A dream that can last
The weighted wicker cage rose to the surface, revealing a large vicious looking crab trapped within. It was a big, mean-looking creature, with one huge over-sized claw opposite a tiny one on the other side. Three Hands stared at the rich treasure. The humans would pay well for this!
It still didn't make any sense. The humans had ordered them all to come here. Then they had "given" them the richest lands in the whole territory. More land than any Sand Fisher could imagine - and every inch of it crawling with life. Eels, crabs, snakes, snails, and more fish than you could dream of. The marshes teemed with food. Red Eyes had joked that if you fell asleep with your mouth open here it would be full of slugs by the morning.
By comparison the humans lived in the worst part of the whole territory. Every one of them packed in like frogspawn, so close that the whole place stank. No-one sane went there except to sell things.
And nothing grew there! You couldn't fish, you couldn't hunt. As a result they were all starving all the time! While the Sand Fishers were feasting on eels as fat as your thigh, the humans would pay handsomely for a crab with barely any meat on it at all. They would only pay with their tiny iron coins, their "rings", but then you could just sell the rings back to them for better things.
Red Eyes had started collecting his, til he'd had enough that he'd started paying three of the other Fishers to gather crabs for him with them. He reckoned it was better for them to spend time fishing while he traded the crabs. Three Hands didn't trust him though - it only seemed to be better for Red Eyes as far as he could tell.
This crab was his. He'd put it with the others and take it to the human city himself - even if it did stink. But before he did he had a few ideas he wanted to try. Food wasn't the only thing in abundance in the marsh.
- The Sand Fishers have finished claiming the region of Misericorde, in Holberg
- The Imperial Consul, Skywise Fal is technically responsible for dealing with the Sand Fishers
At the Spring Equinox 383YE, the Imperial Senate ceded the region of Misericorde in Holberg to the Sand Fishers. With the assistance of the civil service, the orcs abandoned Ossium, and have crossed the Semmerlak to claim the region for their own. They have quickly set up a number of small villages, taking advantage of the abundance of natural wildlife. As the Senate has recognised the Sand Fishers as foreigners, there is a blossoming trade with League citizens in rare herbs, rare delicacies, and exotic hides - it seems that previous predictions about the move being both good for the orcs and for the people of Holberg appear to have been accurate.
- The Sand Fishers are ranging south into the marshes of Ennerlund, Rebeshof, and the Morass.
- They share the herbs they find with the owners of the land providing a bonus to farms.
The Empire has ceded the region of Misericorde to the Sand Fishers, and this is where they choose to settle, building simple wooden shelters initially near, but not on, the edge of the Semmerlak. However they have little sense of the boundaries of the region; they are hunters - primarily of crabs, fish, eels, and frogs - wandering over large areas gathering food and other valuables where they can find them. Fortunately they have neither the inclination nor the skills to travel outside the marshes and forests of Holberg other than to trade with folk in the city, so their meandering causes few problems. Indeed, they seem a little reticent to press too far into the woods by themselves - perhaps understandable, given that the forests of Ossium were the domain of the Druj.
The only notable problem that happens is when the Sand Fishers wander over farmland claimed by League citizens - and there is little enough of that. Ever since the expansion of the Morass, what little farming there was in Holberg has suffered. Flooding from the marshes damages crops planted anywhere but the highest ground, animals often wander off and are drowned in the bogs. The strangling marsh pools that have developed have been nothing but a curse to the hard working farmers of Holberg since that happened. That the pools that have done so much damage are now drawing roving orcs to their lands only adds insult to injury.
To the surprise of many, the situation is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. The Sand Fishers explain that they are seeking precious herbs that grow in the these locations. They are happy to leave crops and herds of animals unmolested, but they are keen to gather herbs, as these command a high price in Holberg. After some negotiation they are given permission to wander over farmland in exchange for an agreement to tithe to the owner a portion of whatever herbs they find while searching their lands.
