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”

Arendelle and the Fragrant Harbour

“Weaver” by Arute (@ast05water)

Gentle waves licked at the hull of Pride of Elsa as it slowly docked in Victoria Harbour, named after Anna’s fellow sovereign. A wooden plank descended upon a quiet wharf, with very few people around except for a neatly dressed Chinese fellow who stood beside Pride of Elsa, waiting to receive the new arrivals from Arendelle.

This colonial entrepot had been conceded by the Daoguang Emperor to Britain the year Anna was crowned queen. Unlike Portugal or Arendelle, to whom the Chinese emperor had granted generous trading rights, the Qing had hastily thrown Hong Kong Island at Britain, as part of a deal to get the persistent barbarians off their backs for trying to ban opium. Despite its barrenness, the British also wanted the island as a safe harbour at which to do business and dock ships. Curiously, Yixin had done nothing to help his own hapless ruler navigate the complexities of international diplomacy. But then again, back when Yixin controlled the Exalted, Harrison – a China trader and prominent opium dealer – was one of the core members.

Anna strongly suspected that the Celestial Empire’s day-to-day concerns and problems no longer concerned Yixin – if they ever did. And she knew why. The Exalted had always been a means for him to amass the wealth and resources necessary for his true goal.

He was no typical Qing prince regent. There was something unsettling about him. Something about the night. About the supernatural.

“He’s looking for the elixir of life,” she murmured to herself, “and I’m here to help him. To swear fealty to him.”

Continue reading “Arendelle and the Fragrant Harbour”

Allies of Arendelle: KAM CHIK-LOEI, Comprador of Bjorgman

Featured image “Weaver” by Arute (@ast05water)

You’ve met Will Harrison and Tiffany Hunsecker, Anna’s foes in Asia. Now get to know four of Anna’s closest foreign allies. They come from far away, separated from Arendelle by land and sea. Yet they’re as close to Anna and Elsa as you are, and help protect Arendelle’s international interests. “Allies of Arendelle” features four OCs that assist Anna with her goals in our Emerald Dragon arc: Kam Chik-loei, Tileke, Fujiwara Takako, and Luna de Borbón.

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Kam Chik-loei (金織女)

With a nod of her head, Arendelle prospers. With a snap of her fingers, economies flourish. Making people wealthy is the power of Kam Chik-loei, the richest person in the British-ruled port of Hong Kong. Lady Kam serves as the comprador of the Princely House, Kristoff’s company of Bjorgman. She’s also the secret leader of the Crocus and Lotus, the Arendelle-allied but illegal triad society that’s locked in ongoing turf warfare with Harrison’s criminal allies, the Floodgate gang.

To call her Kristoff’s second-in-command is almost too simple. True, she’s a member of Bjorgman’s executive committee, and she sits on Kristoff’s board. But she’s so much more. She’s the procurement officer. The personnel recruiter. The guarantor. The underwriter. The chief interpreter. This isn’t even where her power is. Her authority comes from being the conduit through which all of Bjorgman’s money passes. There’s no transaction that she doesn’t oversee, no income or expenditure she doesn’t supervise. Depending on her snap judgement, a simple “Okay lah” or “No lah” can mean months of revenue or crippling financial losses. She’s the master of the Chinese world of trade, in which her boss would be lost without her.

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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.

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ARSON ON ARENDELLIAN PROPERTY: Kristoff’s ice branch in Hong Kong destroyed by fire

By Gudrun, World Affairs Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

HONG KONG; ARENDELLE – In a mysterious disaster for Kristoff’s ice subsidiary, Bjorgman’s Asian branch in the colonial port of Hong Kong was burned to the ground in the middle of the night several days ago. The suspects remain unknown and at large.

The British authorities, with local Chinese community leaders, have decried foul play, but no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility.

The Celestial Empire is one of the largest markets for Kristoff’s business, where quality ice is popular among wealthy Chinese and non-Chinese merchants and British governing officials. Ice is also in demand by hospitals and other strongholds of science and medicine. So important is ice to the Hong Kong elite that the colonial authorities founded Ice House Street, a one-way street for companies in the ice trade to set up shop, including Kristoff’s.

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Prologue: Vi and Tess

WARNING: Violence, gore, profanity, adult content

A sharp scream punctured the cold, dreary night.

Blistered, bare feet pattering on the dirty, mud-stained pathway, Tess held on to her rags tightly as she ran for her life, not daring to look back at her pursuer. Her heart felt like it was in repeated spasms as it beat wildly and relentlessly one moment from all the sprinting, before being frozen in abject terror the next in realization. Realization that this prowler could well be the psychopath murdering her friends in the Whitechapel area. No. No, she thought in panic, as she found herself staring at the dead end of an alleyway that had long been sealed up. She couldn’t think like that. Not when she had the girls of the Boudoir to return to. Milly, Florence, Christine, Julie…

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No Goodbyes for My Queen

Anna stood outside the stately teak door of Vi’s Grand House. The entrance to the townhouse stood on an elevated porch, leading to a long foyer that opened up into the living rooms. She sighed to herself. The Countess’s background, dark style, and sheer charisma often made Anna feel like Vi was the one holding court. That was part of her charm. Anna knocked lightly on the door, and it swung open, revealing Hilde in her fully decked military garb. “Your Majesty,” acknowledged the Von Altheim, saluting.

“Hey, Hilde,” said Anna glumly. “Is she in the living room?”

“Yes. Come in,” replied Hilde, her yellow eyes looking at Anna sympathetically. Today’s meeting wasn’t going to be a comfortable one.

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Clean Up This Mess, Countess

To: Viola Mundilfari, The Grand House, 4 Assembly Avenue, Arendelle

From: Peony Sinclair, Marble Hall, 1 Conduit Road, Hong Kong Island

My dear Vi, my Countess Mundilfari.

Story art by Alanna (@alhuart)

It’s been many moons since we last exchanged words, let alone met. It seems you’ve had your hands full over in Arendelle, now that you’re that kingdom’s prime minister. You’ve focused our eyes on your leader, Anna, ever since you burned down the Southern Isles. You’re as impulsive and devil-may-care as always. It’s perhaps why His Imperial Highness wanted you to join us, hoping to rein you in as a member of the Exalted.

I, for one, knew that you couldn’t be tamed. There are few nobles in the courts of Asia and Europe more charming and irresistible than you. You’ve left not a few broken hearts and damaged souls – women and men alike – in your destructive wake.

I miss our brief but intense time together. Do you even remember our encounter in that nobleman’s ballroom in Munich? Do you have any memory of the fragrance I wore for you?

A memory for another time, perhaps. I have orders from Lord Yixin.

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History made as Queen Victoria Visits Arendelle

By Torsten, Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian

Art by @inArendelle, Arendellian royal artist 

History was made in Arendelle today as Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland arrived at our shores this afternoon.

The sovereign of the British Empire was welcomed personally by Queen Anna and a full cannon salute from Her Majesty’s flagship and General Mattias’ warships. The two monarchs will share a state dinner at the palace tonight, before being given a full tour of the kingdom tomorrow. Queen Anna will also take her to the North Mountain to visit Marshmallow and the snowgies’ home.

Victoria’s second night will be occupied entirely by a grand ball at Arendelle castle, with most of Arendelle’s political, economic, cultural, and civic elites invited to pay homage to both monarchs.

High society is alight with gossip about how Victoria will get on with Honeymaren, the new Head Liaison of Northuldra-Arendelle Affairs and Anna’s de facto foreign secretary.

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