The Empress of India

TEoI 4 - The Domino effect

Leaving Calcutta

Reiko and Sojiro, recovering from the duel receive leaves from their duties for the East India Trade Company. While Sojiro is healing, Reiko managed to extend her leave of absence for a period of three months. This should be enough time to get to Delhi and carry out the assassination ordered by Mary. Meanwhile, Maritje gets her patron in Calcutta, Sir Hermiott, to pay her fare to Delhi so that she can interview her sister’s former love interest on the circumstances of her arrest. Unbeknownst to each other, their target is the same man: Amjampur Khan Amrj.

The three companions set out on the Calcutta-Allahabbad rail line in the following days. The trip is pleasant and plentiful in delicacies. A night before arriving to Allahabbad, Maritje spots the hulking shape of an airship flying very low over the treeline. She prompts her friends to look. Curious, they hop off the train while it is refuelling. They walk away from the train station and enter a pitch black jungle road leading to a small carrefour. There they find a few urdu speaker drinking tea and smoking tobacco on a terrace. They refuse to speak to Reiko. During an awkward silence, the loud sound of breaking branches and the drone of a propeller can be heard some 100m into the jungle.

Reiko, Maritje and Sojiro decide to turn back and return to the train before the situation develops into something that they can’t handle. Maritje knows enough about airship to suspect Russian trickery, but Reiko is simply perplexed by what she has seen.

February 20th 1857


In Delhi, Lady Bell-Hudson requests the service of Rafi Jahan to figure out how to get in touch with the former Minister Amjampur Khan Amrj. Jahan accepts to help for a fee and sends some of his goons to Amrj’s estate outside the city walls. The nightime excursion is unproductive and Jahan finds himself in need to return in person on the following day. Amrj’s home is protected by a number of hired local thugs, but these are no match for Jahan’s posses: they back down before anyone gets a bruise. The message is passed to Amrj’s servants at the door, despite the interference of a number of guards blocking the way.

Back in England house, a protest is brewing. The 12 Mughal soldiers are standing by fast in the courtyard to keep the mob away from the front gate. Devasheesh manages to reassure the soldiers that the situation would ease soon. But as the tension is stagnating, Lady Bell-Husdon order the flag of the company to be draped off the window above the front gate. This catalyzes jeers and soon rocks start to fly across the yard. Devasheesh spots a small number of wranglers managing the mob from the back. The lieutenant of the Mughal platoon is too preoccupied to worry about this. Lady Bell-Husdon walks out to address the mob, but her plea in broken Urdu falls in deaf ears. Gene gets bruised by a rock, witholding with the steadfastness of England with her face to the mob, Devasheesh lift the lady off her feet and ferry her into the embassy. Gene protests sharply, but makes it back inside where it is safer.

Lord and Lady Bell-Hudson decide that they will evacuate England house before the estate is encircled. They slip out by the back door with a few boxes of documents. and the four remaining clerks and 4 of the servants. Nathan (Lord Bell-Hudson) convinces the more passive crowd at the back to part and let them go. They head for the residence of the Hendersons where they find a safe haven.

Back at England house, Devasheesh is working hard to keep the Mughals from leaving their posts. He climbs to the second floor to see better the situation. There is a knock at the back door. Two asians and a western youths are requesting to enter. They realize too late that the situation is deteriorating at the front gate. Devasheesh sends Reiko, Maritje and Sojiro to the third floor of the building with order to barricade themselves.

When Devasheesh returns to the second level, the Mughal infantry is about to leave, he instructs them to enter the embassy, but this triggers their retreat (they were under strict order not to enter English soil). The crowd, carefully managed by a handful of wranglers, let the muslim soldiers walk away without obstruction. The situation appears to be hopeless as there is nothing left to defend the embassy but Devasheesh and a misconception by the mob that the house is defended.

On his way back from Amrj’s estate, Rafi runs into the protest and identify the wranglers easily. He chose to turn away and head back to his home since he considers this an English problem. He is met at his house by Lady Bell-Hudson’s secretary, an Irishmen named Henry, pleading for Jahan to intervene. Jahan turns down the plea and returns to his game of chess.

