==== October 7th, 2013
==== Renalde, Taralde
==== The formidable Headman and his Candidate son finally meet.

Who Renalde, Taralde
What The formidable Headman and his Candidate son finally meet.
When Afternoon
Where Southern Weyr

renalde.jpg t-ral_wary.jpg


War Room
Where books used to live in the skybroom room beyond, they *do* live in the war room, in dismal state: a few scattered pages may deepen the mystery, but most of the books, scrolls and hides laying scattered are waterlogged or dryrotted, falling apart at the touch.

It is afternoon in Southern, a hot Summer day is on its way to evening. There is no real breeze in the war room and the smell of dusty, dank tomes, folios, books and scrolls is thick in the air. Apprentices and Candidates have been set to the task of re-scribing some of the more damaged texts. The weyr's newest Candidate is alone in the room, leaned over a writing table carefully scribing a particularly waterlogged tome. His posture is straight, his hand flowing over the page, penmanship neat and precise. He is sweating copiously, wearing clothes rather unsuited to the weather, though he has stripped off as many layers as his decent upbringing allows. He pauses, setting pen in cradle and sitting back. He squeezes his eyes shut and rubs the bridge of his nose. Letting his arms hang, he gives his arms and head a shake, loosening up. He swipes his brow with both hands, linking those hands behind his head and taking a deep, deep breath, before relaxing again into his writing posture. He picks up the pen and starts scratching away at the page in front of him.

"Which book are you working on, boy?" Renalde's voice rolls in from the doorway as long legs bring him into the war room. In one hand he holds a thin stack of papers which he lays on a table with other loose papers. Though glow-lit, the room is darker then the bright library behind, messing with the ability of the headman to see exactly who is writing.

Decades shuttered memories fly open with that crisply delivered inquiry, each syllable precise and well-intonated, with just a hint of you-could-be-spending-your-time-better. At least, that's what his father's voice sounds like to Taralde. His shoulders tense, a conditioned-response, like the unconscious tension that bright sunlight strikes through a body, noticed only when shade is achieved. Renalde… a ray of sunshine? Not exactly. Thus frozen, Taralde spins on his stool and straightens, looking the man, his father, in the eye, voice quiet, almost a whisper. "A Fall table from the last Pass. Sir."

The sudden tension in the room could be cut with a knife as the boy… no, young man, turns to face him. The voice is more familiar to the ice-eyes headman than any other sound in the world, and the last one he had expected to hear in this room, at this time. "What are you doing here?" The suprise in Renalde's voice is clear, and he takes a step forward his eyes traveling the face of his only son, not quite understanding just yet. "Why do you have a white knot on your shoulder?"

Taralde can't help but squirm under the scrutiny of those eyes. Anger flares in his belly. Anger, bitterness, loss. Turns of training with the Harpers to control the outward expression of emotions crumble in the face of seeing this man. This particular man. His eyes light unpleasantly, "Well, Sir. You see, there's this rogue Star…"

The impish response has Renalde's lips tightening, not in anger, but complete displeasure. "When did you get here?" His tone is clipped, precise, and holds a hint of something more then a question that the headman might ask another recruit.

"About a sevenday ago," Taralde is matching his father's look, displeasure for displeasure. There is a striking similarity in their bearing and mien, seeing them together you couldn't miss it. Though the differences are stark as well - Taralde's mother lives in the young man's lively, expressive face. And there's definitely more in his tone than a young man should bear towards the Headman of a Weyr. But Taralde is not especially concerned with their relative ranks at the moment. He cocks his head, "How long have you been here?" And not at Benden where you should be.

Renalde sets down his papers as intended and moves closer to his son, emotions hidden as a sharp contrast to the openness of Taralde's. "Over six months. The lower caverns were in shambles. Were you searched in the north?" There's a hint of doubt in his voice, he didn't think Southern did any searching up there.

"Yesterday." Taralde slips off his stool on the side opposite where Renalde is, body language clearly telegraphing caution, tension, anger. He points at where Bailey had been standing. "Right there." He glares up under his brow, "She gave it to me." His eyes narrow, "You remember, the one you're here for."

Where Taralde is hot, Renalde remains ice-cold, arms finding themselves crossed over his chest. "I am here because the lower caverns were a shamble and I was the best person to come to get it organized again into a productive weyr." His precise tone does not allow any other emotion to streak in. "Why are you in the South and not at Harper Hall?"

Anger boils away leaving tired bafflement. "Really? You're interested in how things are going now?" He shakes his head, snorting sadly. "I've got work to do." If Renalde taught Taralde anything it was the value of doing a job well, thoroughly and on time. And that it's a great refuge for things not easily said or dealt with. He turns his back to Renalde, slides onto the stool and stares holes in the paper before him as he takes up the pen again.

There's a flicker deep in Renalde's blue eyes, long hidden emotion there that the Headman quickly squashes. Quick precise strides bring him forward and he plucks the pen out of Taralde's hand and sets it on the other side of the long table. "Stand up, boy." His voice is quiet and even.

Taralde sighs, shoulders drooping. He'd developed many tactics for dealing with his father's lectures over the turns. The worst thing to do was to delay them. He spins on the stool and stands, taken aback by something he sees in Renalde's eyes. No. It's gone. Submerged under ice. The young man schools his face to stillness and looks directly forward, waiting to hear what the Headman has to say.

