Featured image art “Queen of the realm” by hannah.digiart (@HDigiart)
A special Musing for a special niece and some fatherly thoughts
By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle (@of_michel)
Summer Solstice in Arendelle means that it’s Queen Anna’s Birthday! Unfortunately, this year, Queen Anna, her sister and my niece, Snow Queen Elsa and Kristoff Bjorgman, are away in China on important business, namely to see prince regent Yixin and confirm the Exalted’s new members.
What a year it’s been with Anna as queen. From the lowest low of losing “Most Favoured Nation Status” to that lowdown skunk Will Harrison*, to winning the war with Russia**… and now, a new Exalted with Queen Colisa, Kristoff, and Peony Sinclair.
Not too bad if I say so myself for my royal niece.
It’s also a time that in America, where I used to do business, that they celebrate the fathers of the family. On this day, Elsa and Anna go quietly to the shipwreck site in Northuldra to remember their parents, Queen Iduna and King Agnarr, in private. As they couldn’t do so this year, I went in their place to honour both their parents, as I was a close friend to them before their deaths. Honeymaren, Ryder, Yelena, and the other four nature spirits accompanied me as we laid the flowers and bowed our heads in loving remembrance. There are places in Arendelle that pay tribute Agnarr and Iduna for the public. This one is where the sisters can privately honour their parents.
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.
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.
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.
Life in Arendelle these days went about the same as it had before, though the threat of Katina Romanov’s impending attacks on Arendelle and Northuldra loomed large. What Katina wanted of Arendelle, Anna couldn’t give, and now the Russian princess, even despite Grand Duke Sora’s attempt to talk the young Katina out of this, had led to her choosing war. Only time would tell as to when Katina’s attacks commenced, and all anyone could hope for was an absolute miracle to prevent it.
Despite this, the citizens of Arendelle were currently preparing for the Winter Solstice and season of frost. Today coincided with a special celebration: the birthday of Elsa. Normally, Anna would be in charge of coordinating the festivities, but this year, per his request, she’d passed on those duties to Sir Alan, as he wished to put together the best birthday that Elsa had ever enjoyed in her young life. Elsa meant everything to him, and he knew he’d be able to set up the perfect celebration for her.
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.
“Head for the river!” Mattias barked. A small dot of blue and pink flame raced across the ground and crawled up into the trees, leaving roaring flames behind it. In a matter of minutes the entire forest would have gone up in flames, if not for Elsa. She quickly fought back against the flames with blasts of her magic as she tried to snuff out the source. It was too fast though and it quickly took everything Elsa had to not be engulfed by the flames all around her.
“Anna!” Kristoff shouted. Elsa looked to where Kristoff was shouting and saw Anna on her knees about to be engulfed by the flames. At the last minute she shot a blast of magic toward the ground before she collapsed from exhaustion. Elsa barely managed to look up and saw Anna riding on Sven with Kristoff away from the danger.
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.