Fletcher nods as he examines the table and shrugs. "Well, it seems
Master Shinnai and Master Namire won't be coming. Now, let's begin with
the basics. Name, rank, place of birth, specialty, main instrument,
voice level, and name of Journeyman Project."
Seamus clears his
throat to find voice. His musical tenor filling the room, "Seamus,
Harper Apprentice. Born within Ista Hold. Specialized in Law, player of
gitar, and my Project is The Foundation of Guilt."
Fletcher's stylus works busily until he notes a gap in the sheet below his hand. His eyes lift up a fraction and request, "Voice level?"
Fletcher adds the requisite note and sits back from his hunched position over the annoyingly formal paper, his poise significantly less strained. "Now, we'll go over some of the things you answered when you first Apprenticed, to see what's changed. What is it you think the Harpers do?"
Fletcher smiles and
nods to Seamus' answer, looking down the row of Masters who nod slowly
to the words. He looks back to Seamus, nodding slowly. "Yes, all right.
Why do you like being a Harper?"
Seamus chuckles quietly, leaning back in his chair as he sets to answer...
Seamus seems to smirk with
amusement as he retells this answer, much changed from when he first
entered the Craft. "Why do I love being a Harper?" he asks, rewording
the question slightly. "The Harpers form the foundation of all
knowledge within Pern. Because of out Lessons, those younger
generations before us have the opportunity to learn, grow. Through us,
Pern is taught the ways of Law, Music, and Language. But, the most
fascinating aspects of Harperdom number two reasons for me. The first
and foremost is my own Specialty: Law. The Laws that we uphold, that we
enforce, bind Pern together. The Laws we practice keep the citizens of
Hold, Hall and Weyr safe. But the most intricate, beautiful thing that
Harpers have over any Craft is the Music. Through simple melodies and
songs, we can shift th e mood aof a crowd, bend it to invoke images of
beauty or sadness. Music is the root of all humn emotion, the
foundation s upon which we stand..."
A general sound of Mmmmmm comes up from the Master table, some of them nodding, including Fletcher, who poses the next question, "How do you perceive yourself as a Harper? What do you think of your time here, the way it's affected you, and the way it works into your life now?"
Fletcher gives the traditional mmm and nod, as does everyone else on the table, jotting down something on a sheet of paper before him. "Yes, well. Now, please tell me the three most important precepts of Pernese law."
Seamus hmms quietly as he ponders.
blinks aas the information slowly comes to mind. "One important
Fletcher nods slow agreement of that answer, making
another jotted note before turning his clear emerald gaze to the
Apprentice, his stylus dangling between his fingers.
Seamus pauses, once again looking back through memory. Seamus emerges from his search unsuccessfully. "I can't recall," he says adly.
A round of mmming an
haaaing goes around the table, some of the Masters looking sideways to
eachother. Fletcher finally speaks up after the other settle down with
an attempt at a comforting smile. "That's all right, Apprentice. On to
something else... Do you recall Journeyman Caramak's famous law problem
involving Southern Boll and Fort and the criminal?"
Seamus, head down from diappointment, silently nods. "I do," he says.
softly, nodding. "Good. Apprentice Daerin once posed the solution to
fake the man's death in Southern Boll to appease the Fort Lord Holder,
smuggling the man somewhere else under a brand new identity. Do
you think that would be a good choice on the part of the Harpers
advising the Southern Boll Lord and for the HarperCraft in
Seamus shakes his head with vigourous determination. "We
couldn't do that in goo conscience. I admit, the idea was admirable,
but the solution would not be worthy of the possible repercussions.
Think, for a moment, wwhat would
A soft murmer of approvals by some of the Masters is met by the low hum of not-quite-approval by some of the others. Fletcher, though, grins and nods to Seamus, then asks, "Who do you think a Harper owes their first allegiance to? Their Lord, their Craft, their MasterHarper, or Pern?"
Fletcher adds, "Or someone
Seamus lifts his head, his own conscience still plagued by his
recent failure. He rests against the back of his chair, meeting
Fletcher's gaze as he wonders...
