Chapter 62. A Little Fox That Could
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Aikerim Kiymetl Adal

 

 

“I expect that you are familiar with the Accords?” The Samat Speaker leisurely walked across the open forum of the Summit.

“I hope you aren’t asking me for a lesson,” Amanzhan was quick to riposte.

Aikerim nodded to herself as she sat to the side of her sister. Either Amanzhan Irada regained some of her sharp wit when Albin Chasya disappeared from Samat or she had found someone else to quench her Heat and get her pregnant. A good thing if she were honest with herself. Yes, her elder sister was now much harder to contend with, but now Amanzhan was less prone to making silly decisions just to satisfy that itch between her legs.

“And yet,” Agrona Ninanak continued, wisely choosing to dismiss the failed verbal jab, “some of your kin have been so blinded by their greed that they are willing to dismiss the Divine Accords! To take from other, sisterly Houses what was decreed to them by the Goddess!”

The Summit descended into yells and screams; few were genuinely appalled, with the rest immediately separated into two camps. Most of the Kiymetl and Enoch, as well as their subordinate Manors, were denouncing the brazen accusation, while the Houses of War showed their outrage about the ancient rules being broken.

To Agrona’s disquiet, Aikerim Adal remained silent.

There was no gain for her to enter a yelling competition at this stage. Aikerim wouldn’t outscream the combined effort of what looked to be four Pillar Manors, and she wouldn’t waste her time trying to defend insurmountable accusations.

The warm and soft flesh of her daimonic armour gave her the unthinkable ability to remain calm. A constant reminder of how much hidden power and public influence her Manor now possessed and the subtle reference to the strengths of the wood.

The Kiymetl roots in Flow.

“…to bend without breaking, to cleave the rock and part the river…” she heard her ancestors whispering through this ‘skinsuit’.

“Is this what you wanted?” Amanzhan quietly said through her gritted teeth. “Are you willing to tar our Manor for the sake of one murk?”

Aikerim rolled her eyes. “You were present when the deal was struck between our Manors. The Accords are unbroken, Agrona Ninanak is being an actress.”

“An actress paid if not by all three Houses of War together, then the Kishava at the very least. Just look at their tails — they are just waiting for you to take their bait so they can pounce. What are you going to do then, oh sister of mine? Try to seduce yet another Manor with your daimonic knowledge?”

Aikerim had to hold her tail, for it not to twitch in amusement, while Shebet Matriarch was restoring order in the forum. The old drake was respected but her cane needed some time to be heard through the noise. “An interesting proposition, elder sister.”

“Until the day comes when you give away your last trick and secret. Then all those ‘friends’ and ‘alliances’ you had previously ‘secured’ would vanish like morning dew under the scorching sun. How long do you intend to ignore your own blood?”

Aikerim glanced at her. “Virnan Shah has been kept busy creating the almanack of stars, assisted by new tools and knowledge of numbers. Shipments of steel and other goods are being sent to Kiymetl Manors-”

“They are being purchased, sister.”

“They are being purchased for a fraction of their worth. My cousins and aunts can easily earn gold even if they sell that steel here in Samat. Something that you are already doing yourself, or so I’ve been told.”

“Is that why you kept your steel production so low? We both know that you can make ten times as much sword-grade steel as you are currently making. If not more.”

“No. My prized smith is simply too busy with other tasks — smithing rather than smelting.”

“You mean the Enoch girl? The one that can leave you at any time and become a full-fledged Domina? Is that what you are planning for the lamura as well?”

“The one that can become Domina at any time due to my grace and is well aware of it.” Aikerim glanced back at an annoyed Agrona Ninanak. The commotion was dying out and she managed to keep her sister distracted throughout it, but new accusations would emerge soon enough. “What do you want, sister? I could have taken all of Esca’s trade with Emanai for myself but I chose to stay my hand. Yet you persist in obstructing me. My patience has its limits.”

