Toward The Edge Of The World

TODO: Tarben's Pithy Guide to Being a Lantern
He gave the Queen a ring!

Our rooms are somewhat nice, probably former Roman officer’s quarters. We rest, poking around curiously in the area.

When Khyber returns, he tells us that he needs us to try something and visit a city in Xendrick. Find the pyramid in the Dawn City, find the thing, and touch it or break it to be sure. The thingie we need to find is a glass-like sphere. This will lead to “massive social change.” Apparently the British know where it is, yet don’t like to talk about it. We apparently have met a character reference that will impress them enough to guide us to Xendrick. Natives, wildlife, other (British) expedition members will be significant challenges. The British expedition to Xendrick will be leaving soon. The main “effect” will take 3-4 generations to be fully realized. The sphere is old, older than the Aslanti, and is a Promise.

Khyber tells us some history. The Giants made the sphere thingie. They left Xendrick. Some elves, possibly Dark Elves(?) built the pyramid to store and study the thingie (unsuccessfully). Everyone(?) affected by the Draconic Promise will temporarily feel pain. Magic is an example of a Draconic Promise.

Khyber tells us a story. Cerberus (the dragon below) and Khyber had a bet, to see who could stare into the Abyss the longest. Khyber cheated, and invented people. Eventually people set up time tracking.

I ask whether Khyber knows anything about the Birthstone, which he does. We discuss how to deny the birthstone’s use by destroying it or putting it in the pit. “Vlad”, the Overlord has the birthstone.

To destroy the Birthstone, we need the Black Spike (and a hammer). The Black Spike is in the Dawn City, probably through the heart of someone that will not be happy to find someone standing over him with the Black Spike in hand. Davinar is the name of the not-dead guy with the spike through his heart. We should use fire or the Sun to kill him. He has been there for ~800 years, and was undead when he got there.

As an aside, I apparently need to brush up on my Polish. Soon. He gives me a book to help me start learning.

Milo and Tomas spend the rest of the night trawling through Khyber’s library.

We set out back into Winter the next day, and struggle overland to Pensa to use the rings, arriving on the 27th of November. We quickly find the rings and use them trying to get to London or another location in England. We arrive in a basement, with music and frivolity above us. We make our way out of the ring room through the now-normal-to-us secret door, to find ourselves in likely a storeroom of a pub or tavern. The bartender comments that he hasn’t seen anyone come up that way in a while.

I use the Wayfinder to direct us to the Tower of London. Asking there for Sir Robert Berringer, we’re directed to the Royal Explorer’s Society. We’re ushered into a waiting room and Sir Berringer visits promptly. He and Tomas recognize one another immediately. I cut into what was promising to be lengthy conversation and tell him that we’re here to join his expedition to Xendrick. This captures his immediate interest. Arrangements are made for Sir Berringer to “pitch” this, with Tomas’ assistance to the expedition organizers this evening at a formal dinner. The expedition is set to take off in about a week.

We head to the Montenegran embassy and discover that Lamont has somehow arranged for trunks of clothing and related supplies delivered for us. We arrange for loding, and split up. Milo off to Church things, Tomas to prepare for his evening. Mery and I head to Paris to pick up our rings, then to Montengero. Mery goes to see Sebastian while I visit the Palace.

The Queen graciously finds time for me, and I babble part of our story. I learn that we may not have given her enough information about our learning and discoveries along the way (such as the rings and Rings, discovering other Lanterns). I mention that other Lanterns seem to know Lanterns, and Cate mentions that stories talk about Lanterns Align. After explaining about the rings (not the Rings), I slide her the ring and watch her put it on. The ring only fits on her left ring finger.

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Seeking a Dragon
I am NOT going back to the asylum!

Tomas researches dragons, finds a fair amount of conflicting information. They come in colors, people have interacted with them in the past (most recently in the 1600s).

The Queen sent me a thank you note for my gift and company at Mery’s engagement party. Quite lovely!

Milo, reading Travis’ Journal, finds a reference to an un-named Dragon. The Dragon occasionally recruited people to help him, and had been studying The Prophecy for eons.

After some further re-provisioning, we head on out, intending to follow Garrick’s coin. For a while, we just follow our habitual route out. Mery tries to bait Milo by asking him about his sex life, resulting in a week-long verbal war. Garrick notices the coin’s eye guiding in him in a particular direction. We detour very slightly to Expeditious Retreat to satisfy our growing turnover habit, arriving 6 NOV (and our Rings are ready in Paris).

