A New Apprentice
First day of Spring, fortieth Turn,
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The office is cheerful, the light reflecting off of whitewashed walls and ceiling. A pattern mimicking musical notation in colors runs along the tops of the walls, shelf upon shelf rising from the floor to meet it. Desks, cabinets and filing drawers are arranged about the room, workplaces for those whose job it is to keep the harpers and hall in order.
The air is fresh, tangy with sea and hides and well-seasoned woods.
Ylisa is sitting at a desk, bent over a hide. It seems to have names on it, and she's placing ticks against some of the names, frowning as her pen hovers over others. The occasional comment is added.
Jueann is quietly going over her reports and other make up work. Liesana has been good about taking
a lot of her load but Jueann still likes to know what's going on. Looking up, she frowns slightly.
Majori, perfectly inconspicuous, taps a light staccato knock on the door frame. Precise, she hovers in the doorway. She drops a slight bow of her head as if in after thought. "'scuze me," she says, voice carrying a common accent.
Ylisa is facing the door so needs only to looks up as a voice disturbs her thought processes. It's with a faint expression of relief that she makes haste to deal with the newcomer as her task is interrupted. "Hello, can I help you?"
Majori carries herself as though /expecting/ to be helped, but speaks in a manner much more humble. "Actually, if you would. I'd like to join as an apprentice." She wrings her hands as if nervous, but her features reflect none of this.
Jueann frown leaning back in chair as she listens, running her stylus through her fingers. Her eye is caught on a speck on the wall and she just looks at it for a moment.
Ylisa gives a welcoming smile, but she's also looking the girl up and down, taking in the appearance, the clothes, the shoes in a quick scan. "Come in, then, and we can talk about it. I'm Senior Journeyman Ylisa." She half-turns to indicate the crafthead, "And this is Master Jueann, who is head of the Hall here." With an enquiring smile, she looks to Jueann to see if the Master wants to take over.
Majori smiles, manner professional. "Journeyman, Master." Her greeting is polite, if crisp. "A pleasure." She moves further into the room, starting to move towards a chair before remembering manners and standing beside one. "I've heard good things about the Hall here." Flattery? Of course.
Jueann blinks, returning to the conversation at hand and smiles. "Well, I'll let you two talk. This report isn't getting finished and I need to send it out to Oriana soon." Pulling the papers closer, she returns to her work but she is listening.
Ylisa gestures to a spare chair on the other side of her desk. "Pull up a seat, then. I don't think you told me your name?" Pen is returned to its holder, and the offending hide is first dried with poured sand, then set aside as she turns her full attention to the girl.
"Majori," the young woman says with a faint smile, sinking gracefully into the offered seat. She initially crosses her legs at the ankles, then readjusts to sling one leg over the other with a bit of rearranging of her skirt to preserve modesty. "My dad's a fisher up 'round Tillek. Can't stand fish, myself. Guess I should've come somewhere that wasn't on the sea, eh? Still, nicer here."
Ylisa gives a light chuckle as she pushes her chair back a little from the desk and rests her hands, lightly clasped, on the edge of the table. "I won't argue with anyone appreciating Ista. And you're not obliged to fish here, there are plenty of other things to do. I expect there are in Tillek, too, if you look for them, but never mind that. How do you come to be in Ista? It's a way to travel."
Jueann is busy working on her record, you see. She is half listening in to the interview but Ylisa is very capable of handling it without her help.
Majori's lips curve into a wry smile. "How else? By boat. Went part of the way on one of the vessels transporting fish packed in snow. Like I said, if I never smell another fish again--" She shudders delicately. "As for the rest, I caught passage at the Hold the transport stopped in. First ship heading out was going to Ista. Figured it was a lucky sign."
Ylisa can't help but chuckle at the tale. "Well, it's certainly rather hard to get here without a ship, unless you happen to have a dragon at your disposal! Why come to Ista, though? Did you approach your local Harpers about apprenticing?"
"Local Harper's more interested in counting fish and writing fish songs and singing fish songs," Majori says, adopting the tones of typical adolescent whining. "Ista's nicer. Less rain. I was actually thinking I might like to learn something with instruments. My voice isn't the best." Oh, how modest. It just keeps her from having to pretend she has musical skills. Give her a drum and she can bang in rhythm.
Ylisa frowns a little at that. "Well, we can't all be wonderful vocalists, and we teach most instruments here in the Hall. But you would need to be able to sing enough to teach, and to entertain a bit. Could you sing something for me? Anything you like." She leans back in her seat a little, waiting. Not to put pressure on, of course. Oh no.
Majori looks briefly panicked before recalling a teaching song. It pointedly has nothing to do with fish; it pointedly has a fair bit to do with the nicer points of Hold life. She launches into singing it, her voice a trifle scratchy, but pitch and rhythm true. she isn't completely inept. She sings the first verse and chorus, before breaking off with a hint of an arch look. "Fair enough?"
Ylisa nods briefly, her tone rather dry as she delivers the verdict, "Lessons would help." She regards Majori critically for several moments before continuing. "So, why do you want to be a Harper? What is it about the Craft that appeals to you?"
"No doubt," Majori replies, a trace of self-deprecating humor in her words. "Why does anyone want to be a Harper?" It isn't rhetorical. She's looking around for answers. "The chance to teach, the chance to play. I'd really like to learn how to build instruments," she says with sudden brilliance. That won't require any musical skill on her part!
