The Empress of India

TEoI 20 - The Urchins of New-Moscow

Human trafficking in occupied British India

Background: We’re introducing three PCs to the campaign. Two were prensent in this session. Everyone else made up an orphan and played a kid while we fold the new faces into the main storyline.

The fate of the VON orphans

When the Shah ordered the internment of all Europeans in Delhi, “white” orphans and the nurses of the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) were removed from the orphanage and imprisoned in the Red Fort. Personnel from the Palace took upon themselves to provide minimal care for the orphans. This remained for only a few weeks until the Tsar’s airships invaded the city, which precipitated the collapse of the Shah’s rule. At this point, the orphans left were on their own amidst the chaos caused by the absence of civil rule in the city.

Two spunky orphans ensured that the abandoned youths were provided the necessary of life. Jane, 16, took care of the kids still at the VON orphanage while Harkesh, 11, built a network of connections outside and slowly found new homes for the neediest. In the process, Harkesh became the protege of the local Kingpin, Rafi Jahan III. Rafi put Harkesh in touch with an apothecary under his protection, Jia Jamun, who was tasked to provide medical care for the orphans.

Eight month passed and life’s quality keeps on degrading. Furthermore, kids started to disappear at night. Harkesh had heard stories of Russian men in the night, buying orphans under the threat of their guns.

Pavel, fallen angel

Pavel was a captain of an airship on the day of the invasion. His ship experienced mechanical problem and, while flying low, got shot in close range by a strangely mounted field gun. He survived the explosion with nothing to show but sore ribs and a broken foot. He was recovered by Russian cavalry. Capt. Igonow summarily court-martialled him: Pavel pleaded guilty to incompetence and was sent to recover in a musty jail cell.

Pavel was born under a lucky star. This star was to shine when it turned out that the jail warden was his cousin. His cousin confessed that he was to be sold at the slave market in Bokhara. The cousin organize a jail break a few weeks later.

On the day of Capt. Igonow’s son birthday, a party was organized. Pavel was given a loaded navy revolver, an indian outfit and a wad of local money. They staged a brutal struggle. Pavel acquired an infantryman outfit, and headed to the inner garden of the Red Fort.

Pavel made it through the crowd of revellers and into the streets of New-Moscow (formerly known as Delhi). He stripped from his uniform and dressed like an indian man. His wandering lead him to a parlour where he was admitted despite not speaking the language. He found out quickly what the place was about when a posse was assembled to run into the street to beat a groups of Russian soldiers that had wandered too far into the blacked-out city.

Rats in the dark

Issa was a musical prodigy and one of the lucky VON orphan that had been entrusted to a benefactor. The Benefactor, Mr. Keemun, was very quick at capitalizing on Izza’s musical talent and got her gigs in all sorts of places. Unfortunately, Izza had fallen ill on that day and Mr. Keemun has alerted Harkesh of the matter.

Harkesh and Jia arrived late in the evening. Jia identified the fever as consumption, and pulled a concotion to treat the condition. Izza fell asleep quickly, and the pair left the home. However, her sleep was to be very short-lived. Bad men was trying to get inside Mr. Keemun’s home. There were shouts. Izza panicked and decided to run away from. She opened the window and ran into the alley.

Only a few moments later, her phobia of critters took over her mind. She collapsed in a corner, trying to get control of her fears. Eventually, her phobia got the best of her and she ran right back when she got spotted by a huge Russian soldier.


Izza ran back into the dark to escape the bad man. She was riding a fine line between running into evil critters in the dark, and being caught by an all too real man. After a good 5 minutes of cat-and-mouse, a group of armed indian man and a young woman turned into the street where she was scurrying. The Russian soldier was stopped in his track. The chase was over.

The cavalry arrives on time

When the Russians tried to enter the home, Harkesh sent Jia to bring back help from Rafi’s haunt. Jia did just that and returned with about 10 armed men. One of them was Pavel, who wasn’t trusted enough to carry a rifle, but enough to be taken along for the brawl.

Pavel tried to talk to the Russians, but they didn’t want to talk back to him. When Pavel realized that there was a kid in a heavy sack, he shot one of them to give the kid a chance to run. Jia grabbed the sack and pulled Harkesh out of the bag. Izza jumped out of the shadow and clinged to the Jia as well: by far the least threatening figure in the street of New-Moscow on that night.

The men were brought back to Rafi who, through Pavel, conducted a brief interrogation. The men were harvesting orphans to be sold to the slave market in Bokkhara. An airship was to take off on the following day. Rafi was so angry that they had tried to harm Harkesh that he ordered them out of the parlour into the backcourt. He personally shot them dead and returned to the assembled crowd.

Aftermath of this session

There is a sense of emergency as the PCs now know that many of the VON orphans are to be taken away on the following day. Pavel is now part of Rafi’s merry crew of strongmen. Harkesh and Izza barely avoided the sad fate of the others. Jia is now entrusted with the care of Izza. A plan is hatching, however, as Pavel is a former airship captain, and Izza’s photographic memory as recorded the entire launch sequence of such airship while she was performing at the birthday party. Wouldn’t it all come together perfectly if they could hijack an airship and save the orphans?


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