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Old Jul 9 2014, 07:39 PM   #1
Brenda
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Default Weyr Search (working title!)

Kylara was making her way past the dining cavern when someone behind her called her name.

“Kylara! Come in here a moment, please.”

She let out a disgusted sigh and turned back to join her brother in his study.

“This had better not take long, Larad,” she said, scowling. “I have plans, you know…”

“Don’t bother,” Lord Larad said shortly. “He’s gone.”

“What are you talking about? Who’s – oh!” She stared at him in disbelief. “You didn’t!”

“I’ve sent Randol to one of the farmholds – no, I’m not tellng you which one! It’s planting time, anyway – they can use the extra help.”

“How dare you!” Kylara burst out. She and Randol had been… meeting… since just past Turnover, and he was one of the best lovers she’d had.

“How dare I? How dare you! I warned you about this, Kylara, I told you it had to stop. It was bad enough before, but now it is unacceptable.”

“Unacceptable!” Kylara shrieked. “How dare you – how dare you try to tell me who I can see!”

Everyone can see, Kylara! You haven’t exactly been discreet with this one. And yes, I can tell you when the honor of this Hold is at stake!”

“Honor,” Kylara spat. “Who is going to – ”

“You are betrothed, Kylara!” Larad shouted over her. “You have a contract with Brand, and with Igen! You simply cannot go on with this type of behavior any more!”

“What are you going to do, lock me in?” she said sarcastically. “That will really – ”

“If necessary,” Larad snapped back. His voice lowered and he spoke with great intensity. “Don’t you realize that if you carry on like this at Igen, they’ll do worse than transfer your lover? You will be Brand’s wife, Kylara, and you can’t expect him to tolerate that sort of thing.”

And yet she would be expected to tolerate her husband having such dalliances – it was practically encouraged, much less expected! Kylara fumed at the double standard. She hadn’t had much say in marrying Brand in the first place, but she had been glad at the prospect of getting out from under her brother’s thumb, and gaining a position of some authority, even if it was only at a minor Hold in Igen.

She glared defiantly at Larad, making up her mind to look for a new lover as soon as she got a chance. She would be discreet, but she wasn’t about to change her ways…

Suddenly there was an urgent knocking on the door, and the steward’s voice. “My Lord! Lord Larad!” As if he might mean a different lord, Kylara thought, but the voice sounded downright panicked.

“Enter,” Larad called, and the door opened. “What is it, Gerend?”

The man’s face was white. “Dragons, Lord Larad! Dragons have been sighted from the fireheights! They’re landing in the courtyard now!”

“Dragons!” Larad rushed to the open window. “A full wing, no less!” He strode quickly out the door. “I wonder what business the Weyr has with Telgar.”

Kylara hurried after him. She wasn’t about to miss any chance of seeing a dragon. It might be, as most people said, that dragons were obsolete and the Weyr had no purpose anymore – but that did not make the creatures any less spectacular to see! She had only ever had a few glimpses, when she was younger, and those from a distance. Now they were coming right to the Hold!

By the time they reached the courtyard, the dragonriders had dismounted from their beasts and were standing in formation. Gerend hastily announced, “Lord Larad of Telgar!” The dragonrider at the head of the formation stepped forward.

“Greetings, Lord Larad. I am Weyrleader R’gul, rider of bronze Hath,” the rider said, bowing.

Weyrleader!

“Greetings, Weyrleader,” Larad replied. “What brings the Weyrleader himself to Telgar Hold, with so many dragonriders?”

“We come on Search,” the man said gravely. “Jora, Benden’s Weyrwoman, has died, but her dragon Nemorth laid one last clutch of eggs. One of those is golden and will hatch a queen dragon. We cannot risk it failing to Impress, and so we are here to claim the ancient right to Search within the Holds for young female candidates who might stand at the Hatching. One of these women will be Benden’s new Weyrwoman.”

Weyrwoman! Kylara could hardly contain her excitement. Oh, people always told tales of what went on in the Weyr, but the lack of details had always made her more curious to see for herself. Was it possible that she might go with these dragonriders? She looked at her brother and laughed inwardly. Of course, he wouldn’t want to let these people wander freely through the Hold, but you could hardly refuse someone who had a dragon standing behind him!

“I see,” Larad said after a moment. “My condolences on the loss of your Weyrwoman…”

“Thank you.”

“You may conduct your Search here. My steward will guide you through the Hold.” Larad glanced up at the sun, which was just starting to drop behind the cliff. “As it is getting late, I invite you to stay for the evening meal, and offer hospitality if you find you must spend the night.”

R’gul was unable to hide his relief. “I thank you, Lord Larad. I am afraid it will take longer than this one evening to Search through all of Telgar and her outlying holds, and I gladly accept your offer of hospitality.”

Larad gestured to Gerend but Kylara spoke up before the steward could say anything. “Won’t you come have some klah before you start your Search?” she said, smiling at the Weyrleader. “It must have been cold, flying all this way – why, it’s rather chilly down here on the ground.”

