The conflict between Tanivel’s parents finally comes to a head…
Music: The Hephastus
Colbar made several new friends after the confrontation on the beach. They respected him for his grit, and for not being a tattle-tale even when he was seriously injured. Sadly, the Healer told him that he wouldn’t be able to participate in wrestling for eight weeks, nor would he be recovered enough for competitive sport at the Autumn Gather. He tried to be cheerful about it, promising to attend and root for Tanivel.
Sonda, Tanivel’s mother, took it upon herself to protect her child from such injuries by making him an assistant poulter.
At false dawn, Tanivel woke up to eat a quick plate of fried egg, fruit, and bread. Sonda would go over the day’s chores while he ate. Half an hour later, it was time to clean the hutches, cages, and coops. It was a lot more work than most people realized and Tanivel was always drenched in sweat by the time it was done.
Just after dawn, Tanivel had to hurry down to the bathing pools, clean up, dress in fresh clothes, and make his way to class. He could rest for two hours while studying under the Harper with other children his age. Most children attended school for half days, but Sonda had opted to put Tanivel on the laborer’s schedule.
As soon as class was finished, the chicks needed cleaning and fresh bedding. Before lunch, the birds also needed food and fresh water. After a few scant minutes for a handful of meatrolls, it was time to check on the health of the birds, sell produce, collect eggs, gather tomorrow’s materials, and do the necessary record keeping.
Tanivel rarely had free time to spend with his friends before sundown. Maletin tried several times to convince Sonda to “take the yoke off our boy”, but he just didn’t have the stamina to persist through the inevitable outburst that followed.
The unbearably hot days of Summer gave way to frequent rainstorms as Autumn arrived. Fewer ships came into port, preferring to wait out the most dangerous season when severe thunderstorms could rend the sky with little warning.
One evening, while Sonda was off trading livestock with a fellow poulter, Miner Master Gronaden arrived to speak with Maletin. Gronaden was a lean man in his mid-forties, with impressively muscular arms, dark hair, a thick circle-cut beard, and a pungent odor that Tanivel had come to expect from dolomite miners.
The two men sat down at the scarred, round table and shared a small bottle of stout. Tanivel was able to find a place to hide nearby where he could make out much of the conversation.
“This has gone on long enough. Too long, if you ask me. I’ve made up my mind to send this to Masterminerhold. I’m asking Magnus to accept Tanivel as a new student. One of the Masters there would take him as an apprentice,” Gronaden announced with a determined tone.
“Great shells and stars! Sonda won’t have it,” Maletin sputtered, sounding alarmed. “She has the temper of a young mountain and Tani’s her only child.”
“I’ll give you Bitran odds we can send him. You and I’ll petition Miklos. With his approval, it doesn’t matter what she wants. She can blow like a gale but your boy will have a future,” Gronaden explained.
There was a long, silent pause. Masterminerhold, despite the name, was actually a craft Hall, the post prestigious place on Pern to study mining, stonesmithing, masonry, and all of the trade skills that Tanivel enjoyed most.
“No,” Maletin said with finality. “My boy’s no good at math. Now he’s not in proper classes, he’s fallen behind. He’ll end up a miner instead of a mason. He’d die young, buried underground or dead from toxin. For foul or fair, he’s a poulter.”
Tanivel heard something thump the table hard enough to knock the bottle of stout onto the floor.
“By the Void that spawned us!” Gronaden nearly shouted. He cut himself short and took a deep breath. “The sea breeds stubborn souls,” he continued, twisting a common proverb, “Let me think.”
Tanivel could hear the men pick up the bottle, clean up the spill, and drink what was left.
“Alright, here’s what we do,” Gronaden began. “We petition the Holder to send Tanivel to my brother, Borgen, at Keroon. He’s a Master, he can take an apprentice directly, make sure your boy doesn’t end up mining tin or cinnabar. Keroon’s a major Hold, it has more outbuildings than anywhere else… for the herds.”
When Tanivel’s father didn’t answer promptly, Gronaden thumped the table again, a bit more gently. “Mal! This is your boy’s best chance, surely you see that…”
“Alright, I’ll do, I’ll do,” Maletin interrupted. “We’ll put him on the next trade ship. Blast it, Gron, a bad day at sea’ll be better than a good day at home,” he said with resignation.