“Your gestures of goodwill are mere acts, sister. They trade with me, but they ask for your goods, not mine. They might need star almanacks for your guidance tools but Virnan isn’t the only one who knows the secrets of star movements on the firmament. I am certain that there are a handful of lamuras that are writing their almanacks as we speak. Soon, their ships will rule the seas. Our house needs ships that will rival theirs.”

“New sails are being woven as we speak.”

They were being made for a skyship, but Yeva mentioned that the material was both light and strong, and could be used for conventional sails.

“I am not talking about mere sails, little sister. Your daimon mentioned ships when he talked about his three gifts to Kiymetl. Big ships. I have shipyards ready with lumber, waiting to build them. Until I have the means to combat the growing threat of your ‘alliances’ I will keep the rein on your ambitions.”

Aikerim inspected her palm, covered in black. “Of course. For an appropriate price.”

Amanzhan’s nostrils flared. “Aikerim-”

She clenched her fist. “Do not mistake my willingness to reason with you as the admission of weakness, my dear sister. Your actions lie somewhere between inconvenient and annoying and the only reason I do not crush your Manor just as I almost crushed Esca is that you are my sister. And I am a filial daughter, unwilling to seed discord and ruin within my own family.”

“Yes, one of your very sisters, oh Speaker of Kiymetl.” Agrona Ninanak interrupted their hushed conversation with a smile on her face, widely missing the reason behind their gestures. “Are you going to sit idle and allow this perversion to continue or are you going to act like a proper Speaker of the Pillar House?”

“Are you going to name that culprit, or will you continue to threaten us with the dreams of your feverish mind?” Aikerim snapped back.

The wersheep smile turned coy. “I was talking to Amanzhan Irada, please do not interrupt your superiors-”

“Are you preparing to declare war on one of the Pillar Manors?” Aikerim was having none of it.

Agrona sputtered mid-sentence and the Summit descended into chaos once again.

“Aikerim, what the fuck are you doing?” Amanzhan hissed at her.

“I am showing you, the eldest sister, what happens when others stand in my way.” She stood up. “Watch me.

“There is only one type of discussion where only Speakers are to be heard. War. You have no right to deny me speaking at the Summit. Not only am I a Kiymetl Domina myself, forced to defend our honour, but I have paid a lot more gold into Emanai coffers. My taxes and donations during this summer alone were greater than what your Manor contributed throughout the year. I have more right to speak here than you.” Aikerim slowly descended into the open circle of the forum to join a fuming Agrona Ninanak.

“Donations that you’ve paid with theft!” The Samat Speaker spat theatrically on the ground. She turned toward the rumbling mass of the Summit and gestured at Aikerim. “What do you see here if not a plain admission of guilt!? Just a mere mention was enough for her to start shouting as if trying to frighten all of us into silence.”

“Perhaps she is coming down to confess!” someone yelled in jest. “She even took off her shift and covered herself in tar.”

A few were quick to point and laugh, slapping their legs and bellies. Aikerim merely shrugged her shoulders and willed her kaftan to billow out.

Flow picked up the hems of her outer clothes and lit the runes on her skinsuit.

Aikerim finished her descent in near silence, interrupted only by the soft clack of her wooden soles on the marble floor of the forum. Her skinsuit bubbled with power as the glowing runes shifted and moved across her body. She made sure to avoid certain areas, however. Aikerim wasn’t willing to accidentally reveal their most coveted discovery about runes.

“Those are very bold proclamations…” she softly murmured as she approached the shaking wersheep. A tendril emerged from her hand and, amidst the gasps of the onlookers, turned into a whip. Only to coil in her hand as if it was a living snake seeking a place to slumber, “…to accuse a Domina that witnessed the Goddess in all her glory of breaking the Divine Accords.”

Agrona licked the sweat from her lip but schooled her expression. “I am not blind to miss the red sails in our harbour. Three ships from the lands of Yusuf were filled to the brim with slaves. Where are they now if not inside your Manor?”