- A covered market could be built to help the Sand Fishers trade with Holberg
The most useful way to aid the burgeoning trade in rare goods brought from the marshes, would be the creation of a new market on the edge of the city. The Sand Fishers do not like entering Holberg, they find the crowded streets intimidating, they complain that it smells, and they find it difficult to understand all the rules the burghers insist are important. These cultural differences strain good relations between League citizens and the foreigners and have led to some minor confrontations. One particularly unfortunate incident comes when a trio of Sand Fishers visiting the Imperial Menagerie kill almost all the small amphibians kept in one of the enclosures, under the impression that they are available to hunt and eat. Humorous as it may appear to be, the incident underlines the difficulty some of the Sand Fishers have understanding ideas and customs that the burghers of Holberg take for granted.
A covered market on the edge of the city would be a place where business owners could come to sell their goods to the Sand Fishers and vice versa. It would need a commission by the Imperial Senate or using a wayleave, but it would not need to be a huge construction. The civil service calculate that a series of wooden market stalls could be built using 16 wains of weirwood. The senators of the League could appoint someone to run the market, it wouldn't be the most prestigious of titles so one wag has suggested the title could be called the Prince of the Northern Marshes. It could be Senate or Bourse appointment and would normally have tenure. The Sand Fishers and the merchants of the city could pay to use the stalls producing a steady income for the Prince. Each season they would receive 10 crowns, 5 measures of ambergelt and 12 random herbs.
The real advantage of the market might be the new options that it created for business owners in Holberg. Having a ready source of trade where they could buy rare herbs recovered from Misericorde by the Sand Fishers would allow Holberg business owners to diversify their business, choosing to gain three random herbs in place of income each time they diversified their business. This option is of particular interest to the doctors and physicks of Holberg, especially those associated with the University.
At present relations with the Sand Fishers are technically the responsibility of the Imperial Consul as they are classed as foreigners. If the position in charge of the market were given a suitably impressive sounding title, then the Sand Fishers are likely to look on them as a natural liaison - and bring any issues or problems they have to them first to try and get a resolution.
The preachers of Skarsind encourage the citizens of our nation to interact with the broken orcs known as the Sand Fishers. It is not so long ago that other tribes called us broken but that is not what we are today. This is the first step on that path to becoming Imperial, regardless of their geographical location do not cast them out. Be the example.Skywise Gralka, Imperial Orc Assembly, Spring 383YE, Upheld (92 - 0 Greater Majority).
- A statement of principle has led the Imperial Orcs to consider what they can do to help the Sand Fishers
- A mandate has been suggested that will help support the establishment of the Sand Fishers in Misericorde
Although the Sand Fishers have set up a number of small settlements, they are still hampered by the cruel treatment the Druj had subjected them to - and the fact that none of them have ever experienced life without the oppressive presence of the terrible Druj miasma. Most members of the tribe have a keen knowledge of herbs, but they have a noted lack when it comes to working with metal, or stone. The vast majority of their structures will be likely be mostly reed and mud huts.
More than just this, anyone who spends time with the Sand Fishers cannot fail to become aware that their spirit is crushed. A lifetime of living under the asphyxiating Druj miasma has left their souls broken. Those who take the time to discuss religion with them find their beliefs particularly sobering. Like all orcs the Empire has ever met, the Sand Fishers believe in the Howling Abyss - but quite unlike Imperial Orcs, the Sand Fishers also believe in reincarnation. According to them, existence, life itself, is an essential torment, into which orcs are born over and over again. The only hope of salvation is that from each generation the ancestors will pick a single soul who is permitted to enter the Abyss, where through oblivion they achieve a final escape from the subjugation of the world.
There is a chance to change that. The Imperial Orcs are the youngest nation in the Empire. They are made up of those who came from nothing, less than nothing, and have risen to be the equals of the other nations. The skills they learned when most of the nation was billeted with the orc armies, could be of great use to the Sand Fishers. Likewise, when the Imperial Orcs settled in Skarsind they quickly made the land their own, developing vast works across the territory. The Sand Fishers could be helped, could be shown how the Empire treats its own.
The civil service prepared a mandate to this effect, but Udoo of the Bloodcrows suggested that the mandate was poorly phrased if the intention was to support and inspire orcs. After some discussion, the civil service agreed with Bloodcrow Udoo, scrapped the original wording, and replaced it with the more effective text.
