Time slows to a crawl until an important letter arrives…
Music: The Firelizard Guitar
The Living Cavern seemed empty for several days. Instead of the center of Weyr activity, it was a vast empty hall, a reminder of how few dragonriders remained. The Weyr itself was quiet as well. Many riders spent time away, visiting family and friends.
The Weyrleader and Weyrwoman visited Benden, Fort, High Reaches, and Igen Weyrs. Some of the younger riders went with them, considering a transfer. The older riders couldn’t hide their resentment and refused to even talk about the notion of leaving.
Garoway made Kebrin come down to the Living Cavern at the same time every evening after dinner, whether he wanted to or not. The aging Harper insisted it was important to keep everyone’s spirits up, no matter how they felt personally.
“There’s bravery in music, more than they’ll find in ale,” Garoway insisted.
Spring passed slowly. When Garoway discovered Kebrin’s historical project, he pressured the Weyrwoman into allowing them access to her Records Room. Kebrin wasn’t permitted to touch the books unless Garoway was with him, but it was a small price to pay for the chance to read books written by generation after generation of Weyrmen.
Every once in awhile, Kebrin would sneak at peak at Tamarath in her weyr. The gold dragon wasn’t that old but she spent most of her time sunning or sleeping, perhaps responding to Weyrwoman Shanira’s somber mood.
Finally the days began to warm and the Weyr returned to normal. The Weyr wasn’t closing any time soon. It became easy to pretend that the end was a lifetime away. It was just some distant dream, nothing to worry about today.
One summer evening, as Garoway sat strumming his guitar for a small but appreciative gathering, watch rider J’ran strode in with an air of business about him. When the song finished, he offered a thick, sealed envelope to the Harper.
J’ran had blue eyes and wheat brown hair. It was short on the sides and medium on the top, with just enough beard to keep the cold off his face. He had a little scar on his left eyebrow and noticeable ridge on his nose where it had been broken. The Lower Caverns women considered him a catch, as he never won any mating flights and there was no dragonwoman to contend with. None of them had ever succeeded, though, which led to some odd rumors.
Headwoman Norilla looked up from her stitching, curious about the fancy letter.
[Attribute check: PER 10, rolled 4.]
Kebrin could make out a few words on the envelope. It was the most beautiful calligraphy he had ever seen. It was addressed to “Senior Journeyman Harper Garoway, Ista Weyr” from “Steward Marlen, Harper Hall”.
Garoway had repeatedly turned down a promotion to Master rank. As long as he remained a Journeyman, he could keep his posting at the Weyr without interference. Unfortunately, it was also the reason he could never take Kebrin as his formal apprentice.
Garoway set his guitar aside. J’ran offered him a small knife, hilt first, so that he could open the envelope neatly. Garoway cut the end open and returned the blade. J’ran nodded once and went back to his post.
The letter was fine parchment. Garoway read it, his eyebrows raising and a smile creeping across his lips.
“What? What does it say?” Norilla finally asked, almost squirming in her chair.
Garoway winked once at Kebrin, then read aloud:
Harper Hall is dedicated to the recognition of exceptional music talent in children who meet the academic and character criteria.
You will be pleased to know that Kebrin of Ista Weyr had been selected by the music faculty as a candidate for apprenticeship at Harper Hall.
To become a student, the candidate must bring this letter to the Hall within 30 days and report to Administrator Leeland for dormitory assignment. Each student is expected to bring basic personal necessities, sufficient clothes for a sevenday, and all of their artistic supplies and equipment. No other possessions will be allowed.
After a brief interview and introductory period, the candidate will be assigned Junior Apprentice rank and attend classes. The student must strive to win sponsorship by one of the Masters and continually improve his skills to advance in rank.
Anyone presented with this letter should endeavor to bring the candidate to Harper Hall at Fort Hold.
Congratulations to the candidate.