GLOBAL STORYLINE UPDATE: The Ainesford Resolution Jul 24, 2016 13:34:15 GMT -8 AK_Brickster, Sir Caelan Munro, and 4 more like this
Post by Ayrlego on Jul 24, 2016 13:34:15 GMT -8
It wasn't long before the effects of King Chartres' Royal Tax edict were beginning to be felt in Lenfald. The King had dispatched Royal Guards to key border crossings to assist local Loreesi or Garheim forces in the enforcement of the new taxes. The Lenfel city of Ainesford, a major trading hub on the border with Loreos known for its vibrant markets was naturally one of the first places to feel the effects of the Royal Tax. Merchants crossing the famous Aines Bridge were caught by surprise when Royal Guards began enforcing the steep taxes.
Collectively the merchants of Lenfald were quick to realise the implications of such a tax to their businesses and livelihood. Groups formed throughout the land to petition local authorities to act. In Ainesford, such a delegation approached Grand Duke's court to demand action. The size of the delegation somewhat surprised Grand Duke Sorley Meyrick and the assembled officials, and although their petition was appropriately respectful, the underlying concern and thinly veiled panic was plain to see. It wasn't just the merchants who were worried either. The common people noted the price of bread had already seen a slight increase as wheat and flour prices increased in response to the new export tax on Loreesi cereals. A new feeling of unrest was spreading in the major cities as rumours of possible famine began to spread throughout the land.
Grand Duke Meyrick, recognising the scale and seriousness of the situation, dispatched letters at once to the High Council in Stonewald asking for immediate direction. The High Lord of Lenfald, Lord Albrecht von Falkenborg and his deputy Arch Duke Orin Wenslav had already been considering the situation, and were somewhat taken aback by the urgency of the usually laconic Duke Meyrick's letter. Wasting no time, von Falkenborg dispatched letters to the high nobles of the land, summoning the High Council at once to a meeting in Ainesford. He and Wenslav decided that the High Council must see for themselves the effects of the tax on the border city while considering any potential response.
After less than a week, the High Council assembled in one of the High Duke's impressive halls. The High Council of Lenfald consisted of the High Lord himself; together with his aforementioned deputy; the Arch Duke of Stonewald, Orin Wenslav, and the six current Grand Dukes.
“As I’m sure you will have guessed, I have taken the unusual step of gathering you all here so that we can discuss Chartres' recent declaration and enforcement of taxes and tariffs upon goods entering and leaving Lenfald.” declared von Falkenborg to the assembled nobles.
“It would seem the boy King has finally decided to respond to our declaration of independence…” opened the host, Grand Duke Sorley Meyrick.
"And it would seem he has displayed some wisdom in doing so, more than I expected if we are to be honest. These measures are quite troubling and show a great deal of cleverness on his part,” added Grand Duke Cartney.
This opening was suddenly abruptly shattered...
“Invade Loreos.” snarled Grand Duke Ashleigh Stanton.
A stunned silence filled the room. While Duke Stanton’s loathing of the Loreesi was well known, his council was usually tempered with reason.
“You can’t be serious,” stammered Grand Duke Alfred Godwinson.
Seeing the effect of his words on the assembled leaders Stanton continued in a calmer tone,
“Indeed I am. We have never been in such a strong position as we are in now and are unlikely to be so for much longer. Although our losses in the recent wars have been high, we currently can probably field the largest armies in Roawia, coupled with a populace who for now are fully behind us. That support will not continue if we appear weak and indecisive and they begin to go hungry. I am no trader, but I am assuming our main concern here is feeding our people? If prices rise so high that the common people struggle to feed themselves, then we will be in big trouble. You are correct Lord Cartney, this scheme is as clever as it is diabolical and we must respond in kind. So we seize a large section of the Loreesi wheat belt south of Durrough and Ainesford. Just as we are strong at the moment, the Loreesi are weaker than they have been in any of our life times. Thus we secure the grain supply we require to secure our independence and way of life.”
