The Emperor's Council hired the players to head south and gather intelligence on a Keep. The Council was willing to pay the characters 1d6x100 each for this mission. Additionally, the characters were supposed to buy a ship using 4000 gps cash and a script for 36,000. The ship should be left at the southern port as reinforcement.
The party purchased a modest 1,400 gps worth of supplies, pack animals, horses and wagons using the 4,000 coins they were given. Additionally, they are flashing around the Emperor's signature at the bottom of the script, like it means something more. Most people they have met believe that this IOU from the Emperor is some sort of warrant, order or title. They can't or don't want to read it.
The party has no idea that this is the general interpretation of an IOU letter in the Emperor's hand. They believe they are honoring the deal to the best of their ability and people want to help them.
The Council is a bit confused by all of this. Since the players never inquired as to their pay, the Council believes that they are dealing with professional, super-patriots. There has been some back and forth about either not paying them at all, killing them off or rewarding them handsomely with titles, land, military ranks and duties, etc.
The Council also believes the party is traveling by ship. Because of this misunderstanding, when the characters attacked the raiders at the Villa, the Council believe that the party destroy an enemy ship and killed as many as 100 raiders, not merely 5 guys left to fend for themselves. The captured raiders are rare prize. In the intervening weeks, the Council has received mixed messages from the Villa, which they find suspicious, but continue to believe the characters are on a ship.
The view from on high is not any less confused, but IS slightly better.
The primary reason for human/demihuman antagonism is human slavery. To the Elves and Dwarves, humans are evil because of their culture of slavery. They are only slightly better than the horde of sea-faring raiders who take and use slaves. Since the raider are mostly human, there is little reason for demihumans to look for differences. If this could be settled, the détente with the demihumans could turn to a real peace.
If only there was a way for the Empire to flip a switch and end slavery. The Emperor is willing, but there is too much societal momentum for him to simply command this. What he needs is an opportunity to unleash the manumission sects in the Empire, without setting up a palace coup.
Well, one good thing has happened. The master of the Villa was no friend to the Emperor. The man had hundreds of slaves on several farms around the port towns. Now that he and his whole family is dead, the Emperor has ordered the council to set up several more manors or villas in the area, operated by freedmen. This had been tried before, but each one failed because they couldn't compete with free labor. He has also ordered all the Master's slaves freed, for their service in the defense of the Empire. Thanks to the raiders and the PC's conflict, the Emperor now has a freedman foothold just south of the Capital.
The Emperor himself has taken personal interest in the battle for the Villa, the accused murderers Stephano and Trinculo and perhaps a Triumph for himself if they are convicted. Oddly, the Emperor is fair and good, so Stephano and Trinculo could be found innocent, which would make them a valuable set of prisoners as they are still thieves and brigands. Exactly which is better is a matter of point of view. If the party can continue to kill raiders and slavers, make promises they can't keep and complete the mission, the Emperor should come up smelling like roses.
Next, post: The Slowing of the Party.
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