South Woodhall


The thin boy walked hesitantly into the dining hall, his hands shaking so badly that he was scared his dinner would slip right off his plate. He felt like all eyse were on him, even though everyone was absorbed in their own business. Finding a spot near the outer wall, Rikaemin sat to eat his dinner, right arm moving mechanically, left arm hanging at his side. He could feel people looking at him, their gaze sending icy chills down his spine.

Every mealtime since the accident had been like this, and he'd been even more nervous this past week since the cast came off. He'd broken his arm in four places, both above and below the elbow, when he'd fallen from a tree he shouldn't have been climbing. A broken branch had added to the injury, contributing a large wound that had healed to a jagged lightningbolt-like scar on the outside of his right arm.

At 13, Rikaemin was too young to be fully apprenticed into the woodcraft, and too slight of size to be of any use once he was, unless maturity gave him more along the lines of muscle mass.

Though his arms were healed, Rikaemin's confidence was still shattered. His arm ached, and he tried to ignore it, but hadn't the willpower. He resignedly rubbed his arm, careful not to pull the scar if he could avoid it. The healer noticed, but didn't say anything. There was nothing more he could do. Rikaemin finished his dinner, and slipped out of the hall.

There were trees everywhere around South Woodhall Hold, after all, it was the main Woodcraft hall in all of East Rock. Looking at the trees made Rikaemin feel guilty. He would have been punished soundly for breaking boughs from the tree when he fell, if he'd not been injured so severely. Rikaemin went back inside, and returned to his room. The healer had said he'd be fit to work again once his arm muscles got strength in them again, but Rikaemin just felt useless.

As the sun began to set, trumpeting dragons decended on Woodhall -- on Search of course. Why else would they announce themselves so grandly? Rikaemin pulled a blanket over his head, and was set to stay where he was, but was rooted out by an eager apprentice, and hauled along to be inspected by the dragons.

The blues seemed non-plussed with everyone. The riders conversed, and Rikaemin tried to slip away and get back inside. It didn't pan out. D'run had spotted him, and walked over. "And just where do you think you're going?" he asked. Rikaemin absently rubbed his arm, but didn't answer. "Thought you could sneak away, huh. Back up front with you then!" D'run said, brusquely chasing the young lad to the front rank. Two girls and six lads, Rikaemin included, quivered as the dragons looked them over once again.

"Too bad you're not older." one rider said, patting Rikaemin on the back. "Amitath is sure you'd be a good rider." J'rin smiled at him.

"I've 13 turns, Sir." Rikaemin said softly. "I'm just small."

The lad beside him piped up. "J'rin, he is just barely recovered from a bad fall; he just looks weak."

J'rin looked at Rikaemin again.

Oh please pick me, Amitath. Rikaemin thought frantically I can't stand it here! The trees remind me... the boy shook with fear.

Suddenly the Searchriders dismissed the other seven youth. "Go get packed, Rikaemin. You've been Searched. Amitath and I will take you to Thayor Weyr right away." J'rin announced, loud enough for the entire assembly to hear. Quietly, the bluerider added "Amitath says there are less trees there."

Rikaemin looked at J'rin with eyes wide from astonishment. "You mean he heard me?"

"Of course he did!" J'rin laughed. "Now go pack; the eggs are waiting."

The eggs stopped waiting. They hatched!

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