Chapter 29 - To All Free Entrance, All Most Welcome Guests
The following morning, the party members head out to pursue various errands. Sasha gets some money from Chonkorchuk, and goes to the main market inside the citadel to buy clothes. Chonkorchuk himself, joined by Tumma, who has assigned himself the role of bodyguard, goes to the leather district outside of town to purchase a suit of lamellar armor and a leather purse (along the way, they learn a few things about haggling and ethnic solidarity). They are joined by Plamen and Vasilisa, who accompany them outside the city gate, and then proceed to continue ministering to the refugees from the east. Plamen heals a few more people, and acquires quite a following, while Vasilisa converses one of the men from the previous day, and questions him about whether he could recruit his fellow refugees for any sort of work, as well as whose land his people worked, and who they served. They then proceed back into the main city. Vasilisa goes to speak to people at her merchant house, while Chonkorchuk invests in a fancy chemise for the night's festivities. The entire group then reassembles at the Prince of Fishes, pays for an additional night, and then waits for Rogdai to show and take them to the feast. In the evening, the whole group heads to the feast, which is hosted by one of the city's chilliarchs. The affair is tightly controlled, but the whole party is admitted, as they are with Rogdai, though they are greeted with funny looks on the way in. There are multiple interconnected chambers, with fancier victuals and fancier people the further one gets from the entryway. Each room has a staircase to a gallery, and lower-status guests, as well as people-watchers observe the goings on below them. Chonkorchuk wants to find the highest profile people at the party to see what he can learn about business opportunities that might be available in the north country, where the party is heading. That means finding out who might possess magical ability, so he crawls under the table to magically make himself look more presentable, and to begin scanning the room for magical auras. The one that radiates most seems to be coming from Rogdai. When he crawls out from under the table, he seems to be under observation of two burly men. Tumma interposes himself between them, and then starts dispensing advise about how to meet movers and shakers at the feast. Rogdai introduces him to a silk merchant, and Chonkorchuk makes an appointment to meet the man at his warehouse the following morning. Vasilisa feels out of place at this large social gathering, but she is on the lookout for a cousin of her lord, Boris Bobchinsky. She does eventually find him, and sets up a time to meet about business the following day. In the meantime, Plamen, who has never been to this sort of function before, quickly gets out of control after his first drink. He approaches a group of revelers and asks if there are any non-alcoholic intoxicants such as mushrooms at the party. Though he is told that it's not that kind of party, he manages to charm one of the young female guests into reading her fortune, and tells her she will marry someone whose name starts with "B". She quickly decides that her fortune teller is obviously referring to Bobchinsky, but Plamen's attempt to make introductions quickly goes sour, and he retreats back to the table. Sasha, characteristically, attracts a potential suitor in the form of Sergei Reznikov, who claims to be a prince (albeit one whose clan has fallen on hard times). Reznikov tells her that he knows a lot of people, and has organized adventuring parties (to go to Lake Bogumil and search for sunken treasure, for example). Sasha is intrigued, and introduces Reznikov to her fellow party members. Reznikov invites Sasha and anyone else who wants to come to a benefactor's mansion, where he is currently staying. Rogdai is willing to go with Reznikov and the rest, but no one else aside from Vasilisa is interested, figuring their time is better spent looking for other contacts at the feast. Vasilisa goes along to keep an eye on Sasha, partly because she is fearful her new rival will say too much about their mission. Sasha does tell him about their sojourn with Baba Yaga, and promises to introduce him to the crone. At Reznikov's mansion, he leads the two women into a chamber that has a magical mirror. Vasilisa looks into it, and sees herself making a transaction with Rogdai. Reznikov then invites both women for a nightcap, but Vasilisa is characteristically squeamish, and Reznikov does not press the issue, and lets her sleep in a separate room. Sasha does go off with the prince, but gets up in the middle of the night, to stare into the mirror. Looking for Koshchei's death, she sees an egg in some sort of pouch.
- Various purchases
- A glance into a magic mirror (Sasha and Vasilisa)