In the closing moments of the session, Reiko and Maritje (fire pick in hand) are looking for a way out in the cellar of the house while Sojiro is on the third floor, pistol at the ready. Devasheesh manages a near miss in the dark against one of the wrangler with his jezail. The crowd temporarily disperses when it realizes that the English defenders are willing to fire back if pushed too far.

The first shot in anger came from a window of England house. This is a blow to the wrangler and an unexpected twist for the crowd, mostly made of uncommitted bystanders happy to gripe against England. I’m preparing a detailed layout of England house for the next session…

The Byzantine Archive

This scene is a continuation of the previous scene A friend on the other side, with some reference to Looking for Kate.

The closed door of room 78

Reiko resumed her regular grind-life, trying to find a new excuse to get Leon to take her to the archive room. However, no matter how much she approached it, she felt that Leon would get suspicious if she pushed it further.

Leon, seeing that Reiko was interested in the gossips about the Odessa trial, confided that he has met the sister of Agent Odessa, a woman named Maritje. He told Reiko that he knew that Agent Odessa was living as a houseguest to a respected family in Calcutta. Reiko managed to get Maritje’s contact information.

Cloak and daggers

Reiko filed just the right paperwork in just the right order to convince someone in the Colonial Court office that some of her previous translation needed to be cross-referenced for a possible mistake. Late in the afternoon, while most of the staff was out on the lawn for games and refreshments, she went to the archive room to look for the Odessa file.

She proceeded to the East Asia section and spotted the current case files. When the archive was empty, she dashed to the right section and started to rifle for the Odessa file. She tried her best, but the approaching footsteps dragged her back to where she was supposed to be [We used the research rules.]. The clerk entered the archive, noticed an open drawer and shut, muttering to himself.

Reiko didn’t get a chance to get back to the cabinet. She walked away as her eye caught the O-drawer for the current criminal cases which she had disregarded the two last times that she tried to find the file.

A request in confidence from the Governor of India

This story is a continuation of two stories about to merge: The boy assassin. and Tea in Peshawar.

Aftermath of the assassination attempt

After the assassination attempt, Gene decided to work mainly from the embassy. She poured over documents, looking for evidence that could have predicted this act of terror. Of course, none were found. However, she found that the watchers at the gates of Delhi had noticed an increase in traffic from foreigner coming and going from the Shah’s palace.

She also received a letter from the new Governor of India. The letter, sent in a highest confidence, explained to Gene that the Odessa trial had been suspended on the suspicion that Chief Prosecutor Wood has orchestrated the travel of Agent Odessa to Delhi. Earl Canning, requested Genevieve to seek Amjampur Khan Amjr, a Mughal Minister and alledgedly Agent Odessa’s love interest, to try to gather evidences confirming or negating the implications of Wood in the sensitive case.

Gene sent Nathan, her husband, to the Shah’s court to seek Amjr. Nathan found out that shortly before Kate Levenstein‘s arrest, Amjr committed a faux-pas and withdrew from the court temporarily. He has been living since in an estate in the North end of Delhi, having minimal contact with Mughal’s politics.

Gene made a note to have an interview with the man.

A request from Peshawar

Lord Nathan Bell-Hudson received a letter from an old friend in Peshawar. The letter was from Devasheesh Naem Pavan, a good man and a former captain in the Sikh army. The two men knew each other from the days after the Second Anglo-Sikh war when Lord Bell-Hudson was tasked to find native men of influence to help administrate Punjab.

Devasheesh wrote to him to let him know that he was privy to information that was too sensitive to be passed on by mail. He requested an official invitation to travel to Delhi to circumvent his gruelling schedule as a civil administrator in the frontiers.

Nathan bounced the idea by his wife, vouched for Devasheesh, and prepared an invitation letter that the ambassador signed. “May the man brings something useful to the Empire, she thought to herself. However, she expected that the man was simply looking for an EITC-paid vacation in the city.”

The textile merchant
Devasheesh's interview with Salim Akbar

This story is a continuation of the previous scene Tea in Peshawar. Devasheesh has made contact with an odd fellow that was feeling out for support for Bahadur Shah II leadership in a possible future rebellion.

