Ruud crumpled the paper, dropped it onto the table, and brought his fist to his mouth, biting down hard on the knuckle with his sharp teeth.

"I am ruined," he said, his voice thick with grief. "We are ruined."

His son said nothing. He pulled the ball of paper towards him, and smoothed it out. He read it again quietly.

"We have twenty-eight days before it becomes law," he said slowly. "I suppose in theory we could sell the stock to one of the Asavean ships. If we act quickly, they may not be aware of the decree, especially if we hit a recent arrival."

"That will not work, Pieter."

He had not heard his cousin come in. She came across to the table, standing behind him, glancing down only briefly at the notice.

"That will not work," she repeated flatly. "The news is already all over the city. The Gjullit have paid the Criers well. It is being shouted on every quayside, every dock, outside every warehouse and embassy. Nobody is going to be unaware. Everyone is going to know how desperate we are."

"We are ruined," whispered Ruud under his breath again. "Ruined."

He was gazing off into the middle distance, apparently oblivious to his son and his niece. Blood ran from his chewed knuckle down his arm.

Julianna shook her head, making the wooden beads woven into her hair dance and clap against one another. She stared at her uncle, her red eyes unreadable.

"They can't do this to us," said Pieter a little desperately. "There must be something we can do!"

"They can, and there is" said Julianna calmly. "In fact I've already done it."

She laid her hands on the table between Pieter and Ruud, tapping one clawed finger to attract their attention. Her cousin stared at the golden ring she now wore, initially uncomprehending.

"We met as soon as the decree was read," she said softly. "We agreed what had to be done, if the Van Brunt are to survive."

The door behind her opened. Two figures in heavy black robes entered without waiting for an invitation. They wore thick scarves around the lower parts of their faces, concealing their features. One had a set of manacles in her hands. Pieter jumped to his feet, one hand falling to the pommel of his short sword. Julianna stilled him with a glance, then turned her full attention to her uncle.

"I've already given the order," she said. "The stock has been cleared. Only Vincent is unaccounted for, and given he was already en route to Nemoria it's unlikely he'll be foolish enough to come back. The family has agreed that you will cover our losses, and stand surety for our debts."

Ruud finally focused his eyes on her. Tears welled up, tricking own his pale cheeks.

"I'm sorry, uncle," said Julianna. She did not sound sorry. The two heavily robed figures moved around the table, one to either side, ensuring there was no avenue of escape for the old man. It was an unnecessary precaution; he was past resisting.

"There will be no need for the chains," he said at last, his voice broken. "I could not bear them."

As he was lead quietly out of his office, the sun was setting over the Redthorn Quays. The great doors of the warehouses to either side stood open, and a crowd of half-clad people milled around in front of them. Several labour scouts were moving among them, talking animatedly to any who would listen. A priest of the Way and her acolytes were handing out old clothes and scuffed sandals to any who would take them, offering hot food and beds for the night.

The passage of Ruud van Brunt went unremarked, his sobs drowned out by the shouting, and the clattering of falling chains.

Overview

During the Winter Solstice, the Sarcophan Delves sent a delegate named Johan Van Basten to participate in the Liberty Pact summit. While they nation committed to end slavery and were an active participant in the discussions, the Delves chose not to sign the pact once it had been drawn up. Over the last several months, however, representatives of various bedelaar husbaas have sent emissaries to the Empire with proposals intended to forge stronger trading ties between the people of the Delves and their Imperial "neighbours" to the north.

The Banket van Vrijheid

  • The Sarcophan Delves have made the slave trade illegal in their nation, and for their citizens.

The Sarcophan do not use slaves themselves. For a society dedicated to the pursuit of wealth, they are uncharacteristically squeamish when it comes to buying and selling thinking beings. A handful of families dealt in slaves, but they were barely tolerated by their peers. Shortly after the Winter Solstice, that toleration comes to an abrupt end.

