Dec 02, 2022 1:25 AM
Permalink

It would be a lovely day in Oran - bright, breezy, pleasant temperature - if it wasn't for how angry the Grendel were.

Unfortunately, the remaining inhabitants of the once-bustling port city are mostly huddling indoors, cowed by the regular patrols sweeping the streets.

Down one of these narrow streets, between brightly painted row houses two or three stories high, half a dozen Grendel warriors are determinedly marching; heavily built orcs, mostly carrying bhuj with a curved sword as a sidearm, in somewhat mismatched armour and bedecked with stolen finery - silk scarves, bangles, necklaces, one of them loaded up more than the others with the finest jewellery.

They have their eyes out for trouble - and for potential targets - as someone turns a corner...

Total: 193
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

, and blinks, and mutters "What the fuck is this," as she looks into the back of their group, hand on a wand, one of many, at her hip.

"Ahem!  What's going on here?"  She has her suspicions, but she has to try.

Permalink

The small unit of Grendel wheels - quite creditably, turning smartly in a confined space like that takes considerable training - and stands off to the sides of the road, for the commander to make her way briskly through to the new front.

"We could ask you the same question," she replies, sternly but still trying to feel the situation out - even for a Freeborn, this is a pretty brazen approach, and there is something... wrong... with how the human is dressed and equipped. "Who gave you permission to be armed on the streets of Oran today, human?"

Permalink

"Who gave you permission to be armed on the streets of Oran today?  Seems quite the lovely place, not the sort what needs much more than a sherrif to roust out the tavern drunks every so often, and mayhaps a port guard, and yet I turn a corner and find you marching in formation - and, well done, by the way, that was an admirable display of coordination, shame that the armor wasn't fit to match it - like there's a war on.  Is there, now?"  She casts her senses wide; her general ability to detect others' mental states has been quite increased with her recent feats, and she will use it.  She's filed these ladies, gentlemen, and otherwise under "mercenary until further notice", but the reaction of the city around them to their presence will tell far more.  There's no-one on the streets, and that's a warning sign in and of itself.

Permalink

Mostly they are looking out for the obvious ambush that this suicidally brave human is clearly the distraction for. One near the back of the new formation is considering whether running to get help will be accounted as cowardice or as suitably audacious initiative.

The commander is immensely confused.

"Are there still pockets of memory draining mist?" she asks. "Perhaps a stint at the dockyards will jog your memory."

She moves her hand quite subtly towards her sword, which is a cue for the orcs to start moving - fairly slowly as of yet, nobody wants a chase through the streets and they all expect her to bolt - to surround the interloper. 

Permalink

And what do the people...hiding...in...the...houses...

Ah.  She sees, now.

Sure, they can come closer.  But when they've got her surrounded...

There is a small thump-bwoingsch concurrent with the human rocketing upwards; a brief flicker of light forms a circle around them, and then a flwoosh of rapidly-hardening foam spreads out and ensnares their legs quite securely; the human herself is high enough in the air as this happens to be able to peek over the rooftops for a moment, and lands secure in her footing.  And if anyone tries to run...well, they run into an invisible wall.

"I'd stick around and interrogate you about what in the actual fuck is happening here, but frankly, I'm thinking I already know enough of what I need to meddle in to just go there directly.  Don't worry, if I have any say in the matter, you'll face actual justice, in the fairest court I can get you!"  And then, the foam covers them, with more individual attention.  It's breathable, and she makes sure they're not going to choke to death on their own spit, but she doesn't seem too concerned for their immediate comfort, per se.

Goal in mind, she jumps to the rooftops, then accelerates dockswards upon a plane of force, her travel writ in gracefully soaring arcs of forwards acceleration upon invisible arcs of force, trailing spheres of capture foam down to shatter on the orcish? war parties as she goes.  "You'd think, what with arboreal creatures being the most commonly held hominid antecedents, that we'd be better at looking up.  You'd be wrong, but you'd think it."

Is there anything really noticeable, magic-wise or movement-of-sapients-wise, that catches her attention?

Permalink

The one at the back tried to run for help, which mostly means he's stuck in an even less comfortable looking position.

There's quite a bit of low level ambient magic around - the commander of that squad had some magic on her armour and many other orcs have similar, the land itself seems to be enchanted, the wood of the big ships is definitely somewhat magic. There is some much larger magic somewhere out across the sea channel. 

