The Moonborn Strike, the End of Mundilfari

It had been quite some time since she set foot on her ancestral estate.

“Countess, we’re here. Welcome back. To Mundilfari Keep.”

Vi opened her red eyes, remembering that she was in her carriage. She’d opted for a week-long journey up to the Jotunheimen Mountains, the traditional route she’d always taken when she was still a human being and heiress to her clan, which she’d wiped out herself. In times of old, Mundilfari nobles would descend from their lofty castle, symbolically condescending to hold court with their monarch in the unwashed main town of Arendelle. Vi had seen it fitting, in an attempt to break with her family’s poisonous past and ideology, to move out of the Keep and into the Grand House overlooking the hillside in Arendelle, near the buildings of the Great Assembly, the parliament that served Anna.

The prime minister looked around her sumptuous interior, before calling out to her carriageman, “The courtyard will do, Andreas. thanks.”

“Certainly, ma’am.” Vi could hear the horses’ hooves clopping to a stop, and she opened the door, lightly levitating from her carriage before lightly descending on to the ground. She looked around the decrepit plaza, a flood of memories surging back in this spacious place, where she used to receive guests… guests like Anna. A long time ago, they’d met here for the very first time, when Vi still believed in her family’s mission to control the royals. Anna had resisted. The two women quickly became rivals, and for a while, their political contests nearly defined Arendelle’s future direction: would it be one steered by Anna’s vision, or one by the Mundilfari creed?

That was so long ago, before Russia invaded Arendelle in the greatest test of Anna’s life, and Vi journeyed to England and, through a series of dark twists with a demonic man called Thomas Hunt, became the kingdom’s first vampiress.

Vi chuckled to herself. “It feels like an age away. Now, I couldn’t imagine not being with her. Working with her. Supporting her.”

“Countess,” said Andreas, “should I wait for you here?”

“No,” said Vi, shaking her head. “Return to Arendelle and report back to Hilde. I’ve already ordered the evacuation of this whole castle, from my groundskeeper and my gardeners to the cooks and the remaining few maids that keep this place from falling into complete disrepair. But now, its time has finally come. This old home where I used to play my grand piano and enjoy the mountain breeze, Mundilfari Keep, is no more.”

“What… what do you mean, my lady? Surely we all serve you with devotion. We must stay with you!”

Her vampiric eyes gleamed. “I mean, Andreas, it’s not safe here. Now shoo, before I bare my fangs at you.”

She left the courtyard, entering into one of the corridors that led to the many halls of the castle. Even as her high heels clacked on the ancient stone floor or pressed against the mouldy old carpeting that had pressed on said stone for centuries, she could feel an oppressive weight weighing on her shoulders, its powerful aura suffusing the very walls of her old dwelling.

She took her time strolling about, trying to get a feel of the presence that seemed to be watching her from every angle. Her mind raced as she wandered into the dining hall, staring at the long table where she used to dine with Anna and her friends, now bare and empty. She reminisced about playing chess with her queen in the drawing room, its fireplace dead and cold. She went out to one of the balconies, breathing in the cold mountain air and gazing at the forest below. This was the balcony where Hilde had given Anna a friendly spar, and the forest below was where her werewolf general and Elsa once had a mighty duel – one that Vi and Anna had to stop.

She smiled to herself. “That night was a close call.”

She sighed. Despite the memories of a bitter and lonely childhood, as well as a vicious family past in which she’d been complicit, the Keep held good memories too, many of which had accumulated while Elsa and Anna were around. Now, all of that was coming to an end.

She’d sensed it, weeks ago, all the way from her Grand House. Not even Hilde, with her heightened werewolf senses, nor Elsa, could feel the incredibly suffocating presence that had infiltrated Mundilfari Keep. Of course they couldn’t. Anna had stirred the Moonborn from their hiding, and one had evidently set up shop in the Keep, allowing only its master to detect its presence. This was no mere ghost or haunting. Such was the power of the Moonborn, to be able to make themselves invisible to all the senses. It was how they’d lain low for so long.

Vi whispered a sentimental goodbye to her home as she finally felt herself ready to call out the intruder. “I know you’re there, watching me. Get out of my walls.”

