The Empress of India

TEoI 12 - The day after
The Russians suffer a setback in Delhi

The bridge that never was

Sojiro and Reiko looked upon the dining room, splattered with the blood of Amrj and his cooking lady. Sojiro tucked the bundle of letters and the coffer of rupees under his arm as the pair began to douse the furniture with lamp oil.

Both were blinded by the growing flames licking up the outside walls. The world around was pitch black. A voice came from the far end of the garden. It was the gardener. Sojiro drew his katana, but got stopped cold by Reiko’s objection. The gardener would live, no more lives would be snuffed tonight.

Sojiro lead Reiko eastward on their way to a bridge across the Gange. Their plan was to find their way back to Calcutta now that the execution had been carried. On the way, they dodged a group of soldiers, russian infantry, patrolling north away from Delhi. They shifted to a less traveled road and reached the bank of the river.

The bridge wasn’t where Sojiro thought. They chased a ghost of a structure further south which took them very close to Delhi. Unfortunately, while attempting to dodge a small group of russian scouts, Reiko stumbled and drew the soldier to them. She played dumb, but for naught. The soldiers got highly excited by the katana and Sojiro’s colt revolver.

Reiko and Sojiro were brought to the Red Fort and led into one of the main ground compound. They locked the door behind them, leaving Reiko to wonder about the how all these soldiers got to Delhi in the first place.

Fireball

Devasheesh, Lt. Elwood and Gubdan realized that in this open terrain, it would be impossible for the lancers to escape from the scrutiny of scouting airships. They decided to leave the main road and seek a large enough farm under the canopy of trees where the horses could be concealed. They commandeered one farm and paid the owner to leave for the nearest town. They settled into a large farm, splitting over three homes and a large barn.

Devasheesh interrogated the Russian agent kidnapped from England House. The Russian broke only under torture and let out that they were preparing for a much larger scale invasion. He admitted that the events of the day had been precipitated somehow by other events, that the airships used a technology called VORONOD. That this technology involves small engines, similar to steam engines, that produce a volatile lighter-than-air gas. Under pressure, he estimated the numbers of Russian soldiers to about 1000 men.

Gubdan left to seek tools in the village while Lt. Elwood sent more messenger to pass on the new intel to Calcutta. Devasheesh rounded up a few artillery soldiers and took the 3-pounder into a field some 1000 yd afield. They could hear the buzz of a small engine skimming the top of the trees back and forth. With great luck, an airship flew almost overhead. The gun and the jezail rifle hit the lumbering target. A rapid gas leak could be heard until…

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A gigantic fireball appeared in the sky and flared for over 200 ft upward as the heavy carriage of the airship shattered and plummeted to the ground. For a brief moment, it was daylight enough for Devasheesh to see the Lancers scatter in terror. He stood fast, fascinated by the sight of the Russian soldiers free-falling to their death beyond a large hedge. Devasheesh harnessed the horse to the 3-pounder and headed back to the farm in the safety of a dark moonless night.

The explosion attracted more Russians on foot to scour the area. Luckily, the scouts only had close calls and didn’t find the Lancers. It was clear, however, that when daylight would come that the fancy cavalry horses would stick out like a sore thumb. They decided to refit the 3-pounder’s carriage so that it could be trained skyward. The wheel were broken in sections, thus eliminating mobility. They setup the gun in a brush near the farm, expecting the battle to take place in the morning.

Feeding fools with tidings

Genevieve was taken into the Shah’s main compound which had been damaged during the shelling. The Russians were reasonably courteous: she waited for a hour in an antechamber of the palace. The Russian civilian named Akim entered, accompanied by a high-ranking Navy officer and two guards. The officer pulled a chair close to her location and engaged her in a conversation. He didn’t take the woman seriously and was somewhat patronizing. Gene took advantage of this situation and played dumb. She fed him all sorts of misinformations, in particular, overstating the EITC forces and their state of readiness. The officer was smug and satisfied to have broken Gene so easily, thanked her and made arrangements so that she could return to her accommodation and be reunited with her wounded husband.

Later in the night, an explosion rocked the Red Fort. It came from afar, but was powerful enough to move the curtain of her room. Down on the grounds, the Russians sounded an alarm and started small engines in the airships. There wasn’t that many Russian left around to scramble, Gene observed. She took her chance and peeked outside of her room. The hallway was empty. As they left the room, another door opened and from it came out Reiko and Sojiro. They briefly greeted and headed for the cellar.

