When the Master entered the hall, all within became quiet. This would be his first class at his new establishment. After last evening’s demonstration – the room was full of eager young pupils. Most were from the moneyed merchant class, a few were from the nobility, and there was one tall young man, wearing servant’s cast off livery at the back of the room.
All eyes focused on the Master as he picked up a foil, and looked thoughtfully at the floor.
He spoke in soft but firm tones.
“For those who have come to learn the secrets of the art – I will tell you this. There are none. Everything there is to know about how to live and die by the sword has been taught, refined and reformed for centuries. I have nothing ‘new’ to teach any of you.”
There was a stirring and a soft round of murmurs.
“It is my job, to illuminate to you, those truths which you already know, but are simply unaware of.”
Now there was a chuckle. The Master’s eyes sought for the sound. His gaze locked on a young man wearing rich velvet.
“Furthermore, for those of you who doubt the utility of what I have to offer – I offer you this. You may study with me for free.”
Now there was general rush of whispering.
“HOWEVER,” The Master interrupted. “Lest any of you think that I do not offer anything of value – or rather, for those who only place a value on that which money can buy – I modify my offer with these conditions.”
“You may study with me for free for as long as you wish. IF after one lesson, you leave my salle – you will owe me twenty four gold sovereigns.”
A gasp went across the room.
“IF you leave after one month, you will owe me twenty three sovereigns. You will owe me one sovereign less for each month that you remain studying – without fail, for a period of two years. After that period, you may leave with my thanks and gratitude. For if you do not value your OWN time, I will expect you to value mine.”
Now the young man in velvet laughed out loud. “But this is preposterous! If we leave, never to return, how will you collect your fee?” His lips curled with a disdain that must certainly be an echo of his own self- loathing.
The Master nodded. “A good question. You see, I believe in the honor system. If you do not pay your fee,” here he paused to collect the rapt attention of every noble blade in the room. When he was certain he had their guards down, their lines open – he delivered his verbal thrust. “Everyone here will understand that you cannot honor a commitment – and that you WILL NOT honor your debts. ”
Touche’. And now the Remise. “This then, will have cost you far more than the money you owe me; it will have cost you your reputation. And with the loss of that, I will be satisfied as to my payment.”
The room fell silent.
“Now then, as I have only just now explained the cost of this arrangement and the absolute commitment required, anyone here is free to leave before we begin. I will go now to change my coat, when I return, the lessons shall commence.
The Master stepped into an antechamber, picked up his glass of wine and took a small sip. He slipped out of his dark grey coat, and picked up his foil. He returned to the salle wearing only his burgundy waistcoat.
Only the poor lad in tattered blue livery remained.
“Ah, my first apprentice. Excellent! Let us begin.”
About the ARTIST – I had the great good fortune of meeting Mairin-Taj Caya at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, where she was working on staff as an artist and illustrator, while I was performing as a jouster.
A freelance illustrator specializing in book illustration and portraiture, Mairin-Taj received her BFA degree from Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, located in historic Lancaster, PA.
Since early childhood, Mairin-Taj has cultivated a passion for stories, mythology, and various historical periods, starting with Celtic culture and branching out into other ethnic epics.
She has experience in various portraiture, conceptual art, greeting card design, creative writing, and children’s book illustration.
To learn more about Mairin-Taj and her work, or to commission a piece go to: