Just A Quiet Kind Retreat (Raebehr/Attlin)


Laura Walker
 

It was just that the Weyr was so very much.


To a man mostly accustomed to being left with his own thoughts when he wasn’t out issuing orders on how things should be run it felt overwhelming. After a few hours he wanted to clap his hands to his ears to block out the noise. After a night he would have dearly loved to retreat back home away from this place, but he still had people to talk to, an appointment to keep.


Until then.. He retreated. He asked somewhere whether there was anywhere like a library and they had pointed him towards the Archives so to the Archives he went. Just for somewhere he could have a rest and pull his head together without the constant pressure of people everywhere.


Raobehr very nearly did not notice Attlin there. He was very good at observing and keeping notes and the like when he set out to be observant. But when he was focused on other things, well. He could easily miss things outside of what he was watching.


"Oh. I'm sorry. I hope you haven't been waiting long." He had a strange accent, but it was not usually the first thing someone noticed about the enormous man. "Can I help you find something?"


“I’m sorry, was I not meant to come in?” Attlin had something of a harassed look to him, the look of a man seeking escape. “They said this was the library.”


"Oh. No, you're allowed," said Raobehr. At least, he was as far as Raobehr was concerned. "I just thought you might need help finding something in particular. Are you just browsing? I'm afraid there's not much in the way of anything interesting, but what we do have in that vein will be this way. I'm Raobehr."


“Attlin.” The Holder introduced himself, looking a little relieved that he wasn’t about to need to leave again. “I’ll be honest; I was mostly just looking for somewhere quiet.”


"Oh. Well, then allow me to take the opportunity to leave you be." Raobehr smiled. "Here, you can sit in my office. Such as it is. Is that alright?"


“Thank you,” Attlin said gratefully. “I’m sure it’s tidier than my own office. I wouldn’t want to steal your space though, it really isn’t anything important, just-- I don’t think I had quite realised until now how many people a Weyr has.”


"I grew up on a farm and moved to a weyr when I was… Hm. I'm not sure I remember. Fourteen? Fifteen? Something like that. Anyway, point being, I had that thought myself once," said Raobehr. "You get used to it, eventually."


“Oh Faranth, I’m not staying.” Attlin looked a little horrified at that thought. Shutting the door behind him and shutting all the people out felt blissful. He stood for a moment, just savouring not hearing hundreds of people clattering around, all talking at once. 


"Oh, well, of course not," said Raobehr. Did he have a sarcastic tone, or was that just his accent? The world might never know. "If you're looking for something to read, I have written a bit… and copied some from older tomes. Otherwise, I can leave you be to enjoy the quiet."


“I would appreciate that. Thank you.” Attlin looked at him searchingly for a moment, frowning very slightly as though trying to solve something in his own mind. “I’m sorry,” he said finally. “I just can’t place your accent. Is it Northern?”


"Further South than we are now, I believe," said Raobehr. "Might sound a bit like the folks who are up at Fort these days, though." He started fishing through his books but then stopped. "Was that you'd appreciate something to read or you'd appreciate me being quiet?"


“Something to read. Please.” And Attlin’s words were careful, every word picked so as not to waste any unnecessarily. “I thought I knew most of the Southern accents.”


"I've been practicing a bit," said Raobehr in his best approximation of an Arolosian accent – not bad, actually, but off enough to be apparent to a proper local. "But usually not where anyone can hear. What do you think?"


He handed the same book he had Garrat copy to Attlin.


The smile that crept over Attlin’s face did so tentatively as though not sure it should live there. It was clearly not a frequent expression for the man. “You might fool a Northerner,” he conceded, taking the book.


Raobehr smiled in return and went back to his usual accent when he said, "Well, that's progress!" He chuckled and then sat behind his desk. It was a good enough time to do some reading himself. He had some catching up to do on klah trees, insofar as he could find relevant information in the Weyr's archives. 


"Feel free to let me know if you need anything else."


Given something to read and a comfortable chair Attlin settled for possibly the first time in twenty four hours. It was a relief to sit down and engross himself in something, a relief to shut out the noise of the outside world and feel his temper return to something like normal.


Even if what he was reading was something that was increasingly unbelievable.


As a work of fiction it was fascinating, though clearly it couldn’t be anything more. Still, Attlin buried himself deeply into it, forgetting for a time where he was.


Some time later, Raobehr's stomach rumbled audibly. If not for that, he might not have noticed how long has passed himself. He looked up from his work to gauge whether Attlin had noticed.


Attlin had, but more as a sudden remembrance that he was not the only person in the room than noting what the noise had been. He looked up from the book as though only just recalling that he was not tucked away in his own library.


"Sorry to disturb," said Raobehr. "If I send for dinner, would you like something?" It was surprisingly easy to send an apprentice after food. He hardly ever asked someone else to fetch things for him if he did not need the help, but Attlin seemed a bit overwhelmed with all the people 


“Oh! You don’t have to go to-- that place?” With the people. The horrible place with all the people and Attlin privately thought he might prefer to starve to death rather than eat in there daily. How Garatt stood the place without going mad was to be wondered at. “Thank you. That would be kind of you.”


"Not if you know the right people, I suppose," Raobehr chuckled. "I'll ask for two servings. Enjoying the read?" he wondered.


“It’s a little fantastical, but it’s well-written,” Attlin said agreeably. What Garatt had marvelled over, Attlin just took as fiction and read as such. “Thank you for it. I’ve an appointment with the Weyrwoman later and wasn’t sure what to do with myself until then. It’s just..busy out there.”


