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Posts Tagged ‘Chapter 3’

Today we continue the weekly serialization of Steam and Thunder.

If you feel so inclined to provide feedback for the project that would be great as well.

Steam and Thunder takes a look at the marriage of Steam, invention and innovation to feudal society and the agrarian economies that exist around such a period.

We had the boiling of water. We had pinwheels (400 BC). We had steam rooms in the stone age.

How long before someone thinks to just put a covered pot of boiling water that releases steam and pushed a pinwheel around? The genesis of the steam engine.

An Aeolipile was discussed by Hero of Alexandria in the first century.

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We have Taqi al-Din describing a steam turbine in 1551.

Our story takes place in a world, much like our own, but a few hundred years earlier, where we meld the properties of steam and create a rudimentary engine. One that can turn into a functional engine.

But that is part of the backstory that you will find here. Though the period of invention and hard work to turn a simple device that turns a little windmill device and toots a horn into a working machine will take years, those that participate along the way will contribute to not only one innovation, but others that are suggested by it.

And these innovations will need men and women to build them. The second sons and daughters from the farms who seek a different life, a more lucrative life in the cities where new made factories support the building of new devices.

That is the world that I create and work towards showing you here.

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Chapter One can be found either at our website

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Or here on the blog

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Chapter two can be found here

Chapter three is at this entry

Chapter four is at this entry

In this Chapter Jac’s who has been pushed into a duel, does not understand why. And is not told the reasons. He sees it in his own eyes. The nobles are exerting their authority by dueling to hurt those they feel should not have been rewarded in this new world that Jac has helped to create. Jac sees that the nobles are abusing their authority and privilege and at the center of those who are the most abusive is the crown prince.

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Dramatis Personae (so far)

Jacklincoln Cartwright – Our hero. The Inventor of the Steam Twirler

Princess Annaxier Farserit – The celebrations of the Princess’ birth is the first memory that Jac has. She is the daughter of the king of Hornik, Lancellnick Farserit

Samathon Cartwright – Father of Jac

Vivan Carthwright – Mother of Jac

Milosk Cartwright – Great Uncle of Jac

Master Builder Mikonal Gearman-Master Builder of Firtoskin to Cawless Canal

Lord Colndefroc – Governor of Cawless

Master Fenntrel – Wheelwright in Cawless

Master Jamestash – Metalsmith in Cawless

Master Carlincoln – Sawyer in Cawless

Master Gunthertic – Jeweler in Cawless

Master Mikaelstan – Glazier in Cawless

Lincarjirt – Uncle of Jac, Pater (Priest) of Krien (Now an Under ArchPater)

ArchPater Larwellton-Head of Lincarjirt’s order

Henriforlu – Cousin of Jac, journeyman at Cartwright Foundry

Karlplatt – Senior apprentice at Cartwright Foundry

Kathierin Cartwright – Sister of Jac

Coloskthon – Brother of Jac

Melissandier Cartwright-Sister of Jac

Fredardic-Blademaster

General Artshikal-Tutor for Jac

General Barthome-Tutor for Jac

Cortormain-Journeyman at Gearman and Cartwright Creatory

Henrycarmon-Apprentice at Gearman and Cartwright Creatory

Lem-Bodyguard for Jac

Pad-Bodyguard for Jac

Sergeant Formilham-Princess Annaxier bodyguard

Prince Edmanstow

Lord Riclarpur, son of the Duke of Conlinton

Lord Perimont-Part of Prince’s Retinue

Chapter 5

“This is not good news, my son.” Samathon Cartwright said again. They were in the main room of the house. It was separated from the door and entrance hall by a stout oak door, for in winter having that kept the chill from the house when guests entered. This side was a room that was used as a common room for all. Comfortably furnished with chairs, and benches with wood backs that had embroidered cushions upon them. Clustered in front of one of the two fireplaces that kept the room snugly warm in the colder months. In the front of the hall was a window, and there were three interspersed on the west wall as well. The back of the room had an even greater invention, a door of glass with panel windows to each side that opened to the back gardens of the house.

Jac had repeated the tale three time for his parents. All that he had asked come to their home had finally arrived. Master Gearman being the last to join them. Jac’s sister Kathierin was a surprise, arriving just before the guildmaster.

“It is in the hands of the gods,” his Uncle said. He was an Under ArchPater of Krien. Most likely he would succeed ArchPater Larwellton, which Jac had learned from the Princess that day. Uncle Linc had not been at the palace earlier in the day, but he had learned of Jac’s appointment from his ArchPater. It seemed that two members of the family were destined to serve on the King’s Council.

That was, should Jac survive the duel.

“You must not draw your sword. Nobles can choose a defender, and that is why Pad and Lem serve you. They will take the blows…” Master Gearman said.

“I fight better than they do.” Jac said. It was true. He was a better student of the sword than any of his bodyguards.

“But do we want people to know that?” The master said, more aloud as a question, than as a decision.

Kathierin laughed, “What will it hurt if people know that Jacklincoln is trained in the sword? Even if he is better at it then many others? In the city everyday more train and learn to fight, if they can afford it. It was even so before the Creators became a guild, Master Mikonal. I do not think you should worry about it. I think that if anything, the noble’s sons, those that are such a bother to the rest of Firtoskin, and that is Prince Edmanstow and his friends, would do well to be taught a lesson.”

Under ArchPater Lincarjirt had been taking a drink of Samathon’s ale. It was a very good ale as he had money of his own, and largess from his children that allowed him to buy the best of such simple pleasures. Linc spluttered ale out of mouth and nose, choking a little when he heard his nieces statements. Kath though was always saying such progressive notions and it should not of shocked their uncle. He had years to have grown accustom to her statements. The priest reached for a towel to wipe himself clean.

Melissandier was next with an opinion. “There are some nice lords amongst the Prince’s party, but this Riclarpur isn’t one of them. He is one of the worst. I think Lord Riclarpur would rape me, were he able to get me alone. He may have raped some of the girls in the chorus for they are less protected then I.”

As a featured actor in her troupe, she would never be left alone unless she wished it. The girls who were of the chorus, and might only act in one play before they left for some other profession, would have little or no protection. Jac looked to Col, and then towards his own guards quickly. Col caught that. From then on their sister Mel would have her share of guardsmen shadowing her. The brothers were not going to allow their sister to be injured. They would be devastated.

Their father started up again, “This is not good news, my son.” Jac knew he was concerned. Samathon Cartwright thought his children all led lives that should be quieter. Recently he had been saying they should take the money they each had and go back to the foundry in Cawless. He wanted to turn it into just a small shop where they could tinker, and live in old uncle Milosk’s house, like they had before Jac had left to become a Creator.

There was a pounding from the gate in the courtyard. Their mother was closest to the window made of the new transparent glass. She looked out to the front courtyard.

“Oh my.” Vivan said. “First the Prince has an altercation with Jac and now it seems Princess Annaxier has come to our house.”

Vivan looked into the courtyard and repeated that it had filled with royal guards and the Princess. Their uncle rose from his seat, still wiping at the ale that stained his robes, and swore. Jac knew that Uncle Linc had met the Princess many times.

Only Master Gearman and Col knew that Jac tutored Annaxier. Jac had not told the rest of his family. When he had mentioned that he had become a councillor of the king that day, he did not say it was because of the work he did with the princess. He let them believe it was because he was the Creator GrandMaster. “Melissandier, please straighten your hair. Katherien, straighten your, oh no that won’t do. Just please do not say anything insulting. She is a princess.”

The house was such that a minor noble might have lived in it. Before Samathon and Vivan purchased it the house had been that of the king’s admiral. Upon his death, the son already had his own house, and sold this to the Cartwrights. The new admiral lived nearer the docks and his fleet.

There was a staff of fifteen in the house to serve Jac’s two parents and his youngest sister. Melissandier, could afford her own house, but her profession caused Samathon to place his principles before her freedom. She would remain at home until she married. Katherien, had her own house, but their father did not think that the oldest girl was in a profession that would lead to her getting into trouble.

The chief steward came in saying that the Princess had come. Right after him Sergeant Formilham entered. He looked around quickly and exited. “Ah, thank you, Jastenson…” Princess Annaxier said. Learning their steward’s name so quickly and thanking him showed her kindness.

Since he had last seen her, Princess Annaxier had changed again. He was still in the clothes he had worn to the ceremony at the palace. Annaxier now wore a dark houppelande. Her sleeves were so full that he feared were she to allow her arms to fall, they would drag across the floor. But except for white trim with some sort of gold design, the dress itself was black. There was a train and it was dragging across the floor, much as his sisters dresses did. The look on Kathierin’s face showed she studied every detail of how the Princess was dressed.

“Mistress Samathon, I hope you will forgive me for coming without our being introduced. But I have recently heard that my brother is causing dissension amongst my father’s ministers, especially our newest one. I thought to come and speak to GrandMaster Cartwright at once. With your permission, I would ask that I have a chance to do so?” His entire family and Master Gearman were somewhat shocked.

“Mother, I shall just escort the Princess to the garden so she and I may talk of the matters of court,” Jac said.

“Yes, dear, of course.” Vivan Cartwright said. Then she curtsied and motioned towards her daughters to do the same.

Jac hurriedly went to the Princess and took her by the arm and guided her from the room. In the hallway the princess’ guards and Jac’s were doing their best to ensure that all the servants stayed back. As the two appeared there was bowing and curtsying again as the entire staff honored Annaxier. “If your highness will come this way. My father is particularly proud of the gardens and spends most days there, tending his plants as any master gardener.”

Annaxier said, “I should be honored to see what his efforts have produced.”

They didn’t say anything else until they reached the garden and were quite alone. The guardsmen pacing themselves off to all sides. Annaxier said, “I am sorry, I did not forsee my brother doing this. He means well I am sure, but wants to establish his dominance over you, for the day when he will be king.”

“He will not be a very good king if he has to use dominance, threats and violence to gain my loyalty, or that of my colleagues in Creationism. We do not work well when motivated by threats or pressure,” Jac Said.

“Yes, I have seen that. I know that. My brother though lives in a world that threats and pressure are all there is. He thinks that Hornik will find its way through use of our military might,” she said.

“We talked of that a half moon ago. You and I know that we have the men, though we do not use them. That we may need to increase our soldiers to outnumber our neighbor’s warriors. But were we to fight one kingdom, the others would join with it, and we would be outnumbered. Fighting in defense, we must do. To take action against our neighbors would be a disaster.”

She nodded. They had spent near an entire round talking of that. Jac thought the kingdom would fall if their neighbors all decided it was time to take by force Hornik’s great wealth. But it was a real possibility.

“I went to my father, but he had already heard of this duel. He asked me if I thought you were any good with the sword. I know you train each day, and you have Sergeant Formilham wondering if you are good, but I did not know how to answer him. I believe he expects that you must fight Lord Riclarpur. My brother has used him to scar several others,” Annaxier said.

Jac nodded, “Master Mikonal told me that the Duke of Conlinton is rich, but his land is bereft of the peasants that it used to have. More money, and less people. He is conflicted in whether he is better off, or not. However, he has tried to find those peasants that have left his lands to make an example of some, even if he has no work for them.”

Annaxier nodded. She said, “He is not a nice man and of course is on the King’s Council. His son, I fear is worse. When father postponed looking for a marriage alliance for me with the princes of other kingdoms, I think Riclarpur thought he could wed me, for they are rich and Riclarpur connotes that with power. Not in levies though, since so many men have fled to the towns. The Conlinton levy will be smaller than it was a few years ago. Riclarpur probably thinks he can raise a great force. Most lords probably think that. Duke Holsatzin will have a full levy should he ever need it, and command of my father’s armies until Edmanstow comes of age.”

Jac nodded. They were talking of other things then the fight he would clearly have to engage in. “I should rather learn more of how the young lord fights, then talk of such grand things presently, highness. I fear that once the heralds arrive and they say I am baron, then the men the lord has called seconds shall arrive.”

Annaxier nodded, “Formilham, come here. The sergeant speaks this language of fighting. He shall tell you all you need. As for the heralds, they shall arrive. As a baron you will outrank Riclarpur, for though the son of a Duke, he is but the son of a true lord. You will be a true lord once the heralds have written your name in the book of arms this night. My brother sometimes does not know what he does, my father said. You might use that to your advantage.”

Formilham had arrived. “Aye, GrandMaster. I would call for broadswords alone, no shield, or daggar. The choice of weapons is yours. The lord does not do well with the balance in one hand of the blades and would use two to grasp it well. You, if you have trained with Fredardic should know how to best use such a weapon.” Jac nodded, for he did.

“He likes to start on the attack. I expect you know how to wait for an opening. Good. His actions suggest that if he can overpower an opponent he can win quickly. He uses this, and his rank to intimidate others. Many fear his father. An even bigger man and possibly more dangerous then the son. Though the father at least has fear of the king.”