The main obvious concentrations of people are along the dockyards - resentful human labourers, resigned orc slaves with a little relief at being unloaded from the packed ship holds, some terrified human managers and functionaries, a lot of bored orc mercenaries and a few orc overseers and commanders who are mostly tense and watchful.

Permalink

Hmmmm.  She waits a few minutes, gets the lay of "who looks most in charge"...then starts pulling things out of her bag of holding, setting up to introduce them to sleep darts via slightly magical air rifle - a purely chemical mix (in a vivid purple, incidentally) that's worked on analogues of people like these before, with a really quite clever trick to ensure that no-one gets more than they can stand - and the mercenary gangs are set up for some time-on-target confoam artillery; immaculately constructed catapults are ready to go off at her order, the fire control software in her armor hooked up to the triggers with very simple magic, adjusting for the wind with just a subtle read of motion.  She's always been a fan of simple solutions.  No need to overcomplicate things.

The ships, though...Those might well be complicated.  Still...they aren't going to be leaving shore anytime soon, especially not with how they're about to get everything that can be gummed up, such as anchors, doors, weapons lockers, treasure chests, rudders, wheels, winches, and gangplanks, gummed up with spot-conjured containment foam.  (This, she sets up sigils for, in addition to the spellwork duplicating light from point B to point A that she scouts them with; she shifts them...hmm, up into UV as she generates the spell structure, holding its trigger runes in abeyance until...)

Thwi-thwi-thwi-thwi-thwip, go the air rifles in synchrony, and the confoam loads land with a crash as she bounces off the roof, jump-kicks an in-charge orc in the chest, bounces once more, lands on the biggest, most prestigious-looking slaver ship in a crouch...  She'll take a moment to orient, but unless the captain charges her, her goal here is getting the slaves out.

Permalink

Purple is the favourite colour of those who are most in charge, it looks like! Several purple clad orcs have a distinctly impromptu nap.

This and the confoam landing on the enforcers causes an awful lot of panic. Some people just drop what they're doing and start wailing mournfully, or collapse to the ground sobbing. Some people are trying to rouse the downed individuals and pick at the foam to see if they can free any of their erstwhile oppressors.

But most of the humans are just quietly sloping off into the maze of narrow streets, and the orc slaves are mostly taking the opportunity to sit down, or looking for water and food - somewhat hampered by being chained together by the half dozen.

As for the ship, the (orc, with considerable gold jewelry and purple velvet under her light leather armour) captain is approaching her - very warily, with her hands up.

"Greetings, stranger," she says, in a tone of great respect, "can we come to some arrangement here?"

Permalink

"I don't know yet!  How ideologically important to you, as contrasted with economic importance, is the slavery?  I'm rather opposed to the practice!"  And agreeing to Not Do Slaving like this would be a hard line in her negotiations, she doesn't say.

"That and I'm not exactly a fan of pillaging, but honestly you've been surprisingly professional about it from what I've seen, and it's really the attendant trauma of home invasions that I object to, so given that I don't suddenly find evidence of murder, rape, murder-rape, or nonconsensual mindfuckery," at which she eyes the people despairing suspiciously, and with an eye to detecting such influence - they are welcome in her goddess's embrace for as long or as short as they wish to be, if they wish to feel comfort; there, there, let it out, what's wrong? - "that's perhaps not as much of an issue; I'm not in principle opposed to wealth redistribution as much as wealth hoarding.  ...Really, the sum of my ideological position is thus: The right thing to do is to make the world better, kinder, free-er, more capable, more beautiful, in your wake.  That the point of having society should be to maximize the ability of people to be the people they wish to be; to support, to aid, rather than to bind and burden."  She lets out a small sigh, a bit wistfully.  "I'm hopelessly idealistic on that front, really; no matter how many times I run into people who believe that the world deserves to be stomped on by their boots, or stuffed into their pockets and used to buy a third mega-yacht (that they can have no more than six people on at a time for legal reasons, lest they stop being eligible for the loophole they use to afford the things - and how absurd is that, huh?) no matter how big those boots are - I still try; I will still offer a chance to consider that they, too, could live in a happier world, if they're willing to put in the effort to change it.  So, you tell me - can we come to an agreement, captain?"

