WARNING: Other players should not read this until Chapter 1 is complete.
Toria came to a few conclusions after a few months in Healer Hall.
One was that some girls could be quite… mean for the most random of reasons. In the third week of anatomy classes, she raised her hand to answer a question from the Master about the lungs of a sheep they were examining. She knew the answer largely due to her experiences at her family’s cothold and was proud she could provide the answer he was looking for. She later overheard two other Apprentices mocking her eagerness while also imitating her accent, so Toria could have no doubt who they were talking about. How could answering the question a Master asked in a lecture be a thing worthy of scorn?
Another conclusion was that she had been quite sheltered for her first eleven Turns. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it meant that when her dorm mates or fellow Apprentices made references to places or events around Pern, she was often in the dark. She learned quickly to not let on that she didn’t know something after being mocked for her ignorance a time or two. She would simply ask one of her dorm mates in private later to clarify.
During one of their regular study sessions, Sylvie made a reference to looking forward to the Autumn Gather at Fort Hold during one of their study sessions and Toria looked blankly at her for a moment. Sylvie was startled at first, but then got a look of understanding on her face and quickly explained what they were and why it was quite the event to go to. There would be so many people visiting from all over selling interesting things, Harpers singing the latest songs from Harper Hall, a big feast… she could see how that would be fun. Maybe she would see Kebrin there!
Toria also came to realize that she had an easier time memorizing all the various facts and lessons being thrown her way at breakneck speed than many of her fellow Apprentices. She still had to work at understanding the new information, but it certainly helped Toria stay afloat those first overwhelming months.
Sylvie complained to her more than once that it was hard to keep track of which herb did what in combination with other herbs, and how much of what elixir to apply if certain conditions were met but not if other conditions were present. Toria could just bring the information up with some concentration. She kept that to herself, not wanting to draw unnecessary attention, and tried to help Sylvie come up with tricks to help her remember – a silly rhyme with the information she was trying to remember or some such thing.
Toria was surprised that she found her Ethics class as hard as she did. Of all the classes she was taking, that was the one that stumped her the most. Having to adjust her attitude from “You heal everyone, always!” to “Sometimes, it’s the kinder thing to let someone die” or “You only have so much medicine and a hard winter is coming, so if someone is quite elderly or hurt bad enough they probably won’t recover, you have to save the medicine for someone who actually stands a chance of recovering” was taking her some time. She understood it on a coldly practical level, but her heart was taking more time coming around.
Aside from Sylvie, Toria found herself gravitating towards Madi, Sersha, and Roshena, a fellow Istan. She never forgot how a small gesture of kindness from the former two had helped her feel welcome at a time when her world had been upended.
[Attribute check: Per 10, rolled 12.]
Were she more mature, Toria might have realized how Roshena was slightly annoyed by her hanging around. The girl was never outright mean to her, but she would make her excuses to leave as soon as she could. She had a gaggle of girls she often spent time with, gossiping over what boy had captured someone’s attention and fussing over their appearance. She even overheard them mocking Sylvie’s plain looks, which left her feeling hurt on behalf of her friend. Toria couldn’t relate at all to them and eventually she stopped seeking out Roshena.
Before she knew it, it was Autumn and her first semester at Healer Hall was almost over. Stress levels were high due to the impending exams. When she found a distraught Sylvie in the water room, it was far from the first time she had seen an outburst of some kind. She herself had spend many a late night studying by the light of glows in her room.
“Oh Sylvie, don’t cry!” Toria moved to comfort her study partner with a hug. “Everybody is worried right now. I’m worried about letting down everyone back home, too. C’mon, let’s go get some snacks from the Main Hall kitchen and we can study in my room. I’ll help you with the memorizing! I know someone in Harper Hall. If I have to, I’ll see if he can help make up a quick song to help with the hardest stuff.”
Sylvie sniffled a few more times and nodded. “I’m just so scared I’m not smart enough to pass the clinical exams in the spring. I’m barely keeping up now! They’ll send me home for sure!”
Toria nodded. “But that’s months and months from now! We’re just learning so much and it’s really overwhelming. I feel plenty stupid sometimes… I’m sure everybody does. You can study hard and be ready by the time we take the clinical exams. Don’t give up so soon! We can help each other get through these exams this semester and then have fun at the Gather when it’s time. That’ll be something to look forward to!”
She got up and grinned. “The cooks are supposed to be making those sweet rolls we like as a treat for the students all week. Let’s see if they have them!”