** note that this page was originally found on geocities/protectorate_riders in 5/6 parts **
A large family of all girl children, the Siang bunch have always favored their vocal and personal talents over physical or educational ones.
From left to right:
Serenity, youngest of the triplets and quietest of the five, often at odds with Serena.
Serenade, middle of the triplets, found always agreeing with the majority.
Serena, oldest of the triplets, and certainly the loudest of the five.
Serendipity, second oldest of the five, manipulative but quiet.
Siren, eldest of the family's girls, and most sensible - but also a schemer.
"Did you know about her?" Siren asked of her youngest sister, who nodded and looked away.
"I thought that she'd have better sense than to come on to a rider - or even a searched like that."
"And a married one," Siren said, curtly. "Thor and Atuara haven't been close, but it's largely because of yo- our sister." Siren caught herself. She always felt a bit distanced from the triplets, after all she was more than ten years their elder.
The pair of Siang girls - women, really - sat in an uncomfortable silence, in their comfortable home's den. They both had been born before the travel to Paniya, so they could appreciate the surrounding woodlands and safe skies. Siren was a talented singer, ever since her youngest days, and she used that to her advantage to wander around Paniya and other Isles on Alskyr the way that most people from Dawnlight could not. Her triplet sister however, was a sedate secretary to one of Dawnlight's high ranking leaders, and could sway some decisions that he made just by showing up in a short skirt.
Their other three sisters had the same effect on men of course. At least, men who liked women. There was that one time... Somehow, Siren's mind managed to dwell on that moment when Serenade had found herself 'the perfect man' and no one told her that he was quite nice, sweet and well mannered because he was also 'family'. She had to be explained that.
"What are you grinning at?" Serenity asked, shy.
"Just your silly sister and Hygron," Siren said, and Serenity giggled.
"That was so funny... What are we going to do with Serena?" The subject couldn't be changed, and both of them knew it. Siren leaned back in her chair, and pushed her fingers together.
"We have to tell her to back off," Siren admitted. "Atuara is pregnant, you know that?"
"I know, but ..." Serenity shrugged, "but their marriage is probably already finished. What then."
"Then you'll just have to leave Thor to me," Serena snapped from the doorway to the den. It was like her to have been spying on her sisters, and also like her to be completely silent while doing so. Neither other girl knew how long Serena had been listening in.
"I think that is not the way to go," Siren said, darkly. "I warn you, Serena, your actions will come back at us all."
"Oh - how?" The golden haired vixen quipped.
"Because they are both in Security, and both are needed in good spirits to do their jobs." Siren said.
"I could hardly care less about Atuara and her 'job'. She can't do her job in her condition anyway."
"And could you?" Serenity quietly suggested. "If you keep going, you're going to be bloated with his child soon enough, and how well can you ply your womanly assets with a babe hanging from your arm?"
Serena raised her head up, angrily, pale. But she could find nothing to say to that. It was true. She relied upon her good looks and perfect figure, to wile her way through the ranks. She among them all had gifts from every man she'd seduced, and somehow most of them still thought of her as a good girl, a friend.
Perhaps it was that she chose carefully those men who actually didn't have the ability to understand true emotions. True love. Two of them had been married - including Thor - and the reason that the sisters were even speaking about this now was that the last man had broken up with his wife over their sister, leaving his ex with three children to tend to and no intention of helping her. Whether he would have done that or not, outside of Serena's interferance, was not in question - he was a good enough provider that Serena went after him in the first place.
And all of them, older men. Serena knew where the power and money lay, in Dawnlight.
"I'm surprised you haven't tried to push the Taljorras apart," muttered Serenity.
"What did you say?" Serena blasted, "how dare you! Thor and I are right for each other. I don't see the need to claim I won't stay wi-"
"You will hardly want to stay with him once you've mastered him," Siren said, calmly. "That's always been the way you are, Serena, and I doubt very much that at your age you're going to change a bit."
"My age?" She spat, "what does that have to do with anything?"
"You're already seventeen, Serena, and you've had what - eight? Nine men to bed? Most Ladies your age are looking only for their heart's desire, or their family has already chosen them one." Siren put her angular cheek on her hand, leaning on the chair. She wondered how that would fly.
"We've become very priveleged to have our own decisions to make, about love, Serena," Serenity added. "Since coming here, we know better than to arrange marriages or force people. But you... You've already ruined one marriage, and caused half a dozen other girlfriends or families grief. It's time you stopped."
"What, by taking me away from Thor, and ..." Serena glanced around until she found the right words, "forcing me on someone else?"
Siren rolled her eyes and tossed her hands into the air. "I give up. Do what you will. Only know that you're going to ruin another man's marriage, and another woman's life with your meddling. Why can't you choose a man who isn't attached, for once?"
Serena glared at her eldest sister. "Because there is no challenge in bringing them to me, that's why." She stomped out of the room and upstairs to her bedroom.
Serenity sat in her portion of the large shared room and tried to concentrate on a letter to the newspaper. It was so different here in Alskyr where they had paper enough to send out to everyone and a press to copy the same things over and over... But what they printed the other day had got her dander up.
She was writing in regards to a certain claim that singing here on Paniya was growing into a lost art, that harpers from the Old World were being ignored in favor of other kinds of entertainment as well as education.
Her point of course was that the writer of the article hadn't been going to the right places to hear singing. In Dawnlight there were three venues, and she'd heard of one or two around the other Guilds and clans that hosted some truly amazing concerts. Serenity wanted to attend one in Chagga, a traveling band of some kind would come there on its way around the world.
Of course, travel even to a place as close as Chagga was all but forbidden from Dawnlight. Perhaps it was time for Serena to break up the Taljorra family. Maybe that would kill the chokehold they had on the city.
While Serenity was busy penning her letter, Serenade was trying to come up with a good excuse to bring home a pet. They'd never had one, mainly because their father didn't much take to animals around him. But since he was now on a regular travel route between Dawnlight and a couple other locations, she might be able to swing it.
