Journals of the Exalted I: The Gold Reindeer

Featured image art “The New Exalted” by Arute (@ast05water)

Welcome to Journals of the Exalted! This is Part I of a four-part series exploring each member of Anna’s new Exalted. Now that she’s accepted leadership of this secret society, she’ll also be responsible for putting it together… before Lord Yixin tasks her with his ultimate objective.

Make sure to follow each member’s story:

Overture: Your Burden

Part I: The Gold Reindeer

Part II: The Ruby Tiger

Part III: The Sapphire Phoenix

Part IV: The Emerald Dragon

*

It was midnight, but Anna’s private time in the drawing room was just beginning. There were maps, secret messages from her overseas agents, and other secret documents scattered about on her coffee table. There was a full moon out tonight. A single burning candle allowed her to read, with the rest of the room unlit. She was sitting on the couch with her arms over the sofa’s headrest, her legs spread apart boyishly now that no one was looking.

Well, not exactly everyone.

“Hey, prime minister,” said Anna softly, not turning around as two, glowing orbs of undead red burned into the darkness of the room. Those mesmeric, demonic eyes. “Thanks for coming. I needed your advice.”

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Anna’s Column: For Elsa and Arendelle, I must be something more

Hi, Chief! It’s Anna. I’m sorry I’m late with my column draft again. Things have been super hectic, I’m sure you’d agree. I’m still getting things back on their feet after the war with Russia. You’ve been reporting on Princess Katina’s departure back to Saint Petersburg, right? Ever since the war began you had your printing presses operating round the clock and your reporters in the fray with my soldiers. I hope none of your war correspondents were put in harm’s way.

I know you’ve promised to publish glowing articles about our kingdom’s victory, and you’ve already started writing about our kingdom’s new influence among the European powers. It’s slightly embarrassing, but thank you. We could use the encouragement.

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Bjorgman, Arendelle’s finest firm, challenges Russia’s Stroganov business dynasty

ARENDELLE; MOSCOW – From investing heavily in Arendelle’s allies to growing the political influence of its executives in foreign lands, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman is playing a frontline role in Anna’s showdown with Katina Romanov.

With his supercargoes furiously criss-crossing the seas in state-of-the-art clippers, the royal consort and boss of the Princely House is determined to turn up the heat on tsarist business interests with his own services and products. Bjorgman is nicknamed the Princely House for its prominence in the business community, and as a nod to Kristoff’s fairytale romance with Anna.

Kristoff has come far since the orphan first began sledding and cutting ice on the outskirts of Arendelle. His Princely House has a plan: to pile pressure on Russia’s exporters, manufacturers, and financiers. In order to hobble Katina’s war effort, a massive endeavour that has demanded immense domestic expenditure, Bjorgman is snapping at the heels of Russia’s oldest and most prestigious business dynasty, the Stroganovs.

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WORLD NEWS: Arendelle reaches out to the Ottomans and Austrians as tensions with Russia grow

By Gudrun, European Bureau Chief for The Arendelle Guardian

ARENDELLE; VIENNA; ISTANBUL – Caliphs and chancellors might soon be squaring off with Russia’s tsar if Queen Anna has her way, and Arendelle successfully courts Austria and the Ottomans.

Last week, representatives of Kristoff’s trading company arrived in the Austrian and Ottoman Empires within days of each other. Their objective is to negotiate a series of deals that will attract reciprocal trade benefits for Arendelle from both nations. Kristoff hopes to leverage Austrian and Turkish support against Russia’s encroachments into Central and Northern Europe.

In a coordinated and carefully timed move, Bjorgman executives met with Chancellor Klemens von Metternich of Austria and Tileke, leader of the fearsome Mansure Army of the Ottoman sultan. The Arendellian delegation to Austria is led by Bjorgman director Johann Folkestad, while the trade mission to the Ottomans is led by fellow director Linbar Salberg.

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“I’m here, what do you need?” Kristoff and Anna strike back at Harrison

By Rita, The Arendelle Guardian’s Economics Editor

ARENDELLE; RIO DE JANEIRO – Kristoff’s company Bjorgman (nicknamed the Princely House) has made its move against the merchant prince Will Harrison, entering into a series of bruising tussles for industry dominance across the globe. From soap and tobacco in Rio De Janeiro to wool and cotton on the Indian subcontinent, Kristoff has drawn first blood by throwing a wrench into the China trader’s plans for expansion in the British colony of Hong Kong.

The new offensive comes as Bjorgman’s stake in Skau-Krogh allows it greater manoeuvrability and reach into markets once untouched by Kristoff, in particular real estate and transport.

Harrison had attempted a hostile takeover of Matheson Properties, one of Hong Kong’s Scots-owned companies. Matheson Properties was one of the largest developers in the new British port, but suffered a run on its bank in Edinburgh by Harrison and was bankrupted.

At the last moment before Harrison stamped his chop on the promissory note confirming his purchase of Matheson, the enraged tai-pan of Matheson, who’d been in contact with Kristoff, declared his company open to bidding.

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Queen Anna accelerates economic and military reforms, Mattias and Kristoff to spearhead policies

Featured image art by Arute (@ast05water)

By Lukas, Defence Correspondent for The Arendelle Guardian

ARENDELLE – Palace and government sources can confirm with our paper that the queen has asked her inner court and most senior advisors to “accelerate preparations for the kingdom’s significant challenges” in the coming year.

In language that seemed to be aimed directly at Katina Romanov of Russia, Anna asked her fiancé and the managing director of Bjorgman House, Kristoff, to focus on securing an economic foothold in the Ottoman Empire, an ancient rival of the Russians.

