Endless Blue – Week 71 – The Pecuniary Stream   2 comments

Economics

The Pecuniary Stream

The major flow of trade amongst the Fluid Nations takes place via a route known as the Pecuniary Stream.  This jet stream is like the Silk Road or the Oregon Trail — a lengthy yet well-travelled course across the Known World that caravans frequently follow, bringing trade goods to settlements along the path.  The branching route covers over 9,000 kilometers and has tributaries in each of the eight homeseas, making it a major factor in the flourishing of civilization on Elqua.

The Pecuniary Stream is a gulf stream, a strong ocean current that maintains its size and course year round.  While it has many tributaries (some of which merge back into the main flow), it essentially runs a circle around the Known World.  Ecologically it cycles warm water from the equatorial region of Elqua to the more temperate oceans above and below the Tropics.  The current is present year-round, and this reliability has made it ideal for carrying caravans across the Core and Periphery.  Pisceans literally ride the current, adding the water’s momentum to their own.  Traders can gain a 20 to 30% increase in the distance they can cover in a day by “swimming downstream”.  It also supplements the amount of energy spent transporting large and heavy loads.  To a merchant, saving time and expense is the straightest course to profitability.

History

The original trade route was first established near the end of the Bronze Epoch.  These early “proto-routes” were generally kept secret by traders, as they were vulnerable to bandit raids and outbreaks of the Shellback Wars.  These traders brought simple supplies for barter, like food and tools, to more remote areas that were not completely self-sufficient.

The Pecuniary Stream grew, and during the Golden Epoch swelled in size and influence.  Most of the awe and reverence for the trade lane came from the exploits in this period.  During this time was widespread war between the elitist Chelon and the alien Lumulus.  But the biggest threat came from the invading Cetacean Hordes, led by the First Khan.

The moment the Verdant Epoch became the Verdigris can be credited to a specific attack on a Yaun-Teel caravan as it traveled along the Pecuniary Stream.  The caravan, carrying much needed medical supplies for an outbreak of  Ich, otherwise known as White Spot Disease. The first sighting of a Kraken in living memory came out of the blue, decimating the caravan and preventing the medicine from reaching its intended recipients.  As a result, the White Spot spread, eventually leading to the fall of Fort Ebadin.  This was the first domino to fall in the chain of events that resulted in the Kraken Occupation.  The sole survivor of the expedition was recorded as having said, “We were prepared for pirates, not for hell…”

The Pecuniary Stream fell into disuse during the Occupation, but once the Kraken were defeated, the Yaun-Teel seized the opportunity and reopened the trade route.  Today (the Cerulean Epoch), the Yaun-Teel dominate the Pecuniary Stream, controlling nearly all caravans that use the route.  They enforce their near monopoly through the political leverage and the combined defensive capabilities of the largest merchant guilds in the Grand Bazaar.  While this mercantile league, the Liga Synarr, can provide its own security, they often subcontract out guard and other paramilitary jobs to adventurers.  While the League cannot legally prevent anyone from traveling the Pecuniary Stream, their political influence in the major cities along the route has manipulated local government into putting trade restrictions in place that favor the Liga Synarr merchants.

Since the fall of the Kraken and the subsequent isolation of the Creche of Civilization, the section of the Pecuniary Stream flowing between the Sahaguin Lagoons and the Mer Currents has been forbidden.  The same antagonism between the two homeseas that exists also prevents trade between them.  Either would be eager to catch the other using the portion of the Pecuniary Stream that cuts through the Creche of Civilization, and use it as an excuse for war.

Trading Goods

No single nation can provide the needs of all its people.  Populations have been growing, and living space has encroached on agricultural and other natural resource areas.  To fulfill the growing needs, nations must trade with one another.  Keep in mind that while the countries listed below show specific imports and exports, these are just generalities.  For example, every nation has its farmers, but places like the Cetacean Oceans have inadequate amounts of Shore area in which to grow enough food to meet its needs.  It must import grains and other plants to meet their vegetarian diet.  Further, just because a homesea exports a resource, does not mean they have an overflowing excess.  Internal demand may decrease the amount to trade to foreign governments, and if established trade agreements demands a certain amount of resources that cannot be met, outside sources may have to be collected.  And, of course, medical supplies are always useful in any of the countries of the Fluid Nations.

Cetacean Oceans:
Import: Food grain
Export: Masonry, granite, marble, ores, jade
Trade Agreements: Chelon, Locanth, Kouton, Mer, Yaun-Teel
Trade Embargoes: None
Obstacles:  The Orcans employ their political position as the “Ambassadors of Elqua” to intervene in most every major negotiation.  Essentially keeping “their thumb in the pie”, they maneuver negotiations along lines that the Orcans feel is most beneficial to all.  This practice is seen as meddlesome and controlling, and many traders would quickly agree to their terms just to get the manipulation over with as soon as possible.  Trade with the Cetacean Ocean inevitably results in the agreement to trade sanctions with another nation.  In this way, the Orcans “guide” the younger races into a fairer economic practices.