Perhaps under the guise of "but you're never here and we want to feel safer" or "we want something to remember you when you're away!" But neither of those would really fly and she knew it. She wanted a nice warm furry thing because she didn't compete for the nice warm men that Serena found for herself.
Serenade wasn't really outgoing, and she was so shy sometimes that it was a wonder to her sisters that they were related at all. When they had a family spat - like was brewing with Serena and her choices of partners - Serenade usually sat it out and watched. Some rare moments she'd blurt something out, and of course she felt like an idiot afterwards because they never did anything she suggested. She wound up agreeing with them because she could hardly make herself heard.
That was reserved for their songs. She was gifted with a strong voice, not quite as sweet and moody as Siren's, but certainly everyone knew that hers was the 'second' of the Siangs that would achieve some kind of critical acclaim.
If only Serenity's letter and opinion about being more broadly traveled would be taken seriously. Perhaps then, they could start getting a wider audience...
Serendipity tapped her finger on the table before her, looking over a project she took on from one of the musicians locally. She was asked to transcribe some of the lyrics and notes into a counterpoint, making a duet out of a solo piece. It wasn't coming nearly as easily as it should have. The mood of the house was certainly affecting her ability to work.
Finally she stood and gathered her pens and paperwork, put them in a shoulder-bag, and announced that she'd be back later on.
"Where are you going?" Asked Serenade.
"Out." Was her only answer.
The golden haired woman walked out before anyone could stop her, and she found herself walking down the twilight-dim street where a nice crafted park was centered. Perhaps that would help.
Perhaps, she thought as she looked up to gaze at the sky - and that sky was interrupted by the huge shape of a dragon in flight - it would help if that dragon and his rider would stop by and say hello.
Siren was angry. More at herself than anything else, because she wasn't able to make her sister understand the seriousness of their situation. The Security forces in Dawnlight had always prided themselves on being one unit, one sensible force, which acted as a group in its strength.
Now, there were at least two of those people who would not be willing or perhaps able to work together. Thor was easily manipulated with the wiles of the Siang girls, of course, but his wife... Atuara would be crushed. She was a nice girl, younger than Thor by a few years but equal to him in training. She was small, strong, and willful - but she was hopelessly devoted to keeping Thor by her side, even though she must have known he was cheating on her.
Perhaps it was Atuara that Siren should be talking to, rather than her sister. Siren nodded to herself. She knew where they lived, and she also knew that with Serena out, it meant that Atuara would be at home alone this night.
So she too set off outside, heading toward the Security housing, to speak with the extremely pregnant daughter of Seth and Gloria.
Serena and Thor were having a great time, walking under the stars and talking about nothing. Serena had a way with causing long periods of talk where not one important subject would come up. Her voice, her charms, were so subtle that anyone without warning would be sucked in without ever realizing it.
And Thor was ... tall, handsome, sturdy, well trained, and on his way to being rich in the Security business. His arms supported the sword that the Guardians used so well. So Serena complimented them. His chest was muscular from practice, so she complimented his diligence and training. His ring finger was bare of its band - he knew on some level that it was taboo to be seen with a woman and that band, when she wasn't his wife.
But that was where his attention to Atuara ended. She was at home, probably sewing something up for the kid. When would it pop out, he wondered, and while he was distracted Serena soothed him with talk of how the night sky was so very pretty.
He agreed, held her close with his big strong arm, and they continued to walk.
"I didn't think I would see you here," Atuara said at the door, "but come on in. They're ... out."
Siren shook her head and sighed. "I'm sorry," she said as she entered. "You're the victim here and I hardly like that thought."
"Victim," she said, while walking (waddling) to her chair, "I never thought of it that way, but I suppose. Thor married me because he thought we should be more than Security partners, you know?"
"I didn't know that," Siren said. "And now?"
"He'll be leaving me, I know. He's ... I suppose he's going to do it any way, with or without your sister. He's not interested in me now," she indicated her extremely bloated belly. "This one's getting rambunctious, I suppose he'll be leaving me soon enough too."
There was a kind of hollowness in her voice, and a distance to her gaze, that made Siren wince. "Well, Atuara, you've got a good family otherwise. They will help, won't they?"
"Of course they will," she said, with a grin. "My mother has always wanted something more to do than just wait for her dragon rider to come home to her. I don't know how she manages with that, either."
"We have no riders in our family," Siren said, trying to soothe the mood a bit. It was working, and by the end of the evening, Siren decided that even if Serena did break them up, Atuara would be all right on her own. And perhaps that she would get visits from the other Siangs just in case. Then Atuara said something odd.
"My sister came back with cybernetic enhancements, you know?" Atuara spoke and tossed her head. "And then went off and bonded a dragon. Go figure - She's away for five years and suddenly we've got another dragonrider in our family."
"Maybe this one will be too?" Siren said of her yet unborn child.
"That's possible," she said. "Maybe he'll have my side of the family in him more than his father."
Her family was an amazing one - mother Gloria was a teacher, while father Seth had been a reporter and then dragon rider. Her other sister Jan was teaching in Eden's Gate, also married to a rider. They were scattered everywhere. But they could all be told by their hair: Atuara's was gold with black stripes, Jan's was just as shiny and sunlit golden as her mother's, and Renice - now calling herself Cybertiger - had her father's orange and black ticked hair.
Siren took her leave of the woman, and hoped that she didn't run into Thor on the way out of the complex. Fortunately - or perhaps not - Thor and Serena were out having drinks now, at a small place on the fringes of the city. They wouldn't be back at their respective homes for another hour yet.
Serendipity couldn't work in the dark at least with writing things down, but she could hum the tune to herself and play with the words she'd been given. It was while she was doing this, experimenting with one scale and then the next, a couple words changed here and there, that she noticed someone was watching her.
