Samuel - Chapter 6

"Will! Will! Open up!" Samuel pounded on the door of Will's cottage on the outskirts of Zantiko. "Will! Damnit! Open the door!" As Samuel raised his fist to knock again, the door swung open and he was greeted by a stalky ginger halfway between a yawn and glare. "If you wake the young ones, you will be loosing more skin than just the tips of your knuckles."

"Ah, good evening, Mrs. Beechem. And I beg you to forgive the intrusion, but I'm afraid I have urgent business with your husband. Is he home?"

"And what urgent business is that, exactly?" Mrs. Beechum replied.

"Well, it's just that. Uhh, well. There's an order that's come into the store. You know these delivery blokes. Totally lacking in tack, making deliveries in middle of the night. Haha."

"Peddle your nonsense to someone who will listen. If you don't mean to tell me, just say it. Have a seat here in the kitchen, and I'll fetch Will." As Mrs. Beechum left the room, Samuel took a seat at the dinner table and examined the room. There was a framed painting of Will's late parents, Hector and Helen Beechum, hanging above the mantle. They had both passed before Samuel had ever visited Zantiko, but judging from the stories Will had felt comfortable sharing, and the unpleasant frown drawing wrinkles across papa Beechum's face, they had both been rather wretched parents. Samuel had never understood why Will kept the painting in his home, and on the mantle of all places.

Just then, Samuel heard shuffling down the hallway and moments later a bleary eyed Will appeared in the doorway wearing nothing but his smallclothes and a sleeping cap. "Aw, Sammy. What the devil has got you knocking down my door in the wee hours? Wait, you didn't actually find anything useful in those moldy books did you?"

"Will, can you sit down? This is imp-"

"Actually, lemme guess: You found the long lost recipe for Aunt Jem's fluffiest pancakes and you've come to make me some! That's perfect, I'll get a fire going, put on some coffee, and let you get to it!"

"Damnit Will! Sit down and listen to me! I did find something in those moldy books. Something that I think you will be interested to hear."

"Well why didn't you say so? Go on, spill it out." Will pulled up a chair to face Samuel across the table.

"Alright, well after the last student left the archives, I began searching through the locked sections and found a biography of the Schnee dynasty. What makes this so special, you may ask? Just that this biography was written contemporaneously with the Wars of the Unreigned after Jan Schnee's death. In particular, it has a juicy chapter dedicated to the life and actions of our mystery madame Morrigan." Samuel paused to gauge Will's reaction, and noted a rather surprising lack of response. "Will, we know who Morrigan is! After all this time, we have progress. I was hoping for at least a celebratory hurrah."

"Yeah, yeah, Sammy, this is great, but as I see it, this only helps us if we can puzzle out the rest of the instructions. We still don't know how to point our noses at 'west by west', and how exactly are we meant to count up all of the sins of this Morrigan person. I couldn't even count up my sins so far this week! Unless the section of your old book has a minute by minute breakdown of all of this girls actions, we're just as good as guessing."

"First of all, I appreciate you're optimism," Samuel responded. "As it happens I do have a lead on what 'west by west' means. That book also included a map of old Sinjennto, and the main boulevard in the city that led from the river to the edge of the city was called "Sandun", which, of course, translates to..."

"West!" Will blurted out. Samuel, a bit taken aback by Will's knowledge of dead languages, raised a questioning eyebrow. "My father, rest his soul, had unusual ideas for educating his children. Had barely learned to read before he started making us recite old Sinjennto poetry. Anyway, Sammy, bloody lead with this next time. This is a breakthrough! So, "'West by west' clearly just means 'go west on West Road'. We still don't know how far to go, or what the bloody time of day has to do with it, but this is a start. So, what's our next move?"

"Clearly, there are still some holes in our knowledge here, but I think the place to find answers in where this quest is meant to start. Let's go 'west by West'.

"Excellent plan Sammy. Now, since you're here already, how about fixing me up some of those ancient pancakes?

TO BE CONTINUED

The earliest recorded history in Verkolst consists of fragments of writing leftover from the Roverkols who originally settled the continent. Little is known of them except for inferences based upon the few legible recovered artifacts, and even those few bits of knowledge are subject to intense scholarly debate. The successors of the Roverkol called themselves the Sinjenn. It's unclear what exactly precipitated the rise of the Sinjenn over their forerunners, but one quality that they inherited, and, indeed, perfected was proper record keeping. In fact, it is the scholarly opinion that the longevity of the Sinjenn can be attributed primarily to their aptitude for and emphasis upon effective administration.

