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.