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Today there is a listing of the chapters I revealed in our SteamPunk project. 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.

PastedGraphic-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34-2013-01-15-10-12.jpg

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.

PastedGraphic1-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34-2013-01-15-10-12.jpg

Chapter One can be found either at our website

SteamandThunder_BookOneoftheCreationistDuology-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34-2013-01-15-10-12.jpg

Or here on the blog

RenTech_SerializingachapteratatimeSteamandThunderChapter1TheThingsThatCatchMyEye-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34-2013-01-15-10-12.jpg

Chapter two can be found here
Chapter three is at this entry
Chapter four is at this entry
Chapter five is here
Chapter six can be found here
Chapter seven is here

Chapter eight is here

Please join us on Facebook should you choose to

SteamandThunder-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34-2013-01-15-10-12.jpg

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

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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.

PastedGraphic-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34.jpg

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.

PastedGraphic1-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34.jpg

Chapter One can be found either at our website

SteamandThunder_BookOneoftheCreationistDuology-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34.jpg

Or here on the blog

RenTech_SerializingachapteratatimeSteamandThunderChapter1TheThingsThatCatchMyEye-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34.jpg

Chapter two can be found here
Chapter three is at this entry
Chapter four is at this entry
Chapter five is here
Chapter six can be found here
Chapter seven is here

We have come to a point where the King is overcoming his grief and knows that Hornik must be governed again. He is thankful for the work that has helped to avoid the effects of famine. And he rewards many more, further changing the makeup of the nobility of the kingdom to begin to address that the wealth of the kingdom, in the hands of more common people, mean they need to be made part of the upper class that is responsible for the continued stability of the kingdom.

Please join us on Facebook should you choose to

SteamandThunder-2012-10-7-10-52-2012-10-21-08-34.jpg

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 8

Six quartermoons had gone by since the funeral of Queen Karanhit. Jac had seen Annaxier from a distance since then, at her end of the council table, or in the temples. Once passing in a line where all three royals took the condolences of their subjects.

Since the Queen’s death they had not been together privately and that was a good thing. Jac had carefully, with the aid of his sister Melissandier on some of it, written an affectionate letter to Annaxier. He did not tell his sister it was for the Princess. He tried to make it seem that he was having a romance with one of Annaxier’s ladies-in-waiting. A fabrication that Mel would believe.

That letter had proved to be a good thing, and Annaxier had written back since the first. Jac had exchanged two others. Jac’s were not written without the aid of his younger sister. Once the first had been written with the correct tone, that was all that was needed to find the rhtyhm between their friendship. Jac applied a pacing to not allow the princess to become too attached during the period of mourning she was encountering.

Attending the King’s Council again, ArchPater Kendiltur was giving the report to the council of what measures the small committee had taken to combat the crisis of a famine. That by harvest, if they were correct, they might meet the challenge.

Hornik’s neighbors had not realized that recent orders for foods in their marketplaces were the work of the kingdom. If they were delivered soon enough, not easy in Winter, then the kingdom would be fine.

King Lancellnick said “We see that the Chancellor has added several new clerks. Three groups of them. One to record all the new citizens that have come to us, with the aid of the temples, to help with the counting. Another to monitor across our kingdom all of our harvest so that we can see if this becomes a problem again, and the last set to specifically help feed us all. It will be good to inform the cooks here in the castle that they may give us a little more to eat.”

The king had been the very model of a leader, as had all on the committee that Jac had been a part of to deal with the crisis. They had added four more members of the King’s Council to their committee as the work became so encompassing. Each member of the small committee had their households cut back on the food they consumed and told others to do so as well. Not all on the King’s Council had done so, and Jac was sure King Lancellnick kept track of who did and did not treat the crisis as serious.

“Sire, a great deal of thanks is deserved to each of the members of our committee. The men we have hired in your name to assist the chancellor in the management of these areas. It will aid your rule in the future,” the ArchPater said. Having finished his report, the ArchPater sat.

King Lancellnick stood and said, “We are in awe of the new efficiencies we see in so many areas. This light trumpet; we know that we used to have fires to make signals. Now three lights can be used between towers and we can send a specific message to our borders in mere rounds now. It uses new special glass forms to magnify and help see the lights. By using different signals with them, the light trumpets can spell. Why soon, you will tell us there is some device where we can speak and the King Emperor of Nosgovia will hear what we say when we say it,” the king smiled.

Jac did not imagine that there was anything he knew of that could do that. Nor that he would ever think of something. But then the towers had been a new idea since the crisis had begun.

It had seemed so easy to use the telescope to see over a long distance, miles, and at the other end, to make a light for different letters. But then, if that light was behind another piece of glass, a suggestion of Princess Annaxier, the light could be seen from even further away. The Princess had played with refraction and reflection and taken notes until she had made an even better device that seemed to cast light a distance too. The system added lights and a colored flag to show that the message was being received and then sent on. Gearman and Cartwright received several silvens for each message, for it cost money to build the towers and pay for the men to work them, but several hundred men now had employment. The couriers still had plenty to do, for the messages of the light trumpets were best short. Long messages still were better carried by messenger.

And this was not a Creation that Jac had prompted to give Annaxier credit. She had made this all on her own. It was why the King was so familiar with it. Annaxier made sure her father understood all she had done.

“Yes, majesty, that and the new plows that many lords will be using at their farms. Even the new creationist additives to the soil, we hope will increase our yields,” Jac said half rising and then sitting when his remark was finished.

“Did not you already tell us that these additives had been tested for some years?” the king looked at Jac, who rose to address the issue..

“Yes majesty, another Creator came up with this. Adding nutrients from fertilizing agents, in more potent strengths, and a few other minerals is new and we have seen a better result. First in the Creatory, then where it has been tried these last three years on other farms. Even on one that I own. My yield was a third greater than the year before, and each year the farm also employed the better plowing. Now nearly twice better all told then all before I had owned it. The food seems to be good, and graces my own table. I think I show no ill affects from these new techniques,” Jac sat.

“Well perhaps you have gained a little weight,” the king smiled and then continued. “Good. More Lords should do as Lord Cartwright. As you have said ArchPater, near three hundred thousand free men of our neighbors’ have come to our lands looking for work, or perhaps for the free food we do hand out to the poor. That may be necessary, but it is also giving too many a reason not to look for honest work.”

The ArchPater said, “The food we give is the bare minimum a man needs to sustain themselves. Even so, I think many will die this winter for it will not be enough.”

Jac was not sure of that. Some months back the healers of his acquaintance had come to him asking for money to erect a building near the Creatories area. They wanted to build a Healing Hall where the poor could bring their ill and be treated. The churches all tried to help but they had different training, and it was not consistent. Nor were the areas they used to heal the sick all designed to do such a job well. Some, the ill were not kept warm and free of the elements. Rats and other vermin running about. Not an environment to heal at all.

The Searching Healers had built their hall, and word had spread to the poor. As many of the sick that they could reach were being seen to, though several pretended to illness to have a warm bed, these were sent away when found. Some, though were terribly sick, even if none could see the evidence upon them, and these did die in Firtoskin. “Let us pray then for the best. We are doing a great deal more then we have ever done before, and though we have tried to think of what else we can do, we seem to have exhausted all such ideas. It that all, Chancellor? Your report ArchPater?” The king asked around and it was evident that they had finished for the day.

“Good, then let us adjourn. Prince Edmanstow, will you attend us in my audience room. Annaxier. Oh, Chancellor, you too, as well as Baron Cartwright.” Jac did not like that. He had been avoiding audiences announced after council. It always meant that the King wanted the council to know who he was seeing. Often he would summon someone to meet with him when not in Council. The court would find out, but that was a degree different then his asking a member to join him right as he finished council.

“Good,” the king said when they were all together. He sat, and had his daughter sit. The others stood. “Now my son, we have heard you have come to your senses about the GrandMaster.”

“Father, I do not understand,” Edmanstow looked to Jac. Jac was not comforted by that look.

“Son, if you wish to keep a secret of a meeting, and what takes place in a meeting, best that you do not take your guards or your friends to such a meeting. We have been doing our best to teach you this. You and the other should keep the meeting to yourselves. If you wished to speak to the GrandMaster privately, then at council, calling him aside and talking of the information from the farms, would have done so. You could have spoken to him in the midst of everyone gathered and none would be the wiser. A meeting at the gatehouse between Old and New Town, not being told to us, when it took place at such a late round? Come now, all here are aware that we have spies to find out such things for us.”

“Yes, then, I did have words with the GrandMaster. They were not harsh as you seem to think,” Prince Edmanstow said.

“We do not think that. In fact, I am told sound carries well in the dead of night. That the city, being to bed then, does not provide a great deal of noise to make what takes places, masked,” the King grinned. Jac was sure King Lancellnick knew all of what had been discussed.

“I informed the GrandMaster that he had my good wishes for a long and happy life.”

“Yes. We are sure of it, my son. Now we called the Chancellor here for one thing in her majesty’s last months that brought joy to her, was the window in her room. She found in her discomfort some happiness in looking out upon the city and what was outside, though she could no longer venture there. This was a very generous gift that was done by our GrandMaster and we should reward him with a patent of nobility, not only because of the generosity he displayed, but the ingenuity in this and so many other creations that have enriched us. Our exchequer informs us that we are three times as wealthy now as we were before the Steam Twirler was created. Our neighbors, in this same time are not even half that.”

Prince Edmanstow was shaking his head, and Jac also wished to do the same. “I do not see, father what this has to do with a reward. The GrandMaster sold many other nobles these windows that mother so enjoyed.”

That was true. They had made back a great deal of money on all the court wanting them, as well as the king purchasing many more for the castle. Lancellnick shook his head as if it was not important and then said, “In any case, we wish to show our care and concern of the GrandMaster as you too have done, for did you not elevate him to Baron? Well we shall elevate the Baron to Count in honor of all that he has done for us personally, and for the realm. Without his notice, we should be facing famine in the Summer. We should not be as wealthy as we are now, he has been a friend to your sister, Edmanstow, and has made her more valuable to all of us with her new insights of Creationism. Look to her making the light trumpets work so well.”

The prince did not look happy and he instantly turned to Jac so that Jac saw his countenance. Now happy at all. Jac was not that happy as well for he knew this would cause trouble. “We think that there are several in our kingdom who are worthy of recognition and have not been so till now. Chancellor, not only must you record that we honor our Lord Cartwright and see it announced in our royal news, but also these others.”

The king pulled out a list, and then, he called for his page, “We have these new eye pieces that Annaxier advised we used. Truly wonderful. They make that which was small, large enough to see.” The page had brought him the eye pieces and he placed them on then began reading. Jac lost count, but several were known to him, three of them were Creationists, including Master Gearman.

“We make these barons of our court, and each shall be given a demesne from our hands. We have the lands of Helist, Porland, and Frenick to distribute. The main part of Frenick, north of the river Pule we give to Count Cartwright, for the monies from such, which we doubt that he needs, he can use to fund his school of Creationists that he talks of. Perhaps with a great number for women who would study this art, as has our daughter.”

Jac nodded. That was as near to a royal command as he would hear. Seventeen men elevated to the rank of Baron. The most at one time that Jac remembered hearing of. “Tomorrow, let these men be summoned to our court so that they may be elevated. Count Cartwright, you should have your family here then, for we will invest you in your new title and they, we understand, would appreciate such. We also understand your mother makes a pie of peaches. Now we would not want to make a command that we should try this pie some day, but it does seem that it would not go amiss were we ever to try it,” the King grinned.

“Sire, you shall have one on the morrow, I assure you.” That had been another royal command. “My mother would be most honored to cook for her king and will tell the story so much to all her friends, that I am sure their ears will fall off.” Jac smiled, for Vivan would do something along those lines, especially if the King liked it as much as Annaxier did.

The Princess had been to the Cartwright house not quite half a dozen times, but each time she was treated well, though no more special then if she was one of the other daughters of the house. That was probably why she kept returning to his parent’s house. Annaxier had now sampled the peach pie Vivan made more then once. Next, Jac was sure, Vivan would offer to teach Annaxier how to make it. Jac did not think Annaxier had ever cooked a thing in her life. Vivan did not do that much any longer either. Not with more than a dozen servants in the house. His mother did, however, cook the pies.

“Good, we look forward to it. Now not a word to those others we shall elevate tomorrow. But here, let us have a glass of wine to your good fortune, Count Cartwright.” Annaxier, Jac noticed was quite. But she was smiling. Jac was sure she was thinking that he was rising high in stature and that he might be high enough that he could pursue her as a wife. Perhaps a Count had married a Princess before, but Jac was not your typical Count. A year before he had been a commoner. Not many nobles acted as if they felt he was really a noble. Annaxier would be misplaced in any thoughts she might have that she could wed Jack.

Nice to think of it though. It would never happen, but nice to think of it. Edmanstow would never let it happen.

Jac had been a model young man but his brother Col had been rather wild. They had too much money and the boy did not know what to do with all that wealth. Eventually though, Col looked at the money that the family had amassed as a game and had begun to manage and understand it all. So well that he had made it a Creationist undertaking. How money worked had become the thing that kept Col out of trouble. But there was nothing keeping the Prince, who was Col’s age, out of trouble.

Edmanstow was still a child, and a dangerous one. Jac knew that his safest course was to stay away from the man. He resolved to do that more. He left shortly after they had sipped their wine. The King had always been between him and Annaxier. That just further enforced Jack’s thought that the man would never allow a mere Count to pursue a princess. His Princess.

