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Built Upon Dust

This is where all of the Age of Steam role-plays are archived.
Triss
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Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:50 am

Journal 25 Entry 52:
Along the coast there is life here, but it seems to me that Kahun is mostly dust, eternal and infinitely expansive dust. Somewhere in that dust is the border town I've chosen to build my shop in a place with a small fishing economy not far from the wild parts of Maze. Civilization is questionable here, it's no wonder I'm early among gun makers in this part. It would seem my library is the only significant collection of written work in the town. Perhaps there is a reason other gunmakers haven't set shops here.

This specific town is important because some of the locals mine coal from not far away and ship it down to Menes providing some small income. I feel that the town might become important as others take interest in this ever important resource, but also its presence as a cheap resource will allow me to maintain a boiler to run some machinery of my own.

If I need evidence of the guilty,
ZVZ


Thirty wagons strong, the caravan carrying everything the architect of her new shop had said would be necessary as well as many of her own wares. The town of roughly one thousand, mostly Kahun native, seemed to have noticed the commotion. The legal attendant Zoe had leashed along was in a heated conversation over the papers some daft fool of a farmer had signed selling her the land without being able to read it. The general store keep who had initially offered to store the weapons the gunsmith had brought had reneged on the deal realizing the amount of equipment after it had arrived. The inn was full of ranchers after losing the request for housing the hybrid and her workers and so the gunmaker was seated in the saloon with a shot glass of some harsh local drink made from a cheap grain of some sort.

Shooting the drink almost like she belongs here, leather riding chaps and jacket dusty from a couple of weeks of travel, nearly dirt colored wide brimmed hat over her back boyishly Zypherine slams the shot glass down with a grimace as a solution dawns on her. “Je I’ai!”
Slapping a metal coin on the bar with a soft cloud of dust before storming out of the swinging doors and making a tongue click before waving to the legalman “Offer the farmer the pay we had for storing our goods to store them in the barn he thinks we’re going to knock down and tell him we’ll trade the deed to the field he signed for, including the bar, back if he lets us have the field he’s got that the river splits further out of town. Tell him we’ll pay him a quarter of what we would be paying the inn for the night if he lets our men set up camp outside of the barn and lets me set up a room and planning area in the loft. But make it clear that he only gets the money if we sign for the land tonight, otherwise we’ll go camp outside of town and I’ll make an offer to his neighbor he talks too colorfully about. If he signs, we start our work tomorrow morning an hour after dawn, the boiler will be here in two weeks on a small ship, there’s reward in keeping to my schedule.”

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Rackenhammer
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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Rackenhammer » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:30 pm

These were rapacious days in international relations. The full-scale industrialization of the Southern nations created such a demand for resources, that any great deposit in the Northern countries could not be known of long before the area was occupied under some imperial rule. Domus technically held sway in these parts, but many of the towns were so remote, that the administration could spare no staff to the outliers. Small fishing villages did not rate as high as, say, coal mining towns.

It had come to the attention of La International that this particular village might well change from one to the other soon, and felt it worth the effort to put some work in on the ground before some capitalist rang up the Domusian Foreign Legion and led them here on an expedition to corner the market.
Accompanying the few Domusian workers in the cause was one Heinrich Rackenhammer, a Socialist of Gawainian extraction, who was currently standing in the street with one of the natives, conducting a discussion about his work. The conversation alternated between the shoddy Domusian of the Kahunian lizard, and the shaky Kahunian of the Gawainian ferret.

The lizard was a worker in the coal mine, which was currently an entirely hand-dug operation. He had to sparse and dirty clothing of the miner in these parts, and presented quite a contrast to the Southern visitor.
Heinrich's costume was... eclectic, to say the least; it looked as if he'd raided three separate wardrobes, and matched the clothing anyhow. From the feet up, he was dressed in boots, Khaki pants, a white seersucker vest and jacket, a red tie (the only part of his costume which he seemed to give any care about), and topped it off with a loose turban. He thus very neatly violated all the clothing conventions of the place, and succeeded in attracting attention from the natives, and a reputation as an eccentric.

This was all part of the plan. Heinrich did not know the local tongue, and wanted to learn it before he started street lectures on the subject of socialism. Building rapport with the natives was an important first step, and they did not often talk with foreigners of their own accord. None of the Domusian workers had been quite willing to go so far as him, and so were not well known to the village.

