To: Mr. Will Harrison
From: HM Queen Anna of Arendelle
Re: You’re out of the Exalted
Dear Will Harrison,
I’d be lying if I wasn’t somewhat happy to write you this letter. But can you blame me? You were one of my earliest political adversaries, and the first to take pleasure from my suffering and humiliation.
I see you’ve made big fat profits from the trading concessions that were rightfully Arendelle’s, gifted to us by the emperor of China. Ever since you wrenched them from me by holding my friends Mari and the Duke hostage, you’ve expanded your fleet of nineteen clippers into a pretty much a private navy.
No one matches you in the volume of opium you ship into the Celestial Empire, and there’s nowhere in southern China that your narcotics don’t touch. You deal in addiction, death, and despair, yet you call yourself a lover of freedom and liberty. Well, I have faith
But I’ve grown in power too. My small kingdom defeated the Romanov empire. The great powers in Western Europe aren’t so leery at our small country. And now it’s my turn to give you an ultimatum.
You must have heard of my new leadership of the Exalted. You probably didn’t react to it because you either didn’t want to believe it, or you thought you could sit it out until I made the first move. So let me take the first step. With immediate effect, I’m expelling you from the Exalted and replacing you with my fiancé, Kristoff. I expelled Katina from the group after I defeated her invasion. And if I had a choice, I’d keep her on over you any day.
I’m sure you’ll feel livid as your networks collapse and patrons and clients alike flee at your fall from grace in Lord Yixin’s eyes. But I’m not too worried. You’ll be able to recover quickly, right? You’re the top tai-pan among the European powers, after all.
Besides, Lord Yixin has a new disciple now. Me.
Don’t bother writing back.
Victoria Town. The colony of Hong Kong
“You should have seen this coming,” yawned a nonchalant Tiffany Hunsecker, as she watched with some amusement her boss rip up Anna’s letter vehemently.
Will Harrison, the wealthiest China trader among the Western merchants, swore and cussed in fury as his strong forearms bulged from the force of his calloused hands shredding Anna’s message. Tiffany just shrugged her shoulders, strutting away from Harrison, her tall high heels clacking on the concrete floor. “It was only a matter of time before the queen of Arendelle was going to go after you. I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten what we did to her.”
“And I haven’t forgotten what her allies, Kristoff and Alan, did to me,” he snapped at her, rubbing his nose unconsciously at the painful memory of having been beaten to a pulp by Alan.
They were standing inside a dark warehouse, among shelf after high shelf of wooden crates that held thousands of gum-like balls of packaged opium. Harrison’s shipments now surpassed those of the crippled British East India Company. He was far ahead of his rival American and British supercargoes and owner-captains. But for now, his attention was focused on the dread realization that he’d been booted out of the secret society that he’d dreamed of ascending to since childhood. It had been going so well for him. He was directing an entire share of the American economy. And now, without his command and influence as an Exalted member, he was just one of many seafaring traders that had found success in the Celestial Empire. There was nothing that special about him anymore.
He was locked out of the search for eternal life.
He was just another wealthy, selfish man, humbled by Anna’s decisive strike.
“Damn it. Damn Anna, damn her freckled stupid face to hell, and screw all her people and helpers!” he roared. “How could Lord Yixin not stick up for me? Why did he even step away and make Anna the Exalted’s leader? After everything I’ve done for him – import talent into the Middle Kingdom and enlist specialists to help the imperial government,” he snarled in outraged fury.
Tiffany adjusted her mink coat, which was probably worth several years’ wages of the sailors and opium traffickers that operated under Harrison’s managers and enforcers. She looked at her manicured nails, and then at Harrison.
“You do realize she’ll be coming to the Forbidden City, don’t you?” she said, raising an elegant eyebrow. “Along with her restructured team. The Exalted must be following her cue right this very moment.”
“Yes. And we’ll be ready for her. We’re lucky that we have our own measures and resources, enough to match Anna’s team.”
Harrison walked over to where three men wreathed in black were standing over a sprawled victim. He was dressed in an Arendellian suit, and he was on all fours, coughing as one of the black-clothed men kicked him in the stomach again. He cried and collapsed face-down onto the ground. Harrison stood next to the men in black, scowling.
