Small but nearby
"553" she corrected him, almost without thinking. The civil servant rechecked his figures and then nodded "553 yes - you're correct".
"The tariffs were less than fifty rings last year." she grumbled, keeping up the pretence that she cared.
"Out of my hands I'm afraid", the man said apologetically, "the Liberty Tariffs are calculated by the prognosticators office."
Ellesdottir rolled her eyes. "When did someone else's liberty become more important than my prosperity?" she protested fiercely, though her heart wasn't really in it.
She untied her pouch from her belt and opened it. With deft hands, made agile from years of practice, she counted out 23 crowns and 83 rings into the hapless civil servant's hands. "I'll need a receipt for that" she said, as he looked around for somewhere to put the money. She rolled her eyes again as he stood helplessly holding the pile of coins in his hands, before handing him a second empty pouch to dump the newly collected taxes in.
She exchanged the newly filled pouch for the ship's tally board, holding the taxes for him while the civil servant used the board to write out the receipt. She examined it carefully, to make sure it was complete, but the civil servant was already leaving, heading back up the stairs to the deck.
She idly fingered the crown she had deftly filched from the pouch as he disappeared from view, smiling at it wanly. She still had it, she thought to herself.
"Why bother Captain? Given... you know... is it worth risking that for a crown?" her first mate rarely questioned her orders, but he was clearly troubled by the theft.
"30 rings" she corrected him instinctively. "Just enough that we'll turn a small profit on the dates. Besides - it's for Liberty! I have liberated that poor coin from the Empire's cruel grasp!"
"We don't need it - not with... " his voice trailed off again as she glared at him. Loose lips sink ships.
"We need it more than the Senate does." Hard to argue with that, though she knew he was right really. Lifting rings from dead men's fingers while moving a hold full of cheap dried fruit was one thing. But she was catching the crown but losing the throne and he knew it.
"He'll be back in his office in two hours' time. It'll take him an hour to count and tally it all. Then he'll send for me. Tell Ranolf, Aarne, and the others to armour up ready and I'll go down mob-handed."
"Then, when every eye is on me paying up, you get the silk off the ship and over to Merkins on Fettlers Street. Speak to Carina - the Prince - nobody else mind. And tell her it's the finest Jarmish silk money can buy, and we won't take a ring less than 3 thrones a bolt."
"We could have just waited for nightfall like everyone else does, Elle."Ellesdottir, named the Thief of the Moon, grinned at her first mate. "But I'm not like everyone else Heimo! And that's why you crew for me..."
The Empire is not free from foreign influence, it is surrounded by smaller nations who are close enough to have an impact on its politics - Faraden, Axos, the Iron Confederacy, and Otkodov. Each nation has their own agenda. Only Axos is a signatory of the Liberty Pact and the Empire has placed trading sanctions against each of its other neighbours.
There is little constancy in international politics, and the complex interplay of politics and diplomacy can change the relations between nations in an instance. As such, the broad overviews discussed here represent only the state-of-play as it is generally understood at the start of the Autumn Equinox 383YE.
This Wind of Fortune only covers the local nations. Developments involving the great powers of the world are detailed here, whilst matters involving the orc nations surrounding the Empire are detailed here.
Citadels of Axos
- The Citadels of Axos are signatories to the Liberty pact; they have placed sanctions on trade with slaving nations
- The Ambassador to Axos is Tarquinius Ankarien of Urizen
There is still much upheaval in the Citadels of Axos as the Grand Ilarchs work to encourage their people to focus their efforts in trade and commerce with the Empire and the Sarcophan Delves.
Following an opportunity which was presented last season the General Assembly of the Imperial Synod passed a mandate, presented by Maximillian Ankarien. Over the last season, members of the prognosticators office have worked hard to analyze the opportunities that the Empire could capitalise on to encourage trade with Axos. More details on these opportunities can be found here.
The Axou, as signatories of the Liberty Pact, have been invited to the upcoming meeting. Unfortunately, their delegate has not turned up. You can learn more about this situation here.
Tunnels of Kaban
- An Ilarch has come forward to claim descent from Kaban
- The efforts to rebuild the Tunnels of Kaban have increased
Of some importance to the Axou, and of interest to the Empire, is the state of the westernmost "surviving" citadel, the Tunnels of Kaban. This citadel was all but destroyed during conflict with the Mallum some years ago, with the wealthiest inhabitants fleeing east to the Gates of Ipotavo. During 380YE, Imperial captains helped the Ipotavan forces reclaim the citadel and drive out the Druj but the citadel was badly damaged in the process.
Reconstruction has been slow, at least in part due to the recent crisis in Axou society over the slavery question. Whilst there has been a steady attempt to rebuild, the majority of the wealthy Ile of Kaban have remained in Ipotavo. Without a single guiding hand on the rebuilding efforts, little progress has been made. Now though an Ilarch, Penthesil Lerophon of Kaban has come forward to lay a claim to the Throne and the Crown of Kaban. Penthesil has revealed she is a descendant of the Sorcerer King Kaban who raised the citadel during the founding of the nation.
