Toward The Edge Of The World

Aspiring Czar-makers
I am almost certain I didn't talk to someone

Saturday kicks off with an invite from Mery to join her at brunch to chat with Alexei.

With a few hours to kill, I join Colonel Raskin on his daily rounds to profoundly annoy the military bureaucracy, from supply to scouting reports. I take copious notes for future use. Our last visit is to the warforged’s warehouse. Other than annoying the Elven General-in-charge, Raskin checks on whether the warforged can be painted.

Popovich visits the Queen to request guidance on obtaining permission to answer an insult to a colleague. Instead, the Queen commits to advising the offender on more appropriate activity.

Mery brings the communications rods back, claiming they are not risky. She doles them out to us as she finds us. She has saved one for Cate (and also Sebastian, which I don’t learn until later). We have to hold the rod to use it, either to hear someone else or talk to someone else. All of the rod-holders hear the same thing, and the rod hums if someone is talking while we’re not holding our rod.

At brunch, Alexei has arranged for a large room with plenty of food. We enjoy the food and company for a bit, then turn to business. Alexei is willing to listen to our claim of possibly being able to end the War. We sketch out the need for the goblins to be part of

There are five contenders for Czar currently known. Atop a spire in St. Petersburg, the Maelstrom Eye, with threads of color for each Czar-contender. When the Czar passes (which is expected), these colors will “storm” until one contender completes the tasks and their color fills the Eye. Alexei’s color is White.

Answering Mery’s question, Alexei admits he could use some help. The City in the Lake needs to be found. When the Mongolian Horde swept across Russia, the City’s defenders hid it below the Lake. To become Czar, the contender has to find the city, raise it, enter the city, and complete the trial.

I ask Alexi about the Krevencho family. He tells us the line is ancient, predating the czars, and the last patriarch is Valentine. The line is suspected to have pursed the secrets of what he calls a Lich, something related to immortality. Valentine is a Lantern, and could have been Czar at some time in the past.

Other contenders according to Alexei: Neovar is a murderer, will burn Russia to the ground. Mikail is a thief, though not necessarily dishonest. Esmir is a coward. Cazamar is idle rich, would compete to be able to be idle.

Over the next several days, Tomas does extensive research on the City in the Lake. He discovers numerous legends, told and retold in various forms. The legends are consistent with Alexei’s version. The first Russian Czar became intrigued by the City, and made a sojourn to find it, successfully. He emerges from the City with the Maelstrom Eye, used since to validate the one the becomes Czar. He can find no specifics about the Trial, other than most Czars claiming it changed them, and some Czars relating their experience as “humbling and terrifying”. Many of those Czars were already strong and experienced and still found the Trial hard. One (early) Czar was changed dramatically by the Trial, and ultimately returned to the City, and was not seen or heard from again.

Sunday, Milo reviews the results of a theological challenge he levied to his Temple’s acolytes. One response in particular catches his eye and he delves further to explore the argument. Adele Adari has a different view on things from most other acolytes, and confides in Milo that she is unsure of her role in the Church and doesn’t feel she is a good fit. Milo recognizes that she might be most appropriate in one of the sub-sects of the Church, and puts things in motion to keep her with the Temple.

I visit Captain Justinian in the Provost Marshal’s office to share the information we got from Valentine about the Prussian Colonel, including that he is one of the Overlord’s Lieutenants. Justinian agrees to ask around to help figure out whether the Prussian King is complicit. I then visit Sebastian with the same information. I also ask Sebastian to consider how we could get the Prussians to commit significant forces to the upcoming offensive — Sebastian suggests getting the Russian military forces to spread a rumor they will be volunteering to be the offensive’s spearhead. This could lead to the Prussians, who want to intimidate the Russians with their military might, to volunteer instead.

Sebastian hits me up about a rumor regarding a female ship captain being recruited by Gnomes to pilot a ship in land-locked shipyard. Montenegro would like to see the ship, and could offer access to some Russian doodads. Of course we never had that portion of the conversation.

Popovich visits the warforged and asks them if they want to be painted. Bo assumed the Colonel had a reason, so Popovich chases down the Colonel to find out why. He is not specifically enlightened, but gets enough insight to back away slowly and not continue badgering Raskin.

I chase down Milo to relay the information from Sebastian. Or more accurately, did not have a conversation about anything I heard or did not hear from Sebastian who I had not seen recently or ever, but might be having a party soon where certain parties could be invited to not attend.