Permalink

The sobbing people are mostly just genuinely terrified that they are going to get caught up in retribution for all this - especially, afraid they're going to be forced to leave their city which they love.

The captain relaxes a little - she appears to have found some kind of frame to think about this in, something about a powerful magical being that is very concerned about exactly this sort of thing and might have sent an emissary. 

"I believe so, yes! The slave trade is an entirely economic matter, I assure you. It seems you have a principled objection; I am very happy to show good faith by assisting you to ensure the rest of the cargo is not caused more suffering by this course of events - I would also offer to give them onward passage somewhere of their choice, for the return of my ship, if they so desire."

'and the power to enforce it' is very obviously silent but salient after 'principled objection' there.

Permalink

"I believe I can work with that."  And so, off she sets into the hold, tying the captain's hands up with a softly glowing rope as she unlocks the chains.  "Why do your people do slavery, anyway?  It's not exactly economically efficient - you have to expend far more effort in keeping slaves than having the labor unpaid-for ever saves you, unless there's some very strange contortion of circumstances about wherever you make your home."

It's okay.  Nobody's going to have to leave; that much she can be sure of, and thus have faith in to them in turn.

Permalink

"If I knew more of the underlying economics I'd be a salt lord, not a ship's captain; I know a lot about how to keep a crew and vessel functional and a little about what the most profitable cargos are, I actually rarely take slaves - extra cleaning expense and all that - but Lord Rahab was paying well over the odds. I think it is partially about the side effects of people knowing that they might become enslaved if they take on too much foolish debt or disrespect someone sufficiently powerful, partially about ensuring supply?"

She submits with apparent good grace to being secured, and the crew mostly appear to be attempting to stay well out of the way of the perilous negotiation with the dangerous stranger. The hold has a ramp open to the shore, out of which the crew had been ushering the slaves in groups until everything went sideways. The slaves are extremely confused; they're happy to be fully unchained rather than just unshackled from the ship and allowed out, but they were pretty sure they knew what was happening next, this isn't it, and uncertainty is scary. Also the conditions are... not great. Some of the slaves have soiled themselves or vomited on the journey over and nobody was cleaning up as they went; it looks like there was barely space to move in here when it was full.

Some of the people who were despairing start gathering their things and heading to their homes, or in a few cases distributing snacks and water to the recently arrived orc slaves; the most upset people left on shore are the ones who were trying to revive the supervisors and rescue the mercenaries, who are gradually realising that the credit they built up by zealously obeying the occupying force might be about to backfire on them.

Permalink

"Ah.  Debtor's prisons.  Those hardly actually fix the underlying problem either; in fact, they make it less likely that the debt will ever be repaid, because for any loan big enough to matter, the expected value of surly and-or desperate menial labor will not achieve the funds necessary to make restitution.  The bit about someone enslaving you because they're powerful and you're not...I absolutely abhor those with power abusing it thusly.  Every person is a person, and entitled to be treated with the same fundamental dignity, as far as I'm concerned.  Even the assholes, so really," her voice picks up across the whole docks as if carried to a polite conversational distance, "you can relax, I'm not going to suddenly foam you unless you start shit - which does include revenge maiming, and don't think you can just hide it - I've seen, and defeated, all the tricks.  Yes, slavery sucks.  So does murder.  We'll sort this out without bloodshed."  She is, in fact, keeping a metaphorical eye out.  Empathic senses are really good for that sort of thing, and one of the very first tricks she figured out with her magic was projection.  "There's going to be no slaving today; that's settled.  The rest, I want to consult the city on, as the aggrieved party, so if you could find representatives, that would be nice.  I'm going to make sure everyone's freed and in good health first; take your time but do make sure that all voices are heard."

The stranger is doing yet more magic somehow, because the shit and vomit and general rankness is just...vanishing.  From all the holds, and all the people outside of the holds, and working out over the city, for that matter, if more slowly in the areas she's not in.  This settled, she returns to a more private conversation.  "So your lords, the high and mighty, sponsor slaving raids.  I'm rather new to this part of the world, but that seems like it's going to get the neighbors all pissed off at you in particular if you're the only ones doing it.  And yet, you're doing it.  So, and I imagine I'm asking a bleedingly obvious question here but I'm curious what your answer is, why hasn't your country's collective ass been kicked all the way down the block and dunked in the harbor?"