"Hello?" She called, "I know there is someone here, I don't mind you listening in, but it's not a finished tune yet."
She heard a rustling in the tree, and then from below a rider came walking out. She knew he was a rider by his protective gear, and she knew who it was by his hair and glimmering white skin.
"That was quite good," Hollis said, "it's not really why I'm here though."
"Oh," Serendipity said. "Why then?"
"Well.... Synesth and I were on our way around the island when we passed you. You're the only person out here - first I thought it wasn't safe for you but then that dragon of mine decided that he wanted to meet you."
"The dragon?" Serendipity said, her eyebrow raised. "Well of course he can meet me. How in the world is he hiding in the trees?"
"He's been practicing," Hollis said, half a whisper. Serendipity giggled, and watched as the biggest bronze she'd ever seen - well, the biggest bronze that the Protectorate ever had - rose his head from the trees. She gasped, and took a step back but Hollis was there, and he warmly escorted her to the dragon.
His long snout sniffed her up and down, ruffled her hair, and made her yeep when his eye came so close to her face. With one final snort, Synesth stood back up and gazed at his rider. Hollis had always been exceptional with telepathy, so it wasn't even apparent that they were talking.
He looked at the golden haired young woman, and smiled. "Well congratulations, if you wish, you've been searched. If you want to, you could become a weyr-harper."
"Harpers are overrated," Serendipity said with a hush, "my sister says the news is always knocking us."
"Well then you should help change their minds," Hollis said. "Would you like an escort home? It's getting kind of late."
"I - I would, thank you." She muttered, unsure of what to say or do. "I ... I guess I accept, I don't have any other commitments to deal with." Then she broadened her smile, "and it would give me a chance to leave Dawnlight sometimes."
"Whenever you like, in fact," Hollis reminded her. "And permanently if you chose to stay at Blackstone." He indicated the dim outline of the Peak, where the Protectorate housed its offworld dragons. She made a silly pfaw noise.
"Where else would I keep a dragon? At home? We live in a neighborhood with other houses, you know..."
Hollis and Serendipity arrived at their house, Synesth flew above to watch out for dangers. Or, just to keep them company by blotting out the stars. When they got there, he insisted on landing somehow on the cobbled street out front. His long form snaked along the street, he had to be careful where his wings and tail went.
There are ... so many of them! Synesth commented.
"Yes, there are," Hollis said and Serendipity turned to query what he was doing, but he thumbed toward the dragon, and she understood. She opened the door to discover Serenade meekly hemming and hawing over a letter to their father, and two other golden haired young women chatting about the events at Thor's house that evening. The three of them greeted their sister and Hollis.
"You're out late," Siren commented.
"You're ..." Hollis blinked, "searched." He took his eyes off the beautiful woman, and moved them onto her meeker sister, to whom he also said, "you're searched too. And you," he said of Serenity.
Serendipity giggled as she walked into the house. "He's searched the lot of us," which was obvious, "I wonder when Serena's getting home."
"That would be now," the young woman's sister said a bit sharply, "there's a dragon in the..."
"And you too," Hollis said, his voice almost gone from a kind of shock. Part of his brain was thinking - wow! There's five of em! and the other part was thinking, we could have a whole family! and a third was thinking holy shit, run! they'll kill you! But one depended on the other to happen in order. So if he didn't say or do anything impossibly stupid like propositioning any of them, he wouldn't therefore get killed. Right. So he just kind of stood there, numb. He'd walked into the biggest nest of beautiful women on Alskyr, and considered himself lucky.
Synesth purred outside, they are all good. Perhaps for different reasons. Each is talented and worthy.
That's good. Now..... Get me out of here.
That is a first, Hollis Blackstone, his dragon stated with a wry grumble outside. The dragon rose, and the girls crowded to the doorway to watch him.
"He's beautiful," Serenity said.
"What did he mean, just now, 'and you too'?" Serena snapped. Her night had been going so very well, and then what? Some guy? And a dragon?
"He means that we're all searched, sister," Siren said with a growing grin on her small lips. The bigger picture of course, was that Serena would have to go off and play with dragons - and not Thor - in the meantime. What she did afterwards would of course be her business.
It seemed to occur to Serena the moment later, while looking at the dragon and his rider. Her green eyes narrowed to slits, but she kept her tongue. "I suppose I accept the search then," she commented. "Nice play."
"It had nothing to do with you and your affairs," Serenity said quietly. "But now we won't have to argue about that."
Hollis knew perfectly well how to bow out of a situation, and he did so gracefully. While Synesth was busy raising his wings for a takeoff, Hollis turned to the group of women. "We'll have riders sent to bring you to sands, so start packing. I'll send them in two days, and if anyone needs some kind of ... letter or something, recommending you, just tell them to contact me."
"You are?" Serena asked, still a bit miffed.
"Hollis Blackstone?" Hollis said, in that 'don't you know me? your sister knew me' tone. "Weyrleader? Of Blackstone?" He pointed to the peak, and Serena just nodded once.
"I see. Fine then." She spun on her heel and moved through her sisters, to get to her room.
The others waved to the man as he departed, sure that their next two days would be interesting.
"If anyone needs me, I'll be saying good bye to my - to Thor," Serena said, her bags packed hurriedly but completely. She walked out the door and vanished down the street. Her sisters weren't surprised. She hadn't even bothered to pen a letter to their father, let alone say to her employer where she would be.
The others had done so, Serenade had a big grin on her face. It was similar to the others, but hers had a particular gleam of triumph.
"Why are you all giddy? Apart from the obvious?" Asked her eldest sister.
"It means we can find flitters, at the weyr." She answered. Siren laughed.
"Ah that. You're always on about those little things. I can't see the attraction, really."
"Maybe if you get one you'll know," Serenade said, imagining one perched on her shoulder. She tilted her head, and said, "though I can more see you with one of those little alisgryphs, instead. Something with fur. And feathers."