Rather than look solely to her own people, Ilarch Penthesil Lerophon has sent out a call for aid to signatories of the Liberty Pact. While Kaban is in ruins, the north-western borders of Axos are poorly defended. More to the point, if the Empire ever wishes to establish an overland trading route with Axos, the Tunnels of Kaban would be the citadel best positioned to help oversee such trading routes. She has asked that for the moment any messages from Imperials prepared to offer aid with the reconstruction of Kaban be directed to Ilarch Maxatios, as her work encouraging the rebuilding rarely sees her in any one place for long.
The damage to the citadel was extensive, but the Axou are nothing if not talented architects and engineers. It is likely that what the new Grand Ilarch will need most will be white granite and money to buy more - although the civil service have noted that Imperial recognition of her claim to the Crown and the Throne will also help to secure her position among the other Grand Ilarchs.
The Orc Situation
- The rights of orcs in Axos society remain very limited.
- There is a call for the Synod to urge Imperial citizens to help orcs wishing to leave Axos to come to the Empire.
Despite some overtures from the Empire, the rights of the newly freed orc slaves in Axos remain extremely poor. As detailed previously there are severe restrictions on orcs living in Axos including limited ownership of property, prohibitions against carrying weapons, and few opportunities to participate in religion. Not only are the orcs very much second class citizens in Axos, their ability to move around freely is harshly curtailed. Amid Axos concerns that the freed slaves will seek to join the enemies of Axos - the Druj and the Grendel - it is a serious crime for any orc to try and leave the nation by any means. So far the Grand Ilarchs have politely rejected all offers by Imperial citizens to offer their assistance.
In the past the Imperial Synod has been reasonably clear about the need to help slaves and former slaves. Furthermore, the Imperial Orcs have more than once offered sanctuary to those freed from oppression (most recently with the mandate of Bloodcrow Udoo. In recent months a preacher named Snowbound Dukka, a teacher in the Legion's Rookery in Skarsind, has inspired calls for the Imperial Orcs to take action to help their cousins in Axos. While there have been some statements about the plight of the orcs in the eastern nation (such as that raised by Maximillian in Spring) they do not go far enough in highlighting the terrible situation.
At the moment, helping orc citizens escape from Axos by ship is the only viable option as far as Snowbound Dukka can see - at least until the recently proposed spy network in Sarangrave is complete, or until the Empire is able to gain better maps of the Grendel territory of Mareave.
Snowbound Dukka has no mandate herself, but is asking the Imperial Orc priests who attend Anvil to raise a strongly worded Statement of Principle urging Imperial Orc ship captains to help any orc in Axos who wishes to leave to escape what she sees as the tyranny of the human government. She has further called for anyone who cares about the plight of the Axos orcs to put pressure on the wider Synod - while a statement by the Imperial Orcs would be a good start, a statement supported by a greater majority of the General Assembly (or even the Assembly of the Nine) urging Imperial citizens to help orcs flee Axos would be much more effective.
Trade with Axos
- Imperial fleets visiting Kantor experience a one rank penalty to their production this season.
The transition from a nation where slavery was legal, if not widespread, to one where it is illegal has not been without some turmoil. The sudden release of slaves, and the need for many businesses and other wealthy concerns to reorganise themselves, means that the economy is very much in flux. The immediate effect is that there are significantly fewer goods available to purchase on the docks at Kantor. Ilarch Maxatious has appealed to Imperial traders not to let this disruption discourage them from coming to the Towers of Kantor. Indeed, as per the civil service estimation, the situation has recovered somewhat since the Spring Equinox, but will not resume normal levels until the start of the Winter Solstice 383YE at the very earliest.
- The Empire has instituted sanctions against the Faraden; the Faraden have not yet applied their own sanctions. Further details can be found here
- The Ambassador to Faraden is Erasmo di Tassato of the League
Two groups of Faraden journeyed to Anvil last summit, the first was at the invitation of both the Assembly of Nine and the Ambassador to Faraden to discuss their culture. This is believed to have gone well enough that the Voice of Liberty has called on the signatories of the Liberty Pact to meet at Anvil at the upcoming Autumn Equinox.
The Faraden have been invited to the upcoming meeting of the signatory nations of the Liberty Pact, and are arranging for a delegate to represent them at the upcoming meeting.
An Unpleasant Altercation
- Three Imperial citizens were assaulted during the Summer Solstice by Faraden thugs
The other group of Faraden however were not invited and assaulted at least three Imperial citizens. There has been no response from Lady Saretta of the Red Moon regarding the identity of these individuals, though some Faraden traders have pointed out that, according to the Faraden, Livia of the Spire of Celestial Cascade, Lord Colwynn de Rondell and Astrid Fjellrevening Rezia di Tassato are all responsible for issuing a great slight against a significant cultural hero of Faraden as detailed in Volume Five of the Echoes of the Labyrinth.
As the Autumn Equinox approaches, however, news begins to filter through from the west that the situation has escalated further. Nothing is specifically written down, but there are reports that the Modnos family of Faraden have placed a bounty on the lives of Livia, Astrid, and Lord Colwynn. With the assistance of one of the Faraden wizardly families, so the story goes, they have arranged that if the heart of one or more of these three "criminals" is placed in a box and then dispatched to the City of Gold and Lead with the Ephisis' Scale ritual, the return box will contain 10 Thrones for each one. Nobody official - nobody associated with the Faraden embassy - will confirm this story. Regardless, the Faraden merchants still trading with the Empire believe it and reportedly claim that while such arrangements are rare they are certainly not unknown in Faraden.
