He would have died if it hadn’t been for the quick action and incredible knowledge of Master Healer Jordanth. He was at the small seaside village because two of the men had been attacked by sharks while out fishing. He had saved both lives, and they were now recovering well. They would, in fact, be able to work, though not as crew. Still, they would lead good productive lives due to Jordanth’s miraculous work. Then the child had been injured, and again Jordanth managed a miracle. The family were sure he would never be able to support himself, and the healer knew that he would be neglected and allowed to die, so he had bought him back to the school, and cared for him, teaching him to read and do math.
Nathanya was the one who discovered his musical talent, when he was walking along the cliff one day. He had heard a faint, breathy sound, like someone at a distance playing pan pipes, and had followed the sound. He had found six year old Taunilyn sitting on a rock, playing a set of pipe made from reeds. It had taken him some time to soothe the lad, and make him understand that he had done nothing wrong. He admired the pipes, and soon the lad was telling him how he had made them, and how he listened outside to the lessons the older boys were receiving.
“How would you like to be part of the class, Tuani?” he had asked.
The little boy had stared, dumbfounded. “Do you mean it? I could take lessons?” he had asked, breathlessly. When Nathanya nodded, “Oh, yes, please!” Taunilyn answered, his face shining. And so he was enrolled in the beginners’ class, two years younger than the others, and had surpassed them all in everything. It was only when he got to Apprentice Second Class,that Nathanya worried. In order to pass this class, he would have to build two instruments. And with that crippled hand, the Master was afraid it would be too much. But then he remembered the pan pipes, and decided to let him go ahead.
“Master, I’m finished,” Taunilyn said.
Nathanya snapped out of his reverie and returned his gaze to the boy. “All right, Taunilyn let me see.” He walked over to the work bench, and scrutinised the pieces of the instrument spread out to dry. Each piece was meticulously stained, the colour even and true, with no streaks or bubbles. “This is very well done, Taunilyn,” he said. “We will let them stay there and dry overnight. Tomorrow, you may start assembling them.” Tauni’s face lit up in pleasure, and he began clearing away the stain and cleaning the brushes. The used rags he carefully gathered and placed in the lidded container in the corner. With a glance for permission, he went to the sink and washed his hands, cleaning up the splashes and hanging the towel. With another glance, and receiving a nod, he went hirpling out as fast as he could go. As he left, Nathanya caught a glimpse of a triumphant smile.
Later that night, when the younger boys were in bed, Percussion MasterAnnona knocked on Nathanya’s office door. “Do you have a minute, Nath?” she asked. At his nod she came in, lifted a bag over his desk and upended it. Out came pieces of finished, stained wood. He recognised them; it was Taunilyn’s Mandolin.
He raised his eye in shock. “What happened? Who did this?” his voice was coldly angry.
“I think I know. I went by the work room to be sure there would be enough skins for the apprentices who still have to build their drums. I saw three hooded boys running down the hall, snickering. I’m sure you can guess who they were.”
He nodded. There were three boys who had picked on Tuani ever since he was admitted to the school. “Yes,” he said, “and this is the last straw. They will be sent home immediately!”