Eventually, however, the greatest strength of the Sinjenn, the strong Prime Keeper and her loyal administrators, became their greatest weakness. For in the 327th year of Sinjennian dominance over Verkolst, Jan Shnee began his campaign to reshape the continent. Schnee hailed from a village nestled on the slopes of the Pinefell mountains on the eastern edge of the Sinjennian empire. The official histories contain accounts of village locals who describe him as a pillar of the community and a model for others to aspire to. The circumstances of his departure from his hometown are murky, but what is well recorded is that Schnee arrived in the capital in disguise. This subterfuge gain him access to the Imperial Academy where the Prime Keeper was making an inspection. During a demonstration of the Academy's newest inventions and discoveries, Schnee directed the might of the Imposer to bend the will of the Keeper to his own.

With the Prime Keeper under his control, Schnee was able to steadily cement his position in the empire, until only five years after that fateful visit to the Academy, he was anointed as Emperor of the Sinjennian Empire. For the following thirty-two years, the combination of the Sinjennian organizational prowess and Schnee's audacious design led to a golden age never seen nor matched. Marvels of magic and industry, now dismissed as fantasy by all but the most fervent of believers, were commonplace, and both noble and common flourished is peace.

Inevitably, however, the Sinjennian empire, as all that came before and all that have come after fell. The individual details of the descent into chaos vary, but the cause is invariably the same. Corruption, and its faithful accomplice, greed. In the case of the Sinjenn, it was unequivocally the greed of Jan Schnee, and his boundless quest for eternal hegemony of Verkolst. The fate of Schnee himself is unclear, however, official documents from the Remnant tersely describe his fate as both "self-imposed", and "well-deserved".

After Schnee's death, it became clear how far he had gone in Imposing his will over the empire. For the effect of the Imposer lasts only until its master's death. And with the fall of Schnee, all the hundreds of civil servants who had been thralls under his control suddenly were restored to autonomy. What had once been a single river channeled and dammed via the Imposer, had become a deluge of discordant streams, each flowing with its own will. The empire fell. And all measures of civilization and progress that had come with it were lost in the vacuum it left behind.

After the Fall, the continent languished in chaos for hundreds of years. Until eventually, a collection of city-states emerged to bring a semblance of order to the lost continent. Chief among them is Zantiko, a trading city built upon the very same riverbanks as the desolated ruins of Sinjennto, the once imperial capital. It is in this city that the story of Samuel begins.

Following up from my previous post, I thought it would be interesting to break down the ages of congresspersons by party. The data used in this post are the same set scraped from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

The plot below shows the evolution of age over time for Republicans and Democrats in congress (other parties had insufficient representation to build useful statistics). The lines are median values and the lower and upper shaded regions represent the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively. Over much of the last 150 years, the median age of congresspersons has been comparable across the two major political parties, with Democrats tending slightly younger. However, since 2000 there has been a sharp increase in the age of Democrats in congress, the median age rising from 56 in 2000 to a 63 in 2016. For comparison, The ages of Republicans showed a much more modest increase from 56 to 58 years.

Ages of Democratic and Republican Congresspersons over time

The next natural question to ask is what is causing Democrats to tend so old over the last 17 years? Has there been an influx of geriatric fresh meat or, rather, just the old guard refusing to give up their seats? To attempt to answer this, I found the distribution of number of years served in congress (inclusive of both house and senate stints) and, again, found median and quartile values. The results are shown below.

Career Lengths of Republicans and Democrats over time

And, indeed, what we find is that the median career length for Democrats has skyrocketed since 2000 where it was 9.5 years to a staggering 15.1 years in 2012 before tapering off to 11.3 in 2016. But these are just median numbers, the 75th percentile for Democrats in 2016 was just a hair under 23 years, meaning a full quarter of Democratic congresspersons have served for 23 years or more. The Republicans have followed a similar, albeit less volatile, trajectory since 2000 where they started 9.1 years before peaking at 13 in 2008 and then falling since to 7.4 in 2016. The 75th percentile for Republicans in 2016 was 15.1 years which is nearly eight years fewer than their Democratic colleagues.