The bedelaar huisbaas of Sarcophan meet at the great table in the banquet hall atop the palace of beggars each month. In between courses, they make decisions that effect the entire nation. The priests who oversee the feast and serve as an unofficial civil service announce their infrequent decrees. After the Solstice, they announce the decree that the trading of slaves is an unacceptable act for any Sarcophan, and furthermore that the practice will be a crime in the Delves.

WingedMessenger.png
Bedelaar Huisbaas Annike advises her peers
on dealings with the Empire. A Winged Messenger
can be sent to her at The Tower of Crows,
Sarcophan, the Sarcophan Delves.

It is very rare for the bedelaar huisbaas to make such a decree - but it carries with it the force of law. Anyone found to be breaking this law will forfeit all their assets and be cast down, given over to the soulweavers to be made into one of the ongelukkig. Even the bedelaar huisbaas are not immune; a beggar-landlord caught supporting the slave trade will forfeit their seat at the great table with potentially ruinous consequences for their entire family. The rulers of Sarcophan do not make such decrees lightly.

The immediate response is subdued. With a single turning of the moon to divest themselves of any connection to the slave trade, a number of Sarcophan quit the Delves, heading for Asavea and Jarm. Others - many already in the process of transitioning to new markets - simply unload their slaves at a loss. The remainder take the hit to their finances and free their former property at whichever dock they were moored when news of the decree reached them.

There is surprisingly little disruption to the day-to-day lives of the people of the Delves. For a time the labour market is glutted with former slaves. Those few families so mired in slavery that they quit the Delves rather than face ruin are replaced by ambitious successors. While they are not signatories to the Liberty Pact, within a season the Sarcophan Delves stand beside the Empire, the Sumaah Republic, the Commonwealth and even Axos as a nation where the trade of slaves is not permitted.

The Kruidenkenner Propositions

WingedMessenger.png
Ockje Duisenberg currently resides at Gezondheid
Huis
, Crown's Quay, Necropolis for anyone who wants
to talk about Kruidenkenner business
via Call Winged Messenger.

The Kruidenkenner are a powerful guild of herbalists and apothecaries from the Delves. They sponsored the Kruidenkenner Magazjin in Crown's Quay, overseen by the Kruidenkenner Trademaster. Ockje Duisenberg is the nominal head of the Kruidenkenner presence in the Empire. A skilled apothecary and wily businesswoman, she has drawn up two proposals for the Imperial Senate to consider. The first is an ongoing opportunity to build warehouses in various nations that would allow the opportunity to purchase large amounts of a individual herbs. The second involves an extension to the existing Kruidenkenner Magazjin that would support the trade of herbs with certain key Imperial title holders.

Warehouses

  • The Kruidenkenner herbalists guild remains keen to construct additional warehouses in the Empire as detailed here.
  • The opportunity will be lost at the end of the Spring equinox.

The Kruidenkenner Magazijn serves as a base of operations for the guild of Sarcophan herbalists. While the Trademaster claims their bounty of Cerulean Mazzarine, the herbalists themselves pursue their own trades within Imperial borders - buying and selling herbs, potions, and drugs in Highguard and across much of the southern Empire.

For several seasons the Kruidenkenner are keen to expand their operation to other parts of the Empire, but they are prepared to wait on the Empire's interest only for so long. The opportunity to build one or more of their warehouse-enclaves will expire at the end of the Spring Equinox.

You can review the details of the Kruidenkenner warehouses here.

Investment

Ockje Duisenberg is interested in seeing the Kruidenkenner enter into loose partnership with the High Herbalist of Sybella, the Master of the Clearing House in Tassato, and the Vizier of the Incarnadine Satchel in Feroz. In each case, the Kruidenkenner would provide additional herbs at bargain prices. In return, they would need some assistance in expanding their premises at Crown's Quay.

Purchase PriceHerbs
7 Crowns16 random herbs
17 Crowns33 random herbs
35 Crowns50 random herbs

Accepting the Kruidenkenner offer requires a Senate motion; a bearer of an Imperial Wayleave cannot alter an existing commission. The expansion would require 24 wains of weirwood, 48 Crowns, and take three months to complete. Once it was finished, the High Herbalist of Sybella, the Apothecary Clearing House in Tassato, the Vizier of the Incarnadine Satchel offices in Morajasse, and the Kruidenkenner Magazjin itself would all benefit. Each title would gain an additional purchase track alongside their existing opportunities to buy herbs. This additional track would remain available as long as the Empire's good relations with the Kruidenkenner and the Delves continued.

