There was a soft whuffling and a sort of scritching in the hallway outside the girl's dormitory. This brought the girl instantly awake. One of the pups had escaped the kennel again!
Savaai sat up a little, the rushes rustling as she moved. Clicking her tongue softly, she called to the little canine, and in a moment, the rusty brown pup pushed past the curtains.
He sat on the floor at the edge of her bed, his whole body wriggling with the force of his tail wagging. He whimpered softly, but Savaai shushed him, putting her finger to her lips.
"You're getting too big for this, Kerlin!" she whispered, then patted the bed beside her. "C'mon then."
The pup jumped up, and snuggled into the furs with his mistress, tail wagging happily.
Come morning, the canine was happy to stay in the warm furs while Savaai bathed. Then, Kerlin followed Savaai from the dorm to the dining hall. Her soft pink slippers made little sound as she walked, and her pastel skirt swished ever so slightly. Savaai was, at 14 turns, merely 4'10" tall. She didn't mind being small, in fact, she rarely noticed. A darker pink sash tied around her waist made her plain blouse look fancier, and a ribbon of the same shade tied back her long, lusterous black hair.
Some other youths were looking at a map or reading a record at one table, but Savaai didn't join them. She just wasn't interested.
She fetched her own breakfast, and sat down at a table. Kerlin went underneath, and lay at her feet.
A firelizard flew by, and chirped at her, then departed. Soon, Deliner, a journeyman weaver, stopped at her table. He regarded the dark skinned girl coolly. "The other girls said you'd that half-grown canine in the dorms again." He said, his tone menacing. "Don't let me hear about it again."
"Yessir." Savaai said, meekly, not wanting to give up the companionship of the rusty canine, but not wanting to lose her apprenticeship for disobedience!
After breakfast, Savaai resignedly put Kerlin in the kennel, and set to work stringing her loom.
In less than a candlemark, Kerlin was at her side. How had he gotten out?
Just then, the cranky journeyman walked by, and saw the pup. With a scowl, he spoke. "Savaai, what did I tell you about that curr?!"
Savaai swallowed dryly. She hadn't done anything wrong -- Kerlin let himself out of the kennel. The journeyman grabbed Kerlin by the collar, and hauled him away yelping.
Savaai sat there in shock for a moment, then moved. Not to chase down the journeyman as one might expect, but towards the dorms.
Within moments, Savaai reappeared, attired in slacks, boots, and jacket, with a pack on her back. She kept to the back halls, and soon came to the kennel.
Kerlin was tied tightly to the fencepost with a leather thong. He lay there, whimpering quietly.
Savaai slipped off her pack, and ducked into the kennel. She'd made her choice. The pup wriggled excitedly, hampering her efforts to untie him, but she succeeded. When almost everyone had gone for the midday meal, Savaai crept from the kennel, a now quiet Kerlin at her side. She hefted her pack, and moved swiftly for the trees.
She felt like she was being watched, so she looked back. Noone there. Kerlin surged ahead, tugging at his leash. Savaai followed, and crashed right into Laurel, a greenrider.
"Where do you think you're going?" the rider asked.
Savaai looked up at her. "I haven't decided yet." She said honestly.
"How about Artaq Weyr?" the rider said, amused at Savaai's shocked expression. "Arimith says you'd be a great Candidate."
Savaai didn't think very long. "I'll go on one condition..." she said, and Laurel sighed. Usually this meant hauling along a best friend.
"And what would that be?" Laurel asked nicely.
"If I can bring Kerlin." Savaai said. The pup barked at mention of his name.
Laurel laughed. "Of course you can bring your canine. It wouldn't do to leave him behind."
And so Savaai went to Artaq, her trusty rusty pup in tow. When word got back to Bynor, that cruel journeyman was set to shoveling the midden heap for several sevendays.
Savaai's waiting is over!
Kerlin is from Talor Cliff Weyr.
Background from Peeling Pixels.