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.
Life here in Arendelle is never perfect. However, it’s been great with the reigns of both queens Elsa and Anna. It goes without saying about how far we’ve come in this saga. The love we have for each other, the support of the folk in both lands of Arendelle and Northuldra, especially for the struggles the two young women have gone through since the hard, lonely years of their childhood.
They’ve made a ton of progress and encountered many milestones as life goes on. Yet the love they have for each other, plus for those who have come along the way – like Kristoff, Olaf, Sven, Sir Alan, a certain Uncle, and more.
Unfortunately, life has those who will never be happy and will always complain and want to sabotage another’s happiness. Gossip and rumors do exactly that.
So it was no surprise, but indeed aggravating, to hear some malcontents in the kingdom saying untruths about my nieces and Kristoff. Too much of this will give places like Our Fair Kingdom a quarantining case of “rumoritis!”
So: let’s clear the air and let some truth shine in, shall we?
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.
In an unprecedented and overnight move aimed at consolidating extraordinary military power in her search for the elixir of life, Anna has issued an executive decree (a right exercised by all Arendellian monarchs in theory but rarely used) to restructure the kingdom’s knightly establishment into a single elite body.
“The Borealis Corps is a knightly order inspired by the beauty and spirit of Old Arendelle, when the Vikings ruled,” said the queen in a press statement. “However, it is also a thoroughly contemporary and modernized creation. It’ll support our main armed forces, sometimes even leading them into the most critical of battles. It’s a centralized institution that will be nimble and quick to respond to the ever more ambitious needs of Arendelle.”
Featured image art “Generations” by Arute (@ast05water)
By Michael, Trade Minister of Arendelle
Things are really busy here in Arendelle! Not only is Queen Anna’s plan finally being put into action to find that mysterious “Elixir of Life” for Prince Yixin, it’s also the Christmas season as well! The Yule bell was brought out once more at Castle Arendelle, and rung to bring in the season of good tidings to all! Everyone, including Elsa, the Fifth Spirit of Northuldra and Ahtohallan, along with Kristoff, Sven and Olaf, Princess Danny, Countess Viola, Hilde, and Tess, along with Selene and General Mattias, came out for the celebration as Queen Anna and Snow Queen Elsa pealed the Yule bell for all to hear.
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.