Published 2021-05-25Carol E. Leever
In Night's Gift, Tormy learns all about money when he starts eating a pie that doesn't belong to him.
From NIGHT'S GIFT: Chapter 13, The Glass Walk
The cat was already halfway through the meat pie, his white cheeks and whiskers slathered in gravy, by the time Omen reached him.
Omen held out a hand, hoping to placate the elvin merchant, who was gripping a rolling pin in his fists as if ready to use it as a weapon against the feline.
"Tormy, we have to pay for this first!" he informed the cat. Swapping the sword to his left hand, Omen reached for the money pouch attached to his belt. He smiled at the merchant. The man lowered his rolling pin, slowly.
The kitten looked up, his gravy-covered face the picture of innocence. "Why?"
"Because it doesn't belong to us," Omen explained.
The sound of Sul'eldrine calmed the elvin merchant somewhat though he stared at Tormy in utter befuddlement.
"We have to pay when it doesn't belong to us," Omen told Tormy again, hoping the concept made sense to the cat.
A bit later Omen hands over some coins to the merchant which are described as having the image of a dragon on one side, and a sun on the other -- in other words a Melian suncrown.
Templar comments that Omen overpaid the merchant.
It occurred to me that I really needed to figure out exactly how much things cost in our Of Cats and Dragons world. So I did some research. There's a lot of information about the price of things from every age imaginable and their relative worth compared to today's currency.
For example a ladies maid in the 1800s would be paid about 30 pounds a year which is the equivalent of about 3000 dollars today. And a maid in the middle ages might get paid 10 shillings a day.
Of course you then have to ask yourself (what's a shilling!), what does any of that mean? Can you live on it? Could you have a family on that sort of salary, feed them, clothe them, buy a house? So I looked all that up as well.
It's hard to do any sort of modern day equivalency since life was very different, and we buy things that no one back then could even conceive of. We might buy an article of clothing to wear once -- that would have been unheard of. You wore something until it wore out. Then you repurposed it and wore it again or handed it down to someone else.
Also, the research doesn't really show you what 'bread' or 'cake' or 'pie' would cost the average person. Certainly there were taverns and restaurants that would have those things on their menu. And there were bakeries in large towns and cities. But the average person would typically just buy their own ingredients and make it themselves. If you were wealthy enough, you'd pay someone else (a miller) to grind the wheat you bought, but an average family would do that themselves as well. I can find out how much a bushel of wheat cost in the 1300s but how much bread can you make from a bushel? It took a lot of calculating.
But in the end I did manage to figured out the basic price of things while determining our monetary system.
On average in our Of Cats and Dragons world, an apple would cost between 1-5 pennybits (that's about 1-5 cents in today's currency.) That pie that Omen bought for Tormy would have cost about ten pennybits or 10 cents. A cheap meal in a common tavern could be had for about 10 pennyweight (10 dollars). A very nice meal in a fabulous restaurant would be around 50 pennyweight (the equivalent of 50 dollars today.)
But Omen gave the elvin merchant a Melian suncrown -- a gold coin (he actually gave him a couple of coins). A single Melian suncrown is worth one thousand pennyweight (the equivalent of $1000 dollars). For a pie.
Templar was right -- Omen overpaid. Massively.
But Omen is the prince of Lydon and has never paid any attention to money because he's never had to. His parents are rich.
But in the end, it turns out that's a really good thing. If you think about how much a cat the size of Tormy would eat -- and considering his fondness for very fine meats, you'd need a fortune to keep him happy.