdom could gather and everyone could bask in the national culture, identity, and aesthetic taste they had built together as a kingdom, united by the Diarchy and taken forward by Anna.

It was why she felt at home here when she needed some time out of her throne room. To think. To brood. Even a queen needed privacy, away from her ministers and jarls, all of whom were clamoring for explanations about the sudden disappearance of the prime minister, Vi herself. Legislation stuck. Laws, bills, and proposals languishing amidst political chaos and factional infighting. And there she was, every single day in the parliament of the Great Assembly, looking and feeling like a fool as she tried to hold her government together without Vi’s stern yet charismatic hand… the darkness to Anna’s light. Her shadow. Her companion.

Continue reading “Interlude: The Queen and Her Plan”

Alan and Hilde, Part One: Dream Team for Anna

Spring was in the air, and just as nature was reborn every year, Sir Alan, commander of the Borealis Corps, also felt like he’d enjoyed a makeover.

He had arrived at the outskirts of Arendelle, where the woods began. The air was crisp and cool and fresh, and when he exhaled, having taken a deep and happy breath, freezing mist issued from his lips – a foreshadowing of the power he had attained. A hint of the might he was planning to unleash on Arendelle’s enemies.

He trekked further in, deeper into the forest, where his appointment awaited. He felt rather uncomfortable in his military-style uniform, but it was his duty to look on tip-top form wherever he went; such were the trappings of his high office, the most senior rank just below General Mattias himself. In fact, the kingdom was now protected by what the Arendellian press called the Big Three. First there was Mattias, who commanded the army and navy, and then there was Alan, who’d been knighted by Queen Anna early on in her reign and led the Borealis Corps as Anna and Elsa’s royal guard. There was one more, the most shadowy of the trio.

And it just so happened that she and Alan had an appointment today.

Continue reading “Alan and Hilde, Part One: Dream Team for Anna”

Michael’s Musings: Ahtohallan Calling

As we left you from my last article, we had trekked back to the Northuldran settlement to pack up and head back for Arendelle as quickly as possible. Queen Anna had sent everyone an urgent note, telling us of the happenings of our advanced agents, plus Countess Viola’s urgent trip back to the Jotenheimen Mountains, the land of Keep Mundilfari. Commander Von Altheim and Sir Alan had gone with some of her troops to see if Vi needed help. We also postponed going to Ahtohallan with Elsa, the Fifth Spirit, my Snow Queen niece. Would’ve been nice.

But…

We got back to the settlement, surprised to see two visitors who arrived. To my amazement, it was Time Spirit Princess Danielle and Selene Severin, royal librarian and head of the Ravens, the spies of the Arendellian government and crown.

“Hello, Mummy!” Danny said as she ran into Elsa’s outstretched arms. Elsa picked up and hugged the little ice princess and said, “Sweetie, what are you doing here? I thought you’d be with Olaf and Auntie!”

“Danny’s been hearing a noise that she said sounded like what her Mummy heard, when she was being led to Ahtohallan,” Selene said.

“I asked Auntie Anna if I could go, and she said only if someone went with me,” Danny said.

Bruni was on Elsa’s shoulder, happy to see Danny as he wagged his tail and grinned. “Hi Bruni!” Danny said as the fire salamander leapt into Danny hands.

“I volunteered because I’ve been wanting to come up to Northuldra, to meet the people and learn about them,” Selene explained. I do have my ancient Kveldulf amulet along to keep us safe on the journey.”

The Kveldulf amulet is the same one that Selene used against Vi and Hilde. Once things settled down I talked to Selene, I advised her to keep it handy for emergencies.

“Good girl,” I complimented to Selene. I then started to ask Danny; “You said you heard what mummy heard before they…”

AH-ah-AH-Ah!”

“See, there it is again!” Danny said.

AH-ah-AH-Ah.”

“I hear it now!” Elsa exclaimed.

AH-ah-AH-Ah. AHAH!-AHAh aaaaahhhh.” Elsa and Danny heard it again.

“Uh, Elsa?” I said. “I heard it too.”

Elsa, Danny, Selene, everyone turned around to see the shocked and surprised expression on my face.

“What? But you’re not magic, Uncle. You’re mortal.”

“I know. But still…”

Elsa pondered it, then said: “It must be a very urgent call for Ahtohallan to call you as well, Uncle. Looks like the trip to Ahtohallan is back on.”

“Yup, it is.” I said.

I got out my warmest clothes because of the more intense cold at Ahtohallan. “Can I go too, Mummy?” Danny asked. Elsa and me were worried for Danny’s safety, but Auntie packed warm clothes for Danny. Queen Anna thinks of everything! We got dressed, Elsa made an ice wagon for us three. The Nokk was hitched up and we were off for Ahtohallan and an experience one will never forget!

*

We made a quick stop at the shipwreck which was on the way to the Dark Sea. We stopped to let Danny explore and tell her about her grandparents, King Agnarr and Queen Iduna, who died while trying to get to Ahtohallan to find the answers to Elsa’s powers, and how Grandma Iduna’s good deed in saving Grandpa Agnarr resulted in the Spirits’ gifting Elsa. It was a very bittersweet time there, but necessary.

We then got back into the wagon and sped off for Ahtohallan. The sea was was calmed by the Nokk as Elsa made an ice path for what was now an ice sleigh.

Across the ice we sped and made it to Athohallan in no time. Elsa and Danny both breathed in the frosty cold, clean, invigorating polar air. I breathed it in. Elsa said  “Careful Uncle!”

It took a bit of my breath away, but I still said “Ole’ mountain man here!” They giggled while I did wheeze a bit!

“I hear ya’ Old Mountain Man!” Elsa jested back. We grinned and chuckled with each other then.

By the time we made the shoreline, Danny and myself were in our warm clothes, gloves or mittens, coats and hats, ready to go inside.

“You two alright?” Elsa asked me and Danny. “Yes, mummy. I’m just so excited!” Danny said.

“I’m good, Elsa.” I answered. “I see the cold still doesn’t bother you!” I said with a cheesy grin!

“Only if I go too deep and drown!” Elsa replied with a grin.

“Mummy won’t do that, will you?” asked the Time Spirit.

“Hahaha. No, sweetie. Not again.” Elsa said.

“It didn’t bother me much when I was younger,” I said. “Then I got older. And colder!”

Danny and Elsa laughed. “Oh Uncle!” Elsa said while shaking her head playfully.

We entered the great Athohallan. The ice cave entrance was spectacular as a magical light lit the way to the next corridor, where Elsa had slid down to where she made the ice pillars she jumped from to enter the main chamber on her first visit. She made an ice stairway when her and Anna visited a couple of years ago.

We decended, hand in hand down the steps from one corridor to the next. We passed through the triangular opening that led us to the room where stood the massive ice columns. Needless to say, Danny and I were like, “Woaaaaaahh!” as we took in the icy beauty of this place.

“They were all on the floor in heaps when I firat came here. I used my powers to upright them.” Elsa said.

“How long did it take you? Hours? Days?” I asked.