Jac’s family was delighted that they had all been invited to the King’s court. Vivan went to make half a dozen pies calling for her daughters’ to attend her. Neither the weaver nor the actress wished to do so. But they did so with a stern word from both parents. Jac sat back and ignored his brothers attempts to find out what was happening. Col declared that he should go and corner the market on grains for his own pocket, instead of having worked so hard for the crown. The Royals Col said did not seem to appreciate it.

Jac said with some force, “You used my money for all that, did you not? Of the money you have of your own, it still is dwarfed by that which I earn. Further the money you earn is all from the fees for the money you manage of me?”

Col nodded. Jac continued, “Then the money that you used for the kingdom, was mine, and not yours. Let us not talk of this again, then. It tires me, how you always know what is best for the money that we have as a family. I fear that if you had more of your own, that you would take it, amass a great fortune, but without regard for all the politics and advice that you give me. Money is not all that there is. It is one part of what we need to do our work. Father, tell him. You don’t need to work, we saw to that, and yet you have a full shop and smithy here. You can not stop working.”

“It is so, Col. You do look too much at money. Do you not have more than a thousand Guildens of your own? Is that not enough for a lifetime,” Samathon said.

“Father, I have a lot more than that. I know what you both are saying. I do not look at money as the only thing that is important. I know that there are other things that are important as well. I just want to be rewarded as fairly as others are. Thus when I make profit, I know I am being rewarded fairly,” Col said.

Jac was still not sure that his brother understood, but he would let it go, “As long as you do not profit by the kingdom’s dire straits this year. Those who do may face headsman or hangman.”

“Not this year. Nor do we use only our money to have bought grains in the other kingdoms and have had them shipped to us before they realize that we are in any danger. But I too should look to these trends and reports that you have generated this year. In future years, when we do not face a famine, I may watch closely, and if there is an advantage to be gained in the trade of wheat, I shall try my hand. Wheat, or peaches, or apples. Money can be made, and it can be lost if one does not look carefully at the reports.”

“I think, father, Col should marry. We must find Col a bride with a tremendous dowry. He is so distracted by money that perhaps a family would balance him well,” Jac said.

“Oh, ho. Do not talk to me of marriage, brother, else you and whatever lady-in-waiting to the princess that has caught your eye, our mother would have you wed. You are several years older then I and all the men your age back in Cawless are fathers of two or three children now.”

Samathon now turned his gaze on Jac, “It is so, son. Do not let your mother hear any talk of marriage for she will speak as Col says. Though I should like to have some grandsons. Perhaps you two could look into that. As well as find men for your sisters. I fear that Kathierin may never marry for she needs a man as strong as she is. One that will stand up to her, and we know few of those. Melissandier, she I think would like to marry one of your noble friends. Though are any of the nobles, truly your friend Jac?”

Jac bit his lip. “That is a good question, father. Some I think are friendly, but not what we would call a friend.”

Samathon said, “You should work on that. It is better to have a noble for a friend, then one for an enemy.” That was a saying of all the commons and the peasants. It was wise advice.

“You do remember, father, that the prince has made me a noble. I am a Baron, I even have arms.”

“Yes, I know. You have arms… There is a joke in there. Well, come, we should remind your mother that not only does she cook a pie for the King, but we would like our dinner as well. I should hate to miss a meal because she will over think how to make this pie, which she has made hundreds of times.” Their father gathered his sons behind and headed for the kitchen.

The next day gathered at court, three servants of the Cartwrights each carried two pies behind his mother. The six pies were given to several pages and Jac had to assure his mother that the King would know that they came from her. That they would not get lost, or eaten until King Lancellnick had sampled one. Jac thought the king would allow the pages to share one for bringing them to him. After the months of being on the council, that was what he would expect from Lancellnick.

Jac then found a place in the large court chamber for his family to stand and wait for all to be gathered. Master Gearman had come, much surprised by his own summons. Jac talked with Master Mikonal and seeing three other members of the guild, his partner wondered if they were to received a royal charter as certain other guilds did. It would help with some taxes, the master was sure.

“In normal years, I think so,” Jac allowed, “but we have had to suggest to the king that to deal with the crisis of the food shortages, those industries hit hardest by the lack of grain, mostly the peasants and free farmers, and even some less wealthy lords, should have some exemptions. Those industries that will profit, such as Col and many of his endeavors, should receive an additional tax.”

“You rat.” Col said, “You did that on purpose.” Jac was shaking his head. But he could not stop a little smile from creeping onto his lips.

“It makes sense that those who sell grain will profit more in a time of scarcity. Those who sell aids to make food better, with less waste also stand to profit. I volunteered a list of several of the things we sell that would indeed do well. If his majesty agrees with all that we have proposed, we should see a little more tax this year too.” Jac continued to smile, but Master Gearman scowled. But then Mikonal did not know why he really had been summoned.

King Lancellnick came then, and as he walked through the ranks of his subjects, all bowed or curtsied to honor him and his two children. He stopped and chatted along the way with those he wanted to acknowledge. He stopped amongst the Cartwrights. “Mistress Cartwright, you do us honor. We must have your recipe for the cooks here, though we believe they shall never do your pie justice. If you will permit us to give you a gift in exchange. We are told that Master Cartwright you garden and groom flowers to delight Mistress Cartwright. Our gardeners did try to delight her late majesty, and some of her favorites we are told are very singular. If you would accept cuttings from three of our specimens, it would do our heart glad to see them cared for by another whose life touched hers. Princess Annaxier did describe your delicious peach pie to our wife, the queen, and she was glad of it.”

Jac’s parents were overcome and did not know what to say. In the silence Jac spoke, “They would be all too delighted your majesty. My father, I am sure, shall devote the entire spring to helping the cuttings bloom.” Jac bowed and so too did his parents. Vivan forgetting that she should curtsy.

Samathon stuttered, “I’ll coddle them more then me own children.”

The king chuckled. “Good, good. No need to go that far though. We have taken a great like to one of your children though. We are sure the others are much more valuable then flowers from our garden.” He nodded and moved on, Jac bowing again, and the rest of the family honoring the king as well. Soon enough King Lancellnick reached the top of the hall.

“My lords and ladies, other honored guests. In two days we start our seasonal holidays of the Winter Solstice. We have seen a great deal of turmoil these last moons, and more may come. During the course of this time, we have found several of our country that deserve recognition for the great works that they do. And as is custom we will dispense gifts, as many do amongst their families at this time. We will do so amongst ours. As King, our family is not just these two children, or our many cousins, but also all our subjects. The king must be a father to all.”

He paused and saw some nod in the court, but Jac looked also and did not see as many nobles nod. Jac did notice that with the many clerks, servants and people of the city, the nobles were outnumbered in the room, and that was the first he had seen of that. “This last years we opened our council to those not born noble. This was not the first time such has been done, for several kings before us have ennobled heroes of the battlefields, especially those that helped them secure their thrones. But we have not fought a war for some time, and the nobles on our council were born to their title, or are nobles of the temples. Now we have men who are not noble serving us, some though, we are sure our other nobles here have not realized, have served us long already. First we would gift these men, commoners all, who serve our council each day. Chancellor?” Lancellnick turned to the man.

The King’s Chancellor read from a list and called eight men forward to kneel in front of the king, whom the king then handed to each a small bag. Jac later found the bags to contain five hundred silvens. A bonus of more than they made in any year. He called two more after, “Master Camitrick, and Master Petjanter. You have both served us well and good these thirty years, doing the work of clerks for the council and rising in our estimation. We grant the title of knight, long in disuse in our kingdom, and shall also elevate others accordingly. For your many years of service, we grant of our largess, a small house here in our holdings in Firtoskin and a measured sum for you and your wife each year until the last of you survives. The title of knight, unlike that of our other nobles, shall not be hereditary, but you the bearer and your spouse shall be known as noble and will receive all the rights of any noble. Knights shall be honored as Sir, and their wives as Dame.” The King finished speaking and then the two men, in shock, really, went their way.

Throughout the course of the morning, forty knights were created. Some from the military, and the small navy that the kingdom had, others from the city. Three sons of nobles, not the heirs, one the son of a son, were recognized with this as their own honorific. Earned the King said. Not inherited.

Then came a greater reward, the Chancellor announced. He called the men that Jac had learned of the day before, his mentor Master Gearman surprised and no doubt thinking he too was to be honored as a knight. When the seventeen kneeled in front of the king, they were much surprised to find that they were made Barons and given land grants.

The forty newly made knights, if they had no house better, had been given two room houses along the outer wall of the castle. Slightly better then grace and favor accommodations that the royal family maintained for loyal servants who had no better place to live after a lifetime of service.

The award over, Master Gearman stumbled over to his friends of many years. “You did not say anything… Did you know?” Master Gearman asked.

“I was told to be quiet and not give away his majesty’s surprise. It was an order.” Jac said. “But I think you enjoyed it. Now what do you think of that increased taxation?” Jac knew that the lands the man had just been given would pay for them.

Maser Mikonal said, “It is a small matter. I, a Baron, who would have thought it? Commoners being made Noble. Will wonders never cease?” Though Jac believed the Guiildmaster had been thinking this would happen the last few years.

The Chancellor then called another man, this time a Baron, who was made a Count. Given great lands, also. When he was raised to his new title, signified by the King raising him to his feet after Lancellnick touched the new Count’s shoulders with the sword of state, all applauded .

Then Jac heard his name called. Not that he was surprised, but the day had gone on for some time. When Jac had settled on a kneeler, he and the last Baron had been given one as they were already noble, the King spoke once more, “Many of you know that Hornik has faced a crisis these last moons. One that we hope will be resolved. Many contributed to providing us with solutions, some of which many of you do not like, but we believe all of you would have liked starving much less. We are sure of that.”

The king looked around the room. Jac could not tell who the King looked at, but he could see those that stood with the king and behind the thrones. Several were friends now. As well as high nobles could be friends. No man lower than a Count could stand on the throne, or less than an ArchPater. The new count had been taken up and placed on the dais.

“We placed a group of men we trusted to see to this problem, for we were in the midst of our grief for Karanhit. The man that all have said has worked the hardest on all our behalfs, who recognized that the problem was upon us and needed to be solved, was Baron Cartwright. We now elevate our good Baron, a man whose ingenious device has made fortunes for many in this room, including ourselves, to the rank of Count. We gift him with…” Lancellnick went on to describe not just the lands he talked of with the Chancellor before, but three other pieces of property in the kingdom, including a very nice manor in Old Town. Larger than the Creatory, so he could move his workshop to the new house. This largess was more than Jac had expected knowing that he was to be made a Count. Jac was stunned. Annaxier looked very happy, yet Jac still knew that he was not so high as to attempt to reach her.

King Lancellnick finished and then raised Jac from his feet. As with the prior Baron, there was applause also. As the hall was filled with so many newly elevated commoners, there was a great cheer, and the king turned Jac and faced him towards the hall. Jac though could see some nobles not too pleased.

Jac made to start back to his family, “What Count Cartwright, you would abandon us so quickly. We have a place for you here upon the dais.” Jac then turned and as he did so, he came to see the face of Prince Edmanstow. One of the many that did not look happy at the elevation. When King, Edmanstow could strike off the head’s of Dukes, should he choose. It had happened before, but it was rare to take the lives of the high nobility. It made the others nervous.

Jac moved back into the crowd of twenty or so high nobles and clerics, and soon found that on one side of him was ArchPater Kendiltur and the other Duke Hendriker. “Good work lad. We thought the King would have elevated you further a month ago, but he chose wisely to do all at once.”

“Yes, but it is a good omen to do so now, before we send home the many lords and start Winter Court,” the ArchPater said.

“You do know, Count, that I shall demand an accounting of your levy and your ability to supply that, come this spring. I fear you will be torn this Winter from attending court and traveling to your holdings to ascertain their readiness. I would advise, as you are friendly with Generals and Blademasters, that you should appoint some very strong men to get your levy into shape,” the Duke said.

“Levies, my lord,” Jac said. “I did not know that I had any.”

“As a Count, and the holdings, including those that you received from the prince, you must have five thousand men that you will provide us and the army. Why, I would not be surprised if I did the maths that you have more land than I, and my grandfather’s father was a king.” Duke Hendriker smiled when he said that, so it was probably a joke.

“The Chancellor will know, when he hands you the deeds of your lands. He will tell you all and it shall be clear,” the ArchPater said. “That will be when all this is done. I have a question for you, this uncle of yours, I have not worked with him, but Larwellton has this horrible cough. The healers says it is age and he has more than thirty cycles on me. I believe them. He is older now then my own father lived. Will Lincarjirt serve as a good ArchPater? He is the leading candidate, in great part because of what you have wrought for the kingdom, and here on the King’s Council.”

Jac had not thought about that. He quickly came up with an answer, “I am biased, but I think he will be good. Speaking as a councillor, he is a man who does see things across all the areas he must. And he sees the individual man as well. You know that my brother Coloskthon has been of help to us during our planning, and thinks of the common man and that of the kingdom as well. He has learned this from my uncle. That is how helpful that he has been to Col. For myself, my uncle does not know much of Creationist thought, and so he does not help me much. I suppose the most he has helped was when he made Master Fenntrel pay me a just portion for the Creation of a better wheel.” Jac then explained the idea of bearings and how that he made them better, and how he was paid for it. How uncle Linc got involved. In the years since it had happened, the story had become more humorous, and the events were like caricatures of what must have really happened, almost twenty years before.