Milo heads to what he left as a field hospital, and finds Hammerlin, who is training someone else. Milo checks in, drops off a bottle of whiskey, then heads to the Gem. Liam reports that Lynn is in town, staying at the hotel.

I visit Tess at the Bottletop. She tells that the spies have all gone home. Trappers, miners, and hunters now make up the bulk of the transient population (Fall moving to Winter).

Since Milo placed a very large turnover order, we have to wait an extra day. Garrick does a quick patrol, finding several different groups continuing to keep an eye on Expeditious Retreat. I make a quick visit to Sabrina just to say hi. Mery and Kell invite themselves along. We have a nice visit, and she gives us some of our fresh Jams. Back in the Retreat, we enjoy some of the jam over some of Bartleby’s fresh biscuits. He notices our jam, samples it, and asks about our supplier. We’re happy to refer him to Sabrina.

On the 8th, we head out, headed into formerly Russian now Goblin territory. Garrick routes us through the worst of the patrols, though we do have a few quick fights. We head into the mountains, and the going starts getting treacherous. Tomas takes a nasty tumble and breaks an arm. Milo quickly takes care of the arm, and we’re back on the road only a few hours later. Later, Garrick guides us to a cave to hunker down in preparation for probable snow that night. We end up snowed in for almost three days. When we finally venture out, we find the going excruciatingly slow.

We enter into a snow-filled valley-ish meadow, with a ruined church on the far end. The church is fairly old, made of un-mortared hand-cut stones. The stones don’t match what little we’ve seen of the local geology. Inside, a few pews are on each side. Milo looks unsuccessfully for hints of the church’s affiliation, and doesn’t find any. He does find a back wall of an alcove that is made of realistic-seeming scales. Dragonish scales? Tomas notes that all of church’s construction is masterwork. Garrick doesn’t think the wood in the building is from Europe at all, let alone the stonework. A small altar, size of a big bird bath and filled with water, is noticed as magical by Mery.

After fully exploring the church, Garrick plays with his coin and the water, eventually letting the coin drop into the water. We notice suddenly that we’re somewhere else, a different underground room with a tunnel leading out. Along the walls of the tunnel are everburning torches. At the end of the tunnel, we emerge into a very large cavern, with the floor covered in gold coins. We step in, then pause to look around.

Shortly after we stop, a few of us notice a large eye watching us. This leads to an immense head rising up — the red dragon! Garrick responds to the dragon’s inquiry on why we’re here, explaining how he got the coin. The dragon transforms into a small kid (8-10 years old) and chirps “Let’s go!”, leading us in a long slide down to some chairs where we converse. The Dragon is named Khyber. His abode used to be a fortress, possibly for the Romans. There was also an oppressive wizard involved.

Khyber pulls out a small medallion with a Lantern symbol on it. The medallion and symbol match one noticed in a mural we saw in another church near the rings. Khyber gives us (to Milo) the medallion, as this is how he calls in the favor to get our help.

Mery notices the gold coins are all Bulgarian, from the 1600s (all years of that century). Khyber indicates the coins are the perfect blend of metals, and the most comfortable to sleep upon. He collects them.

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Evolution of Plans
Screw you guys, I'm going to Paris!

Back to Montenegro for the night.

Garrick finally reports in after his jaunt back beyond the Edge of the World to meet Rayzak. Rayzak shares information that the Birthstone will be in four different places at predictable times, something he thought we might be able to use. Also a rumor that the Birthstone can be used as a weapon. And that the Overlord’s military is preparing for the anticipated Spring offensive.

Along his way back, Garrick encountered someone best describe as one of the reclusive Druids. The Druid gave Garrick a special coin that “when we are ready” would lead him to someone that needs our help. Someone eccentric.

At our breakfast meetup, we discuss Garrick’s tale and the situation with the French. Mery and Tomas concoct a possible framework for something called a multi-lateral trade deal. A deal, got it.

Mery wanders off to find Sebastian with Milo, Kell, and Tomas in tow, and finds him playing dominoes with a group of people. One is Germanic, by the name of Hubert, labeled as a smuggler by Sebastian. Hubert reveals that the Prussians are hoping to use French labor to build the Drysee (needle-rifles), in support of a deal with the Gnomes, who are importing a bunch of wood, and something for which they need all of the Platinum they’ve been importing.

Leaving dominoes, Mery takes Tomas to the Artificer, easily found at his workshop for once, where she asks why the Prussians are using so much Platinum. He thinks the Platinum is being used for engines of some kind, caging an elemental or something.

While the rest are off playing dominoes, I run errands. First up, visiting Porter to drop off a nice bottle of French wine (from his recommended list), and request a sizable chunk of cash (suggested by Milo). Then off to the Palace to see if Garrick and my buddy from the war is free to catch up. He isn’t, so I set up a tentative future meetup.

When I realize the gang is not convening where I thought we’d be, I chase them down at the cafe for lunch. Sebastian reveals the Elves have committed troops to the offensive. This marks an extreme first. We further compare notes and discuss options. Mery fixates on getting one of the “dragon” ships we now think are run by the Prussians. Tomas mentions that Reinhart, a Prussian he thinks may be a Lantern, might be able to help us learn more. We also recall the Lady Gnome might be willing to tell us about their project requiring Greek shipwrights.

Mery asks Garrick to find out more about the assassination attempt on Cate. Polarion spills all to Garrick — she noticed two out of place men (stablehands) with dead eyes, intercepted and ended them. Their bodies were turned over to the Church of Sarinae. The stablehands were later found elsewhere, dead. Garrick mentions his encounter with the Druid. Polarion tells Garrick of a legend of a dragon that likes to nest on ancient Belgian coins (that seem eerily similar to Garrick’s new coin).

Upon hearing about the connection to Sarinae, Milo heads off to his Church to investigate. Gerald has no information as the Palace would have consulted the Archbishop (that does not like Gerald, and by extension Milo). Milo locates Archbishop Travick Hildmore at his Residence, who cooperates. Magic did not work to gather information from the bodies. The bodies appeared to be non-human, possibly shape-changers, probably modified in some way. The bodies are interred in the Church’s secure tomb. One of the assassins had a magical dagger, with a curse of some kind. The dagger was give to the Royal Artificer. So Milo heads off to see him. The dagger is safely stored in a secure vault. They had examined one of the bodies, and contemplated a cross between a human and a doppleganger. Definitely powerful magic. Possibly Russian magic, if European.

Kell, Dog, and I head off to Paris to brief the Petrovs on what we’ve conjectured. Along the way, Kell finds us a more discrete way into the Starstone temple down to the Rings. We catch the Petrovs before they head off to the afternoon shift at the French court. I run down our limited new facts and extensive conjecture. Mikael reports the Prussians are taking delivery of goods from Africa, possibly explosives. Kell and I then wander Paris in search of turnovers, and also discover croissants.

Mery visits her Mother for tea, and obtains her assistance in finding someone to gather information on Duke Synarco (Mery’s prime suspect in the assassination plot), and someone not obviously linked to us. Mery is assured this can be done.

Tomas researches expeditions to Egypt. Doesn’t come up with much. Fragments of references to Osiran mages with magicks different from Continental mages. Very spiritual, many clerics and oracles. Some trade with the Italians and Greeks. Several French expeditions to the region, some with references to sandships.

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Pit, Paris, and Petrovs
You want me to wear what?

Somewhat early for most, we gather at the Palace for breakfast with the Queen. The Queen reveals that the Russians are less frosted about Namfoodingle working on the boomstick. They had been trying to keep the boomstick a state secret. Now that Montenegro has retained Namfoodingle, they rethinking this, and apparently licensing may be an upcoming discussion. Breakfast is pleasant, and the Queen seems pleased with her goodies.

We head out on our plan to take the Siege for disposal in the pit. Getting to the Pit is simple, and we immediately are confronted by the Guardian. Mery jumps into introductions. I ask to clarify the role. Two Bearers must carry the thingie to the Pit. The Witness must observe. And the Bearer gets the tattoo (mark). Only the original Bearer of the Mark is needed to recover the thingie, along with somone to serve as the Guardian. And the current Guardian (Tavendish) does not know if the Mark can be passed.

Tavendish became Guardian in about 1753. The last thing that went into the Pit was a helmet. I ask Tomas to show Tavendish the Overlord’s old Lantern sigil. Tavendish recognizes the sigil as an older Lantern symbol, possibly favored by some Russian groups — several Russian Lanterns used it. Different geographical areas had different variations. Mery discovers that if we had not been Lanterns (we’re Lanterns!), Tavendish would have killed us. The Pit was created by Lanterns.

I ask Tavendish if he had heard of the Birthstone. He recognizes the description immediately, and reports it as an Elven artifact (created or acquired by them), and that they would deny responsibility. Possibly an Elven Lantern could learn more. Possibly the Giants created the Birthstone.

Milo and I serve as Bearers, Kell as Witness, and Tomas Bears. Milo and I toss the Siege, which flies far out (despite its weight), is grabbed by a huge hand. Tomas ends up with a new tattoo. We chat further with Tavendish a bit, then depart. In passing, we drop off a quick note via Porter to let the Queen know our task is complete.

To prepare for our return to Paris, we stop by Sebastian’s place of work (the war ministry). He dashes off a quick note, given to Mery to give to his Father. When I coax hi to coach Mery about his parents, he warns that she is a stickler for protocol, and his Father is a military man.

We head out to Paris, get lodged, and wander into the French Court in time for the evening session (before Dinner). Tomas seemed entranced by the fineries on display. I was glad to merely hide behind my dress uniform. Kell meets some interesting people.

Mery attracts her usual flock of young men seeking a higher station in life. One of them turns out to be a Polish Noble (Major Maximillian Verkovian, Polish Eagle, distinguished officer) and they chat for a while. Mery seems happy to have found an eligible foreign noble.

Tomas picks up information that the French King seems to be considering money more important at the moment than fighting the goblins. Milo hears the French is contracting with the German empire to provide material and construction, and the weapons guilds are gearing up for rapid and large-scale production. The French have some new special ship they are giving to the Prussians as a start on a treaty coming up.

The next day, Milo chases down Raynes to help him buy a bottle of good wine for Sebastian’s Mother. Raynes helps and further suggests some extra confections. Tomas has serial lunch dates with new friends (Explorer’s Society, University, others). One of the tidbits is about a returning explorer that describes ships that fly. Made from Soarwood.

Mery sends an introductory note to the Petrov’s, and wrangles us a dinner invitation. Then she badgers me incessantly until I agree to receive tailoring. I held out as long as I could, yet she couldn’t be countered. I’ll have to devise some new tactics!

The Petrovs are interesting. Mikael, despite not being active duty for while, still seems fit and capable. Iliana seems almost non-human in the way she stands (Elven blood?). Gorgeous. Without any prompting, she introduces each of us in turn to her husband. With full and correct titles and honors. Impressive. Over dinner, she orchestrates the conversation elegantly and flawlessly. Most impressive. She clearly doesn’t have much knowledge of the military or our culture. Spoke highly of Sebastian’s academic successes.

Mikael mentions his fears for their negotiations. We learn that while the Prussian delegation had not change, there is a second group of senior Prussian military officers that arrived shorly after the Petrovs. Mikael theorizes that the French king is seeking to compete (economically) with England. England seems to have some new very fast ship, that they intend to use for trade, not war. They have some deal done or pending for docking rights with the Elves (Port of Seville). If France is seeking to establish colonies elsewhere, all of this could stack together. Equally possible, there is a deal with the Prussians.

Milo successfully pulls Iliana away for a “tour of art.” They’re gone for quite a while. The rest of us closet up with Mikael. Mery tries to dive into business, and Kell and I manage to get her to talk about Sebastian a bit first. Finally we dive into a conversation regarding our ulterior motive to interfere with French affairs of state. Mikael doesn’t seem encouraged that a solution can be found. In conversation, we realize we did not see any halfling or gnomes at the Court. I help ensure that Mikael hears that Mery has been instrumental in shaping significant events that he has heard about.

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A Simple Thank You Note

(first draft)
Hey. Had fun. Again?

“Hey, Tomas, how do you start a letter to a Royal? Other than ‘do not even think of it’, the Montenegran Field Officer’s Guide to Written Communications is a bit light.”

(some time later)

“Is there a simpler version of all that?”

(draft six)
Dear -Cate-Your Majesty,

Thank you for allowing me to serviceserve accompany you to Mery’s engagement party. I hope my company was not overly taxing was a pleasant alternative.

Again pleasePlease can we please do this again? Should the opportunity arise, I would love enjoy welcome a repeat at any a future event to squire you to another event.

Your servant mobile interactive accoutrement,
Tarben.

PS You might enjoy this article.
Enclosure: Retrospective Analysis of Tactical Envelopment Opportunities in a Dynamic Locus.

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Wee Paree
Do you hate geese? Then try the foi gras.

We gather in the morning to being our test of the rings by visiting Paris. We head down to the Temple of the Star Stone. At Mery’s urging, I use the Wayfinder to quickly locate the rings. They turn out to be in a sub-basement behind a moving wall activated by a hidden latch. Then we experiment!

