Chapter 3: Land to Spare
The Ambassador's ship inched closer to the dock. Word spread quickly that Ambassador Vincent Vandersnatch was on his way to the settlement. People were nervous; Ambassador Vandersnatch was known throughout the North and the South to be ruthless. Stories from the Great Disagreement told of Vandersnatch eliminating his enemies without prejudice nor mercy. Was he on a mission of good will? Or where his intentions more dangerous?
"Everyone, calm down!" Liam shouted at a meeting near the docks, "Everything is going to be fine."
"How do you know, Mr. Fisher?!" one of the settlers demanded. "You don't know what the Ambassador is planning."
"No, I don't...but I know what I'm planning. And that should give you some comfort. I didn't come all this way and work this hard to have some frilly diplomat destroy what we've got going on here. So you can all relax."
Murmurs ran through the crowd. How could Liam Fisher stay so calm at a time like this?
"Damn hicks. They don't even have a proper dock. What a waste of time this is..." Vincent Vandersnatch grumbled as his little boat made it to the ramshackle pier at the edge of the farmlands.
"Sir, according to our intelligence, Fisher's residence is on the other side of the settlement. We will have to make our way through town." One of the ambassadors assistants said.
"Wonderful. I get to walk across miles of scrub brush, bugs, and no doubt bovine fecal matter." Vandersnatch snarled.
"Sir, we could bring the carriage and the Northern Longhorns ashore, if you'd like." The assistant said.
"Yes, yes. I knew we'd need them. I'm glad we brought them. Go back to the ship and load up the bigger boat." the Ambassador commanded.
"Excellent idea sir, excellent." and with that he scurried back to the little row boat.
With the carriage loaded and the longhorns yolked, the Ambassador began his trek across the settlement. It was still small, by his standards, although it had come a long way since the first 6 boats arrived almost a year ago. The Ambassador crossed the small farmlands that provided just enough sustained food and allowed a winter stockpile to be made. Most of the settlers relied on foraging and hunting for their foods. Salting and pickling were the preferred preservation methods to make sure food was available when fresh food couldn't be had. It was a rough life, but it was an exciting one. And with Liam Fisher in town, it made things that much better.
The carriage rumbled past small shacks of houses. People came out to watch the ornate stagecoach pass by and to get a good glimpse at the Great Northern Longhorns. They were a rare breed and only the most wealthy Northerners could afford them. Diplomats and politicians had plenty of the great beasts. Bred to pull great loads and tolerate extreme conditions, the Norther Longhorns were the national animal of the North; they represented power, toughness, and to some, stubbornness.
"These homes aren't fit enough for my swine." Vandersnatch muttered as he rolled past. "What a pitiful existence. What keeps them here?" He wondered aloud.
"Sir, Mr. Fisher's cabin is right up the road." The driver called. "We should be there momentarily."
"Good. The faster I can get to that man, the quicker I can leave." the Ambassador said.
"Good Ambassador Vandersnatch! To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" Liam fisher exclaimed loudly as the coach pulled up. The Longhorns were released and wandered to a patch of grass to graze.
"Cut the bull crap, Liam." Vandersnatch snapped. "We both know why I'm here. Shall we have a sit-down and a chat?"
"I suppose we shall, Vince. Come, have a rest in my humble abode." Liam responded. The Ambassador begrudgingly followed Fisher into the cabin.
Once inside, the Ambassador had a seat at a small table, pulled out a cigar and lit it. Puffs of smoke enveloped his head. After a long silence, he finally spoke.
"Just what the hell are you doing, Liam?"
"What do you mean?" Liam played dumb.
"You know damn well what I mean. Do you have any idea the ruckus you've caused back home? The chancellor has his underwear all knotted up over your settlement. The whole Senate is up in arms. They're ready to send the entire navy down here...all for you and your little band of settlers."
Liam looked at the Ambassador as he poured himself a drink. "Do you want some 'shine, Vincent? There's a cabin in the woods up the coast. The guy there makes a mean 'shine. Have some. It will calm you down." He handed Ambassador Vandersnatch a glass.
"I'm serious, Liam. I was sent here by the Chancellor himself to bring you back to the capital. You're in deep. After the stunts you pulled there'll be a noose around your neck this time next month." Liam was silent. "And on top of that, you've set up here right on the damn point! It's like you're doing this intentionally. You have to know that everyone and their brother has seen you. If you were trying to stay discreet, well...I can tell you you've certainly picked a fine spot for that!"
"I know what I'm doing..." Liam's response was frank and calculated. "Don't mistake me for some fool. I'm right where I want to be."
Vandersnatch barked, "Then you're a fool! And in accordance with the North, under jurisdiction of the Chancellor under the watchful eye of the Senate of the People, I was sent here to arrest you. You will come with me to the capital where you will face a trial, and when found guilty, will be executed."
"No." Liam said.
"What do you mean, 'no?'" the Ambassador exclaimed. "You don't GET to say no, Liam. You've lost. Your luck is up. You're done."
"Vincent...why do you think it took you almost a year to get orders to come down here?" Liam now had a wry smile across his lips. "Didn't it occur to you? They've been talking about my settlement since day one. Why now? I'll tell you why: I am Liam Fisher, son of John Fisher. How many Senators do you think I have in my back pocket, Vincent? I'll give you a hint: enough. You're only here because I let you come here. We've known each other a long time, Vincent. You must know me better than that. Or have all those years in the capital hazed your memories?"
