“No, the only thing I heard was there was some vandalism in the music workshop.” Miriauna said.
“There was,” a voice from behind said. Looking around they saw Master of Arts Andulah rapidly catching up. “You know Master Nathanya’s crippled apprentice Taunilyn?” When they both nodded, she went on “He had just finished staining his mandolin, the second of his test instruments for First Class, and they left it in the workshop to dry. When Master Annona went in later that night, she found it broken to pieces. She said she knew who did it, three boys who have been bullying Taunilyn ever since he joined the apprentices. So now we are to meet and see if anyone else has been having similar problems.”
“Hmmm,” Miriauna said. “I think I know just who they are. I had them for a sort while, and they were constantly picking on the younger and smaller apprentices. Sons of Barons, who think that makes them much superior to everyone else. They insisted on being transferred to something ‘more fitting to their station’ than digging in dirt.”
By this time they had arrived at the Guild Hall, and stopped talking as they entered. The Hall was octagonal, with seating arranged around six walls, the seventh holding the slightly elevated chair of the Master of Guild Masters, directly opposite the door. It wasn’t a very large building, but it was elegant and dignified. Most of the seats were occupied and they quickly took theirs. Four other late comers hurried to their seats, and then a door behind the Master’s chair opened, and Master Nathanya entered.
“I am sorry to disrupt your routines, or keep you here when you expected to be on your way home, but it is urgent. For those of you who don’t know, this is why we are here.” He lifted a bag from beside his chair, and upended it over the set. Pieces of stained wood fell out, some bouncing off and onto the floor.
Looking around he paused, then went on to explain what had happened. “I have ascertained that second class apprentices Zachren of Far fields Baron, Eamvin of Oceanside Barony and Delmon of Mountain View Barony are guilty of this wanton destruction. Before I expel them, I would like to know if anyone else has had a problem with them. Bullying, or refusing to follow the rule, or do the work required, anything along those lines, please, speak up now. I need a complete record to present to their sires when they are sent home.” He cleared the pieces of wood off his chair and sat down.
Two hours later, the meeting broke up, and the other Masters scattered. Master Nathanya sat for a few moments in the silent, empty hall, and wondered how so many offenses had escaped his notice, over so many years. “Perhaps I am too old to head the Apprentice Schools. Or have the other Masters been turning a blind eye to them?”
Sighing, he stood and made his way back to his office. It was lunch time, but he had no appetite. Instead of going to eat, he sat at his desk and organized the statements, including his own. Then he went to Master of Scribes Barsadra’s office, and left them, with a note asking for three copies of them to be made, with three copies of his covering letter. Wearily, he went back to his office.
When lunch was over, the three boys (young men now, he thought) were conducted in by Master Annona. For a short while, he sat and looked at them, wondering how such presentable youths could be so arrogant and cruel. Then he spoke.
“Zachren, Eamon, Delmon, you are hereby permanently expelled from the Apprentice Schools, for acts of cruelty and deliberate and wanton destruction of another’s test work. You will be confined to your rooms until tomorrow morning, when you will each be placed with a caravan going to your homes. You will be under guard until you are turned over to your Sires.”
Zachren, the eldest, drew himself up in indignation. “You can’t do that! Our fathers help to support this school! Why don’t you kick out that pitiful cripple? He’s no use to anyone!”
Nathanya looked him up and down, turned his gaze to the other two, and then back to Zachren. “Yes, I can do it, and I am doing it. I run this school, not your fathers, who pay a tithe of their revenue from their baronies. The same as every fisherman, farmer or craftsmen, no more and no less. Taunilyn has as much right to be here as you. More, in fact, because he has grown and matured, and completed each task required to become a First Class Apprentice; and in the future, a Journeyman, or perhaps, even a Master. All you have done it show how cruel and destructive you can be. I hope your sires will take you in hand and teach you that you are not better than anyone else, just more privileged.”
Turning to Annona, he said “Take them to their rooms, and set guards on them.” Turning back to the boys, he told them “You had better pack your belongings, because you will not have time in the morning, and what isn’t packed, stays behind. Now get out of my sight!”
“You’ll be sorry!” Zachren shouted. “My father will have you cast out, made outlaw! You cannot treat me like some commoner!” The other boys shouted the same as they were forcibly removed and headed to their rooms.