K’brin: Chapter 5, Journal 17 – Ambition Is A Blade

  • Seliana started showing the beginning of a baby bump. 
  • It wasn’t too long before I received another direct (named) invitation to a mating flight, this time at High Reaches Weyr.  They, too, finally had three Queen dragons.  The flight was open to all brown riders, but I was the only brown rider from Ista Weyr who had any interest in going.  When asked directly, B’dir glanced toward Liviath’s Weyr said that Borheth was only interested in flying one Queen dragon – and she wasn’t in High Reaches.
  • I invited all of Faranth’s Wing, and especially M’din, to accompany me to High Reaches.  M’din was extremely excited at the prospect, and most my wing came with us.  Only N’lan and B’dir stayed behind. 
  • This was my first time at High Reaches Weyr, so I had M’din show us around.  M’din’s quarters were covered with sketches and reminder notes everywhere:  on the ceiling above his bed, next to his wash basin, above his riding gear, etc.  His short-term memory must have been completely shot during his recovery.
  • I arrived several days early to let Valenth acclimate to the thin, dry air and learn the terrain.  When we weren’t training, I spent this time meeting M’din’s friends (he even introduced us to Junior Weyrwoman Jelira of Moranith), and socializing and performing in the living caverns.  This was the first time many people from High Reaches had met Faranth’s Wing, so I did my absolute best to make a good impression.  I was surprised when J’lared made a point of dropping by to talk several times, and even more surprised when he asked if he could borrow my weyr when the bronzes needed to leave the Weyr.  He said he’d bring G’mar a bottle of good alcohol.  I graciously agreed, and told him to make himself at home. 
  • I was awakened before dawn the next morning by Valenth excitedly telling me that the bronzes were leaving.  The mating flight started a couple of hours later, shortly after sunrise.  L’nos had told me that Valenth and K’san’s brown Peregrith were favored to win by those who gambled on such things.  They weren’t wrong.  Quickly, the knot of eager browns thinned down to four – with Valenth and Peregrith far in the lead.  Suddenly I – K’brin, not Valenth – heard a scream and reluctantly shifted my awareness partially to the bowl.  A brown rider had drawn a knife and stabbed another brown rider before anyone could stop him.  I wanted to help, but remembered B’dir’s stern advice from Turns before:  during a mating flight, keep your concentration on your dragon no matter what.  But it was too late.  My intense feeling of shock and horror had momentarily distracted Valenth and cost him the mating flight.  Peregrith won by default.
  • I dragged myself fully back into my own body just in time to see a Healer pronounced the victim dead.  Murmurs of gossip told me that B’ley of brown Talvoth had stabbed N’frin of brown Karlith.  Both were from Telgar Weyr.
  • A rider was sent to bring J’lared and the other bronze riders back, and the living caverns were eerily subdued as they awaited the returning Weyrleader’s wrath.  He summoned everyone who had participated in the mating flight to his meeting room, except for B’ley.  He interviewed us one by one, piecing together what had happened.  He kept his voice calm, but the veins in his neck were standing out and he was squeezing his riding gloves so hard that his knuckles were turning white.  J’lared eventually dismissed all  brown riders except for me.  He was going to discuss what had happened with his Wingleaders, and I was technically also a Wingleader of High Reaches Weyr.  Painfully aware that I was an unfamiliar outsider, I listened to J’lared and his Wingleaders angrily debate what they thought had happened and what should be done about it.
  • Eventually it dawned on J’lared that I has been quietly listening to them discuss and debate for over an hour, and he asked for my thoughts.  Without hesitation, I told him that I thought the fact that both men were from Telgar Weyr and of a similar age was telling.  I strongly suspected that if we asked Weyrleader D’fel about them, he would tell us that there had been a long-standing rivalry, or some other form of bad blood, between the two men.  J’lared pondered what I had said for a few moments and then nodded slowly.  He then asked what should be done with B’ley.  Again without hesitation, I told him that B’ley wasn’t his problem to deal with.  Both aggressor and victim, B’ley and N’frin, were from Telgar, so it was very clear to me that B’ley’s punishment should fall to D’fel.  D’fel had known both men for Turns and undoubtedly knew them a lot better, anyway.  J’lared nodded decisively, clapped me on the shoulder, and said that he could see why G’mar likes having me around. 
