[CANON][RP Episode] No middle men


#41

To business then!” Valdemar exclaimed once all were settled and somewhat safe. “As you’ve most likely gathered, during this meeting we are to discuss the possibility of a proposed Northern Alliance, or” he corrected himself, “a Calledian Alliance if you will. Before delving into the details, is any head of state at this table opposed to the theoretical idea of a military and economical alliance to be founded here in the Calledian?


#42

Lyrien sat there emotionless.


#43

Seeing no motion but the hammering of Councilman János’s fingers on the table, he nodded to the room at large. “Very well then! For starters, quite unrelated to the nations of the White Mountains, I’d like to settle the debt in which we here stand to the keelish of Nordenya. After all, who knows what the forces of emperor Gaius had done to our ports had they been let through the Neck, referring of course to their ill-advised assault on the archipelago.” He sat facing Lyrien completely now. Virion sat attentive and silent. “As you very well know, our golden Wyverns are very different to the golden Kinah of Kleriel,” he continued. “Therefor I believe that a resource based payment is the best way to go about the situation. The mines are running at a high gear as we speak, what with building ourselves defenses, however by our orders the miners have outdone the refineries. Therefor we have iron in mounds at your disposal, as well as copper and tin should you need it. Our proposal is 30,000 metric tonnes of iron a year to be gifted to the Imperium of Kleriel for a duration of 3 years. This will be sufficient for several of their lost vessels. Do you accept, good archon?


#44

Lyrien leans forward and prepares to make an attempt at explaining the mammoth costs of the cruisers lost to the amusingly innocent leaders at the table.

‘‘Iron alone is not sufficient to rebuild our ships with. Giving us these amounts may seem generous to you, but for proper modern ships, one which would stand a chance against those of Valkoria or Kaveh, need to be made from at least steel. So for you to give us iron, we still need to refine it ourselves first for it to be of any use to us. 30k a year for a total of 3 years would give us enough iron to make 3, maybe 4 cruisers.’’

Ara nudges her with his elbow inconspicuously and clears his throat. Lyrien sighs and continues.

‘‘But… as this is an unconditional gift. How could we not accept…’’

Realising it were not Maruba who blew up half their fleet, they could not extort them and bleed them dry because the opposition in the war was unwilling to share the news with their rogue friends that Kleriel was expecting compensations.


#45

Valdemar smiled. ”Dear Archon, do not take me for a fool. Obviously our resources won’t cover your rebuilding completely. That was never the intention. But good intent does leave a mark in a maruban, and as such, we do what we can to showade our gratitude. We are, at present, not a large country by any means, but I can assure you that the path for our future is an ascending one. As a side note,” he added, ”when we are done here ans you are on your way home, I believe there is a group of your injured who would like to accompany you, as they are good as new, or most of them at any rate.

Adjusting his position, he said, now to the room at large; ”Now that armies are being drafted across the north, in multiple countries, I believe the first point in the meeting ought to be the proposed military alliance. Maruba is ready, or will become so shortly, to aid Kleriel against foreign agressions, given that they clearly were not the provocateur of the conflict. Lásenor, as ally of Maruba, already has this assurance from our side. What say you this time, Archon Lyrien?


#46

‘‘How can we be sure of your aid when you were unwilling to come to Danheim’s aid in the northern war?’’ she says as she cocks an eyebrow, ‘‘And what is Lasenor in this alliance? A fledgling nation who I’m still not sure even has a standing army.’’


#47

Surely you are fit to see such a frivolous matter?” Valdemar replied, “when the forces of Valkor roamed, we had not much to provide you in military terms. Simply put, what we actually did add to the war effort, was mostly what we were able to add at that period of time. That, as I have stated several times now in the duration of your visit, is changing. Our mining spree is not merely a way of paying you back, it is a way of modernization and of militarization. It is a way of telling the world that we are no mere pushovers, as some unfortunately might have gathered it.” His gaze intensified towards the archon. “If you yet lack in belief, I shall take you, at noon would be most suitable, to the nearest training ground for a first hand inspection.

