Outside the Shen Embassy, Central, Shuell
4th December 2019
It had taken her days and days to write the letter. She had reworded it a thousand times, given up on the project and then started over perhaps even more than that, but finally she thought she was ready. She had told nobody of her plans, working in secret in the night while her daughter slept and she pretended to be reading a book before she went to sleep.
When she had informed her security this morning that she had business at the Shen Embassy, one of them had literally stared with her mouth wide open before realising that she was being rather rude. Her security had objected and even threatened to call her grandmother, but when Xia had informed them that if they did so, she would fire all of them and rely solely on the Shuellian guards, in spite of the warning that had been sent by the Council to the delegation in Shuell to be wary following the Aurora leak, they relented.
So now, she stood outside the embassy surrounded by her security, nervously looking up at it in the cold Shuellian air. She was frozen to the spot not by the cold, but by her fear. Could she really do this? No Chiu had set foot on Shen soil, even in embassy form, since 1912. Then again, no Chiu had spoken to a Wu since then until her. And she rather thought that no Chiu had written a letter to the God Empress since then also. Xia was making history.
Finally, Xia took a deep breath and entered the Shen Embassy. In contrast to the freezing cold she had been standing in, the building was incredibly warm. Still incredibly nervous, she approached the reception desk.
"Hello," she said in Mandarin. "My name is..." she paused, frozen to the spot and uncertain once more about revealing her identity.
" ... and so the man loosens his scarf. Takes off his weather shield, loosens the straps of his ushanka. Unbuttons his Overcoat. Unzips his undercoat. And finally says 'how did you know'!"
The other bureaucrats burst into laughter before they all looked around.
"Take a number. The blue line is for immigration. The green line just for tourism. The red line is for business travel. The yellow line is Imperial business."
"I'm not here for travel, I..." she paused, then took a deep breath and continued. "I have a letter for the God-Empress. My name is Chiu Xia."
She spoke her name in the Shen fashion, as she had signed the letter, despite the fact that for years now, living in Kerlile had caused her family to often write it in the order used by English speakers, which counted Kerlians among their number.
"Ok... is that supposed to mean something to me? Take a ticket for the yellow line and you'll be called up," the low-ranking bureaucrat said not knowing who she was.
"My grandmother is Councillor Chiu of Kerlile," she said, torn between frustration and relief at the bureaucrat's lack of knowledge.
One of the other bureaucrats who have been looking at her computer said looking up.
"...show us you ID!"
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a Kerlian passport, handing it over calmly. It wouldn't do to appear overly nervous.
"...shit... this is legitimate. My aunt's the Ambassador to Kerlile... this is definitely legitimate."
The woman behind the desk shooed away her less informed counterparts.
"... you have a letter you want sent to the empress?"
"I do," she said, exhaling, and taking out an envelope which she placed on the counter in front of her.
The woman took it and nodded.
"I’ll... have this delivered by Diplomatic Courier to the throne."
"Thank you," she nodded in response. She was pleased it had been easy, and nobody had threatened her. She'd half been expecting it.
The embassy staff went back to their duties. Still clearly confused on what had just happened.
Xia exited the embassy, breathing a sigh of relief to be outside again. She clutched her passport in her hand, and steadied herself against a wall as she calmed her breathing.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” her bodyguard Chloe asked in English.
“Yes, I am,” she replied. “Though I rather fear my future wellbeing is out of my hands. Chloe, I have trusted you for a long time. Would you like to retain that trust?”
“Of course,” Chloe frowned, confused.
“Then do not tell my grandmother of what transpired today.”
“Xia…” Chloe began, shifting uncomfortably, using her first name. “You’re asking me to keep a secret from a Councillor of Kerlile.”
“I am asking you to protect me from a threat,” she replied. “Which you have sworn to do. Please, promise me secrecy.”
“I… okay, I promise, ma’am,” Chloe said. Xia did not notice that she was crossing her fingers behind her back.
Xia walked back to her hotel, where she had left her daughter with Olivia Pierre, who had offered to look after her when Xia had asked. She was glad she’d sent the letter, but she was also terrified. If her grandmother ever found out she’d sent it - especially given the contents of the letter - she rather thought she might die.
Krieg-Metzger HotelDear the Most Esteemed, Brilliant, Illustrious, Magnificent, Exceptional, Glorious, Great God-Empress Wu Zhao,
4th December 2019
I am writing to express my condolences over the death of your mother. She was a woman who did great things for Shen, and I hope that you have people around you to offer comfort during this time.
I write without the knowledge of my grandmother. Our two families have had poor relations for over a century now, and it saddens me. My ancestors made terrible mistakes, and I hope that one day the dispute between our families can end.
It is my wish that one day relations between our families, and relations between Kerlile and Shen need not be so strained. I wish you luck in your time as God-Empress, and that Shen can continue to prosper.
Granddaughter of Councillor Chiu of Kerlile.