Space Opera Books


Steam and Thunder: Book One of the Creationist Duology Chapter 2

Chapter 2

“Quat, Tierce, Tierce, Secune, Prime.

“Quat, Prime, Tierce, Prime, and rest.” Master Fredardic shouted out the words to a regular beat. Jacklincoln moved the sword to each position precisely as he did every day since he had turned sixteen. The following day would mark seven years of training with the sword a full round under Master Fredardic most days. Though on those occasions when the Blademaster was sick or had other duties elsewhere Jac trained with one of the two other senior armsmen the partnership of Gearman and Cartwright employed. If Jac were sick, training was held unless he was unable to rise from bed. Learning to fight with a sore throat or a nose that was full of mucus was something the master said would be beneficial. Master Fredardic had won the yearly crown trials for greatest swordsman more than once, and as long as Jac had studied with him, the Master still had placed amongst the best four.

It was now over fourteen years Jac had worked with Master Mikonal Gearman the Builder. Mikonal also had the duties of Guildmaster of the Creators now. Jac was still the only GrandMaster of the guild that King Lancellnick had chartered shortly after the first wheeled steam engine had been built. There were eight other masters in the Guild of creators, all but one older than Jack. Fortunately many journeymen and apprentices were younger than he was. Gearman and Cartwright assured themselves of employing the brightest men they could find and had more than 20 working for them and studying under the direction of Mik and Jack.

“You have done well lad,” the Blademaster said.

Jac gave him a look. At the end of the round they spent in practice the Blademaster would remember that Jacklincoln was his employer and it would be GrandMaster again, not lad. Jac did not insist on the formality, and usually he would be addressed respectfully, he just was not pleased at being called ‘lad.’

That Jac was the only GrandMaster always seemed to cause friction no matter where Jac was, for in any other guild in Hornik, the GrandMasters were old with gray in their hair and beard, and all boasted of their grandchildren. Jac did not even have a steady girl, so thoughts of a family were seldom given any deliberation.

The Blademaster would be considered a GrandMaster of his craft. Master Fredardic said, “Aye, I know you do not relish the instructions any longer, and I sometimes think that we may have been too forward in this part of your schooling, but you are a man of means. A man of means in Firtoskin wears a sword like he wears his pants. And it is better that you know how to use it, than not knowing. Many an idle nobles’ lad knows how to use that piece of steel, but has no head worth saving. They take it into their heads to drill you and we would all be the poorer for it. And I assure you, lad, you would not be the happier.”

“Yes Blademaster. I know,” Jac said. He was conscious that the idle sons of nobles used their swords for little reason quite often.

“You say you know, but you spend so much time here at the yard you do not know all that is happening in the city. More people come from the country every day. Hungry. And some now whisper it is your fault. You listen to that brother of yours. He may not be older than you, but he knows what is happening in the world. Aye and he can make three Guildens from one sure as the sun will rise. Mark me, a noble will one day come for you and try and run you through because more than half his serfs have left his lands to work in one of the Makories that you and Master Mikonal have built.”

“We have built very few…” That was true, the inventions that Jac had thought up were mostly licensed to others to make. He and Mik only had three Makories, though they often owned sizable raw resources that were needed in the construction of the new creations.  Most of the other Master Creators owned more Makories than they, and those of the merchant class owned more still. Great portions of the countryside outside of Firtoskin was now dotted with the large Makories. Buildings much bigger than his father’s foundry had ever been.

“Ah, you wish to dispute a point, that is exactly what a noble will do also. And there are some that will not stop and note that you are not of their class. For if you are not a noble the law says they have no reason to duel with you. They will just use their right of nobility and run you through, and pay a fine after. It is why Master Mikonal has…”

“…had you trained.” Jac intoned also, but under his breath. Jac had heard the arguments more than a hundred times in the last seven years. He agreed that he needed the ability to defend himself, for that precaution was well thought out, but he hardly left the Creatory. When he did he was mostly accompanied by one or two armsmen and others. He certainly would never have trained with a sword if he had stayed in Cawless, or had remained just a Cartwright.

But Jac’s life had changed and all the other Journeymen and Master Creators learned the rudiments of the sword too. Throughout the day, Fredardic would train the six journeymen of Gearman and Cartwright. Those lessons were but one half round, though, the journeymen all were becoming very adequate in the mastery of the sword. Jac had never understood Master Mikonal’s concern that he learn that extra part more, or why they had employed one of the best Blademasters in the kingdom. More then 2500 rounds Jac had trained.

Jac hired military experts also. Two retired generals taught lessons and talked to Jac and his Journeymen. They had conducted a series of classes, with General Artshikal. These were less strenuous physically.

