At World’s End in the Purple City, Part One

Featured image art “Cosmic destiny” by Arute (@ast05water)

Anna’s Column: We’re in China!

By Anna

Hello, Arendelle! How are y’all? I miss the kingdom terribly. I miss you awfully. I got news of the scaled-down celebrations on my birthday, which was only a week ago. I wish I could be with you, but take heart – my journey is approaching its end. Soon, I’ll be back with you. And I have some explaining to do when I’m back. For now, I can only apologize to you for keeping the true objective of my journey to the Celestial Empire a secret.

Just a little while longer.

Before our troupe left the British colony port of Hong Kong, I was told by Lady Kam that the Forbidden City is also called the zijincheng, which means “purple city” – the “purple” being a reference to the North Star, around which all other stars revolve. It’s the political centre of the entire Celestial Empire, and no foreign leader has ever stepped within its grand walls – until my parents, Iduna and Agnarr. They knew Yixin not just as a ruler, but as an associate. They passed on their relationship with him to Elsa and me, and although my sister and I have handled Yixin in our own ways, we’ve always honoured his presence.

Now my reign and fate as queen is intertwined with his plans as the former leader of the Exalted – a position that he chose me for. He’s promised me a glimpse of something truly mythic – a philosopher’s stone that’s captivated leaders throughout world history. But I know he’s got his own secrets, his own agenda. I just need to find out why he’s so hell-bent on locating this legendary elixir of life.

And most importantly, even if I lead the Exalted now, has our true goal all along been to locate and secure this elixir? All of the world’s resources at our disposal, and we use it all for this?

If I can protect Elsa forever, and shield Arendelle from the ravages of war eternally… no wonder why it’s so coveted.

I’m just putting the finishing touches to my column, and Gale will hopefully whisk it all the way over to Arendelle from here inside my inn room. We make for the Meridian Gate – the entrance to the Forbidden City – tomorrow.

I’m putting on a brave face, but I can’t help shaking in nervous excitement. Wish me luck.

Love,
Anna

Continue reading “At World’s End in the Purple City, Part One”

Arendelle celebrates Anna’s Birthday as Summer Solstice arrives

Featured image art “Swingin’ Sisters” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Gudrun, Home Editor for The Arendelle Guardian

ARENDELLE: With Anna absent from Arendelle, the kingdom hosted a muted celebration for the queen’s birthday this year, with General Mattias holding a party in the square by the docks with well-stocked food and drink and entertainment for gathered families. The party was informal and akin to a gathering for friends rather than any formal anniversary for Anna, with the bishop of the Arendellian Church dropping by to make a quick speech blessing Anna’s overseas journey before joining in the festivities himself.

Anna is currently deep in the heartland of the Celestial Empire, having made a brief pit stop in the British colony port of Hong Kong before pushing further inland. Her destination: the Forbidden City itself, the great palace complex overseen by successive emperors of the Qing Dynasty. She’s accompanied by some of the most trusted members of her inner court: Elsa, her sister and the former queen, her fiancé Kristoff, tai-pan of Bjorgman, and Colisa, the queen of Chatho.  

Continue reading “Arendelle celebrates Anna’s Birthday as Summer Solstice arrives”

Cosmic War II: The Celestial Court

Featured image art “Chang’e and Yixin” by Arute (@ast05water)

By SkyInk

‘The moon is that which lacks. It becomes full and wanes. It is the great Yin.’

Extracts for ‘moon’ from the Shiming (c. 200 CE) and Shuowen Jiezi (100-121 CE)

There was a war among the stars. A great conflict over the destiny of humanity and its worthiness to partake of the elixir of life. A goddess, full of regret, decided to hide it so that humankind would never be tempted by the irresistible allure of tyranny eternal. But her son believed that a select few – those that he chose, of course – would be worthy. And so there was war, and the son was cast down from the starships. Humanity wouldn’t know of the aftermath, but all would, in time, be revealed to Anna and Elsa, the Arendellian heirs to this starward odyssey…

*

It had not been two days since had she blasted her son to Earth when a delegate from the Celestial Court arrived.

“Keeper of the Moon Palace, Chang’e,

Receive this edict:

The Divine Superior is heartened to learn that thou art well, but is disappointed that thou hast not disciplined thy son well enough. The Divine Superior remindeth thee that thy outer defences are protected by a Heavenly Corps seconded to thy Lunar Guard. The expenses for their upkeep in the face of this calamitous rebellion by thine unfilial son shall be deducted from thy monthly stipend. The Divine Superior commandeth thee to speedily arrest thy son and present him before the Heavenly Court for trial.

Thusly proclaimed.”

“The unworthy official humbly receives the edict.” Eyes glittering, Chang’e takes the engraved tablet from the Jade Emperor’s messenger. She knows she will have to make a visit to plead before him, in light of what she has just done.

Continue reading “Cosmic War II: The Celestial Court”

COSMIC WAR: The Truth Behind Elsa and Anna’s Journey!

More than 1 million years ago, when the earliest human beings had just begun to walk upright and spread across the already ancient Earth, forces far beyond mortal minds were already tussling over the mammalian race’s destiny.

