The next day, Prochorus sends out Dietlinde to meet with Bernhard’s contacts on the island, with the agreement that she would report to him later as to what she learns. She comes back eventually, joining the diminutive magus at the warehouse which for now serves as the meeting place. Over a pint of ale, she recaps her morning with the redcap.
She had met with a fisherman named Dibbelt. The man also worked occasionally as a pilot for merchant ships. He had told her about the kinds of merchants that moving through the area, and the life as a fisherman in Helgeland. Some information about the customs procedures and taxes imposed by the nobility in charge of the island. Apparently he did not rent out his services directly to the merchants, but rather he was paid by the customs authorities, who charged a fee to the merchant ships. Occasionally, one had to bribe an official if you wanted more worked as a pilot, but nothing extravagant. Such was the way of things. All considered, it worked fine as a system and the duties were not too onerous and the pay was good as a pilot, even if it meant spending a few days away from his family. It was certainly safer work than the back-breaking work of a fisherman. It also allowed him to earn a decent life for his wife and three children.
The plan for the afternoon, she said, was to meet the second of Bernhard’s contacts. A merchant of some sort.
And by the way, she needed more money. Watering the throat of those contacts didn't come cheap.
Hmph, here you are. Try to get something on the big man next time, or whoever it is we need to ask to get permission to settle on Oberland.
In response, Dietlinde blows him a raspberry before digging into her food. “If you’re so clever, you can always try to go and talk to them yourself, maaaster.” She shakes her head reproachfully, “These people don’t seem to care much for the nobility controlling the island, but from what I’ve seen and heard so far that goes both ways. But at least, aside from some taxes on imports and production, they seem to leave the regular people alone for the most part.” She gives Prochorus the dirty eye, “Not like some pint-sized wizard I could name.”
“Anyway, I’ll see what I can do.”
((I’m playing your Difficult Underlings flaw as Dietlinde being quite disrespectful to you, amongst other things. You think she may also be skimming money from what you are providing to her when purchasing stuff for you.))
Alone? Rueful day. The glorious life of a village seamstress beckons again! Who am I to resist its pull! It always takes my finest first. Prochorus droops his head in feigned despair.
Get to it.
It is past mid-afternoon when Dietlinde returns from her second meeting. After making deragatory (and loud) comments about Prochorus sitting on his skinny butt all afternoon, she proceeds to describe the meeting with Richold the grain merchant.
"He originates from the island, although he now lives on the continent. He trades with the locals a lot, shipping much-needed grain. He has family here, cousins and such, that he tries to visit." She grins, "he's a widower and not bad-looking at all and still young enough." Then she shrugs, "not much more to say here, aside from the fact that he does supply grain to the castle as well. He's never met any of the Danish lords, though. Only dealt with subordinates and servants. He seemed indifferent to the Danes and couldn't tell me much more about them. One small tidbit that might be of some use is that he's heard that the Danish lord is always looking out for merchants who could supply him with arms and armors, or warships. He doesn't seem to particulate as to where they come from, either."
Prochorus waves his hand disinterestedly at the insults.
Water off a duck's back, foolish woman.
Dietlinde's news get Prochorus' attention.
A warmongering type. That may be of use. Remember that shipyard Oculus ran? Hm. We must tread carefully. I will take this to the others.
(If Bernhard mentioned other contacts, Prochorus will send Dietlinde to them as well, with the instructions to find out all she can about the lord, and particularly this arms, armor and warship affair. Prochorus himself will meet the others, probably at a pre-designated time in the evening at the warehouse.)
((He mentioned a few more people to Dietlinde, but nothing major. More regular people – a few craftsmen, shop-owners and tavern-keepers. I won’t go into details about them, they simply allow Dietlinde to get some broader contacts for supplies and providers of services. She will meet them over the next few days, before Bernhard departs.))
((Ok. I think I'll meet with the others before proceeding.))
In the middle of the afternoon, one of the grogs come to tell Prochorus that master Japik would like him to come to the piers.
((Meaning, go participate in Chapter 1d. ))
[i]Over the next few days, Dietlinde is busy meeting additional people and establishing contacts. Many of them are merchants and craftsmen of various sorts, both to assess the resources which will be available to the covenant and to build a network of information sources for her masters.
Her approaches towards the Danish rulers, to obtain permission to settle on Oberland, proves more difficult. Her low-born origins cannot easily be hidden, and as a woman she is looked down upon by even the clerks that administrate the local lord’s holdings. The direct approach of going to the castle fails miserably when she is rudely turned away by the guards, not even a minor functionary. She fumes for a day, taking it out verbally on Prochorus. But eventually she settles the problem by calling upon her new contacts for information and support. A modest bribe is passed along to a clerk, and a document granting permission to establish a “scholarly community” on Oberland. She also learns that taxation is based on the number and size of hearths -- their community having the right to a maximum of six hearths -- and paid in food or currency to the lord.
While this is going on, she and Benarec establish contact with Ober village. They discover a culture that is much different from what they have seen in the larger town of Meden. Ober is much more rustic, of course, with an economy based on the raising of sheep and diminutive goats. Families are tightly knit and interrelated. Even the language is slightly different, with its own accent and distinctive colloquialisms. And their disdain for “downlanders” is obvious. A council of elders seems to be the ruling body, with which the magi may wish to talk in order to establish a working relationship with. A meeting is scheduled for a few days’ hence, and Dietlinde passes on the impression that it might be better to have the magi themselves meet the elders, as a display of respect.[/i]