Editorial: Arendelle must strike an elegant balance amidst the Shogunate’s tension

By The Arendelle Guardian Editorial Board

As Arendelle’s prestige rises, so do its risks. Among them is the danger of accidentally entering into a conflict in which Arendelle has no stake. There are fewer disasters more catastrophic for a queen, than to find herself mired in a dispute that drains her attention, the kingdom’s resources, and the treasury’s coffers with little reward.

Anna began her reign with a strongly anti-colonial bent, with an instinctive sympathy for the oppressed people of the world. This was informed by her relationship to Northuldra, and her long-term objective of eventually unifying the northern region with Arendelle proper. It was easy to signal one’s anti-imperial philosophy when Arendelle was just one small kingdom among many, despite its already burgeoning geopolitical importance.

As readers of this newspaper know, things are quite different now.

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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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A QUEEN REBORN: Anna resumes leadership of Arendelle

By Draco, Royal Correspondent for The Arendelle Guardian

Wasting no time upon her return to Arendelle, Anna has quickly resumed executive power over the kingdom, with her regent Viola Mundilfari returning to her usual post of prime minister while the queen moves to deal with a series of foreign policy challenges.

Anna held court for the first time in months in her throne room yesterday, sitting back on the austere and tall wooden chair that has remained the seat of Arendelle’s queens and kings since the days when Arendelle was but a small hamlet struggling to keep its people warm in the bitter cold. In quick succession, she laid out a bold agenda that matched her growing global clout:

  1. A robust anti-opium smuggling campaign, aligning her views and Arendellian business with a growing number of European and American missionaries campaigning against the widespread trade of the drug that has devastated lives in China and across the world,
  2. Draft treaties with Chatho, Vesterland, the Southern Isles, and Weselton – all former members of the now-defunct Entente of Small Kingdoms – for the establishment of Arendellian embassies in each respective country,
  3. A new task force focused on the economy and the newest industries to propel Arendelle to greater prosperity and leadership in global trade,
  4. An accelerated integration of Arendelle and Northuldra, making good on her promise early on during her reign to achieve the union of “the two lands as one” as part of her legacy as queen, and finally:
  5. An outreach program focused on culture, politics, and business to yet more lands that are unknown to the average Arendellian citizen, including the reclusive Shogunate of Japan.
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EXALTED: Queen Anna Returns to Arendelle After Triumphant Trip to China

Featured image art “The Inner Court” by PURY (@puryartist)

By Gudrun, Home Affairs Editor for The Arendelle Guardian

“Ruling the world with you” by PURY (@puryartist)

The queen of Arendelle’s flagship, Pride of Elsa, docked at the kingdom’s harbour in the early hours of Thursday morning after a long trip from East Asia to Northern Europe. She was received with little fanfare by General Mattias, before making a bombshell announcement to the three major papers of Arendelle: that our own queen is the leader of a secret society of world rulers, having inherited the privilege from a shadowy ruler of China.

Our newsroom now has confirmation that Queen Anna’s long voyage to the Celestial Empire was to consolidate her new position and ensure that her leadership of this mysterious organization, known only to the public as “the Exalted,” is unquestioned by any potential challengers.

“I’m sorry that the royal court has kept this from you, who I don’t see as subjects at all, but as fellow citizens,” said Anna in her newest column for this paper, which she hasn’t updated in months.

“But in due time, I’ll reveal everything to you because you deserve the truth. You need the truth so that you, the people of Arendelle, can be my guiding light and hold me to account should I stray from the righteous path. I’ve taken control of the Exalted because I feel I can make this once-shadowy cabal a force for good and improving the world. But should I risk succumbing to dark temptations of power, I want the whole kingdom to remind me what I risk losing. That’s why I’m bringing my once-secretive organization into the light.”

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The Shadow of Severin: Hilde, Vi, and Selene

Way past midnight

Deep in the forest overlooking Arendelle, a werewolf lunged at a quiet librarian who was in possession of an ancient set of weapons.

“Just as the Mundilfaris were among the founding families of Arendelle, and like how the Von Altheims trace their ancestry to the Germanic tribes that brought about the fall of Rome…”

Selene Severin was utterly calm as a raging, howling Hilde sprinted at her, her growing trunks of arms outstretched. Her newly formed sword, a coalesced, combustible medley of energy that lit up the night forest and metal, crackled in her hand. “… I had to turn to an ancient heritage to be ready to counter your power, Hilde.”

Hilde smashed into Selene, hurling her into a tree and causing it to topple, felling several other neighbouring trees as Hilde pounced on the royal librarian. “How – dare – you!” roared Hilde through sharp teeth and her elongating mouth. Her voice was guttural. “You betrayed the royal house’s trust! You deceived my Lady! And now you hold her hostage?”

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The Fall of the Mundilfari Household

Featured image art “Team Mundilfari” by Arute (@ast05water)

“Hyah!”

Trade minister Michael urged the horse pulling his wagon on, with Danny sitting beside him. They rushed to the dark forest beyond Arendelle, where three women were standing off in the middle of the night. Danny, the ice princess adopted by the royal family, looked up at the elder man nervously. “I’m scared. Mummy and Auntie Anna aren’t here. What are we going to do?”

Michael could only bite his lip, acknowledging Danny’s concern. “I’ll do what I can to assist the Countess and Hilde. But without Elsa and Anna, we can only mobilize so quickly when Selene has sprung such a sudden trap for Vi and Hilde.”

At least Mattias was probably being alerted to the disturbance as he spoke, he thought to himself. The wagon was approaching the woodlands, and he pushed further in, following the voices of Hilde and Selene. The sight that awaited him in a clearing, surrounded by tall trees, stunned him.

