A Fair Proposal - Top Skunk Visits LongTech Industries - RPLOG
It's early in the afternoon, just a little after lunchtime. High Lord Blackback has been invited to Longtail Manor, the site of LongTech Industries. Even so, work at the manor turned factory continues as usual, with many beings moving chaotically through the building. Still, their uniforms quickly denote their jobs, from crafter to scholar and everything in between.
The Lady herself is seated in a small, private alcove in the courtyard. She's dressed plainly, much like the crafters working for her, and she seems to be simply waiting for her guest.
Zachariah Blackback walks sedately along with his uniformed escort. He is wearing a fine grey suit with a purple cravat at his throat and a cane topped with a beautifully cut crystal. "Highlady Flora," he greets the leading Longtail coolly, "I am not often frogmarched through an industrial zone for a social call." He looks over the courtyard with a critical eye. "This is certainly an interesting use of the space," he says, "I will give you that."
"Just Flora, yes. And while the Crown is generous, the funds provided to Flora weren't enough to repair the manor AND open a factory elsewhere, yes. And it means Flora only needs to have one location guarded," she offers, before pausing.
"Flora's always had a habit of bringing work home, yes. This just saves Flora some time."
"Yes," Zachariah says, raising an eyebrow, "Very clever." The look on the noble skunk's face shows that he is uncertain if the odd Highlady's joke was, in fact, a joke, "I can see how that would be. . . convenient." He looks around, but not seeing the usual trappings of a noble social call, he remains standing and waits on his hostess.
"Please. Sit, yes," Flora notes, tail flicking lightly behind her. "As Lord Blackback may have heard, Flora has spoken with Miss Lady Solacious. She has agreed to join the project, yes. She has also offered House Solacious's help with security of the construction site and the event, yes, she notes, as she procures a flat copy of a signed document. "A photo. The original is stored securely."
"Flora has also spoken with a friend who may be allowed to speak on behalf of House Ironsoul, yes. But no guarantees yet. Flora will let Sir Blackback know, yes."
"Lord Blackback," Zachariah corrects, eyeing a chair for a moment before deciding that it is probably clean enough to sit on, "What is it, exactly, that you have called me here for today, Flora?" He settles gingerly into his seat, resting his hands on his fashionable cane. He waves off the contract, not particularly interested in the picture of some dusty document. "While I certainly support this festival of progress or whatever it is you plan to call this, I am a bit vague on what you expect from me and my house. Is it only funding you are looking for?"
"Flora said Flora would keep Lord Blackback up to date. This is Flora keeping Lord Blackback up to date, yes. As for what Flora wants... Funds, yes. But also assistance reaching out to scholars and inventors. A signature, to show the King that Sweetwater is united behind the scholarly arts. Participation, to show Promise the same."
"And moreso, Flora would like... Lord Blackback's input, yes. On the design of the building, on the layout of the different areas, thoughts on the... Gift, yes," she notes, as she places two polished, metal objects on the table. One long metal rod, shaped like an angled beam of sorts, and one metal cylinder. It doesn't look very impressive, but knowing Flora, there's a lot of thought put into these simple items either way.
"Prototypes, yes. Not the finished product. Not the right metal, not the right shape. But useful as prototypes."
"Ah yes, signatures," Lord Blackback says, "I wondered when we would get to that particular fixation of yours." The skunk leans forward in his seat at the mention of this 'Gift' that Flora has planned. "I know little about building, Lady Longtail," he admits, "I have counselors who tend to that sort of thing. But do explain this. . . prototype of yours. I am not quite certain how you expect this to be of benefit to Sweetwater. It is not as though we do not have common weights and measures."
"If a being wants an amount of fabric, they use their hands to show how much, yes? That is not very accurate, no. It means wasted fabric. It is worse with gears, and building-material."
"And if the material comes from abroad, things are even worse," she notes.
"And what about precise designs? Precise kevinscopes? Without an accurate standard, simply impossible. And no good if the standards are different," she notes.
Soon, she's gesturing at the rod and the cylinder. "Length and weight, yes... Combine with the Thermometer, which Flora will offer free copies off, and we have temperature, too. The creators use freezing and boiling water, yes. Flora asked. Zero and one hundred C. And every thermometer is assigned using a creator thermometer. Tested afterwards."
"Flora is not quite sure on time yet... A clock isn't enough. We have to be able to keep it accurate, yes. Clocks slow down, and stop... But Flora is thinking about it," she notes, her tails flicking behind her.
Zachariah can't help but be interested at the mention of more accurate Kevinscopes. "And you will make this perfect measure available to who?" he asks, still rather leery about this whole thing, "Will you see that every merchant gives perfect weights and lengths? I can understand where you are coming from, Highlady, but I think that there is a serious disconnect between your theoretical ideal and the facts of every day life. Perhaps if we enjoyed the leisure that our Creators do I would understand what you are trying to do, but wouldn't improving the actual conditions of our people be better for Sweetwater? I have some of my own work involving the adaptation of soul gems that I feel might be of more immediate value."
"No. Not every merchant, not every scholar. But every scholar will have access, indirectly. The church gets a copy. House Blackback gets a copy. House Longtail, and the Crown all get a copy. The academy, as well."
"The same for other countries, yes. Government, academy, church. Several where appropriate."
"One standard is the primary. The definition, yes. The others are copies. Can be tested against the definition, so the difference is known, if a difference appears. The others are secondary. Kept by the different countries. Can become the primary if the primary is lost."
