Ever Bard, Ears of Time!
By Kenneth Shumaker & Aria
Episode 005, Autumn 50 Bear – 5
July 10, 2017
Following in this series, we get to know the female Elven teenager – an 115-year-old bard whose beauty is god-like – known as Ta’Myka by her parents and mortals, and known as Time and as Fate by the gods and other immortal. She is joined by the Journeyman Dragoman, holy hero of four gods, Bloodgrue – a twenty-year-old human Jalnoric male from the North Docks of the royal city of Mount Oryn. Journey through these stories with authors Kenneth Shumaker and Aria in Kenneth Shumaker’s medieval fantasy realm of Quantos. Experience their adventures beyond those of mere mortal in the time of King Dolan IV.
We continue with Episode 005 on …
Autumn 50 Bear
Bloodgrue frowns menacingly, “That is not funny in the least. Please consider the feelings of the tubers, being belittled by an angel. Come now you have more respect than that.”
Then he bursts out laughing, “I would enjoy hearing you sing even such a song, Ta’Myka.”
Ta’Myka lets out a light, easy laugh. “My friend, I respect tubers as much as you do. Maybe I am an angel, maybe I am not. I do know that this bard’s mouth enjoys the taste of these heavenly tubers.”
As they eat, Andalyn enters the great hall. Walking close to Ta’Myka, Andalyn politely asks, “Master Jessep informed me that you wish to speak with me. How may I help, Lady Ta’Myka?”
Ta’Myka turns to speak to Andalyn and says. “I’d like to speak with you about what the usual wages are for various skilled workers. It’s become apparent to me that I really do not know what to offer potential employees. I am hoping you can inform me, or do a bit of research to find out.”
Andalyn nods while responding eagerly, “When do you wish this discussion, Lady Ta’Myka? It was one of father’s favourite lessons to me.”
Jessep picks up on this conversation as well. “Then I, too, would like in on the conversation. Say half an hour from now in the study? Bloodgrue, do you wish to join?”
Bloodgrue yawns while answering. “Sure, if I must … for the free food.”
Ta’Myka grins. “The more heads, the better. I think Bloodgrue may need a nap though – put him in a better mood.”
“Yes, half an hour in the study is good with me. Thank you, Andalyn and Jessep.”
In a teasing tone of voice, she looks at Bloodgrue and adds, “And, I suppose a thank you to the bored dragoman.”
‘Having the three of them to offer advice and information should be helpful. Warden Jessep – priest, earl, and so much more – should prove the meeting interesting. Jessep, the Warden of Imvor, is actually very wise if one can decipher through his convoluted way of speaking. If ever there was a man and woman who belong together, it is definitely Rena and Jessep.’ Ta’Myka thinks back to the song she composed for them for the declaration of their marriage bond. It is a shame they never had a proper celebration. Ta’Myka hears her mother’s voice in her head … ‘Ta’Myka, my precious daughter, the bond between your father and me is something we always take the time to celebrate. Our bond is more than about love, yet it is all about love. An elf regards the bond to their eternal partner as something very serious. It can take hundreds of years before an elf finds his or her eternal companion. Yet, the one meant to be your eternal companion may be in your life for many years before you know he is ‘the one’. But, when you do make that sacred commitment, it should be the biggest celebration of your life.’ – ‘Even by human standards, Rena and Jessep did not have a proper celebration of their bonding. Should I plan a celebration, before everyone leaves for Owerton?’ Ponders Ta’Myka.
Ta’Myka, suddenly aware that she has drifted away in thought, looks at the others gathered around the table. ‘Did I miss anything?’
Andalyn acknowledges Ta’Myka. “I will be there, Lady Ta’Myka.”
Boldly Andalyn walks out the only exit of the Great Hall.
Sitting and observing her, Jessep smiles and adds, “Yes, I too will be there.”
Chuckling, Bloodgrue, the singled out duck target, then frowns, “If I can get my day’s nap in, within the next half-hour, I may be there to help. If I can’t get my nap, I will stay with you like the shadow of a human.”
The gathered eat heartily, and by the end of the meal, all the meat is gone from the duck. The platter that held the tubers is empty, and the bowl of peas and onions is void of contents. Both pitchers have been drained by the diners. Staff members begin clearing the table as Jessep excuses himself and leaves the room.
Bloodgrue lightly taps Ta’Myka’s shoulder next to him, “I shall depart for a few minutes, then I’ll be in the office to join the discussion. I have to take care of an issue.”
Lydia also excuses herself. Carrying Dawn, she leaves the room.
Ta’Myka, alone in the dining room, takes a few minutes to sit, thinking, ‘These interviews are weighing heavy on my mind. I owe it to Lady Mychel to do a good job, to make sure I am hiring people worthy of her generosity. And I want to make sure the people I hire are good people. But how can one really tell in just a few minutes? Hiring people is a risky business. In the last fifteen years, I’ve come across a few scoundrels. I even joined a group of thieves for a short time. Not that I actually stole from anyone, but I was the beautiful decoy more than once. So, I am still guilty. Yes, we all have things in our past we may not be proud of.’
Ta’Myka chuckles to herself, stands, and walks to the study. She waits for the others to join her as she speaks to Eeene and Sereee. “Eeene and Sereee, I have decided that we should raise your four new pups. No more, though. No more for at least several seasons. Do you understand?”
Eeene peeks out to answer Ta’Myka. “Understand matriarch, no more pups after these … We do that.”
Ta’Myka smiles. “So, it’s that easy – I just say no more pups, and there will be no more pups?”
Ta’Myka waits only a few minutes before Jessep saunters in and takes ones of the three remaining seats.
He is soon followed by Andalyn who says to Ta’Myka, “Doorman Jessep informed me there is another waiting to be interviewed.”
Soon, Bloodgrue enters. Seeing that all are gathered, he closes the door and sits in the remaining seat. “So, you have questions, Angel Ta? Ask away, Lady Bard.”
Ta’Myka nods her head. “I’d like a list of the various jobs and trades, stating the wage scales, in regards to experience and certificates. For example, how much should I be willing to agree to for wages for someone with several years’ experience as a mason, or an armourer, or a warrior, or a farmer? I just want a rough estimate. I think I may have dismissed a much-needed weaponsmith, simply because I thought she was asking too much.”
The three advisors ponder the questions and look back and forth amongst each other.
Finally, Bloodgrue speaks first, bluntly stating, “I think we should allow Andalyn to answer from an estate chamberlain’s point of view and from her knowledge. Then she can continue on with her job elsewhere while we hash this out in here. What do you two answer?”
Jessep gives a definite nod of the head.
Andalyn agrees by answering. “Okay, thank you Master Bloodgrue, your consideration of the use of my abilities and time are most appreciated. In my experience, my father and I dealt with many trades. We had dealings with ostlers, masons, weaponeers, armourers, and mercenaries, etcetera. But I have no experience with farmers. We hired on a daily basis or per job. Weaponeers, we hired to maintain or build weapons, at a rate generally of thirty-five Dyns per day, plus fifteen to twenty percent additional commission. Armourers we commissioned at around thirty-five Dyns per day, plus ten to fifteen percent, to maintain, repair or build armour including shields. Warriors vary so widely in skills and abilities that it is hard to target a rule of general payment. Privates with little skill, or simply no rank in a group, earn the least, with pay ranging from one to three dusters a day up to two Dyns a day. The more skill required and the more difficulty of the task to be performed then the higher the pay. The risk of injury or death also determines pay scale. A typical sergeant might be paid thirty dusters to thirty-five Dyns a day, depending on so many factors. A lieutenant we would pay sixty-five Dyns to ten Flairs a day, depending on skill and responsibility asked to perform. At the top, we hired a Captain once. We paid him fifteen Flairs a day and hired him for twenty days. They don’t like working for less than a season but some will, especially hard-core mercenaries. The trade I have most knowledge dealing with is the masons. Pay varies broadly depending on task, skill, and season. Pay for masons ranges from two Dyns, up to ten Dyns a day. If the employer supplies labour, then the salary is lower. If the mason must supply his own apprentices, labourers, carpenters and smiths, then higher wages are paid to him. Shorter time frames cost more daily. Winter is cheaper than other seasons. Summer is their prime working season, so they charge more. So if that is all, I will return to organising these new people and continue getting stores built back up.”
Jessep nods in agreement while Bloodgrue speaks up, saying, “Unless Ta’Myka has further questions, I think that will be all Chamberlain Andalyn. Thank you, that was nicely said Andalyn.”
Andalyn smiles, bowing after standing. She pauses to hear Ta’Myka’s statement.
