Rope and iron
"So apparently" he resumed his narrative, but slowly " this group arrived just as the Empire was looking to host a summit with - and you'll never guess this - the Commonwealth and... Sumaah! To talk about banning slavery or something - some sort of" he paused this time to allow him enough draw breath so he could spell out "Grand... Alliance..."
Mirael enjoyed watching the shocked look on his host's face. He enjoyed even more the way his hand dropped to his chest causing the material of the toga to part slightly. He'd been away from the capital too long, he'd really missed this.
"The plenum must have exploded!" his host stated the utterly obvious like it was some deep insight. "They would have had to scrape Albini off the ceiling. She's been calling for Sumash blood, ever since they sunk the Windrails. I wish I had your connections Mirael - I would do anything to have been there to see that."
"Quite." Mirael had been a hundred miles away at the time, but his host was too young to know that every single Plenum session was exactly the same - so he didn't feel guilty about a little lie. He'd sat through enough of the bloody things - so he had been there in a manner of speaking. "That wasn't the worst of it. One of the Coriolani got the hairbrained idea that somehow the Ilotari group were mixed up in it all. Apparently they tried to get an invitation for the family to the summit... if they pulled it off - what a coup! But they didn't... so of course they were the perfect people to blame for it all going wrong. Everyone turned on them! It was like a feeding frenzy."
Mirael stopped, stood up and stretched his limbs. He beckoned the slave over and deposited the barely touched goblet back on the platter. He crossed the room and sat down conspiratorially next to his enchanting host, ostensibly so he could whisper without being overhead. "So the Ilotari promise a full investigation - if there is the slightest hint that one of theirs has been consorting with the enemy, he'll hang the very next day they promise."
He rolled his eyes to indicate how ridiculous that was but then leaned in a little closer. "Of course the next day - word comes down that Gastone - that's the fellow that was leading the Ilotari delegation - has fled to the Empire and taken his entire crew with him. The Ilotari are publicly outraged - shocked to the core by this betrayal. Apparently he might have been some kind of Sumaah sympathiser. Or at least one of those emancipation zealots or something. Everyone who has fled is exiled by the family and that - officially - is the end of the matter."
"So the Ilotari were betrayed then?" his host looked shocked. Mirael stared at him for a moment, wondering if it was naivety or stupidity. Why were the beautiful ones always just a bit slow? Julius had razor-sharp wits but a face that looked like one of his parents was an onager. Sometimes he thought the gods were playing tricks on him.
Mirael host took his astonishment for agreement and smiled in a way that reminded him that there was more to life than intelligent conversation. "Mirael, I am just dying to get to my first session, you simply have to introduce me to the right people. I'm missing all the excitement."
He smiled at his companion and moved a little closer "Almost nothing would give me greater pleasure..."
The Empire has decided to host a summit at Anvil at the Winter Solstice, with a view to seeing if those nations who oppose slavery - or who might be convinced to do so - can agree to work together. The Commonwealth, Sumaah, the Sarcophan Delves, and Axos have all been invited to send one or two representatives to attend the summit to negotiate on behalf of their nation. At the request of representatives of the Imperial Offices, the civil service have prepared a limited briefing on Imperial tariffs to help the Imperial negotiators assess what changes if any they wish to make to their trading arrangements as part of their negotiations.
Slavery is the practice whereby a living person, through force, coercion, or being born into an enslaved family, has their liberty, personal autonomy, and the fruits of their labour unwillingly given over to another. The person is deprived of reasonable and achievable ways to gain their liberty and change their situation.Proposed Definition for the Summit
The assumed goal of the summit is to create a formal treaty binding the signatory nations to a set of agreed terms.
The official Imperial ambassadors cannot put such a treaty with multiple nations to the Senate for ratification, since each ambassador only has authority to act in regard to relations with the nation they liaise with. Likewise the Imperial Consul cannot act for the Empire, they only have authority to deal with a nation if the Empire has not created a title with ambassadorial powers.
Fortunately, the Senate has wisely opted to address the problem in advance. At the Autumn Equinox they passed a Senate motion to delegate ambassadorial authority for the summit to a pair of Imperial titles, one appointed by the Senate and one by the Synod. Ianthe Ravenswatch was duly chosen by the Imperial Senate, and Eska Crowspeaker selected by the Imperial Synod.
The action of the Senate ensures that the civil service can proceed with all the normal arrangements for an official meeting of state between representatives of a foreign nation and the Empire. The civil service have scheduled time for the meeting in the Senate building where possible. As the official meeting is expected to take some time, they have scheduled further time in the Military Council tent to accommodate the summit when the Senate is in session.
There are some complications caused by having two delegates. Imperial law requires authority be vested in a single ambassador to ensure that it is absolutely clear who has the legal authority to represent the Empire in this matter. After some consideration, the Constitutional Court have concluded that either delegate may authorise an Imperial citizen to speak at the summit, but both delegates will be required to agree the treaty before a senator can present it for ratification by the Senate. If either one of them declines to agree the final text, then the Senate will not legally be able to ratify any treaty.
Eska Crowspeaker has informed the civil service that she intends to invite Atte Arrowtongue of Wintermark, to chair the meeting, and to invite Accalon of Felix's Watch, Lucia Sanguineo di Tassato of the League, Tarquinius Ankarian of Urizen, and Thanmir Hrafnar of Wintermark to attend as well as any members of the Constitutional Court who are available.
