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Salon: Discussion on Diplomatic Relations and Statecraft

Come to the Salon for an evening where statecraft is discussed. Hear and read the latest treatise on exchanges of political recognition for peace (version 3, no less!), discuss the latest happening in the political arena and perhaps we'll even see representatives of each foreign nation arrive too.

As always, we debate and attack the topic, not the person presenting it. Failure to have a minimum amount of decorum and respect will have you escorted out.

Date

Oct. 17, 2019, 6 p.m.

Hosted By

Vincenzo

Participants

Peri Zoey Shard Cahal Merek Darren Valdemar Catalana Mirk Rysen Hamish Sabella Esme Roxana Swift Mailys

Organizations

The Salon

Location

Arx - Ward of the Compact - The Empirical - The Salon

Largesse Level

Refined

Comments and Log


Octavian, a silken spaniel arrives, following Zoey.

The Salon is ready for another discussion it seems, and to fight the cold outside, it's warm here and lots of various drinks and nibbles to keep folks occupied. "Good evening!" Says Vincenzo with a smile as he's hosting. "Good evening. Tonight we'll be discussing about version three of the treatise, we'll talk about the latest happenings in politics too. I know everyone has an opinion and the Salon desires to hear your thoughts. A few house rules of course: Never attack the person, attack the topic. No weapons. And do keep warm here with whatever you'd like to drink or eat, gods knows how cold it is outside we don't need chilly demeanors in here. Before we begin, do any of you have questions?"

Zoey has no questions of her own, but looks to her right and left to see if anyone else raises a hand.

Zoey has joined the The Forum.

Shard has settled into a comfortable slump in the chair she's chosen, with her arms crossed over her chest and her eyes slightly narrowed. She doesn't volunteer any questions either, though her expression is openly skeptical.



Peri is seated on one of the benches that ring the Salon platform. She showed early to get a spot with plenty of room. She is seated crosslegged with a lapdesk balanced on her knees. Some papers are stacked on one side, and a warm drink and cool inkwell are set precariously close to one another to her side.

Peri looks up when Vincenzo calls for questions. She gives a wave and a simple shake of her head for no. But now that she is pulled out of her world of study she sees Zoey, "Greetings Lady, Zoey." She salutes her with her quill.

Vincenzo waves over to Peri, "Hello!" he says to her with a smile. Glancing as more people come in, he gestures "Please, come in and get comfortable. Grab a drink, something to eat. We're just about to start."

Cahal shakes his head as he sits back in his chair and starts to lazily study the gathered people. "No questions here."

Bear, a war mastiff, 6 Last Watch Sentries, Nils, an aging Northern steward arrive, following Darren.

Zoey unclasps her bear fur cloak as she smiles at Peri. "And good day to you, Lady Peri," she returns. She eyes Peri's setup. "You might want to rearrange your desk there. You wouldn't want to get distracted and accidentally drink your ink."

5 Grimhall House Guards, Gustav, a gruff Islander advisor arrive, following Valdemar.

And with a chime, the host begins the discussion as Vincenzo claps his hands together. "Welcome once more to another discussion hosted by the Salon, where we discuss all sorts of interesting topics in the spirit of mutual respect and friendship. I recognize a few of you from previous meetings, so I know you have a strong opinion and thoughts which is excellent and I want to make sure you get time to voice them and concerns. Tonight, we're talking about foreign nations and the Compact, and as of last Assembly, that great houses are interested in pursuing establishing embassies with foreign nations; however, some houses are reluctant, and some are downright against it. Of course, our glorious King has yet to rule on the matter."



He glances to each of you. "Hands up, how many here would be against embassies?"

Darren has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Merek makes his way into the place with his cape adjusted about his dark attire, looking to some of the folk in thought while he nods.

Peri raises a hand to ask a question, more than to be counted in the naes. "Princess Sabella did not make it clear what she meant by an embassy. I do not know what I am disagreeing with, if I am to disagree."

Cahal's hand stays down and he adds. "Depends."

2 Kennex corsairs, Jane arrive, following Catalana.

Shard's narrow just a little further, and she jerks her hand up very briefly.

Darren discreetly inserts himself into the fringes of the gathered crowd, procuring a drink along the way toward a seat overlooking the forum. "I am against it," the highlord states his opinion quite candidly, reclining comfortably in his seat.

Zoey speaks up. "An Embassy is simply a place within our borders where members of a sovereign nation might congregate as if they were within their own territory," she explains. "It's a way of establishing relations."

Valdemar makes his way into the room just in time to hear the question posed by the forum's host, and raises his hand before he even has time to find a seat. Eventually he does so, settling in and looking around the room at the others who have assembled to discuss the matter.