It was having a sit down and a pipe with an ever full tankard of ale as the General talked of his days campaigning. And while the general related his stories, the Creators gleamed what they could of the needs of the modern army, and how they might make things better, or more productive, or new. General Barthome, the other expert, provided Jac with texts on strategy and they sat and discussed the great battles, while Jac tried to think again of how they might be able to build new devices to making fighting more efficient. Jac grimaced as he knew that he tried to make fighting more deadly, but that was the way the world was. The king paid well for those kinds of creations, which helped to fund other inventions.

Rationalizing things that way was not entirely fair. He and Mikonal had long since passed the point where they lacked for money to pay all the wages and other expenses of their businesses. If Jac chose to spend six moons, or an entire cycle working on a project they could afford to. Though he hadn’t taken that long yet to create something he had set his mind to.

The new plow cart had taken eight long moons, but he had worked on two minor devices whilst doing it. So he had been productive. Another reason more had come from the country to the city these last two years. The plow cart had been three years at work and each year a few less hands were needed in the fields. Men were still required to give the same amount of day’s labor to their lord. The plow cat caused serfs to find that they had new labors that they didn’t relish in order to meet their feudal obligations. Instead of meeting much of this useless, mindless work, they tried their luck in the ever growing cities where the Makories at least paid them a fair wage for such work.

Mikonal had done his best when setting up the three Makories they owned to hire only those men whose lords had been indemnified for their service. Lords compensated for their serfs who no longer stayed to work the land. The items that the Gearman and Cartwright Makories created were integral to many anothers’ livelihood and commanded a very fair price. It was mostly semiskilled work and the steam conveyors that Jac had created throughout the plants had seen to a large quantity output.

The expense of each man’s indemnity however varied from lord to lord. As it was they dealt only with men who were already free, or men from the lands of Brisac, Cartehaven, Jomenisque, or Royal Lands, for the king was quite reasonable in setting a price.

“You are wool gathering again, lad. I can tell,” Master Fredardic said.

“Sorry Baldemaster.” Jac replied quickly.

“If I had a Coppens for every time these seven years…”

“I know, you still would not be a rich man…” Jac smiled. He had straightened up and his sword was ready for any action. Many times while woolgathering, which for Jac could be trying to think of the solution to a problem, Fredardic had launched an attack. Other times it was just a verbal lambasting.

“Well be that as it may. You have done well. Mind I would not go off and challenge anyone, and heavens knows you can not challenge any of the nobles to a duel, but should someone challenge you, you just might hold your own till you can shout for the watch.”

“I hope you speak prophecy, for I have little desire myself to challenge aught. I should not like to spill anyone’s blood. Least my own.” Jac grinned as he brought his sword up to defend against the sudden attack that was launched against him. Jac had become quite proficient after seven years, and it should not have been much of a surprise that he was often successful against the Blademaster.

Certainly the young GrandMaster Creator was admired by the armsmen in the employ of the partnership of Gearman and Cartwright. A group of fifteen soldiers were employed by the two in the capital of Firtoskin. They really were employed to be a presence and deterrent for those same young, ambitious, and hot headed nobles that would very much think twice about any man accompanied by one or two very well armed men-at-arms. As nobles traditionally were not accompanied by such, the fact that a merchant was, would put them off from most rash acts. But lately things were getting slightly tense.

The ill-health of the queen did not do much to improve tempers throughout Firtoskin either. King Lancellnick and the royal court were open and honest with all the details of the Queen’s impending death, for there was no hope of a recovery. It showed their trust in the citizenry. A wasting illness was something that came to hundreds each year. The Guild of Creators recognized that this was one area where more time needed to be spent. That of creations which would help with the many illnesses that ended lives too quickly. Much effort in every Creatory firm was spent on trying to solve these riddles.

In Gearman and Cartwright two of the journeymen  had formed items with glass that magnified things that were small, or far away. That seemed to help with other discoveries.

The business had spent four years making the glass shrinking devices, and others had used them to begin viewing the many things that one could see with the device. That a few who chose to follow the profession of studying the body had begun to identify similarities and differences with the aid of the devices provided a great deal of information, but not many thoughts of what to do with the information.

The Healing Searchers, as the few men called themselves, had made some minor discoveries. They had found that if bandaging was conducted with clean bandages and clean hands, there was a much reduced chance of infection. That had sparked an interest in the small groups quest and given them credence as a profession. Jac spent a good deal of Guildens in funding men who worked in the profession, more than Mikonal thought he should. Three men who started as Creators and would be but journeymen with assistants and living arrangements were supported, all within a short walk of the Creatory.