"Enough talk, the day is hot. Let us have a drink." These had practically been the first sentences Heinrich had learned of the local tongue, and they had always been well-suited as a cap to conversation, especially since the ferret always paid for the drinks.
The pair were not even within sight of the saloon before the commotion became audible, and by the time both could see it, the ferret was already in a sour mood. "The capitalists have come." He muttered darkly in his native tongue. His companion, assuming the words to be directed at him, inquired to their meaning.
"I fear things will be worse for you soon." The ferret replied as he opened the doors to the saloon. No one seemed to take notice of them at first, being absorbed in the business discussions of the newcomers. This gave them time to order their drinks and give them a look-over.

"Huh." A woman seemed to be leading them; that was slightly unexpected. The land negotiations, however, were not. "You see? The land-grabbers, they come already." He said over the din to his native companion.
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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:18 pm

While quite occupied at first, it might be noted that having the ears of a Fennec fox among many other peculiarly untainted features on a hybrid does come with some advantages. Ears splaying first out of displeasure as she turns and the displeasure becomes confusion as she pinpoints and notices the peculiar nature of her offender's garb who some how walked past her through the door. "Sharp words to throw at someone who is being understanding in the face of offense, personal expense, and aggravation..."

With that the dusty and determined woman starts her stride over, not willing to have someone start getting locals to try ousting her this early on...she hadn't been here long enough to make any honest enemies. "We asked him reasonably for the land and he signed months ago that he would accept the wealth I offered but he failed to realize one of his barns was on the land he offered us. I do suppose I could ask the authorities to step in, but I'd rather work out a deal that leaves the both of us content. Let me pay for a round, and realize my efforts to establish work here might very well bring some local wealth into your friends work place. After all, machinery doesn't run without coal and water and progress is a labor of society as a whole."

Smiling that devilish smile of a woman who is angry and intends to 'get even', a smile completely alien to reptilian facial features, Zoe looks the ferret in the eyes before providing a softer smile to their local friend. "The name is Zoe Victoire Zypherine, gun smith, scholar and inventor. With whom, might I ask, should I associate this pleasure?" Somewhere while she's moving around the inventor must have retrieved coins that she leaves for the barkeep absent minded pointing that the coins are for the drinks the men have. Today was going to be expensive indeed, might as well make the best of it.

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Rackenhammer
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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Rackenhammer » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:29 pm

So, the newcomer had heard him. As she approached, Heinrich could see why. She was a hybrid, and no doubt her fennec heritage had assisted both in hearing him, and probably in her coming to this country in the first place.

The ferret could see other things, too, as Zoe came near. Her poise, and expression, marked her as a determined and resolute woman. So much he could have deduced from her coming here, leading a caravan, but there was a spark of battle in her eye. He faced the inevitable verbal clash without fear. As far as pull with the locals went, he was in an entrenched position compared to her.
"So you say." He replied in accented and unhurried Domish. "I should think by now experience would have put paid to the notion that a society can progress by means of individual contract. However neat the theory, it follows not in practice. Wealth may come to Azzad's workplace, but will be mostly kept by whatever capitalist can get his paws on the mineral rights first."

He did not, however, move to prevent her from paying for their drinks. He merely took the silver coin which he'd gotten out to pay the bartender, and slipped it into Azzad's palm off-hand. He received his drink with the other.
This place had two specialty drinks. One was a grain liquor which could eat through your tongue, and the other was a coffee that could dissolve the roof of your mouth. Any foreigner who could drink either was accorded some amount of respect. The ferret chose the latter by preference.
"I," He said in response to Zoe's introduction, "Am Heinrich Rackenhammer, worker in the cause."
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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:23 pm

Not worried to let her change in expression show in an exaggerated way, the sort of act to make emotional connotations more obvious even to those who are completely unfamiliar with a mammals way of expression. The furrowed brow and gentle, ah, marking some sort of understanding at the last statement. "In some ways your own views of economic unfairness and mine mirror reasons for being somewhere less central for now. I've come here to establish industry freely out of reach of the more entrenched so that my influence might in some ways sway future fairness, I bring a library of science and literature with which to enlighten, machinery with which to invent, wealth to offer my workers, and materials with which to build. It would be hard to refute the value of those to a community."

"However, you're a worker in the cause, worker might suggest you do something industrial to in some way improve the world or produce goods for the community. Certainly as a worker hoping to better the world you don't rely on the bank of some distant political group making it's wealth off of the very commerce you detest, undoubtedly given a larger share than someone among the group who just runs a printing press for the fliers you pass out. It also might not be so healthy for the cause to suggest that you would take more money for the work you do than the typical worker here, so that you might have enough extra money to throw around much as if you too were some sort of capitalist in the dark. Or do you live solely off of donations, and is that coin you gave Azzad freely given by another member of the community that you've no doubt told should be given wealth for their work? And I'm sure our strong friend Azzad here feels he should be properly rewarded for doing more work in the mines than someone who only brings in half as much coal because they simply don't feel the need. While a great theory to say that all should be treated fairly, it doesn't follow in practice. We all know someone who does not try as hard as ourselves, and why should they if they get wealth all the same?"