"Explain why you, who should be about ready to earn your Journeyman knot in the North are instead sitting with a canidate's knot on your shoulder in the South." Though a question, the end inflection is completly flat. Only about a foot's distance separates the Renalde from his son and he stands, arms behind his back and relaxed.

Taralde's voice is equally flat. A recitation of events, complete and uneditorialized. Mostly. "My first Journeyman project was denied. I had collected and archived the Oldtimer learning ballads. My proposal was to analyze them in relation to modern ballands and learn what elements were the resistant to change and which degraded and which disappeared all together." He takes a breath, shifting his feet, "I then proposed to derive a language of persistent concepts proven resistent to degradation over time that we could use to compose ballads with less drift and more retention of core learnings." He looks at his father. "This was not popular."

"What foolish idiot put that idea into your head?" Renalde's lips turn into a deep frown as he stares at Taralde. "You as good as told them that they had lost sight of their duty!" His tone climbs slightly at the end and he has to pause, putting it back in place.

Taralde cocks his head, eyes flashing, "Someone once taught me that we should always be on guard against losing sight of our duties." He looks forward again, "A Harpers duty is to preserve and spread knowledge. When I heard the Old ballads and compared notes with some of the Old Harpers, I couldn't ignore that."

"You could very well have ignored it. The Hall's way has worked for hundreds of years. Did they teach you nothing about keeping your mouth shut?" Disgust clings to Renalde's words as he takes a step towards his son. "Now if this," he reaches out one hand to point at the knot on his son's shoulder, "doesn't pan out you'll have no place in the North."

Taralde has nigh made a religion out of not-keeping-his-mouth-shut. "They taught me plenty about keeping my mouth shut." He bristles, dark eyes finding his father's stern forbidding gaze, looking for that flash of … whatever that was. "I believe in the Harpercraft. Do you know what that means?"

He'll find no break in the Headman's gaze this time, the ice firmly entrenched. "You have thrown away your future to chase an ideal that died 400 turns ago." Renalde's tone is clipped, precise, bordering on anger. "Very well." The tension is broken and he steps back. "You are no longer a child, though you may make childlike decisions. Your future is your own Taralde. Continue your work here, assistant headman Nora will have the direction of you."

Taralde shakes his head. He points an angry finger at Renalde, "It's alive." He gestures fiercely around taking in the weyr at large. "Here." His eyes light, "And I can find out how we lost it." He's rolling now, "And make sure that never happens again." He's incredulous. He shakes his head, "How can you not see the value in this?!" He's spitting, "In me!" He clenches his teeth, eyes welling with angry tears, "You are such a coward." He turns back to his desk, leaning against it with arms spread wide. Hiding his face.

If Taralde was to turn and see his father he would see the tightening of his mouth into a hard line. Son or not, the headman takes no such insults from any man. His voice is flat as he responds. "You risked everything for something that may not be real. That is foolishness. Now, if you Impress, that dream of yours will splinter in the face of Thread. Thoughtlessness is no bravery, nor thought cowardice."

"Not real," he rasps, voice hoarse. He straightens so he doesn't shed tears on his carefully scribed page, straightening the paper needlessly. He blots tears roughly on a shoulder, jaw clenching. He shrugs still facing away - he may be honest to a fault, but he doesn't want his father, the fortress of formidability, seeing this. He nods acklowledgement of the uncertainty of dreams, then turns his face until he can see his father in periphery. His eyes - those fathomless blue eyes so like his mother's, so like Renalde's own - flicker between deep longing, bitter loss and a hot fury turned ice cold. "Maybe not. But I'm not afraid to find out. Here I can share my dream. Here I won't have to do it-" His voice breaks and he squeezes his eyes shut. Through clenched teeth he finishes the statement, "-alone." He turns his face away, staring holes in the opposite wall. His knuckles grow white, grasping the table edge. And like that, the fury burns out. He takes a deep shuddering breath… holds it… lets it out. The fire's gone. He turns around, head up, shoulders back, eyes steady. He cocks his head back and to the side, "I do owe you an apology," his pose is an eerie echo of one Tara used to take, "I should have come to see you as soon as I knew you were here." He's sincere, "I'm sorry." He's sincere and spent. "Now, if we're done, Sir. I have a lot of work to do."

Renalde stands, rail straight as his son rambles through the muddy waters of emotion and emoting. For just a moment the mask breaks as Taralde speaks of being alone, his attempt at sidelining him with an apology cast aside. “No. You are correct. You will no longer be alone.” His voice is soft, velvety even. “If you Impress,” though caged in terms that show a possibility of failure, there seems to be little doubt in the voice of the older man that the outcome is forgone, “you will always have another share your mind. You will have the company of the most exclusive group. But you will also no longer be yourself. This work, which you claim to love?” Renalde flicks one hand out to gesture towards the scrolls and writing utensils, “This will no longer be your priority. No, your focus will change. The starcrafters tell us that Thread will fall in in almost exactly one turn. The world, only recently rising from chaos will be plunged into chaos again, and you will stand on the forefront as a raw recruit. You will watch your friends be horribly marred, and some will die. Perhaps you will also join the ranks of those who fall to protect this land. But.” The headman masks falls back into place, covering any emotion that may have broken through. “You are old enough to make the choices that you will. I’ll not stop you from this choice. Enjoy your time in this room young man,” Renalde finally moves his gaze from the son to the chaos that is the war-room turned library-holder. “The peace you find here will be among the last that you will enjoy, should you Impress. As always, Candidate, if you require anything, my office door is open.” Turning, Renalde walks back out of the room, not looking back once.

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