This opportunity remains available until the end of the Autumn Equinox. If construction on the expansion has not begun by the start of the Winter Solstice, the opportunity will be considered to have lapsed.

The Gjullit Opportunity

  • The up-and-coming Gjullit family propose the construction of a docks to handle both white granite and weirwood at Siroc on the Brass Coast.
Purchase PriceWeirwood
80 Crowns3 wains of weirwood
183 Crowns6 wains of weirwood
288 Crowns9 wains of weirwood
Purchase PriceWhite Granite
80 Crowns3 wains of white granite
183 Crowns6 wains of white granite
288 Crowns9 wains of white granite

With the creation of the Liberty Pact, the Gjullit family of Sarcophan predict that the Cavabianca Dock in Caricomare and the Pallas Docks in Cargo may become unusable by the Empire due to the increase in prices associated with the new tariffs. They cannot match the quantities of material provided by the Asavean Heraclien and Ragnabe families, or by the Jarmish Magician-Prince of Parnau Principality, but they surmise that the Empire may be interested in securing white granite and weirwood at reasonable prices from Sarcophan merchants.

With that in mind, they propose an arrangement in which Gjullit ships bring both white granite and weirwood to the Empire for sale. This would, as usual, require reinforced docks and secure warehouses, and with an eye towards safety they propose Siroc as the location of their new enterprise which they have rather prosaically christened the Gjullit Docks.

The Gjullit
The Gjullit are newcomers to the great table of Sarcophan politics. While their traders have made regular visits to the Empire for several years, they have recently increased in prestige following a vicious take-over of assets left behind by one of the slaving families that quit the Delves for Asavea. They are enthusiastic entrepreneurs, seeking an opportunity for further profits.

The Gjullit are busy establishing their position in Sarcophan politics, but are working with Bedelaar Huisbaas Annike, the trade advisor to the Delves. Any communication relating to this opportunity should go through her.

Constructing the docks would require a senate motion (or the use of an Imperial wayleave), a commission, 30 wains of weirwood, 20 wains of white granite, and 100 Crowns in labour. It would take three months to complete, and create an Imperial title - Trademaster of the Gjullit Docks most likely. The well worn path would be to appoint this title through the Imperial Bourse but it could be either Imperial or national in nature.

The title holder would be able to purchase both white granite and weirwood from the Gjullit. While the amounts of both would be initially small, if the docks proved profitable to the Sarcophan merchants there may be an opportunity to negotiate an increase.

The Gjullit are keen to establish themselves; if they are to survive in the shark-pool that is the great feast they will need to begin showing a profit very soon. As such this opportunity is available only until the end of the Summer Solstice 383YE - and if work on the docks is not completed by the start of Winter 383YE the Gjullit will have to look elsewhere.

The Van Basten Trade

  • Johann Van Basten has arranged a one-off opportunity to purchase 100 White Granite from the Sarcophan Delves for 500 Thrones.

Johan Van Basten journeyed to Anvil as the Sarcophan Delves' delegate to the Liberty Pact summit. Following discussions with the Master of the Imperial Mint, Lieselotte van Holberg, and the Ambassador to the Sarcophan Delves, Thanmir Hrafn, he has arranged the sale of one hundred wains of white granite to the Empire as a bulk, one off deal. The price to purchase this would be 500 Thrones.

The opportunity is a limited one; even the wealthy Van Basten family cannot afford to sit on such a stockpile of white granite for too long. If the Empire has not taken advantage of the opportunity by the start of the Autumn Equinox, then regretfully the Van Basten will need to find other markets for their white granite.

(OOC Note: To take advantage of this opportunity, either the Master of the Imperial Mint or the Ambassador to the Sarcophan Delves should ensure they have the 500 Thrones in their inventory and e-mail plot@ProfoundDecisions.co.uk after the event. The white granite will be available by the start of the next event).

