Uluki considered their ideas. She was not above making threats when absolutely necessary, but she suspected that wouldn't be entirely effective in this case. The people already seemed scared, and threatening them with further harm could make them less likely to talk, not more so. Such threats against civilians could also, in the long run, do greater and more dangerous harm to the reputations of both Julen and Aorle, and incite anger against them, creating enemies. Besides, she felt sorry for these unfortunate people and had no desire to cause them more worry or fear.
Bribery might also work, but Numidar was right about the risks. People who lived in such straits would no doubt invent whatever information the newcomers seemed to expect, in hopes of being given a bishan or two. Uluki couldn't blame them. If her family were starving, she'd make up any story someone wanted to hear; she wouldn't be proud of it, but she understood well the need to survive. Speaking of which, she still didn't have a single coin, and she suspected the others didn't have enough between them to make a very effective bribe.
"Perhaps we could appeal to their sense of duty," she said slowly. "I know Julen has helped them in the past, though I don't know exactly how, so it may be difficult to use that as a bargaining chip. I'm concerned, also, that whatever it is they're afraid of will outweigh anything they may feel they owe our friend. I also ask that no threats be made. These people mean no harm to us, and should not be treated as enemies."
"I don't think bribes of money will be very effective. A person can easily take the coins and slip off into the crowd after making up a story. I would suggest instead that we offer protection from whatever they're afraid of. They'll be less likely to invent an untruth if they know they'll see us again, and we'll know they were lying. Besides, if someone has been preying on them, we should do what we can to protect them anyway. I think Aorle would agree to that."
She hoped so. She was being awfully presumptuous, first opening the letter and now speaking for him, even though she was making clear it was her own hypothetical rather than anything he'd actually said. Uluki was ordinarily more polite and more careful, but now Julen's life might be at stake. She hoped Aorle would understand that she wasn't always so forward. In spite of her nervousness around him, she wanted him not just to tolerate her, but to like her.
"From now on, we will tell the people we ask for information that they do not need to fear retribution, because we will see no harm comes to them for helping us. We can take them back to the base with us-- along with their families-- and shelter them there. We will honour our word about this. Empty promises are no better than empty threats."
She hoped that would help, and that Aorle would understand.
((Continued here: http://www.tharshaddin.com/rp/viewtopic.php?t=1144