Not too long after Imaraemel had left Two River Hold, Keilarhi was out with another Two River lad, Kolmer, tending the flock. It was an overcast day, but the woolies didn't care.
"I still don't understand, Keilarhi. If you're one of the Holder's sons, why do you herd animals?" Kolmer asked, tossing his head to get his pale blonde hair out of his eyes. He was pale from top to toe, with pale blue eyes too. He was twin to Annikol, and one of a set of quintuplets as well.
Keilarhi, a dark swarthy young man, smiles at his companion as they sat on the grass, watching the ovines graze. Sammir, a dark brown canine lay on his belly in the grass a few paces away, watching to see if any woolies ran off. Fligg, Kolmer's yellowish canine lay near he other side of the flock. They, like their human masters, made a great team.
"It's always been like this in Two River. A good holder is respected by those he holds, and to be respected by a community of farmers, herders, vintners, and tanners, he must be able to work alongside them without complaint, though he mayn't have the level of skill they do." Keilarhi explained, then suddenly looked up as a trio of dragons soared high above the fields.
Keilarhi frowned, but Kolmer was first to speak. "That's not their usual sweep!"
"No, it isn't." Keilarhi agreed, then turned an eye to the west, where dark clouds were gathering. "Storm's brewing. Let's head back."
Whistling to the canines as they stood, the lads rounded up the woolies, and headed back to the fold.
The first droplets of rain were spattering the ground as the last of the ovines went into their enclosure.
"All in?" Kolmer asked, to verify his count.
"All in." Kelarhi answered. They hadn't lost one this time. They took Fligg and Sammir to the kennel, and fed them before heading in themselves. It wouldn't do to mistreat their working canines, now would it?
Together the two lads went towards the hold. Just before they reached the entrance, Keilarhi cast his eyes upon Verran rock - the gigantic boulder that split the Sier-Dehsa in twain - freezing in his tracks.
"Look!" he whispered, and Kolmer came back, wrapping an arm around Keilarhi. They were about the same height - right around 5'7" tall.
There, atop Verran rock, were the trio of dragons they'd seen overhead.
"What do you suppose that means?" Kolmer whispered to his friend.
"I don't know." Kelarhi whispered back, "but I intend to find out!"
Together the boys, both having fifteen turns, went into the hold, and into the kitchen for a warm drink. Karigi, the headwoman, was happy to get them some klah, then shooed them out into the living caverns to drink it.
"She's fussy as a mother hen." Kolmer said.
"Yeah, don't you love it though?" Keilarhi said.
Kolmer nodded, already sipping on his cup of too-hot klah. Walking into the living caverns side by side, they noticed something odd. There sat Holder Mejolin, his wife Rehlla, and the three dragonriders. Mejolin caught sight of them and beckoned for them to come over. They cast a hesitant glance at each other, then headed over. The Holder of Two River was not to be ignored.
"Were you two out in the north pasture this morning?" Mejolin asked, looking at each with a stony expression on his face.
Kolmer went pale, but Keilarhi answered his father quickly. "Yessir, we were out since dawn, and have just returned."
The rain was the only sound to be heard in that giant cavern for the space of several heartbeats.
"These riders say..." Mejolin began, and then he paused, waiting for a reaction that never came.
One rider twitched an eyebrow at this, and then Holder Mejolin continued. "They saw you working diligently. They said they'd like to reward you each with a little dragon..." Rehlla poked him. "Ride! Dragon - ride." He amended.
The boys went saucer-eyed. Neither had ridden a dragon before. They rarely saw Riders up close, lest it was a Gather, what with the dragons scaring the beasts and all.
"You like that idea, hmm?" Mejolin said, then introduced the riders. "This is L'ran, from Ryslen, and F'nan and Kodachi, from Wu Weyr.
Kolmer grinned, and Keilarhi did too. "When can we go?" they chimed.
"Whenever you're ready." F'nan answered, a smile on his face.
The boys turned to go, but Kodachi spoke, stopping them. "Better pack - you'll be staying as Candidates."
"Wherry teeth!" Komer burst out, then looked rather sheepish as he realized he'd called the dragonrider a liar.
"It's not nonsense, lad." L'ran said, "I swear on my dragon's egg - you will be Candidates." The boys gawked for a moment, then ran off to get ready.
"Little dragon indeed!" Rehlla laughed. "I can't believe you Mejolin!"
The Holder grinned. "I don't have to be serious all the time, do I?"
L'ran and the others grinned, and L'ran spoke. "I can't believe they didn't react to that 'They said you...' line! I would've!"
"We know L'ran, we know!"
Sammir and Fligg are from Sapphire Weyr and Blue Star Weyr respectively.