“How does she do it?” This is the unuttered question on the lips of heads of state, diplomats, and journalists across Europe as Arendelle becomes the new place of pilgrimage for great and small powers alike.
Even during Elsa’s reign, no one could have predicted the meteoric rise to global prominence the small Nordic kingdom would enjoy.
While Anna’s predecessor managed significant relationships with mighty realms like the Russian Empire and the Qing Dynasty, it’s Anna who has radically transformed Arendelle’s relationship with almost every great power – and set an example for middle and even smaller states to emulate.
Featured image “Second Death,” by PURY (@puryartist)
Warning: Violent depictions
Above the wet and rough sands of the Northuldra coast, an eerie portal shrieked open. Two black hands with long, misshapen fingers seized the edges of the portal and pulled their owner from the void. Nykras’ wispy long hair trailed behind his mummified face, and his billowing cape followed his armoured form. His armoured boots stepped onto the beach that Elsa’s bare feet once treaded. Those feet had courageously sprinted and swum across the Dark Sea’s treacherous waters toward her destiny.
Across the stormy waves was Ahtohallan. Source of the five spirits’ power.
“Thisss isss my dessstiny too,” whispered Nykras to himself, “to encounter Ahtohallan myssself, and ssseize it for not jussst the eternal sssecurity of the Russian Empire… but for myssself too.”
It was true. To be imbibed with the source of Northuldra’s spirits would elevate the already formidable lich to unimaginably fiendish power. It would guarantee the subjugation of Northuldra and an effortless conquest of Arendelle proper, the seat of power for Elsa’s successor, Anna.
Featured image “Second Death” by PURY (@puryartist)
Warning: Violent depictions
You know who I am.
Grand Duke of Russia. Leader of this expedition into Northuldra. Faithful servant of Katina Romanov.
My name is Nykras.
Tell me, friend of Arendelle. Have you ever been stabbed from all directions by enemy blades, just as you watch your village burn before your your very eyes? To see women and children dragged away, their screams of terror and despair ringing in your ears even as you know you’re losing too much blood and haven’t a hope of catching up with the marauders that have so indiscriminately butchered and humiliated your people?
You haven’t? Then how could you possibly understand me?
How could Arendelle possibly understand the struggles we Grand Dukes went through in the name of defending our Slavic homelands?
Haven’t you heard of the age of the Mongol-Tartar Yoke? We sent terrified hostages and obeisant princes to a Khan we never saw. We paid taxes and tribute to fatten imperial coffers in a faraway land we never visited. When we overthrew the Golden Horde – when I wreaked my revenge by personally leading my undead armies against the last Khan – we resolved to be an even mightier Eurasian power.
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.
A promise to Elsa as her chosen successor. A bold and unprecedented political commitment to unify Arendelle and Northuldra into a single sovereign territory. Two lands united by love like Mother and Father or humanity and the spirits. Co-equal and cooperative. One that can weather the storms of our emerging modern world, and resist the ravages of colonial powers across Europe and the globe.
It might take many years, perhaps long after I’m no longer queen. But I have to try.
My ambition would be empty and deceitful if I just made demands only of Yelena. Political integration can’t be a one way street, with Arendelle dictating the terms. That was Grandfather’s way. My way, controversial though it was at first and meeting resistance from Grandfather’s old guard in the Great Assembly (thanks for nothing, guys), is to give Northuldra a say in our kingdom’s future.
Amira’s fortnight-long incarceration didn’t particularly strain her endurance and tolerance of isolation. In her training sessions she’d meditate in caves and behind waterfalls for entire days, and she had spent the last couple of years largely alone, away from Yelena and the rest of the tribe. Still, it felt good to be released from her chains, to be able to stretch her legs properly as she followed Honeymaren from Arendelle Castle’s dungeon. She rubbed her wrists, shooting sideways glances at the new Home Minister’s Arendellian attire. “I’d say something about your fashion sense, but since I’m your guest and still-prisoner, I’ll bite my tongue,” she said. Of all the Northuldra, she respected Maren the most.
“It’s just to fit in,” replied Maren. “I promise you, Amira – I’ve been fighting for Northuldra’s interests here. There are better ways to get what we want for our land and tribe than fighting Arendellians.”
“You want political solutions,” said Amira, as they arrived at the tall door of the dining room. “I hope they’re going to be more than Anna doing symbolic gestures. I guess her appointment of you wasn’t a bad start.”
By Goethe, Home Affairs Correspondent for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE; NORTHULDRA – In an extraordinary move, Queen Anna has elevated Honeymaren to Home Minister, the first Arendellian ministerial post held by a Northuldra. “If Arendelle is to re-integrate with Northuldra, then its people must have a real say in Arendelle’s political and civic life. We’re one people,” declared Anna in a press statement.
The monarch cited Maren’s arrest of the Northuldra huntress Amira and her help with keeping Arendelle safe for her promotion. She told the Big Three papers that as Home Minister, Maren will exercise greater responsibility over Arendelle’s domestic security and immigration. “Maren’s diplomatic role as Head Liaison of Northuldra-Arendelle Relations is outdated,” she said. “In fact, there will come a day when Northuldra and Arendelle are one sovereign state and a Northuldra embassy is no longer needed.”
When asked for comment, Lady Maren simply said: “I believe in Anna and what she wants for Northuldra and Arendelle. I don’t know if I deserve this huge honour, but I definitely plan not to disappoint her.”
Since coming to the throne, Anna had expanded the kingdom’s espionage service into a professional, well-resourced network that stretched across Europe. Years ago, Elsa had identified information as the lynchpin of Arendellian leverage over larger countries with bigger militaries. Named the “Ravens” after Odin’s two mythic, all-seeing birds, the agents had finally tracked the trails that Amira, the Northuldra hunter and saboteur, used to go back and forth between Arendelle and Northuldra. Amira was meticulous in her methods, covering every journey she made out of the forest with great care. But the Ravens now had mapped out her movements, and Anna had given Maren approval to launch an expedition into the heart of Amira’s home.
Yelena and Elsa had already been notified by Anna’s letters via Gale. This was no ordinary operation. It was to stop further attacks by Amira, preferably through persuasion, and if that worked, to show her that Arendelle was serious about rectifying past deceit. Never again would Arendelle’s civil service or educational establishment support anything that came close to Runeard’s Northuldra Children Protection Act.
The hard truth was this: Arendelle could not suffer a secessionist at the heart of Anna’s dream – the true union of Northuldra and Arendelle, the re-integration of the two realms as a single political state. Amira needed to be stopped, one way or another.
By Helga, Home Affairs Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE – Her Majesty has ordered the resignation of the University of Arendelle’s vice-chancellor, Stein, with immediate effect. Her dramatic move came on the heels of a meeting between Stein and Anna in the queen’s study, in which he showed her a death threat sent to him by Amira. But the written death threat contained an accusation from the Northuldra hunter-saboteur that Stein had sent private thugs to Northuldra to “deal with her.”
The note further said: “These Arendellian goons for hire now lie defeated in the Northuldra snow, their corpses forgotten and their families surely broken. It’s all thanks to your hatred of my existence, the fact that I remind you of what could have been: a generation of brainwashed Northuldra children taught to hate themselves and serve Arendelle.”
Thanks to everyone’s help, Arendelle has never been in a stronger position, geopolitically and economically. But that means the stakes are higher than ever. Given the volatile global environment, our kingdom needs to take stock of the fronts requiring our attention. It’s part and parcel of the joy and burden of being your queen, your First Servant.