Deep in the mountains of what is today Hebei Province, China, a slightly hunched Homo Erectus man shuffled into his cave, striking a flint and lighting a torch. He moved the torch over the wall of his little shelter and dwelling. He grinned toothily, proudly looking at the rock carvings he’d made of the animals he’d seen on his hunting and foraging ventures.

There was a great war among the stars. One fought by celestial bodies over the terrestrial baby that was Planet Earth.

Humanity had grown. Evolved. Matured. True, their technology was millennia behind those that watched over their primitive species from the shadows. From where human beings had not yet gathered the courage nor the knowledge to venture. But in time, they would become this planet’s masters, and eventually, leaders among their own kind.

But who deserved a seat among the immortals? Who was worthy enough to escape the fate of all mortal creatures? Or were they all unworthy?

The secret history of the elixir of life would shape thousands of years of human history, culminating in the appearance of Elsa and Anna in the world.

The homo erectus man slowly got up and walked out onto his cave ledge, staring up at the glowing full Moon that bathed its luminescence all over him. He wondered what was happening up there, on the surface of that benevolent celestial body.

Then his reflective moment passed, and he shrugged, shuffling back into the safety of his cave.

This is the story of the war between Chang’e and her son, Yixin. This is the story of how it all began.

Continue reading “COSMIC WAR: The Truth Behind Elsa and Anna’s Journey!”

Postcard from Anna: From Harbour to Heartland

Featured image art “The New Exalted” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Anna

Hello, Arendelle! From far away, across the waves, on the mountainous slopes of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong!

Sinclair Manor, the mansion belonging to my fellow Exalted member Peony Sinclair, suffered an intense and unexpected battle with Harrison’s hired assassins and warriors. No thanks to the British colonial administration, which we suspect has been paid off by Harrison to look the other way! I’ll be having a word with my British counterpart, Vic, when I have the chance back in Europe. Harrison is getting away with murder, and I fear it won’t be just a figure of speech if he gets his way.

I had the most extraordinary day: Lady Kam, comprador of the Princely House and Kristoff’s manager of the ice trade in China, invited me to inspect her clandestine force of… how do I put it? Triads. These well-trained, well-built women and men are members of the Lotus and Crocus, a clandestine underworld group Kam formed for my sake.

For Arendelle’s sake.

Continue reading “Postcard from Anna: From Harbour to Heartland”

Anna’s Column: My Meeting with the Lotus and Crocus, Part Two

Featured image “Emerald Dragon” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Anna

The mansion of Peony Sinclair had been invaded. The chandelier above them shook, and the hall was filled with battle cries.

“It’s the Floodgate triads, I’m sure of it. Harrison’s men,” declared Lady Kam, Kristoff’s comprador and the manager of Bjorgman’s Chinese trade. Everyone had stood up, nervously readying themselves for a violent brawl, but Anna was still glaring at Peony, who’d just dropped a bombshell on them all.

“Lord Yixin is immortal? He isn’t human? I mean, I knew he was uniquely powerful, and sure, there was something disturbing and otherworldly about his appearance. Elsa and I have always known that. But you can’t just pull this revelation on me and then let this go,” cried Anna, putting a hand on Peony’s slender shoulder.

“I’m not letting it go. In case you haven’t noticed, the Floodgate gang has broken into my manor. I don’t have time to explain now. Let’s ensure your safety first, and then I shall reveal all. In fact, it’s still ideal you hear it from my lord’s mouth,” said Peony coolly.

The mansion rang with rapid footsteps as screams of the household servants rang out through the halls and rooms. “They’re attacking my people. Lady Kam, you’ve got to get out of here, and bring the queen and her retinue with you,” demanded Peony.

Continue reading “Anna’s Column: My Meeting with the Lotus and Crocus, Part Two”

Anna’s Column: My Meeting with the Lotus and Crocus, Part One

Featured image “Emerald Dragon” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Anna

Hello everyone, from far away across the oceans! My greetings from the British-ruled port colony of Victoria Town, on the Chinese island of Hong Kong.

I’ve had the craziest meeting with Lady Kam. She left an impression I won’t be in a hurry to forget: she’s a tall, willowy woman, whose jet-black hair is done up in an elegant ponytail. Her rich dark eyes sparkle with a thousand secrets, and her smile is at once warm and enigmatic. And she’s told me things that have shaken my very sense of place in the world. My mind is still processing the outrageous things she’s divulged to me. There was one particular secret, related to the elixir of life, that I’m reeling from.

But just as things were getting interesting, we were attacked by a group of terrifying fighters and assassins! Kam said that they’re from the Floodgate triads, who are employed by none other than – you guessed it – Will Harrison. I should’ve seen that scumbag coming, but what unnerved me even more was that just as Elsa moved to protect us all, Lady Kam struck back and subdued our intruders with her own group of hidden bodyguards! They were triads too, but part of the “Lotus and Crocus” – a triad group founded to protect Elsa and me! To protect Arendelle!

I’m still stunned that there are underworld, technically illegal societies that fight for our distant kingdom. What other secrets is Lady Kam hiding?

