[CANON][RP Episode] No middle men


Not too long after Lyrien had sent a message to Valdemar in the aftermath of the peace summit, a reply was brought to her.

When she read the Jarl’s short reply, a feeling of unease filled her. It was very blunt. Perhaps she offended?
She stood up from her throne.

‘‘We are invited to Maruba.’’ she spoke out loud for all her aids to hear. ‘‘I will only be taking my essential staff with me. For the next few days while i am gone, all matters requiring my attention are to await my return, or if they cannot, then they may be resolved by my father.’’

Without any further orders, her servants scrambled to work, preparing everything her majesty usually required on such excursions. Serving her family since before she became Archon, when she was but a girl, they knew exactly what and who she considered essential.

Word was sent to Jarl Valdemar to inform him of her intent.

‘‘Worried?’’ asked Ara, her royal protector, standing by her side as he usually does when she is at court.
Lyrien lowered her gaze at the parchment.
’‘This meeting will decide if Kleriel’s recovery after the war is swift and with new allies at our back, or a slow grind with resentful neighbours by our side.’’ she explained while handing the letter to her Steward to archive.

‘‘Why would they deny you?’’ Ara asked. ‘‘They did invite you over after all.’’
’‘We shall see how this will turn out.’’ she replied in a low tone as she got up to change in to her travelling attire.

Her arrival in Maruba was to boast military power, discipline, and grace. So she left Meridian in the royal airship with two smaller escorts. With her she took her protector, her steward, three of her servants, and a handful of Samurai as her personal escort, while the airships were manned with their usual combination of crewmen and cybermancers, which were to stay with the ships. She also had gifts acquired for the Jarl and his people she was convinced they would find very useful.

They set sail as soon as everything was ready, with Gaius on his way to or already home, there was no time to waste.


Maruba Full List

The Archon was right to move with haste. The column of troops under General Marius swept through the countryside, and despite being on foot, they were a mere week from the city by the time Lyrien arrived.

Armed with their standard gear, but no other weapons, the three cohorts tramped along, their long legs speeding them across the continent towards Maruba.


The day on which the archon had noted her arrival was a very cloudy one. A drizzle had annoyed the citizens since daybreak, and there was nothing to suggest that change was impending. Despite the foul weather, the jarl was found standing outside, accompanied by councilman Bogdán and a guard standing ten strong. They were standing on the West Banks, at the newly constructed landing site, where the keelish were to arrive, with any luck in a matter of minutes.

As they stood there, a guard occasionally launching a half hearted attempt at a conversation, they were searching the sky. Searchlights had been erected to ensure the foreigners good landing conditions, o and these were tracing a rough elliptic shape in the bottommost clouds. As they waited, a roar of engines grew separable from the whistling of the rain. Steadily growing in magnitude, the bottoms of large airships appeared at the cloud thicket above the Eastern Wall, approaching and descending towards the landing site across the harbor.


The ships were initially planning to make port in the harbour itself by landing in the water and docking like any respectable ship of the sea. But as they descended, they spotted that a separate landing site was prepared, with Jarl Valdemar and his escort right beside it, waiting. Naturally they assumed that it was intended for them, so they altered course. The flagship and one of the escorts slowly descended to make a soft touchdown on the platform while the last one remained afloat as a sentry.

The boarding bridge was lowered, and 6 Samurai descended the bridge to disperse to the right and left side of it, 3 of them on each flank, with Lyrien right behind them coming down their middle, her protector and steward at her heel. The crewmen on the flagship had crates prepared to be unloaded, gifts for the Jarl, who were awaiting the Archon’s signal to bring them to him.

Lyrien and her companions bowed their heads to look vertically upon the ground as is proper in their lands when meeting figures of such status as the Jarl. Rising back up, Lyrien spoke.

‘‘Jarl Valdemar? It is a pleasure to meet you, at last. Very kind of you to await my coming in this unfavourable weather personally.’’


When the keelish had disembarked, Valdemar had stepped forward from the line. As such, it was he who the archon had reached first.

Welcome to the capital, Archon Lyrien.” he replied to the creature’s statement. “The pleasure is mutual. Follow us now, our escorts await just back here.” He gestured towards the outlines of a small convoy of horse drawn carriages, just distinguishable in the heavy downpour. “Very unfortunate,” he blethered on, “the weather in which Svetla let us receive you! I can nonetheless assure you that you will be most comfortable in Fehérvár!

The carriages, it turned out, were made with delicate details from dark wood, and hosted four green satine seats each. The outside, with the rough shape of a tilted egg, had been decorated with crimson lines, which snaked all around the surface, bending into letters just above the doors; “Ghowocogon ukub gegen ow jewebihit”, which was an old Roklav saying. In modern tongue, it roughly translated to “strongest and last is hope”, which were playing on the maruban core virtues. The doors themselves were arched in the top and framed with a pattern of gold and red. The carriages themselves were pulled by two mares each. which were lead by a driver on each carriage, of whom only the hands were visible from under the rain covers under which he sat.

