A Peachy little Mystery

Perhaps I have simply spent too much time in my quest to reach Cardinal of Conspiracy 10, but I think I have stumbled on one of the 'Neath’s smaller mysteries. I became curious about the Traitor Empress, and was doing a bit of reading on the historical figure behind her. While doing this, I happened upon the side-bar text that mentions things the Empress dislikes - and among those dislikes sat “peaches.” Well, that’s a curious item in a list containing more mundane figurehead dislikes such as foreigners and treason, so I did a bit of poking. It seems that historically, the Traitor Empress’s real-life counterpart was known for eating a peach every day (on a frilly napkin none the less.) Strange that such a thing even persists as a historical footnote, but there it is. Furthermore, that’s a sharp, if enigmatic, contrast between the Traitor Empress and her pre-fall self. Does it hint at something larger?

Perhaps. Peaches are regarded, among many eastern cultures, as the fruit (or at least a fruit) of immortality. There are a few famous Chinese folktales featuring immortal peaches prominently, for instance. And, in the West, peaches were referred to as “Persian Apples,” though they were introduced to Persia by the Chinese. Below is my theory, which contains a few spoilers from the University:

[color=#ffffff]The Duchess has said “There is always a cost that is known, and a cost that is not. The Empress knows this now.” I suspect that, in order to save her Consort (whose real-life counterpart died of his illness) the Bazaar used Hesperidian Cider - which I believe to contain “Persian Apples” rather than the more traditional kind. That “unknown cost” of this service has left the Empress rather sour on the fruit she once adored.[/color]

Also, since you don’t get to be a true “Cardinal of Conspiracy” without some truly off-the-wall conspiracy, here’s a little bit of crazy:

The most famous of those Chinese tales I mentioned is “Journey to the West” which features, among other things, a character who is a monkey God. I know of at least two places in Fallen London that a monkey is far more than it appears[color=#ffffff] - the Heart’s Desire ambition, and the opportunity card to sell your Malevolent Monkey to the Bazaar for more than it is worth (which is a thing of such rarity when dealing with the Bazaar that the transaction stands out.) [/color] Are these monkeys related to, or inspired by, “Journey to the West?” And, even more tenuously still, is this tale (which involves the travel out of China into distant western lands along the silk road) related to [color=#ffffff]the King of a Hundred Hearts[/color]?

Is it enough to unmask Mr. Apples, and reveal he is secretly Mr. Peaches? Unlikely. But I found it interesting mental fodder none the less.

I’d like to mention that the Gracious Widow smuggles peachbrandy, which cures your wounds, when you get to drink it.

A good point, one that is again mentioned when you are trading Abominable Salts in for Memories of Distant Shores. Also when trading in relics of the third city. Most importantly perhaps, given what little we know of him, is that the Capering Relicker (or rather his rat) mentions peaches and the Widow when trading for a Brass Skull.

Given the texts of these encounters that all mention the Elder Continent in concert with peachers, and given that said is the intended destination of the Dilmun club, well…

I didn’t know about the Malevolent Monkey’s opportunity card! Off to buy one immediately…

And we know that the Widow is significantly older than she seems, presumably due to that very brandy. The “In Search of a Stiff Drink” mini-arc also sheds light and raises some interesting questions about the Duchess’s possible connection to the whole mess.

A theory~

-Hell has obtained a double agent of the Presbyter in the form of Feducci.
-Hell as made him the captain of the Brass Trieme
-They are invading Hell as a plan to obtain the peaches of Immortality
-The “Monkey Poisonings” refer to Hells attempts to kill the monkey king, the peaches guardian, who brought the peaches to the orient, where the Widow processes them into Brandy.

Simply by the Feducci’s involvement with both the home of the peaches, and the Devils, such a line of reasoning is possible. So what do you think, everyone?
edited by DukeLawliet on 5/2/2012

While I love the idea of a Monkey King, it has been mentioned that monkey’s are worn in hats to ward of large flying stinging insects. Most monkey murders are to leave a colony vulnerable I would imagine.

Besides, the peaches arrive from the East. The immortality of the Presbyter is from the glowing mountain.

Actually, the “In Search of a Stiff Drink” Storyline claims the peaches are Elder in origin ^^

Could you provide a quote? The only thing I can see that would support that argument is the snifter of brandy the Widow serves you from the Elder Continent, which I would suspect is not the fabled brandy of immortality. To support my suspicion
1: Your wounds do not decrease after drinking with her
2: Anytime your character is caught drinking that brandy he/she/it is beaten with sticks
3: Based that story the widow needs the brandy for [color=#FFFFFF]not going crazy/staying young.[/color] I somehow doubt she would share that with you.

Naturally I could be wrong.

EDIT: Aha! Finally found the text I was looking for. This is what the Dean of Neocartography says to you on an unlucky result.

"[color=rgb(255, 255, 255)]’…and somewhere East of the Sea of Voices there’s a place. A city. I can’t really say more, or the Gracious Widow will have me murdered. But those peaches come from somewhere, and it’s not the Surface.’[/color]"

This is what the Clay Men of Polythreme tell you

"[color=rgb(255, 255, 255)]Ships from the east import rice and silks and peaches, for the Clay Men have a special fondness for Surface-Silk. Others come from the south - the Elder Continent. They bring fruit and occasionally pilgrims that head up the hill and are turned away. You scribble it all down in your journal.[/color]"
edited by MaskedGentleman on 5/3/2012

I provide the following quote for counterpoint; it is a failure when you Speak to the Travel-Worn Antiquarian about his travels (trading in relics of the third city.)

[color=#ffffff]You could use a peach right now[/color]
[color=#ffffff]‘You know that they have actual fruit trees in the deep interior of the Elder Continent? Figs and dates and certain kinds of apple. A glowing mountain, apparently, lights them. Isn’t that marvellous?’[/color]

As before, especially given the title text, I think “certain kinds of apples” refers to “Persian apples” or peaches. Peaches and other fruit are rare in the 'neath because they require light to grow; to date the only large source of which is this persistent rumor from the Elder Continent.

Additionally, to me this sheds some little light (so to speak) on another small mystery - there is a stark rivalry between the Duchess and the Widow, we know - and the former is associated with the only source of intense light in the 'neath while the latter spends all her time in absolute darkness. I think there’s something to that.

Interesting comment:

‘…the thing is, I’m fairly certain that the stuff doesn’t actually grant eternal life in itself. Those books the Presbyter sent suggest that drinking it grants an ‘acute vision’, and acting upon that leads to…’
Probably refers to the Cider, and the storylet in question (item-crafting for Cellars of Wine) grants Mysteries of the Elder Continent.

Would you mind sating my curiousity as to what source it could be? I have avoided Her Grace for the most part of my subterrainean odyssey and know fairly little.

Would you mind sating my curiousity as to what source it could be? I have avoided Her Grace for the most part of my subterrainean odyssey and know fairly little.[/quote]

Oops, I was confused. For some reason I keep associating the Elder Continent with the Second City, when it is more likely to be associated with the Third City. So there is no association with that source of light.