Brother Rai Sahib Siddharth Mehta,
This one has seen and learned much since leaving Indus in service to His Most Magnificent Majesty Khan Bahadur, Maharadjadhiraja Berge Lord du Destin. As much is related to secrets and security of Empire, little can be told you at this time.
This one sought traitor to Empire, but traitor had escaped justice. While waiting for inquiries to bear fruit, new adventure did arise.
Edgar Rilley Vernass of France did find himself under obligation to Jehan Colin, Vice Admiral of Navy of France, to seek out man known as “World’s Greatest Gunsmith.” Vernas did ask aid of his friends Trema Damond, Julianus Lord Ravenot, Ricardo Wildemoon, Gilbert Durand and Nathaniel Lord Captain Mayweather. Lord Captain Mayweather was figure of controversy - some believed him swashbuckling hero, others believed him cursed fraud and mere hotelier. This one decided Mayweather, as declared Friend of Khan Bahadur merited study. If hero, then to appreciate wisdom, if fraud, then to warn Khan Bahadur of misplaced trust.
Vernas gathered party to plan search. Ask wise men of Capital of France Paris or search French Ports of Nantes? Vernas chose neither. We did set down road called “King’s Highway” for Napoli Port of Palermo. Along way Vernas spoke with traveller who knew we sought German man, likely in Port of Danzig or City of Ansbach.
We did travel across continent via “King’s Highways.” Weather was pleasant for Europe - cold, but not full of constant rain or snow. Lord Captain Mayweather was owner of many inns, one in almost each city or town, and, as traveller with him, this one did sleep in finest stables outside of Palace of Khan.
We did enquire in Ansbach first. Here we found Robert Barke, goldsmith, not gunsmith. Surprisingly, goldsmith did offer to teach martial arts! Over days of study Vernass and Damond learned tricks with fist and foot. Barke did say shopkeeper in Danzig was also fine teacher, willing to give lessons.
Leaving Ansbach we did pass through “Street Carnival.” This was like bazaar, only louder, dirtier, and full of undesirables like pickers of pockets. Man of Wicker was on display, and cries rang out of “Whosoever wishes to be King for Day need only enter the Wicker Man.” This one pretended to not speak language of Bavaria (despite fluency in languages of Burmese, Infidels, French, German, English and mother tongue of Hindi), thus watched in confusion as Durand stepped into Wicker Man. Damond did dance around Wicker Man while Lord Ravenot got into heated argument with keeper of wicker. Ravenot did punch keeper of wicker in face then dragged Damond and Durand away. Keeper seemed ready to object, but Wildemoon did speak with him. Cards and dice were drawn. Moments later, grinning Wildemoon did return. Whatever Wildemoon did made Durand happy, for Durand gave Wildemoon circlet of gem-inlaid carved wood he claimed was “Crown of Pig People.”
Then we did travel to Danzig, where we found shopkeeper mentioned by Barke. Albert Frederick seemed like ordinary shop keep, but his peasant shirt, boots and apron held at least twenty of the European pistols. Frederick did offer to teach us arts of pistol. Durand, Damond, Wildemoon, Lord Ravenot and Lord Mayweather proved apt students. This one less so, as this one had never held pistol before. Frederick was “gunslinger” not “gunsmith,” but knew man in city of Luca in Genoa who was “gunner.”
This one was confused, until Vernas did explain that “Gunner” did not refer to user of pistol or musket, but to operator of cannon.
During journey to Luca one day we encountered man who had stolen from “Lady Catherine’s Suites.” Lord Captain Mayweather recognized robe man wore by embroidered lady’s face on breast. “These things happen,” Lord Captain Mayweather called to the man, “Some grow jealous, others don’t enjoy fine hotel!” Man must have known heroic parts of Lord Captain’s tale, for he did blanch, kowtow, and return robe. Lord Captain did speak for time. Lord Captain then told Vernass we seemed fated to rove far and wide across Europe, but there would be many along path willing to teach.
That night man we’d met on road proved faithless. Robe-stealer burst into common room of “Lady Catherine’s Suites (Almeria)” with near thirty thugs. To this one’s amazement, Gilbert Durand did push through entire crowd and confront robe-stealer. Robe-stealer tried to draw knife on Durand. Durand slapped knife to floor, then spun into crowd, fists flailing, until all the mob lay on floor or fled into night! This one was agape. Others seemed unimpressed, except Damond, who had fled when brawl began. Durand did graciously help up those he had knocked down, laughed, told them to find better friends, then did give group gold doubloon and told them to “have drinks on me!”
Durand was gleeful after incredible display, and took to impressing barmaids with displays of Infidel silver. Silly women were ignorant of Infidel monies, and were impressed with gifts that would not even purchase goblet of fruit juice! Still, thugs and friends of robe-stealer did grow jealous of Durand’s popularity with strumpet women, and displays of treasures, and did decide to swagger over and try to intimidate Durand. Wildemoon did rise from his seat and slash down three with cutlass while Lord Ravenot did draw pistols and fire into ceiling. Thugs were truly cowed, and humbly handed over purses to Lord Captain Mayweather who declared, “SOMEone must PAY for DAMage to ‘Lady CATHerine’s SUITES (Almeria)!”