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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Rackenhammer » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:01 pm

Heinrich's own expression reflected Zoe's, an exaggerated indication of sudden understanding. However, the motivation was not untinged with sarcasm; the ferret had been in Kahun long enough to learn that lizards were smarter on the uptake than most Southerners gave them credit for.
"Ah, I see. You've come to give a library to those who cannot read, and money to those with nothing to buy, except the the goods which you import." He laughed. "So much for constructive capitalism."

He gave a deprecatory wave of the hand. "Humor aside, it is easier than you think to dispute the value of such industrialism. You are new here, you must speak to the locals through an interpreter. But there are things that will learn; most of the lizards here do not think in cash, but in crops. The industrial, it is destructive of this. Have you seen the rivers, in the big cities? You can set them on fire; however exciting the spectacle, it is not conducive to fishing. As for the wheat, it will not grow on the land you have, I'll bet anything. I, of course, can see what value lies potentially in the modern way, but you not find so easy to explain as you suppose. Even if you did know the language."

Azzad, meanwhile, had lost interest in the conversation. His technical command of Domish was limited, and he had more interesting things (at least to himself) to discuss with the bartender. Heinrich, as Zoe was going on about him, brought out his cigarette case, offering one to the hybrid. He lit up his own, which he proceeded to use more for gesturing than smoking.
"I am paid by the party funds for my services, and there is nothing evil in the ways in which we get our money. If you actually bothered to read Marx, Fraulein, you would know that to use the funds and tools of the capitalist to bring about socialism is not hypocritical, no more than to be born in the world it rules. It is not the commerce which is evil, it is the way in which it is managed. The system of private contract does not lead to the Just Society, and we can only trust for Just administration those institutions whose duty is justice, and not the accumulation of wealth. But to use the capitalists money to bring about his downfall? No more hypocritical than to hang him with his tax money."

The ferret paused to take a pull from his cigarette, before continuing in calmer diction. "Any theory, of course, always stands in judgment to the facts. And the facts are these, under a system of private contract it has come that those who are paid most by a mine are those who never go down it. They try not so hard as the laziest worker, and are the ones who pay him. Have you seen that sort of person? Have you walked the streets of those large houses, peeked in the windows, and spied them? Their cultural philistinism, their brass assurance of merit, they way they assume they are the very best creatures on this earth?"
He shook his head. "If we have any right to be here, Fraulein Zoe, it is to give our best. You cannot say to me, that we should begin capitalism here, I have seen where it ends, and that it ought to. My theory is untried, yours has been, and found wanting."

And on that note, he finished his coffee.
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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:50 am

"I see. Unfortunately I have seen those houses Junge. And we'll see how the people respond in due time. However, I have interest in some way making progress ahead of the development here which is coming soon if the signs are to be believed. Don't slander my name for making deals with the willing, and I won't look into informing authorities that be of your actions. On a more generous offer, I'd love to speak again when I'm in a better mood and have had a better personal look into things. Personally, I'm not nearly so skeptical of the people here having an allergy to literacy. For a political idealist that gets his views from a book I would think education in at least literacy would be important." Smiling as politely as she can as she leaves what only the most optimistic could call a draw, Zypherine makes for the entrance.

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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Rackenhammer » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:59 pm

"The deceived are always willing. But yes, I should like to speak again." He took another pause for smoking, before calling to her. "A local proverb which I think may help you: Learn, before you begin to teach."

He turned back to Azzad, offering him another cigarette, which the lizard, after the polite formality of refusing, accepted. Both continued the conversation they'd been having outside until Azzad had to return to work.
Heinrich decided to stay, and make inquiries among Zoe's entourage. He did not fear her threat to call the authorities. The local village leaders knew him better, though it was hard to gauge at this point what they thought of him. He did know, though, that the society here was rather patriarchal, and that Zoe was not likely to show any kind of patience with that. And as for the Domusian Colonial authority... well, there were enough chauvinists in the Menes office to make Heinrich wish he could watch the confrontation.