"A little draconic feather boa for my performances?" Siren asked, and though they laughed, it was almost appropriate.
Momentarily, a carriage arrived. Not a cart, and not a wagon... A carriage, which meant only one thing. Dawnlight Admin knew about their Search.
Siren waved the other girls behind her, and waited at the door of their home. A tallish, fairly burly man with greying tan hair and an official suit came out from it first. A sharp looking woman exited next, and stood beside the man. The Taljorras, Spencer and Mercy.
"Whoever named her was out of their mind," muttered Serenity, and the younger girls giggled, while Siren stepped forward to greet them.
"Welcome," she said in a cordial but firm manner. Such was Siren's ability, to really sound like she meant business. Mercy Taljorra stepped toward them, looking over the golden haired young woman's shoulder to her sisters, but waited for her husband to approach before she did anything further.
"We've heard that you and your sisters are Searched and to be leaving us!" Spencer said, in an oddly jovial manner.
"Indeed, word travels quickly," Siren said. "Your ... messenger was correct."
"You make it sound so sinister that we are informed of our holders business," Mercy said quietly. Her husband aimed only a glance at her, before plastering on a smile.
"The messenger was Hollis, so you should be a bit more relaxed." Spencer said. The girls weren't sure what to make of this, clustered in the doorway and trying to listen. "He and I have a fair bit of conversation, really."
"That ... surprises me," Siren said, "he has no loyalty to you."
"Or to Dawnlight, but that --" Mercy said, but Spencer cut her short.
"His loyalties are to the dragons, and that is his business. But he does have loyalty to the people of Dawnlight. He was one of them, you know. Plus, my son is a brown rider in his ranks. I can hardly not know about Weyr business, if he tries to know mine here in the Hold. We have a deal."
"Well that's... nice." Siren said.
"Are you simply not going to invite us inside?" Mercy demanded. Siren was clearly of the opinion that she and her husband could deal with their business outside, but perhaps it would be best ... to obey.
"My apologies, we're all a little... addled today. Come along inside. Serendipity, please find something to drink for our guests." Siren glided up to the door, painfully aware of the pair behind her.
They made small talk with the Lord Holder and his wife. Eventually, though, Spencer got down to business. He wanted to know if there was anything that might persuade the girls to return to Dawnlight, in his service, after their bonding. They would be free to fly wherever their dragons could take them, of course, but in order to, as he put, 'maintain the order of things' in the Hold, he would love for them to become 'his' representitives.
"Perhaps you should wait for Serena to come back," Serenade said, sipping at her own drink. "She seems so very eager to get close to the security and inner works, I can't see her disagreeing with you."
Apparently Mercy was more up on things like this than her husband. Her eyebrow shot up, and a small sneer crossed her face. "Yes, your sister is... known to us. Of course," she bruskly changed the tone of her voice, "you are all known! You're famous singers, lovely ones at that. In fact wouldn't it be marvelous to become dragon riding singers?"
With the derailment of Spencer's proposition still in his mind, Spencer went along with this bit of pleasantry until they heard Serena herself enter the home. "Who's - oh! Lord Taljorra, and Lady Mercy," she curtseyed as though she'd never done anything but.
Mercy saw her for what she was, a brown-nosing weasel, wantonly running through her security ranks and disrupting things. But she would certainly be useful. Especially on a dragon. Oh yes.
Within minutes, Spencer and Mercy's proposition was back on the table. That the Siang sisters would be agents of Dawnlight. Serena did jump at it. She saw the high-class clothing and rank markers and her eyes lit up like stars. And oddly enough, Serendipity too agreed to the terms. They would report to the Taljorras after their dragons were old enough. Provided they bonded with them, of course.
Siren took her sister aside when they took the glasses and tray into the kitchen. "What are you thinking Serendipity?" She asked in a whisper. The others - the younger girls - knew that with both elders in the kitchen they would want privacy and they increased the volume of their voices to cover any conversations.
"I have thought it out, Siren, and if Serena is to be their pawn, then I'll be our spy. She leaves a lot of room to be spied upon, you know."
"I do know. That's all I wanted to hear, my sister. But let us not get too carried away with these roles. I for one would like the chance to sing across Paniya or Alskyr."
She said that last as they came back into the room, and Mercy caught it. "Yes, do - if you wouldn't mind, we've never heard you sing. The business of running a hold the size of Dawnlight has always kept us both so busy."
Abruptly, Serenade broke into a scale, her clear voice provoking the others into clearing their own throats. Shortly they did sing for the Taljorras, a quick tune that should satisfy them enough. Clapping and smiling honestly, Mercy and her husband enjoyed their performance, and then excused themselves back to their hold duties.
"I'm very glad that you've decided to remain with Dawnlight," Spencer said looking at Serena and Serendipity. "We will make it more than worth your while, when you get back home. And," he said over his shoulder while getting back into the carriage, "I do hope that all of you bond well."
"Clear skies," Mercy said, a bit of a lame quip as though she were a rider. None of the girls, not even Serena, could imagine that spiteful shrew of a woman having a dragon come choose her.
"Where will we go?" Serenity asked, "I mean, after being taken to Blackstone?"
Ard and his blue Trelerth, Duqh and a big sharpwinged green named Abecedariumth, and a small assortment of other dragons had arrived and their riders were busy helping get the girls' bags braced into the riding straps. It wouldn't be everyone's first ride, but most of the girls hadn't been as close to a dragon as this in their lives, and certainly never were brave enough to just walk up to one.
This time, they had to. Serenade swung herself up into the seat behind Duqh as though she'd practiced. Serena took a close look at the rider of a brown, and chose to ride with him. The others paired off and then took to the skies. Ard told Serenity, "wherever you wish to go, you'll be brought to the sands that most need you."
"We'll be separated?"
