From the Ravens: The Global Situation (Inner Asia, Africa, and South America)

TO: GENERAL DESTIN MATTIAS

RE: The global situation, as concerns Her Majesty and the Exalted

General,

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).

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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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The Protectors of Arendelle, Part One

Featured image art by Inkwhite (@Inkwhite_Mo)

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.

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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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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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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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POLITICS: Arrival of Japanese Emissary in Arendelle Turns Heads

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.”

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A MONARCH’S DESTINY: Queen rallies support for her grand agenda

Featured image art “The inner court” by PURY (@puryartist)

By Anna

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.

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Michael’s Musings: Homecoming

By Michael, Trade Minister of Arendelle

“Boss lady” by Arute (@ast05water)

“The best part of any trip is the trip home.”

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.

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