Gotha date; RH

 
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The Business of State
06-30-2015, 07:46 PM
Post: #1
The Business of State
"Will there be anything else, meina Deganne?"

The Chancellor of the Empire shook her head, her eyes locked on the piece of paper that had just been delivered. "No, that will be all," she muttered. The serving woman bowed.

"Make sure we're not disturbed, Else," said the Minister of Defense, Aje äv Þergl. The serving woman nodded, bowed again, and took her leave. The two Cabinet-members were left alone in their corner. If there was one thing the Kæninghus at 211, Hauhtsbreiþgatis was good at, it was privacy. There was a reason so much of the business of state took place here.

Jræa glanced at Aje. "You read this?"

"Yes." The Minister frowned. "I knew av Varung when he studied here. A damn shame, this."

"What the hell were the Auresians doing?"

"Staying out of sight, so I'm told." Geretrude de Roøs, the Home Secretary, took a sip of her wine. "They wanted to keep things quiet. That Skræling cake was... vague, remember."

"Was it the Skrælingen?"

"Dunno." Geretrude looked uncomfortable. "This is all Val's area, after all. The Auresians say they found a Nuwoch at the scene."

"I've heard that as well," Aje interjected, twirling a cigarette holder in her hands.

"Could be a red herring." Jræa leaned back. "Like you said, this is Iijners' department. I'm assuming she knows."

"Most likely."

The Chancellor nodded. "Then she'll take precautions. She still has those derviš from Hayrand, right? And her department will watch over her." She turned to Aje. "What about those ships headed to Skara?"

"The Berig and the Æured have just docked, I'm told."

"Any airships?"

"The Rign-3. And the Legate has removed our citizens from the city proper. If things go south, we can hold until reinforcements arrive from Aedeland."

Jræa leaned back in her armchair. "Good. What about Vittmark?"

"Already sent those orders out." The Home Secretary grinned. "What I wouldn't give to see Anna's face when she hears of this..."

********************

Uzds Falüs, Karoline

They were making him wait.

It made him nervous. How many times had he done this route? How many years spent on the sea, back and forth between Funinslän and Talpå? Too many, he thought. More than his father, who'd lived – and died – upon the sea. More than his brother, who'd at long last had realized the waves were no fit wife for any man. More, he thought, than was wise.

Long enough to know that, if they were making him wait, something was wrong.

Nils Gustavsson was not an anxious man, not by any stretch. But something was wrong. Very, very wrong. Had the tariff gone up? The Amberians had always charged a minimal yearly tariff for passage through their straits. Personally, he thought that was rubbish, but he also knew that humans, being humans, would monetize whatever they could, and the profits to be had were such that, when push came to shove, Nils never really minded paying. It did, after all, give him access to many of the strangest, most faraway places on this earth.

Perhaps it was this new Common Tariff? He'd heard rumors of that back in Lløsheim. Surely they hadn't passed it?

The door to the customs office opened. A young guard stuck her head out. "Herra Gustavsson?"

He stood. He was the only one left. "That's me."

She nodded, and bade him enter. The office was small, but roomy. He recognized the woman at the desk. "Heils, Frauja Vælschild!" he said. "A pleasure, as always."

She did not smile. Yes, something was wrong. "Nils, please, sit."

He sat. She waited until he was comfortable. "They've passed the Common Tariff."

Nils did not say anything. Wrong, indeed.

"Vittmark is... refusing to pay. I'm sorry, Nils. I have my orders. I can't let you through."

"What?"

"This comes from the top, Nils. You have to turn back."

"Turn back?" He shook his head. "Surely this is some joke–"

"This is no joke."

"Marhildr–" He cut himself off. Everyone was staring at him. "This is my livelihood. I can't just turn back."

"I have my orders, Nils."

"Your orders?" He found himself standing. "Your orders? This is my life. I've paid my dues for thirty years–"

"Herra Gustavsson, please." Now Marhildr was standing, too. She fixed him with a cool stare. "Miles Wihs."

The young guard hefted her rifle and bade Nils follow her.

"You will be escorted to your ship, where your fee will be returned to you. Again, I am sorry, but I have my orders."

"The Queen will hear of this!" Nils resisted the urge to spit. "You have my word on that! This is my life!"

Marhildr's only answer was to wave the quivering Vittmarker and his escort away.

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07-05-2015, 11:05 PM
Post: #2
RE: The Business of State
"To the port, my dear man"
The taxi driver had not expected the girl to give him the order, when he saw this odd couple coing out of the railway station. She was just 20-25 or so, light blonde and wearing glasses with a thick black frame. He however was at least 10 years older, short curly hear and carrying a suitcase. She spoke the language fluently, but with an accent he could not exactly pinpoint.

The duo could find the ship easily, it was heavily guarded so that it could not make its way out of the port of Uzds Falüs. They found Gustavsson in the wheelhouse, half asleep from alcoholic intoxination.

"Herr Gustavsson I presume?"
The captain opened his eyes. He hadn't even noticed that he had been adressed to in Wortsproke.
"Wha..."
The man with the suitcase put it on the table, opened it and got out a portfolio with some paperwork and an envelope.

