Rebecca is going to Lunabella! It's weird but she wants to see cool things and be better-traveled and maybe it's less weird if you see it in practice, a lot of people do reportedly like it there. And it's safe just to visit, it's not like she's going to be swept up by a slave caravan as soon as she bounces onto the moon. So this she does, hopping out of the portal network, silk witch robes whispering against her skin and lovingly-conditioned hair tightening its curls in the light gravity.
"Probably not, but I want to know what one is!"
"Oh! A matron is the head of a Lunabellan household. If you want to become a Lunabellan citizen, and you can't create and defend your own personal domain, you'll want to become a client of a matron. A matron must protect her clients, and typically also provides them with food, shelter, and various opportunities for development. In return, a client provides assistance to her matron, helps to maintain her matron's good name through upstanding conduct, and often has other obligations. I matchmake for both indentures and non-indentures. Typically, an indenture gains assistance with immortality, expensive training, or other significantly valuable aid which improves her long-term prospects, and cannot subsequently leave her household without acquiring debt she is bound to pay off. A non-indenture, on the other hand, can leave at almost any time."
"This is the moon slavery thing, isn't it."
"But you make it sound more like being, I don't know, somebody's au pair or something?"
"Also yes. The typical new client is a Neutral witch getting an indenture which will require labor from her, typically on threat of geas or pain, and burden her with debt she's similarly compelled to pay if she leaves. Calling this system slavery is thus basically reasonable. However, Lunabella tries to promote humane arrangements within that system. Additionally, clients with less burdensome agreements aren't rare. Even matrons have their own matrons, all the way up to the King."
"I heard about that part but I don't think a constitution of laws can really, like, boss you around."
"It's a Covenant, it actually can force him to take actions."
"I guess... and people come to you to find owners they like the sound of?"
"Basically! They tell me about their skills, themselves, what they want in a matron, and I set them up with interviews."
"What do people want in a 'matron' besides, like, not being awful to them?"
"Quiet household. Household that's a good place to practice guitar. Lots of parties and social introductions for getting properly established in Lunabellan society. Training in an art from a mistress of it." A glance towards the second poster. "Some specific kinds of awfulness, actually. A hands-off attitude with few social expectations. It varies."
"How many layers deep is it, like, there's the king, how many people does he directly own and how many steps down from there?"
"You know, I'm not sure? The king has a few thousand, which is a lot, but he's in a lot of places at once so it works for him. My matron is Clothildis, and her matron is Marpessa, and Marpessa's matron is the King, but I don't know how typical I am."
"What about like, your friends, do you know how many layers they are? If you matched me with someone right now - don't, I go to Arcadia and I don't wanna, but if you did, how many layers'd that be?"
"Varying between 2 to 4*, I'd say? I don't think being closer to the king matters much. He's in a lot of places, if someone has a good reason to try to get his attention she can generally manage sooner or later."
* Number is guesstimated and may be subject to change.
"Is that a wild magic? The being in lot of places."
"Probably? I've never heard of anyone else with it."
"Yeah, I'd remember if I got that option... How long do people usually belong to a particular person?"
"For an immortality, we're generally looking at a few centuries, though in this modern era the king has been pushing for ease of swapping households in the event of compatibility issues. For cases that aren't indentures, it's generally a few agreements for a year and a day, then probably something indefinite with notice-requiring exit clauses on both sides."
"What happens if someone's contract just... expires, are they like, not a citizen anymore then or something?"
"Yes, but she could still stay in the cities like you're doing now unless the cities didn't want her, and if she wanted to build herself a domain out on the lunar surface probably nobody would stop her."
"So it's not actually true that everyone on Lunabella is a slave."
"You should know it can't be true. Here you are right now with no Covenants."
"I mean, like, people who live here, I'm just a tourist."