Russian court turns out to be pretty much what we had heard. We have a variety of innocuous conversations, being novelties at the court.
Mery is sought by the Czarina. They seem to hit it off immediately, with lots of smiles. At one point, I almost thought they were flirting with one another. Mery apparently was able to maneuver the conversation to get the Czarina interested in talking to Milo — as the chosen successor to Travis.
Milo has an involved and detail-laden history-focused conversation with Milo. This results in the Czarina becoming willing to have Milo check on her son’s health.
I notice some Dwarves in the court, part of the embassy to Russia. They’re mostly focused on business, reopening mines and similar acts.
Tomas catches sight of an amulet around Rasputin’s neck, and identifies it as matching the description of one reputed to cloak the wearer’s mind.
Rasputin doesn’t really circulate, so Kell and I head over and introduce ourselves. I thank him for allowing us to visit. Asked about his travels, Rasputin tells me he has traveled extensively, to the ends of Russian, deepest Africa, and the Far East.
Milo and Henrich are called in to see the Czar, in the company of Rasputin and the Czarina. They’re escorted through a confusing array of doors, hallways, stairs, and turns. Milo pokes and prods the Czar for a while, trying to figure out what he is discerning. The Czar is close to a spiritual death, yet hanging on. Milo sneakily casts a Restoration spell, which produces some kind of black cloud that emerges from the Czar’s coughing, then sort of settles and clumps on nearby surfaces. Milo narrowly escapes getting coated with the stuff. While Milo observes the after-effects, Henrich notices Rasputin moving up a bit and mumbling in Russian, possibly casting a spell. Milo’s coat, having been sacrificed to Milo’s escaping the black stuff, proceeds to animate and attempt to strangle him — a quick burst of good energy is not enough to knock it out. Then Rasputin’s spell takes effect and a significant volume of Milo’s blood attempts to escape and ends up on the floor. A tussle beings, with Rasputin using a variety of blood magics, Milo’s coat grappling Milo, the Czarina covering the Czar, and the Czar dying (or so Milo suspects from a hasty glance).
With the departure of the Czarina and Rasputin, the energy at Court seems to pick up, with people becoming pleasantly animated. Mery finds a group of Russian mages and learns more about their approach to magic and the various weapons the Russians have been fielding.
During Milo’s tussle with Rasputin, Kell hears (through numerous walls) the Czarina scream in terror. Kell gathers us up, and in company with a number of Czar-contenders, we head to find the Czarina. Kell somehow guides us to the Czar’s suite, where we pass two guards that just watch me walk past them (and are later dispelled by one of the candidates) and into the suite, where we join the fray.
Rasputin uses more blood magic, including summoning some kind of blood beast. Henrich
summons a virtual menagerie of allies. Thanks to some great spellcasting by Milo, Henrich and even Mery, Rasputin ends up dying and bursting into flames.
After the flames are put out, the Czar tells us that Rasputin had been feeding him a nightly concoction. While the drink seemed to help him for a bit, he could feel himself dying. We end up back in Court, with the Czar presiding. After a touching moment where both the Czarina and their son embrace the Czar and enjoy his return to some level of health. He announces to the court that he will be dead by sunrise. Then he proceeds to Knight his rescuers (us!).
After the ceremony, the Czar-candidates take us out on a lengthy bar crawl.