If one takes a more long-sighted approach, however, the apparent trend is clearly that congresspersons are serving for longer and longer before retiring. Surely some part of this is simply due to the fact that they are living longer and healthier lives. It's plausible that another component may be increasing financial and political obstacles that prevent new people from running, but this is just speculation.

Another point that can be gleaned from the above plot is the presence of sudden and dramatic rises and falls in both parties median career lengths. A better student of history than I could probably look at each of these and tell you all about the political tides of the last 150 years and point out the causes of each of these spikes, but suffice to say that it seems when a party gets kicked out, it gets kicked out hard.


Have feedback, questions, ideas for further research? Hit me up on twitter or shoot me an email at caleb @ this domain.

My family, like many others, when kept in a close proximity for too long inevitably talks some politics. And when the Nebraska winter makes the prospect of escaping outside too daunting, I sometimes find myself participating in these conversations. This year, the topics ran the usual gamut, but one point that stuck with me was the observation that the senators and representatives in congress seem to be increasingly elderly, and perhaps, increasingly unable to empathize with the young folk. I'll make no comment on the second point, but the first can be easily investigated with a bit of historical demographic information.

I want to answer two questions. First, has the Congress become populated by older and older persons over time? And second, does this track with the demographic evolution of the general US population?

To answer these questions I need two pieces of information

  1. The ages of all senators and representatives of congresses going back (ideally) to the first congress in 1789
    For this, some quick web searching brought me to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress which allows one to enter in a particular year and get a listing of all members, their year-of-birth(if known), party affiliation, and state. To get this information into a form I could use in my analysis, I employed the wonderful requests and bs4 Python libraries. The code makes one query for each year and then processes the resulting page to extract the relevant information. The results are saved into a sqlite database for later use.

  2. The age distribution of the US Population over time
    This was remarkably difficult to find. I knew that this information must somehow be available from the US Census Bureau, but for the life of me, I couldn't find it on their website. So I turned to the IPUMS service which will create custom extracts of specific variables from US Census data and make the results available in a variety of formats. For reference, I'm using the decennial censuses from 1850 to 2010 plus the ACS for 2016. If you want to use the exact same data as me, the table below shows which datasets to select on the IPUMS website.

1850 1% 1950 1%
1860 1% 1960 1%
1870 1% 1970 1% state fm1
1880 1% 1980 5% state
1900 5% 1990 1%
1910 1% 2000 1%
1920 1% 2010 10%
1930 1% 2016 ACS
1940 1%

And the fields I'm using are the following

YEAR
PERWT
AGE

Now, with the data in hand, it was a relatively simple matter (code) to calculate some basic statistics and track them over time. I chose to look at the median as well as the 25th and 75th percentile ages for congresspersons and the general population. These are shown in the figure below.

American congressperson median ages compared to the US general population

A few observations.

  • The typical congress-person has always been at least 45 years old but for most of the 20th century it floated between 50 and 55. However, starting around 1980, there has been a sharp increase so that the median age of congress is now around 61.

  • Although the overall trend has been for congress to get older, there is a period between about 1930 and 1980 where congress tended younger.

  • The US population has been getting steadily older since around 1970. It would not unreasonable to think that older voters may prefer older candidates and the above plot could be interpreted as evidence of that.

There are few more questions that could be answered with the data collected above. For instance, is there a significant difference in ages between political parties? What about geographical regions? Do richer or poorer states elect younger or older candidates? I'm planning on addressing these and other questions in subsequent posts.


Have feedback, questions, ideas for further research? Hit me up on twitter or shoot me an email at caleb @ this domain.

Samuel - Chapter 5

"Ugh, and these people call themselves scholars!", Samuel complained as the doors to the Zantiken Wizened Institute swung shut behind him. "If their knowledge is of such vastness that only they are trusted to set the blasted calendar, how is it that they can't help us look up one bloody name? And what's more,"

Will broke in, "Now Sammy, ya gotta calm down. I'm sure..."

"I said, what's more, they have the nerve to throw us out like so much of yesterday's hog slop without even offering us archive access to do the bloody-damn research ourselves! It's unconscionable! It's outrageous! It's... It's..." Stopping halfway down the Institute's steps to collect himself, Samuel turned around and poked Will in the chest. "We are going to get access to those archives whether those 'wizened' clowns in there want us to or not!"

"Sure we will, Sammy. But don't you think there may be a few other places we could look for answers before trying to pull off a job like that?"

