"Wonderful song, Master Domick. I thought that the part where the music..." One of Tillek's Lord Holder's fosterlings had cornered the master composer as soon as he exited the stage. The man froze for a second, his eyes glazing over as he tried to think of the correct word. He gave up quickly and gestured with his hands instead, vaguely indicating something getting larger.
"... the crescendo?"
"... Yes, thank you... It was especially impressive."
"Crescendo's usually are." Domick replied dryly. The fosterling had a rather large forehead, and the harper found himself wondering what was it was for. Obviously it wasn't because he had been blessed with an abnormally large brain. In fact, from his lack of understanding of basic music theory, something that was taught to all children along with the teaching ballads, Domick was beginning to wonder if he had a brain at all. Maybe there was an additional heart up there? Or maybe it was nothing but dust and cobwebs.
"I was wondering if you might be able to write something similar for my wedding. My betrothed would be extremely impressed if I had a tune commissioned specifically for us - especially if it was written by the great Master Composer. It's a month away, but surely that should be more than enough time for you, yes?"
Domick snorted. Write a song for a mere fosterling's wedding? And have it written and practiced and ready to play in a month? Yes, there definitely must be cobwebs in the boy's head. "I will not have enough time; Fort's midsummer gather is also in a month, and the choir and orchestra are currently practicing for that."
"I am not asking for much, just a twiddle..."
"It's simply not possible."
Rather than admitting defeat gracefully, the fosterling opened his mouth to argue. Talmor, a journeyman harper who had been standing a short distance behind him, swooped in to save his master from further irritation. "Does your hold harper not have a selection of instrumentals available for you to review? We just sent out some newer ones that should be appropriate."
"But I was hoping to have one written specifically for my wife..."
"I know, but Master Domick is right; there simply isn't enough time to write something deserving of your soon to be wife. Let's go speak with Harper Raynor." The journeyman continued without missing a beat or acknowledging the other man's whine. "As I just mentioned, we did send out some new music to him recently, and if there isn't a song in there that you like, he should have some older compositions that would be appropriate. I'm sure she will appreciate the time you took to find just the right song for her." Talmor was now guiding the fosterling through the crowd that had gathered around the stage towards the tables set up on either side of the dance floor - away from the Master of Composition.
Domick took the opportunity to head in the opposite direction. He kept his head down, ignoring any attempts to get his attention for fear of getting dragged into another dull conversation, and put as much space between him and Talmor and the fosterling as quickly as possible. He was beginning to regret agreeing to this gather... but the Masterharper had chosen him, specifically, to be here and he couldn't tell the leader of his Hall no. Especially not with the hall being stretched so thin at the moment; many Journeymen and Masters had been sent out to visit the far flung smaller family holds now that the last of the winter snows had melted, and those that weren't out traveling where sick in bed with allergies and spring colds. So here he was entertaining when he should have been working on finishing pieces for Fort's gather.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't see the girl until he nearly ran into a girl. He let his eyes linger over her briefly, appreciating her curly dark hair set off her grey eyes and the way her Igen cut robes clung to her curves. Maybe Tillek wasn't so bad after all. Then he caught sight of the bluerider on her arm, and the boy she hugged close to her. It figured; the pretty ones always flocked to the dragonriders. He turned away quickly, not noticing the confused look that she gave him and not hearing the question from the boy asking why 'Dom' didn't recognize them.
"The man was just trying to impress his sweeting," Talmor scolded his master when he found him a candlemark later. "Would it have been so hard to just send him something small that you'd already written and claim that you had done it for him?"
"That would have been fraud, and I refuse to let the Harper Hall get a bad name just because you feel sorry for some deadglow fosterling..."
"...Whose only crime is that he is in love. Haven't you ever tried to go out of your way for a girl to impress her?" Talmor snorted. "Of course, I forget your only love is music. It might do you well to..."
"Talmor!" The older man snapped, cutting the journeyman off. Holders sitting nearby turned to stare at them in surprise. He took a breath to calm himself before he spoke again, "You go too far."