ArchPater Kendiltur said, “I think I must talk more to Lincarjirt. Even though I do not influence such a vote in the temple of Krien, some there do listen to what we of the One True Faith think on such matters.” Jac nodded, he was not going to get involved. Col, though, was probably deeply involved in helping their uncle to the post of Krien’s ArchPater.

Jac looked out and saw his family very happily looking back at him. He smiled. They waved, but he did not wave back. He looked further around the dais, and saw the Princess from the side. She was as beautiful as he had always known her to be. This day, Annaxier was dressed in her gold gown, the one she had for great sate occasions. He had seen her wear it before but as always, she was radiant when she put it on. It had a train of four feet, and one could barely see her slippered feet when she walked. Nor any of her under chemise showed at the floor. Only at the wrists could you see the pure white of it, and the chemise here was hemmed with threads that matched the patterns on the edging of the gold down. Red and black threads that danced about in emulation of the Farserit crests and guardian beasts. Her belt was black with the same embroidery patterns in gold thread. Patterns Jac knew that Annaxier had done herself. She did not have to try to be the loveliest women in the hall, it was just something that happened. Though to be fair, there were young ladies as pretty as the Princess, even Melissandier, but they could not afford to wear such finery as Annaxier and somehow that made her even more alluring.

Jac continued to look about the dais to see if he knew everyone upon it, and found that he did know all. Duke Conlinton was there, and then looking back to the hall he saw that Riclarpur was in the group of nobles that were the friends of Prince Edmanstow, as too was Perimont. A lord he had talked to a few times since the altercation that had resulted in lord Riclarpur’s maiming. Jac was not proud that he had to lame the man, but was not sad that he had kept the man’s blade from laming him.

Jac had placed third in that year’s weapons trials when they had taken place. He still had his one round of practice each day. The trials had been held but mere quartermoons before the news of the oncoming famine. If the trials had been after, there would have been no possibility of his practicing as much as he had. Or of his entering the three day challenge. Jac had been very busy working to avert widespread famine.

Jac turned his study to the king, who spoke and conducted his last court before sending his vassals home for their own Winter Courts. Jac knew that near two thirds of the lords would leave and not return until the middle of Spring. Not that many liked to travel at this time of year, but it would be worse in the moon to come. The roads were better though, for all were becoming a uniform width and level, clear of debris, and well maintained.

Not only had that been due to innovations of the Creators to make the roads better, but the famine committee knew that making the roads better would help to distribute what foods there were in the next year. Steam cart lines were also improving, and the line to the border with Giurance was more than half built. Until the snows were too deep, crews would build, for steam carts could carry supplies right up to where they worked. And some lords were fortunate enough to be able to travel to their homes quickly on the steam cart lines.

“Tell me, Count, can your steam carts be made to reach our northern border?” The Duke asked.

Jac gave Hendriker his attention, “I am unsure. We certainly have plans for them to do so. But I know that the terrain gets more difficult the further north we get. We need a certain width for the steam bed road, and it has to be reinforced. Then we have had problems with hills, and with rivers. Also, the biggest problem is that often the best place for a steam cart line is right in the middle of a field. Right now, I have told those that build our stem cart roads, that they must not hurt the crops this year, and so must rethink how to move about the countryside. If they wish to use the lands where we grow crops, we must find twice as much land and make that farm land. If that is no good, we might have to wait on a road until the year following when fallow land, or land we are preparing can be used. I have told my teams that we will have steam cart roads soon, but we may not have enough food for a harvest, so the steam carts can wait a year or two.”

The Duke shook his head, “No, I actually need those roads to the North as quickly as you can. I do not like what the King’s spies tell us of our neighbors. I do not trust them, and I think it would help us if we could move men North. Men and those blast lifters of yours. It would take quartermoons to transport them by horse. Can we not find some way to build a road? I know I told you that you should go to look in upon your new estates, but this is important, and I should certainly like to see you start work on this before you leave. Can we discuss it on the morrow?” The Duke seemed nervous. In council they had never talked about the Duke thinking they would be betrayed in the North.

Jac knew to be agreeable, “Certainly, I can be at your manor early.”

“Good, then I shall have you there at dawn, before army rounds.”

“I shall move my blade session around, for I meet with Master Fredardic then, then General’s Artshikal and Barthome,” Jac said.

“Bring them, if you would. I will ask a few others join us as well. Artshikal might have some thoughts that we should hear. He always did before, and I am not so sure some of the new men who command the army would not hurt to remember that we have great resources here in Firtoskin. They may be too old to sit in a saddle and march with an army, but they still have all their memories and can tell the young men how to fight a war. I think that skill may be very important. Yes, bring them tomorrow. Sunrise.”

The duke was finished and Jac saw that the king was about to finish as well. “We have honored a good many this day. In years to come, as we finish our year ahead of the solstice, we shall make such honors at this time, so that those honored can return to their homes, to their friends and families, and celebrate. My lords, we thank you for this year of service. We look forward to a much happier year to come.”

In all the king had mentioned his personal grief rarely, and he was dealing with this next stage of his life. In seemed to Jac that Lancellnick was possibly pointing out that they had two other marriages now that they could use to arrange treaties with their neighbors. If the other nations were not so powerful, or so envious, of all that was Hornik. Jac wondered even could their neighbors be bribed towards peace.

Jac found himself for a moment with Annaxier. She said, “You have done well my lord. I did not ever imagine you would rise so far when I first met you.”

“Thank you highness. I am sure that I own much of my success to your patronage.”

“You are wrong Count Cartwright. You do not owe your elevation to our friendship. You have an ability to Create and this has seen your rise. The skills it has taken to be a Creationist master applied to the King’s Council have helped you to rise so high,” she said.

Jac was unsure of that. He knew he had come far. But before he had joined the King’s Council, surely there were men in the kingdom who looked to doing things in the most appropriate fashion. Everything was not words of flattery to the king so that Lancellnick’s good opinion was achieved. Many in court were men of accomplishment. Even amongst the nobles and the leaders of the temples, there were skilled men.

“Thank you highness. I wish all thought the same as you.” Duke Conlinton was close enough that Jac noted Annaxier had seen him also.

Annaxier said, “It is of little matter. Come, shall we not see your family that they may wish you well this day?” She offered her arm to be led to them, as if he led her to dance.

Something Jac had not done. As a Councillor, he would have been asked to attend court where dancing was held, and the princess would attend. All the moons of that year, there had not been such at court, though this day, there was to be feasting, and dancing. The illness and then death of Queen Karanhit had quashed all celebrations. Now however, the lords were leaving and a smaller court, those of the King’s favorites, would stay until the first moon of Spring.

With Jac’s family, Annaxier was gracious as always, and Vivan treated the princess now just as she did her own daughters. Since the queen had died, Annaxier had come once to the house of Samathon and Vivan, his parents had told him.

His mother and the Princess had spent more then three rounds together. Alone.

Now as they greeted each other Vivan almost did not give Annaxier her honorifics. An action that would set all the castle to gossip, though Vivan’s pies might already have done so.

“I thought Master Gearman being made a Baron was a great thing. You a Count. You do us proud, son,” his father said.

“Do not say so, father,” Kathierin said. “His head will swell.”

Jac already was shaking his head. “Perhaps sister, but you will remember to address me as my lord, hence forth.”

Kath’s eyes opened wide but Jac was chuckling. Jac knew Kathierin did not know if he were serious or not. The family was overjoyed, but not much later, the King’s stewards and pages were announcing that a meal awaited them. The princess needed to be returned to her own family, and when Jac escorted her back to the dais the king said, “Count, our cousin tells us you should spend some of your time this Winter Court seeing to your levies. We have had to agree though we shall expect you often at our court. You do live in Firtoskin and we find our discussions with you edifying. See to it that you are not gone from court for any great lengths of time. Now back to your family for we must dine, and we shall have another piece of Mistrees Cartwright’s pie.” The King smiled. Those little details were what endeared so many to him.

Jac believed he would be hard pressed to remember such small tributes to make people feel a personal attachment to him. Jac was going to have to tell his mother of the King’s compliment, he was thinking when a man blocked his path. “Excuse me excellence, I am slow to move, for I have an impairment.” The man said in front of him. Jac looking upon the face and saw that it was Riclarpur. He had been waiting to stand in Jac’s path.

“I want no further trouble with you, young lord.” Jac said.

“Me, oh I am not able to make trouble for anyone. Someone has seen to that, excellence.” The man spat those words out. Hatred and venom were clear upon his features. “But the cycle changes and soon a cub will ascend the throne. Then it may not be I that causes you trouble, excellence.”

“Riclarpur, come away,” Perimont was there of a sudden, grasping his friends arm, Riclarpur shook it off.

“I know what I do,” the maimed man said.

“The King, he looks on,” Perimont noted. Jac did not look around to see if it was so.

Riclarpur spat, “The king has elevated this monstrosity to the highest places of power in our kingdom, but he is one who advocates honesty. I shall take myself, but not before I warn the man. There will come a reckoning…” Riclarpur started to turn from Jac.

Jac raised his voice. He wanted many to hear. “I should hope not, Riclarpur, for you are like shit, always turning up on my boot that I must scrape it off. Next time you think to threaten me, think twice about it. Dueling has been made a crime that will see you imprisoned. But if ever you seek to draw on me, I will kill you,” Jac said.

He clipped each of his words. He used the tone that he used with his apprentices. The tone when they had done something that had been wrong and gotten him mad that they could see how angered he had become, but would not scold them in any other tones.

Perimont pulled Riclarpur away then, almost causing him to topple, before the young lord could say anything. Jac just stood there for a moment, recovering his composure. He then started back towards his family, as the room thinned, for many others were going to the hall that had been set with tables that they could feast. It was nearly as large as the room court had been held in.

“My lord, a moment, please.” Jac could tell he was being addressed again. He turned to find lord Perimont had returned. “My lord please, I wish to say something. We started badly as I have long been associated with Prince Edmanstow. But I can see that he does little to help our kingdom, and you do a great deal. Riclarpur thinks I come to apologize for him, for he is in wine. But should you feel the need to punish him for his arrogance again, I shall not lend him aid. I wish to learn how I too may do something for the kingdom.” He said. Quite a speech Jac thought.

Jac replied, “I would attend the clerks of his majesty and ask for an assignment. We have been in great need of young men who could serve as the eyes and ears of the king across all these lands. Why not ask for such an assignment. We have spent much time trying to see what all these changes of Creationism have been doing to our lands. Do that, and prove yourself, and I may be able to recommend you higher.”

“Thank you Count Cartwright, and if you would, my best to your sister.” Jac knew then, that there was something more to Perimont’s friendly gesture. But which sister? Most likely Melissandier as Perimont was younger then Kathierin. Kathierin also liked men young. Jac turned and finally rejoined his family, guiding them to where they were to sit in the hall. Not at the lowest end, nor at the highest. Closer to the royals, then away from them. The Cartwrights had done well for themselves indeed.

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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 can be found here
Chapter three is at this entry
Chapter four is at this entry
Chapter five is here
Chapter six can be found here

Invention and Creationism can not handle all problems. Death from causes that are not understood and the Queen dies. This causes problems as those who are most closely associated with the Queen, the King, finds that grief has allowed his mind to wander and all is not being taken care of in Hornik. Then one can not always count on the weather to be of help. In this case, a few ill timed disasters and of a sudden the reports arrive that the last harvest was not adequate to see the country through winter.

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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 7

Firtoskin was quiet. Not that the city had not been quiet before. In recent years peacefulness was something that seldom happened. Four additional commoners had joined the Kings Council and Winter had arrived with shelter for enough of the poor that had been averted.

Sixteen Makories had opened and had hired men and women from the country fiefs, including two that Gearman and Cartwright owned. One making the new lifting devices. Boomers, was what they were being called, as they made such a big booming noise. Another mixed the Kintre powders that caused the lift in the boomer.

The king had enlisted six thousand of the poor in his army, and those new soldiers had built barracks in time for the first snows. Their families had moved back to the countryside from where they came, for with coin, and the passage of a law, they could return to their homes. That further helped the overcrowding in the city. That and the many hovels in Cheaptown that the princess and Jac had paid to build. A few other lords had also contributed to that project, and now in the council there was a group of nobles, prelates and commoners who seemed to form a party for reform. A party that Jac participated in.

Many in the kingdom discussed about all that the King’s Council did, as King Lancellnick had started to use one of the printing presses that Jac’s firm had built. There were now three papers in the capital and papers on the major cities of the realm. The king sent forth a four page sheet twice each quartermoon that discussed his issues and those that his council debated. A council whose attitude had changed, Jac noticed, once word was spread of what was said in the council, and of how the king was more engaged in dialogue with his councillors. Much was made of how Lancellnick no longer tolerated hereditary appointments, but desired men engaged in helping manage Hornik and it’s problems. A third of those nobles had since departed from the King’s Council.

That was not why the streets were quiet, not that things had changed too much. Jac estimated that over twelve thousand people still arrived each day to be fed at all the kitchens that the temples and the charities managed. The meals he paid for alone accounted for 2000 bodies.

Firtoskin was quiet in respect for Queen Karanhit. She had entered her final rounds. Jac had written to Princess Annaxier that it was understandable that they should cancel their session that day. She had summoned him to the palace despite that. It was her one way of clinging to a future, she wrote. It was what her mother wanted.

