Tixe groaned, clutching his head, his vibrant red hair streaming like liquid fire from between his fingers. He writhed on the ground in agony, the green tabard he wore rumpled from his movements. Above him a man with a heavy sword stood and glared. “Can’t you die properly?” he demanded, and kicked Tixe in the stomach and strode away, leaving Tixe curled in a fetal ball trying to clutch both his head and his shattered ribs.

As his attacker boasted to the crowd gathered around, Tixe’s trembling fingers quested in the dirt for his staff. With renewed energy, Tixe staggered to his feet, and swung the staff at his attacker’s head and connected. The swordsman crumpled to the ground.

And then the curtain fell. Wild applause followed, and the other man got up. “Nice work, Tixe.” He said, holding out a hand. “Really believable this time.”

Tixe beamed. “You really think so?”

The other actor nodded, and they stepped through the curtain to take their applause and bow. Their two man play had been delightfully well received Surely they’d pass this requirement.

At the party after the show, Tixe and his classmate received much praise and high attention from young women and young men alike. At a mere 20, Tixe was quite a looker with his 5’9” slim frame and bright green eyes. He welcomed any attention that came to him, and was a rather fun loving guy. He absolutely adored parties, and was given to unintentional excess – though he never changed his habits no matter where his drunkenness landed him.

Soon the Theatremaster came to him. “Well done, Tixe. You passed. What will you do now?”

Tixe considered. “Look for a new adventure, I suppose.” Tixe said noncomittally.

“How about trying your hand at candidacy?” a young woman dresses as a dragonrider said. “There’s a clutch hardening at Cincanta as we speak.”

“Sounds like fun!”

“Great!” The rider said. “We’ll ask you again in the morning, when you’re sober.”

Tixe laughed. He knew sobriety wouldn’t change his answer.

And it didn’t.

Tixe had been practicing his theatrics to the best of his ability. If a dragon didn’t choose him, he could return to his lessons. He’d been practicing ‘dying’ in private and intended to try it on his fellow candidates to see how they took it – but the hatching happened first.

A marvel of a green charmed him before leaving her egg, spouting lines from a classic performance: “Oh Captain, My captain.”

Kalinith was beautiful, and T’x was happier than a clam.

Weeks went by, and T’x finally had the chance to try out his faux-death in front of an audience. It began all right, with him stumbling and clutching at his chest; but the others knew too well how Kalinith should be reacting, and they looked to her.

Play along! T’x hissed mentally to his bond. Kalinith came to his aid, worrying, fretting – eyes whirling faster, mostly because she’d caught the excitement, though it mimicked alarm well enough. After T’x crashed to the floor and lie still, Kalinith threw herself over his body with a croon, closing her eyes tightly and not moving.

Heartbeats passed.

You’re heavy.


The boys looked on in startled surprise as their dragons whispered of what they heard. Then the applause began. “Well done T’x, Kalinith. Well done.”

After the shenanigans with the death scene, the Master kindly asked T’x and his green not to act those kinds of things anymore. T’x began to take some dance lessons from the dance master, and Kalinith took what he learned to heart. She was a graceful ‘ling.

When it came time for them to learn to fly, the resiliency Kalinith had earned from jumping, bouncing, and prancing along with her rider paid off. She could spring from the ground without jostling her cargo and land on a dime. She was one great dragon. In fact, she had contemplated quite a few things of her own free will, one of which was firestone and sterility. While she looked forward to flaming, she also wanted to clutch – just once. How else could she play the role of mother?

However this wasn’t the place or time.

Kalinith stretched her brilliant green wings and leapt skyward, cutting broad strokes through the light fog. She was very nimble, as dragons of her hue were apt to be, but even more so. She could turn so sharply, she could turn around and go back the way she came before anyone could blink. No one but T’x could even hope to stay on her, if she had the mind to lose them. Fortunately for others, it was unlikely that they would ride her when she was angsty, or overly playful. They had been teaching themselves and each other aerial acrobatics (much to the horror of others) and were quite comfortable, but not so that they weren’t cautious. T’x was very flexible, and could easily do handstands and the like atop his dragon. This is where his thoughts were when Kalinith spoke softly. T’x…

T’x looked into the fog. He couldn’t see her, but he knew full well she was all but glowing.

"I know, Kalinith, I know. Whenever you’re ready, I am. I’m not afraid."

What if the stud who catches me has a male rider? Kalinith worried, motherly instinct coming before the arrogance of proddiness.

“I’ll take what comes to me, Kalini, my darling. I would be happier if your mate was ridden by a woman, but I’m sure I’ll be satisfied if you are.” T’x said with a sigh. Kalinith was more worried, and a bit distressed.

“I hate to intrude, but I couldn’t help overhearing.” A voice came out of the fog. “If you’re interested, and if your daring green is close enough to mating, perhaps you can join in the Cross-Gender Frenzy at the Healing Den.”

T’x blinked, and then grinned as T’lri emerged. His red-marked green had been hatched there a while back. “What do you mean, cross-gender?”

T’lri grinned. “It’s open to any dragon with a rider that is not the same gender as them – women with blues and browns, and men with greens… and the stranger colored ones. If you’re interested, Corlath and I can lead you there – we’re going to sign up…”

I like the sound of that, T’x.

So do I. T’x shot back. “I think we will…”

Cincanta Weyr
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