Smuggler

"I've crossed that border more than anyone. I'm on a first name basis with every guard. Not my legal name, mind you, I'm not that foolish."
"I don't think they need to know your name to arrest you, dude."
— Smugglers chatting in a bar
Smugglers are a common sight around the world, both in Abravost and Thurásin. Hired by shady clientele and desperate citizens, it is one of the most common illegal professions outside of the bog-standard thief.

Career

Most smugglers start small, hiding tiny quantities of illegal substances among their things and making otherwise legitimate international trips. Success even at this low level can balloon, with the quantities and nature of the items smuggled changing rapidly. Those who get too cocky will be caught here, but those with discipline can continue to make obscene amounts of money.   There is no strict hierarchy of smugglers, with many deciding to specialise in niches rather than aim for some peak of smuggling. Those who do aim for that peak will likely take on a managerial role over other smugglers, forming gangs and unions to maximise profits. Others may find their skills recognised by prominent groups, such as the Northern Sun and the Hounds of Fovenis, and be hired as part of their large operations.

Zones of Influence

While smugglers operate everywhere, there are regions where they see a lot higher demand. In Thurásin, one of the most smuggled borders are those that separate Ibza Xüfonz and Pris Xüfonz, due to their historic animosity making standard travel difficult. This often extends to their neighbours, with smugglers regularly taking a route through the Chishün Forest in Dätsalöl to access Ibza Xüfonz.   In Abravost, smuggling across the border of the Vosti Empire is very common, particularly into its neighbour Telziad. While goods smuggled into the Empire usually stay there, those taken into Telziad can end up anywhere, due to their better relations with the other Abravosti nations that make further smuggling easier.
Type
Illicit

Communication

While it's obviously not a good idea to run around proclaiming your profession for all to hear, it can be necessary for smugglers to find ways to covertly signal their availability for work to prospective clients. Different communities and cultures will have different methods, ranging from clothing choices to coded phrases.   Once known to each other, smugglers and their clientele will communicate with utmost secrecy. This usually involves more codes, with ones like Light Speech being particularly common in Central Thurásin. Records are never kept, and destroyed as soon as their orders are fulfilled.
book burning fire destroy
Burning Book by Movidagrafica


Cover image: Coins by Udit Saptarshi

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Author's Notes

This article was written for the "Describe a profession in your world that has always been, or recently became, illegal" prompt of Summer Camp 2020!


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