Excerpt from Building The People

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The forges of N'yeschlass began their beat at dawn, every day without fail. Things had changed since we began.

The town had never been officially named. The name had grown from the unofficial motto of what my wife and I and the original group of refugees cowering in the jungle had begun not quite twenty Imperial years ago. The demonic tongue of Calmena had no word for freedom. N'yeschlass translated literally as "no slaves." It was a promise to all - come to us and be free. It didn't appeal to everyone, as it included freedom to fail and freedom to starve, but those were simply the terms of life everywhere on Calmena. In the portions run by the fractal demons, slaves were eaten when they began to show signs of aging. Where the pseudo-feudal human agaani held sway, grinding poverty and recurrent famines were almost as brutal. Only in N'yeschlass and its confederated territory was there a significant chance of a human being alive on what an Earther like me would consider their fiftieth birthday.

I still worked my smithy a couple hours per day. It had seen upgrades since the day we'd built it - it was probably the equal of a mid-19th century forge on Earth now. But these days, the metal was mined out of the Collision Range and I didn't have to pretend to cart it in while pulling most of it out of a converter. We still had the secret room with all the technological conveniences underneath our forge, but these days I bought all of the metal I used. I might create the gold and silver I used to buy it out of the converter, but the metal I actually worked was honestly mined by miners who were part of our new nation. N'yeschlass the nation held better than a third of Wimarglr, the North America sized continent we'd called Continent One when we discovered Calmena, including most of the Collision Range.

There were probably twentyfive square people in N'yeschlass the city these days. After better than twenty years of thinking alternatively in demonic and Imperial systems, the former for everyday interactions with Calmenans and the latter for reports and planning to our Imperial sponsors, the decimal system and all the other standards of measurement I'd grown up with on Earth was almost alien to me now. 90,000 was a fair number of people for a city to have with this level of technology, and N'yeschlass the nation probably had four or five cities that were bigger now. N'yeschlass the city was the gateway to the mining regions in the Collision Range, a name that had stuck when I'd used it inadvertently in conversation with a Calmena native. "Collision" didn't mean anything in demonic; they just thought it was a good name. Probably half the place names on Earth came from circumstances not too different.

N'yeschlass the city had a very European feel to it. I don't mean the architecture was similar, it wasn't. That looked like nothing in my experience. By any reasonable definition, construction here was mostly wooden squalor. But the streets had grown organically rather than planned. Asina and I still owned a good bit of land, but these days most of it was in use. I spent more time managing others than working metal myself. The city was where more metal was smelted than anywhere else on Calmena. Iron, nickel, copper, tin, lead and even small amounts of aluminum and others. N'yeschlass' metallurgy was probably late eighteenth century equivalent on average. Not bad. Asina and I owned a good bit of the production, and had shown everyone else how to do it.

Asina was First Councilor of the city, and Captain of the guard. She spent almost no time working our business any longer - civic affairs kept her busy. This was by design. N'yeschlass the nation was a confederation bound by trade, mutual defense, and a common attitude towards human slavery. Other cities of the confederation had decided upon other ways to run their affairs. N'yeschlass the city maintained its primacy within the confederation by economic means thanks to Asina and ruthless adherence to the principles behind M'Don's equations. City regulation was almost non-existent, but things like sanitation were the product of ongoing awareness campaigns, and if you did something like dump your used food out on the street, your neighbors would let you know they frowned on that. Stridently. The town even had the beginnings of a rudimentary sewage system, which I'd begun by the simple expedient of digging it before I'd erected any additional buildings on our land. Eventually it would have to be expanded, but for now it discharged into a small cavern we'd found underneath a small nearby hill, not back into the river.

Even the people around me were different. I was no longer close to the tallest person around. Many of the younger men were taller than my current two ififths thirtyeight, and even a couple of the young women. Not suffering constant malnutrition as a child will do that for you. The people I could see from where I stood had some meat on their bones; they weren't in significant danger of starvation. Yes, we'd had our crop failures the last thirtyfive local Calmena years, and even lost some people in the early years, but the last real famine was almost twenty local years in the past. These days, N'yeschlass the city and its surrounding countryside were even able to export a little food, despite the primitive shipping technology. Perhaps improving those would be the focus of our next contract period with the Empire.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 11, 2021 6:39 AM.

Excerpt from Preparing The Ground was the previous entry in this blog.

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