Woodhall Hold" align=right>
Minaeya sat perched in her favorite tree -- an aged hardwood almost three handspans thick. Her long dark hair blew in the slight breeze, tickling the round-edged leaves. She surveyed the treetops with her hazel-green eyes as if she commanded the entire woodland. Being 14, controlling anything was a bit far out of her grasp.
Minaeya was the eldest daughter of one of the lesser well known journeymen woodcrafters. Her father knew all sorts of ways to care for trees and mend them from storm-damage, but lots of woodsmen knew that, and most had more talent crafting things from downed trees than Minaeya's father. Nonetheless, Minaeya lived at South Woodhall Hold with her family. She wasn't interested in trees, other than for climbing, but was strong of limb and mind. Every day she'd climb a tree and sit and think about things once she'd finished her chores about the hold.
This day, Minaeya had finished her chores much faster than usual, and had escaped to her leafy sanctuary much earlier; missing the morning's announcements. Dragonriders from Ryslen Weyr were coming on Search -- any youth who wanted to have a chance at being Searched was to present him or herself at the landing field the candlemark after midday meal.
The Searchriders came early, having been invited to join the crafters and their families for the meal, and were flying above the treetops. J'rin, there is a good candidate in that tree. Amitath declared, turning on wingtip to get a better look.
"Candidates don't grow on trees, Amitath." J'rin laughed above the wind. J'rin, there IS a girl in that tree. Amitath said, serious as always.
Fine, Amitath. J'rin thought. We'll snag her after meal, when we're Searching. The holder asked for the younglings to line up; remember?
Of COURSE I remember! Amitath snapped back. What kind of stupid... he began, cut off when a scream erupted from the tree he'd accidently brushed with a wingtip. Amitath jerked away from the tree, startled.
Minaeya had been dozing, reclined against the sturdy tree trunk while the dragons passed overhead. The sound of something touching the tips of the branches startled the athletically slim girl awake, and the sight of the giant blue dragon about to crash into her tree startled her so badly that she lost her balance and fell. That's when the scream came, and was abruptly ended as she hit her head on one of the smaller branches.
J'rin and Amitath watched in horror as the young girl crashed through the branches. Amitath swerved, trying to land or get near enough to catch her, but the foliage was too thick. By the time they found someplace to land, and J'rin ran to the tree, the coppery-skinned girl had landed on the brush below the tree. The bush was broken, and the girl was bleeding.
"Oh, please be all right..." J'rin whispered softly, checking to see if she'd been impaled with any branches. Seeing only one piercing her arm, he was a tiny bit relieved. "Can you hear me?" he asked, urgency and fear creeping into his usually cheerful voice.
Minaeya's eyelids flickered, then opened. She looked up at the face, but it was fuzzy, and ringed by a fuzzy blue outline. "I........." she began, trying to sit up. The world spun, and she passed out.
By this time, J'lenn had reached the hold, obtained a blanket and the help of two strong men (not that there was a lack of those about the woodcraft hall) and had hurried to where his blue Scith had said Amitath and J'rin were. The woodsmen identified the girl as Minaeya, and were glad to hear that she was still alive, despite having fallen as far as J'rin said she had. With the help of the crafters, the two riders moved Minaeya to the blanket, and carried her through the trees back to the hold, so the healers could take care of her.
I feel so horrible. J'rin thought, standing by the doorway as the hold healer cleaned Minaeya's wounds. She hadn't regained conciousness, but she'd rattled her skull, and might have damaged her mind.
It is not your fault, J'rin. It is mine. I shouldn't have flown so close to her tree. Amitath said, his entire being ashamed.
We're both at fault, Ami. J'rin said, still standing sentinel at Minaeya's doorway, though the rest of the hold was assembling for lunch. The healer shooed him off to eat, promising to come get him when she woke. Slowly, J'rin retreated.
I know... Amitath said, laying his head on the ground in the landing field.
