A Moment of Your Time
Jayala turned over the last page of a quartet and ran a finger lightly
over the notes. She closed her eyes and heard in her mind the rapid,
frenetic strumming of the gitars, the quickening drumbeat and the swift
darting melody of the flute as the music approached its final,
triumphant chords. A complex piece - the musicians had to play together
as one, or it could easily fall apart. It would be the ideal challenge
for one of her senior journeyman groups.
She put it to one side and reached for a hide to make a note. As she did
so, her eye fell on the letter about Journeyman Ueltin. It was about
time she went to see Vestian about that. If nothing else, the holder
ought to have a response. There were other matters she needed to
discuss, too. The timetables she'd prepared, the apprentices who were
ready for promotion. Work was piling up...
Gathering the letter and her papers together, Jayala set off in search
of the Hallmaster. She decided to try his office first; hopefully he'd
be there, and not hidden away in his studio.
Vestian sat at his desk, pencil in hand and his eyes fixed on a corner
of paper peeking out from the bottom of a stack. It was blank, which
meant open to any possibility. As the Journeyman droned on about why
was requesting leave to visit his brother's family and how he knew it
would cause problems in the teaching rotation but that he felt the
circumstances outweighed that inconvenience and... The Hallmaster
could truly care less. He was just waiting for a moment for the man
to stop talking. Until then, he imagined an eye, turned slightly so
it looked like was gazing at the empty mug that had once held klah.
And old woman's eye, with long brittle lashes and a heavy lid that
spoke of gravity slowly gaining ground. It would seem a bit sunken in
the socket, with noticeably darker circles under it, and wrinkles that
spoke of age and wisdom...
Oh, the man had stopped talking already. "I leave it to you and
Master Polosion to figure out a manageable plan for your classes while
you are absent. If you can work out a schedule of substitutes, and
draft lesson plans for them to follow in your absence, you may go."
"Thank you, sir," the journeyman said with a grateful smile. He gave
the Hallmaster a polite bow when he had been dismissed with a lazy
wave with another expression of gratitude and backed out the door. He
thanked the egg he had caught Vestian in such a happy mood!
But the Hallmaster was anything but happy. As he pulled the sheet out
from the pile towards him, he saw that it was not, in fact, a blank
sheet, but was instead a document that required his signature. "Of
course," he sighed as he leaned back into his chair, throwing his
pencil down in disgust. Every sheet seemed to covered in words
someone else deemed important. He leaned his temple on his hand and
his elbow on the arm rest of his large office chair when he heard yet
another knock on the door. "Come in."
Jayala came into the office with another stack of papers in the crook of
her arm. The top sheet looked very much like a neatly scribed schedule
of apprentice classes. "Hallmaster, may I have a moment of your time?"
**Why not. Everyone else gets one,** Vestian thought bitterly, but he
just gave a nod and a wave to the seat across from him.
She sat down with a quick glance at her papers. Instinct - and her own
habits - told her to be as concise as possible. "I wanted to ask if
you'd seen the draft timetables I sent you. Would you be happy to
approve them, or do you have any comments?"
Truth be told be barely looked at them. It was something he had
always left to the Hallsecond, and since he had to step down, Jayala
had stepped up to assume some of the duties while they searched for
his replacement. The Master Instrumentalist was well known and
respected in the Hall and her administrative skills were second to
none. Vestian trusted her completely to be able to take on the task
of managing the schedule. Why did he need to look at them to know
they were in good order? "I think they are fine."
"Oh - good," Jayala said. Some Masters would complain about their
schedule if it didn't suit them, so the Hallmaster's response was a
pleasant change. Even if she suspected he wasn't terribly interested.
"And the list of apprentices I've put forward for promotion. Do you have
any thoughts on that?"
"I trust the judgment of their teachers," he said simply. Really, why
should a Hallmaster have an opinion? It's not like he was in the
classroom with them any more. "What's this I hear about Ueltin?"
"Ah, yes. I was coming to him." She frowned. It really was a most
awkward situation that the journeyman had got himself into. "I spoke to
him about the accusations made by Holder Jobent. He claims he never
touched the girl, and strange as it may seem, I'm inclined to believe him."
Vestian's eye narrowed as he processed that information. "Why's that?"
"He...admitted to other activities, while he was there." Jayala decided
to spare the Hallmaster the details. "My impression was that he was
being honest with me. But whether he's telling the truth or not, I don't
think sending him back to that hold would benefit anyone."
"Are they accusing him of rape? Or just of impregnating their daughter?"
"The Holder..." Jayala glanced at the letter. "He says that he got
her pregnant and ran off. There's no suggestion of rape." She frowned.
That idea hadn't crossed her mind until now. She would have hoped that
no father would demand that his daughter marry a rapist, but in truth,
it wouldn't be the worst story that she'd heard from the holds. "Perhaps
we should investigate further. After all, we don't even know whether the
girl is pregnant or not."
Vestian pointed to the stack of hides on his desk from Holders and
craftsmen screaming for his attention. "I don't have time to chase
after shadows. If they want to make an accusation, they should make
it already. If they are only complaining that he got their daughter
pregnant, then they should have raised her to keep her legs together.
That is not the concern of the Hall."
"Of course, Hallmaster." Jayala folded the letter and started to get to
her feet to leave, then hesitated. She shouldn't get involved, really.
She had enough to do, with her classes, her students and chamber groups,
not to mention the timetables. It should be the Hallmaster who dealt
with such matters. But still...
"I could handle the problem, if you want," she offered. "Someone should
at least respond to the girl's father. We don't want this to escalate."
The thought that they might accuse Ueltin of a crime had worried her.
That would bring the kind of notoriety that the Hall definitely did not
"Please do," Vestian said with a wave of his hand. If that was
something she was willing to do, why not. She was better at talking
to people than he was anyway. "You know we really should be giving
you a promotion for all you've been doing around here," he said with a
light tone, though it did plant a seed in his mind.
Jayala kept her expression carefully neutral, but there was a flicker in
her eyes. She usually tried not to think of the promotion she hadn't
received, when Hallmaster Almonteo had retired. Harbouring resentment
over how she'd been overlooked was futile and unproductive. The best way
to resist it was to look to the future, and other opportunities.
"It's my duty, as a Master Crafter, to assist in the running of the
Hall," she said. "I'm happy to help where I can."
"I do appreciate that. Especially after... Well, you know." He really
didn't want to dwell on how it came to be that he was Hallmaster. It
left a bitter taste in his mouth. **If only she had been a man, I could
be in my studio now...** No. He could not think on that now. There
was work to do. There was _always_ work to do. "Was there anything else?"
"No, that's all. Thank you, Hallmaster." Jayala left the office, her
mind still on Vestian's promotion. She had accepted it and moved on, she
told herself. If she worked hard, there would be other chances. After a
few more Turns, she might even start to believe that.
Last updated on the February 3rd 2019