Porter also reports that the recovered treasure also includes a variety of religious and historical artifacts. He has worked with Milo and Tomas to ensure the right processes are followed to return them to an appropriate home. Some will likely be sold, after some specialized appraisals.
The Queen’s dinner is a formal event, full dress attire, and solely our group. I get a briefing from my new social secretary and appropriate behavior, attire, and presenting of a hostess gift (after the main event and before leaving).
The Queen seems fairly relaxed in a decent mood. We share tales of our journey, and she shares updates about the local social scene. After dinner, in the sitting room, she raises the topic of the religious artifacts — she suggests we negotiate a favor from the churches as a benefit of returning the artifacts. Specifically to owe me (personally) a favor to be used in the future. Perhaps in Poland.
She also shares her recent efforts negotiating with various entities, including the various Guilds. She has learned that the Guilds have significant power, ability to influence, across countries. She started thinking what a Guild of Nations might be and could do. She has started negotiating with various groups and is planning a Summit to begin serious discussions on what such a Guild might do.
The Swiss and Italians seem favorable. The Russians are likely to be easy. The Romanians are fully supportive. The Prussians might see this as a means to have a United German Empire. France and Britain want territory, probably in the newly-accessible continents. France seems a bit too eager to actively participate. The Spanish (Elves) want to be left alone. The Swiss have a number of new inventions, including some new conveyance they want to deploy to link all the major cities of Europe and need funding. The Italians are willing to fund the Swiss, if permission is provided. Poland is interested in ensuring such a Guild protects the integrity of the Polish lands. The Dwarves want details before committing.
We discuss the Guild idea for a bit, exploring what it might do or how it might function effectively. Different representatives have been starting work on what might become a draft Charter. Establishing a core of cooperation that does not disadvantage anyone will be key. I mention that the warforged might serve well as an protection capability. Cate mentions that she asked Spain for permission to grant the warforged Montengran citizenship in light of their services, and received permission to do so. Apparently the Spanish Queen was spiting some other Spanish faction.
Alexei has asked Cate to ask us to help him out in a particular, non-specific, element of Russian politics.
I ask Cate about appointing a magistrate to handle the “fraud case” — the one referred to the Crown by the Provost Marshall. A very wide-ranging case with intense political implications. Whomever is appointed needs to be capable and neutral — needs to be of rank, and not military. This limits the options. While we’re talking, Cate has a small brainstorm that maybe she needs to break the rules, and create some standing body that is overseen by nobility, and includes military personnel, to handle things like this. She decides to consult her solicitor (Porter) for further development of the concept.
Before we are conveyed out of the palace, I manage to remember to present my gift of hand-written journal and pictures of our journey.
December 16 is the next day, mostly spent getting things coordinated. Milo arranges with four Churches for Letters of Privilege in exchange for return of the artifacts. We arrange a meetup with Alexei for Monday the 17th.
Alexei hosts us at a new-to-us place run by halflings, who he tells us make the best Russian food. We have a pleasant dinner and talk about less important things before getting down to business. Alexei reveals the Czar probably is being life-sustained by dark magic by the Czar’s personal physician, a man named Rasputin. There is a possibility this could affect the Maelstrom Eye, which would in turn cause major problems for Russia. In extremis, another Blasted Wastes magical Everwar scenario. Rasputin has unprecedented sway over the Czar and family, and very few are permitted to even gain an audience with the Czar. Alexei and other top Russians have convinced the Czarina, because of our support in the war and Poland, be granted an audience. Alexei is hoping Milo can determine whether Rasputin is using dark magic, and if so, potentially kill him. Alexei assures us that almost all of the five candidates for Czar will almost certainly pardon us once they become Czar. One of them almost certainly does not. Alexei is sure that we can avoid capture. The Russian historians have verified that the Maelstrom Eye is not behaving consistent with any previously documented behavior.