That was enough for Jac to work with. “I understand. Do not worry about me. It would seem that the lordling will stop at scarring me, and will not wish to kill me. I may not be under such a compunction. Perhaps I should mention that. It might give him fear at the right time.”

Formilham grinned. With his beard, the way it was, it looked very wolfish. The Sergeant withdrew. Annaxier said, “I may not stay long, though I would take my leave of your mother, for it is considered mannerly to do so.”

“You are a princess. That is the manners of the commons,” Jac pointed out to the princess.

“Still, I shall do so,” She was as good as her word and his parents were overwhelmed at the friendship she had for their son. After Princess Annaxier left his sisters wasted no time and began teasing him about his friendship with the princess. They wanted details and were attempting to extort them when the Heralds arrived and asked that he record his arms with them.

Jac had the Heralds place the image of the Steam Twirler in the upper corner of a shield, a sword reversed in the lower corner, the kingdom’s griffon in the right upper corner, and then a cart on the last quarter. It would serve all to know that he was the Cartwright that had invented the Steam Twirler and did so in service to the kingdom. If he proved himself the next day, then the sword would be well shown. If he fell by it, that too would bear meaning.

He had his mother’s soup and then took a drought of heavy liquor that he would sleep, for it was hard to do so in anticipation of what would happen the next day. The seconds had arrived and Col and Master Gearman dealt with them. At sunrise he would face the duke’s son on the banks of the river. All too soon he would rise in the dark and see how well he could do to appease the prince’s notion of honor.

In the morning it was not long before he was standing in the cool fog near the bank of the river, Jac noted that the lords were late. “Cortormain, fetch some chairs. Henry, get us some mead to drink, out of good Makory pewter if you can manage that. Hurry lads, I should like to be all of a piece when the prince arrives, for he seems to be late. If one of you can find some ham for my breakfast, that would be good as well.”

They were near the Creatory, for Jac had chosen location and weapons, even time. Though it had been suggested by his opponent’s seconds. Jac also was smart enough to have his own healers near, as well as several others who would serve as witnesses. Two carriages, with nobles inside had drawn nigh, but no one showed themselves behind the windows. One he did not need to guess who was inside, as Sergeant Formilham was perched atop the carriage.

HJace had a knife out and was peeling an apple. Jac had an apprentice sharpening his blade. Master Fredardic sat with Jac’s brother Col discussing when Col would come to learn how to fight. Fredardic had nodded to three other Blademasters that had gathered to watch or officiate. A duel was a thing to be respected, Master Fredardic had said.

“Do not get carried away with trying to make an image. It will all come down to the blades, and your bladework,” he said then.

“No, Master, this is not the trials. This is a bully who, if you have taught me anything, should be taken down a notch or two. Even the Prince should be taught manners if this is something he has been indulging in,” Jac said.

“Do not think to use this duel to teach a prince manners. Even if so, you are still a commoner…” The blademaster stopped himself. “I am sorry Baron.”

“I may have been made a noble so I could be taught a lesson, but it would be better to be the instructor,” Jac said. Words that Fredardic had often said.

“Just do not get yourself killed. I am sure there are more Creations inside your skull, and to lose them would be a sad thing.” Master Gearman said. A third carriage arrived and pulled up to the other two. Sergeant Formilham seemed familiar with the other driver and guards.

“I think that is why we have so many spectators. I should like you to offer my chair to her highness when things start. Why not have her sit as witness where all can see,” Jac said.

“Nobles don’t do that, Jac,” Master Gearman rebutted.

“You go ahead and offer this to her. You tell her that all of societies mores need change. Master Fredardic, will you do this?”

“Aye, might as well. Should she sit here, she will have a better view. But here are all the lads and lasses, with the makings it looks like of a feast.”

The chairs had come, and all the journeymen and apprentices from not only Jac’s Creatory, but other nearby ones as well. Near sixty new arrivals on Jac’s side of the field. As the sun was now up, streaming over the river, Jac and his friends were soon seated and eating a hearty meal. Three of the apprentices even had instruments that they had fetched and were providing music, when the Prince and his handful of companions arrived.

“I see the new Baron has taken to his status quickly. Well I should not think he will be so happy once he has faced you, Riclarpur,” the Prince said loudly. He looked to the carriages, now five of them, and scowled. Sergeant Formilham seemed to smile larger at that moment. “Best you get on with it. There is a Council meeting this morning and I do not wish to be late.”

Jac let out an explosive laugh. “Well said little Prince man. Well said. These friends of the little Prince man are more than a round late. Have I not sat here and fought this duel already and they lost. Why the tale has gone back and forth through all of Firtoskin three times.”

“Do not try our patience. We are not late,” Riclarpur said.

“Unless you are as stupid as you are a fool for the dupe you are, then you are very late, and my boys and girls here have told all and sundry how you have fallen at our sunrise duel. If you look, you will see that the sun is well up. Who is there to dispute such a tale. Shit, I knew that the nobles were stupid, but this idiot, how did he ever grow tall enough to kiss a horse’s ass?” Jac’s being offensive was having the desired effect.

“Come, it is time for the two to duel,” Fredardic waved to the other Blademasters who came and took over. Fredardic gave Jac a look. Quietly he said to Jac, “Don’t push at the Prince’s pride. He will be a king.”

“No more discussion amongst the combatants. Please go to the field. No weapons but your sword, else we shall have to intervene as the terms were stated. We shall call begin and that is the signal to start. If we call halt, you must bring your sword up and withdraw from your opponent. You may not leave the marked field. You may not taunt each other again until we speak to start your duel. Now please, to the field,” one of Fredardic’s friends said.

Jac smiled widely and walked to the field, a sandwich of ham in one hand the other dragging the sword behind him leisurely. Fredardic surely did not like that. The Blademaster, though, went as he had been asked, to the carriage they thought conveyed the Princess. Jac stretched his neck and then took another bite of his sandwich.

He waited for the two Blademasters that were going to officiate to come and see that he was ready, and that his blade was proper. There were no tricks aside from trying to make Lord Riclarpur think that Jac was not whom the other thought he was. They could not taunt one another but Jac saw the man’s eyes widen and flow to where Fredardic was no doubt talking to the princess. That was behind Jac and he did not want to turn around. Surely, the fool lord recognized Fredardic.

Jac had gone to at least one day of the three day weapons trials each year since he had moved to Firtoskin. Sometimes all three days, but that took a lot of time away from the Creatory. “Are you ready, Baron?” Jac was asked. “I would suggest you finish your sandwich before we start. Else if you tell me you are ready, I shall withdraw to a vantage point and we will begin.”

“Do you not think I can take this blowhard with one hand holding a sandwich? You go ahead and call the start of the duel he insisted on fighting. I promise not to throw the sandwich at him when we begin, and I am not such a fool that I would fight with it in my hand.”

Jac at least told the judge that. Jac was not sure if he actually weren’t just such a fool that he might fight with the sandwich in his hand. The Blademaster then retreated to the sideline, and nodded to the other judge, “Begin.”

“You are a bastard, aren’t you?” Jac said loudly before anyone else could hear a word. “I mean they say you are the son of a Duke and all so I went to have a look at this father of your’s but you don’t look a thing like him do you? Do people tell you about that?”

Riclarpur let out a bellow and was charging Jac. Jac still held the sandwich in his off hand and his sword still had it’s point in the dirt. Riclarpur was still screaming as he used two hand to bring his sword up and swing towards where Jac’s head was atop his body. Jac was not moving. He had cocked his head left, and said “Bastard?” Then cocked his head right, “Bastard!”

Jac fell to one knee as the sword, with all it’s momentum in his opponents two hands was still aimed towards where his head had been when he stood. As he fell he leaned back, arching while his own sword whipped up and struck Riclarpur’s sword at an angle forcing it further up.

“Hmm, that worked well,” Jac said, his back now straight and getting to both feet. His sword recovering and in a circle and slashing across his opponents tunic before the man could recover, even as he tried to dodge out of the way and to the right for his charging momentum carried him that way. Jac was now standing and turning to face the man who had stumbled by him.

Riclarpur was not that ineffective, snapping his own blade to defend himself as he passed Jac. The two swords clanged as they hit each other and those observing were surely impressed. As the lordling recovered, and noted his cut tunic chest, Jac took another bite of his ham sandwich. He hoped it would upset the Duke’s son. That was not only important, but he thought it would help as the fight played out. Jac now had turned almost all around and was facing the other side where his friends, journeymen and apprentices sat or stood. Several guardsmen stood around a woman who sat in one chair that had been brought forward to watch. The princess. Now Jac was sure that nothing untoward would happen.

“I will kill you,” Riclarpur said looking at his cut clothes.

“Because I cut your pretties? Are you that vain. I could have cut your face. Now that would be a reason to kill me. But we fight to first blood.” Jac spoke loud enough so that all could hear him say such things. Riclarpur roared again and this time his blade came lower, towards Jac’s torso. Jac however blocked it with a defensive stroke, using very little motion.

Riclarpur continued to roar and brought his blade in arc to the other side of Jac’s torso. Again Jac was there blocking with very little motion. A third time, a fourth, a fifth, and each time it took little effort for Jac to block the attacks. Jac stepped forward one pace, and Riclarpur was put off his sixth stroke but came in lower at the ankles. Jac deflected the blow with the tip of his sword. Jac was too busy to take another bite of his sandwich and contemplated throwing the meat and bread from him so he could use both hands.

Riclarpur stopped his bestial growling and brought both hands to lift the sword, advancing himself. Jac deflected another attack and brought his blade close to the man’s left arm forcing the noble to shift his weight and force him out of his close attack stance. “You are somewhat well trained,” Riclarpur said.

“I have a Blademaster sitting at my table. I should think that would be an indication that I am somewhat well trained,” Jac said.

“But not well trained enough,” Riclarpur launched another attack. Again with ease Jac moved to the left and defended, four, five, seven times. Little movements against bigger ones. Jac just concentrated on using his blade to be where it needed to be to block, not to attack and allow any opening in his defense. Then one moment and Jac flicked his wrist more to the right and touched the man’s forearm with his very sharp blade. A little pressure and the cut must have drawn blood, yes Jac noted red spots on his own blade as well as on the tunic sleeve of Riclarpur.

“Touch!” Called one of the Blademasters observing. “Halt!” he shouted.

Jac immediately backed up away from the Duke’s son, but Riclarpur kept advancing. “Halt! Lord Conlinton! You must stop. Withdraw to your side, away from Lord Cartwright. Do it now!”

Riclarpur had stopped advancing towards Jac, and so Jac stopped withdrawing, but the noble did not withdraw. “Ric! To your side, now my lord!” That was the prince crying out.

As if the man’s head was on a cord and it had been yanked, Riclarpur looked to the prince with a fast twist of his head. What was exchanged between them was a sight that Jac could not see. He was sure that the look was not pleasant. Jac could see the face of the Prince, but he knew the boy was not pleased. Riclarpur shook his head, but moved back to his side of the field where one of the two Blademasters went to attend him. The other came to Jac.

“Do you wish to continue? There has been blood drawn and honor is served.”

“I did not provoke this fight. I do not serve at the brat’s pleasure. If Riclarpur would stop, so would I. If he wishes to continue, then let him come,” Jac said. It might not have been loud enough for Riclarpur to hear, but those behind Jac, for his people had rushed to be behind where he stood, shouted their defiance and support of Jac. Master Fredardic scowled, then shrugged.

“The boy is right. The lord is right. This will not end until the nobles have had their sport.” Fredardic said towards the Blademaster. They were friends, for once that level of skill was reached, it was best to be friends with the other Blademasters. An enemy amongst that group of professionals could make things ugly.

Jac shook out his limbs and then gave the remains of the sandwich he had carried to one of his apprentices to take back to the table. The Princess stood and looked to the Prince, Jac saw. She said something but Jac was too far away to hear.

The Prince held up his hands as if he had nothing to do with the fight. Jac watched as the other Blademaster, who had asked the same questions of the Duke’s son that Jac had been asked, went to meet with the Blademaster who had attended him. They conferred in the center of the field for a moment, then one turned and announced, “The combatants wish to continue…”

Before he said more, the Princess said quite clearly, “This is dishonourable, Riclarpur. I shall ensure that all the court will know of it.” Jac watched as the man turned his gaze to the Princess as if a challenge. Then, at that moment, Jac decided that lord Riclarpur would pay and never forget. In the rounds since this challenge had been made, Jac had found that the lord had hurt seven others. One victim had lost the sight in an eye, three others were scarred, and one could not open or close his left hand from the cuts to the man’s muscles. He was not a good man, even if he served at the pleasure of the Prince.