Sarcophan Enclaves

Two potent bedelaar huisbaas - the leaders of the Vandersar and the Diepenbeek - have laid proposals before the Imperial Senate that would involve transforming certain ruined locations into trading enclaves. Both require that the Senate concede control of those locations to the Sarcophan Delves, but each provides very different benefits. The Vandersar proposal involves building an enclave in the southern Empire on the ruined Alivetti estates of Sarvos. The Diepenbeek plan by contrast involves rejuvenating the ruins of Isember in Karsk.

These opportunities are not exclusive; both could be approved by the Senate to allow the Sarcophan an enclave in the north and the south.

The Vandersar Proposal

  • The Vandersar propose the Senate concede the ruined Alivetti guild estates in Sarvos to their consortium so that they may build a Sarcophan enclave on it.
  • Benefits include additional ilium for the Steel Fist; the permanent opportunity for business owners to gain herbs through diversification; and improved profit for Imperial traders visiting the Delves.

The Alivetti guild estates lie along the coast of the city of Sarvos, on the outskirts of the district of Caricomare. They were once the home of the Alivetti - a powerful League guild whose most famous recent scion was most likely Empress Giselle. The estates were ruined by the storm that devastated Caricomare; during the rebuilding of the district in 378YE the waterlogged ruins were largely left to their own devices. Much of the old estate is now swampy marsh, haunted by mosquitos and vicious frogs.

This makes them ideal for the purposes of Bedelaar Huisbaas Edwin of the Vandersar family. He represents a loose alliance of some of the richest families of the Sarcophan Delves. They are keen to establish closer trading ties with their nearest neighbours and the recent resolution of the Liberty Pact has convince them that now is the time to strike. They want the Imperial Senate to concede control of the Alivetti estates to the Sarcophan Delves. The Sarcophan are masters at reclaiming and building in marshes and swamps; they will clear the ruins, reclaim as much of the estates as possible, and construct a dock, warehouses,and residences in the Sarcophan style, transforming it from marshy ruins into a home-away-from-home for Sarcophan captains and merchants. It will serve as a stopping off point for traders from the south, as well as a place Imperial merchants can visit to speak with Sarcophan captains.

Benefits
Edwin does not expect the Empire to simply give the estates to the Delves, however. As soon as the Imperial Senate passes the motion of concedence, the consortium he represents will increase the amount of ilium provided to the Steel Fist by half again - another four rings each season bringing the total bounty to twelve. This increase will continue as long as the Empire remains on good terms with the Sarcophan Delves, or until the Imperial Senate abrogates their concedence. In the event that the Empire wishes to end the agreement, however, Vandersar and his fellows will expect a suitable payment in recognition of their investment in Alivetti.

The Vandersar
The Vandersar are a well established and powerful family of the Delves who trace their roots back to the first settlers in the ruined city of Sarcophan. They already have extensive trade interests in the Empire, including the sale of weirwood at the Concordium Dock.

Edwin Vandersar requests that any correspondence relating to his plan go through Bedelaar Huisbaas Annike, the trade advisor to the Delves.

The presence of a Sarcophan enclave of this size on the southern coast of the Empire will also offer an advantage to Imperial business owners. They will gain the ability to diversify their resource to gain an income of herbs as well as money following the normal rules (an investment of 1 Throne, which will reduce the production of the resource by 36 rings and replace the money with two herbs of the character's choice).

Finally, the enclave will significantly improve the confidence of Sarcophan merchants - both those visiting the Empire and those at home in the Delves - that Imperial citizens are people with whom they can do business. Every Imperial ship captain visiting Sarcophan will gain an additional dose of Marrowort and an additional dose of Imperial Roseweald each season.

Limitations
The Vandersar are prepared to give the Empire some time to consider their proposal, but if the Senate has not acted by the end of the Summer Solstice 383YE the offer will be withdrawn and they will look elsewhere. Bedelaar Huisbaas Edwin requests that any official correspondence regarding the proposition go via Bedelaar Huisbaas Annike.