Treason to Allow a Peace?
Where are the grapes?

Mery takes the rods to get checked out, hoping to ensure they can’t be used to spy on us.

Popovich checks on the warforged, including their security precautions. He seems satisfied. He does not that several other countries seem to be trying to check it out.

We receive word the Queen will receive us for a quick breakfast in the morning. They had crepes, fresh fruit, and a bunch of other goodies. She is recovering from a long and tough diplomatic “discussion” with other heads of state the night before. Including the the Kings of Prussia and England. Apparently she slapped, and was slapped by, the King of England, which made the Kng of Prussia laught at it all.

We dump the possibility of ending the everwar into her hands. She fields this with aplomb. After some questions. We know we need to arrange a stunning defeat of the goblin forces, that kills many of the fierce goblins. I point out that some of our allies likely need to experience a lesser version of this, especially the Prussians and their new weaponry. The Queen seemed to agree. She will arrange for the Warmark to finalize the war plans with the other military forces, who will pass the final plan to Colonel, who will pass it to me, to pass to Krevenchov however I please. If my Queen is the one ordering the act, is it still treason?

The Queen informs me she has a mission, a matter of life and death, for me. I’ll have to be in my dress uniform. She has to attend a performance of a French traveling company, and requires my attendance. Gulp. Mery gets recruited to attend when she makes the mistake of mentioning that Sebastien would like that kind of thing. Milo narrowly escapes a direct “invitation.” Later I help rectify this oversight, just to see if Milo can get a date in time.

The Queen also mentions that a party has been planned, by the halflings, to celebrate the Warforged before they depart the city for the front.

I head over to Lamont Porter’s. I ask him to see if he can find an expert to help the goblins establish a government. He clarifies a few details and commits to working.

Lamont mentions he had a strange visit from some Gnomes, seeking to engage the services of a certain Lady Captain of a Vistula River barge. This sounds likes Milo’s friend Lynn. Later I pass this on to Milo, and he in turn heads to Porter to get more information, and gets a message to Lynn.

I make the mistake of asking Lamont about the French troupe, and get a larger data dump than expected. He takes immense pity on me, and gives me three things to remember to insert into casual conversation to demonstrate familiarity with their strengths. Apparently they are one of the premier troupes in Europe.

Mery spends the afternoon with Namfoodle and the Royal Artificer checking our the rods. They seem to work as advertised, and probably only as advertised. There is still a possibility they could be connected to something else, but this seems to be a cohesive set.

Milo makes arrangements to have an escort at the event, and Tomas somehow wangles a seat at the show through his connections.

The show is different. Cate takes pity on my lack of French language skills and whispers enough of key events that I can follow the show. Cate turns out to have a structured plan for not laughing too much in public, and only laughs about every third joke. When she was genuinely amused, she tensed up and stifled most of a reaction.

The leading man, Gilbert Ferneau, turns out to be a Lantern. Somehow this becomes obvious to me as I shake his hand in the post-show receiving line with the Queen. After the line, we gather with Gilbert for a side chat and start comparing notes.

Gilbert, in his 50s, hasn’t seen many Lanterns until the bunch of us. We quickly get to talking politics. Prussia wants a unified Germany, as does France. France, however, wants for the Prussians not to end up in charge of the unified Germany. As we wrap up our conversation, I manage to get Gilbert to sign the program for a friend.

Meeting the Architect of the Everwar
Peace through constructed conflict

In Podarko, we prepare to meet with the Overlord. We send off the invitation to meet at Noon in Pensa, following the instruction we were given. Within an hour, we get a reply accepting our proposal.

Taking a squad of warforged with us, we get to Pensa a few hours early to scout. The location is the city square. The square is abuzz with about 30 people setting up some kind of feast. We spot Reginald among them. Talking to the locals, Mery learns that Reginald (the Overlord’s valet) and his coterie had arrived earlier, bringing supplies and offers of help. We scout the area and ensure we have routes for rapid egress.

Just before Noon, Reginald calls us to be seated at a central table in a tent, with preparations for a many course meal. Shortly afterwards, Garrick and Tomas call our attention to a cloud that bends down to the square and forms into a person. The Overlord at last.

He looks aged, and is wearing a coat that appears Russian in style. He sits and is promptly served some tea sweetened with honey. He introduces himself as Valentine Krevencho. The family name matches that of the Dueling Daggers, one of which came into Vyse’s possession. Valentine was intrigued to hear our Queen had started Lanterns, and hopes that our experience has been fulfilling.

