Chapter 1

Background - Money & Power

Money & Power

I want you to pause for a moment and think about the lies we tell to our children.

My father worked as a day labourer in Steamport. He worked from dawn to dusk for less than 2 silver a day: loading and unloading guild ships from Criar or hauling coal down to the Langdale Ironworks. Bent his back so bad that he couldn’t even look up to see how the sky glowed during a Starfall. Hardest working man I ever met in my life… and maybe also the poorest.

Do you know what he told me, when I was growing up?

“You need to work hard, my son.” “Work hard, and one day you’ll make a better life for yourself than I’ve been able to give you.”

Light guide his soul - he toiled every day until he died, but never found that better life he worked so hard for.

When I was a young man, I met my wife. She was beautiful, talented and far too good for me. She was a mechanic for House Atwater. Well, a guild mechanic anyway, but mostly she spent her days fixing up the Atwater Goliaths and Ornithopters when the aristocrats and nobles were done playing with them. We both worked like dogs, day and night, but damned if she didn’t bring back more than twice as much silver as I could in a day.

When I mentioned to her what my father had said, do you know what she told me?

“You need to work smart, my love!” “The lower classes work hard, but we know better! Invest in your education, go to an academy, join a guild; and one day you’ll make a better life for yourself than you could from simple hard work.”

She might have been the smartest person I ever met in my life… but she was far from the richest. Certainly not rich enough to afford treatment when the spore-sickness took her from us.

Now that I’m an old man, I have children of my own. They are growing up fast and the world is changing around them. The spore-sickness spreads throughout the empire: crops are failing, herds are blighted, there’s no work to be had in the smaller towns anymore. It used to be that you only heard stories about Titans, but now there are new ones appearing with every Starfall. If you can’t afford to live in one of the Citadels, it’s only a matter of time before your home and everything you know will be taken from you.

So when I talk to my children, do you know what I tell them?

“It doesn’t matter if you work hard, my child.” “It doesn’t matter if you work smart. Those born with wealth will continue to exploit smart, hard-working people and keep all the profit for themselves! They’ll pay small folk like us one tenth of what we earn for them - and expect us to thank them for keeping the rest! No, the only way to succeed is to stop believing the lies that we keep telling ourselves.”

“If you really want to make a better life for yourself… you’re going to have to fight for it.”