Finarvi — Trolling For Trade
????, Earth Season
Earth Season 1626, on the road to Crabtown [[[G01:session-7|I Fort The Law]]]
Trolling For Trade
On the way to Crabtown, Finarvi reins in his horse and falls in beside Jorrim. The Grazelander had been riding with his cousin, conversing too quietly for Jorrim to overhear, but now he wears a look of pained resignation and worry.
Jorrim, who rides better than most from Old Tarsh, and worse than anyone in the Grazelands, pauses in adjusting the lie of his robe along his horse’s back, and gives Finarvi a pleasant smile. “My very dear,” he says. “Can I help you in life?”
The rain patters down, and the road runs watery.
Finarvi gives him a rueful smile. “I look like I need it, then?” He sighs. “Everyone told us that Herengvot was wily. So I have a bad feeling about running this errand for him. Are we being monstrously stupid?”
“No, we are being hopeful and naive. We do not have to delight him – we can always give him what he needs instead. Should we be unable to attain his wand, his want will suffice.” Jorrim smiles in his beard. The grey powder has been washed out of it, showing a darker shade beneath.
“Say we do retrieve the wand and give it to him. Say we manage to do it without creating a disaster. What is there to prevent Herengvot using it against us? Against Sartar? I know I should trust his word, but are we truly doing the right thing?”
“Nothing, save that we saw how the Lunars were outside his walls. He will use it to gain power in any place with glass walls, I think. There are several, and he could bargain to repair them all. However, his general reputation is not that of a conqueror. I would not do this for everyone, but to present him with a power, knowing he is the sort to hoard – and also the sort to raid Snakepipe Hollow – is a small risk compared to others that have been taken this season.” Jorrim looks at his robe, and tries to twitch his leather cloak over it, and sighs.
Finarvi doesn’t seem to notice the rain. He strokes his mare’s sodden mane thoughtfully. “This troll trader is not going to want the wand to go back to Herengvot, and if he thinks we’ve been sent by him I expect we’ll fail. So why would two Grazelander traders want to acquire a magic glass artefact? I have been thinking, it would make a very fine wedding gift.”
He glances sidelong at Jorrim, to see if the scribe will play along with this suggestion.
“Possibly one for someone who knows the history of Kallyr Starbrow?” Jorrim suggests.
Finarvi looks at him quizzically.
Jorrim shrugs. “I find I do not want to lie directly,” he says. “I am at my best when translating what is said, not what is hoped, but if there is a story that is not in itself untrue, I can work with it. My Trade-talk is limited, which at least will allow me pauses, should I be the one who must speak.”
“I know little of history,” Finarvi ventures slowly, “but I know some of the history of Dragon Pass, and I know that for the Feathered Horse Queen to marry would be… politically expedient.” He glances at Jorrim to make sure he understands, unsure how extensive his grasp of Pure Horse tongue is.
“It depends a little on whom she should choose,” Jorrim says carefully. “With Kallyr dead, if she marries Leika that is a tremendous support to a claim that is stronger in hope than fact.” He speaks clearly, in turn watching Finarvi’s face.
Finarvi makes a dismissive gesture. “A mere trader has no say in such matters. But an ambitious family, seeking to curry favour, might try to impress with such a gift, no?” He cocks his head and gives Jorrim a mischievous smile. “To hand one’s Queen the key to victory is a worthy gift, and if she chooses to gain that victory by handing the wand to someone else, someone with a fort and a large army, for instance… well, that would be her choice, not ours.”
“Well, that seems plausible.” Jorrim muses for a while. “Now, which family? I am from Wintertop.”
“Serala and I are from the Windstone tribe. We are not the most traditional people, but we’ve been strong supporters of the Feathered Horse Queen and Luminous Stallion King, and we’ve suffered for it under Lunar rule.” His smile grows more genuine. “I can’t express how fine it is to have leaders who are once again riding in the right direction.”
“Then… Ivalla. She was sent upon a task, by her own Queen. She should be amenable to such.” Jorrim looks around, and this time as he plucks at his robe, his eyes slide towards the Colymar.
“Good. So we’re agreed. We’re not fetching the wand for old wily-fox. We have much more to gain by using it to build a lasting alliance between our own peoples. Now we just need to decide what story to tell the trolls. I’m sure they’re going to want more for it than pickled hams.”
“I have been wondering about price. It fetched a decent trading route, when it came here. Could it make another as it leaves? Or a yearly tribute? What profit does such a caravan bring, I wonder?”
“Since I’m committed to trading this way twice a year in return for Jeepol’s help, I’m willing to offer the same to the trolls. I might be able to convince other traders of the profitability of this route, if the war ends soon.”
Jeepol says, “There used to be a lot of trade with the Troll folk. Back before the Lunars came. And raiding of course but no more than for any people. The trolls raid us, we raid them, the praxians raid…but we all traded too. The Lunars taxed trade and broke my tribe and now we mostly hunt and farm and gather and there is little to spare for trade. Although we’ve been making hides to trade.”
Finarvi nods. “Sounds like with the Lunars gone, there will be a lot of opportunity here and little competition. That will help sweeten the dose for others.” He looks happy at the prospect of maybe being able to bargain their way to a peaceful solution.
“So that is something that is not money…” Jorrim sighs. “A return of peace, through Leika.”
Finarvi, seeing Ivalla taking an interest, hails her in Trade Tongue. “Hey, cousin. We have been thinking how to approach the Troll trading.” He looks to Jorrim to translate their discussion for Ivalla’s benefit.
Jorrim’s expression says that he thinks Finarvi is being sensible, and also that he is slightly uncomfortable.