So you want to join the International Brotherhood of Couriers?

Many people find that service to the fairies and their knights is a rewarding lifestyle, with or without full membership. This pamphlet will introduce you to the forms of membership and the meanings of the two sets of oaths.

What is a courier?

The term "courier" refers to the men who carry messages for the fairies. Properly, it would apply only to combatant-sworn men who are employed by fairies. However, the word is also used to refer to any member of the IBC. Here are the specifc kinds of couriers:

Temporary consultants are not union members, but are entitled to partial benefits. They may leave at any time, but must agree to either enforced secrecy or a partial memory distortion to protect the union at the time of their withdrawal from courier employment. A temp is entitled to room, board, health care, and protection during employment, and to petition to a chapter chair in case of contract breach. A temp's duties are negotiated with his chapter. Temps may not vote in chapter elections or hold union office. Temps may not be chairs of chapters. Anyone who is old enough to sign a contract and negotiate terms for his labor may become a temp. Usually no human under ten years of age may become a temp.

Auxiliary members or "non-combatants" serve in support roles throughout the union. Many support casters, nurses, and housewives take the non-combatant oaths, as do men who do not wish to be considered for liege oaths or active service. They are full members of the union and are entitled to full benefits, including room, board, health care, and protection (whether they are able to work or not). In addition, auxiliary members are entitled to protection of honor by active members. Auxiliary members may hold office and are entitled to vote in chapter elections. Anyone may take the auxiliary oath, but human males should usually take the combatant oath in case they are needed for courier duty.

Active members or "combatants" serve the fairies directly. They are the backbone of the union. Their work is the most dangerous and their training is the most difficult. They carry messages for the fairies and defend each other and the rest of the union from monsters and from other fairies. Most active members are liegesworn, that is, knights in the service of a particular fairy and his court. Only active members may become knights. However, some active members are never invited to take oath to a fairy. Active members may hold any union office, may be chapter chairs, and are entitled to vote in chapter elections. Any human male may take the combatant oath, regardless of age.

>Who swears these oaths?

-No one may be coerced, or even asked, to take a union membership oath.

-Anyone who wants to swear the oath, may, unless it can be proved that he is unsuitable for his chosen position.

-Seventy percent of active members swear their oaths before the age of ten.

-Most auxiliary members swear their oaths between the ages of 13 and 20.

-An estimated sixty percent of quarter-fairies and over ninety percent of other known part-fairies have sworn the auxiliary oath.

-Eighty-three percent of wives of active members have sworn the auxiliary oath.

What do the oaths mean?

The combatant oaths were written in 1557 (and the auxiliary oaths in 1562) by the Four Founders, and have remained substantially unchanged since then. They are the entire legal code of the union. The 1662 work Centennial Commentary in the Voice of the Founders remains the authoritative guide to interpretation of the oaths. It is often attributed to Michel de la Couronne, who is also sometimes listed as one of the Four, but this attribution is contested.

The auxiliary oaths:

I will not charm, force, or ask anyone to take the sacred oaths of the courier brotherhood.

All courier members join of their own free will. Because of the pressure even a simple request can put on someone to join, and because of the difficulty of verifying charm use after the fact, it is strictly prohibited to even so much as suggest that someone might like to formally join. Each member must ask to take the oath. Having received this pamphlet, you have presumably asked about your choices. Be careful when talking about the oaths in front of non-members. It is usually best never to discuss full membership at all.

I will not take the life of any union member, or deny him the means to continue his life if I may provide them.

This oath does not mean that one must feed another union member at one's own expense. (After all, the obligation would be reciprocal!) However, some couriers have historically used this oath to justify self-sacrifice. The union does not practice capital punishment under any circumstance. The worst crimes (including murder) are punished by incapacitation in some form, usually imprisonment or charm. This oath acts as a significant protection for couriers during inter-fae wars. Without it, fairies have their men kill their enemies' couriers. Forced violations of this oath are the most common cause of union strikes.

I will not place myself in a position of authority over people who are not union members, to become their ruler or to disrupt their self-governance.

The fairy enhancements, along with the casting instruction some fairies give, make couriers and the union capable of exerting considerable clout in the "real" world. The business of the union is carrying messages for the fairies, not governing other people. If the union ever did gain political power, it would be all too easy for the fairies to enslave the whole world. This oath is the least strictly enforced, but union members may not hold any government office or participate in their country's rulership beyond voting in general elections or writing letters to officials, and magic may never be used to intervene in real-world politics.

