Some information I got from Yee-Lin, Mother, and Father last night:
- Gemmi and Urhant split on 4th Day, 2 weeks ago. They had a private lunch, then Gemmi stalked away angrily; they haven’t been seen together since.
- The same day: Paul-Henri Mann (usual High Court Mann representative) was missing from court; a minor Mann official took his place.
- Day 5 was Market Day
- Day 6 – problems started. Weekly contracts not renewed by Aglion, who stopped almost 100% of their shipping through us that day. When asked, gave obviously BS stories about a crop blight. Then, after the 9th Day explosion, ‘safety concerns’, yadda yadda.
- The city of Ruk in Aglion is full of warehouses – Muher ships through Ruk, and all of their current shipments are caught there. They say they’re trying to keep their shipping with us, but their things need to go through Ruk, so they’re dead in the water.
- So, the drop in shipping is Aglion and Muher, although Aglion seems intentional and Muher seems caught.
- The explosion in the Warehouse district was on 9th day, so even if related, it was not causal. It’s probably not directly related – seems to be more whoever’s dicking with the Thieves’ Guild / Ssama.
- I asked Yee-Lin about Thessily and Lenna. She says Thessily seems to be smarter than she lets on, but that she seems to only use her cleverness to party above her station. Lenna she declined to answer verbally, but wrote me a note that indicated that she’d been ‘asked’ by someone of rank not to look into Lenna.
- Rooms at Court – rooms closest to main entrance are reserved for houses that pay a “consideration” to the crown. Reserved rooms are a symbol of status. The other rooms are first-come first-served meeting rooms – the crests are hung on the doors to let people know who’s using them, to avoid awkward adjacencies. Contracts made in a room with a house seal are treated as if made on the home land of the host – this extends to guilds ‘home turf’.
- Flirtation is very common and considered normal. Liasons in back rooms are not unheard of, but Chiss and Thessily’s overt activities are considered crass and rude.
- Yee-Lin told me to think of conversation as swordplay. Interesting framework.
Interesting tidbit from Father:
~ The rise of the guilds has raised the worry that the minor houses will stop accepting the status quo and make plays for themselves. Resurrection of a very old problem that hasn’t been an issue in hundreds of years ~ Aghalion has never sworn; I wonder if they’re thinking of making a play to become a major house?
Also, on the way back to the Clubhouse last night I visited Harrik to ask about some extracurricular lessons with a lady of the Big House. He booked me an appointment with someone at 8:30pm, 4 nights later. He wouldn’t tell me her name, but I at least made sure it wasn’t Cinnamon, because that would be beyond awkward. Like I said yesterday, it’s in his best business interests to be discreet, but I tipped him anyway in thanks for his discretion.
Last night there was no harassment from Marcel. Give it a few more days – I’m pretty sure he’ll try to get in one more shot at me.
This morning I slept in a bit. When I woke up I found a package with 5 sets of new clothes for court, still in the fencer motif, more purple/Black, the Kalb colors. I put on a purple shirt, black doublet, and purple sash. There was also my day’s pass for the Palace, which I tucked away.
“That Kalb” had saved me a seat at the breakfast table, where the Xarx rejects were sitting as well. He handed me a cranberry and chocolate chip muffin, which was really nice, because those go pretty fast, so there were none left by the time I got to the tables. I thanked him and tried to make some kind of friendly conversation, which is kind of hard to do with him. The rumor is that his mind was touched by Takara’s virus before he was born, but whatever the reason, conversation isn’t his strongest suit. (That would be fighting – he’s huge and fights with a maul.) Anyway, I asked him why he was sitting with me and he said (in monosyllables I don’t remember) “people are judging you for something beyond your control. I understand that.” I realized as I was finishing up my breakfast that I actually had no idea what the guy’s name is, so I asked. He said it’s Leonid, but he prefers Nid, because it’s easier.
I got some information from Katja – the Foamers are an aggressive guild, and have been expanding. They can’t expand against Mann or Velucia, which leaves inland. Therefore, they’re looking to extend into farming. Foamers never managed to break into shipping because of Mann & Velucia, so they’ve historically been reliant on shipbuilding and fishing. Their shipbuilding has always been in competition with Mann, because Mann has the good lumber. The foamers are now buying up struggling farms and running them with some kind of business model rather than the traditional feudal system. Each farm they buy up is an egg taken out of the nobles’ baskets. There’s lots of tension within the guild about the move towards farming. There are some well-established old timers who stand to lose a lot if this move succeeds.
So, I went back to court. Again, Emile was the first person to greet me – oddly, he thanked me for not making an embarrassing scene regarding Thessily yesterday. Yee-Lin came up shortly thereafter and mentioned that sometimes his stickler-ness about honor cuts him the wrong way.