The Blademasters were asking if the combatants were ready and Jac nodded. “Begin!” Came the call and as Riclarpur came at him once more, a charging attack, Jac did fancy hand work. That is what he and the other students of Fredardic called it. Moving his wrist with the sword as an extension, it went in and out of intricate patterns.If one looked at the patterns, they could discern the skill and discipline that it took to move a blade so.

The patterns were not flailings around of the heavy blade, but tight and controlled. Even Riclarpur had to realize that Jac must be a very good swordsmen, or he was a fool. Jac deflected the man’s attack and broke the lord’s grip on the sword, sending it flying. Forcing the noble to walk to pick it up. “Don’t worry. I was not a noble born like you. I won’t stab you in the back while you can not defend yourself,” Jac ensured all watching heard him. Riclarpur had attacked one defenseless man he had dueled before in that very way.

Riclarpur picked his blade up and now stood on the defensive. The first smart thing he had done since the fight had begun. There were two ways to fight, Jac knew. When he fought in the studio of Master Fredardic, he never would speak, for that was a distraction. But here, baiting his opponent into errors was important. Blademaster Fredardic was frowning at the tactic, Jac was sure. But it was working. It was working very well.

“You are really quite an idiot, and not much of a man, aren’t you, Conlinton’s get? You think you are a lord and privileged, but you jump to wipe the prince’s ass even before he has to shit!” Jac said loud enough again so all heard. He was sorry he was so vulgar in front of Princess Annaxier, but it was important to live and not die. Jac was pretty sure this would take care of that. He did not want to end life crippled with out the use of his hand.

“You dog, you do not want to insult the Prince!” Riclarpur shouted.

“I would insult the king if he proved to be such a fool as his son, or the idiots that the son has follow him, licking his balls in the hope of gaining some royal favor. Do you and your fellows not know that royal favor is for those who have something to contribute that the kingdom needs? Not what the petty whims of a tyrant needs?”

Riclarpur faked an attack but Jac did not take the bait. He stood ready a few feet outside of the range of his opponent’s reach. “You should stop your speech else you will find your neck stretched by a rope…” Riclarpur began.

“I am a noble now, else you would not be able to fight me. I am ennobled by the very turd that you would embrace. My head needs be separated by an axe now!” That was an even better taunt. Direct and to the point.

“Or my sword!” Lord Riclarpur attacked Jac again, though after he had his little sentence. That was showing the move to Jac with ages to spare. Jac blocked the first part of the attack, for it was a combination, and complex. It ended with Jac slashing Riclarpur from forehead to cheek, at an angle scoring the Duke’s son. More pressure, which Jac had withheld, and the man’s eye would have been sliced through. In moments Riclarpur would have to close that eye as he would not be able to see from it with the blood now pouring from his forehead.

Riclarpur screamed and now slashed awkwardly but determinedly at Jac. “Stop, or I shall scar you worse. You will not like what I shall do to you as payback for what you have done to others,” Jac said.

Jac was dodging and batting at the blade that kept trying to score on him. Riclarpur just yelled louder, and so Jac went and did what was needed. A horizontal slash that cut way part of the ear on the other side of the man’s face. He was going to be disfigured. He still would not stop.

“You blinded a man. You ruined one’s hand. Stop, or the same will happen to you.” Jac had spent time trying to find if this man he fought had any value to the kingdom other then being the bully for the prince. As far as he and several others could find, that was all he would ever be good at it. That and inheriting all the riches his father had been accumulating, just as the Duke of Conlinton before had done, and the one before that. The Conlinton’s had last put on armor in defense of the kingdom close to a hundred years before.

They lived on the contributions of past Dukes. “Stop, Riclarpur, or be hurt beyond belief,” Jac warned one last time.

The man would not, and Jac said it louder. “Stop, or you will be crippled for life.”

Still Riclarpur growled and tried assaults that would have killed an unskilled swordsman. Jac defended, and after several ticks he then cut low at the calf muscle behind his enemies right leg. A clean slice and Riclarpur fell. A hamstring like that would not be fixed by the healers. Riclarpur would not lose the leg but he would need a cane to walk for life, for he would be lamed. Until the cut was bound, and had healed he would not walk at all. Jac walked back towards the side as the fallen man screamed curses, in between his screams from the pain he was having. The healers were rushing to the fallen lordling.

Jac walked to stand in front of the prince, “Your champion shall not trouble this realm again. You are a boy, and would be a king. You obviously do not understand what is happening to the kingdom that you stand to inherit. I do not either, so I won’t lecture you. But if you want a kingdom to rule when you have grown to a man, best you try to understand and become prepared to rule. Oh, and should you send someone against me again, I won’t hold back. Your little shit of a man, I could have killed in the first pass with the Cetemaron response. If you do not know what that is, ask the Blademasters.” Jac pulled up his sword and spun very quickly lifting the sword in a figure eight and around until it rested between his arm and torso, pointing backwards. “The Cetemaron response.”

Jac walked away to his own table and people where he handed his sword to one of the guards that it should be wiped clean of all the blood. Quietly, he said without looking back to the Prince, “Has the boy wiped the blood from his face yet, or is he staring in shock trying to think of what to do?” Jac smiled.

The Princess was not amused, “Taking down the Duke’s son was foolish enough, but taunting my brother was stupid. He will be king one day. He will have you killed.”

Jac said, “Oh, that reminds me, I am sorry for my swearing upon the field Princess. It was not the best use of my tongue, but the man needed to be goaded into more mistakes. He was very proud.”

“Do not change the subject. I can not protect you when my brother becomes king,” Annaxier said.

“If your brother wants my head when he becomes king, then he can try and take it. The kingdom has a great many ills, one of which are these idle nobles who do not want to solve the problems that the kingdom has, but are preying on those who can help all. That is why your brother needs to be, oh, spanked like a baby. If he does not see that he should be doing more, then even your father needs to be taken to task no matter how ill your mother is. His responsibility is to the kingdom also. With beasts such as lord Riclarpur, the kingdom is not safe. I wish my swordarm were better that I could help defend it from other such vultures that exist.” Jac did not raise his voice. He even tried to keep his response relatively quiet so few ohers would hear. But close to the princess, were such people as her guardsmen, as well as Jac’s. Master Gearman and Fredardic were also close at hand. Jac should have known to curb his tongue.

The Princess starred at him with wide eyes, then shaking her head turned and went back to her carriage, hurrying. Her guardsmen turning and quickly surrounding her. Sergeant Formilham stood for a second, “Don’t end up a fool,” the man said. Then he too followed his mistress.

“Come, you have blood on your tunic. Let us clean you up for you have a few rounds before you are to the palace for the King’s Council.” Master Gearman said.

“No, I shall wear the blood upon me. It shall be part of what the King should deal with. He can not punish me, for he has never punished the Duke’s son for his dueling. If he were to try, I think there would be a riot of all the workers in all the Makories. No, I do not fear that. I shall even curb my tongue if the King does justice about this duel. Though that I do not expect.”

The others tried to convince him to change his mind and his tunic, but he did not.

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Today we continue the weekly serialization of Steam and Thunder.

If you feel so inclined to provide feedback for the project that would be great as well.

Steam and Thunder takes a look at the marriage of Steam, invention and innovation to feudal society and the agrarian economies that exist around such a period.

We had the boiling of water. We had pinwheels (400 BC). We had steam rooms in the stone age.

How long before someone thinks to just put a covered pot of boiling water that releases steam and pushed a pinwheel around? The genesis of the steam engine.

An Aeolipile was discussed by Hero of Alexandria in the first century.

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We have Taqi al-Din describing a steam turbine in 1551.

Our story takes place in a world, much like our own, but a few hundred years earlier, where we meld the properties of steam and create a rudimentary engine. One that can turn into a functional engine.

But that is part of the backstory that you will find here. Though the period of invention and hard work to turn a simple device that turns a little windmill device and toots a horn into a working machine will take years, those that participate along the way will contribute to not only one innovation, but others that are suggested by it.

And these innovations will need men and women to build them. The second sons and daughters from the farms who seek a different life, a more lucrative life in the cities where new made factories support the building of new devices.

That is the world that I create and work towards showing you here.

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Chapter One can be found either at our website

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Or here on the blog

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Chapter three is at this entry

In this Chapter Jac’s good work is noticed. Not only the work he has done at the Creatory, but also the work he does with the Princess as they try to put in place organizations and foundations to deal with the great changes that are taking place in Hornik. Yet even as he is recognized for dealing with these new problems in a way befitting and as a reward, there are those who think that he should be punished as well.

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Dramatis Personae (so far)

Jacklincoln Cartwright – Our hero. The Inventor of the Steam Twirler

Princess Annaxier Farserit – The celebrations of the Princess’ birth is the first memory that Jac has. She is the daughter of the king of Hornik, Lancellnick Farserit

Samathon Cartwright – Father of Jac

Vivan Carthwright – Mother of Jac

Milosk Cartwright – Great Uncle of Jac

Master Builder Mikonal Gearman-Master Builder of Firtoskin to Cawless Canal

Lord Colndefroc – Governor of Cawless

Master Fenntrel – Wheelwright in Cawless

Master Jamestash – Metalsmith in Cawless

Master Carlincoln – Sawyer in Cawless

Master Gunthertic – Jeweler in Cawless

Master Mikaelstan – Glazier in Cawless

Lincarhirt – Uncle of Jac, Pater (Priest) of Krien

Henriforlu – Cousin of Jac, journeyman at Cartwright Foundry

Karlplatt – Senior apprentice at Cartwright Foundry

Kathierin Cartwright – Sister of Jac

Coloskthon – Brother of Jac

Melissandier Cartwright-Sister of Jac

Fredardic-Blademaster

General Artshikal-Tutor for Jac

General Barthome-Tutor for Jac

Cortormain-Journeyman at Gearman and Cartwright Creatory

Henrycarmon-Apprentice at Gearman and Cartwright Creatory

Lem-Bodyguard for Jac

Pad-Bodyguard for Jac

Sergeant Formilham-Princess Annaxier bodyguard

Chapter 4

Jac had been meeting with the Princess for near two moons, and they had reached the events of the last three years in their study of the Kingdom’s problems. The Queen now sat each day for rounds in front of her window as summer faded and fall was near. Jac and the Princess had put together some money, and began to create a village of hovels outside the gates of Firtoskin. It had been named Cheaptown and several hundred families now had shelter there.

Thin veneer, with some bracing used for walls, and a lightweight sheet of metal for a roof. It was only as long each side as a man lying down. When three hundred hovels had been built, they had exhausted their first donation of money, and then the Princess had found more. Jac could not gift all his money to these tasks, for he needed money to continue to build the Makories, and employ the peasants that came from the country. He needed money to feed them in the free kitchens, and he needed money to fund the Creationism at his studio.

Master Gearman and Jac’s brother Col, also did not let Jac have access to all his own money. They believed he would squander it on the peasants. Squander was their word. Jac did not use it, and told them not to as well.

“You can not save every peasant. It is not your responsibility.” Col would say.

“It may not be. Don’t I have enough Guildens already? Don’t I have more than I will ever need?” Jac said back to them.

“I do not know Jacklincoln. We may not be as free under the King in the future as we are now. Creartionists may be fined to pay for the unrest that has come,” Master Mikonal said.

“I have not heard of that,” Jac was stunned by that thought.

Col said, “Some of the King’s Council speak of it. The nobles will not allow common men to join the council, or at least they advise the King so. They then forget that the clerks that are employed to record all that is said are common men and then they write the laws the nobles would enact. The men to carry out the work of the King and his councilors, is all done by commoners. Common men whose loyalty is to the King and Hornik and than their class ahead of that of the nobles.”

“So is this to be a law? Is the guild of Creators to be taxed unfairly, while the lords make ever more money from our creations?” Jac asked.

“It may happen. It is why I stop you from spending all your money. I will let you have some more Guildens for your projects, but I will ensure that you have reserves in case the nobles treat you unwisely.” Col never said how much that was.

Master Gearman had by far the nicest house of any man who was not a noble, and nicer then many nobles. Col had built a house nearly as nice, and also a new keep went up that overlooked the Creatories. It was not finished, and no one knew who owned it. Jac suspected that Col had already grown bored with his current house and built the new tower. His brother’s current house did not incorporate the new metal building materials or the transparent glass like that of the guildhall.

Three days after his last meeting with the Princess, there was another commotion in the front of the Creatory. It happened just as the new casting for the explosive lifting had been finished. The last test model had worked, and they had used it more then two hundred times. Now they had created a full scale production unit, as they planned for a Makory to create more than one device. Jac, his journeymen and apprentices, the other masters that worked for him, were all inspecting the device. Three of the apprentices were young ladies. One’s that the Princess had found to recommend.

