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Consortium: Where have all the good goods gone?

The Silver Consortium begins its thorough investigaiton into the dearth of rare goods in the capital, their mysterious supply routes, and those who claim to have had the connections to bring it into the City of Arx. As they brush against the unspoken elements of the economy masked by wealth and move amongst spheres seldom explored by any sane merchant, they'll figure out what exactly is causing the severe drought of materials such as a diamondweep, fireweave, steelsilk, shadowmeld and alaracite. We need a hero. [Part 1 of 3, Silver Consortium @org members only, PRP]

Date

July 13, 2018, 7 p.m.

Hosted By

Rook

GM'd By

Rook

Participants

Alarissa Tesha Bethany Seth Jordan Cadern

Organizations

Location

Arx - Ward of the Compact - Silver Consortium - Central Hall

Largesse Level

Refined

Comments and Log


The Silver Consortium's headquarters are a little quieter today, with folks having been ushered out in anticipation of a closed meeting, a collection of interested parties who have shown up now seated at the rectangular table for such events. Rook is seated at the head, hands clasped, his black and crimson suit a remarkably darker vibe than his usual sense of dress. Nonetheless, his green eyes gleam, his perfect smile is shown and he rises to greet those who enters. "Thank you all for coming. I know it is a shared concern of ours, this inflation of prices for goods in our fair city, so I've called for any and all within the organisation to help with coming up with a solution. There's no good sense that the prices for certain rare materials should've doubled so promptly. I've got a few contacts we can start out with to begin to piece together the information we'll need to make an impact and that starts today. We've three in mind, a few choices to start us on our way, and we can go from there. Any questions?"

Cadern appears to have a smaller contingent than most, that is to say, he is just himself. He tucks a small flask into a pocket as he settles in and he drops into his seat. He reclines absently surveying the rest of the group curiously surveying the people as Rook sets out the agenda of the meeting and the challenge facing the group and the city as a whole. He considers for a time and he asks curiously, "Do we know if the prices have changed in other cities?" He asks as he leans back on his chair seeming only just barely resisting from tipping it back onto two legs.

As the head of one of the Compact's prominent mercantile families, it shouldn't be a surprise that Bethany is here. She sits straight backed, her hair done up in its usual complicated twist. "Are we thinking that it's more than just demand outstripping supply?" She asks. "Most of the things that went up in price are used for either armor or weapons, and it happened right around the climax of the Pirate War."

"While the stated reason for the increase of the prices has been demand, do you think there may be other factors rather than scarcity that may have come into play?" Jordan asks of Rook. "Like raids on the merchants bringing the stuff, as an example. And if not that, then, perhaps, a forced monopoly of sorts."

Jordan also looks sidelong to Bethany. "Seems like we asked the same thing, Mistress Mercier."

New to the Silver Consortium and still learning the ropes of his position within his own family, Seth will watch and observe for the time being, taking notes all the while. Seated within his chair, he looks to each individual as they speak, scribbling down a few notes here and there, but not looking as if he will add anything to the conversation just yet. These were all good questions and rather than interrupt, he would prefer to listen to any answers or solutions given first.

"I concur with Bethany." Alarissa offers up. "Little surprise that it comes at the end of that. Btu whether that is meant maliciously or otherwise, remains yet to be seen. Supposedly the decimation of the Gyre as we know it should have lead to more ships being able to pass through to Arvum. Supposedly." Supposedly. The seasilk clad Princess Consort of Thrax sits in a place near front and center - no surprise - and watches and listens.

Tesha is in crimson, but that is because it's her families color. Not because she's matching Rook. There's a dip of her head to the others, "Good evening." she states with a bit of a smile. Then there's a look to the others and a thoughtful look, "Lord Ravenseye asks a very good question." then there's others asking things, so she settles back and listens quietly for the time being.

Bethany acknowledges Jordan with a slight inclination of her head, and a reserved smile that never quite touches her steel blue eyes, and Alarissa with a deeper, more respectful nod.

2 Crimson Blades Sergeant, Erin, Crimson Blades Private, Jin, Cranky Crimson Blades Sergeant, Gale, The Mighty Pupper, 2 Crimson Blades Lieutenant, Private Fane, Crimson Blade Assistant arrive, following Violet.

