The Jade Court Part IV – Invitation

“I appreciate you calling me with this Asahina.”  Arclight said, “What has this so-called ‘Jade Lady’ done thus far?”

Asahina sipped whisky and frowned at the small figure standing above her communicator focus.  Arclight was one of her contacts in the British Council where apparently taking a new name as a Journeyman mage was still in fashion.  He didn’t sound very worried about the situation; but then again, he didn’t have much reason to be.

“I told you what she has been doing.”  Asahina said a trifle impatiently, “She’s taken over an entire island, infiltrated every aspect of its business, politics, and set herself up as some kind of queen on Izu Oshima.  We sent some people to talk with her and we lost contact with them as soon as they debarked from the airplane. That was eight months ago and we haven’t heard from them since.”

“So she is very good at organizing support, has a bit of money, and is probably a mind mage of some sort.  You don’t have any evidence that the pair you sent to meet her met bad ends at her hand do you?” Arclight said, “I don’t see what’s gotten you so worried.  This isn’t like you.”

“One of them was a former apprentice of mine.”  Asahina said, “She was an accomplished death magic user and I can’t imagine her getting in over her head if there was combat involved.  Her ability to see through the intricacies of political rivalries took her a long way in our society, so I find it hard to believe she’d be caught out by any sort of gamesmanship either.”

“Which begs the question of what could have possibly kept her from reporting back for a day, much less half a year.”  He said, “Also not like you to let your people go missing for that long without following up.”

“We have.” She said shortly, “That’s why we know how deeply she has sunk her fingers into every aspect of Izu Oshima.”

“Have you thought about going there yourselves?”  He asked, “It’s not likely that she would take overt action against a recognized Council mage and someone with Tanaka’s contacts.”

“You don’t know much about the Jade Court do you?”  Asked Asahina.

“Only a little.  Had a coffee with a Knight of the Cross one afternoon about ten years ago.”  Arclight said, “He seemed to think they were more mysterious than any of the other courts, but I took that in stride since by all accounts they more or less vanished around two hundred years ago.  Pretty easy to be secretive when you’re gone through the entire Information Age wouldn’t you say?”

“She has been here for more than half a year and the only reason I know what her face looks like is that we strapped tiny cameras to a flock of pigeons.”  Asahina said, “We don’t know where her fortune came from, but she rebuilt a CASTLE in three months, made the island energy independent in four months and by our current estimate will have made it food independent by the end of the year.  

“She sent one envoy to us requesting that Tanaka come to pay his respects.”  She drained her glass and ran her hand through her hair, “Other than that there has been no attempt at contact.”

“Seems to me you need to make an overture.” Said Arclight, “If you won’t go to her, perhaps invite her to visit you.  If she’s as powerful as you say she won’t turn down the chance to show how much stronger she is than you by coming to your stronghold.  At very least you won’t have to deal with her pet tiger if you don’t want to.”

Asahina laughed, “I still think that’s one of the most compelling arguments for her being a mind mage.  Even the most talented with animals don’t get the kind of control she seems to have with her beast.”

“Well, keep me informed.”  Arclight said, “I have another meeting to get to.  Best of luck.”

His image faded from the focus and Asahina poured herself another two fingers of Santori.  “Well shit. Now I have to convince Tanaka that this is the best course of action. We also need to prepare a warm welcome for our ‘Jade Lady’ just in case things go sideways.”

The boardroom was prepared perfectly, the staff had been informed and only the most loyal and trusted people were present.  Asahina looked around and smiled to herself, this was as perfect as they could manage. The clock chimed 11:00 and she saw the video feed outside the front office.  A black limousine pulled up and the driver opened the door.

A parasol opened before the lady exited herself.  The silk of the parasol was colored black with a beautiful pattern of sakura blossoms scattered across it and the kimono the woman who stepped out of the car matched it perfectly.  The spray of cherry petals looked like blood splatters as the Jade Lady stepped out on her platform sandals, holding the hem of her kimono out of the dust of the street.

She paused, adjusting her garments before stepping forward and allowing the driver to close the door.  Asahina flinched slightly as Shiriasau Sai’Li looked directly at the camera trained on her and smiled slightly before snapping a fan over her face and delicately walking toward the door with measured, tiny steps.

The doorman held the door wide for her and she paused to thank him with a slight inclination of her head.  “May I leave my parasol with you?” She asked, folding the item and offering it to him handle first.

“Of course.”  He said, accepting it and setting it behind the small desk at his station after she had entered.

For no reason she could directly define, Asahina began to feel anxious.  Was it really a good idea to invite such a being into the Yashida stronghold?  The elevator chimed and the click of wooden sandals on the marble floor echoed around the room.

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