Legacy (Vignette)

Follows: To Touch the Sky

Harper Hall - Records Hall

It seems that all of Harper Hall has no ground beneath it. This expansive room is almost like a cave. Harper Hall above being supported by well placed stone pillars craved from the stone so they are connected to both ceiling and cold stone floor.
Hundreds of floor to ceiling bookshelves fill this cavernous room The walls are strung with a multitude of lights, keeping every corner of this maze of information well lit. The entire history of Pern is in this cool dry cavern in some form or another.
Somewhere amidst the stacks is a plain wooden door leading to the printing room.

Mishkia quietly followed the archivist to the shelves, waited while he selected the records she’d asked for, arms cradling the heavy tomes carefully as he’d piled them one atop the other. She had then found an empty table, slid into a seat and settled those record books on the surface in front of her. But rather than digging in eagerly, she sat motionless, feeling not the hard wooden seat she was sitting on, but the warm ripple of powerful muscles beneath her, lifting her to the skies and the rush of exhilaration as they dropped towards the earth once more. As she tasted again the wonder of flight, instead of the stiff leather covers of those closed books upon which her hands rested, she saw the panorama of Xanadu’s coastline spread out far below her once more.

Unbeknownst to her, the thrill of the past hour’s experience flooded her wide grey eyes with a curious illumination that lent her face a radiant awe – an expression that contrasted sharply to the usual bored concentration of study usually worn in this place. Unaware also, the fact that it drew notice from someone seated at one of the nearby tables as she relived the magic while trying to discern what had changed in her.

Giving her control over to a great beast and his rider, both unfamiliar to her, hadn’t been easy and she hoped she’d masked the deep disquiet that had gripped her in the beginning. So out of her element in those wide-open skies, there was nowhere to retreat to, no shadowy woods to slip away into. Her forestry skills were likewise useless up there should something go wrong. Any yet, despite the sense of danger, trusting Matrin’s arms around her had felt so right, so natural. She’d been shaken to find that her response to the whole experience was one of overwhelming elation. It had unlocked something – perhaps the over-caution that had descended on her months earlier as the swamplands of Mire faded behind her and the world had loomed before her. Her impetuous spirit, the audacious nature she’d always lived by that had lain submissively under the weight of her new responsibility now reared up inside her insisting there must be a way to accomplish this task her own way!

A task, she’d reminded herself with a mental shake, that had led her first to Xanadu Weyr, and now to Harper Hall. She’d best to get to it! Her hands twitched, then lifted from the closed covers of those records, hovered before she’d reached to open the first book with a resolute firmness to seek the truth therein. She’d searched for dates nearly a century ago until she’d found them, tracing towards the present in twenty-to-thirty-some turn jumps.

Though the ink had faded, there was no mistaking the names with brief notated references – place of birth, craft levels and postings. Written on the age-yellowed paper, those final placements stared up accusingly at her from the page of the manuscript in neat, precise writing that leveled a demanding finger at her. She’d tucked her chin, eyes remaining on the words while her mind skittered away much like a hunted swamp creature, prey to her family’s wishes. She’d find a way to –

The amused voice had interrupted her troubled thoughts just then, as uninvited, a young man took the seat opposite hers, introduced himself as a journeyman harper and jokingly remarked how she’d gone from looking like a woman in love to having seen a ghost. Reticence had clamped itself upon her tongue then, despite his warm, friendly nature and obvious admiration, she’d given her answers reluctantly, briefly. Yes, living at Xanadu Weyr, not from there no, a minor hold nearby. What hold? Oh, tiny, not an important one. Here to do some research. What sort? Well, she was the hold’s record-keeper and was checking to be sure their archives matched some details. Though speaking the truth, she’d been evasive, which only seemed to intrigue him further rather than discourage him. She’d finally given her name grudgingly after having been asked twice for it in the course of the questioning. At the sound of the bell from out in the courtyard, he’d scribbled his name on a bit of paper, slid it across the table to her and hurried off with a promise to come find her. Wonderful, she’d thought sarcastically. Hopefully he’d just forget.

She’d dropped her head to hands that massaged her temples, her thoughts in a tumult as she tried in vain to sort things out. She really didn’t want to do this! In the end though, as time grew short, she’d written neatly despite the hand that held pen to paper wanting to tremble, folded and addressed it to the appropriate office and given it to the desk clerk, who promised delivery. Then she’d crumpled that slip of paper given to her by the harper journeyman whose name she’d already forgotten, tossed it in the trashcan and turned to pace the library restlessly until Matrin returned for her.

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