2 Crimson Blades Sergeant, Erin, Crimson Blades Private, Jin, Cranky Crimson Blades Sergeant, Gale, The Mighty Pupper, 2 Crimson Blades Lieutenant, Private Fane, Crimson Blade Assistant leave, following Violet.

Out <O> is now locked.

There's the sound of a chuckle from Rook as he spreads his hands over the table, pushing pads of his fingers down against the wood, as if to square off against the many questions and deliver his answers quickly and efficiently. To Cadern, he shares, "I can tell you that the price all over Arvum, give or take a minute amount, is about the same - yes." Then for Bethany and Jordan, he adds, "It is my assumption that there's more to it, yet that's part of what the Silver Consortium needs to determine. If we figure this out, we can take better action. I presume that's all why you're asking, thinking similarly." Then, gesturing to one of the side rooms, he says, "I have taken the liberty to find three names of individuals who were responsible for either stocking or selling on the materials in question within the last few years to question them more closely. We've one warehouser focused on providing buying materials and selling them on as a middleman, a ship's captain who supposedly moved the goods into Arx from his sources, and a dockmaster who's seen the manifests for many ships on a broader, higher-level. From there, after that, we'll have to figure out where we can dig for more information if we don't get enough of a picture."

Cadern takes the time to glance to Tesha and wink lightly, "Shh don't tell others they might start expecting things from me." He says as he looks to each of the others speaking listening with interest and then nods at Rook quietly he purses his lips considering Rook for a moment and then nods. "So Source, Transport, and the local. Or... all of the above. Seems like we should start at the beginning for lack of any better information. What's behind door number one? Unless there's some better way to proceed?"

Nodding again to Bethany, Jordan casts a longer look at her for a moment, contemplative. He looks back to Rook as he gives the rest of their briefing, though he makes sure to bow to Alarissa, Seth and Tesha, before rubbing his jaw thoughtfully at the Consortium president's words. "I suspect we should talk to the warehouser first. As a middleman, he knows where the materials come from, or rather, who supplies them. The ship's captain might be hard pressed to say anything about the source of his revenue."

Bethany sits with her hands folded in her lap and waits patiently. But it's not passive waiting; this is a mere pause before action taken, and that potential is visible in her shrewd expression and incisive eyes. This is not the gentle, smiling Bethany who makes appearances at her tea shop.

Tesha gives a thoughtful look, "Do we have records and things to go through? I'm guessing we do. Just not as to how many." she offers. Because the Telmar number cruncher was a math genius. She could probably see discrepancies off the bat. There's a look to Cadern and a smile, "I won't talk about it outside this room, my lord." she tells him. Then she's back to being quiet so they can move along.

"The Captain. Is he of one of the compacts Fealty's or from outside of Arvums waters?" Alarissa inquires, dipping her head to those who show respect.

When these leads are mentioned, Seth looks even more intrigued, shifting in his seat to lean forward a tad, though he does continue with his writing. He nods to Jordan at the bow, hearing all suggestions given now. "I believe that starting at the warehouse is a fine enough idea as well. I'm sure there's documentation to be fou--" Though with what Tesha brings up, his gaze going to her for a moment, he turns to Rook for the man's response to the inquiry.

"It's important to remember, at least when I consider tackling problems like this, that the concept of supply and demand is still subject to many greyer areas of consideration. When you buy something you want it, you can sometimes pay higher or lower, but ultimately you're paying what you think that material is worth and what you can afford if you need it then and there in a hurry. If you're not in a rush, why not sit and wait and see if the price comes up cheaper somewhere else? It doesn't always, however, sometimes it rises. It's a gamble, in effect. Buying one bolt and seeing the price rise is normally fine, buying one hundred can mean great gains or losses," Rook says extensively before he passes out some papers to answer some of the questions, then rises from his chair, and pats a young scribe on the back. "I'm going to leave you all to conduct the interviews, so as not to meddle, and get back to the palace. Master Timson here will record our findings for later, while those profiles," he gestures to the papers, "will give you basic information about those you speak to. Anything else you'll have to ask them. Remember, these are our guests, insulting them is likely to cause us a block for any additional lines of questioning-- which could be a folly if they're actually helpful. Once you decide, call them in, the attendants will see to it."

