Sailors with the French Royal Fleet will soon be considerably safer than they were. Admiral Daniau LaPointe announced that they will be purchasing a thousand Retrieving Ropes from the Sea Elves over the next two years.
The decision comes only a week after Princess Marguerite, aged fifteen, was saved by such a device while traveling to Ada-Kar. The princess had come to visit the island capital as part of a diplomatic tour. The mission almost ended in disaster when the princess became enamored with a herd of wild hippocampi near the coastal shoals. The princess lost her balance and tumbled overboard. The princess’ heavy gown and rich gold and jewelry would surely have dragged her to her death had it not been for the Retrieving Rope cinched to the port bow.
The rope unraveled itself and darted toward the princess the moment she fell overboard. It grasped onto her leg and arm then quickly lifted her to the ship’s deck. After safely delivering the princess, the rope, its magic spent, went limp. The princess, quite shaken by the ordeal, was quick to find out more about the amazing rope and let her father know all about its wonders.
Retrieving Ropes are Alchemic Items made from hand-woven hemp rope interlaced with a thin thread of gold. It is set with a trigger that will only unleash the magic under very specific circumstances, so that magic remains dormant until it is needed. Fortunately for the princess, this rope was set to spring into action when any living human fell overboard.
These ropes have long been used by the Sea Elves in an attempt to make the dangerous work of sailing a little safer. The ropes, however, have seen little use among humans. This is mostly due to general distrust of magic and the high cost of the item. Merchant shipping vessels in particular have a proven history of being cheap. Turner Layton, a notorious skin-flint and ship owner, was famously quoted as saying “A seaman who falls overboard is not worth his salt. Let old briny take him and be damned.” Unfortunately such sentiments are still prevalent in the shipping trade, which is still mostly monopolized by the Kingdoms and the Imperial Nations, times and places that have little regard for labor laws.
After the salvation of their young princess, the French royalty see things differently. It is thought that the life-lines could save upwards of fifty seamen a year, particularly around the rough seas where the Njord and Aegir oceans meet the Einherjar.
The deal, said to be worth 500,000Vb, is the first of its kind outside of Xa’cor dy Yelpheet. It is certainly the first to be made by any major nation. The money will be payable in a mixture of gold, v-bills, and materials, in particular barrels of wine from France’s newly refurbished industry. Indeed, there has been some speculation that the deal owes more to France’s need to find new markets for their wines than to purchasing devices that could save their seamen’s lives.
It is no secret that the French wine industry has seen major set-backs over the last fifty years. The problems have stemmed from bad luck, bad choices, and devastating catastrophes. Perhaps the most damaging single problem was the Witch’s Blight of 205-223ce, a fungal disease believed to be caused from the death-curse of the powerful witch Raine DuMutiler. Whether magical or natural in its origin, the fungus wiped out vineyards so quickly that even the healthiest vines were killed in only a matter of days.
Only within the last ten years have the vineyards been able to start growing reliably again. Due to improved weather conditions over the last few years, the grapes are now doing wonderfully and the French hope to restart a formerly lucrative industry. It is thought that by paying the Sea Elves with their casks of wine they will not only get a good trade, but will also be able to sell their product to a much wider market. The Sea Elves, after all, are the most far-flung trading culture on the seas today. A good batch of wine could spark interest in their product for years to come.
Because of the time it takes to create these items, the trade will not be completed for several years. The deal calls for fifty of the ropes to be delivered to the port of La Rochelle each month for the next two years.