Annaxier had also taken it upon herself, once Jac had said that he was going to have the first young girl join his Creatory, that she would take over the management of the apprentices dormitory. The Princess and her entire court of ladies came, with servants and others to see for themselves what arrangements that Jac had made. She then changed all his decisions, giving the female apprentices an area that boasted separate beds for each. Beds, not flea ridden mats of straw, which Annaxier was assured that the apprentices all had.

Jac had laughed for there were a couple such mats, though without the fleas, lying about the dorm room. But each apprentice had their own cot, if they were old enough, or were two and three to a bed, which most commoners found to be a great luxury of space, from the families they had grown up in.

Princess Annaxier also saw that a separate wash room was made for their cleansing, and a bathing room for the girls alone. The Princess then saw that three specially chosen women, one who had worked at the castle, were installed in the Creatory as servants. Annaxier wanted the girls to be treated well and supervised when they were not performing their Creationist duties. She did not trust Jac to see to them. The Princess even had, these last few quartermoons, been given reports as to the girls progress and the management of the household. Jac was instructed at their meetings in the castle how best to manage his household by Annaxier.

Jac had little choice but to adopt her changes. All given as sweet suggestions, not admonishments. But Jac knew the Princess enjoyed telling him what he should do.

“GrandMaster Cartwright?” A man with an armorial badge of the King’s had entered the main studio. An armsman.

“Yes,” Jac replied.

“You are summoned to court. Would you please come now?”

Jac looked at the man, then at his own clothes. His tunic was covered with the metal scrapings, and filings, grease, and straw that had come free when they had uncrated the very heavy lifting device. They had to use block and tackle, ropes and other such to move the lifter from the crate. “May I clean up?” The man nodded.

“A quarter cycle, then we must go,” the armsman said. Jac nodded.

Over his tunic he wore an apron, and began removing it. Jac said to the men who served him, “Good. Well I am away to the castle, but would all of you think about something to carry the lifter. Everyone go and design something, or two or three things. And then come back and amongst yourselves, if I have not returned, find something to make it move better. We can not build and use ropes and blocks every time, and we still have to take it outside to lift over the river, for we can not test in in the Creatory.”

Jac had wiped his hands on a towel and was walking towards the front of the shop. He said to the King’s man, “I have a small closet where I have a change of clothes, and shall be only a short time.”

Jac opened the closet and the man moved past him to look at the contents. “No, no. Oh by all the gods, no. Do you have fresh hose, something without stains?”

Jac shook his head.

“Then I would dab some hot water and scrub with soap if you can. You apprentice, I see you there, go get your master some hot water and soap. You, get a towel. What? Still in your tunic and doublet. You are going to have to take those off GrandMaster. Thank the gods you have a clean shirt.” The armsman shook his head.

Finally a long tunic of beige was chosen. “It will match the stains,” the man said. With it was chosen a the darkest doublet that Jac had at the Creatory. He had more clothes and better at his apartments. He pointed out that they could be sent for.

“Thankfully it is velvet, at least I think it is velvet.” The man said, “And this hat actually matches, but it needs… It needs, ah.” The armsman removed his own hat, took a feather from it, and placed that feather as an adornment in Jac’s hat. “There, now you must dress and we shall then attend your shirt points.”

When he had changed and his bodyguards had readied themselves the man said, “You will need your sword, GrandMaster, and do you not have more guards? Four should be your compliment.” The man said. “I have a squad outside, but a man of your stature should have four.” Jac shook his head and Lem shouted for two more men to suit up and be ready to go to the castle.

“We usually only take two,” Jac said.

The armsman nodded, “I am aware of that. But today it should be four.”

“And you say that you have a squadron of guardsmen? I have never been escorted by guardsmen before.”

The man smiled, “When you are ready, GrandMaster. Is that clock of the correct time? Hmm, too early. But I know just the thing.” The clerk, for he said that was what he was, led them outside. Jac found that a full dozen men, none of them familiar as those who waited upon the Princess had become, were formed outside of his Creatory.

With some effort all were assembled including Jack’s four guards, into a marching order. The leader went to a small corner business in Old Town. There was a bakery behind and here he purchased a bread with sugar, saying to the guards that they needed another quarter cycle before they would proceed to the castle. They all should have something to drink or eat.

“Then I am not arrested. Else you would not be in so little haste.” Jac observed. He did not want to eat anything as he had become nervous when he saw the many soldiers brought to escort him.

“Oh no GrandMaster. Not arrested, though I suppose I could have been sent for that as well. Two moons you have met with the Princess? Very forward of you. Why I think there is a pool, a gambling pool, GrandMaster, that has placed bets on if you would lose your head for your effrontery, and when. I have only heard though that there is such. No one has asked me to bet, and a good thing for I would’ve lost already.”

Jac saw that either the official joked with him, or he was very serious. Jac knew there were several who thought his discussions with the Princess were wrong, and that he should lose his head. It was not something Jac had given much thought to.

They started up again and Jac saw his glass bowl gift still in the castle’s main foyer when they entered. There were several other of the bowls about. Some now seeking favor, thought to purchase the bowls and gift them to the Princess or Queen. Still many others were in private homes. Near twenty sold each quartermoon, more than six Ailvens given to the Princess’ charities each quartermoon. A goodly sum but not nearly enough to solve the burden of unemployed population that was sieging the capital.

The second floor was where the King met with his court. Many of the most senior officials worked here, and also where Jac met with the Princess. The floor above were the private apartments of the King’s family and apartments for the most important members of the court.

Jac always turned right when he came to the second floor, for that was where the Princess and he met. In a small closet room off in that direction. This day, he and the guards walked straight ahead to the main hall of the kingdom where the King would sit upon his throne. In the room many stood, for this was the largest audience hall. Small groups were clustered around. Guardsmen stood with hands on sword hilts and others with hands on spear hafts.

The throne was empty and three other chairs were on the dais. Near the dais at the front of the room several of the highest ranking nobles of the King’s court stood, while a little further away were some of the high priests. One of which Jac knew. Jac looked for his uncle Linc, now a high priest also. His ties to Jac had promoted him within his church. Lincarjit had been moved to the capital and was being groomed for high church office. Jac did not see him.

In the last two moons Jac had also met with a few of the nobles in the room. He had met those who were also trying to do something useful for the kingdom’s causes. Jac did not see any of these either.

The armed clerk said, “Stand here and do not make a fuss. You will notice that two guards are behind you and will watch you for any precipitous action.” His own guards had to stand aside earlier as they entered the castle. And then this room. They stood with many others guards in the foyer now. Jac had been allowed to retain his sword, but a sergeant at the door had addressed him saying that he mustn’t draw it.

Jac had nodded. He knew that. Perhaps this general court was the way the Princess honored him for his tutelage of the matters that they deemed were very important to the kingdom. All of a sudden there was a stir near the door that Jac and his escort had just entered.

A voice boomed, “The crown prince, Edmanstow Farserit.” Prince Edmanstow walked in with four guards and took his place in front, standing before a seat on the dais. The man had a leather jerkin over his own black velvet doublet. There was slash work on both the doublet and the jerkin. The jerkin must have been made from fine leather. And it had little pearls beaded into it as well. Jac would have said that the Prince wanted to look like he had been practicing with weapons on the training ground, for a leather jerkin would be worn there. But not one with cutwork that was exact and intricate, nor with pearls sewed into it.

Even as the prince turned to face everyone, a man called from the door, “The princess, Annaxier Farserit.” And she too was escorted by four guardsmen. She did not glance at Jac as she strode by, which was curious. Annaxier was in a red gown that day. It was the only color showing except for the trim pieces around her neckline, sleeves and the hem of the gown. All were of the same color of yellow as her hair. She had a broach in the arms of her house on her left breast.

She did stop to talk to several people, including most of the priests as she walked to her chair. She too turned to stand in front of it. Still not looking at Jac. He did catch the eye of Sergeant Formilham who only scowled at Jac, like he usually did.

“Beware, beware. Now comes Lancellnick Farserit, King of all Hornik. Obey and attend. The King!”

Another call from the door and with no pause King Lancellnick strode forth, making for his seat as quickly as he could. All in the hall bowed or curtsied to him as he passed. Honoring the role, if not the man. In truth, instead of standing stronger for what he knew was right, the King did a good job of being a king. The realm was at peace, and despite the slums of poor that had grown around the country, was more prosperous then it had ever been. If he could do something about that, he could go from goodness to greatness relatively quickly.

King Lancellnick was dressed in a suit of court clothes. Jac could tell that care had been taken to match hose to slops, and slops to doublet. Over this a cloak of fine black velvet with the fur of a raccoon or beaver, the gray and black of such was thrown. Then two gold chains, around the kings neck. Jac noted that the Prince and Princess had similar chains to one of the two about the king’s neck.

The King sat, and then his children did as well. Some nobles, nearer the front of the hall, and the dais, had chairs brought for them. Most others stood. One who continued to stand was the man who would succeed to the crown should all of the royal family die. Duke Hendriker of Holsatzin, the king’s cousin. He also was in charge of the army. Master Gearman had brought him to see some of the lift device’s testing. That day the Duke came without forewarning and he did not seem impressed at what they were doing.

Another standing nearby was Lord Colndefroc. The lord was a friend from years before. The success of the initial steam twirler which was first made in the Cartwright foundry in Cawless, had caused the former governor of Cawless, to be advanced to Count. A rank just under the Dukes and above that of a Baron. Count Colndefroc sat as one of the King’s Council, and might remember Jack. They had met on several occasions, though certainly not since the Count had come to court.

“My lords, we have business this day, for we are beset by problems within Hornin, and outside of our borders. We also have personal burdens that cause us to be distracted from all these issues.” Jac believed the King referred to the Queen and her illness. “It should be quite evident that much of what we struggle with as a kingdom is new to us. Things we have no precedents to deal with. Things that we can scarce understand.”

There was some mumbling from the lords and ladies who were assembled in the room. Jac noticed that the presence of ladies. If the council was in session he knew there would be very few ladies there. If the Queen had been well, perhaps she would have attended a council meeting, as too might the Princess, but otherwise, only those ladies who attended the two royals would have been in the room if the King was holding his council. This was a much broader audience.

“We set a task for our daughter. We had asked for some time now that our lords temporal look into this matter, and none stepped forth to do so adequately. Our son is soon to be of an age where we might assign such tasks to him, but he too has not been quite ready for such responsibility.”

Jac was already a master of the Creationist guild when he was the Prince’s age. Col, Jack’s brother, was managing tens of thousand of Guildens worth of wealth and business at that age.

Jac did not like what the king said about setting a task for his daughter, nor how that fit with the squad of guards that had come for him. “We also look about us and see that we are surrounded by men who are ennobled. Some by our hand, many by the hands of our ancestors. Some even by the hands of those ancestors of the Ishyurk dynasty. The men who are not ennobled who would give us advice are our lords spiritual. All Are princes of their faith, and some too are as noble as the other lords of our council.”

The King shook his head, and Jac realized that he was doing the same. King Lancellnick looked at him then, and continued. “Our daughter tells us that the lords spiritual number five of common heritage for every seven. Fewer than that advocate that we should include commoners into our council. Of our nobles, less than one in three believe this to be a wise move. We however, deem that it is wise.”

The King motioned, and the clerk next to Jac said, “When you get to the King go to your knees, both knees, and bow your head until he puts the chain about your neck. Now we go.”

On the dais, the King continued, “Our daughter, your princess, is very wise. Annaxier has spent two moons talking to and interviewing our first selection of a commoner to join us on our council. So much of what besets our realm is linked in a chain that traces back to the creation of the Creationists. Some of you here in this room have advocated that we eliminate them. The lesson of the ancient Neverian goddess, Callian, tells us that once change begins, you can not turn it around and go back.

“Also, our wealth, that of Hornik and almost every family that is represented in this room has increased by a greater factor then ever before. Some of you have three times as much wealth now, then you had before the first steam twirler came forth from this young man, whom most must recognize. Bring forward Jacklincoln Cartwright, GrandMaster of the Guild of Creators to us.” Jac arrived in front of the King even as Lancellnick said that last word. Jac knelt.

“Some will not like this young man’s inclusion in our council. Some will think that we are not in our right frame of thought, for our other concerns certainly have distracted us often. We assure you, that this appointment, and others in the next quartermoons, will be to bring order out of chaos and allow us to hear what our entire realm says. Her Highness Annaxier has written a report that all my councilors may read. In it are what the men and women think who eat their day’s meal at the kitchens of the churches and of the anonymous benefactors, or live in a small covered dwelling outside the walls that the Princess has helped to build. Built with the GrandMaster’s aid. These are enlightenments. To know what the people think and feel is very valuable to us.

“These are not what our nobles have spent these five years saying the people think and feel. What the Princess has gathered are true words. What my lords temporal have reported has been supposition. Some amongst you look to your holdings and try your best to address the wrongness that has come to our realm. Most of you have taken the wealth that the creations of this man and others like him gave you, placed those Guildens in your pocket and let the peasants you no longer needed come to our cities. You have let your peasants become a burden on our largess, and that of good men like the GrandMaster.”