The profiles read as follows:



Master Sinclair Dimital, owner of Dimital Warehousing, Crownsworn. Age 34. Unmarried.



Captain Tiber Sans, captain of the Whistling Whale cog, Thraxian. Age 27. It's Complicated.



Master Julian Marty, dockmaster of Arx, Crownsworn. Age 42. Married.

Bethany doesn't voice an opinion about who to talk to first, and so is presumably willing to go along with whatever the rest of the group decides.

Cadern grins at Tesha's response. He glances around at the group, "Anyone against the warehouser?" He perks as they describe the three men. He reaches out and tabs the warehouser to indicate his agreement with the others.

"Perhaps him, save the captain for last." He's Thrax after all and she's scribbling something on a messenger to send off on the heels of Ovelia.

"I'm for the warehouser, myself, but that's obvious." Jordan looks to Bethany again, though. "I think we can try and get a more covert approach to this between Mistress Mercier and I, since we are both commonborn and have made business ventures happen in the past. You could be our, hrm, investors?" He muses as he looks to Tesha, Cadern and Alarissa.

"I'm fine with the Warehouser first." Tesha states with a nod to that. "If her Highness wants to save the Captain for last then I'm good with having that as our line up to make the process more expedient as well." she gives a smile and a dip of her head to Alarissa.

Seth shakes his head to Cadern's question, though his eyes now look to Alarissa as she had a different suggestion, though he looks content that they are all on the same page.

"I don't see a reason to lie to him," Bethany demurs with a slight shake of her head. "Our line of inquiry isn't an unreasonable one."

As word is given to bring forth Master Sinclair, he emerges from one of the side rooms, a waiting area of sorts. A tall, narrow fellow with spindly limbs, he's nevertheless a personality and in of his own right. Vibrant green silk shirt clashing with blindingly yellow leather boots that strap around rather sharp magenta pants. With spectacles in a mottled mix of browns and blacks with thin too-thin glass to be useful, the warehouser is brought and settled, making polite with everyone as etiquette dictates. Each word is pitched with varying levels of excitement, confusion, joy and fascination. The man is an eccentric and he hasn't even dug into the meat of his conversation with the group. "Master Sinclair Extraordinaire-- that's my middle name I'll have you know-- at your service! I am told you have questions and I'll be happy to answer them today, of course, though I might ask a few of my own."

Bethany's manner softens as Master Sinclair comes into the room, and her expression rearranges itself into something that radiates engagement with the flamboyant man. A hint of mischief creeps into her small smile. But good manners rule over all -- she stands briefly to greet him as he enters. "Master Sinclair, thank you for taking the time to meet with us."

Cadern can't help it he laughs in entertainment at the man's appearance. The rumbled looking northern nobleman claps his hands in delight grinning faintly. "Now this...this my friends is a man of style and life." He says eyes twinkling merrily laying it on clearly as thick as the affectations of the other man. "Come my good man have a seat. If the question is where is the finest whiskey in the city I'm sure we can manage it. But tell us then business seems to be booming for you. I'd love to know how you feel things have been of late." He asks with a rather generic question opening and glancing to the others to see if they want to open a more specific line of enquiry.

"Master Sinclair, that is a lovely shirt. Lycene silk I presume?" Alarissa look at Bethany, leaning in and murmuring. "I know someone who would look beautiful in that shade." But then the Princess Consort looks back to the warehouser in question as Cadern seems to take the lead.

Tesha gives a smile to the man when he is shown in and there's a dip of her head to him, "It's good to meet you, Master Sinclair." she tells him with a warm smile. The name of the game is to make him feel welcome and that's what she's doing.

The appearance of the warehouser bring a furrow to Seth's brow as if he were blinded by the man's shirt. He says nothing of this, of course, and that furrowed brow smooths out somewhat. "Right, thank you for speaking with us, Master Sinclair." He seems more than pleased to let Cadern take control of the questioning, trying to look as cordial as everyone else seems to be doing.