Vincenzo begins to count the hands raised. One, two, three...five...eight... and as a Highlord has arrived, Vincenzo as host gives a bow of his head and puts a hand to his chest. "The Salon is pleased and welcomes the highland of the Northlands, prince Darren." The bow of course symbolic so no one else has to do it. He listens though to hear the thoughts of multiple people. "I will call on a few of you who raised your hands. When I do, just tell us why. Don't fear you will create enemies, we're all here because we are civil."

Catalana is only just over fashionably late. Damn all that snow. She procures a glass of wine and tries to blend into the crowd, though it is difficult when you're a 6ft tall blonde woman.

Valdemar checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.

Shard checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 55 higher. Shard rolled a critical!

Peri checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 17 higher.

Darren checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 2 lower.

Vincenzo looks and he points to Shard and then Valdemar. "Would you please illuminate us with your opinions? Shard first, and then you lord Valdemar."

Shard doesn't even really sit up as she answers, and her arms remain crossed over her chest. "Because it's /fucking stupid/." And...and that's all she volunteers at the moment. Literally everything.

Darren inclines his head toward Vincenzo, the corners of his mouth uplifted to affect a ghost of a gracious smile. "The welcome is most appreciated, as is your initiative in hosting such a hot topic for debate this evening," he returns, settling into his chair with his attention turned upon Shard and Valdemar when they are selected to voice their opinion. His lips twitch, then flattens to supress his sudden chuckle at Shard's terse stance.

Catalana almost mirror's Darren's response with a repressed smile. She sits down and takes a drink to stop herself from laughing.

"Ahh, because it's fucking stupid." Repeats Vincenzo, and he nods. "Emotions tell us when something is wrong, don't they. A veteran in the wars would tell you that you go with your gut instinct usually, and when you get that feeling that something is wrong, you damn well listen to it. It's a survival instinct. We put up walls, we push each other away so that way we can survive another day. Shard, I think you'd agree that you're having those feelings right?"

Cahal has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Valdemar glances over at Shard for a moment before pointedly nodding in agreement with her. "It is an empty gesture. Neither Jadairal nor Cardia needs an embassy to get a message across, if that is what they want to do. Giving them embassies just makes us look desperate, and accomplishes nothing. They won't see it as a gift or a favor, because they see us the same way we see ants. What would you do if a colony of ants offered you an embassy in their hill?" he expounds some.

Catalana has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

1 Crimson Blades Sergeant, Aegis, a large red Oakhaven bloodhound, Rurik, a prodigal assistant arrive, following Mirk.

Mirk has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Zoey narrows her eyes a bit at Valdemar's words, but continues to patiently wait her turn.

Shard's right eye narrows a little bit this time, so that her expression is more of an uneven squint. "Putting up metaphorical walls and pushing each other away isn't good survival instinct," she notes, flatly. "That's not why I think it's idiotic." She gestures broadly in Valdemar's direction. "...That's why. It's empty, it's unenforceable, it won't establish any sort of rules they're in any way bound to follow, it will let them meddle with us /even more/, and it's us giving them something without them even asking for it, let alone giving anything in return."

Vincenzo listens to Valdemar speak and he nods to that. He thinks a moment, and then says "Don't forget, we are at a crossroads. Whether we want it or not, the Compact will be pulled into an epic battle of proportions we've not encountered before. Whether it's Eurus, the Platinum Empire or Cardia, there's three forces that are on the tipping point of causing us all to be forced to react. My lord Valdemar makes a strong point, that we shouldn't accept an empty gift."



He glances about the room. "Do we have anyone here who would argue these points? Please raise your hand.

Zoey raises her hand

Mirk slips into the room quietly, late but not too late, it seems. He finds an unoccupied seat, and glances from speaker to speaker, quickly orienting himself in the discussion, though he doesn't raise his hand to participate quite yet.

Zoey checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 28 higher. Zoey rolled a critical!

Darren tucks his chin into an upturned palm, swirling the contents of his glass about before lifting it to his mouth while he listens with muted intrigue to Shard and Valdemar's respective points. He raises his glass partially, if only to add mildly, "Perhaps knowing the reasoning to why House Grayson made its proposal for the embassy would provide much needed clarity and a common ground of understanding for would-be participants and observers alike?"

"I have a question." Cahal says "Are we talking about a reciprocal embassy where they give us the same things we give them or a one sided thing? It matters for the discussion I think."

Lygeia, a calligrapher and alchemist arrives, following Rysen.

Vincenzo points too Zoey to speak. He listens though to Darren and Cahal. Poor Cahal, you get to wait as Vincenzo speaks to the highlord. "That would be a very good point, of which I would heartily encourage and lean on the good highlord to do so with his peers in the interest of providing more insight and understanding."

