First Tuthinan Expedition
The first Sjealandian Expedition to Tuthina started with the departure of a trade fleet from Sjealand in 1169, with the aim of reaching Tuthina, and establishing permanent relations and a basis for further trade with the Empire. As an extension of his mercantilist ideals, Knud II of Sjealand wished to open relations with Tuthina so to open the Sjealandian markets to the exotic and wealthy merchants of Tuthina. He therefore contacted the merchants of the rich free cities of Sjealand, asking them to gather in the capital, which they did. A charter was presented, which gave the merchants a monopoly on all western trade, if they would pay for, and equip a merchant fleet, that was to be dispatched towards Tuthina, allies were to be made in Tuthina, and the merchants were to sign a treaty with the Emperor of Tuthina and bring a Sjealandian ambassador. An agreement was reached, and a group of 37 different merchant groups united to form the Tuthinan company, which with a small Royal Grant, and the united wealth of the merchants began construction of a massive trade fleet in 1162.
The Archking also ordered the construction of 5 large dromons who were to escort the fleet, into the uncharted waters. Pre-expeditions had already been dispatched down the western coast of Nordania, establishing small supply posts, and negotiating with local rulers, for the right to restock in their ports. These were all succesful, achieving their missions without bloodsheed, much to the satisfaction of the Archking, who pushed for the merchants to finish, which was finally achieved in 1168.
With the completion of the entire expeditions ships, food, equipment, weapons and tools were gathered for the ships and 600 marines were mustered for the 5 dromons, that were to protect the fleet. The year between 1168 and 1169 went with training, preparation and the study of different maps recieved and gathered by the royal administration. Sjealandian nobleman Count Gerhard de Kalum was appointed ambassador-to be for the Tuthinan Empire, and 4 Borealians, who had been in contact with Tuthinans, were hired to be interpreters with the promise of great riches.
The expedition was gathered in Asgård, 12 cogs, 7 hulks and 5 dromons strong, many gathered to say farewell to the expedition, which was the largest Sjealandian expedition since the viking age. With the blessing of countless godes and the Archking, the fleet departed on the 5th of may, quickly gaining favourable winds.
Within 8 days the fleet reached the first supply post around half the Nordanian journey south, however their favours turned as they supply post had been attacked by locals, and burned to the ground. The fleet had been sighted days prior, and a local garrison had assembled at the site, opening fire on the expedition as they tried to make landfall, eventually forcing them to continue the journey south-west. They eventually reached one of the treaty-ports and the local ruler allowed the fleet to dock and restock on their rations, aswell as doing some minor trading before they made their way towards their last stop, the port of Zaminthar on the western edge of Nordania. There they exchanged their sails for open sea sails, and refilled their weapon storages. The ambassador was at a banquet on the last day, and the morning after the fleet left to great pomp.
Having sailed for 3 weeks already, the journey westwards was feared by the Sjealandians. They had only been able to gather Borealian replicas of Tuthinan maps, which were of mediocre quality, aswell as reports from sailors that had visited Tuthina, but the expedtion would be the first fleet from the known world to reach Tuthina, so the stakes were high.
A week into the journey a strong storm hit the fleet, scattering them into several smaller groups but luckily sinking none. This forced the flagship of the expedition, the dromon Herr Mannelig to keep her lights up as she sailed with the remnants of the expedition, hoping to regroup with rest. In the days after the storm, the fleet slowly regrouped, with small groups of 1 or 3 ships reaching the rest, eventually reuniting the group, but at the cost of days worth of sailing. This forced the captains to take the risk of rigging extra sails to catch more wind, knowing that even a small storm would tear the sails off.
After 21 days without the sight of land, the crews of the forward ships began reporting sightings of birds flying above them and in the horizon, which caused the captains to agree to change their course to follow these birds. This decision proved to be wise as land was sighted two days after by one of the Borealian scribes, which earned him a knighthood from Count Gerhard.
Arrival in Tuthina
Lookouts reported the sightings of a large camp nearby, and the navy changed its course once more to reach the camp. Upon getting withing earshot of them, Count Gerhard had one of the translators shouting in Tuthinan that they would land near them unarmed, to which the Tuthinans gave them permission. A small rowboats was set into the water, carrying Gerhard, 4 traders, 6 guards and 1 translator. The rowed up to the camp, which was a military camp and approached them slowly. They were greeted by the commander, General Ra'akan, whom the Sjealandians gifted a jewel encrested golden sword aswell as expensive Sjealandian clothing. Through the interpreter they told him of their mission, intention, homeland and asked for help to reach the famed city of Sakan.
