Breakfast with the Queen. Mery keeps trying to suck me into the conversation flow.
We hear a bunch of news from Cate. The Russian Czar is ill, and there is some uncertainty in the succession, as it involves some form of challenge. Cate asks that we meet with Russian Diplomat Adarov Alexei, who is interested in things East of the End of the World. The Spanish (Elves) have pledged troops, “a significant forces” to the anticipated Summer campaign, with an Elven Officer expected to arrive soon. The French are not participating, and the English are pledging financial support. We also hear a few entertaining court anecdotes.
The Queen also reveals that she finally learned who internal security head was. Apparently the Head Cook that made her pies when she was young was the spymaster. She had a heart attack the day after Cate’s Father was killed. Cate learned this after someone came in to apply as an Assistant Cook. Back in day, Cate recalls a number of Assistant Cooks revolving through the kitchen. Apparently this was how the Head Cook received her reports and issued instructions. The assistant cook applicant was sufficiently persistent that he was able to get someone’s attention and eventually into Cate’s sphere of awareness.
Mery stays behind for a chitchat with Cate.
Garrick and I go to visit Captain Justinian. Lt. Oliver Vyse (formerly in my command) may have been responsible for the death of a Colonel Vargas Carasal. Carasal was found a few days after the big battle, with evidence consistent that he had been killed post-battle, after the fighting was largely over. One frontal wound to the abdomen, small knife. The body was found in a location inconsistent with a man of his rank and position. Carasal was responsible for the entire logistical chain for the battlefield units, including all of the units. He had last been seen at the battlefield HQ, after the big goblin push, the King’s death, and our units’ decimation. Two different soldiers, not likely known to each other, reported someone (Captain, cavalry, light hair) claimed Vyse had killed Carasal. Later, Vyse was spotted in Montenegro.
We visit Sebastian next, since he is close by. I recruit him to continue looking for Vyse, and adding this mystery Captain to the list. Later in the conversation, he confirms he has one of the Promise Tattoos, and estimates about 1% of Europe has acquired one. Sebastian reports the Polish King has been having a number of meetings with foreigners about probably some personal matter. While some folks are a bit nervous about the mystery issue, it does not seem to be political in nature. We share the discover of the Dawn City, and the recovery of the marked sword.
Then on to Lamont Porter for much the same purpose. Lamont takes the few notes we can offer, and begins searching for our guys.
Milo heads to his Temple to join Gerald and arrives just in time for close combat martial training. After the requisite pain and healing, they head off to visit Corbin. Corbin has been researching the tattoos, and has realized there are a few groupings or families. In looking at the tattoos, Corbin noticed an embedded dragon design. There is a legend that before the Aslanti, the Giants ruled over a large empire (Zendrick), before escaping to Europe. There was a war with the Giants and Dragons on one side against some unformed darkness. Giants and a Dragon named Syberis went into the heavens. Syberis killed the foe and took a fatal wound, exploding to become the night sky. His heart fell to the Earth as a promised gift to a future generation. A giantess went to the place his heart fell, and shed a tear, which grew rose that enclosed the Heart. Then a city was built around it. The Heart was later referred to as the Gift of the Dragons. Lots of varied derivative legends. The tattoos are likely dragon marks, each with a meaning. Some have similarities. One name translates roughly to “Mark of Detection”, and another “Mark of Warding”, and the individually seem similar. The marks are magical, in some way, and are likely do different things. Probably at least 6-7 or even 10 different main variants. The legends are less than precise. Touching the dragonmark and willing it into use is the means, and they may become more powerful over time.
Mery’s Mother is out of town, so she heads to Namfoodle. His new workshop is significantly bigger than any of the prior ones, with 40-50 artificers hard at work. Mery attempts to acquire one of the new version of the blast-sticks that he is building for the Russians. Namfoodle demur’s, needing Russian permission to do so. Mery switches gears and gets Namfoodle interested in building a picture-capturing item.
Tomas looks into whether any academic groups are investigating the tattoos. He learns that the magical communities, worried about prestige and the loss of their powerbase if too many people have magic abilities. Lots of rumors of tattoo use, little substantiation.
Later, Milo visits Cate to make sure she is doing well. She is intrigued by the economy of beets, one of her nobles that is in effect the Duke of beets.
Mery chases down her mother, and presses for a status update on the investigation into Duke Synarco. She confirms that Synarco is not entirely honest.
We gather for our traditional group dinner to compare notes. Milo asks us each to visit Corbin to get our tattoos cataloged. Jared reports the Prussions are trying to bribe the Romanians with needle guns. We get engaged in a discussion about Justinian’s efforts to locate Vyse, and information about Colonel Carasal’s murder. After explaining the Colonel’s role, Mery suggests we talk to her Father, which we head off to do (after desert).