The Princely House will also send a business delegation to Austria, whose influential chancellor, Klemens von Metternich, distrusts Russian territorial ambitions in Central Europe.

Finally, Anna has granted her top general Mattias sweeping powers to expand the Arendellian army and navy into a heavy-hitting force with a touch of Mundilfari magic through his co-commander, Hilde Von Altheim.

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Anna’s Column: Be Fearless and Ready

Featured image art by PURY (@puryartist)

By HM Queen Anna

I know this is a lot to take in, everyone. As of my penning this column and submitting it to The Arendelle Guardian’s editor, the kingdom is alight with fearful talk. From the local bakery and pub all the way to the government and my inner court, there’s a name whispered with fear and loathing: “Katina Romanov.”

Katina Romanov – princess of the Russian Empire, the true power manipulating her daddy, the tsar, behind the throne. Member of the Exalted. Commander of the Grand Dukes of Russia, three mighty generals that she’s tasked with the full-scale invasion of our kingdom.

As your servant-queen, I’ve sworn an oath to always be truthful and honest to my people. So this is the truth: Russia is mobilizing against us, but we have no way of knowing when. Katina will come to me when she’d ready. Therefore, I appeal to everyone in Arendelle not to fear, and to live life like we always do. However, I accept that these won’t be normal times, and to that end, I’ll be working extremely closely with Elsa, General Mattias, and Commander Hilde to prepare for that fateful day when Russia declares war on Arendelle.

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Destination: Arendelle, Light of the World

1840. Canton, the Celestial Empire. The fate of a small kingdom in Northern Europe will be influenced by titanic forces and personalities astride the globe. But this little kingdom will just as much influence those forces and people…

Peony Sinclair, the English-born ace agent of the Celestial Empire, was eating dinner in the spacious dining room of the British factory in the Canton Settlement. Her table could seat over thirty people and the silver was elegant Georgian. The crystal chandelier hanging above her was decked with gentle candles. There was a comfortable fireplace with a flame that lit the marble walls and floor. The dining room was on the second floor, with a stately balcony facing the Pearl River. Below this floor were several corridors’ worth of offices, warehouses, and storerooms. Above the dining room were the living quarters, partitioned from Peony’s private rooms. Throughout the length of the top floor were courtyards, walks, suites and dormitories.

Whenever she visited, Peony would often first speak to the ten or so European merchants living in the factory, then spend the rest of the day with the several dozen or so Portuguese clerks that lived and worked in the building. They knew much more about the exact numbers of products coming in and out of the factory. Chinese servants were employed to keep the whole show running.

In this neighbourhood, where foreigners were assigned to live by the Qing emperor, factories weren’t production plants, but residences and warehouses that served as bases for the business communities from beyond the Celestial Empire. Britain’s three-story mansion had been built by the East India Company forty years ago. Then, the formidable corporation lost its monopoly over the China trade, partly due to Peony’s lobbying of Britain’s parliament. Four years ago, she’d directed the government to procure it on behalf of a coalition of Scottish China traders.

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Anna’s Column: My fight is alongside my sister

Featured image art by PURY (@puryartist)

By HM Queen Anna

I admit it. I wasn’t expecting things would turn out this way. It feels almost too good to be true, like I’m getting the best of both worlds. My sister has come back to me, at least more often than she’d otherwise do. I feel a bit guilty for roping her in, but I like to remind myself that Elsa extended the offer first. I don’t know if she was expecting me to refuse her politely, being a good sport and all that. But I don’t play coy, so I accepted right away.

With her by my side in governance, I feel invincible, like there’s nothing Arendelle can’t do. Alright, alright, maybe not quite. Mattias was correct when he told me that I can’t get too cocky. After all, it’s because of Mr. Harrison that Elsa is even making a return to frontline politics. Well, that and increasingly sombre reports of Russia’s military buildup – an invasion force amassed specially for Scandinavia.

I’m flattered, Princess Katina. But I will resist you until my last breath.

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Arendelle and the Qing: Threads of Agnarr and Iduna’s Past

Featured image art by chō/chou (@smolmushroomm)

1838. One year before the deaths of King Agnarr and Queen Iduna

It was the first time the royal couple had ever sailed to the East, to see the ruler that had assisted Arendelle’s rise to first-class prosperity and wealth. Already, the early modern world was becoming more interconnected. The crown prince of the Qing had sensed Arendelle’s special destiny while Elsa was still growing inside the belly of the queen, Iduna. The night Elsa was born, Yixin, who puppeteered the Chinese emperor, declared that Arendelle was to be China’s “Most Favoured Nation.”

With that title came four generous trading privileges that allowed Arendelle’s traders to trade freely with the Great Qing, no questions asked. Arendelle got a better deal than the Dutch, the Portuguese, or the Russians could ever dream of. Elsa and Anna’s early years saw their home’s greatest economic expansion since 1731, the year the Arendellian East India Company first travelled to Canton to buy silk and porcelain.

It had taken Agnarr and Iduna several months of travel aboard their ship, first reaching round the North Sea and past the English Channel, then around Western Europe and along the coast of the great African continent, before swinging back up and weaving through the subtropical archipelagos and making for Canton in Southern China. They finally reached the port, whereupon they disembarked and were received by the hoppo, a stout, well-fed mandarin who prepared them for the trip inland, towards the Forbidden City in Peking.

When they arrived at the emperor’s residence, which was larger than the entire kingdom of Arendelle, they were received by the Celestial Empire’s elite imperial guard: the bannermen, who carried lances with the flag of the imperial dragon, muskets, and longbows and quivers bristling with arrows.

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