The Legend of the Angelic Dragoness

Session XIX: "Matters of state are taxing for all..."

10th Kuthona, Fireday, of the year 4711: First council meeting, plans made

10th Kuthona, “Fireday” of the year 4711
Northern Wing of the Thickwood Estate, Roderick’s Cove, mid-morning

I woke early, around 8.30, to find that Morden had gone again. I dressed, and then wandered around a little at a loss as to how I should call one of the servants for breakfast. The predominant thought running through my mind was that I can kill an ogre, but cannot call a servant. Ridiculous.

At length, I meandered down to the undercroft and found Naiya there, chopping vegetables. Perhaps it is not customary for me to be down there, for she seemed extraordinarily surprised to see me. Nevertheless, I ordered breakfast, and for lunch to arrive later today for the counsel members, six in all. Breakfast is plentiful and with considerable choice – cheese, bread, meat, marmalade, honey, fruit, oats and eggs have all been presented. I will take this time to write some notes in preparation for the counsel meeting, to consolidate my thoughts.

Immediate problems
- Food shortage
- Siege situation (orcs)
- Harbour defense (Galayev/Riddlesport)

Plans for development within the city:
- Invite the Pathfinder’s institution to Roderick’s Cove (will we have to build them a lodge?)
- Institute town guard – initially hire the best of the militia
- Get a town hall built (separate from my house – division of legislation and personal estate)
“pro omnes amor incorruptibile, For all incorruptible love;
pro omnes spes inextinguibili.” for all inextinguishable hope
- Build a school
- Build a library
- Write to Abken – get clerics to teach, and man the Cathedral (state religion currently has no religious figures)
- Replenish grain storage (trade until the new growing season)
- Fortify city – long term plans including river guard – transmutation aura in walls?
- Trade agreements & peace treaty with Riddlesport
- Trebuchet vel sim for the tower and man the other harbour towers
- Fix and activate the central tower in the harbour – 4m diametre stone – where and how?
- Institute sub-cityguard division for the harbour – Boats, siege weapons for incoming vessels, ‘the rams’ [a pair of sharp battering rams like pincers, which could piece the hull of a ship beneath the water line]

Plans for development of infrastructure for the wider Realm:
- Once siege is over, inaugural open court and feasting for the local powers, possible with a tournament – Riddlesport, Magnimar, nearby villages, Shoanti tribes?
- Map out territories in the Duchy of Melodie, and create a census book of them (for administration and tax etc.)
- Institute realm-wide guardsmen to patrol the roads, with outposts in small villages – have the guardsmen circulate to prevent corruption
- Visit all the regions and assets – know personally what the land is/ what is going on in
different areas and what the problems are
- Ensure that the ‘local dangers’ (list below) provide no problem.
- Treaties with the Hawk clan (Shoanti clan to the South)
- Create a political understanding (or preferably a treaty) with the Wind clan (Shoanti clan to the North) which may possibly require a show of force

Local dangers which threaten Duchy of Melodie:
- Orcs in the dwarven mine – (abandoned long ago when dwarves left the area)
- Riddlesport
- Churlwood forest, set up a patrol on th edge, and explore and clear the nearest area
- Storval plateau (orc city & giants) – shouldn’t provide an immediate problem
- Shoanti tribes – Skull clan North of Riddlesport (who shouldn’t be a problem for us), plus closer-by Hawk and Wind clans: in the past few years – Wind clan has been aggressive, and villages had
to bribe them in the past. Hawk clan – more interested in trade than aggression.
- Xin Shallat – the source of all evil of Varisia (the ancient city of Thassilonian Lords) – exact location unknown, but if we become the beacon of goodness I am hoping for in the area, then we may provoke them.
- Goblins in the fogscar mountains (to the south, by the coast)
- Galavyev – mainly attacks during the warm months; mostly quite close together raids, about 1/month. His strength lies in surprise and his sea power – if we can be prepared he may give up on us, as not worth the raiding. This will allow us to go on the offensive.

