The Empress of India

TEoI 17 - Para-kaya pravesanam
Foiling disaster with a prayer

Bodysnatching a grand minister

Queen Marathi Shiva (a.k.a. Pingyang) resolved to attend the supper with the russians scouts. She assembled a group of mentors in her contemplation room, and initiated a Para-kaya pravesanam ceremony. While she drifted into a trance, her consciousness shifted into the mind of Grand Minister Narayan. She took him over while he was pacing in an antechamber, a few minutes before the diplomatic supper began.


Attending were the Grand Minister (possessed by the Queen), Devasheesh as a russian translator, Sojiro as a novelty, 5 aides to the minister and the three russians. Devasheesh recognized their ranks as Rittmeister Tikhonov (Captain), Sub-Lt. Stroyev and trooper Zaytsev. All from the imperial cavalry. Stroyev was the only Hindi speaker, and couldn’t hide his contempt for his hosts.

The Queen emulated the minister perfectly such that none were the wiser (critical success on acting role). She dodged questions on the royal guard and the city’s defense. Tikhonov specified that the Tsar had no claim on Alwar. Through the mouth of Minister Narayan, the Queen was exacting and incisive. This suprised the aides, but not enough to raise suspicion. Tikhonov tried to get Narayan to reveal whether he was aware of the whereabouts of the Europeans, but the Queen kept her story straight, resulting in the frustration of the envoy.

Upon his decision to leave the table, the Queen informed the russians that they were’t allowed to wander and could leave only with the permission of the Queen. Tension rose, but the Queen stood firm and cowed the officers into their quarters. By evening’s end, they knew that the russians were looking for the refugees from Delhi, to be tried for theft and subsersive activities.

If only they learned that the europeans lived in a small ghetto some 300m from the palace… Minister Narayan remembered the evening as if he had been railroaded through supper. Since the outcome had been good, he pat himself on the back and went to sleep.

Keeping safe from harm

Devasheesh reported to Nathan, who passed the news to Gene. Gene delegated to Dr. Hensby the task to ensure that no caucasians roam the streets until the scout had gone. Since Hensby was contesting her leadership, she figured out that keeping him busy and “on the inside” was a reasonable course of action. Hensby deferred to Maritje the task to communicate to all others via her English language newsletter. Maritje made a well written case for following these instructions, and printed enough copies to be passed along to all household in the ghetto.

Devasheesh rushed to the ouskirts of town to deflate the gas envelope of the Jita-Da. If the russians were to ride around Alwar, they were bound to notice the airship. Gubdan moved his machining work indoors and the voronod engines were covered with rubbish. Devasheesh also convinced Lt. Elwood of the Lancers to setup an ambush/watch on the road to Delhi in case that the russians were to escape with too much information.

Gene appealed to Minister Narayan to ensure that the royal guards would interfere or stall the russians if there were to wander around town. Minister Narayan, now feeling like himself again, acquiesced. Gene then proceeded to run down the list of propsperous merchants in Alwar. She was looking for telltales of organized crime which characterized her former associate in Delhi: Rafi Jahan III. She made contact with Pradeep Vishnish, a transportation Moghul in Alwar. Vishnish was most interested in dealing with Gene and entering a mutually beneficial relationship where he’d peddle the Europeans mobile assets and provide eyes, ears and arms in case of need.

Drinking with slavic fiends

Life in Alwar had been quiet for Sojiro. In Delhi, the russians had taken away his family’s katana. For months, he wallowed in shame about this. He purchased a decent cavalry saber so that he could resume his Ken-jutsu training on the grounds of the royal palace. When the sun was at its highest on the day after the supper, he spotted a human shape in the shadows. It suspiciously was sneaking behind pillars. He followed the man into the palace and eventually came head to head with Trooper Zaytsev. The russian didn’t speak a word of hindi, while Sojiro’s hindi was minimal anyway. However, Zaytsev beckoned him to follow him to the russians’ quarters.