She threw glance after glance at the frowning but silent group of Kishava Dominas.

Aikerim turned around as well, her ear tilted to the side, “Those slaves are now mine and reside within my Manor. Is that all it takes to topple the Accords?”

“That is how it starts.” Roshanak Gulnaz slowly got up and joined the circle. “If you forgive the stolen chicken, you will lose an ox next time.”

Aikerim smiled. “I remember your youngest. Lita’af Hikmat. Her Entrance Feast was quite spectacular, with many Dominas across multiple Houses bringing her lavish gifts. I was there myself if you remember. I also remember seeing gifts of gems, bolts of cloth, or even food on the table that didn’t come from the Kiymetl Manors.”

“Are you comparing three ships, full of slaves, to mere gifts given during a Feast!?”

Aikerim flicked her tail. “Yes, because this wasn’t about slaves at all. They were but a means to gain something else. Just like gifts and lavish dinners bring you not wealth but honour and reputation.”

“And why should we believe your claims?” The silver tail flicked in a similar manner. “After all, you have a certain… history about your claims and your actions.”

“You’ve led arms, Roshanak Gulnaz. Imagine that a group of sturdy warriors approached your forces and declared that they wish to fight under your banners. You know little about their loyalties and their strength, but you are facing a formidable foe and desire to lose as little of your troops as possible yet win decisively. What will you do?”

“You are now calling this a test? ‘Bring me a horde of slaves to prove that you are traders’?” Roshanak scoffed. “Your claims grow more outrageous with every word that leaves your mouth!”

“The slaves will come as full families. Artisans and workers alike will be accompanied by their spouses, their children, and their elders. Whether or not they are sick, crippled, or infirm!” Aikerim proclaimed loudly across the forum. “You say that there were three ships of slaves, yet no more than a half of one were men and women of working age and in great health. Moreover! During the voyage, they are to be fed like freedmurks — with bread and ale, rather than barley porridge and stale water!”

Erf’s demands were… questionable, but that didn’t mean Aikerim couldn’t work with them. Or turn them against her opponents. She twisted on the spot and faced the Kishava. “Will you sell me some slaves under those conditions?”

Parusatis Aminah scoffed. “Do you want me to fart gold too? I have better ways to spend my time!”

Aikerim smiled and turned back to face Roshanak. “Those were the conditions I’ve imposed on Esca. The trade that cost them too much to be repeated often, if ever. The trade that earned me too little for all that work. As I’ve said previously — it wasn’t about slaves at all.”

“Yet you chose slaves for it anyway. Perhaps the real reason behind all of this was to sow confusion among the honourable members of the Summit.”

Aikerim stepped close to Roshanak, her eyes narrow.

“Are you implying that a Pillar Manor needs your permission to act, lest its actions confuse you?” she whispered. “You might be the Kamshad Matriarch, but I answer only to my mother — another Pillar matriarch, just like you. And then — to the Goddess herself. I am giving you a personal warning because of your status — back off. Because you will not like where you will find yourself at the end of this path.”

“Why?” Roshanak murmured. “Because you have a crippled daimon on the other side of Emanai? About to enter the Forest and possibly never return?”

Aikerim smirked. “Perhaps. Perhaps, not. That is not important here in the slightest because I am here, in Samat.

“And I am on a mission from Goddess.”

Roshanak’s eyes opened wide.

“If you thought that my daughter and I were important enough for Catriona Emanai Aethil to attend the Entrance Feast, you wouldn't have dared to throw such accusations in my face. You are correct — She gave me a task. A few of them. Are you going to stand in my way and pray that the Goddess will understand your interference? This isn’t about me breaking the Accords and you know it. You want an in. To my daimon. To my daughter. To my deals with the Goddess. If you think that I will bend my back in front of you and let you have it then you are mistaken.”

