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.
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.
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.”
Featured image art “Lady of Fujiwara” by Arute (@ast05water)
By Fenris, Home Editor of The Arendelle Guardian
After a maritime misunderstanding nearly caused a naval skirmish with the Arendellian navy, new arrivals from the distant islands of Japan have settled in Arendelle Castle and are currently being received by the queen.
The three ships docked in our kingdom’s harbour hail from the reclusive government of the Shogunate, which, according to an Arendellian scholar of cultures and customs in the Far East, is nominally subordinate to the imperial household. However, in Japan, the emperor is a figurehead with no executive authority, unlike in Arendelle where Anna is vested with both symbolic and executive power. In Japan, it’s the shogun, or military dictator and army commander, who calls the shots on the emperor’s behalf.
The palace released a statement to all Arendellian newspapers this morning. It read: “Due to the sensitive nature of this meeting with the queen, Her Majesty’s government cannot reveal the purpose of the Japanese delegation’s visit to our fair northern land. However, we can disclose that Anna’s guest is a high-ranking member of the Fujiwara clan, which is by far the most illustrious family name in all Japan.”
Featured image art “The inner court” by PURY (@puryartist)
Hi, everyone! Since returning to Arendelle, I’ve had more time to continue my personal column in this newspaper: it’s one of my favourite ways to reach as many people as possible, and I like to think my column will be a fair but heartfelt bellwether for my hopes, difficulties, and worries.
When I became queen, I told the kingdom right after my coronation that I wanted to be a different kind of leader, someone that could offer something different to past monarchs. I think my policies and vision for Arendelle will speak for themselves, long after I’m gone. Even if historians consider my reign to be a mediocre or even a failed one, they won’t be able to say that I didn’t aim high. I’m reaching for the stars, quite literally. Let me explain why.
The Exalted, which I now lead, is an ancient society of world leaders that was formed to find the fragments of a long-lost elixir: whether you call it the Holy Grail, the Philosopher’s Stone, or ambrosia, this is the fabled potion of immortality that humanity once possessed – until a war beyond the heavens, among the celestial bodies far above us, deprived us of that elixir.
That elixir wasn’t for everyone, to tell you the truth: its creator, a goddess who knows the spirits of Northuldra, had intended a select group of leaders, who’d have proven their wisdom and goodness, to lead humanity forever.
This saying was so true when our travellers came back from Arendelle.
Queen Anna, Snow Queen Elsa, Kristoff, Sir Alan, Queen Colisa of Chatho, and Peony Sinclair returned safe and sound from the Celestial Empire of China, where they met with not only the mysterious Lord Aisin Gioro Yixin, but also with Lady Kam Chik-leoi, the very beautiful and intelligent comprador of the Princely House, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman.
She’s also the head of the Crocus and Lotus, the Arendelle-allied but illegal triad society (according to the British overlords in Hong Kong) that’s locked in ongoing turf warfare with Harrison’s criminal allies, the Floodgate gang.
When the Floodgate thugs attacked our party, Kam’s triad fighters were Johnny-on-the-spot to defend our friends from Wily Will Harrison’s hit squad.
But I digress. It’s time to greet our weary travelers!
Thursday morning came early as the call from the fjord guard posts reported Anna’s ship, Pride Of Elsa, approaching the harbor docks. I had gotten up and dressed to meet our returning royals. Our First Vampire and regent Vi, who’d been injured in the fight with Selene Severin, was doing better, but still needed more rest from her wounds. Princess Danny did a fine job of using her ice powers to help close up Vi’s wounds. She needed blood, so Tess Gaunt and myself donated some. Hilde and Tess stayed with Vi until she got more of her strength back.
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:
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,
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,
A new task force focused on the economy and the newest industries to propel Arendelle to greater prosperity and leadership in global trade,
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:
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.
By Mikael, Senior Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian
Standing beside each other with beaming smiles, the queens of Arendelle and Chatho cut the ribbon to the newly opened embassy of the Chatho kingdom this morning.
The five-room, two-storey office, located near the docks, will streamline communications between the diplomats of Arendelle and Chatho, processing travel permits between the two kingdoms, and strengthening the already solid political, military, and economic ties to Arendelle.
Chatho was formerly a signatory to Anna’s Entente of Small Kingdoms, before the alliance was dissolved at the end of the Russo-Arendellian War.
Colisa is important to Anna because she’s one of the members of the Exalted, a group of world leaders that Her Majesty took over several months ago. Colisa was chosen by our queen, who is known in the Exalted as the Emerald Dragon, to stand alongside her as the Ruby Tiger.
Featured image art “The Inner Court” by PURY (@puryartist)
By Gudrun, Home Affairs Editor for The Arendelle Guardian
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.”
The queen of Arendelle was in the book-lined study of Harrison, a private and literally cigar smoke filled backroom on the second level of the Qilin Cabaret. Outside in the lounge, singing, cheering, and clapping could be heard along with the clinking of wine and whisky glasses. Elsa and the others were waiting for Colisa and Anna, who were still in negotiations with the tai-pan.
“You’re offering access for me to the government of your Union across the Atlantic Ocean in return for the chance to participate in my search for the elixir of life? To partake in the elixir itself, if I find it?” confirmed Anna, crossing her arms as she sat before Harrison’s desk. “How is that different from being a member of the Exalted – which, as long as I’m leader, you’ll never be?”
Harrison grunted. “The difference is yours to decide, queen. I don’t need necessarily to be in an executive position. What I can provide is ships, resources, finances… all that stuff you’ll inevitably find yourself hankering for as your operations go global. I’m offering you my… conditional allegiance. And a… negotiated duopoly over various industries in the China trade. Between my own company and that of your beloved Kristoff’s Bjorgman. Together, we’ll hoard all profits to ourselves and watch our rivals sink into the depths of the China sea.”