"Hello, Master Sinclair." Jordan greets, but otherwise watches as Bethany seems just ready to make her magic happen, lips quirking into what might be a briefly suppressed smirk. He'll let the talkers do the talking, instead trying to take notice of the man's appearance.

Master Sinclair 'Extraordinaire' Dimital soaks up the greetings as if they were his due as he finds a seat at the table, ostensibly seeing himself as one of the merchants of the city specifically invited to the table to solve this problem instead of simply a link in the chain to discovering the reasons behind the price increase. He's all smiles until Cadern mentions that business is booming. Then, that smile falls just as dramatically as the curtain in the theatre. Suddenly, the man is slumping, his narrow face drawn in sorrowful lines as he says in a voice that makes him sound on the verge of tears, "Booming for others maybe, but not for me. I'm on the urge of near bankruptcy. Last week, I checked my accounts and I had a paltry seven million. Seven million! Oh, I am practically destitute!"

"It's very much your color, my lady," Bethany says to Alarissa with a respectful bow of her head. "It would set off your eyes to advantage." She settles back down in her chair again, and turns a sympathetic ear to Dimital. "What's been going wrong? Trouble with your suppliers?"

Cadern does blink slowly at the discussion of the number in his bank account. He makes a sympathetic look, "Oh my friend, that's terrible news." He draws out his flask and hands it to the other man letting the others ask the questions as he does his best to look sympathetic.

"How unfortunate." Seth murmurs to the poor man's plight! "Yes, do tell us what misfortune has befallen you, Master Sinclair 'Extraordinaire'." He's just trying to make the man feel better.

"That is absolutely dreadful." Tesha states as she looks to Master Sinclaire. "You must be beside yourself." she adds. "Maybe we can help set things right though." she offers with a bit of a smiles.

With a straight face, Jordan gives the man another stare and frowns, adjusting his gauntlets. "So why's your business on a downward spiral, Master Sinclair? Not a lot of people buying your wares or was there some other trouble afoot?"

"Business runs smoothly in all matters save the exotic flair I so provide. You can buy ingots of steel, batches of silk, or even half a hundred gold bars if you so choose but try to get your hands on the rarer goods and you're running up against problems that even I can't shine my way out of," Sinclair reports to Bethany. "There was a time I could haggle for half the cost off a crate of pyre fireweave and leave it in my warehouse to sell it a piece at a time, the makings of a scarf here, a pair of gloves there -- all at a profit. Now, I can't afford that, I can't tie up all that wealth into a single hope that someone'll want it six months down the line. Better to buy boring and buy many and make a silver or seven a piece on thousands of units. It's all about capital, darling," he insists. As Cadern offers a flask, he looks momentarily alarmed, before he looks around and asks of the Redrain, "Is -this- the best whisky, and -must- it be drank out of a flask, not a glass?" After a period of time, he wags a finger, "If I knew where to get my hands on it as cheaply as before I'd be back in business, moving it would be far more conceivable, and I could in full confidence sink that money somewhere. Now it's only bigger boys that can amass such wealth to move around those goods and even they, I dare say, aren't trying-- unless someone is playing me at my own game," he finishes, with a look to Jordan.

Jordan checked perception + empathy at difficulty 20, rolling 12 lower.

Tesha checked perception + empathy at difficulty 25, rolling 1 lower.

Seth checked perception + empathy at difficulty 25, rolling 14 lower.

Cadern checked perception + empathy at difficulty 30, rolling 12 lower.

Bethany checked perception + empathy at difficulty 20, rolling 25 higher.

Cadern assures Master Sinclaire, "Redrain firewhiskey is served as it is meant to be out of a flask." He assures him brightly. He considers for a time as others ask and he takes in the discussion. "The bigger boys?" He asks curiously and simply.

Alarissa has rolled a critical success!
Alarissa checked perception + empathy at difficulty 25, rolling 32 higher.

"Yes, what competition do you have and what do they have over you?" Seth asks, giving the man a serious look. "I mean, look at you. From what I can tell you've done well for yourself and many would be eager to hold negotiations with you, even partner with you."

