Winds of fortune: a fundamental struggle (trade winds)


“I’m not very happy about this,” said Captain Gerralt.

The orc in front of him shrugged, and spread his hands, but there was nothing apologetic about his gesture.

“I apologise. You are absolutely free to depart now, if you wish. We will end the inspection and you may seek another port. But if you wish to do business in Leerdam, you will do so only once I am reassured that your cargo is legitimate.”

The orc commander made a curt gesture and rattled out a series of instructions in the Gesamemeinsprache. The uniformed orcs began to spread out across the deck. Captain Gerralt could see that the crew did not like it. Being boarded by orcs, even orcs in the uniform of a Commonwealth force, did not sit well with them. The Dawnishman wondered if it was a studied insult. It seemed unlikely. This was Leerdam, after all, not Kavor or Nemoria.

“My earl will be very unhappy if your warriors break anything.”

“My soldiers.” the orc stressed the word. “My soldiers will be thorough and careful. If anything should be damaged during our inspection you will of course be reimbursed - assuming that is that no contraband is found of course.”

The orc paused for a moment, leaving a space for Gerralt to speak. When the yeoman did not immediately interject, the commander continued.

“Now can I ask what you are carrying in your hold today?”

“Wood,” said Gerralt carefully. “Hardwood from the forests of Weirwater. Also wine and brandy. Fine quality merchandise as well, from the vineyards of Astolat. We also have some pots of True Vervain - healing salves, yes?”

Gerralt mimed smearing something on his face. He was rattled, and on the verge of babbling. The orc commander did not quite roll his eyes but it was clear he knew what True Vervain was for.

“That is good. Now I must ask you this. Are all members of your crew free citizens of your Empire? If any are not you must tell me now. If you do not admit it now, and it is later found that you are using slaves, then you will be charged with a serious crime and your vessel will be confiscated.”

The Dawnishman was beginning to get angry, but strove to control his temper.

“No of course we have no slaves aboard! We’re Imperial, by the Paragons! This is an outrage!”

“Nevertheless, I will need to speak to each member of your crew before they disembark. Die Stahlhalle is concerned that some Imperial ships may be relying on the labor of people who are not free. Such a thing is not acceptable in the Commonwealth. I will also need to review a copy of your cargo manifest and match it against the contents of your hold. Again, if it is found out later that you have attempted to deceive me you will be taken into custody and face at a fine and expulsion from Commonwealth waters.”
Gerralt sputtered.

“You have no reason to -” he began but the orc commander cut him off.

“Please do not waste your breath on outrage, Captain. Your Empire’s commitment to the dignity of sapient beings appears to be waning. Your primary trading partners are the Asaveans and the Jarmish. Even without the denunciations of the Sumaah, it is clear to us that your ethics are flexible. You will not set one foot on Commonwealth soil until I am certain that you are not someone who prospers from unjustly denying the liberty of other people. If you have nothing to hide, you will have nothing to fear. Although I must warn you that since your last visit Die Stahlhalle has placed additional restrictions on what goods may be freely traded with Imperial captains.”

The yeoman looked around, one hand on his money pouch, and opened his mouth to suggest that perhaps they could discuss it further somewhere quieter.

The orc soldier narrowed his eyes and interrupted.

“While we are talking, I wish to mention that attempting to bribe an officer of the Common Law is also a significant crime which may result in the confiscation of all goods and potentially up to five years in prison. Was there something you wished to say, friend Captain?”

Gerralt shut his mouth again, and shook his head.

“That is excellent news. Now, may I see the papers that prove that you are the legitimate captain of this vessel, and record your port of origin?”

Trade and politics; diplomacy and economics. The world canvas is covered in broad strokes, but some of the details jump out. You can learn about international diplomacy here-> … rade_Winds

Of particular interest to ship captains and senators, it is here you can leanr about the anger of the Republic; the eccentric subtletly of the Principalities; the suspicion of the Commonwealth; the langour of the Delves; and the warmth of the Archipelago.

There are even some hints of larger things - new opportunities that might be exploited if approached cautiously, tools that might be used to improve the status of the Empire in the Grand Game, and so on.

There should be between three and five more winds of fortune to go up tonight; I’ll let you know when we are done. It might be late but we are dangerously close to the event for making major revelations.

The port is the port of Seville in the 1500s By Alonso Sánchez Coello - [2], Public Domain,
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