In the King’s Council it had been much discussed whom the princess should marry and the leading candidates were from the three most powerful neighboring kingdoms. Each knowing that they had to keep increaseing Annaxier’s bride price. Not only Annaxier had taken to the study of tools for creationism, but so too did her ladies in waiting. Three of whom having replaced girls who were less capable of understanding the higher maths that the study entailed. King Lancellnick wanted to make the cost so prohibitive that Annaxier and her court would not leave the country. Jac had come to understand that. Annaxier was a check on her brother. She might leave once the king was dead, and Edmanstow was then king, but only when Edmanstow was able to rule wisely.

Jac hacing seen King Lancellnick’s strategy, did all he could to support it. He had led Annaxier to even create some parts of the Boomers. At least that had been what all thought. Jac had some insights but in his sessions with Annaxier and her ladies, presented that he was unable to solve matters. He found that two or three sessions later the ladies would have a solution he could claim as theirs. It made the fiction of their being Creators stronger.

Edmanstow’s short sighted plans and hostility had not changed through Summer and Fall. Prince Edmanstow was still spoilt and resented being told he was so. Something that far too many observed daily. The king limited his son’s ability to make mischief and tried to get him to diligently see that he was to be ruler of the most powerful nation in the world. Something that creationist science had given Hornik. But Edmanstow seemed to feel his liberties had been curbed. The Prince continued to devise ways to retaliate. Ways which usually met with failure. His own court of sycophants had been reduced by half as certain lords chose to abandon him, or father’s told their sons to do so.

Still Edmanstow persisted in wishing to swim against the stream. King Lancellnick was perplexed by it all, but the queen’s death superseded his attention to it.

Jac entered the castle which appeared to have few of its normal inhabitants. Very few.

Most nobles, unless they were family to the king and queen were absent from court that day. Jac was shown to the princess’ chambers. The sergeant was there to greet him, “She is in pain. You are one of her few friends. She also sees you as a man, Baron Cartwright.” The sergeant pulled Jac away from all the others about the corridor. “She wants to remain in Hornik, in Firtoskin with her father, and thinks that were she forced to marry a man here, she might do so. Her father has favored you, and if she were to be somehow compromised by you, whom she has developed a love for, she would stay, the king would force a marriage…” Sergeant Formilham did not look pleased.

“She would marry me? No, she would think to love me because I am an expedient to one of her desires. She does not love me for aught else at present,” Jac said. “And should I compromise a Princess, my head might separate from my body. The royal headsman might get himself some work.”

The Sergeant saw that Jac understood, “Perhaps. Probably so, Her Highness does not think clearly as her mother has had this sickness so long. The Princess was thrown at you so she could learn enough of your art that she would not leave the kingdom. Do not go to far, lord baron. I do not think the princess would be happy if you did.”

Jac nodded. He would be Annaxier’s friend, but he could not be the lover of a princess. Jac also could not allow her to pretend to love him when she had many misplaced emotions because of the oncoming death of her mother, the queen.

“Highness, what can I do to help?” were his first words when he entered the room. She had been crying, and her ladies that attended her also wept, though now they withdrew into another chamber of her suite. More then eight moons he had known Annaxier. Jac felt that working together they had helped the kingdom from the brink of one crisis, but a crisis not completely solved.

Another now loomed though. Then most likely another after that. The princess would have to marry, the Duke of Holsatzin had Jac convinced. Hornik would need the might of an ally to offset all that the other nations could bring against them. If they did not secure an ally and the other nations united to take the wealth that Hornik was accumulating, the kingdom would not have enough men trained in arms to survive. The Duke had begun to train the six thousand poor he had taken into the army, and another two thousand that he had also recruited. Taxes had risen a little to cover these new costs.

The Princess was dressed in a sating gown that day. Jac noticed the shimmer of her fabric. A light blue, which was not her mood. The white of her chemise offset the color of the sky. A belt and sash of a multi-colored piece connected, in shades of red and pink that also had a gleam to it.

“I am glad you are here. I need something to distract me,” Annaxier said and came and took his hand. “It is why I did not cancel our planned lesson today.”

Jac had progressed through the course of the eight moons of their friendship from bowing when they met from a distance. Now he was being given her hand to kiss. He took her hand in friendship. It was not fiction that their time together were lessons. He instructed the princess in much of the complex learning that he had come to, over the years. Together they instructed her ladies in waiting. The women who comprised her court, within the greater court of Hornik. Jac was nearly at the palace each day now. In order to accommodate the schedule, Master Fredardic and others conducted his own training much earlier. Still, some days he had little time for himself.

King Lancellnick, knew that many demands were being placed upon Jac, and had remarked on it. The Creatory was still trying to develop all manner of new devices, and tutoring Annxier, attendance on the King’s Council and other duties were time consuming.

They had found a way to make the steam carts even faster, and on straight and level track, the carts now could reach speeds as fast as a horse that galloped for short periods of time. They could pull several tons, as if forty horses were pulling the carts, and at speeds that were incredible. But a hill, or worse, a river, caused tremendous difficulty. Bridge building had become a new science of stress and pressure, for the weight of the steam carts was great. Old wooden bridges had not been constructed to hold that amount of metal. Water and coal also had to be replenished regularly as a steam cart travelled. And hills were difficult. Mountains though, they were impossible.

Jac said to Annaxier, “Then I shall do my best to aid you.” He should have offered her a heartfelt comment about her mother and the emotional pain that she was undergoing. Jac though had not suffered the loss of a parent as yet and so whatever he had to say, would lack that truth. He could not understand the pain she felt for he had not endured it as yet.

Annaxier said, “We were talking about the law of the physical and the concept of momentum. I have my notes here…” She reached for them and they were a little to the left of him. He turned as she moved past and they were very close.

So close that she stopped turning, and then looked at him, swaying towards him. It caused him to grab her. “Highness, you mustn’t. We mustn’t.”

Jac was conscious that this was probably his best friend, and he could say something that would kill that friendship. And Sergeant Formilham believed that the princess and any feelings she might have had for Jac were tied to the emotions raised from her own mother reaching her death. Jac had developed feelings for the princess himself. She was beautiful and was the one person he spent more time with than any other.

“Why not? I know you care for me,” she asked.

Jac held his tongue and used both hands to hold her arms. Loving the feel of her, but keeping Annaxier at a distance.

“Yes. Yes of course I care for you. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever known. I may not have mentioned that to you before.” He said and had a lop sided smile, for he knew that his smile was anything but straight when he made a joke, and was in an uncomfortable position.

“No, you haven’t. Thank you,” she had a warm purr to her voice.

Jac was doing his best not to lose his resolve and pull her close.

“But surely you know that we can not speak intimately to each other.” He did realize that he held her, and he was not a complete novice with women. He had learned to have sex, to make a woman pleasured from servant girls at the house of Master Gearman. Jac also used a very discreet bordello in the quarter of New Town that his Creatory was in when he felt a need. The last time he had visited it was before he had met the princess.

Not because he did not have urges, but he had been kept very busy in his own duties and as King’s Councillor. Also because he knew he had feelings for the princess. Emotions had been developing and he did not want Annaxier to know that he used other women to absolve his own needs.

Annaxier went slack in his hold, “Why can we not? I care for you.”

Jac shook his head, “We can not such things. The King will not take kindly were I to say the same. I was made Baron by your brother, but you are destined for a lord much higher then I.”

“You talk foolishness again. The King and the kingdom value you near as high as any Duke, or prince. Do you not know this? Do you not see that near four of ten men in my father’s council will listen to you and follow your thoughts. The Progressive party, they are calling those that follow your leadership.” Annaxier said. Now thankfully standing a little further away from him as they discussed this point.

Jac replied, “I know this, but I must doubt some of these achievements you speak of. They are not like the devices I create. Those are solid. You can point to them, touch them. Because I speak of an idea in council does not mean that others can grab a hold of it.” Jac was much more comfortable now, for he and Annaxier had gone away from the talk of their own lives. Lives that had become intertwined.

Annaxier must have known that nothing good would come of an alliance between them. As Formilham thought, Jac would become shorter by a head.

She had turned a little red in the face, “You can not be so obtuse. It is infuriating. The men in the council follow your lead because you speak with intelligence and have a solution that can help Hornik. Duke Hendriker listens for you helped him with the army, and you help him with these new weapons of yours. These Boomers that shall be of use to defend our borders. ArchPaters’ Kendlitur and Larwellton both respect all you have done for the poor. They credit me with much of the aid at Cheaptown, but it was you who pointed out how to give the poor supplies to make their own hovels. These are all admirable qualities. Even father notes that you were wasted before he brought you to the King’s Council. He does not tell Edmanstow that my brother should be more like you, nor always sings your praises, but his majesty does speak well of you often enough that Ed surely knows the king’s value of you is near as high as his value of my brother.”

Jac shrugged. “I thank you for these kind words. I do not doubt some of my abilities, nor my leadership of the Progressive Party,” Jac had used the name of those who spoke as he in conversation before. “I doubt that I have risen so high in the king’s estimation though.”

“High enough to be worthy of a princess.” Annaxier had not forgotten that she had nearly kissed him. A kiss would not be the death of him. Any promise with a kiss, or anything that violated her virginity, would lead to his death.

“I did not mean it that way,” he said. Jac suspected that the emotions brought about by her mother’s illness had a great deal to do with her wanting to be loved. To be made love to. And as she was the one person he spent the most time with, Annaxier most likely would say the same about him.

She said, “No, I can tell. You don’t think you can be my consort. But you told me I am beautiful. That was a start. Is there noting else that compels you to have feelings for me?”

Jac could speak to that and not lie, “You are my closest friend. Not because I see you almost each day. That is a joy for me. But also because we can talk. Talk like this, though, and we step close to an area that you know full well could result in my being shown a cell in the dungeons. Your father has made it clear to other men of our kingdom that such suits would be ill advised. We could love each other like Tonlorius and Patrainia and as in the legend, here and now it would be a betrayal of our responsibilities to act upon such a love.”

She turned from him then. She looked out through the window he had installed in her rooms. Much clearer than what was there before. He did not think she saw anything though. “My responsibilities, you mean. You may love where you will. You may marry whom you want. But just as you argue in council, my happiness is secondary to my usefulness to the kingdom.”

He grabbed her and pulled her around, close. She had taken a place in his heart even if the place in hers was mixed up with the loss of her mother. “No, I wish with all my heart that I too was born of royal blood. That I could love you openly and as you deserve. The worst part of my day is that moment after we have said goodbye to each other here, or elsewhere, for you and I shall be apart for many rounds. The worst thing in my life will be to send you off to another kingdom. You were born a princess. We can not run far enough away to escape that. You will be the mother to a king. You will be a queen.”

He ran out of things to say, for the reality was such that he hated it. He hated that he had to argue in the King’s Council that Hornik needed to make the best deal to sell the princess. For that was what it was. It was why he trained her so well in creationist ideals. Only their closest ally should have Annaxier to sit a throne as queen. But there was some hope, slim, and against what Jac would advise, for others spoke to having the princess stay in Hornik. Not many would want their neighbors to learn the secrets that were enriching Hornik. Which Jac also knew was the King’s plan. It was why Jac argued about marriages for Annaxier. Misdirection.

There were tears in her eyes. “I just want to be a woman.”

“Annaxier, you are a woman. The best of all women.” He said and wiped away a tear as it fell down her cheek. He hoped he was gentle. He was conscious of her smell as he inhaled. He was conscious of the feel of her as he held her by one arm. There legs were touching and she was once more falling into his embrace. He could feel her pelvis and stomach against his flank. Her breasts against his arm. “Annaxier, we must not.”

He felt his loins stirring and his hose and codpiece would do little to hide the effect she was having on him. If he were to be aroused he would have to sit and hide that. She would know, but he could not leave the room, or allow any other to see such upon him.

“For now, for today, I must,” She stretched her face to his and their lips touched. He was aroused now. He could not touch her lips again. She felt his manhood as it grew and she smiled, a little. Her free hand reaching for his offending growth. He reached just as quick to intercept her hand before it could land upon him.

“No, Annaxier. Not now.” He moved a bit and found a chair that he could sit on. If someone entered just then, the evidence of his thoughts for Annaxier would show that the privilege of a private audience had been abused. Something that the king might need take notice of. If he did, Jac could lose his head.

If he were ever to be the lover of Annaxier, he would not make love to her in the middle of the day, while her mother lay within rounds of death. Though if he were to ever make love Annaxier, Jac would ensure that his own guards were upon the door, and that the King was miles away from where he did make love to the princess.

“You wish it also,” she said.

“Yes, of course. Do you not think I love you as well. You are the only woman I am with. But your mother is near her end. I should not like to take your virginity when emotions from that event may color all your feelings.

“We know that the King may not send you forth from Hornik to another kingdom. He has had me instruct you so that the other kingdoms realize that your value will need some serious commitment. It is possible that you will remain here, as a treasure of our kingdom. When you have spent time with your feelings after all that is happening to your family is finished, then we may proclaim our love to each other. Then we will see if the king will allow it to be as you think. That is the future for us. Now, if we were to do more than we have, there is no going back. And if this is somehow part of the pain you feel for your mother, I do not want to engender any regrets you might have towards me.”

She was shaking her head. The moments that he spoke, however, allowed his body to calm and be controlled. Now if someone came to the door, he would not show any evidence that he had acted in appropriately with the princess.

“I wanted you here so I would not have to think of my duties. These last days I have been consumed with my duties. Should I now have some peace? Is there no happiness for me?” Annaxier’s eyes were full of tears.

