"Fundamentally he is looking to relocate Christian populations who prove resistant to his rule within his hereditary lands. I understand your current charter has plans for an unelected town council."
"I cannot respond to duke Henry offer, as I am merely one of many... councilors who decide on the affairs of this town. We need to discuss it between ourselve, but let me say that you have piqued our interest. Please excuse us while you consider your proposal. If you would like to, whe could arrange for somone to accompany you around town while we deliber. I for one, would like to show you my residence once this is all over."
As soon as Carlo leaves the room, Antonius will let out a sigh, his two hands holding his head.
"This town business is quickly getting out of hand ! How long can we keep up managing this... town without bringing too much attention from the Quaesitores ? If it stays this size, I am sure they would turn a blind eye, but a league ! We can not reasonably expect to rule over such a large town ! We will either have to deal with demands for more rights from an increasing populace, or an angry noble wondering why there are only a hundred souls or so our city. No, we need to find a way to get out of this."
"But this is also an opportunity,if we deal with the Duke, he would be in our debt, and we may negociate further rights for our covenants... Let us be clear, in as much as I hate reneging on a deal, if the Al Faquesh are trully enslaving Christians, then every single of our silver pennies is enabling them to do so, and this is something I cannot caution."
"We planned on involving the count in our future operation one way or the other, maybe we can leverage this. We do not wish to have people displaced by the count settle here in our city, but there is nothing that would prevent them from settling in a chartered town located right new to it. We could offer him to provide stone and timber for hundred of dwelling, as well as food for them for a year. That will be temporary drain on our finances, and would surely be helpful to the duke, as well as ensuring gratitude from our neighbors and prevent us from being legally responsible for them and their actions. We could offer the count a certain share of the profits of our operations, let's say something between a tenth and a fifth.
In return, we would keep our town charter, and maybe get the temple of Hagar Quim and the Blue Grotto to become part of the land owned by this city, as well as the right to gather vis anywhere on this island. As for the muslims, we might gain an exemption for our covenfolk. This, of course would only be temporary, we need not to be concern ourselves with such trivial matters, as in ten or twenty years most will be dead, while we will still be here."
"This is a unique opportunity to cement our holdings on Malta and gain the favor of duke Henri, don't you think?"
(OOC: Count or duke henri?")
Terra will speak up after the man leaves "This looks like we are on course to have problems one way or another. We've invested notable resources in here already. If we do agree to this expanded charter we should insist it be irrevocable. We should also ensure we are ready to deal with mundane forces if they come to expel us. I really don't think we can permit forced expulsion of our covenfolk if it comes to that.
"You are correct, Terra. We cannot let the local authorities who we employ or don't. Like I said, we could offer a cut of our profits to the count, in exchange for the loss of taxes from our city. As for it being unrevocable, I fear it would be hard to get them to agree, but we should try nonetheless. And if we don't succeed, we sure could make the count understand that it would be extremely unpleasant for him."
"Otherwise, Terra, do you accept on the substance of the offer I just decribed ? If not, what would you liked changed? "
Tartessos stands with a worried crease in his brow. His face is an indignant red, only slowly beginning to fade. Who exactly does this Count think we are? The laws of man and god alike frown on oath breakers and decree dire consequence on earth and in heaven. When we signed our charter we pledged our honor to uphold our side of the bargain to the best of our ability, yet this Carlo asks us to abandon our given word on mere suspicion? If Henri wishes to assume sovereignty over our land hold, he should be negotiating with Al-Faquesh, for only he can release us from our oath.
I applaud Antonius' idea of offering Henri support while avoiding oath breaking, yet I do not think Henri will be satisfied; for Carlo stated this decree came from his liege Frederick. The only solution I see is to play for time, stall, keep our mohamedians out of sight and eventually solve the problem by having the few here convert.
As to Henri's suspicions about Al-Faquesh, let's use our tax monies as arcane connections to scry and determine if he is a slaver. We know his men took the cave dwellers, and pirates strike the islands, but we have the ability to determine the truth behind these allegations.
Tartessos begins to sit, his ire expressed, then finishes with one more statement. Henri, of all people should know that if we break our oath, he can never trust anything we say again. We should be very clear about that whatever we decide to do. And after hearing his man Calro out, I think we should keep that doublet; for no man who makes an offer like that deserves our craft.
(OOC : That should be easy to check Intagible tunnel + posing spontaneously casting of posing the silent question will do. I believe the charter might be an arcane connection to the al-faquesh)
"Change is coming," Talus notes. "That much is certain. The Count is going to try and expel the Mohamedans, and he's going to relocate his people, if not here, then likely someplace near. We can't stop that - nor should we, lest we get too mired in politics. All we can do is determine how we'll weather that change."