It was Wenslav who finally responded. “A concise and well thought out agreement Lord Stanton. Allow me to point out some flaws as I see them however. Firstly you have all but dismissed the Loreesi ability to defend themselves. While I agree they are currently weak, their weak is still relatively strong. Their heavy cavalry is second to none, not to mention their elephants. They also have arguably one of the best field commanders in Roawia in Prince Mark Lorean.
“Over-rated, golden haired fop,” muttered Stanton.
“Please allow me to continue. Over-rated or not, it would be remiss of us to dismiss him, his armies, or his ability to defend his territory. Indeed, the only result I can see with a war against Loreos is a long and drawn out conflict of attrition that we could not maintain. Which brings me to my second point, any such war would not solely be against Loreos, would it? The answer is no, what about Garheim? While the northmen have been our allies in the past, that is over. They have made it quite clear that they remain loyal to Chartres and that this loyalty is more important to them than any previous alliance with us. So while we are battling in the south, we should expect an invasion in the north. A war on two fronts would not be sustainable for long. So while seizing territory in the Loreesi wheat belt may look tempting at first, I believe it would be a disastrous course for us to take.”
“I agree Lord Wenslav, a war could potentially be disastrous. However, Lord Stanton makes a good point: we can not tolerate a situation which could potentially leads to famine. What other options do we have?” asked Grand Duke Eberhard Strong. “Should we raise trade tariffs of our own?”
“While that may be the logical first step, I believe it would be a bad option” replied Meyrick. “Further tariffs would most likely do more damage to our own traders than to the Loreesi and Garheims.”
“Of course lumber is a different story. I believe we should now tax timber exports – steeply. Both Garheim and Loreos heavily import our wood and I have some ideas about how to make up any loss of revenue to our timber mills, but I’ll speak more on that later…” added Cartney.
“Perhaps the most simple option is of course, to grow more crops, to bring our domestic production up to the level where we can sustain our own demand without relying on foreign imports.” said Godwinson.
“Easier said than done…” quipped Grand Duchess Minerva Reglay.
“Yes, that is very true. I have been looking into this topic recently and this is what I have found. We are self sufficient in most areas except for cereal crops, mainly wheat, of which the majority of our supplies we import from Loreos where the climate and environment better suits these crops. Now we could boost our efforts in the southern Duchies, namely Elavia, Ainesford and Durrough. To do so however we’d need to identify and clear large tracts of land, a significant undertaking to be sure. I estimate it would be 5-10 years before enough suitable land could be cleared, worked and crops grown to fulfil our current needs.”
“This conforms with my own research,” replied Cartney.
“Thank you Lord Cartney, so while we could work towards that, in the meantime we would need to find alternatives or substitutes. I have been looking at produce being imported from New Lenfald and passing through the docks of Isil Oro recently for this very purpose.”
“We can not substitute bananas and pineapples for bread Lord Godwinson,” joked Meyrick.
“Indeed not, however I have found recently a starchy root vegetable called a potato. My farmers have been able to successfully grow small crops in Isil Oro. They report that it is easy to grow and has adapted well to the climate. It would suit the small gardens of common villagers, the larger plots of the small holders and can be adapted to both the common fields of rural villages and large estates of the nobility. I believe it to be a most suitable substitute.
“Could we also look to importing food stocks from the Outlaws? Do those rogues even grow their own food?” asked Reglay
“Yes it may be possible to import some wheat from Locklear, although who’s to say his taxes would be any better? Also he could never supply the quantity we require,” replied Cartney.
