Featured image art “Family man” by Arute (@ast05water)
By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle
Since the meeting with Countess Viola in the Grand House of the Family Mundilfari, we’ve been very busy with preparations for our friends. Several are to embark on the search that Yixin has set for our Queen Anna, the Emerald Dragon of the New Exalted. Strategies, logistics, plus the normal day-to-day: it gets hectic.
I have added some folks to my own staff to make sure this goes off as smoothly as possible.
Not only have I enlisted Selene Severin’s keen assistance in research and her flock of “ravens,” but I also have brought on board a young man named Gunnar Weighorst has come from Sweden to Arendelle with know-how in trade and business. He’s become very valuable in my Ministry staff, especially with the new trade pacts that Queen Anna has been wanting to establish with Great Britain, Peru, and Russia.
Gunnar and Selene have figured the ins and outs with Peru and Britain. Queen Anna and Queen Victoria have been friends for a while now, so that agreement may be easy. Peru is a bit harder, since they have their own economic troubles since the end of their war for independence from Spain. I have some hope for this to go through as we received some Peruvian Arabica coffee beans as gifts from Presidente Ramón Castilla yMarquesado’s trade cabinet. I must say, these beans make some of the best coffee I have ever had.
Featured image art “Redemptive chat” by Arute (@ast05water)
By Michael, Trade Minister of Arendelle
After seeing how Hilde and Selene were doing during our dinner for Queen Anna and our returning travelers, I got to thinking about what our little castle has become to some very special folks.
I said to my niece, the Queen; “You know, Anna, this castle is not just our home, it feels like a safe haven for some once-hurting souls like Vi, Hilde, Tess, Danny, and now Selene. Just add some love and make them feel like family. Like they belong here as one of us.”
“I feel like our whole kingdom is like a found family, and I love it,” Anna replied.
“Oh yes! It shows when you’re amogst the people of Arendelle. The best little kingdom in the world!” I answered.
Anna then said: “I like to think that everyone would like to have us as their family! Teehee.”
“We’d fill up those little houses pretty fast with our crew!” I agreed, laughing generously.
Featured image art “The inner court” by PURY (@puryartist)
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.
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.
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:
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,
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,
A new task force focused on the economy and the newest industries to propel Arendelle to greater prosperity and leadership in global trade,
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:
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.
Deep in the forest overlooking Arendelle, a werewolf lunged at a quiet librarian who was in possession of an ancient set of weapons.
“Just as the Mundilfaris were among the founding families of Arendelle, and like how the Von Altheims trace their ancestry to the Germanic tribes that brought about the fall of Rome…”
Selene Severin was utterly calm as a raging, howling Hilde sprinted at her, her growing trunks of arms outstretched. Her newly formed sword, a coalesced, combustible medley of energy that lit up the night forest and metal, crackled in her hand. “… I had to turn to an ancient heritage to be ready to counter your power, Hilde.”
Hilde smashed into Selene, hurling her into a tree and causing it to topple, felling several other neighbouring trees as Hilde pounced on the royal librarian. “How – dare – you!” roared Hilde through sharp teeth and her elongating mouth. Her voice was guttural. “You betrayed the royal house’s trust! You deceived my Lady! And now you hold her hostage?”
Featured image art “Team Mundilfari” by Arute (@ast05water)
Trade minister Michael urged the horse pulling his wagon on, with Danny sitting beside him. They rushed to the dark forest beyond Arendelle, where three women were standing off in the middle of the night. Danny, the ice princess adopted by the royal family, looked up at the elder man nervously. “I’m scared. Mummy and Auntie Anna aren’t here. What are we going to do?”
Michael could only bite his lip, acknowledging Danny’s concern. “I’ll do what I can to assist the Countess and Hilde. But without Elsa and Anna, we can only mobilize so quickly when Selene has sprung such a sudden trap for Vi and Hilde.”
At least Mattias was probably being alerted to the disturbance as he spoke, he thought to himself. The wagon was approaching the woodlands, and he pushed further in, following the voices of Hilde and Selene. The sight that awaited him in a clearing, surrounded by tall trees, stunned him.
