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Mission Report: Moscow

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To: Il Mentore

From: Hummingbird

Assignment: Team of four sisters (Owl, Whisper, Turtledove and myself) sent to Moscow to determine the fate of our missing brother Pietro

Re: Mission Report

It is with a grave heart that I report the demise of our brother Pietro.

Having stolen into the city my sisters and I managed to evade the guards long enough to explore the den established by our brothers many years earlier. The building had not only been abandoned by all but also showed signs of a skirmish, something we all found most distressing. If fighting had taken place within the building then it was most likely that the Order had been compromised and the lair uncovered. Among the debris we uncovered documents bearing Pietro's seal, including an architect's plans for the Grand Duke Ivan's fortress, known as the Kremlin, the reason he and his brothers had been sent to Moscow.

In order to ascertain the extent of our exposure we took it upon ourselves to infiltrate the Kremlin, in search of evidence. During the planning of this raid there was some dissention among my sisters, with Owl recommending a midnight assualt while Whisper councilled for a more subtle approach. In the end it was decided that a stealthy entrance to the fortress would most like be better, as we had no way of determining the enemy's strength within, and while I had no doubts to my sister's abilities even the most highly trained within our Order would fare poorly when faced with an entire city garrison.

Working Girls
With the celebrations for the crowning of Ivan's son Vasily as co-regent it was easy enough for us to blend into the crowd entering the fortress as part of the festivities disguised as courtesans, although Turtledove's 'plain' looks required she use the costume of a maid instead to avoid suspicion. Once inside my sisters and I moved through the crowd, eavesdropping on conversations to try and determine what news the courtiers had heard of our Order. Lucky few seemed to have any comments to make about us, although several useful pieces of gossip were aqcuired during the exercise (please see Whisper's report for further details, as her skill at blending and eager ears allowed for far more detail to be gathered.)

Seeing no other option my sisters and I used our feminine ways to slip passed the guards and into the the secured hallways of the citadel. We worked our way towards the secured inner chambers, where we were sure we'd uncover some information as to our brother's fate. Unfotunately the plans we had obtained bore little similarity to the layout of the fortress, so many changes had been made in the intervening years that we made slow progress, especially as we were forced to remain hidden from the many guard patrols in order to ensure our safe escape.

Finally we came across a vault containing many stored records. The doors were sealed, but Whisper's skill with a lockpick proved highly valuable and soon the doorway was open to us. Unfortunately just as we prepare to begin our search of the documents two guard happened across us, catching us in the act as it were. Luckily our disguises as courtesans made luring the men into the chamber a simple one for Whisper and myself, where Owl and Turtledove waited. Needing to avoid unnecessary bloodshed we quickly subdued the guards, leaving them unharmed, apart from a few bruises.

Unfortunately this interruption placed the team in a dangerous situation. The guards were sure to be missed soon, leaving us with little time to conduct a thorough search of the records. Instead Owl, Whisper and myself obtained as many of the records as we could, secreting them beneath our clothing while Turtledove returned to the celebrations and, using her disguise as a maid, obtained several bottles of wine. After forcing almost an entire bottle down the throats of the two guards we staged the scene to make it look as if the pair had spent the night cavorting in the secured chamber rather than guarding it. Hopefully any recollection they may have had of a group of courtesans (and a maid) would only implicate them further.

Back at the den Turtledove set to work translating the old records, many of which were revealed to be little more than invoicing receipts for the building work which had been undertaken at the time of Pietro's disappearance. Luckily one document seemed to be a sort of incident report, detailing the murder of an Italian architect at the hands of one of his own countryman. The description of the body closely resembled Pietro, and details of the suspect identified a man known only as 'Aristotele'.

While we are happy that the Order does not seem to have been implicated in any way the mysteries of who the man calling himself 'Aristotele' may be and why the damage had been done to the hideout have yet to be answered. At this time our investigations are continuing, and our presence in the city seems to have gone unnoticed by the guards.

Nulla è reale, tutto è lecito

Hummingbird

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