It was a somewhat cool day, but plenty warm to go without a jacket if you kept busy. The morning had been cool and crisp; just the way Wyaren liked it. Standing 6'2" tall, he had very rugged looks, a wide jaw line and chizeled face. Stone grey eyes accented by cropped black hair and sun-browned skin completed the picture of this young man. Strong of body, he has often, and unintentionally, fooled folks into thinking he wasn't strong of mind as well.
A newly wed couple had recently moved to one of the more outlying single family dwellings near the orchards. He was talented with fruit, and she was a journeyman level vintner. They had asked for a garden plot to be dug, and Wyaren was chosen to do it.
By midday, he was done. Even the tough grassroots had been no match for him. At 22 turns, he was a bit old to still be a Senior Apprentice, but he wasn't complaining any. Wyaren took a step back, surveyed the fresh turned black earth, and dusted off his hands. Dressed in trim fitting, sturdy weave pants, tucked into knee-high brown leather boots, and bright yellow sleeveless tunic, he appeared to be the epitome of farmcraft.
"There you are!" A happy voice proclaimed. "They did send you halfway to South Woodhall, didn't they?" the trim man said, his light brown hair bouncing slightly as he walked.
"You always exaggerate, Jayrin." Wyaren said, picking up his shovel.
"And you never laugh!" the green-eyed Jayrin retorted, striding up beside his stoic friend. Wyaren shrugged. "What are you up to, all the way out here?" he asked, as they began to walk back towards the hold proper.
"Oh, I thought it would be a nice day to go for a walk." Jayrin said nonchalantly. Despite being two turns younger, the two were great friends. "oh, and Dal said you'd be about done..." Jayrin, grinning as usual, swung his arms out wide, stretching out the kinks. Dressed, as usual in elaborate patchwork pants and vest over a shirt with a short stand up collar and no sleeves, he looked as sharp as he was intelligent.
"Finish those dresses, Jayrin?" Wyaren asked, his expression still unchanged.
"Oh yes," the tailor said with a sigh of relief, wiping his long thin hand over his brow dramatically. "Those girls!" he said, then began to prance about in apt mimicry of some of the holdbred girls. "'Jayriiin! isn't my Gather dress ready yet?' 'can you put more lace on the sleeves? pretty please?' and then there's my absolute favorite... 'Oh Jayrin! I changed my mind! I do want the red beads, not the blue...'" Jayrin began to chuckle, and walk in a normal stride again. Wyaren still wasn't even grinning, but Jayrin wasn't even phased. They walked the rest of the way to Two River Hold in companionable silence, Jayrin grinning, and Wyaren - stony as always.
A group of girls was huddled around something, and as they neared, thier sobs became audible. They held their hands to their mouths in horror and sadness, reaching out to nearly touch a small feline before snatching them away again. One looked up and saw them.
"Jayrin!" she sobbed as she stood. "It's.... It's..."
Jayrin nodded grimly. "I know." he said softly, putting a comforting arm around the bereaved girl. The tailor herded the sobbing girls away from the kitten, and into the building. He looked back over his shoulder, shooting Wyaren an appologetic glance.
When they were gone, Wyaren propped his shovel against a wall, and stooped to inspect the kitten.
He pulled his handkerchief from his pocket, and noted the irony. It was red, and had golden-yellow fish woven into it. Wyaren gently wrapped the still form in it, and, retrieving his shovel, walked towards a small stand of trees near the river.
With tears in his stone grey eyes, Wyaren buried the kit beneath the sheltering boughs of a tall oak.
Wyaren sat beneath the oak for a time, staring off into the distance. In his heart, he could still hear the sobs of the girls.
A grey and brown calico feline quietly walked towards the trees. It was one of the barncats, kept by the stablemaster to keep vermin out of the haylofts. She had been brought here to Two Rivers from Talor Cliff Weyr after Timaerel had paid a visit there. She was wiry slim, but moved with an easy grace.
Wyaren was staring off at the horizon, and didn't notice the feline until she walked up on him, and put her tiny paws squarely on his chest. She breathed a quiet "Mrrr?" as she looked at the stoic young man's face. Satisfied, she curled up in his lap and slept.
