The Demeter Coalition

Doing The Impossible...

"These heroes of old, as great as they were, are of no use to us now. Don't forget that while they be legends, they are also quite dead. I have no use for heroes. I need men and women who are selfish with a drive to survive, not those who are ready and willing to sacrifice themselves. If you seek to break into heaven, you don't bring a saint to the holy gates... you bring a thief..."
Tammer Roux, King of Estoya
     
Expedition Demeter stands as the most ambitious of the Estoyan expeditions. Expeditions took a few months to prepare, but Expedition Demeter took a full year, a year of endless planning, organization, and subterfuge.

Expedition Demeter began with a simple mission. Their goal was to build a road, to establish trade, and most of all, determine what is causing the sickness in reality. The expedition was a last ditch effort. It was a final gasp of a world on its deathbed.

On the 15th of Dawn, 1780, the people of Estoya reflected on the impossible task they accomplished as their hard work vanished beyond the horizon. The expedition was a product of the nation's many organizations, The Demeter Coalition. Even if the expedition failed, Estoya stood stronger than ever. The bonds of countrymen held tighter compared to the year before.
 

Fun Fact: A logistical nightmare

The Judges of Law and Merit played a major role in the development of the expedition as go betweens, legal counsel, and logisticians for the entire coalition. The Judges of law were responsible for ensuring laws were upheld and legal loopholes we're not exploited by the various parties involved in the coalition. The judges of merit vetted all volunteers to ensure they qualified, and also kept track of inventory. They procured, transported, and stored the many needs of the expedition in a secure and location.

It was through their diligence that all organizations were equally involved and each would bear equal risk in their investments. This was stressful for both groups. The judges of law ran into problems regarding feudal laws still held by the nation when handling transactions from one house to another. Each Noble House had their own laws and taxes on top of the law of the crown.

In some cases the judges would call meetings between the crown and whichever Noble House was involved. These meetings would often end in a more efficient set of laws that not only solved the problem, but also created a more efficient legal system and set of laws for the nation. The judges of merit ran into most of their problems regarding volunteers. Most viewed the Expedition as a suicide mission. The judges of merit focused on volunteers that were as average as possible. They avoided the elite, as well as the subpar. Those deemed unfit were denied as much as those who were considered too valuable to lose, save for a select few.
   
Many say that it was a king who saved the world, for he is the one who petitioned the expedition in the first place. Others claim it was a small group within the expedition, and some say it was the efforts of countless men and women. I'm afraid they are all wrong. It was a young nobody, The heir of Maldover, and his courage to speak up when no one else would.
— Lady Serenity, The Ivyhollow Legacy

The Petition

Within the ornate throne room located in the royal palace at the center of Rouxsgate, Tammer Roux, King of Estoya pleads his case to the The Major Nobility (Noble Houses) of Estoya. These noble houses considered the expedition to be another waste of their inheritance, until the heir of House Maldover spoke up alongside House Gray.

They defended the king's project, and demanded their banner-men to do the same. One by one, the other houses fell in line, their arguments refuted, and their worries eased. This was the first step of many, but with the financial backing of the nobility, preparations could begin.

The Petition circulated among the houses for many weeks. Each advised changes designed to ensure all houses stood on equal footing. Who would pay for what, and how much should be paid with respect to the wealth the house possesses? What goals would the expedition have? Should levies be allowed to volunteer? These problems and more needed to be ironed out before any progress could be made.

The Minor Nobility

Once all were in agreement, the process of putting together the Expedition and calling for volunteers began. This sent the petition to The Minor Nobility, the merchants and middle class of Estoya. It was one thing to have the funds, but it's another to have the resources and skill to bring what began on paper to life. The problem is the Minor Nobility and the Major Nobility were always at odds.

The minor nobility were responsible for the provisioning of the expedition. At first, they were completely opposed to the idea, threatening to overturn the petition. The only way this could be changed was restricting the goods and services used for the expedition to the minor nobility. Not a single serving of food, plank of wood, or weapon forged could be used unless it was provided by a minor noble.

This created a huge influx of revenue for the minor nobles. The opportunity to develop trade routes along the roads created by the expedition only made the minor nobility more eager to assist.