I ask Krevencho to enlighten us about his background. He claims to be aged, and of a family long in service to Russia. He takes credit as the architect for the Everwar, to bring people together. He gave Europe a common enemy, himself, to focus the entirety of the continent. He and Tomas enjoy some level of conversational connection, positing the Everwar has perhaps lasted too long, with military advances possibly being turned against allies. He has information that he cannot necessarily act upon, and wanted to meet those of us responsible for dismantling the goblin threat (using the Elvish term for the birthstone).

He points out that the Summer campaign might not be stoppable, and even if it was, forces within Europe would then be free to act and turn upon their allies in their own bid to take Europe. A well-executed Summer campaign could lead to a goblin retreat. The French and English are in a trade war, and could possibly redirected into an industrial rebuilding effort. The Prussians are the main military threat. The next Russian Czar will need to be amenable to a peaceful Europe.

Krevencho claims enough influence left with the Goblin to arrange a peace. However, that may not be the best course. There are factions within his own powerbase, and not are as loyal as he once thought, even among his own lieutenants. A peace forced upon the Goblins would lead to some splintering and further conflict.

Krevencho has been slumbering, and has recently reviewed all that has transpired. He is willing not to act against a new path, however cannot speak for his own factions. Has five lieutenants, two of which he is convinced are totally loyal. The other three are now questionable, in part by things we have brought to his attention.

At Mery’s demand, he tells us what he knows about the murder of Cate’s Father, our King. The King of Prussia has an advisor, who is also one of Krevencho’s lieutenants. This lieutenant, through the King of Prussia, engineered the murder of the royal line, due to a prior future vision. The plan was to wipe out the Montengran Royal Family line. We are given the name of the Prussian Colonel that Vyse had witnessed. The intent was to push Montenegro out of the war (due to internal power adjustments) so that Prussia could continue gaining influence. Likely, the Prussians had Russian assistance, due to the shifters being used (especially the rarity of more than one).

A successful Summer campaign, allowing the Goblins to scatter (chewing up the more rabid ones), could set up the conditions for a lasting peace. Or a bid for power.

He gives us a familiar scroll tube that we can use to reach him. He also gives us a box. The box contains 12 platinum-plated runic-engraved rods. They allow communication over a distance. They permit communication amongst the rod holders.

We seem to have a common cause, to find a path to a long peace for Europe. Can we trust Krevencho? I challenge him on this topic. He initially indicates that there is no real way to demonstrate this. After further momentary contemplation, he opens his coat to reveal a silver Lantern medallion (Y-winged version), and offers his word as a Lantern.

We commit to consulting with the Queen and getting back in contact with him. He bids farewell and leaves.

We had to Xorhandra to consult quickly with Rayzak. Mery asks if the rabid goblins can be saved and he is emphatically certain they cannot — they have no spirit. There is no way to save them. I point out the possibility of a short-term or long-term peace based on what Krevencho told us. This leads us to the need for us (Europe) to have someone that can negotiate with a future Goblin state.

Created: One Ring
An Invitation We Can't Refuse

After ensuring we were not being pursued over the next couple of days, we changed course to meet up with Rayzak, our Goblin Lantern colleague. He led us to some temple to an ancient goblin goddess, made up mostly of trees and assorted foliage. Pretty.

Rayzak tells us a location below the temple is where he explains he is recommending we use for a new Ring. We agree, and Mery pulls out the paper that Alexei left her to summon him. She manages to fold the paper sufficiently properly into a swan for it to activate and flutter off, presumably to let Alexei know we were ready for him. Rayzak translates the name of the place for us to Xorhandra.

Mery quizzes Garrick about the heritage of the birthstone. He confirms that the stone was used by the elves to aid in their family-making. He adds, however, that to his knowledge the Elves have not conspicuously discussed that is is missing or otherwise unavailable to them. Rayzak confirms that the Overlord appears to have corrupted its purpose, and is thankful that it has been destroyed.

Rayzak has continued to make progress in resettling the peaceful faction of the goblins. Tomas muses that he could help Rayzak during the impending Summer festivities, continuing to operate behind the lines.

