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History of the Masons Guild
The establishment of a guild of engineers and builders was requested by the Taipii gods in Lantros in the spring following the Orliian Exodus and the the long winter. The Taipii gods were of a mind that they would not allow their people to be driven from their home a second time, and encouraged the Taipii to learn how to build farms and houses for themselves. The Taipii gods were able to provide the masons guild with clues on a variety of subjects that would be of interest to the guild.
The guilds first order from the gods was to explore the region of Lantros for resources that would make suitable building materials and testing materials and architectural designs for stability and longevity against the Lantros storms. The newly organized guild was quick to discover clay deposits in the nearby river, and began experimenting with the material.
The first structures built by the guild featured stacked stone walls with lumber used to keep the walls from collapsing, and waxed cloth tent style roofs. These structures only lasted a few seasons before superior building materials were developed and these structures were torn down due to a variety of problems.
In it's third year the Masons Guild constructed small kilns and started firing samples of clay pots and bricks. None of the bricks or pots from this time were known to survive to modern times, although the guild does have samples it believes to be of the same basic composition. The Masons Guild was quick to discover that the Lantros clay alone could be fired into bricks and pots but they were quite brittle. In its fourth year the guild began keeping a written record of experiments, and by it's fifth year was producing bricks which seemed suitable for construction.
The bricks combined with other building materials and basic engineering allowed the Masons Guild to construct the first permanent homes in Lantros, included pitched roofs featuring clay tiles. These early structures were a celebrated achievement for the guild, and the guild was flooded with requests to build houses and structures.
Early Multistory Buildings
In its sixteenth year the guild built it's first experimental two-story building, but the upper story floor began to sag and collapse within a few seasons. After several unsuccessful attempts at repairing the sagging floor the building was abandoned and leveled. A year later a group of non-guild builders successfully constructed a two-story building which remained standing through a cold winter season. In the following spring the masons guild approached Rakadynn and complained that the building was being inhabited without any oversight on its construction. Rakadynn allowed the Masons Guild to inspect the building, and upon doing so the masons warned that the construction of the walls was unstable. The criticism was rejected as sour grapes by the builders, and less than a week later the structure collapsed during a storm, killing one of the builders and his family who were inside at the time.
The Collapse of Lantros
The summer of 62nd year after the Exodus was remarked upon for an unusually hot summer with almost no wind, followed by a blisteringly cold winter. In the penultimate week of winter of the 62nd year, on the fourth day, a heavy blizzard moved over Lantros, dropping a third of a spear of snow upon the city. Under the weight of the snow and storm dozens of Lantros homes partially or fully collapsed. It was noted that the collapsed buildings tended to be away from water, while the structure built near the edges of lakes and streams fared better.
Upon inspecting the buildings following the storm it was determined that the cause of the collapses were bricks produced by the Masons Guild, which had crumbled under the load. In the following years the Masons Guild rebooted its effort to study the behavior of their bricks and find ways to improve upon them. New testing methods were developed to stack or drop heavy loads upon sample bricks. Pots were spun out of a variety of clay samples and sealed with water. Each week the masons would balance the jugs against a set of weights and make a record of the weight as well as any visual signs of leakage or corrosion. The structures that remained standing were reinforced until a solution could be found.
A Whole New Brick
In the following years the careful experimentation and recordkeeping of the Masons Guild would pay off, with the discovery of two improvements that could be made to the Lantros bricks. The first discovery was that bricks made from clay that had been dissolved and passed through a fabric mesh yielded much stronger bricks. It was concluded that impurities such as dead plant material were compromising the bricks. The second discovery was that by working a small amount of ash into the brick slurry the bricks were even stronger still after baking. In testing bricks made from purified clay and ash were 10 times stronger than the previous Lantros bricks, and clay pots made from the purified clay were less brittle and held water longer.
The newer bricks proved a great success, and could almost rival bricks made decades later from the naturally cleaner chalei clay. Nearly all of the collapsed buildings were rebuilt or replaced, although a few remain in ruins in modern times.
The Daura au'Makou (Clay Seekers) search for new clay deposits and their delivery to the guild chapter hall. Many new masons begin in the guild as clay seekers, as this task frequently needs more laborers.
New Clay Seekers are assigned to a team who will teach them how to find and gather the clay as well as any processing that is required for the local varieties they gather such as washing or screening.
The Gaunei Sagousii (Kiln Masters) are tasked with lighting and maintaining kilns, as well as the art of firing and monitoring the baking and cooling cycles of the bricks.