Gene led them to the compound where the Europeans were kept. The place had been deserted when the Russians invaded and apparently, the Russians didn’t find the underground location yet. Dr. Hendsby reported that everyone was ready to make a run for the escape. Gene delegated to Nathan the task to open the march.

The Great Escape

The underground level of the Red Fort had been abandoned by the Shah’s men a few hours ago. The 70 or so Europeans meandered in the dark until they reaches a service door. The door was lockable from the inside, but had been left unlocked in the scramble.

Nathan and Sojiro bursted out of the fort into a side street of Delhi. There, they found two surprised Russians soldiers guarding the knobless door (from the outside). A scuffle ensued as more English rushed out of the door and engaged the soldiers. Gene directed the flow to her best ability while Reiko pulled her lady gun and attempted to get one of the Russian to surrender. The attempt was in vain and she had to shoot him. The low caliber shot didn’t have the intended effect, but by then the English were in full rout and couldn’t be contained anymore.

The European fled into the dark streets of a wartime blackout. A 16 y.o. girl was reported shot dead by Russians from a guard tower during the flight. The fugitives made it to Dr. Hendsby in short order. They all amassed inside to hide from the impending search. Hiding was as reckless than it looks since Delhi was bathing in chaos and the night was moonless and shrouded in a blanket of doom weighing on anyone fouling the ground with their feet.

Note: Maritje didn’t do much this session. To shake things up, Sophie will be playing Lt. Elwood in the next session.

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TEoI 11 - Tangles and knots
The day of the Russian invasion of Delhi

The Wondrous devices

When the airships sank below the cityscape, Devasheesh and Gubdan hurried to the safehouse to rally the others. They found the house mostly empty: Uma was keeping watch on England House and Jagjit was stoned out of his mind in a corner. Uma estimated that only one or two Russians remained in the Embassy after many of them left in a hurry when the shelling began.

They slipped across the courtyard and into the Embassy through a door left carelessly ajar. The house was quiet. They made it to the cigar room where they found two large crates. Beyond, they could hear a Russian having a bathroom break in the lavatory. Dev bursted in, shoved the man off the potty and beated him into unconsciousness. Uma kept guard while Gubdan confirmed that the crates contained one or two disassembled wondrous devices.

At this moment, Maritje and Har arrived in the Embassy’s main hall and were coldly received by Uma at first. They, too, ran back to the safehouse and even tried to wake Jagjit to make him talk. The Punjabi crew swept England House and found no other Russians. Devasheesh had to leave to meet with the lancers hiding out of the city across the valley. Gubdan and Martije were left in charge.

The Punjabis and Martije decided to remove the crates and take them to the safe house before the Russians came back. The two wooden crates were about 150lb each, filled with straw and machine parts covered in machine grease and wrapped in paper. Gubdan figured out that part of the device was a steam engine and that, with enough time and tools, he could put them together.

They decided that it would be wise to leave Delhi while chaos was raging. They scrounged a cart, packed their stuff, the crates and the unconscious Russian. There exit was inconspicuous due to the large number of people doing the same and leaving while no one was guarding the city gates.

The airship invaders

Lady Genevieve Bell-Hudson had rushed out of the tub to get a better view of the shelling at the other end of the Red Fort. She spotted two airships landing to drop about 100 soldiers while another airship, outfitted with a large caliber gun, was circling the fortress. She backtracked into her compound and headed for the cellar. The servants and guards had retreated underground through the kitchen area. It was simple for her to find her way and eventually get to the place where the Europeans were detained.

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There she found Dr. Hensby. She instructed him to get everyone ready to evacuate while she was seeking a way out. She wasn’t sure that Hensby was the man for the job, but he ought to do for the moment. She returned to her accommodation and dressed appropriately so as to meet with Minster Arkhesh (or even the Shah). On her way to the Palace, she was intercepted by a group of Russian soldiers.

They held her until a man arrived from one of the airship. Gene noted the Tsar’s Navy ensign flying over the ship. A distinguished but rather young man introduced himself as Armin Kharov. He announced that the ambassador was now the prisoner of Tsar Alexander II. Gene explained to him that she was the ambassador, which was met with disbelief. Gene told Kharov that the Europeans had snuck out of the fortress earlier in the morning. Kharov explained that they were considered prisoners of war, and that she would be taken to another location.