“Good man,” Gronaden said, his voice filled with relief, “I’ll talk to Miklos tonight, send a runner tomorrow.”
“Smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors,” Maletin muttered.
After Gronaden left, Maletin paced the small room for some time. Eventually, he called out for Tanivel, sat him down, and gently told him that he would be leaving home.
“I hope you come back some day, when you’re trained proper,” Maletin admitted to his son. “Sea Cliff could use a good mason.”
The next night, a letter from Holder Miklos arrived, demanding Tanivel be sent for training at Keroon Hold. The boy hid in his room while Maletin and Sonda had the most severe argument he had ever heard. She scolded, yelled, threatened, and finally threw housewares at her husband.
“Blast it, woman!” Maletin shouted, coming to the end of his rope. “This isn’t about what you bloody want or how you bloody feel. Tanivel has to come first, our son has to come first. You knew this day was coming and here it is. His ship will be here in a sevenday and come Thread or high water, he’ll be on it.”
Sonda burst into tears and the altercation was over. Tanivel’s mother finally accepted that her boy was leaving home.
The news spread quickly throughout Sea Cliff. Colbar tried to pretend he was happy for Tanivel, but it was obvious to everyone that he would miss his friend deeply. Levon laughed and shook his head, cracking jokes about an Istan in the desert. He made Tanivel promise to ask Master Borgen if he could take two apprentices.
Much of the hold turned out for the farewell dinner, including Holder Miklos and his wife Oswina. They ate red meat, the Harper played, and Tanivel was allowed to drink wine. It was a truly special occasion.
Some people brought small, useful gifts. Beldon gave him a large chisel engraved with his name. Gronaden presented him with a hefty book, “A Mason’s Guide To Stone”. His class teacher and hold Harper, Sorana, gave him a little box with Sea Cliff’s heraldry engraved on the lid, made of Cedar reclaimed from a retired ship. Oswina gave him a new set of fancy clothes, suitable for Gathers at a major Hold. The best gift, however, came from his parents. Maletin opened a leather satchel to reveal a five-pound stone mason’s hammer with rings of knotwork carved into the long handle to form the grip.
The big day finally arrived. Colbar, Levon, and Tanivel stood on a cliff, a strong wind whirling about them. In the distance, they could see a two-masted schooner making its way into the main port. The sails were striped purple and yellow, the colors of Big Bay Hold.
A few hours later, the crew disembarked and Tanivel was standing before Captain Trevion, an imposing man in his mid-forties, along with his parents, Gronaden, and Sorana. They welcomed him to Sea Cliff and invited him to share a meal.
Captain Trevion was a bit short, with dark skin, kinky black hair, a wide nose, and a short boxed beard. He was wearing a walnut brown, double-breasted jacket with brass buttons and gold trim. He didn’t look anything like the fishermen and traders Tanivel had meet before.
Over dinner, Tanivel learned that the ship taking him off the island was the Hephaestus. It was famous, the most respected vessel in all the sea. Nine Turns ago, her crew saved Istans from a Malaria pandemic by sailing to Fort Sea Hold for medicine during a deadly Autumn storm. Usually a schooner could reach fourteen knots, but the Hephaestus survived a twenty knot run.
Tanivel met the ship’s Bosun, a bear of a man named Caddoc. He was in charge of maintenance, rigging, sails, and everything on deck. He would also be in charge of Tanivel during the journey. Caddoc had a visible tattoo — a scroll showing a map of the sea between Igen and Fort Sea Holds, with a compass and the number “15” in fancy script.
Later that day, he also met the cook’s assistant, an industrious, Welsh-looking teen named Padrig. Tanivel would be sleeping in the bunk above him. Padrig was enthusiastic about showing him around, and offered to teach Tanivel a few things about sailing a schooner, if he wanted to lend a hand.
Bright and early the next morning, just after the tide shifted, Tanivel heard the bells ring aboard the Hephastus. His time at Sea Cliff had come to an end.