There, Stroyev encouraged Sojiro to drink along. Sojiro was hesitant, but eventually caved under their insistence. Unfortunately for the russians, Sojiro drank them under the table (Being Japanese and all). Sojiro knew that they were helpless, yet a jolly bunch. He planted the seed that the Queen possessed untold wealth, hidden somewhere that could only be discovered after a hunt for fragments of a map. The officers, admitting that they were after the reward for finding the Europeans, became very fond of the treasure tale. Sojiro tried to forge one of the fragment of the map, but Tikhonov knew that it had been scrawled while they were out to the latrines. They all laughed, made plans to include Sojiro as part of their hunting team, and parted as friends.

Branching out (players making their own fortune)

The russians were to be released for as long as they left without snooping. The crisis had mainly been averted by the Queen’s devious possession of the Minister’s body during the diplomatic negociations. As sighed in releif, planning for their next step resumed. Life in Alwar wasn’t Delhi, let alone Britain, but it was their new normal.

Maritje was curious to discover what happened to her sister who was awaiting trial for espionage when the russians invaded. Was she free now, was she rotting in a damp jail cell? She made contact with a Chili pepper trader and arranged to visit Delhi under the disguise of a maid. It will be dangerous, but stalling in Alwar was at this point of limited use.

Devasheesh planned with Gubdan to power-up the propulsion of the Jita-da. While Gubdan would work out the design, Devasheesh decided to leverage his credits within the Royal guard to offer special marksmanship training. The Queen was supportive of the initiative: the stars were aligning for Devasheesh to assemble a new group of underlings.

Sojiro resolved to leave Alwar with the russians in hope to locate and retrieve his family’s katana. The Queen had guards to protect her, and had drifted aloof of his company in the last few months. He felt no big attachment to this place.

Gene resolved to make room in Alwar for English presence. This would start with a shrewd partnership with Vishnish, and ultimately turned the establishment of England in Alwar as a fait-accompli.

The Queen decided to go through with her plans for an out of town retreat. There was a temple in the hills to the North with had not been visited by royalty for centuries. Her Hindu mentors and astrologers proposed to her to pay a visit to the ancient site. The place, of course, turned out to be within the hunting grounds of the Dratis (raptor-like creatures observed earlier by Devasheesh and Gubdan).

TEoI 16 - The three caballeros
Russians make it to Alwar... dang.

Maritkje and the three horsemen

Maritje arrived from England to help her sister. The sister in question was awaiting trial for espionage. She had been framed by a fellow spy, whom died at the hands of two close friends, also russian spies unbeknownst to her. She had the best story in the world at the end of her nose, but didn’t know about it. Instead, she carefully documented the life and times of the European refugees in Alwar. This fall back story was pretty much certain to make her a household name in Britain upon her return.

Nine months in Alwar had made her a stronger, more self reliant person. She had taken up a small place in the European ghetto where she lived with Har and his Sikh friends. On the morning of January 13th, she was near the southern gate of the city when she heard the excited shouts of children as they rushed outside of its walls. In the distance, some 1000m down the valley, rode three horsemen in drab uniforms. They were russians, there could not be any mistakes about it.

She pleaded to the locals to be careful, that the horsemen weren’t friends. They didn’t seem to care as throngs of children rushed to meet the pasty men. Maritje returned uptown to warn Gene of the coming danger.

A thinning grip on things

Lady Bell-Hudson was the diplomatic envoy to Delhi. Her position became somewhat vague at the onset of the Sepoy revolt and the subsequent russian airborn invasion. The coronation of Queen Reiko shook her faith to its core. As she turned to the very tangible hindu mysticism, proper folks in the ghetto started to notice that she was “going native”. Gene did her very best to avoid being branded as such. However, in the privacy of her own home, a rift was widening with her Anglican husband, Lord Bell-Hudson. Around the corner, she noticed more people turning to Dr. Hensby for guidance and leadership. She didn’t like to be sidelined at all.

Maritje explained the sighting to Gene. Both we most concerned. Gene bounced to her feet. She used her privileged relationship with Minister Narayan to have Devasheesh included in the audience between himself and the visitor. Devasheesh wouldn’t stand out, and was one of the few capable to speak russian. His luck came through soon enough as Gene and Nathan ushered him to the palace for an official dinner function.