Russian tangle

Reiko left the safe house earlier in the morning with Jagjit and left Delhi at about 9:00AM. She met Sojiro at an appointed location where they pondered about their next move. The reason why they were in Delhi was to assassinate the man who turned out to the be nicest person that they met. Amrj protected them from the death squads for as long as he could, covered for Sojiro’s medical expenses and entertained Reiko and Maritje as personal guest for almost a week. Reiko felt uneasy as she figured out that he himself was probably a Russian agent like her. She sent a letter to Calcutta, but the reply never came. Reiko wanted to walk away from the job and go home. Sojiro, however, was a bit more expedient and urge her to simply do away with the mogul minister.

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Reiko disguised as an indian maid once more: she was ashamed of what she had to do. They made their way to Amrj’s estate and were warmly welcomed by Sheeta, the old lady cooking for the minister. She lead them to the dining room and left them there to announce them to Amrj.

Reiko pressed Amrj for information and told him that he was in great danger. Amrj figured out right away that the pair were the angel of death that he was expecting for a few weeks. As he was about to shut down, Sojiro impressed on him that he had to answer a few questions or else violence would be applied to good effect. Amrj reluctantly told them that Deptir, the Shah’s astrologer was the Russian contact. He explained that he fell from grace and was removed from the palace. He didn’t know why he was coached to do so, but was instructed to attempt to become foreign minister at the court and away further instructions.

Reiko overstretched her good cop act, Amrj started to cry. He told them that they could not draw more blood from a stone. He offered to leave everything to them if he was given the chance to disappear. As he walked away, Sojiro drew his katana and placed him on Amrj’s armpit: threatening a major artery. Pleading for his life, Amrj admitted working with Kate Levenstein for the russians, that he framed her when he thought that she had tried to get rid of her. His intuition had been wrong, and both were now apart, estranged and in dire circumstances.

Reiko coldly ordered Sojiro to kill Amrj. He pull on the fine blade which sliced through his underarm. Amrj fell over and had to be finished by Sojiro’s pistol. The old lady walked into the room and became hysterical, throwing the tray of Gulab jamun at Sojiro and hitting him with the sweet treats and the silverware. Reiko pulled her lady gun and felled the grandma with a single bullet at the back of the head.

They had crossed a fence into infamy, but they alone knew about it. Life would never be the same. Sojiro raided Amrj’s office and retrieved a small bundle of communications. He also found some 400 rupees in a small coffer. They set out to burn the mansion to the ground and decided to head back to Calcutta. Hopefully, they could there resume their mundane lives as EITC clerks.

Late at the party

Devasheesh met with the Lancers a bit after high-noon. He saw the fourth airship combing the land to the north and hopefully missed the EITC soldiers. Lt. Elwood was glad to see Devasheesh come back alive. Since the situation had turned from political to military, Cresford authority was passed to Elwood to decide on the next move. Devasheesh convinced the man to head for Delhi and attempt to pull the English out of their prison while chaos still reigned. Two messengers were sent to report back to the nearest active base on the way to Calcutta. The rest of the unit geared up, formed into a road column and began to march towards fate.

The road became increasingly congested with refugees. Still up to now, the English had yet to encounter any form of resistance. A small party of scouts returned with the news that the gate of Delhi was now manned by Russians and was no longer an access point. Refugees were still allowed to exist the city, but no one could enter. They also reported that they also got detected and to expect that the Russians may move to contact if they were so brazen as to sortie.

Devasheesh and Elwood discussed on the next move. Taking on the Russian didn’t seem like the most favourable move anymore if they were to use airships and naval guns on them. Furthermore, they would be outrun very fast by airship if they were to stick to the roads. Elwood decided to melt the unit into the hinterland to the south and regroup in the Indian Kingdoms to the South. The gun would have to be left behind.

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Devasheesh comandeered a cart from the fleeing refugee and in the process encountered the Punjabis and Martije. They were leaving town with the wondrous device and the Russian hostage. Devasheesh looked upon Delhi, the airships hovering motionless over the Red Fort, and a 3” field gun now under his care: about as subtle as a manatee joining the debating club.

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TEoI 10 - Stay of Execution
The day it all changed...

The proper application of murder

Gene was laying in bed for hours, listening to the patrolling patterns of her captors. She was blindfolded, her hands were bound. Her husband, Nathan, was in bad shape after a rough interrogation earlier in the day. She engaged in an obfuscated discussion with Nathan to devise a plan. She tip-toed to Nathan’s writing desk and located the letter opener with her fingertips. She hid it in her dress.