Jac and Mikonal supported several other types of Creators, though not Creator guildsmen who all lived and worked near their partnerships main Creatory. An enclave of invention and inventors sprouted near Jac and the company, and many of these men and a few women came at all times of day and night to discuss various ideas and thoughts that could lead to other things that were new to the world. Some were Flora and Faunists, others were Metalmen, as each called themselves. In all Jac could identify seven different types of Creators who were striving to specialize in various fields. After so many years, still only the Healing Searchers had prevailed, but with very few items.

One day Jac was sure that would change. Amongst his own guild, it took a man to make a new creation or modification of an existing creation to be made a journeyman, three more to become a master, one having to be a new creation. The other disciplines, aside from the Healing Searchers, had no one who had done four things to become a Master. A night at the local tavern, which Jack’s younger brother and he owned, was another place full of discussion of these new creations and drinking.

The training hall was near his modest house. Mikonal had purchased a much bigger, palatial estate, further from the district. But Jac lived near the Creatory and other buildings they owned, as did many of their employees.

After the bout of training for the day, Jac was headed back to work. “Till tomorrow blademaster.” He saluted and accompanied by his guards, or minders as he sometimes felt, and one or two other employees who had finished their training as well, he left.

“Do you think our Master Fredardic is right?” It was a general question to all. Though Jac was their employer, in order to make good decisions, he did often ask the thoughts of many. These companions were used to such.

Lem, one of the two armsmen who walked with him spoke, as he often did, first, “He be right, surely. Them nobles be angrier at the commons folk then usual.”

Pad who Lem usually paired with and walked ahead spoke over his shoulder with out turning his head, “Aye that is right, they be much more ordering people about then they ever did afore.”

One of the junior creators, an apprentice spoke, “But the law, they would not break the King’s Law.”

Lem it was who answered, “Sure they would. We break it and it is the pit, or the drop for sure.” Either hanged or sent to the royal mines where one only expected to live a few years before being worked to death. Lem continued, “A noble be breaking the law and the King sends him away for a six month and gets a big fat fine for the kingdom treasury.”

“The way it always is,” Pad intoned.

Jac turned his mind to his work. The crafthouse, which often meant Jac, had been  experimenting with the firelights from far Kintre. Jac had noted how the expulsion of the lit powder caused tremendous lift in the device. Placing a weight to one end, slowed this down somewhat, but the speed which an item still accelerated was great. If the item could be channeled, what amount of force would be delivered? Could that be consistently maintained? Could it prove useful in lifting things a distance. In a sample test of the device with a three pound weight, a wood wall, from a distance of fifty feet was shattered.

Jac went back to work on the concept and the next day the expulsive lift breaker, after being lit, flew in almost the opposite direction. Jac had more work to do, and in starts and stops, with nearly a year invested in the project, he had nearly perfected a metal cylinder delivery device. His calculations and the device that was almost completed being built would be readying for retesting once more within a matter of days. Even as he thought about that, he was well on his way to working on another tool. He and a journeyman had thought about making a machine to print books, instead of paying a copyist.

Just the previous week they had become very excited and celebratory when they had reversed the image forming pieces and the lettering came out looking correct. They had solved a problem with ink and previously had created paper. Vellum was a luxury that they found very costly since they used so much of it in the process of creationism. It was now many years since they had created paper, and that was another innovation that alone would have seen the firm wealthy many times by itself.

Mikonal was out giving examples of the small one page flyer that talked of the wonders of modern lettering. That he had exact similar reproductions of each and every page, or the hundred or more pages he had taken, awed those who saw it. Jac was worried though about how many pieces of lettering they needed in order to make a book. He also tried to think of ways to bind the pages into a book, for not many would want to read them loose, and without automating the binding process, it would be long and tedious for someone to do.

These were all some of regular problems that preoccupied the young man. Jac was just past his twenty first year of birth and quite a famous man in the kingdom of Hornik. He spent a great deal of his day working, studying and training, so that what passed for relaxation was seldom abundant.

His family had all moved to the capital, his father living a life of leisure having sold his foundry and retired on his investment in the raw materials that his son was always needing for the new creations. Jac seldom visited his parents as arguments broke out between them over his father’s inactivity. Jac’s mother pleaded with him to convince his father to find something of use to do.

Jac’s sisters were both occupied in trades. Kathierin was the first woman to own her own endeavor, amply supplied with seed money from Jac. Gearman and Cartwright were also the first customers of her finely woven textiles. That she used looms that Jac had designed, capable of a much finer weave then traditional looms gave Kath an advantage. Since she had started her business, there were dozens of women running their own in the capital now, and a few of the other weaving concerns were on civil terms with Kathierin.

