Toria: Chapter 1, Episode 3.5 – The Near Horizon

WARNING: Other players should not read this until Chapter 1 is complete.

Toria felt like she was seeing everything through new eyes in the days after her experience with the holdless people of Spearstone. She realized anew how little she knew about the world she lived in. As a result of her time in Spearstone, she was made acutely aware of  how random and unfair life could be and privately vowed that if she was in a position to help those less fortunate, like the holdless, she would. She was also starting to feel a desire to see more of Pern. Runa calling her a ‘holdbound milksop’ had been meant as a cruel taunt, but was not entirely without truth. There was so much to see, so many people to meet, and she had only glimpsed a tiny fraction of it.

She wrote letters to her parents, asking after her brothers and updating them on what she was doing, minus the events at Spearstone. She didn’t want to worry them and really, it had turned out all right in the end. She also thanked them for sending her to Katz Field because without that, she wouldn’t be attending Healer Hall. She also wrote to Dylan, being a bit more honest about her encounter with the holdless, but glossing over some details. She told him she had run into them while out picking herbs and once she got to talking with them, realized that things weren’t always what they seemed. She asked about the latest gossip he’d heard in the Drumheights and what he was up to.

In a letter she wrote to Master Valora, she asked how she could help the holdless she had seen around Fort Hold – not a lie, technically. If they were sick or injured, what could be done to help them if she were so inclined? Surely her mentor would have some advice or ideas. It seemed to her like there was only so much she could do as an apprentice, but it did get decidedly cold in this part of the world and she knew how to crochet.

It didn’t take Toria too long to learn how to make blankets – it was a fairly uncomplicated pattern, it just took a lot of yarn and time. Crocheting was a hobby she had grown to like, because it was soothing, made useful things and could be done anywhere. She knew how to make scarves and hats, and wanted to learn how to make mittens or finger-less gloves next. She had had been able to earn some Marks over time by selling her wares to those in the Halls, and even did some decent business at the Gathers. Knowing Winter was around the corner, she worked in her spare time to make Turnover gifts for people around the Hall and whatever she could for the folks of Spearstone for their own Turnover gifts. She ended up leaving a blanket and a couple of scarves and hats in the cave a few days before Turnover with a note that said, “Happy Turnover, from T.”

Something else came out of her time at Spearstone – Toria had a desire to learn some self-defense and how to properly use her dagger. Nothing too involved, she didn’t have much time for that, but enough that should something unexpected happen when she’s out picking herbs, traveling to a Hold she’s posted at or the like, she wouldn’t be helpless. She asked one or two of her dormmates, but she just got confused looks and questions of “Why would you want to learn how to stab someone?” She resolved to seek out Kebrin when she had time. He had grown up in a Weyr, she knew, and might be able to help her out. But Toria got busy with exams, then there was a difficult class on diseases and before long, it was quite far down on her list of priorities.

After a more normal Winter, as opposed to the early Winter of her first Turn at Fort Hold, Spring came to the area and Toria was glad she could once again go outside without freezing. Free time was beginning to be in short supply as she got closer and closer to finishing her second Turn at Healer Hall. She did, however, make sure to carve out some time to look for firelizards. Even that was combined with studying for exams while taking breaks on the hunt. There was a fire lit under her to be the best healer she could, so she could go out and make a difference in the world.

In the weeks leading up to finals that would signal the end of her second Turn at the Hall, some of her classmates started to talk about what they might specialize in, if they wanted to be permanently posted somewhere or if they wanted something else out of their careers. When more than one speculated around which Master might scoop her up after eventual promotion to Journeyman, Toria started to think about what she wanted to do.

She knew many stayed at the Senior Journeyman rank and got postings at various Holds, and knew at least a little about a lot, so they could treat all sorts of maladies. She could do that. It would be noble, fulfilling work. If she didn’t accept a permanent posting, she could potentially see a number of different Holds, which sounded exciting to the young healer. Others specialized in certain fields, like Surgery or Diseases, and depending on their talent, even more travel was involved. That appealed to the part of Toria that wanted to see more of Pern. She decided to seek Master Valora’s counsel in her next letter.

The morning of the commencement dinner, Toria was glad she had managed to buy a dress – her first one! – and sandals. She wasn’t supremely image conscious, but if she was promoted, she didn’t want to be walking the tables wearing her everyday clothes in front of the whole Hall! It was hard not to have what felt like a whole gaggle of firelizards flying around in her stomach. It had been an eventful past few days, with her doing very well on her exams and  having to say goodbye to some classmates who hadn’t. One of them was a boy in her study group who tried hard, but couldn’t handle the stresses of Healer Hall and was branded as a Status: Dramaticus case by others as a result. Toria had told him to ignore them and focus on his studies, but he let it all get to him in the end.

By the time Toria was walking in the main hall to where the Junior Apprentices sat, she was excited and nervous. She sat down next to her dormmates, smiling at Sersha when she spotted her sitting with the other Senior Apprentices. She was finishing up her meal when Keeva quietly told her she was leaving for Beastmasterhold. Toria was sad for a moment, but happy that she was going to be able to follow her dreams and care for animals. She gladly told the girl her experiences on the other side of Keroon Bay, how the weather there is quite different from where Keeva had grown up in nearby Peyton, and the kind of animals her family had raised at the cothold.

Eventually, Masterhealer Folant began speaking and the gaggle of firelizards were suddenly back in Toria’s stomach. She was so worked up, she missed some of the beginning of his speech, but managed to refocus her attention and clap as he sent Journeymen to their various postings. That could be her, one day. She clapped at the promotions until, before she knew it, he was down to the Junior Apprentices. Roshena, Madi, then Bevina all were called to walk to the tables. Suddenly, she heard Masterhealer Folant say her name! She’d done it, she was being promoted! She got up with a grin on her face, looking back to Nabella and Fiadi to mouth “Good luck!” at them, and then she was walking towards the Senior Apprentice tables in front of all her peers.

Toria stayed up late into the evening, celebrating with her fellow dormmates. She managed to sleep until the middle of the next day and woke up with a smile on her face. Looking around the room that had been hers for two Turns, she began to pick up items carelessly strewn about and organizing in preparation for moving to the Senior Apprentice dorms. When she saw Nabella and Fiadi later that day, she told them that they shouldn’t give up, but use being passed over for promotion as motivation. She knew they were smart and could succeed if they stuck with it… or at least know they gave it their best.

Life as a Senior Apprentice kept Toria fairly busy. Spring turned to Summer, which turned to Autumn, all in what felt like the blink of an eye. In addition to the changes Toria expected with her promotion, there were other changes happening as she became a young woman. Her flow had started, and body had been growing and developing to the point that boys were beginning to take notice of her… and she was noticing them back. All that plus the demands of classes made for some stressful times.

She was glad, then, when it came time for the Autumn Gather. She could enjoy a few fun days, seeing what new wares were available and spending time unwinding with her friends. She was hoping she would see Kebrin there so she could ask him if he, or someone he knew, could give her some self-defense and knife lessons. She also had a care package ready for the people of Spearstone that she hoped to give them at the Gather if she saw anyone she recognized, but failing that she would leave it in the cave. Tomorrow would be a great day!

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