The wood on her hand rippled and grew into a set of sharp menacing claws. The tips alight with reinforcement runes. “And if you think that I lack the claws and fangs to protect me and mine then you are delusional. I am not some country-side Domina that shakes like a leaf when one of the Seven walks by. I am not even the Aikerim Adal that you knew a year prior.”

Roshanak stared down at her in silence while Aikerim simply waited for her response. She was shorter but height didn’t phase Aikerim in the slightest — Kamshad Matriarch’s glare was weakened by the uncertain glances at the shifting mass of black and glowing yellow.

“We must exercise proper decorum when it comes to Divine decrees,” Roshanak slowly proclaimed to the forum. “Even when allegations are as clear as day, the decision needs to be made in front of the Censor herself to make sure that the will of the Goddess is interpreted properly.”

“Wise words, Roshanak Gulnaz.” Aikerim gave her a little nod without rubbing too much salt into her sore loss.

“This delay does not give you the freedom to act beyond your House, however! The slave trade is the sole responsibility of the Kishava, not yours.”

Aikerim shook her head. “I have the right to trade with other Manors as I see fit, just as all of you can and do trade directly among yourselves without involving the Kishava and the Kiymetl.”

“Not in such quantities we don’t.”

“Because it is cheaper to involve the Manor that deals with bulk trades rather than attempt to do them yourself. Just as it is cheaper for me to pay one of the Enoch Manors for a new road, rather than waste my time and money by sending my weavers to dig the land and traders to chisel stone. If you are still concerned, I will give you my word — I will not give my slaves away through direct agreements and any slave purchases involving gold will be done only with Kishava.”

“Something tells me that you aren’t planning on giving any slaves away at all,” Parusatis Aminah spoke up from her seat.

Aikerim smiled. “Then you have nothing to be concerned about. Your trade is unchallenged.”

She started to walk back to her seat only to find the silver tail in her way.

“Be careful where you step, little fox,” Roshanak murmured. “You are walking into the fields where Matriarchs roam, despite not being one yourself. You might've gotten lucky this time but your luck won’t stay with you forever. A single mistake, a single misstep, and you will be devoured alive.”

“When a wolf howls at the Moon, the Moon is silent,” Aikerim murmured in return. “I just need to stay lucky until I grow strong enough, that’s all.”

“A single Manor against multiple Pillar Houses? How many centuries would that take you?”

Aikerim didn’t answer. She simply kept walking toward her seat where Amanzhan sat, her mouth agape.

“That Flow dress-”

“Is the Secret of my Manor, sister. A very recent one, at that.”

She licked her lips. “You have been looking for land…”

“And you will get ships.”

“Aikerim Adal. I am not going to be satisfied with the scraps off your table.”

Aikerim looked at her. “It appears that you missed the moment where I stood up in front of three Pillars and made them back off. Kiymetl needs to grow stronger, I agree. But if you continue to use your status as the Speaker to demand greater and greater concessions from me, I will take Esca and I will take your seat. That is why you will get ships Emanai has never seen, and you will be happy for them.”

“You can’t do that!” she hissed.

Aikerim raised her eyebrows. “I can’t? Proclaim my Manor as your patron and you will have living armour just like mine.”

“I am not going to give up my status for it!”

“No, you won’t. Others will. How many Kiymetl Manors do you think I could get this way? Do you think our mother wouldn’t reconsider my candidacy for something like this? A valuable gift needs to be repaid in kind.

“You have been so busy watching my daimon that you didn’t realise that I wasn’t just borrowing his power — I was growing my own.”

 

 

Yeva

 

It was a strange feeling to stand in front of the crowd yet not know what to say. Tired and angry, indifferent and resigned. Murk and wer alike watched her silently as she struggled with herself.

There were hundreds of them, old and young, and now she was their mistress.

Her childhood didn’t prepare her for this and neither did lessons from Erf. Those weren't domineering wermages whom she could argue with, nor were they the living tech that she could control like part of her body.

