We meet Ezmyre Valenci (the alleged coward) over tea at his home. Nice place. Rather overdone for me. A lot of young female servants. His color seems to be yellow, showing up in his attire much like the other czar-candidates. We’re led to an outside patio, which is actually quite comfortable and Spring-like, despite the foot of snow ringing the patio.
Ezmyre tells us we can expect an announcement by Rasputin regarding the Czar’s health, and the Czarina will ask for prayers for the Czar’s speedy recovery. Some court business, possibly dismissing ministers or awarding knighthoods and such. The Czarina likes to mingle. Rasputin likly will leave quickly, and could be enticed to stay with an interesting discussion of theology. A duel will likely break out. In his words, rather monotonous and predictable.
He tells us that the Czarina and Rasputin are quite close (though not inappropriately). Ezmyre finds him rather dull, with limited interests — mostly interested in theology. The Czarina knows most of the Court, his fairly well read (with a limited depth of understanding of some of the nuances), and appreciates art and good wardrobe. She carries a pair of very ornate knives at all times.
Ezmyre’s judgement of other people from Court is whether they appreciate art, are well read, and can hold an interesting conversation on topics other than themselves.
Ezmyre confirms Rasputin’s wave of changes, and mentions rumors that Rasputin may have had some unsavory elements of the court “dealt with.” Rasputin is the gatekeeper controlling access to the Czar. Only the Czarina, Rasputin, and one servant are permitted access to the Czar.
Ezmyre has no clear purpose or acknowledged desire to become Czar. As Czar, he’d do whatever was easiest, and surround himself with people dedicated to Russia. They would be responsible for dealing with everyone else.
Asked about the Guild of Nations, he is somewhat favorable, mostly since that would require less effort as Czar. He doesn’t have an idea of who a good Russian representative to negotiate the Guild would be.
Regarding the Czar’s son, Ezmyre reports the son is different, polite, and fairly well read for a boy of his age, with a deep appreciate for art. And curious.
Next on our list is Cazamar Nacht, and we meet him for an early evening dinner and theatrical performance. When we get there, we discover the performance is only for Cazamar — we are the only audience members. His color is blue. He is a very social person.
We are served dinner as the performance runs. While in Russian, I manage to follow most of it and enjoy. Cazamar seems to be a big fan of the story and the lead actress.
Cazamar notes that Court has become a bit predictable recently, though he still enjoys it as an entertainment source. Ezmyre describes the other Czar candidates similarly as Alexei did. Cazamar’s bias seems to be to himslef — improving his knowledge. Mikail is described as a labyrinthine mind. Neovar is a man of capability and functional necessity. Alexei is described as the epitome of a Russian (strong drinker, open mind, carouser, master of magic). We get some warnings of potential ministerial firings pending that may be unveiled at Court the next day.
The Czarina is described as a character, with impeccable taste. Cazamar describes her as someone that always needs eyes on her. The only thing he thinks she loves more is her son.
Asked about Rasputin, Cazamar tells us he has nothing against the little (non-magical) people. Cazamar believes Rasputin is a charlatan (of some kind), and while he might take offense at being labeled, Rasputin wouldn’t deny it. Cazamar isn’t sure exactly how Rasputin was able to become so influential. Part of the history is the Czarina invited him to an audience with her after hearing about his theologically-related discussions. He made a prediction about the Czarina’s son that came true, so she consulted him increasingly thereafter. Further influence at court and with the Czar was a matter of simple procedure. Rasputin has an unnatural aura that calms most people. This is not arcane, though possibly divine. Possibly Far Eastern, though many people have been unable to explicitly determine any such source.
Asked why he wanted to be Czar, Cazamar views it as a natural next achievement for himself. His first act as Czar would be to execute Rasputin, raise him, and execute him again. He’d like to expand the education system. Especially in light of the Swiss and Prussian advancements in artificing, Russia needs more in its ranks. Maybe even some way to have the non-magical population have some say in the government, even if only at the provincial level.
Cazamar belives that Rasputin has some means to mask his alignment — currently detected as aligning with law and good. At Milo’s prodding, Cazamar theorizes that Rasputin might be linked with some ancient darkness, and probably not infernal.
Cazamar has heard a little about the proposed Guild of Nations. He isn’t yet sure of his position on the idea, though he is intrigued. Had the Summer Offensive not been successful, Rasputin likely would have had Russia fully withdrawn from international politics, and seems to have the support of the Czarina. Cazamar is interested in the goblin problem, and seems somewhat in favor of them becoming a nation in some way.
Our carriage ride home takes us past the central park which hosts the Maelstrom Eye. Kind of an egg-shaped glass-like thing with ever-changing swirling colors in the eye. The eye itself appears greyish, and the colors we’ve observed on the candidates are the only ones showing in the swirl. I take a picture with Mery’s lithoplate artifact that Namfoodle built.
At Court the next day, the first major event is the Czarina thanking Court for their well wishes to the Czar’s health. Rasputin is there — a very very tall man in a black robe with a rope tie. Milo uses a special scroll given to him by his church to assess Rasputin’s alignment (showing as Lawful and Good) and his worshipped deity’s holy symbol. At first, Milo doesn’t recognize the symbol, then memories of long-ago lessons and reading kick in. The symbol is of the Blood of Bol, a blood cult (13th-14th century) that had been nearly wiped out by all of the good-allied (and some neutral) churches. The cult gained their powers from blood taken from others, and predominantly supporters of chaos and evil.
The Czar’s son is at court, and as soon as possible, make a beeline for Garrick. He had not seen a real elf before, and he even speaks some elven. Later he does the same thing with Kell. Milo and Kell spot a servant lady watching him closely, who turns out to be Sarina.