Alarissa watches, listening to the woes of this common merchant, though there is a sympathetic look when he moans about no glass.

"I don't think anybody's playing you at any game, to be honest. Seems to be across the board. Everyone was buying, and now nobody's buying. It sucks. Can't even get the more expensive weapons sharpened without it costing a small fortune now." Jordan remarks as he looks back to the other man.

Bethany laughs, her voice light, as though it floats above the air instead of moving through it. "I hope it's not my family that you're accusing," she teases, playful -- although the mirth never quite manages to glitter in her eyes as it perhaps ought to. "Not that anyone in my family wouldn't throw their weight around if they could, but I think you've been doing something clever we haven't thought of, haven't you, Master Sinclair?"

Tesha for the moment observing the man and there's a bit of a frown when she can't read him. Then there's a look to Bethany when she laughs and there's an 'ah' bit of a look that crosses her face, though she looks to the man to see if he's going to give the information or not.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that, my good man, there's always something at play somewhere by someone," Sinclair insists of Jordan, reaching across the air and tapping an imaginary clone of Jordan's nose within arm's reach, an impossibility to get to the real one. 'A tip for you, for free' is the meaning by that action. When Bethany makes her claim, he almost glows with amusement, before saying, "It takes money to make money. It takes a -lot- of money to make a -lot- more. There was a time when you could seed a business with a few hundred thousand silver, then it was millions, and now? I think it's tens if not hundreds of millions," is insisted. "I am being edged out of the game and so are all of you. A Consortium is a very grand idea, of pooling money, and making profit that way. Sadly I don't play too well with others, not even partners," he says, more dourly, looking at Seth directly. "I have a suspicion that whomever is playing with the economy is doing so by inflation on purpose. That's what I did," he says, in closing, with jazz hands.

Cadern takes a sip of his whiskey and considers lowering it into his pocket in his jacket. He lets the others chat then looking thoughtful. His both brows raise when the man brazenly speaks of driving prices up. He looks a little more concerned at the idea that there's someone even more so doing it such that this trader feels even he is outpriced."

"Cornering the market?" Bethany asks, with an arch of her eyebrows. "False scarcity is a good trick, if you can pull it off. I should know. My father sells wine." She flashes Dimital a quick, sly smile. "I don't suppose your suppliers have given you any kind of hint about who they're selling to now, or what kind of prices they're fetching?"

"I think, the far more appropriate question for our good Master here is this." Alarissa shifts, leaning in just a little to be noticed, a smile on her face. "To whom is causing you so much frustration..." She taps lightly upon her own chest in the spot that he did. "And while you do not play well with others, and I understand this so very well, how may we help you Master Sinclair. Because clearly, this affects us all and it would be a shame and a horror to see your fortune dwindle to even six. I cannot fathom how badly that would make you turn at night. Besides, I know i wouldn't mind a few pieces of steelsilk in my own wardrobe, and I know you'd enjoy knowing that Thrax or anyone here, procured it from your warehouses as opposed to anothers, yes? Help us, help with a name perhaps?"

"Names would be very nice," Jordan agrees, considering the man, then his gauntlets, then back to looking at the man again. "And you're right that it takes money to make money, but the sudden inflation doesn't help anyone, does it? Someone wants fireweave, or steelsilk, they'd get it from you. A hundred thousand a pop, quite reasonable. Now? To get a full outfit is the price of a County's entire fortunes. Who has time for that?"

"The ones that are left," Sinclair explains to Bethany with -those- kinds of eyes that indicate death, disapperance or downright disconcerted dumbfoundment, "have simply told me they can't source the goods anymore, that their own contacts have stopped shipping with them, which means the market's dried up quicker than my own grandmother's scalp. Honestly, if I were to stock my warehouse tomorrow, I'd have to do the exact same as you-- go to the market, find a piece or two here or there, maybe haggle a discount if I'm lucky and get it at consumer prices." With a small purse of his lips, he then listens to Alarissa, and waves his hands a bit, "The only people I know who could be doing this are the ones who bring in the cloth, ingots and stones or--" he thinks for a moment, "someone who didn't want to have any comeptition -at all-. It's hard to determine. If you happen to be the source of all the rare goods and you see what money could be made, why not extend your operation beyond just selling it to the transporters, but through the whole chain? Or, potentially, maybe there's someone just like me but with bigger pockets who doesn't want the smaller boys in the game anymore." With a murmur, he adds, "I could think of a dozen other people like me who did the same, from what I can tell most of those went out of business too or are going to shortly."

