CALEDRUS HOLD: unfinished story detailing the various holders, crafters and lowborn characters. This story really can't be finished, at this point, so it's basically reference for what the characters would be like interacting. After that, the Search story for the main group, which is duplicated in many of their pages with tweaks for personal interaction and dialog.
*** STORY ***
The caravan arrived late. The skies looked rather ominous with dark clouds, but at least the Thread which could be falling was not. It had already fallen no more than two days before, so that seemed a safety that the caravan party could ignore for the moment. The jingling of the runnerbeast's tack and the oxen and other burden beasts grunts could be heard clearly from the Hold several minutes slow pace away, so the caravan was met by several of the typical members of Caledrus Hold.
“Heyo,” called out one of them, a burly older man with a greying beard and merry brown eyes. “It's the Ophusha caravan, sons, let's get a move on!” He called his workers into action, and seemingly from nowhere they scampered out and began making the area ready to receive the group. “Eleven wagons,” the man called out to his workers, “looks like one or two of em are travelers. And a Harper, we've a Harper to receive!”
There were cheers from some of the workers, groans from others. The Lowborn of the Hold were usually split so: some of them dreaded the coming of a Harper – with their endless drills about who did what and the results, all in song… While the others relished the visits and never seemed to get enough out of the poor Journeymen and Women in blue.
The first two wagons of the caravan were typical of Ophusha cothold and its outlaying farms: oxen for pulling, but inside goats and wherry young for the local stewpots and gardens. Bundles of wheat and rye came from the second, along with a precious commodity indeed: sugar! Real cane sugar the likes of which was rarely seen anywhere North of this isolated area.
“You've done well this last season,” said the old man. “I hope there's enough in your own cothold's coffers to keep the youn'uns happy too,” he regarded the sacks of sugar.
“Oh, they've had their fill,” the porter assured him. “They're going to rot themselves from the inside out on the stuff. That's the benefit of living in the cane fields… they don't want this dried stuff t'all.” Laughing they carried the heavy sacks into the low metal-roofed building on the edge of the Flats.
A black-haired young man helped move crates out of the way so that the bearers could put down their heavy loads. Once they were down, he and a very dark-skinned taller man began opening the new supplies.
“This will help a lot,” the first said, holding up a pair of sealed sacks.
“What is that?” Asked the second, while digging deeper into the open crate.
“It's corn meal. We haven't had that come through here in a few tithe-trips.” Ratar examined the sack, and smelled the others. “It'll be nice to have a good cornbread muffin again.”
Kasseran laughed, and held up some of the contents of what his crate contained. “How about adding these to your muffin, Ratar? Powdered laxative!” He laughed loudly and Ratar chuckled while passing the corn meal along. Then a large-boned woman came rumbling into the rooms, heard from just about as far away as the caravan had been outside with her thumping gait.
“You haven't started unloading yet have you!? Dears! Thread! Shards!” She sputtered. The woman turned about herself, in a tizzy. Ratar approached her, towering over her though he was not the tallest of the young men there.
“Junior Headwoman Rosaria mind your tongue! There are young ones nearby!” He said, draping his arm over her plump shoulders, what there was of them as they were quite round. “We're only into the first two crates, and I've remembered what has come out… It's quite all right…” He turned to the room in general and shouted, “three sacks of corn meal, six loads of wheat, and one powdered laxative…” Each of the people holding those items called out and held it up, so the Jr Headwoman could see it.
Thankfully, she jotted these things down on her notebook, and found a place to sit among the older supplies. “You keep doing that, dearies,” she said, smiling broadly (as if she could do anything ‘narrow'?) and resting atop a low crate. “I'll shout out who it belongs to if it's come to someone here specific.”
In this manner, they proceded to unload the first two wagons worth of goods. The goats and wherry-young were scuttled along into the gardens nearest the Lowborn sector, where they would be tended as usual. Two goats for a Crafter, and three wherry for the Lord Holders cook…Salt, sugar – both raw in the cane and ground, beets and dried tubers, the riches of the nearby farmhold all came slowly out from these wagons.
An equally plump girl much younger than the Jr Headwoman joined the group soon, in order to pick up the goods headed to the Lord Holder's kitchens. The bray of a small burden-donkey just outside the storage building could be heard, and the girl's voice came through asking that the supplies be placed upon its back. “Ah, Torrey,” said Rosaria, “you're just in time to watch these lovely young men perform feats of strength.”
Torrey sat beside her friend, and adopted the same round-cheeked grin. “I can see that. These must be the best seats in all the Hold!” Because she was quite pretty and always charming, some of the Lowborn men did show off for Torrey, but their work had to get done none the less. Once her Lord's portion of the goods were found, she carefully vaulted herself off the crate and guided the wherries with a long flexible stick. “Come pets… shoo shoo,” she called to the creatures. “We've a long walk ahead… come come!”
