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A Harper's Life

 

Events in the Harperhall

 

Meet the Harpers

 

In the Vaults

Suspicions

Eighty-fourth day of spring, fortieth Turn of the Tenth Pass.

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Harper Lounge.

A few chairs are scattered at odd intervals around this room, mostly soft, comfortable armchairs, with a few wooden ones off against the walls. The center of the area holds a cluster of sofas, arranged with a carefully sculpted haphazard appearance around a low wooden table. The glowlight shines off somewhat uneven walls, which sparkle with bits of bright mineral. A table against the wall holds some bottles of various beverages and a few trays of neat snacks. Doors leading off the room lead to various harper private residences.

Shyana comes into the harper lounge, carrying a loose pile of hides. The bandage is still on her left arm, but she is using it now, carrying a small cloth rucksack. She pauses as she spots Ylisa inside, her eyes flicking to an empty armchair, then back to the journeyman. "Am I interrupting you?" she asks, using that special variety of tentative one uses when they do not want to startle their target.

Ylisa opens her eyes, blinks several times, then smiles at Shyana. "As I wasn't actually doing anything, it would be rather hard to interrupt! Come in, don't mind me. How's the arm?"

"Better," Shyana says, moving to the empty chair and dumping her rucksack on the floor, then depositing the hides on the table beside it. "The healers say the bandages can come off in a few more days, and that I shouldn't have any real scarring from it. They were fairly minor burns, I guess." She lowers herself to sit, slipping her feet out of her shoes and pulling her legs up to sit cross-legged.

"That's good to hear." Ylisa sits up straighter and shifts further back in the chair, though she's still rather sinking into the soft cushions. "Has it been getting in the way of things much?" She picks up the juice and takes a sip, then leans forward to put the glass safely on the table.

Shyana shrugs a shoulder, shuffling through her hides quickly as she speaks. "I haven't been able to do gitar practice, so I've been memorizing chord fingerings instead. But it was my left arm, so all my written assignments have been fine. It's mostly just chores and gitar I've had problems with, but everyone's been really nice about letting me switch chores and things."

Ylisa nods. "Ah well, learning fingerings is always useful, and I'm sure Journeyman Rensor understands why you can't play at the moment. Still, not long now. I expect you'll be glad to get rid of the bandage." She frowns slightly. "Did I hear that you were one of the people who had something stolen from the dorm?"
Shyana has Impressed blue Vapid.

"Yeah." Shyana's nose wrinkles at that. "Yeah, a necklace. My father sent it to me when I let him know I was in the hall. It used to be his aunt's. I'm really annoyed. Someone was saying maybe Miki had taken it, but I don't know..."

Ylisa tilts her head sharply at that suggestion and there's surprise in her tone as she speaks. "Miki? You mean Mikailyn? Why her? You think it must have been one of the apprentices, then?" She looks intently at the girl, her brow furrowed.

"I don't know," Shyana says, with another little shrug. "That's just what someone else was saying. I'm not sure why. And... it would make sense for it to be one of us, right? I mean, nothing's been taken from the boys, that I've heard. And we're the ones that are there all the time..."

Ylisa nods slowly, but sounds unconvinced. "You know that Master Jueann lost something, too? And that there have been similar thefts in the Hold and some of the other crafthalls?" She pauses, deciding how much to tell the apprentice. "We don't know that it's all done by one person, or that it's an organised thing, but it's possible. There's certainly been more of that sort of thing than usual. So, it doesn't have to be someone from here."

Shyana blinks at that, looking a bit startled by the revelation. "Maybe its one of the drudges," she says thoughtfully. "Are there any new drudges or anything? No one would be surprised to see drudges in all kinds of places, doing things..."

Shyana's chin lifts slightly at that. "Yeah," she says, her tone suddenly enthusiastic. "And they could go anywhere, into people's private rooms and /anything/, if they just had an armload of linens or something." She likes this idea, clearly, much more than the Miki-theory. "Could you get the headwoman to tell you all the drudges in rotation to harper hall, and then watch for anyone out of place?"

Ylisa gives a cheerful if slightly calculating smile. "I can do better than that. I'll ask Leyte. She knows everything, and she and Dernila are assigned here permanently, so they'd know if anyone else had been around. Though I rather pity any poor drudge who does get assigned here..."

Shyana returns the smile with an uncertain grin of her own. "She knows everything?" she repeats. "Wow." Clearly, the apprentice finds this a bit intimidating... and unnerving. What petty sins has she on her conscience today? "Well, I hope they find whoever did it."

Ylisa grins and goes into an impression of instruction-mode. "Now here's an important lesson for you. Every Harper needs to cultivate good sources of information. Leyte spends most of her working time keeping the Ballroom clean - you must have seen her. She's also in and out of the office and the other rooms down there. So who do you think has the best view in the Hall of who comes in and out, who they're with, who's talking to whom, and so on?" A playful wag of the finger. "Quite!"

"That makes sense," Shyana says thoughtfully. "And no one ever pays any attention to drudges, so they'll talk even with other people in the room if they're drudges." Clearly, she never paid much attention to drudges, either; this is a bit of a revelation for her.

Ylisa gives a satisfied grin. "Precisely." She chuckles softly. "Of course, she's also the worst gossip in the place, so you can safely assume that anything she tells you, at least half the Hall knows - and the same applies to all /your/ secrets."

"Um." Shyana considers this for a moment. "So, learn to listen without taliking? That's probably really good for a harper, anyway, right? Because people need to trust us."

Ylisa smiles and nods, but her tone becomes a little more serious. "Yes, that's exactly right. We sometimes get a bit of a reputation for gossip, but it shouldn't be for spreading it." She sounds almost bitter as she says, "It can do a lot of damage, gossip."

