Strong hands lashed the top of the canvas sack tightly, securing the contents. An unwelcome thought wove its way through the stormy turmoil that was the strong youth's mind, and one of those strong hands balled into a fist and struck the sack. The bolts of cloth packed tightly within yielded little, but the youth was not injured in the least bit.
"If you're done thrashing that sack, the dragon is waiting Borana." The Journeyman said in a tone which could have been taken for sympathy or even comiseration if the girl had been calm enough to hear it as anything but a snarled order.
She hefted the weighty sack, balancing it neatly on her shoulder as she followed the similarly loaded Journeyman up to the fireheights where a strong yet young seeming brown dragon and his rider waited.
Why must we be the ones who carry the burdens?
Borana looked up from teh ground, looking to the Rider - who apparently hadn't spoken... It hadn't been the Journeyman either. She handed the sack to the young rider, whose eyes widened slightly when he felt the weight and then smiled at her - in appreciation and even awe - not that Borana noticed.
"You can go." The Journeyman said with a nod of thanks. Borana turned on her heel and walked off, her jaw set.
Boring Borana! Boring Borana!
The taunts of childhood which had followed her to her apprenticeship like watchwhers tracking a theif tormented her, and Borana tossed and turned in her sleep, whimpering in fear.
"Even Boring Borana has better dreams than me!" One apprentice whispered to her bunkmate.
"Like anyone would trade a solid night of sleep for HER nightmares?" The girl whispered back snidely.
Sunrise over the weaverhall found Borana still in bed, but not for long. Apprentices started their chores shrtly after a light but energizing breakfast - the weavers began work as soon as the sun was fully up, to make the most of the natural light. Weaving by the light of glows was not always practical, and spinning by hearthlight was dangerous.
Bynor wasn't a particularly large hold, and the weaver hall by the same name was smaller yet. The apprentices were few, and no matter how they were divided for chores, the whining cry of "Not Borana!" was sure to be heard. Unfortunately, that daily occurrance had worn so much on the girl that all she heard was the negative aspect of any comment directed at her. Every comment. Until she became so cynical and angry that she dare not speak at all lest she unleash that fury on anyone else, least of all her mentors and teachers.
"Almost finished?" A friendly voice called to the apprentice who'd found herself mucking out the hold's stables.
"Almost." Borana answered flatly.
"Good." The cheery stablemaster said. "When you've finished, go get cleaned up - and I mean a proper bath - and come back. I've another task for you."
Borana stifled a groan. At least she hadn't had to deal with the prissy apprentice girls who played at their weaving apprenticeships. She pushed the barrow out to the midden and emptied it, silently bidding farewell to the last of what the runners had left behind. She brought the one-wheeled cart back to the stable and put it and the square ended shovel back in their proper positions.
"I'm going now." Borana said to the stable.
"Okay Borana. Don't forget to come back." The stablemaster called from his office.
"I hear." Borana replied, and walked towards the apprentices' wing.
Quietly she gathered a clean set of clothing, a towel, her personal bag of sweetsand and a comb and trotted dutifully to the bathing room. It was no surprise to find another apprentice there, but the males had their own bathing pool.
"You're not supposed to be here." Borana said without emotion. She didn't really care if people saw her naked, but breaking the rules was generally a bad idea.
"I won' watch B'rana." The drunken young man slurred. "Jes' dun tell..."
Borana shrugged and began to strip off her smelly clothes.
"You'd be prettier if you'd smile..." the boy offered.
Borana snorted and threw her clothes dutifully into the basket of similarly dirty items.
"You've got really nice..." The boy began, and Borana scowled at him menacingly. He got the idea and got very quiet.
What the boy had begun to say was true - Borana did have a very nice figure. Her body was well toned, her skin shiny and free of blemishes and birthmarks, and her chest was quite well developed.
She slipped into the warm water and dunked her head, wetting her long black hair for a scrub. All in all a thorough wash didn't take very long at all, and she was dry and dressed before the other apprentice was sobered up enough to make another pass at her.