This was well recieved and the Sjealandians were offered the help of local merchants, who first offered to take them to the nearby city of Xalut, to which the Sjealandians accepted. The foreigners were well recieved by the Tuthinans who assembled at the docks. As the local Takamo Kaksai put it
My brother rushed into the smithy as i was working. He was frantic, kept shouting about giants and the like. I ignored him and kept walking, but he kept trying to pull me out so i finally followed him. The entire city was stumbling over eachother trying to reach the port so we ran faster. The sight we recieved as we reached it was unlike anything we had seen before. Long, wide ships with triangular sails approached the docks on it stood the palest men i had ever seen. Their hair was a flurry of colours, and they wore the strangest armours and clothing i had ever seen. As they disembarked i could truly see how tall they were. They towered over us, at least a head taller than us, but they were much dirtier and gruff than us. They had large beards, some of them reaching down to their chests, and their way was tied up in long pony-tails, not buns.
Xalut, which was not used to Nordanian merchants remained the stopping place for the fleet for a few days, as the merchants traded some of the gold from Sjealand they had brought for food, ivory and jewels. After 4 days they once again set sail, with 3 Tuthinan ships to guide them. A week was spent sailing up the southern Tuthinan islands, using routes told by their local guides, they quickly made their way towards the central Tuthinan islands. There the small fleet made its way through the heavily settled strait, interacting with locals as it made its way. Several landfalls were made underway as the Sjealandians were eager to collect memorabilia and samples for themselves and the Archking. However in spite of the constant stops it eventually reached the Rurturpa, which dwarfed any Sjealandian architecture with its magnitude. The escort left the Sjealandians at the mouth of the canal, leaving them with the necessary instructions on how to arrive in Sakan.
The Sjealandian arrival in Sakan baffled the Sjealandians, who had never seen such magnificence before. The Royal Scribe Peder Oxe described it in his masterwork The Riches of the West
Several sailors fell to their knees, shouting out to the gods, for they must have died and gone to Valhal, such beauty was there in Sakan. Gold and riches overflowed in the markets we passed, and the people were small of stature, with long black hair fastened in buns, they held their heads high in pride, and did not look at us as if were anything unusual. The men were lean, with marked chins and muscular bodies, and the women were thin and white as snow, but with the reddest lips i had seen. On the banks of the canal sat young men, playing on instruments that looked like lutes, but square and with a horses head while young women watched. The people wore long colourful garments, even the men. We did not see pants or trousers of any kind. But they were not all alike. There were people of many different skin tones, in many kinds of clothing. We saw weavers or hunters with beautiful facial tattoos and young women dressed entirely in red garments with intricate embroideries on them. Both men and women, adults and child waved to us, with smiles warm as a hearthfire. These were honourable people.
This was Sjealands first contact with the vibrant and diverse Tuthinan urban life, which they had never encountered the likes of before. As the fleet landed in Sakans port, local officials greeted the newly arriving Sjealandians, exchanging gifts once more before giving Count Gerhard and clay tablet, which acted as trading passes. The Sjealandians recieved permission to set up stalls around their ships, and were in return for some of their wares, granted a small sum of silver taels aswell as a chart detailing the value of it. The official delegation was also invited to the palace, while the merchants went to work.
At the Imperial Palace the delegation was warmly recieved, earning the ear of the Tuthinan emperor himself, who was described as mighty, honourable and strong by the Sjealandians. Tribute was presented to him, aswell as a letter from the Sjealandian Archking detailing several requests he asked of the Emperor.
- The permission to establish an embassy in Tuthina and the stationing of an ambassador, aswell as the reverse in Sjealand
- The permission to establish a trading post in Sakan, through which the Tuthinan Company to trade in Sakan.
- The permission to trade in other Tuthinan cities
In return the Sjealandians offered to pay annual fees for both the trading post and the embassy, to which the Emperor agreed, inviting Gerhard to a banquet along with the merchants aswell as promising a splendid embassy to the Sjealandians. The banquets went well, and the Sjealandians managed to gain friends in the Imperial court and Sakan itself. 5 Tuthinan noblemen also asked for permission to sail with them back to Sjealand and later Nordania, to which Count Gerhard gave them permission. The Tuthinan Company also traded maps with local merchants, giving them better knowledge of Tuthinas islands, aswell as giving Tuthinan merchants the posibility to trade in Sjealand and Nordania.
The return to Sjealand was a massive succes, the merchants brought back spices, ivory, exotic animals, barrels of silver and crates of silk. The expedition had made a massive profit, which the Archking used his share of to buy even more ships for the company, ordering them to prepare an even larger expedition with. The ivory brought back was also used in the construction of the of magnificent Ivory throne of the Borgmester of Miklagård, while the animals were gifted to the Archking, who introduced them into the Royal Zoo, in which many of their descendants still live.
Moreover the succesful journey facilitated the possibility to send regular trade fleets to Tuthina, bringing much wealth to Sjealand and the royal family