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Terrdi, day 73 of automn 547 - Thoughts about the trade

I haven't updated my journal in a while, so here I am again. I have been busy in other forums lately, mostly because of the discussions regarding the Orga Stone trade with the Brions and with the Mystic Council.

I openly and actively support the trade with the Brions, and I started a discussion in the Winds of Dawn forum about it. I wanted to explain my point of view on it, and to start a discussion so that people might express theirs. The result was about as I expected, with people in favor and people opposed to the deal, with varying intensity and convictions.

Those opposed to the deal believe they do so for the good of Puddleby, and some actually pretend that those in favor of the deal are traitors. That means that I failed to express my point of view, or that some people just don't want to listen to my point of view.

The truth is that we have different views of what is better for Puddleby, or what is the lesser evil in this case. The Brions have been increasingly pushing for the deal over the last eight years since they first offered it. Recently, things worsened as they grew frustrated with the lack of answer from Puddleby. They started to increase the pressure, and finally declared that they would get the stones one way or the other, even if it meant war. The alternative, they told us, was to proceed with the deal within the deadline they set, in exchange for which we would get a portal to EP and also access to further ethereal training. Otherwise...

So, here are the choices we have as I see them.

If we don't proceed with the deal...

If we don't proceed with the deal, the Brions will declare war on Puddleby and try to get the stones themselves. They will close up all access to their keeps, will stop to trade amulets for metal, will no longer give access to the ethereal trainers.

Aside from the war aspect, is that so bad? I guess that not too many people would be unhappy to loose access to the brothers' keeps. Maybe they would restrict access to their islands too, although that is unlikely, with the possible exception of Melabrion's Island [MI] which was only recently open.

Of course people like me who study ether, and those interested in EP exploration like PTF, and some others like Gurgi, would be disappointed to loose access to one of the few real "frontiers" in the Lok'Groton (the other one being the Foothills [FH]). Some might say that it's impossible for the Brions to cut off all access to the EP, but you have to remember that all our methods of going to EP rely on the Brions at this time. Even if people have Portal Stones, those break after a number of use, and their supply has already been cut off.

But that admittedly only affects a limited number of the residents of Puddleby. But something that would affect all of Puddleby is open war with the Brions. Consider what they could do if they felt that collaboration with us isn't an option anymore. At this time, they see us as intruders in their lands and, after a number of clashes at the beginning, they started to see that we could be of some use to them. It certainly isn't clear what they want from us, but as long as they believe that we can have some form of limited collaboration, they have no reason to start a direct confrontation with us.

On the other hand, if they think that we stand in their way, that we aren't collaborating and that they cannot get what they want, then there is nothing to prevent them from using their resources against us. These resources are considerable in my opinion.

Some people fear that if the Brion get a Teleportation Stone, they will use it to attack Puddleby. What they don't realise is that the Brions have many other means to attack Puddleby, and they don't need the Strange Stones for that. The only reason that they aren't attacking us now is that they feel they can get something from us, it's not because they don't have the Teleportation Stone. Remove that restraint, the possibility of learning/gaining something from us, and you provoke them to start war. That's what those who oppose the Strange Stone deal don't realise.

If we do proceed with the deal...

On the other hand, if we do proceed with the deal, what happens next? As I said, the Brions want to learn things from us. They have shown interests in many aspect of our lives and in some of our abilities. For example, the Brions say that they cannot depart as we do, and they are very curious about this ability of ours. They are also curious about many of the healers' tools, and many exiles traded purgatory pendant to them in exchange for favors or gifts. And of course they are interested in the Strange Stones.

We have to be careful in our dealings with them. It's clear that their definition of ethics isn't close to those of the majority of exiles. They have shown in many occasions that they have little respect for life, except for their own. I think that it's clear that they can be dangerous to us if we aren't careful.

Some people look at the Brions as a dangerous animal that must be handled carefully. An animal that cannot be confronted openly, but that must be "handled" somehow. The way we see it, we have to try to have as civilised a relation as we can with them, and make them believe we are still useful to them. In the mean time, we try to understand what they are capable of, to find out what they want from us, and to gain as much knowledge as we can from them. As a wise man once said:

Know your enemy.
Stay close to your friends. Stay even closer to your enemies.

With this in mind, we have to chose the least damaging interaction with them. Dealing with them for the Orga Stones is a calculated risk. The way we see it, the Stones aren't as dangerous as the possibility of open war. The Stones have a number of limitations that make them of limited use in a war, as those opposed to the deal believe they would be used. First of all, they are very fragile, and those untrained in their use often break them on the first use. Also, they can only teleport a very limited number of people, all of which must be cross-shared, and at a very limited range. The Stones cannot be used to teleport to/from another island or to/from another plane. On the same island, they are limited to a few snells at most.

So even if they do not share what they find about the Stones, they cannot do much harm with them, considering what other ability they have already demonstrated they have.

Going forward with the deal will have the effect to appease them, and prevent an open war with them. It might help us understand the Strange Stones better, although I am skeptical about that. And we will be able to continue our ethereal studies that can be used to repair the damage to purgatory and possibly enable us to create portals of our own.

About the damage to purgatory, some people don't think that it's a real danger, saying that the only evidence we have is what the Brions told us. They then go on to say that if there is a danger to purgatory, it may very well be caused directly by the Brions. All that is quite possible.

But let's think about it a minute. Are we willing to take the chance that the damage to purgatory is real? Are we willing to take a chance that could mean loosing purgatory? And, if the Brions are responsible for the damage, refusing to deal with them will only provoke them to do even more damage, maybe even destroy it.

So, the way I see it, our only real option is to proceed with this deal for Stones that represent a limited risk, so that a much greater danger - open war - is avoided and so as to buy time to better understand the motivation of the Brion and can be prepared for it.

If we knew what they want to do with them...

Then there is that statement from Melabrion that goes something like this:

[Melabrion] "...if you knew what we want to do with them [the Strange Stones], you would try to stop us..."

Well, that certainly seems ominous. So what do I make of this, and why do I dismiss this statement while I accept others from the brothers? I could ask those opposing the deal why they listen to this statement while dismissing the others of course. But let me explain why I am still in favor of the deal considering this statement.

Most people think of the Brions as a single individual, or at the very least, a single purpose. That couldn't be further from the truth. The six brothers are very different indeed. They all have different interests, and they all have their own personal agendas. In many things, I would say that the Brothers are actually competing with one another. They all share a number of view of course, one of them being that we are intruders in these islands. But they certainly differ in their beliefs that we can be of any use to them. I would say that Tenebrion is probably the one who favors normalized relationship with Puddleby the most.

So my guess is that one of the brothers, most likely Tenebrion, convinced his siblings that it was in their interest too. He convinced them with various degree of success. Maybe they don't all see, or agree, that the deal is in their interest. Maybe some of them won't profit as much as the others from it, because of their abilities or their field of expertise. It's the only reason that I can see for Melabrion to make that statement. He is probably one of those who won't profit much from the deal, or else he wouldn't have tried to influence people to oppose it. I can only see some internal feud amongst the brothers as an explanation for this.

In conclusion

To conclude, I believe that proceeding with the deal is the lesser evil, considering the alternatives. I resent that people call me and others traitors to Puddleby because we have different opinion on what is best in the long term. Their course of action can only lead to war in the very near future, while trading with the Brion buys us time and knowledge.

Well, I have more to write about my search for a clan and other subjects, but I'll keep that for another journal entry...

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