A few days later, Alexei arrives in his Gargoyle-styled magic Golem-armor battlesuit. We begin Ring construction preparations immediately. Alexei gives Tomas a set of instructions and pulls out a large assortment of things, including copper and silver ingots, which are carefully placed in a particular sequence. Tomas reviews the instructions carefully and guides the specific and meticulous placement of all components. The last element is some kind of staff inlaid with more metals and is apparently magic. Alexei stomps the staff on a final ingot in the middle of the ring, which triggers something causing the placed ingots to start melting. A slow process that keeps going overnight, finishing up early the next morning.

We use the ring to Pensa, with the intent to return to make sure we know the way. When we arrive, someone looking like a valet, is there to meet us. He tells us his master is requesting a meeting in a city of our choosing. This guy is Reginald, and only knows his master has his Master. Tomas points to the varied Lantern symbols on the walls, and asks Reginald which his Master favors. The result is the one we have linked to the Overlord. He gives us a sheet of paper and asks us to inscribe the date/time and City of our choice when we’re ready. Tomas indicates that he is looking forward to the meeting. Reginald leaves promptly.

We head back to Xorhandra, following my desire to ensure the new ring is fully operational. There, we catch Alexei and Rayzak up on the latest events. We discuss how Reginald knew where to intercept us, and Alexei tells us that he knows how to figure out the last-used destination of a ring he is near, that Priests of power can find where someone might be, or use something called a Crystal Ball (which he does not have). We discuss all of this for a bit to no real conclusion.

As we prepare to leave again, Alexei asks us to be ready for him to call upon us, as friends, not Lanterns. The Russian Czar appears to be growing weary, and the time may be upon Russia to install a new Czar. Apparently this is through some magical competition process. Alexei leaves in his Golem armor. We head to Podarko.

Back in our home city, we head directly for the Palace and begin the process to get a private meeting with the Queen. Since we arrive in the evening, after the day’s events, we are led into the Queen’s august (and pretty) presence fairly quickly. We quickly tell Cate about the birthstone and our new invitation, and begin discussing what to do. We quickly converge on meeting the Overlord as requested, and then debate the merits of various approaches and locations. We finally conclude that we will meet in Pensa, tomorrow at Noon (May 24), and seek to find out everything we can and attempt to end the war before the offensive begins. June 13th is the anticipated launch of the Summer offensive, with troop movements beginning roughly June 4th.

Delivered: One Spike
Where did all the hobgoblins go?

May 8th 1912 in Podarko, Royal Palace, the “small” reception room.

After the knighting ceremony, we’re treated to a reception. The usual schtick that I normally try to avoid. This time, I make an attempt to be more social. Captain Popovich sticks with me and turns out to be quite helpful in navigating what appear to be a highly complex set of unwritten rules. Military bureaucracy is far simpler. I’m also helped by the attendance of my friend, the Dwarven Ambassador. Sebastian is there. I’m not sure who is escorting who between he and Mery. At least they spent their time together making the rounds.

I grab Colonel Raskin for a quick aside and tell him that we’re headed back out, pretty much behind the lines. He tells me the scouts have been returned to active probing. He further paints for me a compelling picture of what will happen to me if I do not return, including putting Lt. Peabody in charge of the assault.

The next day, we begin our return to the Edge of the World, hoping to find Rayzak, our Goblin Lantern colleague, and deal with the birthstone. I provide Captain Popovich with a quick briefing along the way. Garrick does his usual stellar job guiding through the pickets and keeping us on pace. We end up following the planned trail of the birthstone’s passage. We note an increase in teen aged goblins and pregnant women. Garrick points out that we’re catching up sooner than he thought we would, probably due to prior bad weather in the region.

Around the 17th, we catch our first glimpse of the convoy we think is escorting the birthstone. Hundreds of varied goblins. We watch one of the stops, that turns into some form of ceremony. A line each of male and female goblins are marched past the stone, with each pair touching it together. The stone is somewhat large, about the size of my shield, and is blue-ish in color. A human presides over the seeming ritual. Every goblin woman is marched through, paired up with what appear to be the toughest goblins present. Based off what we’ve seen chasing the trail so far, Tomas projects that they leave a stop where a unit is placed in the morning, and arrive at their next unit/stop by nightfall. Probably a hundred of the goblins escort the birthstone on the road.

