The Consequences of the Past

a story
2015-08-30 14:12:38,
2016-01-01 18:48:40
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Chapter 1

Gearford, 1895

“Well Ms. Umpta, what do you think?” Olivia asked as her latest client came out of the dressing room. 

“My, but it so modern, I will be the talk of the town!”

Olivia smiled modestly while admiring her own work.  Her latest trend was fitted shrug jackets with a bit of lace on the sleeves for a feminine touch to complete the look.  And of course the fabric for the jacket was made from the most luxurious of materials.  The fashionable of Antiford and Titania came to Olivia not just for her ingenious fashions, but also because she seemed to be the only shop these days that could procure quality fabrics in such vibrant colors. 

Olivia herself wore a ruffled blouse made of a fine cream silk and a high-waisted skirt which had a bell shape to it.  The fashions that Olivia wore were often considered eccentric by her customers.  But being an eccentric designer seemed to add to her popularity among certain fashionable circles.

As Ms. Umpta was Olivia’s last client of the day, she decided to close up shop.  After locking the front door with a large brass key, she headed to her workroom to check on her assistant, Genevieve, and to sort which orders she needed to prioritize for the next day.

“How did Ms. Umpta like her new jacket?”

“She quite adored it, actually.” 

She spent the next hour working on a few odds and ends before heading out.  “I’m going to pick up our fabric order, how is the embroidery coming along?”

“I will finish it up tonight, tomorrow at the latest.”

“Very good.  That should give me enough time to finish the dress for the diplomat’s wife on Cielday.” 

Leaving her shop in the Saks district, Olivia headed toward the mills of the Barrett district.  The streets were quite crowded with shoppers at this hour.  Of course, this meant those who preyed on unwary passerby were also about.  But Olivia was street smart, and knew how to avoid unsavory types.   She was not usually targeted, the locals being familiar with her as a shop owner, but she did sense herself being followed today.  She quickened her step and slid her hand into her pocket where she could access the knife in her chatelaine bag - one could never be too careful.   But her furtive glance back did not reveal an obvious foe.  She kept on guard as she weaved in and out of the crowd, then hopped into a carriage to take her the rest of the way.

The cab dropped her off at Adams Textile, a smaller factory close to the river.  She went in the back entrance to pick up her fabric order. 

“Hello Ms. Adams,” said the man behind the counter.   

“Good afternoon, Jake” she smiled.    

“You are a bit early, your order won’t be ready for another hour, maybe two.”

“Make it two” she said quietly. 

“All right then, I’ll go check on the status.” Jake nodded, then exited the room.

She went to inspect some fabric on the back wall, which lead to a darkened corner out of the sight from the door, then silently disappeared behind a hidden door leading to the basement of the mill.  Today she was procuring fabric, but only Jake, her uncles, and a few others knew the true source of the luxury silk fabrics which her dress shop was known for.   

When the Technocracy had created Antiford Texiles from the largest three mills of Gearford, Olivia and her uncles had acted quickly to keep their famous fabric processing techniques secret by sealing up her uncle’s laboratory in the basement, unsure of the future of their own factory.  In the end, it did not matter that their mill was not taken over by Antiford Textiles.  Since they were a smaller mill, they procured the yarn to make the majority of their fabrics from Mr. Bartlett and Ms. Harcourt, who had owned two of the largest mills.   The fibers were now being provided by the government controlled Antiford Textiles, and managers had been sent to help ‘facilitate’ the transactions and supervise production – “in order to ensure quality,” they were told.  Her family still technically managed the mill, but in rebellion to the government’s new regulations and taxes, they kept their most lucrative productions secret. 

While their yarn was purchased from Antiford Textiles, her uncle William was able to buy raw silk from a few contacts he had made in his youth on Nyxiana and in southern Kuu.  William visited these contacts while making his fabric deliveries to Kuu, Clarusia, and Kantebury.  Her uncle Ben, a chemist who had discovered a dying process which saturated the silk fibers, worked with his assistants in the laboratory under their mill in secret, producing the boldly colored silks that Antiford Textiles could not figure out how to replicate.  This is where Olivia headed now, to obtain fabric and to check in on the production.  

It was business after all, and by outwitting their new production ‘partners’ Olivia and her family were able to make quite a bit of money secretly selling the silks to their trading partners in Titania and Paorr.


Olivia had always had a knack for business, which she inherited from her father’s family.  She had started her first business at the tender age of 11.  It all began when she met Jake Boydman.

As a child, Olivia split her days between her mother, her father, and her grandmother.  Her mother, a music teacher, taught her to play several instruments and the formal dances all proper young ladies should know.  Olivia did not really enjoy these lessons, but did love hearing her mother play.  Her father sometimes let her join him at the family factory, Adams Textile.  He was the manager of the small factory, working with his brothers to produce fabric and silks which were shipped all over Orr.  She enjoyed her time with her father, but her favorite place to spend her day was with her grandmother.  Her grandmother was a dressmaker and owned a shop in the Saks District.  From a young age, Olivia learned to sew and began to help her grandmother with simpler projects.  As she grew older, she spent more and more time helping at her grandmother’s shop and learning the ins and outs of designing clothes, working with clients, and managing a business.

One day at the shop, while waiting to get her next project, Olivia met Jake, a boy about her age with a mop of dirty blonde hair and dirt smudged, well just about everywhere.  Jake was a street rat.  Olivia did not know what this meant at the time, but he seemed hungry and she had some extra food left over from lunch.  She shared with him and struck up a conversation which led to a fast friendship.  Meeting Jake opened her eyes to the world of the poorest of the city.  Olivia had a big heart and decided she could do something to help Jake and his friends so they would not be reduced to becoming pickpockets or mill rats in order to help support their families, neither being particularly safe enterprises. 

Inspired by the women who complained about carrying their parcels while shopping the Saks district, she organized a group of three boys to carry parcels, using her grandmother’s shop as a base.  Her grandmother agreed to supervise since it was unheard of for an 11 year old to be running her own business.   Within two months she had organized a group of eight girls and boys to carry the day’s shopping for the wealthy of Optilocus.