This day found him hiking through foothills on the Northern Continent, alone. He'd been alone since he parted company with the seacrafters nearly a turn ago, and several thousand dragonlengths east.
Around midday, Telrin came to a slight cliff, and looked down, seeing a multitude of oddly colorful dragons lounging about, some snuggled in pairs. Whoa! he thought, What kind of place is this?
An ice-cold voice responded simply, Shh....
A girl ran out, and looked around. A blue dragon looked up at him, and the girl did too. Riale quickly made her way up to meet him. "Hi! I'm Riale!" she said, extending a hand in greeting. Telrin hesitated.
She won't hurt you.the icy voice said.
Telrin shook Riale's hand. "Telrin, Traveller." He said by way of introduction. Riale grinned.
"I ride Niawith." She said. Telrin's eyes bugged out.
I told you my rider wouldn't hurt you. Niawith said to him with a draconic chuckle.
"Welcome to MasterHealer Kshau's Den, Telrin." Riale said. "C'mon inside."
Riale was about an inch taller than Telrin, and he stood 5'7" tall. This was not a problem however, as Telrin had something else on his mind. "What sort of Weyr is this, Riale? Not one of those dragons out there looks like the ones back home." Telrin said.
Riale cocked an eyebrow. "Where's home?" She asked, with genuine curiousity.
Telrin blushed. "Most recently, Sennet - but I'ven't been there in quite some time."
Riale grinned. "I was born at Woodhall, apprenticed at Jenir, Impressed here, and Niawith and I live at Ryslen though."
Telrin was oddly comforted that this cheerful girl was from East Rock too. Made this northern weyrlet seem a bit more like home.
"Baeris' den is more of a dragon hatchery than a weyr - all of the dragons, except Baeris' Dulath... have you seen her yet? She's gorgeous." Riale said, going off on a tangent.
I know. Niawith said, bespeaking his rider.
Quiet, you! Riale sent back with a laugh. "All of the dragons, except Dulath, go home to some other weyr when they're grown."
Telrin nodded, and Riale continued. "There are two hatching grounds here - one is where friends of the den clutch - greens and junior queens, you know." It was getting more and more common for green dragons to skip the firestone and become breeders.
"And the second," Riale continued, "is for the stunt dragons." Riale told Telrin briefly about the first Five Stunts, and of the Den's history.
"That's quite a story, Riale. If I'd not seen those colorful beauts out there, I'd think you to be weaving some tale..." Telrin said, and Riale grinned.
Telrin felt like she was staring at him, and began to rub his face, where his dark tan partially obscured the birthmark that covered the left side of his face.
"Now tell me your story please, Telrin." Riale asked, now intently studying his face, since he'd called attention to it. She hadn't noticed the dark patch before, since he'd somehow managed to keep that side turned away. Telrin blushed like a youngling just kissed for the first time.
"Well, I was born at Bynor Hold. My parents are weavers." He said, a faint smile of reminiscence on his face. "I was born about 19 turns ago, marked with a dark half-mask. I... was instantly the scapegoat of all my peers." He said, his voice shrinking to a mere whisper, making the athletic young man seem frail and helpless.
"I was constantly taunted, and at 12, I left the hold and became a wanderer. I joined up with the Lynilik Traders for a while, but the teasing never ended. I enjoyed the traveling and the trading, but after a while, the insults began to get me down. I left them after a while, and became a seacrafter." Now Telrin began to smile.
"I was a good sailor, really. The teasing was less, with the seacrafters defending me when I did a good day's work. About 18 months ago, they were outfitting a ship for a run North, and I signed up as cabin boy." Riale leaned on the table, listening intently.
"I turned 18 while on the ship, and one of the sailors gave me this..." he tugs a neck-ring, reminiscent of ancient Celtic jewelry from beneath his tunic. He sighed wistfully, "I miss him..."
"So why'd you leave the ship?" Riale asked.
Telrin's face colored beneath his tan. "We.... had a falling out..." he said, looking away.
"Oh, I'm so sorry..." Riale said, embarrassed that she'd made him feel bad. He was so easy to talk to - what was it? Oh... he's not flirting with me like the other boys. Riale realized, and it all began to make sense.
Telrin shrugged. "I'll survive. So I've been wandering Northern Pern since then, and now... I'm here." He said.
Riale smiled, just as Baeris walked by. "Oh! MasterHealer Kshau! Is it too early to get candidates for the Frenzy clutch?"
Baeris regarded Riale with a curious look, then looked at Telrin. Obviously there was something going on here that he wasn't hearing.
Riale sighed, lapsing into speech as dragon-relay was taking a bit too long. "He was broadcasting so loud, Niawith told him to be quiet lest he wake 'the girls'..." Niawith had taken to calling the female dragons 'the girls' after the flight.
Baeris smiled. "You'll stay, Telrin? And Stand at the Hatching?"
Telrin grinned, forgetting for the first time in a long time his preoccupation with his two-toned face. "I'd love to."
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