Most of the convoy is made up of goblins. There are a bunch of orc sergeants, hobgoblin and ogre officers, a couple of trolls pulling the cart with the birthstone, and one of the Overlord’s Lieutenants. We pull back for a bit an quickly plot out an ambush. Garrick seeks out a good spot for us to use for an ambush. Milo plans to create some mist. Mery will summon some horses that Jared will stampede from the mist into the goblins to disorient them and hopefully pull or run off some number. Garrick will send a flaming arrow into something flammable, hoping to start a small fire. Henric will haste most of us, and cast something to make the fire’s smoke rather annoying to anyone within it. Mery will enable Tomas, Milo, and I to fly invisibly in to spike the birthstone. Tomas will do the spiking, Milo will use his flaming scimitar for the trolls, and I’ll be general defense.

A bit of bad news we get is the convoy starts later than we thought due to a wobbly wheel on the cart. So we can’t take advantage of any non-magical ground fog. Milo starts the fog, Mery gets the horses for Jared who takes them ahead of the convoy to emerge from the fog ahead of the convoy. His signal to start is seeing the effect’s of Mery’s Lullaby effects at the rear of the column. This works, just as Garrick starts sniping effectively with his bow. The spike team begins its flight as Henric detonates Glitter just ahead of the cart, just catching the trolls in its effect. I land first and begin engaging the hobgoblins officers with a modicum of success [3x critical hits with a keen goblin-bane battleaxe]. Kell sows dissension among the goblins. Tomas lands and slams the spike into the birthstone. We each feel some kind of magical shockwave burst from the stone. Many goblins and orcs fall down temporarily, not quite stunned. The birthstone changes to a color similar to dirty dishwater. Milo, getting up after being knocked down by the shockwave, brandishes his flaming scimitar.

Garrick continues his arrow barrage while Jared keeps running down and separating groups of goblins. Henric and Mery start summoning more mounts. I brandish my axe and yell at the goblins to run for their lives before starting work on the Trolls, and Milo finishes them off. Tomas works to extricate himself from the now-joined spike and stone, which is starting to melt into itself. Just in time, as the cart catches fire. We grab the new mounts and begin riding off in haste. Henric creates a choking cloud and Milo augments our cover with more mist. We successfully separate from any disorganized pursuit and make haste for the perceived safety of distance.

Returned: One Rose
Acquired: Another Knighthood
Lt. Popovich receives a promotion to Captain and orders transferring him to the Warforged Expeditionary Force. He proceeds ask around about the unit, learning the commanding officer is a bit of a maverick (a Colonel Raskin) and in charge of the overall unit. The unit has one company, commanded by Major Hagen, made up of 100 Elvin Warforged. Lieutenant Peabody is the fourth-ranked officer (now) in the unit. Popovich inspects the unit and is escorted by Peabody to be introduced to the Colonel, who is found at a bar with a bunch of other nearby military officers debating the merits and placement of the crossbow on the battlefield.

Arriving on the parade ground thanks to Gregor's magic, we catch a runner and send him ahead of us to the Palace. Garrick notices a few individuals visibly noting or reacting to our progress to the palace.

At the palace, Lt. Peabody is awaiting us with an unfamiliar Captain, a spellcaster of some kind. I welcome him to the unit, briefly introduce him to the rest of our group, and we head into the Palace. We are quickly led into the Queen's presence, with quick introductions, and then on to the Polish King and Queen. The King has apparently, while on a foxhunt, been recently injured and bedridden. When the Rose is mentioned, I pull it out and pass it around the room for show. Mery tries to spice up the story and add all sorts of superfluous elements. Tomas seems to be encouraging her. After the storytelling, of what seems to become a fable, is over we leave the Polish to the reunion. I offer the Queen the opportunity to add the Rose to the Royal Treasury (knowing it is sought). As expected, she tells us to return it to its safe spot. Cate is pleased to meet Captain Popovich, and commands him to ensure I learn a bit more etiquette. She also tells us to check in with Porter before we leave. We separate for the night, planning to meet for breakast.

Milo keeps the Rose at his Temple. Mery tries to go into the Temple with intent to help protect the Rose. The acolytes work to keep her out (politely) and eventually get Milo involved. Milo gets a message to Sebastian to come and pick up his fianc´┐Że, which happens expeditiously.

At breakfast, we discuss plans and settle on taking a fast boat instead of using the Rings to Cairo and airshipping over. Milo and I head to Porter, and turn in receipts. Porter gives us papers for Captain Popovich to sign to become one of the Queen's Lanterns, along with a Lantern's ring. We welcome Popovich to our group.

Our voyage across the Mediterranean is uneventful and quick, and only taking about a week. I spend time learning mariner terminology, and include Bo in the process. I never knew there were so many unique terms! On arrival, we head to the florist and drop off the Rose. She is a bit surprised to see us so soon. We get back on the cutter and head to Cadiz, to add a bit of misdirection to our itinerary.