“For either of us?” Jac asked with out expecting any answer. “In a few moons, you will feel different then you do today. You have not said so, but the Annaxier I have known these eight moons who loves her mother, has expressed often her sadness that the queen is sick. I must believe that you are very much concerned about this today, even if you have said nothing.”

Her face was red again, “Oh damn you, yes. But I can not go to that room again until they summon me. Father sits at her side. Edmanstow stands, for he has been ordered by father to do so. I have been awake these two days not sleeping and tending her, but the king sent me from the room. He did ask that you look into this concept of heat tubes from the steam device. I thought you had built those long ago?”

Jac nodded. If the king asked her to speak of one of the creations from a few years ago, then King Lancellnick knew that Annaxier needed to find something to distract her.

Jac said, “We have reworked these twice and now a third time on how to make them work. We wish to find a way to use creationism of when the temperature outside is too cold, then the steam twirler can give off heat in it’s tubes, and when too hot, we want the steam twirler to stop.”

Annaxier sat, and reached out her hand across the table. He took it and then they continued to talk of the steam twirler and it’s pipes for a short while. He held her hand and gently caressed it. A knock came and he was able to release it before the door opened. One of her ladies in waiting said that she Annaxier summoned back to Queen Karanhit, “Accompany me, lord Cartwright,” he was commander.

A small entourage of guards, ladies in waiting and one or two others that attended her highness did walk up one floor and then to the queen’s apartments. Many others stood outside in the hall, the doors to the antechamber open. Jac could see that they were filled with those that served the queen, nobles of the court, healers and priests. A lane parted as Annaxier made her way into the antechamber, motioning for the guardsmen to stop, and most of her ladies in waiting. She took one of her ladies into the queen’s bedchamber, which Jac could see was also filled with the most important people in the realm.

The King, the ArchPater’s of the religions, the Prince, several Dukes and their ladies. “Attend Lord Cartwright,” she said turning at the threshold to the room.

Jac had little choice but to enter. He felt very out of place, though he had met most of those in the room. Some even followed his lead in the Progressive Party that Annaxier had named before. With the princess it’s champion, it was probably a name that would stick.

Jac had been in the antechamber before. That was when the clear glass window was installed. He had met Queen Karanhit then and some few other times since. She did have good days over the last few moons. But these were rare.

The bedchamber was a different story. The decor was similar, rich reds colors, with black borders and designs to give it weight. The bedchamber was nearly as large as the antechamber. But here, watching Karanhit die, as many would come to watch her give birth, a need then to see the entrance in the world of a future king. The bed was large and the predominant feature in the room. Jac did not have a bed so big, though he knew his parents had purchased one when they had become wealthy.

There was other furniture as well. Four wardrobes took all of one wall, opposite another wall that had curtains covering the windows there. The king sat in a great chair with arms nearest the bed. Brought close enough that it was touching. Prince Edmanstow, leaned against a small table with two drawers next to the head of the bed. A chest was at the foot of the bed. Neat the door, where he entered was another long table with more drawers. A door to the garderobe was off to the right. Where here were walls, portraits or tapestries hung. A moderate fire blazed, but so many gathered made the room warm.

Annaxier went to the bedside, the king siting close on the right side, “It will be soon, child. The healers say she is still with us and may hear you, but she will never speak again now. Soon she will sleep.” The king’s voice cracked as he sobbed. “Soon sleep, and then never wake…” He had one of the queen’s hands in his.

Jac felt a hand grip his shoulder. “It is I, Jacklincoln.” Duke Hendriker said very quietly. “The princess brought you, that speaks well for you.”

“I do not think I should be here…” Jac said quietly.

“If my daughter brought someone to my deathbed, I would trust her to know what she is doing. Annaxier and Lancellnick are the most astute of any in the kingdom when it come to politics. Though they do not always work in tandem…” The duke said.

Jac watched the princess as she kneeled on the other side of the bed from her father. She took the hand that had been held by Edmanstow until his elder sister arrived. Annaxier told her mother that she loved her, that it was fine for her to pass to the courts of the gods.

The healers checked on the queen then, and after no change, did so again ten ticks later. Thrice more, Jac saw they checked on the queen, each at these intervals of near ten ticks. No one much talked in the queen’s room, though when Jac turned his head to look in the antechamber, there was a great deal of talking in that room.

Some were saying prayers, a few even had the new prayer books that the printing presses had made. Jac started to recite the Death Prayers of Krien, quietly, and ArchPater Larwellton heard and came and stood next to Jac. They both then did so together three times during those agonizingly slow ticks of the clock.

“She is dead, your majesty,” the chief healer said when he checked next.

The king let out another sob, then said, as if it were some formula of his office, “Go and sound the bell. Cover the mirrors, and tear the clothes. We mourn, we mourn, we mourn. The queen has died, let the word be spread.”

Others in the room said, “Aye majesty,” as if in response to King Lancellnick’s statement.

The king turned and look at those gathered. “Thank you for attending us in our time of grief. Now, if you will give us and our family some time alone, we shall have court and King’s Council after mass tomorrow, ArchPater?”

“Yes your majesty, we shall have a memorial mass in the morning, as is custom, and then the Queen Karanhit will lie in state for two days after. We shall have a full memorial service then three days hence and her pyre shall be prepared for then.”

With that announcement, all but the King and his children were sent from the room, even the healers and their assistants who would prepare the Queen’s body so that it could lie in state for the period of mourning. Jac had received one look from Annaxier and a nod from the King, who did so to all the others that had been with him when his wife died.

Slowly the many nobles and others made their way from the antechamber and the hall that led to the Queen’s apartment. Jac found his own guards and was soon walking towards the Creatory, even as the bells of the city started to ring. Criers could be heard shouting the news of the Queen’s death. Jac could sense a difference from earlier, when the city was quiet in anticipation of the event. Now it was depressed and saddened because the event had come to pass.

Jac would tell all in the Creatory to go and pray for the Queen’s soul these next days. He would do the same at the Makories that he and Master Gearman owned. Best to stop work before the King and his council reminded all to do so. That would be something that he was sure would arise the following day when the King held court and council.

“Master Cartwright,” one of the the journeymen said. Jac turned his head. It was Dallintock. Dallintock had come up with an attachment to the plow. It helped to place a seed regularly into each furrows that was made. It had been used last season in many of the fields and this harvest they had seen the results of it.The new device led to an abundance of wheat and other plants grown with ease. Sales of the device had taken off.

Dallintock, who had grown up on a farm, had added another innovation to the farmer’s scythe. He’d made a reaper that could be pulled like a plow. He had the horse walk between the rows of the furrows, having a guide on this new plow give the spacing that would be needed at harvest. His newest thought was to produce a multiline plow, and have it pulled by a new type of steam cart. Digging up so much earth would need a great many more horses then a team of two.

“Yes, Dall?” Joe asked.

“Master, I have bad news, and this I know, is not a day for any more of that.”

Jac nodded, “Very well. I believe there is a saying about good news always slow and rare, while bad is quick and everywhere you look for it,” Jac said. He would have to refine that, if there was not such a saying. Everywhere you look for it.

“Yes, master,” the journeyman agreed. But paused briefly. Jac did not want men who agreed with him, nor those who had information he had to fish for. Dall continued though, “When I went to compare how fields of my new plow attachment did with those that did not have it, I began to find a trend. My mistake was not mentioning this as soon as I saw something in the numbers. Now though, I have six of the ten of the farms accounted, and I think you and the king and his council must learn of this.” Dall did not provide the conclusion.

“Yes, but learn of what? That your seed placing attachment works?” Jac asked.

“Oh, sorry. Yields on all the fields are down,” Dall replied.

Jac understood, “Oh, then your seed placer does not work. We will have to pay back those farmers and lords who bought it.” Jac was sanguine about it. Such happened.

Dall was still shaking his head, “Oh no Master Cartwright. The seed placer adds to the yields over those that don’t use it. No, not just six farms. I have six of ten farms of all the kingdom reporting, and overall the crop this year was eight tenths of last year. By next harvest we will have food shortages.” Jac came awake fully to this report.

“That is the first I have heard of it. Eight of ten parts, are you sure?” He asked.

“Yes, I am sorry for it. But yes. I do not think even if we start to eat less now, we can whether the storm. Surely some of the great lords with the biggest farms would know this aw well?”

Jac did not think the loss of twenty percent was so devastating. “But that is not so terrible, two in ten. Surely we can weather that.”

Dall had more to add, “But this is not so, for our prosperity had given encouragement to many peasants of other nations to come to Hornik. Less now that it is Winter, and that it is Winter, we should be nearing the end of last year’s birthing cycle. For all that the poor have swamped our cities, you must realize that in the country, a feeling of wealth abounds for those who have work. They are breeding like er, lords.” Lords often had large families, since they could afford to feed so many mouths.

“Well the poor, are also, as they have little to do. And you, GrandMaster, have provided them a safety net by feeding all. I think my accounts show that in other years, men, women and children starved in much greater quantities. In all, by Summer we will have another two hundred thousand to add to the hundred thousand we would normally expect to have seen born. These will be immigrants and new births.”

Jac shook his head. Hornik had less than five million all told, Jac knew that much. “Most lords that are still in Firtoskin did not return to their lands and farms because of the illness of the queen. If some know of this prosperity of new citizens, or lack of yield at harvest, I have not heard mention of it. And this is across the country? But there are different growing regions.”

“Oh, I am averaging. Some places there is an excess over the last year, but most show weakness, and a few had fallow fields and crop failure. That is what the numbers I have gotten are. I still have not got the information from the very far north, but I am not hopeful, for there had been word that the crop was thin this year. Over watering from the storms.”

Jac remembered that the council had heard such a report about the north being drenched earlier in the year. “Best show me your information and tell me all. I will ask to form a group in the Council so that the King need not be troubled. But can we find a solution to this problem over the next few days? Do you need help in getting more information?” The two began to look at the information that Dallintock had. There were two lords that had not been forthcoming of how the harvest on their lands were that Dall should have heard by then. One was Duke Conlinton.

After the memorial mass, which not only Jac attended, but so too did his parents and sisters, for they had all grown close to Princess Annaxier, King Lancellnick held his court. Jac found a moment to ensure the Chancellor had gotten his note about the harvest so they could talk about it in King’s Council. “Yes, you shall speak as soon as we finish plans for the queen’s funeral,” the Chancellor said.

“I thought you had all that you needed to speak about this. I can give you more…” Jac began.

“Nonsense, you know what this is about. You shall present it. You are right, though, that I do deem it as very important. You project starvation? Can not we consume more livestock this year and balance that against the bounty of the fields?”

Jac began to explain but the King had some matters he wanted to describe to his entire court, and the Chancellor had to hurry away. King Lancellnick did not actually announce anything of a surprise, for many had to deal with the arrangements for Queen Karanhit. Jac spent that time writing notes on what he needed to say in Council. All too soon, he was standing in front of the lords and councillors and had to speak of it.

“As you know there was a new attachment for the plow this year and it increased the amount of food planted. What you may not know, and I did not until yesterday, is that across the kingdom, we have had a terrible harvest. We also do not have a great many reserves. We have calculated and we do not have enough food stockpiled from this last harvest that will see to our succor until the next harvest. We also have an influx of new births of our people in greater numbers then usual, and an influx of people from some of our neighbors that would like to better themselves. I can show you charts and numbers. But if my lords will ask of their stewards of their own lands, then perhaps we can provide his majesty with a quick guide that shows the veracity of what I have found.” Having spent time with Dall and his numbers and reports, Jac saw a need for a new man to be one of the King’s Ministers and learn about agriculture for Hornik.

Some of the lords nodded, for they knew they had a bad harvest on their lands. Jac had written to his own stewards, for the lands that the Prince had transferred to him had farms upon them. He also had seen that the numbers were already part of the report though, and said so then to the council, “My own lands have suffered this year. Too late a planting from last, too much rain during the growing season. There has been much damage to the crop.”

Jac saw that the prince made a face and looked like he said something. Something that Lancellnick certainly heard and he gave his son a look and then a very stern whisper. The prince seemed to sit straighter after that and did not smile.

“GrandMaster, you are sure? This would be a serious problem if it were so,” the King said.

Jac nodded slowly, “As I mentioned, majesty, this is one report being done quickly by one man who saw something wrong. I have ordered a second report started and if these lords here will write to their own stewards, or travel to their lands and bring back the evidence from their own homes, then we may see if it is truly so. I do not think I would be lied to.”

“No of course not. We do not need news like this at the moment. We have much on our minds just at present.” All understood that. The king wanted time to grieve, and he knew such a crises as this might not allow it. “But we never can choose the time for tales which hurt us will arrive.”

“If I might suggest majesty, appoint five of your councillors to investigate this. Then also these men can suggest how to deal with the problem from buying food of our neighbors, to rationing, to dealing with hoarding and profiteering by inflating the prices,” Jac said, mentioning some of the few ideas he had.

“That is not so bad an idea. We like that suggestion. You GrandMaster, and Hendriker. Kendiltur, you also, if you have time.” The ArchPater nodded, and the king named two others. “Please, you will tell us as quickly as you can, if these are true facts. If we must purchase food from our friends and enemies. This is a poor time for such to occur. We have had bad harvests before, but never that forced all to ration. We have come close, but we have always found a solution.” The king dismissed it then from his mind. The rest of the King’s Council was solely spent dealing with Queen Karanhit’s funeral. Jac and the four others named retired to discuss the shortage matter. The King joined them before they could even begin.

