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.”

Continue reading “Japano-Arendellian Relations: A New Era”

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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A QUEEN REBORN: Anna resumes leadership of Arendelle

By Draco, Royal Correspondent for The Arendelle Guardian

Wasting no time upon her return to Arendelle, Anna has quickly resumed executive power over the kingdom, with her regent Viola Mundilfari returning to her usual post of prime minister while the queen moves to deal with a series of foreign policy challenges.

Anna held court for the first time in months in her throne room yesterday, sitting back on the austere and tall wooden chair that has remained the seat of Arendelle’s queens and kings since the days when Arendelle was but a small hamlet struggling to keep its people warm in the bitter cold. In quick succession, she laid out a bold agenda that matched her growing global clout:

  1. A robust anti-opium smuggling campaign, aligning her views and Arendellian business with a growing number of European and American missionaries campaigning against the widespread trade of the drug that has devastated lives in China and across the world,
  2. Draft treaties with Chatho, Vesterland, the Southern Isles, and Weselton – all former members of the now-defunct Entente of Small Kingdoms – for the establishment of Arendellian embassies in each respective country,
  3. A new task force focused on the economy and the newest industries to propel Arendelle to greater prosperity and leadership in global trade,
  4. An accelerated integration of Arendelle and Northuldra, making good on her promise early on during her reign to achieve the union of “the two lands as one” as part of her legacy as queen, and finally:
  5. An outreach program focused on culture, politics, and business to yet more lands that are unknown to the average Arendellian citizen, including the reclusive Shogunate of Japan.
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Queen Anna and Tai-pan Harrison, Part Two

“The New Exalted” by Arute (@ast05water)

The queen of Arendelle was in the book-lined study of Harrison, a private and literally cigar smoke filled backroom on the second level of the Qilin Cabaret. Outside in the lounge, singing, cheering, and clapping could be heard along with the clinking of wine and whisky glasses. Elsa and the others were waiting for Colisa and Anna, who were still in negotiations with the tai-pan.

“You’re offering access for me to the government of your Union across the Atlantic Ocean in return for the chance to participate in my search for the elixir of life? To partake in the elixir itself, if I find it?” confirmed Anna, crossing her arms as she sat before Harrison’s desk. “How is that different from being a member of the Exalted – which, as long as I’m leader, you’ll never be?”

Harrison grunted. “The difference is yours to decide, queen. I don’t need necessarily to be in an executive position. What I can provide is ships, resources, finances… all that stuff you’ll inevitably find yourself hankering for as your operations go global. I’m offering you my… conditional allegiance. And a… negotiated duopoly over various industries in the China trade. Between my own company and that of your beloved Kristoff’s Bjorgman. Together, we’ll hoard all profits to ourselves and watch our rivals sink into the depths of the China sea.”

Continue reading “Queen Anna and Tai-pan Harrison, Part Two”

Queen Anna and Tai-pan Harrison, Part One

“Swinging Sisters” by Arute (@ast05water)

“Tiffany Hunsecker” by Arute (@ast05water)

“Mr. Harrison will see you now.”

Radiant and beautiful in her Chinese dress, Anna reluctantly released Kristoff, who she’d been swaying leisurely with to the sound of romantic piano and lilting drums. She looked at Tiffany Hunsecker, Harrison’s second-in-command, with a defiant grimace. “So, does he expect the negotiations to go his way again?”

“Of course he does, as I’m sure you expect them to go yours,” said Tiffany smoothly. “Nothing personal. May the best dealer win.” She gave a small smile. “Who shall it be – the queen of Arendelle, onetime small Nordic kingdom to rising world power? Or will it be my employer, greatest tai-pan in the Chinese seas?”

“My point is simple. Harrison has you, Tiffany,” she said, staring down the secretary to the opium dealer. “I get to bring Elsa with me going in.”

“Out of the question,” denied Tiffany. “She’s the Fifth Spirit. Harrison isn’t stupid enough to be in the same room as her should negotiations with you collapse.”

“Why, you – ” snarled Alan, rising from his seat in the Arendellian group’s booth, but Elsa put a hand on his arm, and he reluctantly relented.

“Then at least let Anna bring in someone else. Maybe Alan, or Kristoff,” said Elsa.

“Yeah. I get to bring someone in the Exalted with me. It’s only fair,” contested Anna.

Continue reading “Queen Anna and Tai-pan Harrison, Part One”

The Qilin Cabaret: Party the Night Away!

Featured image art “Swinging Sisters” by Arute (@ast05water)

“What should I do?” said Anna, throwing Tiffany Hunsecker’s invitation onto the coffee table. Kristoff, Elsa, Colisa, Peony, and Alan looked down at it, their expressions grim. They were in a palatial, terraced accommodation used by Peony Sinclair to host British diplomats to China. They’d had several days to digest everything that had gone down in the Forbidden City, during their long-awaited meeting with Yixin. Not only was Anna being tempted with power beyond imagination, it also had the potential to transform Arendelle forever and redefine her reign and legacy.

