Before the Time of the Dragons
Before 1001, the Children of Knowledge were organized into clans. Unlike the Clanfolk clans, these clans could divide and proliferate. So Hicho and the Redwood River Valley had hundreds of clans. But they were also somewhat like the Clanfolk clans in that each was its own legal entity with financial obligations that it could owe to other clans.
A clan held certain lands and ran certain businesses. Clan Glassmaker, for example, made glass. They also fished for food and raised sheep. Each clan needed some way of providing its own food, but other goods and services were obtained by barter with other clans.
To improve the efficiency of their barter system, they kept detailed records. “I’ll give you ten hoes and you can owe my clan a set of glassware to be specified later.” These debts were always clan to clan, not individual to individual. If Clan Glassmaker needed more hoes than Clan Toolmaker needed glasses, they might get together with a third party who owed Clan Glassmaker and redistribute the debts.
The system was complex, but they were all educated people. Every clan had at least one member who found such accounting interesting.
The Time of Dragons
The dragons that attacked the Children of Knowledge were intelligent and malicious. Two dragons worked together to terrorize the countryside. In particular they attacked sheep herds. This was particularly devastating for the Children of Knowledge because they depended on sheep for meat, milk, and clothing. Worse, the sheep were their only draft animals for working the fields.
Unlike Clanfolk clans, the clans in the Redwood River Valley were small and localized. Some clans had their fields destroyed and their entire sheep herd devoured. This left them without food.
The Academy to the Rescue
Element-wielders at the Academy eventually figured out how teams of people could resonate together and defeat the dragons’ magic. In 1005, they eradicated both dragons (and offspring – one of the dragons had reproduced).
Some clans had been untouched, while others had been devastated. The devastated clans were unable to pay their debts. People left their clans and went to Hicho, searching for other clans that would take them in.
To distribute food, the Academy collected surplus food from those who had it and gave them coins to represent the food that had been taken from them. The coins were debts owed by the Academy. A certain number of coins was theoretically worth a full 9 years of courses. But in practice, the coins were used as currency, as the Academy intended.
Many debts had to be written off as a loss because the owing clan had disbanded. But with the newly invented currency in circulation, people no longer needed to track barter debts. They could pay for goods and services immediately.
Impact on Society
So many familial ties had been broken that clans rapidly lost their importance. Companies rose to take their place.
The idea behind a company is that many Children of Knowledge, unrelated to each other, band together to produce something of value. When they sell it, they all get paid.
Companies had several advantages over clans:
- Young people could marry and work for separate companies. One no longer had to learn how to be a glassmaker before marrying a glassmaker.
- Companies were not required to produce food, so they could focus on their business.
- Companies were free of the debts that clans had accumulated.
So that is why Higomu and Shiko do not have family names in The Artificer of Dupho and why it is plausible that they might be merchants for a linen company.
The Order of the Dragonslayers
The magic that defeated the dragons was deemed too powerful to teach publicly. The techniques became closely guarded, passed on to only a select few. The Order of the Dragonslayers is responsible for ensuring that people can use that magic when the demons come and for preventing anyone from using that magic until it is necessary.