"Will, We've spent two months on this. Two damn months just to work out one part of the riddle to the Imposer's location. If we want to find it before we're too old and decrepit to collect it, we need to start making some progress. Besides, this is an easy job. These academics have no interest in managing security themselves. That's why they contract it out. And guess who's held that contract for the last fifteen years? That's right!", not pausing for Will to respond, "None other than our beloved Freeperson's Association Guild. So we just need to get ourselves posted on guard duty and bingo, all-we-can-read access."

After a moment, Will replied, "Not a bad plan." Nodding back towards the Institute, he said "I actually know some of the blokes on the night-guard rotation. I think I can convince one of them to have a few extra rounds over guarding some moldy old books."

"Perfect. Then I'm off to pilfer a guard uniform and extra parchment from the guild store-room, if you don't mind. I imagine I'll have an abundance of notes and precious little time for precise penmanship."

"Yeah, take whatever you need, but just remember that half comes out of your cut if we find the damned thing."

Already a dozen paces away Samuel replied over his shoulder, "You mean 'when'!"


It was three hours past sunset, and although part of Samuel admired the studiousness of the last few robe-attired youth working by candlelight, he was becoming increasingly annoyed with the amount of his own research time that was being robbed of him by their presence. After all, it wouldn't do for a "guard" to be found working fastidiously over a pile of aged parchments and musty tomes. Lacking that, he made due with patrolling the rows of bookshelves and making mental notes of shelves and sections to return to later.

Rounding the end of a row of shelves, Samuel took a moment to admire the library itself. It was a single vast rectangular chamber with walls of imported Thrayzian marble, red with streaks of blue and purple. Looking down, one would notice geometric tile-work in black and red running amidst the stacks of books around the rooms edges, but centrally a large mosaic depicting Heldon, the founder of Zantiko, wrestling a giant asp, with large curved mahogany desks incorporated as plates of his legendary bronze armour. Pillars of white marble support three sets of balconies above, each floor holding increasingly rare volumes.

At last, the final student gathered his notes and prepared to leave. Samuel, as instructed by the usual guard (who by this time was more than likely sloppy drunk and losing his shirt at dice) followed him out and locked the door behind him. After exchanging pleasantries, the student walked off into the night. Samuel waited for him to disappear out of sight before turning around and quickly letting himself back in.

The library was unlit, but the windows on the upper floor let in just enough light to avoid hitting one's shins on the benches littering the ground floor. However, Samuel had come prepared and quickly retrieved and lit a small lantern he had tucked away earlier in his shift. Thus equipped, he made his way directly to the top floor where the oldest and rarest books were kept. Many of the shelves on this level had iron bars restricting access to the books themselves, but Samuel, as the trusted attendant of these treasured tomes for the night, possessed the keys to open all of them.

Heading for a section he had marked earlier, he grabed a musty old tome titled "The Rise and Reign of the House of Schnee". He quickly opened the book and flipped through the pages, scanning for relevant sections until he came to the last chapter and nearly dropped the book from excitement. The title read: "Of The Witch Morrigan and the Breaking of the House of Schnee".

TO BE CONTINUED

Samuel - Chapter 4

"Jan Schnee's Imposer?" Will growled from across a corner table at The Donkey's Backside. "First of all, the damn thing never existed. Second, even if it did, there is no way it didn't get destroyed, stolen, or lost between the Sinjennian and now. Third, and this one, I cannot emphasize enough, there is no fucking way a skinny, garlic-breathed, bugger like you could have the remotest clue where to find it. Now, if you're done wasting my time, I've got to see to a fresh shipment of those misting spheres you're so fond of."

As Will moved to push himself from the table, Samuel grabbed his arm and motioned to the waitress for another round. "Now Will, won't you humor me for a moment?" Will glanced over to the approaching tankards and replied, "You've got me till I finish my round."

"Excellent. Now, listen. I haven't been completely honest with you. I'm not really some gutter rat from the streets of Quen."

"Heh heh. Well, Sammy, to be honest, I figured about as much when you introduced yourself as a 'gutter-rat from the streets of Quen'."

"Ah, well, it appears my infiltration skills could do with some schooling. In any case, I have good reason to believe that I have in my possession documents that pinpoint precisely where the Imposer can be found. And, lucky for us, the location is virtually in our laps."

Will eyed the door and took a deep pull from his ale, "Clocks ticking sonny."