"Sign here please, then you and your crew can go back home."
Gustavsson still didn't have a clue about what was happening.
"18 tickets for a ferry to Helreich, 18 traintickets to Kronsta. Your stim representatives will be awaiting you there."

He became a bit more aware now.
"18? We're 23 here. And who are you?"
"Binck," she simply said, stretching out her hand.
"Binck... av Hagen?"
"That's my uncle. But I'm representing the buying party here."
"Buying what?"
"Your stim is selling the ship to the Knutskulla Estate. They sent me to take care of the details. And yes, I'll be needing a skeleton crew of 5 to stay on the ship. The rest can go home. Can I see the cargo manifest?"

Binck checked the logs that the captain got from his quarters one deck below. It was all there: arsenic based pesticides, fertilizer, whale oil; all with destination Skara. She was pretty sure it would never get there.

======

The next day, Binck and her yet unnamed companion arrived at the customs office in Aschgæt.
"Good morning, my name is Binck, I am representing the owners of the Vittmarker vessel currently held i Karoline. This is Herr Vollär from the embassy."
The officer in charge took a long time to get the papers. This type of visit had been expected for a while, but he had been instructed to let the red tape flourish.

"Here I have it, the MV Hiältevad, owned by Hiältevad AB from Skara, with Skara as port of call."
"Not anymore. The ship has been purchased by the Knutskulla Estate, directed by Svea Gefna. Knutskulla falls directly under the crown, Queen Anna of Vittmark, I might add. A niece of your queen-elect, as you probably are aware?"

The officer hesitated. His long employment at customs had prepared him for a lot, but not for an adolescent girl with thick glasses barging in with a new rulebook. Time to hand this case over to someone with more authority.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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09-17-2017, 11:41 PM
Post: #3
RE: The Business of State
The following is adapted in part from the official minutes of the 8th Amberian Reiksþingi.

* * * * *

"This is madness!" said Æve Vake-Drakau. The third day of deliberations in the Amberian national Diet, the Reiksþingi, was going much the same as the previous two. The various MP's had to shout to be heard over the din. "My colleagues across the aisle seem to be pushing for the implementation of a treaty we cannot even enforce!"

"The Madheshtor was counted as a strait during the original deliberations four years ago," explained the Foreign Secretary, Valæri Iijners. "The Auresians have not signaled–"

"As if that matters!" Vake-Drakau slammed her hand down upon the copy of the Protocols of Gadalhem each Elector had been given to peruse. The sound of her palm smacking the pile of paper echoed throughout the chamber.

"The original Treaty of Ærilar dealt with more than just the formation of the Straits Cartel," Iijners continued. "The Empire has withdrawn from the Cartel, yes, but they have not made plain their stance on the various other agreements–"

"They withdrew from the cartel!" Vake-Drakau was a passionate speaker, and her voice was tinged with genuine anger. "They're no longer a party to any of those agreements! Do you think Cephorus will just allow us to force his people's vessels into these ship registries? In international waters?! This is how wars begin!"

Her statement was met with applause from the gallery of onlookers and from the floor. Vake-Drakau pushed her advantage. "What plan do you have to stop this situation from devolving ever further?"

"We are investigating what legal recourse we may be entitled to–"

"Investigating!" This from Gudrún Chihsel, a conservative leader and war hero. "Investigating! The Auresians have, at a stroke, removed our ability to profit off over half of the shipping that passes through our waters! Mark my words, ratification of this nonsense will see the center of Anarian trade shift away from these islands–"

"We will see nothing of the sort!"

"She fancies herself a soothsayer!"

"How much are the Hvíttmarkeren paying you?"

"My esteemed colleagues should reacquaint themselves with the basics of economics," Chihsel said imperiously. "You cannot maintain a business with a rival consistently and predictably undercutting you. The Cartel no longer has a premium on access!"

"Then what does the Elector from Árheimr suggest we do?" asked Gisele Iijners, "We have already agreed to this treaty. Backing out now would infuriate the Aedelish."

"And ratification would condemn our businesses to a playing field rigged against them!" She took a moment to steady herself. "This treaty has already cost us dearly. The Anisorans have no doubt profited handsomely off their insistent undermining and betrayal of our trust, and now they have persuaded a major pillar of the Cartel to join them in leaving. Even our Queen-Elect has been personally affected! What am I suggesting, Frauja Iijners? I am suggesting we firmly vote against the ratification of this treaty, before it does us any more harm!"

The chamber erupted in applause and condemnation in equal measure. In the gallery, high above the proceedings, a woman named Audrún – recently transferred from Aedeland – leaned over in her seat to whisper in her companion's ear. "Have the opposition made contact with the Anisorans?"

Her companion, a young brunette named Marhildr, nodded. "Nothing in person, yet. But Chihsel was seen chatting with the diplomat's wife at in the Garden District a few days past."

"Hm." Audrún sighed. "I may not agree with her politics, but Chihsel's right about one thing: the Straits Cartel is causing nothing but trouble..."

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