Those terms governed whether Gearman and Cartwright would sell them the new looms. Certainly unfair, but there were no laws saying that Jac could not favor his family with his invention. That Kathierin produced cloth for nobles, and ensured there was vast amounts of yardage for the many of the poor of the capital also solidified her friendship amongst the powerful.

Jac’s younger sister, Melissandier had taken to acting as her profession. She had achieved no small fame on her own without the help of Jac, though their brother Col most likely had a hand in starting Mel’s career. He was an investor in three theaters of the city. Melissandier had won the coveted ingénue role in the second greatest company in the capital, and had gotten quite a following of young bloods. She performed four times a week, and every night there were near sellout crowds. The flowers that arrived at the stage door for her after each performance had cost a small fortune.

Mel befriended the very married leading actress of the company, so there was little rivalry between them. Jac had seen six of the nine roles she played. He enthusiastically encouraged her profession, though found it distracting and would not have gone to see such on his own if she had not been a member of the cast.

The last of his siblings, Coloskthon, had become a man who knew men. He had set up now in a trading house of his own. He did not belabor the family name wanting some anonymity, so he called it Founders. He had started by lending a little money and buying shares in a venture or two. They had done well, and he lent more money, and bought more shares. His friends, sons of successful merchants, had told him of ventures of their fathers, as had his brother told him of the plans of various Creators, and Col had found ways to make money off of this information. He did not have as many ways of seeing money grow as his elder brother, but he had less expenses in the way he did so. He was quite wealthy and he had become somewhat of a sage in regards to the ebb and flow of politics and money in Hornik.

Jac was content that his family had done well since their days at the Cartwright Foundry. They were all wealthy enough to not have to work should they choose, yet all his siblings and he chose to work. Jac found that he could not even sleep late, despite wanting to after a long night with his friends at the tavern.

Jac and his small group reached the Creatory. Clearing the cobwebs from his head he entered the main workroom and gave himself fully to one of the many problems littering his table. He had been toying with a stylus that was easier to use then a quill and ink, or piece of raw charcoal. So far none had worked and his table had three ink receptacles and seven pieces of charcoal in various locations. At the moment he could see no quill in sight amongst the clutter and so reached for a piece of charcoal. His apprentices clipped them into manageable sizes so that he could grasp them with ease, yet establishing a uniform dimension did not seem possible.

“The force of the blast causes the seams to expand and split. So a continuous casting with some mechanism to deliver the fire creator…”

Three apprentices and one journeyman had been working on the firelight project. They provided an update on their tasks.

“We have tried the tube cast from one piece of iron before. Wisely we lit the Kintre flames from a distance as the tube has blown apart each time.” Cortormain reminded Jack.

“Indeed, but perhaps there is a way to make this caster thick enough so that is not a problem. And instead of sending the wick passing through the mouth of the device, perhaps there is some other means. One of our attempts,”

“The fourth and seventh,” Henrycarmon, a junior apprentice said.

“Yes Henry, the times where we drilled the hole in the side and used much less wick.”

“The side is wrong, for the Kintre seeds could spill if over stuffed. We should do the top,” the apprentice said.

Jac thought, “Yes you are correct the top. And where is that list, the formula, for we know that a certain amount of seeds can lift a certain weight of metal. Did not Master Petmenior have some tables about metal weights and force. If we look at them…”

Henry was ahead again. “Here sir. I think this is what we want. I have experimented with the seeds and the weight, and not only is the seed more powerful not arithmetically, and not logrithmetically when increased, but somewhere between the two, also, when concentrated there is more power also.”

“And we also know that the tube being cast to the width of the ball provides us with more control on the delivery of the ball. Let us see those numbers of yours.” Jac began to study them, “What about a little over fourteen hands, yes and hear, if the cast is three, know three and a third fingers thick, with stones of no more then twenty sands…”

Jac started to use his charcoal and Henry was made to sit next to him to help.

Cortormain and the two other apprentices tried to follow but they ended up being sent to do errands in order to help the two solving the problem. Three rounds later a detailed drawing was ready for the casting works and Henry was sent to take it to the Master Bellman. It was that guild who were the ironcasters of Hornik.

Jac took his Journeyman aside. Jac had hoped that Cortormain who had shown some passion for the Kintre fireseed would have made a breakthrough with it, but it seemed like Henry was going to carry the day. “You believe there are other applications to this?

“Indeed GrandMaster, when a hole is made inside a wall and a small cylinder of the fireseed is placed in that hole, it then being lit, I believe that one can see the entire wall destroyed. I believe this can increase the efficiency of those in the mines…” Cor spent a good half round elaborating on other ideas and Jac nodded. All was not lost with nearly a year spent with the fireseed. Cor might have a breakthrough that would put him one step closer to Master, and Henry could achieve his own advancement to Journeyman status.