As Minaeya began to wake, Amitath lifted his head. J'rin. Minaeya is waking. I can feel her. She will STILL be a good candidate. The news that she would be okay cheered J'rin to no end.
The healer didn't convey any news to J'rin until after he and J'lenn had looked over the youths from South Woodhall. They'd found two boys, and J'lenn arranged to carry them off to the Weyrs where they were to Stand. J'rin went back to the healer's den to see Minaeya.
She smiled wanly at the man who came in. "hi....." she said softly.
J'rin smiled. "Don't sit up, Minaeya. I wouldn't want you to pass out again."
Minaeya stuck her tongue out at him, and wondered why he had a blue outline. She looked over at the healer. He had an outline too... but it didn't have a color.
"The healer tells me you're going to be okay -- and that you'll be able to get up and start moving about again in three days." J'rin said, sitting on the chair at the side of the bed.
Minaeya sighed. "Yes, but I won't be able to climb trees for six weeks..." Minaeya said, raising her right arm. "Broke my wrist... I'm going to miss the treetops."
J'rin patted her good arm. "I don't think you'll need to climb any more trees, Minaeya. Tell you what -- if you *are* able to get up and do things in three days, I'll be back in four, and Amitath and I will take you for a ride." The girl's eyes widened. J'rin leaned closer, and whispered to her, "Amitath says you'd make a good candidate -- that's why we were so close to the trees to begin with. Be ready, we'll pick you up and fly straight to Ryslen."
Minaeya looked at J'rin as he sat back. "You're serious, right?"
"Of course. If Amitath says you're a good candidate, you're a good candidate. There's no arguing with Amitath -- that I guarantee." J'rin said, grinning as he stood up. "I'll tell your parents, and the holder."
Minaeya grinned. "See you in four days, J'rin."
On the Fourth day, J'rin and Amitath had appeared as promised, and conveyed Minaeya carefully to Ryslen Weyr. They winged their way along the green treetops from Woodhall to Ryslen, never once winking Between. J'rin still was ringed in blue, and Amitath was too. Several of the hold children had auras about them too, but the color... Minaeya couldn't pick it out.
Most of the people at Ryslen Weyr had the colored outlines. After a while, she got used to seeing them, and could go about her daily routine. Being a candidate was tough; tougher than just being a hold child at any rate. Minaeya still went about her duties efficiently (though they were different than the ones she would have been doing at Woodhall) and wound up with more spare time than others. There weren't any trees for her to climb, but after she found the stairs to the rim, she didn't need one. Watchrider Kerli became her confidant, but and Minaeya didn't mention seeing the colors to her - Minaeya knew she hadn't seen the colors before she fell, and nobody else seemed to notice them. Kerli's outline was the same color green as Sxoith's hide. Very pretty.
Some of the other candidates had colored rings about them. That boy's outline, though pale, was definitely bronze, and that one, a pale green. One girl's aura was so blue it was black... or was it so black it was blue? Either way, Minaeya wondered what it all meant. Two of the candidates had outlines about them that were shot with lightningbolts. Minaeya wondered if the lightning hurt them, but they didn't seem to be in pain, so she didn't ask.
Minaeya was happy; what more did she need?
The Hatching of Cytiath and Releith's clutch came and went -- no dragon picked Minaeya.
As the rain beat down on the Weyr, Minaeya sat in the dining hall nursing a cup of tea once she'd finished her duties. Her embroidery lay on the table, but Minaeya didn't have the motivation to work on it. Instead, she stared across the room at Weyrwoman Tiyanni. Her aura was golden, and in Minaeya's opinion, it made her more beautiful.
"Do I have something on my shirt, Minaeya?" Weyrwoman Tiyanni said, startling the girl.
"No, Weyrwoman. Sorry..." Minaeya said, looking away. Though she was used to seeing the auras, she often stared off into space, letting them blur and meld together into beautiful patterns. It was interesting that all the dragonriders had colors...