When the main bulk was out, Kasseran and Ratar took a well-deserved break. The others had slowly woken up to their tasks, and it was beginning to shower to the north. The dark skies became bright with a sudden lightning bolt, and the subsequent thunder startled the runners and oxen, as well as causing several young children in the wagons to wake and cry.
Other sounds came, as well. Animal noises, which Ratar furrowed his black eyebrows to and turned his head to try and locate it. “Has something been hurt?” He asked of no one in particular. Then he moved around to the back of the caravan train, and saw a frightened runnerbeast filly. Tangled in the tether of her lead, the filly was white-eyed with the thunder.
Another moment or so and the beast would have strangled herself with her tether. Ratar did his duty and untangled it, and led her into the store room's shelter along with the other beasts. “She's a skittish one,” he commented, and her owner muttered an agreeable statement.
Outside, far off along the eastern area of the Hold's grounds, the rain had already swept through and filled several shallow gullies with quickly moving water. A blond-haired young man and his two darker looking attendants hustled around trees, scurring to get back to the Hold before another lightning bolt blasted them. A falcon creeled in the sky, and Eller whistled to it. The bird swooped down, more accurate than any trained flitter, and landed upon Eller's gloved hand.
“That's a boy,” he said, calming the bird by putting its cowl over terrified eyes. The bird's ruffled feathers soon calmed, though they were becoming soaked. Eller looked at the young hunters and tossed his head at one of the hilly passes near them. “That's the way,” he said, shooing them quickly through it. He hadn't been wrong before, when the pair thought they were lost, Eller had come and located them. It was eerie, almost as if his bird saw for him. He certainly did not claim that it did, he was a better tracker than all that.
The trio slipped into the Hold's Gather Downs, which was rapidly soaking and filling up with the cold rainwater. One of the young hunters managed to get himself stuck into a tent-peg hole that would normally be filled with, well, a tent peg. The Gather Down would be busy any normal spring or summer day, but these late winter storms made it nearly impossible to hold gathers on a regular basis. Eller helped the lad out, his boot squelching now with muddy water.
They finally made it into the shelter which led down into Caledrus' tunnels. Finally feeling safe, the pair of hunters sped off to their cothold in the Holder's Nook. Eller shook the water from his hair, wrung his vest out, and made soothing noises to his falcon Hirak.
“Talking to birds, again?” Said a gruff but bemused voice. Eller looked up to see one of his friends, Kraen. Two young men could not be more opposite in so many ways, and yet so similar. Both of them educated at the same time, with the same Harpers, both of them quite adept at shooting Thread with their respective flame throwers. But beyond that, their enjoyment of things intellectual versus physical put them at philosophical odds. Kraen tossed his friend a towel.
“It's getting bad out there, is everyone inside?” Asked Eller, and Kraen shrugged.
“No idea, though I hope so. We've just got a supply caravan in, too. Fine time for rain like this.”
“It's a better time for rain than Thread,” muttered Eller. “And our hunt was ruined.”
“There'll be wherry roast anyway, Eller. Don't pout.” Kraen's green eyes sparkled. Eller swung the wet towel back at him, landing with a splat on his shoulders. Eller brought his falcon into his weyr, actually the animal holding area beside his, and opened his hood again after the bird was calmly in his home territory. The pair of men wandered through the area, and attracted the requesite looks and snickers. One as wet as Eller couldn't help it, he looked, well, drenched as though he'd been in the bathing chambers!
“You must get that fixed!” Called out a young man, laughing at the other two. “Look at this material! It's shredded!”
“It's frayed, and it's supposed to be that way,” Eller said, “mind your own tailoring, Dolren, you're about to get a rip in your shirt…”
It was as vague a threat as any, yet the blond tailor's son reminded himself that Eller wasn't known for having a long fuse. “Suit yourself,” Dolren announced, “no pun intended of course.” Kraen laughed, Eller merely grunted.
“I'd like to just get dry and fed. Would you like to feed me, Dolren? Or do you think one of the charming craft girls over there will help?” Eller nodded a little toward the low wide room where the smell of food wafted from, and the bustling of people could be heard. The trio of young men put on grins and their best charm, and entered the chambers.
The dark haired Montella watched the three men come into the room and very nearly slunk out of it. If it weren't for the fact that she was still enjoying her meal, their presence would have run her out. So much ego, she thought, and so much bluster. Unfortunately, Montella's blue flitter Loopy enjoyed the company of loud mouthed, annoying males, and cheerfully sprang off her narrow shoulder and into the air above the men.