The machine

While Devasheesh was waiting for an invitation from Delhi, he paid a visit to Salim Akbar in an attempt to find more about what the man was going after on their first chat.

The textile store was a musty place. There was, however, a lot more inventory than people around. The two men chatted for the best of an hour. Devasheesh found out that Salim believed that the Mughal emperor was the least capable of ruling without a coalition once that the English were expelled from Punjab. When the men parted, Salim shook Dev’s hand.

“Remember friend, we are all small cogs inside a large machine.”

Salim has a good reaction with Devasheesh.

Looking for Kate

Landing in Calcutta

Maritje van der Spoel landed in Calcutta after a long cruise through the oceans. The air on land war stiffling, the city overcrowded by London’s standards. Maritje had received a letter from Kate, her sister, shortly after her arrest in Delhi. She figured that she would be extradited to Calcutta by now.

Maritje seeked a family friend, Sir Phillip Dermott, but found that the contact information that she had was out of date. She found a small hotel near the Government House and settled there for the night.

The clerk at the Colonial court

Maritje figured out that although many people in the street knew about her sister through the press, little was known about the so called Agent Odessa. She headed to the Colonial Court in an attempt to find more information, and maybe locate where her sister was detained.

She met a nice guy, Leon Rhepold, who proved to be most eager to assist. Maritje, used her surgical-grade incisiveness and disarming smile to get Leon talk to her about Agent Odessa. Leon felt very bad that Maritje had to go through such hardship, and was willing to help as much as he could (reaction roll good). To make her feel better, he told her that he knew for a fact that she was not kept in jail but rather in a well kept household in Calcutta. That she was treated with the regards of the widow of a former director of the EITC.

With this information on hand, Maritje returned home and started to plot how she’d manage to find out who was playing host to her artsy sister.

A friend on the other side

Sean the gardener

Reiko rents a flat in the posh area of Calcutta in the shades of Government house. Although shades are coming in short supply at this time of the year. While she was practicing piano, she spotted Sean walking up the rose alley. Reiko invited Sean for a tea. The two sat in the garden and got down to business.

Sean explained to Reiko about Kate Levenstein (aka Agent Odessa in the press) and her trial. Sean explained that Mary was interested in understanding why the trial had been suspended. Sean also asked her to find where Agent Odessa was kept.

The two parted as Reiko needed to get ready to get back to her job at Government house.

Finding a way into the Colonial Court

Reiko worked as a translator for the colonial government. She has usually access to documents, but not access to the Colonial Court. Lots of people are chatting about the trial but very few know any of the details that made this case so interesting. She set her eyes to find someone, a clerk, working at the court which she could use to get information. She used the social entertainer approach by spotting the court employees during afternoon tea. She eventually found a vulnerable target, Leon Rhepold, with whom she obtained a very good reaction.

Unfortunately, Leon turned out to have a very high standards of professionalism. However, his loneliness would ultimately lead him to overstep his bright principles.


Field trip in the archive room

Reiko entertained a number of dates with Leon. She tricked him into believing that she really enjoyed his explanation about the minute details of his work. She finally convinced him to give her a tour of the archive room after hours.

During the tour, she listened carefully and mapped out the room to narrow down the possible locations on the Odessa file. As the tour is about to end, she pretended to be about to have a fainting spell and convinced Leon to leave the room to find some medicine at her desk across the parliament. While Leon was away, she began rifling through the file system. However, the filing seemed to be done in an odd manner and she lost most of her time looking through civil cases. Leon came back, apologetic for having failed to locate the medicine.

Despondent, Reiko has to leave the room as she realized that the filing system for criminal case had been waiting there under her nose all along.

filing system:1, Reiko:0

Tea in Peshawar

High Tea in Peshawar

Devasheesh Naem Pavan took the afternoon off to enter a marksmanship contest. He enjoyed the satisfaction of beating white officers at 50 yds. using his old and trustee jezail. He did reasonably well, (Average dispersion of 2" @ 50 yds), but didn’t win the prize that day. As he was enjoying a chilled tea (with real ice cubes), a muslim man approached him and started to make small talk.


