Copperbound Contract

Only a few minutes after the midwife placed his newborn daughter into the arms of his wife, Benjen heard a knock on the door. How could they possibly learn of the birth so fast? He opened the door, wearily and all his eyes saw was the small, steel box with copper bands around it - his daughter's name etched onto the lid, just below the Whitesteel Inc. Seal.
 
Benjen barely heard the words of congratulations from the courier and opened the box to see the rolls of paper inside it, multiple promises for food, shelter, and a basic education.
 
The invoice was on top. The amount it named made Benjen feel almost frozen inside.
Inside, his newborn, innocent daughter started to cry, unaware of the amount of debt she just received.
  The Copperbound Contract is a gift given to every child upon their birth by either its parents or the main guardian of the settlement or country they live in. Usually presented within the culture of Caramiza in a copper bound wooden box, the contract written within signifies the protection the child will receive from their guardians, as well as their duties towards the guardians the child has to uphold when it will grow up.   This tradition has been present in multiple cultures for almost a millennium and usually signifies the bond between the child and their family. However, in the past century this tradition changed towards a contract between the liege of the lands and their subjects born within their domain. It bounds the child to loyalty towards their liege as well as a quota of duty to be provided before they will be able to be free. In return, their liege provided shelter, public services, and protection to the child.   When the Whitesteel Autonomy Decree was signed and Whitesteel Inc effectively became a liege to their regions, they implemented the Copperbound Contract as well. In their case, they will provide shelter and food calculated for the first ten years but will also include the invoice for these goods with a significant interest rate. A child growing up in the northwest of Caramiza is therefore bound to work for the corporation until their debt is paid off.   The parents are usually expected to pay the interest, which further elongates their contracts. A woman unexpectedly being with a child is not always considered a blessing and it has so far driven multiple couples to desperate actions. The Whitesteel Inc. Corporation continues to write these losses off as acceptable, occasionally prompted to improve some public services to ease unrest in the worker's settlements.

Regional Variants

  The usual appearance of the Copperbound Contract is that of a small wooden box with two copperbands binding the lid shut. However, the appearane varies throughout times and between regions.  

Whitesteel Inc.

Signifying the Connection to their steel industry, the boxes are made from thin steel sheets. The name of the recipient as well as the Wwitesteel Inc. Seal are etched into each box.  

Grasenfurt

In the region around Grasenfurt the boxes are made from golden Brasspine wood. The copper bands are usually painted black.  

Royal Family

Any child born to the royal family receives an ornate, lacquered chest with the royal crest engraved in it. They are surrounded by six bands, made from copper, bronze, gold, steel, cobalt, and silver, representing all six gods as well as the six virtues and main duties a royal member will have to uphold. Being tasked to craft a copperbound contract for a royal child is seen as a high honor for any woodworker.  

Orphans

Children that are being abandoned at birth are sadly not uncommon. The church of Lirini often takes in these orphans and presents them with their own contract - the bindings are made of wood, however, painted with a copper color. Within, there is only a pendant of Lirini, signifying the protection of the order for the child until it is of age as well as the religious education it will receive.

Comments

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
4 Jun, 2021 07:30

Great article! That first quote is really great at framing the article and showing how horrible the tradition has become :D

To see what I am up to, here is my civilisation challenge article.