Bethany leans forward a little bit. "You're in this world, Master Sinclair, in a way that none of us are. You know how the supply chain works, and how the market works. Surely you have some kind of idea what's going on. I'd be willing to trust your instinct."

Bethany checked charm + etiquette at difficulty 30, rolling 14 higher.

Cadern listens thoughtfully as Sinclair rattles on. He purses his lips head tilting back and he rolls his shoulders, "Intriguing. So someone else. Interesting. So it could be someone getting to the supply for such things earlier." according to him but the later thought Cadern doesn't add. "Or someone buying it up perhaps directly. Well that's certainly disconcerting isn't it." He seems to muse and let Bethany suggest the questions now apparently the prodigal letting the others take the lead for the moment and mulling over the different options.

Jordan checked command + intimidation at difficulty 30, rolling 21 lower.

"Can you cut the crap, Goodman? It seems you're talking around what you really mean to say, like you're afraid for your life. And that, obviously, isn't going well in being informative now, is it?" Jordan's delivery of his best death stare falls flat. Very flat. Welp.

Tesha checked composure + diplomacy at difficulty 30, rolling 1 higher.

"I don't have a name, just my suspicions of motive, and I'm not sure I can say it any more clearly than: why let someone make more profit off something you make a little profit off when you can do it all yourself, you just haven't until now?" A finger to point out Bethany in particular, saying, "If your family makes wine, you can buy the grapes and make wine and then sell it for a profit, but the grape seller has to make a profit too or they'd go out of business. If you could make a larger profit by growing the grapes yourself, why would you ever buy them, you'd just grow them, make the wine, ship the wine, sell the wine. Own the entire process, not just some of it. My business is as a middleman," he says, "and I think middlemen for these goods are becoming less and less popular. Wherever we get these goods from, for I buy them second-hand if not third- or ninth- hand, I think the new revenue is going there." Then, promptly, he falls silent at Jordan's words. "I think that's all I have to say on the matter, my good men and women, for today."

Tesha gives a slight wince at Jordan's words and there's a look to Master Sinclair as she heads over to him, "I'm sorry about that." she tells him. The lady actually reaches out to take his hand, patting the top of his gently, "In the end of this, I'm concerned about your funds starting to disappear over time. If you don't have a name. Then I'm sure you don't have anything to worry on then and you'll continue to make money just fine." she states as she releases his hand. "Thank you for speaking with us." she tells him as she retakes her seat.

Cadern winces as the man falls silent at Jordan's comment. He frowns but he nods his head quietly and offers to the man, "Well it was certainly fascinating Master Sinclair. I'm sure if you hear anything we'd love to hear more. I think it's time to take a break." He says starting to rise himself and stretch, "But it typically isn't so popular to own more of the c hain unless you have a limited number of buyers." He says furrowing his brow.

With everyone else questioning Sinclair hard now, even with one of them taking on a more threatening approach, Seth has fallen observantly quiet again. However, it seems that the poor man looks defeated by the harsh words given him. It looks like they won't be getting anything more out of him. "Yes, thank you for speaking with us and as others may have said earlier, we all thrive when individuals like you thrive. Keep that in mind."

"At least Bethany's good natured about her exasperation with Jordan; her purse-lipped look in his direction is brief, and doesn't have any real power of annoyance behind it. "There will always be a place for middlemen, Master Sinclair -- or there should always be. My father doesn't grow grapes because people whose families have been doing it for generations are better at it. They know how to make wine. He knows how to sell it." She rises when he does, because manners still rule above all. "If people like you are being edged out, I think we can all agree that's a problem. Nobody wants someone manipulating the market. Thank you for helping us try to figure out what's going on."

Jordan nods to the man, straight-faced again, as he decides that's all. "Yes, thank you for your time, goodman."