"I'll be brief then. Prior to leaving my family estate, I took the opportunity to rummage through some of the miscellanea in the library. Amongst the family histories and my great aunt's cookbook collection, I found a particularly dusty tome in a language I didn't recognize. I had a hunch that it might be worth taking so I, ah, borrowed it and held onto it until yesterday. After that job with the pendant, I realized that book was my ticket to getting out from under Skivah's thumb. So I took the book to an appraiser in the sky district, who, believe it or not, claimed to be able to read it and offered to translate it. I didn't have the coin for the whole thing, but I could afford the first few pages." Samuel reached into his jacket, pulled out several folded pages and pushed them across the table.

Will squinted down at the fine script, his eyes growing wider with each line they passed over. Looking back up at will, he said "Surely this translator is taking you for a ride." "I thought she might be too," Samuel replied, "so, just to be sure, I took the book to her competitor and had the same pages translated again. The two were nearly identical." Will glanced back down at the paper. "So you're telling me that you, mister Sammy fucking Lewis, actually have the personal journal of Mazrim Schnee, descendent of Jan Schnee, the last person rumored to have possessed the Imposer."

"Indeed."

Will flipped through the pages in front of him until a section indented from the edge caught his eye.

West by West leagues towards the sun
Two miles quick-stepped towards the shore
10 steps each for Morrigan's sins
and then for the Imposer look within

"And, what exactly am I looking at here?", Will said, gesturing towards the section. "That, my friend, is the path from our front door to a treasure unlike any that's been unearthed in the last hundred years."

"And what's this rubbish about some 'Morrigan'? Never heard the name. Also, what kind of bloody direction is 'West by West'" Samuel waved his hand, as if knocking the questions from the air, "Details, details. All things we can work out in time. The question I have for you is: Are you interested?"

"Yeah, I'm bloody well interested," Will said before draining his mug. "But it seems to me this may be more than a two man job. Who else are you planning on bringing in on this little scamper."

"I've a few names in mind, but am open to suggestion", Samuel said, smiling and leaning back in his chair. Will glanced to his empty mug, then to the door, then back at Samuel before replying, "Well, seeing as how this has just become a business meeting, I think first, we need another round."

TO BE CONTINUED

Samuel - Chapter 3

"There has got to be something wrong with these numbers", Skivah muttered to herself over piles of yellowed parchment. Those grubby merchants on the quay know better than to short us, or, rather, they should since she had sent Sammy to go chat with 'em. No, no, one of her people must be taking a cut they aren't meant to. Of course, the line between meant to and can was pretty blurry in this line of work. The protection racket certainly was profitable, but it didn't attract the type of scum that's happy with what their given. It attracted her type of scum.

Not that protection was the only business that the Freeperson's Association Guild of the great city of Zantiko engaged in. They also had interests in smuggling sparbek into the city from the fields of Masia, as well as extra-judicial acquisitions, and, of course, the occasional kidnapping. To be honest, protection was a fairly new endeavour for the Guild since not even three years prior had the viceroy's guard made such practices...unprofitable. But since the invasion, and subsequent breakdown of basic law and order, the situation had changed dramatically.

Skivah was interrupted from her musings by a knock on the door followed by "Someone to see ya boss" coming from the muscle on the other side.

"If it's Bartolli, tell him I don't care how many bales of hay he's got, I don't take payment in the form of animal feed."

"Naw boss, its Sammy and Will, back from that job"

"Well about time, send 'em in."

Moments later, Will pushed open the door and maneuvered his large frame around the cramped office to settle himself in one of the shabby ladder-back chairs across from Skivah. Samuel followed and sat himself next to Will.

"Greetings, Skivah.", Will said, his masian accented words seeming to originate from deep in his jowls. "You'll be pleased to hear that the job went off without a hitch. Why don't you show 'er Sammy!"

"Without a hitch may be painting a sunnier picture than the reality," said Samuel as he pulled the amulet from out of his coat pocket. "Our informant screwed us. The jeweler hired extra guards that weren't there when we cased the place. I barely made it out, even with", gesturing to Will, "all of Will's fancy gadgets. Speaking of which, seeing as they were expended on Guild business..."

"Naw naw, sonny," Will cut in, "we all got our rackets, and there's no bloody refunds on Guild equipment."

"Surely you can settle this another time," Skivah said. She was an imposing figure, with long mahogany braids laid around broad shoulders and framing a face composed of features as sharp as they were alluring. This was all, of course, complemented by the fact that she was a dwarf, and some of those braids originated from that face. Glistening green eyes stared across the desk and pinned each of them in their seat. "The fact is the job was done and we get to deliver to the client, we can settle other scores later. Now, Samuel give me the amulet and see Bornhold for your cut."

