Bureaucrat (Level 8) Stepania Popov, assigned to the Noldolia Consulate had spent the last few weeks doing some work that was neither usual nor her cup of tea. It involved reviewing a package which was airdropped at the consulate, reviewing files, getting updates from the island itself, writing letters, sending messages via the Kingdom's Linkglass network on behalf of Infrastructure and getting from both some rather unpleasant correspondence in return. The usual matters of making out contracts, negotiating sales and even dealings with the banks never had so much Venom in them as this byproduct of the Avesian Invasion. Even though it was standard practice in the wars of these western kingdoms and there had been a few instances of this in Unification Wars the whole thing seemed distasteful to her and the sort of behavior that civilized peoples should avoid. She was both looking forward to the end of this whole mess, but dreaded getting there. A small fleet had come in to Noldolia to mostly drop off freed slaves.
A day after it put into Port the first part of that came through, the Count Diego DiGruzman had made his visit to the consulate with his small entourage. He dropped off a bag with 800 Trono on her desk...
"Here is your metal master's damnable fee. Blind to breeding as they may be at least they should be able to hire a better class of whore to do their dirty work with it. Now where is Juanillo?" This had been more or less typical of his comments about her.
She inspected the coins, weighed them, stashed them in a safe box and produced a reciept. "Very well Lord DiGruzman, please sign here." She spoke calmly and professionally. She then pulled up speaking tube "Corporal, the DiGruzman case has been settled." She set it back into it's rest and picked up her clipboard. "If you would follow me." She soon led the noble to another room and waited their for about thirty seconds. Then the door at the opposite side was opened and the Corporal manhandled a young Avesian noblemen in, giving him a last shove which sent him stumbling. His clothes were a bit worse for wear and could use some laundering but he was unharmed. She checked off the appropriate box. "Very good. We hope to see your custom in more amiable circumstances in the future."
"Damn you and your infernal realm of Ice, Iron and Impertinence. May it's cities burn, it's cause be dashed and you end up in Galthirith's seediest brothel." The count sneered. "Fellipe! We're leaving this nest of corruption, i'll find a place for you on my estate." He barked as he turned about and stomped out
"Yes Uncle." The young Avesian responded meekly as he followed the unpleasant old man out. That was one down, Forty one to go for her lot. The Pirates which created the Kingdom of Avesia were first after money, but after slave trading and managing slave manned estates had got them their dreamed-of pile of il gotten gold they turned their eyes to prestige. Like their king, many Avesian nobles sought to gain that by marrying into mainland nobility. To their credit, the majority of the continental lords gave Avesian slave traders the same sort of respect Diego gave her, but there was a steady supply of families that by war, failed investments, gambling, drink or simple stupidity had depleted coffers and piles of debt which could be solved by marrying off a daughter or third son to an Avesian family and the occasional one which would do it to gain a sudden injection of cash or to solidify alliances. Bit by bit the slaver lords had gotten their foothold into the old aristocracy and developed connections to the point that almost all of them had some reasonably close ties to one or more mainland aristocratic lineage and the thing about the prominent heads of said households which ran said houses was that they cared about family. Both for the selfish reasons of dynastic politics and collecting assets that might still be in their name and out of a common idea that you protected your own.
Fellipe would most likely be made to sign over whatever holdings and assets he might find and be married off to some merchant's daughter after being allowed to loaf around the count's palace for a short while. It was not a universal thing and some had made enough enemies abroad that they were unsuitable for ransom, still there were plenty of them that could be used to provide a quick burst of cash to keep the flow of raw materials steady. It was a common enough practice in local warfare. It was a distateful game to play, but if it could be played now to save the Great Machine so be it.