Found Document: Sweet Things

2021-07-15

Interview with an unnamed Issaries trader, transcribed by a certain L.N., dated 1617. Retrieved from the tower’s second level.

I once met a trader named Biturian who told me that sometimes, to sweeten the deal, you have to literally sweeten the deal. He told me that some exotic foods often improve a prospective buyer’s perception of your cargo more so than the equivalent investment in more mundane items. Sweet products, spices, rare herbs are all good choices even for the most pedestrian interlocutor. He mentioned for instance that he would bring honey and sugar to some select Storm Bull Khans to buy protection while travelling through Prax.

What’s this “sugar” you ask? Oh yeah, I’m not surprised, very few people know about this. I’ve heard the term used for many things but I think the most common is for these tall, hard plants they cultivate around the Koraru Bay in Fonrit. I don’t generally like to go there (dangerous trip, and the Fonritians are tricky to deal with), but you can’t deny they have something special. The locals chew on it and spit it out, and I wouldn’t recommend bringing it raw like this here, it’s too bulky and heavy to transport, and last I heard it got a rather cold reception even in Nochet. But the Fonritians also crush it and make some sort of thick, black, honey-like liquid which can be used to sweeten dishes and drinks. It’s much better for trading, but transport can get tricky. It easily gets bad in a ship’s cargo hold. And if you spill it, it get real messy, trust me. The Fonritian drinks themselves are good for transport though. Very popular with some of the noble families in Esrolia.

Another lead I had is… well, I heard some Earth cult in Kralorela has figured out how to refine this black sugar liquid into crystals. Crystals! Can you imagine? I wonder what that looks like. And I bet it would make transport so much easier, but you know how it is, going there. And I would still have to figure out where exactly is this cult. Huh… I’ve got more interesting trade routes to test out first anyway.

That’s the thing, right? Since the oceans have become navigable again, there’s so many opportunities! Our parents and grand-parents have barely scratched the surface. And these exotic goods are what’s really driving trade, if you ask me. Anybody can get their metal, or amber, or salt, or whatever from… well, I mean, they don’t have to go that far. These are well established routes… and sure, in some places those routes got disrupted, like those going through Maniria. Heh, those were good wins, my uncle got wealthy avoiding all these tolls when he got his first ship. And Pent, too, nobody wants to go through that, right? But see what I’m saying? Our predecessors focused on trading the same things, but better? Same origin and destination, same cargo hold? It’s only now that people are wising up to what new things we could start trading. Thing we didn’t even know about before. And that’s really pushing the long travels. That’s why we dare sail past Mighty Magasta. That’s where I have some lead over the competition. Have you even heard of Spice Island? There are things there that…

Right, you want to know more about the sweet stuff, of course.

Well, I mean your safe bet is really honey. Yeah yeah, everybody has honey, but you know there’s a sizable market for the connoisseurs, right? They’re looking for new flavours, honey made from different flowers from this or that mountain or some desert or whatever… honey made from mushrooms, honey made by giant bees… I mean I’ve heard some trolls can train them to change the resulting taste. You don’t even have to go too far for that, there are giant bees here in Sartar. But if you want, like, some Kero Fin Lady Thimble honey, well you have to cross some fairly dangerous places on the way. As always, carefully pick your escort.

What else… oh, right. Tree sap. Some people love that stuff. I hope you’re not an elf-friend because they will definitely not be happy with you. One of the Colymar tribe clans in Sartar, I think it’s the Namolding clan? Yeah they do collect birch tree sap, make some sweet syrup with it, so they have most of the market around here. But you can help them export their stuff. I think a couple other Sartarite clans do something similar, so there sure are opportunities for grab. But for something a bit different, if you like long travels on land, I once visited Northern Fronela — the animal tribes there have a couple of trading posts — and they have some squirrel spirit cult that showed them how to collect the sap from the local maple tree. They have some Sea Season dance ritual for this, and all. Anyway, that maple syrup is quite different from the birch one, and better if you ask me. Plus, these Rathori and other animal people aren’t too interested in travelling out of their lands, so it’s easy business for us long distance traders.

Ok, now I don’t know if I should share this but… hum… I once heard about some “Aldryami Bloodwine” too… basically it’s the same idea as tree sap, but the trolls would bleed an elf to death instead of extracting the sap from a tree. Nasty stuff. Supposedly the taste changes depending on how they torture the elf, or not, before or during the bleeding, how long, and so on. I don’t even know if it exists for sure, frankly, it sounds more like the type of urban legends these Uz love spreading around… but who knows. You better be careful if you meet an Uz merchant who wants to sell you some tree sap, just to be sure. You definitely don’t want to piss off any elves, especially since they…

These documents are a mess but the notes in the margin seem to indicate there’s more to this interview. I’ll share more when I figure out in what order they’re supposed to go. In the meantime, maybe check this out for complementary information.

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