He raced down the track, leaping nimbly over tree roots and stones, completely at ease despite the speed at which he raced on. There, running down the forest path was...
Raulpidal slowed to a fast walk as he broke from the treeline, highstepping like a spirited runnerbeast to keep the blood from pooling in his legs.
The runner's heart had slowed nearly to a resting rhythm by the time Raulpidal reached Holder Genowen's door. Tapping politely, he stepped lightly into the office. Genowen was waiting.
Raulpidal produced the message hide from his beltpouch, and handed it to Genowen. It was neatly sealed with the master's own seal -- proof the messenger hadn't tampered with it. Genowen read the message while Raulpidal stood ready, in case a return message was to be taken. The holder nodded to himself, smiling. Good news! Raulpidal thought to himself, indulging in a bit of smiling himself.
At 14, he stood just under 5'8" and looking at his family, he wasn't going to get much taller. He wore his dark hair somewhat short - perhaps 3 or 4 inches long, and tied away from his face with a woven band. His eyes were dark, and his skin a rich copper tone. He preferred to wear lightweight tunics and close-fitting pants that didn't restrict his movement when he ran.
Genowen looked up from the message. "Good work, Raulpidal." the holder said, glancing momentarily down towards the contents of his desk drawer. He picked something out, and flipped it toward the messenger. The mark made a soft slap in his hand as he caught it. "Report back after midday meal." Genowen instructed. "I'll have the reply then."
Raulpidal bowed, then vanished from the room. A quick look at the sky told him he'd nearly three candlemarks before the meal. Free time was a boon, and the 1/16th mark Genowen had graced him with was an unexpected reward. He walked down by the stables, where hands were exercising two-turn old runnerbeasts. These had been foaled the day Glinde had been Searched. He hoped that his cousin would someday get to ride one of them. Of course, riding runnerbeasts was probably the last thing on her mind just then, what with Nantryth to keep her company.
Raulpidal had been tapped to become one of the runnerhold's messengers the autumn after Glinde left; about a turn and a half ago. He was trustworthy, young, and most importantly, fast. Sometimes Genowen laughed when he came in, saying, "Raulpidal, if you were any faster, I'd swear you could go Between." Raulpidal, like many younglings, sometimes dreamed of Impressing a dragon, but he knew the odds of being Searched were not in his favor. There hadn't been a Search in his family in five generations -- well, except Glinde.
Raulpidal left the training field, and jogged over to the woolie's pens. Generally the flock was out grazing at this time of day, but before Raulpidal could ask why they weren't, he was spotted by a herder, and asked to escort a Dragonrider to Genowen.
Having no other plans, Raulpidal was happy to oblige. The rider, R'lan from Ryslen, had come about the tithe, or so he said.
Genowen was surprised to see the Searchrider, but eager to talk. Raulpidal left them and spent the rest of his free time helping the aunties with some spinning. Raulpidal was always so helpful, the holders insisted he hadn't a selfish bone in his body. He almost had to be ordered to spend his marks on himself at Gathers.
After a while, Kennij stuck his grizzled head out of the kitchen. "Raulpidal," he said. "Word is Genowen is looking for you."
Excusing himself from the spinners, he jogged across the courtyard, oblivious to the two dragons, who turned their heads to follow his movement like buzzards.
Genowen invited the messenger in when he tapped on the open door. Now two Riders sat with the holder. "R'lan you know," Genowen began, "and the other is the Searchrider from Alabaster. This is Raulpidal, my fastest Messenger. Some days, I swear he goes Between without a dragon, he goes so quick."
Raulpidal's face grew hot; he wasn't used to such praise, especially in front of such prestigious individuals. The Searchrider took this all in. "Raulpidal, Genowen tells us of your merits, and has given his permission. Now it's up to you. Will you go with me to Alabaster and stand as a candidate for Queen Diamoth's clutch?"
Raulpidal didn't even blink. "I'd be honored, Dragonrider. Thank you, Holder Genowen."
When Alabaster's Clutch Hatches...
Background from Boogie Jack's Web Depot.