Budbarare

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The waiting room was quiet. The distinctive stench of cigarette-smoke, unwashed flesh and smoke from the cheap coal burner in the corner filled the air. A couple of older men were playing at baccarat on the bench; an overweight Finn, who nobody had seen at the station before, squatted on the floor and massaged his dog's ears in between drunken gulps of whiskey.

Nobody looked up as the company man entered. He idly flicked his clipboard over and said,

"Parcel for the Boars and Bikes. North of Stockholm. Weight 3."

Silence. The older men kept playing baccarat. Stockholm, everyone knew, meant passing through Ostling lands. It meant the slow trail through the driving snow of the Fox's Tail.

"I could, er, go," the drunken Finn said.

The company man didn't bother to reply.

In the end, it was Ida who pushed herself to her feet, straightened the brim of her fur cap, and muttered,

"Well, why the hell not?"

The company man smiled, thinly.

"Come on through," he said. "I think we can find some other work for you while you're down there."

Basic Information

There is no effective method of communication across long distances through the wilds of Scandinavia. Phone and power lines are, for obvious reasons, exceptionally rare. For many, the only way to get missives to far-off family members or loved-ones is to visit a Budbarare station - a marginally safer prospect than simply entrusting their letters, often scrawled on the backs of pages out of old books, and their packages, to one of the traders' sleds. The postal agents themselves are Stagsfire employees; they oversee the transfer of narcotics from higher up in the Company just as much as mail.

The 'Baras' themselves are semi-freelancers - travellers and vagrants can approach a station and ask to carry post whichever way they're headed. First-timers can expect a pittance for their trouble; trusted couriers charge high rates. Most highly-favoured Baras will even be trusted with the Stagsfire Company's own correspondence. They'll be handed a red armband, intended to signify that they have no allegiance. More naive Baras will actually wear these - experienced couriers hide them in their pockets and only bring them out when they encounter other Stagsfire men and women who could be persuaded to help them out in the wilds. Wearing a Budbarare armband is a sign of allegiance to Stagsfire in hostile areas in Sweden...and even to unaligned banditry, the distinctive red band suggests that this traveller may be carrying money or supplies.

The couriers will, if they're sensible, hitch lifts with sleds and even the occasional caravan that's headed vaguely in their direction, travelling down one of the established trade routes for protection. (Even this, of course, is fraught with danger.) The slowness of such an indirect travel method means that mail frequently turns up weeks, or months late - if at all. Baras, however, are highly thought-of for even managing to get so far - a courier who arrives safely at their destination can expect a safe place to stay and a bottle of liquor from the grateful recipient.

Aims

Well, we need post. And a chance for the PC to get a little cash (potentially a lot) in their travels. The trick, presumably, would be avoiding the situation *feeling* like FedEx quests.

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