A Song for the Times
Sevendays of lurking in the Weyr archives had finally paid off with the
discovery of a slightly crumpled hide that had fallen between the stacks
of shelving. H'run's hands had shook as he'd noticed the faded bars of
music on the hide as he'd pulled it out, and it had turned out to be a
treasure indeed. He'd spent another day carefully copying it out, then
sent ahead to the Harper Hall to request a meeting with the Hallsecond.
The day arrived and he and Calcifeth came from /between/ over the Harper
Hall on a rather gloomy and overcast day. Calcifeth's blue hide gleamed
like a piece of sky as they decended to the courtyard and H'run
dismounted, carefully removing his riding helmet and taking a moment to
fix his hair.
The arrival of a dragon had attracted a little group of awestruck
apprentices, but only one came forward to greet the visitors - the eager
young apprentice who'd met them on his first visit. He ran up and bowed
smartly. "Welcome back to the Hall, Bluerider H'run. Are you here to see
"That is correct, apprentice." H'run flashed him a charming smile. "And
thank you for your kind welcome. My heart is always glad to be here."
"The Hallsecond is taking a journeyman class right now, sir, but she'll
be finished soon, and she told me to show you to her practice room if
you came again," the boy explained as he led the way into the Hall with
an extra bounce in his step. He wasn't able to resist speaking again.
"May I ask, is it true there are two clutches on the Sands at your Weyr?
Everyone's talking about it."
"That is indeed true," H'run said. "Both Aglayath and Chioneth have eggs
on the Sands and they are likely to hatch within a few sevendays of each
other, which is quite rare. The Weyr is a most exciting place at the
"It must be." The apprentice spoke with all the wistful hope of one
who'd long dreamed of being Searched and perhaps, riding a dragon one
day. He led H'run up the stairs to the Master's room and politely held
the door open for him. "Please, take a seat and I'll inform Master
Jayala of your arrival."
The wait was rather longer this time, but Jayala entered the room
briskly, a sheaf of music under one arm and her dark-red leather gitar
case on a strap over her other shoulder. "Ah, Journeyman H'run, what a
pleasure to see you again. I do apologize for the wait. We were studying
a difficult passage and I didn't want to leave my students until they'd
got the main points exactly right."
"Of course." He stood and bowed, smoothing any boredom from his
expression. "Is there a particular event you are rehersing for, or is
this piece part of your curriculum?"
"This was a piece I'd chosen from the archives for my journeyman group.
Quite recent, actually, a work submitted by a harper out at Coral Bay
for his promotion to Master. They needed the challenge of an unfamiliar
work, something they've not heard all their lives. Now I've studied it,
though, I'm starting to think it deserves a wider hearing." She set down
the scores on her desk and took the top sheet from the pile. "Here, take
H'run scanned the sheet, then frowned and read it again more slowly,
quietly humming a few of the simpler bars to help fix the music in his
mind. It was a complex arrangement for string and wind instruments and
it took him a moment to build the harmonies in his mind. It was the sort
of music that he wished that he could compose and he handed the score
sheet back feeling wistful. "That is particularly lovely, Hallsecond.
The harper who composed that is very talented. Who was it?"
"Master Tercelim, of Coral Bay. He got his promotion. You can keep that,
if you like, for the Weyr's records." Jayala waved a hand. "I'll have
the journeymen make another copy." She carefully placed the gitar case
on a shelf and sat down at her desk. "So, what can I do for you,
His own little discovery felt a bit pale next to a masterwork, but H'run
passed the message tube to the Hallsecond anyway. Hopefully she wouldn't
think less of him. "I found this lost in the Weyr archives. It's a
simple thing compared to your lovely piece, however the notes on the
original indicate that it was written one hundred and five Turns into
the last Interval. You'd asked for music to help rebuild the Hall's
Archives, and I'd wondered if you'd had a copy..."
"Oh!" Jayala's reaction was instant, practiced courtesy giving way to
genuine interest. "Just one hundred and five Turns? But of course, the
archives at Dragonsfall do go back a long way." She slid the score out
of the message tube as reverentially as if it had been the original,
inscribed by the long-dead hand of a harper from the ancient days. "Have
you tried playing it?"
