The Qilin Cabaret: Party the Night Away!

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

“What should I do?” said Anna, throwing Tiffany Hunsecker’s invitation onto the coffee table. Kristoff, Elsa, Colisa, Peony, and Alan looked down at it, their expressions grim. They were in a palatial, terraced accommodation used by Peony Sinclair to host British diplomats to China. They’d had several days to digest everything that had gone down in the Forbidden City, during their long-awaited meeting with Yixin. Not only was Anna being tempted with power beyond imagination, it also had the potential to transform Arendelle forever and redefine her reign and legacy.

Yet the risks and pitfalls were enormous. As if that weren’t enough to mull over, Anna had received a letter shortly after speaking with Yixin. It was an invitation, in which Tiffany asserted that Harrison had, in light of Anna’s ascension to the Exalted’s leadership and her weathering everything he’d thrown at her, forced himself to acknowledge her as an equal.

Yet it wasn’t in the queen of Arendelle’s capacity or her business to completely destroy Harrison. She couldn’t. His assets were transnational and he could sail anywhere, be it Boston, London, or Hong Kong. His opium firm could incorporate anywhere in the world. He could sever ties to his triad associates long before Anna could produce any evidence to anyone that cared. Arendelle’s jurisdiction was much more limited than his business’s mobility.

Continue reading “The Qilin Cabaret: Party the Night Away!”

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

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

“You should probably sit down,” said Peony calmly, as Anna visibly swayed in shock. Yixin didn’t budge, staring thinly at the lavish gardens outside his lavish window. Elsa also looked stupefied, as did all the guests in the Qianlong Gardens. Peony handed Anna a soft handkerchief, and the queen of Arendelle gratefully took it, wiping her sweating brow.

At long last, Yixin had told them the whole truth and nothing but the truth. All this time, Anna and her friends had simply known him as a powerful figure in the Qing court, the power behind the emperor’s throne. Of course, he had a second identity as the leader of the Exalted, but even Anna hadn’t suspected there was so much more behind the organization. How he was a Moonborn: a unique class of beings born from an outer space goddess, Chang’e. How Chang’e had made the Earth’s Moon her domain. How at the dawn of humankind, she’d given her former husband, the mortal Hou Yi, a taste of eternal life through her holy elixir: the legendary ambrosia sought after by all that sought immortality.

And how Hou Yi had become civilization’s first tyrant, drunk on power and his newfound immortality, his cruelty forcing Chang’e to wage a cataclysmic war against him until Hou Yi was destroyed.

It wasn’t their familial drama that Yixin chafed at. What he couldn’t accept was Chang’e’s decision after Hou Yi’s defeat – that humanity wasn’t ready for the elixir of life and that it needed to be hidden from mortals forever.

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

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!”

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”

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”

A Future Without Elsa

Featured image art “Snowstorm” by PURY (@puryart)

VICTORY as Queen Anna stakes vampire traitor Countess Vi through her heart

By Mikael, Defence Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

The desperate rebellion against Anna led by Countess Vi, Anna’s former prime minister, is about to be crushed by Her Majesty. As this article is going to press, the newly conquered states of the Southern Isles, Chatho, Weselton, and Vesterland will be recognizing Anna as the new and first Empress of Arendelle.

Loyal citizens of Arendelle, rejoice! Our beautiful motherland is now the Empire of Arendelle!

Since the death of Elsa, Anna was tragically broken and, as if a fire was lit within her, gloriously rallied and wiped out all her enemies. Seeing herself as a failure, she rapidly reorganized our kingdom into an engine of “total war,” and began a campaign of relentless expansion. Now Arendelle is several times its original size, having swallowed all her former allies, and with a navy that has blown apart the Prussian and Austrian fleets in Europe. Anna is even poised to wrench colonies in Asia and the Americas from their original masters of the British and French.

Yet in the midst of all this glory, the Countess claimed that Anna had lost her way and instigated a rebellion. Treason! It’s obvious that she simply wanted to seize the new Arendellian Empire for herself. After more than two years of fierce civil war, Her Majesty has crushed Vi’s forces and is now poised to seize Mundilfari Keep itself!

