So people have asked why the Sartar route over Dragon Pass is preferred to the Grazeland route. It basically comes down to that it is much cheaper and safer to travel over Sartar’s roads than across the Grazelands.
Along Sartar’s roads, a caravan can average about 40 km a day, six days a week. It takes about 19-20 days to get from Karse to Furthest along the road network. You can resupply every day and there are plenty of safe places to sleep and shelter your beasts. The roads are generally quite safe, and the tolls are set by the Prince. Except during times of crisis (such as 1622-1626), the roads are safe.
Now it doesn’t take that much longer to go from Nochet to Furthest via the Grazelands, maybe 22-25 days with resupplying and resting your animals. But your caravan needs to be smaller as the area is less safe and you need to carry more of your provisions for you and your mule train (which also adds to cost and slows down transport). You need to hire local Pony Breeders as guides/protection (this is a shakedown by the Grazelanders – the amount is much higher than the tolls imposed by Sartar) other wise they will attack you, and there are problems with griffins, Beast People, etc. Finally, there is the Belastran Pass itself, which is just a lot more arduous than going over the paved road through the Quivin Mountains.
So for a merchant it might cost twice as much to go the Grazelands route than Sartar’s roads. And the risk is less. So which do you pick?
Some do pick the Grazelands route. So if we say that there is about 2000 talents worth of revenue to be obtained each year through tolling Dragon Pass long-distance trade passing through it likely gets divided as follows:
- 1500 to Sartar
- 400 to the Feathered Horse Queen
- 100 to the Tarsh Exiles (maybe)
So the FHQ definitely gets some of this, but the bulk of it goes to Boldhome.
Do the tribes get any of the toll? Not as long as the caravans stay on the royal roads.
How do the inns host these caravans? Most of Sartar’s inns are caravanserai.
Inns are an important Sartarite institution. They are establishments or buildings where travelers can seek lodging and, usually, food and drink away from the more common squalid tribal drinking dens. Most serve as caravanserai and provide stabling and fodder for the travelers’ animals, as well as space to store merchandise. Most are impressively built, and those built by the Royal House of Sartar are architectural marvels, many of them commanding spectacular views of the mountains and valleys. Inns provide entertainment in addition to food and drink, ranging from professional dancers and musicians to prostitutes.
The inns support the flow of commerce, information, and people across the trade routes through Sartar. There are inns in all of Sartar’s cities, as well as in most towns. There are also many inns along Sartar’s roads and on many trade roads. There is a network of more than a score of inns associated with the cult of Geo, the Sartarite God of Hospitality. Geo’s inns are closely connected to the House of Sartar and yet remained open during the Lunar Occupation. There are probably three times as many inns that are not part of Geo’s cult, however.
Most inns outside of the cities are built with a square or rectangular walled exterior, with a single gate wide enough to permit large or heavily laden beasts such as high llamas or bison to enter. Around the courtyard are buildings, bays, niches or chambers to accommodate travelers, animals, and merchandise. There is usually a common room for eating, drinking, and entertainment. Some inns have baths, workshops, or other services for travelers.
So the Dancing Apple Inn, Geo’s Cave Inn, Yellow Bear Inn, Hill Pear Inn, Geo’s Always Open Inn, etc. are all caravanserai.
The Black Lynx, Bull and Ram, Hot Rooster, and Geo’s all have areas for stabling of animals and storage of goods.
In fact, most places labeled as an inn serve the caravan trade. You need three things:
A place to stable, feed, water, and rest the animals (not necessarily on-site, and often just a courtyard), as well as to buy additional feed;
A place to safely store goods and gear;
A place to sleep.
Most innkeepers add drink and entertainment to this, and inns are often frequented by locals because of that. But it is the caravan trade that makes the money.