Setting:Unified Setting/There goes the neighborhood

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Letter submitted in response to a request for historical documents from Engelhafen's 150th Anniversary Committee by the Drow Republic embassy.

"Cousin,

I am sorry to say that despite all efforts our dwarven landlords are immune to persuasion. The humans will receive a charter for a new freeport in Engelhafen. Officially it is because giving the humans their own port will cause less friction than forcing them to use the facilities of other races. Personally I blame our goblin rivals in Orzfandrecht. Despite not having a homeland of their own they are quite persistent in weaving together a worldwide trade network.

But enough of our green-skinned competitors. You no doubt want to hear about the human expedition as they so grandly call it. A fuller report is being prepared by my staff and will be sent within the week but I'll give you my quick impressions. The fleet itself is rather impressive and clearly designed for deep ocean operations. Some of their features should certainly be incorporated into our own designs. I've enclosed some preliminary sketches you should shop around to the major shipwrights before the news gets out.

While operating under the banner of the Federated Kingdoms of Solaris they are still little more than a collection of factions. So are we of course, but even our backwards northern cousins know that you put up a unified front to outsiders. The humans treat outsiders as an audience for their drama, but they are in many ways an immature people.

Most of the actual sailors come from Vyntril. You may remember their trading fleets from about 60 or so years back. They were doing quite well for themselves, but apparently the humans had one of those wars they are so fond of and the Vyntrilans were forced to join this Federated Kingdom scheme. You can tell they aren't too happy about it as they treat the rest of the expedition as backwards rubes.

The nominal leaders of the expedition hail from Solus. Besides our dwarven hosts you will not find a less scintillating conversationalist anywhere in the world. The Solusians seem devoted only to things martial, which served them well in the last war but has sadly diminished their suitability as dinner guests. Their only redeeming feature is a devotion to a code of honor which compels them to rule the Federated Kingdoms justly and fairly. As you know codes of honor are very easy to exploit so the Republic should benefit greatly from the humans having such predictable leaders.

Jockeying for second place in the Solarian heirarchy are two different peoples. The first hail from Gorgassa and have all the dynamic energy of the very worst neighbors. They are aggressive, energetic, curious, willing to try new things and quite tiresome. They are resentful of their place in the Federated Kingdoms and squabble with just about everyone, except with the Solusian members of the expedition. Apparently even these brash upstarts are afraid to go a second round with the winners of the last war. Instead they heap scorn on the Vyntrilans, which is returned in equal measure. These two kingdoms apparently had a number of territorial disputes that helped trigger the last war and neither side is happy with the settlement imposed by Solus.

Now the Gorgassans may be beastly, but no more so than our bearskin-wearing cousins in the north. Their rivals for the chief toady position are from Aurelia and I can honestly say I've never met more unpleasant beings.

Aurelia is apparently the home to the sacred sites of the human religion and they use that as a cudgel. Aurelia is actually run by priests, with the head priest of the human religion controlling doctrine from their capital city. It gets worse. The human religion is obviously of great importance to them, even to those of jaded Vyntril, but the Aurelians insist on continual public demonstrations of it. Apparently their path to power depends on public displays of piety and exhorting others to do the same.

I know the only scandal is to admit to being scandalized, but as a devout drow the idea of faith being a commodity for public consumption did not sit well with me. I was not alone amongst our people who took time to re-read the stories of our gods after dealing with an Aurelian. The delightfully paradoxical tale of Zantos versus The Faceless God was a particular comfort. This disdain for the current Aurelia regime is also widespread amongst the humans, though not spoken of openly, even amongst natives of Aurelia. However the current government of that land is given huge regard by those of Solus, so their influence remains strong.

Those of Baetica are a refreshing change, having a relaxed open-minded attitude to everything they encounter. Baetica is apparently the breadbasket of the Federated Kingdoms and is blessed with bountiful soil and a delightful climate. It has created a delightful people and a strange government devoted to the welfare of its people. Naturally the the rest of the Federated Kingdoms hold them in disdain, calling them weak, hedonistic, anarcho-communists (whatever that last word means). Do not fall prey to this prejudice if you meet a Baetican. While they may prize comfort over wealth and power, the Baeticans I met were some of the brightest humans in the fleet. They also had some of the most potent pipe-weed I have ever smoked and we should pursue a trade opportunity with them as soon as possible.

There were other members of the Federated Kingdoms aboard the fleet as well. Thrace and Achaea are sparsely settled and contested by Gorgassa and Vyntril. The land of Moesia was settled by Vyntril just before the war and is also claimed by Gorgassa (you may notice a theme of hostility between those two) though sergal raids are a bigger concern for them. There is also Osroene, a former territory of Solus that they voluntarily surrendered to become a neutral meeting place for the kingdoms. That should tell you a lot about the Solusians and their code of honor. I mean seriously, they couldn't set aside a tavern for that?

I've also met a few settlers from Furnshakt, an uncivilised region of wilderness inhabited by bandits, goblins and wild beasts. I naturally talked up the evil, cruel and untrustworthy nature of our green-skinned competitors in hopes of steering traffic away from our rivals.

So that's humanity in a nutshell cousin. With the Federated Kingdoms soon to open a freeport in Engelhafen I hope you will have more to add.

Best regards,

-Nul Devus, Chief Shipping Agent for Langstrand, Sevastol Trading Company, House Ozwiena