Permalink

"Approximately, 'you should see the other guy'," replies the captain smoothly. "The Empire would like rid of us, but they have the Druj and the Jotun and the Thule to worry about; I expect you'd like them even less, the Druj take slaves specifically to spread fear and suffering, the Jotun's whole society is based around an enslaved underclass of everyone who refuses military service, and the Thule like to keep their slaves past death and make their walking corpses continue to toil. Nobody else on the continent is really in a position to argue; in the Confederacy - and in the Empire in living memory, until they found it too awkward - every orc is a slave; Faraden does debt slavery too, and likes it as a punishment for criminals; the Axou enslave the souls of their own ancestors, and only stopped more traditional forms of slavery at the Empire's behest quite recently. There are other scattered peoples, but they are hardly a threat to us and they know it."

The humans who were busy trying to wake up various overseers are forming themselves into something of a delegation; a few of the dockworkers are arguing with them about what kind of representation the 'herald' might want to talk to. Apparently they, too, have pigeonholed the visitor into a specific category of being that exists here.

Permalink

The description of the Druj, in particular, causes her to let out a hissed breath of unhappiness.  "You were very correct that I would not like those cultures.  Though frankly depending on the specific metaphysics thereof...mm, you wouldn't know that, anyway.  I'll probably have to go check at some point.  ...and I'm guessing that none of those cultures have a single lynchpin that you could defeat in single combat and then wield said authority to unfuck things with; not that I'd really know what the fuck to do with an entire nation in the first place but if it is an option...it's an option."  She sounds, if anything, tired, when she says that.  "So.  I do want to hear from your people as well, in this upcoming...thing.  So you should listen to this," she broadcasts specifically to those whose allegiance is to the raiding party.

The citizens do get an answer; "I want to get the opinions of the people, as a totality, and reflecting as many diverse interests as I can - especially those neglected by others - or as close as I can get.  I cannot and will not mandate you do this in any specific way, but I do wish to note that I think that 'the proportion of people you claim to speak for who will, uncoercedly, back your ability to decide for them in their absence' is a good measure of what makes a good representative, and that despite wishing I could speak to everyone directly, I am still only one woman, capable of listening to only so many voices, so I do not intend to end up with more than a dozen talking at me from either side of the table.  I can provide ways of taking a secret ballot, if that helps."

Permalink

"The Jotun might roll over if you beat both their monarchs in single combat, they go in for that kind of thing. Nobody else is interested in a 'fair fight', such as that even makes any sense as a concept." The captain's tone sound like 'fairness' is something she feels is to be disdained. "And I think, apart from me and my crew, most of my people are currently a little restrained or unconscious to be heard from?"

"Um," says one of the functionaries. "How we normally do this would be, you pick how many representatives, then families get one candidate each, and vote for their candidate with coin. The money then goes to the losing bidders, so they'll have more for next time. It'll take us a few hours to organise, especially as a lot of people are going to be too scared to leave the house..."

Permalink

"Fair fights aren't ever, for sure; if I must, I fight to win.  Other things can be fair without being ethical flaws.  Some subset of those even should be.  I'll add 'go overawe the Jotun' to the itinerary, amyway; thank you.  As for restrained and-or unconscious...mmm, just a minute."  That is slowly but surely being rendered not so; all the city's people are getting messages about the ongoing circumstances, now; there are small (basketball-sized) silvered floaty metal things with light-up screens you can touch or talk to to interact with showing up and spreading out over the area to deliver that message and answer very basic questions about the present situation...helpd, hopefully.  There are shiny crystals that you're asked to hold onto and think very hard at if you want directions to someone in particular.