"Probably," the white-haired asian looking man said. "But it's not bad. It'll give you time to grow and develop all by yourselves."
They arrived very shortly at the weyr peak, a ride that wasn't nearly as scary or hard as any of them imagined. The peak was quite high up, though, so the ground-born girls had a bit of difficulty with the thin air for the moment. Drudges came to bring their belongings, but when Hollis arrived up there, he bid them to put all the bags in a nearby storage area.
"They'll be needed soon enough," he said to the lead steward, "so just keep them here." He turned back to the girls, and smiled. "Ah, my golden haired beauties, now you're on my turf. Come on in. We'll have you sort out where you want to go."
They followed him into a wide corridor which wrapped essentially around the top edge of the peak. It had been made not long before and still had the look of something very new. Huge panes of crystal glass and some wide open arches looked over the north side, letting in brilliant sun. The view was spectacular, and the fivesome all shared the awe of seeing their world from a totally new perspective.
"It's lovely isn't it? The craftsmanship plus all the water..." Hollis said. He played tour guide well enough, but when they reached a room filled with computers and tables, he got serious.
"This is where we have records - albeit not always accurate ones - of different hatcheries. The old world, Alskyr, Danach, many worlds have records here. So all you really need to do is look around and decide what you think would best suit you."
He waved his arm and indicated a wall with scrolls on it. "We've made a couple changes," he said. "We know which weyrs and locales need the most, some new, and some old. When you've decided, take one of these," he indicated the scroll on the wall, "and write down the name of the place, take it to a work station, and type it in. It'll give you the rest of the information you need. A print out will come with you wherever you go - you won't get lost if you choose a place outside of Alskyr or the Old World."
"I barely even remember that place," Serenity said. "But we can go back there and bond?"
"Impress," Hollis said, with a smile.
He left them to their pondering, and soon enough they each chose.
Siren was the first to make her mind up. She chose Lantessama Isle, and typed that in on one of the nearby keyboards. The others looked on as a little colorful pamphlet printed itself on the paper next to her, and spat out a star chart lastly. "Ah, I see." She waved that in front of her. "This is how we won't get lost. This is where we are. Dragons can spot by the stars. Very clever."
"Indeed," Serena said, "Where are you going?"
"Lantessama," she replied, and the others nodded.
Serenity chose next, Treval. For her the process was just as simple.
Serena took the name Cormwood, and found that this location was to her liking.
Serendipity found the dragons of Thaell Ayaath to be right for her.
And lastly, Serenade chose Cy Dragonstake as her bond site. They would all pack their information away carefully, then they waited for their dragon escorts to their new lives.
It occurred to them right while they were waiting on the ledge, all in a clump, that this would be the last time they'd see one another until they were bonded and dragons grown enough to fly! In a surprisingly emotional outburst, Serena turned to her sisters and embraced them tightly.
"I will miss you. You're such pains. What'll I do without you?"
Fortunately, none answered truthfully.
Serenade was the last to choose, having carefully examined all the options. Cy Dragonstake's smallish clutch would fill up quickly, she thought, so she wanted to get in on that while she could. After rushing down to meet whoever needed to be met - and she remembered faces with names fairly well, but in her excitement she almost failed to be polite about it all - she was sent to the dorms, where she met a few of the others standing.
She could hardly contain her curiosity. There were two beautiful four-footed creatures, winged wolves they were known to some. But it wasn't even enough time for them all to get really aquainted (with Serenade gently prodding for stories, maybe even songs, from some) when a few days later, G*non announced the hatching.
It seemed to Serenade that a good number of locals thought that him announcing this clutch was a little funny. He was so tense, something always seemed a bit off about the man. So snippy, especially to the handsome young rougish man who ran the dungeon maze.
But no one really had time to wonder about the state of things at Cy (how there was still some kind of icky sticky guck on walls, brittle but slick looking) when the first of the eggs hatched. A marked red and blue came out, tripping on nothing in particular in the middle of the soft sands. Serenade giggled, but wasn't sure why G*non was so mean to the boy who bonded him. A pretty brown went and bonded one of the winged wolves, Serenade was glad, because now she'd get to see how a wolf and a dragon would be able to team up.
A pair of yellows - one with green stripes, and the other with red - paired off with their chosen. One was to a kid whose constant chatter was now only interrupted by what must have been the mind-speak of his dragon! So now, Serenade smiled to herself, they would only be hearing half the conversation...
And the other of the trio of eggs that broke, held a lovely colored red-magenta with purple stripes. She stood on two legs, like her parent, and walked with a slinky kind of grace. She was still wobbly, still wet, but Serenade knew that this was the dragon for her.
A purple-red striped one?! With a smirk, she watched as the lovely little female came to her side.
Serenade? The dragonet asked with hesitation, Serenade, I'm worried. What if your sisters don't like me?
Serenade's mind was filled with the lovely voice of her dragon. Sure that it would never change timbre, knowing that this was the only voice she'd ever need to hear any more.
"Don't worry, Seraieth," she assured the dragon and sealed the bond by saying her name, "I'm sure they'll love you." She helped the hot-colored dragonet off the sands, away into the cool of the Dragonstake, where they were given food and new lodgings.
As Seraieth grew, Serenade's experiences added to her store of song-writing material. She entertained as well as learned, for once they found out she was a singer, their evening meals would be stoked by her voice, and she was given a few scant rewards. One, after a hard day's learning to fly (where Seraieth took wing, but almost nosedived right back into the turf) she'd made up a song about flapping and wind, and people liked it enough that one offered her a small pot with sand in it. An egg graced the top, warm and hard.
During their next meal, the egg decided to break! And who could have prepared her for what sprang from it? Another oddly colored flitter! Purple, Serenade thought, a female. Her hunger woke Seraieth, who grumbled about there being another mouth to feed. She was already able to hunt on the ground for herself, though, so Serenade didn't take the annoyed talk seriously.