  • Remembering J’lared was an aficionado of interesting alcohols, I left a couple bottles of Istan citrus liquor in his quarters with a brief note inviting him back to Ista Weyr before we returned home.  I briefly told G’mar and Daena what had happened so they wouldn’t hear about it first through gossip, and then broke the news to T’grim.  He was disappointed and a little disheartened, but not entirely surprised.  He reminded me that Telgar Weyr is extremely competitive, and that the rivalries and old arguments can wear at people over the Turns.  This is especially true for bronze and brown riders, since they are competing for a limited number of high ranking jobs. 
  • A few days later, ‘Jori of green Avelith and A’lar of gray-blue Polinath arrived at Ista Weyr.  They were ostensibly riding Search for Elowyn’s gold Ziareth’s clutch, but this allowed them to slip away to finally visit with L’nos for a few hours.  L’nos introduced me to them as his illustrious Wingleader, and introduced T’ria as his girlfriend – making her visibly choke on her drink and splutter some of it out.  This was the first time his old friends from Fort Weyr had come to visit, so I had a small feast delivered and did my best to make a good impression.
  • Eventually, a letter arrived from Harper Hall inviting me to a dress rehearsal of my symphony.  I invited G’mar, Daena, Senesta, T’vin, B’dir, Master Karthen, all of Faranth’s Wing (including Gil and the Harpers in my service), and a few other friends.  G’mar, Daena, and Senesta declined the invitation because of the political complexities of them attending a non-Weyr event in Fort territory.   Daena and Senesta quietly asked if I would work with the Harpers of Ista Weyr to put on a smaller, private performance just for them later.  It would be challenging to pare down a whole symphony to something that only a handful of musicians could perform, but I agreed to give it my best. 
  • Most of the people who attended with me had never set foot inside Harper Hall before, so they were immediately impressed by the architecture.  ‘Zana, in particular, marveled as she grabbed my arm, “Oh, K’brin!  You studied here?”  She asked me many questions about my time at Harper Hall back-to-back, and didn’t let go of my arm until we sat down together.  N’lan, too, was obviously excited since he loves music and the arts.  ‘Mala and T’grim, on the other hand, looked nonplussed and weren’t as subtle as they thought they were as they passed a small flask of alcohol back and forth.
  • The ornate playbills we were handed as we walked into the massive auditorium said the show’s name was “Numenon” and that it would last about an hour.  T’grim stumbled when he saw this and, when asked, quietly replied that he had seen the word only once before in his life – while documenting something for me.  Suddenly, he was as eager as ‘Zana, N’lan, and the Harpers to see the show. 
  • Numenon was completely unlike anything we had ever seen or heard before.  It was performed by a full pit orchestra consisting of Senior Journeyman and Master Harpers, and accompanied by dance.  The music flowed not just from instruments but between them, creating completely new and distinct sounds and harmonies – the whole truly being greater than the sum of its parts.  I nearly cried with pride when I caught strains and faint echoes of “The Song of Ista Weyr” embedded in the beautiful symphony.  The dance, too, was a completely new style.  The dancers moved gracefully with the music, flowing across the stage like water.  Dance had been made an integral part of the music, instead of a response to it.
  • Every one of my guests sat enraptured through the entire performance.  None of us could believe almost an hour had passed when the symphony ended and the house lights came up.  Before we could start talking, Masterharper Cameron took the stage and announced that he had one final thing to share with us tonight.  It wasn’t part of Numenon, but he thought we’d find it entertaining nonetheless.  Master Salinda took the stage, introduced herself, and then performed a marvelous piece using a Viel that had been cunningly modified (“overbowed”, she later explained) to allow her to play two distinct notes at the same time.
  • As emotional as I was after Numenon, I didn’t let myself forget that I had once been a Master Harper – and that tonight wasn’t about me.  It was about the many Harpers who had worked and practiced diligently to make tonight’s performance possible.  I set my own feelings aside, and made a point of finding and complimenting just about everyone who had been involved.  Tonight wasn’t my night, it was theirs – and I made certain they knew it.
  • Only weeks later would I start to realize that ‘Zana’s responses to seeing Harper Hall and watching Numenon, the way she grabbed my arm and held on throughout the performance, might have significance. 
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