There is only one significant structure still present in the Alivetti estates - the broken tomb of Empress Giselle. Broken open by the Grendel during the sack of Sarvos, the body of Empress Giselle was recovered and now rests in Temeschwar. The initial intention of the Vandersar is to clear the tomb along with the other ruins, but they have suggested that if the concedence motion requests them to leave the tomb intact they are prepared to work around it rather then destroy this landmark.

The Diepenbeek Plan

Merchants from Sarcophan already have a presence in Varushka. Traders from the Delves who are prepared to risk the perilous journey find a ready welcome at the Sarcophan Mooring at Ivarsgard. Here they trade herbs - and occasionally more exotic substances - for Varuskan lumber, fur, and ambergelt. The Diepenbeek family are keen to build on the opportunity presented by Ivarsgard, and have an ambitious proposal for the Empire; they wish to lease the ruins of Isember from the Empire.

The Diepenbeek
Unlike the Gjullet, the Diepenbeek have a place at the great table but they are not quite as wealthy and influential as the Vandersar. They are known in the Delves for the diversity of their business interests, prepared to take on any job that promises a clear profit. Their employees clear ruined tombs for valuable relics; sell fine weltsilver and Imperial Roseweald; and have a reputation for skill in the arts of Autumn magic.

The Diepenbeek have requested that any correspondence relating to their proposals regarding Isember are sent via Bedelaar Huisbaas Annike, the trade advisor to the Delves.

Isember was destroyed during the war with the Thule. Even before its destruction it had a reputation for lawlessness. The folk of the vale betrayed their people and sided with the orc invaders; their treachery attracted criminals, exiles, and heretics from across the north, drawing the ire of the heroes of Anvil and ultimately leading to their downfall. Nobody lives there now. Since the death of Vesna Kovac at the beginning of last year, even the Sovereign's Heart inn has closed its doors. The ruins have quickly been reclaimed by the forest, and there is talk of wolves lairing in the cellars of the broken buildings. Traders prefer to go to Ivarsgard rather than risk the haunted woods.

The Diepenbeek plan is straightforward enough. They wish the Imperial Senate to concede Isember with a suitably worded Senate motion. They will take custody of the land, and build a trading enclave there. Their ships will continue to use the docks at Ivarsgard - Isember has limited access to the Semmerlak - but for as long as they maintain the lease of the land it will be considered part of the Sarcophan Delves.

In return, they will clear the ruins - and any monsters that may have taken up residence - and rebuild the town. Once the area is cleared, the Diepenbeek will ensure the immediate area is kept clear of wolves and bandits, in cooperation with the boyars of the local vales. Indeed they anticipate seeking the assistance of the people of Lestasny to ensure that they do not inadvertently transgress any of the unwritten laws that allow mortals to prosper in the dark hills and forests of Varushka.

The building will take a little time - they anticipate six months once permission is given - but it will cost the Empire nothing and will not require a commission. Once complete, Isember will be reborn as a Sarcophan settlement in the far north overseen by the Diepenbeek. This will allow them to trade with the northern nations - the rest of Varushka, with the Imperial Orcs in Skarsind, with the League in Temeschwar, with the Navarr in Hercynia, with the Winterfolk at Kalpaheim, and with the Thule at Krevsaty and Urdur.

Benefits
First, the Sarcophan will need to clear the runs of wolves and bandits. They anticipate that this will be a significant undertaking, but are prepared to pay Imperial mercenaries to help them deal with the wolves and bandits. The immediate effect will be the creation of a one-of opportunity in the following season for Imperial captains to help secure Isember. The Diepenbeek will pay well in money, herbs, and metal.

Total Money SpentProduction
7 Crowns6 Weltsilver, 6 Imperial Roseweald, 2 Marrowort,
17 Crowns12 Weltsilver, 12 Imperial Roseweald, 4 Marrowort
35 Crowns18 Weltsilver, 18 Imperial Roseweald, 6 Marrowort

The Northern trade network will be able to deal directly with Sarcophan traders based at Isember. This will give the Bonesetter of Torfast Trading Post, the Broker of Treji Wayhouse, the Overseer of the Westward Road, the Northbound Trademaster, and (once work on the tradehall is complete) the Kalpaheim Tradeholder access to an additional purchase track for their ministry representing bargains offered by Sarcophan merchants.

