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

21 JUNE: Arendelle Celebrates Queen’s Birthday

ARENDELLE – It’s that time of the year again, and the summer solstice is bringing happiness and joy to all. The kingdom held a warm and intimate gathering at Arendelle Castle’s dining room for the citizenry, with tables, chairs and food prepared for guests to come in and out throughout the day. True to tradition, the gates were flung open for a small fete in the courtyard of the palace, with children’s stalls, balloons, and a massive birthday cake made with ice cream and touched by Elsa’s own hands.

In contrast to grander receptions held for dignitaries and politicians (which Arendelle Castle is more than capable of hosting), Anna’s birthdays tend to be family-oriented, community activities that are open to everyone, at any time. “That is why Her Majesty wanted to keep the palace open all day today, well past dinner, so that people can come and go as they please. We’re here to welcome them,” said Getrude, one of the party planners for this year’s Queen’s Birthday, told The Arendelle Guardian’s gossip columnist. “The last year or so has seen so much change come to Arendelle. While much of the change might be a point of pride for the kingdom’s powerbrokers and leaders, Anna wants her birthday to represent something homely and constant, a point of happiness and contentment that her friends, family, and fellow Arendellians can always rely on.”

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The Power Behind the Players

Featured image art by Inkwhite (@Inkwhite_Mo)

BREAKING: ANNA PRESSES POLITICAL ADVANTAGE BY SIGNING THREE TREATIES

In yet another signal to the world’s major powers of her growing clout, Queen Anna of Arendelle has announced that she will sign a flurry of trade treaties and alliances with Great Britain, the new country of Peru, and, surprisingly, with the Russian Empire.

In a press release jointly published by the Office of the Prime Minister, Countess Vi, and the palace, which is still headed by Anna, the government was at pains to stress that the process was still ongoing, and there were conflicting perspectives and interests to be hammered out in negotiations by Arendellian diplomats and their foreign counterparts. Nevertheless, the fact that Anna has gotten the ears of the world’s largest naval power, a newly independent state in the heart of the New World, and a former adversary (whose leader was at Arendelle’s throat just less than two years ago), attests to Anna’s growing ability to lead not just from the front, but behind the scenes with competent and loyal deputies, pulling strings and asserting a presence that gets things done for her kingdom.

The result is a network of friendships, some mature, others budding, that bode well for the future of Arendellian influence throughout the world.

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Anna’s Column: House Bourbon, Meet House Arendelle

Today, I visited Kingdom Hall to listen to a performance of Francesco Durante’s Danza, Danza, Fanciulla Gentile. The last few weeks have been a relatively quiet time for the Arendelle Philharmonic (they’re preparing a new concert – I’m keeping my lips sealed about what they’re playing!), and we’re still in the middle of arranging for the composer Clara Schumann to visit our kingdom. I thought it was a good time to mention my new opera singer. The papers have been circulating her name, so maybe you’ve heard about her already.

Luna de Bourbon.

It was Kai that had been advising me on how to take Vi’s great cultural project forward. She’d provided a very solid foundation, what with a lasting grant that would pay the Philharmonic members’ salaries for five years and the running costs of maintaining Kingdom Hall’s considerable upkeep (Arendelle has never had a cultural center before). Although I don’t accept Vi’s old ideas of imperial rule, her hardheaded ideas of hard and soft power have their merits. Ever since we built Kingdom Hall, our position as a cultural influencer throughout Europe has grown in correspondence to our military and diplomatic victories – not just over Russia but in keeping fiefs like those of Will Harrison under control, and even against the British East India Company way back in the early days of my tenure.

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Michael’s Musings: Rumors, gossip and other lies…

“Found family” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle

Life here in Arendelle is never perfect. However, it’s been great with the reigns of both queens Elsa and Anna. It goes without saying about how far we’ve come in this saga. The love we have for each other, the support of the folk in both lands of Arendelle and Northuldra, especially for the struggles the two young women have gone through since the hard, lonely years of their childhood.

They’ve made a ton of progress and encountered many milestones as life goes on. Yet the love they have for each other, plus for those who have come along the way – like Kristoff, Olaf, Sven, Sir Alan, a certain Uncle, and more.

Unfortunately, life has those who will never be happy and will always complain and want to sabotage another’s happiness. Gossip and rumors do exactly that.

