On the eighth night of the expedition, it began to rain. Not the soft, gentle, lull-you-to-sleep sort of rain, but the lighting-flashing, thunder crashing, scare the children sort of storm.
Jeyann lay awake, not because she was scared, but because she loves storms. With a pleased smile on her face, she slept lightly, listening.
The group was mixed, half male and half female, but the sleeping arrangements were two distinct groups. The other girls slept deeply, tired from today's hike.
Kellir, the leader of the campers, left the boys' tent, cloaked in a waterproof jacket. Inside that tent, the boys were moving. He walked carefully across the sodden ground to the other tent.
"Girls?" he called quietly. No answer.
"Jeyann?" he called, a tiny bit louder.
"Kellir?" came a quiet reply from inside the tent.
"Wake the girls, Jey, and quick. We've got to move." he said.
Jeyann heard him walk away, the squishing sound his boots made in the oozing mud clear in the silence between thundercracks.
She sat up, and nudged Seriael beside her. The girl muttered, and tried to roll over and go back to sleep.
"Wake up, Seriael!" Jeyann whispered, and a thundercrash added the needed emphasis.
Seriael peered up at Jeyann through the darkness bleary-eyed. "Wha..."
Jeyann put on some warm clothes from her pack. "Wake the others, Seriael, Kellir says we've got to move."
Lighting flashed again as Jeyann stepped out of the tent and into the pouring rain, cloaked in waterproof gear and knee-high boots.
The boys were already taking down their tent, and Jeyann helped as she got a report. "Valley below is flooded. We've about an hour until this flat goes under." Kellir said, and Jeyann nodded, leaving after a few moments to help dismantle her own tent. Being packed wet wouldn't be good for the canvas, but drowning would definitely be worse.'
Within half an hour, the camp was packed, and the eight were on the move. Several of them, Jeyann included, slipped and fell in the ever-increasing mud.
Dawn found them all bespattered with mud, and nearly a mile north -- on higher ground. The rain had ended about an hour before, and the sunrise was a welcome sight to the weary travellers. They sat on rocks and broke out dried fruits and bread for breakfast.
Danoellin's blue firelizard squlked and chirped and refused to eat. "Fine!" he said in exasperation, "go find your own breakfast." The flit chirped irately, and flew off.
When they were all rested and fed, they set off again, nothing more they could do until the ground was dry enough to set up and dry out the tents. At some point Zilrik, the firelizard, rejoined them.
Some time later, they were headed down a slope towards the river. The water was high and moving fast. They'd balked at going down again, what with nearly being drown in a flood a few hours previous, but Kellir insisted they must, and since he was the leader, down they went.
Tall trees, with their long weeping boughs lined the swollen river. Between them, large rocks were to be seen in the wide part of the river, the water crashing against them.
Jeyann suddenly and calmly spoke. "Danoellen, send for a dragon." She said, and dropped her pack. Three of the others stared at her. Jeyann pointed to hte river, at one of the larger rocks that actually belonged on the shoreline, the flood-fed waters now making it an island. Perched on that rock-island was a lad of about 12.
"So?" the cranky Danoellin said, intent on letting the boy sit until the waters receeded.
Jeyann scowled, and took off her rain gear. Taking her rope, she wordlessly headed for the river.
She ignored their hails, and went on. Tying one end of the rope around a sturdy willow, she called to them. "Send Zilrik." She kicked off her boots as Danoellin shook his head.
"Danoellin, send the sharded flit!" Kellir said, taking his own rope and starting towards the river.
The two ropes were tided tightly together, and Jeyann readied herself to go after the boy, who was thrilled at the prospect of getting off the rock.
Mere moments after the bold Jeyann slipped herself into the swiftly moving river, and heartbeats before she reached the rock, a large wave swept the lad from the rock with a terrifying splash.
Danoellin sent the flit.
By sheer luck, Jeyann caught the tail end of that freak wave, and got closer to the boy. The others stood on the shore, watching-- nothing they could do but wait.
She caught up to the floundering boy, and he grabbed on to her like a bloodfish, intent on never letting go.
Jeyann floated on her back, clutching the youngling to her and tried to swim for the shore. It was much harder to swim upstream than down.
On the shore, Kellir led the others in pulling them back to safety. Overhead, a green, a blue, and a bronze dragon appeared. They'd no need to ask what was happening -- it was all clear from the air.
Jeyann was tiring, but she swam on. When she felt her fellows pulling, she grabbed hold of the rope with her free hand, and clutching the exhausted boy close to her.
With a lurch, they began making more progress. Kerli, R'lan, and the bronzerider were pulling too. In less time than was expected, they were ashore. The two dripping youths were wrapped in blankets, Kerli and R'lan hovering protectively about the boy. J'kosh stood in front of his shivering daughter and didn't say a thing. His jaw was set and his eyes were hard. Finally he spoke.
"I suppose you're expecting me to tell you how fardling foolish that was. Well, I'm not going to." the Weyrleader said. "If you hadn't come on this trip, who knows what fate would have befallen Tarinn over there." He wrapped his arms around the sodden girl, hugging her tight. "I'm proud of you, Jeyann."
The seven other youths were huddled together, talking in whispers. When J'kosh released her, Kellir spoke. "Weyrleader J'kosh, Sir, we'd like to go home now."
"That can be arranged. Kerli, if you please..." he said, and then looked at the still-dripping Jeyann and Tarinn. "There's no way you two can go Between like this." He said.
Then R'lan spoke. "We're not far from Bynor, J'kosh. Ancith and I can take them straight there, and pick them up in the morning and take them to the weyr."
"That's a good idea, R'lan." J'kosh said, nodding, a grin spreading across his face. "Jeyann, are you going to turn down a second chance at that Hatching? R'lan can bring Tarinn home after he drops you off at the Healing Den."
R'lan grinned as Jeyann said "I'll go."
He can stand too.the blue said. He is young, but he'll do.
R'lan grinned. "J'kosh, sir. Ancith says Tarinn should stand too." The Weyrleader grinned, and nodded.
So Jeyann and the youngling Tarinn went off to stand at Baeris' sands. The heat from the hatching sands baked the river's chill from their bones, and that's not all.