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”

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.  

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Michael’s Musings Special: Letter to Prince Regent Yixin of China

Dear reader, I did promise no politics on my column, however, due to recent events, I thought you would like to read my thoughts on Anna’s letter to Prince Yixin while supporting our Queen in her decisions. From here on forward is my letter.

Dear Prince Regent Yixin,

Please allow me to first introduce myself. I am Michael, Trade Minister to Her Majesty, my niece, Queen Anna of Arendelle. Her Majesty has spoken much about you, how she has learned a lot from you on leading a kingdom and the friendship you and her, as well as China and Arendelle have enjoyed since 1731.

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To My Imperial Mentor, from a Devoted Student

Your Imperial Highness, Prince Regent Yixin:

Good health to you, and thank you so much for your long and nuanced letter from a couple of months ago. You must have written it fairly quickly after I appointed Countess Vi my prime minister.

Your rebuke was restrained, but I felt your irritation. I could almost close my eyes and see your hand trembling in patrician fury while writing the words. I’ve earned not just your ire, but also the anger of the rulers and power-brokers in your circle. It’s the first time I’ve openly disobeyed a request from you, after all.

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