Ylisa raises her eyebrows, but her tone is now more appreciative. "Would you, indeed? We don't get many people coming along with that as their main interest. Tell me what else you know that Harpers do." She leans forward, seeming to take the girl more seriously, and smiles.
Jueann looks up and frowns. She isn't sure of that's the right answer.
Majori ticks the points off on her fingers, her answers somewhat different than the average wannabe apprentice might say. "Well, Harpers are the mediators, archivists, legalists, teachers, and entertainers. What /don't/ they do?" She smiles, an attempt at winsomeness made for Jueann's benefit.
Ylisa pauses for a moment, a grin twitching at the corners of her mouth, before she says innocently, "Fish?" Then she nods, "Yes, that's most of it. As an apprentice you'd eventually study all those areas, as well as art, drama, history, and all the musical subjects. Tell me, did your local Harper send any recommendation with you? I assume you talked to him or her."
Jueann raises an eyebrow but doesn't say anything.
"Yes, actually. We didn't always see eye to eye, but here it is." Majori passes over papers after a bit of fumbling, extracting them and handing them to Ylisa with a smile. "Drama might be interesting." She looks bland, not the slightest bit nervous as expertly forged pages are produced.
Ylisa takes and peruses the papers. "Ah, yes, I see. He's recommending you quite highly. Journeyman Annick. Annick?" She frowns. "I know one or two of the Tillek harpers, but not him." She moves onto the second sheet. "Quite a glowing reference, in fact." Looking over at Jueann, she holds up the sheets, offering to pass them over. "Would you like to take a look, Master Jueann? Oh, and Majori, you do realise that an apprenticeship normally lasts at least four Turns? How old are you?"
Jueann blinks, "Huh? What? Sure." Reaching for the letter, "Hmmm....." as she looks it over with. "I'm not familiar with the name. But then my memory hasn't been the greatest lately."
"I'm sixteen." Majori holds up a hand to forestall any comments with a faint grin. "And I know. I look old for my age. My mom always said I'll -really- hate that in about ten turns. But I'm ready for it, even if it takes even longer." As for the journeyman in question, she nods and studies her hands. "Ol' Annick's kinda, well, old." She looks a trifle guilty to say so, but adds, "I half expect him to keel over in a storm."
Ylisa grins at the nautical image that Majori's words evoke, then forces a straight face. "Well, /Journeyman/ Annick has kindly said some encouraging things about you." The rank is stressed. Ylisa looks enquiringly at Master Jueann, awaiting a verdict. As the Crafthead's here, she'll defer to Jue's judgement.
Jueann reads the note again and shrugs, "You're doing the interview Ylisa. Your call. I'm not going to interfere."
"Ah, yes, Journeyman Annick. I've just known him for so long," Majori says with a smile, playing up that connection her earlier words were meant to evoke. She gives herself a point, a trifle smug.
The demands of respect satisfied, Ylisa nods politely to Jueann, then turns back to Majori. "Well, that all seems satisfactory. We'd be glad to have you here, Majori. Now, where are you staying, and who do we need to inform? You'll need to bring your things over and move into the dormitory."
Majori smiles all too readily. "I can send a note back to my parents. They write me letters and send them by firelizard. My mom's brown is lazy enough to wait while I write a reply. It'll be quickest, since he knows the way. My stuff's in the Hold dorms. Not much to it. A switch of location is no problem."
Ylisa smiles, and gets to her feet. "In that case, why don't you go and bring your things over now, and I'll ask one of the girls to help you get settled in the dorm and show you round a bit. Come here first thing after breakfast tomorrow, and either one of the Masters or I will talk to you about classes, and get you started on your studies."
"Thank you, Journeyman Ylisa." Majori stands as well, dipping a practiced curtsy. Her manners are much more cultured than the rough nature of her words. "Master Jueann. I look forward to my time here."
There's just a faint hint of puzzlement in Ylisa's eyes as she ushers Majori towards the door. "I hope you'll be very happy with us. Come back to this office when you've got your things, and someone will show you where to go. You can write to your parents this evening."
Jueann looks up from her reports and nods, "Welcome to the Harpers." is all she says, returning to her stack of papers.
As the door closes behind Majori, Ylisa turns to Jueann. "Strange girl. But she seems bright enough, and she comes highly recommended. And after some of the boys addressing me - and you - as 'lass,' I suppose 'Ol' Annick' doesn't seem impossible to train out of her."
Jueann hmms softly as she leans back into her chair, "She's too well mannered and spoiled, if you ask me. I noticed she offered me a smile or two to get into my good graces."
Ylisa nods thoughtfully. "Annick must have taught her some manners - that, or her parents did. And if she's got the ability, well, the Craft can use her. But there's something..." She shakes her head. "I can't put my finger on it. We'll just have to see how she shapes up."
Jueann sighs and nods, "We'll see how she shapes up. But I suggest you write to Annick and get some more information from him."
Ylisa picks up the testimonial. "Yes, I can certainly do that; I'd let him know the outcome anyway, as he's recommending her to the craft. We'd need a good reason to turn her down with this sort of reference. Somehow, I don't think I'm going to like her, though." With a sigh, she sits back down at her desk. "And now I'd better get back to picking the players for this ensemble."
Jueann shrugs as she returns to her paperwork.
Logfile from Ylisa