==== September 29, 2013
==== Daren, Kalea
==== Daren gets help with his education from an unlikely source

Who Daren, Kalea
What Is that your final answer?
When afternoon, There is 1 turn 1 month and 9 days until the 12th pass.
Where Archive Library, Southern Weyr

daren.jpg kalea2.jpg


Archive Library
There's a skybroom tree in here. It's surprising. There is also a stage, and this room has been cleaned and tidied; it's an interesting space to be sure.

Daren's dark head is bowed over a very thin, open book laying on the table in front of him. The young man's face is crinkled in a scowl of concentration as his green eyes flick from the large drawing at the top to the single letter at the bottom. One finger traces the letter, dutifully doing as he'd been told despite his tutor not being anywhere in sight. " Eff … flower …" he mutters to himself, unconscious of anyone else being in the vast library cavern with him. He sighs and rubs a hand against the side of his face, a touch of frustration flashing across his visage before the concentration returns.

Taking refuge in the library has become an almost daily habit for Kalea. It’s a good place to find a little peace after dying ropes all morning. She can always find something to read or a way to relax for a bit after her bath before reporting to the kitchens in the afternoon. As usual when she arrives, her hair is damp from the baths and she’s sporting a mug of mint tea and a plate of pastries. She’s had her fill of bad company for the moment. So when her eyes light upon Daren she grins. “Good afternoon,” she greets him softly as she walks up next to the table he’s seated at.

Daren blinks as he looks up, his scowl fading in the presence of another person sitting down near him. "Good afternoon, ma'am." he says with a slight smile curling his lips. He rests his hands across the book, attempting to hide the extremely simple text from the woman. The youngest of the young people he's been placed to learn with having been cruel enough to tease the nearly grown man about his lack of reading skills. He swallows as the silence drags on and finally hazards a question. "How … how are you today?" He's heard other people ask this so figures he can as well.

Kalea claims the seat across from the young man with a smile. She slides her plate of pastries into the middle of the table in case he should want one. “I suppose that I’m still determined.” She shrugs her shoulders after the mysterious quip. “What have you found to read eh?” She quirks an eyebrow curiously at the thin book he’s obviously trying to hide. Her lips curl into a smile because she half suspects it’s one of the sketch books some of the Weyr boys pass ‘round. Give one of them the knack for sketching and time spent in the baths and one never knows what those boys will draw next.

The woman receives a confused head-tilt from Daren at her answer but he smiles anyway, not entirely sure what she meant by being determined, not wanting to offend her by asking. Her own question about his reading causes a severe flush to turn him from his usual paleness to a rather bright red in an instance. "Umm … it's … the Harper gave it to me to … look at." he stammers, shame dripping from every word as he pushes the book toward her. The book is open to a page that shows a large picture of a Fellis flower in bright colors at the top of the page and a large letter 'F' at the bottom with a smaller word 'flower' below the letter. The book is an infantile primer that children use to learn to read.

Kalea tilts her head in confusion when Daren starts stammering. Though the reason why is picked up on rather quickly. She pulls the book toward her and peruses the page then flips the pages over so that she can see the front of the primer. Man it’s been /turns/ since she’d seen one of these! “Learning how to read are you?” She nods her head and flips the book open to his page and pushes it back toward Daren. “Good for you. Some folks your age would a copped an attitude and refused to learn out of embarrassment.” She tinks the plate with her fingernail before breaking off a piece of the pastry closest to her. “Care for a snack? Just be careful not to get the book sticky or they’ll never let you hear the end of it.” She’s had it up to here with bullies lately.

Daren relaxes a little as she simply accepts the fact that he is ignorant and manages a small smile, accepting the book back. "Yes, ma'am. Headman said I needed to." he says softly, glancing down at her plate of pastries. He swallows the saliva the subtle smell elicits and pulls his gaze away and back to her face. "I … have always wanted to be able to read." is offered as an explanation of why he hasn't done as most people his age would have done. Her offer of a pastry causes his eyes to light, the young man carefully takes one at the edge and nibbles carefully to keep the crumbs from falling anywhere near the precious book. "Thank you." he says, between nibbles.