Wyaren's mouth turned up a tiny bit at the corners, as the calico slept in his lap. "Avana, you know what I need before I say. How wrong those fools are who say felines are ignorant." He whispered to the sleeping calico. He scratched her gently behind the ear, and opening one eye a sliver to peer at him, she began to purr.
Some time later, Jayrin finally found Wyaren, still sitting beneath the tree. As the other man strode up, the feline excused herself, and nonchalantly went away to do whatever it is felines do.
"I have been looking all over for you, Wy." Jayrin began.
Wyaren didn't respond, but he did look up at his friend.
"The dragons have come again. They've been here for an hour or so, and they can't find the candidate the dragons want." Jayrin was grinning, and behind that grin, something was trying to burst out.
"and that's funny, how?" Wyaren said, as he stood up.
"I think they want you, Wy."
Wyaren looked at Jayrin, and picked up his shovel. "Well, then let us not keep them waiting, my friend."
Jayrin shook his head. Even this couldn't shake Wyaren?
A blue dragon in the hold's landing field trumpeted as the men approached, and several people suddenly appeared, looking in their direction. The dragonriders, Dov, the Master Farmer, and a few others waited, grinning.
One of the riders walked out to greet him, a tall man, with stark white hair that reached his shoulders. "I'm A'rd, rider of blue Trelerth...." A'rd was much younger than the white hair let on, and in the afternoon sunlight, his pale yellow skin shone golden.
Wyaren looked straight at the rider, either oblivious to or ignoring the return of the girls, who now stood on the fringes of the field. "When do we leave?"
Behind him, Jayrin started laughing, and A'rd did too. "You know, most people let me finish Searching them before they accept." The rider grinned. "We'll be leaving for Alabaster Weyrhold just as soon as you can get your things together."
Wyaren nodded, as stoic as ever, and strode off towards the hold, to gather up what he needed. Dov clapped his old apprentice on the shoulder as he passed. "Goo' luck, Wyaren. We'll miss ye'" the Masterfarmer said, a smile on his face. The hold girls, too, smiled at Wyaren as he passed. "Good luck Wyaren!" They chimed sweetly, then turned their eyes back to the handsome young A'rd.
A'rd had not come alone to Two River Hold this trip, with him was brownrider V'yan. He'd up beside Jayrin, and now that Wyaren had gone off, looked at the tailor. "You could go as well, Jayrin, if you'd want to." he said, looking not at the sandy-brown haired Jayrin, but at his dragon Nauphith.
Jayrin shook his head. "I'm needed here, I think." he said, happiness in his voice, as he subtly directed the brownriders attention to the sole young woman who didn't have her eyes glued to the eerily handsome A'rn.
"Ah." the brownrider said, the comment more of a sigh than anything else. "good luck with that then, Jayrin. What's her name?"
"Maiahn." Jayrin replied, a wide grin on his usually joyous face.
"We'll see you and Maiahn at the Hatching, then?" A'rd asked of the tailor as Wyaren reappeared from the hold, with a large pack on his back, and a half-full carrisack swinging from his fist. A'rd went to show Wyaren how to secure them to Trelerth, leaving Jayrin standing with V'yan.
"I'll be there..." Jayrin said, his words trailing off a bit as Maiahn noticed him looking at her, and began blushing.
"Good!" The brownrider exclaimed, "Until then."
"Until then, V'yan. Fare Well." Jayrin said, and turned to go back into the hold.
"Oh, Jayrin?" Wyaren called from a-dragonback, stopping his friend in his tracks. "Take care of Avana, will you?"
"Avana? the..." Jayrin looked a bit startled. "I didn't know you liked felines, Wyaren! Of course I'll look after her."
A'rd, also up on Trelerth, looked back at his passenger. "You're not bringing your pet feline?"
Wyaren shook his head. "Avana's not mine. She's not anyone's. She's just a special friend." Wyaren said, and A'rn nodded knowingly.
Everyone's eyes were on the blue and the brown as they sprang from the ground and rose into the air.
You should've tried harder.Nauphith said as he winged his way skyward.
Next time, Nauphith. Next time.
which is part of the Kshau Protectorate.
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