“Ah, yes,” R’gul said, seeming to notice her for the first time, and she stifled a flare of annoyance – he had obviously been too worried about getting permission to enter the Hold. “Yes, some klah would be most welcome, ah…”

“Kylara,” Larad broke in, glaring at her. “My sister.”

“I see,” R’gul said. “Yes, Lady Kylara, some hot klah would be most welcome.”

“Follow me, then, Weyrleader,” she said sweetly. “You may as well begin your Search in the kitchens, where it is warm.”

* * * * *

That evening Kylara arranged to be seated next to Weyrleader R’gul for the meal. She was on her best behavior, charming and gracious, rather than showing her boredom as usual. This, naturally, infuriated Larad, though he could do nothing about it. He could hardly scold her for acting properly in front of guests!

From the moment the Weyrleader had explained why the dragonmen had come to Telgar, Kylara had been unable to think of anything else. The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to go to the Weyr! Away from the ridiculous protocols and morals of the Hold, away from her exile to Igen… A dragon wasn’t even something to consider, but just being able to live in a place where she would fit in. If the tales were true – and surely some of them were! – no one would care what she did, or with whom. A few days of being the gracious hostess were worth that chance.

* * * * *

When Kylara rose the next day, she found that the dragonriders were gone – continuing their Search by surveying the surrounding farmholds and mining camps. She had a moment of panic before she learned that they were planning to return to the Hold for the evening meal before leaving for the Weyr. She had one last chance to charm R’gul.

Larad did not meet the dragonriders in the courtyard this time, but sent Gerend to lead them to the Dining Cavern. This could have been taken as an insult, but R’gul was obviously anxious to avoid giving any offense, so it was a low risk. While they were waiting for their guests to file in, Larad leaned toward Kylara. “Watch yourself with that man,” he said in a low warning tone.

“Why Larad, I don’t know what you mean,” Kylara said innocently. “Haven’t I been a good hostess?”

“You know what I mean, Kylara,” Larad snapped back. “Quit throwing yourself at him! It’s bad enough he’s raiding the kitchens and the cotholds, but we can’t let him take one of the Blood…”

Kylara laughed. “My dear brother, where do you think half of those kitchen brats came from? And what dragon would have a drudge for its rider?”

As R’gul sat at her side again, she smiled at him. “Good evening, Weyrleader. I hope your Search was successful?” She hoped it had not been.

“Ah, somewhat,” he replied, looking grim. “Somewhat. Although we cannot have too many candidates to stand at this Hatching.” He did not have much to say during the rest of the meal, but she kept up a lighthearted conversation, asking if the dragons were tired from flying about the Hold, and about the other eggs in the clutch at the Weyr. How else might she show her interest, her willingness to go with him to stand as a candidate? She would ask him directly if she had to, but she wanted it to be his idea if possible. It would make getting away easier.

An evening had never seemed so long before. The meal dragged on, with everyone still on edge about having dragons at the Hold. Kylara struggled not to show her own tension; when it looked as though the harper was going to get up and perform, she felt like she was going to scream - but Larad held up a hand to stay him.

“Well, Weyrleader,” he said, turning to the man. “Have you completed your Search, or must you remain here at Telgar?”

R’gul flushed. “Indeed, Lord Larad, my men and I must take leave of this place. Our Search here is finished – well, almost finished.” He stood and turned to Kylara. She found her heart was beating very fast.

“Lady Kilara, I believe you would be a most suitable candidate for Impression. Would you consider coming to Benden Weyr with me to stand at the Hatching?”

Kylara barely heard the outcry that erupted at the head table, and at those lower tables near enough to have heard. She rose to her feet, concentrating hard on not seeming too eager. “Why, Weyrleader R’gul,” she said, “I would be honored to Stand at the Weyr.”

“Absolutely not!” burst out Larad, who had jumped to his feet as well. “Weyrleader, you go too far! Take the candidates you have already chosen, but do not think to take one of Telgar’s Blood.”

Kylara was thinking furiously. She could not afford to make a scene in front of R’gul – her usual method for dealing with Larad – but if she gave in too easily her brother would never believe it. “Larad!” she said in protest.

R’gul was backing up hastily, his hands thrown up in aquiescence. “Of course, Lord Larad. I apologize if I overstepped in this, but I thought… We have so few candidates, even now… I should have asked you first.”

“Indeed you should,” Larad said, only somewhat mollified. “I’m sorry, but it is simply out of the question.”

“But Larad, I – ”

No, Kylara!” he spoke over her. “As I said yesterday, you have commitments here.”

She gave him a hurt, angry look and rushed out of the Hall – and straight to her chamber, where she began rummaging hurriedly through various coats and wraps on their pegs behind the door. Ranelly wasn’t there, thank goodness – there was no time to spare explaining and arguing with her! She threw on a wherhide jacket that was warm, but not so heavy as to look out of the ordinary on a cool night like this... Leaving the rest of the garments where they had fallen, she ran back out of her room and off down the corridor.

Kylara slipped out through a smaller side door into the far end of the courtyard. Through the dusk, she could see the large shapes of the dragons – they hadn’t left yet! As she hurried toward them, she saw Gerend speaking to R’gul. As she had expected, Larad had left it to his steward to escort the dragonriders out, as a way to indicate his displeasure.