“It’s Kalea,” she reminds him with a smile. “Ma’am makes me feel old remember?” She nibbles and swallows another piece of her own pastry. “These always seem to settle my stomach.” She’d been eating them regularly ever since Healer Favnier had given her one. “I take it you didn’t have time to learn where you’re from?” The still mysterious place that leaves her curious. She wonders if anyone knew how or if he’s unique in not having learned. “You’re welcome of course,” she waves a piece of pastry with a grin before popping it into her mouth.

Daren blushes at the reminder and ducks his head slightly. "I'm sorry, ma'…Kalea. I will try to remember that." he says softly. He manages to pushes his embarrassment back down and smiles. "They are good." Of course, the young man says that about most of the food he's had a chance to eat here at the Weyr. He finishes that one pastry in silence as he ponders how to answer her question. There's no doubt he will answer, just what words will make her not get angry with him. "Umm … I guess you could say that? I … wasn't allowed to go to the classes. Dhar said I was bad and … bad boys weren't allowed to go to classes." He says softly, that painful naivety quite evident in his expression.

Kalea laughs softly when he catches himself before saying ‘ma’am’ again. She has to figure whatever the new Head Cook does to the food, at least the pastries have remained the same thus far. She finishes at least half of her pastry while waiting on him to answer. And coughs on a drink of her tea when he finally does. “You’re kidding?” Her eyebrows shoot up at his response and deep down she’d like to strangle this ‘Dhar’ person. “Well,” she reaches up to pat her chest after the coughing fit she’d had. “I’m glad that you’re here now. You seem like a very nice fellow and I think you have every right to learn.”

Daren startles at her outburst though his expression is concerned at her coughing fit. "You … okay?" he asks, wariness lurking in his eyes. He shakes his head at her question, despite his concern that she's now angry with him too. "No? Not … kidding." is murmured before she continues, her words calming him a little and causing that gentle blush he gets when someone shows approval of him. "Thank you … but … it's hard. I didn't know how hard it was. Everyone else seems to … read a lot easier and harder stuff than this." He gestures at the still open book.

Kalea nods her head that she is just fine. She sniffs a bit to clear her passages but aside from that she appears to be quite alright. “You’ll be reading easily in not time,” she assures him with a gentle smile. “It seems like everyone catches onto it so much easier. But you have to remember they’ve had turns of practice. I’m positive there are skills that /you/ have that the others haven’t had as much experience with. You’re good at things in your own way.” She waves at the little book and gives him a curious look, “Is there any way I could help?”

Daren relaxes more at her gentle smile and returns a smile of his own. "I just started today so, guess I'm doing good to get as far as I have." he says. A soft sigh escapes as he shrugs. "I don't know. Dhar put me to work as soon as I was old enough … I might have had 5 Turns, I guess. I started off pulling weeds and feeding the yard fowl." His words are matter-of-fact and there is no bitterness in his tone, he's just telling her the facts as if they didn't matter even though it happened to him. He glances to the book at her last question and shrugs again. "I don't … really know how anyone can help. I think the Harper that was supposed to teach me got mad because I was so slow." He glances around trying to find the Apprentice that was supposed to be his tutor and fails to see him.

Kalea is happy to see the young man starting to relax. She isn’t one to snipe without a reason after all. And he hasn’t given her a reason thus far. “Well since they decided to take a break,” she glances around when he does and spots exactly nobody with a Harper knot in the close vicinity. “I’ll help you until I have to head for the kitchens.” She waves at the book, “Go for it Daren and I’ll help when you need it.” She slips out of her chair and ‘rounds the table to settle herself in the one next to him. It’s difficult for her to read anything upside down. She pulls her legs up onto the seat of the chair and curls up with her mug of tea.