"I think I'll call her Stanza!" She said, and thanked the man who had given her the egg. He was a local, though Serenade didn't know his name or title. Not a rider, not a drudge, just one of those people who inhabited this place.
When it was time to fly, home that is, Serenade and Seraieth were fair experts in the air. Serenade was good enough at riding that it was said she should have joined a fighting wing, but of course that was the last thing on her mind. She needed to get home to Dawnlight, and show off! Now that she had a dragon! Of all her sisters, she didn't realize that she had bonded first, and would arrive first. Finally - first in something!
Meanwhile, at the isle that made up Lantessama's dragonry, Siren was busy taking in the sights. It was a relaxed atmosphere, somewhat more cheerful than she expected from a dragonry. She thought they would be more... serious. But, there was no reason she shouldn't enjoy that! Treat it as a vacation. After all, her studies for dragon riding and bonding went quickly over the many days she spent there, she'd passed each class with a good mark.
As she gazed at the flying dragons above, there were always a whole bunch of them just watching from the skies, she heard a commotion. A group of boys and girls had begun to argue over something, and she wasn't quite sure what it could be.
"It was mine! My brother gave it to me!" "I did not, I was only showing it to you!" "He'd give it to me, before he'd let you have it!" "You're just a greedy girl! Give it to me!"
"STOP IT!" Siren shouted, and the command of her voice dictated immediate response. The half dozen children stood stiff as boards, looking only out at her, not at one another. Between them, something vainly tried to move around and away. The one girl's hands were still clutching onto part of it, while one of the boys clearly had grabbed a handful of ... fur? Feathers?
"Give it to me," she said, flatly. The girl was a bit angered by this, and she refused. Siren tilted her head down at them - the kids couldn't have been older than maybe 8 or 9, at most. "Give. It. To. Me. I will decide what happens here - if you've got something alive it won't be for very long the way you're treating it."
The girl's eyes widened, then Siren saw her set her little jaw and hold out ...
"What - is that?" Siren asked, surprised to see something still half alive and squirming. But it wasn't covered in fur, feathers or even scales. It was a plant. Sort of.
"'ts a fazzle," said the girl, muttering and obviously angry to have her new toy taken away. "'n it's mine."
"It is not yours, it's mine!" Said her brother, a twin by their looks and age.
Before this could start any kind of new tirade, Siren simply said, "you're much too young to have a pet like this. It obviously needs care and .... watering..." she examined the thing and sure enough it would probably be happiest in a watered pot? It had little tendrils, and it was quite mobile, but it looked so fearfully back at the children that Siren simply said, "I'm going to have to keep it. There will be other pets - if you have a problem with this, you should tell your parents and I will deal with them. You might have crushed it to death. See how it's little..... limb .... is broken?" Accusing a child of such a thing was one pain that Siren didn't really want to deal with. She was hardly the motherly type - and the kids could tell that. They bolted away, one claiming loudly that yes, they'd bring it up with their mother, but Siren seriously doubted that she'd ever hear about this again.
Except that now, she had this thing - a fazzle they called it? It was part plant and all squirmy. "Careful, careful," Siren said, in a more gentle voice than she'd used for the children. That seemed to calm it. "Such an odd creature..."
She made her way back to her dorm, and provided it with a little potted home. The crawlie seemed to like that, but also found its way back to Siren during the night, where it cuddled up around her wrist and gently sort of ... purred.
When the odd hatching between two exotic magic-born dragons was announced, everyone was really excited. Siren was too, but she didn't let it show like the others might have. She knew that if her sisters were here they'd be caught up in all the thrills and wowed by the magically provided flames that danced around the hatching dunes. They were nice, they were in fact pretty impressive. But they were there for show - and if there was one thing Siren was used to, was being the center of attention. Lights were only there to show off something or some one - often her - so this day they were for the hatchlings.
The first of whom broke her shell gracefully and with power, even though she was quite small. A white, mixed with gentle blues - a snowy color that Siren immediately took to. However this hatchling was going to be as picky as she had to be. Each of the varied candidates got the stare - are you the right one? no you're not, move out of the way...
(from the hatching)
"You!" she called out, turning her head abruptly back, "Why did you hide from me ?"
Siren's Sonatesth then proudly walked with her to the food and supplies. While she was just a tiny hatchling, Sonatesth was obviously going to be quite queenly and regal as she matured. Of course.
What else could a Winter be?
The wait at Cormwood was pretty long, but in all Serena behaved herself. It was true that she flirted with just about any available - or single-looking - man in sight. But she didn't get into much trouble. Entertaining the locals for whatever services or goods she needed was probably going to get on her nerves sooner or later.
The somewhat arrogant young lady wasn't sure what to make of the confused flutterings of the woman in charge. Apparently she hadn't realized that searchriding was a major part of all dragonry work. Serena knew that, of course, because Thor was always talking about dragons and how he wanted to be in the skies.
Serena felt something tingling, it was the air. Sometimes it felt like this on a summer morning before a thunderstorm. What was going on?
The hatching! Serena was called with the others, but was just as surprised as anyone else on two feet to learn that there was some kind of...... creature - what would one call it? - also standing on the sands! He seemed friendly enough, but that wasn't the true surprise this day.
The eggs, which had almost gone cold and died during Serena's time here, were being bathed in flames. Their elderly mother, a white dragoness, blew magical fire all over the eggs and made them harder. Then, when the first couple of eggs actually broke and hatched? SHE DID IT AGAIN!
Serena gave a half-stifled shriek, holding back a bit when others were just loudly shouting. But it seemed that only the egg-guck on the furry hides of the hatchlings was burnt off. Perhaps there was more to this magic thing than Serena could see?
But there were a number of dragonets who just didn't seem like they wanted to come and look at anyone. Few of the locals came to the hatching - because of that chimera thing - but even then Serena didn't blame the little dragons for not choosing below their station.