“Oh, just a few seconds, really!” Elsa said with her grin!

“Holy cow!” I said, mouth hanging open in shock and surprise! I smiled and said, “That’s my niece, the Snow Queen fer ya! Love how you work!”

“Wow, Mummy!” The little ice princess said in amazement. “Totally Awesome!” Elsa let off a giggle and said “Someday, you’ll do the same!”

“I know you will, littlest snow.” I said. “Time and practice.”

We entered into the darkened, inner chamber. It was lit with a magical white light that was very brilliant. We looked all around it.

“It’s a dome,” I said. “Amazing!”

“You’ve only seen a third of it. There are still places I haven’t found yet.” Elsa said. “It is generations, millennia old, Uncle. Yet it reads all memories for generations. Just call politely to it, Uncle. Give it a try!”

“Okay,” I said. I then addressed Ahtohallan personall. “We have come at your calling. What can you show us, please.”

The dome went from white to its dark icy blue, then all of the memories of us three were projected on the wall to see! Iduna as a little girl, calling out to Gale to rescue an unconscious Agnarr. Using our memories, the image of Iduna appeared on the wall behind us, smiling and happy to see her daughter again.

“Hello Little Snow,” the image said. With tears in her eyes, Elsa replied, “Hello Mother.”

The image looked at me and echoed, “Hello Michael. It’s nice to see you again.”

I choked up and just barely managed to wheeze, “I’ve missed you, Your Majesty.”

“Iduna, Michael. Iduna, remember? We’ve been friends a long time.”

“Yes, we have.” I acknowledged, tearing up.

“Who’s this cute little one you have with you?”

Elsa said, “This is Princess Danielle. She has ice powers as well. We rescued her from her abusive parents, the king and queen of Mirerini. We adopted her.”

“If I still lived, I would be your Grandmother.” Iduna’s image said happily.

“I think I’d love that, Grandma. Mummy, Auntie Anna, Uncle Kristoff and Great Uncle Mike have been so kind to me.” Danny said. “Watch this, Grandma!” Danny waved her hands and a snowman like Olaf appeared before their eyes. She then rolled and threw her hands up in the air and a flurry of snow gently fell around us.

“Ahtohallan has it’s own powers and rules that I’m still learning to comprehend. It is quite amazing!” Elsa said.

“Good evening everyone,” echoed a warm, masculine voice. King Agnarr’s image shimmered into sight. waving greetings. “Hello Elsa, my daughter.”

As Elsa sniffled, the image turned to me. “And hello, Michael.”

“Hello, Agnarr,” I said, so overcome with emotion that I dispensed with formalities. I hung my head. “I first want to say how sorry I am that we broke up on such bad terms…”

“You were forgiven long ago, old friend.” Agnarr’s image replied. “We all weren’t thinking very clearly back then.”

“No, we weren’t.” I said. “No hard feelings?”

“Never, my champion. My only regret is not having been able to go sleighing with you one last time.”

My shoulders shook. “A deep regret of mine, too,” I whispered.

Elsa said, “Daddy, Uncle’s been such a blessing since he returned to Arendelle. His advice and love for us has really helped Anna and myself.”

“It was my pleasure to help them. We all needed some healing. Elsa still had some struggles as did Anna.” I added.

“Look at her now, Michael,” Iduna said.

“I know.” I said. “When I saw her up close after their journey, it was the proudest, happiest day of my life.”

“Well, not perfect.” Elsa said. “Uncle keeps his door open for us if we need to talk about our troubles.”

I blushed as I felt as if the eyes of the actual King and Queen were on me. “We’re all stonger together when we carry our burdens with each other.”

The images then disappeared as the fog swirled around us, filling the room. As quickly as it came, the fog dissapeared and ice images of our memories came into sight. Elsa smiled as we looked on in utter amazement.

“Come and see this.” Elsa beckoned. Danny and I walked over to the memory of how Iduna rescued Agnarr. The ice statues moved to show how Gale gently laid Agnarr in the wagon as Iduna laid next to the unconscious prince as she covered up with her shawl to not be seen. Danny gasped in amazement while I stood there in awe.

“What’s that over there? Danny asked as she turned her head. It was the ice statues replaying my babysitting nights with Elsa and Anna.

“Tell us a story, Uncle.” Little Anna asked.”

Little Elsa said, “Please? One of the Bible stories!”

“Alright, you two!” Uncle said with glee. “As Momma would say, cuddle close, scootch in! Ah, the story of Daniel in the Lion’s den…”

A great scream: “No! Stay back! I don’t want to hurt you, Uncle!” came from across the room. The image of uncle picking up a scared Elsa and holding her to calm her fears emerged.

The Fifth Spirit came up beside me, placed her cool hand on my shoulder and whispered “Thank you, Uncle.”

We hugged.

It closed with the day in Ellicott Mills of me sobbing over the news of the deaths of Agnarr and Iduna. A little girl, scurrying through the night from a party in Arendelle Castle was the ice image of Princess Danny, running from her abusers. It cut to where Queen Anna found her. “Hey there, are you OK? “Anna’s image asked. The ice powers came from Danny’s hands as Elsa came and lifted her up.

“Don’t be scared,” Elsa’s image said to Danny’s.

Countess Viola and Danny playing together happily came up in another memory. Then this one:

Danny smiled a big smile seeing those memories.

Then Runeard’s image arrived. “Ooohhh!” Elsa said.

“Who’s that?” Danny asked.

“Great-Grandpa Runeard,” I said.

 “Oooohhh!!” Danny said. Elsa flicked her hand and CRASH, the image shattered like she did to Hans’.

“We don’t talk about Runeard. No, no, no!” I quipped. I’ve got other words about him, but not for little Danny’s ears!

There were a lot more ice sculpture memories, too many to list here. Then the images vanished. Everything turned dark blue again. This time, Grand Pabbie’s image appeared. “Pabbie!” Elsa said in her stoic, quiet voice.

“It is good to see you again, Fifth Spirit.” Pabbie said. “And how are you, my sweet Ice Princess Danielle?”

“Hello, Pabbie!” Danny said excitedly. “I’m fine, thank you.”

“Master Michael, it’s been a while since we last met, sir. How are you?” Pabbie asked.

“It’s been too long, sir. We’re doing good.” I answered. We’ve enjoyed touring Elsa’s sanctuary and refuge here, wondering at all the ice memory scenes here.”

“I am one of the few outside of Northuldra that knows of Ahtohallan and the river of memories it contains. I can for now, communicate with you through my magic and Ahtohallan’s temporarily. Elsa, I was very pleased that it had all of the answers and your destiny of being The Fifth Spirit along with your sister, Anna.” Pabbie said. Which brings me to why Ahtohallan and I sent the sirens call. It was a chance with Michael not being magic, but the risk and urgency was worth it.”

With that, Grand Pabbie started with his message.