The Ambassador was now the one to be silent.
"So, no, I'm not going with you anywhere. The Senate would never find me guilty, regardless of what I've done. And you know what?" Liam leaned in close to the Ambassador's face, "You're going to help us."
"I'm not helping you. If the capital finds out..." Vandersnatch was cut off.
"If you're not helping me, the Capital WILL find out. They'll find out all about those things in the Dark Days. Or have you forgotten, because I sure haven't. You and I -- we go a long way back, Vince. I've got a lot of interesting stories about you that I'm sure the Senate and the Chancellor would love to hear. If word got out about those things...well...you'd never be able to set foot on Northern soil again."
And then it clicked. Ambassador Vandersnatch understood; he was but a pawn in this scheme. He had a better chance of staying alive with Fisher than he did his own government he was sent to represent. He relented.
"You've always been good at blackmail, Fisher." the Ambassador said with fire in his eyes. Liam just smiled. "So what do I need to do to keep me safe?"
"Well, first, you're going to go back on your boat...alone." Fisher started. "And then you're going to sail back to the capital. Tell them we pose no threat to them. We are here peacefully and all we want is a bit of land to call our own. The Neutral has been disputed for years...at least the South isn't in control."
"They'll never buy that. I'll be arrested immediately." Vandersnatch said.
"You didn't let me finish," Liam retorted. "The Senate WILL agree with you, you can count on that. Leave it to me. Two of my settlers have already headed north with the same words I'm telling you. They already know the situation, Vincent." Vandersnatch was aghast. How could Fisher possibly know of his arrival so soon? "And so you'll be safe, as long as you do what I tell you. We need supplies from the North. We need lumber, stone, bricks, anything I ask...the Senate will see it through. You see, Mr. Ambassador...you now are an Ambassador for me."
"What about the Chancellor?" Vandersnatch asked. "He'll never go for this."
"He's useless and you know it. He cares more about his pleasures in life than about a nation. And besides, the Senate controls the politics of the North. The Chancellor is a glorified figurehead." Liam explained.
"What choice do I have?" the Ambassador said. "You really have thought of everything."
"Indeed," Liam said. "Now, you have a ship to catch. Before you go, however, as a token of my gratitude...when you return, you'll find a large plot of land all your own. Don't say I never did anything for you. Consider it a gift from a friend."
"Thanks, I suppose." Vandersnatch said.
"Don't mention it. Oh, and leave your Great Longhorns here; you'll be walking back to the dock. You could use the exercise." Fisher laughed as he opened the door to his cabin.
And with that, the Ambassador sailed back to the capital. The town asked Liam Fisher what had happened and Liam simply explained that the generous Ambassador Vincent Vandersnatch had graciously offered to represent the little town, nay, nation in the capital. Everyone rejoiced. Everyone knew Liam Fisher was the reason the Ambassador had come on a mission of good will!
A few weeks later, huge amounts of lumber began arriving from the North.
"What are we going to do with all this lumber?" One man asked. "And besides, we have a whole forest."
"We're going to need that forest for homes!" Liam laughed. "Besides, Ambassador Vandersnatch remarked we needed a proper dock. And so, here he is, sending us the supplies in which to do so. Come, let's get moving. We need that dock ready before he returns, or he will be very cross!" Liam laughed again, but the man couldn't really figure out why...
Wonderful again! Indeed, you're inspired by SimCoug, but you don't just copy him, it's only a familiar setting:D Great entry, looking forward to the next!
I'm glad it doesn't feel TOO similar to SimCoug's. I'd hate to be known as an imitator. It's hard when you're trying to do a period-specific CJ when someone else has already done one; the custom content is going to be similar so it's going to feel familiar. Hopefully the story I'm spinning will throw this into a totally different direction from New SorGun!
Very nice development, and yeah, your usage of MMPs is very good.
Thank you! I'm still trying to refine those MMP skills. A lot of times, I feel like mine look too "blotchy." Glad you like it.
Good use of MMPs and the pictures are perfect for the story.Great work.
Thank you. It's good to know the pictures are connecting to the text; sometimes it's hard to find images that convey what the story is about since you can't get inside the buildings.
Very nice work so far. Can't wait to see the progression of this area and the people.
Thank you! I can't wait, either!
its's beautiful reminds of stories i read in book about people settling down after some war i feel so happy about it i don't know why and i have always loved these kinds of city journals and i'm grateful to you that you made one !!!
Thanks a lot! I'm pulling from a lot of different ideas; Civil War (with the North and South), Texas independence, founding of Houston, political scandals...I'm trying to weave all of that together into a cohesive story without it coming off as cliche or boring. Glad you're enjoying it!
Haven't actually looked at the CJ section in a while (been busy trying to paint stuff), but I'm glad I did. Epic jump from SC 2013 to SC4 masked, the MMP work and story are awesome (Liam gets everywhere lol).
Keep it up and I'll try and remember to check back in once in a while (kind of weird that I don't actually check the site given that I'm in chat a lot but hey).
Hey, James. Glad you stopped by. It's always nice to hear from you. Glad you're enjoying it...and yes, yes...Liam is EVERYWHERE!