She asked the guard in the sitting room to escort her to the lavatory. There, she tried to sever the ties binding her hands but to no avail. Her dress was a mess as she leaned over the chamber pot. She lifted it a bit to show some skin and beaconed the russian guard into the lavatory. The russian, taken aback, obliged to help her untangle. Gene coughed to signal Nathan to charge. His blindfold was loosened and could be removed. The sound of his uneven gait took the russian by surprise. Gene took advantage of this situation by stabbing him in the back, puncturing his lungs. The russian was then tackled by Nathan as they collided. Gene madly stabbed at him until he expired. She was covered with splatters of blood, her right hand drenched in red halfway up the forearm.

She pulled a revolver from the captor’s coat and handed it to Nathan. The two made their way to the office and slipped down the wall to the ground. The fall wasn’t graceful but no one got seriously hurt. Nathan was then reeling from the pain of the beating. They stumbled through the streets. It was about midnight when they got to the gate of the Red Fort.

In the belly of the beast

Bloodied, Gene and Nathan knocked at the gate of the Red Fort and waited for the door to open. The Shah’s guards were at first confused to see European on the street. They assumed that they were the “special” europeans that mistakenly had been beaten by one of the death squads. When it became clear that they were English, the sergeant reported to the officer in charge. Gene introduced herself as the ambassador, and explained that they indeed had escaped the day before. However, they were now returning with utmost important news for the Shah. The officer was incredulous, but found the situation sufficiently unusual to let this escalate higher up.

They were sent to another house in the Fort. Gene refused to get washed and insisted on meeting the Shah in her bloodied clothes. At around 3 AM, ththey finally met with the emperor himself. The Shah was weak and sleepy. Minister Arkhesh was there too, as well as a number of guard and Deptir the astrologer. Deptir’s presence was a complicating factor since he was a russian collaborator.

The Shah spoke in Urdu and Gene replied through her husband. Nathan nailed down the protocol despite his slurred speech caused by missing teeth. Gene explained that she had evidences that the Shah was manipulated by russians agents. She accused Deptir of collaboration. Deptir retaliated with a tirade on how the ambassador had never bothered to meet in court before, that women lies when motivated by envy. Gene was a bit cowed a bit by the harsh veracity of her detached policies in the past, and hurt by the memories of discrimination at Oxford. The Shah requested counsel from Minister Arkhesh, who explained that the scenario was credible and that there was a fair chance that Russia was behind the Sepoy. He advised the Shah to stay the execution and investigate the allegations.

The Shah was troubled, indecisive. He breathed heavily and silently held back many sentences. He finally ordered Deptir to be arrested and the execution to be stayed. He offered accommodation to Gene and Nathan and took his leave.

Gene realized that the traumatic last few hours had lead to the temporary reprieve for the English expatriates.

Allahabad, March 17th 1857

The mopping up in the street of Allahabad was a sad affair as the lancers were rounding up civilians that were suspected of collaboration with the mutineers. Cresford saw in this opportunity a golden occasion to shine as a political envoy. He ordered the lancers to remain in the city for the time being. Devasheesh argued against the plan and was rebuked by Cresford. The lancers were neutral on the order. Devasheesh eventually convinced Cresford that there would be more room for career advancement in Delhi as it was the epicenter of the mutiny. They left on the worker’s train up the river.

During this time, Devasheesh cultivated the friendship of the lancers. His battlefield cool, his flair and glorious past as a soldier in the Punjabi army earned him the respect of the men. Furthermore, he and the lancer’s commander hit it off to a good friendship. They attempted to scrounge more explosives from the stations on the way, but all supplies had already been cleaned by unknown parties.

The last day, the train could proceed no longer. The track had made it as close as 20 km from Delhi. The workers and company foremen were nowhere to be found. The lancers, Cresford and Devasheesh completed the journey by road. They were 30 lancers, about 40 horses and a small field gun in tow. At no point during the day did they encounter the Shah’s troops. By the end of the day, they were in sight of Delhi, unmolested.

Interrogating people along the way, they found out that there was to be a mass execution on the following day at hig noon. Time was running out.

Delhi, March 19th 1857, after dark.

Devasheesh left the camp and entered Delhi in the last light of the 19th. His disguise as a local had been believable enough to go through the gate without a search. He had left his Jezail with Lt. Elwood, however. He searched the most likely spots where Gubdan may have been waiting for him. Much later in the evening, he made it to England House and sneaked in the shadows to observe the activity there. He found the place mostly empty, except for a nervous european pacing around the kitchen nervously, a rifle in hand. As he left to go to Rafi’s house, Gubdan intercepted and took him in the safe row house across the main street.

Gubdan explained how he found Delhi upon his return and how he and his motley crew began monitoring the Russian activity in England House. The exchanged news ans they entered the rowhouse. In there, there was Maritje having a meal with the Punjabis.