Peri was absorbed in some notes which is how she has drifted a bit off the pulse. She picks up a parchment for reference because she is not word-perfect on the Nox'alfar treaty and clears her throat. "I have a copy of the Nox'alfar treaty where the land grant for the embassy is given. It starts," She reads, "'As communication is the best way to ensure lasting bonds do not wither...'. I would not want a bond with our visitors," She could not say that any more dryly, "but I would like a place to go where we could discuss matters than concern us." She looks to Shard, "Though Shard is right, they would not be beholden to listen or do anything." Then she answers Highlord Darren, "I asked earlier and she dumured to answer."

Rysen enters quietly into the salon with Lygeia. A few flakes of snow remain in his dark hair as he makes his way towards the forum to listen to the discussion already in progress.

Darren pauses in mid-sip of his whiskey, then merely smiles at Vincenzo. "Clever move there, Master Villente," he concedes with a humored exhale, leaning forward in his seat in a moment of deliveration. "The rational behind the suggestion of erecting embassies was that perhaps, with time, Cardia and The Undying Empire could be swayed more to the ways of the Compact with the hope of establishing more proper friendly relations."

"An Embassy is neither a favor nor a gift," Lady Zoey begins, standing with her shoulders back and her head high. "An Embassy is a maneuver. As was said at the Assembly, agents of foreign nations are already here. They neither want nor require an invitation to infiltrate and influence. But having an Embassy, and the formal agreements that go with it," she nods to Peri, "brings such dealings into the light of day where they can be observed and handled properly. Even tense relations need a place to start, and I will paraphrase my own High Lord when I ask, do you have a better idea?" She gives Valdemar a look and sits down.

Vincenzo gives a wink to the highlord at being caught and a grin, before he listens to Zoey. He nods. "I myself am one for establishing embassies. However, before I speak, I would like to give you a copy of the document. Thanks to lady Peri too for being a part of this."

Vincenzo drops On Diplomatic Relations v3.

Zoey gets 8 books from a monogrammed black calfskin satchel with silk lining.

Shard rubs at the bridge of her nose and her eyebrows, with a soft hiss of breath between her teeth. "Why in the--" she stops herself. "Why would two Empires that have been around far longer than the Compact suddenly decide to be 'swayed' to the ways of the Compact? Because you're just so damned influential?" Her gaze flits to Zoey. "Yes, the better idea is to /not/ give them an embassy."

"That's what's been done so far," Zoey counters. "And if that strategy were working, then the Embassy would not have been suggested in the first place."

Shard gives a sharp shake of her head. "You /cannot/ force either one of them to do anything you want them to do, how does giving them /more/...what? Legitimacy? Legitimacy. How does giving them more legitimacy help with that?"

Vincenzo says "And there lies the rub." pointing to Shard with a gesture. He takes a glass of wine, taking a drink from it, before he sets it down. "We already have an agreement between each of these nations. With Cardia, Platinum and Nox'alfar." Surprise, people! "It was made at the birth of the Compact, to protect this place from the Abyss, from having our world torn asunder. And while our uninvited guests might not like to point that out, the fact remains that there are already relations. We however have forgotten about that agreement, just like so many other things we've lost in time. With an embassy made, this can help us remember. It can help us not forget in the future too."

Peri says, "That was part rationale with the Nox'alfar treaty - that we not forget the Teind again." She questions, "Do we still have these agreements or did they burn in the Cardian Civil war?"

Peri adds, "I was not able to find them."

"What reason do they have to listen to us, though? An embassy will not force them to do so. It will not bring any dealings into the light that they would prefer to keep in the dark. We don't have the power necessary to hold them to account. They will do as they please regarding us unless we find a way to change that," Valdemar remarks in reply to Zoey. When Vincenzo points out that there is already an agreement, long-forgotten, between these nations and the Compact, the Duke goes on to ask, "And have they held to the terms of this agreement so far?"

Rysen smiles slightly Vincenzo speaks. "Do you know the exact nature of the treaty or agreement, Master Vincenzo?" asks the Crovane lord after Peri's question, his grey eyes gleaming with curiosity.

Shard says, flatly, "The Compact made a lot of promises it forgot about."

"This is true," says Hamish as he walks in on Shard's most recent comment. He looks around the room for a moment before heading over toward the couches. "But they're trying their best, I think."

"Because it binds them to terms, or stains their honor if they violate them," Mirk suggests. "We shouldn't assume that other nations are a monolith, such that any member may act with utter impunity. They're not. There are those of us, in the Compact, that would accept it unquestioningly if I were to break my word given to some Shav tribe, or some prodigals. But others would use that against me, and rightly. That's something, at least." He comments to Valdemar offhandedly, "And did we hold to ours? As I recall, we've had a problem with breaking treaties that we'd forgotten about before."

Peri is overheard praising Mirk.

Rysen nods to Mirk and says, "And the longevity of these cultures mean that they likely take their traditions and formal agreements more seriously. There may also be consequences for breaking that treaty that we can not yet conceive."