“Surely something would be better than nothing though, until we can make up our own supply?” asked Reglay
Meyrick picked up the Outlaw thread. “Of course the other strength of the Outlaws would be their smuggling networks… now hear me out here I beg of you. We must stop thinking of the Outlaws as… well Outlaws. Where were they outlawed from? The answer is mostly Roawia, and for the majority of them it was their families who were outlawed generations ago. Some were not even outlawed but simply choose to live free from the rule of Lion’s Head – as we have now done ourselves. Yes some of them committed unforgivable crimes during the reign of Galanir and they should not be forgiven. But remember too that many fought alongside us to rid our lands of her rule. High General Mythrog to name but just one. I firmly believe that if we are to survive independent from the yoke of Chartres and his puppet masters, we must have friends. The united Outlaws under Locklear provide our best chance at this. Should we trust them? Absolutely not! However can we be of mutual benefit to each other? Absolutely. There are plenty of Loreesi happy to sell us wheat tax free. The outlaws have the networks to exploit this. We would be foolish not to use them”
“A passionate speech Meyrick, but not exactly honourable is it?” hissed Stanton scathingly, with all the scorn of the upright aristocrat he was for the shady and somewhat dubious reputation of Meyrick.
“Honour is all fine and good Lord Stanton… but it won’t mean a dam thing when our people are starving and Jarius and his Loreesi cohorts march in to enslave us. You of all people should see this,” replied Meyrick calmly.
It was von Falkenborg who intervened, speaking for the first time since opening the meeting.
“Perhaps we have been too hasty to dismiss the Outlaws in the past. While I don’t yet believe a formal alliance is palatable, perhaps we could reach out to Locklear and see what he can offer us...” he paused briefly. “Although Lord Meyrick, I suspect you already have a line of communication open… no don’t respond to that. Please open negotiations with Locklear. I warn you however, any actions must be approved by this body first. Unilateral action on your part is strictly forbidden and will be dealt with the utmost severity. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes High Lord,” replied Meyrick, appearing not at all put out by this somewhat blunt warning.
“So we look for friends and build our capacity for self sufficiency in essential food stuffs... that is fine, but what of the long term intent of these taxes? With them Chartres demonstrates he will not allow us to cede peacefully. By attempting to starve us, if we accept that is his intent with these taxes, he demonstrates his resolve to return us to crown rule. So if we do succeed in mitigating the efforts of his tariffs, we still need to be prepared to defend ourselves against future attacks, which will possibly be more conventional in their nature,” said Strong.
“You mean a military response?” asked Godwinson.
“Yes. If his other options fail surely he will eventually consider military options, especially with hawks such as Jarius and Mark advising him,” continued Strong.
Not surprisingly it was Stanton who picked up where his fellow military man left off. “If you won’t allow me to attack, then we must significantly strengthen our defences. We need to construct and maintain new fortifications and increase the strength and quality of our standing forces and militia,” he remarked.
“Most certainly Lord Stanton, a most sensible suggestion and something I believe we are already implementing but should ramp up our efforts, Lord Strong’s example of strengthening the walls of Stoneborough is a fine example to name but one. However, I have been giving our current situation a great deal of thought and have come to the conclusion that strong land defences are not enough. I believe it imperative that we strengthen our navy. This is more important now than it ever has been with the long lines of sea communication we have established with New Lenfald. We need an oaken shield of warships to protect our colonies and merchant vessels and project force, especially if part of our food shortage is resolved from the colonies. We must further develop our ship building industry and naval ports. I truly believe a strong, powerful and well trained navy is vital to protect our gains in the New World and deter aggression at home. Couple a powerful Navy with a strong line of defensive fortifications and well trained militia and I believe even Jarius would be forced to think twice before attacking us." argued Cartney.
“Ah, I see now where you are planning to put our excess in lumber to use,” answered the ever quick Reglay.
“Indeed my Lady, what we lose in exports we can use domestically in an expanded ship building program.”
“It sounds as though we have a resolution then,” stated Wenslav. “Our priorities as a nation shall be:
To expand our domestic and colonial foodstuff production, concentrating in basic cereals while looking at ah… alternative import options to make up the shortfall in the short term and;
To strengthen our Navy and shipbuilding industry, while at the same time expanding our networks of defensive structures and the quality and training of the militia.”
“Make it so Lord Wenslav, issue a proclamation to that effect as soon as possible,” commanded von Falkenborg. “We may add additional priorities depending on Lord Meyrick's results, but they shall not be for public distribution.”