Anna and Tileke: Arendelle strengthens defences with Ottomans as war up north rages

Featured image “She was a punk,” by PURY (@puryartist)

Anna stood alongside General Mattias as the Ottoman warship, a European-style brigade clipper with sail masts decked in red and white, the national colours of the Sublime State, anchored in the harbour. The hull of Flagship Crescent towered over the queen and the general as businessmen, journalists, and several veterans stood behind them. Just a few moments ago, the Arendellian ships, Pride of Elsa and Nobility, had fired off nineteen rounds of cannonballs short of reaching Crescent, a salutation that indicated a new chapter of military cooperation between the Kingdom of Arendelle and the Ottoman Empire. Anna felt a surge of anticipation as she waited for Tileke to disembark. Gulls squawked over the gathered assembly’s heads, the morning sea breeze cool and comfortable.

“So this is it,” murmured Anna to Mattias. “After losing so many lives to Yaraslaf while defending the fjord, we finally have reinforcements.”

“Tikeke’s position is that her Mansure troops are here to defend Arendelle, in case Northuldra falls,” pointed out Mattias. “Honeymaren and Amira’s tribespeople are fighting for the forest’s life alongside the spirits. If they’re beaten, there’s no stopping Nykras, or Sora, from making a final push against us here.”

“We have Elsa for that eventuality,” said Anna sourly, “as she likes to remind me.” She bit her lip, mindful that Elsa had left Arendelle for Northuldra, much to her displeasure.

Continue reading “Anna and Tileke: Arendelle strengthens defences with Ottomans as war up north rages”

The Battle of Northuldra, Part Two

Featured image “Second Death” by PURY (@puryartist)

Warning: Violent depictions

“Nykras,” by PURY (@puryartist)

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.

Continue reading “The Battle of Northuldra, Part Two”

The Battle of Northuldra, Part One

Featured image “Second Death,” by PURY (@puryartist)

Warning: Violent depictions

Late afternoon. Northuldra

Honeymaren was back in her more mobile Northuldra attire, crouched on a large tree branch as she scanned the foliage-covered forest floor.

“Clear,” she whispered, and a rustle of floating red and brown leaves blew gently around her, before rushing to another tree some distance away. Gale had taken her words and was blowing them towards the huntress Amira, who had also climbed a separate tree. She was covered in camouflage and had war paint on her face.

“It’s clear here, too. I guess we have no choice but to wait for the portal from Nykras to open,” said Amira, her voice betraying frustration as Gale blew away, taking her words back to Maren.

“Right. The moment there’s movement, we raise our voices and shout the battle cry,” replied Maren.

Northuldra’s elemental and human residents were cooperating to defend their shared home from its greatest threat yet.

Continue reading “The Battle of Northuldra, Part One”

Arendelle celebrates as Ottoman forces OBLITERATE Russia’s military reserves

By Erik, European Bureau Chief for The Arendelle Guardian

Arendelle’s beleaguered queen is in good spirits after the reserve forces of Katina Romanov were ambushed and annihilated by the Ottomans’ modernized Mansure Army near the Black Sea. Over several thousand well-trained Russian soldiers (almost equal to the numbers deployed at the Battle of Arenfjord) were killed or captured over just several days. The elite force was led by Ottoman serasker (military commander) Tileke, a strategic prodigy who’s rumoured to be a ferocious warrior as well.

Russia has condemned the attack as a violation of the rules of war, since Husrev Pasha, Lord High Vizier, had not yet declared war on Katina before sending Tileke on her offensive. Russia maintains that its war against Arendelle is a legitimate one, having declared hostilities before making incursions on Arendellian soil.

Despite few major powers voicing public condemnations of Russia’s actions, the Romanovs’ outcry will find little sympathy: the bad blood between the Russians and the Ottomans was so intense that war was probably inevitable at some point.

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Northuldra Braces for Invasion by Russia’s Grand Duke Nykras

By Gudrun, Conservation Editor for The Arendelle Guardian

ARENDELLE; NORTHULDRA – The Russian Empire has been cut off from invading Arendelle by sea with the sinking of the Baltic Fleet. However, Anna has little time to prepare as Katina Romanov prepares the next stage of her assault. This month, it’s an invasion by land – a direct strike on the ancient forest of Northuldra. If successful, it will open a southern route to Arendelle that Anna can’t stop with her current forces.

The general leading this second phase is Grand Duke Nykras, who has taken over the invasion after fellow Grand Duke Yaraslaf’s death at Elsa’s hands. Nykras is an ancient being called a lich, a living corpse held together by black magic. The Arendellian High Command has credible reports from the Northuldra warrior Amira (who nearly faced down Nykras in a showdown on the Russo-Arendellian border) that he can open portals from his netherworld home at will. Honeymaren and Yelena suspect that he plans to overlay his dimension of undead warriors and corrupting magic directly into the forest, bypassing any need for Russian transportation.

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Anna’s Column: Being wracked with guilt is an awful thing

Featured image “Team Mundilfari,” by Arute (@ast05water)

The Battle of Arenfjord is over, but I’ve felt sick to my stomach for days on end. I’d known of Commander Hilde’s critical condition ever since the werewolf warrior was brought back to Arendelle Castle on a stretcher, her body nearly cleaved in half by Yaraslaf’s polearm. She didn’t even have time to be undressed and bathed; she needed the wounds tended to and for the bleeding to stop. The Grand Duke is dead and gone, beaten by Elsa at the last minute, and we can turn our attentions to Northuldra’s defence now. But I’ve felt… paralyzed.