“You should be thanking me,” came the echoing voice, as from the aether stepped an elegant leather shoe. The man moving into sight was dressed in a three-piece white suit, immaculate and elegant, his green eyes glinting imperiously. He had short, blond hair that was shaved at the edges, and he wore circular-framed glasses that lent him a scholarly look. Yet his aura bore down on Vi like a ton of bricks, malevolent and hostile. “I came to this home of yours and did a little… pest cleaning.”

“Meaning?”

“The demon that dwells here, Mephistopheles. He knew what I was, and who I’d come for – you. He didn’t want to relinquish you. You were his slave, after all.” He tittered delicately, adjusting his owlish spectacles. “So I, Majestic Maximillian, killed him. He’s gone, dead, kaput. Yes, just like that.”

Vi felt a dreadful sinking in her gut. “The demon that has held me hostage all my life… is defeated?” she confirmed in disbelief. It was too much to take in. Either this freak was lying, or… She regained herself, crimson irises glinting. “Your name is stupid, by the way.”

“Mock me all you want, but to strangle an ancient demon with minimal effort is cakewalk for a Moonborn. Who do you think we are? We’re beings of galactic power. You and your crowd truly don’t know what you’re messing with. What you’ve awakened,” snarled Majestic Max.

“Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re free, far from it.” The interloper suddenly waved his arms, and from thin air crackled four whip-shaped beams of light. “You’re now going to serve me. For Chang’e.” The whips suddenly launched themselves at her, and Vi dived forward, rolling along the floor and sprinting at the man with her fangs bared, roaring. But Majestic Max clicked his fingers, and the whips turned around, striking Vi in the back with the heat of the very Sun. Vi screamed as she felt the white-hot flame opening her pale skin like a hot knife carving through butter. She staggered briefly, mind blank for a few critical moments. She dashed away as the Moonborn’s serpentine weapons continued their relentless assault, snaking their way to the Countess. Her physical form exploded into a warm of bats as she fluttered away, soaring up high to the ceiling before descending onto Majestic Max. At the last moment, she reformed into her humanoid appearance, smashing into him and sending their snarling bodies tumbling along the ground. “Oof!” cried out her adversary, as he scrambled up. He dusted his lapel off and adjusted his glasses. “How inelegant and brutish of you. But you managed to land a scrape on me. That’s impressive.”

Vi howled out a bestial, vampiric roar and slashed at his face with her hand, sharp and indestructible nails aiming for his eyes. Usually, her preternaturally swift attack would have torn a human being to shreds, and even Hilde and Elsa would struggle to parry her. But to her shock, Majestic Max caught her wrist inches from his face, his green eyes staring into hers. She pivoted as fast as she could with a kick aimed at his knee, which would have cleanly sliced through a mortal’s leg. But not his. Instead, he grabbed her in mid-motion with his other hand and twisted, sending her body flying in a gravitational counterattack that sent her crashing to the ground. Just as she scrambled up desperately, he whipped out from his coat pocket an ornate, circular medallion engraved with a crescent moon. Before Vi could react, the whips encircled themselves around her extremities and burned into her skin and flesh. The pain was excruciating, and a screaming Vi collapsed to the floor, before she felt her body being hurled back up to a levitating position, her terrified gaze meeting Majestic Max’s. He raised his medallion, and the Countess felt her arms being forced up and her legs pulled down like a prisoner on a medieval rack.

“The… sign… of a Moon?” whispered Vi, groaning. She was immobilized.

“This is a Lunar Seal,” said the invader triumphantly, “insignia of us Moonborn, children of Chang’e. But it’s so much more. It’s the source of our individual powers, and allows us to channel the immortality bestowed upon us by Mother to manifest whatever power we desire.” The man cackled gleefully. “And it just so happens, mine is holy fire, a solar flare… perfect for undead monstrosities like you. And therefore I choose to seal away your power with energy from the Sun. Not even the First Vampire can take sunlight point-blank in her face. The more you struggle, the more it shall hurt.”

He walked up to the struggling vampire and struck her in the stomach, his fist tearing a fearsome bruise across her abdomen. Vi doubled over, coughing blood.

“Yah! I’m glad that hurt. Now, Countess Mundilfari,” snarled the Moonborn, “if you know what’s good for your precious Hilde and Tess, you’re going to get me close to your beloved queen, Anna.” His eyes glinted with glee at Vi’s helpless glare. “Repeat after me, girl: Majestic Maximillian is the scion of Noble House Heinrich and he comes bearing gifts to the queen. Well, that’s the identity I’m assuming, and that’s how you’re going to introduce me to the Arendellian court.”

