About the Craft

 

A Harper's Life

 

Events in the Harperhall

 

Meet the Harpers

 

In the Vaults

Cerran's Harper Concert

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Gar Gardens

You follow a cobblestone path through the gardens of Gar Hold. It appears to be well kept, as it is one of the favorite spots of the hold. Stone benches are set at regular intervals for people to sit and talk, especially young couples. Camelia bushes of all colors are the focus of the gardens, with rose bushes and azaleas as accents. Cobblestones and gravel pave all the paths, and stones surround the beds, keeping greenery from growing where it ought not. The mixed scents of the bushes are strong enough to be noticed, but not overpowering, and

perfectly delightful. The whole effect is very relaxing, except that the usual tranquility is interrupted by the addition of rows of white wooden... [look closer] It is a summer midmorning. Admiring the reflection in the basin are four firelizards. You see Wishbone here. Cerran, Natch, Radel, Ylisa, Moonn, Quayna, Caeran, April, and Niara are here.

Caeran claps even harder than he did the last time, then orders a plate of meatrolls from a passing drudge. His flit is getting a bit restless. 

Quayna adjusts her skirts neatly as she takes a seat on the stage, her expression becoming more confident as she settles her gitar properly into position. With a quickly strummed chord to gather attention, she declaims in a clear voice, "I have a tale to tell... a tale of love and despair, of feuding families and sweet passion." It's a story that's been told over and over, in one way or another.

 

Ylisa joins in the applause for Cerran, then settles down on a nearby chair to listen to Quayna's story. She's smiling rather rigidly, now - she'll be going on herself soon - but tries to pay attention.

 

The chord modulates to a sad minor as she continues, letting the gitar fall silent with her words. "Two cotholds, both alike in wealth and renown, were separated only by a tall stone wall. This wall had been in place since the First Pass, to separate the families' farmlands. Nothing could stop the feud; no-one had tried in recent Turns, and their Lord Holder was continually fining both families for the bloodshed and angry deeds that passed between them." 

 

"Until one day, at a Gather held by the Lord Holder, a young man and a young woman, one of each family, chanced to meet. She was beautiful, he was handsome; they thought they knew one another, but weren't sure, and so events continued that evening at the Gather as to be expected." Quayna picks out a happy dance tune on her gitar. "They danced, they drank fine Benden wine.... and at the end of the evening, they kissed. Once, twice, and again, to pledge their love."

 

Natch has connected.

 

Kirsyn, being a Harper-type (and a rather late one, at that), hurries through the crowd, searching out other Harper-types who might be able to tell her where exactly they are in the concert.  Ylisa's spotted, and, as she doesn't seem to be actively performing at the minute, Kirsyn takes the opportunity to slip over and whisper, "Where are we?"

 

Quayna's fingers draw some soft, almost sad music from her gitar as she continues. "Finding out that his young lady was a fosterling of the Hold, the young man - let us call him Rommero - determined that night to call up to her window. But by this time, the Lady Holder had told her fosterling  - who we shall name Giulia - that the handsome young man should be one of her bitterest enemies. And so the young man, standing below her window, heard Giulia sobbing in despair: "Why, why do you have to be from that family? My only love, borne of my only hate?"

 

Natch leans forward as she listens. Lovely story, one might almost shed a tear A cry of loneliness is dragged from the gitar by Quayna's fingers before she continues, voice throbbing with the passion of the story. "Calling out to his love,  Rommero made himself known to her - and let it be known that he'd betray his family for her love." A dramatic ripple of notes follow this proclamation.

 

"Giulia vowed that she loved him above all else... and weaving her sheets swiftly into a rope, allowed Rommero to climb up to her."

