Excerpt from Building The People

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Good morning my love! Her message came, Peyer just called me from Bolthole. Tratruoh and Melise have arrived. They should be arriving tomorrow morning.

Looking forward to seeing them again, even if it's only for a few days. We'd be introducing them to the locals, preparing the way for them to take over our work. If everyone in N'yeschlass knew we were leaving our possessions in their care, there shouldn't be any trouble. Then a vacation back in the Empire.

You make it sound wonderful, but...

We'll be fine. Born on Calmena, Asina had never had a vacation in her life. Even when she went to Earth to learn to become a Guardian, she'd never taken a break. We've been working twenty years without a break, and we've been paid well. We've got plenty of money to live for a couple sixties of years without working if we wanted. Even after making a donation back to the people that took care of you.

I feel that I owe them.

They're a charity, my love. You don't owe them. But it would be responsible to repay them, and virtuous to add enough so they can help more people.

Thank you for understanding.
You could feel it all over when Asina was smiling. I enjoyed the sensation every chance I got. Going to be home tonight?

Only if there's an emergency. She didn't want her ability to teleport becoming generally known. It could only make our mission more difficult. She'd been helping the operant Calmenans learn to use their talents, but there was so much they didn't know, didn't have the background to learn yet. The plan is the western tributary tonight, back tomorrow night.

As I already knew. But you can't blame a husband who misses his wife for trying.

We didn't sign off so much as return to what we'd been doing, our link active in the background. It let us know that the other was well, and helped us stay close. It's hard to have a real fight with someone when you're constantly aware of how much they love you.

I lit my forge, began stoking it. I was trying to copy an old European design for a metal framed heavy wagon, capable of holding more weight but requiring four to six horses (or in our case, swasses) to pull it. Once I got it down, I'd sell lessons in how to make them if the other smiths didn't pick it up on their own. Asina was checking on the customs inspectors and upkeep of the fort that would shelter the people nearby if there was need. I'd been there once; it was a finished adobe structure where keeping it from being torn down by the rains was a constant race between repairs and the rains. But clay was cheap and easy to work with, and even N'yeschlass was poor by the European standards of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth century. The rest of Calmena was even worse, but an entrepreneurial economy was improving things. When we'd arrived, the few scattered people of N'yeschlass had been unable to do anything more than live off the land in the fashion of the most primitive Indian tribes before the arrival of the Europeans. We'd shown them how to band together, and keep the slavers - human agaani and demons - from raiding for slaves. Now the people around here were the richest on the planet. Yes, our ability to leverage Imperial technology in secret had made a lot of difference, especially at the beginning. But creating a situation where people could work on their own behalf was a far more important factor. As a consequence, the city was both wealthy and powerful. If the city was menaced, the fyrd could muster a couple 3600s of armored pikes, and three times that many longbows. At least double the number of bows if the folk from the surrounding countryside joined the muster. Cavalry was still non-existent except for the demonic manes, but there wasn't a human agaani lord or demonic holding on the planet big enough to have a hope against the city's full muster. We were protected against the other members of the confederation by the fact that it was too risky. There were softer targets for expansion.

It definitely wasn't the Empire. But the best place to be human on Calmena was N'yeschlass, and it was getting better.

Copyright 2017 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on July 25, 2023 7:00 AM.

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

Excerpt from Setting The Board is the next entry in this blog.

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