 “Queen Anna has set Arendelle and Northuldra on a perilous path with Yixin recruting her to recover the Elixir of Life from Chang’e and the Moonborn and form a new Exhalted. Yixin is a rebellious child of Chang’e and she had to break up the pieces and have the Moonborn guard them because of him. This journey, while dangerous, marks a crucial time for Arendelle. Already, steps have been taken to shore up Arendelle’s affairs worldwide, but this journey will test the character of Anna. Such power like The Elixir could corrupt her as it would anyone who is tempted with its promise.”

Pabbie continued, “It is up to you, Michael and Danny along with Kristoff, Sir Alan, and Viola to help guide Queen Anna in doing The Next Right Thing where the Elixir and Yixin is concerned.”

“Elsa, as the Fifth Spirit and Snow Queen of The Enchanted Forest, your powers will be needed to fend off the The Moonborn. They will not stop until either defeated or your sister, Anna is stopped. Again, we hope your powers are enough. Anna will be needing your love and sisterly advise at this time. Your togetherness

will be tested.” Pabbie advised

“Michael. Your Faith in God, will give Anna rock solid direction in the decisions Anna must make. The Ten Commandments are what the next right thing needs to steer her along the dangerous straits and fjords of world politics and in this journey. Michael, give her wise council.

“Danny. Even though you are still a young child, you are still valuable to this endeavor. The royal family accepted you as their own when your Father and Mother abused and forsook you. Your love will make the difference for Queen Anna at the right time. Stay strong for her as you stood strong against the nightmares that no longer torment you.”

Grand Pabbie concluded; “The future of Arendelle, Northuldra and the world are at stake. Please, act wisely. For as we speak, at Keep Mundilfari, Viola is now enslaved to the Moonborn, Magnificent Maximillian, as he handily defeated Mephistopheles. Commander Von Altheim is on her way with the Borealis Corps. When they meet, it will be a cataclysmic battle!”

“Thank you, Grand Pabbie.” Elsa said. “We will do our best.”

I shook my head in agreement and said: ” I’ve had major concerns with Anna taking this on and I am worried for her. I just hope she stays the same sweet, loving Anna we know. The Moonborn, Yixin, Chang’e…”

“I know, Uncle. I am too,” Elsa said. “Whatever happens, I promised Anna that we’ll do it together.”

“All of us, Elsa my wonderful Snow Queen niece. All of us!” I added.

“That’s double for me, Mummy!” the little Time Spirit enthusiastically chirped in!

“I know I could count on you all. Good fortune, my friends.” Pabbie said as his image faded out as we waived goodbye.

The chamber was then lit with a brighter ice blue glow. We looked at each other. Elsa picked up Danny. I embraced them both. We stayed like that for what seemed an eternity.

After a good night’s sleep in the warm alcove Elsa made for guests to stay overnight, I woke up first to a clear, cold, crisp arctic morning with a spectacular sunrise! I found a place to sit eith a blanket under me, I took out my rustic pipe, filled with a fine burley, lit up and had a very nice relaxing smoke. Elsa came outside ne t to me and asked, “Contemplating, Uncle?”

“Yes indeed.” I said. All of everything we’ve witnessed and seen here just blows my mind. Ahtohallan is truly an enchanting, beautiful and wonderful place. Think we can return again one day? Maybe when the world is not in trouble?” I said smiling.

“Sure,” Elsa said with a chuckle.” My family is always welcome here.”

“I’m glad you think so Mummy. I love it here!” Danny said as she came out and joined us.

We got back into the sleigh and rode back to the Northuldrans settlement. Lunch, drinks and dessert with Yelena, Ryder and Honeymaren. Selene joined us. “This place is very fascinating,” Selene said. It is very enchanting and the people here are just lovely.”

“I’m very glad you love it here.” Honeymaren said. We were glad to meet you!”

“Come, let’s do dinner. Tell us about your adventures, you three.” Yelena said inviting us to dine with the Northuldrans.

Next morning, Elsa, Selene, Danny and myself packed up the wagon, said goodbyes and departed with Maren joining us to meet with Queen Anna.

Next stop, ARENDELLE!

Mund-Bjorgman: A Superpower Emerges

Should I go missing for more than a week, take this seal out of my drawer. break this seal.

Tess Gaunt sat on the big bed that she, the Countess, and Hilde shared, her hand shaking as it clutched a cylindrical container with a broken seal. She had just snapped it, at the written command left behind by Vi before she’d left the prime minister’s Grand House in Arendelle for Mundilfari Keep. Now, Hilde was also gone, leaving their once-warm home for their found family empty. This former sex worker whom Vi had rescued from a life of squalor, and terror and death at the hands of Thomas Hunt in London, had been crying for days on end. She wept for the disappearance of the woman that had saved her life and fought for her dignity even harder than she had done for herself – all the while showing her that she was worth it, and she had to live like she was worth it. That was how Vi defied even death, renewed her contract with her now-destroyed master Mephisto (though Tess didn’t know at this time), and came back for her. For Hilde. For Anna and all her friends.

Tess gingerly squeezed, her thumb breaking off the wax seal that encased two scrolls of paper. The first, smaller parchment was just one sentence, and read, in Vi’s elegant and refined scrawl:

Hilde, Tess – whichever one of you opened this, get this letter to Kristoff, pronto. Kisses, Vi.

“Huh? But Hilde’s already set off for Mundilfari Keep. I suppose it’ll have to be me.” Brow furrowing and green eyes glimmering in curiosity, Tess tossed the lesser scroll aside and rolled out the larger one, her eyes falling on Vi’s handwriting again:

Kristoff,

I know we’ve never been particularly close. You’re Anna’s partner, her rock, while I’m her shadow, her prime minister. As her shadow, I’ve often been like her opposite, even her opposition. Yet the shadow could also be an eternal companion, defined by darkness yet forever part of its figure. And in this way, as I sense that I’ve been pulled away from Anna by forces beyond my control, I ask that you act quickly on my behalf, so that I can continue to protect Anna even from far away.

Great and powerful forces, even more ancient and deadly than Katina Romanov and her Grand Dukes, converge on Arendelle. Regardless of how I feel about our queen’s obsession with fulfilling Yixin’s goal – and he’s someone I refused a long time ago – I wish to do my duty to foolproof Anna’s plans, and your Bjorgman company is critical to my hope that Arendelle can become at least a regional superpower ready to take on the Moonborn.

Keep Mundilfari has already been taken over by a sinister force that I suspect is the Moonborn’s first strike against Anna’s movements. We must consolidate our resources and marshal the kind of defences that currently, only great empires like that of the British and French are capable of. We must catch up to the likes of the Russians and Prussians as soon as possible. To that end, I’ve relinquished my ownership of all my businesses, and named you their new director, including proprietorship of my paper, The Arendelle Guardian.

In return, I ask that you form a new umbrella company to encompass our property, shipping, and trade interests: name it Mund-Bjorgman, if you may indulge me.

Mund-Bjorgman will be larger than any Arendellian corporation before it. It’ll be our kingdom’s first multinational, encompassing dozens upon dozens of firms once managed by you and me separately. Now, they’re all yours. Yours to expand with. Yours to make Arendelle mighty with.