“Loopy!” Called out Dolren, “ah, your mistress is lonely!”
From across the room, Montella shrank into her seat. How in the world was it possible that this stupid flitter could keep embarrassing her like this!? She never got the feeling from the animal that it was getting back at her for anything she'd done, like not feeding him or punishing him unduly… He was just such a squirt!
“No, Dolren, not lonely,” Montella muttered as the young tailor sat beside her, “uninterrupted.”
Kraen and Eller both laughed, but did not come by the pair. They had other more easily charmed women on their arms already. Mostly, ones who were interested in “warming and drying” poor Eller.
Montella remained exactly as she had been, sipping at her soup and nibbling at the cheese covered bread she'd chosen for her meal. Loopy fluttered about so excitedly she thought he'd have a little flitter heart attack. Finally Montella glared at the flit, with her small brown eyes showing her annoyance, and growled, “Loopy, SIT!”
Dolren almost felt the mental command between Montella and her flitter. But it was more his own empathic calm which told the blue to obey his mistress. Clearly put in his place, Loopy dropped to the table and pouted. While she ate, Montella would occasionally reward Loopy's calm with a little bite of cheese or a nip of meat from the soup.
The blond haired Dolren gazed at the pale skinned wonder of silence and mood beside him. She was a shy girl, but there was so much to her, that Dolren remained intrigued. “Have you seen the new dyes that are coming from Dawnlight these days?” He asked, knowing that dyes were the one thing they both had very much in common, he being a tailor, and she being the daughter of a weaver.
She nodded, finally accepting his presence as a good one. “I have. It's … I'm so jealous of those dye makers. I mean, how dare they take that purple and make it so…”
Montella growled in jest, and they continued to speak as Loopy snatched a bigger share of meat.
“Has anyone seen my brother?” A black-haired and swarthy skinned young woman asked in general. One or two drudges responded, and told the girl that Ratar had been seen down helping with the caravan. Zoorita rolled her bright green eyes and slumped against the wall. “I'll never find him then, he's always rushing around trying to help everyone at once…”
“And it's a good thing, too,” someone else commented about the runner he'd saved. The Journeywoman healer nodded.
“Of course, it runs in the family.” She sought out the company of the smithcrafter's best apprentice, Tzeado. “Could you send one of those annoying things down to the caravan and see if he can't find Ratar?”
Tzeado, with his pair of brown fire lizards Julius and Jackie upon either of his wide shoulders, rolled his jaw around. The girl was a demanding one, but one he was well familiar with.
“Of course I can. But if I will, that's another question.” He replied, deep voice keeping Zoorita's smile wide. “Go on,” he urged Julius. The darker of the pair of browns lept off his shoulder and went between, while the other clung on and picked at the hem of the smithy's tunic. “Why do you need him all of a sudden? Can't find anyone else to play with you and your knives?”
Zoorita grinned a sinister smirk and only laughed. “Of course not. That's a nasty rumor. Besides,” she drew her hand across Tzeado's wide chest, “when you're here it's impossible to even think of another.”
“That is true,” he said, offhand and in jest. When he turned around to find a mug for wine, a drudge ran directly into the man's bulk. “You dimglow! Look where you're going!”
***sorry that's all I wrote.***
*** SEARCH STORY! ***
The large group of gathered Caledruans milled about, surprised at how many there were, and how many of them knew one another - or at least knew someone else in the group. Each had an attachment to the next, they almost could form a chain of familiarity.
When another rider showed up, a day after the trio had Searched, several of the Seached recognized him as a man who had formerly lived there! One of the girls, Janice, bolted to his side when he got off the back of his proud bronze dragon.
"H'ndar!" She cried, laughing and relieved to see him. Every time he would visit, there would be another scar on his skin, and every time, she was eager to locate it.
"It's just Hendar, if you want," the rider said, with an odd smile. "I'm not so fond of people saying it that way any more." He smirked at Janice's odd reaction (she furrowed her eyebrows and went to apologize, but then stopped and swatted him instead).
"But why?" Janice asked. "Why suddenly this odd change? What has really been happening out there?"
Just then, two more riders and dragons arrived, yet more old Caledrus inhabitants who had long since vanished to their own devices. One was riding a dragon whose color shocked a number of the Searched - and a good portion of the onlookers who couldn't be forced to leave. The dragon was a bright shade of red, with paler white markings on it. The rider was a girl who had been well known by the higher status Lordlings - Ezhar the dancer. Her partner, T'nor (who had no such problems with his name being shortened, he still thought it quite an honor) rode a two-toned blue dragon, both clearly from one Weyr by their appearance.
