The Druj warrior snarled at the woman-at-arms but a curt word from the cowled figure leading their party silenced the complaint - and reluctantly he handed over his spear.
"Please be careful with that, the tip is treated with the venom of a cage snake. I'd hate for you to harm yourself." The leader of the Druj spoke in pleasant even voice, but the note of derision was clear none-the-less. Still the band allowed themselves to be disarmed by the Dawnish soldiers, apparently confident that their flag of truce would protect them.
"What do you want Druj?" Lord Roland had crossed blades with the Druj a dozen times on the battlefield and killed twice that many... but this was the first time he'd ever had cause to talk to one of their hated enemy.
"We have come to treat with your Senate. We bring terms."
"You're going to surrender? Pah - everyone knows your word isn't worth shit." The nobleman wasn't really sure if he should be talking to the Druj at all - he remembered being taught once that the Empire had ambassadors for this sort of thing. And dealing with barbarians was treason. His job was to captain this unit and kill Druj - not talk to them.
"Thank you - but no. We are here to offer terms. A treaty - a peace treaty. A last chance for both our empires to step back from this confrontation and avoid unnecessary bloodshed."
"What terms?" Roland looked nervously at the door but there was no sign of any of the scouts he had ordered to check for more Druj. This was just as likely to be an ambush as a real truce - you could never be too careful with the Druj.
"We want the land in the Barrens - give us what land you have taken there and we will swear not to set foot on Imperial soil for the next five years."
"Ain't gonna happen Druj - these lands are ours now - if that's your offer you can piss off." No way was he going to be party to handing this land - Dawnish land - to these treacherous scum.
The Druj leader sighed, theatrically and then pushed his cowl back to let him stare into the young nobleman's eyes. "It's called negotiation Dawnishman. That's where we make an offer and then you make an offer and then we see if we can agree common ground. You are welcome to bluster, but you need this treaty more than we do. So unless you are this new Empress of which we hear so much about - I would suggest that you do not have the authority to be negotiating on behalf of your Empire - so perhaps you could kindly convey us to the presence of someone who does?"
The two figures locked eyes for a moment, but Roland could feel in his belly that the Druj had got the better of him. He considered ordering his soldiers to attack... but butchering half a dozen weaponless Druj didn't seem like the glory his earl had told him to seek in this war. As he ordered the soldiers to escourt the Druj from the room, his sigh was loud but genuine - there had been precious little chance for glory in this war thus far.
You have to hand it to the Druj, they don't give up. They sent ambassadors to treat with the Senate a year ago - but the dreadful storm meant there was not time to meet and they returned empty-handed. So they invited the envoys from the Empire to a parley last season and that overture was rejected. There's an old Marcher saying "First failure's a test, second's a lesson, but the third is a block of wood good only for the fire." Presumably the Druj have never heard it.
The delegation is notably different to the preceding one. They refer to their leader as a "Tepel", it is clear he is a figure of some authority in the Druj. There is no strange magic; instead they appear keen to put those who meet them at their ease by doing nothing out of the ordinary. As most folk who ever had any dealings with the Druj will attest, that's pretty unnerving by itself.
The civil service has arranged for the Druj delegation to arrive in Anvil at 11pm on the first night of the summit. The terms that the Druj have indicated that they intend to seek include a formal peace treaty - which only the Senate can authorise using a Senate motion.
The Druj insist that Murderdale and the Carmine Fields are relinquished to their control. They claim that these regions form part of the traditional homelands of Barrens orcs like the Vendarri and the Black Wind.
In return, they are prepared to accept Dawnish control of Dawnguard and the settlement of Drycastle. Just as Murderdale and the Carmine Fields have been held by the orcs for many years, the castle has been part of Dawn for just as long. The Druj suggest that returning to this status quo represents the most stable possible future for the Barrens.
As the Empire have indicated that their most pressing desire is to get access to the mithril produced at the Fangs, the Druj are prepared to negotiate a trade arrangement - exchanging the mithril for white granite. They have 27 wains of mithril that they can offer initially - and would be prepared to agree to a trade for up to 18 wains a season - if a price can be agreed. The magistrates note that it is illegal to make any trade agreements with the Druj while a state of war exists.
If terms can be agreed, then two Druj armies will cautiously advance to occupy Murderdale and the Carmine Fields, three will remain on solid defence, and one will be withdrawn back to the Mallum. The Druj then propose to withdraw one army per season until only the Hunting Scorpion and the Deadly Blade remain. At the same time, the Empire must withdraw one army per season until only one Dawnish army remains stationed at the Towers of the Dawn, which the Druj are at pains to point out is stronger than an army and also the only remaining fortification in the Barrens.
The orcs of the Great Forest are to be driven out of Therunin and back into the Barrens, where the Druj will resettle them. Alternatively, if the Empire does not wish to deal with the orcs directly, then the Druj will dispatch two armies from the Barrens to remove the Great Forest orcs from Therunin - and then immediately return to the Barrens once that task is complete.
The Druj would like a peace treaty for at least five years - though they are prepared to be flexible on the length. Indeed the constant suggestion is that there is flexibility on the whole deal. There is repeated stress that they are here to negotiate.
It is not entirely clear who has the authority to deal with the Druj orcs. In the absence of a formally appointed ambassador then the Imperial Consul is authorised to deal with a barbarian nation. However, the precise legal position of the Advisor on Orc Affairs has never been completely clarified and there is some suggestion that this title might have authority to deal with all the other orc nations.
As things stand, the civil service and the magistrates expect the Imperial Consul to assume the authority to deal with the matter, but a Senate motion could be raised to clarify the role of the Advisor or to create a new ambassador to the Druj.
The Druj have proposed a formal trade arrangement offering mithril for white granite. A one-off trade of mithril for white granite is only legal if the Empire declares peace with the Druj.
For the Empire to formalise any trade arrangement, like the one proposed by the Druj, requires a Senate motion. The motion would need to authorise the creation of a new Bourse position - either national or Imperial - that could then exchange white granite for mithril on a regular basis under the auspices of the citizen appointed to control the trade.
Any delegations from barbarian nations who arrive on the field of anvil under a flag of peace shall have protection under the law as if they were imperial citizens for the duration of their visit and for their direct passage out of the empire.Imperial Law
In Winter 378YE, the Imperial Senate modified Imperial law to make clear that any delegates from a foreign nation who come to Anvil have the full protection of Imperial law. This means that it is illegal to kill them - any attack on them will be prosecuted by the magistrates as if it were an attack on an Imperial citizen.
Imperial law only prohibits acts of violence - threats of violence are perfectly legal - though they may be used as evidence against you if an act of violence later occurs.
- Conflict in the Barrens summarizes the background behind this wind of fortune