Ikara bustled past, busy with what tasks the headwoman would have her do this day. "We really appreciate your help, Toshi dear." She said. "Litayth knows that you don't have to spend your day here, what with all the other kids off doing kid things."
Toshi smiled. "I like to help, Ikara. I enjoy baking, and what better than a hatching feast to showcase my talents?"
Ikara laughed, "You're a bright one, Toshi. Maybe one of the young lordlings will take a fancy to your cooking and want you for his wife..."
Toshi laughed, her voice light and spritely, dismissing the thought with a toss of her head. Her chestnut curls bounced and her dark eyes laughed. She was a darling child, and now was a cute young woman, just turned sixteen. "With parents like mine? I doubt it. While the lordlings might be interested, there is decidedly more in my future than a husband and babies."
Nearby a disgruntled grumble could be heard over the bashing, clanging, boiling, and slicing of the kitchen. "Just because your parents are the weyrleaders, doesn't mean you will be impressing, little miss smartypants." Toshi couldn't make out the speaker.
Another snide voice chimed in. "Yeah little miss ego. What makes you candidate material and not the rest of us?"
"Yeah!" said myriad voices throughout the kitchen.
"For starters," Toshi began, not at all dismayed by the unpleasant remarks afforded her. "I don't have to belittle others in order to feel good about myself." Those who had been doing just that were silent.
Ikara shot a look at Toshi as she continued on wordlessly that clearly read 'You told them.'
* * *
Toshi's treats were progressing nicely, baking evenly though the oven was constantly being either opened or closed. Toshi smiled as her youngest sister slipped into the kitchen. She was only 8, but she had a keen mind. Toshi knew she had high potential.
"Mother said to tell you that we're all supposed to sit feast, and that you may not serve, under any circumstances."
Many were shocked by the child's forwardness and her clarity of thought, but Toshi wasn't. "All right." she said, passing a cooled pastry to her sister. "Tell mother that I'll be out of the kitchen and changed before the hatching." The girlchild grinned and ran off, treat in hand.
"Honestly Toshi! The way you spoil that girl, she'll be fit for nothing when she's older. Nothing."
Toshi smiled. "I don't know about that. I'm sure Jeyann will grow up to be a splendid woman." The kitchen worker laughed once, but made no more comment.
* * *
True to her word, Toshi was cleaned up and ready by the time the great golden Litayth began humming. She even helped her sisters Tiyoshi and Jeyann get ready, and helped her mother too. "Hatchings always make me excited..." Tiyanni had said with a smile as her eldest daughter fastened the pearl necklace for her. "I've had Litayth for over a dozen years, and I still am anxious for every egg to hatch. It's not like I could impress another..."
Toshi smiled. "I would think a grand queen like yours would satisfy anyone, Mother."
Tiyanni laughed. "You're making Litayth blush..."
Toshi laughed too. "Honestly, how could anyone even dream of being able to take care of two dragons?"
"Anything can be done, with the proper assistance, Toshi." J'kosh chided gently from the doorway.
Toshi blushed slightly in embarassment. Here she was lending a helping hand and she made a comment like that? Perhaps her ego was too great.
Nonsense. came a quiet voice.
Toshi's eyes lit up, and her spine stiffened.
"Are you all right, Toshi?" J'kosh said, stepping towards his child.
"Yes, Father." she said, blinking to clear her mind as well as her eyes.
"What happened?" Tiyanni asked, turning to face her child as well. Now was not the time to brush this off lightly.
"Someone spoke in my mind. He said 'nonsense'" Toshi said in all seriousness.
"He?" prompted J'kosh. "He who?"
Toshi flushed. "It sounded like... well, like J'lenn." she admitted, "But somehow different."
Tiyanni nodded solemnly, but with a soft smile. "It was probably Scith then. He has always had a fondness for you children." J'kosh smiled too, but neither offered any suggestion as to why the blue searchdragon had chosen this day of all days to speak to her - nor why he'd been listening to her mind. It wasn't until much later that Toshi realized that her parents did not ask what she'd been thinking - what Scith said was nonsense.
* * *
Toshi sat beside an enraptured Jeyann as the eggs hatched. She too watched as each newborn dragon made it's choice and bonded to it's rider.
Jeyann's voice in the murmurs of the gallery reached her. "So you think we'll be dragonriders someday, Toshi?"
Toshi looked at her little sister and smiled gently. "Maybe Jeyann, no one knows for certain."
Toshi sat bolt upright.
"Are you okay?" Jeyann said in a whisper, her eyes wide Toshi shivered, and insisted she was.
"Can you keep a secret, Jey?"
The girl nodded so fast, her head seemed likely to fall off.
"Scith has been talking to me. He's spoken twice now."
Jeyann's gasp was masked by gasps of surprise from the onlookers as two bronzes shelled almost simultaneously. "Why would he do that?" she asked.
"I don't honestly know." Toshi said.
* * *
Later at feast, J'lenn made his way to the head table where the Weyrwoman and the Weyrleader sat. "Pardon my interruption, Tiyanni, J'kosh, but I wanted to inform you promptly that Scith finds potential within your daughter, Toshi."
J'kosh nodded as Tiyanni beamed. "She informed us earlier that he had spoken to her." The Weyrleader said. "She'll need to be properly informed of this shortly."
"She'll stand for the next hatching then." Tiyanni said, not really asking or telling.
J'lenn faltered. "That is what I came to speak to you about. There is a clutch due to hatch at Opal Moon Weyr - 8 eggs out of Ariath by Tskarth. Their riders inform me of a serious lack of candidates for the imminent hatching. I would suggest that Toshi go there, and soon."
J'kosh looked at Tiyanni, who looked at J'kosh. No words passed between them, but an agreement seemed to have been made. "If Toshi consents to leaving Ryslen, she has our permission." Tiyannni said. J'lenn gave a short bow and retreated.
* * *
Toshi quietly sat through the feast at a table full of her sisters and other "ranking" weyrbrats. One of the searchriders made his way to the table.
"Hello J'lenn." someone ventured bravely.
"Hello." J'lenn replied. "Toshi." he said, "It is my honor to infom you that Scith has chosen you as a candidate for impression." The children around her cheered quietly. "If you are interested, there is a clutch hardening at Opal Moon Weyr, and you have been invited to stand there."
Toshi was speechless. Why, that very morning she'd...
Is that a yes or a no? Scith queried.
"I... I would be honored to be a candidate for Ariath's hatching, J'lenn."
At the head table, Tiyanni smiled as Litayth relayed the message. She gracefully rose to her feet. "I'd like to propose a toast..." she began. "to my daughter Toshi, the newest candidae for Opal Moon Weyr. Good luck!"
* * * Jetiyan and Toshi @ Opal Moon
Toshi is a candidate at Opal Moon Weyr.