[CANON][RP Episode] No middle men


Not having to maintain the Neck while reaping the rewards of if you had. But, of course,” Vitéz said and bowed his head, ”if Kleriel wishes to continue with the upkeep indefinitely from their own pockets then we have no right to interfere.

If that is settled,” Valdemar said, ”I have a question to the Archon on how she imagines the economics to work in this theoretical arrangement, seeing as none here shares currency.


‘‘Oh, rest assured. Kleriel will cover all of its upkeep expenses without issue. Combined with the protection tax you will be paying us, the tolls will bolster our earnings considerably. Financing it will never be an issue, and neither will manning and supplying it. Especially with Mechari not requiring much to survive.’’ she explained in a friendly tone, as if mocking the chancellors ignorance. She then turned towards the Jarl, pleasantly ignoring that Valdemar just called her a ‘‘he’’.

‘‘As for economics, they will function as they have before. This is a military agreement to keep Maruba and Lasenor safe, not an economic one. You will pay what we will tax you either in our Kinah, or in resources in quantities of equivalent values. To help with this, Kleriel is prepared to develop Maruba’s industry and infrastructure to be more efficient. Though it is up to you if you accept this or not, and your choice of what you wish to develop. Any improvements we make for you will also be added to your debt which we will expect you to pay in time. Either through a period of increased taxes, or a one time sum repayment.’’


That could most likely be settled in future,” Valdemar said, “given that Kleriel does not suck our reserves near drought, of course.” He smiled pleasantly. “Now, before we go down into the city to meet with your veterans, I would like to make a smaller request from you, archon Lyrien, a perfectly innocent one of course.


Lyrien cocked her eyebrow questioningly.


Innocent indeed,” he continued, “should the popular vote be in favor of entering a protectorate status, boundaries must be set. In preparation for a future when Maruba hopefully has grown enough to stand her ground on her own legs, we need to be assured that Maruba will be able to leave this cooperation without offense taken. It is my sincere hope and belief that such an action would be to reform the arrangement into an alliance, rather than our two nations taking a distance from one another, however I would like you, should Maruba become a protectorate, to sign a treaty which ensures Maruba’s right to deny your protection in future.


‘‘Of course, that is what i meant when i mentioned Maruba’s right to leave this arrangement whenever it pleases. If you and your people are ever dissatisfied with our treatment of you, you can cut ties freely. I will not hold you in our protectorate against your will.’’ Lyrien replied in agreement, ‘‘But i will make no promises of an alliance should you decide to do so. Standing on your own feet and being our equal are two different things entirely.’’


Thank you, good Lyrien, what you say gladdens me. I will need that in ink too though I’m sure you understand,” the Jarl said, ”however much I hope to meet the best in those I meet it would be foolish not to take this precaution. Now, is there anything else you’d like to discuss before taking a stroll?


‘‘Yes, actually.’’ Lyrien continued with a sigh of relief,’‘One more little detail. If the referendum passes and Maruba accepts our protectorate with Lasenor in tow, Kleriel will be requesting basing rights in both your regions. We have an interest of establishing at least one forward base of operations, for security and reconnaissance of our own you see, in your southern borderlands.’’


I don’t see why that would be an issue,” Valdemar replied, looking at his councilmen, who shook their heads in confirmation. Then a thoughtful expression came over Valdemar’s face. “Would it,” he began, “would it be obscene to ask whether Kleriel would be interested in aiding our southward expansions if this is their ambition? Your requested base of operations could be positioned in a more strategically sound place than at our current borderlands which opens up to nothing but barren no-mans-land. You see, the Red Mountains are largely uninhabited, save your savage tribe of plundering mountain men. Yet the rock itself is valuable, as has been proven by the mining operations of Maruba and Larkimar alike. Therefor the conquering of said mountains would be in our greatest interests. And perhaps it’d content you too, for aside from protecting travelers from raids, you’d have a better location from which to gather information of the southern happenings, which I’m sure are more interesting for an imperium the likes of Kleriel than the coming of age of “Uruk the Bearded” of the Szar tribe.


Lyrien nodded, ‘‘By aiding, you mean reinforcing your troops as they push these tribes out of the Red Mountains? You can count on our support on that. Simple tribesmen are rather easily dispatched, so our forces will be there to ward off foreign intervention if nothing else. After which, they can help your people civilise the region by building roads and bridges, if you’d like.’’


That would be a most potent idea, my good Lyrien!” Valdemar said. “We can discuss these matters once they become of urgency, however now I believe we may leave the negotiations where they stand. Would you wish to cover any other matter while we are all present?


‘‘That will be all.’’ she replied.