Daren sits up a bit straighter as she stands and moves around the table to reseat herself next to him. He pulls the book to him and looks at the page in front of him. He gives her a nervous glance, not sure about this whole thing, but willing to give it a try. "That's … eff, because that's a flower." he says, taking the time to trace the letter with his finger. He flips the page and blinks at the picture of two dragons, one gold and one green. He frowns at the picture and then the letter and chews his lip before he says, "Those are dragons … so, this is 'dee'." His finger obediently traces the letter 'G' at the same time he gives it the wrong name.

Kalea sips on her now luke warm tea and nods when he traces the ‘f’ for flower. Though when he starts tracing the letter ‘g’ she gives her head a negative shake. “No dear. They’re explaining color on this page.” She points to the green dragon, “You’re tracing the letter ‘g’ which stands for the color green or gold. Because green and gold begin with the letter ‘g’.” She points to the smaller script at the top of the page where it asks the person to tell the color of the dragon. “This word here is dragon and it begins with a ‘d’.”

Daren blinks down at the book and frowns as she explains what the picture means in relation to the letter. At the end of her explanation he heaves a sigh and slumps slightly in his chair. "But … the Harper said the picture would tell me the first letter … this picture is dragons …" he says, a tone of despair raising his usually lower voice into a near whine. He blinks against burning tears as he stares at the book and shrugs. "I'm probably just too stupid to figure this out …" It is apparent that someone has said exactly that to the young man who has been trying so hard to fit in.

Kalea reaches out once again and pats his hand. “Don’t get upset or you’ll give up. And we simply can’t be having that. You are far too smart to back down from a challenge.” She waits then for him to try again. Pulling her hand away to wrap it around her mug. “That’s right,” she tells him with a grin. “It’s a gee.” She looks up at him because even sitting he’s a few inches taller and winks at him. “Did you know that ‘good’ starts with a ‘g’ too? And so far you’re doing very good.” She nods to the book for him to continue.

Daren smiles as she pats his hand again, feeling a warmth spread through him at her encouragement. He blinks at her when she calls him 'good' and shakes his head a bit in negation of that comment. "I'm not good." he says, turning back to the book and sighing softly. "I messed that one up … can you … would you mind helping me with the ones before this one?" If he'd missed the fact he was supposed to think of colors for the letters, who knows what he's gotten turned around on from the very beginning since the Apprentice tutor was absolutely no help whatsoever.

“Of course you are,” Kalea argues gently. “I admire you for being willing to apply yourself to learning something you’ve never faced before. I think that’s very brave.” She chuckles softly and shrugs her shoulders. “We’re both in the middle of trying something new. I reckon I’ve got several moons to help you learn. Before I go back on duty in my Wing we’ll have you loving books.” She wiggles her fingers indicating he should flip the pages back. “Absolutely. Flip it back to where the jerk left you and let’s see what we’ve got.”

Daren can't help the blush at her obvious approval and the statement that she thinks him brave but he can't think of anything to say that wouldn't make her upset with him for disagreeing with her. He follows her directions but flips to the first page instead of where his tutor had left him to see if she'll explain that one for him too. With a heavy but determined sigh he touches the three different pictures there and says, "This is a herdbeast, and a canine … and a yardfowl, I think. But the Harper said this was an 'A' …" He leaves that statement seeming as if he's asking a question, inviting explanation. His expression is totally baffled and shows it as he traces that letter and frowns slightly before turning his gaze back to her.

Kalea waits patiently while he flips the book back to the very beginning. “Well you know quite well what they are.” She grins happily at him and nods her head. “What they are looking for on this page is the word ‘animals’.” She reaches out and points to the colorful word sketched onto the page. “Animal’s begins with the letter ‘a’.” She is sorely tempted to teach him the first letters of each animal but refrains from doing so. Letting Daren set the pace and following his lead the best she can. Nobody would put her in the running to be a Harper for sure. But at least she’s willing to help.

