South Woodhall


Some days begin fresh, and some, like this one, wake up with the same problem as when they ended the night before.

South Woodhall Hold was home of the woodcraft, and hence, caring for the trees was some of the crafters most important work.

The Apprentice woodcrafters has spent the last two days cutting down selected trees and taking them back to the hold in beast-drawn wagons. Yesterday, one of the wagon's axels broke, sending the logs rolling. One lad's leg was crushed - he'd be out for weeks. It had taken until nearly sundown to get him home.

Journeyman Samiel and Timmult had gone out early this morning, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep to repair the wagon. The other boys would be coming in about a candlemark with the beasts.

First things first, the remaining logs had to be removed from the hauling wagon, and moved far enough away for the repairs to be made safely. This was no problem for two sturdy young men. Timmult stood 6'3" tall, ans was big, but not overly muscular. A few largish rocks served to hold up the wagon, and the repair was underway.

The candlemark came and went, and the others hadn't come with the beasts yet. Samiel was patient, and decided they'd wait a bit longer, his tone suggesting those apprentices would regret keeping him waiting. Timmult and the journeyman reloaded the wagon, and were tying the logs securely into place when the boys and the beasts finally arrived.

Samiel turned to face them, eyes stony cold.

"We can explain, Samiel!" the first said, stumbling a bit under the journeyman's gaze.

"Dragons, Journeyman, all over. They're on Search." the second said by way of explanation.

"The beasts wouldn't budge until the dragons moved." the first continued.

Samiel stood with his arms crossed, and Timmult wisely kept his mouth shut. "I see." the Journeyman said, motioning for them to harnass the beasts to the wagon. "I suppose they found someone worthy."

"No, journeyman. That's what took so long." the second apprentice said.

Samiel nodded. "Timmult." he said, and the apprentice snapped to. "You're excused."

"Yessir!" Timmult said, and picked up his feet and moved. When a Journeyman said go, you went.

True to the words of the other lads, the dragons had come. Rumors were still buzzing.

Timmult went straight to the Woodcraft Master to report in, by force of habit. Master Degri nodded, and gave him the rest of the day off.

Timmult couldn't believe his luck, and left the Master's office before he changed his mind. A quick stop through the workroom put Timmult's project in his hands. A sack of small hardwood pieces, half light- and half dark-toned. They were the product of many week's work, and careful bargaining.

Timmult sat outside, carefully carving each block with a small knife. In his caring hands, the block took on a life of it's own, becoming more and more like what he intended - a steed's head. The ears were sharp and alert, and it's mouth was open, teeth bared in an agressive manner. Timmult set the knife down, and held out the piece at arm's length, inspecting it.

"There's a mighty fine steed, if I ever saw one." an unfamiliar voice said from behind him. Timmult nearly dropped it. "Is that for MasterHerder Horpau?"

Timmult looked up at the dragonrider. "No, sir. It's for my chess set."

The man grinned. "I didn't think any younglings played anymore.'

"Would you like to play? There are a few loaner-sets in the hall." Timmult said, his dark brown eyes twinkling in anticipation of the challenge.

Im'mel grinned. "I'd love to." he said. Timmult rose from his seat, brushing the chaff from his slacks before picking up the sack of yet unmade pieces.

"I'm Timmult, apprentice Woodcrafter." he said, holding out his hand in greeting.

"Im'mel, Ryslen Wingleader." The rider said, taking the lad's hand.

Once inside, Timmult made short work of Im'mel, defeating him in eleven moves. Laughing, Im'mel demanded a rematch.

You let him win. Nadornth accused.

I did not. Im'mel protested. He's just much better than I expected.

Shortly after Midday meal, R'lan arrived, and walked through the hall, where Im'mel and Timmult were deep into another chess match. "Oh, there you are Im'mel." R'lan said, striding up to their table. "We saw Nadornth, but couldn't find you."

Im'mel nodded. "After that fuss you made this morning, Nadornth dropped me off, and went to take a nap a bit farther from the stables."

R'lan chuckled. "Well, Im'mel, I am the Searchrider here." Im'mel nodded, concentrating on the chess game.

Timmult looked up at R'lan. "There's a clutch at Ryslen?" he said, his voice colored with awe.

R'lan smiled, and didn't answer the question. "Do you ever help someone with something when they need help, knowing full well they'll help you when you need it?" The Searchrider asked.

"Yes," Timmult said, "and sometimes I help even when I know they wouldn't help me."

R'lan looked at Im'mel, and Im'mel looked at R'lan. "Well, Timmult," Im'mel began, "that's how it is. When a Weyr has a clutch, other weyrs Search a few candidates and send them there so the hatchlings have ample choices."

R'lan nodded. "Sometimes the Weyr with the clutch will send Searchers to other Weyrs and far-off holds and Search there, though those hold's home-Weyr is closer."

Timmult thought about all tis for a moment. "So what Weyr are you Searching for?" he asked.

"Silvermoon Weyr. R'lan replied, eyes twinkling.

"You'll go, I hope?" Im'mel said to Timmult.

Timmult was startled. "Me? a candidate?"

"Yes, indeed." R'lan said, Im'mel nodded seriously.

"I've already talked to Master Woodcrafter Degri, and you're free to go." Im'mel said, smiling.

Timmult thanked the riders profusely, and ran off to pack, leaving the chess game unfinished. R'lan took his place, and the riders played.

Im'mel won.

Checkmate! Weyrmate! Timmult has Impressed!

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