Saturday, January 23, 2010

How can paper build a town? - from KING BY RIGHT OF BLOOD AND MIGHT

“You need to find someone who can make paper,” said Harris. “You’ll need to keep track of the whole district from now on. There are farms to plant, stock to round up and mark and fish to catch - plus a multitude of other services to keep track of. I advise you to select a town site and develop it into a central marketplace where a blacksmith, candle shop, paper shop, baker, butcher and anyone else can set up shop and sell what they have for what they want in return.”

The poor man looked daunted, and his son was beginning to fidget. “You’re asking too much,” blurted Trent.

His father rounded on the boy to silence him, but Harris stopped him. “Anyone can speak. I will hear what anyone has to say. I don’t think you would have brought him in here if you didn’t respect his opinion.”

“We have nothing,” the boy continued boldly, “and you’re talking about building a town with a thriving marketplace.”

“You’re right,” agreed Harris. “Right now, all you have are the shirts on your backs and the places you’ve called your homes. Now, let’s say your father announces to the people out there that this spot will be the site of the new district trading center, and he pitches a tent. Then he says he needs someone to make paper, so someone else sets up a tent and they start making paper. Then he gets the farmers together and they consolidate their seed grain, pool their muscle and plant whatever they can. The fishermen do the same, building boats if they don’t already have something hidden away, catching and preserving their fish. The ranchers also get together and round up as much wild stock as they can find; then they divide it up however they want, and suddenly you have farmers, fishermen and ranchers all with something to bring to town and trade for something else. Suddenly, you’ll have a butcher and maybe his wife will start baking bread and pies. As with any gathering, someone starts making beer and then there’s an inn. And hopefully by winter, and certainly by next year, there will be trading caravans bringing things to market you haven’t seen in years. Furs and lumber from the mountains, grains and produce from other places, jewelry and carvings, leather goods and stone goods. Everyone builds a shop to live in and sell their goods from; suddenly there is a town, and along with it a manor house for the man who started it all because the people thought he could.” Harris watched the two try to digest the evolution he was trying to describe.

Bringing his description back to the present day, Harris continued, “Along with the manor house goes a garrison house, because all this wealth will need to be protected. That brings us back to the need for paper. If your father is going to support the garrison, road crews and building crews, he needs to collect a certain amount from everyone in the district and then pass a portion of that on to me for the same reasons. The only way to keep track of it all is on paper.”

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