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.
By Mikael, Business Editor for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE: The queen’s fiancé and trusted commercial ally, Kristoff, is poised to save rival company Skau-Krogh from looming bankruptcy. In return, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman (nicknamed the Princely House, a sarcastic reference to his commoner origins and engagement to Anna) will take over All Arendelle Tea, Skau-Krogh’s subsidiary, with Kristoff enjoying a considerable ten per cent stake in his old rival.
The agreement is humiliating but necessary for Skau-Krogh’s tai-pan, Lars Krogh, who had made his firm the willing pawn of the American merchant prince Will Harrison in a corporate war with Bjorgman across multiple industries. From silks and tea to ice and real estate, Skau-Krogh had tried to drive Bjorgman out of business with Harrison’s superior finances. It also obtained a private fleet, courtesy of Harrison, attacking Anna’s allies of Weselton and Chatho. Bjorgman had struggled to keep up with Skau-Krogh, but a twist of fate involving Harrison’s capture of Mari, the princess of Vesterland, and the Duke of Weselton, allowed Harrison to wrench his coveted prize of two lucrative trading privileges in the China trade from our queen. With the Treaty of Weselton granting him these terms, Harrison released Mari and the Duke and ceased to be Skau-Krogh’s backer, leaving Lars deeply in debt with assets he couldn’t pay off, from empty warehouses and docks to uncultivated tea plantations.
Kristoff’s new role as a political influencer on top of his role as top dog of Bjorgman heralds a new plank of Anna’s new strategy, which aims to make Arendelle’s trading houses a key ally in her foreign policy. While detractors in the business paper of the Fjord Times and the Arendellian Commerce Chamber are wary about any return to state-sponsored mercantilism, the shocking ease with which the powerful Harrison manipulated a domestic trade war for his personal gain has united the kingdom’s parliament behind Anna’s new approach.
As you may have read in recent editions of our fine newspaper, The Arendelle Guardian, Queen Anna recently had to sign the Treaty of Weselton. This document established an uneasy peace between Anna and Will Harrison, a rich member of the First Family of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the cabal of the Exalted. The deal guaranteed the lives of the captive Duke of Weselton and Princess/Ambassador Mari of Vesterland. In return, Anna had to relinquish two of the four special trade conditions from the Most Favored Nation Trade gift given by Prince Regent Yixin to Anna’s and Snow Queen Elsa’s parents, King Agnarr and Queen Iduna, and the Kingdom of Arendelle on Elsa’s birth date.
The cold-blooded hostage-taking by Mr. Harrison (along with the defeat of the Duke and our forces in trying to remove Harrison’s troops from the shores of Weselton) had put their lives in danger. This rocked our beloved Queen (my beloved niece) to her core. Not just the pact from Yixin, but the lives of two people were on the line. Mari was a friend, and despite the bad blood we’ve had with the Duke, his country is part of Anna’s Entente of Smaller Kingdoms, and a life is very precious indeed.
This was the darkest time Anna’s ever experienced since the cave in Northuldra when she feared that her sister Elsa was dead (fortunately, Elsa survived her near-death and is still with us, praise God!). I’d like to share a bit of the conversation that I had with Queen Anna and Snow Queen Elsa (with their permission) about this heartbreaking time.
I usually visit Anna every week, often arriving in Arendelle Castle on Friday afternoons, when parliament’s sessions are wrapping up. Anna insists on sleepovers until at least Sunday afternoon, which I’m more than happy to do. So it was a strange feeling when I arrived at the palace today, on the back of my beloved Nokk. It seemed like an eternity since I’d returned, even though it had really only been a fortnight.
I managed to share a heartfelt and loving reunion with Colisa, Chatho’s queen. I’ve treasured her since childhood. If I was Anna’s big sister, then Colisa was like a surrogate elder sister to me, though I was lost to her for a long time during my darker years.
I knew why things felt so strange, though. So much was happening. The Duke of Weselton had stayed with Anna for a while, left to reclaim his territory from Skau-Krogh, but then got himself captured. He and Mari of Vesterland had been held hostage by Harrison, who tied their release to Anna’s relinquishing of our four trade privileges with the Qing emperor. Peony Sinclair’s intervention whittled it down to two, so Harrison didn’t get everything he wanted. But Anna still had to sign the Treaty of Weselton, which is a blow to our kingdom and a heavy blow to Anna personally.
ARENDELLE; BOSTON – In a heavy blow for Queen Anna and her government, Arendelle is poised to sign the Treaty of Weselton, which will cede to Will Harrison of Virginia two of Her Majesty’s four coveted trading freedoms with the Celestial Empire. Our queen will retain the lower taxes for Arendellian banks, and continue to enjoy the privilege of exercising Arendellian law in territory assigned to Arendellians by the Chinese emperor. But the tariff-free imports and expedited customs – critical for volume and speed in importing products – will be transferred to Harrison’s private monopolies.
Reporters say that whether the State of Virginia demands that Mr. Harrison share these privileges with the Virginian government remains an internal American dispute.
Harrison had instigated a corporate war between two Arendellian companies: Kristoff’s Bjorgman and Lars Krogh’s Skau Krogh. Harrison used Skau-Krogh to plunge Arendelle into economic uncertainty, before moving against Anna’s Entente of Small Kingdoms. While he failed to subdue Chatho, Harrison defeated a combined force of Weselton, Vesterland, and Arendellian forces attempting to liberate Weselton of Skau-Krogh’s occupation. With Princess Mari of Vesterland and the Duke captured, Anna took the dramatic step of opening talks with Mr. Harrison to negotiate their release.
Harrison has arrived in Arendelle to sign the treaty. His private clipper, the Enslaver, is to dock in the harbour – beside Anna’s own flagship, Pride of Elsa.