An apprentice arrived and stood respectfully a half measure from his elders in the profession. He went unnoticed, and this caused him to turn his torso, shuffle his feet, sway as if he could not control his balance. Jac noted this and remembered what it was like to not be taken notice of when something of importance was wanted. Yet his discussion with those who worked the fireseed problem was important as well. He did not like to shift his focus from so many tasks.

Jac could hear some other sounds emanating from the front rooms that were used to host clients and showcase those items that the firm had for sale.

“Hold a minute Cor,” Jac said, which caused the journeyman to stop midway through his discourse on how fireseed could be used in small amounts for cauterizing wounds.

“Yes Harbolden, you have something to say?” Jac addressed the apprentice.

“Yes, excuse me Grand Master, yes sir. Yes.”

Jac smiled even though the older guildsmen frowned at the youngsters interruption.

“And that is…” Jac said patiently.

Harbolden turned and looked back to the front of the building whilst speaking, “Yes Grand Master, the princess…” He stopped for coming through the doorway that led to the front rooms was the personage he had come to tell Jac of.

It was a woman. She walked into the room, her gown longer than she, with a train that swept behind her gathering to it bits of metal clippings, sawdust and grease. The luminous white of her gown, was offset with uncut clear stones and those of red hues stitched between long lengths of braid over the seams that made the light sparkle in waves from her. The dress was cut tight at the waist, which was slim with a stylish flare at hips and bust. Also covered for propriety yet showing the flesh of her chest in a more modest way then Jacklincoln’s younger sister, Melissandier would.

Her face was not an oval, it was more heart shaped, though the plane of her upper lip divided the wider top of her head, to a strong chin. The lady’s eyes were wider apart then most other women that Jac had seen, and her hair was coifed with care. Jac was sure that as the kingdom’s princess, she must have had servants to tend to her appearance before she left the palace. Those servants were well worth their pay as she looked the part of a princess. Regal and beautiful.

Jac recognized Princess Annaxier as every inhabitant of Firtoskin would. Jac had been taught to make great formal bows, and he did so as she approached. Holding it and hoping that his journeymen and apprentices did the same. A voice announced, “Princess Annaxier Farserit.”

And Jac took that as his signal to raise back to fully upright. He noted that two guards were directly behind the princess, and two more stood by the door.

“You are GrandMaster Cartwright, I am correct in understanding?” She had a voice with a deep smokiness to it. It threw him for a second for he did not expect that.

He shook his head to clear it, “Yes your highness. Yes I am.”

She nodded and her blond tresses bounced, as did the merest hint of her cleavage, which Jac couldn’t miss noticing. He may not have been dating any woman regularly but he knew hot to admire them. “Not as young as I thought you to be. You must be about my age.”

“A few years older, highness. The celebration of your birth is my earliest memory. There were firelights in the sky in Cawless the whole night it seemed to me.” She smiled at that. Jac had made their connection personal. Annaxier’s smile made her face light up. Her teeth where white and shiny, but not entirely straight, at least not the lower set. Her smile did make her even more entrancing.

“I can only imagine. I am told the firelights were grander for my brother, but I was too young to remember those and we have seldom had such shows since in the kingdom.”

“It would not be too hard to arrange,” the creator said. Jac had definitely lost track of his conscious thought. “We have been experimenting with fireseed and have found several ways to shoot firelights into the sky much less costly than before. We certainly could stage such a show for you given a week’s notice.”

She laughed, “It is true what I have been told, you are always thinking of new things.”

His smile was crooked and he shifted his weight. His employees all had faded to the far sides of the room to allow the princess and he to talk freely. “Yes your highness. They tell me I do that. Though I really don’t notice. Your highness has come from the palace for some business, I believe? Would your highness care to come to my sanctum where we can talk privately?”

Princess Annaxier looked about the room, and then nodded, “Yes we should do that. Your sanctum, though you will have to allow my guard to be present…”

His head came back, for he had turned to look towards the door to his private chamber where he did much of his work. “I am sorry then, for the room is not that large. Perhaps we shall retire to the courtyard. There is more room outside, and we can have some privacy there.”

One could see some light streaming through three windows on the north wall. The glazing was much clearer then what she would be used to at the palace, and the windows were larger. She remarked on that.

Jac noticed her look and what she said. “Yes, we have techniques that did not exist a year ago, and so we have bigger windows with less occlusion.”

“I beg pardon,” she had started herself, “I did not realize I had spoken aloud.”