So it was no surprise, but indeed aggravating, to hear some malcontents in the kingdom saying untruths about my nieces and Kristoff. Too much of this will give places like Our Fair Kingdom a quarantining case of “rumoritis!”

So: let’s clear the air and let some truth shine in, shall we?

Continue reading “Michael’s Musings: Rumors, gossip and other lies…”

The Protectors of Arendelle, Part Two

Featured image art “Anna and Yixin” by Arute (@ast05water)

“The plan is as such,” said Vi, gliding restlessly in her living room while the seated Amira and Tileke stared into the crackling fireplace. “I was there when Anna announced it. Europe remains her domain of focus. Peony’s is Inner Asia, where all manner of dark forces and ancient powers lurk, and I’ll be there with her. Queen Colisa will manage South America, while Kristoff will lead Honeymaren and Tileke to the great continent of Africa and the lands of Arabia.”

“Sounds simple enough, but the logistics are actually quite difficult; and once we depart, we’ll be gone for a long time,” warned Hilde, who had come from the dining room into the lounge, with Michael and Alan flanking her. “My Countess, I’m going for a morning stroll around Arendelle, and then I’m going to train. May I be excused?”

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ANNA’S DECREE – Searching for the Elixir

Featured image art by PURY (@puryartist)

The inner court had been assembled.

The beautiful Countess Vi, no longer regent but now having returned to her usual post of prime minister, stood alongside Commander Hilde on one side of the queen’s hall, at the right hand of the throne. Seated on it was Anna, who surveyed, with modest solemnity as well as a winning smile, the assembled women and men on her left side, who were facing Vi and Hilde: Elsa, Kristoff, Mattias, and Honeymaren.

“I’ve briefed trade minister Michael and Sir Alan about my next move, and now we’re ready,” declared the queen. “In liaison with Peony Sinclair and Queen Colisa of Chatho, the other members of my new Exalted organization, I wish to launch my search for the fragments of the elixir of life.”

The inner court exchanged nervous and terse glances with each other. The air was electric. At last, it had begun, and no less at a make-or-break time of diplomacy with Japan.

Anna was making good on her promise to Lord Yixin for being catapulted to international prominence.

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CONFIDENTIAL: Murmurs among the Masters of the Sword

FROM: General Destin Mattias

TO: HM Queen Anna

RE: WATCH OUT.

Hi Anna,

You might raise your eyebrow at the tone of my memo, but you need to be careful around Lady Fujiwara. More accurately, you must keep an eye on her circle of retainers.

Lady Fujiwara is everything that she presents herself to be. Our spies, the Ravens, have compiled a detailed dossier on her and the background of the Fujiwara clan. It all checks out. I’m glad to see that you, Elsa, and the rest of the inner court get on well with her. However, have you sensed the tension between her and the samurai around her?

I don’t know about you or Elsa, but she has little patience for them, and they even less for her.

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Anna Regnant: The Queen of Arendelle’s Unrelenting Political Rise

Featured image “Commander” by PURY (@puryartist)

By Ymir, World Affairs Editor

“How does she do it?” This is the unuttered question on the lips of heads of state, diplomats, and journalists across Europe as Arendelle becomes the new place of pilgrimage for great and small powers alike.

Even during Elsa’s reign, no one could have predicted the meteoric rise to global prominence the small Nordic kingdom would enjoy.

While Anna’s predecessor managed significant relationships with mighty realms like the Russian Empire and the Qing Dynasty, it’s Anna who has radically transformed Arendelle’s relationship with almost every great power – and set an example for middle and even smaller states to emulate.

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Japano-Arendellian Relations: A New Era

Featured image art “Heir to the Fujiwara” by Arute (@ast05water)

Arendelle Castle throne room

Anna had never sat in such an uncomfortable position in her life. Knees pressing the ground, she felt like she was basically kneeling, but with her hands rigidly on her lap, staring across to the young woman from across the seas, who was very delicately and elegantly serving the queen of Arendelle her very first green tea.

“This is called seiza, Lady Fujiwara?” asked Anna. She let out a nervous laugh. “Can’t we just… you know, sit on chairs? I’ve got a few right over there.”

Takako smiled, her deep purple irises glimmering. “This is a traditional tea ceremony that I wish to present to Your Majesty as a small gift. A glimpse of our honour and our values, and the greatness of the Shogunate.”

She finished pouring the tea in the cup she’d given Anna as a gift: an exquisite, perfectly hewn stone cup on a tray of bamboo. “Please. Enjoy.”

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