“We could speak more of this. We could tell you that in the last moon alone, he donated to these peasants, who are our nobles responsibilities, more money then we collect in tax from our lord of Brisac for a year’s fealty. Our lords temporal have received much more wealth these years, as have our lords spiritual through their ties to commerce. Our council has barely allowed that we should see an increase of taxes and have begrudged us each additional Coppen. We have seen our coffers grow by half these years, while our lords have seen their grow two and three and more times. Yet our lords leave the problem of the peasants on our shoulders. We think that some of our nobles should like to reevaluate their support for the poor that infest Firtoskin and other cities of our realm. Tomorrow at council we shall talk of this.

“Now however we shall invest our new councillor with his chain of office. GrandMaster Cartwright, we ask, your king, will you serve this realm, our family and ourselves to the best of your abilities, even unto your life, should we ask it of you?” The armsman who had fetched him was near and taped his leg. Surely an indication that Jac needed to answer.

“Yes, majesty. I shall do so. It will be my greatest task,” Jac responded.

“Oh, we thank you. Not all of our councilors think to treat it as their greatest task.” The king chuckled. Jac had looked up as he felt the chain of office settle around his neck.

“You may rise. Come Edmanstow, greet our new councilor. Annaxier.” The King turned to his children and motioned him forth.

The prince barely gave him a shake of the hand and quickly left the dais. Then he nearly disappeared to a side of the room. The king went to fetch other lords that he wanted Jac to meet and be greeted by. Princess Annaxier though came, and because of her station, they were given a few moments, in a crowd of people, alone.

“You could have warned me, highness,” Jac said.

She had a precocious smile, “I learned of this only a round ago. Father had already sent Petchurlin. He will be an ally, and will serve as your secretary. Father knows I favor Petchurlin.” That was the clerk who had come to the Creatory and guided him since. Jac nodded.

“As father said, most of the council do not want commoners on it. Count Harnmere will also be an ally, and ArchPater Larwellton. He is the principal in your uncle’s order and will see that you are heeded in your words.”

Jac said, “I am more concerned with enemies, and why I was asked to be on the Council. Master Gearman heads our order, is known to the king, and is much more astute about politics. He would serve the king better.”

King Lancellnick must have heard that, for he was not too far away. He came to them and said, “We asked you, young man, because you do not know politics, and can be frank. Like you were to our daughter just now.”

The King raised his voice, “Too many or our councilors tell us what they think we would like to hear. What they want us to do, which will benefit them, more than the kingdom. The king must make decisions that get food for all our subjects. The king must decide where sacrifices are to be made so we do not fall into war. Too many of our councilors forget these tenets.” The king nodded again and turned back to his cousin, the Duke of Holsatzin. A man who did not look happy at what had taken place that afternoon.

Ensuring that the king was a little ways off before he spoke again, Jac then added, “I do not know if I am to be a sacrifice to the nobles, or if I am to stir up trouble. This will also have an impact on my work at the Creatory.”

“Yes, for often the Council can meet nearly every day. Should the king ask you to oversee one of his ministries, then your life would be full. But I think that his majesty knows of your endeavors. Uncle Hendriker talked for a round two nights ago of your new lifter device until the queen asked that he leave so she could retire. We were all in front of your window…” Jac knew she meant the gift, but he let her finish the story. He did not know that the Duke of Holsatzin saw some of the advantages that Jac had seen with the device. He would have to talk to the Duke further, for the man was tasked with the governance of the royal army until Prince Edmanstow came of age to take on those duties.

The Princess presented Jac back to Petchurlin who was standing behind him. Those who wanted to meet Jac came and Petchurlin introduced them to Jac. Soon enough, though, the King departed the room, and a moment later the prince also left. Other nobles left, and then with a nod and a smile to him, the Princess departed as well.

Petchurlin turned to Jac, “Shall we go to your guards? Always come to the castle with four, for you are a councilor now. And wear your sword. Always wear your sword. The council will not meet today as the King has conducted business and he has gone to the queen. Somedays it is like that. One thing, and then he is gone. A runner shall be sent to your Creatory with the news of every council session and I shall meet you at the top of the steps to conduct you to your seat. If you are not at the Creatory, can you have someone there direct the runner to where they will find you?”

Jac said, “Yes, yes of course.”

“Good. If you are unable to attend the council, then you should inform his majesty in person. That is much better than in writing. In writing if you can not do so in person, and should you not be able to inform his majesty, do not think to arrive later then the King for you will not be admitted. If you do not show up enough, the King will consider it like treason. You also will receive a stipend of thirty Guilden a year. While court is in session, you are given time to go to your estates, though I do not think you have any. You are required to remain in Firtoskin, but you may make arrangements with the king’s permission.”

“There is a lot to remember,” Jac said.

“There is much more and you are the man who by your example will make it alright to allow others of the common background to join the council. If you abuse the King’s faith, it will become that much more difficult. I believe that is why I have been assigned to you. My father was a sweeper of chimneys and did well to sweep the temple of Mortonish. He got me apprenticed to learn my letters and numbers and that led to me clerking here. I was serving as aide to the prince, but he wished a new aide, so the king thought it wise to serve you, GrandMaster.”

“I thank you, Petchurlin. I hope we will work well together.” Jac thought to say. “This is such a surprise, and I must still see to the orderly running of the Creatory as I think being a Councillor will detract from it. I wish the king had not wanted me to serve for my outspokenness. The Guildmaster has a great deal more time then I for such service.”

“The King sees things differently then each of us. He, as his father did, truly thinks of the problems of the kingdom. He may not be the wealthiest man, or work hard to be richer than any of his lords. But he is the man who has the right of high justice and he does want to use it well. I shall prepare a list for you, and have it delivered to your Creatory this night that you may read your other duties, responsibilities and privileges as a councilor.”

“My thanks again.” It was just down the steps and then a short corridor to his guards and they could leave the palace. Jac nodded and Petchurlin wished him a good day. Jac was half way down the stairs when he saw the Crown Prince and several other young boys, some young men, who were all there talking together. Men who were surely all nobles.

“So,” said the Prince, “My father thinks that we need a peasant to advise us.” The prince spoke to his friends but he had said the words when Jac was close enough to hear them. Jac had thought that one day someone would want to pick a fight with him, and that this must be what it would be like. He was sure though that the prince would not brawl. Not in the palace. There were guardsmen with their halberds standing tall. Other’s with their hands on sword hilts close by. Two at the base of the stairs, and two at the top, in their bright red, yellow and blue uniforms. One he was sure had nodded to him in recognition each time he had come to meet with the princess.

“Indeed, highness. Perhaps your father thinks to test you and the other gentlemen of his Council to see who can stand the stench the longest. I am sure his majesty intends to offer a reward for the greatest endurance.” That was one of the older nobles, though assuredly younger than Jac. He was turned and so Jac could not see what house. On the left face of the upper chest, armorial badges would be worn by the nobles. On the left bicep of the arm, were badges worn by the trades, or around the left arm, braids with a badge upon the left shoulder. Creationists had braids of gold, an azure blue and red intertwined. The Creationist badge was on a gold background on the shoulder, a representation of the steam twirler.

Jac stepped over to the far side of the stairs and hoped to avoid the young men. No young women, close by though some were further down the hall. Not as far as his guardsmen. No one seemed to notice yet that an altercation was brewing. “What Perimont, you think that there is a stench here? Why I can smell it too. Isn’t that greed? I think it must be.” This one turned to face Jac and stepped right in front of him. He wore the arms of a northern Duke. Jac had no idea which one, but Ducal arms, were always the largest. The arms of a Duke’s badge were edged in gold. The heir’s in gold and silver. And other members of that line with an edge of silver or simply of black depending on how they stood in relation to the Duke. This was edged in gold and silver. “Why this is where the smell must come from.”

Jac was a commoner, and thus he could not challenge a noble. Nor could a noble fight him with sword. Could a noble assault a king’s Councillor? That Jac did not know.

“If you please my lord, you block my way. If you would move to the side, I might pass,” Jac said.

“What? And take your offensive smell with you?” Jac had to think twice for he would love to wipe the smile from the man’s face. A man who was surely the same age as he.

The Prince spoke, “Do not trouble yourself Riclarpur. He is a favorite of my sister, and you very well know that you shall never wed her. She is destined for some foreign prince.”

“Annaxier takes another puppy, no wonder he smells like a kennel,” Lord Riclarpur said.

“Princess.” Jac said, and did his best to make the word sound respectful while still menacing.

“What? Did you speak peasant?” That was actually menacing, Jac noted.

Jac said very slowly and distinctly, “One refers to her as Princess Annaxier, lord lout.”

A hand started swinging towards him to slap, or hit him, but Jac dodged out of the way, leaning back and the hand passed within the smallest measure of his face. He felt the air from it’s passing. The lord stumbled a little off balance before recovering. Some of his compatriots sniggered.

“You dare correct your betters?” The man feigned shock, certainly for missing him.

“Can a noble challenge a commoner? I had heard that was against the king’s law, which I believe the prince must want to enforce.” Jac said and there was a laugh. Some of the lords looked around, and Jac was sure that it came from one of the guards at the foot of the stairs.

“Fool, you do not have the privilege of speaking of my wants,” Prince Edmanstow said. He too tried to inflict menance into his voice, but he really was just an overgrown boy. Jac did not feel menaced by him at all.

Jac nodded but he did not take his gaze from the lord who starred at him and had just swung. The heir of a Duke. “A noble can strike a peasant whenever they feel, turd.”

Jac smiled, “I am a free man. And that I am sure you are well aware of.” A noble who knowingly abused their privilege was not a friend to the king and was punished, sometimes harshly.

The first noble that had tried to insult him, Perimont, said, “That is true. You can not get away from that, Ric. This game grows tiresome…”

“He called me a lout, and his very manner offends me. It is not finished,” the duke’s son said.

Jac thought to himself, ‘Lord lout. I called him Lord lout.’ Jac did not speak that aloud though.

“Then challenge him and we all shall come and watch him be defeated. I shall ennoble him, for father certainly intends to do so, and then you shall kill him,” the Prince said. “There, by my will, you are made Baron. Choose a name and I shall send the heralds to you. I am sure that Lord Riclarpur will have his seconds reach you by nightfall, then on the morrow we shall watch you become spitted on his sword just like a pig for roasting. Ha. Come let us leave Baron common turd and go…” The prince turned and the lord who faced him spat to the side.

“My seconds will call on you this evening. I suggest my lord, that you have your own ready to discuss the terms of your death for sunrise tomorrow.”

“Come Riclarpur, this is not seemly.” The first lord, Perimont, said. Jac would have to find out more of what just happened.

Riclarpur and Perimont turned to follow the Prince and four others who also had been part of the Prince’s retinue. Jac gripped the stair rail and tried to catch his breath. He knew his heart beat faster.

“Good thing they did not talk to you outside the palace. Them fool lords and the Prince. They would have done for you then. Don’t you usually have guards with you?” It was the guard from the foot of the stair. “I have sent for your clerk, Lord Councillor. He will tell you all you need to know now.”

“Surely the prince and his friends have insulted me and done their best to frighten me, they shall stop now?” Jac asked.

“Nay. You didn’t look very frightened. If you had they might have stopped. But you challenged them back, and that is something they won’t like. Here is master Petchurlin. He will tell ye.” The guard nodded and walked back the four steps to the base of the stairs.

“The boy told me all about it, come let us get you to your guards. I should have kept to you. They would not have challenged you in my presence, but now there is no telling what will happen. If I tell the king, the Prince will be punished, and Lord Riclarpur, well the king can not afford to insult the Duke of Conlinton, but then the Duke’s son can not wreak havoc in the court.” The man stopped his thoughts then, “How did you get into so much trouble in, what do you call those parts of a sliver now, a few ticks?”

“You don’t really think he will fight me. I am not a noble, I am freeborn and not a peasant.”

“I think he will. The lad said the prince called you baron. If the heralds show up to record your arms, then you are in truth one. The Lord Riclarpur can then challenge you in all honour. The prince has played this joke before. But you are the GrandMaster of Creators. You are needed by the kingdom. I do not think the prince shall have his friend kill you. Not unless the prince was planning to cut off his fingers so that his hand was only a fist.”

“Then why challenge me so? It was deliberate.” They had reached the guard room, and Jack’s people saw how agitated he was, and immediately came to their senses and looked around for threats. He wanted to tell them he had faced down one danger, but more was to come later.

“The Queen, his mother dies. The King does not focus as much as he should. He relies on the Princess and certain others to fully look into some matters. The Prince is supposed to look into matters of war and defense with his cousin the Duke of Holsatzin. Instead the prince imagines that he will be king soon and so acts less diligently then any others King Lancellnick relies on.”