...also if anyone was sick or dying, they appear to be not that, now; missing limbs are still mostly missing (though after visits from droids asking, they grow back, little by little, if the amputee consents and there's no compelling reason to not - or grow in, in cases of dysmorphia; the scans are actually reasonably competent at spotting that just from analysis of proprioceptive feedback and it's also part of the psychological "hey this automated medical scan has noticed elevated levels of biological indicators that mean you likely chronically feel like shit, even adjusting for the fact that this is a combat zone; sometimes that has underlying resolvable causes, so would you like to know about potential problems and ways of dealing with them" survey), but eyesight sharpens (or is outright restored, to the consenting blind), ringing ears cease (and similarly, consenting deaf people have their hearing restored), joint pains ease, dulled minds sharpen, unwanted and non-enforced curses fade, weakened muscles feel an ache for a little while but come out strong again.  Cases of malnutrition are met with directives about dietary habits that offer a wide range of suggestions.  It even seems to be working pretty well on the Grendel, or those with magical interference in their biology, though the system is operating with less confidence especially in the latter case and says as much - these people get droid visits first for anything that's not obvious like "blood stays inside the patient", asking politely if they have any knowledge about unique needs regarding their medical care and walking them through potential interventions.  She's not letting anyone die on her watch and she's put quite a lot of thought and magic and technology and knowledge and advice and faith into devising the best autodocs she can, the sort she'd trust her life to, and since she's apparently decided to defenestrate the prime directive at sufficient velocity as-is, she may as well deploy as broadly as she can.

"Huh, that's really interesting;" declaims the woman who has come up to the deck, captain in tow (but now unbound again), as she arrives to speak with the functionaries personally, "I'd be very curious to hear more about how that came about after all this is settled - it's a lot fairer than I expected, even if it's still weighted in favor of those with money to throw away, and doesn't handle intra-family disputes well.  The system I was going to propose, if you had none, is a bit fuzzier in that it will be harder to intuitively parse than coin totals and reliant upon magic items that you have no reason to trust, but I do wish to mention it - I have tools that allow people to impress, well, mental images, upon them; with these, things to prompt the necessary thoughts - simple mechanisms, and knowledge of how the mind works, rather than anything that might actually touch upon the mind; that sort of thing I avoid unless it's very necessary, generally for no less than otherwise insurmountable language barriers - and rather a lot of math and simulation that will nonetheless pass in a blink because I've specific tools to do that with, we could collect both a census of self-reported groups of affiliation within the city and their preferred representatives for matters pertaining to their interests, and people's preferred representatives as regards the city as a whole.  Similarly for the others, as well," she adds, turning towards the Grendel captain.  "I can and will ensure privacy of the vote, either way."

Permalink

Once gradually freed from their temporary imprisonment, the Grendel and their mercenary orcs form up and wait for orders, in defensive blocks, eying the newly emboldened humans nervously. Their purple-clad leaders swiftly come together in the middle of one of these formations for a round of recriminations and desperate planning.

The healing is appreciated, but fairly quietly; it doesn't appear to be entirely unprecedented to these people, although the droids are met with considerable curiosity about how they function, how alive or otherwise they are, whether 'Spring' and 'Autumn' are somehow working together? It seems like healing and generally becoming more energetic and regrowing limbs are generally 'Spring' and mechanical automata are generally 'Autumn', both kinds of magic that this world is accustomed to. There are a lot of people with magical interference in their biology - while plain humans are still just about a majority, there is a considerable minority of 'lineaged', humans touched by various 'realms', among which 'Autumn' is over-represented - the marks of Autumn are sheeplike horns and metallic patterns, and a considerable increase in stubbornness, but those questioned are fairly sure that all normal medical interventions work exactly the same on lineaged as humans - save maybe the Spring touched, who tend to heal over with permanent bark where there would normally be some scarring.

Advice on dietary habits is generally met with derisive laughter - humans left in Oran (and orc slaves and to some extent even mercenaries of the Grendel) subsist on what they can get, and are perfectly aware that it is inadequate, thank you very much little metallic physick.

The floaty metal things mostly get talked to; it looks like nobody has the idea of touch screen interfaces around here. The tech level is resolutely medieval except where this is punctuated by magic - lenses and lighting appear to be quite advanced with good corrective lenses for vision problems and glowing crystals for light sources, the town has a printing press, and there's a local kind of really quite effective medicine based around magical herbs and spells - including a herb for changing physiological sex - so despite the poor conditions, people are surprisingly healthy in general.

"That sounds, uh, a bit magical for some people," replies the bold functionary. On closer inspection, they have pointed ears and a blue swirl almost tucked away under their hair - Summer touched, from what the medical droids have gathered. "Magic's all very well but we prefer it out where we can see what it's doing. Intra-family disputes normally end up with the family splitting or members going off and joining another family. Wouldn't object to an accurate census, though, we're likely to have bits and pieces of various families in hiding..."