Usually, I’d be the first to visit the wounded and infirm to provide comfort and encouragement, but with Hilde, I’ve been finding it strangely difficult. Maybe it’s because Hilde was under my direct command. Perhaps it was because I know how important she is to Vi, and that the Countess has stayed with her for nearly every waking hour.

Why haven’t I dropped by her room yet? Maybe because this is my first war. This is the first war fought under my stewardship of the kingdom. Any loss, even potential loss, is debilitating and heartbreaking to me. Get better soon, Hilde, and teach me to be as amazing a pugilist as you again. I’ll even go easy on you.

Ha. In my dreams.

Continue reading “Anna’s Column: Being wracked with guilt is an awful thing”

BREAKING: Anna’s Alliance in Tatters as Vesterland SURRENDERS to the Russian Empire

Featured image “Katina, Sora, and Nykras,” by PURY (@puryartist)

By Mikail, Senior Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

MOSCOW; VESTERLAND – In a fresh blow to Anna’s struggle against Russia, Vesterland has surrendered to the Russian Empire after a surprise blockade of the kingdom’s main trade routes by imperial tsarist forces.

Our correspondent in Vesterland can reveal that Princess Mari is being held under house arrest in her own palace, with her father King Jonas forced to appoint a “liaison resident” approved by Katina Romanov. As a token of good faith for Russia, Vesterland must further suspend its supply routes of raw material to Arendelle, its main contribution to Anna’s war effort.

Most worrying to Anna’s commanders will be the fact that the “blockade” was accomplished, without a battle, by a single head sent by Katina: Grand Duke Sora.

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Arendelle DEFEATS Russia at Arenfjord; Expels Russian Prisoners

Featured image “War map,” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Mikael, Senior Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

ARENDELLE – After a grueling and bloody battle that lasted for an entire day, the Arendellian army repelled an attempt by Russia’s Baltic Fleet to seize an island off the fjord of Arendelle (nicknamed Sudden Death).

Should the Russians have seized Sudden Death, Arendelle’s harbour would have been in the direct sights of the Russian navy’s cannons. At great cost, the Arendellians’ strategy of keeping the Russians off the islet worked, with Muspelheim, Countess Vi’s iron-clad warship, striking the Baltic Fleet in a pincer attack that ended with the destruction of Poseidon and the sinking of Charybdis and Scylla. Of the thousands of Imperial Russian troops that stormed the island, only about two hundred survived and have been taken prisoner by General Mattias. Anna has promised to display clemency, and will settle for expelling them from Arendelle. The Russians also lost their admiral, Grand Duke Yaraslaf, who was one of the most terrifying figures of the invasion force.

However, there is little mood in Arendelle to celebrate.

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The Battle of Arenfjord, Part Three

Warning: Violent depictions

Featured image “Baltic Brawl,” by Arute (@ast05water)

The cries and screams in the distance had quietened down slightly, with cannonfire between Muspelheim and the Baltic Fleet still shaking the palace. But it was the late afternoon, and Anna knew that both the Russian and Arendellian troops were surely exhausted. She crossed her arms as she stared out the window, to her study, biting her lip as the afternoon sun bathed her in red light.

Elsa was on her mind, and sure enough, Elsa walked into her study. “The door was open. I wanted to talk to you,” came the Snow Queen’s gentle voice.

Anna didn’t look back. Elsa glided across the study and moved closer to Anna, who avoided her gaze. “It’s time.” The queen of Arendelle remained silent, but her predecessor pressed on. “Now it’s time for you to send me out there.”

Continue reading “The Battle of Arenfjord, Part Three”

The Battle of Arenfjord, Part Two

Warning: Violent depictions

Featured image “Baltic Brawl,” by Arute (@ast05water)

The sun had risen magnificently over the fjord, the rays of light touching and warming the wharf. But even though she was standing by the docks on her usual morning walk, Anna wasn’t mindful of the beauty today. For in the distance she could hear the booming rumble of cannons, the cries of Russian and Arendellian soldiers, and somewhere in that tumultuous struggle for Sudden Death, the island across from Arenfjord, Mattias was there with Hilde, holding off Yaraslaf. Elsa was keeping Danny company, while Sven and Olaf were accompanying the citizens evacuating to Keep Mundilfari. Uncle Michael and Alan were acting custodians of the palace while Anna focused on the war. That left only…

“Hey.” Anna turned her head at Kristoff’s voice. “Thought you’d be here.” The tai-pan of the Princely House was in his beige casual ensemble, and his brown eyes were kind as he observed the exhausted face of his queen and future wife. “Babe, you need rest. More than any of us,” he urged. “Mattias and Hilde have got this down. You can get some shut-eye for a few hours, at least.”

“Maybe you’re right. I’m glad you’re here, sweetie. I need a mountain man to lean on.” Anna took Kristoff’s oaken arm and rested her head against him. She breathed in his protective, masculine scent – fresh pinecones, mint, and the slight odor of reindeer fur.

“I want everyone in the kingdom to feel as safe with me as I do with you,” she whispered.

Continue reading “The Battle of Arenfjord, Part Two”