"My apologies, sir."
"I'd expect such smart remarks from Piemur, but not from you."
"Yes, sir. My apologies sir."
"Water rations - for a week." Domick rubbed at his forehead; this gather was turning out to be more of a headache than he had thought it would be. "Now, Raynor's apprentice has been up there for a couple of sets - go give him a break."
Domick leaned back in his chair, continuing to frown as he watched the other man leave. The journeyman had mouthed off before - so why did this time bother him so much? Was it because of the subject? He was well aware that many of the apprentices thought he was sexless. It wasn't true - he enjoyed a little female company as much as the next man. However, he didn't have time to deal with a woman right now: they were usually insipid little creatures with barely any other thought in their head except for getting a husband and housework. For example, there was that one drudge who had regularly warmed his bed for a few months last turn, but she had stopped speaking to him and the last he had heard was that she had gone back to her family's hold. It was probably for the best that she had gone away - he didn't want her to get the wrong idea. The only exception to the idiotic female idea was Menolly. She was smart and capable and didn't seem to be interested in marriage or even of the effect she had on men. However, while she was attractive, she was far too young for his tastes and she was already spoken for... even if she didn't quite realize it yet.
He shook his head to clear his thoughts and pulled out a bit of hide that he had thought to bring with him to the gather just in case he got bored. If he kept busy then hopefully everyone would leave him alone... and he certainly had enough to keep him busy; unfortunately, Piemur, his star boy soprano, was one of the ones affected by the spring cold, and, while there was still time before the midsummer gather, he didn't know if the boy's voice would be strong enough to sing by then. If he dropped this and that note down an octave though, then one of the girls currently enrolled at the Harper Hall school might be able to take Piemur's place if he wasn't healthy in time. That Amania had a pretty soprano...
The gather ended as soon as the light faded and a strong breeze chilled the air. It rushed from the hills behind the hold down to the ocean, mussing up Talmor's longer hair as Domick followed him and the three apprentices he had brought along down the road to the landing field. The Master Harper, Robinton, had arranged for them to conveyed back to Harper Hall on dragonback by Fort Weyr. Surprisingly, not only where the dragons already waiting for them, but there where three of them; two greens and a blue.
"It must be a slow day at the Weyr for us to rate so many." Talmor commented quietly to Domick as he ushered the apprentices ahead of them.
Domick was equally shocked that so many dragons had been sent when they had only rated a single brown this morning. Eager to get back to the Hall, he quickly divided the boys up between the greens, admonishing them to behave themselves and threatening them with water rations if they disobeyed. He walked over to the blue dragon and was greeted by a smiling young man that couldn't have been any older than Talmor. Domick froze, recognizing the blue rider as the one who had been escorting the grey eyed woman from before.
If the dragonrider remembered him, he gave no sign. Instead he nervously introduced himself; "My name is J'son, and this is my Blue, Blizarth."
"A pleasure to meet you both. Did you enjoy the gather today?"
"We weren't able to attend, sir."
"Are you sure? I thought I saw you escorting a girl around the square."
"No, sir, that must have been someone else."
"Yes, that must have been it." Domick murmured, remembering the rumors he had heard about certain dragonrider's preferences. Based on J'son's distasteful expression when he had mentioned the girl he was willing to bet that the man before him was one of those lads... but he could have sworn the bluerider he had seen at the gather and J'son were the same person. Maybe he had a twin? He accepted J'son's help up to the back of his dragon's neck as he mulled over it. The riding straps creaked underneath the additional weight. "Are these safe?"
"Perfectly. I checked them this morning."
"Mm." He made a mental note to keep a firm grip on Blizarth's ridge as the straps creaked again when the dragon took off. As they went between he thought he felt something snap, but that was impossible, because a person couldn't feel anything, hear anything, or breathe while in between.
He waited the obligatory three beat, expecting to suddenly burst from the freezing cold of between into the chilly air above Fort Hold, but it never came. Instead he felt as if he was falling.