"Master Sinclair, Extrodinaire. I thank you and the Consortium thanks you for your time which is very precious and I hope that perhaps, we might find a way to clear of the upline, so to speak and see your numbers raise. If we do, we will reach out, I assure you." She makes note to the merchant. "I will have a bottle of Maelstrom sent to you as a thanks for your co-operation."

Sinclair nods his head a bit, rising, giving an easy wave as he prepares his exit. As he moves towards the attendants, it can be noted that he's passed a slip of paper, a few words of instruction and then he moves towards the exit; clearly whatever deal, arrangement or thanks that the Consortium itself has expended to get the individual within the room beyond their own concerns. Then, the two remaining profiles sit before the group of interviewers, awaiting further decisions.

"You wanted to look at ledgers, Mistress Mercier?" Jordan inquires, glancing over at the remaining two interviewees. "Maybe the harbormaster came with ledgers? That might be helpful."

Bethany shakes her head. "That was Lady Telmar, I believe, Sir Ober. I wouldn't mind looking at ledgers, but the expertise of people is just as valuable."

The dockmaster is soon at the table, one Master Julian Marty, a ban of squat stature in comparison to the last. The build is stout, though, as if to make up for it. Not quite portly but... not muscled, either. Drab clothing, simple stuff, the man's about what you would expect from the sort of guy often called a 'dwarf' for hilarity. Quite human nonetheless, an aged as well, he nods and forgets to bow for those present. "Lads," he greets the lot of them, a singular word for a whole variety of people, as no doubt he often greets the same sailors off the boats each day. "I hear you have questions?"

Bethany rises for the dockmaster just as she did for the warehouse manager. If anything, she's displaying more respect right now than she did before; there's an understated elegance in her expression her gestures, and a slow warmth in her smile. "Master Marty. Thank you for agreeing to see us. I know you must be wanted at home right now."

Tesha gives a smile to the man when he appears and there's a dip of her head, "Master Marty, thank you for joining us this evening. I know it's getting quite late." she tells him. "So again, we appreciate that you are here." she smiles to him.

Alarissa only dips her head in greeting for the Dockmaster when he makes his way in but leaves the verbal greeting to the others.

"Yes, yes, thank you for taking my entire evening-- so, what were your questions?" Simply, easily, blunt. No harm meant though, it seems, despite irritable nature. Julian is just a man who gets to the point, clearly.

"We're looking for some insight into rare goods imports," Bethany explains, settling back down in her seat. Her hands automatically move to smooth and rearrange her skirts. "Steelsilk, pyreweave, alaricite. Especially in how their importation might have changed in the last few months."

"We want to know if the sailors or the ship captains said anything about troubles that might justify the fact they've become... well, less bountiful on the markets, to cut it to the chase." Jordan states to the harbormaster.

"I'm aware of that much, though specifically less so, of what you want might be curious about. The import-export of these goods is, as you can expect, more import than export. We bring in more than we send out by almost its totality. Every inbound ship with such goods used to be spread over a great many ships but it's been going steadily downhill. Recently it went from perhaps two dozen to almost nil," Julian reports with a gruffer voice as he searches his memory of the records. "You'd also normally see a great deal more unintelligible sign-fors on the manifests which leads me to believe there was a lot of bribing going on to mask who brought what in from where originally. What I know, though, is that the quantity of the fabrics, metals and stones has dropped drastically, aye." To Jordna, he shakes his head, saying, "You hear it daily, how hard it is to be a captain, how we need to lower our taxes and fees for docking here in the City of Arx but they seldom say what's causing it-- mainly 'cause half of them are lying fucks and have at least a dozen crates of something worth more than the fees. Still, the numbers don't lie, so if there are those materials coming in they're not coming through my docks."

Tygra, a harlequin bunny arrives, delivering a message to Tesha before departing.

"Do you happen to know anyone with an interest in creating a smuggling ring with these goods, good man?" Jordan inquires, paying more attention to Julian, now, especially as he seems to speak the knight's language: directness.

Bethany checked intellect + economics at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Tesha checked intellect + streetwise at difficulty 20, rolling 44 higher.

