A Dragonrider's World
As soon as classes were over for the day and Marlath was settled in
their weyr, R'fal took the Weyrlingmaster's note and his mother's letter
from his desk and went in search of a harper. It was close to time for
dinner, but he didn't feel at all hungry. All day he'd been distracted.
His thoughts kept returning to his father's predicament, and he knew he
hadn't done well in drills. There was a bright stripe of a dye-mark
across the back of his riding jacket where a rope had caught him, and
he'd had a few narrow misses, too. If it hadn't been for Marlath, it
might have been even worse.
He looked in at the classrooms, hoping to find one of the teachers who
hadn't already left for the evening meal, but all was quiet. Maybe
someone would be in the archives? He didn't really want to approach the
harpers in the crowded dining cavern, where anyone could overhear, so he
decided to try there next.
L'pin liked the peace of the Weyr's archive rooms and was known to
frequent them when he wasn't in his office doing work. Or, sometimes,
when he wanted to do work and not continuously be on call. But usually
he was in there just reading something for enjoyment's sake.
He looked up at the sound of footsteps, and smiled when he saw R'fal.
"Oh, sorry, Weyrlingmaster's Third." R'fal stopped in his tracks when he
realised he wasn't the only one in the archives. "I didn't mean to
disturb you. I was just looking for a harper."
"You're not disturbing me, and you've found one," L'pin told R'fal.
"Before the Pass, when riders could truly be rider-crafters and we
didn't fly and fight, well, I specialized as an archivist."
R'fal hesitated. "I just...I have some questions. About the law. My
father's in trouble..." He handed over the note and the letter. "The
Weyrlingmaster said I should speak to the harpers."
L'pin picked up the note and said, "Please, take a seat and I'll read
this over and help as I can. It hasn't been so long I've forgotten all
the rules, I'm sure," he said with his best encouraging smile.
"Thank you, sir." R'fal sat down and looked around him at the shelves,
stacked with books and papers. He wondered how many of them related to
the law. All he had to go on were distant memories of learning about the
charter with his mother, or with the occasional visiting harper back
home. Not for the first time, he wished he'd paid more attention.
L'pin read the note. By the time he was done, he pressed two fingers
against the bridge of his nose and sighed. Poor R'fal. This wasn't
good news. He requested that Chaneth keep a draconic ear out on
Marlath while they talked in case he got R'fal upset.
"These are very serious accusations against your father. I imagine
you're wondering about his punishment, if found guilty? Or are you
wondering how the trial will work?" he asked.
"Mostly I'm wondering how I can help him," the weyrling said. He'd been
thinking about it all day. "My Da couldn't have done this. He hates
thieves! I thought maybe, if I could tell the guards what he's like,
they might listen."
L'pin asked, "You think having a dragonrider vouch for him at the
trial will help?"
"I'm not sure." R'fal remembered what he'd heard about how some holders
didn't like dragonriders much. "They might let him go and there won't be
a trial. But if there is, is that something I could do?"
"If there is, you can petition to be allowed to speak up as a
character witness. It depends on who is running it, some are more
lenient than others. I haven't heard that Corowal's tenure as Lord has
been particularly harsh or lenient," L'pin said, trying to think of
the last case he'd heard of from there. "I had done some research for
J'ackt and prior Lords had been more hard."
R'fal had thought that speaking to the guards would be daunting, but the
idea of petitioning Lord Corowal himself sent cold chills through him.
The Lords of Emerald Falls had always been distant, awe-inspiring
figures from harper tales. If that was what was needed to free his
father, though, he would have to find the courage to do it.
"What will happen - at the trial, I mean?" he asked. "In the letter, my
Ma says they're looking for a harper to represent him."
"Well, at the trial, both sides need to present their facts. The
Hold's representative will be discussing what went wrong and why they
think it's your father's fault. And the Harper representing your
father, his job is to listen to your father and find out his side, and
present it back."
It seemed very straightforward when presented like that, and R'fal began
to feel a little more confident. Surely when the Lord Holder heard his
father's story - whatever that might be - he would understand and the
charges would be dropped. R'fal had been brought up to trust absolutely
in the justice of Emerald Falls. His only concern was that someone had
decided to bring a false accusation against his father, but it seemed
impossible that anyone he knew could be so malicious.
"So, do you think I could ask that harper - the one on my father's side
- if I could speak up for him?" he asked.
L'pin said, "It's within your rights to. If he's worth his salt he
ought to appreciate having a dragonrider's word."
The young man managed to smile. "Thank you. I'll ask." He looked down at
his mother's letter. "I don't want to take up your time, sir, but is
there anything I could read, about what happens at a trial? Or if there
are similar cases I could look at... If I'm a witness, I don't want to
say anything wrong and make it worse."
"We can find some material to read. If nothing else, example of prior
trials," L'pin reassured. "And if you need to go, we'll make
accommodation for you."
"Thank you, sir. Even if I'm not allowed to speak, I'd like to attend,
so he knows I'm there to support him. The thought of attending the Lord
Holder's court was daunting enough, even without having to speak up, but
it was better than the awful helpless feeling of being far away when his
father needed him.
Last updated on the April 12th 2019