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Diplomatic Relations

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<tucked into a formal report from Her Excellency, Princess Anna of Arendelle>

Dear Elsa,

I'm still not sure why you made me your official diplomatic representative — surely Aunt Astrid and Uncle Johan would have been a more suitable choice, especially since they acted on behalf of Arendelle during your minority, but it's amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I think the trolls find the whole concept of a diplomatic outpost amusing. However, they've been incredibly hospitable, and they're no longer insisting I marry Kristoff immediately. Actually, he's off on a quest or something — apparently he has to prove himself worthy of an unfrozen heart and is off searching for a ridiculous trinket or some silliness. (I hope that the epithet 'unfrozen heart' does not follow me the rest of my days! I do wish that dreadful bard hadn't come up with that dreadful song (and that he hadn't performed it in front of the magnificent worthies of our kingdom at the ball you threw for me).) Or he's visiting the great wyrms on behalf of the trolls, I'm not sure; the trolls are rather vague about the whole thing.

Oh, they told me to convey to you their willingness to serve as intermediaries, should Arendelle wish to open territory negotiations with the roar of wyrms in the Glass Mountains. Grand Pabbie suggested sending ice roses as an opening gift, but I'm not sure if he meant roses made of ice or roses encased in ice or roses just frozen by ice, and nobody seems to talk in a straight line to answer the question.

Bulda and Cliff built me a small lodge, since I'm not immune to the elements, and I performed the ceremony that Aunt Astrid forwarded on to me, claiming the land in the name of Arendelle, official embassy, sovereign territory, et cetera. Happily, it wasn't written that the ceremony had to be performed solemnly, because otherwise we might have made a muck of it! I must confess there was some laughter involved, dear sister, but all of the steps were followed. You now have an additional 100 square feet of kingdom. May it prove a fruitful addition.

Now I must bid you adieu and join the trolls for the evening meal. (Could you send along some chocolate and fresh fruit? The trolls trade with various outposts for food that I can eat, but it's rather outpost-y in nature.)

Your faithful and obedient servant,

<written in invisible ink and accompanying an official missive from Her Majesty Queen Elsa of Arendelle, two boxes of oranges, and three crates of chocolate>

Dear Anna,

I received your letter Thursday last, and I'm glad that you're doing well. I have the utmost faith in your ability to represent our kingdom and nurture a stronger relationship with our closest neighbors.

(I hope you're actually reading this. I know you love mysteries and puzzles, and the alchemy tutor told me that you mastered this ink months ago. Please confirm that you've received this missive.)

Petra arrived at court last week, and I find myself happy that Pabbie chose her as his ambassador. She faithfully conveyed your love and immediately sought out the palace kittens on your behalf. Watching them clamber all over her was a heart-warming sight, although the staff weren't best pleased by the bits of tuna that were ground into the rug. (Why does Kit persist in having her litters in the rooms with the carpets Mama purchased? First my bedroom, then the family dining room, then the music room. Isabella thinks that Kit is bewitched; I think she's just got the devil's instinct for riling up Mrs. Potts.)

I was so worried before Petra came — none of the etiquette manuals advise us on how to treat with trollkind (or wyrms, or giants, or the witching families, or the sentient horses in Corona) should they wish to establish diplomatic relations, which is truly short-sighted — and we were all terrified that we would offer grievous insult and our efforts would be doomed from the beginning. However, she's been a rock and the most relaxed diplomat I can recall meeting. (Remember that dreadful couple from Ruritania? I thought we'd never get the smell of rotting apples out of their suite.)

Her first day did contain a bit of excitement. She claims that the first step to a true alliance with the trolls is a mutual feat of creation, to make something upon which we can build a relationship. (I'm not entirely sure how hyperbolic she was being.)

Anna, we created an island.

It was so fascinating! I held the water back as ice so that Petra could work undisturbed, and she called up the rock from the earth underneath the harbor. Up and up and up came the rock, and then she held it while I weathered it with the ice, melting and freezing it and creating little cracks and crevices where life can take hold. We sang, and the rock and ice sang with us. It was magical, and I've never felt so in tune with another person. (I fear we might have disturbed a few crabs in the process, but they scuttled away with no apparent harm.)

I hope to hear from you soon. I remain

Your most affectionate sister,

<hand-delivered by Kristoff with a map, three crystals, and a grass skirt>

Dear Elsa,

I had so much fun finding your letter! Did you know that my alchemy tutor used to be an itinerant crime-solver? You should talk to him about his past sometime — his adventures would make an excellent novel.

I think I will write a novel some day, when I am retired and the most strenuous thing I'm doing is genteelly sipping tea while watching baby reindeer frolicking. It will be relaxing.

What's not relaxing is learning the history of the trolls; Bulda decided one morning that I ought to be a historian, and they've apprenticed me to Chronolith Solarium, the Timekeeper. I think. Although a lot of their history seems to consist of things that haven't happened. Or haven't happened yet, I'm not entirely sure. I'm sure we're having some translation issues because they use a lot of future tense, which is weird. I'm pretty sure the history Tutor du Lac taught us involved the past tense alone. Admittedly, I might have been reading novels instead of my lesson books upon occasion, but I feel fairly certain I would remember being taught about the future!

Kristoff came to visit! I got to do an ambassadorial duty!