“Vi!” he cried, his horrified eyes falling on six sheets of holy light that had trapped the vampiress from multiple directions, stabbing into her abdomen. He looked at Selene, and then at Hilde, putting the pieces together. Selene’s arm was raised, and in her hand was an amulet from the arsenal of Kveldulf weapons: armaments from the post-Viking Age era that were shrouded in mystery, and known only for their incredible power in destroying unholy creatures.
It was well into the early hours of the morning when Mattias, who slept in a set of comfortable pajamas, was awoken by one of his officers.
“General! General!” came the urgent voice, along with the speaker’s hurried knocking on his door. Mattias crawled out of his simple bed and opened the door, rubbing his eyes and revealing a much younger man in a dark green Arendellian military uniform. “Sergeant Chips, sir. Intelligence. Queen Anna’s Ravens.”
“Yeah, I know who you are. No problem. What’s going on?” asked Mattias sleepily. “Is everything alright?”
“Um, no, sir. I wouldn’t disturb your rest if I didn’t have urgent files to give you.” Chips grimaced, handing him several sheets of paper. “The regent, Countess Vi, and her lieutenant, Commander Hilde, are engaging the enemy in the forest just beyond our kingdom. Their lives are in peril. Trade minister Michael and Danny are headed there right now, to try and resolve the situation.”
Mattias’ warm brown eyes widened and his whole body tensed. “What? Vi and Hilde are in danger? If they’re harmed while Queen Anna’s away…” He blinked. “No. No, that’s not going to happen. Brief me on the situation, Chips. Who’s this enemy? we’ve been at peace since the armistice with Russia.”
They met in the woodlands just beyond the kingdom. It was secluded enough for a private meeting between four of the most ancient aristocratic families in Arendelle.
“Do I really need to be out here for this?” asked Countess Vi, Anna’s regent. Hilde Von Altheim stood beside her, the commander’s yellow eyes latching on to the two middle-aged men across from them. “It’s the middle of the night; the kingdom’s asleep, and I want to be hanging around playing charades with the little one, Danny.”
Her slender arms were crossed skeptically as her vampiric, immortal eyes lingered on a nervous-looking Gerald Vinter and his Hellström counterpart, Lord Neumann. “Do I need to make my judgements of these fellows personally, Hilde?”
“Ha! I actually agree with you,” snapped Neumann, shivering as he adjusted his cashmere wool coat, on which was emblazoned the coat-of-arms of the Hellström: a stylized blaze of fire over a shield, flanked by a bear and a crane. “We stayed quiet like good little boys while you were wreaking havoc and tussling with Her Majesty last year, and we kept our heads down when you and Hilde ascended into Anna’s inner court! And you suspect us of being the culprits who have been harassing and haranguing you, Countess Vi?”
Featured image art “Commander” by feeplings (@feeplings)
Commander Hilde was a bit surprised that today’s appointment wasn’t at the Nokk Club.
She opened the door to the Lonely Reindeer tavern, her enhanced senses immersed in the pungent, jovial smells of roast chicken, frothy, refreshing beer, and more. It was a packed day for the tavern. Her wolfish eyes quickly identified the nondescript man sitting at one of the corner tables, where the barmaid often forgot to check up on. She strode over, silently noting his very bland, vanilla appearance: a traditional Arendellian three-piece suit, conventional and unextraordinary. Yet it was perhaps this rather orthodox look that lent him a sense of timelessness and understated elegance. He had a goatee, and his blue eyes darted at Hilde nervously as she sat down.
“Anonymous letters have a way of being thrown out of the prime minister’s mailbox and burned,” said Hilde, crossing her arms, “especially since they’ve lately been disgusting insults and slanders from our despised harasser.”
“Well, I’m glad you didn’t dispose of mine,” said the man, adjusting his high collar nervously. He beckoned over the barmaid, calling for a pint of beer. They sat in silence as she stared at the nobleman, waiting for him to speak – and finally, after an awkward pause, he did.
“I mean no harm – in fact, I’m here to try to calm the flames somewhat.”