As such the combined party fit, with relative ease, into a total of six of them. The first and last in the convoy was occupied by two keelish samurai and two maruban royal guards each. This was done for protocol more than it was done for safety, as there were no known hazards in the city at this time, and as the appointment was unknown to the broader public. With four remaining carriages to go, Valdemar steered the archon towards the second transport in the line, holding the door open for her.


Lyrien smiled at the gentleman’s kind gesture and climbed aboard the carriage to take her seat. Assuming he as the host would be sitting facing the right way forwards, she sat on the bench facing backwards. Her bodyguard awaited the Jarl to climb aboard next. After which, he would proceed to sit beside Lyrien.


Valdemar bowed his head slightly as the cloak of Lyrien swept past. After she had picked her seat, he went on to sit on one of the seats opposite, facing forwards. One of her guards followed, and so did one of Valdemar’s own maruban ones. The latter shut the door behind him, and as had it been magic, the rain was cut out almost completely. In the pressing silence that followed, Valdemar spoke. “I am pleased to hear that you by some miracle managed to summon one king Wesley of the viking horde, one emperor Gaius of the valkorian, without any rolling heads!” he said this in a rather severe tone, but gave the keelish a slight smile when he’d finished. “May I ask how come both seem to hold the belief of being the victor?


‘‘Because the both of them are too proud to admit defeat, dear Jarl. In truth, there was no victor, a truce was signed when continuing with the war became an irrational waste of men and resources. Valkoria got its revenge, and Danheim is still standing… for the most part.’’ Lyrien explained, adding a giggle to her finish.


It’s all for the best, I suppose,” Valdemar said. “Knowing his majesty Wesley,” he stroked his beard, “and hearing the rumors of and corresponding with this emperor, I doubt one would have permitted their foe peace until their lands had turned to ogoco; dust, I am sure you know. What a waste of life that would have been! And for what purpose? Rogue Danes? Such hot-headedness fits no ruler who wishes to remain, your majesty. Indeed, I am no longer surprised the peninsula is divided, I can say that!


‘‘Valkoria is not divided any longer. They were rallied at the first sign of foreign aggression. And with their blood rage not even having subsided yet, they rushed to the north seeking vengeance. Blindly and arrogantly.’’ Lyrien explained while her face turned angry at the thought of the Kavehan air strike which completely shifted the tide of the war, ‘‘Danheim paid for its people’s mistakes in blood, Kleriel payed the price of defending the integrity of the north, and Maruba?’’


Maruba ensured the keelish a haven in time of need and patched their men back together,” Valdemar finished the sentence, his face turning suddenly stern. “Not to mention keeping their, and thereby the North’s, trade routes unhindered southwards! Not all moves the bishop makes strikes a queen, my dear Lyrien, remember that! It doesn’t mean that the move is flawed by any means.” With a bump, they felt the carriage setting off at a moderate pace. It appeared everyone had taken their seats.

Now,” he went on, looking out through the foggy glass, “on to some more pressing matters!” The carriage took a turn to the left, making the passengers bob like puppets in their seats. “The Neck,” he said, suddenly much more businesslike, “is as far as I am aware no longer in need of protection. In your letter you addressed how you felt the need for continued keelish presence in the archipelago, however as you shall hear, I would disagree. With your treaty signed, peace has again set over Allura, meaning that the nations of the Concord are free to enter the Calledian. Therefor any attempts to stop said nations from doing so would be pointless, not to mention counter productive and frankly a violation of international conduct!” The carriage crossed the Dunír and turned right onto the main road. “The only power currently forbidden from entering the sea of the north,” he went on, “are that of Valkor. Now, seeing as an entry, forced or not, would violate the treaty their own emperor has signed, a smaller number of my men ought to suffice to man the fortifications constructed in wartime.” He straightened up and looked right into Lyrien’s eyes. “We welcome all help that is offered us in the Neck region, but the council has come to the conclusion that it hardly is countable towards a necessity! After all, Gaius believes himself to be the victor, and as such, he would do well to stay away from anything which could disprove that line of thought. Risking another war with half the known world would, in my humble opinion, very much count towards that category.


Lyrien narrowed her gaze.
’‘The Neck is a strategic position through which we can control traffic in and out of the Calledian from its northern side, it will always need protection, not only from foes in wartime, but all sorts of pirates and rogue raiders that pray upon our trade routes. The fortifications built there, were paid and built by Kleriel, the men and defences sent and set up there, were deployed and funded by Kleriel, and it were the Keelish people who fought and died there to hold it. Therefore, The Neck belongs to Kleriel, and your people may now, in peace time, safely withdraw. Even though your troops you sent north to reinforce the position weren’t required in the end, thank the heavens, your ‘‘assistance’’ is appreciated. As much as we appreciate the ships you said you’ve had in the southern Calledian, which before this point we have heard no mention of. A good thing none of those brave sailors had to risk their lives and face the enemy as well.’'
Turning her head to look out the window, she added.
’‘And no. The treaty forbids the Iron Concorde from entering the Calledian.’’