“Good, you are ready to start on this. We do not doubt the GrandMaster’s words, but hope they are wrong. We have sent a note to the kitchens telling them to reduce the amount of food that is served each night here at court, and to the servants. We would be an example to our subjects. We did not want to create a panic in our people. But If any of this is true, then we must act on this very fast. It could become very bad for all of our people should we not. In other words, it would be easy to purchase grain and other needful food. This year, if the situation becomes known to other kingdoms, it may be part of what we are offered for our daughter. And if the country is faced with starvation, it may be a price we can not refuse. That is not a position we wish to be in.”

The king again thanked Jac for his timely warning. ArchPater Kendiltur offered his temple and a room there for them to meet in regularly. The ArchPater also suggested that they quickly start working towards verifying the information, and having solutions.

“It is one thing if we have a low harvest, we have endured crisis like this before, but I think the Duke has impressed upon us this year that our neighbors may not be so willing to help,” the ArchPater said.

“This is a horrible issue to have to face. My journeyman thinks we could have starvation before the next harvest. Perhaps we can force the planting of crops that are quicker to grow. Less of the crops that take the entire season,” Jac said.

“And how do we know that we shall not have a horrible harvest again? Or that we do not have more people seek refuge here in Hornik adding to our burden. I can not fault that they think we can offer them a better chance then their own countries. I am sure we can,” the Duke said. “But there are considerations of how much we can do for these new citizens, and how much their former countries will be hurt by so many running to us. We shall here of it from the other kingdoms and I do not think that they will have anything pleasant to say about it.”

The five men called for assistants and together they crafted letters to be sent to help with the finding of information. Each had men they could devote to the task of finding out facts, and many were sent also to retrieve the information that was needed. The churches were enlisted to aid in the figuring of how many new people had come to the kingdom from elsewhere, for every village of any size had a temple. The entire country was covered, but such a canvas of information would take time to fully gather. They knew they were going to have to make assumptions.

Even so, by the day’s end, they had compiled some information, and knew that before the end of the current cycle they would have enough to take to the king. The group then began to think of plans to deal with the issue, for having many starve in the late summer and early fall before the harvest was completely in was not an option any wished to face.

After six rounds, the night was late and the assistants as well as they who were councillors of the kingdom, craved their rest. Jac left with his guards for the Creatory and his home. He came upon the gate at the wall that was between Old Town and the new town. Inside a barracks room there, one could hear dicing and a couple guardsmen stood at a doorway.

“Here, are you lord Cartwright, hold up a moment,” Jac and his four guards came to attention, then, for this was not ordinary. The other lords he had been with all lived in the Old Town. Jac was the only one who would have to pass through the gate.

“No, no, we just have someone who wished to talk to you.” One of the guards said, while the other stuck his head inside.

“It is late. Can not whoever wishes to talk to me, wait until the morning?” Jac asked.

“Sorry, my lord, but you best wait.” A few moments later Jac recognized Prince Edmanstow. He was coming towards Jac from inside the room where the soldiers who were there had been dicing.

“Ah, privacy, there. Now GrandMaster, you have caused me a great deal of trouble. And I have lost forty silvens waiting for you to pass this evening. I am not pleased.” Jac did not think that was his problem. The boy was still very spoiled. Jac saw some of the lords that he surrounded himself with back in the room watching the soldiers and their comrades dice, while also watching the Prince.

“If I had known your highness wished to have speech with me, I would have made arrangements to come and see you at once.”

Saying that should satisfy Edmanstow’s self-centered ego. Jac knew no man who was so much consumed with how people thought of him. Lancellnick certainly thought more of the kingdom then what people thought of him. He had learned, Jac thought, that he did not need to be loved every day. If he did the best for the kingdom, then all would love him most days. Just not every day.

Edmanstow, Jac surmised, did not care if people loved or hated him. He wanted to do what was best for the prince. “I do not doubt that you would. Father has been distracted by my mother’s death. It has been a very long and slow process and he has relied on Annaxier. I have been left to my own self mostly, but I fear he shall remember me soon enough. You destroyed Riclarpur and sought to make that my problem. You were wrong, for I do not forgive easily.”

Jac knew that the Prince was going to be a problem when he was king, if he kept such an attitude. “Highness, as a councillor to your father I think that for the good of all, justice is much more important then revenge. Under one your reign would surely prosper, under the other, is tyranny.”

Jac had learned a great deal about politics, and the ruling dynasties of all the kingdoms extant then, as well as many that had fallen. “Do not threaten me, Master Creator. I do not appreciate it.”

Jac did not threaten him. The boy did not know what a threat was. Col had already talked of it, once. A few men hired to go to taverns where the poor knew that the prince did little to help their plight. A few choice words. Then a march, in a friendly sort of way to protest to the Prince and King how they suffered. Met by other men, hired men, shouting in favor of the Prince. These men doing violence to those who spoke peaceably. The next day three times as many would be marching to call for the Prince to give them aid. It would be easy to threaten, humiliate and manipulate him. Jac was not scarred by Edmanstow’s threats.

“Highness, you are very young. I hope that your father shall have a long reign still for you do not see what is happening around you. If you wish to have a talk with me here in the shadows, you are harming your cause.”

“You are wrong, peasant! Do not seek to lecture me. Else I will change my resolve. For I see how you are useful to my purpose. Enough have told me that those ideas that reside in your mind could be worth fortunes to me. I shall let you continue to keep your head, but you best stay out of our way. We will be king, and you will be but a subject. Do not think that you shall have a place in our Council, for only nobles and the clergy shall have one.”

Jac did not point out that Edmanstow had made him a lord. What Jac had heard was that the boy would not kill him out of hand. “I shall be a model citizen, highness.”

“Do not patronize us. We will have your head should you do so, despite your value. We warn you, do what you will with our father, but when our time comes, you will disappear from our sight. That is our will.”

Jac could think of nothing he should like better. He nodded. The Prince deciding he had finished, turned his back and called for his companions. Jac seeing his opportunity, gathered his guards and after another very long day, made his way to his bed and sleep.

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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 can be found here

Chapter three is at this entry

Chapter four is at this entry

Chapter five is here

In this Chapter Jac’s deals with the aftermath of his duel. Now that he has made his way amongst the decision makers of the kingdom, it can be seen that in politics, as well as most human interactions, people come at decisions through a variety of means. Some are altruistic. Some want to do the best for the most. Some people make decisions solely based on how it will affect their own situation. Most think about themselves first. And here, we see how the world looks to another country when that country, once an equal, surges ahead to be a dominate. Not only do former friends begin to have suspect motivations for their former friendship and future friendship, but it means that the new power must look to protecting itself.

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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 6

Jac was soon standing, blood staining his tunic, in front of the clerk Petchurlin, at the steps of the palace that led to the meeting hall of the King’s Council. “That is ill advised Lord Cartwright. Would you not like to wear a clean blouse and fresh doublet?”

“No. Not at all. Should things have been different, I would have been here without a finger, perhaps, or the use of my hand forever denied me.” Jac knew that Prince Edmanston had manipulated him. But he wondered if King Lancellnick had done so as well. That was very much a possibility. And it so there was the real possibility during a fight with weapons so sharp that he could have ended up dead no matter how much better skilled he was than Lord Riclarpur. Luck could play it’s part in a duel. And if Jac had bad luck then it would have been a disaster instead of a triumph.

Petchurlin said, “Yes, I have heard of your victory. I am sure the king has also. As has the Duke on Conlinton. He shall be quite angered at the laming of his son.”

“Enough of this. You are like an apprentice who thinks I can not remember to add for I must be in my dotage. I will have words for Conlinton. Take me to the council hall and let them see the commoner made noble who would defend the rights of the kingdom that they will not.” Jac’s words were loud enough to almost be a shout.

Many turned their heads, if they had not already been looking at Jac and the clerk, to see who had spoke so loud. Throughout the hall were commoners such as Petchurlin, and there were nobles also.

If the noble class all acted like Prince Edmanstow and Lord Riclarpur, then Hornik was not going to be able to resolve many of the problems that beset it. If men were intransigent in their quest to retain all the powers they had from years before Creatories and Makories began to cause change, then what was manifesting in the kingdom would make the lesson Jac had taught the young lord seem as a slap instead of the maiming it was.

Petchurlin acquiesced and Jac was led past nobles and commoners alike into a hall nearby that was half full. Nobles and priests were gathered speaking to each other. Their clerks were scattered about, close enough to be called by their masters. A long table was in the center. “The king will sit at the head there with the prince on his left. Today on his right, the princess plans to join him. The queen used to come also on occasion. Much more when the prince and princess were little children. You will sit on the left side, at the last seat.” Petchurlin pointed. He then continued, “Seating is by date, unless you are given a specific ministry, and then you might have a place up near the very top of the table. On the left side of the table, closest to the King is the minister of the exchequer, then Duke Hendriker who is in charge of the army. On the right is the foreign minister, and then the King’s Justicar.”

“Those are the four most important ministers. Then there are six others,” Jac said and named them. “I have had an education Petchurlin. My choice to be seen this day spattered with a fool’s blood is not made lightly. I was appointed to this council because terrible things are taking place in Hornik. These occur alongside wondrous things. This council appears to have lost its way in managing the needs of all. As change accelerates, perhaps faster than we may manage it, that seems evident to many. History shows that decisions get made to make things right. Or at least lead us to today. Some decision are good, and history shows many decisions and actions could have been better,” Jac smiled.

Jac then recognized one face that was coming towards him, his uncle, Lincarjirt. “The ArchPater sent for me to attend him this session, and just told me to come over to you. I am to appear to be stern with you, for he does not want to lose the friendship of the Duke of Conlinton, yet the ArchPater also wants me to tell you how the boy, older than you yet the ArchPater calls him a boy all the same, did need to be disciplined. Is it true you lamed him?”

Jac said, “Aye, near twenty of his strokes, if I had not deflected them, would have done worse to me. Several would have killed me, I am sure of it. If I had thought more about it, I would have killed him after allowing him to inflict a terrible wound. Then Riclarpur would no longer be a blight to all, and none would look at me as if I did not do what was needful. But these frauds all know that it was needful. Even the man’s father.” Riclarpur had been used to maim and kill others. He had been used as a tool of evil.

“I taught you forbearance and the love of other men,” Pater Linc said. He was higher than that now. He was a Under ArchPater now. Pater, Upper Pater, then Senior Pater and now Under ArchPater. The next rank was that of ArchPater and there was but one in the religion of Krien.

“You taught me many things, uncle. What has been taught to the Prince and his friends? I would hazard to say they lack training in any moral laws.” Jac said is quietly

Linc smiled and then lightly touched him on his shoulder. “That may be so. I know you thought to impart a lesson today. Krien bless us that we all can find instruction in what happened this morning.” Lincarjirt then turned and went back to the ArchPater where they engaged in conversation, some of the other clergy coming to talk to his uncle and the ArchPater.

The room had become more full, and Petchurlin came and whispered that Jac should go to his chair and stand behind it as others were beginning to do. The royals would come soon. Even as Jac reached his chair the other councillors began to move to their seats until they all stood behind a chair. Conlinton, the Duke, was one of the last to enter the room and stand at his chair. The Duke was closer to the top of the table, but not in one of the ten seats of the ministers.

Princess Annaxier came in and stood at her chair, though her’s was held back by a servant, and even as that was arranged, the prince came where his chair was also pulled out. “The king,” was simply announced and all heads turned to the door. King Lancellnick came in. He had a scowl upon his face.

Lancellnick reached his chair and said, “Sit,” even before he sat. Shortly all were seated. Jac following the lead of the lord who was across from him.

One of the lessor ministers was the Chancellor. He was in charge of all the business that would be conducted in council, and seeing that all was followed after any decisions were reached, or the king had made decrees. He had remained standing and addressed the king.

“We have our normal agenda, to discuss. In addition in the three days since our last meeting, the crown has received another offer of marriage for the the Princess. There was a small case of rioting in the wheat exchange, and Duke Conlinton has a matter he would like to bring to the crown’s attention.” Many eyes turned to Jac, who had placed a smile on his face when the Duke’s name was mentioned.

The King said, “We would deal with the matter of the princess first. It does not matter to us what size bride price is offered, or what inducement is made to you lords to support it.” Jac was shocked by that. Surely the lords would not put their own interests over that of the kingdom when deciding where the princess should marry. Then he realized that was a naive thought based on his friendship with Annaxier. The men of the council when offered gold to influence the King might be very susceptible to such inducements.

“We shall not entertain any offer of marriage to our daughter until what will happen with the queen has. We are told that not many more months are left to the queen. That is sufficient time before we must discuss the matter of any marriage for Annaxier. The Foreign Minister, your grace, shall send word to whichever kingdom thinks to intrude upon our grief…”

“Majesty,” the ArchPater of the One True Faith, Kendiltur, stood. “It has been two years. The healers do not seem to be sure how much longer her majesty can hold on. We must have some response to our neighbors and friends.”

“Do not try our patience your grace. We desire our daughter at our side now and none of us wish to worry about what will come later, at this time.” King Lancellnick looked as if he could easily become more angry than he already seemed.

“Majesty, our neighbors grow impatient each moon. They each perceive that such an alliance is further from their reach. We need an alliance to ensure that we are not threatened…”

The King interrupted, “If they can not understand our grief at this time, then they shall never be our friend.” Lancellnick stood. He leaned towards the foreign minister who bowed his head.