My own personal assets development (not to be brought up at counsel):
- Finish the Manor House (near the temple)
- Build a trade depot for the Forge and mine
- Get a motto/sigil (songbird, wings outstreatched, in front of a dragon, wings outstretched,
with a halo above.
- Buy the quarry and man it, to grow the business and provide more jobs, resources and trade in the area
- hire Andanan onto my personal workforce – his facility with stone reminds me of the Divine Builder himself, and only a fool would let such talent pass by

I hear the first counsel members arriving – I must go.

The Thickwood estate, Dusk

The counsel has finally left, and it is now dusk. I had anticipated that it would take a considerable amount of time, especially with providing a luncheon afterwards, but did not imagine that it would take this long.

Elyron was the first to arrive, carrying serval large tomes and ledgers with him, and Arietta and Derek were not far behind. Father Thorton bustled into the room and some time later Morden finally slipped in.
I led them up to the study, and Elyron dropped me a quiet word as we walked, asking about both renumeration for the counsel members, and what should happen with the gifts. I suppose I should have realised that, even in the difficult situation Rodick’s Cove finds itself in, people would present gifts at the inaugural court. Apparently Derek has them now – I must remember to ask him about them.

The first item on everyone’s agenda was the issue of food. People in the city seem to have their own supplies to a certain extent, but those are now running thin. By the end of this week, most will start needing to dig into the Granary, but that is almost empty after the Orc attack. The fishermen are working hard, but cannot provide close to enough food to feed the whole city. There remains some livestock within the walls, but most were culled by the orcs.

However the situation is by no means hopeless. Even before my appointment to Duchess, I was concerned about the siege and the impending food shortage in Roderick’s Cove, which is why I struck up trade deals with Yolanda, and asked Ackban to spread the word through the trade caravan route that Roderick’s Cove would pay a premium for food, and had work for good men. My hope is that it is only a matter of time before these investments of time and money pay off in trade. I also brought forth the question of the crannies which Nilluvian had suggested, and asked if there might be any from the local villagers who knew where they were. Elyron will put out a proclamation amongst the town criers and tomorrow, Morden, Derek and I will go searching together for crannies and game. It will feel good to get out of the city and stretch my wings, and I confess that I am rather looking forward to it.

Arietta then raised the next point – it is all very well keeping the people fed, but, in the long term, what is the plan to end the siege? I gave the opinion that the Orcs will attack sooner rather than later because, no matter how tactically aware they seem, they are inherently more aggressive than they are patient. Arietta countered this by saying that the company is not being led by an Orc, and that some other force lies at its head. Gradually, with the input of Morden, we laid out a plan to make a raid on the Orc camp, and to steal or ruin their food supply. The idea behind this is that it will either push them to leave or force them to attack. Morden has volunteered to run the mission with the help of some ‘nameless’ associates, probably those who do not fare well in the revealing light of day. A mission under cover of night, armed with poison, smacks of dishonour to me, but as Arietta intimated, there is no honour in such a siege but in saving the lives of our people.

Another item on the agenda was the comment that three men left the city today, heading north for Riddleport. Soon others will know of my ascension to Duchess and it is important that we have a contingency plan. I discussed what I had written earlier with regard to the Duchy’s possible foreign policies, not just regarding Riddlesport but also the various Shoanti tribes and Magnimar. My ideas, on the whole were accepted without comment, although we will need to revisit them once again when the siege is cleared.

In conjunction with this, the defense of the Harbour was raised. I mentioned the opinion of Aldfeun the Shippy, that the best defenders were big warships and war machines. Both Riddlesport and Galayev currently have the advantage in water, and that is something I would like to have more control over. Morden had an amazing suggestion – he told of great iron-wrought chains, which had been used in some other ports to restrict access to coves and harbours for undesirable ships. They work, in effect, like a trip wire or trap – the bottom of the boat is too deep to pass and thus the ships are prohibited from entering. Derek suggested that it would take a great deal of time and a lot of resources to make such a massive chain, but that we could start with a similar device of rope, which would at least give us more advantage than we have now. Thinking on this for a moment, I realised that the Thassilonion towers in the cove and the River Delta were already set up for such a device. I have given the order that it should be placed as soon as possible. With all our strength on the outer walls, we are especially vulnerable to attack from the sea right now.

