I’ve been tinkering around down in the underworkings of silent things for too long recently, it’s all mad maths and strange irony down there, all broken circles and pi. Interesting, but it’s deep stuff for el’the readers and I need a bit of a change, so we’ll start with something small and simple rather than truly earth shattering, but Change is coming, you can take that as red, so it’s probably about time we started playing about with some copper pennies as well as iron ones.
Three pennies for wishing
Kvothe deals with a traditional tinker on his way to the Eld and regardless of reading tinker tangle the deal was sealed in the traditional way of doing deals.
‘I’ll give you a an iron penny, a copper penny and a silver penny.’
It was a pittance but that’s what tinkers in stories ask for when they trade some fabulous piece of magic to an unsuspecting widow’s son.
This tradition is as old as the hills, even Taborlin used this method of payment for his magic amulet. Judging from the notes on currency that we have, the only place where such a transaction could be covered by pennies of just one country of origin is the Commonwealth, which seems odd since they are a relatively new addition to the ancient shape of the world and many long years after the events of Atur where Taborlin began his own new tale. Perhaps the word ‘penny’ is just a general folk translation and we are talking about folk bartering three metal shims here, different pieces of three basic metals, Iron, Copper and Silver given to traditional tinkers in order to strike a deal. That’s for later, but for now we shall just look at how Kvothe paid his traditional tinker more closely.
‘…an iron drab, two Vintish half pennies, and an Aturan hard penny.’
Three currancies are going on here, Ceald, Vintas and Atur and Kvothe did rather well on the exchange rates for silver coinage. The copper is therefore the Vintish contribution to the mix, something confirmed by Dedan when he laughs at the though of Taborlin having a copper sword joking that it would be like hitting someone with a big penny. Now! Vintish whole pennies come with a deep groove across them so that they can deliberately be broken into two halfs as they are meant to be, which is a very symbolic way of designing something. This coin is meant to be broken, that is it’s fate in life, to become two seperate pieces of the same thing, and once divided unlikely to ever find their other half again. There is even an old Vintish custon that states that whover cuts the coin offers the choice of pieces to the other. We get to see a picture of one in the 10AE and whilst the design stamped on a whole penny is hard to identify at first, when broken along the groove it is much more obvious that here is actually a picture of a sailing ship, giving us a whole penny design of two ships sailing back to back, one on either side of the line of division. This image is nicely summed up by a line from the play Felwards Falling, which, much like Daeonica, is an old play that not many people know, but then Denna is not many people.
‘So, we were ill-lit ships at night…’ I quothed
‘Passing close but all unknown to one another.’ Denna finished.
“Felward’s Falling” I said with something that touched the outwards boundary of respect (*amazed respect* in ademic)
Not many people know that play.
‘I am not many people.’
Given pat’s approval of all these images tells us that we can trust them. This coin is a truth, it nods at an old truth about how important things that were once whole but being broken in twain was part of the deal, part of the answer to the problem, truth has been buried by changes in language and by force of conquest, true ancient history has been split and seperated from the mysteries of the past, becoming itself a newer history of more secondary change but still, perhaps, harking back to the earlier days when Vintas was a broken land ripe for settling by the strongest survivers. Indeed there is one line in which Vintas was described as ‘little more than a bunch of squabbling sea kings’ which nods nicely at our sailing boats theme too. Words and images cannot be trusted to tell the whole story alone but geography is far harder to hide. The shape of the world is much changed since the time of Ergen, and the recording of anything related to that time, such as maps of the seven cities locations, has been actively removed by important folk over all the long ages since.
‘Even history books which mentioned them as doubtful rumour have long since crumbled into dust.’