Holds up his hands up like that famous scholar Neil deGrasse Tyson, whoa there people! "We're aware that it exists, however the location in Arx isn't yet found. Perhaps, all of you, would be willing to help find it. They are written on large platinum slabs and a copy each was sent to all the nations that formed this pact."



With that revelation revealed, Vincenzo clears his throat so that there's a bit more order here tonight. "It would, I think, be good if a highlord would be able to be pressed upon to sponsor such an endeavor, to find the lost slabs. With those slabs found, it would bring about a new understanding of our neighboring nations and the importance of the Compact. Until then though, we shouldn't be seeing these peoples as enemies, we should instead keep them in sight and then when the documents are found, enforce them or have them lose their honor."

Rysen has joined the The Forum.

Shard starts to say something in response to Mirk, but it's clear his addition cuts off her immediate rebuttal, because she stops, her jaw twitches, and it takes her a few moments to say, "I doubt they'd have much success with that if they did. But, I'll point out, that /giving/ them an embassy doesn't actually bind them in any way whatsoever." Her gaze shifts sharply to Vincenzo. "Cardia has killed how many people in Arvum now? Just that they admit to? They brought you the 'diplomatic terms' they were interested in. We all heard them. None of them involved the Compact remaining independent or being treated like it was independent in any way whatsoever."

2 Grayson House Guards, Elizabetta, a disapproving lady-in-waiting, Lily, an aloof lady-in-waiting, Clark, an exasperated guard arrive, following Sabella.

Peri says, "Even if we do find what was written, I do not know if they would hold to what was agreed to before their civil war. But I do want to know what was agreed to long ago."

"We also cannot assume that these people hold to the same standards of honor that we do. That any of them would even blink about breaking an ancient agreement with us. They see us as backward savages at best, after all," Valdemar retorts to what Mirk says, "And you miss my point in asking whether they have kept to the agreement. Asking whether or not we have held to ours doesn't address my reason for asking, which is to find out whether or not we have reason to believe that such an agreement would constrain them at all."

While it's hard for Sabella not to enter with fanfare, she shh's her ladies as they step into the Salon, beaming a brilliant smile to those she knows and even those she doesn't as she makes her way over to sit with the first person she recognizes, which would be Zoey, "Have I missed much?" she whispers as she takes a seat.

Sabella has joined the The Forum.

"And so I oppose merely giving them an embassy on the spot, without discussion or negotiation. But is that what anyone actually supports?" Mirk asks, his head canted. "If so, I haven't heard it. I've merely heard discussions of opening a dialogue, beginning with the peers of Arx, since if we categorically refuse to grant an embassy there's not much point in a discussion." He shakes his head. "No, I see your point. However, I would point out that a treaty isn't merely a onesided affair. It takes a commitment from all parties to uphold it." He looks to Darren, at Vincenzo's statement, and raises an eyebrow.

Rysen nods to Valdemar. "It's a good question, My Lord. And I believe finding the tablets would be the best way to determine if there is, in fact, a reason why the accord would bind them, and why they might have made it in the first place. As you and the Captain-General have pointed out, it is unlikely that the Compact alone in its current state could win agaisnt either nation in a contest of force, and rather than do nothing, seeking the tablets might provide some answers."

Darren exhales a slow breath, fingers steepling beneath his chin as he offers a long-suffered look toward Vincenzo when a highlord's sponsorship of his proposed endeavor reaches his ears. "Say that a highlord takes on the responsibility of backing such an endeavor," he begins after a moment of deliberation, his pale gaze floating over toward Mirk thoughtfully, stealing his glass of whiskey in a smooth reach. "-- Let's stow that to the side, and let me ask you this instead. It's probable that The Undying Empire and Cardia have these tablets in their possession, or at the very least some working knowledge of a treaty long since past if one is aware of who the Emporer of Jadairal truly is." A pause, before he asks plainly, "Why haven't they brought these treaties along with them, to be presented during the Assembly of Peers at any time when they attended?"

Shard jerks her chin toward Darren as he speaks. "We could all probably make a very good guess."

Darren merely lifts his pilfered glass of whiskey in salute toward Shard. "Oh the joys of politics," he murmurs wryly.

"Most of these arguments against seem spurious to me. The Cardians and the Empire do not need or care about validation from the Compact. And I cannot believe that the peers who support this idea truly believe that simply having an embassy in the city is any kind of guarantee of good behavior." Hamish shrugs and sits back in his seat, producing an apple from his robes. "No, the reason to turn this down is that these foreigners demean our faith and deny our gods. Sooner or later we all meet Death, and she loves us even if we spent our lives being ignorant shits, so eventually every Cardian will see where they went astray. But usually when people are dead it's a bit too late to act on these things. Usually."