"As for breaking our oath," he adds. "I don't think that the Count is so idealistic as to be concerned about us breaking an oath, so long as it supports his cause. In fact, he would likely consider an oath to a Mohamedan to have no worth. As such, he would have no desire to negotiate a release of such an oath."
Am I correct in assuming the familiars are not present, given whom you were meeting with?
I would assume that familiars were not present for exactly the reason you gave.
Having made some intrigue rolls, it occurs to Fredrick that the Count could be trying to isolate the covenant after the issue with revealing his secret docks as retribution so you would be more completely within his power.
It occurs to Tartesso, Terra, and Talus that he could be trying to sieze the charter, in addition to the reasons given, as a way to push Al Faquesh into conflict which would allow the count to take Faquesh's lands for a Christian nobleman, or possibly to add to the Count's own estates.
"I think there is something foul with these offer. Let´s investigate in both directions. Faquesh and Henry. We can check carefully what Carlos knows. And we can also look a bit deeper in the plans of the count Henry. For example we can by us some time and and send an impressive something as a gift to him. This can be used as an arcane connection to find out more about his plans. Some jewels with a bit magical glamour on it for example.
In parallel we should thing about a smart way to demonstrate that it would be extremely unwise to work against us. Maybe we enhance our fortification by a moat. If we build it extremely fast this should be a clear statement. A defense exercise with a burning moat would be another good Idea."
With the last statement Frederic can´t suppress a smile. :mrgreen:
Antonius nods in agreement with the assessment of the motives of the count as perceived by Terra, Talus, Tartessos and Frederick.
"We have not a wide margin of error here, but there is no question that we must answer his proposal in some way. Whatever deal we sign must be advantageous to the covenant. I suggest that we offer these terms to the count.
-That in the event of our own investigation onto the action of the Al Faquesh, that if our conclusion is that anyone in the Al Faquesh family is enslaving christians, we shall be open to transfer to accept baron Henri as the charter lord of the town of Domus Aureus.
-That the rights granted by the new charter shall be the same as the old one.
-That the charter shall not be modified, nor rescinded, unless both at the agreement of both parties.
-In addition, the land around Hagar Quim, including the Blue Grotto shall be transfered to the town of Domus Aureus.
-That the citizens of Domus Aureus shall be allowed to harvest small quantities of plants, animals, rock, crystals, liquids and minerals on the on the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino for academic purposes without interference or fear of prosecution.
In return we would provide
-Timber and cut stones to provide housing to five hundred settlers, free of charge, provided that the settler be housed in another town.
-A certain part of the profits of our trading business.
-A magical minor enchantement that shall be specially at the request of the count. The details of the enchantment needing to be approved by the town council of Domus Aureus.
Antonius take a moment to think if he missed something, but cannot think of anything.
"We would also make the count understand that we like to mind our own business, and that it is in his own interests to keep it that way, like sodales Frederick justly mentionned, perhaps however in a less flamboyant way. I call for a vote on each proposition."
Tartessos votes yes on the investigation, but is categorically opposed to any oath breaking on our part. We cannot transfer anything until released from our contract, even if we discover our landlord is engaged in vile durance.
Irrelevant given Tartessos' stance on the prior, but since it is up to a vote, he votes aye.
Same as above, Aye.
Aye, but Tartessos thinks it's unlikely we would get this. We should prepare a smaller counter offer in case this is rejected.
Aye, although we could offer a smaller amount over a longer period, such as 50 settlers per year for ten years. This way we are less conspicuous and retain some measure of control should [strike]Vader[/strike] Henri "alter the bargain".
Nay. Anything we offer will be a gift, free and clear, otherwise we are guilty of selling magic directly, and also vastly more at peril of interfering with mundanes. If we consider anything of this sort, it should be the already decided upon Doublet and we should fix an arcane connection to allow scrying.
Agreed, but... subtle.
"It seems to me that the transfer is not actually under our control. We should be clear that we would not choose to transfer, as we have given our word. However, if the Count takes the rights away for Al Faquesh, then we would perforce be happy to discuss having the same charter with the Count directly. " Tomas pauses. "We could offer to make a small enchanted item for the Count as thanks for his making us aware of the slavery situation, as we take such things very seriously."
"Of course, this does not give the Count what he wants, but we need to stay out of his political disputes. And as been noted, significant growth is not oru goal. While I would like to get the Grotto, I do not see how we can get in the middle of the political debate in order to do so."
"I also vote yes to the proposal of an investigation," Talus adds. "I would like to know the truth of these accusations. And I agree I have no desire for the covenant to become oath breakers. But I think we need to handle this matter very delicately. I imagine the Count cares very little about whether we break our oath to a Muslim. And he is likely to try and claim that we are harboring Muslims if we don't agree with him, adding mild threats that if we don't support him we will be on the wrong side of his crusade."
