Apr 08, 2020 11:15 AM
further adventures of belmarniss
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Belmarniss shows up early the next morning for her consultancy meeting, munching a pastry from her breakfast spread. "Hey - I was told to meet with a Luay?"

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She can be directed to Luay! Cleric's robes. Golden coin for his holy symbol. Waist-length beard. He blinks at her a couple of times and seems to struggle a little bit for something polite to say. 

"Someone mentioned they'd suggested..."

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"...that the only drow in town do cultural consultancy? Belmarniss, nice to meet you."

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"Luay. I've been trying to work out whether we can trade with drow."

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"Yeah, my adventuring companion Fazil got the idea from me. I think it's plausible and if you do manage it you can obviously save tons on shipping because it just needs a one-time excavation and pulleys and not boats or caravans, but it's not likely to be simple."

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"What would the first steps be?"

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"You'll wanna figure out who's down there. I know some passages into the underdark were recently sealed as smuggling routes from Katapesh, but there's probably apertures left, maybe you know where they are because your downstairs neighbors are stealing stuff already or maybe you don't because they leave you alone, I dunno, if you don't have an existing aperture you tunnel one till you hit cave and wander around till you find civilization. You could try to go to the queen or you could skip it - she almost certainly isn't setting trade policy at the national level, and also will laugh in your face if you blame her for any misbehavior of her subjects toward you so it's not a useful move for enforcing property law either, but they'd know people. Some risk around this stage that it looks like you're there to steal or kill people - if you go armed to the teeth - or like you are yourselves stealable people - if you look helpless. I think probably a safe balance is to go in numbers and not heavily armed but with plenty of utility magic in play, floating disks for your luggage and whatnot, so you look hard to take on but not like you're suited up to insist on it either. They'll speak drow but we have such long childhoods that somebody's sure to have killed a year learning Osiriani or Taldane even if it's rusty. Then you can start talking about what you wanna sell and what you wanna buy. They will want magic lights and surface crops and books and stuff, you will probably want silk and mushrooms and metal and stone."

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"We can probably put that together. They'll speak drow? Is there a common language among drow?"

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"It's related to Elven. They'd think I had an accent for sure but we'd understand each other fine."

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"All right. We might want to put something like this together. Would you bring goods at first or would that just tempt them to steal things?"

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"I'd suggest sample amounts, not shipments. Tasty foods. The things that especially wowed me when I surfaced were maple syrup and tree nuts and pears and oatmeal but obviously tastes vary."

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"Huh." He takes notes on this. "If not the government, who would you talk to, just anyone you see, or -"

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"Kinda depends if you find a city or a mushroom farm first? In the first case you probably wait for someone to stop you and then you explain what you're doing to whoever asks, and in the latter you ask whoever you find for their master and they bring you to some lady who owns a mushroom farm and you tell her what you're offering for some mushrooms and after that you can probably pass through the farm to her neighbors, ask her to tell her friends what else you're in the market for, etcetera. Mushroom farm's probably the safer result but if you knew any local drow to scry on you probably wouldn't be talking to me."

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"We don't know any, no. There used to be raids but not recently, and we mostly only take human prisoners anyway." He sounds disapproving.

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"Mm?"

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"- well, if we had a different policy, we wouldn't be dependent on running into a lucky drow to make this happen, right - I tried to reach out to freed slaves but didn't get anywhere -"

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"Didn't get anywhere like how?"

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"No one replied. I don't know if they couldn't read or weren't interested in helping or if the messages didn't make it all the way there."

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"Likely can't read. It's dark down there, on top of all the other reasons one might be unable to read."

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"They work in the dark? That sounds nearly impossible."

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"Not all of them all the time but enough that it's not convenient for them to sneak books if there's no work reason for them to read, which there wouldn't be."

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Nod. "Well, I was going to try an expedition out to Andoran to ask again but it'll be much easier to plan with you, if you're willing."

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"I don't mind, I have the downtime. I do want to be, like, paid competitively with using the time drawing scrolls or whatever if it's a lot of time."

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"Of course! We have consulting rates."

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"Ooh."

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"This department's got lots of funding, we get to keep a cut of whatever we earn the state."

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