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Darokin's passage to the west

by Christopher Cherrington

Darokin would need to look at the cost associated with claiming unclaimed territories, which they do way too much already, and then building another port in a poorly defendable location, which they do too much of as well. The better question would be, why not buy a port? The DDC would maintain that the Sea of Dread is tapped out, too many very well organised trading houses already, and most goods sold to countries with very good ports already sell a good percent of their goods, so why compete with your best buyers? The Alasiyan coast would be too expensive and troublesome, the Ylari government changes policy too quickly to be of any good profit. Now there are some ports that could utilise a huge influx of major travel, and major cash, and they would be great allies as a buffer state between Darokin and Hule. Sind is too organised and bribes cost too much and the middle men always demand more, but the city states, they could use more organisation that the DDC is trained to give. The city states also have a commonality with Darokin, as I imagine there is a large percentage of Traladaran within Darokin. There may be a very good sense of pride to help out these fellow neighbours, before helping someone from Sind. The biggest players in this union would be Linton, ever trying to get out of second best by increasing their port capacities abroad; Toney, they already dominate a large portion of trade to the west, and they control trade in Akkoros; and lastly Corun, this house is known for weapon and barge manufacturing. Corun has also made great strides in a new type of wagon, the land barge or Corunstoga Wagon (stoga being an Atruaghin word for river, and the Conestoga Wagon was the American wagon that opened the West in the RW). This wagon was first introduced to other trading houses, but was untested and laughed at because of the disproportionate size and bulky/clumsy look, considered too big and unnecessary. A young journeyman in Toney House quickly saw the potential and secretly purchased 2 wagons to test in a rough trade route between Sayr Ulan and Akkoros. The wagons carried twice the loads and did not need extra horses to pull, and easily traversed muddy roads, broken lands, and soft dry sand, greatly improving time and doubling profits by load. After finishing his test, he reported his finds to the leaders at Toney House, whom immediately began working with Corun house to have them build 50 more Corunstoga Wagons, not in Corunglain, but to move the builders to Akkoros. Rumour has it; this young journeyman has been invited to marry into the Toney family, and to run his own operation out of Akkoros.

How the Corun's created the Corunstoga Wagon. The Corun House is well known for their expertise in making excellent weapons and producers of quality barges. After a young apprentice saw a Glantrian Pagoda float easily by in a canal and up a shallow embankment to traverse land by the use of magic, it gave him an idea. What if he could make a non-magical barge that could easily float on water and be pulled up and cross land to markets further from shore? His first designs were extremely unforgiving, the wheels were to short, and way to bulky, the wheel base needed to be further down and further apart. As time wore on, the young apprentice began work with Corun House as a journeyman barge maker. Most of his ideas had to wait, or worked on in secret at late hours so as to not interfere with his regular demand. At times he would take a break in the cool hours of twilight and he would watch the master weapon smiths hammer out the fine carbon blades from imported Ylari steel. The thin springy blades gave him an excellent idea, instead of bulky wood, to bind two arched pieces of steel and set the axle on the bottom. This new idea also gave way to needing a much larger radius of a wheel. Many experiments past and our journeyman became a master at his craft, and soon he was able to employ his own journeyman to work on his great idea. One of his journeymen was a cooper by trade, working on metal work of the arch's bindings. This young man thought of a light weight wheel, built of similar style to the barrels he was trained in making. By binding laminated woods and warping them round, he was able to build a large circle of wood that used spokes to an encased hub that they were designing to hold the axle. This new invention became known as the Cooper's Wheel, and greatly improved the barge's design, and remedied several of its major flaws. Giving the wheeled barge an almost independent wheel suspension, this allowed the barge to pull heavy loads with little stress to the horses in the front. Corun House was amazed at the new barge, but nobody saw the need for a river barge that could transverse land. Most river markets had adequate dockage, and the barge looked funny and rather awkward compared to the much smaller wagons that traversed land. After only 2 wagons were sold, Corun House decided to market the Cooper's Wheel for making better siege equipment. Until, Toney House wanted 50 more, and would pay to move the building project teams to Akkoros. Akkoros is known not to have many river routes, and this concept soon intrigued the leaders of Corun House to as what was being planned. Toney House soon revealed their little test, and cut Corun in a deal to create a large fleet to cross the Western Wastes and open new routes with the cost effective design of the Corunstoga Wagon, named from an Atruaghin word picked up meaning river, as a river of profit was promised for such a plan. Both parties agreed it would be very profitable for both, and soon began their secret workshop in Akkoros.

