Queen Anna and Tai-pan Harrison, Part One

“Swinging Sisters” by Arute (@ast05water)

“Tiffany Hunsecker” by Arute (@ast05water)

“Mr. Harrison will see you now.”

Radiant and beautiful in her Chinese dress, Anna reluctantly released Kristoff, who she’d been swaying leisurely with to the sound of romantic piano and lilting drums. She looked at Tiffany Hunsecker, Harrison’s second-in-command, with a defiant grimace. “So, does he expect the negotiations to go his way again?”

“Of course he does, as I’m sure you expect them to go yours,” said Tiffany smoothly. “Nothing personal. May the best dealer win.” She gave a small smile. “Who shall it be – the queen of Arendelle, onetime small Nordic kingdom to rising world power? Or will it be my employer, greatest tai-pan in the Chinese seas?”

“My point is simple. Harrison has you, Tiffany,” she said, staring down the secretary to the opium dealer. “I get to bring Elsa with me going in.”

“Out of the question,” denied Tiffany. “She’s the Fifth Spirit. Harrison isn’t stupid enough to be in the same room as her should negotiations with you collapse.”

“Why, you – ” snarled Alan, rising from his seat in the Arendellian group’s booth, but Elsa put a hand on his arm, and he reluctantly relented.

“Then at least let Anna bring in someone else. Maybe Alan, or Kristoff,” said Elsa.

“Yeah. I get to bring someone in the Exalted with me. It’s only fair,” contested Anna.

Continue reading “Queen Anna and Tai-pan Harrison, Part One”

MILITARY FILES: Selene Severin, the Wolf Hunter

It was well into the early hours of the morning when Mattias, who slept in a set of comfortable pajamas, was awoken by one of his officers.

“General! General!” came the urgent voice, along with the speaker’s hurried knocking on his door. Mattias crawled out of his simple bed and opened the door, rubbing his eyes and revealing a much younger man in a dark green Arendellian military uniform. “Sergeant Chips, sir. Intelligence. Queen Anna’s Ravens.”

“Yeah, I know who you are. No problem. What’s going on?” asked Mattias sleepily. “Is everything alright?”

“Um, no, sir. I wouldn’t disturb your rest if I didn’t have urgent files to give you.” Chips grimaced, handing him several sheets of paper. “The regent, Countess Vi, and her lieutenant, Commander Hilde, are engaging the enemy in the forest just beyond our kingdom. Their lives are in peril. Trade minister Michael and Danny are headed there right now, to try and resolve the situation.”

Mattias’ warm brown eyes widened and his whole body tensed. “What? Vi and Hilde are in danger? If they’re harmed while Queen Anna’s away…” He blinked. “No. No, that’s not going to happen. Brief me on the situation, Chips. Who’s this enemy? we’ve been at peace since the armistice with Russia.”

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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!”

A NIECE’S REVENGE: Even the Wolf Can’t Escape the Shadows

They met in the woodlands just beyond the kingdom. It was secluded enough for a private meeting between four of the most ancient aristocratic families in Arendelle.

Mundilfari.

Von Altheim.

Hellström.

Vinter.

“Do I really need to be out here for this?” asked Countess Vi, Anna’s regent. Hilde Von Altheim stood beside her, the commander’s yellow eyes latching on to the two middle-aged men across from them. “It’s the middle of the night; the kingdom’s asleep, and I want to be hanging around playing charades with the little one, Danny.”

Her slender arms were crossed skeptically as her vampiric, immortal eyes lingered on a nervous-looking Gerald Vinter and his Hellström counterpart, Lord Neumann. “Do I need to make my judgements of these fellows personally, Hilde?”

“Ha! I actually agree with you,” snapped Neumann, shivering as he adjusted his cashmere wool coat, on which was emblazoned the coat-of-arms of the Hellström: a stylized blaze of fire over a shield, flanked by a bear and a crane. “We stayed quiet like good little boys while you were wreaking havoc and tussling with Her Majesty last year, and we kept our heads down when you and Hilde ascended into Anna’s inner court! And you suspect us of being the culprits who have been harassing and haranguing you, Countess Vi?”

Continue reading “A NIECE’S REVENGE: Even the Wolf Can’t Escape the Shadows”

Arendelle’s Old Nobles: Hellström and Vinter

Featured image art “Commander” by feeplings (@feeplings)

Commander Hilde was a bit surprised that today’s appointment wasn’t at the Nokk Club.

She opened the door to the Lonely Reindeer tavern, her enhanced senses immersed in the pungent, jovial smells of roast chicken, frothy, refreshing beer, and more. It was a packed day for the tavern. Her wolfish eyes quickly identified the nondescript man sitting at one of the corner tables, where the barmaid often forgot to check up on. She strode over, silently noting his very bland, vanilla appearance: a traditional Arendellian three-piece suit, conventional and unextraordinary. Yet it was perhaps this rather orthodox look that lent him a sense of timelessness and understated elegance. He had a goatee, and his blue eyes darted at Hilde nervously as she sat down.