Any recorded knowledge would only be possible if such were once woven into the earliest form of writing, the Yllish knots and the secret stories which they told, but the Aturans have done a good job in silencing Yll, I wonder why?. This was a time when common folk were less civilized and far more barbarian in their nature. Some nomadic peoples like Cealdim flexed their blacksmiths muscles to take advantage of the new lands bounty , they forged a new life among the iron hills and took their old secrets with them. The Adem also became wanderers with deep secrets of their own to keep hidden away from the world. They were outcast wherever they settled, which also fitted in with the theme we are seeing of a plan to bury the past. The Edema Ruh roamed the land freely learning and eternally re-telling all the oldest stories and performing the old plays, subconciously depicting subtle clues and hidden twists in the plot which are some small ways of them giving voice to preserved secret information, dressed up portrayals of events from the forgotten past are dangerous to the wrong ears, no wonder the Ruh are on the list of folk who deserve to be silenced ‘for the greater good’. Over time, things are just accepted as being like the old church records told you they were, and even that story is usually taken with a pinch of salt, and so it was that over time the past was quietly buried and some things were just stories and obviously never really happened as far as the man in the street cared, life’s too short to worry about faerie tales.
So nobody ever looks at some things in life and puts two and two together any more to ask why broken things were customarily designed to be broken in the first place. What is the tale behind this divisive practice instead of using individual minting like the Cealds do is a proper tinfoil question which involves poking about down in the depths of local custom where the clues lie hidden by those who understand the shape of the world. The old buried underneath the weight of the new.
Vintas is full of clues if you look carefully. The Cealdish ingots are unadorned and all the Aturan money looks very Tehlin Church inspired to me but Vintish coinage has it’s own stories stamped upon it. All money spends though, even in Adem where the mercenaries are hired from. They don’t mint their own coins but earn their pay abroad and send back their earnings in both gold and silver but Vintish copper half-pennies make a very strange appearnace in one of their holiest rites, which probably means it’s a rather bloody important clue. Under the sword tree are many important and symbolic pieces of Adem culture including, for a very strange reason, a tarnished Vintish halfpenny.
There really is no good reason for it to be there. The valuable but awkward block of gold is well considered as to it’s inclusion in this sacred ceremony but not the insignificant little piece of foreign copper coinage, a broken piece too, one deliberate part of the whole, something that has been deliberately broken as is it’s fate. That must be symbolic of something important. It is unlikely to be another personal dig at Kvothe in addition to his lute’s presence, the musical clue is more than enough to insult him on it’s own, so what could this foreign coin mean?
Worthless? Possibly, but not strictly true, it’s worth 6 ½ iron shims which will still buy a man a beer or two in the Waystone Inn.
Smallest denomination? True. in that it has been already broken down into it’s smallest size,hmmm
Tarnished? Yes, and copper tarnishes with a colourful display of Verdigris which is implying that age and decay are important to the shape of this clue. One part of a whole, designed to be broken in two, Two half-coins split from one whole penny, one to be kept tight in keeping and one to be given away, one to thrive and one to decay? some classical allusion to Four Corners history seems likely, but would that be Vintish history or Ademic Mystery? Or both! It’s all going to be guess work from here but it’s fun to speculate.
Magical Hystery Tour
I can think of something else in Vintas which is definitely broken, the Broken Sea, and then there is Severen, broken into Upper and Lower, just like our broken penny. In other coinage, Eight bits can be broken from a royal, and royalty is divided up much like the whole of fractious Vintish society in general. Renere is called the three part city. The bloodless rebellion cut the free city of Tinuë free from it’s control by the Lackless earldom. The Loeclos family name has been broken into various disparate parts and scattered to the four corners, All through Vintish society is evidence of breaking things apart, even the broken road led us to Tinuë before the moon broke…everything is broken.
The Adem have an old and secret tale that tells us of the moon and the fall of the Ergen Empire
‘and since that time the land has broken and the sky has changed.’ and also that ‘Seven names have been carried through the crumbling of empire,through the broken land and changing sky.’