An audience with the minister

The three russian soldiers arrived at the gate of the Palace and demanded an audience. Reiko refused to meet with them. She was actually planning a retreat out of town (maybe even an escape) when these events unfolded. Minister Narayan met with the officers in an inner garden within the palace. Reiko kept her distances as she didn’t wanted to be seen nor identified by russian agents. She still had not sorted out why as a russian spy she had been tasked to eliminate other russian agents: she had no concept of who were good and who were bad russians.


The welcoming feast

Reiko returned to her room to seek counsel in meditation. She was contacted by Devasheesh, sent to her by Gene. The Queen devised a plan where talks between Minister Narayan and the russians would take place where others could keep an ear for details. She ordered that the russian visitors be welcomed as guests and prepare for a formal dinner on the same day. The russians accepted the offer without much reluctance.

The set was now staged for the showdown. The russians must be fooled into ignoring that there are no European refugees into the heart of the city. Even as a Queen, Reiko was unsure of the determination of the hindu population to protect those who were not so long ago a problem rather than a solution.

TEoI 16 - The maiden voyage of the Jita dā

Once that the Europeans settled into Alwar, under the protection of the new Queen, Devasheesh and Gubdan busied themselves with the assembly of the two Voronod wondrous devices. The job wasn’t too difficult since they were packaged as kits into large and well layed-out crates.

The devices were assembled, tested. They derived rates of hydrogen production through steam reforming catalyzed by a vanadium internal sink. From these measurements, they designed an airship capable to fly for 10 hours and named it the “Jita da”. The Jita da’s size and shape was defined by its gaz envelope: 5m long and 2m in diameters. A cage was built around the envelope, with footpath all around, a coal store, two engines and propellers mounted on each sides. The thing was ugly, but it did lift off the ground, and had a shiny telescope at its bow.


The Jita dā’s maiden voyage was precipitated in January of 1868 when two Europeans did not returned from a hunting trip in the northern hills. The wilderness around Alwar was a dangerous place, with the Dratis (raptor-like creature) prowling the bushes for easy meat. Devasheesh and Gubdan volunteered to sortie and search for the hunters.

The controls were a bit sluggish, but the airship steered as expected. They took off and headed for the valley to the north. The two screws weren’t generating a lot of power and the aiship was predictably drifting with the winds. A vibration developed, threatening to become worst. Devasheesh, helped by Gubdan’s engineering, attempts to diagnose the problem but fails. They shutdown the engines to confirm that the problem is in the drive train. This sends the airship into a drift eastward for about 10 minutes. It drifted off the valley and passed into another.

Gubdan was peering into the telescope. His eye was drawn to a network of trails first, then to a pair of roving Dratis on the ground. They steered to maintain contact and drifted northward for a few hours. They identified a large Drati’s nest in a clearing and made a note of its location for later reference.

Most importantly, they spotted a plume of smoke coming from beyond the valley. They headed to investigate and found the camp where Dr. Hensbee and Mr. MacMahon were encamped. The Englishmen assumed that the airship was Russian and threatened to open fire at first. Devasheesh found a flat area nearby to nearly land.

It turned out that MacMahon had been struck by a fever and the hunters had settled on the hill until he felt up to return to Alwar. Devasheesh offered to fly both of them back while their guides would return on foot. Unfortunately, MacMahon was too weak to hang on to the airframe and slipped. Gubdan tried to catch him but tripped on the wires and fell too some 30m.

Gubdan (played by RPG first-timer Jack) fell flat and broke some ribs, but came back to consciousness after a few stressful minutes. Mr. MacMahon suffered multiple fractures and got impaled through his left thigh. He, too, survived the ordeal. Dr. Hensby did his best to control the traumas. They fashioned two litters and hung them underneath the Jita dā.

The airship returned to Alwar not so much as a scouting airship as history’s very first airlift conveyance.