"It's quite all right, Minaeya." Tiyanni said, sitting down opposite her. Minaeya tried hard not to look at the ring around Tiyanni. "Some of the other riders have been complaining that you stare at them alot. Is there something I should know?"
Minaeya swallowed hard. "Um... no..." She looked away.
Tiyanni looked at her with one of those looks.
Minaeya looked sheepishly at the Weyrwoman. "Okay, there is something, but would it be okay if we talked about it somewhere else?"
Tiyanni looked quickly about the cavern. "Let's go up to my office."
Minaeya quickly gathered her things, and followed the silvering Weyrwoman upstairs. Tiyanni's office had a doorway into her weyr, which led to Litayth's weyr, which had a ledge looking down on the Hatching Grounds, as well as one looking out into the Weyrbowl, oddly enough. It was on that ledge that Minaeya and Tiyanni had their conference, with Litayth guarding them from her couch.
"It all started when I fell out of the tree..." Minaeya began, quickly relating the entire story to the Weyrwoman.
Tiyanni nodded thoughtfully. "What color do you see around me?"
Minaeya was quick to reply. "Gold."
"And around J'kosh?"
"What about Im'mel, J'rin and Kerli?" Tiyanni asked, ticking off fingers as she named riders she knew Minaeya had dealt with.
"Brown, blue, and green, respectively." Minaeya said, not missing a beat.
"Are you seeing a pattern here?" Tiyanni said, looking at the weyrling.
"For the love of little green dragons..." Minaeya said.
"What about Ikara?" Tiyanni asked, naming a non-rider.
"There's an outline, but no color." Minaeya said, looking at her hands. "All of the riders have colors -- L'ken's is white... and none of the non-riders have colors."
"What color do you see around yourself?" Tiyanni asked, covering the girl's hands with her own.
"I don't." Minaeya said, closing her eyes. She was a non-rider, and now she knew it for sure.
"You've a clear outline like Ikara then?" Tiyanni asked, seriously.
Minaeya looked at her hands again. "No... I don't see anything." she said, sighing deeply.
Tiyanni smiled at her. "Maybe because you're inside of it." the Weyrwoman suggested.
Minaeya smiled softly. "Maybe, but no dragon picked me..."
"Not everybody Impresses the first time around, Minaeya. Cheer up, ok?" Tiyanni smiled at her, and guestured to the oddly large green's clutch hardening on the sands. Naoth stood guard, turning each egg carefully. "Maybe one of those will hatch for you."
Minaeya looked down at the eggs. "Maybe. I'm sure Amitath will insist I keep Standing until I die of old age..."
Tiyanni laughed. "That dragon..." Something occurred to Tiyanni just then, so she asked, "Minaeya, can you see colors around the eggs?"
Minaeya looked down. "Umm... some are swirling green and brown, and some are green and black."
Tiyanni crowed, and clapped her hands together. "I knew it! I just knew it!"
Minaeya was suddenly uncomfortable. "What?"
The Weyrwoman calmed down. "Well, for starters, you can see the colors of the dam sire of each egg."
Minaeya scrunched up her face. "Naoth was flown by Iveth, and he's brown, not black."
Tiyanni nodded. "That means there are two clutches down there, not one!" Tiyanni said excitedly. "Sxoith flew just before Naoth's flight and was caught by Faloritoth, the black dragon.... everyone thought Sxoith was sterile."
Minaeya's eyes went wide. "Do you suppose they'll be odd like Cytiath's?"
"Only time will tell. Did you see the colors of Cytiath and Releith's eggs before they hatched?"
Minaeya thought about it for a moment. "I don't recall..." she said.
"Ah, no matter. If you could see which egg hatched which color, someone would be sure to find out, and then the betting on what color would come from each egg would be spoiled for a long time to come."
Minaeya nodded, and giggled. "oh."