"On that subject, I have little doubt that Carlo is telling the truth about Count Henri's coming crusade. We should be prepared for Christian-Muslim conflict, and should probably have a plan for how we are going to deal with it. Will we defend Al Faquesh, even if that means coming to blows with Count Henri? I'd rather decide that now then when a force of knights and men at arms is at our gates."
"That having been said, the Count is clearly trying to force us into a corner where we will be completely under his thumb. We don't want that as an alternative either. Ultimately I think it will be very important for us to prove to the Count that we can be very helpful as friends and very difficult as enemies, though the latter will require a great deal of delicacy to avoid sounding like a threat."
"As for the settlers, I have a feeling he's talking more than 50 settlers a year. And I can virtually guarantee you that if we don't agree to take these people, he'll force them onto some other settlement in Malta. We'll have to deal with these people one way or another. We ought to give some thought to making sure that we welcome these new Maltans under terms that are most advantageous to the covenant."
"I also agree with Tartessos that any magic we give to the Count be a gift, for exactly the reasons he sets forth. I do not want to have a Quaesitor visiting us anytime soon."
And if we can proof that Al Faquesh is enslaving Christians it is Henri´s duty to react on this. Afterwards we may negotiate to accept a new lord.
Change of the Charter:
In case we need a new charter that should be part of Future decisions. As far as possible we should keep it as it is.
More Land: Yes, But not for any price
Harvesting Probes for academic use: Yes
Goods for Settlers: 50 Settlers Per year for 5 years seems a much better starting position to me.
Part of our Profit: Yes
Enhachntement: Could be only a temporarily one, and should be declared as a gift. Including an arcane connection (undeclared of couse).
A significant increase of our fortifications can be subtle. If archived in a short time period that´s a good reminder to everyone that we can do things very quickly if needed.
"I expect that the lake and the buildings have already shown people that we can act quickly. I wonder in fact if part of the issue here is that by acting so clearly, we have put Henri in the position that he feels he needs to assert his control over us? Which of course we can not permit."
After the members of the council had finished their discussion behing closed doors, a servent is sent to for Carlo, who sits again at the council table moments later.
"We are deeply concerned by your accusations against the Al Faquesh. There are ways... Antonius pause for a second to learn of hidden facts and learn the truth. If it is as you suspect, then we cannot caution the fact that the taxes he levies on us enable him to ensave our Christian brother and sisters. Furthermore, he would have broken his pledge to you, as well as being hypocritical in requiring of us what he wouldn't do himself."
The italian magus than lean back in his chair, and put his hands together:
"Of course, in this case, we would be looking for a new charter lord that would provide a charter similar to one we have now, expect maybe with the additions of some minor clauses."
"You have seen for yourself part of extent of our powers today by coming here. We are scholars, Carlo. We study the firmament, the elements, and many more subjects. Wealth, politics,gouvernace are ...distractions to us, and we are quite content when we are left to our design. From our perspective, developping this town is a chore that cannot end soon enough. To tell the truth, we satisfied with the ammount of land the town has, as it is enough to sustain our scholarly endeavours, without requiring a significant ammount of management from us."
"Truly, accepting the offer to extend the land controlled by Domus Aureus up to a league would be a disservice both to your lord and ourselves. We do not wish to be responsible for hundreds or thousands of citizens and the problems that go with them. Surely, a more qualified person than us and time to spare would better administrate the land, and generate more taxes for the count. However, as we wish to have amicable relations with count, and are aware of his need to relocate settlers here on Malta, we are volonteering to donate timber, masonry stones and iron tools in sufficient quantity as to build dwellings for a set ammount of settlers each year, to be discussed."
"Furthermore, we just acquired a very profitable operation merchant operation. A partnership with the count, to extent of which would be negotiable, would be, in ouy opinion in the best interest of all involved parties.
"In exchange, we would like to the town of Domus Aureus to receive control over certain parts of the islands that are of an academic interest to us, and that have with very small prospects of generating any income for your liege."
"We would also want the right to harvest small quantities of plants, animals, rock, crystals, liquids and minerals on the on the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino for academic purposes without interference or fear of prosecution. Any valuable material would be returned to the count after we are done investigating their nature of course."
"The are other particular services we can render to the count, of course, depending on where the negotiations brings us."
Antonius scan quickly the reaction of his fellow magi, looking for their approval.
"This would be our counter-offer to count Henry, hypothetically speaking of course. Does, it warrant further talks, in your opinion?"
Edit : Spelling
Carlos ponders this for a short while, then takes out a wax tablet and makes some notes. "I believe this does warrant further discussion, but I will need to speak with the count before I can negotiate further. One question however which I am certain will come up, would you have any interest in hiring someone to assist with town management? I suspect that if you are, the Count would have some recommendations, and if this is of interest to you that this might make the prospect of settling people here more palatable to all involved."