The delegates have instructed the civil service to arrange a short formal meeting on the Friday evening of the summit - to allow all parties to meet and to exchange terms. This will take place in the Senate starting at 9:00pm. The Senate is in session at 10:00pm so the formal meeting will end fifteen minutes before that time to allow the room to be cleared and prepared for the Senate session.
Formal negotiations will begin in the Senate at 6:00pm on the Saturday and continue until 8:30pm. There will then be a short break to allow the delegates to eat before the summit resumes at 10:00pm in the Military Council Tent. It is scheduled to last until 11:30pm on the Saturday night - to give members of the Imperial Senate an opportunity to study what has been agreed before the final Senate session on Sunday.
The civil service ask all citizens to take note that as the Senate building will now be in use at this time, the 7:00pm Bourse Public Auction which is normally held in the Senate building will take place in the Military Council tent.
The signatory nations... reject the practice of slavery, outlaw it amongst our citizens, and affirm that we will work towards the abolition of slavery across the world.Proposal
Any citizen can negotiate and agree a deal with individuals from another nation. However, the civil service wish to remind all citizens that no-one has the legal right to speak during a formal sessions laid out above, unless authorised to do so by one of the two delegates. Any citizen who wishes to speak with the delegates must either obtain permission from Ianthe or Eska or else speak to them outside one of the three formal meetings. They may have a small window to do so after the meetings finish, assuming that the delegates remain in Anvil. The civil service do not expect them to remain at Anvil for long however, they are likely to retire to their quarters to confer privately and potentially to send Winged Messengers home. Every Imperial citizen has the right to speak with the
Anyone with the right of witness is able to be present to observe proceedings. It is fine for citizens to be present and observe what takes place, the restriction is only on speaking.
As part of preparation for the summit, the civil service have sought to identify issues that they believe may be material to the discussions, particularly if new trading relationships are agreed by treaty signatories.
What may prove important is the existing trading relationships with six foreign nations that are currently identified as practising slavery. They are Axos, Faraden, the Iron Confederacy, the Thule, Jarm and Asavea. All six of these nations practice slavery to a greater or lesser extent, but only the Axou are currently invited to the summit.
Any treaty which affects the trading relations between one of the listed nations and the Empire could also have an impact on the various commissions which have been constructed in recent years on the basis of trade between the Empire and the nation in question. It is impossible to know in advance what the affects might be - that could only be identified with a precisely worded appraisal. But anything which changes the relationship with the nations could have a deleterious affect on the returns provided by any of the listed resources.
The Steel Fist, and the various docks and trading posts associated with trade with the Sarcophan Delves should be unaffected, provided relationships are not harmed by the outcome of the summit.
Any outcome which negatively impacted relations with the Jarmish would also affect the returns of the proposed Jarmish Star Jewellery as well as supplies of White Seed which are used to make Imperial mana sites more productive.
The Fellowship of Purple Sails is a loose sodality formed in Autumn 379YE by three ship captains; the Freeborn Olivia i Farad i Riqueza, Therese di Sarvos of the League, and the Highborn Michael of Crown's Quay. The sodality is interested in ensuring Imperial captains continue to gain access to foreign ports. They currently fund the Senate initiative to place civil servants on ships to prevent piracy against foreign vessels, and members of their group negotiated the acquisition of the recipe for Artisan's Oil with the Commonwealth. They have been reasonably quiet over the last few years as individuals members focused on their own trading businesses.
The announcement of the Trade Summit has seen something of a schism in their ranks. One faction, lead by Therese di Sarvos is extremely concerned about the idea of the Senate and the Synod interfering directly in matters of international trade like this; they predict disaster if the Summit tries to restrict Imperial access to ports such as Nemoria or Vezak. The larger faction, lead by Michael and Olivia i Farad i Riqueza, agrees that the Empire should use economic means to bring pressure to bear on nations that profit from the enslavement of other people. Yet even there, division exists. Michael of Crown's Key has expressed support for the idea that nations who will not stop using slave labour should be embargoed - that there is no place for half measures where virtue is concerned. Olivia disagrees, arguing that the only outcome would be for Imperial captains to be barred from visiting ports in embargoed nations - not only impacting their Prosperity, but also denying the Empire any future chance to influence those nations.
All factions have urged their adherents to respect the decisions of the Senate however - Senators are after all appointed to represent the people of their nation and will have the ultimate say on how the Summit's recommendations are enacted. They have been clear that whatever the outcome they will continue to donate the money to support the ship-board Civil Service initiative.
At the same time, however, each faction also agrees that it is the responsibility of ship captains whose livelihoods will be directly impacted by the resolution of the Trade Summit to ensure that their voices are heard - not only by the delegates to the Summit but also by the priests and Senators with the power to influence the outcome. After all, it is the fleet captains - especially those who trade in Asavea, Jarm, and the Iron Confederacy - who are likely to be most immediately disadvantaged by any changes aimed at trade with slaving nations.
The Imperial Senate was able to ratify the Liberty Pact prepared as a result of the summit as its last act on Sunday. The Empire, Sumaah, the Commonwealth, and Axos were all signatories. While the Sarcophan Delves supported the pact, they did not themselves sign it. The key elements of the Pact is that it expands the definition of what is a "person" to include hylje and daeva; it lays out a shared understanding of the crime of slavery; and it calls for all signatories to enact trade sanctions against nations that employ slaves. The full impact of the Pact is being evaluated by thee Civil Service as part of an appraisal commissioned by the Senate.