OOC Note: If you are interested in collecting the bounty, please secure the assistance of a referee before undertaking this kind of player-versus-player conflict. Removing the heart would require a minute or so of appropriate roleplaying with the body. The referee will be able to provide you with a ribbon for the heart, which you should attach to a suitable phys-rep and keep in an in-character area until it is placed in an Ephisis box.
There has been a suggestion made that the Faraden could be granted access to Imperial lore, in much the same way as the Commonwealth. This could be granted with a simple Declaration of Concord passed through the Imperial Conclave which would need to be worded to explicitly grant the magicians of Faraden permission to learn from Imperial lore. This would see a steady number of visitors from the magical families keen to expand their knowledge in all six realms. There would also be a slight increase in taxation from the increased number of magicians, and their servants, travelling to the Empire.
I'm not saying that this is the fault of the Faraden, I'm not. But it totally is. Maybe if they stopped spending so much time talking about how Vigilance is Fear they'd understand that actually it's pretty fucking useful to know what your citizens are doing.Maria Giacora von Sarvos, thief-taker
Rumours continue unabated regarding reports of the smuggling. Though there is still no confirmation one way or another as to whether Faraden merchants are entering the Empire in secret through northern Segura and southern Kahraman, there has been a slight drop in trade from Faraden. There has yet to be a suggestion put forward that would be of any use in attempting to discover and put an end to any potential smuggling coming from Faraden, though Maria Giacora von Sarvos, a thief-taker, did suggest that as all of the theoretical smuggling is going through freeborn territories maybe the Freeborn National Assembly could try raising a statement of principle about it.
There was one incident reported with some Faraden traders travelling through the south west of Kahraman. According to a patrol of soldiers from the Green Shield, they came across the caravan in a disused mine where they had been attacked. Of the dozen merchants and their guards only three had managed to survive their injuries and when questioned by the captain they claimed they were on their way to the town of Damata. There was a symbol daubed on the wagons, purportedly by their attackers. The order was given to escort them the rest of the way to Damata, along with the bodies of their deceased.
- The Empire has placed sanctions on merchants from the Iron Confederacy: the Suranni have responded with an embargo on Imperial goods. Further details of their impact can be found here
- The Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy is Vladimir Sasha Volkov of Varushka
Baroness Katerine Lavasse of Meore, as the diplomatic representative of the Dukes of the Iron Confederacy to the Empire informs the Imperial civil service that a representative of her house, Ser Pippin Lavasse, intends to visit Anvil during the Winter Solstice 383YE in order to meet with the Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy.
There have been numerous suggestions at the embassy in Sarvos that the reason for giving so much notice is to ensure that the Ambassador can guarantee that there is no unforeseen circumstance arising that might result in the postponing of the meeting. Ser Pippin Lavasse would prefer to travel overland but as the Empire is currently defending itself from invasion in both Feroz and Segura, he intends to travel by ship to Sarvos, resting in the embassy there before journeying on to Anvil.
We the Synod invite any interested parties from the Iron Confederacy to visit the Highwatch Camp within Urizen at Anvil, so they can gain understanding of the details of the True Way. We further encourage priests of the Way to meet the visitors and aid in their education.Pallidius of Highwatch, Statement of Principle, General Assembly, Summer Solstice, Upheld (786-276)
Hand of Dumon
- Following an invitation from the General Assembly a delegation from the Hand of Dumon are journeying to Anvil to discuss the Way
- They are expected to arrive at three in the afternoon on Saturday; they will journey first to the Highwatch camp in Urizen
During the Summer Solstice Pallidius of Highwatch raised a statement of principle in the General Assembly seeking to bring interested parties from the Iron Confederacy to Anvil in order to discuss the Way. Florent Chappuis and Abélia Gaubert have crossed the border in Feroz, journeyed into Madruga, and travelled by ship to Sarvos before joining with a merchant caravan making its way to Casinea.
Abélia is very interested in discussing the Way with Pallidius, and any other Imperial who wishes to talk to her. Florent meanwhile has not made a secret of the fact that he hopes very much to have a chance to talk to any who are also blessed by Dumon. The pair of Suranni are anticipated to arrive around three o'clock in the afternoon on the Saturday during the Autumn Equinox.
Trade with the Iron Confederacy
- The Iron Confederacy has closed its borders to Imperial merchants and goods.
- The port of Robec has been closed to Imperial traders
The port of Robec remains closed to Imperial ships, as does the land border from the southern Brass Coast. A few Imperial citizens still visit the Confederacy, but they report being closely watched and following the executions at Robec even this trickle has largely dried up. Imperial sanctions still permit Suranni merchants to come north, but the increased tariff on their goods, the fact it is currently illegal to bring Imperial produce into the Confederacy, and the ongoing conflicts in Segura and Feroz means fewer and fewer are making the effort.