“This is your new mistress,” Shahin said with a slight shake of her head. “Obey her every word and you will have food, clothes over your backs, and a roof over your heads. Anyone who shows promise will be taught a craft and use that knowledge to earn money.”

“Shahin.”

“Yes, Yeva?”

“What are you doing?”

“I am doing what you should have done yourself.”

Yeva grimaced. “I was thinking what to say.”

The lamura shook her head again. “You were thinking about how to comfort them. You do that by being a predictable mistress. You say what they expect you to say and then you work from there.”

Yeva pressed her lips. “Right.”

She stepped closer to the group. “First thing first, then. If anyone is sick or wounded — step forward.”

The crowd shrunk instead and Yeva suppressed her grimace. “I-”

“She is the medicine woman of these lands,” Shahin interrupted once again, “both wise and compassionate from her knowledge. It is through her orders that all of you were allowed to come with your families rather than being separated for the rest of your lives. Step forward if you wish to be healed or stand back and succumb to your illness in silence.”

The slaves glanced at each other, their faces wary. Somewhere in the crowd, a child started crying only to be instantly shushed into silence by their mother. Yeva was about to ask her next question when a man walked through the crowd and stopped in front of her.

His skin was dark but his curly hair was even darker. A thick beard covered half of his face while bushy eyebrows couldn’t hold the fire in his eyes.

“I. I am sick.”

She tilted her head. He wasn’t old, but he looked better than most. “Show me.”

“Here,” he lifted his arm. “My hand is sick.”

“Quite,” Yeva murmured as she looked at the stump.

“A thief,” Shahin observed from above. “By the looks of it, he was caught more than five years ago.”

“You call us thieves, and we call it hunger. A handful of grains.” He glared at her through his eyebrows without lifting his head.

Lamura shrugged. “A theft is a theft.”

“I sold my freedom because I lost my hand. ‘Work hard’ the other lamura then said to me ‘you will earn your freedom back’. I saved three silver camels, only to be sold once again. Are you going to take the hand of my former mistress?” He finally glanced upwards. “A theft is a theft.”

Shahin started to shift her tail but Yeva stopped her with a touch. “Silver camels?”

“A silver token of our land. One of them could be used to purchase a camel. Emanai had something similar once. Rods of silver, stamped with the image of a cow. Until you started to cut them into cuts. One camel is about a hundred of them.”

Yeva nodded. “Did Amir Shirvan-ja mention anything about their savings to you?”

“Yeva. By the word of the law, slaves’ possessions belong to their mistresses. It is their decision to make. Even if he is telling the truth.”

“I can hear his heart; he is angry but he isn’t lying.” Yeva sighed. “Viter! Bring me my purse.”

“Yeva,” Shahin said with a warning in her voice, “this is not a wise path to take. You can not give your cuts away to anyone who asks and expect it to work as you hope.”

“Thank you, Viter.” Yeva grabbed a pouch from the silent wertiger bodyguard and weighed it in her hand. It felt heavy enough. “Shahin. Do you think I should teach by the letter of our agreement or should I continue to teach by its spirit?”

The lamura sighed. “I will speak with Amir about this… discrepancy.”

“Good. I expect to be repaid cut for cut. Now,” Yeva turned back toward her first ‘patient’, “what is your name?”

“Siki,” he blurted while staring at the pouch in her hand.

She stretched it over to him but didn’t let go. “Know this, Siki. It is not my obligation to pay for what others owe you, but I will give you a choice. You can have… around three and a half camels now, or I can heal your sick hand… in a tenday or so.”

He grinned. “I won’t be a fool twice — I will take the silver!”

Yeva relaxed her fingers and the pouch landed on his only palm with a clinking sound.

“Thank you, mistress.” He grinned again.

Somewhere nearby, Shahin sighed.

Yeva frowned. “Do it again.”

“Do what?”

“Show me your teeth.”

He gave her a lopsided grin. “Lik zhish?”

She tsked and turned toward another slave. “Show me yours.” Yeva didn’t bother waiting for the girl to do as she was told and simply pulled her lip down with her finger. Her gums were red as well.