I will not bear messages for fairies or accept possession by fairies.

Fairies must use messengers to move or interact outside their dream worlds. Non-combatants are permitted to work for fairies within their dreams, but not to facilitate fairy politics or conquest.

I will bend my labor to the support of the union and its knights. Its fruits will be shared among them as a mother shares with her children.

Members are allowed to work outside the union, but it is expected that their primary function is the support of active couriers. All members are entitled to have their basic needs met by the union, but in exchange they are expected to contribute to meeting the needs of others.

I will make known my discovery of any man's bearing a message or accepting possession, who is not a courier of the brotherhood.

Unauthorized employment by fairies is now very rare, because almost all fey know of and fear union strikes. However, it is by no means impossible that an auxiliary member might come across evidence of such a transgression.

The combatant oaths:

I will not charm, force, or ask anyone to take the sacred oaths of the courier brotherhood.

I will not take the life of any union member, or deny him the means to continue his life if I may provide them.

I will not place myself in a position of authority over people who are not union members, to become their ruler or to disrupt their self-governance.

These oaths are the same in the auxiliary and combatant sets.

I will not bear a message for a fairy, or accept possession by a fairy, without due compensation and the authorization of the brotherhood.

This oath is the center of what it means to be a union courier. It allows the union to effectively organize strikes and slowdowns.

I will negotiate with the fairies for the terms of my compensation only with the knowledge and cooperation of my brothers. I shall hold such compensation as a common good, to be distributed where it is needed.

Only the swearing of this oath makes it possible for a fairy to enchant one man in exchange for another's service.

I will defend with my life the lives and honor of all my brothers.

Since it is impossible for two men to die defending each other, this oath mainly applies to knights defending auxiliary members. However, every combatant must also defend the good name of the union (and usually defends the good name of his kingdom and chapter as well).

I will prevent to the best of my ability the carrying of messages for or acceptance of possession by fairies, by anyone who is not an authorized courier of the brotherhood.

It is expected that knights will be able to do something about unauthorized messages. Although the ties between couriers are strong, especially within chapters, it is also expected that they will check up on each other to prevent side jobs.

How do I swear the oaths?

To be formally accepted as a union member, you must pronounce the oaths out loud in a language you speak fluently, and at least two members must stand as witnesses. Only active members may act as witnesses for combatant oaths, but both active and auxiliary members may witness auxiliary oaths. One of the witnesses must agree to be your sponsor, and he will take responsibility for announcing your membership, with the other as an alternate. In the (nowadays fortunately rare) event that both your witnesses die before they can testify, most chapters have access to magical means of verifying the validity of oaths, or you may be asked to repeat your oaths before an assembly. Remember, you do not have to join the union! For many people, the responsibilities and risks of full membership outweigh the benefits. Brotherhood membership is as serious a commitment as marriage, and should be undertaken with similar deliberation. However, because it functions as a family and a home, the IBC is a rewarding place to live and work. Welcome!

 

 

The auxiliary oaths:

I will not charm, force, or ask anyone to take the sacred oaths of the courier brotherhood.

I will not take the life of any union member, or deny him the means to continue his life if I may provide them.

I will not place myself in a position of authority over people who are not union members, to become their ruler or to disrupt their self-governance.

I will not bear messages for fairies or accept possession by fairies.

I will bend my labor to the support of the union and its knights. Its fruits will be shared among them as a mother shares with her children.

I will make known my discovery of any man's bearing a message or accepting possession, who is not a courier of the brotherhood.

 

The combatant oaths:

I will not charm, force, or ask anyone to take the sacred oaths of the courier brotherhood.

I will not take the life of any union member, or deny him the means to continue his life if I may provide them.

I will not place myself in a position of authority over people who are not union members, to become their ruler or to disrupt their self-governance.

I will not bear a message for a fairy, or accept possession by a fairy, without due compensation and the authorization of the brotherhood.

I will negotiate with the fairies for the terms of my compensation only with the knowledge and cooperation of my brothers. I shall hold such compensation as a common good, to be distributed where it is needed.

I will defend with my life the lives and honor of all my brothers.

I will prevent to the best of my ability the carrying of messages for or acceptance of possession by fairies, by anyone who is not an authorized courier of the brotherhood.

 


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