Samuel's arm moved to hand the amulet over, but he hesitated. After all, he had done all of the legwork for this contract. He found the informant to locate where the amulet was sold. He scouted the location. He planned and executed the operation. He did the job, but he had to settle for just a cut of the contract. He deserved better. But that would have to wait. He reached his arm over the desk and laid the trinket in front of Skivah. "See that makes it to the client, won't you. I'm sure they paid a kings ransom for it."

"We always do," Skivah replied, and gestured for them to leave.


Later, Bouncing in one hand the pittance left in his pouch after collecting his cut and settling with Will, and cradling a pipe in the other, Samuel looked over the Zantiken skyline at the sun just beginning to crest over the ships in the harbor. While taking a long drag off his pipe, a thought occurred to him. Perhaps he had been looking at this all wrong. Perhaps the problem was not that his cut was too small. Quickly, he tapped out his pipe and stomped off towards the nearest tavern. He had some planning to do.

TO BE CONTINUED

Samuel - Chapter 2

20 years earlier.

Climbing over the rickety fence, Samuel could hear footsteps racing to catch him. Taking only a moment to glance back up the alley he counted four cloaked figures. Damn, he'd hoped to lose at least one or two of them in the tumble through the low-town market. Samuel leapt down from the fence into a dead sprint, feeling in his pocket to be sure the amulet was still there. Maybe he could duck around a corner before his pursuers made their way over the fence, but before he could make it to the edge of the block, he tripped and fell onto something soft. "Wassa big idea?" said a voice coming from the heap. "Do I break into your house and", the rest was lost in a coughing fit as Samuel had thrown down a misting sphere to mask his escape. Damn shame too, Will, the Guild's quartermaster, charged a fucking dear price for those things, the job was hardly going to be worth the effort.

After running a few more blocks, Samuel stepped into a shady stoop and took a moment to examine just what the weeks of preparation and planning had been for. Taking the amulet out of his pocket he noticed that, exactly as described, the setting was in the form of an owl, all diamonds, but with piercing blue sapphire eyes. He turned the trinket in his hands and confirmed the writing on the back: "Elise, my morning star, my safe bay". Samuel shook his head at the saccharine message and put it back safely in his pocket, and proceeded down to the city docks to find some raggedy inn to get a drink before returning to the guild's hideout.

The smell of salt and old fish was suffocating this close to the sea and requisite fish-mongers stalls, but it reminded Samuel of home, which suited him just fine. He walked down the dusty lane to find his favorite watering hole, "The Donkey's Backside". Why they didn't just call the place "The Ass's Ass", was beyond him, but in any case, he had never understood the local joke, "If you don't want broken ribs or a mouthful of shit, avoid the Donkey's Backside". Always seemed like a respectable establishment, all things considered.

Upon entering, Samuel was greeted with the familiar smells of stale ale and roasting meats, and he grabbed an unoccupied table in the corner after motioning to a serving girl. Enjoying a bit of time by himself before returning to work, he stretched out his arms only to ram one hand into the chest of none other than Will Beechem who immediately grabbed it and twisted, causing Samuel to emit small squeal, not unlike the sound of the hinges on his bedroom door. "Well, fancy seeing you here, laddie. May I join you?" His eyes tearing up from the pain, Samuel nodded his head, if just to get his arm back.

"Of course, Will. Always a place at my table for you, you penny-pinching, usurious, conniving, bastard."

"Always good to meet a fan.", Will responded nonchalantly while taking the chair across from Samuel. "Now listen, it's a good thing I ran into you here. I'm guessing that you did manage the job, yes?"

"I wouldn't bloody well be here if I hadn't", Samuel responded.

"Excellent, well here's the thing", Will glanced around the room before proceeding. "I think it would be a bad idea to deliver on this contract. Let me explain. You see I have reason to believe that what you have in you possession is not just some lovey-dovey trinket, but is in fact an artifact from the Sinjenn."

"How is that possible?" Samuel asked, mouth agape. "The Sinjenn have been extinct for two thousand years. All that's left of them is those damn pillars outside town, and them just barely. How can you think..." Samuel trailed off and noticed a sly smile crossing Will's face.