"Then, cheaper copies can be made from the secondaries. Cheaper metal, cheaper materials. Things that will last ten years, instead of one hundred, two hundred, or more. To compare for merchants. Or, if a merchant already has weights... They can have the weights and lengths... Calibrated, yes. Measured against the tertiary standard, to show how many lengths or weights they are."
"It is not about Sweetwater. It is about helping Promise as a whole."
Lord Blackback takes a deep breath, ready to say something more, then lets it out. "As you like," he says, unwilling to argue his point with a woman he barely thinks of as sane, "I still support this event you have planned, even if I cannot see the point of your 'Gift.' I understand you plan to take your proposal to Markgraf Tuor?"
"Yes. However, Flora has yet to be able to arrange a meeting. Lord Strongheart is a busy man, and Flora is busy too, yes. Flora will let Lord Blackback know once a date is decided, should Lord Blackback want to be present."
"Flora saw that look, yes. When Flora mentioned accurate kevinscopes. Flora is quite sure Lord Blackback can see the point of Flora's gift of a length-standard, although perhaps not for the other... Units, yes," she notes, tail flicking behind her, before she pulls out the sketch she's shown Blackback before, of the building she was designing. "For length... Another example. Say this side has to be one hundred arms... And that side, too. If the beings don't have the same length of arms, things will go wrong, yes? That side will be shorter or longer than this side... Won't be as sturdy, or as pretty. With a standard length, buildings become safer, cheaper, scholars can work more accurately. The effect is very real. Still, if Lord Blackback wants to offer his own gifts... Flora would certainly welcome a combined gift from Sweetwater, yes."
Zachariah shakes his head. "Like I said," he repeats, "I understand your point. I just don't think that most of Sweetwater, or Promise will see the value of what you propose to make. I imagine that most beings will continue to use their forearms and thumbs to measure things for many decades to come. I only hope that you are not disappointed by the reception of your. . . intriguing gift." He looks over the bar and cylinder. "What is wrong with this material?" he asks, "And what, exactly, do you hope to make it from?"
"It rusts. Steel will rust, over time. Flora wants a standard that will outlast Flora, yes. Flora is well-aware beings will continue to use hands and thumbs. However, with the standards there, scholars can use more accurate measures, yes? And changes happen over time. Over time, beings will use more accurate measures as well. But the measures have to last long enough."
"Gold does not rust. But gold is too malleable. It will scratch. Not constant. Silver blackens. Flora has her eyes on another metal, called platina. Very expensive, but only needed for the primary and secondary. IF sweetwater can obtain a shipment from the creators, it should be doable. Flora has gotten small batches of chemicals before, but if Sweetwater asks for the metal as a whole, a better chance of obtaining enough, yes... If not, perhaps Lord Strongheart has suggestions, yes. Flora will have to see. The tertiary can be steel, and is not Flora's concern. Steel is easy."
"You want Platinum?" Lord Blackback asks incredulously, "And from the Creators no less! What do you plan to trade to Creators for this precious metal? You don't really think they will accept our coin for that, do you?" The noble skunk leans forward on his cane. "You certainly don't lack for ambition, Highlady," he says, "And I will help as I can, but be warned that I will not bankrupt my own house to fund this little endeavor of yours."
"The creators accept crown for reasons other than monetary value, Flora imagines. So yes, FLora does expect the creators to accept crown. And Flora does not expect the request to bankrupt any house, or the crown, for that matter. Based on the cost of manufacture on promise, and what Flora's seen in terms of costs for the chemicals Flora has been allowed to sample, it should be doable, yes. Assuming Mister Creator Harkenson will be allowed to trade a batch the size of what Flora hopes to attain.
"The problem with platinum is its rarity, yes. The creators will have much more of it. But even if not, ultimately, House Strongheart would only have to strike a good vein for the plan to work, yes."
"Be that as it may," Zachariah says, "I only warn you not to expect any accolades for this as you did for your camera. It seems rather less magical, you see and without the mystery, I am afraid that people will not be so interested." The Skunk stands with the aid of his cane and brushes down his coat. "You already have my support, as I have said," he says, "Do keep me informed."
"Flora has no use for accolades. Flora does have use for improvements to Flora's research. Promise's research. This is an improvement like that," the she-cat notes, before shrugging her shoulders lightly.
"House Longtail is, ultimately a means, not an end. Much like House Blackback and House Solacious are a way to do good for the country, yes. If a house does no good, it ceases to be a house, yes. The old House Longtail is an example of that, as far as Flora is concerned."
"That doesn't mean Flora isn't thankful for the opportunity, of course. It helps a lot. But ultimately, the goal is to help Promise forward. Not to obtain personal fame, no."
"Means to an end," Zachariah repeats slowly, "Yeeees, of course, there is always that. Of course." He looks around the courtyard. "Now," he says, leaning on his cane, "If there is nothing else?"
"Unless Lord Blackback has anything else to discuss, Flora doesn't have anything else to say, no. Flora has said what Flora needs to say, yes. Although Flora would appreciate it if Lord Blackback could prepare a list of beings whom Lord Blackback sees as... Important for the fair, yes. Beings who should have a reserved spot," the she-cat notes, keeping an eye on the Lord, before gesturing for the guard to see him out.
Zachariah nods to Flora. "I am sure that I can think of a few," he says, then turns to follow the guard out. The noble skunk makes a mental note to hold future meeting in his own home, where there is, at least, the common courtesy of tea and cakes for visiting nobility. And less industry in the hallways.