Glinde ran off through the field, laughing. Behind her, Raulpidal came sprinting after, a maliciously joyful grin on his young face.
She was a sprightly young woman, just turned 16, long of limb and sleek of body. Her skin was a delightful copper-tone, and her dark hair fell in slight waves to her shoulders when it wasn't being whipped about by the wind.
"C'mon Raulpidal--can't you keep up?" she taunted, hazel eyes sparkling with laughter.
These were the times Glinde loved, racing across the meadows and fields of Jenir Plains with her her 12-turn old cousin. It was less often now, but she had the day off. He was fast for his age, and Glinde was sure he'd be tapped to become a runner within a few turns. Glinde was faster, but being a messenger wasn't in her future. She was betrothed to a boy she'd fallen in love with several turns ago at a Gather at Kielac hold. Their parents had agreed they could be married, if they waited until they were well settled in their crafts or turned 18--whichever happened first. As time went on, Glinde became quite adept at handling animals, very patient and steady. Her love, however, took awhile to choose his craft, and eventually decided upon becoming a vintner. He also decided he wasn't interested in women anymore, and tried everything he could think of to get out of the marriage contract he'd wanted so badly a few turns ago.
Glinde paused for a moment to look at her cousin. Raulpidal took advantage of this and put on a burst of speed. Glinde laughed wildly, running again, "You'll never catch me!"
Raulpidal's eyes glinted with silent amusement as he grinned, giving chase.
The next time the folk of Jenir Plains River Hold saw either Glinde or Raulpidal they were both covered in mud. Glinde was speechless. "I got her!" Raulpidal said, grinning through his coating of mud.
Kennij, one of the kitchen staff, sent them off to bathe before their parents saw them.
It took some time for Glinde to get the mud out of her hair, and after a long soak, she went to get ready for dinner. Dressed in a very short, yet still modest, green-blue dress, and strappy sandals, she made her appearance.
The wine was already flowing, indicating the births of foals or calves, or the presence of someone important from elsewhere in East Rock Territory.
This time, it was both. Not only had a half dozen new lives begun today, but a dragonrider had come. Once again, there were eggs hardening on the sands of a friendly weyr, and East Rock was looking among it's own flock for the best candidates for the clutch.
Glinde smiled, taking a place with the other Sr. Apprentices at a table. "We hear Raulpidal threw you in the mud, Glinde." one of the other Sr. Apprentices said.
"Mud is good for the complexion." Glinde said, mock-preening with overly-dramatic gestures. Once the others began laughing, she couldn't hold up the facade any longer, and began to laugh too.
Dinner was served--succulent roast wherry stuffed with herbed bread and served with a tangy berry sauce. Also came roasted tubers, a bright green salad, bread, and fingerroots sliced thinly and tossed with butter and fresh herbs. Nothing bland about life at Jenir Plains, that was certain.
After the meal, the herders and beastcrafters and most of the rest of the hold's inhabitants spilled out of the dining hall onto the courtyard for a bit of dancing before tending to their evening chores and slipping off to bed to enjoy the sleep of the wined and dined.
As the sun sank below the horizon, Journeymen set up torches around the courtyard, and the harpers played on. A freeform dance began, where dancers exchanged partners at regular intervals, and soon Glinde found herself dancing with the dragonrider, namely J'rin from Ryslen.
"Did you find someone?" Glinde ventured to ask after a moment or so.
"Yes..." J'rin said slowly, a pleased smile on his face.
Glinde blushed furiously, wishing the partner exchange verse would come sooner. "I'm betrothed." she blurt out, "I meant, for candidacy."
So did I. J'rin thought, still smiling as the harpers reached the exchange. Glinde gratefully grabbed the nearest guy.
To her luck, it was her cousin Raulpidal. Even at his age, he was nearly her height - She was 5'9", and he 5'7.5".
Next time, I am bringing Maiahn. J'rin thought as the girl he was dancing with started batting her eyes at him.
Why didn't you bring her THIS time? Ancith said, his tone colored with draconic laughter.
She's busy and you know it. J'rin retorted. The music changed again, and J'rin got another partner. Glinde again.
She tried to refuse, but there wasn't another open dancer on this side of the square. Resignedly, she danced with him again. "Sorry about that." he said, his tone low so others couldn't hear. "I didn't mean it like that. I've a girl I'm waiting for." J'rin explained.
"Then why did you say..." Glinde began to ask, dancing nimbly along.
"Because I found a candidate. I don't know her name, but if you'll tell me yours, I'd be glad to tell you hers." J'rin said.
You've been spending too much time with L'ken. Ancith snorted.
Glinde was only perplexed for a moment. "I'm Glinde - and I'm..."
"Yes, Glinde, you've been Searched. Do you accept?" J'rin asked her.
Glinde felt like her head was floating away without her body, the thought sending waves of adrenaline through her.
Suddenly she snapped out of it. "What about my craft?" she asked.
"What is that?" J'rin asked, spinning her about as Amitath coughed one word.
J'rin thought as Glinde told him of her animal-healing.
"Well," J'rin said, "if you Impress, you can heal the Weyr's pets, and take care of the other beasts in your spare time." He said, then grinned, "I don't think your betrothed would begrudge you a chance to Stand."
Glinde didn't say anything, so J'rin continued right on. "Or, you could become a dragonhealer..."
Dragonhealer? Glinde's heart nearly stopped, but the overly-excitable bluerider continued right on talking. "...and you can always come back if you don't Impress."
The dance music ended, but Glinde didn't hear. Her mind was racing, and J'rin lead her from the dance square to continue the conversation. The harpers struck up a lively tune, and a toss dance began. He noticed her glassy stare. "Glinde, are you ok?" he asked, genuinely concerned.
Glinde blinked. "I'm fine, J'rin, and I'll go..." she said, "but where will I go?"
J'rin smiled. "Baeris Kshau's Healing Den." he said, "there's a clutch hardening as we speak."
And the clutch hatched...
|Background from Peeling Pixels|