“Sea sickness,” Shahin was quick to comment. “It will pass after they spend enough time on land.”

“Viter.” Yeva turned back to her bodyguard once again. “Go find Meila and ask for the berries that she has been harvesting for the last two days. Take all of them — there should be enough that every newcomer will have a handful.”

“You have berries that cure this sickness?”

“Most berries cure this sickness, Shahin. One just needs to keep eating them at sea. The cause is not the sea itself but the meals that sailors eat. Specifically their low variety.”

The lamura nodded. “Yes, transporting berries at sea is a bit tricky — not every ship has a wermage to create ice, after all. Besides, this only happens during long voyages across the Great River — we tend to replenish our supplies almost daily when we travel along its shores. But I thank you for this knowledge — our captains will benefit greatly from it.”

“The Great River?”

Shahin smirked. “Emanai sailors call it the Southern Sea because it is the only sea they know to the south of their land. What they do not know is that it is only a river that flows between two great bodies of water…”

A hand tugged on Yeva’s sleeve. “Uhm, honoured medicine woman.”

She turned around to see a thin frightened woman cradling her child “Yes?”

“Can I have a cup of milk?” she begged. “I stopped having mine two days ago. I tried to chew some bread but he refuses…”

“Let me see.” Yeva gently took the bundle from her and looked inside. Her heart skipped a beat. “He is too young…and weak. Milk might not be enough.”

She glanced in the direction of the main greenhouse. The bio-printer would work but it would take time. And privacy — few were allowed to know about its secrets.

“Anything,” his mother whispered with tears on her face. “I lost my first two, please save my last.”

Yeva gritted her teeth and started to pull her kaftan aside.

“…and that is how far our sails managed to travel,” Shahin concluded her tale and looked down. “Yeva? What are you doing?”

“What do you think I am doing? I am feeding the child!” Yeva snarked back. The rapid shift within her body took a toll on her energy reserves and the highly nutritious milk didn’t make it any easier. A part of her was sad that her first time wasn’t with Erf’s child but she simply couldn’t let the child keep withering away in her hands. Yeva was quite sure that Erf would have done the same in her place. For him, losing a child to something preventable like disease or malnutrition was unthinkable.

The lamura leaned closer, almost pushing a fretful mother away, “To think that you could make milk despite not being heavy with a child… but then again — you are his wife. Natural laws do not apply to you.”

Yeva rolled her eyes “So says the wermage.”

“Flow is natural, Yeva. Your feats? I am still not sure. Nevertheless, the babe looks very weak. I do not think he will survive.”

“Don’t scare the mother for no reason. He will live. And so shall any other child born in this estate alongside their mothers. I can guarantee that as a medicine woman.”

The crowd rumbled with murmurs.

Shahin chuckled “See? I told you your feats were unnatural. And you took that title well.”

“Well, I know some medicine… and I am a woman.”

“It is more than that,” someone said from the crowd of slaves. “It is a title of knowledge, wisdom, and bravery. Few could stand between the sick and their Fate yet tell her ‘no’. Especially when Fate hungers for a child.”

Yeva groaned and handed the baby back to his mother. “There. He should sleep and recover for some time. I will get you something to feed him later today.”

The woman tried to hug her with choked words of gratitude, but Yeva pushed her away. Only to stumble and sit down on the warm tail of an intrigued lamura.

“This is probably the first time I have seen you tired.”

“Because I, for the first time, am tired.” Yeva tried to get up but Shahin stopped her. “I just burned through my breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the span of a few moments.”

The lamura frowned. “Are you sure you can save every child and their mother, then? If this one took that much out of you, imagine how hard it would be with twins, especially if their mother is weak.”

Yeva shook her head. “Speed costs extra. If I had half a day to prepare for that child — none of this would’ve happened.”

She glanced up and looked at the crowd again. “That is why I will ask once again — is anyone here sick or wounded enough to need medicine right now?”