Queen Elsa, it's my solemn duty to inform you that I have provisionally approved a contract with the Ice Wyrm Glacies on your behalf, which Kristoff will convey to the palace for your signature and seal. It's all a bit convoluted, but Kristoff tells me that the Ice Wyrm Glacies took possession of your palace on the North Mountain; apparently wyrms are entranced by rare and sparkling things. However, they're also very precise about their possessions, and they believe that all exchanges must be equitable, so the Ice Wyrm Glacies is ceding part of her territory in the Glass Mountains to you. I think it's a little bit funny that they can insist on equal exchanges when you didn't know you were being exchanged with, but I suppose it all works out in the end.

There's something about the territory that has the trolls very excited; they say that Glacies must value your ice palace highly to deem it a necessary trade.

I must say farewell, dear sister. Lithos, one of the littlest trolls, is growing crystals today for the first time, and she asked me to be one of the witnesses!

Your most affectionate and humble servant,

Post script — thank you so much for the oranges and chocolates! (And the orange chocolates!) They were delicious!

<etched in frost on several panes of glass, carefully packed; delivered by Olaf>

Dear Anna,

I hope this finds you well. (Or, perhaps more accurately, I hope this finds you. I'm practicing controlling my powers from a distance, but should the frost dissolve or the glass break Olaf has a more conventional letter for you in addition this one.)

I endorsed the contract with the Ice Wyrm Glacies. I'm sorry I couldn't send Kristoff back to the valley to visit you, but I needed him to carry the contract back to her with all due haste. (Petra advised me that the Ice Wyrm Glacies might make someone else a bedtime snack before she realized they were a messenger. From all accounts she will be an interesting neighbor, although one hopes the young knights have better sense than to challenge her in her den. However, we did add a rider to the contract about reckless youth and the treatment thereof.)

The cartographers are ecstatic because they're finally going to be removing the vague "here be dragons" annotation from the Glass Mountains. The maps the Ice Wyrm Glacies sent with Kristoff to delineate the land she's ceding are very detailed about the mountains' topography and the domains of the wyrms who claimed the land as their treasure and territory. I've sent a small expedition out to map the precise boundaries of Arendelle's borders, and I expect new maps within the year. The Society of Natural History is raising money to support an expedition to study the flora and fauna of the area now that they're not worried about unknowingly crossing into a wyrm's territory. (I suspect the Society's adventurers might do so knowingly upon occasion, but that's their calculated risk to take.)

In their topsy-turvy-fuzzy history, does Timekeeper Solarium know of any way to get more hours in the day? Since the coronation I've taken on so many duties I didn't even realize existed! Who knew that plumbing infrastructure required so many permits and involved so many obstreperous landowners. Or that the tariff rates are adjusted regularly to facilitate trade. (Yes, I know that many people know all of these things; however, they're new to me!) Uncle Johan says I should delegate in the future, but first I must learn everything so that I know what decisions I'm delegating.

I feel certain that one of the first duties that will be given to another is the monthly music open audience. If I have to listen to another terrible variant on "what strapping lad can thaw the ice queen" I'm going to strangle someone with their own recorder. Petra attended the last audience with me, and she gave the most egregious offenders a very disappointed look, like the ones Dad used to give us, and they scurried off. Afterwards she made me go out to our island with her and recited dirty limericks until I must have been as red as the sun. We took the rowboat out, and I claimed it was from exertion instead of embarrassment. I suspect she saw through my protestations.

Your sister,

<letter folded into the shape of an origami dragon and sent in care of Bulda and Cliff; they bring Petra ceremonial garb for two people: crowns and cloaks made from flowers and grass and crystal>

Dearest Elsa,

I may have accidentally destroyed the embassy. I'm okay! It was only a little fire. More of a candle flame, really. A mere spark. But the outpost of Arendelle in the Valley of Living Rock is no more. But there will be a new outpost next week! And a whole new 100 square feet of Arendelle in a brand new place! Your kingdom is just getting to do a bit of travel.

I promise I'm okay. I may have been meditating on the fire, trying the latest of Chronolith Solarium's suggested exercises. (The trolls call them meditations, but it feels like the assignments Tutor Emrys used to assign.) Oh! I never told you — the reason the historian is called the Timekeeper is because they're actually the keepers of time along with being the keepers of memory. Some trolls see the future, just a little bit, alongside the past, just a little bit. They call it seeing the maybes, saying "this may be what comes to pass." Since I'm training with the Timekeeper, I'm trying to see the maybes.

But it turns out that I'm little bit magic. Not a lot magic, not like you, but enough to walk on ice and not freeze in blizzards and to try to see maybes in the flames of a small, tiny, contained fire in a small, tiny, contained firepot and be entranced by said small, tiny, contained fire and nourish it until it becomes a small, tiny, quickly contained fire that may have burned down the embassy. But I'm fine! I promise, there's not a bit of soot on me.

Unfortunately, I didn't see any of the maybes in the fire, although Solarium tells me that's not unusual. However, it's possible that I'll be successful in the future, so I'm going to keep trying. (Just maybe not with indoor fire-gazing-meditation as my method.) (I'm fine! Not a mark, nary an ash on me!)

Sister, Elsa, my queen… the trolls told me about a potential they had seen. I want you to be happy, and if the what-might-be they described comes to pass, it sounds as if you would be. So know that you have all my love and my blessing, and that I can personally recommend the joys of long engagements and quiet courtships.

With all my love,