Sure enough, the rings are pretty easy to use. Lots of salt. Smoky stuff that isn’t smoke. All clears up, and we’re elsewhere. Lots of different murals, sconces, and such. The murals have plenty of lantern symbology. And they show people fighting dragons. After looking more closely, Tomas realizes that the “fighting” is actually ambiguous. Certainly a heroic figure holding something lanternish up to or in front the dragon. And in a separate mural, something similar with something best described as vampiric. Tomas points out these murals are different in style from the ones at Pensa, which were much more clearly fighting. These are encounters, confrontations, negotiations, maybe. Only a small number seem to be actual fighting.

We discover the exit, which leads us into what we hope are the Parisian catacombs. Garrick easily figures out how to get us to the surface, and we confirm that we have reached Paris. Using a combination of Tomas, Milo, and Mery’s prior Parisian experience, we quickly locate Jacques La’Croix Jewellers (since 1789), where we’ve been referred for Lantern rings. Tomas proffers his Lantern ring as an example of what we wish to commission. Jacques observes that a prior owner of the ring was Paulinus DiAvignon, apparently a king of a local street. Jacques takes down notes of what we request. I agree to a bracer, the rest take rings. Between Mery and I we ensure that Kell get one, and we order one for our sponsor, the Queen. Jacques indicates he needs about three weeks to finish the work. We leave and split up to run our various errands.

Milo heads to his local temple, and meets his local rank-equivalent for a courtesy call. His counterpart mentions that Expeditious Retreat is about to host as their new resident healer of the order, one Hammerlan Royden. Royden is known to Milo as having attempted to save/heal the Montenegran King on the battlefield. Expeditious Retreat seems a bit lower scale than someone of Royden’s stature deserves. Post-Battle rumors suggest he has sunk into drink and turned away from the Order.

Mery and I head off on my errand to pick up a package for Sebastian from Michael Raines, the local postmaster for an area of Paris. He produces a very large package (tall, rounded, wooden, wrapped in brown paper, with string, and wax-sealed ends). Under Mery’s inquiry, he reveals he and Sebastian when to university together, still correspond, and enjoy word puzzles. He is quite happy to meet Sebastian’s betrothed. We end up with a plan to meet later for lunch, with our friends.

We regroup with one another and head off to our lunch with Raines. He tells us he had dinner with Sebastian’s parents, who are worried. Their negotiations to secure French funding for the war are not going well. Raines reports rumors that France is “getting cozy” with Germany. Raines indicates Sebastian’s Father reported the French military appear unclear about why this is happening.

On the way out, we pick up a bunch of food. I ensure Kell is covered with a comprehensive basket of goodies. Milo picks up a bunch of supplies, and I quietly buy what looks to be a nice box of chocolate.

We test the rings to get back, and succeed in returning to Montenegro. Milo suggests we meet at the Palace for breakfast with the Queen, and surprise her with the food we brought back. Excellent idea! I slip him the chocolate to deliver to her under my name.

Mery and I take the over-long package to Sebastian’s and are lucky enough to find him at home. He is delighted to see us. Mery finally is able to satisfy her curiosity and open the package. The contents require assembly, which Sebastian quickly completes. We head outside, and he activates it, generating big bang, and a chip off of a nearby tree. He lets me take a shot. We head out to his parent’s place, out of town, where I get a chance to rapid-fire it. Not too hard. He tells us this is a Prussian weapon, a Drysee Needle Gun, and they have a bunch of units with them. Uses a special alchemical red powder in combination with black powder, and should still fire while wet.

Milo heads back to his temple to have wine with Gerald. Milo asks about Hammerlan. Gerald indicated he believed that Hammerlan probably wants a quiet assignment. Gerald actually recommended the location for Hammerlan.

Tomas works to better identify the symbols around the ring, and link them to locations. He quickly maps many of the symbols to the various Capitals. Of course, we don’t yet know where in those cities the rings actually reside, nor who might use them.

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Finally, Mery is Engaged
You brought Tarben?

21 October 1911
The next day, I am whisked into the process of escorting the Queen to her best friend’s engagement party. Along the ride to the party, the Queen provides me with correct answers to a few anticipated questions. Her arrival, with me in tow, attracts the usual flurry of attention. This time I get to have the experience up close. Meeting Mery’s parents is a tad different. Her Ducal Father has met me before and isn’t overtly surprised to see me. While masked well, I’m used to noticing the kind of reaction I receive from his wife — “who are you again?” Possibly with a hint of “ah, those bumpkins”. Eh. One of the reasons I was glad to be a foster kid with the Dwarves for a while.