"We will be needing the different dragons to take you all to your destinations," K'yle announced loudly, in his half-squeaky voice. He could sound very serious, when he put his mind to it, but he'd never have the command over people that his father did. "We're going to show you some places that are in need of candidates, and if you think one or another is to your liking, we'll see if you can bond there."
Someone called out, "don't you mean Impress?" But K'yle glared at them.
"No, I mean bond. It's a more broad term. We've found places that aren't all ... well, you'll see. You all will understand best after you get there. And the rest of you," he gazed at the assembled inhabitants who hadn't been Searched, "don't worry. We're all going to explain it soon enough - but you will have to be patient and you will have to trust us."
Another trio of dragons and riders came through the nexus, Betweening was such an old-world term, one of whom had lived at Caledrus as a first-class records keeper, before he was searched. Waadier, now fondly known as D'ier, and his pretty green (what a surprise for people who knew him, huh? NOT!). D'ier and Elkinorith joined the search team on occasion, and he apologized to K'yle for not being there earlier.
"It's all right. It's these two I'm worried about," the Lord Holder's son glanced at his half-sibling Pasha, and Pasha's brother Haze. "Didn't you think there would be enough good candidates here?" He asked them, and both men waved him off with a grin - the same grin that he often had on his face.
They had ridden in on a pair of large dragons, Haze's large bronze Alkalmith, and Pasha's brown Surketh. The dragons moved from their landing spots to an area with bumpy ground that suited them to rest upon, with the others.
Gold, Bronze, two Browns, two Blues, Green, and Red... They lined up like a spectrum of possibilities. Resting and chatting, the dragons seemed to largely ignore the people around them, until K'yle whistled for their attention.
The little booklets that D'ier handed out to the group of Searched folks had shiny pictures on them, of dragons and different weyrs - they could tell that these images were real pictures, not paintings. There was something very surreal about this. Very few people of Caledrus knew about photographs, and most of the ones who did, only knew in theory. They did know that Alabaster had some strange machines that could almost seem to think for themselves. Perhaps these pictures came from them?
"Now, look over everything. There is information about each location's needs and desires," K'yle said, as D'ier finished handing them out. "But I want you all to keep in mind one very important thing. We are *not* going to be fighting Thread any longer."
There was a pause, when everyone put down their pamphlets and stared at him like he was insane.
"There are other things on our minds now, as riders. There are threats to our home, but Thread is not among them. However we have learned that those people who were born on our old home," (that elicited a lot of muttering about what in the world he could mean) "tend to bond best to old-world dragons. Dragons who would be best familiar with you. Dragons of the older colors," he tossed his head at the fivesome plus one oddity. "and not ones with the newer breed types. When you get back to Alabaster, you'll see what I mean."
"How much has our home changed?" Demanded someone, "where are we if we aren't on our old home?"
"The world is called Alskyr," said Kaytcha, her gold dragoness tossing her head and reminding people that even though the girl had fur and a tail now - was not human as far as they were concerned - she had still impressed a grand golden dragon like herself. "And it's a very nice place. You will all benefit," she turned to the onlookers who had started to mill about nervously, "because this world is rich in plant life, and our isle has some wonderful people on it that accepted us on it."
"The arrangement was made," K'yle said, "by my father, by T'shen, and by some other people high-up. We knew that if there was an announcement there would be panic, and we wouldn't be able to bring everyone along properly."
Pasha and Haze, standing together with their shoulders bumped, nodded. "And you never noticed, did you?" Pasha asked. He was the stronger telepath of the two, and his lineage (K'yle's side especially) were ones which had helped the most.
"It's not important how long we've been here," said Haze, having heard someone ask that among the Searched, "what is important is that we integrate everyone into our new ways, sooner or later."
"That brings us to the dragons," T'shen said, sweeping past the brothers. The Searched group were apt to stare at him anyway, tall and handsome as he was. Even D'ier (perhaps especially D'ier) gazed at him in wonder. "The dragons who pair off with Caledrus inhabitants will be living with you, here." He swept his hand and suddenly - because they had been inclined to ignore it and nudged telepathically to do so by Engell and his troupe - people noticed that the mountains that had greenery about them, also had ledges, caverns, terraces... Big enough for dragons to roost if they so wished.
"... So you're saying," one of the Searched girls said, "that we will be coming back here, to live, with our dragons."
"That's it in a nutshell."
"Then let's go!" She said, laughing, looking through the pamphlet.
One thing that a number of the searched noticed was that there were multiple openings at several of the locations. Particularly, a place called Tripaldi had lots of openings, but for some unusually colored dragons on the sands. Some of the searched were leery of such things. K'yle told them not to try for those types, then. There were other locales fit for them.