TEoI 15 - The Queen of Alwar
How a russian spy became fodder for legend

Pingyang paced for days around the palace grounds, hounded by the Minister and a slew of holy men. They were expecting something from her, but remained enigmatic as to what this was about.

She was relieved to hear that she was not to marry the crown prince for a while longer. Put at ease, and getting accustomed to the relentless heat, she started to enjoy her new found fortune. Meanwhile, the Europeans were allowed under one of her edict to establish quarters in the merchant neighborhood, not far from the palace.

She was educated in the basics of Hindu mysticism. Already an adept of meditation, the transition wasn’t too difficult. It was clear that they expected her to participate in a highly expected ceremony involving the mausoleum in the coming few days. While walking through the central garden, she should see inside: a beautiful sari was resting on a stand. There was a giant jade orb and coffers of what she assumed to be treasure. The weird thing was that she was the only one capable to see into the monument.

The coronation

On the day of the coronation, a number of mystics came from all around. A large number of lawn chairs were arrayed, facing the mausoleum. Pingyang was dressed in a simple white dress made of light muslin, almost an undergarment.

The chanting began and grew to a climax. She was prompted to walk into the monument. To her surprise, she became weightless and lifted off the ground. Her body effortlessly floated over the walled-in chamber. She entered the room from a light well and saw once more the treasure, the orb and the sari. She felt trapped for a moment, but figured out that putting on the sari was the natural course.

Strong men crushed the front wall to reveal her to the gathered crowd in the garden. The Indians in the audience bowed their heads very low and welcomed Queen Marathi-Shiva. Pingyang was wishing then to be somewhere else.

And thus Pingyang became a Queen. However, she couldn’t tell then and still didn’t six month later explain what was actually her duties.



Gene was most shocked by the coronation. Something inside of her broke. The doubt that her Christian faith was an error grew to a scream in her heart. She became more receptive to new ideas. Most importantly, Gene started to feel Hindu spirituality as something tangible that she had never felt in the past.

The others started to suspect that Gene had gone native. Nathan, her husband, tried to talk her away from these new ideas, but in vain. Over the course of the next few months, Gene remained careful to maintain her victorian proper lady persona, but it was a facade to her and people near her knew that.

Things came to a head only a few months later when the russians caught up with them… but this is a story for another time.

Gaming notes

What happened with Gene was caused by my campaign rules on religious conversion when in presence of a miracle. The player, Alex, decided to voluntarily make Gene a devout of the Hindu faith. All other PCs passed their unmodified Will and either had their Christian faith shaken, or remained steadfast.
More happened, but I’m going to bundle it with the next session report.

TEoI 14 - Into the Maratha Kingdoms
The launch of the second chapter of The Empress of India

Taking down another giant

Devasheesh and Gubdan left the field of battle once that the outcome had been decided. The Russian infantry had thrown their weapons down under the pressure of the English lancers. The supporting airship got cold feet and avoided the battle altogether, which threw the morale of the invaders in the tank.

Devasheesh chased the second airship across the rural lanscape until they managed to place a few good shots. Devasheesh’s jezail punctured the gaz envoloppe a few times, but a lucky shot by Gubdan hit the armature and sparked the explosion that took the airship down.


When they returned to the farm, Lt. Elwood was in the middle of an interrogation of the Russian Captain. The officer was shaken and offered no resistance. He explained in a broken English that they were the spearhead of a large-scale invasion. That the Russians were staging the invading forces near a lake high up in the Himalayas.

Devasheesh was then unaware that the English had escaped the Red fort and left for Delhi to improvise some kind of rescue. Meanwhile, the diplomatic envoy Cresford and a few messengers left for Calcutta while the rest of the English cared for the wounded. By coincidence, Lt. Elwood was made aware of the fleeing Europeans and managed to intercept Devasheesh before he entered Delhi.

After joining Dr. Hensby and the other Europeans on their way to the Kingdom of Alwar, they packed the crates of two wondrous engines, some 70 peoples including women and children, and headed into the unknown wilderness south of British India where they hoped to find enough compassion to escape mass execution.