The stablemaster must have seen her coming across the courtyard, as he was saddling up a long-legged beast as she came in. "That was quick Borana. Did you get all the soap off?"
She gave him a look which effectively said nothing.
"Thanks for coming back. I know this is an abnormal task, but I've seen you ride so I know it'll work out. There's a rush order of cloth to be taken up to Ryslen - and strangely they can't spare a dragon to come and get it. So you have to take it."
Borana nodded gravely. "Not a problem." She replied.
"Good." The stablemaster replied as he turned to get the sack. "I'll give you a hand up..."
"No need." Borana replied, stepping into the stirrup and swinging easily into place on the runner's back.
"You're more experienced than I thought." The man laughed as he fastened the bundle of cloth to the saddle. "It will be almost dark by the time you reach Ryslen. Take the fabric to Ikara, the headwoman, and she will show you a place where you can sleep. Return here after breakfast tomorrow."
"Okay." Said Borana.
"Water and trail food are in the pouch at your right hand. Provisions for the runner are already waiting at Ryslen."
"None Sir." The apprentice responded.
"See you tomorrow then." The stablemaster said, and Borana set off towards Ryslen.
"That's record time from Bynor, I think." Ikara said quite honestly as she took the unexpected bundle from the weaver apprentice.
"The runner was eager, Ma'am, and I let him have his head as long as he kept on towards the Weyr." Borana said by way of explanation.
"Good plan." Ikara said. "Help yourself to stew and bread from the hearth if you're hungry. I'll be back in a moment."
Borana nodded and moved quietly to the indicated hearth to investigate. A thick herdbeast stew simmered gently off to one side, and a basket of warm bread waited nearby with a stack of solid (if irregular) ceramic bowls. Apprenticewear, Borana guessed as she ladled the stew into her bowl. The bread was fresh too, and the apprentice set into her meal with vigor.
Ikara, dear cousin, this parcel should have come to you in the keeping of one Apprentice Borana. It pains me to do this, but I beg of you - pass her under the nose of a SearchDragon. This girl is wasted at the Weaver Hall. -Keralan
Ikara clicked at the letter and put the soft fabric her kinsman had sent as a birthingday gift away in the storeroom. The headwoman pondered for a moment, and then went off in search of a man handy with a needle.
J'rin plopped himself down at the table where the unfamiliar young woman was finishing a bowl of hearty Ryslen stew. "Hi! I'm J'rin." he said, extending his hand to her in greeting.
"Apprentice Borana of Bynor." she replied, looking at the cheery man's face as she returned the handshake. "You're the one who made Lady Keyanki's wedding gown?" The apprentice queried.
"Did you like it?"
Borana blinked at him. He was asking her opinion? It was though hundreds of voices that were whispering in the background all answered her in a whole-hearted affirmative. "It was gorgeous, Sir." she replied cautiously.
Borana nodded, taken aack. People were never this friedly with her at Bynor...
J'rin beamed. "It's nice to be appreciated. And it was nice to meet you. Sorry to run off so soon, but Amitath just informed me of a meeting..." J'rin smiled appologetically at her. "See you at breakfast?"
Borana nodded again. "Early though? I have to get back to Bynor."
"Sure thing." J'rin grined and walked away cheerily.
Ikara eyed the bluerider as he waltzed through the kitchen on his way to the Bowl. She visibly relaxed when he winked at her. The girls doing the overnight baking giggled, but they didn't know what was really going on.
"Sorry about the delay..." Ikara bubbled as she gathered up Borana's empty dishes.
"I can..." the apprentice protested, rising and reaching after the retreating dishes.
Ikara tsked. "You're our guest... Come along, I'll show you to your room."
Borana followed obediently, quietly taking in her surroundings. Ryslen was so much more... homey... than the crafthall.
"You have a lovely name, Borana." Ikara said, trying to strike up a conversation with the girl, who scoffed almost audibly. "Hmm? I didn't hear that." Ikara said, gently prodding the girl to speak her mind.