Jac felt ill. It did not appear that he was going to have a good day. “I think perhaps I shall just move back to Cawless. I need not create anything ever again, for I have money with which I can live comfortably and be of no problem to no one.”

Petchurlin chuckled. “Do you think that is at all possible. The Princess came to me and told me a great deal of your background once I was selected to be your aide. Not that I had not heard much of it before. But that does not sound like something you would willingly do. Run away. She also said that the ability to create was like a fire inside you. That you but saw something that could be new in your mind and it was as if you fed the fire.”

Jac nodded. That was him. Once a new idea took hold in him, he had to explore how to create something. It was now a curse, not a blessing. “Then the King must intervene…”

The aide shook his head, “He won’t. If you are killed, he will, or too injured to attend his Council tomorrow, he will, so you may end up scared, but in a way that you can be sewn up and attend his majesties council. His highness will have healers, even Searching Healers attend this battle. Do not look to shirk it, for last moon a Duke thought to teach the Prince his lessons, and the Duke attended Council with his cheek well bandaged. He wears those scars there now as a badge of honor and hate, I think.”

Jac shook his head. “Just take it, is that your advice?”

“Yes. Look at it this way. Now only did you become a Councilor of the King today, the first commoner in quite a while, for their were commoners before advising the Farserits, but more advised the Ishyurk’s. You also might be a Baron if the prince is serious in this. A Baron is nothing to sneeze at.”

Jac was richer then most Baron’s, at least that was what Col said. He would go and take his own counsel with his family and also Master Gearman. He would head to his parent’s home, which was in Old Town, in the lee of the inner wall. His sisters might have something to say also. Melissandier knew of the Prince’s band for they attended many of the plays in which she performed. He vaguely remembered that she had said so before.

“Very well, Petchurlin, I thank you, though I do not see as you have been much help. Should I live to see you tomorrow, then I expect you will show me your true worth.” That sounded more petulant then Jac had intended, but the man had already decided that Jac would bear the marks of defeat tomorrow when they next met.

‘I am sorry, my lord.” The man emphasized that. “I wish you the best today and until we next meet. I shall be here awaiting you for council tomorrow.” He nodded curtly and then left. Jac gathered his guardsmen and as they marched to his parents, he explained what happened.

Seeing urchins along the way, always happy to earn coin, he sent these lads as messengers to various people he wished to join him at his parent’s home. He marked two, who seemed smarter then the others with written notes, that they be sent after to the Creatory for a meal and then a simple lesson in letters. If they wished to learn, he would see that they had schooling should they pay attention from instruction by one of his apprentices. In this way one or two urchins he added each quartermoon to a school that he paid for in the great Mortonish temple. Seventeen lads and girls had learned enough and were smart enough to work for Gearman and Cartwright somewhere in the city. Others who he had helped also earned money each day after they had mastered their base skills. His own little tribe of one day magnates of business.

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Today we continue the weekly serialization of Steam and Thunder.

If you feel so inclined to provide feedback for the project that would be great as well.

Steam and Thunder takes a look at the marriage of Steam, invention and innovation to feudal society and the agrarian economies that exist around such a period.

We had the boiling of water. We had pinwheels (400 BC). We had steam rooms in the stone age.

How long before someone thinks to just put a covered pot of boiling water that releases steam and pushed a pinwheel around? The genesis of the steam engine.

An Aeolipile was discussed by Hero of Alexandria in the first century.

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We have Taqi al-Din describing a steam turbine in 1551.

Our story takes place in a world, much like our own, but a few hundred years earlier, where we meld the properties of steam and create a rudimentary engine. One that can turn into a functional engine.

But that is part of the backstory that you will find here. Though the period of invention and hard work to turn a simple device that turns a little windmill device and toots a horn into a working machine will take years, those that participate along the way will contribute to not only one innovation, but others that are suggested by it.

And these innovations will need men and women to build them. The second sons and daughters from the farms who seek a different life, a more lucrative life in the cities where new made factories support the building of new devices.

That is the world that I create and work towards showing you here.

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Chapter One can be found either at our website

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Or here on the blog

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Chapter two is at this entry

After Jac was surprised by the visit of Princess Annaxier to the Creatory, Jac goes to the palace as he has promised and been told to do. Here he finds out more about what the Princess would like and plays into his thoughts how the invention of the steam twirler has begun to change the fabric of society in Hornik, and in Hornik’s neighbors.

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Dramatis Personae (so far)

Jacklincoln Cartwright – Our hero. The Inventor of the Steam Twirler

Princess Annaxier Farserit – The celebrations of the Princess’ birth is the first memory that Jac has. She is the daughter of the king of Hornik, Lancellnick Farserit

Samathon Cartwright – Father of Jac

Vivan Carthwright – Mother of Jac

Milosk Cartwright – Great Uncle of Jac

Master Builder Mikonal Gearman-Master Builder of Firtoskin to Cawless Canal

Lord Colndefroc – Governor of Cawless

Master Fenntrel – Wheelwright in Cawless

Master Jamestash – Metalsmith in Cawless

Master Carlincoln – Sawyer in Cawless

Master Gunthertic – Jeweler in Cawless

Master Mikaelstan – Glazier in Cawless

Lincarhirt – Uncle of Jac, Pater (Priest) of Krien

Henriforlu – Cousin of Jac, journeyman at Cartwright Foundry

Karlplatt – Senior apprentice at Cartwright Foundry

Kathierin Cartwright – Sister of Jac

Coloskthon – Brother of Jac

Melissandier Cartwright-Sister of Jac

Fredardic-Blademaster

General Artshikal-Tutor for Jac

General Barthome-Tutor for Jac

Cortormain-Journeyman at Gearman and Cartwright Creatory

Henrycarmon-Apprentice at Gearman and Cartwright Creatory

Lem-Bodyguard for Jac

Pad-Bodyguard for Jac

Sergeant Formilham-Princess Annaxier bodyguard

Chapter 3

“Do you realize what this means?” Mikonal Gearman asked later.

Jac said, “Yes. We’ll have an ear at the court for now. We can talk almost directly to the king, for if what the Princess said was true, she and the king do talk often. We must do our best to save the queen, and we need to take on girls as apprentices as soon as we can, for the Princess thinks that we have done wrong by her and all women that we have yet to do so.”

Mikonal looked a question. “Really I did not find that last bit in all you told me.”

Jac said, “I embellished it a little. The Princess was not happy when she pointed out that she had a great education. She reminded me by saying it, that few women have such, and when they do they can little use it.”

Now Mikonal looked as if he understood. “Yes, yes. We shall look into it. I am sure there have been some women about who wanted into the Guild…” Gearman said and then returned to his one favorite part of Jac’s day. Talking of Princess Annaxier. “That she favored you for near half a round. Your journeymen were in awe that you had a private audience…”

Jac stopped him, “You old hypocrite. You don’t want women in the guild. All these years I thought that you liked women, but you don’t. Oh, you like to have bed sport with them. But not to talk to them. You think they are beneath you, and you have travelled all over. Is that why we have no women in the guild? I know that some have come and tried to get in. Tomorrow I shall have criers go throughout Firtoskin and tell all women to come and apply at the Creatory for a position. We shall devise simple tests in each of the seven discilplines and those that pass, I will discuss apprenticeship with.”

“Now don’t be hasty. Who says I do not like women?” Master Gearman who had been his friend, mentor, disciplinarian and guide for two thirds of his life tried to end that line of conversation.

“I know you too well. Explain yourself,” Jac said.

Mikonal began “The kingdom can ill afford to also have women learn our secrets…”

Jac interrupted, “That is everything you would like to say in as few words as possible? Let me see if I understand you. We already have hurt much of the kingdom with these changes that take men from the land and bring them to the city and the Makories. That has already caused you and others great concern. Women, who bear our children, cook our meals, and slave for us in the homes, can not be given such responsibility, not because you think them incapable, but because you don’t want to have another finger pointed at us for making such a change.” Jac had already been thinking about the argument of why there were no women in the guild of Creators. Once the Princess had opened the subject for such discussion, he knew he had to.

Mikonal nodded, “Yes, that is it. I should also be embarrassed from such arguments if we had a woman master amongst us. It would be uncomfortable.”

“You are the Guildmaster, partner, but I believe you do wrong, and so does the Princess. Very few guilds do not recognize women now. Some women are not destined to marry, or are incapable of having children, as are some men. The Healers know this and the Searching Healers hope to one day fix that. But those women should not be denied giving of their energies to the skill they are best at. What if a woman’s brain is better at these higher mathematics than a man’s? If we train the women and find that is so? Then our guild will benefit.”

“You can not be serious?” Gearman asked. “What proof do you have that it would be so?” Creators dealt in proofs. Tests and proofs.

“We see that men and their bodies are most often stronger then women. Why not women’s minds stronger then mens. Like the balance of a scale. We are given something that advances us, why are women not given something as well? For this I have no proof, just supposition that they should have something in opposition to men’s advantage.”

Mikonal paused before giving a response. He formulated his argument and then present it. “It does not say in any creed I have heard of or read, that we are all equal. Perhaps this is the nature of things. Do you argue the point with the Flora and Faunists that they observe such.” Gearman said. He wanted to talk further of how their firm could benefit from Jac’s talk with the Princess. Jac knew there would be no benefit unless the two came to an agreement.

“I argue the point with you. If you wish to gain the Princess as ally I see two ways to do so. The first is to present her with a cure for the Queen. That I do not see happening though. I do not think that any shall find such a remedy before she will die. I have spent the afternoon reviewing all the Healers’ theories and found them all wanting. Perhaps we have thought too much on these tests that we want to conduct before we assure that any such procedure is safe for a person.”

“The King sent a request when the Queen first fell ill. I too looked at all that was available then. And I do so each moon. It is hard, but the king knows that people must die as surely as they will live. That we tempt fate when we try and heal that which the many gods want to take away,” Mikonal said.

Jac shook his head. Mikonal Gearman was the first to argue that all the Creators would not be so brilliant, and wouldn’t have found so many things to aid so many people, if the Gods had not inspired their works.

Jac said, “Yes, that is something that I think those who would argue the very existence of the Gods must decipher. The other means to become a friend to the Princess is to listen to her words and see how they shall relate to our own works. Where does it truly hurt our guild should we find apprentices that are women? There is a battle that has been waged by other guilds and those battles are long over. You will recall that I control my own destiny as a Creator now, and I shall see if there are any woman who would be worthy apprentices. Not the least reason being that the Princess shall respond favorable to the gesture.”

“Very well, GrandMaster. I agree. I can not but agree as you are our only GrandMaster.” It was a sore point between the two that most new inventions came from Jack. They did split the profits of all ventures equally. Master Mikonal managed the businesses, and Jac came up with new inventions for them to sell and exploit.

“I do not want to use my position ill, but I also want to make the correct decision. We meet as a guild in three days, I will tell all of my decision then, and we will discuss it. It will still take the guild to decide to make any woman apprentice I have taken, a journeywoman, or later, a master of our guild. Plenty of time to see if the Princess is correct, though I expect she is. I expect there is even one more reason we have no female apprentices in the guild,” Jac said.

“Yes, I thought you did quite well before in summarizing.” Master Gearman said.

“Oh, I don’t know. While I was growing, and becoming interested in women, if there were a few girls around, it would have made things much more interesting for me, and I should imagine much harder for you.” Jac smiled. The man had often had to be a parent to him, and that is what Jac referred to.

Master Gearman would certainly have had to deal with Jac’s libido if their had been young girls in the shop. He had carefully managed how Jac had learned about sex, and who his bedmates were some years back in the house that Jac lived in. Overtime three servants taught Jac more than enough about women and enjoying bed games. More than he might have learned with a peer from the Creatory.

What they had not taught Jac was anything about love.

Master Gearman grunted. “True. That may have been a reason too.” He then smiled. “You seem set on this course with the Princess, and I do not fault it. But you will let me advise you should you run into trouble. Now you say she mentioned the new glass windows. I do remember the rooms that were assigned to Annaxier, and if I am right, we can refit them. But it would not be cheap. And it would take some time. Quite large casements and the wind…” Master Gearman spoke from memory, for it had been twenty years since he had worked on the palace.

Jac would investigate the following day to see if Mikonal was correct. It would be a nice gift for the Princess, but Jac had a better idea.

“So if your highness will allow…” Jac began when and Annaxier were together. “I can not say that there is any recuperative powers from sunlight, nor how easily moving the queen to observe the gardens from her window, or what else may come of it. But if we do just one window, and our measurements are exact ahead of time, my men can replace a window in the Queen’s chambers in a few rounds. I understand that she sleeps often from the illness and the medicines, that the healers believe help her. If we do but one window we can have it ready in four days, and then you can see the results yourself.”