The Kingdom of Alwar

The trip for the five scouts was difficult. Nathan, reeling from a skull fracture, fell from his horse and broke his arm. Reiko and Sojiro weren’t the equestrian type too much. Gene and Jerome the butler lead the way. They arrived in Alwar and found a local doctor to care for Nathan.


It was decided that Reiko and Sojiro would seek an audience with the King of Alwar and request his protection against the Russians. Being English in the free Indian kingdoms was not expected to be the best way to make a first impression. Reiko and Sojiro had a hard time to get into the palace, but eventually got through. While expecting a cold reception, they got completely the opposite treatment.

In the main garden, there was some kind of reception. Reiko, dressed in a bright sari, was received like a dignitary. She was introduced to the prince of Alwar, a sulky teenager. The minister and royal advisor was most interested in Reiko. The sun was hot, she was feeling woozy from the journey and the heat. It appeared that there was some decorative and architectural elements in the palace that reminded her of home.

At the far end of the garden, there was a mausoleum. Reiko could see a bright jade orb inside. The minister smiled. It became clear that nobody could see inside the walled-in mausoleum but Reiko. The minister explained to her that the prophecy was that an Eastern princess was to arrive and claim the throne of Alwar to save the kingdom from certain destruction.

When Gene arrived in the Palace, she was assumed to be a member of Reiko’s retinue. Gene played along until she could talk to her. Gene is most interested on the reason why Reiko is treated like royalty. Reiko is increasingly confused as the heat stroke intensifies. Although she manages to avoid talking about her background as a russian spy, Gene can tell that the asian princess is hiding something sordid.

As they take Reiko to the shade where she will recover from the heat, Gene walks by a wall adorned with a Dragon similar to the scene of St-Georges and the Dragon. Intrigued, she asks why an iconic English creature is painted in a Maratha palace. The minister explain to her that the “Dragon” is called a “Drati”, and that they live in the forest around Alwar to this day.


TEoI 13 - Leaving Delhi behind
The end of a chapter, the start of a new one.

The council of survivors

The escape from the Red fort had been almost too easy. All 80 europeans cowered in the basement of Dr. Hensby family home. There was enough to eat for maybe two days if everyone ate as little as possible. Outside, the roads were blacked out as no one was bothering lighting the lamps during wartime.

A select few assembled around Lady Bell-Hudson, former ambassador of the Company to the court of the Shah. They debated whether splitting the escapees over a number of homes, and how long to sit the storm before breaking out of Delhi. It was decided in the end to favour a quick escape on the following day, and to keep everyone together until then.

To her surprise, Reiko was received kindly by the europeans. This was in sharp contrast with the treatment that she had received in Calcutta. Maybe misery softened the english stiff upper lips. Sojiro was enlisted to travel across the city to find Rafi Jahan III and request his protection. Reiko obliged and released Sojiro for this tricky mission.

The return of the chess player

Rafi was surprised to see Sojiro and Jerome as well as three english youths deliver a letter from his friend, Lord Bell-Hudson. He understood that the europeans had managed the impossible and escaped the Shah’s palace. Nathan’s letter was moving in its pleas, and convinced him to help to his best abilities. He deployed his men to screen Dr. Hendby’s home, procured them with more food and located two carriages and a few riding horses.

In order to get enough horses, Rafi had to liquidate the Hensbys mobile assets. In the end, five saddle horses had been secured. Two carriages were readied to take the infants and elders out of Delhi.

The great escape

For some reasons (which we know was the defeat the day before to the hands of the Lancers), the gates of Delhi were not kept by the Russians, nor anyone for that matter. The carts and the pedestrians made it through the gates in the shadows of a moonlit night. They decided that the safest escape would be due south into the wooded areas of the Indian kingdoms. The way to Calcutta was deemed too dangerous, and the way to Punjab perilous.

Gene, Nathan, Sojiro, Reiko and Jerome the butler left ahead of the contingent in hope to secure a safe passage and shelter from one of the Indian princes. A day into the trip, Nathan fell from his horse and broke his arm. This left him to recover from a minor skull fracture as well as is arm. His health began to wane dangerously.