My dear boy. We women desire to love and be loved a man. Whether it’s a father, uncle, brother, friend, or lover, a woman yearns desperately to be loved by men. See how Anna surrounds herself with the men in her life. General Mattias. You. Uncle Michael. Sir Alan. As her shadow, and whose fate is now uncertain, what I can do is pass on what I still have to you, so that you can make Arendelle strong, the greatest fortress, for our Anna. I know you’ll manage our joint enterprise well, and as the new owner of The Arendelle Guardian and many other companies under Mund-Bjorgman, I wish you well. Consider this my last service for our queen, should I not return.

Goodbye, boy. Now get out there and take over the world with our company!

Vi

*

Stock exchange, Arendelle

It was a busy day on the Arendellian trading floor, a foothill away from the Great Assembly where government policy was hammered out between the ministers and jarls. Until recently, at least. Without Vi, every day in government was a misery, with Anna trying to hold everything together as the very political system she had established crumbled before everyone’s eyes. There was even talk that the Great Assembly might need to appoint a new prime minister to save the queen’s political future, Vi’s presence or absence be damned.

Meanwhile, on the floor of the stock exchange, traders in elegant frock coats and blazers scrambled about, waving scraps of paper at each other as they sought to purchase, sell, and leverage bonds and companies. On the Great Board, a massive chalkboard with a huge table that listed all the values of Arendellian companies and those of foreign corporations listed in the kingdom (Harrison had once tried to list his company in Arendelle, but was blocked by executive act by the monarch). The burly Lars Krogh, boss of the powerful company Skau-Krogh and nominally a subsidiary of Bjorgman, stood among the shouting and running traders.

“Now’s the right time,” he said to a tall and refined man beside him. He glanced up at the balcony that lined the circular trading floor, glimpsing Kristoff, his nominal business ally, glaring down at him. “With Vi nowhere to be found, Bjorgman stock has been collapsing. Now is the perfect time to short the company, and finally bring it down.” He glanced at his companion. “Sell a hundred thousand worth of Bjorgman shares, Mr. Hansen.”

The flaming-haired Erik Hansen was Lars’ banker, and he blanched. “I know you enjoy raiding companies and taking them over, but don’t you think it’s a bad time to be trying to take over your own partner’s company? After all, it’s Kristoff, the queen’s beloved and manager of Bjorgman. He’ll get all the support he needs to keep his company’s value from slipping.”

“Buy or sell, the broker makes one tenth of any transaction,” snarled Lars, staring up at Kristoff glaring down at him. This was a betrayal of their previous covenant, but Lars didn’t care. The opportunity was too sweet. All was fair in love and war, anyway. No lame ducks, no sore losers.

“Yes, Mr. Krogh, if the client can afford it.”

Now it was Erik who received Lars’s death-stare. “Are you saying my credit isn’t good enough, Mr. Hansen?”

“Um, no, I – “

“Good! Then do as I ask right now, Mr. Hansen! Make it two hundred thousand bonds, damn you.”

“Two hundred thousand worth of Bjorgman?” cried Erik. “Do you know how many small investors, common folk, have stock in Bjorgman’s? Your devaluation would be a bloodbath! Thousands of ‘mom and pop’ stockholders would be wiped out – “

Lars’ face went purple with rage. “If you won’t do as I ask I’ll take my business elsewhere! I don’t need a lecture on Arendellian economics. The Princely House is tottering, its political support through the Mundilfari clan, disappeared. The queen herself is looking to be on very, very shaky ground. Odin and Thor themselves are urging me, on behalf of my own company, Skau-Krogh, to launch an assault. So do it now, Mr. Hansen! I want to see it on the Great Board today.”

Erik sighed. “It’s your money, Mr. Krogh. But there’s never been so many Bjorgman bonds on offer in the two hundred-year history of our exchange! The queen could suspend trading if chaos ensues.”

“Then I suggest you get started,” sneered Lars.

Erik strode out to the centre of the circular trading floor, where traders criss-crossed the worn-down stone floor. “I have two hundred thousand Bjorgman,” shouted Erik, waving a piece of paper in his hand. After a shocked silence, immediately all the traders rushed toward him, mobbing his struggling form as they haggled and screamed their offers. They were only silenced by a mighty bellow from the balcony.

“WE BUY,” cried Kristoff. From behind him emerged the other directors of Bjorgman, Leif and Jacques. They smirked, flanking Kristoff in support.

Silence again.

“All my shares?” stuttered Erik, looking up at Kristoff in shock. He was still surrounded by traders and fellow bankers.

“Yes,” confirmed Kristoff confidently. “Yours… and all the rest!”

“With what?” called out Lars Krogh scornfully. “That’s over two million kroner in cash.”

“The Princely House has enough for your assault and much more,” barked Kristoff. “Has that ever been in dispute?”

“Well, I doubt it,” boomed Lars.

“Not so fast,” said Kristoff. A bead of sweat ran down Erik’s face as Kristoff stared directly at him and Lars. “Let me assuage your doubts, then, along with any my investors might have.”Lars’ face was twisted in surprise and rage as Kristoff smirked, crossing his arms. “As of this day, Bjorgman and the Mundilfari estate are merged into a mega-corporation. Arendelle’s biggest company, and its first true multinational. This is the day of Mund-Bjorgman, and together we are valued at over a hundred million kroner. We’re going to use our holdings to protect the kingdom,” he began shouting, as the traders descended into an excited uproar and he could barely hear himself over the cacophany, “and our resources are near-limitless!” He pointed a finger at Lars as Jacques and Leif shook hands triumphantly, clapping each other on the shoulders. “I don’t need Skau-Krogh’s portfolio anymore, man. You’re a slimy, weasely betrayer. I’m glad Lady Vi predicted this, and merged us to fend you and others off. Get packing.”

I sure hope you know what you’re doing, Countess. For Anna. For her goals, and to move against the Moonborn, thought Kristoff to himself, even as he couldn’t help enjoying Lars’ furious face. Erik looked crushed as the traders abandoned him like vultures do a fleshless carcass, flocking to Kristoff’s feet and begging for a slice of the generous pie from the newly incorporated Mund-Bjorgman.

Heck, I sure hope know what I’m doing.

Concern Grows as Queen Anna Announces Search for Missing PM Vi

By Political Reporter Mikael and Crime Correspondent Helga

The Arendellian Great Assembly and palace are in a state of near-panic as government affairs grind to a halt in the absence of the prime minister, Countess Vi Mundilfari.

Domestic issues of tax levies, the funding of charities, and shipping are as neglected as relations with Central Europe’s kingdoms, trade with the New World, and the most recent drafts of the Northuldran treaties.

The queen has offered a personal reward of 100,000 kroner for information leading to updates about the situation of the noblewoman, who is famously known as Arendelle’s first and only vampire and an extremely influential political player. She was once Anna’s rival, but has since been an important ally. In the last few weeks since she departed Arendelle for her home estate of Mundilfari Keep, she has not returned to the kingdom.