Daren blinks as she explains that the book wanted him to use the group name rather than the individual names. Understanding dawns as he lifts his head a bit from its slump and a smile curls his lip. "Oh! Because they are all animals … okay." he says, now eager to turn the page to show a blue dragon. "This one wants the color too, right? This is a blue dragon, so that makes this letter a 'bee' … right?" His eyes reflect that eagerness now that he's finally understanding what the Harper hadn't bothered to explain.

Kalea never realized before how obscure these books could actually be. It’s a wonder kids learn anything! She can’t help but grin happily when he realizes on his own that the next page is looking for the color again. “Exactly right,” she announces with a happy giggle. “See? You’re starting to figure it out.” She had faith that he would if he buckled down and applied himself. Though she’d like to have words with whomever was supposed to be in here helping him.

Daren heaves another sigh and actually cracks a real grin of happiness at his success as he turns to the third page. This one had stumped him but he's ready to try again. "This one looks like a mug but … not quite like the ones I use when I have something to drink." he says, his voice dropping again. He's very hesitant to admit that he'd skipped this page entirely since he couldn't figure it out. "It's … not a mug, is it?" is asked in a slightly less eager tone but at least no longer despairing.

Kalea pulls her discarded mug of tea toward them and points at the hand. “The way I learned is that if it has a handle,” she traces the handle on her mug, “then it’s a mug.” She points to the picture of the cup and indicates that it has no handle. “So no handle means it’s a cup.” She looks up at him with kind eyes and a smile. “So the question is what does cup start with?” For all she knows the young man has only seen a cup a few times in his life. When she’d bought him juice probably being one of them. If you’ve never seen it you can’t be expected to know what it is.

Daren's eyes return to the picture as he studies it and murmurs 'cup' under his breath a few times. He looks down at the letter and idly traces it. "Cup … starts with 'ckuh' …" he says, thinking aloud for a moment as he tries to remember the recitation his tutor had given before running away. "Cup starts with … cee?" His voice turns up in a question as he looks back up at her. She is very accurate that he'd never seen a cup before, usually drinking from a bucket or his hands before he'd come to the Weyr.

Kalea shifts in her chair slightly when her legs start falling asleep on her. That never happened before she got pregnant. Now, it happens to her all the time. It’s a mystery to her! She listens while Daren sounds it out and waits for him to figure it out if he can. When he does he’s rewarded with her brilliant smile again. “Yes, that’s right.” She pushes the mug away again because the liquid inside of it is cold by now and she can’t stand the taste of cold mint tea.

Daren's laughter is a soft rasping wheeze that has apparently never seen the light of day but the delight on his face is pure child-like innocence. He flips the page and is nearly ready to try the next one when her shifting catches his attention. He immediately sobers and blushes slightly as he watches her push her tea away. "I'm sorry." he murmurs, looking sideways at her with an apologetic smile. "I … didn't mean to take up so much of your time." He sighs softly as he closes the book and tucks it under his hands flattened on the table.

Kalea blinks in confusion when he closes the book. Hating to see his smile fade so quickly and not sure what she’s done at first to cause it. “Don’t be sorry,” she insists with a shake of her head. “I’ve had a wonderful time helping you.” She slips off of the chair and reaches out to give his shoulder a friendly rub. “I’m afraid if I don’t show up for kitchen duty my lot in life will get worse though.” She drops her hand from his shoulder and scoops up her cold mug. “I’m in here almost every day around this time. If you need me to help you it would be easy to find me.” She scoots the plate with two pastries on it toward him and leaves it sit. “After supper is served I’ll be off again for the evening if you want to continue later. Or just want someone to hang out with.” It isn’t as if she has many friends these days. “You’ve done really well Daren! I’ll see you ‘round.”

Daren shivers slightly with odd, confusing feelings as she rubs his shoulder but he smiles up at her as she stands. "I don't know where I'll be after supper. I'm supposed to be at the Stables in a little bit to see Journeyman … Mandel, I think. The Headman said I can help with the herdbeasts." He sits up a bit straighter, a bit of pride at the fact someone trusts him to do a job for the Weyr.

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