Chapter One Master Sef stretched the wet woolen cloth to its full extent. He walked his fist, thumb and little finger spread wide, across the fabric from one selvage to the other, measuring its width. “It’s coming along well. Give it another five hundred strokes, lad, then come fetch me.” He scowled at Josiah. “And mind you don’t go off into one of your dreaming fits. There’s a representative of the Wizards’ Guild coming to check on their order, and we need to show him our best work—not cloth beat full of holes because a lazy apprentice couldn’t keep his mind on his task.” “Yes, Master Sef.” Josiah gathered the loose end of the bolt of cloth and returned it to its place, bunched in even folds against the back of the long, low box. When he moved clear, Master Sef scowled at him for a moment, then pulled the lever that set the fulling mill in motion. With a creaking groan the gears engaged, and the six stocks began to move. The heavy wooden heads crept back and swept down. They slammed into the folds of wet wool, sending spray flying. The mill beat the newly woven cloth rhythmically, binding the loose threads together, shrinking and thickening the web into a dense, warm fabric. With a pointed look at Josiah, Master Sef left the room. Josiah grabbed a bucket and went to the open arch to dip it in the millrace, just below where the great water wheel turned… Read the full article.