“I’m worried about her personal safety. I’m concerned that something has gone wrong, even though she insisted that no one follow her,” our queen said in a heartfelt personal statement. “I need her back by our side, with me in the Great Assembly, governing and guiding the kingdom. Without her, we’re in trouble. Without her, my agenda isn’t just incomplete, it’s in peril.”

Rumors have swirled giddily among palace courtiers that another Arendellian noblewoman, Hilde Von Altheim, is moving to investigate Mundilfari Keep. Hilde is known to many as Vi’s right hand, the loyal shadow that serves her unconditionally and faithfully: a lethal threat, but also a formidable ally for the same reason. It’s said that the queen has given Hilde permission to follow in Vi’s footsteps and investigate the circumstances of the Countess’s disappearance.

In the name of national interest, our own newspaper of The AG has commissioned a group of senior reporters with investigative training to work with private investigators to delve into the Countess’s whereabouts.

*

It burned.

Vi felt extremities seared to the point as if they were melting. She felt faint, but could at the same time feel both scorching heat and the coolness of the void around her. A few paces before her, back turned, was Majestic Max, his hand staring at his hand as he inspected his fingernails.

“Where am I?” growled the immortal undead woozily, unsuccesfully trying to move her ankles and wrists. They were immobile, and she was suspended in mid-air, her surroundings completely black.

“We’re still in Mundilfari Keep, your home,” said Max snootily. “This is a pocket realm of my own craft, which allows me to hide my physical presence, even though you could sense me moving through the walls. Every Moonborn can do this.” He turned around and looked Vi in the eye. “I plan to use you to get close to Anna, but I think it’ll be good to let Arendelle stew for a while before we return together, and you get me into Anna’s inner circle. But I have a different prize in mind, one that I want to eliminate before we go to the queen.” He smiled. “Hilde. Your general. Your lady knight.”

“She’s coming for me?” groaned Vi, unable to hide the concern in her voice. “I told her and Tess to stay out of this.”

“I’m counting on her coming for you,” declared Max. “You and Hilde are the only people in the entirety of Arendelle that can match the snow queen Elsa’s might… in fact, the three of you are the only few that come close to challenging us Moonborn. That’s why, once I have you under my thumb and Hilde defeated, I’ll be in a much stronger position to seize Arendelle, and destroy the heart of this plot to steal our elixir fragments from us in the bud.”

Vi snorted, mind racing on how she could get out of this mess… and somehow stop Hilde from making a rash move against Majestic Max. “Shouldn’t you be blaming Yixin for our conflict, anyway?”

“Oh, I hold him responsible too. But his rivalry with us, with Mother, is measured in millennia. While you and Anna shouldn’t flatter yourselves. At most, you might be a threat to us for a few centuries, and even then Anna will be long dead. At worst, you and your Exalted friends are nothing more than nuisances.” Majestic Max licked his lips. “I’m going to defeat Hilde, along with the Mundilfari Court Guard she no doubt will bring with her. And then, I will be free to move into Arendelle, with you under my control and my sights on Queen Anna herself.”

Vi’s crimson eyes glinted. “Nice plan. Except you forgot Elsa. Even if you could topple Hilde, which I have serious doubts about, Arendelle will never fall or lose hope as long as Anna’s big sister watches over us.”

“I defeated you easily. Why should I not expect to do the same for Hilde or Elsa?”

Vi shrugged. “Oh, perhaps you would take either down fairly easily. But what about them both? I sense that they will come for me, together.” Her smile broadened as Majestic Max, for the first time, pursed his lips.

“I suggest you check your arrogance. Bet against Elsa, Anna, or the rest of my friends if you wish, but prepare to lose much money. In fact, I’m not even sure if you’ll get as far as taking me back to Arendelle Castle.”

“Shut up!” cried Majestic Max. “I’m a Moonborn of Mother Chang’e. I’ll beat your friends easily.”

“We’ll see, loony,” smirked Vi. For now, she stopped struggling, content to enjoy the superbeing’s discomfort at the prospect of being confronted by a werewolf and the Snow Queen.

“We’ll see.”

The Moonborn Strike, the End of Mundilfari

It had been quite some time since she set foot on her ancestral estate.

“Countess, we’re here. Welcome back. To Mundilfari Keep.”

Vi opened her red eyes, remembering that she was in her carriage. She’d opted for a week-long journey up to the Jotunheimen Mountains, the traditional route she’d always taken when she was still a human being and heiress to her clan, which she’d wiped out herself. In times of old, Mundilfari nobles would descend from their lofty castle, symbolically condescending to hold court with their monarch in the unwashed main town of Arendelle. Vi had seen it fitting, in an attempt to break with her family’s poisonous past and ideology, to move out of the Keep and into the Grand House overlooking the hillside in Arendelle, near the buildings of the Great Assembly, the parliament that served Anna.

The prime minister looked around her sumptuous interior, before calling out to her carriageman, “The courtyard will do, Andreas. thanks.”

“Certainly, ma’am.” Vi could hear the horses’ hooves clopping to a stop, and she opened the door, lightly levitating from her carriage before lightly descending on to the ground. She looked around the decrepit plaza, a flood of memories surging back in this spacious place, where she used to receive guests… guests like Anna. A long time ago, they’d met here for the very first time, when Vi still believed in her family’s mission to control the royals. Anna had resisted. The two women quickly became rivals, and for a while, their political contests nearly defined Arendelle’s future direction: would it be one steered by Anna’s vision, or one by the Mundilfari creed?

That was so long ago, before Russia invaded Arendelle in the greatest test of Anna’s life, and Vi journeyed to England and, through a series of dark twists with a demonic man called Thomas Hunt, became the kingdom’s first vampiress.

Vi chuckled to herself. “It feels like an age away. Now, I couldn’t imagine not being with her. Working with her. Supporting her.”

“Countess,” said Andreas, “should I wait for you here?”

“No,” said Vi, shaking her head. “Return to Arendelle and report back to Hilde. I’ve already ordered the evacuation of this whole castle, from my groundskeeper and my gardeners to the cooks and the remaining few maids that keep this place from falling into complete disrepair. But now, its time has finally come. This old home where I used to play my grand piano and enjoy the mountain breeze, Mundilfari Keep, is no more.”

“What… what do you mean, my lady? Surely we all serve you with devotion. We must stay with you!”

Her vampiric eyes gleamed. “I mean, Andreas, it’s not safe here. Now shoo, before I bare my fangs at you.”

She left the courtyard, entering into one of the corridors that led to the many halls of the castle. Even as her high heels clacked on the ancient stone floor or pressed against the mouldy old carpeting that had pressed on said stone for centuries, she could feel an oppressive weight weighing on her shoulders, its powerful aura suffusing the very walls of her old dwelling.

She took her time strolling about, trying to get a feel of the presence that seemed to be watching her from every angle. Her mind raced as she wandered into the dining hall, staring at the long table where she used to dine with Anna and her friends, now bare and empty. She reminisced about playing chess with her queen in the drawing room, its fireplace dead and cold. She went out to one of the balconies, breathing in the cold mountain air and gazing at the forest below. This was the balcony where Hilde had given Anna a friendly spar, and the forest below was where her werewolf general and Elsa once had a mighty duel – one that Vi and Anna had to stop.