Three days in Delhi

Maritje‘s ankle was sore and bruised. She couldn’t walk on it very well, but it was getting better and wouldn’t need immobilization. She befriended Har Moh, a dashing young Sikh who was working for the EITC in Peshawar. The 19th, Reiko was smuggled out of Delhi to meet with her brother Sojiro while Maritje decided to stay in the city to document and get the story right. Her instinct as journalist had kicked in: if the execution was to happen tomorrow, she would be the only western european left to tell the tale.

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When Devasheesh entered the rowhouse, Maritje was examining the loot from the raid on England House on the night of their arrival. After the death of one of the pursuer, the punjabis returned and swiped a strange device from a crate. The device was wrapped in a parchment and a thick layer of machine grease. Gubdan identified the bottom part as a component of a small steam engine. The upper part was of an unusual, almost ridiculous design. The metal was also unknown, Maritje could think of someone in England who could identify the metal, but no such person was known to her in Delhi.

Devahseesh and Maritje told their own stories about airship encounters. They concluded that the Russians were probably moving through the air all over British India using a device like what was on the table. Maritje resolved to find out as much as possible tomorrow amidst the drama of the public execution.

Delhi, Morning of March 20th 1857

Maritje left the rowhouse with Har, disguised as local woman. Her costume wasn’t all that convincing because of her blue eyes, plump cheeks and a skin unevenly stained with walnut juice. She headed for Dati square where she found a stockade with 6 nooses. She noted that it was unusual that such as small installation would be used to execute a hundred expatriates. Har pointed out that the Shah most likely had ordered firing squad do do the bulk of the work quickly. Maritje notices some of the mutinous sepoys loitering around the square. She also saw Damian (a pseudonym for a known Russian spy) briefly converse with some of them. She kept hidden in plain sight in the crowd. Shortly, the guards started to take down the stockade. Har found out that the execution had been stayed and wouldn’t take place on this day. Maritje started roving along the perimeter of the Red fort in hope to find someone that would have more information on the fate of the English prisoners.

Meanwhile, Gubdan and Devasheesh inspected the city walls and gates in hope to find a way to smuggle the lancers in. The task was frankly a desperate one . Only much later, as Devasheesh was about to leave the city to meet with the Lancers across the valley, he spotted four dots in the sky. They were coming in fast.

Invasion

Gene soaked in her tub for the best of the morning. The water had cooled down and the bath was pleasant. She couldn’t wash the feeling of blood on her skin. In another suite, Nathan was treated for a skull fracture. The noise of dozens of worried voices un Urdu drew her out of the tub and into simple clothes. As she walked into an inner garden of the fort, she saw overhead four large airships descending over Delhi. One of them disappeared under the cityscape to the South. The other three circled the Red fort. One of them trained a heavy cannon from a turret at it’s prow. The two others dropped in altitude very quickly and something like 100 soldiers were preparing to debark. The other airship opened fire. In a thunderous roar, the walls of the main house in the fort crumbed like a pile of pebbles.

Gene noticed the coat-of-arm of the Tsar Alexander II’s navy flying proudly over the flagship.

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Flight. fight?

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TEoI 9 - Russians everywhere

This session comes after a 6 weeks hiatus. Luckily, the GM didn’t break any limb during the pre-game BBQ. We missed dearly two players, however, but had fun nonetheless.

In a dark alley

Maritje’s and Reiko’s escape attempted went south when Maritje crippled her ankle on the climb down the embassy wall. Her cry of pain drew into the courtyard three russian speakers and the chase was on. The two headed for a very dark alley nearby and slipped into the shadows. Maritje was kneeling behind a pile of learning beams while Reiko fumbled and knocked over rubbish. She meekly attempted to make a cat sound, but one of the Russian saw the glint of her eyes in the dark.

In the almost pitch black environment (-6 to everything), Reiko and the russian engaged in a close quarter but unfruitful scuffle. Reiko pulled her Lady’s gun and almost hit Martije in the background. Maritje spotted a man a meter away. She looked down an saw a pile of dirt, so she pitched the dirt in the man’s face (She did an Evaluate(opening) and got a huge bonus on a Ruse, or so she thought because is was a critical failure). The ruse didn’t work. The man pulled a handgun and carefully aimed his shot at her. Seeing that the russian man was taking his time, she ran back into the courtyard on her crippled ankle and made it to the main street to the left. A shot was fired and something whizzed over her head.

