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  1. Terraversan Commonwealth Rum-Runners Part of the Fort Arltrees Foreign Merchants' District Close to the southern end of the Foreign Merchants' District, the East Terraversan commercial delegation represented the greatest surprise for most of the inhabitants of Fort Arltrees. Only three years before, Terraversa and Oleon had faced each other in a bitter war, and only the military intervention of Corrington and Eslandola -both on the island and in other areas of the archipelago- prevented a complete victory of the Empire of Light. However, while not completely defeated, independent Terraversa itself didn't survive the war. The eastern region of the island declared independence from the capital, in open rebellion against Archduke Oldis, giving rise to the Commonwealth of Terraversa. At the moment, the Commonwealth was struggling to recover from the war and, despite its dreams of freedom, it had de facto almost become a vassal state of Corrington. Allowing a commercial delegation of the Commonwealth on El Oleonda, together with the ferry built between North and South Sillitholina, represented an important attempt towards the normalization of the relations between Granoleon and Westface, even if doubts and mistrust still existed on both sides. An official Terraversan consulate in an Oleonese colony or formal trade agreements between the two nations was still far too much for both sides. Instead, an office and a small warehouse of a trading company represented a less "official" step, but still allowed some informal contact between the governments. If things worked well, an RNTC office might have appeared in Tarlor or Westface, in the future, breaking the almost complete monopoly of Corrington on the trade of the young nation. The name of the company, the Terraveran Commonwealth Rum-Runners, seemed appropriate for a band of smugglers... and actually it had started as such during the Mardierian rule, before the Terraversan Revolution granted it some respectability. Quite unsurprisingly, the acronym TCRR (with the "C" added after the Westface Secession) was often preferred, especially in official documents. The uniforms of the TCRR guards were clearly inspired by the ones of Corrish soldiers, even though their training was not even comparable with the one of Her Majesty's Royal Marines: with the militias still in place, even the regular army of the Commonwealth lacked men with military experience. A couple of soldiers guarded the entrance, while a figure in black slipped through the door, with an envelope of papers in hand. A simple merchant or someone else? An Oleonese diplomat? Or maybe a Corrish agent? The core business of the TCRR in Fort Arltrees -despite its name- was not Rum, but vanilla. The only known source of this valuable spice was Jameston, on Cascadia Island, but small vanilla crops existed also on El Oleonda. Due to the huge distance from the motherland, and the limited amount of production, Fort Arltrees couldn't compete with Jameston in this profitable business (not yet, at least), but the profit margin was still interesting. The TCRR office was small and overcrowded: bags and cases of vanilla pods occupied any available space, together with maps and piles of documents. The flintlock pistol on the director's desk, a memory of his past in the Terraversan Revolution, tended to make all the reports particularly fast and concise. Even though the Corrish influence was starting to take place in some aspects of the Commonwealth administration, the influence of Mardierian culture was still clearly recognizable: for example, in the overly decorated uniforms, or the baroque still-life painting hanging on a wall. Only time would have told whether the relations between the Commonwealth and Oleon could sooner or later normalize, or if the business of the TCRR in Fort Arltrees was destined to last. Profitable trade between two nations, sometimes, could be a good reason to avoid unnecessary wars between them! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The reason why the TCRR could only dispose of the lower floor was also the only reason why that small company could afford a place in the Foreign Merchants' District of Fort Arltrees. The reason had a name and a surname: Professor Alejandro Coronel, archeologist, writer, philosopher, and, as a hobby, occultist. This peculiar character was not interested at all in the vanilla trade, but had a desperate need to move on El Oleonda... something not easy, for a citizen of the Corrish-aligned Commonwealth. Therefore, he paid a significant portion of the settling taxes for the TCRR, and personally financed the construction of the building. In return, he occupied the whole upper floor and obtained from the company a passage to the island, as well as the promise to support him in all his future enterprises. The studio of this peculiar character was completely occupied by a variety of "findings": a variety of idols, ritual masks, maps, scrolls written in ancient languages, and many other objects. In an (apparent?) chaos, Atwi idols were positioned side by side with antiquities from Tellvok, Tyree'De artifacts, and ancient codices written by the first Mardierian explorers. Professor Coronel had heard about the ruins of an ancient city on El Oleonda, and hoped to finally prove his extravagant theory. Indeed, he firmly believed that an ancient civilization once existed in the East, far before recorded history: after ruling most of both the Old and the New World, that Empire had somehow disappeared, leaving mankind in the darkness for thousands of years. Even the Great Pyramids "of Tellvok", according to Professor Coronel, were actually an artifact of that ancient empire. How could all the other archeologists not understand this truth? Despite the plot of the Order of the Faith to conceal the truth, the signs were hidden in plain sight, if one just looked for them! Even the tarots, considered by many a senseless superstition, also told a part of the story... the Rising Sun, the East; the Broken Tower, a clear hint to the cataclysm that had destroyed the ancient empire. Little mattered if other symbols didn’t have an obvious meaning, all of them must have been in a way or the other allegories of the ancient disaster! Most of the academics laughed at him, but he would have proven all of them wrong! He only needed to find the proof of his theory somewhere in the archipelago, possibly even there on El Oleonda... the large islands of New Haven Seas were clearly part of the ancient continent, swollen by the merciless Ocean millennia before! He would have laughed last, he was sure… Even if most considered him a lunatic, and the TCRR guards hoped never to be chosen to accompany him in his expeditions (actually they had placed bets on how soon he would have disappeared in the jungle), Professor Coronel had actually done some important discoveries, down in Tellvok. Only time will tell if the Professor will be able to discover something about the ancient civilisation of El Oleonda, despite his weird theories, or if he will get lost in the interior. For sure, you will probably hear about him in the future!