Seamus smooths his clothing a
trifle, adjusting pieces here and there. "Sir, that question is hard to
answer, considering each Harper will interpret their allegiances in a
different light. Me? My allegiance falls to my beloved Pern first.
Above all else, Pern must flourish, must expand. Some would question my
loyalties with tht answer, some would not. My reasoning is thus:
A Journeyman near the end of the table looks to Fletcher for
acknowledge, then asks of Seamus when it's received, "How it it
determined what is best for Pern, then? If I might detail the question
a bit, who should you listen to to make decisions?"
sharply at the Jouneyman, seemingly abashed a such a question, then
Shinnai walks in from the ballroom.
up and give a little grin at the tardy Master, offering a seat near him
silently as he awaits Seamus' response.
Shinnai says, "Fletcher,
Seamus. Sorry I'm late..."
Seamus clears his throat, ready to stand on
his proverbial sop-box ( er, soap ... sop is another thing, but I
regress ), "Sir, one must always follow one's Heaart when coming to a
decision, even those upon which reside the fate of Pern. If I may be so
bold to ask, are you some form of machination? If a Master asked you to
plummet off Volcano Cove, telling you it's for the betterment of Pern,
would you do so? I, for one, have other reasons to believe otherwise.
One should always follow your instincets, follow your feelings when
confronted with a problem. The people residing upon Pern are usually
kind and generous, not monsters; so I believe you could come to
a reasonable decision with little advice, though advice is often
You whisper, "The last question asked was who a Harper
should listen to to make decisions- they Lord, their Craft, their
MasterHarper, or what they feel best for Pern." to Shinnai.
walks around to her desk, taking a seat as she quickly gets rid of
the papers that forced her to be late in the first place, listening to
You whisper, "Already asked him the basics. How he
felt as a Harper, what he feels the Craft does, some law basics which
he botched slightly, and an ethics question." to Shinnai.
nods consideringly, pushing her hair out of her eyes and
looking rushed, but slowing settling down now that she's
Seamus nods a sorrowful greeting to the Master, still atrifle
upset he failed to answer a question.
Fletcher mmmms softly, nodding
in slow acknowledgement of the answer. "Yes, I see..." he leans over to
eye the Journeyman who asked the question. "Is that all, Reran?" The
other Journeyman nods in response, so Fletcher looks up to his Master.
"I've asked all I can think of presently, Master."
"Alright... I apologize if I'm repeating questions, but here goes." She
reaches for a ledger book in which she generally keeps notes, taking
her lead stylus from its holder.
Seamus turns an expectant gaze to
Master Shinnai, trying his best to smile as he waits for further
Shinnai says, "Seamus. I don't know if this has been asked
already, but name the authority structure in a typical
Shinnai says, "For instance," she clarifies, "Who has first power, who next, etc. Who has the right to judge?""
his head, "Tat's a new one..." he says, pausing
Seamus smiles, hoping this answer will suffice,
"In a Hold, first authority goes to the Lord Holder or Holder of that
particular hold, followed by the Hold's Steward. When it comes to the
matter of court, the first choice of judge should fall upon the
shoulders of the Lord Holder him or herself. Next in line will go to
the Hodler of that Hold and then the Steward. Of course,
Shinnai nods. "Good, and what function do harpers
*normally* serve in this chain of command?" she follows up.
grins, "The Harpers usually perform nothing other than advisor
duties unless called upon otherwise. In a ranking scheme, I'd say a
Harper of a particualr Hold would rank alongside the Hold Steward for
argument's sake. Due to the fact that the Harper would be trained in
Law, he'd have as much knowledge of Hold mechanics of the Hold as the
Steward, if not more so."
Shinnai nods. "True." She makes a note, and
looks down a list for another question.
Shinnai says, "Alright, hypothetical question. You are approached by a Holdless man, dressed raggedly and looking like he hasn't seen the light of day in turns. He tells you that he's been wronged by a small holder, who stole some marks off of him when he tried to attend a gather."
