May 14, 2012
More of a project I’m working on with a friend of mine.
I hope you enjoy it!
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Now to work on my post for Wednesday.
In a world that is equally distributed between land and water, all of the water leads to one place. All of the currents, all of the oceans, all of the rivers, all of the seas all move toward one place, one central gyre from which all of the worlds currents spin out into its myriad and complex networks. It is here that all of those things that wash into the ocean end up, and it is here that those people who were cast out and sent into the ocean ended up as well. The fishing is always good. The junk is always useful. The ocean is always moving and yet calm. Storms are few. It is easy to get here, and it is difficult to leave. That is, unless you know how to cleave the wind and ride away from the current. Hug those places that leave the center point of the oceans of the world. It was for this reason that those who had been lost at sea stayed in this place for many generations, never leaving for it was too difficult to leave. Ships would wreck and the wood would wash into the gyre, ships would become lost and show up in the gyre, and people who were cast out would end up in the gyre. Eventually. All of these things slowly came together, stacked and stuck and strapped to one another, to form what might have been called a waterlogged town but is now a thriving, gigantic, and multifaceted city. A city that is called The Hub by those who live there, and called the Azure Kingdom by those who don’t.
Those who live on land, the Hubbers believe, require more pomp than the ocean does.
Now, the city sits at the center of the spokes of trade as well as the currents of the seas. It spins around those who bring in business and money, who employ huge armies of people from those who pilot and operate their ships to those that unload the ships to those that maintain the cargo, those that feed these people, those that keep these people happy, those that house these people. There is a saying in the Hub that the poorest among them are the Trade Princes themselves, since they must constantly spend their money to keep the Hub turning. This is especially true as, unlike many large cities teeming with merchants, there are no beggars, there are no poor in the Hub. Everyone has a skill if one is capable of sussing it out, and everyone is has a masterful talent that can be used somewhere. Whether a child ends up carrying boxes, healing people, writing poetry or prose, cooking, tailoring, whoring, weaving…any of the numerous trades needed to buy and sell the world over, the child will find employment, training, support, and love. For love is the language of money, and money is the currency of love. The greatest place a child might find, though, would be that among the shipwrights. The woodsmiths. The driftspeakers. Those who can see the ship within the wood, those that can see the product within the materials. These children grow up in the hands of other shipbuilders and woodsmiths. These children, treated almost like priests among the people of the Hub, become the artisans and build the city up, build it out, and build the ships that break away from the gyre and take the products of the Hub to the world.
Sometimes these children grow up, become powerful in what they build and what they sell, and perhaps even purchase admittance into the powerful society of Trade Princes that rule the Hub. Perhaps one of these children was named Mallacka and is now, indeed, a Trade Prince with a network of regular trade between the Great Wood of the east and the Imperial Palace of the west. Perhaps this Mallacka is an easy going giant of a man who adores his friends, his employees, and his ship. Perhaps this Mallacka is, as well, a cunning businessman who has recently found a way to solve several problems at once and gain access to all of the trees that he could ever need to build the greatest, most expansive, and most capable fleet in history. Perhaps he also is going to have access to plans from a brilliant engineer to arm his ships in a way that the world had never seen before.
Our friend Mallacka is a brilliant man who can see into the hearts of things, you see. He is a gentle man with a brilliant smile, a quick tongue, and a passion for making the best of things, whether that is the best boat or the best mood. When the Queen of the Great Wood first lamented that her youngest son seemed to be direllect in direction and determination, Mallacka befriended him. Brought the young man books and stories. Taught him what he knew of the wood, of working it and building with it and shaping it. The boy, though, had a sharp mind much like the driftsingers, but instead of ships the boy saw machines. And so Mallacka helped encourage him, taught him the problems of building on a ship, and turned the boy’s mind toward the weapons, the booms, the levers that Mallacka would one day need.
Mallacka, being a trader, had friends all over the world though. He also had a friend, an old and honorable friend, in the Empress of the far off Empire of the west. She has a pressing problem with one of her delightful daughters. The younger is a powerful girl, an adventurous girl, a girl much like her father was a man. She was willful and aggressive and most unbecoming as a lady of the Imperial Court. The great Empress needed a solution to the problem of her dear and lovely daughter. For now, the Empress has locked up the Imperial Princess in a grand and opulent and hidden and sealed palace in the great woods, the great hills, far off in the edge of the Empire. Luckily for the Empress, though, Mallacka was not just a merchant, not just a friend, and not just a confidant. He was also a problem solver. Perhaps, he told her one day over tea while discussing the importance of the silk trade and why his leaner, faster ships would be of better service to the Empire than her slower, simpler junks, he told her of a young, brilliant prince that could use a strong woman to embolden him. A young prince with little chance of ascending the throne. A weak prince that could strengthen Imperial ties to a far off kingdom and, likewise, solidify the Imperial Seat’s control over the young and powerful daughter. In effect, solving a problem and simultaneously another she didn’t know she had. Mallacka presented this solution with his normal aplomb, with his self-effacing smile, and with the cunning wit of a viper who had long ago learned what was best for him, and him alone.