The princess of Russia, Katina Romanov, was decked in her black military uniform, her favourite, as she sat down at her long breakfast table in her favourite dining room, one of many, in the Alexander Palace. Before her were several slices of toast, and a stainless silver cup of caviar. Though she had been defeated by Arendelle, she still held absolute power in Russia, and even if she no longer cared about the performative pomp of being the empire’s de facto ruler, it did feel nice to have some luxury grub once more.
It had been a grueling year in the Russian countryside and wilderness, eking out an existence in the midst of rebuilding her shattered heart and pride. In self-imposed penance, she found the strength to let go of her anger and self-hate, and even came to terms with her respect for Anna, the only sovereign to have ever bested her. And now, she had the chance to build bridges she once thought burned by her callousness.
It was a beautiful morning. The Russian Empire’s leader was back.
The servants were fussing about today in Alexander Palace, the main residence of Russia’s most powerful woman. Olga and Alina, two of Katina Romanov’s maids, were in the immense bedchamber of the Russian princess, hastily folding Katina’s freshly-pressed military uniform, coat, and trousers. The wardrobes, bed, and vanity table were all dusty; the room hadn’t seen its master for many months. And now, she was back, and taking a nice long soak in the lavish tub inside her en suite bathroom.
“How could Her Highness have spent so long in the wilderness? I’m surprised her countenance hasn’t changed into a deathly pall. That’s what Siberia would do to her lovely skin,” muttered Alina, drawing back the high curtains of the window by Katina’s bedside.
“It’s not just Siberia… I hear Her Highness has gone everywhere. Villages, hamlets, rural settlements all east of Moscow, and south of Saint Petersburg… she’s even visited the auls, fortified towns of the Caucasus peoples we watch over, the kishlaks of the Turks, and the Cossack stanitsas,” said Olga. “It’s like her priorities completely changed upon returning to Arendelle.”
A small kingdom in the north, watched over by a Diarchy of two queens. With Elsa watching over the world as the Fifth Spirit, and Anna securing her legacy as Arendelle’s greatest queen, a vast world beyond the lands of Arenfjord await them.
This is the story of Anna’s reign after Frozen II, in a world full of allies, foes, and everything in between. Where will you explore next?
Featured image art “Moon Goddess” by hannah.digiart (@HDigiart)
The Forbidden City. Qing China
“Everything is going to plan, master.” Peony stood at attention in the darkness of the imperial hall, the throne before her swathed in incense-choked darkness. “Anna’s strength grows by the month, and Arendelle, step by step, is taking its place among the family of great powers.”
Peony pursed her lips. “Arendelle is a unique country among countries, headed by the Diarchy: the only leaders who are capable of taking on the very Moonborn themselves.”
She took a deep breath. “And, with help from her new Exalted, they’ll take what Chang’e, your mother, denied you. What she denied humanity: a fair shot at immortality.”
There was silence from the seated form a few feet in front of her.
Peony paused. “Master?” she asked, looking up as she heard Yixin shift. His robed body moved slightly, and two smoldering orbs of light that were his eyes gazed balefully down at his adoptive daughter.
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.
Arendelle’s expanding global footprint, along with its increased contact with countries and cultures across continents, has given it unprecedented access to some serious cultural talents. From art and music to theatre and the printed press, Arendelle is emerging as a plausible alternative, if still inferior relative to, Paris, Amsterdam, and London as a European cultural center.
Critics and writers in the clubs of England, the tea houses of Constantinople, and the saloons of the western United States are all talking about visiting (and resident) talents eager to have a showing in Arendelle, for they will be performing for a most extraordinary royal pair who surpass even Britain’s Victoria in queenly charisma: Anna and Elsa.
RE: The global situation, as concerns Her Majesty and the Exalted
Selene Severin’s agents have spread across the planet and begun gathering important intelligence about the elixir of life. Soon, Her Majesty may approach you to mobilize the Borealis Corps or the larger army to act on the intelligence that the Ravens provide. Perhaps the Exalted themselves will choose to act and come to our regions of interest. We have begun identifying these regions based on meticulous collating of local information, rumours, legends, and accounts. We have tapped into local networks, government figures friendly or allied to Arendelle, and, where appropriate, reached out with attractive rewards for the more mercenary-minded.
In our first report, we will relay to you what we know about Queen Anna’s targets of South America (Queen Colisa’s jurisdiction), Africa (Honeymaren’s assignment), and Inner Asia (Peony’s specialty).
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?”
It was a quiet morning at the Grand House that overlooked the hillside of Arendelle. It was an imperious structure, even though it was a significant downsize from Keep Mund in the Jotunheimen Mountains. “Pass the butter, sweetie?” requested Tess Gaunt, sitting at one side of the six-person, mahogany dining table, where Hilde and Vi joined her for breakfast. Vi sat at the head, and she silently passed the silver butter keeper (all the silverware had been transported from Keep Mundilfari to Arendelle) to Tess. The Englishwoman glanced at Hilde, who ate her usual fare – scrambled eggs, a piece of bread, and some fresh fruit – also in silence.
“Are the eggs okay?” asked Tess gingerly. “Do you need some pepper?”
“Hm.” Hilde’s grunt was warm and not curt, but her gold eyes couldn’t mask the fact that she was thinking about something, engrossed in her own thoughts.
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.