Guard Sarcophan Caravans
This paid work alternative would provide a standard military unit with 12 rings, 3 Imperial Roseweald, 3 Weltsilver, 2 random herbs, and 1 random forest or mine resource each season.

Once the rebuilding is complete, Sarcophan traders will continue to employ Imperial mercenaries to protect their caravans in the dangerous wilderness of the north. The option to Guard Sarcophan Caravans would be added to the paid work dropdown for Imperial military commanders. Rather than providing the usual production, this option would guarantee a set return, dependent on their rank. The opportunity would remain as long as the Diepenbeek controlled Isember and the Empire maintained good relations with the Sarcophan Delves.

Finally, if the Senate wishes, the Diepenbeek are prepared to restore the Sovereign's Heart inn as part of their rebuilding program and lease it to a Varushkan landlord. The landlord would also serve as a point of contact for the Diepenbeek if there were any local problems that were not worth bothering the Ambassador to the Sarcophan Delves with. This would create an Imperial title, with tenure (serving until they died or stepped down) appointed by the mine and forest owners of Varushka, that would initially receive an income of 11 crowns each season but might be able to gain other benefits depending on how the settlement of Isember proceeds. Alternatively, the Senate may choose to state in their motion of concedence that they do not want the Sarcophan to do this, in which case the inn will be demolished along with the rest of the ruins.

Limitations
The Diepenbeek are already trading with the people of Karsk and are prepared to give the Empire time to consider their proposal. If the Senate has not acted by the end of the Autumn Equinox 383YE, however, they will make other arrangements.They request that any official correspondence regarding the plan for Isember go via Bedelaar Huisbaas Annike.

A Note About Concedence

Conceding either the Alivetti estates or the ruins of Isember to the Sarcophan Delves would function in a similar manner to conceding an Imperial commission. The estates and the ruins could be seen as representing follies, in a legal sense. The Sarcophan will claim the land, and begin to build their enclaves on it. Neither Isember nor Alivetti have any current Imperial population; the Sovereigns Heart Inn in Isember is effectively defunct since the death of its owner and has fallen into disrepair.

One of the advantages from the Sarcophan point of view to having land conceded to them is that they will not need to concern themselves with the Empire's laws regarding construction - they will be free to build without requiring Senate motions for every significant structure. This does mean that the Empire will have no oversight on what they construct in the land that has been ceded to them - while they maintain that they wish to build warehouses and docks the Empire would no legal recourse in the event that they chose to build (for example) a heretical temple.

it is important to understand however that concedence asserts the legal will of the Empire to give up all control over the affected area - it is categorically not possible to cede control of something but retain any element of control over it under any circumstances. Attempts to restrict what the Sarcophan can do with the land in question would meet neither the requirements of the concedence power itself, nor the terms of these opportunities.

The Senate could abrogate their concedence at a later date - but doing so could lead to significant diplomatic repercussions if it were done without the cooperation of the Sarcophan Delves.

Limited Opportunities

The opportunity to commission Kruidenkenner warehouses expires at the end of the Spring Equinox. The opportunity to expand the existing warehouse expires at the end of the Autumn Equinox; work on the extension must have begun by the start of the Winter Solstice.

The Gjullit opportunity to build a dock at Siroc is available only until the end of the Summer Solstice 383YE. If work on the docks is not completed by the start of Winter 383YE the Gjullit will have to look elsewhere.

The Van Basten Trade, offering the purchase of 100 wains of white granite, is available only until the start of the Autumn Equinox summit.

The proposal regarding the Alivetti estates expires at the end of the Summer Solstice. The plan regarding Isember expires at the end of the Autumn Equinox.

Resolution

Following the Summer Solstice 383YE, the Empire availed itself of the Van Basten offer, purchasing 100 wains of white granite for 500 Thrones.