Kebrin: Chapter 1, Episode 3.4 – Accidental Zealots

One career ends while another comes into bloom…

The next several days were quiet at Taskin dorm.  Kailas was seldom seen.  Rumor had it that he was spending time with Nissa outside of the Hall, and that he elected to take corporal punishment instead of increased duties to make sure he wasn’t busy.  Before long, Nissa would be leaving the Hall with other students who were flunking or dropping out.  Sympathy for her improved when people realized that she hadn’t been using Kailas to further her career, only to stay with him.

The day after Nissa left, things took a turn for the worse.  Kailas somehow came to the conclusion that Alwyn had reported him for cheating.  Whenever his roommate arrived at the dorm, Kailas was waiting for him in the common room, ready to play a scathing, satirical tune on a small Apprentice lute.

“His ambitions to go on stage,
On this he really has got ‘em ,
In pantomime he’s all the rage,
He’s the hole in the troglobite’s bottom…”

It didn’t take long for Alwyn to protest to the delegate.  Kailas was given ten days to find somewhere else to stay.  He found a bunk at a cot near the Hold.  On his last day at Taskin, Kailas looked like a young renegade.  His clothes were unkempt, his hair was wild, and his eyes were darkened by bitterness and lack of sleep.  With his few possessions packed in a brown duffel bag, he serenaded Alwyn one last time, standing beneath his window.

“Have a good life and die,
I hope it hurts so much it makes you cry,
I hope it’s torturous and slow,
I hope you know you’re gonna go,
Have a good life and die.”

Kebrin and his friends lost track of Kailas after that day.  They caught glimpses of him around the Hall during class hours but he no longer participated in ensembles or social events.  Everyone assumed that he would fail and be forced to go home at the end of the semester.

[Skill check: Savoir Faire (Hall) 12, rolled 10.]

Kebrin did catch a rumor that Master Luella, the eccentric, elderly acting instructor was paying for Kailas’ bunk at the cot.

At the end of the semester, Kebrin was invited to perform with a group of Journeymen at the upcoming Autumn Gather.  A member of their ensemble was out with tendinitis and there weren’t many students who could play a large-bodied, ten course lute with enough power for continuo.

Master Salinda had been training him on a beautiful instrument with a body of deep, reddish-brown ash, it’s speckled grain polished to a mirror-like finish.   The neck was brown oak, the fingerboard was golden boxwood, and the pegs were alternating red and black.  It had been in her family for generations.

All of the Journeyman ensembles that performed regularly had names.  Some of them were rustic, like “Blackberry Wine” and “The Little Birds”.  Most of them were humorous — “Quartermark Quartet”, “Compulsive Lyres” and “The Rolling Kegs” among the most popular.  Kebrin’s new group called themselves the “Stumpthumpers” and they were aptly named, being heavy on percussion instruments.

The Stumpthumpers rewarded Kebrin for being a dependable, talented member of their ensemble by allowing him to choose one of the songs and invite Eurielle to accompany them on harp.  Although she was more than skilled enough to join her own ensemble, she seldom performed at Gathers.  The song he chose was near to Kebrin’s heart, so she agreed to play for him.

Halfway through the set, it was time to give the dancers a break from upbeat music with something slow that romantic couples could enjoy.  Kebrin and Eurielle took center stage, with two Stumpthumpers on bowed rebecs for backup.  The crowd fell silent.  After a graceful harp introduction, Kebrin started to sing.

MUSIC: Last Sweet Day

This morning early I walked on
While my dragon was in a dream
The last sweet days of summer bloomed
And cloaked the trees in green
Then rising high in the gleaming sky
Between the stones we set
Came a fearsome gray from so far away
And the Red Star’s ancient threat

So I called my men to follow me
Knowing well that the view was dim
Though tired and worn, our Weyrmen they fought all morn
As Thread was closing in
And my heart was heavy though full of pride
For brave lads all were they
As the dragons fly, how they climbed so high
At the dawning of the day

But the edge was moving faster still
All silvery in the sun
Their unyielding hearts calling out to us
My riders, one by one
Escaped their scores in the endless cold
Returning to the Fall
Flaming dragons dove and the ashes burned
Above Weyr and Hold and Hall

Forgive me my love, I’m going now
To join my men between
When bronze dragons fly, you’ll feel me near
And hear me in their keen
There’s no need to grieve us when we are gone
We live in memory
‘Til the Red Star’s end and we meet again
Far beyond the western sea

This morning early I walked on
While my dragon was in a dream
The last sweet days of summer bloomed
And cloaked the trees in green

‘Til the Red Star’s end and we meet again
Far beyond the western sea

As the song drew to  close, Kebrin allowed himself to look at the crowd and gauge their reaction.  No one was dancing.  Everyone stared at him with eyes full of sorrow, completely transfixed.  Some of the women were openly weeping and their men were holding them tight.

He looked back at his band mates to see what they thought — they were clearly emotionally shaken.  The leader came forward, patted Kebrin on the shoulder, and whispered, “Well done.”  He decided to end the set early.

One of the drummers suddenly remembered to take the tip jar to the front of the stage as the next ensemble tried to gather themselves enough to perform.

Kebrin and his friends packed their instruments and walked off stage.  As the lead drummer returned with the tip jar, their mood brightened considerably.  It was a generous take, the best they had ever seen.

“Let’s celebrate!” one of them suggested and the rest quickly agreed.

Eurielle gave Kebrin a long, passionate kiss, looked him in the eyes and smiled.  “That was beautiful,” she complimented him.  “Find me at my dorm later tonight?”  She winked at his band mates who were making silly sounds and walked away.  Kebrin guessed that she would return later, without a bulky and valuable instrument in tow.

Kebrin’s friends were in a particularly good mood and the conversation was boisterous.  They had never seen a crowd overwhelmed like that before and were proud of their performance.  Some of them wondered openly if they should switch to playing ballads.

After the first round of ale was finished, Kebrin noticed Toria standing a short distance away, trying to catch his eye.

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