They looked at each other once again but this time it was different. They weren’t looking for someone to take the fall, rather they were looking for any that had fallen. A few came forward with old scars and badly healed broken bones, but Yeva dismissed them for now. None were as time-critical as the starving child — the Esca took Erf’s rules to heart and the voyage wasn’t too demanding to their bodies.

A few sheepishly mentioned being hungry, especially after getting their appetite stoked with a handful of berries, but Yeva was prepared for that and sent them off to the communal mess hall. The estate was getting rather populated and it was easier to feed them together rather than have them burn down the buildings by trying to cook inside their lodgings.

Yeva used that time to have a meal for herself. Aziz did look at her oddly but quietly loaded her table with trays of steaming food. And that is when they were intercepted by Domina herself.

“I need ships.”

Yeva blinked. “Now?”

Aikerim made a vague gesture. “I don’t mean building them ourselves — but their building methods. I assume that you can come up with something.”

Shahin’s cup of coffee stilled in mid-air.

Yeva put aside her fifth bowl of stew. “Does it have to be now? It is not exactly the optimal time for them.”

The werfox rapped her fingers on the table. “The Pillars are getting rowdy, but I am keeping them in check for now. I would like for my position to be a bit more secure than it already is, however. Tackling multiple Houses with a single Manor is risky even if I have the daimonic knowledge — for every agent that I have they have ten or twenty. Our actions are unfamiliar to them so we surprise them time and again but, once they notice anything they can exploit, they can easily outflank us with numbers alone. I need my sister in my debt yet individually strong. Amanzhan Irada needs ships. Ones that would work well with Erf’s navigation tools.”

A grape lifted up from the plate and floated into Aikerim’s mouth. “Something similar to our deal with Esca — she sends shipbuilders, learns the plans and then builds them herself. Amanzhan has plenty of wood in her shipyards for hulls and oars and plenty of cuts to purchase fabric for sails.”

Yeva paused for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, that could work. I am not sure I can teach them much about hull construction that they don’t know already, but sails can be improved. And expanded.”

“You are not going to teach them how to build our ships. Are you?” Shahin asked.

“No. Your designs are good, but wooden planks inside your sails make them too stiff and limit their use.”

Shahin choked on her coffee.

Aikerim swished her tail in pleasure. “Not even for a moment did I think you would have nothing to offer. Yes, the timing isn’t optimal but we can pause some of your lectures and spend the available time on this project. I am sure that your new slaves wouldn’t mind a tenday of leisure.”

Yeva scratched her head. “That wasn’t exactly what I meant when I said the time isn’t optimal. Most of the necessary knowledge would be how to read blueprints and Wrena can teach them herself. As a carpenter, she could probably explain it to them better than I would.”

“So what’s the problem, then?”

“They will become obsolete in a matter of years. A decade, at best.”

Shahin’s coughing got worse.

“You think that in ten years we won’t need to sail the seas?”

Yeva couldn’t hold a smile. “Precisely. Sails will become redundant. And that is why I said the timing wasn’t perfect. There is a lot to teach for something that will soon go away — Erf and I were planning on skipping it entirely.”

Domina frowned. “Are you certain that sails will become useless? That is a lot of cloth that will no longer be in use.”

Yeva pointed in the direction of the workshops. It was possible to hear that Isra was busy at work from here. “Isra Haleh is making their replacements as we speak. You just need to attach oars to the iron ox and it will move the ship.”

“I saw the behemoth…” Aikerim mused. “That is a lot of steel.”

“That is why he started with steel production. Things improve step by step.”

Aikerim smiled, only to sigh soon after. “Unfortunately, I do not think that we have ten years to wait.”

Yeva pulled back her bowl. “Then we will have a small Age of Sail, then.”

“I need more kava,” Shahin muttered.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter was edited by: Xeno Morph and UnknownPlunger.

I was very curious if SH will get up before release or not :V

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