In Genoa we were nearing “Lady Catherine’s Suites (Luca)” when Vernass did recognize French soldiers who seemed interested in our band. Vernass recognized badges on armor. Soldiers served Moneylender Lorenzo - a known enemy of the Khan! Swords were drawn. Lord Captain Mayweather and Vernass each felled one charging assailant. Gilbert Durand slew five. The last caught Durand behind ear with bell-guard of Cutlass as he fell, and dropped Durand unconscious to dirt. WIldemoon did press forward, catch blade of enemy Major, and break it with sharp twist of heavy dagger. Lord Ravenot did interrogate captured foe, and here we learned Moneylender Lorenzo and Traitor to Indus Raleigh did oppose plans of Vice-Admiral of France Jehan Colin. From captured soldier we learned where French ship was moored at docks.
We decided to infiltrate ship in search of information. Sailors on deck somehow recognized us and did sound alarm. I called out, in impersonation of captured Major, for men to stand down. This did cause confusion. Lord Ravenot and Lord Captain Mayweather did open path across deck of galleass, and Vernass did fell ship’s Captain with blow of hilt to jaw. We did force soldiers and sailors from galleass, and, to add insult to defeat, forced ship’s Captain to sell his vessel (at great loss) to Indus merchant, then took fee from Captain to split among we on mission!
These Frenchmen are ruthless, my Brother. It is small wonder that Khan Bahadur, aided by French, was able to win war of ascension against combined foes of Korea, Infidel, Ottoman and Pyrate Brotherhood!
In Luca we did meet with Giovanni Battista. Battista, like Barke in Danzig, was gunslinger, not gunsmith, but knew of fine gunsmith, Bishop Zuccato in Merida. Merida was city in Spain. Battista was reputed to shoot wings off insect from mile away. He did demonstrate skill with pistols and did offer instructions. Alas, expertise was in handling of firearm, not in education. None learned from the famed shooter.
Again, we rode across continent of Europe. As we rode, this one asked, but never understood why, man supposedly dedicated to Word of God did become famed maker of weapons to kill men.
In City of Berne in Spain we did stay at “Lady Catherine’s Secret,” another establishment owned by Lord Captain Mayweather. “Lady Catherine’s Secret” was different kind of establishment to “Lady Catherine’s Suites.” Initially, this one excited to learn we would sleep in beds, not stables. Then this one realized the establishment was one of low morals, bawdy misdeeds and ill-repute! All wore large smiles the next morning, except this one who, despite best of intention, had been kept awake all night long, and had not gotten any sleep in soft feather bed. That morning this one was found by messenger bringing reports and tidings from the Court of Khan Bahadur. That morning this one learned Khan Bahadur was to take seven more brides, bringing total number of Khatun to twelve! That morning this one reflected Khan must truly be man of iron to satisfy so many Khatun and father heirs on each. That morning this one heard Damond joke, “Lucky man - one for each month!”
In Merida we did quickly find Bishop Zuccato. Bishop makes but one rifle per years. Weapons have never misfired, and innovations of Zuccato are copied, poorly, by Spanish. Bishop does offer to tutor in arts of pistol and rifle. This one just lacks aptitude. Three times during travels have other tried to teach arts of pistol, three times this one has failed to attain skill. Yet, my Brother, you would be surprised at the grace this one now has with French rapier!
Yes, Bishop Zuccato was he whom we sought, and Vernass was able to obtain the true prize our patron desired - one of Bishop Zuccato’s finest rifles!
And so, my Brother, we return to Paris to deliver prize into hands of Vice-Admiral Jehan Colin of France. Vice-Admiral should be most pleased with quality of obtained firearm. Wood of stock is polished and smooth, metal of barrel is gleaming and engraved, and experts in party declaim balance is perfect - like fine sword - and aim true.
Throughout, this one traveled far and wide across Europe and learned much of the ways of France, Naples, Bavaria, Russia, Ansbach, Genoa and Spain. Peoples of Europe are strange compared to those of Indus. They are eaters of meat, drinkers of alcohol. Abusers of women, engage in bitter dispute over the proper worship of their One God, and have little knowledge of honor as we understand it. Still when at their best, they are brave, determined and loyal. This one understands more now how Berge, Lord du Destin did impress himself upon Khan Jahangir, “Centennial,” and did become Khan Jahangir’s adopted heir
Knowledge also makes this one better servant to His Most Magnificent Majesty, Emperor of the Mughals and the Indus, Sunrise and Stars, His Excellency and Singularity, Lord of Lords Bestower of Bracelets, Khan Bahadur, Maharadjadhiraja Berge Lord du Destin. For honor of Empire, House and self, this one seeks to carry out the wishes of Our Emperor for all his days.
Yet, this one misses home and family, and hopes to return home for visit as soon as duty allows.
Your Most Respectful Brother, Rai Sahib Gautam Mehta