This is a forbidden fact that is hard to cover up, it affected everyone and everywhere so records and rumours still persist no matter how small and obscure. We are told some of these secrets about something that changed the sky, that’s almost certainly going to be the moon being once always full and round but then stolen away for a while and now back again but doing her waxing and waning thing, but what about the land? The moon influences the tides and the tides dictate the shoreline so if we are looking for physical evidence of lunar change then The Broken Sea is the biggest clue on the map, although The Reft might have it’s own story to tell about possible rising or falling sea levels, but while all wise men fear a sea in storm, as far as land shaping went I think that central Vintas took the brunt of it. Don’t ask me exactly what happened to break the land, it could be anything, asteroids, aliens, the wrath of God! Who knows? So let’s ignore that part for a while as there are some bigger broken things in modern Vintas which support the broken land theory a little bit. In Piracy we worked out a tinfoil map of Severen High and Sevren Low. It is a two part city, much like Pat mentions that Renere is also know as the three-part city, but in Severen the break is asobviously marked as the dividing line on a copper penny is. There is a bloody great cliff between the two half-cities stopping them from being one. Something long ago caused the sheer to exist, something earth shattering in it’s action but also very clean cut and likely very quick. This was clearly a very long time ago as only since that time has an entire twin city arisen around this physical Sever in the land, whether one side rose or the other side fell is anyone’s guess, but most things fall down easier than fall up so I’m going with that.
Of course the broken sea would be regarded as sea-level in vintish topograhy but there is a chance that the whole thing is actually a newly filled basin, an area of land lower than the Centhe sea-level which flows down into it via the deepen falls and the strange backwards nature of a certain river to the south of the land. If the weight of water is anything to go by, a sudden rebalancing of the oceans in response to cosmic changes in the gravitational pulling power of the moon physically changing, literally, overnight would suggest a very likely cause and effect for reciprocal action between land and sky. This is all speculation of course but it makes some kind of sense when we are scratching around for elementary ideas.
If the sky changed and the land broke both the same time then that would imply a connection between them. The moon does indeed have a physical connection to the broken sea as it is the moon that creates it’s tides which is a line of investigation that may give the Lunar ticks something to think about. But the time would sound about right for this to have all occurred during the great upheaval that caused the fall of the Ergen Empire, and with the fall of the old came the rise of the new. It all points at the day the world changed according to Aleph’s edict ‘from this day forth’
Modern Vintas didn’t even exist on that day and the eld-est records of such things were lost when Caluptena burnt, but this doesn’t detract the most recent records showing that the Lackless family (under various names) were always the big names in this part of the world and that everyone else came along later. Indeed the Lackless lands once covered much of Vintas and also stretched (at least) all the way to the small kingdoms, Modeg and the Eld, in fact it would be a good line of thinking to suggest that Southern Vintas was where the land was physically broken asunder by some unknown catastrophe which swept clean the old land but for some lucky reason spared the Lackless ancestral lands. Which rather goes against their detractors calling them the luckless.
One line of thinking would be that this was the day of Aleph’s Edict (1AE) and the burial of everything Ergen from the face of the world, which was also to be our starting point for when the moon was reset in the sky with her new broken image now featuring a new half moon phase to match a broken penny perhaps. Consequently, any lunar change would mean that the tides were all now pulled differently from before and so drowning the land into a new shape as it rose or fell in response. Bit of a bummer for all those that Tehlu had just saved who lived down south, bloody great tsunami coming down on you. Fortunately for the Northern folk, mountainous Tinuë is a long way from any sea and is also classically speaking the oldest city in the world and the place where all roads lead, old roads, safe roads… roads to safe places. Perhaps everyone Tehlu saved as he walked the world offering his choice of path travelled to the safety of Tinuë to survive the coming flood. After the upheaval, or downheaval, or moonheaval or whatever and when the dust had settled on a new age, Tinuë was where everything will have started from again and now all the old roads become new roads into the new land which led from Tinuë instead as the Four Corners was quartered up by new nomadic pioneers setting out to claim their fortune. The Cealdish nomads went off to corner the market in the iron mountains. The Modegans sought the quiet corners of the Eld forests. Yll seemed to quarter the wind to the newly made islands and the rest of the new Ruach grabbed what they could hold onto out of what was left. Up in Atur a new Order was making plans for world domination, a future with them at the wheel since Tehlu had left the new world in their bloody hands. But on this new beginning when Menda burned to ash, and the new world order was established we have to ask the question ‘what happened to his Mum?’