 

"Love. Love can triumph over much," Quayna muses, almost to herself, letting her fingers pluck out another happy ripple of sound... that once more modulates into something deeper, darker. "But alas," she declaims to her audience, "It was not to be. Though the lovers were not found out, Rommero had been marked at the Gather the night before by Giulia's cousin. They were well known to one another, and so during the following day, Rommero found himself confronted." Quayna's fingers pluck daggers of sound from the gitar. "A fight... a fight... Rommero was wounded, and Giulia's cousin killed outright. Rommero fled.... And Giulia, believing him a criminal and the killer of her cousin, fell into mourning." Quayna's gitar gently weeps, soft notes like teardrops.  

 

Ylisa waves to Kirsyn, and beckons her to a seat, but just whispers "Third item" in response to her question.  Then she turns her attention back to the stage, delighted with Quayna's story. 

 

"In the meantime, Rommero had fled to the next Hold, fearing to be held responsible for the death of Giulia's cousin. But news came to him - not merely that Giulia had fallen into a decline, but a full-fledged rumor that she was.... dead!" A quick strum across the gitar gives a dramatic sound suitable to Quayna's lead-up of suspense.

 

Cerran is truly enthralled by the story.  He listens intently, forgetting for a moment that he had a concert to run.

 

"And nothing was left now but sorrow. From so much joy, came so much pain...." Quayna continues, voice dark with sadness for the story. "Rommero, believing Giulia dead, took his own life... and when she learnt this news.... so did she!" A pause is left for audience reaction, although they're all no doubt familiar with the old, tragic love story.

 

Natch wipes at her eyes. A speck of dust seems to have lodged in each one.

 

Caeran is rather saddened by the story. He knows he has heard it before, but had completely forgotten how it ended.

 

A final few chords of measured melancholy finish the tale. "With the death of their children, the two families became reconciled.... and the wall was pulled down, to build the tombs of the lovers." Quayna bows her head to the audience,

finishing with, "Though the story is well known... there never was a tale of such woe, as that of Giulia and her Rommero." Rising to her feet with a flick of her skirts, she takes a small bow. Her story is done.

 

Natch claps,  slowly and softly at first, as befits the mood woven around them by the harper.

 

Cerran stands, hoping none notice him wiping tears from his eyes.  He in fact hugs Quayna as he gets up on the stage.  "Thank you, Quayna.  That was lovely."

 

Quayna edges her gitar quickly out of the way of being squashed, but she's clearly pleased by Cerran's hug - beaming as she steps off the stage and slides her gitar into its case.

 

Radel releases his little blue's tail for the first time to clap for the girl's story, smiling in a rather melancholic way.

 

Caeran wipes a single tear from his cheek as he applauds the touching performance.

 

Ylisa disentangles herself from the ecstatic embrace of her neighbor, and smiles, clapping Quayna.  "Good, wasn't she?  Oh, I think I'm next."  She retrieves her gitar from its case and quietly checks the tuning one more time.  

 

As the applause dies down, Cerran announces the next act.  "Next, please welcome Senior Apprentice Ylisa, who will delight us with a song."  He retakes his seat off to the side, and a group of Harpers silently surround him to discuss something.

Kirsyn nods, taking up a seat next to Ylisa - oh, wait, there we go, the fellow Harper's going up.  Please say she's not next, is she?  Ohhh.  Kirs's not the most...erm...enthusiastic of performers.  Hyperactive nervous syndrome, if you will.  Twitch.  Fidget.  It's really a shame, because she was too busy worrying to appreciate Quayna's piece fully.  But she does quiet down to listen to Ylisa.  Hopefully.

 

Ylisa walks onto the stage, gitar in hand, her calm demeanor and poised bearing concealing any nerves she may be feeling.  She hopes.  She's going to sing standing, so she slips the gitar strap over her head as she turns to face the audience, and settles the instrument into position.  Then she smiles, takes a couple of deep breaths, and begins.

 

The introduction to Ylisa's song establishes a fast pace and a bouncy rhythm. The harmonies are simple and cheerful, and Ylisa plays confidently. 

 

Niara scoots over closer to Kirsyn, nudging her in acknowledgement. "Are you performing today?" she whispers, her eyes not leaving the stage.