As for Lásenor, you are correct in that their military is near nonexistent. However, an alliance stands between this state and the one of Lord Virion, one which ensures our military aid in exchange for cheaper market prices, we are bound to their assistance. As I am doubtless you know, the dales of Lásenor are virtually agricultural powerhouses. No famine will ever threaten Maruba while this treaty stands, nor, if you so choose, would they threaten Kleriel.

Virion leaned forwards and placed his elbows on the table. “No one may force you to come to our aid. Our strength lies not in numbers or swords, but in other places. But, if you were to include us in your calculus, those prices would affect you as well.

Lásenor is a pacifist nation,” Valdemar added, taking back the conversation, “and is as such unequivocally ineffectual in an armed struggle, however this proposed alliance of ours would be more than a grouping of muskets. It holds for trade just as well. That will be the area in which Lásenor shows its value. Is that what you wanted to hear?


#48

‘‘Your troops in training are useless to me if Kleriel falls under attack and you have no fleet to get them there, Jarl…’’ Lyrien said with a moan, ‘‘And your sail boats aren’t exactly the way to go about this if the enemy has mechanised steel battleships. Meaning that whatever wars we would fight, it would fall upon Kleriel’s shoulders yet again to keep the Calledian secure.’’ she explained, and after a chuckle, she continues. ‘‘And what sort of alliance is this if we can pick and choose what conflicts we fight? An alliance is a bond where each nation is assured that the rest will come to its aid when faced with war, no matter what. THAT is what it means to be an ally. If Kleriel could choose which ally to come help, and when, it might not have been at the Neck to stop Valkoria on its way to Maruba.’’ she explained with a sharp tone.

‘‘Just to make clear what being in an alliance means to Maruba, since it obviously failed to come to its ally’s side the last time.’’


#49

Your tone is unwise, archon,” Valdemar said coldly. He tried to explain again, “Again, you would have gained virtually nothing from our military presence in the Rogue War. Less than nothing. As you yourself has said, our military is outdated, hence our redoubled efforts in the area. A renewal which, I should mention, covers numbers as well as equipment and vessels. The argument you make in regard to our wartime participation is fruitless and I cannot answer it with more clarity than I already have. We were militarily weak, and we were not allied with anyone. Yet I should point out we favored Kleriel nonetheless, or your losses would have been even larger. As for the situation of Lásenor, I believe we were clear on that what they could not provide in arms they would have to make up for in economical manners, referring to the market prices.

You have been met here with a proposal, ma’am,” Virion spoke up, “and as a proposal, it can be denied should you so wish. It would be unfortunate, but scoffing is not the way forward. We are here this morning to give you an option which may benefit you as well as us in the long run, not to take on the fashion of beggars.

Maruba would come to Kleriel’s aid,” Valdemar said, “truly, but save for the good will I have showcased and my written and spoken word, there is little I can do to make your mind for you. As my good Virion here has said, the case is clear: if you do feel that you cannot trust me or Maruba, then off you go, but it will be a mistake if you do so.


#50

Lyrien’s eye twitched, and she clicked.
’‘Our losses would have been even larger? Really?’’ she remarks sarcastically and with ire, ‘‘Thank the heavens for your reinforcements which arrived after the battle and didn’t even see a day of fighting in the entire war, which we had to almost force you to send us. You really are a heroic people, truly. So heroic, you take on a few injured not out of humanitarianism, but to use as leverage to extort a superior power with as if that had won us the war with your herbs and medieval bandages, expecting it will tolerate your arrogance. That is the LEAST you could have done, or all of Maruba would be too badly in pieces to bandage back up again. You were weak, true. And you still are weak, and will always remain weak. You will never be able to catch up to the powers that be unless they annihilate each other. Though you best hope they do before they annihilate you.’’

After a moment of recollecting herself, she continues in a more calm yet still stern voice.
’‘I fear the mistake had already been made when Kleriel stepped between it and Valkoria at the Neck. I offered you protectorate status so that something like what happened to Danheim, or worse, could not happen to you without going through us first. But is seems you would have to experience death and carnage first before accepting such an offer.’’

