Jayala turned over the pages of a report from one of the journeymen who taught the junior apprentices' class. Although it was mostly the duty of the Master of Apprentices to read these and deal with any problems
arising, she liked to keep herself informed. There'd been that trouble
with the boys teasing the young girl apprentices which she wanted to
keep an eye on, and she was also on the lookout for the most promising
musicians for her chamber groups.
Still, there wasn't much of interest in this batch of reports, and she
was grateful to hear the knock at her door. "Yes? Come in."
"Master Jayala? Journeyman Ueltin reporting in," Ueltin said and walked
in. He closed the door after him.
"Ah, good morning, Journeyman Ueltin." Jayala set the reports aside.
"Have a seat. I'd been hoping to have a talk with you about our young
friend from the North." Journeywoman Tasni had been suspiciously quiet lately, and in Jayala's opinion, was almost certainly up to no good.
"Yes, she's an interesting case," Uelti replied.
"Indeed. She has certainly made herself well known." The master harper raised an eyebrow, thinking of the notorious bandit trial and Tasni's part in it. After all, it hadn't turned out badly, and the young woman might have changed a few minds about the competence of female harpers.
"What I want to know is what she's up to at the moment. What is she
really looking for in those archives?"
"The Harper Hall fire," Ueltin replied. "She's particularly interested
in guard Gilbek, who was rumoured to be the arsonist, although there was never any official prosecution filed against him. She even recruited me to help her since she couldn't get any information out of the Hold's
guards." Ueltin felt deep down that it was potentially dangerous to dig
up in to these things. If someone had something to hide, they probably
wouldn't hesitate to remove a pesky harper or two.
"Hmm." That was unexpected, Jayala thought. The Hall fire had been a
long time ago. What possible reason could the Northern Hall have for
wanting to investigate it, other than stirring up trouble? Unless the
journeywoman had her own reasons for looking into it... "And what did
you find out? Is this man Gilbek still at the Hold?"
"The consensus among guards seemed to be that he moved to one of the minor Holds and got work there," Ueltin replied.
"That would make sense. If he was suspected of that crime, it'd be
either that or become holdless." Jayala tapped her pen lightly on the
desk, considering. "I wasn't at the Hall when the fire broke out, of
course, but the rumour I heard was that the former Lord Holder had
something to do with it. It might not be a bad idea to track down this
guard and find out what he knows. If nothing else, Lord Corowal might be interested to know who is sheltering him."
"He might," Ueltin agreed. "But there might be people here who prefer us not digging into it." Turns of smuggling abused women to safety had
taught Ueltin caution and how ugly the dark side of humanity could be.
"Probably." She gave him a long, measured look, thinking of what she'd
heard about his work. He'd know the risks better than most. "Anyone who goes looking for this man should perhaps hide their Harper knots. Have you ever travelled to those types of Holds?"
"Oh, yes, plenty of times. I can usually pass my self either seacrafter
if it's a seahold or just a hired hand looking for a job," Ueltin replied.
Jayala nodded. "Holds that don't like harpers often don't treat their
women well, either, and I'm growing concerned about the level of feeling
against dragonriders in the outer territories of Emerald Falls. The
trial of that idiotic boy at the Weyr didn't help. Whether this guard is
hiding out there somewhere or not, a first-hand account of the situation
would be helpful." Her gaze met his. "How are you liking life here at
the Hall, Journeyman? Have you any wish to be out on the road again?"
"I've always had this itch to travel," Ueltin grinned. "While I like it
here, I admit feeling bit restless."
"I thought perhaps you might." She hesitated to send anyone into a
dangerous situation, but if there was trouble brewing then ignoring it
wouldn't help. She needed to know what was going on in those holds.
"Given what you've said, I wouldn't be surprised if Journeywoman Tasni
makes a request to travel out to the minor holds. Research, I expect
she'll call it. If she does, what would you think of accompanying her
and keeping her out of mischief?"
"I think it sounds like loads of fun," Ueltin said with excitement. "I
mean, in a place like Emerald Falls Hold, she's going to need a man
escorting her, for safety," he tried to regain his harper's dignity and
not to come across too eager.
Jayala briefly wondered whether she shouldn't send a third harper along to keep _him_ out of trouble. "True enough. You've done good work in the past, Journeyman. It's important that the Masters understand what people are saying and thinking out in those distant holds, and I'd be relying on you to find out. But be warned," she went on severely. "I do not want a repetition of what happened at your last Hold. Is that clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," Ueltin nodded.
"Good. Let's wait and see what Tasni finds out. If she asks you about
the possibility of travel, encourage her, but suggest she speaks to me
first." She thought for a moment before dismissing him. "I'm sure I
don't have to tell you to keep quiet about this around the other
journeymen, and definitely the apprentices, but I'd like you to be as
discreet as possible around the other Masters, too." Some of them were
sympathetic, or cared about nothing but their craft specialities, but
there were others who'd been reluctant to accept her status as a female
Master. She didn't want word of harper spies getting out to the holds.
"Of course, master Jayala," Ueltin replied. "Despite certain incident, I
can be very discreet."
"I hope so. Otherwise you might find yourself with another junior
apprentice class to teach." She gave him a severe look, but she was in
truth quite pleased with what he'd been able to find out. "Thank you,
Journeyman. That's all."
Ueltin didn't consider that much of threat. Teaching was fun.
"Yes, master. I'll keep you informed of how things progress." He got up
Last updated on the December 18th 2019