 

Now listen to your Auntie as I sing to you this rhyme.

I never thought I'd ever live to see so bad a time,

When children aren't ashamed to act the way you youngsters do,

So let me tell you how it was when I was young like you.

Now those were days of peace and plenty: Thread was quite unknown,

And cornfields would produce a bushel crop for each grain sown,

The rain would always fall at night, the sun would shine all day,

But that was many Turns ago and very far away.

Ylisa scans the audience as she sings, looking from one to the other and making eye contact, trying to convey the character of a crotchety old Auntie.

 

You children don't know how to act! You should have been like me,

For we were never known to fail in any courtesy;

We pleaded for the privilege of doing every chore,

And when the meal was served, we'd never think to ask for more.

Now when our elders called, we always ran to do their will,

Our dearest wish it was to learn, to master every skill, 

We did our work with no complaints and always did it well,

But that was many Turns ago, more Turns than I can tell. 

Though the verses are long, repeated phrases and a tune whose second half answers the first serve to keep the song moving.   Ylisa has got into her stride now, and grins as she plays the few quick chords that lead into the next verse.   

 

You children don't know what you're missing, misbehaving so.

You simply don't apply yourselves to what you ought to know,

For I could read and figure by the time that I was three,

And no-one learned their teaching ballads quite as soon as me.

When I was five I read through all the records of our hold;

By ten I was advising everyone both young and old;

The Harper said he'd never seen a child so diligent,

But that was many Turns ago - I wonder where they went.

Kirsyn nods silently to Niara, meekly murmuring her answer.  "Umm.  Yes."  She's still rather apprehensive about the whole thing, hopping on hot coals if you will.  Nervous.

 

As she sings the last few words, Ylisa lets herself stare reflectively into space for a second, then plays a longer link, letting the gitar repeat the melody of the final bars of the verse.  But there's plenty more to come, and Ylisa varies the accompaniment.  The claims get more and more outrageous, but she sings more lyrically, as if reminiscing about past wonders.

  

My Father taught me all he knew, that's why I am so wise!

For he had mastered every craft - I'm telling you no lies.

He bred a line of runnerbeasts, so fast and strong were they

That they could cross the continent in just a sevenday.

He sailed his ship around the world and brought back treasures grand;

He dug a mine that yielded sapphires bigger than my hand;

And all the Lords and Masters came to hear what he would say;

But that was many Turns ago, and very far away.

As she swings into the final verse, Ylisa returns to the original driving chords in the accompaniment, her voice firm and cheerful, until the song slows in the final line.

Quayna slides into the seat next to Kirsyn, ,giving the other apprentice an encouraging and relieved smile. She starts to chuckle at Ylisa's song - not so loudly that she might spoil people's listening.

 

And when we had a Gather, oh, it was the best of all!

I'm sure a thousand crafters came and each one had his stall;

The goods that they brought with them were the finest ever made,

With boots that never would wear out and cloth that could not fade,

And glass that you could never break and grapes the size of pears,

And if the traders liked your face, they'd give away their wares;

I'd swear a hundred Harpers came to please us with their song,

But that was many Turns ago and you can't prove me wrong!

Eyes and face showing her amusement, Ylisa slows the pace on the last line, emphasizing each word as she throws out the final challenge. She holds the last note for its full length, playing the final chords with emphasis before voice and instrument are silenced. 

 

Quayna breaks out into full laughter, and applause too, showing her appreciation of Ylisa's song - and the way it's turned the mood of the concert back to jollity.

 

Breena walks in from the Hold Field.

 

Caeran claps wildly and laughs aloud. It's just how his aunt used to talk.  

 

Even in his impromptu meeting, Cerran couldn't help but listen to Ylisa's song, and he accidentally laughs as a Harper makes an important statement.  "Excuse me, but I must go conduct my duty and I'll be right back to our planning."