Urhant & Gemmi – both have a lot wrapped up in fishing and shipbuilding. Urhant is higher ranking. Historically he has supported risky ventures. Urhant has many courtiers, Gemmi has only 1.
Chiss Aghalion – Timus & Chiss were talking, both frowning. Timus looked like she was intellectually wrestling with a Big Problem, but Chiss just looked plain old unhappy. To recap, Chiss is the official Aghalion family rep, but Timus ranks higher in the family, because she’s more competent and more interested. Chiss has more experience, but accepts his place under Timus. He’s generally content to be a friendly drunk at court, fairly unprejudiced, and a fun conversationalist. As it turns out, Timus has apparently been acting unusually recently. She was snippy at me yesterday morning, but although she’s evidently not the most socially adept person, I’m told she’s generally sort of a geeky, quiet, bookworm type.
Timus walked off, looking thoughtful, and went to talk to Elizabeth Muher. They had a long conversation, laughing – seemed like they’d been friends for awhile. Vermus joined them, and it seemed like Elizabeth was on friendly terms with him as well, although he did sometimes make her giggle and blush.
I spoke for awhile with Chiss, not much of consequence was said. He gave me something alcoholic, with… pineapple. From Nehni, apparently. And then some kind of weird fruit daiquiri. Odd, but he was an amusing conversationalist.
I went over to talk with Sir Vincent Muher, Elizabeth’s great-uncle, since I hadn’t had a chance to meet him yet. Sir Muher was sitting alone in a gentleman’s corner near a fire, so Yee-Lin decamped. I managed to lose the daiquiri and get a port, which didn’t have all those confusing umbrellas to poke your eye out on. He said the port was made on his family lands, and apologized for the shipping troubles, said they were “trying to clear it up”. He seems to be a very straightforward guy, not cut out for duplicity. He genuinely seems to want to resolve the issue. I told him we’d be happy to do what we can to help resolve it, and he said he’d have his people contact Father regarding future shipments, although the cargo stuck in Ruk is out of our hands. We spent a bit more time chatting. At one point Mann and the Foamers came up, and he said that Mann is winning the war against the Foamers for one reason: they control the wood. The foamers have drydocks and shipbuilding ability, but they just don’t have the wood, so to get any, they have to pay Mann for wood from the Leth forest. Mann very selectively harvests that wood, so the supply is limited, and Mann wants to use it for their ships, so they probably charge the Foamers a hefty price*. Apparently Mann is also getting help from Velucia against the Foamers – neither wants to see another player on the high seas. He said it was the only Noble/Guild battle that the nobles are hands-down winning, and that it’s a shame it had to be the Manns. The Foamers control 80%+ of fishing, and most small boat building, and have the most labor on sea and docks on their payrolls. But the large trade ships and navy ships are owned and bankrolled by the Manns, so all of the profits roll that way – and “profits are what wins in this little war.”
*Given the Mann love of profit, they’d probably harvest more wood if they could, but it seems they hae a strong reason against doing so. Lots of people believe a godling, or sentient trees strictly control the harvesting. Given the tree people we fought with down near the warehouse district, the sentient plant thing gains validity.
In the meantime, Yee-Lin was watching Urhant.
She said Urhant was just as prickly and insulting to the Manns (maybe even more so) than he had been to me yesterday. Emile said something snarky like “fat old men should watch out for the future”. Urhant retorted with something along the lines of children serving as bait for their elders. Simeone berated Urhant, seemingly genuinely irate, and Urhant apologized in an overly sweet and sarcastic tone that fit the forms but belied his apology entirely.
I’d been trying to figure out how Dermont feels about Mann personally, and I get the impression that he’s a businessman first, but still doesn’t particularly like Mann, although the dislike seems more generalized than personal. He seems to only really personally dislike Simeone – said “that girl needs to get another hobby”, after she oiled past casting bitchy glances at Dermont and everyone he was talking with. Simeone seems to hate pretty much everyone. Emile doesn’t like Dermont – doesnt’ really seem to like Simeone either. Thessily doesn’t even seem to notice Dermont.
Anyway, after Simeone did her walk-by Death Glance at Dermont, we were looking at her as Dermont was saying this. I noticed Simeone make brief but significant eye contact with Gemmi Derought, and Simeone nodded slightly. Immediately, Gemmi went over to Timus and dragged her off to a private room. Timus seemed annoyed in a “we just talked about this fifteen minutes ago, I haven’t had time to think on it” kind of way – it seemed like Gemmiswas pushing an issue. Timus was frowning in the same way she had been earlier, as if she were working through a distasteful intellectual problem. She seemed not to like Gemmi. Whatever their business meeting covered, they were in that room together for hours.
