Date Posted: 5th June 2019
As a Master Harper of the Hall at Emerald Falls, Jayala received letters
almost daily. There were missives from anxious parents, journeymen
seeking her intervention in matters of promotion or new assignment, and
sometimes an update from a former student. The latter were her especial
pleasure. It was not so long since the first Hall-trained journeywomen
had left for their postings, and she carefully followed their progress,
wondering which would be the first to join her in the ranks of the Masters.
The letter she was holding did not look as though it came from a
journeywoman. It had been written on good quality paper, rolled into a
tight cylinder and stamped with a seal showing a tree with drooping
branches. Jayala hoped that it would not be another complaint; she'd had
enough trouble placating Journeyman Ueltin's former host. She slid her
letter knife under the seal to peel it off, then unrolled the paper and
began to read.
I am writing to you concerning my daughter, Liaza. As you know, she has
been an apprentice at the Harper Hall for nearly three Turns now. I do
hope she has been a diligent and satisfactory student. However, her
circumstances have changed significantly.
Five months ago, my husband's uncle, who was the holder of Willow Lake
in the territory of Amber Hills Hold, passed away after a short illness.
What we did not know until we received the news is that he had lost his
only son and heir not long before, in a boating accident on the lake for
which the hold is named. This sad event was said to have broken the old
man's health and spirit, and his health rapidly declined. With no other
direct male heirs, the hold and land passed to my husband.
After settling in, we began to consider the new prospects for our
children. Willow Lake is a large and prosperous hold, and we have been
approached by several families seeking alliances with ours. After much
thought, and with the utmost gratitude for the training our daughter had
received in her time at your Hall, we have decided to accept the best of
these offers for her hand, and must therefore withdraw her as an apprentice.
It only remains for me to thank you for having taken such good care of
our daughter during her time at the Harper Hall, and to assure you that
this change is in no way a reflection on the suitability of your Craft
for a young girl. Indeed, Liaza's musical ability was a great advantage
in the marriage negotiations, and will no doubt be useful when she has
Olazane, Holder's wife of Willow Lake Hold"
Jayala put down the letter and slowly let out her breath, fighting the
urge to rip it in two. How _could_ they? How could they snatch away
their daughter's chance at a fine career - and for what? A betrothal to
someone she'd almost certainly never met, all her efforts reduced to a
mere asset in the marriage market.
She felt Liaza's loss almost as keenly as if it was her own. Remembered
the terrifying, helpless sensation of a life closing in on itself, the
fear of having the one thing she loved taken from her...
Trying to calm herself, she thought back to the circumstances of the
girl's coming to the Hall. She had been discovered by a journeyman in
one of the medium-sized holds that bordered the Sea of Azov, where her
father had been steward. It had taken some effort to persuade the
parents to entrust their daughter to the Harper Hall. Had the harpers
still been at the Weyr they would never have agreed to it, but Jayala
had managed to entice them with lavish descriptions of the comforts of
the new Hall and the respectable society at nearby Emerald Falls.
On arrival she had turned out to be a pleasant girl of thirteen, with a
decent touch on the gitar and a soft but sweet singing voice. Jayala was
not sure she had the drive and burning talent necessary in a master
musician, but she had patience and a gentle manner and would do very
well as a teacher in one of the more liberal holds.
Unfortunately, she was still several Turns away from promotion to
journeywoman, and the freedom to make her own decisions.
Jayala considered what might be done. The apprentice's parents were
currently contributing towards her tuition, which would now presumably
stop. Could she find another sponsor? For an exceptional student it
might be possible, but... Even then, she would need to convince the
other Masters to agree that Liaza should stay against the will of her
family. Some of them, she was sure, did not approve of female
apprentices at all, no matter what they said in public. And what if the
parents complained to their Lord Holder?
She pressed the back of her hand to her head, feeling an ache starting.
There must be something she could do. She was a Master Instrumentalist,
she had influence.
First, she would try writing back to Olazane and her husband. There was
always a chance she might persuade them to change their minds, though if
they had already accepted the offer of marriage it would be tricky. Then
there were messages she could send, asking for support.
And finally, she would have to talk to the girl. As much as she wanted
to keep quiet until she was sure, she could not. The parents might have
written to her separately, she might even already know. If so, she would
need to know she had at least one Master on her side.
Last updated on the June 24th 2019