“I will offer prayers for her majesty today. Please forgive me, majesty.”

That was not a good sign, Jac thought. The king would not allow a man to speak his mind in council.

The Duke of Conlinton was now standing, “Majesty I can not wait while you allow this abomination to sit here in our council…” The Duke, Jac felt, meant him.

Jac forced a chuckle which got some looks. Then he remembered the silliest things he had ever seen and also tickled his palm under the table where no one could tell he was doing so. Tickling his palm to cause laughter was a trick he had been taught prior to first speaking in public to other masters and journeymen of the Guild of Creators. Jac laughed harder. And louder.

The Duke had been ranting how his son had been injured for life but now, the sound of Jac boiling over in mirth stopped him. The King spoke, loud enough that it would carry to the end of the table, “Something is funny GrandMaster Cartwright? The Duke brings serious charges against you. One’s that the Justicar might very well have to look into.”

Jac stopped tickling his palm and rose. Rising seemed to be the thing, when addressing the council. “I was just thinking what a waste of time this all must be for you, sire. I was thinking that the fool of a Duke who has an idiot for a son, has never looked in a mirror to see that he and his family are abominations. Perhaps his gracelessness can’t afford one. I shall make a gift of one from my Makory today to his gracelessness.

“I was thinking how a boy gets to play at being a man and his toys are other men who are your subjects, majesty. I was thinking how a sneeze or two from some very learned men here at this table and our kingdom will blow away.” The Duke could not fail to know he had been insulted. Jac was interested in how the king would react.

“You speak in riddles, GrandMaster…” King Lancellnick was giving him an opening.

Jac said, “Sire, you brought me to your council because you wanted to hear the truth from those who have had no voice in your council. You call me GrandMaster, a title I earned. But you are inaccurate. Your son has made me Baron, so that his tool could do his best to kill me this morning.”

“You common pig. I will kill you,” the Duke of Conlinton said, still standing and looking quite livid.

“Your gracelessness, do you not think I could have killed your son? Prince Edmanstow was a witness, as no doubt were you in your carriage and saw how many times I did offer Riclarpur a chance to end the fight. He would not. But if you wish to try and kill me, I am ready for it. I can’t promise you that I shall allow you one good leg to stand on after, though,” Jac said. What did the nobles want? Him to be intimidated by all their threats. He did not need that.

Jac did not need any noble to like him. What he did need was some way to return to his life prior to the king’s summons to court. That was not going to happen. Time did not turn backwards on itself.

“There shall be no dueling,” King Lancellnick said. “We did bring Baron Cartwright to this council to hear truth from him. Is this truth?”

Jac paused for a second. With Melisandier to instruct him in drama, he knew a short paused would make a point. “No sire, it is not all. I meet bluster and bravado with the same. The truth is I did not seek a fight. The truth is I did not seek this post. But you appointed me, and Prince Edmanstow seems to be unhappy with that.”

“That is a lie!” the prince said.

The king looked at his son. “We shall let the Baron speak and then if others wish to do so, they can stand and speak. You can say what you will when he is done. We fear Conlinton that this will be some while. You best sit. We are sorry that Riclarpur is hurt. Continue Baron Cartwright.”

Jac took a deep breath. Master Gearman had spent years training him. Perhaps this one moment was he reason for it. “Sire, you should temporize such statements, or the Justicar should look into the terrorizing that Lord Riclarpur has engaged in. Most at the behest of the Prince. It is a coward that will use another man to do this work for him. It is a child who will use men as his playthings.”

“You cur! I will gut you myself!” Edmanstow said, but the others at the table ignored it, and the king hissed at his son to be silent.

“I can provide the names of the men that the prince had Lord Riclarpur duel. Four, like myself, were commoners, but the prince made them noble barons that Riclarpur could then destroy. One man can never use his right hand in the same way that I hamstrung the lords leg. I mentioned before I could have killed Riclarpur in our very first pass. I offered him many chances to stop his stupidity. If the lord Justicar will not look into the actions of such a knave, then who shall defend the rights of the seven men, barely able to use a sword, against a skilled duelist? The truth your majesty is that allowing nobles to duel nobles, or commons to duel commons, is a travesty of the courts of justice that you, your father and all your ancestors had set up once your fore-bearers defeated the Ishyurk dynasty and set up courts of law to adjudicate between people.” Jac had more to say on the matter, and if they were going to let him speak, he would.

“I do not think that your council needs to hear more about the seven men that were injured by Lord Riclarpur at the direction of the prince. I think most here know of the incidents. If not all of them, then many of them. Even the Duke will know how his son has used his skill, his position, and the Duke’s rank to intimidate opponents into losing against him. That further shows how wrong dueling is. That the prince has been allowed to terrorize so many and do so unpunished, shows that your justice is not impartial. Were I born prince, I too could get away nearly with murder, it would seem. His hand may not be Riclarpur’s in this, but it guided Riclarpur’s sword arm.”

As Jac took a breath the prince protested again. Lancellnick said, “We are aware of our heir’s involvement, Lord Cartwright. Perhaps you should proceed with these other allegations that you find fault with us and with this council.” Jac knew he had been set up again. This time by the king and Edmanstow had no idea that he had been played for a fool by his own father.

The king knew that Jac was a good swordsman. The king must have known that Master Fredardic was considering having Jac represent their studio in the kingdom weapons trials. That Jac had an excellent chance of defeating Riclarpur who then would not be such a problem. Jac wondered if the king had expected him to cripple the fool.

“Ah,” Jac said nodding, while staring at the king. “These men here, who sit and should advise you. They are scarred of you, obviously. None more than I would wish to say to you; not securing alliance with our neighbors at this time can wait till the queen has,” Jac searched for a politic way of saying died. He did not find one. “Died.”

There were gasps. “I am sorry, majesty, highness, but we all know that people will die. If the Princess had been bartered away before the Queen was found to be sick, Annaxier might be the Sultana of Justabul and be months away from news of the queen, and thousands of miles as well.”

Annaxier looked at Jac, and she was not happy. “Majesty, you must trust those who give you counsel to do so honestly, and they who do must tender it without fear that they shall suffer for their opinions, or thoughts. This council has too many men, and only one woman? Is that a good way to understand all that you rule? How many are on this council, not for the guidance they will give you, but because their grandfather was on it. How many are here because long ago, a relative of theirs helped an ancestor of yours, do something heroic? Heroism, also does not ensure the best advice in deciding whether it would be a good idea to tear up the city streets and place a sewer system under our feet. Advice that for thirty years no one has wanted to discuss, but clearly, each year that we don’t, the healers will tell you more are sick because we do not do so.”

King Lancellnick said, “You speak of great matters that have troubled us. We do not appreciate, however, being told how we must raise our children, and care for our wife.”

“Once you asked me to be your councillor, then I must give you my counsel. You are not a man who is unaffected by the whims of fate. We all are that. But you are king and every man, commoner, peasant and noble of Hornik relies that you will make wise decisions. Decisions that sometimes you do need others who are better informed to help you make them. I do in many of my decisions about Creationism. I know that the ArchPater Larwellton relies on several of his Senior and Upper Priests to help him come to decisions in the church.” The ArchPater nodded. Larwellton could not deny it, for Jac’s uncle Linc had told Jac of how the church worked before.

“You are on dangerous ground, lord Cartwright,” the king said. Jac took a moment to look at him. The king sat forward in his seat, one arm upon the table. Jac did not feel that he was on dangerous ground with the king. With the prince, perhaps, but not the king.

“I may be, majesty. But if I do not tell you the truth as I see it, as I know it, then you do not need my counsel. You can find many men who will agree with everything you say. I too will agree when I feel you are right. I will disagree when I feel you are wrong. A king not listening to his council is wrong. Allowing dueling is wrong for the best trained has a clear advantage. Not punishing those lords who have used their position to intimidate others, is wrong. Not discussing the options about the Princess and her marriage, even if you do nothing about it this day, is wrong. An opportunity missed. I think there are other issues that need to be discussed. Issues that you wanted my perspective on. The poor infesting our cities. The changes that are coming about because of Creationists and new devices. The sewer under Firtoskin…” Jac was nearly finished. He turned to Conlinton.

“And your grace, I can not say I am sorry that I have hurt your son. He wished to murder me. You did not punish him as a father for those he attacked before. I might have been more lenient and not have taken his leg from him, if he ever had shown mercy. His true punishment should be death for the misery he has inflicted on others. That he is not alone in his guilt for that, is a matter that should be dealt with also. That your majesty, that is the truths I know.” Jac cocked his head and realized he was finished. He sat. There was a great silence in the room. Jacklincoln had said things that were not spoken to the king. None told Lancellnick that they did not give him truth.

King Lancellnick said, “Our son would still have your head, GrandMaster and that matter we shall deal with soon.” The king looked first to Prince Edmanstow. After getting his son’s attention the king look at Duke Conlinton. “Conlinton, what is said of Riclarpur and those he has injured before, we do believe has merit. Should we instruct the Justicar to look into these? If such is found to be true, you may wish to duel Cartwright for the injuries he inflicted on Riclarpur, but we are assured that we shall take Riclarpur’s head in the greater courtyard.” The site where nobles were executed. “We are also not sure that you are even as good a swordsmen as your son. Would you wish to fight the young man who has joined us, and has our favor?” The king paused and the Duke shook his head. Jac was sure that the Duke and he would not be friends, but at least Conlinton now backed down from his public display of hostility.

Jac hoped that would be the end of that matter, but if it wasn’t, he could fight Conlinton later. “This talk of dueling, we are inclined to believe also has merit. Tomorrow, when tempers have cooled, we should hear debate on the issue. It may indeed be time to stop this tradition. It may be time to enforce the penalties we have enacted before should dueling occur once more. Let no man perpetrate another such action until we set forth a decree, and let the criers proclaim that this day, Chancellor.” The King ordered.

“Yes your majesty, it shall be done.”

“Good. Good. We sense the words of the young man are correct, that our council has men who do not speak their minds to us. Who would rather be known to appease us, rather then help us govern as best we may. We shall not ask if this is so. We will look to you all to examine your conscious’. We put a great demand on your time when we ask you to be here and serve us and our kingdom. Perhaps now some of you would think would be a good time to withdraw from the council. Perhaps you do not feel you may tell us the truth of your thoughts and convictions. We ask that you think of this and we shall speak more of it. Perhaps we shall let some councillors retire, and bring forth others who will better help to shape our realm and find the solutions for our problems. Advise us on how we best may dig a sewer here in Firtoskin.” That seemed to get a small laugh, and the king must have wanted one. Master Gearman said always tell a few jokes.

“The question of the marriage of Princess Annaxier is something our neighbors probably should know we discuss and debate and examine what is best for our country. We shall do so, anon. Chancellor, add it back to our agenda. We have been remiss on this point, though you, my council should know that Annaxier has learned some of Creationism and that is an asset unique to our kingdom we think. Perhaps she should not be allowed to go so cheap, or at all if we do not want these secrets to leave our kingdom,” the king and Annaxier both smiled. Jac realized he had been used again.

“Baron Cartwright, you should know that it is unwise to accuse your king of traits needlessly, or to embarrass a king. Such actions could result in you growing shorter by a head. We will hold in balance that you have provided us and our councillors with many new thoughts that we should examine closely, such as who should be on this council. Our son, though elevated you to the nobility, and usually when one is elevated, we provide them with a land grant, or some other reward. Well Eddie, what reward did you have in mind for out newest lord?” The king looked to his son then.

The prince was caught off guard as well. “I need no rewards, majesty…” Jac said, but not as loud as when he had spoken before.

“Does lord Cartwright decline the recognition of becoming a noble by the hands of the crown prince. Is that what we heard? No, such is not just. Prince Edmanstow has received land and gifts so that he may have an income. It is his folly that has caused strife. There may indeed be a great deal of anger amongst our sons, and my lords, we should like that you all look to your houses and address this as we shall. Dealing with peasants who have left ancestral lands and come to the cities to earn the coppens to feed their families, is not the fault of any one man. We do not condone that such hatred is expressed with the sharp edge of a noble’s sword.

“We shall have other punishments, but Edmanstow, I desire five thousand Guildens of your income to be awarded to your lord Cartwright before the quartermoon is out. You shall tender deeds and grants that amount to that.”

The prince’s eyes bulged and if he had hated Jac before, now he loathed him.

Edmanstow said, “Majesty, that is more than a third of all that I am awarded.” Jac thought it was much less then all that he earned each year now. Jac could well live without it.

“You should not question us. We deem that you should find hardship from your actions when they are in the wrong. As king such actions often have consequences that you will never see until it is too late. Our enemies and our friends have begun to make a study of this Creationism. They are some years behind us, but would like to equal or exceed our accomplishments. Even as it has caused Hornik disruption, it has also benefited us greatly. Do you see that Edmanstow? If your friends had crippled the GrandMaster, who is an asset to our kingdom, if you had scarred him off to the country and he not return, or worse, he be offered a position in Giurance, our ancient friend, our ancient enemy, what then would we do? If you my son, had given just cause to the GrandMaster to leave our country, he would not be the most reviled man here in Hornik. You would be. Thus what shall you do to make the GrandMaster feel welcomed by our hand and yours?”

Jac was shaking his head. It was true. If he felt beset upon enough, he would leave, and advise his family and friends to also uproot their lives and leave also. If a Creationist was to be persecuted for using their mind, others who used what intelligence they had for their livelihood would be persecuted as well.

