A general sense of worry and unease seemed to hang in the air around the Isbryder as the ship glided along a lazy sea. It had long been accepted doctrine of the merchant and diplomatic castes to avoid sailing along the western coast since it belonged to the savage, bloodthirsty green skinned menace that plagued the lands west of Tushina that made land routes dangerous. Truth be told, they weren’t quite sure if the green skins actually had a navy to speak of, but the point had been made to avoid their waters in the event that the answer turned out to be yes.
Sailing with land clearly visible to the west clearly put the sailors manning the ship on edge. Taler couldn’t exactly blame them for their nerves, but as the small ambassador flicked his large, fur covered ears while gazing out at the land that had for longer than Tushnia had existed been firmly clenched in the hands of the goblins, the small diplomat couldn’t help but respect the men and women who were defying their worries to go on what some back home had considered to be a pointless sucide mission.
The skirmishes against and by the greenskins in the western mountains had started back during the city state period decades before Tushina had been forged in diplomacy and war and had continued since. There were many in the republic who believed that the only way that peace could ever be achieved in the west would be to march there in force and drive off or kill every last goblin they could be found, but there had never been the risk of a majority to make such a movement reality.
...At least, until recently.
The leader of what could be considered the ‘Purge’ movement, Blodige of the Western Gates, had managed to make a surprising alliance with a number of the merchant caste representatives in the senate. His arguments that purging the greenskins completely would not only expand Tushina’s borders, secure their cities and people from further attacks and gain fresh resources had been arguments that had long been used before, but Blodige’s arguments for creating and securing land trade to the west while eliminating the possible threat of goblin piracy on the seas and won him a dangerous amount of support for war.
Unable to stop the idea of a war of genocide outright, Taler had made a comprimise agreement between those who wanted war and those who didn’t: Diplomacy would be attempted to bring their age old conflict to an end.
Of course, walking into the mountains would have been suicide. History had proven time and time again that the greenskins in the mountains couldn’t tell the difference between a member of the military caste and Too’ave of other castes and thus took a ‘kill on sight’ approach to any Too’ave they saw… so instead a different idea would be tried.
Instead of reaching out to their immediate neighbours, from whom there was bad blood on both sides of their border, Taler would take a ship to meet with one of the tribes further down south who might be a bit more inclined to enter a dialogue.
While he was small in size, Taler’s soft golden fur had started to turn gray with age. His time among the living wasn’t over by any means, but as his blue eyes focused on what appeared to be some kind of jetty ahead that could be landed at he made peace with the fact that there was a very real chance that he would never get to see his family again. He couldn’t ask another of the diplomatic caste to take his place since he was the one leading the move to stop a bloody war from beginning, despite his status as a senator…
All he could do was hope that his plan wasn’t as insane as some of his peers thought it was as the ship pulled up to dock. Hopefully the locals were relatively friendly… or at least friendly enough not to murder the crew of a strange ship pulling up on sight.
There were good omens as the ship pulled up into the docks. The sun was warm, the sky was cloudless, and the winds were relatively calm. But probably the biggest reassurance the crew could have received was knowing that they were not the only foreign ship in the harbour. Granted, most of the foreigners in question were humans, but at the very least there were more than just greenskins around in case things went south.
But of all the foreigners around, the Too’ave were certainly the most alien to the goblins. As a show of solidarity with their aggrieved brothers, Bwca had a total embargo on any and all Too’ave ships coming into the harbour. This would have been the first time most of the traders on the dock would have seen the beastmen.
And that embargo was still clearly in place. Even before they had docked, there was a contingent of guards waiting for them, ready to arrest anyone who dared drop a gangplank on Bwcan soil.
While it was true that the crew of the ship weren’t exactly… happy to see a bunch of armed guards ready and waiting for them, all of them made a point to stay back (and close to weapons that could be grabbed in a damn hurry if need be). The only Too’ave to walk up to the side of the ship to look at the guards (having to actually grab onto the railing and pulling himself over it to get a clear view), Taler tilted his head as his big ears flopped a little while offering a friendly smile. “Hi there! My name is Taler. Can I speak to your leaders?”
“We don’t take ships from Tushina,” one of the guardsmen, presumably their sergeant, replied. His voice had a strange sing-song quality to it, and he turned the vowels into their own syllables. “You best turn around and go home now”
Taler’s ears drooped a little… before they flicked back up. “Well can we at least drop off a letter, saying when a diplomat is going to arrive?”
The soldiers were obviously suspicious of anything aboard that ship. One one hand, if it was an invasion, they’d surely have brought more men along. But on the other hand, you couldn’t be too careful…
“Alright. One of you, on your own, with no weapons. No more,” the sergeant said at last.