Princess Annaxier nodded. “I should have to ask the King, but I believe he will say yes. When can we get started?”

“I could measure now, but that is forward of me. I should not enter the Queen’s chambers but if you, highness know how to take measurements, I have put on this paper what we do need, and these other pieces, well the builders of the castle kept track of some things that they did in certain rooms. I do not know which room is the Queen’s, but from what I saw on the records, I thought it could be here, here, this one or this last. If so I have measurements for the casements and you must just confirm them by doing this.” Jac bent down to the papers and knew that the Princess leaned over next to him.

So close Jac could smell her, and she smelled like fresh flowers. Today she was dressed less formally, but then she was at home, if you could call living in a castle, a home. Jac had noted that as he had entered and walked through the castle, and he had been there before, the area closer to the gate was more public, a great many more people about. Then as he was escorted further through halls, and rooms, there were less people. Then six guards at a staircase one floor down, a heavy oak door guarded by four more guards and then hardly anyone but a servant or guards on this floor with many closed doors, and long thin hallways.

Annaxier’s home and she had a gown, with a fine white wool undergarment. Her cotehardie was cut so that the long white sleeves only allowed her fingers to be be revealed and a few inches of her neckline and chest as well. The cotehardie itself was simple, though very form fitting. If the wool had not been present, then the swell of her bosom, which seemed even more generous than he had thought the previous day would have been seen. But it was all of one color, a rich purple the sleeves, neckline and bottom of the gown circled with a blue piece of trim, though the base had discolored having caught much of the dirt and dust on the stone floors about the castle. She had lifted her dress when she entered and he saw that she an underskirt that matched the trim color.

A belt of gold with medallions, circle and cinched her waist and another band of gold kept her hair held in place at her temples, circling her head with no adornment but there was scribe work of leafs and flowers hammered into the circlet. One buttons, the same color as her woolen shift, spaced no more than an inch, if that, were centered down the front of the cotehardie, to her waist. Jac reflected that if all women in their youth looked so healthy and pretty, men of all ages would be stopped and would not be able to do anything but look at such creatures. Maybe that was why women looked this good at this age, so that men would want to marry, and then make more children?

He had washed, going to the baths near the Creatory. The ancient kingdom of Neveria had used baths and the Searching Healers were sure that regular use of such was good for all. A bather was first to scrub as much dirt off, and then rinse, use a substance to create a lather, and then do all again, a final rinse and then one went into the baths, which were moderately warm. The king had installed several in the palace so not only the royal family, but the court and even the servants, could use them and be clean as well.

“Yes, this is the room, so that means these are the dimensions here of her windows. I think this one is the best for it would look towards the mountains which she has told me she loves to see.” Annaxier pointed and then pulled out one particular piece of paper.

“Yes those are the exact windows. Very good. I am told that most can not decipher my writing.”

“A simple system I think you have employed. C4 being the fourth window of your third guess, of which suite it was. Now will you show me how you wish me to measure. When I do fabric, the yarn I need, or thread, I just pull my hands apart.”

“You have heard of a builder’s measure? They are all different from firm to firm. Sometimes from craftsman to craftsman. There is much talk in the Guild of Builders to make it all one and the same, but they are a stubborn lot. They have not done so yet. Here is the one we use. You may keep it highness, a gift, but I will show you what it all means.” He showed her how to take a measurement, and then she demonstrated that she understood.

“You are right that it best that my mother not be disturbed, but if you will wait here, I shall get the measurements.” He agreed and she went to measure the window. If there was something wrong, he would know soon enough. He was left in a small room that was used by courtiers to have meetings as they attended upon the king, or saw to the kingdom’s business. A man poked his head in, then seeing the room occupied nodded and retreated.

In the main corridor his two guardsmen, along with some of the princess’ were stationed. This man came from another room. One thing that Jac was certain was that it had not been the king. While Jac waited he sketched, roughly another drawing of the window that his men would fashion and install. He then listed carefully all the measurements that the princess was to fetch and he would check through them with her when she had returned. He would also explain the reasons for some, and see if she could guess at the reasons for the rest.

“Ah, you have kept busy, I hope I was not too long. I did not tell my mother what I was about, for she was asleep. I think it will be a very nice surprise, and if we arrange for all on the fifth day, from today, she is being taken to the baths which is three rooms from her chamber. Your men will have three rounds to work. Would that be enough? If more is needed, I could possibly devise some reason for the workmen, but I should not like to inconvenience my mother,” Annaxier said.

“Neither would I, princess. I shall make three rounds work. My men shall come early and have everything ready, if a steward and some guardsmen can be assigned and then they can stage everything from a close place. Perhaps even the maids can see to that morning of removing what draperies surround the window as then my men won’t have to waste time doing so, and the drapes can even be cleaned while my men work.”

“An excellent idea. I shall take one of your papers and write all that down so I may see it attended to,” she said.

Then Annaxier began to do as she said. Quickly and efficiently. Working with the Princess seemed as easy as with one of the journeymen whom Jac had trained to follow his directions for years.

When she finished, she turned and must have seen how he was going over measurements. “We need one more, here, do you see. Instead of you going back to the queen’s room to measure it, can you have a messenger bring it to the creatory by tomorrow midday? We shall not need that part of the frame until then.” She nodded, and then he proceeded to quiz her about the window and how it all fit together and the measurements to see how much she understood of it.

“I am not surprised that you understand it so well. I am quite happy that you do,” Jac said when they had finished that part.

“Thank you GrandMaster. Perhaps one day I shall create something for the kingdom just as you do.” Jac nodded. He remembered that talks of where the Princess was too marry had ceased when the Queen had fallen ill. If the Queen had remained well, surely the kingdom would be celebrating Princess Annaxier’s marriage to some prince of Nosgovia, Giurance or even Vonaria. All had been mentioned before but now the King had stopped those plans.

“I hope so as well, highness. If you will permit me, the builder’s measure is not all that Gearman and Cartwright would gift you with today. Along with this use of unoccluded glass, we have learned to make bowls that may hold such things as water, and even flowers. If you would please accept this gift,” Jac indicated a wrapped box.

Annaxier said, “You do not have to do such. You are not seeking a favor, which usually are the reasons such gifts are given to the royal family.”

“Well, I do hope that when you look at it, you will remember me. I can claim no credit beyond the selection of the item. It is one of my journeymen who thought of how to make the glass clearer, and another who found how to fashion the glass into these shapes with these colors. My involvement is that I am owner in the Makory, and thus can get the items quickly. But I thought you might like it. We have been selling these for two moons.”

“Then I thank you.” She bent forward and opened the box. “It seems that the anticipation is so quickly shattered when one just unties the knots and lifts the lid. Even with some little paper to wrap the item within. I remember as a child my father laughing for I could not undo the knots fast enough. If more layers of wrapping were provided I am sure all children would become as frustrated, and a joy for their parents as I was.” Jac thought of that for a moment, for paper was now cheap, and recently, they had found that certain dies applied at the right time, made the whole paper of a color, and then if one mixed it around so it streaked before being put to the drying racks, it created patterns upon the paper.

“I think you have had your first creationist idea,” he said and he explained what thought had occurred to him. She agreed, though she did not stop unwrapping her present.

“Oh my, this is too lovely. I can not take such as this,” Annaxier said.

“My lady, were you to do so, and show flowers in it, then many other women will want such. It is not so expensive, though a little time consuming to make. But think how much more beauty will fill the realm were more ladies to show off pretty items like this bowl with beautiful flowers.” Then he realized that could be taken as a blatant play to have her show it that he might have sales. “I assure you I did not mean that you should show it that I may profit. I will give all that we do to any charities that you name, I think we make about thirty coppens from the sale of a piece like this.”

“Is that it’s cost? No of course, you said profit, what does it cost?

Jac said, “About three silvens.”

She nodded. A week’s wages or so for a man.

“Well, I thank you for the gift, and if you are serious about giving the profits to my charities, then of course I shall show it off and make it the envy of the court. But now we should discuss the Reason of why I asked that you attend me here at the castle and we continue our discussions. How often can you come to the castle? I am sure you are a busy man.”

“As often and for as long as the Princess needs me. I am able to arrange my schedule to be very flexible, I answer to myself,” Jac said.

“That must be a luxury, for I seldom have such time,” Annaxier said. “I have a round here, or there, sometimes two. But I discussed with my father that I should consult with someone who might see things and understand what is happening to Hornik. I thought I would begin at the place where all the changes start.”

He smiled, and refrained from laughing, “And as I started it all off, then perhaps I might know something or other. I think you are right, and I and several others think long and hard about what is happening in the kingdom for it is not what we set out to do. I think the creation of the Steam Twirler was solely to see if I could do so. I was quite young and did not know it would make me so wealthy, and so many others as well. Or would change the lives of so many.”

Annaxier leaned close again. Once more he was overwhelmed by her perfume, “Then do you think you are the right person that I should consult with? I do not think many of the men in father’s council would take the time to talk with a Creationist.”

Jac inhaled deeply. A big breath before saying, “No, most of the lords would not. Most blame us for the ills that are now cropping up in the kingdom even as they reap many of the benefits that creationism gives. A two edged sword. I would be most happy to talk with you. Where and when shall we do this?”

She smiled and nodded. “I can only talk to you here easily, but not above four times each moon, while I can also make my way infrequently into the city and the district where your Creatory is located. Perhaps I can send a message when I am able to come, and you could come here again next phase at the same time?” she asked.

“I could, but I also will wish to come and see how my men fare when they install the window for her majesty. Would I see you then? Though we may not have a chance to talk about this subject then.”

“Yes, I shall see you for I wish to see how the window is installed as well. But you are right. What we will discuss is to be private.” She glanced to the door, where the Sergeant stood. He was half in and half out of the room. It was far enough away, that the Sergeant tried to not hear what they discussed and ensured that none outside did either. Jac knew that private meant something different to an unwed Princess, then it did to him.

Jac left then and returned to the city, walking the short distance with his bodyguards. He discussed with Len and Pad some of what had taken place. The glass bowl, the window. Not the other parts. That they did not need to know. Nor did he want it to be spread about through him. Something like that had a way of returning to the principles and then each would look at the other who was revealing their secrets. It was not going to be Jac. He would have to talk to Master Mikonal, but find some way to not reveal the true purpose of their meetings.

The King’s castle sat atop a hill, for it made sense for castles to do so. Originally, several hundred years ago, when there was a smaller castle, and Firtoskin was a village, an army could come close enough to challenge those within. It had been over a century since the city had outgrown the second wall that had been built around it. A third wall had been contemplated, but not yet built. The first wall was at the base of the hill that the castle sat upon, and that district was considered Old Town.

Old Town and the castle had been razed when the Ishyurk Dynasty had fallen. That castle, Jac remembered being told, had been rebuilt once larger than the one before it, and then when the Farserit dynasty conquered, it was rebuilt much bigger again, to it’s present size. Jac got the sense that it was now not large enough to handle al the business that was conducted there. Outside the very castle gates, an entire square had filled with other block long buildings that the king used to have his government see to their business. Having glimpsed a couple gardens as he walked through the castle, Jac thought that the kings had made a choice whether to turn those gardens over to more buildings, or just take part of the city for their needs.

The Creatory war near the second wall, and the river that was close to it. Other Creatories, houses and even a few Makories were there as well. There was more space in this area, especially on the other side of the river, as well as the other side of the wall. The river was one reason the Makories liked the location for so much transport was done by river boat. Though now, the steam cart was beginning to be used to move material. Master Gearman said that within the next ten years more goods and material would be shipped by steam cart then by river boat. There was even now a negotiation to build a steam cart line to the border of Giurance, but some nobles were very much against it.

Jac thought about that as he neared the Creatory. The foreign powers had once been very well balanced against each other, for several hundred years of war had made it so that the field was nearly even. Now they must not appreciate what fifteen years of the advantages that Creationism had brought to Hornik. His brother had tried explaining some of the trade problems that were occurring. Col had become quite good at managing money. As Jac saw things in how objects related easily to each other, Col saw it with money.

“It is this way, brother. Fifteen years ago, it was simple, there were no steam twirlers and a man in a field would labor and produce a Guildens worth of work in a year. We could trade our wheat for the cotton of Giurance, quite easily, or if they had traded the cotton to Nosgovia, and been paid a Guilden they might buy the wheat from us for a Guilden. We were all very equal.” Jac understood that. He had helped their father in the shop and knew how men used Guildens to purchase things.

“Now you create this device and suddenly where ten men used to make ten Guildens worth of wheat, now we have five men, or even two men doing that work. Those other five men, they have become free, where they were not before. Now they can make ten Guildens of, those pots for the cookfires for instance. Where we used to buy pots from Vonaria. Now we don’t spend the money in Vonaria and our people are twice as productive or more. This has been happening at an ever increasing pace.