Ta’Myka, not trusting her memory, was frantically taking notes while Andalyn spoke. “Thank you, Andalyn. As usual, you’ve been more than helpful.” Ta’Myka looks down at the parchment paper she’s been so busy writing on. “Yes, I think it is legible.”
Jessep, frowning, continues the conversation. “My information is as an Earl’s delinquent son, who cared little for matters of estate, and as leader of a village of not so common people, now as a sort of Reeve/Beadle of Owerton. I will start with crafts workers. We hired by the season or year. Weaponeers and Armourers were hired long term, shops were built and tools supplied. Some were supplied with homes, a few even received food. They were responsible for their own staff, apprentices, and resources. Pay ranged from 300 to 500 Flairs a season, plus three to twenty percent commission for work value, for a weaponeer. For armourers, 250 to 500 Flairs a season, plus two to fifteen percent work value. A Mason supplied their own staff, but the employer supplied tools, shop, housing, food, and resources. The pay for a mason ranges from five to twenty Flairs for a season. Warriors are even more complicated than Andalyn indicated; I can sit in with you on interviews with warriors to gauge their value as a case-by-case issue. Because I am an earl, a leader, and a Beadle, I have experience with farmers. There are four basic ranks of farmers, and they fall within one of the two classes. The classes are Freemen and contracted or non-freemen. Freeholds are of the free farmers who farm the land, and they make what they can. They are simply obliged to pay taxes, with no other obligations. You can employ them for whatever you agree to. Typically, they hire out as labourers for a base of one duster per day. You can hire or not hire as you like. You also owe them nothing. The contract or non-freemen have different ranks, which fall within three basic ranks. The largest group or lowest class of these is the Cottar, who typically contract to farm one to five acres of land, which is his to farm as he wishes. But he owes the holder of the contract two things: labour and kind. These vary with how much land he holds in his contract, but usually a minimum of sixty days’ labour and four dusters per acre per year. In return, the holder will look out for and protect the cottar until the contract has been fulfilled by both parties. In the middle rank are the half-villein farmers with contracts holding five to fifteen acres of land and maybe holding up to five acres’ freehold land. With the freehold land, his only obligation is the taxes, and you have no obligation to him for the freehold land. The half-villein’s contract land, though, owes labour and kind. Labour is typically five to ten days per acre plus the base of sixty days. Kind starts at six dusters per acre per year all the way up to around ten or eleven dusters per acre per year. Again, the landowner owes protection and support. At the top is the villein. The villein holds farm contracts larger than fifteen acres but rarely more than fifty acres. Occasionally, the villein holds freehold acres as well, in multiple small plots of one to two acres. Sometimes a family of a villein might hold up to twenty freehold acres with five to ten Dyns per acre taxes every year. I have seen a villein household contract sixty-five acres and freehold twenty-six acres. But they just managed to maintain it all. Again, if you want, I can help negotiate farm contracts. It is my responsibility in Owerton anyway, so I can simply finalise it here and assign their land plots once I am back in Owerton.”
Bloodgrue sighs. “That leaves me to iterate my thoughts. I don’t know about farmers. I know a bit about armourers and weaponeers on thirty-day hire basis. Weaponeers you can hire for one hundred Flairs every thirty days plus on average ten percent of product value, the same with armourers. I deal with a lot of masons – typical wage is three Flairs per thirty days of work, or four Dyns a day. Warriors in this city are a convoluted lot, even up to the skilled captains. You will need the help of Lord Jessep or myself, Angel Ta.”
Ta’Myka lets out a heavy sigh, puts down her quill, and shakes her hand. “I certainly feel more informed. I didn’t realise how much coin experienced trades people earned. I am beginning to wonder why I ever wanted to be a bard.” Ta’Myka gives Jessep and Bloodgrue a smile. “Actually, I don’t sing in the hopes of getting wealthy, I sing because I love to sing. I am the entertainment for all those hard-working people. If I can give them an evening, or even a few minutes, to escape from their troubles, that is what gives me joy.” … “I will take your advice on asking one of you to join me if a warrior should show up for an interview. Hiring warriors is obviously a bit more complicated than I thought.”
Ta’Myka stands, saying, “Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I suppose I should have Doorman Jessep show in the next applicant.”
By, Kenneth Shumaker and Aria
To be continued in the next episode …
© 2017 by Kenneth Shumaker and Aria with Inevitable Unicorn Press
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- Ever Bard, Episode 004, ‘Autumn 50 Bear – 4’
- Ever Bard, E006, Autumn 50 Bear – 6