"Laddie, how ya ever made this far in the game as gullible as ya are." Will shook his head and got up to leave. "Get yer skinny ass up and let's go see Skivah."

TO BE CONTINUED

While perusing some of the unanswered posts on Stack Overflow, I came across an interesting question which was asking how to mimic the behavior of CPython's small ints and some other built-ins like True and False. That is, there is enforced only one instance with each value. For example

x = 12
y = 12
x == y # True
x is y # Also True

You can contrast this with, for example, (sufficiently long) strings which don't have this property.

x = "Hello World"
y = "Hello World"
x == y # True
x is y # This is False

So how can we craft a way to get this property for custom classes? Let's go straight to the code.

from collections import namedtuple

def singleton_namedtuple(class_name, fields):
    nt = namedtuple(class_name, fields)

    class NT(nt):
        _dict = {}

        def __new__(cls, *args):
            if args not in cls._dict:
                print("making new {} w/ {}", class_name, args)
                cls._dict[args] = super().__new__(cls, *args)
            return cls._dict[args]

    return NT

Use the function like this:

Variable = singleton_namedtuple('Variable', ['letter', 'index'])


a = Variable('one', 1)
b = Variable('two', 2)
c = Variable('two', 2)

print(a == b) # False
print(a is b) # False
print(b == c) # True
print(b is c) # True

The factory method singleton_namedtuple creates a class based on a namedtuple. Because the class is inheriting from tuple, it is immutable which is a required property since immutability prevents distinct objects which are not equal from becoming equal and breaking the property of equality implying identity.

Overriding the __new__ method allows us to prevent the creation of a new object when an equivalent object already exists.

The biggest caveat here is that the objects in the namedtuple must be hashable and immutable. Hashability is required for the code to run, and immutability is required to maintain equality implying identity.

Samuel - Chapter 1

Samuel looked up from his rowing to peer across the choppy grey waters at the shore ahead. It had been a long time since he had visited his childhood home... a long time. The salty sea air brought back memories of the times he and his brothers had sat on the dock, eagerly swinging their fishing lines into the foamy waters, and, ocassionally, finding themselves neck deep in the salty sea as well, just as often unintentionally as not. Other times, they would march along the stony stream behind the manor, searching among the ferns and mosses for bull frogs to capture into mason jars pilfered from mums canning cupboard. They never lasted long in those jars, Samuel thought to himself. I guess some creatures just aren't meant to be cooped up, but they find themselves there nonetheless.

As he approached the dock, he noticed that it was deserted. Strange, even in this gloomy weather, there should have been at least a dozen skiffs full of crab pots readying to head out into the strait, but there was only his little row boat. Samuel hoisted himself up onto the weathered planks of the dock and lumbered down the pier to the harbourmaster's hut. After encountering a locked door and no reponse to repeated knocks, Samuel decided to hike up the coast to the old manor house.

Walking along the overgrown footpath and trying to avoid soaking his shoes in the occasional puddles, Samuel made his way through the hilly coastlands. He surprised himself by recalling the proper turn at each fork in the path and quickly arriving outside the entryway marking the bounds of his family estate. The tall brick pillars upon either side of the path cast ominous shadows in the pale morning light. Drawing closer he could just barely make out the peeling gilded letters spelling out "Le'Vuler", a name he'd been forced to abandon long ago. Passing between the pillars he caught his first glimpse of the manor. It was a charred ruin.

Samuel's breath caught in his chest. He always knew that there would be retribution for what he had done, what he had cost the Guild, but after so many years, he had begun to hope that he could escape it. Rounding the corner of the once imposing brick structure, he saw the tall elm tree that he once had giddily climbed and fetched cats from as a boy, and three shadowy forms dangling from a lower branch. Attempting to approach the hanging corpses, his legs failed him and he crawled until he could make out the faces. The first was William, his eldest brother. Two shaky paces up the branch hung his wife, Mary, and across the tree, their daughter. Unable to stand their deathly stares, Samuel hung his head. Why should his family be made to pay for his crimes? What twisted form of justice had the Guild's code wrought. Samuel lay there for some time, unable to comprehend the loss and the injustice. Eventually, a name popped into his head: Brandon. William had had a son named Brandon while Samuel was away. Where was Brandon? He couldn't have been old enough to have left the manor, but he hadn't joined the rest of his family on that tree?