All the nations were very much in balance for wars had been fought to keep us all so, and perhaps one grew richer for a few years when there was bad weather. Now Hornik is growing much richer and much faster then the other nations. Not only that, but since we do not trade as much for some things that we had before, they grow even poorer then they had been before your creations.”

That report had scared Master Mikonal and he had instructed that Jac have two guards with him at all times, not just one. Even some of the other masters of the Creators Guild had two guards. Master Mikonal had said that there was a true chance that the foreign countries might try and kill them. To stop these creations would be very valuable to them. Because it would slow Hornik’s becoming ever more productive. Only Giurance made a serious effort to try and establish their own Creationists. Though since the first of the year reports said Keltoria and Pinesque now also worked towards it. Giurance, Jac knew, spent more time trying to tear apart the new devices and then recreate them, instead of working on new items of their own.

That was all well and good but until the other countries allowed the people to leave the land, a law unique to Hornik, then they could not set-up the great Makories and turn out all the needed parts to build the ever helpful devices in great quantities. To make a steam twirler, a small model, that was productive took nearly one hundred and thirty parts, some tooled to a precision that was one sixty-fourth of an inch. To make the steam cart took over thirty hundred parts, and the bearings for the wheels had to be very precise.

Reaching the creatory, Jac looked in once again on all the projects he had being done. He knew that he could not stay long that day and would need to go to see Mikonal. That the man did not come to the Cretory was fine with Jack, for Mikonal always wanted to talk politics, or see how Jac was doing at his many lessons. Jac felt that Mikonal wanted Jac to be a noble, for he was trained being like one. Jac worked every day, and Mikonal, worked only a few days. Most were at the Guildhall. Col now ran the accounts for Gearman and Cartwright, and Mikonal was just consulted on the tasks that Col had taken over.

Once all was set to rights, for Jac had lost the rounds going to the castle, and rounds the previous day when he had spent time learning what progress had been made to help the Queen, he went to the Guildhall. Jac did chuckle to himself, for it was close, but it also was the nicest building for the few men who were masters, in all of Hornik.

It was so because it was the newest Guildhall built, with great sums of money from the masters, all who could well afford it, and built with the newest techniques that the Creationists and Builders had. It was four stories tall, with near a third of the front open and the sky viewed through the great panes of glass. Over thirty feet tall, nearly as grand as the great cathedrals for height and openness, but they were encased by stone, not glass overhead. The Metalmen that had encased the new Creationist work were sure that the glass would hold against the worst storms anyone had ever remembered Firtoskin having.

Jac was not so certain. He looked at the glass, which was surely remarkable. Two years old and a building thousands came to see often. Those inside looked out, and those outside looked in. There was a foyer completely open the full four stories high with balconies or landings for each floor to look down to the enclosed courtyard. Now an entire room itself. Jac wondered that the Princess had not been to the Guildhall, but then the King had been several times. Once before it was finished to look at how the metal held things up, and then he had come after the glass was installed.

Even so, the buildings glass was still somewhat occluded. It was only recently that the glass had become near transparent. Plans were to replace the old glass with the new completely clear glass. Jac marveled at the Glaziers work. It was art and functional as well. Better than any other building he thought, and the four floors in the later half of the building, barely filled. The masters thought that in the years to come, they would bring many people to work in the Guild and help with Creationism.

“Tell me what she had to say.” Gearman at least had first asked after his health and what little other pleasantries that were proper. But he had not lost all his new hopes that the Princess offered with this connection.

“She was quite pleased with our gifts. Saddened though that we have no remedy for the Queen. I gave her a small list of those country remedies that I do not think will hurt the Queen. Though I do not know if they shall help her,” Jac said.

“But is that all she wanted to talk of?” Mikonal asked.

“No, no she had more. As we discussed yesterday, the idea of women as Creationists intrigues her. She knows that we have been working with new maths, with new sciences, and that she would like to know them. I said that they were not secrets. Not secrets from those of Hornik. So we discussed how she might learn some of them. I will tutor her in these, and I suggested other masters were better at some items then I.”

“Yes, the chemicals. You have never been able to remember those well,” Mikonal said. Not that Mikonal remembered them well either.

“Precisely,” Jac said. “But she said it would be better if I was the only one to meet with her and teach her. So I will go several times a moon to do so.”

Gearman nodded a few times, then he smiled. “It is good, very good. The King must know this, but if the court finds out, that she learns these facts, then it will be difficult. It will increase what the other nations bid for her.”

“I don’t understand, she is not being auctioned.” Jac said in the Princesses defense.

“She is. Don’t be naive. I have taught you better. You know better. The other nations would like our Creations and they had hoped a marriage with the Princess would secure them special rights. They have been right also. Why our Creations did more for keeping her from being married then anything else. For each year the price went up what the other nations have to pay. King Lancellnick didn’t like it, but he appreciated it. He did not want his daughter to be so little valued, his sister is married into Pinesque, you will recall, and unhappily. Every daughter of the Farserit’s has left this kingdom, except for one, and she I remember was sickly.”

That Jac did know. “Surely the remorse and pain the royal family feels at the Queen’s sickness must account for why there has been no marriage alliance made. The other nations will understand it.”

Master Gearman said, “They probably do, but when they find that the Princess, who will be bargained to an heir, or a king of some country, marries into another nation, now she will know and understand Creationism. She might even be a Master Creator if you and the Princess have your ways. She will be worth duchies and provinces to us. The king is a shrewd man, and he has raised the stakes well. You must do your best.” As if Jac needed such an instruction. He always did his best. He took his leave of Gearman and went to the studio of Master Fredardic.

For one round Jac was on fire, and his blade defeated all comers. Fredardic lost four of four, and knew when to stop himself. “You shall enter the trials this year. You shall represent our studio and my training.”

“What? I can not do that.”

“Why,” Fredardic said, “You are a citizen of Hornik, and a man that the King should know can use a blade.”

“But surely, it is for soldiers or nobles,” Jac said.

“No, the King would find all men who can fight well. You know we have put up others before. You have entered before.”

Jac remembered and did not like the memory. “Yes. But as a student and I was eliminated quickly. You have always represented the studio.”

“And now I would have you do so. It has been six years since you entered the trials. You will enter again. Oh, do not worry, you won’t win. But you will enter. It is time that the nobles see that others can achieve greatness in our realm.”

“Master Fredardic, you make me even more uncomfortable. I am skilled at one thing. Putting these ideas of creation to work and the skills I learned in my father’s shop. That is all. You have made me good at fighting but I know others are better. Pad and Lem and the other guards I have is because I can not fight for my life like some legend and know that nothing shall kill me. I am not invincible. I may wish I were, but I do not expect to be so. I am no hero.”

“Lad, none of us are heroes until the story is written. We are all just men trying to find a bed at night.” Fredardic said and then smiled. He liked what he had said and so took out a notebook and wrote it down. “These pieces of paper all together that will fit in a pocket is a genius invention. You got paper to work well, but someone else came up with this idea for binding the paper. And writing charcoal. That I think you should turn your mind too.”

He said that every time he had an idea and reached for his notebook. The truth was that at the Creatory, they had taken the notebook and made pads of paper that they used. A better writing stylus though was not easily made.

It was six days later that Jac returned to the palace as he had been instructed. Annaxier was happy to see him she said. “Now what I wish to understand is can we save our kingdom with all these changes, and I know you are not responsible for all of them, or will we end up at each other’s throats.”

It was in Nosgovia, Jac knew, that several nobles and a few of the royal family had been beset by their peasants and killed. It was why nobles had swords now, and peasants did not. But that was over forty years before. Before the steam twirler. And not many in Hornik knew that an event like that had occurred.

Jac took a moment before he answered, He had thought of these social issues before. Just as he thought about how heating the water made steam and pushed up the valves in the twirler. How one thing led to another, he though how the change between how one man acted to another meant as well.

Jac said, “I will be honest, it will take effort to ensure that we do not have such anger that everyone wants to kill each other. There are kitchens that give out bread in the morning and later in the day, a full meal to all who come. Whether they are rich, or they have nothing.”

“Yes, GrandMaster. I have visited one. I then asked the Sergeant to find out who is paying for the kitchens. You will understand that this is not one of my charities that I want the money from the glass bowl you gave me to go to.” Jac had seen the glass bowl prominently displayed when he arrived. A table had been set up in the grand entry hall, and the bowl, with flowers had been set there. Jac did not want to speak about the kitchens any more then he had. The Sergeant should not have found out who paid the workers at the kitchens, or who bought the food.

“You and your brother tried to hide who is responsible but I have access to resources that the two of you should never try and disguise. Though all the sergeant had to do was ask where one of the kitchen workers got paid, and then he asked the paymaster who came around, where the money came from. Very easy it turned out. You are very generous,” Annaxier said.

Jac replied, “I do what I may, and though we can feed most who come, I fear these last months more come then need it, and more come now then we can feed.” He had thought about increasing how much he gave to the four kitchens he had set up. He was not doing as much as the churches, and still between him, the churches and some few others who tried to help the hungry, they were failing. “What is a worse problem though then food for those who can not afford it, is shelter. We have had a mild spring season, and summer is generally easy to take care of those without homes, but when we reach late fall and winter, there will be trouble. I hope his majesty’s ministers realize this. I know that the priests work on this.”

Areas of the city, outside the second wall, where those who had no permanent place to live, were becoming the filthiest part of Firtoskin. Jac knew that the population of the city had nearly doubled since they had built the first real steam twirler and begun to change things. He did not take credit for change. The city was a village without even a castle six hundred years before. It had become a city with two walls and what would be several villages on the outside of the second wall through none of Jac’s doing or changes.

Advances had been made in agriculture for some man had created a plow at one point, though it was dragged behind oxen or horses. The horse collar, was surely a creation. Creationism had existed before the steam twirler. The steam twirler accelerated change. It had opened minds to more ideas, more quickly. It had increased the pace of all society. But still many could not see that change was evolving all across Hornik.

Jac began to think that the rest of the world was beginning to see it, and thus the marriage price for Princess Annaxier was increasing rapidly as well. Just as Mikonal had said.

Annaxier said, “These are all things we should discuss, for you are correct. His majesty and some few men of his council, the priests, I believe, do speak to the need to do something, while the nobles seek to allege blame.”

“If I am to blame through my devices, I hope I do what is right to alleviate some of this problem,” Jac said. He reflected that it sounded very noble.

“I believe that you do what is right, but I am not the King and can not say that you do for sure. I also do not know that the problems that you create are entirely of your doing. You may have created many of these devices, but you did not force anyone to use them. If a lord had not wanted to make more Guildens, he need not have adopted your machine in his fields but could have still tilled his field the way it has been done for centuries. His peasants then would have been well employed throughout the year as their parents and grandparents had so been .”

“The Makories, should a peasant find his way to being employed at one, offer a better future though for many peasants. They became freemen. The lord would have to offer his peasants freedom, and pay them more then he does now.” Jac did not say that he felt the lords could easily afford to do that. Far too many lords have lived far above their peasants in one room, dirt floored hovels. Some lords would have freed their people, and some even had done so. They had been a minority in the kingdom, and amongst the King’s council. The thought occurred to Jac to learn who those lords were. They might help with understanding the transition that the kingdom underwent.

Annaxier said, “The lords are against that.”

Jac did not say a word to her response. The lords were as much a problem as the many peasants flooding the Firtoskin. Jac thought to help by building some Makories in other cities as well. That sent those who would do well working in the Makories to other cities, but they too had more peasants looking for work than there was work.

“We do have some real problems,” Jac finally said.

Annaxier said, “Yes, so let us review it, but let us do so in a fashion that builds upon the knowledge, for it all did not happen in one night. It happened from one action to the next. Let us look how it all came to be, and if we record enough of what we see, as we study when it happened, perhaps we can also see new solutions now, that we did not see while this was becoming our present.” That was a unique way of looking at the problem. Jac liked the idea, for generally he had no time to look at a situation as it had developed.

He and the other masters had just looked to their creations to provide solutions. They saw that an answer was needed and would work on a solution for it. Never looking at the entire plight of the kingdom and how ideas now might be found, or must be found before things became truly bad. After a round, Annaxier and he had talked their way through the adoption of the steam twirler and how it had begun to help the miners by pulling water from the deeper levels of mines and keeping all drier.

Mines were now able, after improvements to the twirler to go three and four times deeper and further then ever before, and perhaps further still. Those lords who owned the mines had found the purchase of the steam twirlers led them to wealth quicker then many another lord. The king had given license to several lords to mine, and those licenses now were more valuable then many great estates devoted to farming.

Jac left that day thinking that he and the Princess might actually make progress with problems that the kingdom had not yet solved. That he, a commoner and Annaxier, a princess, could work on such together was so far beyond what he had ever thought would happen in his life, Jac did not think the adventure of his life could grow any further.

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