WARNING: Other players should not read this until Chapter 1 is complete.
Awed, Kebrin slowed and then stopped – annoyingly blocking traffic – as he first stepped inside Harper Hall.
He had never seen anything like it before.
He knew next to nothing about stonework, but still guessed that the evenness and fitting of the masonry, and especially the masterful carvings, represented both incredible talent and a staggering amount of work.
It was even more well-crafted and ornate than what little he had seen of Fort Hold, and made him uncomfortably self-conscious of his rough-hewn home of Ista Weyr for the first time in his life.
Already feeling more than a little overwhelmed, Kebrin eventually somehow found the focus to make it as far as the main courtyard before his will faltered again.
He had never seen so many people in one place in his entire life.
He didn’t realize he had stopped moving again until someone nudged him out of the way.
Barely aware of his majestic surroundings, he found an out-of-the-way place, probably his back to a huge support pillar or wall, to take it all in.
A natural-born storyteller, all of the differences in appearance, speech and clothing hinted at something that absolutely fascinated him: experiences, stories, songs completely unlike his own, completely new.
He stood there for a long time watching, wondering, dreaming of other lives in other places.
Tumar found him, disoriented and more than a little dream-like, a few minutes later.
Kebrin was pitifully grateful for the friendly smile, and for something smaller, more tangible, to grasp onto than the overwhelming presence of Harper Hall.
Focusing on conversation with the older student did him a world of good, and he was mostly recovered by the time they reached Steward Marlen.
Kebrin tried to act very respectful and mature while interacting with the Steward, and probably came across as a little stiff or even frightened – both of which were also true.
Steward Marlen was the first “real” representative of Harper Hall that the young man had ever met, and he desperately wanted to make a good impression.
If the Steward seemed receptive to conversation, he tried to explain, “Yes, Garoway’s been teaching me for the last few Turns. Do you know each other?”
Making a conscious effort to remember his training, he actively studied the map of the hall for at least a few minutes – unless the Steward obviously objected – before he left in search of Gannon dorm.
He took it as a good sign when he found Gannon dorm easily enough, but was a little put off by having the door closed in his face.
He nodded in response to Baylen’s question, “Yeah, looks like it. I’m Kebrin. Got here less than an hour ago. Good to meet you.” He then extended his hand in an offer to shake.
He was sorely tempted to be petulant right back at Dainen, but told himself that he was too old for such things – and that he was going to have to live with these other boys for months if not Turns to come.
Trying to put himself in Dainen’s shoes and sympathize with what he was feeling, “I’m Kebrin. I imagine you’re not too keen on having to share a room, but I promise I’ll try not to be too awful.”
He then flashed one of the wide all-too-white smiles that came easily to him and offered the younger boy his hand, “Roommates?”
He tried to absorb and remember as much of the tour of their rooms and then Harper Hall as he could, but gradually found himself overwhelmed – not by the geography or the size – those were familiar enough – but by the architecture, the people, and the sense of time and history and tradition that were as much a part of this place as the stones it had been carved from.
Roused from his state of dreamlike awe by Baylen’s emotion, he asked as they stood at the recital hall doors, “What do you mean?”
Kebrin had spent his last month at Ista Weyr studying and learning as much as he could, but that was for the honor of Ista Weyr.
This was the first time he’d really faced the prospect of being formally judged – and probably even graded – on his musical skills and the thought was very sobering, bordering on frightening.
Kebrin had grown up in a half-empty Weyr staffed with people he had literally spent his entire life around.
He wasn’t friends with every single one, but he at least knew their name – and was confident that they knew his.
The seemingly constant ebb and flow of people – all complete strangers – was unnerving and exciting to him at the same time.
He was more than a little worried about how he’d deal with the general lack of privacy, but told himself that he’d just have to find a way.
Eventually, Baylen had to excuse himself or face an instructor’s wrath for being even later than usual. Kebrin was a little startled to find himself alone in this imposing place again, but then he remembered Tumar’s offer of advice – or maybe Toben had made it back to their own dorm by now. He secretly took pride and a little comfort in the fact that he was again able to navigate his way from the Commons back to Gannon dorm without getting lost.
Kebrin had really only recently started taking an interest in girls in the last few months, so he blushed furiously at Tumar’s comment.
He stumbled awkwardly over his first words, but finally managed to spit out with surprising coherence, “We only have two firelizards at Ista Weyr, but I’ve never heard them sing with Senior Journeyman Garoway, or me, or anyone before.”
He paused and then added very quietly, a hesitant intimate whisper, “The girl’s absolutely gorgeous. The way the sunlight falls makes it look like she has morning dawn trapped in her hair.”
He had subconsciously fit together bits and pieces of the many books he’d read during his many lonely days in Ista Weyr, and completely naive to just how much trouble his tongue could get him into and out of with words like that.