PHENNON I - 51051 FOG - KAZAMER (PARENT: TOTH I - 51051, CHILD: RICTORIS CITADEL - 51052)
Wearing a heavy cloak, accompanying a trade caravan from the town of Seo, Duz makes his way past the gray brick gates of Kazamer. Soon after, he bids his company farewell and heads over to the Copper Yak, one of his pubs of choice. He takes a seat at one of the small square oak tables, when another man wearing a heavy cloak approaches him. The man takes back his hood, showing an ageing face with dry blue eyes and white hair.
"It's been a long time since I last saw you here, Phennon.", the guy starts, with a brief laugh, "I thought you had joined with the soldiers up in Uxol by now!"
"Not yet, Andor, though who knows what comes next.", Duz (or rather Phennon) replies broodingly, "I had an errand to run in the East which, I must say, has been resoundingly successful."
"I heard the war in the East is over now. Is that your doing?", Andor inquires.
"Largely, if not entirely."
"I am deeply impressed. I don't think you've ever had such a major success!"
Phennon agrees. "I agree....it was embarrassingly successful I dare to say. I first managed to get rid of their leader, then replace him, then get a whole battalion infected with the Pestilence and then send them all on a conquest to certain death. Of course, it always pains me to see such widespread loss of life..."
"but..?", Andor wonders.
"...well, I did end a war with it, didn't I? And that without killing a single civilian", he beams proudly.
"That is an amazing result. What about the reward?"
"I have an audience with Lord Drennon tomorrow morning.", Phennon says with anticipation, "We agreed 500 crystal coins plus a house of my choosing in the Blue Quarter if I could pull this off. I think I am ready for early retirement, so prepare to see me here more often from now on."
Andor smiles widely.
"That's the spirit. Welcome back my friend!", he continues, "Tender, can I have two pints of Fizbombs here please?"
Phennon smiles back with slight unease.
KAZAMER - 51051 FOG SEASON
Artists impression of Kazamer Castle
In the Castle of Kazamer, Advisor Valm walks to the strategy board. He picks up a piece resembling a Jackal's Head.
"My liege. I bear good tidings today. Our plan has worked beyond expectation. Not only did we succeed in infecting most of this battalion during their stay in Seo's Passage, but I now received tidings from Andor that High Treasoner Phennon has covertly led this unit to complete obliteration in Toth."
Drennon Valtarim, Lord of Kazamer, frowns: “Toth? That tiny speck of a village to the East? Is that even defended?”
“They have a Keeper My Liege”, the Adviser replies, “I believe it’s one of the last Kytteraks, though surely she’ll soon perish herself, given her close combat encounter with the Pestilence.”
Lord Drennon takes a few steps to contemplate.
"With the Jackals neutralized,", Lord Drennon Valtarim begins calmly: "and the Sullen Hills unprotected, we can establish a foothold in the East with a small group, whilst committing our main forces westwards."
"My lord, I do apologize,", another advisor interjects.
Drennon turns to Azos Rictorean, one of his older and more critical economic advisors. Azos' subdued linen clothes and soothing smile fail to convey the image of power and ruthlessness one needs in war time, and his suggestions are often pedestrian at best. Yet, he has little choice but to respect the noble lineage of the Rictoreans, and retain him on his board.
Azos continues: "but should we not acquire the Jackals as an official colony before doing so? The jackals are known to be rebellious, and even without soldiers it is unlikely they willingly part with their harvests. And we will need those harvests, for the battles ahead."
Drennon contemplates briefly. Kazamer always relies on imports for sustenance, and now even more so with the siege he has in mind. But with his advance riders covering the Westcorn plains and his main infantry regiment about to besiege Uxol, he is running thin on men as well. There is the Royal Standing Army and the City Guards, but neither of those have left the capital for at least a decade.
"Advisor Valm, how many troops will it take to enforce the loyalty of the Six Jackals?", he inquires.
"That depends my liege. Jackals are survivors and resistance fighters, not farmers. Yet with five of their six battalions eradicated they are bound to be more compliant than normal."
"I thought you just mentioned that all six of the battalions are gone?", Azos comments.
Valm smiles wryly: "Azos, I believe this is the case but you know the old saying: A Jackal is never dead..."
"...until you're holding its Leader's Head.", Lord Drennon and Azos add together.
Advisor Valm continues: "In any case, war time can be unpredictable. If we aim for a gentle taxation of a quarter of the harvest, I believe we can suffice with two hundred men. If we demand half, I would expect we need six hundred. And if we wish to enslave the villages, I would expect we need at least four thousand men."
Lord Drennon turns back to Azos.
"And how much of these harvests do you estimate that we actually need to conquer Sindan and the Westcorn?"
Azos replies without hesitation: "We need the full harvest."
"That's madness!", Lord Drennon retorts, "I am not going to commit the full Royal Standing Army and jeopardize this city's safety just to get in some bushels."
"You might not need to, My Lord. ", Advisor Valm adds, "I have actually anticipated this course of events, and I can provide an alternative solution. Our coffers are full, and we could choose to deploy the City Guard remotely, and supplement them with troops from the Rictor Line. Of course, the Line would receive a fair compensation in return."
Now Azos begins contemplating, wondering whether his uncle Valeris Rictoris, the Marquis as well as a great thinker, would agree to such a proposition. Valeris himself is one of the most powerful Keepers known to exist, but he would have to apply his full power for defensive purposes if he were to lend out his army. Indeed, a steep price should be paid for it, but the Lord's position is very precarious, so this gives room to drive a tough bargain.
Azos speaks up: "And a fair compensation we would require. Our assistance would allow you to both capture Uxol and Westcorn, and obtain the food resources necessary from the Jackals. It is only reasonable that our reward be similar in magnitude, given the risks and rewards involved, and that it extends well beyond the donation of mere coins."
"What is the reward that you are thinking of?", Lord Drennon asks.
"Full control and ownership of the Granite Mountains region."
"I do not think that is reasonable.", Advisor Valm interjects.
"And I agree with Advisor Advisor Valm.”, Lord Drennon continues, “But if we are to win this war, then we will need the Rictor Line by our side. But I can make a counter offer of course. We will grant you control of three of the mines in the Granite Mountains, and permission to take control of the existing settlements there. However, half of the tax funds raised must be donated back to us. Lastly, I am willing to offer you 4000 crystal coins, assuming your expenses will be more limited anyway in this scenario."
"Fine, but then we wish to obtain all monetary taxes raised by our troops from the Jackals."
Lord Drennon looks at Advisor Valm: "Advisor Advisor Valm, what do you think of this proposition"
"I think we could part with half of that tax if needed."
"Oh, let's be generous and give him three quarters. But of course with our fates so closely intertwined, I do insist that Azos takes personal charge of the tax collection."
Azos thinks briefly, but the sound of leaving this dull environment sounds appealing to him.
"I think we can agree to that. I will send a note asking the Marquis for his confirmation, and to nominate a Temporary Economic Advisor on your board."
"Excellent.", Lord Drennon proclaims.