She smiled to herself. “That night was a close call.”

She sighed. Despite the memories of a bitter and lonely childhood, as well as a vicious family past in which she’d been complicit, the Keep held good memories too, many of which had accumulated while Elsa and Anna were around. Now, all of that was coming to an end.

She’d sensed it, weeks ago, all the way from her Grand House. Not even Hilde, with her heightened werewolf senses, nor Elsa, could feel the incredibly suffocating presence that had infiltrated Mundilfari Keep. Of course they couldn’t. Anna had stirred the Moonborn from their hiding, and one had evidently set up shop in the Keep, allowing only its master to detect its presence. This was no mere ghost or haunting. Such was the power of the Moonborn, to be able to make themselves invisible to all the senses. It was how they’d lain low for so long.

Vi whispered a sentimental goodbye to her home as she finally felt herself ready to call out the intruder. “I know you’re there, watching me. Get out of my walls.”

“You should be thanking me,” came the echoing voice, as from the aether stepped an elegant leather shoe. The man moving into sight was dressed in a three-piece white suit, immaculate and elegant, his green eyes glinting imperiously. He had short, blond hair that was shaved at the edges, and he wore circular-framed glasses that lent him a scholarly look. Yet his aura bore down on Vi like a ton of bricks, malevolent and hostile. “I came to this home of yours and did a little… pest cleaning.”

“Meaning?”

“The demon that dwells here, Mephistopheles. He knew what I was, and who I’d come for – you. He didn’t want to relinquish you. You were his slave, after all.” He tittered delicately, adjusting his owlish spectacles. “So I, Majestic Maximillian, killed him. He’s gone, dead, kaput. Yes, just like that.”

Vi felt a dreadful sinking in her gut. “The demon that has held me hostage all my life… is defeated?” she confirmed in disbelief. It was too much to take in. Either this freak was lying, or… She regained herself, crimson irises glinting. “Your name is stupid, by the way.”

“Mock me all you want, but to strangle an ancient demon with minimal effort is cakewalk for a Moonborn. Who do you think we are? We’re beings of galactic power. You and your crowd truly don’t know what you’re messing with. What you’ve awakened,” snarled Majestic Max.

“Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re free, far from it.” The interloper suddenly waved his arms, and from thin air crackled four whip-shaped beams of light. “You’re now going to serve me. For Chang’e.” The whips suddenly launched themselves at her, and Vi dived forward, rolling along the floor and sprinting at the man with her fangs bared, roaring. But Majestic Max clicked his fingers, and the whips turned around, striking Vi in the back with the heat of the very Sun. Vi screamed as she felt the white-hot flame opening her pale skin like a hot knife carving through butter. She staggered briefly, mind blank for a few critical moments. She dashed away as the Moonborn’s serpentine weapons continued their relentless assault, snaking their way to the Countess. Her physical form exploded into a warm of bats as she fluttered away, soaring up high to the ceiling before descending onto Majestic Max. At the last moment, she reformed into her humanoid appearance, smashing into him and sending their snarling bodies tumbling along the ground. “Oof!” cried out her adversary, as he scrambled up. He dusted his lapel off and adjusted his glasses. “How inelegant and brutish of you. But you managed to land a scrape on me. That’s impressive.”

Vi howled out a bestial, vampiric roar and slashed at his face with her hand, sharp and indestructible nails aiming for his eyes. Usually, her preternaturally swift attack would have torn a human being to shreds, and even Hilde and Elsa would struggle to parry her. But to her shock, Majestic Max caught her wrist inches from his face, his green eyes staring into hers. She pivoted as fast as she could with a kick aimed at his knee, which would have cleanly sliced through a mortal’s leg. But not his. Instead, he grabbed her in mid-motion with his other hand and twisted, sending her body flying in a gravitational counterattack that sent her crashing to the ground. Just as she scrambled up desperately, he whipped out from his coat pocket an ornate, circular medallion engraved with a crescent moon. Before Vi could react, the whips encircled themselves around her extremities and burned into her skin and flesh. The pain was excruciating, and a screaming Vi collapsed to the floor, before she felt her body being hurled back up to a levitating position, her terrified gaze meeting Majestic Max’s. He raised his medallion, and the Countess felt her arms being forced up and her legs pulled down like a prisoner on a medieval rack.

“The… sign… of a Moon?” whispered Vi, groaning. She was immobilized.

“This is a Lunar Seal,” said the invader triumphantly, “insignia of us Moonborn, children of Chang’e. But it’s so much more. It’s the source of our individual powers, and allows us to channel the immortality bestowed upon us by Mother to manifest whatever power we desire.” The man cackled gleefully. “And it just so happens, mine is holy fire, a solar flare… perfect for undead monstrosities like you. And therefore I choose to seal away your power with energy from the Sun. Not even the First Vampire can take sunlight point-blank in her face. The more you struggle, the more it shall hurt.”

He walked up to the struggling vampire and struck her in the stomach, his fist tearing a fearsome bruise across her abdomen. Vi doubled over, coughing blood.

“Yah! I’m glad that hurt. Now, Countess Mundilfari,” snarled the Moonborn, “if you know what’s good for your precious Hilde and Tess, you’re going to get me close to your beloved queen, Anna.” His eyes glinted with glee at Vi’s helpless glare. “Repeat after me, girl: Majestic Maximillian is the scion of Noble House Heinrich and he comes bearing gifts to the queen. Well, that’s the identity I’m assuming, and that’s how you’re going to introduce me to the Arendellian court.”

He raised his Lunar Seal, snarling, “One last time – don’t try anything funny. I serve Mother Chang’e and the great mission of keeping the elixir of life safe. Your queen has made it her mission to take the fragments from us. And now, I’m going to infiltrate her government and kill her.”

Vi screamed, despite the agony of the rings of light cutting into her wrists and ankles, “You don’t stand a chance against Elsa. If I can’t rip you to shreds, she will.”

Majestic Maximillian smiled.

“Well, she can try. But thanks to you, filthy vampiress, she and Anna will never see me coming.”

*

A MOONBORN MAKES HIS MOVE…

Michael’s Musings: A Northuldran Autumn Getaway

By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle

We had just wrapped up the Summer Session of meetings with the ministers and PM Viola Mundilfari at the Great Assembly, and I was feeling the burn-out! It was time to get a breath of fresh air and finish up what was waiting for us in our offices.

If you’ve read the small, independent paper, The Arendelle Times as well as our beloved Arendelle Guardian, I had some fires to put out and hired staff to delegate a lot of the business of being trade minister. Our Queen Anna has been quite the busy bee, making new friends with many nations and kingdoms as we extend trade relations abroad. The high point was meeting with the trade minister of Russia, Baron Krüdener, who presented me with the stunning image of a wind driven rail car made by Evan Thomas of Baltimore, Maryland from a place I know well, the United States.