The Makou Kachepii (Clay Scribes) are responsible for recording the results of clay tests and maintaining the guild's library of books and samples. The scribes are expected to have read all the information books and experimental logs in the guild's library, excluding the raw experimental result records. They are the keepers of guild knowledge and experience, and sometimes act as inspectors who review how a building is constructed and compare it against the guild's requirements and experiences.
The Bakei Duko (Brick Smashers) are responsible for subjecting potential and in-use building materials to a variety of tests to determine their suitability, failure points, failure rate, and longevity. The smashers have designed a variety of ingenious testing devices, which have been carefully documented for accurate reconstruction by other guild chapters.
Popular tests include:
The Doujii (builders) are the builders of the Masons Guild, and are one of the services the guild offers for hire. The Doujii receive training from the guild on how to construct buildings safely and how to correctly use local building materials.
The Fyniidii are the engineers and architects of the Masons Guild. Most guild chapters train their builders to have sufficient knowledge to construct small homes without needing the Fyniidii involved unless there is an unusual request or specification. Most Fyniidii are more interested in securing the commission of large structures and projects of significance, and will task the scribes with inspecting the construction of smaller structures. While an experienced Guild Mason Fyniidii is a requirement for any large construction project some Taiii including those within the guild regard the Fyniidii as holding too high an opinion of themselves.
In the second century of the guild leadership noticed that allowing builders to have a laxidasical attitude toward construction resulted in collapsed structures, lives lost, and the angry eyes of the Taipii gods upon them. To counteract this the guild developed a strict expectation that things be done exactly as instructed without any room for "field innovation". Soon all construction was done in accordance to tradition, and soon after several traditions not directly related to construction followed.
Each guild chapter is required to maintain a library, in which the Makou Kachepii (Clay Scribes) maintain records and samples from building material tests and experiments.
As most guild members are involved in work that leaves their hands and clothes dusty or dirty, the library is usually "off limits" to anyone except the scribes, causing rise to superstition and conspiracy among the Daura au'Makou and Doujii as to what secrets are kept inside.
Wall of Pots
Although not a requirement, all of the guild chapters have adopted a tradition of lining the largest walls in the guild hall with shelves and then slowly filling them with samples of pots and bricks. Each of the samples has a plaque or plank providing a date and recipe or batch number.
The walls of the great hall in the Lantros guild chapter has pots and brick samples dating back to the first century - just decades after the establishment of the guild.
Kiln Lighting Ceremony
The Kiln Lighting Ceremony is something that masons and their families look forward to each year. The ceremony starts in the morning with a showy reveal of stacked sun-dried bricks ready for kiln baking. The grandeur of the unveiling is often higher in years where a lot of construction is expected, and in good years will often entail music and dancing.
At noon the kilns are lit are fueled and the Gaunei Sagousii are heckled by the other Masons that their kilns are not hot enough. The kilns must be raised in temperature slowly, and the Kiln Masters must ignore their hecklers and warm their kilns gradually over the next several hours. Light foods and refreshments are served throughout the day while games and other festivities are ongoing.
In the evening as the kilns reach temperature a feast is prepared with foods being cooked in pots placed in or around the kilns. As the meal draws to its end the kilns are hot enough for the first bricks to placed inside, and the guild will typically keep the kilns running day and night throughout the season.
March of the Masons
On the anniversary of the collapse in the 63rd year the Masons Guild dedicated the 3rd of the penultimate week of Winter to quietly observe a memorial day for those who had died in the collapse the year before. Guild members are to put all projects on hold and spend the day at their guild hall in sitting quietly, lighting candles, and sharing thoughts of concern. It is a day of somber reflection on the high cost that comes from failure. On the following day, the 4th, the masons hold a yearly "March of the Masons" whereon they don uniforms and march through the streets of the towns and villages they serve, with a stern reminder beforehand to "look into their eyes and see the Taipii whose lives rest in your hands".
The Week of Duty
Traditionally each guild will choose one week per season in which it inspects public structures in the region as well as privately owned property with the owners permission. During this week the guild will often offer to make small repairs or repairs involving the stability of a structure for free, although a show of gratitude toward the guild is always welcome.
Many Taipii have noted that during this week the Masons Guild will perform strange rituals and ceremonies at the guild hall. Scribes are seen walking outside at regular intervals throughout day and night holding up a lit lantern to declare "this we call home" or "this is our place." At times a slow drum beat or gong can be heard inside the guild.
Isle of Kasau Chapter