"Thank you!" Raobehr laughed heartily. He could not blame Attlin for not believing it was true, but he appreciated the compliment, nonetheless. "I'm glad you could enjoy it, even if you couldn't believe it. Coming to talk about tithes or some such?" he wondered.


“Ah, no.” Attlin’s face clouded slightly. “Problems with my son. He was a Candidate here and -- I don’t understand entirely how it happened but one of the tutors hurt him.”


"O-oh. Oh, I'm sorry," said Raobehr, his face falling. "I'm surprised I hadn't heard about it, but I suppose they might not want to make it public knowledge… I don't think any of them have been dismissed or disciplined, but I must admit, I'm not always on the inside when it comes to administration among the Harpers."


“Not the Harpers. One of the -- is it CandidateMasters, they call them?” Attlin checked, still not at home with the terminology.


Raobehr's eyes went wide for a moment. He was far more familiar with the goings-on surrounding M'ayen, considering he had been there to record the sentencing. He clicked his tongue. He should have understood the meaning there.


"Ah. I see. You must be Garatt's father, then," he said. "He liked the book, too. I shouldn't be surprised, then, that you did, hm?"


“You know Garatt?” It was Attlin’s turn to sound surprised. The Weyr was big enough that the chances of any one person even having heard of another seemed impossibly small.


"He did copy work for me once during craft time," said Raobehr. "I'm not sure I could say I know him. But we have met. It is a small world, after all."


“Is it? It seems enormous,” Attlin owned. It felt much more comfortably secure on this side of the shut door than in the noise and chaos out there. “Did he-- tell you about this CandidateMaster then?”


"He did not," said Raobehr. "But I voiced concerns about him after the mishap at the egg touching. This was why he didn't Stand, if I understand the sequence of events correctly. You'll have to forgive me; I wasn't directly involved with any of this. Or, at least, I hope you'll forgive me."


“He didn’t Stand? What egg touching mishap?” Somehow Attlin felt as though the more people he talked to the less he knew.


Raobehr raised an eyebrow.


"I didn't mean to usurp anyone, if you haven't been told what happened," he said. "Two Candidates were injured, one severely, when they attempted to approach the eggs without permission, and Foreth objected. Garatt was upset, and the Candidatemasters – or, at least, as far as I understood what happened – asked him to wait until the next Hatching to Stand. They don't generally like to put Candidates on the Sands if they are experiencing some degree of anxiety… I'll admit, I'm still learning, myself."


Attlin was not a man whose expressions usually clearly said what he was thinking. Still, he sat very still, very quiet, listening to this. “Do you think that’s why this.. This man” the word was spat as though he’d have liked it to be a far more insulting term “picked him as a victim?”


"I'm no psychol… er, Mindhealer. Or… guardsman investigator. But perhaps? Or he may have already had his sights on him before that," Raobehr speculated. "As far as what he said to me at the time, I really would only be speculating."


“What did he say to you?” Attlin said sharply. He was sat straight up, fully alert and paying attention to Raobehr’s account, thoughts of food completely forgotten by now.


"Nothing," said Raobehr. "Or, nothing relevant to his problem. We spoke of what I wrote in that book and of various scientific topics. About cartog… mapmaking and cave exploring." He held up his hands, hoping to calm Attlin.


“I didn’t know he was interested in map-making.” But Attlin calmed a little as he had hoped. “So he didn’t say anyone was picking at him?”


"He did not," Raobehr confirmed. "But, you know, I did say I would try to organize an excursion, and in everything that's happened, I had completely forgotten about it. I should look into that again."


“I don’t know if he’ll be staying,” Attlin admitted. “The Healers want him to see the MindHealers here, but..part of me feels I’d be insane to leave him somewhere he got hurt already.”


"I see," said Raobehr. "Well. If I do manage to organize such an outing, would you object to me coming to bring him along? I hate to think I broke a promise."


Attlin hesitated. The man seemed friendly enough certainly, but a few months ago the Weyr had felt perfectly safe and now look. “I’ll talk to him about it,” he said guardedly. “We’ll see.” Because how was he to know that Raobehr wasn’t another monster in disguise?


Raobehr nodded. "I understand," he said. "Perhaps you might be willing to help chaperone?" he suggested. He doubted he would be expected to do it all alone, but more help would never go amiss.


“Me?” Attlin appeared dumb-founded by the suggestion. “It’s not really a thing I’ve ever done. And I have duties at the Hold,” he said hastily.


"Ah. Well, if you decide you can spare a day letting whoever it is taking care of things today watch over the Hold one more time, you're welcome to come along. An outing for fun would have to be better than coming to talk to the Weyrwoman…" Raobehr smiled.


An outing for fun? It felt like an alien notion to Attlin but he nodded politely. “I’ll consider it,” he agreed, privately intending to do no such thing. “Obviously it will depend how Garatt is as to whether he would be able to go.”


"Of course," Raobehr nodded. "I won't be likely to go without him. So. Whenever he's ready and willing, that's when we'll go."


“We’ll see.” Attlin was guarded still, not committing to that. “Did you mention food? I’m sorry, I wouldn’t hurry you but I have this appointment after lunch.”


"Ah, of course." Raobehr chuckled. "Wait right here, and I'll send someone. It shouldn't be too long before they get back. But if it comes down to it, I'll save it for you until after you're done."


“Thank you.” He looked grateful for that. “It took me a day to get the appointment so I can’t miss it.”


"I'm happy to help any time."



--

Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.