A bit later, I escape Cate’s orbit for a short bit and chat briefly with Milo and Tomas. Sebastian found us, escorting Mery’s mother (not the Duke’s wife), Madam Sybrith Devrille. She seems nice.

Garrick notices that three of our final unit are actually present at the party. Two still serving, one mustered out. They’ve all been visited by the Provost. Garrick sends them my way to give me a degree of grief. Op success, darn it. Good to see them, though.

Finally the main moment arrives. Sebastian escorts Mery up to a landing in plain view, drops to a knee, and formally proposes. After a pause just long enough to make a few unrulies look around, Mery tears up and accepts.

Most of the civilians clear out relatively early, leaving a large cadre of military and friends behind. Ended up in the classic war story moments. I asked a few questions to learn more about the events in the Great Battle. One key note is that the signal corp was overrun just prior to the right moment to sound a retreat. More and more, the planning in that great betrayal was clearly long-standing. Alexi, the Russian ambassador, is also there, having previously exchanged shots with Namfoodle, and shares a few stories.

Milo attempts to steal my battle-axe. After a short… discussion, I relent and leave it in the care of the Artificer who is going to make it magical using one of the Scimitars we recovered from the tomb. Upgrade to: +1 Battleaxe, Goblin-bane

Our group morning gathering is unanimously changed to a late brunch. Mery still seems a bit shocked, and claims not to be hung over. We make plans to explore the Rings tomorrow, as a test run for getting the Siege to the Pit. Maybe even make a quick jaunt to Paris as part of the test.

Milo gets Gerald at his Temple to arrange for research into the Birthstone. We fear the stone’s power will continue to be a big influence in the war, and may need to be dealt with before the Summer campaign.

I met with Sebastian for lunch. We chatted briefly about his engagement, and he seems content for the present, and professes that some length of engagement is good. We turn topics to the Provost and the Great Battle. Sebastian and I exchange some info, and he decides to go get the Provost’s information, and quietly watch for Bryce. He asks me to try and figure out why the Provost Marshall is even doing this investigation. I mention that we might be in Paris sooner than expected, and he makes a few requests for my time there.

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Conspiracy Detected
They tried to kill me?

The next day Milo, Mery, Tomas, and Kell head off to corner the Royal Artificer (Pez Makvar Dejorm) at his favorite hangout. They present the Gnomish complicated diagrams to him. He reports that the Queen would be interested in doing business with them, and that there are some clearly key components missing. Mery mentions the “dragon” encounters we heard, and the Artificer expresses some interest.

After the dinner with the Queen, I mentioned to Lamont that should the Queen need an alternate escort to Mery’s upcoming engagement party that perhaps maybe I could assist in such a manner.

Garrick spends time refitting and chatting with other scouts. Confirms more sightings of the “dragon”, and a likely origin of Prussia from the apparent path of explosions. Another scout suggests some of the wagon/caravans sighted near Anapold were related to the Russians. Later, an Officer named Justinian bought Garrick lunch and asked a lot of probing questions about the last battles of the War.

Captain Justinian also chases down Tomas, who infers a deeper motive at play, and later Milo at his Church. Milo caucuses with Porter and Garrick to pool information about Justinian. Justinian’s questions seem to focus on three specific units’ location during the battle. He seems to be chasing after something. Later Lamont reports that Justinian had lost two brothers in the Great Battle.

Mery spends her week as a busy socialite.

I head out to visit the parents and sibs. Need to remember to do that just often enough to enjoy it, not long enough to get annoyed. On my return, have notes from a Captain Justinian, requesting my time, fro Milo suggesting we meet, and one from Lamont telling me he had told Milo I was out of time.

Lunch with Sebastian, always pleasant. Sebastian is trying to finesse his relationship with Mery. Not sure if he is kidding about trying to get the wedding moved up.

Then to Justinian, who I chased down at his formal office in the Provost’s area. Fielded his questions and finally saw the whole set of battles laid out in a comprehensive way. For the first time, I realized that my unit had been set up to be expendable, and was one of the first units to be encountered a big push right through our entire defensive layout and into our an uncontrolled breach along our rear. Only through the sacrifice of so many did we partially stymie that push. Equally clearly, this was not the act of a single commander. Olver Vyse, a Lieutenant in my unit, is one name Justinian is trying to account for. Smart, well educated, no a tactical genius. Missing, presumed dead.

