Kebrin’s career takes an unexpected turn…
On the last day of the Gather, as the sun set early behind the peaks, Kebrin found himself alone. It was an interesting sensation, watching the thinning crowd move through the Square at a relaxed pace, without the raw intensity that had driven them for the past three days.
The vendors gradually packed up their valuable wares. Everything still displayed on a table could be had at a steep discount, little baubles that traders didn’t want to haul all the way back home. Poorly carved runnerbeast toys, ugly salt and pepper shakers, a tunic in a particularly unappealing shade of mauve, nothing that would tempt Kebrin to part with his Marks.
[Attribute check: PER 11, rolled 8.]
One trader’s camp caught Kebrin’s eye and stopped him dead in his tracks.
Kailas was standing at the edge of the camp, dressed in a fine, dark green tunic with brown trim and a pair of sturdy leather boots. His hair was cut and neat. A hefty pack sat on the ground beside him. He was speaking to an older man with short hair, greying at the temples, wearing traveling clothes bearing Woodcraft heraldry. The man’s swarthy face was solemn and Kailas looked resolute.
Behind them, Kebrin spotted Nissa peering out of the travel wagon, her flushed face pensive. A woman’s hand on her arm held her in place.
A few moments later, the trader nodded and patted Kailas firmly on the shoulder. The former Harper broke into a massive grin, hefted his sack, and walked briskly to the travel wagon… and to Nissa. The two of them embraced as though silently vowing to never be parted again.
Preparations were completed swiftly and Nissa’s family left the Gather. The dreybeasts plodded along and the wagon gently rolled down the road with Kailas and Nissa on board.
MUSIC: Walking The Tables
Spring returned to the mountain and Kebrin’s third Turn of study drew to a close. Once again, it was time to attend the formal Commencement dinner that would separate the talented from the trying. Although he had constantly worried that he was falling behind, crushed under the intense workload, none of Kebrin’s Masters had taken him to task. If any one of them recommended him, he would be eligible for promotion.
First, Kebrin needed new formal clothes. The sleeves and legs were too short on the previous Turn’s outfit. The trousers were well-made and had enough spare length for the tailor to let down, but the doublet was beyond hope. The form-fitting jacket would serve some other Apprentice well.
When the day came and he walked into the main living cavern, Kebrin was wearing a lapis blue doublet embroidered with a chevron of ivy and musical instruments coming down from the shoulders.
As the dinner progressed, Kebrin noticed that Master Salinda was as fidgety and nervous as any Apprentice. Largo eventually squawked his annoyance and found a steadier perch on an overhead beam with several other firelizards.
Masterharper Cameron began the ceremony with the calm finesse that Kebrin had come to expect. Most Harpers wished that they could capture a crowd as thoroughly with a few softly spoken words. His sonorous voice effortlessly reached the farthest tables in the cavern.
As always, a handful of students accepted postings and would begin preparations to leave the Hall. Several were graduating after four Turns of study, intending to return to the Holds that sponsored them. Most of these would spend more time teaching than entertaining.
The list of meritorious students finally reached the Senior Apprentices.
“Kebrin is promoted to Junior Journeyman, Master Salinda will be his patron,” came the announcement a moment later.
He was first on the list. It was a mark of great honor.
Master Salinda’s other Journeymen stood as one and made a show of making room for him at their table – a heavy oak table only two rows from the Master’s high table.
When the announcements were finished and the Masterharper returned to his seat, Headwoman Gema went around the table, pouring a glass of chilled Benden Red for each new Journeyman. The wine glass was etched with the symbol of Harper Hall. It was Kebrin’s to keep.
In the sevenday that followed, Kebrin moved into a small apartment in a complex built along the cliff, outside the courtyard of Harper Hall. Eurielle was delighted. They would no longer need to work things out with a dorm delegate to get an hour of privacy. She planned to remain in Amati dorm so that she could transfer to Dwarkin in her fifth Turn. According to rumor, it was the best place to live for students seeking a Master’s patronage.
During Spring break, Kebrin joined a large ensemble from Harper Hall as they performed at Fort Hold, celebrating a successful mating flight at the Weyr. Weyrwoman Jonara’s Feyneth was flown by Weyrleader S’gar’s bronze Relianath, which came as no surprise to anyone. Fort Weyr was known for the stability of it’s leadership. Three months later, Feyneth clutched twenty five eggs. Despite the healthy number, to everyone’s disappointment, none of them were gold.
Kebrin’s seventh semester was the first where he truly understood what it meant to be a Harper. He studied musical arrangement and a new instrument, with just enough effort to satisfy his instructors. Master Salinda urged him to focus on diplomacy, philosophy, and hold economics. In his spare time, he was tasked with teaching lute to Junior Apprentices, every one of them bright-eyed and eager.
Before he was even posted, Kebrin was playing a small part in the Hall’s future.