"I hate my name. They call me 'Boring Borana' when they think I can't hear them." There was a tear in the girl's voice but none running down her cheeks.
Ikara clucked softly. "Namecalling never gets anyone anywhere." Borana smiled wryly but said nothing. "Ah well." Ikara said, opening a door in a hallway not to far from the kitchen. "Here's your room - just give a holler if you need something you can't find. There's always someone in the kitchen."
"Thank you Ma'am." Borana said with a slight grin.
"Oh call me Ikara. Everyone does."
"Alright. Goodnight Ikara." she said as Ikara closed the door. The headwoman chuckled and headed off on her own business.
Borana climbed out of her clothes and into the bed - bigger and softer than her apprentice bunk - and was quickly asleep.
Morning came too quickly for J'rin, and the bluerider stumbled down to the dining hall. It was practically empty, as it was about halfway between the early breakfast crowd and the normal breakfast crowd. J'rin poured himself some klah, skimmed over the diners and headed into the kitchen.
"Good morning J'rin." Ikara said as she checked the dough rising on the hearth.
"Morning Ikara. Is our apprentice friend up yet?"
"Up and gone." Ikara said morosely.
"SHARDS!" J'rin cursed and ran out.
Borana hadn't lingered over her simple breakfast; she had duties at the hall which she could not shirk. She had conscientiously left her regrets about missing J'rin with Ikara. Even the runnerbeast was in a hurry to get back to Bynor this morning. She didn't blame him either - if you thought you'd been ogled by hungry dragons all night, you'd hurry away from their lair too.
The weaverhall was in an uproar. Almost as soon as the travel-weary apprentice appeared withing the hall's area of jurisdiction, Borana was hauled before the MasterWeaver and the Lady Holder Viri.
"Explain yourself, Borana." The MasterWeaver said coldly, yet civilly.
"Stablemaster Karalan sent me to Ryslen with a special order." The apprentice said honestly.
"Leave Karalan out of htis." Someone snapped, but Lady Viri waved them to silence.
"Teren, was there a rush shipment to Ryslen?" "No Ma'am." The MasterWeaver answered promptly.
Viri barely glanced at her guard. "Get the stablemaster."
Karalan had been quite surprised at the runner's return - but he was not at all surprised at the summons. He was, in fact, on his way to the MasterWeaver's office when Viri's guard appeared at his elbow. "If you'd accompany me to Lady Viri's office?" Karalan wasn't surprised at that development either.
"Karalan. How nice of you to join us." Viri said coolly as they arrived.
"At your service, Lady." The stablemaster replied with a slight bow in respect to her rank and title.
"Karalan, did you send 'a special order' to Ryslen in care of this apprentice?"
"Aye Ma'am, I did. A few bolts of cloth I purchased for my cousin." Viri gave him a look and he expanded on that idea. "A birthingday gift for Headwoman Ikara of Ryslen, my father's twin sister's daughter."
Viri nodded at this. "Borana, you are excused." The Lady Holder said, and the MasterWeaver fumbled to take up her lead.
"Yeah. Don't get into any more trouble." Teren stumbled.
Borana bowed and slipped out so quickly it was as though she'd vanished.
"Why did you send the child on an unauthorized errand?" Viri asked the stablemaster, intrigued but not yet angry.
"Honestly, Lady Viri, I have seen how she is treated by the other apprentices and I have seen how closed against the world she has become. I had hoped that my cousin would have taken Borana under her wing..." ...or a dragon would... "..but I underestimated Borana's Loyalty and Dedication, and that strong young woman came right back like she was supposed to."
Teren grinned in a manner that made him look like a greedy slimy creep, and Viri nodded. "No harm done - this time." She said at last. "Mind your own business, Karalan. You know full well that any apprentice excursion from the Hall requires the MasterWeaver's permission if not my own. Step on the WeaverHall's toes again, and you will have no stable to be master of."
"I hear you, Lady." Karalan responded with a bow.