I catch up with most everyone except Mery, who is being pinned into a dress. We share information about Justinian’s inquiries. Later, at our group dinner (now including Mery and Lamont), we learn more Lamont has been checking on Justinian’s charter from the Provost Marshal, and it largely checks out. However, Lamont also learned that an assassination attempt on then-Princess Cate had been thwarted at the very time of the big push that defined the Great Battle, and resulted in the majority of the Royal Family being killed.

Mery points a finger at Duke Synarco, on principles of general slimy-ness. He had pulled strings to get his son made ineligible for combat service not long prior to the battle. Tomas does confirm Synarco might have enough “pull” with other families to support a push for a vacant Throne.

I insist the Queen needs to be informed quickly, and Lamont gives us a ride to the palace. The Queen arrives quickly, escorted by two of her Royal Guardsmen. I recognize one of them from our mish-mashed unit pulled together from the ashes of the Great Battle. Good man.

I start briefing the Queen, and introduce the attempt on her life relatively early in the conversation. She interrupts me and summons her Spymaster, who is instructed to cooperate with us fully or face the Queen’s wrath, involving us killing him. Fortunately for the furnishings, this does not become necessary. Two men took knives from the kitchen and went after the Princess. They were intercepted. They had been attempting to impersonate two missing staff, later found dead. They had been magically changed in appearance, and shielded from post-death magic discovery. I lay out the battle plan, and discover the Queen is not unversed in ground tactics. Albion asks a few question and wheels start churning in his head. Not resolving much more in that conversation, Albion is dismissed.

Mery indicates worry over Cate’s protection, so Cate summons her Royal Guard. Her entire Royal Guard. I perform a quick inspection, distracting from Mery and Milo more magical investigations. We don’t find anything, and the Royal Guard is dismissed to return to posts. We adjourn as a group to the kitchen to share Pie and Cake with the Queen. Polarion, who along with Garrick joined us for the Royal Guard review, reveals that she had been the one to stop the assassination of Cate. Polarion is doing this as part of the Spanish (Elven) debt to the Royal House of Montenegro. The Queen waffles a bit on whether to be comfortable with the fact that she has an Elven Assassin in her retinue.

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Another Completed Expedition
Entertaining the Queen

Back in Expeditious Retreat, the Gnome Lady is happy to see us, and expressed a lot of gratitude on behalf of the Swiss Government. At Garrick’s insistence, we gave the horses a break and stayed a few day before finishing up our resupply, and begin escorting Namfoodle to Montenegro. The Swiss Gnomes and their charge Lady Lisadine accompany us as far as Podgorica.

(upon further study, Milo realizes Travis’ Helm has expended all of its energies, and was likely the source of the massive crater at the Temple)

During our journey, Namfoodle and Lady Lisadine nattered on incessantly about science and magic, with Mery pulled in willingly. The Lady ducked and diverted any speculation about the Swiss stockpiling or consuming large quantities of Platinum, and of dragons or (Mery’s latest idea), flying ships. Somehow, likely with inhuman effort, Mery manages not to let anything slip about the Siege. Along the way, I arrange with Mery and the rest on a minimum stay “back home”, which at Mery’s suggestion we set at a week. Later, I suggest to Milo that the Queen should know how long we’d be in town.

When we hit the capital, we’re met by riders with orders for us to wait for a messenger. The messenger turns out to be Porter, arriving in a nice carriage. He greets Namfoodle in Gnomish (I guess), allegedly a greeting and welcome to the city (and pending employment). A Lieutenant shows up shortly later, to escort Namfoodle off to his temporary quarters and help him get settled. Porter relays an invitation for us to join Her Ladyship for a late dinner. In various levels of urgency, we part with plans to meet at the Palace.

Milo reports to his temple and boss, to turn in Travis’ bones. He ends up keeping the Journal on-hand.

Mery cleans up and gets to the Palace early, arriving during the wrapup of formal court. Lady Lisadine presents herself and publicly thanks the Queen for our assistance in recovering her countrymen. Unusually, the Warmark is present. Along a small bevy of suitors. Sir Robert Barringer, British Explorer’s Society, presents himself to the Court. He demonstrates some new method for long-distance communications involving glass hammers and bells, or so I understood from Mery.

