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.