“Anonymous letters have a way of being thrown out of the prime minister’s mailbox and burned,” said Hilde, crossing her arms, “especially since they’ve lately been disgusting insults and slanders from our despised harasser.”

“Well, I’m glad you didn’t dispose of mine,” said the man, adjusting his high collar nervously. He beckoned over the barmaid, calling for a pint of beer. They sat in silence as she stared at the nobleman, waiting for him to speak – and finally, after an awkward pause, he did.

“I mean no harm – in fact, I’m here to try to calm the flames somewhat.”

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INVITATION from the Qilin Cabaret to HM Queen Anna and her Exalted

Featured image art “Narco lords” by Arute (@ast05water)

To Her Majesty the Queen of Arendelle,

I’d offer you pleasantries: wishes of good health to you and Elsa, congratulations for seizing control of the Exalted, and even some grudging respect for how ruthlessly you expelled my boss, Mr. Harrison, from the cabal. You’ve got an… unforgiving streak, don’t you? Especially for those that mess with your family. I like that.

You and Mr. Harrison know each other well enough that you’ll see any pleasantries from me to be hollow and meaningless. You despise each other, so I won’t patronize you with insincerity.

I’ll accord you the respect you deserve as my boss’s nemesis and get straight down to business.

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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.

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Arendelle politics: Commander Hilde designates Vi’s harasser as THREAT to national security

By Gudrun, Home Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

Hilde Von Altheim, the right hand woman of Countess Vi and a sub-commander in the Arendellian army (second only to General Mattias), has issued a public challenge in our paper to Vi’s harasser. Indicating confidence in the culprit’s identity, Hilde has also used her authority to declare the harasser a threat to Arendellian security – making it much easier for her to deploy more severe means to hunt down this person/s, including with army help.

Hilde is the scion of the Von Altheim clan, a Germano-Nordic noble family that’s as ancient as the Mundilfari clan. The two families’ political fortunes have been inseparable since the early centuries of the Holy Roman Empire, and each scion of the Von Altheims has served as the protector closest to the head of the Mundilfaris.

For the past few months, the First Vampire and prime minister has been subjected to an increasing vitriolic campaign of public humiliation and character slander. Despite suffering vandalism against her Grand House on the foothills of Arendelle, which has forced Vi to relocate to Arendelle Castle, she’s maintained a remarkably restrained silence on the series of hate mail she’s received and slanderous pamphlets circulating around. She’s stated that she no longer wishes to solve her problems with violence, attempting to ask herself what her queen, Anna, would do instead. “I am, after all, Anna’s regent until she returns from China,” she said.

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To Ensnare a Mundilfari: Arendelle’s Old Families

Featured image art by Inkwhite (@Inkwhite_mo)

It was a quiet evening in Arendelle Castle, which now doubled as a temporary home for the kingdom’s most prominent countess and her retainers. In olden times it would have been crushing, humiliating, for Vi to be driven from her own residence of the Grand House on the foothills of Arendelle, and to seek shelter with the currently absent queen. But for the First Vampire, it was perhaps better this way: she cared a lot less about appearances now, and she was more interested in protecting those close to her, Tess and Hilde. There was nothing wrong with crashing at Anna’s, anyway: Her Majesty had made Vi, already the prime minister, effectively regent while Anna was in China.

So Vi, her werewolf guardian and general Hilde, and her human attendant Tess slowly got used to life in Arendelle Castle, with Vi even moving some of her Mundilfari paraphernalia into the home of the royal family – something that would have been quite unthinkable during Agnarr’s or Elsa’s reigns. The Mundilfaris, influential as they were over Arendellian affairs, were feared, and their dark association with black magic and the demon Mephistopheles forever tainted their name despite their standing among the Scandinavian nobility.

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GANG WAR: The Lotus and Crocus versus the Floodgate!

Featured image art by Arute (@ast05water)

It was time to evacuate.

The queen of Arendelle’s strategy was simple: she, Elsa, and the other Exalted members needed to get out of Hong Kong as quickly as possible. The British island colony was commonly used as the first port of call by foreign visitors into the Celestial Empire, but the group’s sense of urgency was even higher than before, now that everyone knew that Harrison had them in his crosshairs. The drug lord and tai-pan wanted to stop Anna from reaching the Forbidden City at all costs. Anna had expelled Harrison from membership of the Exalted after ascending to its leadership, and Harrison would be damned if he let his Arendellian enemy humiliate him further by becoming the Exalted’s number one.

It was midnight, when the city was theoretically asleep and done with business. But Hong Kong is never done with business. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Colisa, and Kristoff were standing on the esplanade by Victoria Harbour, where there were docked several ships. There was a boat waiting for the group, which would take them to Pride of Elsa, which was anchored a short distance away in the deep waters of the colony. Lady Kam had disappeared to “make preparations” – it was an enigmatic statement that even her boss, Kristoff, couldn’t understand. After spending a single night in the ransacked and ruined Sinclair Mansion, Peony had warned them that they needed to board Pride of Elsa and get to the Chinese mainland as soon as they could. Another assault by the Floodgate triads wasn’t only inevitable, but imminent.

Continue reading “GANG WAR: The Lotus and Crocus versus the Floodgate!”