The Sand Fishers are broken, they embrace oblivion in the Howling Abyss. It is our duty to show them that they can be more. We send (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to urge every Imperial Orc to support them with the fruits of our prosperous endeavour and, upon delivery, detail its value in Worth that shall carry us beyond the Abyss.Synod Mandate, Imperial Orc assembly
If this mandate is upheld and enacted, then every congregation, farm, business, herb garden, forest, mine, mana site, and fleet owned by an Imperial Orc will suffer a one rank penalty to its production following the Summer Solstice. This penalty will last until the start of the Winter Solstice 383YE, as the Imperial Orc's loss becomes the Sand Fisher's gain.
An alternative mandate was suggested by Benedict Pacelli Von Holberg who argued that it was acutally the responsibility of the people of Holberg to support the Sand Fishers.
The Sand Fishers are broken, they survived under the Druj, but now they are foreigners living in the Empire. It is our duty to show them that they can be more. We send (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to urge every Citizen of Holberg to do what they can to support them.Synod Mandate, League assembly
If this mandate is upheld and enacted, then every congregation, farm, business, herb garden, forest, mine, mana site, and fleet in Holberg will suffer a one rank penalty to its production following the Summer Solstice. This penalty will last until the start of the Winter Solstice 383YE. The Sand Fishers would gain significantly from this mandate - the support of their immediate neighbours in Holberg would further cement good relations between the new inhabitants of Misericorde and the people of the city.
The other thing the Synod could choose to address is the dejected state of the Sand Fishers' souls. They could send a priest to teach the Sand Fishers the doctrines of the faith and to inspire them to follow the virtues.
The Sand Fishers are entirely without Ambition, Courage or Pride. They lack the strength of character the virtues provide, they will never prosper without them. We send (named priest) with 25 doses of liao to teach the Sand Fishers of Misericorde the Seven Virtues.Synod Mandate, General Assembly
As is often the case with matters of faith, it is impossible to determine in advance what the benefits of giving the faith to the Sand Fishers might be, or the impact of choosing a priest from a given nation. The civil service cautiously suggest that an Imperial Orc preacher would be the best choice for this as the orcs might be reticent to listen to a human priest. The Bishops of Holberg disagree vociferously however; they argue that the Sand Fishers are now their neighbours and that they need to get used to interacting with humans - especially with humans from the League. They suggest the best choice for this mandate would be a League bishop.
Regardless, the Sand Fishers would presumably benefit - and the Empire might gain thereby. But experience has shown that sharing the Way with other people can sometimes be a double-edged sword.
The truth is that at the moment, the broken spirits of the Sand Fishers make them remarkably compliant. The Empire was able to transport the entire tribe across the Semmerlak because they largely just do whatever they are told. Lifetimes of enslavement by the Druj and the brutal effects of the miasma have sapped any will to resist. Bringing them to the Way would change that - that much is certain - but that would make them more demanding and thus more difficult to deal with.
If the Imperial Synod passed the mandate, the benefits provided by the covered market to businesses that diversified would be permanently reduced to two random herbs per diversification, from three. Those Sand Fishers bringing their wares to market would simply demand better prices for their goods as they discover the benefits that should accrue to people as a result of their hard work. Furthermore any future benefits that might be gained by the people of the Holberg as a result of the presence of the Sand Fishers could potentially be less beneficial to the League, and would certainly be more expensive to capitalise on.
Whatever else might happen, the Empire would be less able to take advantage of the Sand Fishers' impoverished state if they had the drive and the force of will that a belief in the Way can provide.
During the Summer Solstice 383YE, Tristan Exile’s End used an Imperial Wayleave to commission the construction of Misericorde Market, a covered market where the Sand Fishers and the citizens of Holberg can deal directly with one another.
At the same time the Imperial Synod passed three mandates aimed at supporting the Sand Fishers; one in the League national assembly sending Kaspar Yakovitch von Holberg to teach the orcs the value of the virtues, a second to send Leonora Van Holberg to encourage the people of Holberg to support them, and a third in the Imperial Orcs national assembly to send Skywise Rykana to likewise offer assistance to the orcs in establishing their new homes in Holberg.