Training

one couldn't volunteer for the expedition and expect to join without going through a vetting process. The judges of merit put strict requirements on what it took to join. These requirements, while representing a minimum level of knowledge and skills, often included skills many individuals who volunteered would not possess. Most citizens have combat training, as required by law, but most do not have training in survival.

The judges of merit negotiated deals with Royal and house standards, along with many other organizations. These deals would offer pay if members of these organizations held classes to teach the required skills. These classes were free to take, but didn't offer much beyond the basics.

The Wardens of Estoya, for example, taught skills like setting camp, starting fires, and methods of identifying toxic flora with minimal risk. The Poet Laureate of Estoya, herself, held seminars discussing the basics of diplomacy and culture. Those who could complete the classes, and gain the minimum requirements, were allowed to join.

A Time of Progress

The minor nobility encountered many problems while developing the expedition. The Royal standards were responsible for taking into account any possible obstacles the expedition would encounter during its travels. It's an easy task when one considers the areas Estoyans routinely travel to. Those who operate Husky Caravans were able to provide information regarding The Provinces of Mhirriah to the south, and The Freeholds to the north. Still, nothing is known about what lies beyond these neighboring regions, assuming the expedition would get that far.

During these long talks of potential hazards, several problems emerged that tied into the technological capabilities of Estoyan craftsman. The Royal standards needed a solution. What is the course of action if the expedition encountered deep rivers, or heavy resistance from hostile forces? The standards decided to develop entirely new technologies to counter these various problems.

They developed a new method of constructing Wagons, making them amphibious and able to cross bodies of water. To protect the wagons, they used Arcana Formulae, enchantments etched into the Iron Oak planks donated by Estoyan Tablin when their tribes joined the coalition. As added protection, three Estoyan War Wagons were provided to the expedition, each fitted and enhanced from the original design to be faster, and equally devastating. Other advances include methods of preserving food and faster ways of building roads.

The year of whispers

The current date in the world is the 15th of Dawn, 1780, the exact day Expedition Demeter departs. The expedition has only just begun, but the year that went into its development is a topic all its own. For starters, it was a long year. Due to Universal Vertigo, one of many Universal Maladies plaguing the world, Time does not pass as it should. Time cannot be told using the celestial bodies as a reference, as universal vertigo doesn't affect them. The sun's highest point in the sky happens at different times in different places. A year has four months, each month corresponding to a season. A month can last a potentially infinite number of days.

The year of 1779 had 789 days in total. It took 736 days for Expedition Demeter to be completed. The year is referred to as The Year of Whispers. This name refers to the unusually quiet nature of the world during this time, at least for the Estoyans. Crime all but disappeared during this time period, the noble houses were not allowed to wage their wars, and an unusually large number of foreigners traveled south along the caravans. The people of Estoya, we're unaware of the real conflict going on behind the scenes.

The Doves of Black and White are a criminal organization in the pocket of the king as much as the king is in theirs. They control crime in the nation, preventing it from getting worse. As such, they were petitioned to keep things as quiet as possible during the year of whispers, putting their skills to use as an intricate network of spies, assassins, and thieves. The doves risked their lives on the husky caravans to counter plots of those who wished to sabotage the coalition's efforts.


The Doves Of Black And White


The doves traveled to other nations, keeping a close watch on how others perceived Estoya and their expedition. They intercepted spies, assassinated naysayers in the streets, and stole goods to assist the coalition. Some disguised themselves as bandits and raiders, taking what was needed to fill any gaps in supply.

Through careful coordination and intimidation, they made sure the idea of an expedition would be accepted and welcomed. While the coalition underwent the process of building the expedition, it was the doves who guaranteed its departure. The doves collected many volunteers from The Calhurst Prison Colony, for there was no better place to find able bodies the nation could afford to lose. In exchange for freedom in exile, these criminals would build the road following the expedition's path.

The doves depended on the success of Expedition Demeter for several reasons. The opportunity to expand in other nations and build a larger, stronger spy network was more than enough to earn their support, as well as a more diverse black market. They also wanted some form of autonomy that is not connected to the government of Estoya.

