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Substitute Teacher

Writers: AmajoS, Estelle
Date Posted: 17th May 2019

Characters: Tasni, Saranni
Description: Saranni arrives for singing practice and finds she has a replacement teacher
Location: Harper Hall
Date: month 11, day 4 of Turn 9
Notes: Mentioned: Ueltin, Eilomar


**Ueltin is really going to owe me for this,** Tasni thought to herself
as she headed for the courtyard, her gitar case swinging at her side.
Her fellow journeyman was busy this afternoon - with what, she wasn't
sure - and he'd asked her to help one of the Hold girls with her singing
in his place. Tasni rolled her eyes at the thought of tutoring some
silly flitter-brain whose sole aim in training her voice was to entice a
high-born husband into her net. There were a lot of those at the Hold
lately, from what she'd heard.

Still...she might learn something useful, if she was lucky. Tasni had
spent plenty of time chatting with the guards, stablehands and drudges
up at the Hold, but she didn't know any of the ladies. They might have
some interesting gossip. It wasn't as if they had much else to do, after
all.

Once outside, she looked around and saw a tall, light-haired girl
standing with a folder of music in her arms. She was well-dressed, and
didn't look like an apprentice. Deciding that this was most likely her
student, Tasni went over to greet her.

"Hello!" She smiled warmly. "Are you Saranni?"

Saranni retured the smile with one of her own polite ones before
responding, "I am. I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage though,
Journeywoman?" She trailed off, asking for a name. She had also
hitched a bit on the word 'Journeywoman' as she had started to say
'Journeyman' but then realized it would be incorrect and changed it at
the last moment.

"Journeywoman Tasni." She transferred the gitar case to her left hand
and offered the right in greeting. "You're here for singing practice
with Journeyman Ueltin? I'm afraid he can't make it this afternoon, but
he's asked me if I can practice with you instead. If that's all right
with you?"

Saranni was intrigued with the idea of a journeywoman harper, despite
herself. The idea of a girl advancing that far into a craft was, well,
shocking and distasteful on one level, but also fascinating. She'd
wondered before, in the secret places at the back of her mind, what it
would be like to work a craft. It went against everything she had ever
been raised to believe, of course. She rather thought her parents
would forgive her having a bastard child before they would forgive her
joining a craft.

"I'm sure that would be lovely. I hope that Journeyman Ueltin is
well?" She also thought this journeywoman looked somewhat familiar.
She couldn't place where she'd seen her before though.

"Oh, yes, he's fine. He just had another engagement that he couldn't
rearrange, unfortunately. But he's told me about what you're working on,
so I'll do my best to stand in for him. Shall we go and find a practice
room?"

She led the way into the Hall and found an empty room, where she took
the gitar from its case and started to tune it so she could accompany
Saranni. "Journeyman Ueltin told me you were working towards an audition
for the choir?"

"Yes," Saranni smiled a little ruefully. "I tried out last time, but
wasn't quite prepared enough it seemed. So, I wanted to try to improve
a bit before the next one." So, this Journeywoman hadn't been at the
audition. That was good, she supposed, but now she wondered where she
-had- seen her before, because she was sure she had.

"Ah, I see." The young journeywoman smiled. "I take it Master Eilomar
was his...uh, usual self?" She had painful memories of her own audition
when she'd first arrived at the Hall. Although she had made it into the
choir, it had not been without a few pointed criticisms of her technique.

Saranni grinned ruefully, "Well, he is exacting. And let's just say
that my estimation of my skill didn't meet his standards." She felt
heat creep up her cheeks -again- at the memory of the harsh critique.

"But you didn't give up." Tasni had to admit, she was impressed by the
holder girl's persistence. Most of the ones she'd met would have
flounced off in disgust after such a setback. "You're here, practising,
and you've got me and Journeyman Ueltin to help. We'll show that grumpy
old watchwher," she added, with an irreverent wink.

She couldn't help but grin in response, a little wider than she
normally did even. But, she hadn't thought of her determination to do
better at the next audition as anything impressive; she just wanted to
erase the embarrassment of the first one, and get a spot in the choir.
So, the journeywoman's tone and words were pleasing. Plus, her calling
Master Eilomar a 'grumpy old watchwher' painted a rather amusing
picture.

"All right! Let's warm up with some scales, and then we can go on to the
audition pieces." Tasni struck a chord briskly. "I'll sing one, and then
you sing it back to me. Remember your posture and your breathing and all
that boring stuff that singing masters love to pick on. Ready?"

As invitations to begin practicing went, it did not have the same
panache as Ueltin's, but she appreciated the straightforwardness of
it. "Yes," she replied with a ready nod.

