Today we’re back in Maldon for an interview with the town logistician, Giselle Weaver, without whom everything would be in chaos. I admit I’m not too clear precisely what a logisticiam does, although I know she’s in charge of the guesthouse.
Because visitors really only arrive during scheduled convoy visits–this is because of the universal fear of “beasts”–there is a cyclical need for accommodation. This is quite a contrast to most other worlds, where one might expect seasonal variation in tourist numbers, but not a week of full occupancy every three months and the rest of the time no visitors at all. Very few people travel regularly. A convoy visit would bring a couple of dozen guards plus their captain, a few traders, and an occasional migrant who is seeking to settle elsewhere. Say thirty in total.
Maldon’s guesthouse is a relatively large building close to the town hall. It has an open living area, large enough to sleep thirty on the floor. Sounds primitive, no? But since travellers will have walked for a week to get here, sleeping on the ground on the way, it’s probably quite luxurious by comparison. Giselle oversees the visitors while they’re here, but I’m sure she does other things too.
IC: Giselle, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.
GW (sniffs): Not at all. I’d rather spend a few minutes chatting with you than have you spreading inaccurate information. More efficient this way. What questions do you have?
IC: Well, what does your job involve?
GW: I’m a point of contact for the town, especially for new visitors. I manage the guesthouse, although that’s only used when the convoy visits. I receive and distribute the guest-tithe and allocate other resources as required. I also keep records of who and where everyone is. I maintain accounts for various parties.
IC: Accounts? Wouldn’t that make you vulnerable to accusations of bias?
GW (raises eyebrow): Me? Biased? Nobody’s ever suggested such a thing.
IC: Hmm, I can see why not. Can you tell me more about this guest-tithe?
GW: I suppose you don’t have one where you come from. Town residents who can afford it contribute a portion of their daily food to the tithe. I then distribute it among visitors, if we have any, or to the needy–such as elderly townsfolk, those who are ill or maybe new mothers.
IC: Isn’t it a little hit and miss what the contributions are?
GW: I generally have a good idea of who is likely to contribute what. But yes, sometimes if we have a glut of one thing, it might appear a little monotonous. Fortunately, some items have a long shelf life, such as flour or dried fruit.
IC: Are the contributions always food?
GW: Not exclusively. The town weaver–no relation, despite my name–sometimes donates fabric or general items of clothing.
IC: Do the visitors pay something back, in return for food and accommodation?
GW: Certainly. Nothing happens for free. The traders usually pay in coin, since they’re keen to spend their time doing business with our residents. As to the convoy guards… there’s a formal arrangement with Ascar that the guards have four rest days and three working days during their week here. Their working days are spent on town projects that need more muscle than we can provide locally, or maybe helping to improve defences.
IC: Defences against whom?
GW (lips purse): Beasts, of course.
IC: Oh. Of course. And how do other visitors pay?
GW: It depends on what skills they have. Even those with no particular trade can help with cleaning.
IC: That makes sense. Can you tell me what your relationship with the mayor is? I mean… how do you and he reconcile your roles?
GW: The mayor deals with the convoy captains when they arrive, and is our liaison with Ascar. I… do everything else.
IC: I see. Thank you for your time.