Back in the alley, Reiko dodged a forceful slam then another from behind by a second Russian man. The second man sprawled on the pavement in a fumble. She hopped over him and returned to the courtyard where she saw the gunman running after Maritje. Maritje dropped to the ground as she couldn’t run fast enough to get away.

From nowhere, three Indians appeared from the main street. A Punjabi man shot the armed Russian with a Lee-Enfield and struck him down with a lucky shot to the neck. Martije paralysed in shock at this sight. Another Indian, this time a female, pulled Reiko out of the courtyard while the third man dragged Maritje away.

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The interrogation

The three Punjabis joined a fourth and entered a rowhouse that was in sight of the Embassy. They interrogated the pair to understand better why they had run away from England house, and whether they had had contact with the Embassy personel. Reiko and Maritje didn’t reveal too much other than they had escaped as prisoners. The Punjabis asked about large wooden crates, but the ladies didn’t see such thing in England House.

Somewhat satisfied that the two weren’t spies and knew nothing useful. They agreed to smuggle them out in three days so that they could meet with Sojiro as planned. Three of the four left in an attempt to get inside England house, but neither Reiko nor Maritje figured out what happened with this.

The Great Escape from the Red Fort

After meeting with Deptir, the court’s astrologer, Ambassador Genevieve Bell-Hudson was torn: she could be smuggled out or stay here to be executed with everyone else. She negotiated with the astrologer that her husband could also be freed too.

Later, Gene argued with her husband Nathan that they still had a chance to save the Europeans if they made it out. Nathan though it un-English to leave them to die while they escaped. They had a terrible fight, which Gene won in the end (Influence check won by 0).

Two days later, and only two days before the mass execution, Deptir and two palace guard knocked at their doors and guided them out of the palace. At the gate, they were handed over to Europeans. The only speaker had a rough accent but spoke English. They were lead in the dark across Dehli until they arrived in England House! There, their hands were bound, they were blindfolded and thrown in the bed of what was once Nathan’s bedroom.

“I’m trying real hard not to say I told you so, poopsie”, muttered Nathan while lying in his bed beside Gene.

Catching a glimpse of the enemy

On the following day, Gene’s blindfold was removed. A man sat her on a chair facing the window. He explained that they would be lenient if Gene revealed the location of the weapon cache and produced official seals and stationaries for diplomatic communications. Gene resisted at first until another Russian man started beating Nathan. She revealed the location of the rifle’s locker. The Russians had a hard time to believe that the Company wasn’t stocking more weapons and more troops to defend the embassy. It took much convincing and a few more cruel blows to Nathan’s face to convince them otherwise.

Gene finally indicated the location of official stationaries. She also admitted smugly that the official seal was in the hands of a Punjabi man named Devasheesh. And that Devasheesh had skipped town before the internment of the Europeans. Nathan weathered more blows, leaving him barely conscious on the bed by the time they were done.

The put back on the blindfold and left the room. Gene figured out that tomorrow would be the scheduled day for the mass execution. She decided that tonight called for a last-ditch attempt to escape England House and expose the Russian machinations to the Shah in hope to stay the executions.

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TEoI 8 - Giving the slip to the lynching mob
Delhi, Reiko and Maritje, March 12th - 13th

The gathering clouds

Reiko waited for a reply from her spymaster Sean in Calcutta. She spent her time by the side of her “brother” Sojiro. Sojiro was pulling through of his sepsis after a last ditch intervention of Dr. Hensby. Luckily for the pair, his visit was on the eve of the Dr’s internment by the Shah along with the other Europeans.

Their host, Minister Amrj, had bad tidings for the trio: rebels has descended from Meerut and were roving the streets of Delhi in search of Europeans and christian Indians. Amjr assured them that they would be safe in his home until a way out could be found.

Angry mob

Call this irony, but a mere few hours later a mob of sepoy rebels were knocking at the door and demanding to be handed “the English girl”. They referred to Maritje of course. That she was in fact Dutch was non sequitur to them. The servants led Reiko, Sojiro and Maritje to the cellar in case the mob invaded the mansion.

After about 15 minutes of stalling, Damian met with the trio and offered to take Maritje away to a safe place. Damian was a shifty character, but dealing with the fake Welshman seemed increasingly better than dealing with the death squad arguing in the lobby overhead. Reiko instructed Sojiro to meet with them in three days at a set location outside the city walls and announced that she would accompany Maritje. Reiko has even more reasons to distrust Damian.