"We'd normally just defer to the governor in this situation, but I expect he'll be persuadable to play the Freeborn voting game - as long as Grendel money stays with the Grendel," replies the Captain.

Permalink

The droids are not alive, they're very complex mechanisms that have then been enchanted to carry certain magical effects!  Thank you for asking, your curiosity is commendable!  Unfortunately, these units are presently busy, but more detailed explanations of their making will likely be available later!

They're also very sorry to hear that there's ongoing food shortages, and this will be brought to the attention of the - relief worker - in charge of their deployment so it can be remedied; there's not as much they can do about that, but if there's existing food, they can make it stretch, to some extent; they can also provide assistance making existing crops lastingly more nutritive, a few tips and tricks that will enable farming that doesn't exhaust the things plants use to make nutrition in the soil if that's something that they don't know how to do, and quite possibly restore damaged supplies.

"Alright, then, so long as you're all satisfied with it.  And I don't - you don't have to do voting," she gestures to the Grendel, "if you don't want to, but you should have someone speaking on your behalf here, too.  Census...I could do that, yeah, give me a few minutes."  She pulls out a big pink crystal, about the size of two fists compared to the fingertip-sized ones that have been observed by the adventurous poking the strange magic, turns it over in her hands in a seemingly idle fidget while she looks a bit up and to the left, thinking, then pulls out another one of those metal orbs, prises it apart, dumps a good third of those parts - wow, that's a lot of runes and those are weird runes - into a pouch on her belt in a casual display of telekinesis, then does something that, to use a metaphor that's not even wrong, inverts the process of making the normal exploded diagram - the parts are arranged just so in space, and then they collapse back together like she's pulling a string, ending up with half a drone shell, built around that crystal, that she cradles in her hands.  Then she mutters 'fuck, that's not going to be enough on its own, is it', pulls out the parts she put away in the first half of this exercise, sets them floating in midair, idly turning, re-explodes the diagram, and, after yet more tinkering, produces..."So how do you want this formatted, anyway," she asks as she passes the representative the drone.  "Could print books, could get it all on one big scroll...What's the date, anyway?  And what's all this I'm hearing about food troubles?"

Permalink

The populace are quite convinced they know how to do farming, too, although a few of them are more interested and take some notes to compare.

Right now there's likely to be a lot of abandoned food in empty buildings in various states of failed preservation, more so on the outskirts and outlying villages than in town - apparently there was some kind of daring rescue of much of the human population of this area, the ones that are left here were too slow or stubbornly attached to their homes and so on to participate.

The orc slaves were mostly being imported for getting in the harvest in the absence of most of the people who normally work the land. The main crops are barley, olives, citrus fruit, and aftee that a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, pork and poultry mostly in smallholdings.

There are several opinions about how a census should be laid out, eventually the bold functionary who appears to now be the de facto leader reports, "Can we get a scroll with dhomiro and locations for each family, and booklets for the detail?"

Several of the other functionaries are deeply fascinated with the crystals and runes; one to the extent of chanting an incantation, some kind of divinatory magic giving a general summary of what a magical item does - within the local system of magical items, in any case... 

The Grendel leadership send a well guarded delegation up to the boat. The Captain looks disgruntled as they approach - clearly she was planning to monopolise the useful stranger's attention, and now she's about to be out ranked - but smoothes it over to look the consummate (if somewhat arrogant) diplomat as they get close enough to tell. "Ah, may I present Lord Rahab and his second in command," she announces. 

Permalink

This news prompts new drones, with a different symbol from the green cross-in-circle-in-square of the medicae; these are slightly bigger and have manipulators of some sort, in addition to their logo (inside the square-and-circle) being a curved sheaf of wheat laid across a hammer, and these know as much about farming and architecture and practical biology as she could cram into them.

"Sure, though could I trouble you to remind me of the nature of a dhomiro?  Not quite sure I recall the details, and I do want to be as accurate as I can."  Never let them see you sweat.  The process of setting up for splitting out the reports while she takes down that explanation, on the other hand, is quite smooth; detailed conjurations like this aren't quite her most honed field, but they're certainly her bread-and-butter when it comes to projects like these, so she's got quite a lot of tricks to make it work.