“How goes the interrogation of this unlucky Raven? He was eavesdropping at our wharf. I want him picked apart for all the intel we can get on Anna’s movements, especially her seabound route into China and her overland direction,” he demanded. The Ravens were Anna’s spies. Their numbers had grown over the course of her reign due to the importance she placed on intelligence gathering for Arendellian foreign policy. She’d assigned at least several to every country Arendelle had relations with. Unfortunately for this agent, he’d been exposed by Harrison’s henchmen and dragged into this warehouse, beaten and bloody.
“Mister Harrison. Take a look. He doesn’t want to talk.” An accented and stern voice came from one of the men, who unsheathed a Chinese dao – a one-handed sword with a deadly blade. “I’ll take care of him.”
“Honestly, I’d expected more from an interrogation by the Floodgate triads,” sniffed Harrison. “Aren’t the Floodgate gang supposed to be able to beat the answers out of everyone in China?”
“We haven’t started the torture,” said another gang member. He looked at his client, the only visible portion of his covered face being his eyes. “Unless you say so, Mr. Harrison.”
“Ha! How considerate of you,” barked Harrison sarcastically. “He was being sheltered by a family in the Eastern district, wasn’t he?”
“Yes, Mr. Harrison.”
“I’m going to make a run on their bank so hard they’ll never make a penny again.” He rolled up his sleeves. “Still, I thank you, Brother Zheng. You kind of read my mind here, I got to admit. I’ve been meaning to make an example of someone from that backwater northern kingdom ever since I got Anna’s letter.” He grinned. “Step aside and take the night off. I’ll assume his handling myself.”
The triads accordingly backed away as Harrison stepped forward, looming over the Arendellian spy.
The triads were a disparate collection of ancient fraternities and criminal gangs that the British authorities had desperately tried to stamp out of Hong Kong. But their domains of racketeering, prostitution, and opium smuggling were so lucrative that they had to be treated as business entities. And Harrison loved nothing more than business, having expanded his trade empire with the help of the shadowy Floodgate cartel, the strongest of all the triad groups in China. They were masters of forbidden martial arts, supreme profiteers, and most importantly, could play any side they wanted against the other: British, Chinese, and anyone in between.
“Anna… knows of your presence in the Celestial Empire, Harrison,” whispered the Arendellian spy weakly. He turned over onto his back, coughing and sputtering gore. “For you to tap into the underworld and recruit these horrific gangsters to do your dirty work and help smuggle your opium across your trade networks… you’re despicable. Our queen couldn’t be more disgusted by your wealth in narcotics, grown off the hopelessness and addiction of millions.” He growled defiantly.
“Our queen will stop you.”
“Oh, shut your mouth with your queen’s self-righteous hatred of opium. It’s a gentleman’s honest produce,” demanded Harrison, bending down and grabbing the agent’s scruff with both hands. He shook him wildly, sea-blown blonde hair jerking along with his head. “I have the ear of half the Senate in my home country. You can’t touch me. I’m a Harrison. The esquire of a First Family, and you’re going to be a good boy and be quiet unless you want to die a more painful death that you already are.” With that, he struck the spy in the face, and then again, and so on until the spy was lying in a puddle of his own gore, his face swollen beyond recognition. The punches echoed through the large warehouse. “I frankly don’t care about the average Chinaman’s life,” growled Harrison, “especially now that I’m no longer bound to the Exalted or Lord Yixin. How dare Anna kick me out!”
His cunning eyes flashed. “But Arendelle, and Arendellians… oh, I bask in my hatred of them. I’ll sink their entire economy, and then I’ll enjoy carving up their kingdom into portions of wealth which I’ll then spend on the grandest parties and soirees in all of Asia.”
He struck the spy one last time, breaking the other’s jaw, before he let him go, allowing his limp body to slam onto the ground.
Harrison’s eyes glinted as he stared down at the twitching body of the Arendellian agent, the man’s blood on his cheek. He snapped his fingers, and one of the triads tossed him a small cloth towel. He caught it and wiped his bloody knuckles.
“Tiffany, send an invitation to Anna and Elsa with the Harrison family seal. I look forward to welcoming the sister-queens to my Qilin Cabaret in Peking,” he breathed.
Tiffany’s eyes glinted. “Your proud establishment for the wealthy and powerful in the Celestial Empire? A most ingenious trap. I’ll send it tonight.”
HARRISON AND HUNSECKER ARE BACK.
AND THEY PLAN TO MAKE ANNA’S LIFE HELL.