He raised his Lunar Seal, snarling, “One last time – don’t try anything funny. I serve Mother Chang’e and the great mission of keeping the elixir of life safe. Your queen has made it her mission to take the fragments from us. And now, I’m going to infiltrate her government and kill her.”

Vi screamed, despite the agony of the rings of light cutting into her wrists and ankles, “You don’t stand a chance against Elsa. If I can’t rip you to shreds, she will.”

Majestic Maximillian smiled.

“Well, she can try. But thanks to you, filthy vampiress, she and Anna will never see me coming.”

*

A MOONBORN MAKES HIS MOVE…

Ghosts of Vengeance: Return to Haunt You

Art by Mixa. From artstation.com

The news from the Celestial Empire was grim. The expedition to Khara-Khoto had failed. Months of intelligence gathering by Arendelle’s agents, discreet dealmaking in the back streets and private tea rooms of Chinese cities between Anna’s intermediaries and mercenary trekkers and explorers, and finally, leveraging the influence of Kristoff’s Bjorgman House among friendly Qing officials whose coffers were enriched by trade with Arendelle to turn a blind eye to a foreign-funded expedition in Manchu-ruled territory.

All of that. Wasted.

Anna’s top commanders, Mattias and Hilde, delivered the grim news to the queen in her throne room, standing several feet from the royal as they announced the ramifications.

“Fortunately, Lady Kam, being the careful businesswoman that she is, covered her tracks carefully. She outsourced the retrieval of the bodies of Yelu and Arban to the Qing authorities,” said General Mattias, reading from his notes. He winced. “It was a complete disaster, Anna. I’m so sorry.”

“And, of course, Kam had to lobby hard to stop them from executing Babuhai, to keep his silence. Far easier for the governing Manchus to wipe this failed exercise from all records, leaving the three trekkers to be forgotten by everyone,” added Hilde, her hands behind her back as she stood at attention.

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Updates and Adventures: What Has Alan Been Up To?

By Sir Alan

Oh man, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Seriously, it has been quite some time since I last wrote in the AG, and I feel a need to apologize for that. I haven’t had a chance to write in the AG for some time, I’ve been so busy. Granted, everyone has been busy, like always. So is the life of a Queen, a Fifth Spirit, and all those who work with and assist them. A life I honestly would not trade for anything in the world.

But aside from that, I wanted to give the faithful readers of the best publication in all the land, the Arendelle Guardian, a look into what I’ve been up to as of late, among other things. There will be plenty to discuss, and I hope you all will enjoy a look into things from my perspective!

So, where do I start? I guess I should start with what’s going on right now. There is some big news forthcoming that, if I told you about it right now, I’m not sure Queen Anna would be pleased with me doing. And, rightfully so, because it is something massive, even bigger than some of the stuff that’s already happened, which includes our fight with the old Grand Dukes of Russia, a fight where we barely escaped with our collective lives (I still miss Sora though. The other two, I could care less, but Sora was so different. Wherever she is, I hope she is well). That may not give enough context, but when Anna does allow for this news to be released, hopefully you will understand the magnitude.

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Michael’s Musings: Queen Anna’s birthday celebration – and a surprise guest…

Featured image art by Arute (@ast05water)

By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle

You may have read in The Arendelle Guardian, my fellow subscribers and readers, all about the celebration of our Queen Anna’s birthday on the 21st of June.

It was a roaring good time and I want to thank all of us who came together and made it the success it was! Sir Alan, Countess Vi, Commander Hilde, Gertrude, Hilde, Tess, Gerda, and myself all pitched in to make this celebration unforgettable! Even Queen Emerita Elsa, my Snow Queen niece, with the help of my Snow Princess great-niece Danny, made a couple of beautiful ice and permafrost sculptures to add a bit of frozen beauty to that lovely, sunny day. 

No RSVP’S, no “By invitation only,” we wanted this open so everyone could wish our humble, kind, positive, energetic Queen a special “Happy Birthday!” She wields immense power, yet is very approachable and kind to all.