The concession of two trade privileges rather than four is good news for Arendelle, but remains symbolically crushing for Anna as they represent the terms of the Celestial Empire’s gift to Agnarr and Iduna on the night of Elsa’s birth. This marks the lowest point in Anna’s reign since the early days of her conflict with Countess Vi Mundilfari. As the current prime minister, Lady Mundilfari is absent from Arendelle and unable to assist Anna.
It’s unknown what will happen to Skau-Krogh now that Mr. Harrison seems to have wrenched his desired deal from Queen Anna.
I’m stunned. My hands are trembling, my palms are cold yet clammy.
Things were going so well – Chatho, thanks to Colisa’s foresight and military strength, remains untouchable by Skau-Krogh. Kristoff had even been buying up Skau-Krogh’s bonds despite their price, raising Skau-Krogh’s value even as Lars was trying to dump Bjorgman stock at a discount. It sounds counterintuitive, but Kristoff’s financiers are gradually persuading Skau-Krogh’s investors that he’d be a better boss for Skau-Krogh than Lars. There’s even talk of a merger in the air, depending on which trading house bests the other.
I was so sure that after Colisa’s defeat of Skau-Krogh’s privateers, it wouldn’t be amiss to let the Duke of Weselton set off for his duchy. Skau-Krogh’s privateers had occupied his land, but we’d devised a two-pronged assault in tandem with Mari of Vesterland’s troops. I’d boosted his forces with one of Mattias’ own contingents, whose troops had received brief training by Commander Hilde. The Duke and Mari’s commanders had wanted to move quickly, and I agreed to the gamble.
And now… oh, dear citizen, you’ve probably read the morning news already.
Anna and Colisa were taking a walk in the gardens of Arendelle Castle. Anna was quite sociable with anybody, but she just had a most intimate affinity with the queen of Chatho. Over the past couple of days they’d enjoyed a very happy mix of work and play, from visiting Vera’s candy store and Lola’s music shop to introducing Colisa to the merchants of the Commerce Chamber.
The cherry on top was, of course, giving a joint statement to reporters about Colisa’s defeat of Skau-Krogh’s privateers. It had been the first victory that Anna’s Entente of Small Nations had earned after Skau-Krogh drew first blood with a shelling of Weselton’s shores, forcing the duchy’s duke to flee to Arendelle to plot his next move. Colisa was modest about the fearsome reputation of her Ten Tigresses, the royal guard that had crushed Skau-Krogh’s men and scuttled their ship. From now on, Harrison, the man behind it all, would surely be less arrogant and more serious about Anna and her friends.
By Peterson, International Correspondent for The Arendelle Guardian
CHATHO – A beachhead established by Skau-Krogh’s private navy was destroyed on the shores of Chatho several days ago.
In a shock blow to the increasingly belligerent company’s image of ascendance and military might, its corporate pirates were routed, with remnants of the invasion taken prisoner. Reports say that Queen Colisa’s shock troops, the Ten Tigresses, ambushed the privateers as they attacked Chatho territory in the early morning. Trouncing their defences, the Ten Tigresses then sunk the flotilla by the coastline, crushing the remaining resistance of the invaders and confiscating large supplies of gunpowder, rifles, and other weapons.
I had just come back from a meeting with the Prime Minister and my friend, Countess Viola. Kai, the Royal Steward of the Castle, came up to me and said that there was a visitor in the office of the Trade Minister – my current posting.
We walked down to the office and there, bold as brass, was Will Harrison, the man behind the corporate war between Arendelle’s two largest companies, Bjorgman and Skau-Krogh. Bjorgman was nicknamed the Princely House, because it belonged to my niece Anna’s fiance, Kristoff. He’s a steady and strong fellow and learned a good deal of business savvy from me.
I asked Kai to have Gerda bring up the cold tea from the kitchen’s ice storage area and two glasses of ice up. Kristoff’s ice blocks keep the meats and other foods cool, and there are smaller ice pieces for drinks. He and Elsa helped with her powers to keep it cold with her snow and ice powers when she was queen. I watched Will walk around in my office and take a cigar from the humidor on my desk.
“Can I help you, sir?” I asked.
Will said, “Ah! So you must be Mr. Michael of Arendelle, the Minister of Trade, I presume?”
Anna sipped her breakfast tea and stared blearily at the headline printed on the front page of the morning paper. JJ, the editor of The Arendelle Guardian, stood behind Anna’s chair, with Kristoff and Michael’s sitting on either side to the queen, who was at the head of the table. JJ had been up all night working on the final printed edition, and she was waiting for Anna’s response to the headline: “MARKETS VOLATILE – SKAU-KROGH TO BLAME?”
“I’m going all in,” said JJ, her dark eyes glinting behind her spectacles. She crossed her arms as Anna scanned the text. “It’s time to frame this accurately and in a way that does Anna justice: Lars Krogh is out of control and a danger to the Crown. My reporters won’t brand him a traitor just yet, but there’ll be enough insinuations for people to conclude that he holds ill-intent against Her Majesty.”
“Big move on your part, Chief,” offered Kristoff gratefully, “one that even I wouldn’t have asked of your journalists.”
“You were an early investor in my paper,” said JJ. “You’re Arendelle’s true Princely House. Of course I back Bjorgman. It’s time Skau-Krogh is made a pariah, an embarrassment to do business with. He’s no longer just a trade rival to you. Harrison’s lend him a private navy, for Bjorn’s sake. Even the Fjord Times is getting skittish. The Chamber of Commerce has merchants that have contracts with both Bjorgman and Skau-Krogh. Every day, investors on both sides could get wiped out if any of Kristoff’s or Lars’ investments go bad now. Too much money, too much expansion, too much risk.”