Queen Anna talked about when she had visited her big sister, Elsa the Fifth Spirit, in Northuldra. How all the leaves were just so brilliant and lovely in the Enchanted Forest. So the last weekend Elsa was home, she found me not in my study working or just reading or joining in with Anna and Kristoff, visiting with her. I was not even at my favorite place having a good cigar or pipe! I was just on my couch, passed out tired from all the work I had from the session, plus, the logistics and support for an upcoming mission for Anna. I felt like a worn out dish rag after Gerda, Olina and the kitchen folks finished washing dishes after a big state dinner! So, seeing my door open, Elsa looked in and saw her poor, overworked uncle sacked out and seemingly dead tired to the world.

I felt this cool, refreshing breeze with a bit of light snow on my brow as I stirred up slowly. I saw this slender, gentle hand with fingers, gingerly wiggling over me with snow flakes appearing out of the air. It felt really good as I saw Elsa, leaning over me.

“Uncle,” she said in her gentle voice.

“Oh, hey there, Elsa,” I said as I rose up to an inclined position on the couch arm.

“Anna says you’ve working hard lately.”

“Oh my gosh, yes,” I replied. “Meetings, arranging supplies for our exploration for the Elixir: holy cow, I’ve never been so busy! I’ve hired on some great folks to help in handling the additional duties, it seems like there’s never enough time in the day.”

Elsa said, “You know, we’ve appriciated you when you help us with your advice and wisdom when we have problems, especially when you came back and I was learning how to deal with my powers, anxieties and fears. You mind if I returned the favor with you?”

I replied, “Sure, sweetie. I don’t mind. What’s your suggestion?”

Elsa suggested, “Come with me to Northuldra. You should see how the forest is now that Autumn is here. Maren, Ryder, Yelana, Bruni, everyone would love to see you! Stay with us for a week or two!”

“Sure! Why not?” I exclaimed. “Besides, Vi said she was going back to Keep Mundilfari. Maybe our resident vampiress needed a getaway from here. I could see her just now, soaking up in the warm mineral springs under the Keep with a good libation, just chillin’ like a villain!”

We smiled and laughed.

“Sounds wonderful, then. I’ll tell Queen Anna we’re going,” Elsa said.

“Good,” I said. “I’ll pack and meet you at the door to the fjord.”

Elsa then met with Anna to tell her our plans. Unfortunately, Anna couldn’t join us as she was needed at the castle for ongoing royal business with Kristoff and Lady Kam in China. So, I packed up for the trip and met my nieces at the gates. We mounted Nokk to my wagon, Elsa sat with me, she gave Nokk a look, and off to Northuldra we went!

I wish I had Nokk pulling my freight wagon. Talk about making time! Once Elsa said, “Hold on, Uncle!” ZIP! We were off and flying up the fjord!

We made good time with Nokk pulling us a the way to the stone monoliths as we then slowed to enter the forest. We followed the wagon trail that home minister Maren oversaw in making into the Northuldrans’ settlement village. Maren, Elsa and the earth giants really made it nice!

We arrived in the late afternoon as Nokk came to a stop in the middle of the village. The Northuldrans saw us come in and welcomed us as the Northuldrans’ leader, Yelana and Home Minister Maren emerged from Yelana’s tent. Elsa exited the wagon first then embraced Maren in a hug as Yelana said: “Welcome home, Fifth Spirit.”

“Thank you very much,” Elsa said. “I’ve brought a special visitor,” she noted, gesturing to me as I stepped forward and greeted Maren.

“Ah, welcome back to Northuldra, trade minister. What brings you here so unexpectedly?”

“Thank you very much, Yelena.” I answered. “Just call me Mike or Michael. The ‘Trade Minister’ is still in Arendelle!” I said with a smile and a chuckle. “It’s been so hectic lately, Elsa took pity on her poor old Uncle and suggested a trip here to Northuldra in the fall and unwind.”

“The colors are just exceptional this year, trade minister,” said Ryder. The young, strapping gentleman had come up from the reindeer herd he and the others were handling.

“Just Mike there, Ryder ole’ buddy!” I greeted. We shook hands, smiling.

“I trust you’ll be joining us for dinner tonight?” Yelana asked.

“Looking forward to it.” I said.

But then, a red bolt came right at me. It was Bruni!

“NO, DOWN BRUNI, HEEL HEEL!”

THOOMP! BOOM! Down I went! Mugged by a crazy fire salamander! Slurp, slurp, slurp!

“Ha, ha, ha! I’m glad to see you too, you little flaming turkey!” I boomed in laughter. It was so nice to see him again.

“Okay, okay, Bruni,” Elsa said as everyone laughed. Elsa made Bruni’s favorite snow flakes to draw him over to her hand.

“It wouldn’t be a complete vacation up here without getting mugged by Bruni!” I said in amusement!

Dinner was roasted veggies with some fine Northuldran salmon over an open fire, with fresh hot tea following. Fine eatin’. Then, in the blink of an eye, it was bedtime under the stunning Northuldran moon and stars uncovered by clouds.

Next morning came with a good, rich breakfast of fresh fruits, especially berries. Afterwards Elsa, Honeymaren, Ryder and myself, packed up for a picnic and overnight camp out. Bruni even came along with us! When he wasn’t out ahead of us, he mostly was taking in the snowflake treats from Elsa! He’s such a cutie!

Autumn in Northuldra is magical. Having the Fifth Spirit, my Snow Queen niece Elsa as tour guide, made it all the more special.

I was given a unique gift by the settlement elders: an exquisite wooden cane, carved out of Northuldran oak, to assist me in walking with Elsa and Yelena. It was sturdy and beautiful. It came in handy as we walked along the woods and marvelled at the colors that the forest just burst out in.

Elsa and Gale put a little show on of swirling the leaves as they fell from the trees, making a colorful display of wind and foliage, ablaze in reds, yellows, greens and golds before falling to cover the forest floor.

FROZEN 2 – Visual Development Art by David Womersley – Art Director Environments. © 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Elsa led our little expedition to a spectacular overlook that showed the entire valley below in a breathtaking scene of color!

We stopped here and enjoyed our picnic lunch with fish, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers for sandwiches, some of the locally made fruit juice and such. “This is just so beautiful and serene,” I said as we sat there, enjoying the day and the gorgeous scenery.

“You’re looking a lot better, Uncle Michael,” Ryder said, and it was true. I was definitely feeling much better.

“I think Elsa got that same smile from you, Mike,” Honeymaren said, sitting next to Elsa.

“It’s not a bright as Elsa’s, believe that,” I said as Elsa shyly grinned!

“I also think that you’re feeling alot better, Uncle. Your cheeks have a healthy flush, and, and there’s a skip in your gait,” Elsa said.

“Just doing as the Snow Doctor said.” I joked.

We packed up and started down the hill and passed by where the Earth Giants were. They recognized Elsa and were very friendly with us. We found the clearing right by where they sleep in the valley’s river, so we made camp for the night.