Linton House seeks more profit. Linton House still remained 2nd place after the war. Not losing any profits by their ports and sea merchants, but not gaining more either. Akkoros was needed to be rebuilt, and Linton was more than happy to start a fleet on the Lake Akesoli. To him there where no Minrothad merchants to compete with and with the DDC giving substantial loans to rebuild the western cities, there would be no loss to any investment. He knew Toney House was severely injured with losses from the sack of Akkoros and other western towns, but he needed Toney's contacts to create the need of a new fleet of ships on Akesoli. Linton merchants quickly acted like RW Wild West Land Barons, and borrowed extensive amounts of cash from the DDC in many of the Toney House merchant's names. Most of these names were from merchants that died in the Great War, but the DDC had little hope to deny any claims. Toney House survivors quickly became suspicious, but bought into Linton's bribes and soon the real Toney's had enough cash of their own to rebuild, but needed another more stable partner, the Coruns. With the advent of the new Corunstoga Wagons, Linton soon saw the open gateway he really wanted, a port in a sea not served by Minrothad Guilds or harassed by Ierendi pirates. Consolidating his resources, Linton offered Toney House an unbelievable deal, a partnership that merged profits from Linton's sea base. Toney House would then be able to employ the impostor Toney merchants as their own, and had enough gold to build a real route into the Savage Coast.

Heldann gets a piece of Western Pie.

The DDC gets wind from the Franich House that Linton may have had some dirty dealings with fraudulent loans. After the DDC investigates, and sees Toney House is paying back the loans makes an incredible ruling "No harm, no foul." Franich House is greatly incensed, and Corun refuses to sell the newly developed Corunstoga Wagons to the Franich merchants that have trade routes heading to Sind and then to points west. Franich decides to hire bandits from Sind to try and slow the rising profits that they could never catch up to. The DDC calculates the growing profits (and tax base) and see the need to recruit guards in the interest of creating a larger new market heading to the Savage Coast. Ever watchful of the Master in Hule, the DDC asks for aid from the Northern Defence League. Few agree that the need is there, and sees it as it really is, a move to increase the profits of Darokin and leaving little compensation for their efforts. The growing concern over organised banditry forming on the developing routes prompts Linton, Toney and Corun Houses to hire mercenaries from the Heldann Freeholds, even offering lands that they claim they purchased from Atruaghin chiefs. Little did anyone know that elves from Alfhiem that left the lawful ways of Ilsundal and Mealiden, who had sought shelter in the forests south of Atruaghin, learning and teaching crafts with the Tiger Clan. Many Heldann's called it a "Crusade" to fight back the evil of Hule, and protect their neighbours from the villainy of elves hiding in their rightfully purchased lands.

Linton throws a Tea Party.

The elves in the forest wishing to take some pressure off the new invaders leak information that there is a very passable tunnel from the Sump to Malpheggi, which has shrunk immensely in the last several years. The elves know too that Linton's base of operations is in the nearby city of Athenos. After several weeks pass of the information leak, and several adventurers are killed in the Malpheggi trying to prove the tale, the elves disguise themselves as Shadow Elves and launch a raid into Athenos, striking Linton's ships and sinking his cargo of Sindhi tea to the bottom of the harbour. Linton seeing the potential of two elven threats on his doorstep makes concessions to the new elves and pays them to move into the newly developing Malpheggi Forest. Leaving the western half of South Atruaghin for the Heldannic Crusaders, and getting the Heldann's total attention on protecting the Corunstoga Caravans.