“Gerend!” she called out as she reached them. He turned, startled.

“Lady Kylara! What – ”

“Lord Larad needs to see you,” she interrupted him. “Something’s happened in the blackrock bunker.” Only a few sevendays ago there had been an accident, a minor explosion when too much blackdust was stirred up while unloading a shipment of fuel, and took a spark. Hopefully, Gerend would think something similar had happened again…

He did! He wasn’t letting it show, but Kylara knew the man’s expressions. “My apologies, Weyrleader, but I must go see what’s happened,” he said hastily. “Good flight to you.”

“Ah, thank you, Steward,” R’gul said. “We are grateful for Telgar’s hospitality,” he called as Gerend strode hurriedly away – to the opposite end of the Hold from where Larad most likely was.

Kylara caught R’gul’s arm, and he started. “Weyrleader,” she said. “I’ve spoken with my brother, and he has reconsidered. If you still wish for me to stand at the Hatching, he says that I may go.”

R’gul’s expression lightened, and he smiled at her. “My lady! Are you sure?”

“Yes!” she said, trying to hide how eager she truly was. “I’ve always wanted to see the Weyr. I managed to get La- Lord Larad, to see that the Holds still owe this duty to the Weyr. He could not come to see me off, but sent his apologies for his words at dinner.”

“Of course,” R’gul said. “He was quite right to object. I should have spoken with him first…”

Kylara bit her tongue to keep from screaming in frustration. They had to go!

“Shall I come with you, then?” she managed.

R’gul shook himself. “Ah, yes, we must be leaving. You may ride with me, Lady Kilara.” She did not bother to correct him. “It will be my pleasure to escort you to Benden Weyr.”

Suddenly the big bronze dragon bent down and extended its foreleg. She had been so focused on convincing Gerend, and then R’gul, that she had almost forgotten the dragons! Now, staring up at it, she experienced the first thrill of fear – but she was too excited to be leaving for that to stop her.

“I will mount Hath, then help you up behind me,” R’gul told her. He stepped up onto the extended leg, grabbed the straps of a sort of harness the dragon wore, and swung himself up to sit high on its neck. Clinging to the straps with his right hand, he leaned down and held out his left to her.

Kylara swallowed and stepped up as high as she could on the dragon’s leg. It was a strange surface, giving slightly under her foot… She grabbed for the straps and for R’gul’s hand, and heaved herself upward to sit astride behind him. A part of her noticed how warm the beast’s skin was, and then R’gul was reaching back with yet another strap.

“Pass this around yourself, and back to me,” he said loudly. “It will secure you to the flying straps.” She hurriedly did as he had said. She had had dreams of flying on a dragon, but the thought of actually going up so high was daunting. Still, her plan had worked! She was actually leaving! She was –

There was a huge lurch as the dragon launched from the ground, and then a series of smaller lurches as it flapped its wings to gain height. Kylara’s head was thrown back, and by the time it stopped spinning, the Hold was lost in darkness below them, with only a few lights showing in windows and at the guards’ stations. She clung to the strap around her and R’gul, and was glad she couldn’t see how high they actually were. A gust of cold wind took her breath away, and then suddenly there was no wind, only cold – black, silent cold and she couldn’t breathe! She tried to scream but couldn’t feel anything but that deep cold, and then the wind was back and she could hear and breathe again.

She gasped for air. What had that been? They leaned suddenly as the dragon banked, and Kylara clutched at R’gul. He shouted something, but she couldn’t hear it.

There were lights below them again – but they were the wrong lights! Shining in different places, from too high up… They weren’t at Telgar anymore.

Now she remembered one of the times she had seen dragons as a child – seen them appearing in mid-air, out of nowhere. She had long thought that she had imagined that part, merely been so surprised to see them that it seemed they just appeared, and had almost forgotten it until now.

No wonder the dragonriders had been able to leave on a journey at nightfall! She had expected a long, cold flight – but that cold had been terrifying. She felt a flash of anger; R’gul hadn’t even thought to warn her.
While she had been trying to orient herself, the dragon had been circling lower and lower, and now landed with only a slight jarring. Light spilled out of a large cavern opening nearby.

R’gul unfastened the straps from his belt, swung his leg over the dragon’s neck and slid to the ground. Kylara clung to the straps but was afraid to move; it was only when R’gul called up to her that she forced herself to turn and let herself slide down. She stood for a moment, shaking a little, and then felt R’gul take her arm. “Go in there,” he said, gesturing toward the lighted passage. “Manora should be there in just a moment. I told her to get rooms ready for all of you.”

He turned back to his dragon and climbed up again. Kylara reached out in protest, but they were already taking off without her. Who’s Manora? she thought, a little jealously. And then, all of you? Turning, she saw several other figures making their way toward the entrance. She began walking over ahead of them. A shadow appeared in the light, and a warm female voice said, “Welcome to Benden Weyr. Follow me, all of you, and I’ll show you where you can sleep tonight.”
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Old Jul 9 2014, 07:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Weyr Search (working title!)

There will be more to this, but I wanted to get the first part up! I'm still stuck on a title, but this will work for now!
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