 

Niara giggles and remembers and old Auntie /she/ used to know.  

 

Kirsyn grins nervously at Quayna, for it's always nice to have fellow-Harper-type supports, giggling herself.  Well.  Ylisa's was a rather humorous song, you see, and Kirsyn had trader family.  Who...have been somewhat known to do that, on occasion.

 

Having heard of some sort of Harper event at Gar, Breena curious as always had to investigate. Now that she is here however stays to entrance of the gardens. Looking around to see how is there and what's going on. 

 

Ylisa stands facing the audience, relaxing visibly now that the song is over and breaking into a smile.  After a quick nod to acknowledge the laughter and applause, she heads off the stage rather less decorously than she entered, gitar tucked nonchalantly under one arm.

 

Radel whistles loudly as he claps, interrupted by his own belly laughs. This wakes his impertinent little bleu with a tart sending it searching for a hiding place under the nearby stage.

 

Quayna casts a curious look towards Cerran - something's obviously in the planning. Reaching into the pocket of her gitar care, she pulls out her drumsticks, and starts twirling them idly between her fingers. "Great song! Haven't heard that in ages," she hisses at Ylisa.

 

Gold_Guest walks in from the Hold Field.

 

Cerran once again takes the stage, as befitting the Announcer.  "Thank you so much, Ylisa.  I'm sure we can all relate to that song."  He chuckles and turns back to the audience.  "We now have Apprentice Kirsyn."  He claps for her as he

walks off the stage.  Yes, a short intro but he now has a lot on his mind for his own upcoming performance.

 

Kirsyn beams nervously, squinting against all the /people/, before making her slow way to the performance stage.  Eek.

 

April has disconnected.

 

Kirsyn is not much of a performance artist, you see, so she's sort of nervously-hobbling upwards towards the stage, clutching her gitar tightly. She's also rather tempted to have 'um' be the prelude to her introduction of the piece, but refrains.  "This is a somewhat lively tune, from some cotholds near Ista.  I hope you enjoy it."  Deep breathing, Kirsyn.  Hesitantly at first, she

begins to pluck out a few spunky little chords of melody.

 

Ylisa settles back into her place next to Quayna, and grins.  "I'm surprised you've heard it at all! I don't think I've played it more than twice since the thing I wrote it for - but it did win this for me."  She rubs an affectionate hand over her gitar, which is rather well crafted.  "Time it had a proper airing."  She sighs, and sinks against the chair-back  "I'm glad that's over.

Ooh, Kirsyn's on!"

 

Breena quietly moves towards the back row of wooden chairs. The harpers have always fascinated her and a performance should be interesting. Taking the first empty seat she can find, Breena smoothes her skirt and waits for the song to begin.

 

All right, all right.  Kirsyn's a novice at this sort of performing-thing, so the piece isn't perfect.  And it's not entirely lively, although it does approach it.  Kirsyn's also not one to excel at sing-and-play, so the song doesn't have a consistent set of lyrics - although the song does have some lyrics to it.  As Kirsyn proves, rather soon.  "I caught my man out in the weyr,

where he was riding blue" 

 

Niara rolls her eyes and snorts, hand quickly flying to cover her mouth.  Trust Kirsyn to sing out about catching a man...doing /anything/.

 

"And that bluerider, the benefits of instant travel, he surely taught me true." A few more notes are plucked, once more, still a rather lively and cheerful tone.  It's progressing rather well for her, indeed.  She has been practicing, too.  "I caught my man out in the craft of cleaning up the rocks, And that Master, he presented me with seven uncut gems per box."  It's actually a Kirsyn kind of song, for those of you who know her well.

 

"Must've heard you rehearsing..." Quayna replies to Ylisa with a slight frown, but is instantly distracted by Kirsyn's song - another one to make her chuckle. 

 

The housekeeper arrives to cart April off to bed.

