Your Imperial Highness,
I miss Peking. I miss being in the Forbidden City, teaching the imperial harem English and about the outside world – the outside world that I’ve been able to enjoy and rule with your patronage.
I’ve been travelling around Europe and particularly Scandinavia, securing our proxies and servants there. My full report of the region is enclosed in the document accompanying this letter. The geopolitical balance around the Baltic and Northern Seas is as you predicted: febrile, unpredictable, and held together only by Queen Anna of Arendelle’s tenacity and ingenuity.
She’s done quite well, for such an inexperienced young woman.
As you know, she’s amassed around her throne concentric circles of loyal allies and followers. First, there’s her inner court of Elsa, Honeymaren, and Countess Vi. Then there’s her immediate circle of leaders like Destin Mattias, her top commander, her fiance, Kristoff of the Princely House, and her other family and friends. Finally, she’s amassed an alliance of kingdoms, chief among them Chatho and Vesterland. Those two kingdoms’ leaders, Queen Colisa and Princess Mari, are particularly close to Anna.
You’ve long made it clear that you see the sister-queens as the north’s best hope for stability. I now see why you gifted the free port of Arendelle with Most Favoured Nation status on the day of Elsa’s birth. Perhaps Anna’s already figured it out too.
You’re looking far, far ahead, allowing the rulers of the world, including us Exalted, to test the Diarchy in both peace and war. Even though I know you think in centuries, not years, I’m still surprised. Going by your logic, there’s to be a joining of fortunes between the sister-queens and the entire world. If Anna and Elsa’s spirit can touch the globe, the whole world, All Under Heaven, might be united in love – not just Arendelle and Northuldra.
It’s a dangerous game that you want us to play, my Lord. You’re also asking a great deal of the Diarchy. Katina has already tested Elsa and Anna’s boundaries by having her servants kidnap one of their precious wards. And that was just a message, a shot across the bow. She’s dead set on an invasion of Scandinavia, I know it. There can only be death on a stupefying, mass scale from Katina’s actions. As a Romanov, she has her own ideas about Russia’s glory and what she deserves from Arendelle, especially after Elsa’s defeat of the tsar’s Baltic Fleet years ago. Katina’s impending vengeance in the North Sea could push the sister-queens to their limits.
But even more unpredictable than Arendelle’s destiny is Countess Vi, who even you didn’t expect to become its prime minister. You might be displeased to recall this, but it was Anna who made her so, in response to your direct request for Vi to be destroyed. She might respect you, but she’s her own ruler. Perhaps the queen holds more surprises than you think.
As a chance for the Countess to make right with us, I understand that you want me to assign her to London. She’s to solve the case that’s been on my desk for weeks… the one that might involve a certain estranged member of our Exalted. But Vi doesn’t know yet, and no one in her circle will.
I’ve written to her, and I don’t expect her to refuse me. She’ll have to say her goodbyes to Anna soon, and she’ll stay in England for as long as the case requires. If Vi manages to rid us of who I think it is, I beg you to reconsider her for membership into the Exalted once more.
Everything is proceeding as you wished, Your Imperial Highness.
You made the right bet with Arendelle. The sister-queens will help you realize your dream, the ancient dream of the Celestial Empire since the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors: to civilize the war-torn Earth, to bring light to the darkness… time is on our side, and most importantly, the sister-queens are on yours.
I’m your loyal student, faithfully and forever,