  2. Fort Arltrees, El Oleonda, November 623 War was still raging on El Oleonda, somewhere in the East, but the inhabitants of Fort Arltrees weren't particularly concerned. The enemy army was reorganizing around Oryant and Luyang, and the only immediate threat to the Fort was represented by bands of Lotii stragglers and Carnite deserters: they still created some troubles for the most isolated farms... but, after all, that was the New World, and always keeping the musket at hand didn't seem something particularly unusual. Therefore, during the previous months, the settlement kept growing steadily: the arrival of the allied contingent required more warehouses for the supplies, more workshops to fix the carriages, more blacksmiths, more stables, and obviously houses and taverns for all the workers. The gold mine and the farms also contributed to attracting a third wave of colonists, ready to seek their fortune in this remote corner of the Empire. With the allied fleet securing the main trade routes, and the safety offered by the imposing fortifications, the wealth of El Oleonda started attracting enterprising men from all over the Empire, but also from abroad. In Fort Arltrees, merchants from foreign nations were encouraged to settle and start their businesses in a dedicated district, close to the commercial port. In the plans of the local authorities, the presence of foreign merchants in the settlement will further boost the economy of the settlement, encouraging more regular visits from the Madrician commercial fleets. On the other hand, Oleon doesn't want to repeat the mistakes made by Mardier with Terraversa: closing the port to the other nations would only encourage them to try establishing their own footholds in the New Haven Seas, with no control or advantage for the Empire of Light. Several nations established a commercial emporium in the settlement: these little buildings represented at the same time warehouses, offices of the commercial delegation, and informal embassies. To avoid crossing too much one another's path, each trading company specialized in a few specific wares: trading from and to the very corner of the map is already complicated enough, and nobody wants to start pointless concurrencies! In the Foreign Merchants' District, hundreds of doubloons change hands every day: a single ship loaded with spices, dyes, or sugar may be worth a real fortune back in the Madrician nations, while some relatively common goods produced in the motherland or in the Western Islands might be rare and expensive in the New Haven region. In the District, it is also possible to hire captains, ships, and crews of almost any nationality, to circumvent the current political complications: for a fair price, you could get a shipment of Lotii porcelains, or even get a passage to the Southern Kingdoms on a neutral ship; needless to say, this is also of great interest for the secret services, and the "Altonian salesman" who just embarked for the Lotus Empire could easily be an agent of Corrington or Oleon, an ambassador involved in secret talks, or even a Lotii spy! Sailing under a foreign flag can also allow a safer journey to Fort Arltrees for rich passengers, valuable objects... or both, as in the case of the famous painter who has just been hired by the Garvian delegation! A real army of porters works in the district and in the nearby port: hundreds of crates, barrels, and bags have to be moved every day from the ships to the warehouses, or vice versa. Not everything, however, is worth its weight in gold, as in the case of the shipment of fruit and vegetables just delivered to the Mardierian delegation. Even if Fort Arltrees looked very different from the small hamlet of wooden shacks of only a couple of years before, the settlement was still very different from the most civilized cities of the Western Islands. Despite the fancy buildings of the District, trappers and boucaniers are still a common sight in the settlement, and the inhabitants are not particularly picky about the possible meanings of "roasted venison"... differently from that Altonian officer, who would probably think twice before visiting a local tavern! Unfortunately, the development of Fort Arltrees also started to attract a few scoundrels and petty criminals... apparently an unavoidable price of progress and prosperity, in the New World exactly as in the Old one. This officer from East Terraversa should have been a little more watchful while telling tall tales about the Glorious Revolution of 616... Citizens of Southern descent represent a relevant minority, as some inhabitants of Jiangkai resettled in Fort Arltrees after the destruction of the settlement. Some Monomonto swordsmen, abandoned by their own comrades and simply left behind, asked to serve in the Grande Armèe of Oleon: most of them were enlisted in the King's Musketeers, a unit already well-known for the swashbuckling skills of its members... if with a rapier or a katana, apparently, makes little difference for the recruiting officers. ------------------------------ A list of foreign commercial missions: The Essener New World Trading Company The Ferrer Family Commercial Enterprise The Altonian Commercial Mission Miroslav Dobric's Trading Emporium Garvian League Guildhouse Terraversan Commonwealth Rum-Runners ----------------------------- OOC: This diorama includes several little details, including a full interior for most of the builds. Therefore, apart from text completion, expect it to remain “alive” For the next few days, as I figure out the best way to assemble/move/reorganize the different parts! In particular, I plan to add individual posts for each building in this thread, so stay tuned!