Some four days later, they arrived in Alwar. The shape of the Castle of the Prince of Alwar was towering over the town. Since the english weren’t most welcome in the land, it was decided that Reiko would make first contact. If anything, a beautiful japanese woman begging for help was likelier to get anything out of a Hindu Prince.

TEoI 13 - The battle of three farmhouses
GURPS mass combat in 1867

Preparing for the battle

After altering its gun carriage, Gubdan managed to set the 3-pounders into a well covered position where it could be used to fire at passing airships. The night was spent digging and reinforcing the farm in preparation for an attack by the Russians in the morning. Devasheesh devised a spike trap across the main approach of the estate.

By sun up, a group of scouts were sent to seek the invaders. They were found bivouacking some 2500m to the south along the main road. Devasheesh and Lt. Elwood decided to take the battle to them. They left ten lancers at the farm, along with the Punjabis, Maritje and the emissary Mr. Cresford.

Raid on Russians

Lt. Elwood and Devasheesh split the lancers into two forces. They were detected before they made contact, but long before the Russians could form a battle line. Devasheesh led about 10 lancers into battle as they engaged into a skirmish at long range. Meanwhile, Lt. Elwood hooked deep into the West to approach the Russians from their flank.

Fire was exchanged for some 20 minutes until the situation became more fluid. Devasheesh moved forward to get a better line of fire. The Russians were hopelessly pinned: they couldn’t rally nor they were inclined to retreat. Devasheesh pushed his luck too much and found himself flanked by a small group of daring Russians. He dashed for better cover and took a hit on the shin, crippling his left leg and throwing him down on the ground.

By the time that Devasheesh was pulled to safety by the Lancers, Lt. Elwood decided to withdraw and hopefully draw the Russians towards their prepared positions. Devasheesh’s leg wasn’t broken and the bleeding stopped as soon as a lancer patched him up.

Inching to victory

The East India Trade Company soldiers concealed the horses and reinforced their positions. The had lost a man during the skirmish while two more wounded men were laid to rest in the main building. They were later assigned to the static position around the 3-pounder. The sound of an airship could be heard, but the ship wasn’t sighted.

By an amazing stroke of luck (critical fail on scouting by the Russians), the Russian forces made of about 50 infantrymen, proceeded to the farm and mistakenly assumed it to be clear of enemies. The English opened fire in point blank range and forced the Russians to hit the ground and crawl across the open to find better position. As they moved back, they entered the field of fire of the 3-pounder and took punishing fire from the gun.

The Russians struggled and never managed to rally as the Lancers on horses harassed them from all sides. Devasheesh brazenly led from the window of the farmhouse and barely dodged a volley of bullets which sent him back in the building, pondering the fragility of life for a moment.


Huffs and puffs

The drone of an airship drew nearer. The massive armoured turret bristling in the sunlight. The 3-pounder was tasked to engage the airship which preventively withdrew and climbed higher up in the sky. Devasheesh hoisted himself on a horse, without the help of one of his leg, and launched into a pursuit of the airship across the countryside.

Lt. Elwood’s luck held as the Russians held on to their pathetic positions in the open instead of running away. As he spotted Debasheesh from the corner of his eye, he launched into an attack from their secure positons and overran the last of the pocket of resistance across the field. What was left of the standing Russians, maybe 20 of them, threw down their weapons and surrendered.

Note 1: And thus ended this thread at the end of the session. It will take 2 weeks to find out whether the airship will survive, and what will become of the Russians in the hands of Lt. Elwood. Lt. Elwood is a new PC for an old player (Sophie).

Note 2: Mass combat-wise, the English were lucky to win a battle with numerical inferiority. The cavalry advantage was the main factor, shortly followed by the fact that they got lucky on both reconnaissance contests. This caused the Russians to spend both battles forced to take Rally strategies. The airship not showing up on time because the Russians were surprised was another key factor.

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.


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…


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


Flight. fight?