They were special, after all... When the yellow colored dragonets hatched, Serena lit up. They looked gold, but... No, they were yellow. Slightly disappointed, for she'd been told that a trait of yellows was to sing beautifully, Serena watched as they marched around and played. Their red sister had to be nudged into their circle.
A lovely copper, what Serena knew to be the equivalent of a bronze on the Old World, bonded to the young man that was left with her. Then.... She was alone.
There were in fact two eggs left on the sands. But they were small, cold, hadn't moved since long before. Serena's gut told her they were dead. Her throat clenched, and tears brimming into her eyes, she was about to leave. But the caretaker Fanny demanded that something be done!
She hovered around the one egg that was smaller than the other. Serena watched, morbidly curious. "It won't hatch," she muttered. But Fanny squatted and concentrated and grunted to herself. Then she made some kind of motion, nothing happening. Serena was curious why this woman was doing such seemingly mad things.
Then a green, warm light crept from the woman's arms and heart, down to the egg. Panting with what appeared to be great effort, Fanny backed away and had a look in her eyes that made Serena question her sanity. But then - CRACK!
The little egg began to shudder and bulge! Under the light of the moon, in this Dark Forest, the dead egg returned to life! Serena was captivated by the little motions. Since she was well versed in old-world dragoning, she knew better than to approach the egg. But it appeared Fanny wanted to help it out, and had to be restrained by the clutch mother. Eventually, though, a dullish grey colored hatchling spilled from her shell.
Serena's thoughts were in chaos. She knew this dragonet was hers. She knew the tired sensation from her neck down to her toes was from the hatchling kicking and squirming her way out. Exhausted, the dragonet rested for a moment, and then turned her beautiful head toward Serena.
She was to be silver - apparently a remarkable and rare color here. Anywhere. Serena had never seen a silver dragon. Now, she was bonded to one!
Every thought of men left her head the moment that the dragoness met her eyes. There was no reason to betray another marriage, no reason to run from one man to the next. Because this was one match that would never - ever - turn sour.
"Oh, Zyllae," Serena said, tears coming from her eyes - but with joy now, not with the bitterness that they'd brimmed up before. "You're so .... so..." There were no words, this wordsmith could find nothing to compare to her elation.
The last egg was a dud - but that hardly mattered to anyone, least of which anyone who'd stood for the eggs. Serena would dedicate herself to learning to care for this young dragonet. Maybe she'd be able to learn some magic in the meantime...
** Zyllae is the smallest of the clutch but Cormwood dragons apparently grow to be very large according to the 2nd hatching. They have magic that is likely tied to their color (red - floral, yellow - sound, etc) but they appear to all have fire-like breath weapons that can use this magic in specific ways; their skin has fur, and they have added long manes from head to tail, external ears, back pointing horns, and... eyebrows :D
As odd as it sounded, Serendipity felt quite calm while everyone else in Thaell Ayaath was growing impatient. It had given her some time alone, which was a luxury that she'd rarely had what with having four sisters. She could think, now, of the tunes she'd been working on. She could finish one and then the next - and did so. Of course, how to get them back in their transcribed form... That would take getting home at all. But Hollis had promised her that they'd be back just after leaving.
He was so very clever. She wanted him. Like any woman would but still, more than that. She wasn't jealous of anyone else who had been around or with him. But there was something intensely desirable about him... Her feet, bare because why bother with shoes when there was a fine coating of moss over just about every surface here, squelching in the wet floor, toes curled up...
The thunderous downpour outside broke her from a naughty thought, and Serendipity decided that she needed to get outside. Regardless of the rain or the chill - a cold shower right about now was exactly the thing her steaming mind needed.
It was after that, while she was still busy drying her hair and having changed into warm, dry clothing, that the abrupt call went out for the candidates! Now? Well, that was fine, and she quickly took to the halls down to the hatching areas. There were a lot of dragons and riders, local people and the dragoners themselves present.
When the first egg that had been moving around stopped, everyone's heart - including Serendipity's - fell. The hatchling inside, what would it have been? Who might have bonded with it? And, a suddenly enraged thought came into the scribe singer's mind, why hadn't anyone moved a finger to help it? Yes, she was raised with the traditions of Pern. But this wasn't anywhere near a traditional Weyr - they lived underground, and had moss instead of sand!
However, before anyone really got to crying over a dud egg, a second one captured the attention of his mother. A blue came from it, strong and well formed. He galloped over to his bond, and finally everyone cheered. It wasn't half-hearted, either, but it wasn't as intense as it ought to have been, given the solemnity of the first egg.
A lovely twilight green hatched, but refused to head toward the candidates. Instead she touched her nose to the dead egg, and made for her mother as though for protection. Perhaps she'd find a bond later, that was what everyone hoped. Then a silver-speckled blue male hatched, and with some concern made his way to his own impression.
As though the dead egg were the subject of everyone's thoughts, the next egg to hatch brought Serendipity's attention in an odd way. The blue had dappled green markings, and... Was female! That surprised her, but what was more of a jolt was that she walked calmly up to the golden-haired young woman, and pointed out, it could have been me.
"It wasn't though, Astuoth," Serendipity said. She'd hardly noticed that there was little applause coming for anyone, more a kind of relieved muttering from everyone. When they were leaving the hatching ground, heading toward the massive piles of meat for the hatchlings, Serendipity heard the sobbing of one girl, and got the story from Astuoth immediately.
My sister would not have lived, she was too small and too underdeveloped. But Escuroth will take good care of that girl now. I am glad that I found you.
"You're just glad you found a pile of food," Serendipity said as the dragonet began to gobble down mouthfulls of the fresh meat. "Slow down, girl! Astuoth! Chew!"
She remembered a little of the dragoner training, right?
It would be time to mourn but then time to move on. Serendipity and her blue-green Astuoth would move on and into the skies, before they knew it...