Shard opens her mouth to say something else, and then, with great, great apparent effort, closes it, and says nothing. Though her cheek does visibly twitch, just once.

"What is the point of putting the effort into creating diplomatic ties, working toward a treaty or agreement of any sort, unless we have some way to ensure that they will hold up their end of it? Why should we commit without knowing that they have reason to do the same. They could, as far as we know, very easily agree while fully intending to break the agreement," Valdemar states, shaking his head a bit. When Rysen suggests finding these tablets, however, he agrees easily enough, "That, Lord Crovane, does sound like a good idea. Those tablets, if they could be found, might be helpful in untangling some of this mess. If anyone has an idea of where to start looking for them."

Esme enters into the salon with a bright smile on her face. She tries to arrive quietly so not to disturb the debates in progress. Her emerald green eyes look over the place and show her intense happiness at being in a new place. The tables are looked at as she spots.... Catalana... and heads over in that direction.

"We could always just ask them," Sabella says brightly from where she's seated, "Actually talk to them. Or try, at least. Before the embassy opened I dare say that no one in this city knew what a Nox'alfar was. I'm still not sure where Nefer'khat is," she admits, glancing to Hamish as he speaks, "We have already turned down the proposals by these foreign powers. But we have to engage with them. We can't just ignore them and pretend they aren't here. And we can't fight them. That doesn't mean we need to like them or even trust them, but we have to start somewhere. What truly is the alternative?"

Vincenzo says to Darren, "An excellent question, my lord. Perhaps in their civil war or just in the vast time that has passed, it's been lost or forgotten. Our Nox'alfar allies might be able to help too. But things have been stripped from us, such as the two sisters that were remembered and now forgotten of your own people. I know for myself, I sing of your people whenever I can so people can remember."



"The fact is that Arx is most likely the most important place in the world, and we, Skald's children, are here to safeguard it. We are a compact of five kingdoms that have come together as one. For most of these kingdoms, we've lost our history. Yet look at what we can do when we try to look beyond our differences and strive for the diplomatic answer. Thrax now is working hard to abolish thralldom. My fellow crafters look to abolish crafting things tied with slavery. Our culture has a Sword and a Voice for a reason, and lately all I'm hearing are Swords."

"That's why I support an embassy, my lord," Mirk says with a dip of his head to Valdemar. "As of now, I would not agree to any treaty. But embassies can be revoked, if necessary, and so it presents a chance for us to answer that very question, with lower stakes: Can we trust their word? Would diplomatic ties serve anything?"

Shard puts a hand over her face, and then drops it. "No, no, no," she groans. "Don't start with that. /Stop/ it. However much you might believe the Compact is special and unique and the most important thing in the world, the people you're dealing with /do not believe that/, and you can't use it as leverage and expect them to just suddenly recognize how important you are."

Esme has joined the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

"Shard, the point of a discussion is to allow other people to have a word in. How can one do that if you're so passionately providing response at every turn, before someone else can," Darren mildly observes of Shard from his table.

"I appreciate Shard always remind us we aren't special," Sabella gives the other woman a big smile, "I certainly do need to be told it often. I mean, look at me." she adjusts her dragon weep tiara just so.

Vincenzo smiles over to Shard and to Darren. "She's driven, my lord. Being passionate about a side is excellent, and it shows that someone really truly believes. Would we all have her passion, perhaps we might be moved to doing things instead of sitting back safely in muted silence. She hasn't yet attacked anyone, so I'll allow it." But to Shard, he does give a lift of a brow that maybe listen to a Highlord.



"-If- an embassy was allowed....what ultimately would the harm be compared to what currently is offered where these nations go about where they want? I haven't yet heard in the arguments that there was something drastic to not actually give a nation an embassy."

Shard settles into a little more of a slouch. "My point isn't that we aren't special, my point is that if the other side doesn't believe that, believes, instead, that they're the special ones, it doesn't actually /do/ anything to help you. Every tribe out there believes their tribe is the best and in the right, and it doesn't stop them from being overrun and destroyed, does it?" She gives Vincenzo a distinctly irritable look, but this time she goes silent instead of saying anything further.

"Jadairal and Cardia came to us, each of them fully expecting us, as a whole, to bend the knee to them. They did not come seeking diplomatic relations, but rather to conquer without wasting their soliders. I am fairly sure that if they had not /both/ come, our answer of 'no would have been followed by a short, bloody invasion. Since they did both arrive at the same time, they are too busy watching one another to pay us much mind at all. Even if Arx is as important as you say, that doesn't mean that the people who live here matter to them," Valdemar states flatly, "We are mostly beneath their notice. There is nothing stopping us from talking to them now, we don't need an embassy to do that. Nor do they need one to speak to us. If they really want to, they can walk into the Assembly of Peers any time we meet to address us, as they have before. I am not saying that giving them an Embassy would hurt anything. Only that it is a waste of time and effort."