Taler beamed a little, before holding up one of his hands to say “One moment!” before dropping off the railing and disappearing from view of the guards for the most part. After a few moments had passed, the gangplank was lowered and Taler strolled down it alone with no weapons on his person. In his hand was a rolled up and official looking document with a wax seal imprinted on it.
Once he was officially the first Too’ave to step foot on Bwca’s soil, a grinning Taler offered the document to the sergeant as he explained “We left the date of arrival blank because we weren’t sure what calendar you use… what’s the date today? Also, what’s your name and rank?”
The Sergeant opened his mouth as if to speak, but it was another voice that echoed across the dock.
“Thank you, gentlemen. You may go.”
The troops looked towards where the voice had come from. There, walking towards them, was curious figure even for goblin standards. He was tall for a goblin, and his arms were criss-crossed with the scars of old battles, perhaps a lion or a bear of some kind. Unlike the cloth-clad guardsmen, he was decked out in a full suit of lamellar, neglecting only to wear a helmet. But the oddest thing about him? He was white. Not simply pale, but pure ivory white, from head to clawed toe.
“But the law, sir…” one of the soldiers tried to interject.
“If our guests are lying, and they have no authority, I’ll see to it that they are punished.” The newcomer spoke with a cool, breezy tone. Just the sound of his voice was refreshing. “But if they aren’t, we can’t very well throw a diplomat in jail for the crime of showing up”
He had a point. It was really following the letter, and not the spirit, of the embargo to send them on their merry way when they weren’t even traders.
Watching the small exchange, Taler’s ears flopped a little from side to side as he turned his head to focus on whomever was talking at the time in silence. Finally, when it seemed the conversation was at an end, he finally asked the goblin he had been talking to moments ago, before the pale one arrived “I guess I’m being booted up the chain of command. Well sir, it was nice meeting you. Take comfort in knowing that I’m no longer your problem to deal with!”
The goblin sergeant scowled at the diplomat. How arrogant! He almost wished he WAS a criminal, just so he could punish him for his impudence.
“That’s enough of that,” the white one interjected. “They were just doing their job. No need to rub it in.”
Taler blinked in confusion. “...I wasn’t trying to rub it in. He just seemed upset that he didn’t get to deal with me anymore.”
“You’d do best to watch your manners here, Mister. Especially given your, ahem, precarious position.” The white one strode forward, standing between the ship and the contingent. “Do you have any evidence that you’re a diplomat? A royal seal, a letter from your leaders, something to that effect?”
In a moment, the happy go lucky, earnest but maybe a little too enthusiasticTaler’s seemed to lose all of its youthful energy, his expression fading into professional seriousness as he offered the document over to the pale skinned goblin. “Senator Taler of the diplomatic caste, representative of the city of Tro, at your service. I have been empowered by the Senate of the Republic of Tushina to speak with the nation of Bwca and your mountain dwelling kin further up north in order to bring an end to the conflict that has plagued our people for centuries now.”
The white one scanned the document, before nodding, satisfied. “You may call me Ban. Harbourmaster. Anyone who docks here answers to me, and for now, that includes you. Have you contacted anyone from the north before you came here?”
Taler politely shook his head. “Considering that the standard greeting of your northern kin in the mountains when encountering a member of the diplomatic caste is to kill them and take their pelts and tails as a prize, we decided it might be better to try and start this off with the people we’re more at war with in name rather than spirit.”
Ban pinched the bridge of his nose - or at least he tried to. Looked more like he was tweaking the whole thing. “Of course they are. That complicates matters somewhat. I can write you up a stay-of-execution for the time being, so you and your men can get booked into a hotel of some sort - no freebies, I’m afraid. If we had known you were coming, we could have gotten it all sorted. Make sure to keep it on you at all times.” The harbourmaster grumbled. Once again, those short-sighted boneheads at the Foreign Office made his job much more difficult than it had to be.
Lifting a hand, he politely waved off Ban’s concerns. “Oh, we’re more than happy to stay on our ship. We packed assuming that it would take a while to get things organized since we weren’t confident in getting a message saying we were coming out here. After all, considering how… tense the western border of Tushina is, we weren’t completely sure if their ‘kill on sight’ approach had been adopted down this far south… but I’ll happily accept your stay-of-execution so that we can do some trading for fresh supplies and stretch our legs on solid ground.”
Well, they kind of have to accept that, Ban thought. If you didn’t, you’d be arrested. But he didn’t say anything, preferring instead to whip out a notice and scrawl a signature at the bottom.
“Here,” he said, offering it to the diplomat. “Anyone harrasses you, just show them this. If they still won’t listen, mention me by name.”
“Noted. Thank you for the help Ban. I’ll be sure to make our stay as easy for you as possible.”