Siren's life would obviously be different from here on out. Lantessama's training had left her muscular and energetic. Her normally sedate sit-down lifestyle was not entirely gone, she loved to write and sing, composing lovely songs and allowing others to listen in to her experiments. But her biggest fan of course was Sonatesth.
It is a lovely song, may I join it?
Of course you may, Siren mentally agreed. You know the words, after all you've been in my head while I've written the song.
Together the pair crooned late into the night. It would be the morning of their departure soon enough. They would want others here to join in the song, and they did so with a bit of bitter sweet farewell.
When they left, Siren directed Sonatesth clearly and confidently. She'd been able to organize things all her life, so why not a dragon's progress through the endless night of the Nexus?
Yet they did not arrive at home. Not quite... - they head to the Flurry! (read below)
(( Flurry! Also note another character, Thaia, participates here but I don't know if her page is up.))
Sonatesth, what's happened? Where are we? Siren wasn't panicing but she wasn't too happy about not arriving back to Dawnlight Hold the way she intended.
I am sorry, but I wasn't sure you would want to come if I just asked. I wanted to show you something! It's very important, my one. The Winter dragoness turned her head in apology. But if you wish to leave I will take us back where you wanted to go. Please take a look first, though!
"I can't force you to go anywhere, Sona, where... Oh, this place is lovely!" They had exited the Nexus over a beautiful red-rocked area - but the only way that Siren could tell was because in some places, the snow hadn't quite covered everything. There was a good coating of white, more likely slush by the way it mudded up with the grass and dirt below it, over all the flat surfaces. The trees were a bit wet looking, meaning that the hard rain had come down and frozen but not remained.
"Be careful landing, Sona," Siren warned. "It'll be slippery."
Sonatesth gave off her very own musical laugh. But I am a Winter dragon, rider mine! I do not slip by accident on any ice or snow!
Though she was prepared for a rough landing, Siren noted well that her dragoness was right: there was nothing more than a faint bump and then they were on the ground.
You made it! Sonatesth bespoke loudly, and Siren wondered who she was speaking with. Then, on turning to her right, peering around the white dragon's large wing, she saw someone faintly familiar.
"Is that.... Thaia Abrams?" Siren asked, and Sonatesth nodded and crooned.
"Of course we made it, silly dragoness, we invited you!" Thaia said, she was tall and strongly built, with skin as rich as the wood she often used to craft. Her dragon was a male, which suited her strong personality, but what struck Siren was that he was white, with blue wing sails.
There were other dragons flying about in the air over this place, and the woman noticed that they too were predominantly white.
"I am sensing a theme," she said.
"That's true, that's because this is Ryslen's Flurry grounds!" Thaia proclaimed. She happily told Siren about their experiences talking to other Dawnlight and Blackstone dragon riders, including a couple who had flown in prior events.
"And who better to join them but a winter dragon like yours," Thaia said, "and well, Tentreth's interested in finding himself a mate while we're here too."
"I am sure he will, but I warn you, it better not be Sonatesth. I'm not quite prepared to -"
"Don't worry!" Thaia laughed. "If there aren't extra male riders on female dragons, there are always weyr men to snag on the way in." She elbowed the smaller golden-haired woman gently and took her inside, so they could sign their dragons up.
Though young, just barely out of her training, Sonatesth is mature enough to have decided to come to the flight. She is a Winter dragon, with an ability in air type magic or powers. Though she doesn't much use them now, she was very fond of freezing over small ponds while others were swimming. She wouldn't hurt any dragon in flight with it, but perhaps as a warning she might add a bit of frost to a wing tip or nose... She is a small sized dragoness, comparable to Ruth or the Healing Den's stunt dragons.
Siren is now in her mid-late twenties, with expert opinions on singing, party organization and How Things Should Be. She does not particularly want children - they'll ruin her figure and her future if she isn't prepared. But if the right man ever comes around she'll be interested.
** I'll try and update this with info on what happened I can't remember off the top of my head **
Serendipity gazed at Astuoth, with a grin. She'd grown so much! But she'd never be a huge dragon, even though she ate like one.
Hey! That's not nice of you to say.
"Well it's still true. Now, we've got to get back to Dawnlight and see if my sisters are doing well. I'm sure they are." Serendipity suddenly laughed, "I bet we'll all have new songs to work on together!"
It took her long enough, Serenity thought. She had gone from one place to another, but not succeeded in standing anywhere until she was brought to the Nexus world of Anar. On it, a city called Treval was hosting breedings and someone got the bright idea to bring Serenity there. She'd been so patient, too, all her sisters (she knew, she could feel it) had already paired up and were home, waiting.. For her...
She was patient, but had grown a bit in the time she'd waited. She was made to participate, and since she sang well she could always find some kind of group to hang out with. Ones who were either talented musically themselves, or who were 'groupies' of the same. Now, she had to bid them farewell on the way to the sands here at Treval.
There were several pretty eggs, all shaking, and two rather different parents to watch over them. Serenity waited, less patient than ever. Something in her was excited, this time it would work, this time there would indeed be a hatchling for her... Wouldn't there?
"Of course there will be," said a small, but somewhat gruff voice. It was a voice that had never spoken before, yet knew words. Serenity gasped, and looked down to see a sizable golden-shaded dragonet. Gold? With beautiful silvery white wingsails. And fur, and ...
"Are those scales?" Serenity asked, suddenly aware that this certainly wasn't a Pernese dragon in the slightest.
"Naturally they are," said the dragon. She sat down, "and do you like my mane?"
"I certainly do," Serenity said, and then tilted her head and picked off some eggy-sandy-goo. "There, now it's perfect."
"I am Ashrisa Toerii'Taykah, and I am yours forever." The dragoness said, and Serenity's eyes swam with emotion. It had happened at last, and now she was paired with the most gorgeous dragoness ever born!
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