I chatted with Dermont and his cronies for awhile, then went and talked with Elizabeth Muher, who was being shy in a corner. She and Sir Muher are stiff and formal with each other, as if they agree on fundamentals but have different priorities. I introduced myself and she blushed and giggled – I guess I hit the right tone of friendly but not threateningly friendly. Although I had a feeling she was laughing at me rather than with me a few times, it didn’t seem malicious, just amused with my bumbling. She was very earnest as we spoke, almost to a fault. Like her great-uncle, she doesn’t seem the duplicitous sort. She told me how she feels the whole feud with Xarx is a huge waste of resources. She told me exhaustively about her plans to make Muher better, by ceasing to waste resources on fighting wiht Xarx and re-focusing on making Muher superior. She went on about this at length, passionately. Seems like she’s maybe a bit idealistic on the details, but she’s definitely got drive.
Elizabeth apologized for Timus and the way she behaved yesterday – I had brought up Timus in a positive framework, but she was apologetic right of the bat. She said Timus has been flustered recently. She gave me some improbablye story that Timus was still embarassed because she’d spilled milk on herself earlier in the week, but later said something along the lines of “Timus is stressed that she can’t solve the problem.” That would go along better with the frustrated-intellectual look Timus’d had on her face all morning. Elizabeth invited me to tea tomorrow with Timus and Vermus , because Timus never reads at tea, and she though it would help me see Timus in a better light. Apparently she likes the structure of the tea ceremony – it seems like her mind works like that, structure and logic. Elizabeth said she’d been friends with Timus and Vermus for close to two years, since she came to court, although she’d known them as kids. Elizabeth seemed weirdly concerned that I not wear court wear to tea, which I wouldn’t have intentionally done, but I guess it was a good reminder to have someone send gardenwear to the palace for me tomorrow so I don’t have to schlep home and back to change.
When Timus came out from her meeting with Gemmi Vermus went right over to her, and they had a serious conversation for about twenty minutes. Then Vermus invited Elizabeth over with a genuine-seeming smile, although Timus still seemed very upset. I’ve been told that he’s an amazingly good bluffer, so it’s hart to say whether or not he was as upset as Timus – he didn’t look it, but who knows.
I mingled for awhile with various folks so as to not jump directly from Muher to Xarx, then approached Lenna & Ruption. They seem to get along reasonably well. I’d been told that Lenna serves as Ruption’s social secretary, which sort of underplays how much she knows and how efficiently she multitasks. We’d never met before, but she knew me on sight, not just by name, but by my rank in the Noble Muster. It seemed like she knew everyone’s names and social standings by heart. She was soft spoken and efficient, and triaged the folks around Ruption with a combination of precision and social grace, relentlessly organizing the chaos with a preternatural calm. There wasn’t any clear indication of why she was ‘not to be looked into’, but maybe her steel-trap mind isn’t just working for Ruption’s social sphere?
Ruption was good-natured – he likes arguments and was trying to bait me, but Yee-Lin’s description of conversation as swordplay came in handy. As soon as I started bantering with him like he was in the Musters he got this gleam in his eye and seemed to take to me pretty well.
After leaving Court, I had a re-hash session with Yee-Lin, who said I’d done all right, and hadn’t made people feel like anything other than their routine was expected of them. She seemed particularly impressed that I’d managed to hit the right note with Elizabeth – apparently she’s a hard nut to crack.
We talked a bit about social etiquette, the real subtleties, both what they are and who seems to care about them. She said Elizabeth’s etiquette when she’s shy is almost always perfect, but when she’s enthusiastic she slips up. (She’d initially invited me to tea today, and then seemed flustered because that wasn’t appropriate.)
Vermus is almost always perfect with etiquette except if enthusiastic or if he’s worried about Timus.
Simeone’s intentionally rude, constantly slighting people. She’s just bitter, has been passed over too many times.
Lenna, unsurprisingly, has all the details perfect, always. A little frightening.
Dermont’s etiquette is good for anyone outside his friends, but he’s informal with his friends. It seems like they all helped scout, survey, and construct the Van Kest ladder 20 years ago in their glory days.
I asked Mother and Father about the lumber warehouse that we’d passed on word about. They said the whole warehouse district is having problems – people are disappearing. No one’s doing a whole lot of troubleshooting there right now, for a 25-30 block area – folks just don’t go there after dark, and even during the day it’s pretty deserted of foot traffic. This is problematic for a lot of businesses.
Paul-Henri Mann, 4th Day, 2 weeks ago
More information regarding foamer / mann interaction. Carborns friendly with Mann.