Shyana blinks at Ylisa, considering that. Then she says, her tone serious and contemplative, "Even if it's true, sometimes. Everyone says harpers need to be careful to only tell truth, but sometimes, even telling the truth could be bad, right?"

Ylisa nods thoughtfully. "That's right. For example.... say we had a theory about who was doing these thefts, and a plan to catch them. If someone who knew about that were to tell someone else, and the knowledge spread, what they said would be true, but it could stop us catching the thief, if they heard."

"Yeah," Shyana agrees, her voice growing more enthused again. "And even with little things, sometimes telling the truth can be bad, like telling someone their dress is hideous because it is, or telling someone that someone else was saying mean things about them."

Ylisa nods again. "That's right. Sometimes it's better just to say nothing. And sometimes you have to work out exactly /how/ to say something unpalatable."

Shyana wrinkles her nose at that. "I hate that," she confides. "I hate having to tell people bad news and things, or that they did something wrong, especially when they're sure they did everything just right."

Ylisa chuckles and agrees in longsuffering tones. "I know exactly what you mean. And believe me," she gestures towards the top hide on the table in front of her, which is sufficiently scruffy that it's probably apprentice work, "It's something you get to do a lot if you teach."

"Yeah, but apprentices /shouldn't/ think they did stuff just right," Shyana says. "We all make lots of mistakes, and should expect to be corrected, right? I do, I know. I mess things up all the time."

"That's right. Actually, you don't get exempt from it once you make journeyman, you just don't do it on the same things, usually." There's a rueful note to Ylisa's voice. She leans forward and picks up the pile of hides, leafing through until she finds the one she wants. The music on it looks fiddly in the extreme. "I remember having to copy this thing out four times before I got a neat enough copy. Journeyman Jeranium was going wild because he wanted the copies for the wind group. Now he just goes wild because he doesn't like what I write for them!"

Shyana giggles in spite of herself at that, peering at the hide. "I can't wait till I can start writing music," she says wistfully. "They say if I work hard in theory, I can start counterpoint in another three months, and composition around three months after that. But that's practically /forever/."

Ylisa turns the hide round and sets it in front of Shyana the right way up. "Attributed to Master Bartolin, seventh Pass." Leaning back, she adds, "So, you're looking forward to composition? That's good. A lot of apprentices seem rather scared of those classes. And if you spend your time getting a good grasp of the theory now, composition will come a lot easier when you get there. Do you write now?"

"Huh," Shyana says, peering over the hide. "I kind of dabble in writing. I write lyrics and things. I used to write poetry at home, and now I think more in terms of verses and choruses, I guess. But I can't write decent melodies. I try, but whenever I start singing random notes, they end up turning into lines I'm stealing from other songs, and it takes me a long time to realize it..."

Ylisa smiles, nodding sympathetically. "Everyone worries about that. I don't think there's really an answer to it, either. Though, I've found that knowing the repertoire well helps - if only because I tend to realise it quicker and not waste too much time. But you can't know everything - there's all sorts of stuff in the archives that rarely gets an airing. I usually just make sure I run my tunes past someone before I let them out in public."

Shyana bobs her head at that. "That makes sense," she says. "Mostly, though, I'm just writing down good lines and verses and stuff so that when I get to start writing music, I'll have some lyrical things to go with the melodies and whatnot.

Ylisa grins approvingly. "That's good," she says. "Get those ideas down when you have them - you're bound to have to produce something at some time when there's not a sensible thought in your head. I do that - I keep an ideas list, too. You know: "write a song about such and such," or "use this combination of instruments for something." Then I go through it when I'm stumped for what to do next. And I make sure I always have something to write on with me." She nods towards the folded waxed tablet.

Shyana's responding grin is more sheepish. "I tend to write on myself sometimes. Or my clothes. If I think I'm going to forget things."

Ylisa giggles. "Oh, dear." She leans forward and picks up the tablet, which is a small one of the double-leaf wood-and-wax variety, with a small clasp to hold it shut. "Get yourself one of these from the store, and a stylus. Much easier than getting the ink out of your clothes!" She tosses it to the girl. "See!" 

Shyana catches the tablet neatly with her good arm, placing it in her lap. She undoes the clasp and folds it open, examining it. "I generally use charcoal on my clothes," she comments as she moves. "Ink on the skin. This is nice, though. I didn't know there were portable ones like this; I would have expected it would smear and things. But I guess that's why it folds, so both sides protect the others. It's a neat idea."

Ylisa nods, pointing vaguely with a finger towards the tablet. "That's why the frames are raised a bit - so the two sides don't stick or smear. And you can just smooth it out. It's some sort of berry wax. I wouldn't be without it." She never is without it, in fact. "Of course, half the apprentices are convinced I keep my records of their misdoings, here," she jokes, "but actually, it's usually just musical jottings."

"Oh, well that's just silly," Shyana says. "No way all of our misdeeds would fit in here..." She says that with an understated deadpan, almost off-handedly, as she closes the tablet up again and offers it to Ylisa.

Ylisa accepts the tablet and sets it back on the table. "Naturally," she says with a hint of humour. "And anyway, I've a far better place to keep those." She taps a finger lightly against her temple.

Shyana grins now, then glances to the door. "Oh," she says, a bit startled. "I should probably be going; I have a class soon. I was just stopping by to read over my theory notes...It was nice talking to you!" Strange. The journeyman almost seemed like a real person for a while. It must have been illusion.

Ylisa is entirely real. "Well, don't let me keep you from your work. Enjoy your class," she says with a grin, reaching for the tablet again.

Shyana nods at that, and pushes to her feet, gathering up her hides and grabbing her rucksack again. "Goodbye!" she says, moving out of the lounge again, toward the ground floor.

Logfile from Ylisa.

 

 

 

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