"What about Platinum's people? As I understand it, they still practice a variant of the Grace of the Thirteen," Mirk asks Hamish, raising an eyebrow. "Though I suppose that if we denied Cardia an embassy, denying the Undying Empire one also woulld be prudent, if only to avoid escalating tensions and risk dragging ourselves into their war."

"I don't believe that he said the Compact was the most important place in the world, Prima," says Hamish around a mouthful of apple. He swallows, then finishes, "He said Arx is."

"The Archlechtor raised an interesting point that the Faith has regarding Cardia at least," Sabella points out to Vincenzo, "And it is one that I have heard quite often and have no defense against. And no," she shakes her head at Valdemar, "They need an invitation to do so, as Marcus found out abruptly once. But you have the right of it," she nods to Mirk, "We must offer one to both. To do just one would be to openly court war with the other, which is what we are trying to avoid."

"I will never pretend to know the collective minds of foreign nations, but one could almost think that their offer could be based upon the desire to uphold some promise to protect the Compact," Darren offers the thought idly, more of a casual observer in the conversations at hand, a few hushed ones of his own held at tableside.

"One thing at least that should be considered in matters of Faith," says Rysen after Sabella speaks, "Is that Cardia does not seem to be a completely unified faction, as, say, the Undying Empire is. Find a Cardian liaison who does venerate the Thirteen might not be impossible." Rysen nods to Darren as he speaks. "Indeed, Your Grace. Finding the tablets Master Vincenzo mentioned would probably be a good way to find out if something like that exists and why."

Esme has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Hamish reconsiders his interjection and adds, "Admittedly, the importance of Arx is not a great argument for inviting hostile powers over for supper."

Shard looks more or less as though she's sucking on a small piece of lemon, though she is, for the moment, quiet. She jerks her head again in response to Hamish's last point.

Vincenzo says, "We haven't invited them at all, and yet they're here as guests. A bit rude to keep a guest out in the cold, even if they weren't initially invited."

"Or using our existing resources and allies, such as the Nox'alfar, or -- as Princess Sabella so eloquently suggested - opening the dialogue with the very people themselves is also a possibility to be considered," Darren says in quieted exchange toward Rysen, a gesture made to Sabella before his gaze gravitates fully upon her. "What a tiara," he says of her fashionable headpiece, a hint of approval lacing his tone.

Roxana slips in, probably rather late and possibly oblivious to that fact. She does wait to catch up with the conversation before joining it, setting out to find a glass of wine and settle into a chair.

Swift arrives like her namesake, slipping into the room quietly and glances around before edging towards where other commoners might be seated. Finding a seat, she settles in and glances around from person to person, brows already knit at some of the comments she's hearing.

"But keeping the peace is," Sabella replies smoothly, "We cannot pretend that they are not already here. We've been doing that for far too long and it has not gotten us far. In fact, I would argue that we are losing ground. I am curious as to what those that are against the idea would like to see happen, although I realize that wasn't the question asked," she gestures to Vincenzo, "So, I can be overruled should that take us too far off topic." when Darren compliments her tiara she beams at him, "Thank you!"

Roxana has joined the The Forum.

Rising from his seat, Valdemar looks to Vincenzo. "Thank you for hosting this, Master Villente, but I have other matters to attend," he tells their host, then bows to Darren before departing.

5 Grimhall House Guards, Gustav, a gruff Islander advisor leave, following Valdemar.

The host of the Salon gestures to Sabella and assents with a bow of his head to her, "I yield and place the question to the group here. Those who are against an embassy, what would you instead like to see happen? What would you suggest?"

Shard checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 8 lower.

Darren checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.

Hamish checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.

Swift checked luck at difficulty 15, rolling 12 higher.

Hamish sniffs faintly. "I'd say that it is morally reprehensible for us to maintain any kind of relationship with a slaveholding nation, but that would be hypocritical. There's not likely a person in this room who has not benefited from slavery in one way or another."

"I haven't," Swift responds, quickly but quietly. Looking towards Hamish, she shrugs, "As someone who was a Thrall up until about six months ago.. I can honestly say I have never once benefitted from slavery."

Vincenzo gestures to Swift and then Shard to speak and share.

Hamish nods to Swift. "You are correct, then, and I am genuinely happy to have you here rather than wherever it is you came from."

Zoey has left the The Forum.

Cahal has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Rising to her feet and giving Sabella a pointed look, Princess Roxy curtsys lightly to the group. "I apologzize for my late arrival but the conversations I was here for have my thoughts swimming surely.

Roxana has left the The Forum.

Hamish has joined the The Forum.