The man’s name was Salim Akbar. He explained to Devasheesh that he was aware of his history as a fierce fighter against the EITC in the past. Devasheesh smiled bitterly, sporting half of his face covered in burn scars and a missing right eye. The men talked frankly, without nuancing thoughts. There indeed was little lost love between Devasheesh and England, but the Sikh man was of unempeachable moral fiber. He explained to Salim that he would not support the Shah in any way or form if a revolt was to break out.

Devasheesh tried to get as much information out of Salim, but didn’t manage to get that much. Salim took his leave and invited Devasheesh to visit him at this business if he ever wanted to chat, or had a change of mind.

Doing the right thing

Devasheesh thought it to be his duty to report this unusual conversation to someone higher up. He didn’t want this information to land in the wrong hand, so he decided to send a letter to Lord Nathan Bell-Hudson, and old acquaintance, and ask for an official release from his duties in Peshawar so that he can deliver the news directly to the embassy in Delhi.

The boy assassin

Shot from nowhere

The day was Jan 12th 1857. Lady Genevieve Bell-Hudson was on her way back from a social call to England-house, the EITC headquarter and embassy for the Mughal empire. Lady Bell-Husdon was accompanied by her secretary, Lawrence Mirth. As they were walking in a wide road, Lawrence spotted a 11-12 y.o. muslim kid following their movement through the crowd. The kid was pointing at them with one hand, and waving with the other. Lawrence sensed danger and shoved the ambassador against a nearby wall.

A gun shot came from multiple location because of echoes. Lawrence’s arm exploded shortly below the elbow. The crowd remained stunned for a moment as Gene took to her feet, leaving Lawrence behind. The muslim kids pulled a pistol and trained it on the embassador. Lawrence, ignoring the pain in his left arm, ran through the fleeing bystanders and tackled the boy. The boy let out a shot at Gene which missed and hit a man behind the Englishwoman. Lawrence grappled the boy and forced his pistol to point inward. The gun accidentally went off and shot the boy through his thigh.

Gene, rand back to Lawrence and prompted him to leave. Lawrence insisted in dragging the boy away for first-aid. Both were losing a lot of blood. A passing physician tried to stop the bleeding but both wounds were too angry to be stabilized.


With the help of other men, Lawrence and the boy were taken to a physician’s office where tourniquets were applied. Lawrence was weaken, but the boy almost went under. Lord Nathan Bell-Hudson was fetched as two men kept the access to the door in case the other shooter would come to finish the hit.

Nathan, Gene’s husband, arrived at the office some 30 minutes later. He summoned the authorities to detain the boy and lead the two shaken English out through a backdoor. They came back to the embassy and barricaded themselves.

The type of violence against English people was unheard of. This reinforced Gene’s conviction that this was the homeland of savages, and that she was better off working from the safety of curtained-off antechambers.

The short life and times of Sudeep Singh Ker
Recklessness is a bad thing

Sudeep was a 16 y.o. Sikh boy from Lahore. The sparks of fate lit for him when his uncle died in the First Anglo-Sikh war in 47. Against the advice of his parents, he decided to join the regular forces of Duleep Singh, the newly minted boy-monarch of all Sikhs in India.

Sudeep had to search wide and far to find a low ranking officer [Search check], but managed to find an ambitious Sergeant to let him in despite his young age [Reaction roll, +1 Status, -2 Status of Target, got 14 ]. He found his way to a unit of sepoys and volunteered as a scout/sniper [risk +2, passed the Will check to do something foolish like this].

He got his wish (selected Native Sepoy Block, core skill:(guns(rifle)), risk+2, Mos:2, 10cp), had many adventures, most of them frightening experiences. Unfortunately, this level of risk taken (-2) by someone with so little tactics couldn’t be mitigated by his marksmanship (supporting check failed). Sudeep and the bullet of a Mughal sentry met for good in a fine April morning [he rolled a critical fail on his Trauma Peril, which was already pretty grim].

And thus concludes this iteration of character generation playtest.

Lesson: Taking a lot of risks without being great at what you are doing will get you killed. Makes sense.