We sat around the campfire that night, eating a small dinner of leftovers and such I stopped at the candy store for chocolate and marshmallows, then the bakery for a new thing called “graham crackers” before Elsa and I had departed from Arendelle. We made a new treat called “s’mores.” Elsa really had to really watch it with the chocolate! We settled in for some tea. I dug out my pipe for some good aromatic tobacco to relax and enjoy the company by. Maren and Elsa chatted away the evening as Ryder and me listened.

We spent the rest of the evening gazing at the stars on a lovely, clear night. The stars shone so brilliantly. Elsa leaned over to me and asked, “Uncle, do you remember my invitation to come to Ahtohallan? I’d love to take you there and see all of the memories in that river and show you what I saw.”

“I do, and I’m very much looking to go!” I said. “I’m always interested in seeing what you and Anna have going on.”

“Well, maybe the day or so after we can go?” Elsa asked.

“Sounds great! I have my warm clothes with, so, sure!”

Just as we looked up, a beautiful yet angry face was formed by the stars.

“What constellation is that, Elsa?” Ryder asked.

Elsa looked up and was puzzled, then concerned. Honeymaren and myself looked up. I said, “Oh. My. Gosh.” We were all puzzled at what we were seeing.

Next morning brought breakfast and more questions as Gale came in with a message.

Elsa received the message from Gale and thanked her. Elsa opened it. It was from her sister, Queen Anna.

Dear Sis and Uncle,

I hope you guys are having a great tome in Northuldra, hiking and enjoying the fall leaves in The Enchanted Forest. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to come up this weekend to be with all of you.

General Mattias just stated that our advance trekkers near Khara-Khoto in the Gobi Desert have been killed, save one, Babuhai, by a mysterious enemy. Lady Kam is doing all she can while laying low as almost all of her cash was spent to cover all tracks and keep the Qing from executing Babuhai. I’m sending Peony to see what can be done.

“By the Spirits!” exclaimed Honeymaren.

“There’s more.” Elsa said in consternation as she continued.

I have also just learned from Commander Hilde that Viola was not going to Keep Mundilfari in the Jotunheimen Mountains to vacation. Rather, her groundskeepers and stewards who take care of the Keep have been subjected to some very deadly and terrifying attacks by a mysterious force. Just as the Khara-Khoto news came, some of her staff were murdered in ways that are reminiscent of the London murders she investigated. Plus sounds of gutteral howling and laughing in the numerous hallways of the Keep, terrorizing the servants. Vi has gone there to investigate and may have to face this invader of her ancestral home.

We’ve been targeted by the Moonborn and/or supernatural powers intent on targeting us.

I hate to ask you and Uncle to shorten your vacation, please come to Arendelle quickly.

Love, your sis

Anna XO

“We’ve just recovered from Grand Duke Nykras’ assult,” Maren pointed out somberly. “Now this.”

“I know,” I said. “I have a bad feeling, guys, that this may have answered our question about what we saw last night.”

“That with the attacks in the desert and Jotunheimen,” Elsa said. “It may be best to head back to Arendelle Castle quickly to see if Anna needs help. I’m sorry if this ruins our plans.”

“Don’t fret. Matter of fact, you read my mind, Elsa,” I said. “We need to cut this vacation short, the safety of our lands and homes are at risk.”

“I’m sorry to hear this too, Mike,” Ryder said. “Maren and I will come with you.”

“Thanks you two. I think Queen Anna and Prime Minister Viola are going to need all the help they can get.”

Well, it looks like our trip to Ahtohallan has been postponed. We packed my wagon, said our goodbyes to Yelena and the Northuldran folk, and hitched up Nokk for a fast ride back to Arendelle.

I hope my Anna didn’t eind up going over her head and pay grade with this…

Trade Minister Michael

Ghosts of Vengeance: Return to Haunt You

Art by Mixa. From artstation.com

The news from the Celestial Empire was grim. The expedition to Khara-Khoto had failed. Months of intelligence gathering by Arendelle’s agents, discreet dealmaking in the back streets and private tea rooms of Chinese cities between Anna’s intermediaries and mercenary trekkers and explorers, and finally, leveraging the influence of Kristoff’s Bjorgman House among friendly Qing officials whose coffers were enriched by trade with Arendelle to turn a blind eye to a foreign-funded expedition in Manchu-ruled territory.

All of that. Wasted.

Anna’s top commanders, Mattias and Hilde, delivered the grim news to the queen in her throne room, standing several feet from the royal as they announced the ramifications.

“Fortunately, Lady Kam, being the careful businesswoman that she is, covered her tracks carefully. She outsourced the retrieval of the bodies of Yelu and Arban to the Qing authorities,” said General Mattias, reading from his notes. He winced. “It was a complete disaster, Anna. I’m so sorry.”

“And, of course, Kam had to lobby hard to stop them from executing Babuhai, to keep his silence. Far easier for the governing Manchus to wipe this failed exercise from all records, leaving the three trekkers to be forgotten by everyone,” added Hilde, her hands behind her back as she stood at attention.

Continue reading “Ghosts of Vengeance: Return to Haunt You”

Updates and Adventures: What Has Alan Been Up To?

By Sir Alan

Oh man, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Seriously, it has been quite some time since I last wrote in the AG, and I feel a need to apologize for that. I haven’t had a chance to write in the AG for some time, I’ve been so busy. Granted, everyone has been busy, like always. So is the life of a Queen, a Fifth Spirit, and all those who work with and assist them. A life I honestly would not trade for anything in the world.

But aside from that, I wanted to give the faithful readers of the best publication in all the land, the Arendelle Guardian, a look into what I’ve been up to as of late, among other things. There will be plenty to discuss, and I hope you all will enjoy a look into things from my perspective!

So, where do I start? I guess I should start with what’s going on right now. There is some big news forthcoming that, if I told you about it right now, I’m not sure Queen Anna would be pleased with me doing. And, rightfully so, because it is something massive, even bigger than some of the stuff that’s already happened, which includes our fight with the old Grand Dukes of Russia, a fight where we barely escaped with our collective lives (I still miss Sora though. The other two, I could care less, but Sora was so different. Wherever she is, I hope she is well). That may not give enough context, but when Anna does allow for this news to be released, hopefully you will understand the magnitude.

Continue reading “Updates and Adventures: What Has Alan Been Up To?”

Ghosts of Vengeance: Khara-Khoto

Follow the search for the elixir of life here

The Gobi Desert. Late afternoon

In the scorching region of Khara-Khoto, amidst a town of eerie structures that had been abandoned centuries ago, several shrouded figures were huddled around a campsite, their visors screening their eyes from the inhospitable howling of tempestuous wind.

“Is this the place, Yelu?” shouted one of the trekkers. “We’ve been trying to get here for weeks.”

“Yes. The City of Black Water, called Etzina in the writings of Marco Polo, that Venetian explorer. There are whispers,” cried the other called Yelu, over the screaming wind and holding up his scarf to stop too much sand from flying into his mouth. He paused, mindful not to gasp or panic, or else his mouth would be filled with even more grit. “That this could be the place. The place where a fragment of the elixir of life is located.”

Continue reading “Ghosts of Vengeance: Khara-Khoto”