She's too busy thinking to notice the divinatory spell until it's almost gone off, and winces, because that functionary just got multiple items' worth of rune SHENZHEN I/O trying to jam into his head, mostly uncommented "conditional metal(lightning) time-inverse 60..." sorts of things save for cryptic comments like "#rd Presti frm SpROM", "#psy act. thrshld togg.", "#to luminlib as ls<pVec>", "#rchrg batt. w/ magic", "#rcvr prvstat frm ttape", "#datdmp to techne on dspl", "#bob/weave lerp"...  "I don't recommend trying to reverse-engineer these; there's rather a lot to them and it's heavily interconnected with the mechanisms."

The captain gets a minute shrug from the traveler, but from the way she's (mostly only figuratively) radiating disapproval at Lord Rahab's existence, it seems they're both in agreement about who she'd prefer to be spending time with.  "Thank you, captain; you do continue to be pleasant to work with.  Lord Rahab.  It is interesting to see an august personage involved so personally in this venture.  Were you planning on moving in?"  The question is delivered in a wry, rhetorical tone.  "I don't believe Oran is likely to let you, at this point, but I've certainly seen stranger things happen sometimes."  She turns to the functionary.  "And I don't believe I've yet had the pleasure of an introduction?  The both of you may refer to me as Myra."

Permalink

The functionary who cast the spell falls over babbling incoherently; there appears to be a standard local procedure for this, someone else in the group shouts "Physick!", one of the dock workers comes running over with a bag full of miscellaneous herbal concoctions and starts doing some diagnostics that involve listening and singing at various pitches. This seems to immediately start calming down the stricken individual and generally nobody seems very worried.

"Dhomiro - head of a family?" explains one of the other functionaries.

A few people chase after the wheat drones to see what they are up to.

"I'm Thesali i Hanana i Guerra," the functionary introduces themself. (They are distinctly not quite male or female, physically partially both.)

"Greetings to you, Myra," says the Grendel second in command; Rahab appears to be too busy looking haughty and feeling an absolute seething rage, covering a pit of cold, dark terror, to speak. "I am Keth, second to Lord Oran. We were indeed in the process of settling in; the Empire has formally conceded these lands to ourselves, in return for a considerable ceasefire and potentially a lasting peace. I am not sure what your affiliations are, but I do need to warn you that unless this misunderstanding is swiftly resolved, that peace is at risk. The Empire has already taken the people of this land from us by deception, and my Lord is not in the most forgiving of moods at the present moment." Keth is a little worried but is fairly sure she can pull it out of the bag somehow.

Permalink

"Ah, yes.  That can be done.  Sort by head of household...annnd, there we go."  And then there is a brief sort of ping off of everyone in the area, and the scroll and booklets start materializing!

The agricultural drones are mostly doing food-security-related things!  Visiting granaries, plugging rat holes, inspecting and (mostly) purging molds (unless they produce interesting chemicals; penicillin is good, magic is weird, etc. etc..), weeding gardens, repairing leaks...

"...Well, I'm not a signatory to that treaty, so you can declare war on me if you like; as you're no doubt already aware I certainly have the force projection to be geopolitically relevant, so it's only fair that you could treat me like a geopolitical entity in this sense as well.  I don't recommend it, but you could.  That said, I don't believe the land exchanged under treaties is traditionally held to come with its freemen attached as chattel."  And thus this, she is indicating, is sufficiently abnormal a claim as to require justification.

Permalink

"Oh, that was in fact a provision of the treaty!" Keth informs her. "Everyone in Feroz had two whole seasons to move elsewhere, if they didn't want to be under Grendel rule. We even let them take a reasonable proportion of their possessions with them. After that, they were under our jurisdiction, which certainly doesn't mean they were all immediately enslaved - most humans in Feroz are free, it's only those who have broken the law or sold themselves who are not."

"And the Empire then retrieved most of the ones who were left anyway," growls Rahab, "hence the incoming shipments. And I guarantee every one of the orcs who came in on these ships would rather be here than where they came from."

Permalink

"Mmmmmm.  I do hope that you won't mind if I seek independent confirmation of your claims, though I am provisionally inclined to believe them at this time."  Let's see...

Sociological survey, set the target demographics right, load contexts, input questions, pass them through the filters...

The medic droids, who were a bit at loose ends, given their overall numbers and the lack of a warzone, are cycling out a bit with more general civic utility droids - and those come with the ability to run surveys!  They're very polite about it!

Total: 193
Posts Per Page: