4. the Forge

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Among those who seek out the source of the caustic air, is the Handler who handles Hounds. She follows the smoke back to an iron building, the Forge, which spouts black smoke and sparks out of its smokestacks. Well, that was easy enough. However, the Forgers in the Forge weren’t going to stop putting all their time and energy into the Forge because of something someone from somewhere said.

Besides, once the Handler, and the others with their hounds came to as close to the Forge as they dare, the wind turned, and off they ran again. Except for that one Handler, who went into the Forge, without her Hounds. Therein was to be had a lesson in industry, about which she has never since spoken. Your guess is as good as anyone’s as to what was being forged within. After her visit to within, with a blank stare and steady voice, the Handler announced that she understood what was being done, and why, and that in the end it is a sacrifice over a short time for greater abundance over a longer time. Although that didn’t make sense to the people who worked with the land daily, but in the part of the city where thinking occurred in absence of experience, it seemed like a good idea.

So the people most proximate gave a certain percentage of their resources to the Forge, as an investment in future abundance. Then their neighbours, then theirs and so on, until a small region was kicking in for whatever it was the Forge was doing. Whenever there was ill wind and caustic air, it was subtracted from the tithe, at least at first. Later, it wasn’t, but no one could remember why not. Caustic air is terrible for the memory.

And then, after a time that was it. The caustic air had established its boundaries, and never extended beyond a certain belt around the Forge, depending on the winds.

What also came out of this, was advancements, both technological and sociological, such that for the first time, someone could be put through the system from birth to death and follow one’s path to enlightened perfection.

Some of us remained skeptical.

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