Continue reading “Michael’s Musings: Queen Anna’s birthday celebration – and a surprise guest…”

21 JUNE: Arendelle Celebrates Queen’s Birthday

ARENDELLE – It’s that time of the year again, and the summer solstice is bringing happiness and joy to all. The kingdom held a warm and intimate gathering at Arendelle Castle’s dining room for the citizenry, with tables, chairs and food prepared for guests to come in and out throughout the day. True to tradition, the gates were flung open for a small fete in the courtyard of the palace, with children’s stalls, balloons, and a massive birthday cake made with ice cream and touched by Elsa’s own hands.

In contrast to grander receptions held for dignitaries and politicians (which Arendelle Castle is more than capable of hosting), Anna’s birthdays tend to be family-oriented, community activities that are open to everyone, at any time. “That is why Her Majesty wanted to keep the palace open all day today, well past dinner, so that people can come and go as they please. We’re here to welcome them,” said Getrude, one of the party planners for this year’s Queen’s Birthday, told The Arendelle Guardian’s gossip columnist. “The last year or so has seen so much change come to Arendelle. While much of the change might be a point of pride for the kingdom’s powerbrokers and leaders, Anna wants her birthday to represent something homely and constant, a point of happiness and contentment that her friends, family, and fellow Arendellians can always rely on.”

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Michael’s Musings: Happenings Behind the Scenes

Featured image art “Family man” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle

Since the meeting with Countess Viola in the Grand House of the Family Mundilfari, we’ve been very busy with preparations for our friends. Several are to embark on the search that Yixin has set for our Queen Anna, the Emerald Dragon of the New Exalted. Strategies, logistics, plus the normal day-to-day: it gets hectic.

I have added some folks to my own staff to make sure this goes off as smoothly as possible. 

Not only have I enlisted Selene Severin’s keen assistance in research and her flock of “ravens,” but I also have brought on board a young man named Gunnar Weighorst has come from Sweden to Arendelle with know-how in trade and business. He’s become very valuable in my Ministry staff, especially with the new trade pacts that Queen Anna has been wanting to establish with Great Britain, Peru, and Russia.

Gunnar and Selene have figured the ins and outs with Peru and Britain. Queen Anna and Queen Victoria have been friends for a while now, so that agreement may be easy. Peru is a bit harder, since they have their own economic troubles since the end of their war for independence from Spain. I have some hope for this to go through as we received some Peruvian Arabica coffee beans as gifts from Presidente Ramón Castilla y Marquesado’s trade cabinet. I must say, these beans make some of the best coffee I have ever had.

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The Power Behind the Players

Featured image art by Inkwhite (@Inkwhite_Mo)

BREAKING: ANNA PRESSES POLITICAL ADVANTAGE BY SIGNING THREE TREATIES

In yet another signal to the world’s major powers of her growing clout, Queen Anna of Arendelle has announced that she will sign a flurry of trade treaties and alliances with Great Britain, the new country of Peru, and, surprisingly, with the Russian Empire.

In a press release jointly published by the Office of the Prime Minister, Countess Vi, and the palace, which is still headed by Anna, the government was at pains to stress that the process was still ongoing, and there were conflicting perspectives and interests to be hammered out in negotiations by Arendellian diplomats and their foreign counterparts. Nevertheless, the fact that Anna has gotten the ears of the world’s largest naval power, a newly independent state in the heart of the New World, and a former adversary (whose leader was at Arendelle’s throat just less than two years ago), attests to Anna’s growing ability to lead not just from the front, but behind the scenes with competent and loyal deputies, pulling strings and asserting a presence that gets things done for her kingdom.

The result is a network of friendships, some mature, others budding, that bode well for the future of Arendellian influence throughout the world.

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Our Story So Far: The World of The AG

A small kingdom in the north, watched over by a Diarchy of two queens. With Elsa watching over the world as the Fifth Spirit, and Anna securing her legacy as Arendelle’s greatest queen, a vast world beyond the lands of Arenfjord await them.

This is the story of Anna’s reign after Frozen II, in a world full of allies, foes, and everything in between. Where will you explore next?

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Before Arendelle: The Scattering

Featured image art “Moon Goddess” by hannah.digiart (@HDigiart)

By Arute (@ast05water)

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.

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Gold and Ballads: Arendelle Attracts Cultural Capital with Actual Capital

By Bori, Senior Reporter

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.

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