Want to know more about what I’m up to on the other side of the world? Just read on…

Continue reading “Anna’s Column: My Meeting with the Lotus and Crocus, Part One”

Michael’s Musings: A Day Out with the Queen

By Michael, trade minister of Arendelle (@of_michel)

If there’s one thing to say about my niece, Queen Anna, you know that she is a real firecracker full of energy and positivity! Only our friend Tileke’s energy seems close to “out-Anna-ing” Anna! I watched as those two fireballs shopped in the square. It made me tired just watching them! But even the brightest firecracker can burn out. I got concerned about Anna one evening when I had Kristoff over for dinner at the famous Lonely Reindeer restaurant. As we talked over important business, the subject of Anna came up.

“You need to see this, Uncle.” Kristoff said as he handed me Queen Anna’s schedule. Kristoff looked positively nervous as I read the sheet with horror. Kristoff said that as of this moment, well after ten in the evening, she was still holed up in her study. “Yeah,” he said, shrugging his shoulders as I shook my head in incredulity. As the queen’s fiancé, he would have been the first to admonish Anna for such a ridiculous timetable, but here it is before you.

*~ WEDNESDAY, FOURTEENTH OF APRIL, 1844 ~*

5:30am – 6:30am: Get up; morning routine

7:00am: Breakfast with Kristoff; daily papers

7:30am – 9:00am: Talk to Honeymaren about latest developments in Northuldra

10:00am – 12:00pm: Policy discussion with Vi and Elsa

12:00pm – 2:00pm: Lunch with Mattias; visit military garrison

2:00pm – 3:00pm: Dockside visit, ribbon-cutting for several new shops

3:30pm – 5:00pm: Break and afternoon tea with Elsa at home

5:00pm – 6:00pm: Kingdom Hall opera and social with Vi and Luna

6:15 – 8:30: Dinner at Arendelle Castle with inner court

9:00pm – 10:30pm: Games night with Olaf and Sven

10:00pm – 11:00pm: Bedtime for Kristoff, bring him hot chocolate

11:30pm – 12:00am: Supper and inner court discussion with Elsa

12:30am – 2:30am: Work alone in study

3:00am – 4:00am: Early morning bath and get ready for bed

4:30am: Bedtime

Continue reading “Michael’s Musings: A Day Out with the Queen”

Cheers and tears as Queen Anna sets sail for China

Featured image “The New Exalted” by Arute (@ast05water)

By Fitch, Politics Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

There was a palpable mix of pride and anxiety as Arendellian citizens gathered at the docks to send off their queen, who finished packing last night and is now aboard her flagship, Pride of Elsa. In her most recent column in the Sunday edition of The Arendelle Guardian, Anna reassured the kingdom that her upcoming voyage was a trip of goodwill among Arendelle’s allies in Asia: in particular, the Great Qing Empire (known to most as the Celestial Empire), the British port colony of Hong Kong, and the Shogunate of Japan.

The queen leads an entourage of friendly heads of state and senior figures connected to the royal household: Elsa the Snow Queen, Kristoff, her husband-to-be and managing director of Bjorgman, Queen Colisa of Chatho, and the mysterious English-born diplomat working for the Chinese imperial household, Peony Sinclair. Anna has left the running of day-to-day affairs in the hands of her prime minister, Vi, while other major matters are tended to by people she trusts, like Michael and Alan or Mattias.

Rumour is rife among the press that Anna has private objectives that she’s declined to disclose to the public. The Arendellian military, led by General Mattias, has gone out of its way to call this trip “of utmost importance of national security,” using this as a pretext to avoid questions about why so much of the outing will be focused on Peking, the capital city of the Celestial Empire.

Continue reading “Cheers and tears as Queen Anna sets sail for China”

Anna announces overseas tour; press suspects ulterior motives

By Ada, Home Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

Arendelle’s fortnight-long Fjordspring Festival concluded today with a great balloon that was released into the sky above the village square, before popping and releasing a shower of colourful confetti and soft candies and packaged marshmallows from Vera’s sweet shop. The festival heralded the coming of springtime and a period of renewal and regeneration for the kingdom – a fitting theme for Arendelle’s victory over the Russian Empire, and the new international prominence of Her Majesty. As our queen, Anna has sealed multiple treaties of peace with European powers, whose rulers have a newfound respect for her. With Russia having withdrawn from Scandinavia and her backyard of Europe secure, Anna has turned her attention to the East, inviting the shogun of Japan’s ruling Tokugawa military government (bakufu) to open formal diplomatic relations with Arendelle. Of greater concern, of course, is her ongoing rivalry with Will Harrison, the opium trader whose empire has only grown in Asia since he humiliated our sovereign.

The same year Anna was crowned queen, the Celestial Empire lost a war and signed a treaty with the British to open up five new ports, and gave the island of Hong Kong to Queen Victoria. In the flourishing new colonial town simply called “Victoria,” there is already a road called Ice House Street, where shipments of quality cut and shaved ice are imported into China for soda and other cold drinks essential for cooling the sub-tropical heat. The Princely House, otherwise known as Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman, has been one of the largest suppliers of ice, having opened a branch early on on Ice House Street.

Continue reading “Anna announces overseas tour; press suspects ulterior motives”