Cadiz is interesting. More Elves in one place than we've ever seen. To Mery's apparent delight, we even see a number of Elven children. Milo discovers, to his chagrin, that there are no temples in Cadiz. There are a number of "religious gardens", just no proper temples. Mery interrogates an Elf about families and children. Garrick notes more people watching our progress, though we are not otherwise stalked or approached. I acquire some pricey Elven wines for Porter and Cate.

After a day in Cadiz, we ship back to Podarko, arriving May 7th. In town, we quickly see more equipment and troops, along with a large bustle of logistical nightmares. We'll be back at war soon.

The next morning, we are pulled into a formal event at the Palace. King Leopold Mathis of Poland knights the set of us as Knights of Poland, for services to the Polish Crown.

Found: Assassins Seeking A Rose
Blood need not be shed. Very well, leave.

Thanks to Gregor’s preparations, or so he tells us, we arrive safely in Warsaw. We acquire the use of some horses and follow Milo, at speed, to a small estate well outside the city. The “farmers” seem rather well disciplined and watchful. Milo leverages his prior visit to convince them to let us back into the Polish King’s Son’s presence.

Milo puts the Rose on the kid and begins chanting to Sarinae. Hours later, the chanting continues. Slowly, Mykal seems to take on a better color and even sleeps through the night. The nurses comment that they have not seen him sleep through the night in a very long time. In the morning, the Mykal wakes up! Just in time for Jared to let me know that a group of horsemen seem to be heading for us. As this is highly unusual, we prepare for the potential of a fight, at least until we determine who they are and why they are visiting at haste.

The group of horsemen arrive, with some holding back. The arrogant ass of a leader tells the Polish Lieutenant that he is here for the rose, and there needs to be no bloodshed. The Lieutenant tells them to leave. They remount and turn to leave, and Jared shoots the leader with a crossbow! Jared follows this up immediately with a mounted charge into the blossoming fray.

We engage the newcomers in a quick fight. The ones that had held back fire arrows at us, which our allied guardsmen return. Mery dashes around the battlefield at incredible speeds, and something in this results in Dog flying around with Jared going after the far away hostiles. Tomas ends up in a long duel with one of them. Quite skillful, actually. During the duel, he learned this group is from the Adamantine Arrow, an assassin organization, who had been promised the Rose in payment for an assassination they completed long long ago. They followed rough directions on a strip of paper.

In all, we end up dispatching about 20 of the assassins, including their apparent leader. Most were armed with short blades, throwing weapons, and a number of longbows. Other than the direction they were following, to an ill-defined destination, nothing really of interest.

By the end of the day, Mykal has regained a semblance of normalcy, able to feed himself and make limited forays from his bed. We discuss plans for a bit, and with the Polish Lieutenant. Kell and Jared head into Warsaw and bring Gregor back on a cart. We explain that we’d like Gregor to take all of us (guards and Mykal included) to Podarko.

The next morning, Gregor gathers us together and does what appears to be a more complicated ritual than we previously saw him complete. We arrive at the parade practice ground, about 8pm on Friday April 20th.

Found: One Rose for a King's Son
Racing around Northern Africa again

Tomas spends his downtime in Tunis at the local Library. We leave Tunis on the 9th and make really good time to Cairo, arriving there on April 11th. Jared, Kell, and Tomas stay in Cairo, with Tomas headed promptly to the Library. The rest of us head to Podarko.

While Jared visits the local cavalry and Kell sings in a tavern, Tomas discovers a reference with one Olga Pisatelli, a Madame with piercing violet eyes. She apparently appears in a painting with a rose, painted by Thomas Gainsboro in 1772. She died in 1796. Her handmaiden, an Elf named Shamir, is believed to still reside in Casablanca.

In Podarko, Milo and I escort Leopold to Milo’s Temple of Sarinae for some discrete convalescence under Gerald’s care.

Mery heads to brief Cate, while Garick visits Polarion. The Castle is abuzz with preparations for the upcoming Polish Royal visit in a few days.

Those of us in Podarko use the Rings to get back to Cairo in time for dinner, where we compare notes and hear of Tomas’ quick research. We start making arrangements to head off to Casablanca, heading out promptly under Shahim’s pilotage. We arrive in Casablanca on April 18th on a nice day.