Yet the risks and pitfalls were enormous. As if that weren’t enough to mull over, Anna had received a letter shortly after speaking with Yixin. It was an invitation, in which Tiffany asserted that Harrison had, in light of Anna’s ascension to the Exalted’s leadership and her weathering everything he’d thrown at her, forced himself to acknowledge her as an equal.

Yet it wasn’t in the queen of Arendelle’s capacity or her business to completely destroy Harrison. She couldn’t. His assets were transnational and he could sail anywhere, be it Boston, London, or Hong Kong. His opium firm could incorporate anywhere in the world. He could sever ties to his triad associates long before Anna could produce any evidence to anyone that cared. Arendelle’s jurisdiction was much more limited than his business’s mobility.

Continue reading “The Qilin Cabaret: Party the Night Away!”

INVITATION from the Qilin Cabaret to HM Queen Anna and her Exalted

Featured image art “Narco lords” by Arute (@ast05water)

To Her Majesty the Queen of Arendelle,

I’d offer you pleasantries: wishes of good health to you and Elsa, congratulations for seizing control of the Exalted, and even some grudging respect for how ruthlessly you expelled my boss, Mr. Harrison, from the cabal. You’ve got an… unforgiving streak, don’t you? Especially for those that mess with your family. I like that.

You and Mr. Harrison know each other well enough that you’ll see any pleasantries from me to be hollow and meaningless. You despise each other, so I won’t patronize you with insincerity.

I’ll accord you the respect you deserve as my boss’s nemesis and get straight down to business.

Continue reading “INVITATION from the Qilin Cabaret to HM Queen Anna and her Exalted”

At World’s End in the Purple City, Part Two

Featured image art “Cosmic destiny” by Arute (@ast05water)

“You should probably sit down,” said Peony calmly, as Anna visibly swayed in shock. Yixin didn’t budge, staring thinly at the lavish gardens outside his lavish window. Elsa also looked stupefied, as did all the guests in the Qianlong Gardens. Peony handed Anna a soft handkerchief, and the queen of Arendelle gratefully took it, wiping her sweating brow.

At long last, Yixin had told them the whole truth and nothing but the truth. All this time, Anna and her friends had simply known him as a powerful figure in the Qing court, the power behind the emperor’s throne. Of course, he had a second identity as the leader of the Exalted, but even Anna hadn’t suspected there was so much more behind the organization. How he was a Moonborn: a unique class of beings born from an outer space goddess, Chang’e. How Chang’e had made the Earth’s Moon her domain. How at the dawn of humankind, she’d given her former husband, the mortal Hou Yi, a taste of eternal life through her holy elixir: the legendary ambrosia sought after by all that sought immortality.

And how Hou Yi had become civilization’s first tyrant, drunk on power and his newfound immortality, his cruelty forcing Chang’e to wage a cataclysmic war against him until Hou Yi was destroyed.

It wasn’t their familial drama that Yixin chafed at. What he couldn’t accept was Chang’e’s decision after Hou Yi’s defeat – that humanity wasn’t ready for the elixir of life and that it needed to be hidden from mortals forever.

Continue reading “At World’s End in the Purple City, Part Two”

At World’s End in the Purple City, Part One

Featured image art “Cosmic destiny” by Arute (@ast05water)

Anna’s Column: We’re in China!

By Anna

Hello, Arendelle! How are y’all? I miss the kingdom terribly. I miss you awfully. I got news of the scaled-down celebrations on my birthday, which was only a week ago. I wish I could be with you, but take heart – my journey is approaching its end. Soon, I’ll be back with you. And I have some explaining to do when I’m back. For now, I can only apologize to you for keeping the true objective of my journey to the Celestial Empire a secret.

Just a little while longer.

Before our troupe left the British colony port of Hong Kong, I was told by Lady Kam that the Forbidden City is also called the zijincheng, which means “purple city” – the “purple” being a reference to the North Star, around which all other stars revolve. It’s the political centre of the entire Celestial Empire, and no foreign leader has ever stepped within its grand walls – until my parents, Iduna and Agnarr. They knew Yixin not just as a ruler, but as an associate. They passed on their relationship with him to Elsa and me, and although my sister and I have handled Yixin in our own ways, we’ve always honoured his presence.

Now my reign and fate as queen is intertwined with his plans as the former leader of the Exalted – a position that he chose me for. He’s promised me a glimpse of something truly mythic – a philosopher’s stone that’s captivated leaders throughout world history. But I know he’s got his own secrets, his own agenda. I just need to find out why he’s so hell-bent on locating this legendary elixir of life.

And most importantly, even if I lead the Exalted now, has our true goal all along been to locate and secure this elixir? All of the world’s resources at our disposal, and we use it all for this?

If I can protect Elsa forever, and shield Arendelle from the ravages of war eternally… no wonder why it’s so coveted.

I’m just putting the finishing touches to my column, and Gale will hopefully whisk it all the way over to Arendelle from here inside my inn room. We make for the Meridian Gate – the entrance to the Forbidden City – tomorrow.

I’m putting on a brave face, but I can’t help shaking in nervous excitement. Wish me luck.

Love,
Anna

Continue reading “At World’s End in the Purple City, Part One”