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Import Duty  by DADGAD

'A Thousand Thousands...'

'Have we done our import duty, as you call it Master Angren? Master Thenweg?’ 

‘Well, there is the question of the import duty itself - the actual payment that is. Now what do the regulations say?’ Thenweg shuffled some more papers. ‘Ah yes, here we are. Import Duty on consignments of weapons shall be levied at 10 silver castars per hundred of total value quoted on the import documents, value to be confirmed by independent assessment by a recognised Guild Head. Master Angren, I imagine that you could do that yourself?’ 

‘Certainly’, replied the latter, ‘there has been well established custom and practice in this area dating back many years. Some say as far back as the days of the last King and the early ruling Stewards, Mardil, if I recall rightly. I have a copy of the protocol for us all to inspect. You’ll see that swords can be accorded a ‘base value’ according to quality and nature of workmanship, but that there are also some special provisions relating to items of special antiquity or historical significance. These provisions assign factors which multiply the base value. And there is an appendix in Quenya, which we’ve not bothered to translate, as it seems to just be a few extra clauses relating to the rather rare ‘special provisions’. All very logical and coherent, wouldn’t you agree Master Thenweg?’ 

Angren paused expecting a response, when he noticed his companions looking intently at the Introduction to the Appendix: ‘Implementation of Duty Calculations for items of special/unique interest or value.’ 

‘Your Grace, are you noting clause 15 sub heading (iii) - for purposes of clarification, it should be noted that special provision factors are both cumulative and multiplicative’? Thenweg’s finger traced out the clause. Aragorn’s eyes managed to widen at the same time his brow furrowed (a mannerism copied from many conversations with his adopted father). ‘I do, and look at the list of special provisions underneath. Master Angren, did you know about this?’ 

‘Sorry no, I do not speak or read Quenya, and we never translated the appendix - we never thought it would apply to any real-life situations. Does it affect Anduril?’ Just as he said this, Angren realised that Anduril was almost certainly the one example where ’special provisions’ would certainly be relevant. ‘Oh, I suppose it would do, … somewhat?’

‘Somewhat Indeed,’ said the King. ‘Master Thenweg, please correct me as I go along but this seems to be our calculation:’

Angren listened as the two Quenya speakers picked out points in the appendix.

‘A top-quality sword made recently in Gondor would be valued at the top end of the range of 20 to 80 Castars. Let’s say 75 in this case’

‘Multiplied by 2 as it is a two-handed weapon’ contributed Thenweg.

‘Multiplied by 10 for a sword of either Dwarven or Elvish manufacture’, continued the King.

‘Hmm, multiplied by 10 again if its more than 1000 years old’

‘Yes, and multiplied by another 10, if its pre-third age or Numenorian’

‘See here - 10 times again, if was owned by members of the royal family of Numenor, the Lords of Andunie, or their descendants’

‘And clause 21 - another 10 times if it could be said to be of historical interest or significance such as use in notable wars or battles’

‘I think that covers it, do you have the end result, Thenweg?

‘This is the final total for the ‘Import Duty’ to be paid according to the provisions in the Appendix of Mardil’. Thenweg had written the number on a slate in front of him. 

Angren looked and spluttered. ‘But that …, it’s ridiculous, what are all those noughts, I’ve never seen anything like that number. You must have made a mistake’

‘Well, if he has, I cannot see it,’ said the King. ‘but, what I can say is that there is not the money in the whole of Gondor to pay that amount, and certainly not in the Royal Accounts. My friends, in this instance we seem to have reached an immovable obstacle to my plans of complying fully with the law.’ Aragorn sighed. Life was so much simpler when he just had to protect Hobbits and fight Orcs… 

Thenweg and Angren looked respectively puzzled and bemused – how could it be that a simple reviewing of old statutes could create such a dilemma for their beloved and respected King. The room settled into an uneasy silence, with no-one able or willing to be the first to speak aloud.

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