"Dismissed." Viri said, and turned from the men. Karalan quietly left, but Teren did not.
"That means you as well, MasterWeaver." Viri said, and the man grumbled and stormed out.
Karalan wasn't exactly surprised to find Borana in the paddock with the sturdy beast he'd sent her on. "Done with your chores already?" He asked kindly, careful as always to choose his words so they didn't sound like an accusation.
"Master Terren made the others do them when I didn't appear at breakfast. I should have returned last night."
The stablemaster tsked, reminding Borana of the good-natured Ryslen Headwoman. "Nonsense. Your runner needed a rest, as did you."
Borana snorted softly. "At any rate, everyone in the Hall hates me today."
Karalan patted her shoulder. "Well your runner doesn't, and I certainly don't." He moved to the runner's left and laced his fingers together.
Borana looked around the beast and caught his gestured offer. She was astride the runner in one smooth motion.
"Just hold his mane tight so you don't fall."
Borana nodded and Karalan gave the beast's rump a gentle but motivating slap.
By the time J'rin was able to leave Ryslen, it was well past midday. One thing after another kept popping up. Amitath waited impatiently in the cortyard and even as J'rin ran towards his dragon, Texia called out to him.
"You should take Dellin."
J'rin rolled his eyes and Amitath silently agreed, but the Searchrider complied, turning to go find the young kinetic and his celestial-gemstone bond. It was the acceptable method after all, for a pair of dragons to go on a Search.
Bynor's entire day fell apart when the two blue dragons appeared overhead. Dragonriders seldom came to Bynor, except to pick up the tithe. When the Search was announced, every youth of eligible age rushed to be presented to the dragons. Kemirth wasn't particularly gifted, but he pretended well. Amitath, of course, did all the real work. There were a few acceptable youths, but one was lacking.
Borana. Please come forward.
The dark haired apprentice was startled by the voice in her head. And confused. She was alone in the barracks, where she was to stay under threat of severe punishment. She continued to pace like a caged wildcat, but did not respond to the summons.
She is forbidden. Amitath said, his opalescent eyes flashing colors of irritation.
"Is this everyone?" J'rin asked the Lady Holder. She did not answer, per se, so he continued. "Amitath is asking to see one by name. Borana, an Apprentice."
MasterWeaver Teren glowered. "She is not to leave Bynor."
J'rin regarded the man coolly. "Dragon's choice preceeds your order, MasterWeaver. Present her."
Teren continued to glare. "I didn't hear the dragon say anything." He said snidely.
Kemirth regarded him and the Lady Holder with a soft gaze that had a sharp bite. "Lady Viri, Master Teren." The Azurite-Moons blue said almost casually. "Will you present Weaver Apprentice Borana for our Inspection, or must I find her myself?"
Viri gaped and the MasterWeaver began to babble and point.
Amitath and Kemirth made their way through the crowd to the Apprentice barracks, where Amitath tapped on the door with a talon. Almost immediately a girl appeared at the door.
"Are you Borana?" Kemirth asked aloud.
"I am." Borana replied.
We have come on Search, Borana. I sense great potential in you, as have others. You remember the brown who retrieved the tithe? He reccommended you highly. Amitath explained.
Will you come? Kemirth asked excitedly of the apprentice-cum-candidate.
I will. Borana bespoke them both.
Borana is strong of body and mind, determined, dedicated, loyal, and decidedly hardworking. She is gifted with two-way mindspeech (formerly 'HAD') but has not had much experience receiving or sending as dragon visits were few and far between. She has spent slightly less than a fortnight under the tutelage of Effex (rider of Silver-Purple Efren'imou) at Ryslen to learn about her gift. She now has had practice with blocking unwanted contact and containing unintentional sending (wild broadcasting). He believes that forming a bond with dragon(s) will give her more control, and the dragon may be able to assist instinctively if necessary. It is highly reccomended that Borana seek a tutor at the Healing Den, in case something talent-related should come up that she needs guidance for. --J'rin
© TyGryph / Ryslen