Glashing a quick grin towards Hamish that lights up her face, Swift nods, "Thank you. I'm happy to be here!" She darts a glance towards Shard, lifting a brow in silent question, perhaps trying to communicate with the other would like to go first. After a moment of silent communication, she rises, brushing at nondescript wool skirts. "I'm Swift Grayhope. Up until six months ago, I was a Thrall. I was born a Thrall, inheriting the debt of parents I never knew. Working for someone who treated me, at best, indifferently and more often as a tool to be used and then put away for later. I was lucky, I wasn't beaten severely, I wasn't lashed, I wasn't forced to do excrutiating manual labor. But I belonged to someone not of my choosing." She glances around, "How many -hundreds of years- and extenuating circumstances did it take to get Thrax to finally put in a plan to release its thralls? And now.. now you want to open the city and invite in people even worse. For those of us being freed, its a little like stepping from the frying pan towards the fire. We're being released only to find that you are entertaining, even politicking, to openly accept slavetraders into the city. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but there was a Thraxian Princess just -recently- who was stripped of title and nobility for consorting with slavers. But now you want to make it a common occurrence! You all -cheered- for her denoblement only to turn around and ask us to accept in and give guest rights to people who do the exact same thing. At least right now you can say that it isn't your -choice- to have them here. You didn't open the door, they just walked in without asking. But you are looking to change that. To take that first step towards what you were just tut-tutting Thrax for mere months ago." Swift shrugs and shakes her head, "That's not the Compact we were told about. This isn't what was promised to us by all those 'ambassador' missions into the Isles to help free Thralls. You told us of freedom and choice and the ability to make a difference in our own lives, to provide for our families. How many generations will it take before we're back in chains, a bargaining chip for a rich ally against a rich enemy? Will it even be one? Because we WILL be the first back into chains. We're at the bottom of the hill, and pardon my language but.. shit rolls downhill." Clearing her throat, she drops back down into her seat and murmurs, "That's it."

"If all that mattered was keeping the peace," Shard says, a little flatly, "We'd have chosen one of the two offers they gave us. We didn't. The King told them no. And nobody gets to /demand/ guest right. Uninvited guests don't get guest right. That's the entire point of guest right." She finally sits up a little straighter. "I think we should get our priorities in order. Cardia and the Undying Empire are a threat we shouldn't ignore, that's true. We have bigger, nastier threats out there we need to be looking toward and preparing for, the ones they were offering to protect us from. We said we'd stand alone against them rather than bend the knee, so now that's what we need to do, because not one single bit of this matters if we get overrun. They both said they'd come in and take over by force if that happened. Both of them. An embassy won't stop that, tea and cakes won't stop that, no amount of diplomatic relations will stop that. Yes, they're doing shit that we don't like. They have been this entire time. You can't force them to stop. But the more pressing threat isn't sitting in our harbor, it's lurking out in the northern forests--among other places. You want to see if we can gain even a little bit of their respect? Handle /that/. Deal with what they're certain we can't manage on our own."

Darren has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Rysen glances at Vincenzo, to see if more debate will be allowed.

Zoey also watches Vincenzo for a sign.

Vincenzo listens to Swift. "Swift has a point, that on accepting persons in from very different backgrounds, it is seen as a slap in their face and I think that is something very important to recognize; as the Compact grows and evolves, we should be cognizant of our actions and relations as it might cause harm to those with fresh wounds. However, to counterpoint, I will say very clearly that Thrax has not -abolished- thralldom in its entirety, and the Compact has accepted that type of slavery. But we are all working to see it removed, and I encourage everyone to help the Liberators or attend whenever Skald's shrine offer lectures."



To Shard's point, he nods. "Being pulled into things that distract from our core focus and immediate threats means we're not able to give 100% to an issue. Shard has a very good point. However, the Platinum Throne already has dealt with a threat the Compact couldn't, and has swayed a vast amount of Abandoned. That leaves me personally very concerned. That said, by having a single area in the Compact where we could see those nations and treat upon them rather than scarring about like rats on their boats, I think would be good to help broker peace and prosperity. We -cannot- continue warring, it just isn't an economically viable option by ourselves."



He points to Rysen and Zoey next. "Please, if you would share your thoughts too."

Catalana has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

2 Kennex corsairs, Jane leave, following Catalana.

Addressing Swift, Rysen says, "I do not doubt that many here share your values. I look around and see members of Houses Kennex and Seliki, and members of many other Houses have used all the arts of diplomacy to end the institution of thralldom in the Compact."



Turning to face the wider group, Rysen continues: "Captain-General Shard, too, brings up an a good point in that whatever threat troubles these empires, our ability to face it should be among our greatest priorities. Be that as it may, communicating with these mighty nations, whose memory of history extends far beyond our own - whatever differences in values we may have - will likely produce information that will help us do what Shard believes to be most important, and preserve our independence and pursuit of a more just society that Swift rightly lauds. Let us discover this treaty from our unremembered past, and see what light in sheds on our situation, and let us also explore what agreements might be made in our time, to prevent a war that would only embolden the worst of our enemies and devastate our lands and people."

