To: Viola Mundilfari, The Grand House, 4 Assembly Avenue, Arendelle
From: Peony Sinclair, Marble Hall, 1 Conduit Road, Hong Kong Island
My dear Vi, my Countess Mundilfari.
It’s been many moons since we last exchanged words, let alone met. It seems you’ve had your hands full over in Arendelle, now that you’re that kingdom’s prime minister. You’ve focused our eyes on your leader, Anna, ever since you burned down the Southern Isles. You’re as impulsive and devil-may-care as always. It’s perhaps why His Imperial Highness wanted you to join us, hoping to rein you in as a member of the Exalted.
I, for one, knew that you couldn’t be tamed. There are few nobles in the courts of Asia and Europe more charming and irresistible than you. You’ve left not a few broken hearts and damaged souls – women and men alike – in your destructive wake.
I miss our brief but intense time together. Do you even remember our encounter in that nobleman’s ballroom in Munich? Do you have any memory of the fragrance I wore for you?
A memory for another time, perhaps. I have orders from Lord Yixin.
You’ve insulted the interests of His Imperial Highness twice: first by burning down the Southern Isles, and secondly by somehow securing Queen Anna’s protection and guarantee, even after our leader personally visited Arendelle to ask Anna to defeat you. Consider it a favour that he hasn’t directed the wrath of the Exalted against you.
He’s asked me to extend his offer to you: all debts are wiped clean and owed favours forgotten if you can be in London in the coming months. I’m sure you have a nice townhouse there. Arendelle can survive a few weeks without you. Lord Yixin has a task for you.
His Imperial Highness – all of us Exalted – manage the world’s governments behind the curtain. An unknown actor threatens to destabilize Queen Victoria’s administration in Westminster and is anathema to our interests and regional stability.
Specifically, there’s something suspicious happening with the Necropolis Railway that’s been built between the capitol and Brookwood in Surrey. It’s supposed to transport the deceased to this large cemetery that has just finished completion. Yet we’ve received word of disappearing bodies mid-journey, the cadavers belonging to noble and commoner alike. Worse yet, some of the corpses are of deceased ministers and statesmen, the theft of which has unsettled the ruling bloc in London. We must calm the situation and identify this body snatcher. Your ties to the pan-European underworld could prove useful to us and we want you to destroy whoever is stealing these bodies.
Coincidentally, there’s been a disturbing rise in the numbers of murdered women in the East End. Their grisly bodies have been found by the Metropolitan Police – an organization that I helped fund – mutilated and eviscerated. They’ve been identified as immiserated members of the local brothels in Whitechapel. While I wouldn’t usually concern myself with what is little more than a murder case for the police, the timing is too suspicious, too neat, to ignore. I know that you knew an old friend in the area. All I ask is that you investigate the connection between the murder of these innocent, impoverished ladies, and that of the stolen bodies along the Necropolis Railway.
You’ve grown used to tugging people along, and I don’t have the heart to stop you. But this time, you owe His Imperial Highness a favour. He’s already shown great patience with Arendelle. It’s time for you to step up and make amends for nearly destabilizing the balance of power in Northern Europe. Queen Anna might forgive you easily, but we of the Exalted don’t forget.
You chose Anna, and denied yourself the lofty membership extended to you. So you’ll receive our orders, not make them. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. Make right with us, and I’ll have a much easier time helping you and Anna protect Arendelle – both from our more predatory members, as well as rulers at Anna’s level.