Chelon Sea:
Import: granite, marble, gems
Export: Coral, abalone, pearl, jade
Trade Agreements: Kouton, Orcans, Mer, Yaun-Teel
Trade Embargoes: Lumulus
Obstacles: Ego and pride inflate every act the Chelon make.  Trade with them is a long process, defined by administrations of tradition that seemingly last endlessly.   Deference must always be paid, and negotiations are a formal dance.  Trying to take a short cut through the pomp and circumstance is the surest way to offend.

Lumulus Basin:
Import: Ore, Lumulan artifacts
Export: Obsidian, gold, silver, sulfur
Trade Agreements: Kouton, Cetaceans, Mer, Yaun-Teel
Trade Embargoes: Chelon
Obstacles:  Trading with Lumulans is difficult at best.  Their mindset is unlike that of any other piscean race, and they are resolute in their bargaining.  Foremost among their sore spots is the trade of anything related to coiltech weaponry and dearthsteel.  Having learned their lesson from the misfortune of the Kraken Occupation, no Lumulus would ever allow either technology to fall into the hands of an outsider.  The Lumulus have been known to trade favorably for the return of those artifacts salvaged from the war, but will react negatively to anyone attempting to “ransoming” these lost items.  Pose too greedy or uncooperative, and the Lumulus will just as likely kill you and take the artifact for themselves.

Mer Currents:
Import: Nacre, abalone
Export: Ricelqua, textiles, jade, religious items (Church of Olyhydra)
Trade Agreements: Chelon, Orcans, Yaun-Teel
Trade Embargoes: Sahaguin
Obstacles: Some Mer indulge in whale hunting — a blatant violation of the Progenitor Taboo — that causes serious tension with the Orcans.  There is a significant black market for whale parts, ranging from blubber through hide to the bones, even the baleen used to filter plankton from the water.  Smuggling such resources is considered repulsive to the Orcans, whom will employ lethal force to punish those responsible.

The Progenitor Taboo

Races tend not to hunt or consume the bodies of species whose morphology they resemble.  Chelon do not eat turtle, Lumulus do not eat lobster, etc.  This extends to using parts of the animal for clothing, decoration, or shelter.   For the civilized races, this extends to the progenitor species for the other nations.  Shellback nautiluses — armor made from the shells of the sentient Chelon or Lumulus — are reviled because of this taboo.  The Mer seem to have no “progenitor” race (a fact many use to dispute the Godless’ claim of evolution), and perhaps this lends cause to their hunting of whales.  Ceph are actually seen as less than their progenitors, octopi.  Other races see them as unclean, and so by extension are reluctant to consume octopus.  The Orcans at one time thrived on squid, but abandoned the practice; however, the renegade Narwahl living in the Sahaguin Lagoons still indulge in it.

Kouton Bay:
Import: Agriculture, meat, information
Export: Quartz and other semi-precous stones, artifacts, information
Trade Agreements: Orcans, Yaun-Teel
Trade Embargoes: None
Obstacles:  Inflation is running rampant due to the inherent hoarding of the Bay’s populace.  If can even get a Kouton to trade with you, expect to be paying a premium.  Conversely, if you have something no other Kouton possesses, you can ask a king’s ransom.  Kouton turn to poaching and smuggling for much of their immediate daily needs.

Locanth Gulf:
Import: Raw materials
Export: Exotic crafted wares, acari
Trade Agreements: Orcans, Yaun-Teel
Trade Embargoes: None
Obstacles: Transient lifestyle of the Locanth make it difficult to accurately trade during the year except for the time spent near the Pecuniary Stream.  This small window of time is the only opportunity to easily trade with the Locanth without deviation from the stream, forming a bottleneck in the flow of Locanthic goods out of the homesea.  Ambitious individuals can try to travel deeper into the Gulf of Locanth to reach the nomadic tides, but the Stream caravans will not wait for their return, essentially leaving them behind.

Sahaguin Lagoons:
Import: Weaponry, exotic prey
Export: Cured meat, leather, obsidian, exotic wildlife, warbeasts
Trade Agreements: Yaun-Teel
Trade Embargoes: Mer
Obstacles: Sahaguin rarely trade with anyone, except for the Yaun-Teel.  Further, their location at the “tail end” of the Pecuniary stream makes trade with them a difficult, lengthy endeavor.  Perhaps most damning is their total disregard for the Progenitor Taboo, even so far as sometimes feasting on their own kind!

Yaun-Teel Bights:
Import: Everything
Export: Access to Everything
Trade Agreements: Everyone
Trade Embargoes: None
Obstacles: The knowledge that the Yaun-Tish society supports, even thrives, on slavery makes trade difficult.  If not for the fact the other homeseas need resources so desperately, the respective governments would have nothing to do with Yaun-Teel.  As things are, the general populaces already decry the trade treaties with the Yaun-Teel, citing the barbaric practice.  Yet in order to get the vital resources the races of the Known World require, the governments must violate their own ethical beliefs.

“Nonetheless, the other countries of the Periphery must be able to reap the benefits of international trade.”
— Typical Orcan excuse for meddling in Liga Synarr business.

2 responses to “Endless Blue – Week 71 – The Pecuniary Stream

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 96.3 – Yaun-Teel: Illustrated | Endless Blue

  2. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 111- Pleione Trench and the Mud Daubers | Endless Blue

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