Bardic Propaganda


The Bardic University of Estoya had a role in the coalition as well. Bards came from the freeholds, and over a period of time, the profession became associated with espionage. The University of Estoya refused to work as spies for this reason. Instead, they decided to handle social and cultural manipulation.

The University became a center for propaganda, sending agents everywhere in an attempt to bring favor to the expedition. The bards used their talents as a rallying cry, seeing a massive rise in volunteers almost immediately after. This propaganda reached other nations, and volunteers from these nations traveled to Estoya to join. In the beginning, the bards were honest, but this would change gradually as the expedition traveled.

Expeditions always carry a telebox, an enchanted box that transports supplies across vast distances in an instant. To receive these supplies, the expedition must continue to prove the value of such an investment. Cultivating support and remaining relevant in the minds of those back home is essential. Before Expedition Demeter departed, the bards were encouraged to embellish stories of their exploits, if needed, even to completely fabricate stories should the truth prove far less interesting.

Cover image: by Sebastien Ecosse
  • 1779 3rd

    15

    Family
    Life, Relationship change

    There are many volunteers in the Expedition who chose to leave their families behind. In some cases, they left behind children, elderly parents in need of assistance, and even their spouse. Every member of the expedition would enjoy a sizable income, but should they die, the crown vowed to tend to those they leave behind.

  • 1779 3rd

    34

    34th of Dawn: The Pathfinders
    Diplomatic action

    The Estoyan Pathfinders offered one of their highest ranking members to handle navigation as well as planning the roads to be built. Being the only ones capable of building roads immune to universal vertigo, The Pathfinders were among the first organizations approached during the early stages of the coalition.

  • 1779 3rd

    202

    202nd of Noon: The Maidens
    Diplomatic action

    Word from Mhirriah spoke of a small band of fighters utilizing combat techniques used to defend Mhirriah, The Warrior Empress centuries before. The Mhirrian Shield Maidens wished to add some of their own to the expedition, a move that saw a rise in volunteers from the provinces.

  • 1779 3rd

    74

    74th of dawn - 19th of Noon: The Thoroughbred Heists
    Criminal Activity

    For weeks, a group of bandits raided smaller freeholds in the North. Their target baffled most in the region. The bandits only seemed to be interested in horses. The beginning of the year saw a shortage of horses due to a petty feud among rival houses in Estoya. Food stocks were poisoned before distribution, leading to the deaths of horses from every house. The expedition would sorely need these horses. Two thirds of the horses used by the expedition were "procured" by the doves.

  • 1779 3rd

    112

    112th of Noon: "Pauper Knights"
    Cultural event

    A curious term emerging during the year of whispers, pauper knight refers to citizens, members of the peasantry, who have obtained the minimum standards needed to volunteer for the expedition in their Civil Ledgers. Many of these peasants had to be given grants to purchase satisfactory equipment, less they show up dressed in rags or rusted mail.

  • 1789 3rd

    56

    56th of Dawn: The Pledge of House Gray
    Diplomatic action

    House gray has always been known for its optimism. Every patrician of the family radiated with hope. The current patrician of the family takes half of his household with him to serve in the Expedition. Not only does this include The Greyhounds, an elite order of soldiers, but also tradable goods, such as Gods gleam. This is a sacrifice. Most who join the expedition know for a fact how unlikely it is they will return.

Comments

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21 Sep, 2020 16:07

I wonder if the heir of some country came to join the expedition in disguise so he wouldn't be disqualified...

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
21 Sep, 2020 21:39

Probably. I should add that one forfeits their land and titles by joining. Many nobles families sent middle children and twins to the expedition to avoid problems with succession. It's not unlikely that a noble would do this for any number of reasons!thanks for you comment, once again.

Check out my work | The Web | Expedition Demeter
22 Sep, 2020 02:23

Good mention of the expedition's logistics and history of those logistics, as it ties those contributing powers nicely into the overall culture of the organization. There are a lot of plot hooks just in this setup that can be expanded in any direction.

11 Oct, 2020 10:49

Nice entry to the challenge! Not to mention, the article represents a good introduction to your world.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   Feel free to check my entry for the Alliance Challenge! Or don't, if you don't feel like it.
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