Samuel latched onto the thought, the hope, that he might still be able to find Brandon alive and resolved to find him. He would save at least one person from the ghosts of his mistakes. But first things first: he had to see to these bodies.

TO BE CONTINUED

Terugis - Ep. 1

Ch. 1

Through the starship window Terugis could still see the fleck of red that was his home. He wondered how many years it might be before he set foot there again, saw his family again. He thought of all the times he would fail to be there for Samuel and Levicthionus, all of the experiences that he would not be there for. But their mission was important. Important enough to draw him and thousands of others away from their lives to possibly never return.

With a sigh, Terugis turned away from the window and focused his attention back on the men addressing him.

"Commander Terugis," intoned the elderly General Sharpton, "We have finished our preliminary reconnisiance of the upcoming asteroid field. We believe that we can traverse it safely, but we want you to look over the reports before we proceed."

"Very well, send me the reports and I'll review them immediately. You're dismissed." With this, Terugis turned back to the window and resumed his pensive vigil of his slowly disappearing home.

Terugis was awoken by the shudder of the ship. Not an asteroid, something bigger. "What are those fools doing with my ship?", he muttered to himself as he levered himself out of bed. Activating his communicator he called to the bridge, "Report!"

"You had better get up here commander. There's something outside the ship."

Dressing quickly, commander Terugis took the hyper-lift directly to the bridge. Walking in, he immediately noticed something on the view-screen so unexpected, so disturbing, that he was loathe to believe his eyes. Before him was the legendary terror of Bataxia, the feathered menace of Jersey, truely the most destructive force of the universe. Suddenly, the lights went out and all that he could see was the beast. It spoke to him telepathically, "You know what I am. You know why I am here."

"Not here...not already...", Terugis managed to mutter through clenched teeth. Regaining some composure, Terugis addressed the bridge, "Status!"

"Shields fully functional."

"Life support nominal."

"Weapons at fifty percent."

Terugis barked out, "Execute maneauvor delta. Concentrate all fire on the beast!"

"Weapons ineffective"

"Shields at fifty percent."

"So this is how this ends", Terugis thought to himself, "before the mission even truly begins we get struck down by this leviathan." Moments later, Terugis felt the ship shudder again.

"Sir! The beast has severed the tail section. We are adrift." The beast appeared once more on the view-screen. Terugis once again heard the voice in his head, "And now it ends."

Terugis - Ep. 2

Ch. 2

Terugis awoke in the dark to the sound of alarms. The falcon... where am I? Straining his eyes, he looked around and observed the wreckage of the bridge surrounding him, the once prestine holo-console lay in ruins over the once-unbroken remains of his legs. Turning his head, he saw General Sharpton with a chill-o-matic pipe piercing his torso, his blood kept from flowing the continuing operation of the pipe.

He heard crashing in the distance. Surely the beast reducing the last intact sections of the ship to little more than crushed space-soda cans.

"The device...", Terugis brought himself back to attention, and gazed surprisingly back at General Sharpton who was, apparently, still alive. "The device, you can still activate it." What device? Terugis noticed could hear a faint hiss. Cabin leak. And at such a rate he wouldn't stay consious much longer. He had to remember. The device...the device... Aha, the transchronometon device! But to use such a machine...the consequences would be dire, but as dire as this? Perhaps not. In any case, he owed it to those the crew had left behind to complete their mission.

Looking around for a functioning holo-console, he spotted one across the bridge near the helm, with young Ensign Le'veon drapped over it. He could never reach it with his legs trapped under the broken console. If only...Suddenly an idea sprung into his head. Desperate, but necessary. Reaching for his laz-gun, he unholstered it and adjusted it to level 17. Pointing at his thighs and gritting his teeth he pulled the trigger. The smell of burning flesh filled his nose, but he didn't notice it over the excruciating pain of the laz-gun severing his legs.

Finished, he set the laz-gun down and began crawling towards the helm. Half-way there, he noticed the distant crashes were getting louder. The beast must have sensed the weapon discharge, he thought. Need to crawl faster. Using his last reserves of energy, he shoved Ensign Le'Veon off the console and hoisted himself up onto the seat. The crashing was getting louder. He only had a few seconds.

"Computer! Execute operation alpha-X-X-two-three, authorization code..." The door crashed open, and with it the last atmosphere on the bridge vented into space. Terugis glanced at the door, but only saw an intense darkness with two red pinpricks. Steeling himself, Terugis turned back to the console. "Authorization code upsilon."