“Very well majesty, I shall have such deeds and grants compiled for the GrandMaster by the quartermoon’s end,” Edmanstow looked reluctant even as he acquiesced to his father.

“Annaxier, you shall help your brother. We would not have the new Baron insulted by being given the worst of our son’s demesne. The Baron might be forced to use his sword again. At the least were he to get such lands and incomes as the prince has controlled, the Baron can afford a second shirt to wear when he shall come into our presence.”

Duke Hendriker laughed, and then others did also. They recognized that the King had made a joke. It might have even been humorous, if Jac had not thought it so personal. But Jac had started by laughing earlier. He reflected that kings and commoners both had points that they desired to make.

When the laughter ended, for it did not last long, the king resumed, “Now, Chancellor, you were saying we have other business…” The council began again. Jac was silent for most of it, though he did speak once more, as he saw that councillors caught the Chancellor’s attention so they were called upon. Even to the point that some lords would wad paper and throw it at the man to be noticed, if he had not seen them.

“Guirance and Vonaria have been holding meetings, I have been informed,” this was the foreign minister, ArchPater Kendiltur speaking.

“That is worrisome. They generally hate each other more than they hate us.” The Queen’s Mother was of Guirance. The King’s grandmother was of Vonaria if Jac remembered his heritage lessons.

“Yes your majesty. My agents think that they will have an alliance soon enough” the minister said.

Jac thought about that. Giurance looked forward to the steam carts coming to their border, but still there was protest to allow the carts to continue on into Giurance. Jac knew that the partners that his brother Coloskthon talked to in Giurance were very disappointed that they could not take their carts all the way to the capital. It would have increased productivity and efficiency. Jac looked to the Duke of Conlinton. If he remembered correctly, the border crossing was one held by the Duke, and thus a great depot for trade would be built on his lands as the steam carts would end there before they turned around.

Duke Hendriker stood and spoke then, “That would be very bad majesty. Each separately have more soldiers then we do. Together they have much more and that would be a worry. If a third nation were to join them, Keltoria, or Nosgovia, and they were to take umbrage at our new found strengths because of the GrandMaster and his friends delving into Creationism, we could be in a great deal of trouble.”

The King said, “We agree. We have caused Baron Cartwright to join our ranks for we have, we hope, access to such knowledge about our friends and rivals and we may need some new Creationist device to help us keep them as friends, and disabuse them of the notion that they are rivals. Rivals with armies much greater than our own.”

Jac stood, “Majesty, you have wondered what solution there might be for the poor. I would suggest that having a few more men who are poor learn to use the sword in your army might be to an advantage. We have plenty of food to feed them, cloth for their uniforms, sawn lumber that they might build their own barracks. It is a thought that I think you should look at.”

“We have, lord Cartwright,” the king said. He turned to another man who had a thought. The lord next to Jac said quietly when Jac sat, “It is thought that should we train too many peasants to carry the sword, then they might rise against us and we will not be able to defend ourselves.” He meant the nobles would be outnumbered by armed peasants.

Jac digested that. It was true, if the king was a tyrant it would be a worry. If he were not loved. And King Lancellnick might become that man.

It was a chain of logic. It the nobles were more hated then they were respected. If they did not work to solve the problems of the many peasants who had been removed from the land and looked to find work. If the nobles acted towards the peasants as did Lord Riclarpur.

If by winter men were starving and babes were dying from not having food. Peasants who were used to privation could indeed turn surly when they saw their children perish.

Jac rose again and spoke when recognized, “Majesty, I realize you responded, but how much thought has been put into this? The Duke says he should need troops. The foreign minister would like to have troops as well to discourage our friends from thinking that we are such a tempting morsel. Perhaps these men who are poor and clutter the cities can be taken, housed, clothed and fed, gaining their loyalty then the training of how best to use a sword comes later, over time, when you are assured of their allegiance to you. I think if you put food in a man’s belly, you go a long way to securing that. If you put food into his stomach and that of his wife and children through what coppens can be spared them, I know you will win their loyalty.”

This sparked discussion, and the king said he would think on it. Lancellnick wished that some of the poor be brought to the Palace courtyard and asked should they be given such a chance, would they take it. Would they learn to be soldiers if he were to do all of that. In two days, Duke Hendriker promised he would have a hundred men of such station that the king could speak to them.

When the council broke up after three rounds, it having taken longer then usual, Jac was informed, the Duke of Holsatzin came to him, “Baron Cartwright, a moment of your time.”

“Your grace?”

“You make enemies, and I for one do not wish to be amongst them. I am good with armies. Not so much with the sword,” the Duke said. “I wish to raise an army and think your plan has merit. Now that I have promised my cousin to find 100 men, I know, for the Princess has told me you are a benefactor of the poor, that you should know much better then I where I may find these men.”

“I, your grace?” Jac did not like revealing his connection to his charitable work. There were other men nearby who seemed to pretend to not be listening, but they all were. One was Petchurlin who wished to talk to him of all that had gone on in council.

The Duke smiled and said, “Do not be coy. You are too young and have not learned well enough how to cover a lie. In any case, my cousin, the princess, has told me, as has the king, these soup kitchens that give many of the poor food are paid for by you. All in council know that the material and aide to build shelter in Cheaptown is from you and the princess. The king took great pleasure in announcing that some quartermoons ago. Your name, GrandMaster of Creators has come up in our council many times.”

Jac saw Petchurlin nod. That did not please him as much as notoriety did. That would have pleased him so much more. Master Gearman had done them little favor by making them so wealthy from their creations, from Jac’s creations. He might not have attracted the notice of the king and his daughter. Jac wouldn’t have had to teach her so Annaxier wouldn’t then be married to the prince of another country. Or that Jac receive the venomous hatred of her brother, and his circle of friends.

The road that lay before him though, had a great deal to do with his own choices. Now he had to make another. “Yes, then, I can help you find such men to assemble before the king. Do you know of the kitchen that is near Frantos Square?” Frantos had been the greatest Ishyurk king.

“Aye, I have seen it, and cursed at the lines of peasants there near dusk to get their meal.” Some nobles not only cursed the men there, but whipped and beat them so that they would allow the nobles passage in the street. Some, Jac was certain, went to the area just so they could beat the men there.

“Then come tomorrow a round before dusk. That will be time for you to gather up men to talk to the king and tell them of this plan. I shall go to, and speak to the cooks and staff of the kitchen. You shall have your hundred men, quicker then you think, I am sure of it.”

“Good, then tomorrow I will see you there.” The Duke nodded and turned, but then turned back and took Jac’s arm in his, gripping forearms as if he were a comrade. “My cousin does not see it, but I fear we will be invaded by our neighbors soon. Men, your new creations, I need all. Well met, Master Creator.”

Others of the council came to him then, and shook his arm the same, but not all. Not most. Some had a few words. Some clearly did so because the King had favored him, or that the Duke of Holsatzin did. One or two might have done so because of his treatment of Conlinton and Riclarpur. Jac did not know and Petchurlin did not want to speculate yet on who befriended him, and for what reasons when they discussed it.

“I am surprised that you would even trust me to speak to you about this,” the clerk said.

Jac said, “I don’t, not yet. But I think over time we may indeed come to trust each other. Though, even one’s closest friends, it is always hard to trust completely. You learn that each man has an agenda. The one’s you can trust, and I am young still, my assertion may be very wrong, are those that tell you long in advance how they will be counter to you, remind you of that, and when the crisis is past that they were counter to you. You need be wary of those that say you may trust them when you first meet.”

Jac told his apprentices these words, encouraging them to have differing opinions then he. Encouraging them to fight him over their ideas. He told his apprentices To observe his journeymen, whom he respected and did trust, as they all contributed ideas to a greater goal. When all saw that Jac gave credit to those whose ideas made something new, they learned to trust Jac as well. It was a cycle that worked in the Creatories. Perhaps it would work in the King’s Council as well.

When Jac was finished, he made his way once more to his parent’s house where they expected him. He found the council that he had sought the previous night, all gathered. He also found his uncle there as well as Princess Annaxier. She wasted no time, taking him aside. “Fool! Father said you would stir things up and he was certainly surprised by how much, but you don’t challenge a king.”

She was not happy.

“Then who does, highness? If this is my King’s Council, here in this room, where the most trusted advisors I have to guide me assemble, do I not get challenged here? All the information is needed by me to do my job well. Information such as the training of a princess so that she becomes so valuable that she can not be sent away from the kingdom? Why is that? Your father seems very smart in this regard. He has some plan for you, and I am sure you are aware of it, though perhaps none but you and he share this plan.” Annaxier turned from him.

He hurt her feelings. He was upset with himself that he had done so.

“I am sorry highness. I should not like to see you sent off to another kingdom either. It would be the worst thing I can imagine. I value your friendship. But I expect the spies of our friends, and those of our enemies should like that we talk of your marriage to their candidates. The King either wants to get something better for all of us, or deny you to them all. I should imagine that your marriage is as distasteful to you, as what all these,” Jac used his hand to show his family and those others in the room, “tell me that I must marry as well. The richest daughters of other GrandMasters, other Creationists, though there are but three of an age with me there. Even that I should aspire to well titled, but poor nobles. That though may change as they hear all of what occurred today in council.”

Annaxier had caught her breath. She said with deliberation, “We all really don’t control much of our own lives, do we?”

“No. It seems the price we pay for certain things. I want to create and build these new things that I can see in my mind, and no one else can see. I want to help my young men and now women with their ideas. Your father was given the responsibility to nurture and grow all of Hornik and he is made kKng for it. Though I think he does like his task.”

“He complains that it takes too much from his raising of the family. Takes from his time with Ed, mother and myself. If he were a peasant he says, he would work a good day in the field during planting and harvest, but nights would be for himself and his family, as would that time when the crops were deep in the ground. He often says the peasants have more freedom of time then he,” she said.

“You may be right,” Jac replied.

When he entered she had come at him so quickly that the other members of his family and those friends who would advise him, had drawn back a little to give them space. He wondered at that. But there were his parents looking at he and the Princess, and Jac was sure they were still uncomfortable about her. Even he, after more than a dozen times in her presence, was still in awe that he talked to someone so pretty and nice. The highest ranked woman in the kingdom next to her mother. Jac had never told his parents that he had met the queen briefly. Before he even met the king.

Annaxier had taken him to see the window that he had caused to be made and the queen was sitting in front of it. It was so that he could be thanked for his gift. The king had ordered fifteen more for various rooms, including his own, and those the firm was charging for. Quite handsomely, Col and Master Gearman had applauded his genius at baiting the hook, but the day he met the queen, was well worth giving away the window without ever getting a sale from it. Jac knew though that the gracious lady was wasting towards death, and Annaxier would lose her mother soon.

Looking beyond the princess now, he saw that his family had drawn away so that they could talk alone. “Highness, perhaps we should sit and discuss what happens next. I am sure that my family would like to know. You all were concerned last night with the son of the Duke, but at some point you all had to remember that Master Fredardic here has made me very good with the sword.” Jac did not voice his thoughts that the King seemed to have manipulated matters. Annaxier did not seem to make that connection.

Jac led Annaxier back towards the group looking at them from the main hall of his parent’s house. “I know that one plays with danger when we leave the studio for the reality of a fight could always occur. I also know that if I had not faced one of Price Edmanstow’s lackey’s now, another would find me later. Even if the King had not appointed me to his council, at some point a noble would seek me out for retribution on all that has befallen his own family. I was going to be challenged. Now I hope I have put that to rest. Even more with your father citing that he will penalize any man found dueling. That the council and the Justicar will look to see if all they need do is enforce his previous laws and decrees to end this terrible sport of the nobles, and others.”

“I do not like dueling, but being ready with a weapon is always a good practice. Young Col, you have been missing your lessons, and you may need them more now,” Master Fredardic said.

“I shall do better to attend master,” Col said. He did not look like he would though.

“You shall brother, I make it a condition of fees paid you. You all were quite willing to have me learn the blade for a round each day. Now brother, you too must take this up. I know you have your own wealth and manage all the rest, but, Father, Kath. What do you say? Mel, should we force Col to learn to use that sword he wears. The king has spoken, but not all may follow his word right away,” Jac said.

“That is good advice, master Cartwright,” Princess Annaxier said and looked at Col. “How to you keep this all straight for three master Cartwright’s of your professions?” She asked and Vivan laughed. Then the others joined in.

Jac’s mother said, “Oh, highness, we can call each by name as do our close friends here as well, but should you wish it, we address my Sam here as Master Sam, and Coloskthon as young Master Col, or sometimes young Master. While of course Jacklincoln is Master Cartwright. Sometimes when I scold him, I call him by all his title. GrandMaster Creator Cartwright.” His mother thought that was funny, making him seem so important to the princess.

Vivan continued, “Sam now, it is time we be hosting all to our meal, for it is the dinner round. We have some fried dolingus and that is Master Cartwright’s favorite, now let us get the servants, to set our table, that we may eat. I hired another two today, Col, is there not someplace we can use them, for I have no room upstairs for them.”

“Then why did you hire them mother? You know we can not hire every person who needs work in the city.”

“But they are from Cawless, and one used to work for Master Carlincoln, who is a cousin…” The Princess said she needed to leave, but Jac’s mother would not hear of it and already was sure her guards and coachmen were being fed in the kitchens. Annaxier would have to dine with the family.

Master Gearman said that he should see the new servants for he might have a place for them in one of the Makories, and Jac settled into a chair, thinking that it was a very strange day, and that his shirt still needed changing.

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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 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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