The sister-queens are dead. All hail the Last Sister!

Long live Empress Anna!

Continue reading “A Future Without Elsa”

The Battle of Arendelle, Finale

Featured image art “Elsa and Sora” by Arute (@ast05water)

Warning: Graphic depictions

Clad in an intimidating, all-black military uniform that accentuated her figure, Katina Romanov, princess of Russia, stepped onto Arendellian soil, from the lowered plank of Reaver, the royal Russian flagship. Her heeled boots clacked across the burning wood of Arendelle’s docks as she made her way to the ruined plaza. All around her, Arendellian landmarks were burning. Even the castle in the distance was heavily damaged.

The sky was burning red, having overcome the residual blue hues of Elsa’s magic.

Katina grinned. “Just like Purgatory,” she whispered, flicking her pink and brown, braided ponytail.

She’d waited so many years for this, ever since her father had been humiliated by Elsa and Colisa. Years of planning and gathering the Grand Dukes. More years of amassing her forces and preparing her strategy. Arendelle had fought well, and Russia had suffered immense losses as well. But now she stood on the cusp of victory, finally able to complete her promise of making Russia overlord of all Eurasia – including Europe.

And it was so worth it.

Continue reading “The Battle of Arendelle, Finale”

The Battle of Arendelle, Part One

Featured image “Snow Queen and Guardian Angel” by Arute (@ast05water)

Tell me, child, have you heard of how Huang Gai of Wu endured a heavy beating by Zhou Yu, also of Wu, to fool the Wei warlord Cao Cao into thinking that they despised each other? Once Cao Cao had recruited Huang Gai, Huang Gai and Zhou Yu sabotaged him.

“In the art of war, if one is willing to suffer pain and another is willing to inflict it, such mutual connivance can fool even the most powerful of leaders.” – Yixin, to Anna

*

It was a crisp and fresh spring morning as Anna, Elsa, Tileke, Alan, and Michael awaited the final invasion force of the Russians, which consisted of a single, gentle individual. Gulls squawked above the harbour, waves lapping gently at the wood.

Soon after Sora had crushed Elsa and forced Anna to surrender, Katina herself would arrive on her flagship, all set to place her Russian governor or puppet-ruler before the throne of Arendelle. To bring the kingdom to heel, to rule it from behind the scenes, dictating how Anna would shape domestic and foreign policy… all on behalf of the Romanovs.

Once Arendelle was subjugated, the entire Scandinavian peninsula would serve as the Russian launching pad into Western Europe. At last, all Eurasia would be united under the banner of Katina, avenging centuries of repeated incursions and sackings of Russia at the hands of European powers.

That plan, of course, was one that Anna planned to foil. She stood in the evacuated village square of her small kingdom, flanked by Elsa and Tileke. “This will be simple,” she said quietly. “Russia no longer has a feasible invasion force thanks to the destruction of their Baltic Fleet and Grand Duke Nykras’ death. But their guardian angel, Sora, could overwhelm entire armies.” Her aqua eyes shone. The memory of recent events was roiling inside her.

Continue reading “The Battle of Arendelle, Part One”

Private memo: Anna’s seat among the Exalted

“Ashflakes,” by Alanna (@alhuart)

Members of Anna’s inner court:

At the request of the queen, please keep secret the information herein. If you have any objections, please understand that my task is simply to communicate Her Majesty’s wishes.

Since last week, Anna has taken on an additional role and duty which requires your immediate attention. She’s assumed membership among the Exalted, a private society of the most powerful leaders in several nations and empires, from the United States to the Great Qing Empire. Indeed, you know one of these members to be Katina herself, our aggressor in this ongoing and destructive war with Russia. In an attempt to oust Katina from her membership, Anna has negotiated with the Exalted’s leader, Yixin, an arrangement where she will lead the Exalted itself, ensuring Katina’s defeat and ouster. In return, however, we must prepare for a much more intimate presence of the Exalted in our castle halls, with Anna preparing to mobilize the Exalted for whatever mysterious purposes Yixin has.

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