Lyrien stands up.
’‘This is my final offer. Accept, and i leave to have my steward bring the necessary documentation. Or decline, i leave, and will not return.’’


#51

Archon, I beg your pardon,” Valdemar said warily. ”I do not suggest that we turned a tide, or even made a dent in the tale that has become the Rogue War. I am a man who has lived through many struggles, however I have yet to experience war, and I do not deny that the thought of one is one little dear to me.What I have experienced nonetheless, is an exile larger than any these parts have witnessed. It is in the camp of Roklavian refugees that once stood here that I received my scars, rather than a battlefield. To our people therefore, any one life saved is something noteworthy. When referring to your losses, I was merely referencing the three grosses who we managed to nurse back to health, which while maybe a minor difference for an imperium like that of Kleriel, was a large feat for us. As for your comment on that point, I must assure that our intentions were humanitarian to the core, having received a similar, if not grander, shock wave of injured after the doom of Roklavia a few years back.

Kleriel did a noble thing, protecting the Calledian from the foreign aggressors. Be it for your personal gains or ours, it probably saved more than our source of dane mead. I hope that you will regard that deviation as a good one in due time.

He paused, and shot a glance at János. “Know this, good Lyrien. Never shall I force foreign powers upon my people, their well-being are my first and foremost task, and that has been the case since we began turning this valley from the camp of tents that it was to what it is today. As what you offer would allot to the latter, it is but in consideration of the former that I can not accept personally. The solution that may satisfy us both most, I believe, would be to hold a referendum, where the Maruban citizens may choose.” János turned around in such an instant that he became a blur to the people around them. “That way,” Valdemar went on, speaking now both to Lyrien and János, “I have broken no vows to my position, and if the people so wish, the protectorate status would become a reality. Would this be a satisfactory course of action?” János’ eyebrows had disappeared up onto his scalp, but he remained quiet. Then he too looked at the keelish archon.


#53

Lyrien raised her eyebrows in surprise when she didn’t get flat out refused again this time, considering how proud Marubans are, she doubted their leader would even consider such an option.

‘‘Well… at least we are making progress.’’ she though silently.

‘‘Very well. Hold your referendum. However, i do not have the luxury of free time to wait around for its outcome.’’


#54

Relived that she appeared to be calming down somewhat, Valdemar’s spirits rose. Admittedly they were still low, but somewhere far away he could see light again. “I understand that, archon,” he said, careful with his tone, “it shall then be held in combination with the elections this March, and I shall alert you of the outcome at once. Would you care to rejoin the table?

A knock came on the door, and in came a man dressed white, a dark red apron on his chest. In his arms were a platter with a plethora of bread and baked goods. The first of many such platters it seemed. “Brilliant!” Valdemar exclaimed, waving them inside “breakfast!

Turning to the still standing Lyrien, he said, "**Please, good Lyrien, take your seat. I shall send Hatar here down to the landing site to inform them of your departure this afternoon. Until then we will be finished with all questions regarding the future.


#55

Lyrien stood there with wide eyes. Her brow lowered back to its usual height as she stood there as if stunned. She was getting ready to outright insult this man, his people, and nation a mere moment ago, and now he is acting like nothing has happened, and is seeking her good will again with the offer of breakfast. Suddenly she felt like she didn’t deserve it, as she hasn’t been the most gracious of guests so far, but refusing it would have been a greater insult to the Jarl. She shyly sat back down, slowly, with her scarred honour. Lyrien tried her best to not ever become the imposing type of ruler as so many before her, who held power through strength and fear, but not trust or admiration. With the potential of having to extend her protection over the people of Maruba besides her own, she realised she would be able work with them and earn their trust and admiration by trusting first, and through charitable acts later on.

She reminds herself she had brought a gift for the Jarl which she should give before departing, since they went straight to business upon her arrival.


#56

As Hatar exited the room, the heavy door clanging shut behind him, Lyrien finally retook her seat. The entire Maruban end appeared to exhale in unison at this. But Valdemar knew he would have to watch choose his words with care from this point forth if he wanted there to be any bonds left with their eastern neighbor. János still looked a bit disgruntled at the jarl’s suggestion, but still he remained silent.

Before them, the previously empty space which had existed in between the heads of state was being packed with baked goods, jams, butter, cheeses, sausages, fruits, a number of berries, presumably from the Piterud region, and even baked Nug bacon. Once the platters had been lain three other men entered, one bringing goblets and a pitcher of wine, the second brought jugs containing juices of various sorts, and the third brought crystal clear water. Once all was set, the waiters bowed and left the room.

Well, it appears the chefs have outdone themselves!” Valdemar said with some more joy in his voice.“I mustn’t forget to thank kitchen master Tüzes! Now, there’s time for politics after our own needs have been fulfilled, so let us eat!” Reaching across the table, Valdemar pierced a few strands of bacon with his fork and added it to his plate. “The Nug was actually suggested to be by a keelish officer a week or so after the war ended. I took the liberty of acquiring some for this occasion, although truth be told I have yet to try it, as they don’t occur in these parts naturally.” He shot a glance at the keelish party, who were scanning the table contents. “To our foreign guests, I would recommend the Kirugrádi sausage, it is made by an old roklavian recipe and is the supplying farm is the best and the oldest of it’s kind in Maruba!


#57

Ara inconspiciously pulled out a gadget under the table with which he made quick scans of the food laid out before them to check if they were indeed edible, and if anything happened to be poisoned. Concluding they are safe, he nodded to Lyrien and stored the gadget back in to his pocket.

Lyrien looked at the full table of food, not knowing what to try, she settled for a small bit of everything. Looking down towards her plate she grabbed what the natives here she heard call a fork, and grasped at it with her three fingered hand, attempting to get a grip of the utensil rather clumsily.


#58

Valdemar noticed the unaccustomed way in which the keelish ate, but as they finally seemed anywhere but on the verge of dissatisfaction with the piles of food now before them, he didn’t mention it.

After breakfast the meeting resumed. Lord Virion had loudly agreed to join Maruba in the status of protectorship should they vote for such, in order to hold their alliance. Therefor all that remained were economic points and the finer details of this theoretical protectorate.

Now, with a referendum to hold, not muhc more needs to be decided today,” Valdemar exclaimed. “Much depends on our people now. However I believe that it has come to speak of the topic of the Neck. I understand that Kleriel is holding the entrance to the Calledian. However, in the light of new matters I do not think that all of your restrictions have reached us. Could you express your vision for the region, good Lyrien?


#59

Lyrien clasped her hands together as she leaned on the table after it was cleared.
’‘I believe i have already explained my vision for the region before we ate. Kleriel will maintain a military presence in the fortifications it had erected, as well as patrol the pass, and collect tolls from all vessels wishing to pass through seas we made safe. With the exception of any subject states we might have in the future…’’ She explained.


#60

Indeed you did,” Valdemar said, ”I merely wished for everyone here to be on the same page. Councilman Vitéz, have you got anything to add?

I do, my Jarl,” the bald man said, ”I would like to ask the Archon whether she, in time of course, if her experts’d eventually feel our navy to be up to the task, would want us to take the positions over. We have discussed this perviously in the council. It would not alter your gains from the region, yet it would seem wiser, if circumstances favor it, that Maruba, being by far the closest of the three nations to the Neck, were to operate and sustain it.


#61

Her hopes of the Marubans not making second attempts at negotiating, or rather begging for the Neck having been crushed that very moment, she sighed and did her best to subdue the feeling of being insulted yet again.
’‘For what? As long as Maruba maintains its status as protectorate of its own whim, and have the right to cancel this arrangement whenever it pleases, the status of the Neck will remain non negotiable, councilman. As such, you will be a liability. We would indeed be fools to give away the Neck voluntarily like that.’’