The journeywoman started off with some simple scales to get an idea of
Saranni's range, then switched to arpeggios and vowel sounds. She
realised that the young woman had obviously had some training before,
she knew how to breathe properly and her voice had a clear, pleasing
tone. In fact, she was a lot better than most of the students and some
of the apprentices.

"Good, let's try one of the songs." She strummed on the gitar,
practising the first few bars. "Have you trained here at the Harper Hall
before?"

"When I was a girl. My father pulled me out and brought me home when the
Harper Hall started allowing," she paused here not sure how to continue
the sentence diplomatically but finally deciding to just forge ahead.
"Well, when they started allowing female Crafters. He hired a
journeyman to come and finish teaching me app until I was fifteen."

"Oh." Tasni's fingers stilled on the strings. Poor Saranni! She couldn't
imagine what it would be like to have your family dictate the course of
your life like that. Well, she didn't know whether the girl had wanted
to be at the Harper Hall or not, but it seemed impossible to her that
anyone would prefer hold life. "How did you manage to make it back here,
then?"

"The marriage prospects at Emerald Falls are better than back home,"
Saranni replied discreetly and gave a small shrug. "And, I thought I
would take advantage of the proximity."

After a moment of hesitation, she asked, "Do you mind if I ask you
something," she paused then, considering before continuing with,
"indelicate?"

The harper's eyes widened a little as she wondered what a young holder
lady might consider to be 'indelicate'. She definitely wanted to find
out. "Of course you can ask. I'm not easily shocked," she added with a grin.

She wasn't so worried about shocking the harper woman, as offending her.
"What made you decide to be a harper? It seems an odd choice to make."

At first, Tasni couldn't quite understand the question. Why wouldn't she
want to be a harper? Lots of young people at the Weyrhold had taken up a
craft.

But then, she thought, that was the Weyrhold. For someone who'd grown up
being told that girls were forbidden to be crafters, whose parents had
been so offended by the very idea that they'd taken her out of the Hall
- perhaps it would seem odd to Saranni. She wondered how to explain.

"I enjoy it," she said, deciding to be as straightforward as possible.
"My speciality is the archives. I like reading old Records, and seeing
what they tell us about how people used to live. And, in my turn,
keeping a record of what happens now for those who come after me." She
paused, considering how much more to say. "I trained in the North, where
women have been always been accepted as harpers. So, I didn't face the
same obstacles as I might have if I'd been here."

Saranni supposed that made sense. If you were from somewhere where women
crafting was normal you wouldn't see a problem with it. But, still...,
"Don't you want to get married though?"

"No!" Tasni couldn't help a burst of laughter. However, as ridiculous as
the idea of her getting married seemed, she didn't want to insult what
was most likely Saranni's life's ambition. "At least, not yet, while I'm
travelling so much. But there's nothing stopping me if I wanted to. Lots
of journeymen get married."

Saranni's eyebrows rose at the vehement response and laughter. She
wasn't sure how any woman could view marriage as a laughing matter,
considering that for most women, the marriage she managed to make set
her position in life. And, certainly, a crafter could get married, but
what sort of husband would she attract? And, think of all the time to
have children she was wasting during these travels!

"What about children?"

She did manage not to laugh at that, although when she imagined herself
cooing over a baby, it seemed even more absurd than meekly settling down
with a husband. "Maybe one day. Who knows? But, as a crafter, I hope my
legacy will be my work, not my children. Anyway," she went on,
cheerfully, "I'm getting a bit long in the tooth for marriage. You seem
to start quite young, here."

Saranni felt scandalized as she read between the lines of the harper's
reply. The woman didn't care about having children at all! But how
could that be? Having children was one of a woman's only real purposes
in life, besides marrying well.

"I'm older than both my sisters were when they married." Her father
had saved her for the task of marrying the Lord Holder because he felt
she had the best shot at it, but that meant that she had to wait until
the time was right to be sent.

Tasni tried to guess how old Saranni was. Seventeen, eighteen? How could
you know who you wanted to spend your life with at that age? She didn't
even know at twenty-six! And her sisters had been even younger? Still,
she did know that even in the North, such marriages did occur. She'd
been lucky, having her craft.

"Well...I hope you find a good match, here at the Hold," she said, doing
her best to be tactful. "But not too soon! I can only imagine what
Master Eilomar will say if you join the choir and then get married the
next minute."

"Perhaps I'll be lucky and my husband will like that I sing," Saranni
replied graciously. If she succeeded in her task of marrying the Lord
Holder, it might even come to be. He'd already indicated an enjoyment
of music after all.

Last updated on the June 15th 2019


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