"Yes. It's a very simple melody designed to be sung as a round or
call-and-response. I imagine it was quite popular in the fields." H'run
tapped his finger against the edge of Jayla's desk to set a beat as he
began to sing.
"Dig the rows
and find the root
the tuber root
the tuber root
our dinner's here
the earthen fruit
the tuber root
the tuber root
mashed or boiled
its down the chute
the tuber root
the tuber root
our truest fruit
the tuber root!"
As he sang, Jayala's eyes followed the score intently and the fingers of
her free hand began to flex in the air as she picked up on the rhythm of
the song. As he'd said, it was very different to the piece she'd just
been practicing with the journeymen, but she could almost hear the thunk
of spades hitting the soil and scraping up the heavy clods of earth. In
her mind, a drumbeat formed, simple at first, then adding rolls and
patterns and variations.
"This is a rare find," she said when the song ended. "I've never come
across these words, in Hall or Weyr. And the melody is like an echo of
other songs we have. A distant echo..." She looked up from the score,
with unaccustomed pure pleasure in her eyes. "Well done."
H'run inclined his head. "There's more. I checked the harvest records
for the Weyrhold that year. It seems that they had a crop failure with
the grains. Hail, I think. Anyway, that explains why someone composed a
whole song to tubers."
"It's not a common subject for song," Jayala agreed, a slight smile
curving her lips. "That is interesting. The Master Archivist would like
to hear of it, I'm sure. Music as a sign of hard times in the holds...
Someone could write an interesting project on that, for a promotion."
"You think so?" H'run paused, thinking. It _would_ be nice to upgrade
his knots... it was difficult to find the time during a Pass, but Senior
Journeyman knots was a step along the path to Weyrharper. A project
about music and hard times... perhaps it could be considered useful
information for when the Pass ended and the Weyrs became Weyrholds again.
"It's not my specialty, but it sounds original, and this find is a good
start. You might speak to Master Lorgist in the Archives, see what he
thinks," she suggested, handing back the score. "He'll understand that
you have other duties, which take precedence over your studies."
"Thank you. I'll consider it," H'run said after a moment. It wouldn't do
to appear too eager or to jump into a project that didn't sufficiently
capture his interest. "And I am very glad that the song I brought is new
to the Archives. I am happy to contribute as I am able, Hallsecond."
Jayala nodded. "Thank you for your diligence, Journeyman H'run. If you
could drop your copy off at the archives, I'd be grateful." She looked
up. "I hope all else goes well at the Weyr?"
"Very well. As you know we have two fine clutches on the Sands, and
Saibra and Ashela are coping well with sharing space. Ashela has been
promoted to Weyrwoman's Second with Lanniya as Saibra's Wingthird." He
paused. "For all her gifts Lanniya is still quite young, but of course
Saibra knows her Wing best."
"Yes." Jayala had also heard about Ashela, and her lips tightened a
little. She didn't envy the Weyrwoman the task of dealing with her. "I
hope I'll be able to attend the Hatchings with the Hallmaster, so
perhaps I'll have the chance to meet them. You've got enough Candidates
for the two clutches?"
"I believe so, but the more Candidates, the better," the bluerider said.
"Especially with two clutches on the Sands."
"Of course. I wish your Weyr luck in your Search." Jayala could say that
with complete honesty, since her Hall wasn't in Dragonsfall's territory.
As much as she knew it was their duty, she still felt regret when a
promising apprentice or journeyman was snapped up by the Weyr. "If you
do decide to pursue a project, Journeyman, do keep me up to date on your
progress. Otherwise, I'll hope to see you at the Hatching."
"I very much hope the same." H'run rose smoothly. "Until then,
Hallsecond, I wish you sunny days and starry nights."
"Thank you. Safe flying, Journeyman H'run." Jayala watched him leave,
then walked over to the window that overlooked the courtyard. A group of
hopeful apprentices, who'd been eyeing Calcifeth, were being shooed back
to their class by one of her fellow Masters. Two clutches on the Sands,
and a pair of queens guarding them... Perhaps these days, too, would be
remembered in a song.
Last updated on the February 19th 2021