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They dressed like the servant maids and slipped out of the mansion as the mob forced their way in. They took advantage of the dark, the confusion and the crowd to escape. Martije was difficult to masquerade as a dark-skinned servant, but they slipped out without drawing too much attention.

An unexpected destination

Damian took them through dark alley back into town. They avoided roving bands of rebels looking for troubles. To their surprise, they arrived in England House. The place had been taken over by Damian and other men which couldn’t be seen well in the poorly lit place.

Damian explained that he could take Maritje to a safe place, but that the would have to trust him blindly. Since Reiko suspected that Damian was a russian spy, and that he was on the side of Amrj whom she was tasked to execute, she concluded that Damian was anything but to be trusted.

They were shown two rooms on the second floor which they had occupied for a night on the previous week. Downstairs, they could hear loud men playing cards and drinking hard. Reiko recognized the intonations of russian speech. She slipped out of her room and sneaked to Maritje’s. Silently, she wrote on a piece of paper that they must escape as soon as possible.

The not-so great escape

In the dark of the embassy, they sneaked into Nathan’s bedroom to fetch bulky clothes. They dressed up with his flat old man suits. To escape, they rigged bedsheets to make a rope to climb down from the second floor.

Reiko made it down well enough, but Maritje slipped and fell like a sack on the pavement. She got winded and let out a high pitch wheeze. The sound was loud enough to draw the attention of the men in the kitchen.

Reiko helped Maritje to her feet and spotted the darkest alley around. They dashed for it just as the men rushed out of the embassy. In pitch dark, they stumbled. The steps of their pursuer was getting closer. They chose to hide rather than fly. Maritje meld into the shadows, but Reiko knocked a bunch of rubbish over.

The men ran passed Maritje, and started to squint in hope to find where Reiko was hidden.

…and thus ended Session 8.

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TEoI 8 - The sharpshooting political crony
Calcutta to Allahabad, March 11th to 15th 1857

Devasheesh gets a promotion

Devasheesh had the opportunity to meet with the Governor of India in person or a second time on the morning of the 12th. They discussed about the hostage situation and concluded that a special envoy was to be sent immediately. Dev envisioned a military expedition, but Earl Canning instead peddled on him a single platoon of cavalry and an envoy: Mr. Stanford Cresford.

Cresford was cold and condescending and made clear that Devasheesh was merely a guide to navigate Delhi. Dev retaliated with a counter-proposal: he was to be made a political envoy as well, although of a lower rank than Cresford. He made convincing points and got the promotion directly from the Governor. Cresford was then offended. Devasheesh also convinced the Governor to release a company of cavalry to return to Delhi.

Travel to Delhi

Cresford made his very best to isolate Devasheesh from the men by playing the race card. Devasheesh tried his best to be one of the guys with the soldiers, but his effort fell flat. He resolved to keep on the lookout and react where needed to Cresford’s open hostility.

On the night of the 15th, about 1 hour before the planned arrival in Allahabad, the train suddenly stopped. Devasheesh proceeded to the engine to find out what was going on. He discovered that the army was to assault a strong position of mutinous soldiers in the AM and that the railroad was shutdown for the time being.

Cresford resolved to released the cavalry to support the assault. Devasheesh left the train with his effect and crossed Allahabad’s periphery in hope to find a carriage or a horse on the other side at one of the EITC’s office. To his disappointment, the office had been burnt to the ground earlier in the day. He accepted that he would have to wait for the assault to take its course.

The massacre of Allahabad

Devasheesh volunteered as a sniper in support of the assault. He distinguished himself very well during the operation although he shot from a fair range and was at no point in danger nor in a position to make much of a difference. His action were, however, noted by the men who assumed that he was nothing more than a disfigured political cronie.

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By Mid-afternoon on the 15th, they were ready to leave for Delhi again as the rebels had been defeated and dealt with as per orders from Calcutta.

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TEoI 8 - Tale of one piano
Delhi, Rafi Jahan III, March 11th to 14th 1857

Short on Cash

Rafi found himself in dire need of cash for the next opium deal. WIth the trade to Calcutta running dry because of the revolt, Rafi’s men fanned out to focus on their personal business. Rafi, still a kingpin, found himself in a place where he had to do the rounds to collect past due debts from around town.

His presence shook-up shop owners: he collected quite a bit of money this way. However, this was not enough to cover for the next shipment from Afghanistan. Rafi was aware that failing to pay would mean the end of his profitable relationship as a broker.

A letter from Ambassador Bell-Husdon

On the following morning, Rafi got a letter from the Palace. Gene concisely explained that the end was near for the Europeans held by the Shah, and that something must be done quickly. Rafi tried to rally his men again, without much luck.