Derek raised again the problem that we cannot smelt the adamantium we are currently raising from the mine, and that a treaty with Riddlesport might require a clause about negotiation of using the Carboxyte vent there. Derek mentioned that it was controlled by dwarves based in the city. A diplomatic mission may be in order.

Other problems were raised which we had less conclusive solutions for. These included the fact that, as the winter continues and the cold weather moves south, the price of food will continue to rise, and also that, as a city, we are lacking important skilled merchants, craftsmen and other professions – architects/engineers, builders, masons, shipwrights, spellcasters. We also have no official coinage – currently coins from riddleport, magnimar, chelliax empire, and ingots of coinage from Yar all change hands, but we have no distinct financial seal of our own. As treasurer, I put Derek onto devising a financial plan and designing coinage for the city, and asked him to come back with ideas.

I mentioned to Father Thorton that I wish to establish schooling within the Duchy, and also that I intend to write to Abken to secure more clerics and priests for the location. I have asked Father Thorton to come back to me with a proposed curriuclum for such a school.

Lastly, I proposed to the counsel that we invite the Pathfinders association to Roderick’s Cove. If we intend to be anything more than provincial idealists it is necessary to have a Lodge in the city, and perhaps the Lodge will attract people. With no other business brought forward, I announced another meeting next Wealday at noon, in preparation for the Court next Oathday, and we adjourned for lunch.

I was glad to have arranged lunch, for I discovered that much information surfaces in such a seemingly informal event. Morden told me that in the city there is a small thieves guild charter from Magnimar. Though they keep a low profile, the idea of organised crime in my city is unnerving and the sooner we can put pay to it the better. I believe that I somewhat surprised Derek, for when he asked if there is a differentiation of my assets and the city assets, I said that there was. Elyron joined in, all shock and raised eyebrows, asking “does this mean that all businesses will be taxed by the city?”. It turns out that the previous taxation policy was disorganised and chaotic, and that people were or were not taxed depending on what the city knew about them. There was no organised census or income reports. I have commissioned Elyron to begin organising a survey of the city itself, taking a census of who lives here and what they own, and also of the city’s assets. Normally the Lords do not pay tax, but instead give levies. As the Dutchy of Melodie, as we acquire new locations, I can either claim them as my own or award them to other nobles, though for now this is all purely theoretical.

My idea is that there should be a common tax on land ownership (based on value of land); in addition, tax can be levied for using the natural resources of the land, so for example a mine or a quarry. I also plan to introduce a business tax, and register all businesses with the city. The businesses and assets of a lord should taxed based on production – they must now register all mines, farms, mills etc as businesses. I outlined this idea with Elyron and he seemed to understand. I fear it will not be a popular move amongst the gentry, but if we keep taxes low and collect money from those who are earning surplus, we can improve the city for everyone, and make it safe place to live.

I believe that, now they have finally gone, I will go to the library in the temple and explore a little further to see what I can find. Morden told me that he will be away for at least the next few nights, so I do not expect him.

Thickwood Estate, Evening
The temple library was not as useful as I could have hoped. Most of the books were in ancient Azlanti or Thassilonion. Many of them had pictures, although I could not read the text, and seemed to be about farming implements, alchemical processes or brewing. I stayed in there for some time, sorting through the tomes, until I began to feel tired.

Upon returning to my room I bathed and read a little more of the Ancient Azlanti-Draconic grammarian. I am certainly making headway, though it will take considerably more study to provide any sort of fluency in the language. I am now curled up in bed, finishing my diary. Tomorrow brings an adventure beyond the walls and a chance to stretch my wings. I’m almost feeling guilty about looking forward to it so much…



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