About foamers, internal politics / Mann or Aghalion interactions
Whether he knows anything about what’s going on in the warehouse district.
Pass on to Father:
Vincent Muher says to contact his people regarding how Kalb can help with future Muher shipments.
Short story: plummeting family revenue and plummeting social status
have both occurred within the past two weeks, and hitting the ground
hurts. I’d really like to avoid it if possible. I’m trying to figure
out exactly what’s happening so that we can stop freefalling before we
I know you have contacts that might be able to get you some inside
information from the Foamers’ Guild. Think you’d be able to dig up
anything on the following?
- Information about a Mann / Foamers truce or alliance.
- Information about the schism within the Foamers regarding their
recent expansion into agriculture.
- Information about what the Foamers are trying to accomplish with
All of these are important, but the last one is the one I have the
least information about.
Context, you say?
To refresh your memory from gradeschool – House Mann (shipbuilding &
sea trade) and the Foamers Guild (shipbuilding & fishing) have always
been at war with one another over shipbuilding. The Foamers are
reliant on precious Mann lumber to build their ships. The Foamers tend
to build smaller boats, but Mann’s large trade and navy vessels are
what bring in the cash, so Mann profits both from their lumber sales
and from the ships they build/own/bankroll. (Tidbit: Mann and
Velucia have combined forces against the Foamers, because neither
wants another major player on the high seas. That’s how much Mann
doesn’t like the Foamers. Usually.)
Recently the Foamers, traditionally focused on fishing and small boat
building, have begun farming – buying up failing farms on land and
running them with a business model rather than the feudal system.
Every farm they take over is one farm less that produces for the noble
houses, and one farm less that is able to ship through Father’s fleet.
There is significant tension within the Foamers about this move.
There are some well-established old-timers in the guild who stand to
lose a lot personally if the farming move succeeds.
The Manns’ income being primarily from shipbuilding and sea-based
trade, this farming thing isn’t cutting into their profits nearly as
much as it cuts into ours. In fact, the Foamers’ Guild moving into
Farming benefits Mann twice over, because it takes away agricultural
assets from Kalb, while simultaneously reducing the Foamers’
hyperfocus on sea-related activities.
Most recently, House Aghalion (the only Kalb liege house that hasn’t
ever actually sworn alliegance, and which incidentally borders Mann)
seems to have gotten tied up into this… somehow.
The primary Mann high court representative (Paul Henri Mann) was not
at court on 4th day two weeks ago.
The same day, two senior members of the Foamer’s guild (Urhant Felst
and Gemmi Derought) met for a private lunch. They had a disagreement
and have been at odds ever since.
5th day is Market day. Usually liege houses shipping with Father renew
their contracts on 6th day, after Market.
On 6th day two weeks ago, Aghalion abruptly ceased shipping through
Father. Aghalion ships a lot through us, so this alone was a bite out
of revenue – and they gave clearly bullshit excuses when asked why
they hadn’t renewed their contracts that week. Then Muher, another
agricultural Kalb liege house that ships through us, had their cargo
“tied up” in warehouses in Ruk, the major city in Aghalion – another
bite out of Father’s shipping revenue.
Two weeks pass, wherein our family’s status abruptly plummeted from
“here, foster Vasily” to “get your crap out of the palace pronto”
This morning, I observed that at a signal from a junior Mannling
(Simeone Mann), one of the Foamers’ Guild representatives (Gemmi
Derought, presumably pro-farming, since she’s seemingly in alliance
with Mann) went over and started badgering Timus Aghalion, the key
decision-maker for House Aghalion, then dragged Timus off for a
multi-hour private meeting. The Aghalion representative seems to have
been given a frustrating intellectual puzzle she can’t solve. She
seemed irritated by the Foamers’ rep, but didn’t seem to be in a
position to tell her to go screw off.
Conjecture: Aghalion is likely being “encouraged” by the Farming
Foamers (read: Mann) to do Something. Since they’ve already stopped
shipping with us, it seems to be Something More. I know Father’s said
that the rise of the guilds may inspire some minor houses to stop
accepting the status quo and make plays for greater power, so maybe
that’s it? Or, Mann may be threatening to annex Aghalion. Or both:
bait and/or switch. Or something else entirely.
If you can turn up anything that might help connect any of the dots,
I’d be much obliged. I’ll buy you meat on a stick and/or introduce
you to the wonders of banana daiquiris with little paper umbrellas.
(I’d go for the meat on a stick, personally, but that’s just me).
Thanks big bro,
PS: do you have any idea what’s going on in the Warehouse District?
Word is the problems there have gotten a lot worse since we visited.