The parties all rose from the table and weapons were given back to their original owners. Then they proceeded to leave the room, the Maruban Jarl leading the way along with two guards, the Archon, her life guard and the Láseman. Lord Virion, suddenly much happier, having his bow restored to his back, treaded by Ara’s side with light steps. After them came the councilmen, and the remaining guards present. Bogdán was carrying the documents and records from the meeting and talking quietly in rayiti to his scribe.

When the group emerged from the tunnel in which the spiral staircase was carved, they were blinded by a dazzling sunlight, which had been mostly obscured in the dim chamber they’d spent their morning in. Valdemar steered them straight onwards from here, leading them westwards and towards the grand stairs down to the dining hall. As they moved past the long row of windows adorning the wall to their right, they could see more clearly the bright day which lay outside. A meek wind made the pins of the gargantuan pine tree in the gardens rustle gently, marking the still day the townsfolk were experiencing, who had no knowledge of what had been discussed mere hours prior.

At the end of the corridor, they came to the stairwell, which they descended, to indeed find themselves in the dining hall. All was empty now, save the pair of guards on the opposite end of the long hall, who stood by the doors leading out into the shady inner yard.

It did take them a good while, but eventually they once again found themselves standing at the lower gates of Fehérvár, where the very same carriages in which they had arrived there had pulled up. They looked more magnificent this time around, the heavens appearing to have dried up for a good while now. As the pines rustled above, their greenery serving as a harsh contrast to the rock wall behind, the light flickered on the golden details and making the embedded phrase shine a light crimson shade. “Hope is last indeed!” Valdemar thought, as he took a seat with the other heads of state and the keelish bodyguard.

It wasn’t only the weather that displayed Svetla’s pleasure on this particular day; their journey throughout the city was undisturbed, save the occasional bypassing pedestrian. Nothing of importance was said in the lead carriage until they approached the Dunír crossing. Then, Valdemar looked out the window and, seeing where they were, addressed the archon. “The keelish soldiers from the Battle of the Neck who are to accompany you home should still be by the training facilities, ma’am. We are soon at a crossroad, and we could go either way, so it falls to you really. Do you wish to visit them there and give them something of a morale increment before heading home, or would you rather await them by the landing site?


‘‘Why are my people in your training facilities?..’’ Lyrien asked in confusion. ‘‘And under who’s authorisation?’’


Oh not to worry, dear Lyrien,” Valdemar assured her, “it is protocol with wounded military personnel to finish a recovery with a few days in the training camps. Warden Somolyos had the keelish moved there the day before yesterday, where they’ve been doing some simpler exercises to test for any lingering physical issues you ought to have knowledge of. However he sent rather good tidings last evening. Apparently most have reached full recovery, but their medical files will be yours to take for future use. They are, to the width of my knowledge, awaiting our arrival as we speak. Should you wish, I could send for them to be taken to the landing site should you wish to wait for them there instead.


‘‘I would like to go to see my troops then, Jarl.’’ Lyrien replied confidently, ‘‘They have been put through a lot under my directive. Escorting them back to their homeland is the least their Archon can do for them.’’


Very well,” Valdemar said, after which he opened a hatch in the front wall and gave the driver instructions. Immediately they felt the carriage rumbling to a slower trot, and then came a sharp right turn. They were pulled into a leftward turn, and headed on northwards down the harbor side road. The sun sat now high in the sky and as they went along, a large ketch with purple sails meandered past in the waters, headed for pier three. As Valdemar looked out the window, he saw a tiny figure on deck waving energetically to someone on the other side. “A loved one perhaps?” Moving along, they came to the tower roundel, and began encircling the rook.

Now the outer walls came into view. No entirely complete, they distorted the landscape in a most peculiar fashion, two jagged peaks in the blue. Then, as it came, the towers were lost from sight. Now they were in what looked like the main street of a wooden village. To their left were houses, rough and bare, yet with a hint of infant splendor. To their right however a maze of paths were being erected on wooden jetties, amongst which, on the sea itself, buildings were being assembled. It was a hectic place, and they had to slow down to a near halt to allow for the road to be cleared.

Above the houses to the left a newly erected wall stood. It went on for a distance due north, then veered off eastwards and across the water towards where the two pointy shadows stood. The road led them ever closer to the wall, and soon they could glimpse a gate, taking them out into the countryside. The occupants of the carriage involuntarily exhaled in unison at the welcome tranquility that presided outside the city. Picking up speed now with the lesser traffic, imagery like grazing cows, fields of green rye and the occasional building, sticking its roof above a clump of trees somewhere. In the distance, a wider area could soon be seen, which was sealed off with a high fence. Crossing a small stream, the driver made for the front entrance, where four green clad men stood waiting.