Shinnai takes a
breath, then continues. "The small holder insists that he's never seen
the man before, and his guard says the same."
Seamus nods, "And you'd like me idea as to the outcome of such?"
Seamus grins, "Very well, it's actually simplistic in an intricate fashion."
further back into his chair, folding his hands before him. "Seeing how
this is, or had, occured at a gather, one ould not want to approach the
holder as first choice inthat instance. Not to sound harsh
or conspiratorial, one would seek the other persons present at the
crime scene first. I realize I said that most of Pern are kind,
generous sorts of people, but when it omes to Law, you need to get the
suspects to stab themselves in the back, so to speak. If you find
evidence before questioning the likely suspect first, you could catch
them in a possible lie. I highly doubt that one would approach a known
thief, asking if they stole something. So, your first rule is to hunt
down character witnesses, eyewitnesses, then the Guards for any
information regarding the case. Only after all the available clues have
been gathered should one approach the suspect themselves..."
says, "And yet, it's one man's word against another."
Seamus nods as he continues.
Seamus shakes his head thoughtfully, "When it comes down to one mans word against the other, that's where the burden of proof comes in. Seeing that the man is holdless, his creditability is in question anyhow. If he can not furnish the required evidence as to the crime in question, I must side with the Holder on this issue."
Shinnai nods again, jotting down a thought or
two in the book. "Ah, I think you've likely asked these already,
Fletcher - come take a look?"
Fletcher peers over the Harper's
Shinnai says, "You see any new ones here?"
mischieveously, "Question 4 on page 3 is new..."
Raren leans over to
look, shakes his head. "That's it, I think. Except for one
Shinnai raises an eyebrow at Seamus, amusedly.
Shinnai looks blankly at Raren for a moment, until he taps his finger in the direction of the gitar hanging on the wall. "Aha! Yes, Seamus... you have prepared the Ballad of Gerontius, right?" There's a twinkle in her eye that might tell the initiated that he wouldn't have known about this at all.
stands, reaching for the gitar. "Seamus?" she carefully hands the gitar
across the desk to him.
Shinnai, suddenly slack-jawwed.
"A Ballad of Whos-is?"
Fletcher decides a secret little smile is in
order so flashes one at anyone who wants to see it. No one
Seamus grips the gitar tightly, staring down at the thing as if
it were laiev to him
"Gerontius. You remember Gerontius, I hope. From the ninth pass, a Holder in Ista here who
alerted the Weyr to an off-time Threadfall in time to save the entire
Seamus turns an accusing glare to Fletcher, "I see," he says,
frowning slightly. "I s'pose I could make an attempt..."
Seamus places the gitar across his lap, playing idly
with the strings for a moment. His mind searches back as his fingers
play soft notes to rekindle past memory. With a smile, his hands cease
all action for the briefest of moments before entering into the tune of
The Ballad of Whos-is, which, of course, he knows but was not taught
durig his studies ... Anyhow, his fingers
Shinnai has leant back in her chair, listening intently,
obviously affected by the ballad.
Seamus cautiously opens an eye, then both as the song comes to an end.
Shinnai is smiling at Seamus as
he opens his eyes. As is most of the rest of the panel. Save, of
course, old Journeyman Fregrin, who never smiles at anyone.
adds his own toothiness to the entourage.
Seamus smiles, offering the
gitar back to the master.
Shinnai says, "Thank you, Seamus. " She
reaches over to receive the gitar back. "Do you have any comments that
you'd like to make?" she asks the examinee."
Seamus shakes his head
slowly, releasing a long sih, "None, other than this was enjoyable," he
says, wincing slightly. "Just a little upset I still can't recall the
answer to that question."
Shinnai nods. "I'm sure Fregrin will fill me
in on that one," she catches the man's glance as he makes disapproving
facial expressions at her. "Other than that, I think we're finished, am
I correct?" she glances for confirmation at the rest of the
Shinnai smiles. "Then, this session is adjourned, the test is complete."
Logfile from Fletcher
© Design Copyright S. Minkus & L. Ledger, 2003
© 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!