Garrick pounds pavement and does the inscrutable Elven talkie thing. He then leads us off to a flower shop to find Shamir. She is occupied with four wedding parties’ flower arrangements, so she asks Garrick to come back at sundown. When we return, she serves us, lengthily in a classic Elven manner, tea. The tea is really damn good. She quickly pinpoints that we are from Montenegro, and that we are here for the Rose. We acknowledge, and she warns us that if/when the Rose leaves the city, people will try to stop it or get it back. Her mistress had made sure that the Rose’s presence in the City would keep it hidden. She does not know specifics about who would come after it, other than people generally interested in such things. A pirate fell in love with Shamir’s mistress, and gave her the Rose as a present. Shamir killed the pirate, revenge for having killed her betrothed on a British tradeship. Before the Rose had been on the tradeship, the English King had obtained it from a Russian Czar, who in turn had obtained it from somewhere else. Shamir brings us a case made of rosewood, which contains a single solid gold Rose. In the Rose’s time in Casablanca, it had only left once. The man who brought it back, when asked if he had run into trouble, only said “Nothing I wasn’t prepared to handle.” Milo recognizes this as a favorite saying of a Sarinae Paladin, Travis, who’s journal Milo is carrying.

We discuss ways to get Leopold’s son closer to where we can get him in contact with the Rose, then discuss whether we can find someone that could magically get us there instead. Mery mentions Alexei, which leads us to consider finding a Russian mage. Jared challenges Kell to find a Russian mage, in Casablanca, at night. After a long wandering journey with a variety of stops, we find one. To gain his services, Kell enters into some gambling games. Her target is an “OK” gambler, according to her report. Kell then sucks Milo into the game, and helps set him up to put the Russian mage in Milo’s debt. At dawn, the game wraps up and Gregor invites us to breakfast. Garrick and I realize that Gregor has served as a soldier. His coat appears have some unit insignia associated with Russian war mages. Milo raises our need to get to Warsaw, and Gregor tells us that will not be a problem. He’ll charge us only the cost of materials.

I use Mery’s message tube to inform the Queen that we’re headed immediately to Warsaw, with hope for success, and to try and keep the King/Queen of Poland in Podarko (if they haven’t left yet).

Gregor sends a paper bird message to Warsaw to clear our destination space. After some preparations, we use a local park to launch our magical journey to Warsaw.

Found: One King
Slightly Damaged

The next day, while Leopold’s recovery continues, Mery and I go sight-seeing. The city is a fairly active port, shipping to/from most of Southern Europe. Mery seems suddenly intrigued with Elven blood and their children. A good number, well more than we’re used to, are more… social. In the course of a later conversation, she confesses some concern about marrying Sebastian, given his mother is at least half-Elven.

When we rejoin Garrick, Mery quizzes him about his reasons for leaving Spain. Voluntary. I discover that I’m part of his reasons for not returning sooner to Spain.

While Jared watches over Leopold, Milo heads back to the clinic to help out further and possibly learn more about how Leopold was delivered. The nomads who brought Leopold in would have had their arrival logged, most probably, at the South Gate. Milo is able to locate the record, that some Dervish traders had brought him in (and since left). They reported finding him in the beaten state at a particular oasis.

On the 31st of March, Leopold is conscious and recovered enough to be lucid. He had been attacked by a group of riders, probably Europeans. He confirms he was seeking the rose, an artifact of great power. Some time ago, the rose had been on an English ship, the Breybury, that had been attacked by by pirates, probably Tunisian, while enroute to Greece. The rose was being gifted to the King of Greece. After a bit of persuasion, we convince King Leopold to let us finish the quest for the rose in his place. He hands over his journal and a stack of notes that Tomas dives into with eagerness. Well, as much as Tomas shows eagerness.

After a quick read through, Tomas reports that the King had made a few mis-translations, so he was searching in the wrong areas. Heading to the oasis was likely the result of a deliberate misdirection, with his attackers as accomplices (or vice versa). The rose is suspected to be of Elven origin, like most artifacts.

Since King Leopold won’t be ready to safely travel for a few days, we occupy ourselves with time-consuming activities. Milo goes shopping, and Mery convinces a friendly Elf to teach her how to cook an Elven dish that she can make for her future mother-in-law. According to both Garrick and Milo, it isn’t bad.