Dinner with the Queen, this time including both Porter and Sebastian. Tomas ensures we brief the Queen about the Overlords and the “types” of goblins. The Queen talks about the English invention, the Lightning Graph (glass jar with a lightning elemental inside), used for long-distance communication. The Allies, including the Romanians, are starting to contemplate an offensive in the next season. Apparently, the Austrians have been experimenting with a flying machine, which may explain Mery’s flying dragon ship theory. Cate notes that since we’ll be in town for a week, there is plenty of time to schedule and have Sebastian and Mery’s engagement party — in five days. Mery immediately attempts to change our schedule, to no avail.

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Return to the Scaly Cult Temple
Why is everyone running into the flaming tent?

We left Expeditious Retreat with the intent to head directly to where we had run across the Gnomes. Unfortunately, we ran across just enough patrols that wanted to check us over that we were somewhat slowed down.

On the sixth night out, as we’re working our way behind a ridge around an large goblin encampment, a bunch of loud explosions and bright flashes break up the monotony. After taking a peek, Garrick ushers us urgently into cover. Some rhythmic flapping? noise was heard, eventually passing away from our line of travel.

By around the 10th day, we rediscover where we had originally met the Gnome diggers. Garrick does his sniffing the trees and licking rocks trick, and tell us some horsemen had been there since our last visit. Mery whips out the Wayfinder, and after I have no success, manages to convince it to point us in a particular direction.

On our new track, we run across a small group of Varisian gypsy horsemen, who angle to intercept us. After a brief and tense standoff, two of them yell at each other for a bit. One stays and the rest ride off at high speed. The remaining one introduces himself as Jarvik, and asks for our help. A bunch of goblins are causing some problems, and have previously captured other Varisians. This group has been capturing travelers, such as our missing Gnomes, and trading them for local citizens. The ~30 goblins are led by a man in black, whom the Varisian spellweaver thinks is evil, and searching for something in the area. Questioned by Tomas, Jarvik indicates, based on reports from returned locals, that the goblins are digging in an old temple. No care for artifacts, possibly seeking a book. From some of the details, the temple may relate to a snake or reptile cult, known for a Sarinae Paladin (Travis) that died taking on the temple.

We make a preliminary plan, head over to the camp, scout, and start our assault just after dawn the next day. Our Allied Gnomes and Varisians initiate some distractions and pull off a patrol our two. Garrick gets a good spot for arrow overwatch. I lead the rest of us in a narrow wedge straight for the apparent leader’s tent. Tomas is first into the tent to engage the leader, just as Mery engulfs it in fire. I slice through the side and between us, Tomas and I keep the leader engaged. Kell threads an arrow between us into the leader. He in pirouettes and vanishes in a brief flutter of swinging cloth. Garrick keeps the goblins from swarming Mery and the rest of us. Shortly after the leader runs away, the fight is over, with all goblins down or running.

Tomas and Milo search through the remants of the tent. They discover some letter addressed to “Your Excellency” and signed “Fos”, which we take to the leader’s name. He is reportig that he feels close to discovering “the Journal.” Jarvik heads down into the pit and encourages the prisoners to calm down and come on back out to new-found freedom and relative safety. Milo thinks the journal is a reference to Travis’ journal, considered a Holy Text of Sarinae. Our Swiss Guard finds their missing Gnomes, who appear to be in for some amount of trouble when they get back.

At Milo’s insistence, we head into the temple excavation to find the Journal. The prisoners had been working with primitive tools, digging up a good amount of dirt, toppling over tombs and kicking out bones. We look around a bit more strategically, and Milo and I come across an unusual skeleton — a kneeled, mailed, humanoid (probably human) with a satchel. Mery and Milo realize some of his equipment (Scimitar +3 Flameburst → Milo, Chainmail +3 → Tomas, Helmet of brilliance(?), Satchel/Handy Haversak, and the Journal) appear magical. A nigh-unrecognizable tabard, and holding a holy symbol of Sarinae. Ah, Jarvis, we meet for the first time. No, no, don’t get up. Milo gently packages up the body with appropriate revernce. The satchel has a journal, writing pens, dried-up ink, and a few random trinkets.

We head out the next day. Jarvik leads their folks home, and some of his riders escort us to the edge of their area. We escort the Gnomes back to Expeditious Retreat, making a brief stop in Pensa. Along the way, we hear another round of explosions and light flashes. We detour to investigate the aftermath of the explosions, and find obvious evidence of panicked flight. Lots of craters, bodies, and lots of bits of barrels.

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