Section X

Doomed Caravan

Characters: Alexander Hawke, Ana Craev, Goldie 5000, Professor Emmit L. Brown

The Prince of Thoth, grateful to the “Red Devils” that saved his daughter, is worried by the increasing hostility of Shastapash, and decides to send a noble ambassador, Thyratis, to the British.

As the characters also want to get back to British lands, the Prince asks them to accompany and guard his ambassador, for which he will pay them each the equivalent of 100 pounds.

The characters agree and, after refilling what supplies they can, head out across the desert with the ruumet breehr caravan and ten gashant cavalry guards with a leader, Wiiso.

Only a week into the journey, the camp is attacked at night by a Steppe Tiger, who takes out several guards before being blocked by Goldie 5000 and then taken out by Alexander Hawke. Meanwhile Ana runs away from the creature to hide in the tent of the ambassador and they discuss leaving.

After the attack, Wiiso, who had been dressing and arming his men before they came out (too late), advises it is too dangerous to continue, and manages to convince the party to return (Ana doesn’t need much convincing).

Back in Thoth, the characters are ignored until they learn, from Thyratis, that the Prince has decided to cancel the meeting. He tells the characters he believes it is important to set up diplomatic relations with the British and asks them to try and change the Prince’s mind.

Meanwhile the characters have done some investigation and think it may have been simply lazy guards, or worse, that let the Steppe Tiger get the drop on them. Getting an audience with the Prince, the characters raise the issue of competence, at which the Prince summons Wiiso to answer the charges.

Wiiso is outraged and demands a duel to clear his honour. Alexander Hawke accepts and muskets and duelling swords are prepared. Alexander is his usual uncultured self and is even drinking right before the battle — he says it helps him.

Originally thinking it might be an easy fight, Wiiso proved to actually be quite a capable fighter, possibly the equal of Alexander, leading to even more questions. Princess Aramaranda is also at the duel, but the exotic beauty seems to take more of an interest in Ana Kraev and the other foreigners than the fight itself.

Through luck (or maybe it was the drink), just when Alex thought the battle was lost he scored a lucky break and got a solid hit on Wiiso, winning the duel.

The Prince agrees to send a new caravan, with new guards, as recommended by Thyratis, and it leaves the following morning. Unknown to most of the characters, it includes someone they aren’t expecting, joining the guards in disguise.

The expedition goes a lot better this time, although Ana Kraev seems to spend a lot of extra time in her tent during stops.

There is no trouble until about halfway to Meepsor the Professor spots something high in the sky above the heat wave to the south, some kind of flyer, keeping it’s distance.

The guards are careful that night, with extras on watch, and indeed there is an attack — High Martians gliding in from above almost take the group by surprise. Several land engaging the various guards and characters, with some concentrating on the ambassador’s tent. Goldie 5000 fights her way towards the tent, but is block by the many raiders.

The leader of the raiders gets into the ambassador’s tent while it looks like the battle is turning to the character’s favor outside, however having achieved their goal the High Martians retreat to the air, taking the ambassador with them.

Taking stock of the surviving guards, and with no way to follow the raiders, it appears the mission has been doomed, but one of the guards is missing, although the characters are suspicious because they had heard one of the guard’s black powder weapons being fired from within Ana’s tent.

Emerging from Ana’s tent, in a guard’s uniform, is Princess Aramaranda. She tells the remaining guard leader that she is on a secret mission for her father, although the characters aren’t sure as she simply seems a headstrong and Stubborn woman. Ana may know more, but is tight lipped; the reason given for being in Ana’s tent is that Ana has been teaching the Princess Russian.

The Princess, who turns out to not only be Noble and Very Attractive, but also highly intelligent, takes command of the caravan and they continue forward, still spending a lot of time with Ana (as a personal companion and guard, and also an intellectual equal), until reaching the outskirts of Meepsor where they encounter a patrol of British lancers and are escorted to the city.

Telegraphing ahead, the local garrison commander is instructed to put the group on a sailing boat down the canal to Syrtis Major. Once there the Princess, as an ambassador, and her companions are put up in the Imperial Steppe Inn.

A state banquet has been arranged to welcome them, and Lord Dundas, Governor of the colonies on Mars visits to ensure they are ready, and arranges a tailor to visit them. The Professor accepts gladly, but Alexander Hawke takes some convincing.

Meanwhile Princess Aramaranda and Ana go shopping for dresses, first in the British quarter, and then the Princess takes Ana into the main city for a Martian outfit as well, although Ana is a little hesitant at the revealing nature of the native wear (not quite befitting Victorian sensibilities).

The day after, the Princess heads off early into diplomatic discussions (or so Ana, who has been guarding the Princess, tells the others), and the party are finally able to make contact and deliver the broken piece of scroll case to Esmerelda Bottoms at the Explorer’s Society clubhouse in Syrtis Major. She tells them it will certainly help piece together some puzzles, but will take time

The characters then find themselves with some time on their hands while Esmerelda continues research and discussions with colleagues.

The characters earned 3 experience points each, plus the 100 L. each from the Prince of Thoth.

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