We make plans to airship over to Cairo, and use the ring to return Leopold to Podarko. Mery will write to Cate and suggest the Polish Queen (and fake King) come to Podarko for a state visit to occur at the same time. This will reunite the Polish Royal family, and put the Cairo library within easy reach so Tomas can continue researching where we should seek the Rose. We may stop to try and gain a lead on the black market that sent Leopold on a deadly trip.

We head to Tunis, en route to Cairo, arriving on April 2nd. We hit lots of sand storms and other high winds, since its Spring. We plan on a few days in Tunis to avoid an ongoing storm. Kel, escorted by Garrick, Milo, and Mery, heads out to try and find the black market outfit that sent Leo off to perhaps die. Jared and I stay behind to keep Leopold company.

Kel leads the team through a series of short trips around the city, conversing with various people, and ends up at a particular spot talking to someone in the know. Kel learns that the map Leopold was given does not lead to any truly known treasure (as promised), and that someone less-than-honest must have sold the map to him. An Elven fisherman outside the city is indicated as a possible lead. Further, Leopold’s dealer was a foreigner, likely seeking the same thing (the rose). Mery sees an outfit that she mentally marks to purchase for Cate.

The next day, we chase down the Elven fisherman, Iolan, to ask about the rose. Iolan relates the tale of a Tunisian ship that sacked the English trader in 1756, led by a “striking woman” and “woman of capacity” that may have moved on to Casablanca. She wasn’t a pirate, used other tools. Known by some nickname that does not immediately come to mind. She had piercing violet eyes. Iolan is not impressed by the warforged, thinking them almost as slaves (to which he is opposed).

To Find a King
Who ran over Leo?

Garrick caught up to us in Warsaw on the 16th, as we were finishing up preparations to head back. Garrick and Rozak had worked to find a good site for a new ring. They ultimately settled on an ancient temple site to some Goblin Goddess, whose name don’t recall. Newly re-united, we depart Warsaw on the 17th.

Our downriver return to Expeditious Retreat only takes us six days, with the generous current. The Wayfinder’s direction to the King of Poland doesn’t change much between Warsaw and the Retreat, staying roughly South-Southwest. We stay briefly, mostly to restock our turnover supply, then head out to Pensa. We hit some annoying weather on the way, but nothing major. We use the Rings to get to Paris for our next reading.

In Paris, the direction read from the Wayfinder switches to mostly South, with Tangiers being a likely large city in the right direction. We do not know of a Ring in Tangiers, so we head to Algiers. We arrive in the middle of a large bath, standing in about 4’ of bathwater, with many bathing customers in our immediate area. Apparently, the ring is on the bottom of the bath! They’re smoking something, which may explain why they didn’t react overly much to our sudden appearance, quite literally making waves. The Wayfinder points roughly Westerly now. We spot a skyship spire, so we investigate, hoping to find a relatively quick passage to Tangiers. There seems to be a lot more open gambling than we’ve seen in other cities. Along with a broad cross-section of nationalities (Italians) and races (gnomes). While we’re making our way around one of the gambling dens on the way to the spire, I’m accosted by Shahim, the skyship captain we’ve worked with before. He is available for charter, so we quickly make arrangements for departure. What luck!

Shahim gets us underway promptly, and the trip takes us about 12 days, with arrival in the afternoon. Like the other African-continent cities we’ve visited, there are larger contingents of other races, in this case especially elves and halflings. The only European nation with an obvious embassy is Poland. Using the Wayfinder, and a hellacious number of false turns and detours (we’re new to the city), we arrive at a fort-like building. Milo recognizes the structure as sort of a medical facility. The attendant inside tells Mil that this place is for seriously wounded people. Milo starts his healing work while the rest of us look for Leo. “Leo!”

Tomas finds Leopold, King of Poland. He has been seriously injured, is sick, and not very conscious or coherent. Many broken bones, contusions, and signs of serious trauma. Milo responds in haste and takes charge of the situation and dispenses some major healing. I try to use my Mark, which seems to have a slight benign effect. After Milo has completed a long series of wound-tending and rituals, Leopold seems to be better. Maybe not quite on death’s door, yet not very far away. The attendant tells Milo that some desert nomads brought him in this way, about a month ago. His horse was also returned, and is now at a nearby stable. Jared and I lash together a field travois, and we drag Leopold off to an Inn that Kell has identified. Milo returns to the facility to tend to the wounded.

The innkeeper is an elf, who welcomes us (quickly for an elf), to the White Oak. We arrange for some rooms. We settle in, with hopes that Leo will improve with a solid night’s rest.


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