He returned to some of his clients and offered them to clear their debts if they were willing to help him move a piece of furniture. Rafi went to his office and pulled some EITC stationaries that he swiped in the previous year. He filled a bill of transfer for the piano that was in England House. Forging the signature of the ambassador was simple, given the letter that he just got. The result was flawless.

The strange occupants of England House

Rafi was received by a shifty red-haired man that tried to get rid of him as fast as possible. Rafi presented the Bill of transfer, and the man let him in after consulting with at least another man on the other side of the door. They talked to each other in a strange language that he had never heard before.

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Rafi saw the other Europeans scatter as the red-haired man let them in to fetch the piano. They got to the sitting room adjacent to the main hall, lifted the piano and walked out. Rafi knew for sure that the occupants weren’t EITC staff, let alone Englishmen.

Fencing a piano

It turned out that the piano was a harpsichord, which was much harder to fence than a piano. Rafi had to search far and wide in the city as European good were at the moment a dangerous thing to own. He managed to get about 300 rupees: much less than the 1000 that he hoped to get for this.

Good news: he’s got the cash for the opium and some to spare to grease the paw of his man on the inside of the Red fort.

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TEoI 8 - Jailbirds in the Red Fort
Delhi - Lady Genevieve Bell-Hudson March 13th to 15th 1857

Afterthoughts

Gene was walking along with the other expats in a hallway leading to the outside. The ambiance was solemn. When she got into the light, she saw the stockades with nooses, and two firing squads readying their rifles.

She woke up, it was just a dream. However, she stayed up for hours rehashing recent events and couldn’t dispel her impression that dismissing the embassy guards had been a mistake*.

* It turned out that Gene’s reading of Lt. Wessenmoor’s loyalty had been cluttered by a critical fail. Also, and unfortunately, her intuition check also turned out to be a critical fail. What were the odds: 0.25%

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Leadership behind bars

Gene noticed that the hostages in the Red Forts were unsettled. As a symptom, bickering over mundanities was on the rise. She was denied right of assembly, but not freedom of movement between the dwellings. She undertook a campaign to inform everyone of the gravity of the situation with a sober but reassuring speech that she delivered many times. As a result, the community became more settled and the morale improved.

Bad tidings

On the morning of March 13th 1857, Minister Arkhesh had an audience with her. The minister announced that Bahadur Shah II had accepted to be named Emperor of India at the request of the mutinous sepoys. Consequently, all of the Europeans in custody of the Shah were to be executed on the 20th.

Minister Arkhesh was grave and apologetic. He told Gene that he would see that communications of a personal nature be relayed to their recipient and that she should ensure that all of the hostages had time to also make arrangements before the day of their execution. Gene knew that this offer extended well beyond his duty to the Shah and that he was taking some level of risk doing this

Gene entrusted Arkhesh with a personal letter from her to Rafi Jahan III, whom she identified as a business associate. Arkhesh complied and relayed the letter. Gene then engaged the minister into a long discussion in hope to draw useful information on the situation outside of the Red Fort. Arkhesh humoured her for long enough to loosen his lips. Gene discovered that there were Europeans walking the streets in Delhi. These appeared to be walking freely despite multiple report of systematic beating and execution of other Europeans and christian Indans.

Deptir, Imperial astrologer

A few days later, as Gene was watching the clock tick away the last few days of her life, she met an elderly man from the Shah’s court named Deptir. Deptir seemed to have revolved around the hostage enclave since their arrival, but was never given a chance to speak. Gene engaged the man into another interrogation and found Deptir to be avidly interested to talk to her. She tried to get information about the Europeans still free outside the Palace. Deptir proposed to broker a meeting with the foreigner if she wanted.

It is unclear where this would lead. But at this point, only 4 days were left before the day of the execution. Anything may help.

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The Empress of India, seven sessions in
A summary of reports and rulings

Story arcs

The TEoI follow four main story arcs. There will be reward for progress in any of these fours arcs. What do you want to do today?

Session reports

  1. A Place in the World
  2. The Devil-woman
  3. The duel
  4. The Domino effect
  5. England House
  6. Targets
  7. TEoI 7
    1. TEoI7 Outbreak
    2. TEoI7 Confinement
  • Have a look at the rough draft of the Campaign Charter. This is work in progress (very much). A new version is in the making with a simplified character generation mechanics and a better organization.

Rulings and Mechanics

  1. Getting more out of a single-shot rifle
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