Jac corrected quickly, “Oh, I do not know if you did. I was probably thinking to myself what you were thinking. I do that too, they tell me, and I am told it is quite rude. I hope you will forgive me.” He knew he had a crooked smile on his lips.

The princess allowed him to show her out to the patio courtyard. “I did not think of it as rude, well not that comment about the windows. They are quite intriguing. I wonder how it would be to have my rooms fitted out so?”

“I could send my craftsmen, but if, I suspect, the rooms you have at the palace have stone, first we may have to work carefully to remove what is there, and then build new frames. As stone is often uneven, we would have to caulk them in with some of the new substances that we have. In some stone casements, there are slots for the glass to fit in, or the frame, but this often causes drafts as well. Do you suffer from such now?”

She laughed, “Yes, yes I do, but that was not why I came. It sounds very expensive and your mind works so strangely. I do not know if I should say anything about one of your new inventions or not, for I am afraid that you might have a lecture hiding behind your back about it.”

Jac chuckled himself. “I should not tell you, for it is a secret, but everyone says it is another one of my faults…” He said it as if it was a little known conspiracy that he was including for her alone.

She smiled and then joined him in laughter. Jac indicated a bench that he and others would use to eat lunch in the sun and clear their heads. He explained that to the Princess.

“You find that your heads are cluttered, then, that they must be cleared?” she asked.

“No more than most men, I am sure of it, though with things that are probably no more useful than anyone else’s thoughts,” he responded.

She nodded, “I was told that for all your achievements, you do not speak for yourself over much. The men of my father’s court are the first to trumpet their achievements that they are noticed.”

He nodded, sagely. “Highness, I am of common stock. I am the son of a cart builder. I could very well be a cart builder still, and many hundreds of other men who now were fine robes, and have some small wealth, good homes, here in Firtoskin, all could still be toiling in the trades of their father, but we would not have the things that help us now in our daily lives. If I were to trumpet my achievements in relation to these other men, it would be small indeed, though they will not say so.”

She laughed once more, and he knew that some of it was at his protestation. “Oh you are rare. You decide me though. I came here hoping that I could find something to ease my father’s aches, for he has many. He enjoys these new tools that you develop and has created a little hall where he stores all that you and your friends have sent him. Models, I think you call them.”

Jac said, “Yes, we build a few when we are about to start something new. We always take pleasure in crafting one to gift his majesty.” He was glad for this report. Jac had often wondered if the king even saw them, or if they were accepted by someone at the palace and then thrown just as quickly upon the midden heap. He knew better than to share that suspicion with the princess. It would not do to have her think him as backwards as the tale he just told her. Far too much money was spent by Mikonal to make Jac seem a young man, if not of noble birth, at least equal to their class.

“Do you have any of these modes that you may present soon to my father? His HonorDay shall soon be upon us, and I should like to gift him something as well.” Jac nodded to that.

“I will have something, for I have been hard at work on various things. What of yourself. Is there not something that we can do for you, now that you are here. Can I not send men to see if we can install new glass for your windows? If you have a view from your rooms, this shall enhance it.”

“I really do not require anything. I am very concerned for my father.” She had sat and Jac looked around thinking. He saw that inside the studio, four guards were stationed, and two had come through to the courtyard. One stood close, close enough that he need pull his sword and Jac would feel the steel against his skin. The other paced the courtyard looking at the other windows that gazed upon it. The other doors that led from it.

“Your men are efficient highness.”

“I do my best to try and put them from my mind. They are always around,” she said.

“I should not argue with you but guardsmen are a necessity. I have guards now also. Sad that I must, but you see the need. Better to have guards who are serious about our safety then ones who not know what they do.”

“Do you study what guardsmen do as well? Can you make them better too?” she asked.

“I do not know if I can make them better. I think of the tools that they may use. I also am required to train as soldiers do each day. My position has made me of a class that is no class. But I must carry a sword, and am thus presumed to know how to use it as any noble’s son would. But since I am no noble, guards are allowed me to defend myself should some think that I need a lesson, or need to be unburdened of what monies could be found upon me. Even that I carry these ideas I have put to use on paper that they may take them from my person.”

“Do you carry them on paper that they may take from your person? That you may be robbed?” she asked.

“I try not to, but I have been known to write an idea or two down. We do not want our secrets to get out to others and so we keep most in our heads.”

Annaxier nodded, “Father says the same about how he must govern that way also. That there are many secrets and it is best to not write the secrets down. But write down the laws, he says, for all should know of them. Your printing machine has done great service there, though he does not relish paying for so many tutors to teach all to read.”