He walked up to the fur who acted as translator for Zoe. "So, what is it that your mistress is so keen on establishing here?"
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:07 pm

Somewhere among the workers on her way out Zoe takes a moment to ask one of her men that can only be assumed to be some sort of mercenary, to keep an eye on Heinrich before she sinks into the proceedings again.
***

As the negotiations on the land are resettled, all be it in a slightly less favorable manor than initially intended the legal translator starts to walk back to the tavern in order to see to his own pallet when the ferret stops him. "Oh..I...She's an arms inventor attempting to build a work shop and small factory here." Dusting his chest off the vulpine furrows his brow at the peculiar ferret, "She's attempting to be on her feet here before the development that's coming brings the competition responsible for hedging her attempts at founding a factory elsewhere happens. She caught wind of a train track that should be set in soon as part of a large plan to develop the mines here and this is the result of her attempting to out pace it."

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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Rackenhammer » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:10 pm

Heinrich's eyes opened a little wider at the mention of Zoe's particular business. "She anticipates war or anarchy? It is not usually a seller's market for guns otherwise." The ferret frowned a little; this was a relatively peaceful village; the Great War had not touched its frontiers, and what bandit groups there were preferred richer targets. But, the sudden infusion of wealth that would soon come was likely to change that.

"So, trying to race the zeitgeist, eh? Hm, word of her coming might make the wheels turn faster, though." Thanking the fox for his time, he left the saloon, first writing a note to his socialist colleagues to let them know what was up, before wending his way towards the village leader's place. Zoe was, of course, only the vanguard of capitalist forces sure to come, and they no doubt hoped to overwhelm the village.
*Ha, you shall see. You are not the only one who lays groundwork for the future here!*
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Triss
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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:01 pm

Giving the unusual ferret a confused look, "Not really anarchy here no...I believe that this is what she deemed the nearest reasonable location for export to Maze from Domusian territory that had adequate resources but lacked the grip of competition..." however by then it seems the mustilid has been lost in his own musings so the vulpine accepts the dismissal and moves on to get his food. Perhaps quite significantly mistaken in his methods as he dismisses the ferret as harmless.

Elsewhere in the village as the fox sits down to the surprise of overly potent coffee he has to water down and a quite pleasant meal of fish, tents go up outside of a large barn as crates move. By sunset the numerous workers have emptied their cargo into the barn. Late into the night the murmur of plans to push the construction forward the next day drift on the wind.

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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Rackenhammer » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:24 pm

Nobody could have blamed the vulpine for thinking Heinrich mostly harmless. The ferret always came off as just a little too intellectual to be practical, and when you combined that with his style of dress, he tended to cut something of a ridiculous figure.
All of that was intentional. It often gave him freedom of operation because no one thought him threat enough to thwart.

His visit to the village elder was full of the native courtesies of the land, which the foreigner ferret went through by rote. They functioned as hoops to jump through, and if you cleared the hurdles, the lizards were slightly more inclined to take you seriously. Slightly, since the elders almost always had a distrust of all foreigners, not without reason, either. Therefore, while the elder didn't particularly like Heinrich, he intimated that he agreed that the coming rail and development were to be viewed with suspicion, and that Zoe, being the vanguard of this flood, was not to be trusted.

Heinrich departed the house, walking back to the field HQ of the Socialist International (the back room of the cheap inn), while the elder sent a circumspectly-worded invitation to Zoe, for a meeting in person.
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

Rackenhammer's RP Experience "blog"

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All my characters in their insane length

Triss
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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:30 pm

Somewhere in the background the before mentioned goon that Zoe had employed as a caravan and facility guard and had since assigned the job of watching, follows at some distance. He watches, and walks and watches, sticking out quite a bit after several laps around the block in conflicts of various forms and because he is a wolf among (mostly) lizards.

While 'guard' typically isn't known to be well educated this one can write at least, and writing a note for Zoe as he follows the ferret back to the hotel and passing it by a worker the note to tell the hybrid of the meeting arrives only a few moments before the elder's request to see her.

Caught off guard by the late night request, and unwilling to be made disheveled and appear ill prepared by events she quickly sets to wash in one of the barn stalls, cleaning herself off with a rag and a bucket of stream water. Less than a quarter of an hour later, lightly at best freshened, but otherwise dressed as before Zoe is on her way, legal translator in toe after his similar forced reaction and one of her scattered collection guards that claimed to be some degree competent in the local tongues as well as the construction foreman that had at least translated the letter. "Odd time of night to request someone."

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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Rackenhammer » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:49 pm

(Um, who is Zoe addressing right now?)
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Re: Built Upon Dust

Post by Triss » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:18 am

(other than absently remarking as she makes her way to the elder's she's not remarking to anyone in particular)

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