Without mincing words, Bethany asks Marty a string of questions, each one feeding into the next, each one stripping away vagueness and pinning down specifics about the changes in the imports of rare goods. When the questions and answers touch on the people bringing said goods in to port, she asks: "What are those captains bringing in now that they're not importing steelsilk and alaricite? Are they still shipping things into Arx?" She's not going to come right out and ask him if they've mysteriously disappeared and/or turned up murdered, and this is the best way at coming to that information from a more palatable angle that's less likely to freak him out.

Tesha gives a bit of a nod after Bethany has asked her question, "That would be good information." she nods to that. "I'm sure there's talk around the lower bouroughs about what's shipping in." she admits. Or maybe not. But it's worth a try!

"Smuggler's rings, aye? The term is a misnomer, if you know what that means," Julian says to Jordan before he points to Tesha. "If you're bringing in a great deal of goods you ain't meant to you'll find that there's a certain group that'll control it to give you the support you need and in any which case it's not coming through a port like in Arx. We inspect some of the crates, and worst comes to worst, we tax higher for certain goods. If it's illegal or too high a price, they bring it to the shore before the port and cart it on foot, and we see none of that tax," is explained to Jordan. "Fireweave, steelsilk, that kind of stuff? You can smuggle it but it's legal stuff, so unless you want to avoid the taxes, not worth smuggling-- and not worth us taxing too high or we lose out. If you want us to avoid where it's coming from, just visit a few more seedier, bribe-friendly ports on the way up. We only ask where it came from last, since there ain't no real way of checking. Not where it came from originally. Go through enough ports, we lose the trail. Taxes on that stuff are often only a percentage, just like anything else, so they're high but not insurmountable. I've never heard these goods come from somewhere I ain't heard of before, so if these are from foreign lands, I wouldn't even know it for sure." Then, in answer of Bethany and Tesha, he expands, "I only deal with some of the docks, some of the time, but when I say two dozen I really do mean two dozen. There ain't that many that can afford such an expensive cargo. You sink with that? You put several someones out of business. There's still stuff coming in, but it's jacked up right and proper, and it's no-where like it used to be. An' those captains? Yeah, they still come in, but they deal in simpler stuff now-- iron, mundane silks, gold and perfumes. You can even see their ships suffer for it, in disrepair, worse crews." Then the next part, "Some of them, nah, heard they were eaten up by krakens or just never returned home. Still see the sames ships though, so, let that do all the talking for you. Wouldn't surprise me if they ended up dead for taking some of what they were transporting."

Jordan nods to Julian's words, considering them quietly. He'll let Bethany take the lead in the asking questions, but he's making a mental note. Well, save for this question, "You got some ship names we could be looking into? Maybe asking around."

Tesha is overheard praising Rook: For being amazing!

"I can get you the ship names, though I note one of them you've in the waiting room, though don't know how much longer you'll have him tonight," Julian says before he waves a hand. "Or how much he'll want to tell you, all considering." Then, with a moment's thought, he finishes, "I can't much stay longer though I can come back if you need me. So long as I get my same rate?" he asks of the Consortium assistants. Apparently at least some of them are being paid for these interviews-- makes sense, considering it's not the Iron Guard, for instance.

"I think he'll speak." Alarissa smiles at the Dockmaster. "If he enjoys remaining serving Thrax in some capacity, I am confidant he will speak when faced with the High Lord of his fealty's wife and voice."

"Pays to be well connected, let me tell you," Jordan winks at the harbormaster, before looking to Bethany. "You did pretty well, as always, Mistress Mercier."

Tesha was about to say something, but Alarissa speaks and there's a dip of her head to the woman and there's a touch of a smile to her. Using intimidation was a good tactic at this hour. And she wasn't good at it.

"If you're needed back, we will send for you." Seth informs Julian as he straightens out his notes and rising slowly from his seat.

A nod, then. "Very well, alright then, better get back to it before the missus thinks I'm turned upside down and bled dry by the wastrels," insists the dockmaster as he makes his exit, simple and clean, leaving questions and potential answers for the morrow.

Bethany smiles to Jordan and bows her had. "Thank you, Sir Ober." She rises again (manners!) when Julian rises to go. "Thank you again for being so helpful."



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