Kebrin bids farewell to everything he has ever known…
Music: Leaving Home
Kebrin was showered with enthusiastic congratulations after Garoway read his acceptance letter. He even received a teary-eyed hug from the Headwoman.
Word spread quickly throughout the Weyr. Garoway eventually had to find a wicker box for Kebrin to store gifts in. Although he wasn’t allowed to take them to Harper Hall, Garoway promised that they would be waiting for him when he returned.
The most beautiful among them was a leather-bound journal with musical notes on the spine, a firelizard perched on a harp on the cover, and a poem written in fine calligraphy on the first page:
Close your eyes and listen to
The firelizards calling
They’re singing ancient secrets
About the dragon’s dawning
It was a gift from Garoway, who advised him to use it for scribbling snippets of music only after he became a Journeyman.
The Harper did his best to help Kebrin prepare, though his patience had its limits. When the boy’s quetions seemed to have no end, the Harper simply answered, “Some things you’ll need to find out for yourself.”
The most important pieces of advice stuck in Kebrin’s mind — work with as many Masters as possible before applying to study under one, don’t fall into a clique, try everything, and don’t worry if the Hold-bred students didn’t like him. The Masters opinions weren’t swayed by gossip, only hard work and talent.
Despite being assigned few chores, Kebrin’s next few days were still busy. Kindi, the Weyr’s resident weaver and a talented tailor, made sure his sevenday of clothes were in good repair. Rianne gave him a final health check, Oswina cut his hair, and Tig-Tig polished his boots. Kebrin wasn’t sure any of it was strictly necessary; his friends simply wanted an excuse to see him before he left.
Harish, the raven-haired watch wher keeper of Starharsk, took Kebrin aside one evening to give him advice on dealing with Holder boys. “They’re a jealous breed,” Harish warned. “Never throw the first punch but always throw the last.”
Harish was as lazy as his watch wher, but he was popular with the children. He often built bonfires just outside the eastern gates in the Autumn. The children would stay up late eating treats, telling scary stories, and learning bawdy jokes and limericks that no one else would teach them.
Everything Kebrin had to pack fit in one canvas barrel bag, plus a brand new guitar case. It was a heavy, padded case that protected the instrument against the cold of between. H’nor, rider of blue Calveth, oldtimer, and the Weyr’s expert on riding gear, had given it to him the day before. The front had been tooled with a scrollwork pattern that met in the center to form a diamond framing the heraldry of Ista Weyr.
It was a fairly obvious message that H’nor expected him to return as the Weyr’s Harper, someday.
When the morning finally came to fly to Harper Hall, Garoway and B’dir escorted him into the bowl.
B’dir was the rider of brown Borheth and son of Ista Hold’s Guard Captain. He was in his mid-twenties, extremely fit, and graduated with the last weyrling class seven Turns ago. He had a reputation for being focused and level-headed. Since he wasn’t a Wingsecond, the competition must have been stiff, indeed.
“I can’t fly you to Harper Hall,” B’dir explained. “K’len and Pentiath posted at Fort Hold will come to pick you up. It’s protocol. I can however,” he paused, pulling on his heavy leather gloves, “ride escort.”
It wasn’t long before the dragon at the star stones announced a visitor. Kebrin could see a greyish blue dragon circling just outside the bowl, waiting for permission to land. As it spiraled downward, he could make out a few signs of aging — pronounced eye ridges, bony joints, and patches of dry skin despite regular oiling.
Once they landed, K’len introduced himself. His silvery hair was peppered with grey and his rectangular face was deeply tanned. As he took off his gloves to shake hands, Kebrin noticed a tattoo on each forearm — A dragon curled up around the symbol of Fort Weyr, and a beautiful bird whose wing became the first letter of the name “Anwen”. Tattoos weren’t popular at Ista Weyr but perhaps they were at Fort.
K’len handed him a riding belt and introduced him breifly to Pentiath. He trusted Kebrin to snap himself into the saddle’s dee rings.
“We have one stop to make on the way to Harper Hall,” K’len mentioned as he put on his helmet and offered Kebrin a spare set of goggles
“I hope you don’t mind?”
Kebrin could feel the muscles bunch up in Pentiath’s rear legs as he prepared to leap into the sky. He glaced back toward the Living Cavern to see a dozen people waving goodbye.