 

"I caught my man out in the hold, where he was serving drinks...And he taught me that 'fasting doesn't rest on how the man's mind thinks."  Pausing, Kirs plays a few note to slow down the pace, before picking out a few more.  "I loved my holder's mind so greatly, that scarcely was I hesitating - me and the Master were soon 'fasted, two days after.  To this day the fact that he thought I 'fasted for love - that always brings me laughter!"

 

Kirsyn ends the piece with a few laughing chords plucked, and walks down, flushed, but grinning.  For her, she's confident that she did a fairly passable job, and she likes that.  Kirsyn didn't join the craft to play, after all, but she is slowly learning to like it.  Phew.  She's done.  And now, Kirsyn can place that gitar back in its case, and quickly hop back over to her fellow

Harpers.  "How'd I do?" 

 

Ylisa murmurs to Quayna, "Shells, I never inflicted it on the dorm, did I? Sorry!"  Then her expression slowly becomes fixed as the words of Kirsyn's song unfold.  Her hands rise to her mouth, and her color deepens. She appears to be trying to suppress a fit of laughter.  She's not being very successful at it. 

 

Caeran applauds loudly. He rather enjoys humorous songs.

 

Quayna has her knuckles shoved in her mouth to stop her choking with laughter... she's somewhat more successful than Ylisa in hiding the hysterics. Eventually she plucks her hand free to applaud Kirsyn loudly. "Great! You did great!" she tells the other apprentice 

 

Breena snorts softly as the song begins but that quickly turns to chuckling as the lyrics go on. At least she can keep it soft even if she can't stop laughing. Breena applauds loudly, lovely, hilarious song.

 

Kirsyn beams at Ylisa and Quayna, and even anyone who's clapping.  "Great. OhmydearFaranth, I'm so glad that's over.  I think I have a definite fear of performing live on stage," she admits sheepishly.  Well.  It's actually probably well-known fact by now, but Kirs's going to state it anyway.

 

Milo suddenly disappears ::between::!

 

Cerran takes the stage, laughing and clapping.  "Just great, Kirsyn, you did just great."  He motions for her to exit the stage and then turns to the audience, still smiling.  "Now for another outstanding performance... ME!"  He wants for the groans and boos to cease, then motions for the group of Harpers offstage to join him.  "But no, seriously, I have a lovely group of Harpers here who will be performing with me.  It's an old traditional tune, but it has always been one of my favorites.  And I am sure any 'Riders out there will enjoy it." 

 

Ylisa grins broadly at Kirsyn, and nods her agreement with Quayna's words.

 

Speaking seems a little beyond her at the moment, and she has to wipe away a tear of mirth.  Eventually she manages, "I love it, Kirsyn.  I don't think I'd ever have the nerve to do that!" then tries to concentrate as Cerran announces a more serious item.

 

Quayna does groan at Cerran's self-introduction, more for fun than anything else. But she sits up expectantly, waiting to see which old favorite is going to be played.

 

Exactly nine people join Cerran on the stage.  Two men carry trumpets. A woman carries a snare drum, and two of the men lift a bass drum onto the stage, one of them taking his place behind it.  Another man carries a guitar on his neck.  With that, the man that helped with the bass joins the other three singers, one for each: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.  The woman singing alto hands Cerran a flute, which he promptly raises to his lips and quickly warms up. 

 

Breena raises an eyebrow at the not-quite-flamboyant self introduction of the harper apprentice. Settling back in her seat Breena crosses her legs, adjusts her skirt and generally fidgets as she waits for the next performance.

 

The drums set a standard marching pace, as befitting considering the name of the song is "March of the Wings."  Then, the guitar joins, adding a harmony for the upcoming quartet of singers. They join in together, signifying the unity of Pern

that the song suggests. 

 

Logfile from Kirsyn

 

 

 

 

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Content Copyright the Members of the Harper's Tale Harpercraft, 1999-present

Pern and the concept of the Harpercraft is the property of Ms. Anne McCaffrey, who kindly allows us to play in her world. Thank you!