Valdemar frowned. ”I could not recall usch a paragraph,” he Said, ”look for yourself!” While he spoke, he reached inside his coat and withdrew from within a roll of parchment. Opening it in his lap, he quickly reread it all, before handling it on to the keelish. ”I received this a mere two days ago by king Wesley himself, seeing as I was absent from the negotiations themselves. I do wonder how the treaty could have applied to the concord states however, as none of their leaders to the width of my understanding were present either.

Lyrien took the roll. It was a signed copy of the treaty. It read:

The end of the Valkorian - Danheim war.

Also known as the Rogue War.

Valkoria is forbidden to sail its fleets north in to the northern seas, including the Calledian, and cannot set foot on Nordrenya. Likewise, Danheim is forbidden to sail in to the southern seas, and set foot on Vellanora. Unless either of their allies permit them to move about their territories and spheres of influence on those land masses, and nowhere further.

Kleriel will dissolve its mutual defence pact with Danheim for good, and Valkoria will brake all ties with the Iron Concorde and leave them for good.

Valkoria will pay reparations to Kleriel. It will pay 35% of the total cost of the damage done to Kleriel’s military in The Neck region when Kaveh unlawfully intruded and meddled with the war as a non-participant in aid of Valkoria.

There will be a truce between the three parties for a total of 10 solar years, in which time none of them may declare or resume hostile activities such as war towards one and other.

Wesley Deniro, King of Danheim, leader of the viking horde


Lyrien drafted the scroll, and then lowered it.
’‘Oh, it seems that it does not. It must have slipt my mind that we could not negotiate on behalf of nations who weren’t present at the peace summit, nor partook in the war itself, even if they did declare it.’'
She then gave the scroll back to the Jarl.
’‘But, seeing as Kleriel controls both the southern entrance in to the Calledian, which is our home territory, as well as its northern entrance, The Neck, it is up to US who we let in or out, don’t you think?’'
She grinned deviously.


Be that as it may,” Valdemar answered courteously, “you currently do showcase a whole separate line of reason from your letter, dear archon. Protecting the Neck and demanding an entry tax are far from synonyms, and if I may be so rude as to point it out, it might shed some light on the true reason to why Kleriel offers this so called protection to our states in this delicate time. Am I in the wrong?


‘‘Not entirely.’’ she replied in confidence, ‘‘Though it would sadden us greatly if Maruba had to pay a similar price that Kleriel did because of the generous aid you provided us. As I have said. Preserving the integrity of the north is our main agenda, with the Calledian at its heart.’’


Sarcasm will lead you nowhere in this country,” Valdemar said dismissively. ”Now, if what you say is to be believed, then surely dominion is not the right way! It goes against the whole concept of integrity! Simply put, either the Neck is held by Kleriel for the sake of the safety of Maruba, or it is held for the personal interests of the imperium. I understand that both would be a result of the blockade, but in the latter case it would not matter whether Maruba became a protectorate or not. Therefor it is highly relevant which motive it is that is the causation of the keelish presence .


‘‘The reason, dear Jarl, why Kleriel will maintain a presence there is because not only have we built it and fought for it, but because we feel Maruba would prove incapable of putting it to use. The facilities there are built to cater to Keelish physiology. The defences and technology there are beyond your understanding. Your military is fewer in number and lacking in battle experience. Your fleet is fragile and outdated.’’" she continued, ‘‘It is for these very reasons we see Maruba in need of our protection. We would offer you all of this and more if you would wish of it, but we will not force you to change your ways of life for us, nor do we want to. And neither do we want Maruba bullied by foreign powers who are less inclined to aid you. Just like The Neck, Maruba too is a gateway to the Calledian, a strategic position. A gateway to the north.’’


The jarl stroked his beard at these words, and looked out through the window as the carriage took a sharp right turn. “Then, it hardly seems likely that you would abandon your forts no matter whether we agreed to your terms or not. You are unlikely to leave the position of power the archipelago provides, and at any rate you need the taxes it brings in, for the reconstruction of your once powerful navy. Am I correct in that assumption?


‘‘That is correct. We will be imposing a toll on any ships attempting to pass in and out of the Calledian. These funds will mainly go towards rebuilding our fleet. Everyone will get tolled except for Keelish vessels of course…’’ she explained while adjusting her legs to a more comfortable cross legged position, ‘’…and Maruban vessels as well, if you agree to our terms. Your ships would pass freely, and your prosperous trade would continue unimpeded.’’