Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

The Couturier of Iluc

Mirrored from Sythyry.

I don’t generally attend many guild meetings, especially in Kismirth. I am a member of too many guilds, and the traditional evening for meetings — the first night of the week — means that I would need to be in three or four places at once. That’s a lot, even for me, so generally I skip them all. I pay my dues and follow guild laws and generally behave well, and the healers and sky pilots and smiths and tailors understand that I am not really being any competition for them. In good years they take my membership in their honorable and ancient orders as a compliment. In bad years they pretend I’m not really a member.

But once in a while, like yesterday, I do get a polite note saying that there’s a drop of trouble in the Couturier’s Guild and could I please come to the meeting if it’s at all convenient for me. I pay attention to notes like that. I always halfway expect they’ve realized I’m not a real couturier and they’re going to kick me out.

Instead, Master Eleven — Eleven what? I don’t know. She’s Herethroy, so it probably is ‘spots’ or ‘stripes’ or something, but they’re under her master’s robes, which are as impressive as the robes of the guildmaster of the Couturier’s Guild ought to be, and I have not yet managed to seduce her so I can find out. (To be precise, I haven’t even thought about the topic until just now, when it arose out of pure logic.) Master Eleven said, “Ah, excellent! The wizard has just whisked in the window!”

“Forgive me, Master-Couturier, but wasn’t that the door?” I had to ask.

“Forgive me, Master-Couturier,” said Eleven. “I was alliterating, in honor of my new boyfriend!” Eleven is as traff as a … as … as I am, say, or as my wife. She seems to be dating a Gormoror now. (Note to self: confirm health-care arrangements before attempting seduction of Eleven.)

“What is this doomy disaster that has come upon this honorable Guild?” I asked.

“This honorable guild has a bit of a paradox and a perplexion and a problem, which a whistle of wizardry could set straight! We’ve got a journeyman who just moved here from Iluc, on Choinxeia, and he wants to be made a master in this honorable guild,” said Eleven.

“And for some reason the usual qualifications, of seventeen years’ professional work, preferably in the shop of a full master in the guild, are not applicable? Nor are the alternate ones, of a seventeen-day examination and demonstration of all aspects of the noble and mighty craft of this most puissant guild, and payment of a substantial fee?” (Notes: (1) When I joined the guild, I campaigned for the seventeen-day examination; I wouldn’t have worked for seventeen years in someone else’s shop. It has been done a few items since then, always by journeymen past their eleventh year. (2) Guildsmen are urged by custom and long usage to talk like that about their guilds, at least in the guild hall. It makes everyone feel more important, which is nice when one is in a silly little thing like little the Couturier’s Guild.)

“Well, you see, Master Sythyry, he says that he was a guild-master in Iluc for a decade and more, but they demoted him down to journeyman because of some Vepri stuff. And so he says he should come here as a master, without any need for journeying or for tests,” said Eleven. “Of course we have letters from the guild in Iluc. They say he broke the guild-laws a dozen ways: revealing guild secrets, selling inferior wares for the prices of good stuff, undercutting and denigrating his brother and sisters in the guild, arranging a secret smuggling route with scluds in Choulano.”

I hopped onto the back of a chair. “He must have worked quite diligently; it sounds as if he broke every one of the guild-laws, except the one against seducing the spouses of other masters.”

“Actually, one letter said he’d tried that too. Cross-species, at that, so he should fit quite well here if that’s true,” said Eleven.

“Well, for breaking every guild-law, he deserves to get a special award — and probably to get demoted to journeyman too, if not actually expelled,” I said, because it is an obligation on guild-masters to uphold guild law.

“The thing is, he says he didn’t … well, he’s in the next parlor.” (Aieee, those parlors, those supernumary parlors! they infest every crystallization effort I perform!) “Hear him for yourself.”

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