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.
Featured image art “Queen of the realm” by hannah.digiart (@HDigiart)
The river waters, roaring, roaring east, wash away the legends bygone. Success and defeat, and right and wrong, become empty at the turn of a head. The green mountains still are, under so many crimson evening suns.
The white-haired angler and woodcutter are used to watching the autumn moon and spring wind. On an isle in the river, they meet happily, over a pot of cloudy alcohol. So many things past and present, enter the flow of mirthful conversation.*
There comes a hooded one, a rod within his hand,
Under the chariot sun, upon a reeded bank,
Whereby a river runs, east through a foreign land.
There sits upon a rock, waving a tattered fan,
Hair frazzled and frame gaunt, wearing a broken hat,
Chirping a cheery song, an old dishevelled man.
The old one hears the foot, the old one sees the hood.
FROM: Michael, Trade Minister of Arendelle and loving Uncle to you and your sister, Queen Emerita Elsa, the Fifth Spirit and Snow Queen TO: Her Majesty and beloved niece Anna SUBJECT: Brief historical background of Japan and the Fujiwara
On the heels of General Mattias’s cautionary note to you, I did some research for a brief history on Japan and most notably, the Fujiwara Clan.
First, I want to be on record in thanking our newest friend, Selene Severin. Her assistance in gathering the information on file in our library or through the Ravens and others in her network on the ground near or in this mysterious country, has proven invaluable for this report.
Japan has been in existence for tens of thousands of years. “Japan” come from the two Chinese words “Jee-Pan” which means “Land Of The Rising Sun,” since it is a series of volcanic islands that lie east of mainland China.
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.
“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.
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 “Redemptive chat” by Arute (@ast05water)
By Michael, Trade Minister of Arendelle
After seeing how Hilde and Selene were doing during our dinner for Queen Anna and our returning travelers, I got to thinking about what our little castle has become to some very special folks.
I said to my niece, the Queen; “You know, Anna, this castle is not just our home, it feels like a safe haven for some once-hurting souls like Vi, Hilde, Tess, Danny, and now Selene. Just add some love and make them feel like family. Like they belong here as one of us.”
“I feel like our whole kingdom is like a found family, and I love it,” Anna replied.
“Oh yes! It shows when you’re amogst the people of Arendelle. The best little kingdom in the world!” I answered.
Anna then said: “I like to think that everyone would like to have us as their family! Teehee.”
“We’d fill up those little houses pretty fast with our crew!” I agreed, laughing generously.
Hail to the Monarch of Arendelle, Her Exalted Majesty Anna of the Summer Harvest.
On behalf of the Most Excellent and Gracious Fujiwara Takako of the Fujiwara House, Ancient and Noble Complementary Family to the Imperial Yamato Clan, Divine Descendants of Amaterasu, I bid you greetings. I’m Shishizaru Takeuchi, captain of Lady Fujiwara’s flagship, Thundercloud. We come from the Shogunate far across the seas.
We arrived in Arendelle from Japan, as our emissaries mutually agreed, on schedule and await your reception. However, to our great embarrassment and chagrin, the morning has not proceeded as planned.
I’m certain that your palace has received word of the misunderstanding at the docks earlier this morning. Allow me to explain, lest there be any unnecessary or unfounded enmity or suspicion between your throne and the glorious Shogunate.
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.