Jac shook his head. The king did a poor job of seeing that all in the kingdom could read. If Jac met one man in five that could read, he would be amazed, and yet this was more then when he had been a lad and first created the steam twirler. “You do not agree with something. You shake your head. Please tell me.”

“I can not highness. I am sorry that I shook my head.” Jac cursed himself for a fool. How could he do that. He could say that the King was wrong about a thing to another man of his acquaintance and social level. He could not tell the princess that her father was wrong.

She said, “Now you equivocate. Do you know what that means?” He nodded.

“I have had a very expensive education to add to my knowledge and be able to help me think of these new things we now use. Such as paper that can be taken from me were I to be robbed.”

“Paper was a very good creation, and you gave that to my father for one small fee.” It had been 1000 Guildens. It was little for what the king could have paid. It allowed all the people of Hornik to have paper and handsomely paid back the money it took to invent it.

It had paid back that money, perhaps all of one hundred Guildens, leaving the rest as profit. The king gave away the formula to all who wanted to learn how to make paper. Jac had told Master Gearman that it was important that all the kingdom have the use of it.

“Yes, paper was a very worthwhile creation and we were happy to gift it to the king.” Master Gearman sometimes would grouse at Jac saying that they could have had 100 times the money the king had given them for paper, and still be making a profit on it. Jac felt that sometimes profit was not enough of a reason to make these things. Sometimes they needed to make things and give them to the people so all their lives would be better.

It did not help when his brother Col sided with Master Gearman on such a topic. Neither of them saw that here they were years later and people did not pay horrendous amounts for paper, but were using it in all sorts of enterprises each day, not the least of which was reading and writing upon it. Something his brother and mentor did many times each day.

“I think that sometimes we are on the verge of talking about things and others you feel that you must hold back. Do you feel that also?”the princess stated.

“Highness, you are very intelligent. Surely you know that I can only speak so much and then must hold my thoughts. You are the king’s daughter,” Jac had not trained formally in diplomacy. But dealing so closely with tutors who were older and experts, he had learned some of the art.

“And you are supposed to be intelligent also. Father thinks you may be one of the smartest men in the realm. If I had not known that I was going to converse openly, do you think I would have come to you? You must be more candid.” She smiled and used her resources as well. She knew she was pleasant to look upon. She knew the value of her smiles.

“I know that word also, highness. You will permit me to be more careful. Other men certainly say that they have been killed for approaching the royal family. I do not know if that is true or not, for I am only told these tales, but I have no reason to doubt it.”

She laughed, “Sergeant, would you tell the GrandMaster that it is more tales that are spread, then the truth.” The guardsman who had been walking about the courtyard turned to Jack.

“Just as the princess says. We would never kill you, not where there are witnesses.”

Annaxier did not laugh, “Sergeant Formilham, please. The creator is already nervous enough.”

Jac said, “I am not nervous, highness. I am trying to find the correct protocol for having the royal princess at my Creatory and talking to her in my peristyle. I do not think the etiquette masters cover this. As for the sergeant and your other guardsmen, he does not frighten me. He does not know if I can use a sword, while I have seen the sergeant fight at the yearly trials. Formilham, you have never bested Master Fredardic, have you?” Jac asked, letting his own smile play upon his lips.

“Master Fredardic is a very formidable opponent. Very hard to best,” the Princess said. Annaxier attended the yearly trials as did her parents and brother. Though now, with her mother so sick, the queen would probably never attend them again.

“Yes, very hard.” Jac said, and remembered how much study it had taken to best the Blademaster. Even then he could not say he would win against the master on anything that resembled often or regular. Just that he could do so, at least three of ten times. Though that number was in need of reevaluation. He had lost only twice in their sparing the last moon. Jac knew he was getting better, but that Master Fredardic was not doing as well was most likely due to age. That was an enemy that had no sign of ever being defeated.

The sergeant was trying to gauge what Jac could and could not do. As Jac was several feet from his own sword, it would be hard to do anything, in reality. “Fredardic trains this one well, highness. He is as bold as any noble scion in court.” Jac cursed at that statement.

“The Sergeant gives you a compliment. You should know that all the Makories and Creatories that you might have, does not impress him as much as it would my father or myself. It is your skill at arms that is important to him,” the Princess said.

“I am aware of that, highness. All too aware of that. But I know, as does the Sergeant, that more of the kingdom has no idea how to use a sword then are used to wielding one. As that changes, it is ever more important to find new ways to defend ourselves.”

The sergeant actually shook his head. This was where the lessons with the generals came handy. “You should explain yourself. I do not follow,” the princess said.

