It was a day the soldiers and servants of the Imperial Household would never forget.
The carriage was run-down, rickety, and looked like it was almost falling apart as it came to a stop before the massive gate of the Alexander Palace, the Romanov family’s favorite retreat.
One sharp-eyed guard remembered who had set off inside this humble vehicle, and panicked. “Oh, God. It’s Her Highness. It’s Her Highness! She’s back! Summon the Imperial Guard, right now!”
He hastily opened the gate so that the carriage could labor its way toward the steps of the palace. The Imperial Guard were quickly called to the steps below the great pillars lining the entrance of the palace, and from the carriage stepped out Katina Romanov, her attire nearly unrecognizable – she wore a tattered, mouldy cloak with a hood over a simple top and leggings, typical of peasants from the wastelands far away from Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Her hair, once in an elegant ponytail, draped down her shoulders and back, unkempt and smeared with grime and dirt. Her own face was weathered and slightly hardened, and her hands had visible calluses on them, perhaps from riding horses or working on the farm. “Your Imperial Highness!” cried the members of the Imperial Guard, who looked visibly horrified as they streamed out of the palace.
Featured image art “Supreme commander” by PURY (“puryartist)
FROM: HH Katina Romanov, princess of Russia
TO: HE Michael, trade minister of Arendelle, and HM Queen Anna
Dear Michael and family,
Thank you for your letter. I read it over several times, and it still lies open on my desk. It was very kind of you to think of me even after the conflict between our countries concluded. In truth, I often think of you and your queen, and the kindness you all showed me even after my disgrace. I’ve come to accept my role in that whole fiasco, and I’ve made peace with the fact that I must live with my mortal error of banishing Sora, my companion and protector. The one who never gave up on me.
I’m not used to writing letters that discuss intimate matters. I envy you, Anna, and the rest of your beautiful circle. It must be so nice to never have to have one’s guard up among those you love. I had that with Sora, although it was always me that pushed her away. And then I betrayed her.
My defeat at Anna and Elsa’s hands was well-deserved. Just as I know that Anna has tried to swallow her lingering anger against me for my mass invasion of her home, I’ve tried to accept my defeat with a humbled heart.
ARENDELLE; MOSCOW – The tsar of Imperial Russia, Nicholas I, has formally declared war on the Kingdom of Arendelle, marking a grim and uncertain new period of hostilities in Northern Europe.
It’s the beginning of a dark New Year in Arendelle as the kingdom’s unsettled citizenry share fears about the future in homes, bars, or in the village plaza. Futures of Arendellian products, in particular ice, timber, and fisheries, plunged on the Amsterdam stock market. Arendelle’s military, led by General Mattias, has begun movements in and around the Arendelle region, positioning troops at key strategic locations and deploying new weapons of war that Anna reluctantly commissioned.
“Mistress of the Night,” by hanna.digiart (@HDigiart)
By Jeanne, reporter for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE – In her most dramatic move yet, the queen unveiled Arendelle’s most powerful warship at a sober military ceremony with Mattias in the morning. The recommissioning of Muspelheim comes as rumours swirl amongst Arendelle’s political circles about the impending return of Anna’s prime minister, the noblewoman Vi, from London.
At the ceremony, Anna formally conferred responsibility of the ship on Hilde, who doubles as both General Mattias’ second-in-command and Vi’s bodyguard-cum-lieutenant.
“It’s an indication of how far we’ve come, for me to pass Muspelheim back into the hands of her original owners,” she told the press. “I do this with clear eyes and an enthusiastic heart. I have no regrets.”
By Gottfried, Defence Editor for The Arendelle Guardian
NORTHULDRA; ARENDELLE – With Imperial Russia expected to declare war on Arendelle anytime in the New Year (which will mark the formal start of hostilities between the two countries), Honeymaren and Yelena have been hard at work mobilizing the forest to be ready for the fight of its life.
At stake is the very balance of the natural world itself, mediated as it is by the four spirits of the Nokk, Bruni, Gale, and the Earth Giants. While these great and ancient mythic beings have no interest in political squabbles – even those of Arendelle’s – they have already reached an understanding with Elsa. They will happily defend the forest’s ecosystem and tribal residents from the impending attack of Grand Duke Nykras, an ancient lich, whose undead legions threaten to corrode and corrupt the entire land.
Anna has stressed to her tacticians that should Katina Romanov seize Northuldra, her southward route to Arendelle would be open, leaving the kingdom vulnerable to a pincer attack from the northern land route and the westward naval bombardment by Grand Duke Yaraslaf’s Baltic Fleet. There is too much at stake – the tribespeople’s lives, the way to Arendelle, and the very balance of the natural world – to allow Northuldra to fall into Nykras’ clawed hands.
ARENDELLE; SOUTHERN ISLES – The leader of the new signatory to the Entente of Small Kingdoms, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, arrived in Arendelle for tense talks with the queen this morning.
There’s no secret that for several years, well after Elsa’s coronation, Hans was persona non grata in Arendelle. He was seen by the public, the press, and his own family back home as having deceived both royal sisters during their most vulnerable and fragile period, and nearly destroyed them and orchestrated a coup. But with Hans serving his time in the Southern Isles’ dungeons, and Arendelle’s funding of the dominion’s reconstruction after Commander Hilde’s vicious plundering earlier this year, Anna and Hans have agreed to put aside past hostility to survive the imminent onslaught of a truly global power: Imperial Russia.
It’s largely agreed between the new allies that Arendelle, as Katina Romanov’s primary target, will take the military might of Katina’s war machine head-on, while the members of the Entente split into two groups to stymie Russia’s offensive. Chatho and Vesterland will strike at Russia from the south, and the Southern Isles and Weselton from the north. More updates to come in our newspaper.
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.
The grassy plains of Odinland. A short distance from the shores of the Baltic
“Fall back, fall back!”
The freezing Baltic Sea is an expanse of deep sea water between the port of Saint Petersburg and Scandinavia. Arendelle is located on the landmass’s western peninsula. If a Russian general wanted the shortest route to a land invasion of Arendelle, it was quite simple. Just cross the Baltic, establish a beachhead on the eastern seaboard of Scandinavia, then march inland, westward, with a steady supply line.
“These Russians are relentless!”
There were many small towns, villages, and middle-sized kingdoms that stood between any potential aggressor against Arendelle. But that was of little comfort. Russia had already elbowed out any European competitor, including France and Prussia, for dominance of the Baltic Sea. The tsar, Nicholas I, now controlled the sea lanes between Saint Petersburg and the eastern shoreline of the Scandinavian landmass. Everything that blocked Russia’s way would easily be overrun and swallowed by the tsar’s war machine.
“We’ve got wounded. Retreat to Queen Elsa and Queen Colisa! Get out of their range!”
And now Nicholas I had made good on his word: it was time, for the glory and security of the Russian Empire, to take Scandinavia itself and neutralize the small but formidable kingdom of Arendelle.