“Vi!” he cried, his horrified eyes falling on six sheets of holy light that had trapped the vampiress from multiple directions, stabbing into her abdomen. He looked at Selene, and then at Hilde, putting the pieces together. Selene’s arm was raised, and in her hand was an amulet from the arsenal of Kveldulf weapons: armaments from the post-Viking Age era that were shrouded in mystery, and known only for their incredible power in destroying unholy creatures.

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MILITARY FILES: Selene Severin, the Wolf Hunter

It was well into the early hours of the morning when Mattias, who slept in a set of comfortable pajamas, was awoken by one of his officers.

“General! General!” came the urgent voice, along with the speaker’s hurried knocking on his door. Mattias crawled out of his simple bed and opened the door, rubbing his eyes and revealing a much younger man in a dark green Arendellian military uniform. “Sergeant Chips, sir. Intelligence. Queen Anna’s Ravens.”

“Yeah, I know who you are. No problem. What’s going on?” asked Mattias sleepily. “Is everything alright?”

“Um, no, sir. I wouldn’t disturb your rest if I didn’t have urgent files to give you.” Chips grimaced, handing him several sheets of paper. “The regent, Countess Vi, and her lieutenant, Commander Hilde, are engaging the enemy in the forest just beyond our kingdom. Their lives are in peril. Trade minister Michael and Danny are headed there right now, to try and resolve the situation.”

Mattias’ warm brown eyes widened and his whole body tensed. “What? Vi and Hilde are in danger? If they’re harmed while Queen Anna’s away…” He blinked. “No. No, that’s not going to happen. Brief me on the situation, Chips. Who’s this enemy? we’ve been at peace since the armistice with Russia.”

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Salute, Sergeant Severin! Arendelle’s Best Intelligence Officer

There’s a graveyard tucked away in the mountains further to Arendelle’s eastern settlements, beyond the Great Assembly parliament building and the Grand House of Viola Mundilfari, Arendelle’s dark protector and its regent. It’s a private cemetery reserved for the most honoured Arendellians: war heroes that gave their lives in service of the kingdom. In an otherwise egalitarian kingdom, to be interred here is almost like a mark of immortality, bestowed by the royal family and blessed by the Arendellian Church. There are fewer than several dozen gravestones here, for Arendelle has been at peace for so much of its history that among the very few times it has gone to war, an even smaller circle of heroes earned the right to be buried here.

“Thanks for opening up the place for me, Your Grace. I won’t be long.”

“Not at all, Your Majesty. Take as long as you need. You do the kingdom’s fallen heroes honour by coming here.”

Shortly after the Russo-Arendellian War, long before Anna and her fellow Exalted began their trip to China, the queen visited the grave of Sergeant Severin. She paid her respects to the bishop, who was the only person who carried the keys to the cemetery gate, and stood before a small tombstone that read simply:

Severin. Much more than just a sergeant. 1786 – 1844.

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COSMIC WAR: The Truth Behind Elsa and Anna’s Journey!

More than 1 million years ago, when the earliest human beings had just begun to walk upright and spread across the already ancient Earth, forces far beyond mortal minds were already tussling over the mammalian race’s destiny.

Deep in the mountains of what is today Hebei Province, China, a slightly hunched Homo Erectus man shuffled into his cave, striking a flint and lighting a torch. He moved the torch over the wall of his little shelter and dwelling. He grinned toothily, proudly looking at the rock carvings he’d made of the animals he’d seen on his hunting and foraging ventures.

There was a great war among the stars. One fought by celestial bodies over the terrestrial baby that was Planet Earth.

Humanity had grown. Evolved. Matured. True, their technology was millennia behind those that watched over their primitive species from the shadows. From where human beings had not yet gathered the courage nor the knowledge to venture. But in time, they would become this planet’s masters, and eventually, leaders among their own kind.

But who deserved a seat among the immortals? Who was worthy enough to escape the fate of all mortal creatures? Or were they all unworthy?

The secret history of the elixir of life would shape thousands of years of human history, culminating in the appearance of Elsa and Anna in the world.

The homo erectus man slowly got up and walked out onto his cave ledge, staring up at the glowing full Moon that bathed its luminescence all over him. He wondered what was happening up there, on the surface of that benevolent celestial body.

Then his reflective moment passed, and he shrugged, shuffling back into the safety of his cave.

This is the story of the war between Chang’e and her son, Yixin. This is the story of how it all began.

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GANG WAR: The Lotus and Crocus versus the Floodgate!

Featured image art by Arute (@ast05water)

It was time to evacuate.

The queen of Arendelle’s strategy was simple: she, Elsa, and the other Exalted members needed to get out of Hong Kong as quickly as possible. The British island colony was commonly used as the first port of call by foreign visitors into the Celestial Empire, but the group’s sense of urgency was even higher than before, now that everyone knew that Harrison had them in his crosshairs. The drug lord and tai-pan wanted to stop Anna from reaching the Forbidden City at all costs. Anna had expelled Harrison from membership of the Exalted after ascending to its leadership, and Harrison would be damned if he let his Arendellian enemy humiliate him further by becoming the Exalted’s number one.

It was midnight, when the city was theoretically asleep and done with business. But Hong Kong is never done with business. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Colisa, and Kristoff were standing on the esplanade by Victoria Harbour, where there were docked several ships. There was a boat waiting for the group, which would take them to Pride of Elsa, which was anchored a short distance away in the deep waters of the colony. Lady Kam had disappeared to “make preparations” – it was an enigmatic statement that even her boss, Kristoff, couldn’t understand. After spending a single night in the ransacked and ruined Sinclair Mansion, Peony had warned them that they needed to board Pride of Elsa and get to the Chinese mainland as soon as they could. Another assault by the Floodgate triads wasn’t only inevitable, but imminent.

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