Primus, First of Monique's Assistants arrives, delivering a message to Peri before departing.

Zoey whispers with Sabella for a moment before she stands. "It's true that there are still too many living under Thralldom, despite the efforts of many to bring it to an end," the Lady Kennex begins. "And I can empathize with those who have only recently been released from those bonds and would hesitate to open their arms to those who openly practice something even worse. Rest assured, opening diplomatic relations is by no means condoning such practices, let alone participating in them.

"Furthermore, for use to choose to do nothing, is to choose chains for ourselves as well. Nurturing peaceful relations keeps Arvum free, and allows us to continue aiding those who suffer still. It is true as you say, about rolling downhill, but it is also true that a rising tide lifts all ships."

Mirk has left the a collection of small tables and chairs gathered together.

Mirk has joined the The Forum.

Vincenzo is overheard praising Zoey: The rising tide lifts all ships, and while currents may be strong, we have the choice of which direction our rudders will take us. Well said.

Mirk is overheard praising Zoey.

Vincenzo is a bit floored at Zoey's statement and he gives a clap in acknowledgement, "Sometimes, the Salon hears words that provide clarity with brevity. How true it is, that the rising tide lifts all ships and while currents may be strong, we have the choice of which direction our rudders will take us. Well said, lady Zoey....well said indeed."

"When you keep the winds of change ever at your back," drawls Hamish, "you never know what those winds will bring."

"If you have a ship," Shard says. It's flat, though quieter than her last words. "If you haven't had holes put in your ship, or put them there yourself. If the other people with ships don't light your ship on fire."

"Except you are. By the simple act of treating with them, you condone their practices. That's like saying that its okay for someone to hurt other people because they aren't hurting -you-. Because you can't -see- them doing it. At best you're paying lip service to 'not condoning' what they do. Because if you open an embassy? There will be slaves. Right here. Right in the middle of Arx. There might already be slaves here. They just have either the good sense or good taste to not parade them around in front of us. When you open that door, what's to stop them?" Swift looks to Zoey, lifting a brow, "What will you do when that embassy is open and their cultural rights must be respected and you can't talk of freedom, or the Gods, because its an affront to their beliefs and their religion. When you -give- them the right to do whatever they want within those walls?

"What if we treat with people who are not the Thrax of Cardia?" asks Peri.

Shard eyes Peri for a moment. "The 'Thrax' of Cardia," she says, "are /in charge/ of Cardia."

"While I appreciate your perspective," Sabella says gently to Swift, "Had none of us engaged with Thrax, you would likely still be a thrall. Would you condemn those in chains in Cardia to be that way forever? What if you could change that? Would you not want to try?"

"Had none of you engaged with Thrax, as you put it, Thrax would not have been able to stand on its own and would have fallen to ruin long before my generation came about," Swift points out to Sabella. "Had you cut Thrax out instead of turning a blind eye? They would never have made it this far."

Mailys steps into the Empirical Salon, quite late to the proposed discussion. She pauses not more than half a dozen steps inside, however, to look at Swift rather than any of the faces she might know. "..Oh, are we talking about Thrax now, and no longer Embassies?" There's a slight tilt of her head, black hair falling against her cheek.

"And you'd have condemned every last thrall to death in the process," Mirk says, frowning. "On a sinking ship, it's the people chained to the oars that drown first. Somehow, I don't think that the solution to thralldom was to just smash everything and hope it works out."

Vincenzo turns to the Salon as a whole, and it is good that there's so much discussion happening. "My friends, we've heard some excellent points on both sides and this is a perfect time to close the discussion on a high point. In closing, I'd like us to agree that no decision that is worthwhile usually is easy. Our foreign guests have us at a distinct advantage, and that places our king and Compact in jeopardy. I would press upon each of you to speak with your highlords to support the finding of the lost platinum slabs from the birth of the Compact so that our leaders...and us as a people....can remember our past and it may very well give crucial knowledge so just decisions can be done similar to what was done with our Nox'alfar allies. For everyone here, the Salon thanks you. It isn't easy to speak when you're passionate, and it's even harder to listen to others that might challenge your viewpoint. But we are all here for the betterment of the Compact and world at large, and for that, I thank you."



"If you are interested in joining the Salon as an organization, please let me know. If you're interested in supporting the finding of the lost platinum slabs, I'd be happy to take the lead on that too. Until then, the thoughts about an embassy show that we're struggling to cope with the significant uncertainties of situations all around us that plunge us in peril when we also can't remember our past. We're doomed, of course, to repeat history if we don't learn from it."



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