“Five hundred years ago we were a nation of small village clans. Each village, each clan, most of the men had a sword, or a spear, all had bows. All used them to defend the village and clan. This fell into disuse as the villages became more secure with alliances and a nation here was forged. The best skilled with sword became our warriors, the least, our laborers. Then, under Lancecoin the Third your family and its allies invaded Hornik. If all of Hornik was still armed, your dynasty would never have succeeded. That was two hundred years ago. Then perhaps one man in ten was a warrior and knew how to defend Hornik. Now if we are one in thirty, we would be lucky.” Jac was conscious he had been near to lecturing as if talking to his journeymen and apprentices. He was also developing a thirst.

“Do you try to find solutions for that also?”

“I look to find a way to make life better for all of us as much as I can. Even for the sergeant here.” Jac smiled and nodded to the man. The sergeant nodded back. He however placed a hand upon the hilt of his sword while he did so.

“I would like to talk to you more. I think you should come to the palace that we may do so. Are you free tomorrow?” The princess asked.

Jac was shaking his head even as the thought came to him that with the princess as patron, he and Master Gearman would have better access to the royals. Their works then would not suffer as it sometimes did. They had patents and signs, awards from the king that said royal patent, but Master Gearman saw the king on those few occasions when he presented their monarch with another model. The sergeant was also nodding and moving his finger back towards the princess.

“I do not know if that is the best idea, highness. Already we have talked more than we should…” Jac said.

“Why, because I am a princess?” she interrupted with a challenge.

“Yes.” Jac said in honesty. “If you were the prince it would be barely more acceptable for women don’t talk about half the things we have spoken of, and a commoner such as I does not speak to a princess, as I have.”

She said, “I will disabuse you of some notions and then I will attend the queen. I have had a very good education and my father and I speak often of the things that affect the country, so I am concerned that I know as much as I can to help him when we talk. It is true that there are subjects that men do not like to talk to women about. It does not mean that we are incapable of understanding a subject. There are now very few guilds that do not have women in them, did you know that? Widows, sole daughters, have taken over the business of husband or father. They have learned these trades. Do you think they do not have the intelligence to learn them? I would note that there are no women amongst the Creators.”

Jac thought about that for a moment. “You are right. Much to my regret, you are right. I have thought about this before, and I hope that no one thinks I would turn anyone away, any woman away, who is qualified to join us. I think that though you are very well educated, as am I, other women are not. My sisters, and we began to have a great deal of money for their education, did not get as well trained as I, or my younger brother. They were also presented a choice that they could either learn about life with mother, or attend to their studies. Both chose a more practical type of study.”

“I have learned both types of study. What do your sisters do now?” He told the princess, who nodded. “I have seen your younger sister, and your older, I have garments made from her wools. You should think how you can rectify the lack of women amongst your guild, GrandMaster. Now the queen, your Healing Searchers have no answers for our family. Father says that all such men who have these skills have been told to approach the palace with their ideas.” She said. Annaxier had waited to the end of their interview. It was probably something she wanted more than anything else.

Jac was sad. He spoke slowly, “As you have said, there is no answers. I and the other masters all have told the Searchers to apprise us of their endeavors also. We want to help the queen too, we also don’t want them to come up with hearsay nonsense like sleeping in a bed made up of the feathers of a hundred gooses will save her health. We must use the techniques of Creation to try and heal her. What we can touch and taste, smell and hear and see. That is how we will know if we have a cure. But there is nothing yet, and near twenty men, journeymen and apprentices, that work on this.”

“Not you though?”

“I have no skills in that field. I would do more harm if I were to try.” She shook her head, not understanding how creationism worked. It was hard to tell her how it did, for it was taking all those facts in front of you and trying to make them work in a new way.

“Then tomorrow, after lunch, at the sixth chime of Bevers. The Sergeant will meet you at the main gate of the castle and bring you to our rooms.” Jac nodded. He had little choice. “And please, if there is anything that will help the queen, kindly bring it.”

He nodded, but did not think he would have anything. As she left, he called to all his journeymen, and the apprentices. He would send them out to the Healing Searchers and have them either come to talk to him, if they could, or send reports of their progress. He would know what he could say to her the next day. Jac did not know if he would have anything that was worthwhile, though.

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In this chapter, we are several years ahead from when Jaclincoln Cartwright first thought of the steam powered engine. It has begun to change all society. It has led to the first prototypes of steam powered tractors. Plow Carts that are so effective that less work is needed from the serfs who have worked the land for their lords. Instead they are given menial tasks that have given them cause to run to the cities. Here other Creators, under the guidance of Master Mikonal, has sparked the Renaissance of invention. Jak is not the only genius though he is one of the youngest, and becoming quite wealthy at this as well. He even has enough money that his brother and he have bought the local tavern where all the Creators meet after work.

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