. .

Ainea does not speak. Instead she looks at the dragon flying overhead, and thinks to it.

You have come a long way... You must be cold.
She sees the rider on the blue's back, and blinks away snowflakes as they land on her face. I can fix you something to drink... Do you understand me?

From above, the dragon bellows a harmonious song, and the rider waves. They land in the drift of freshly-fallen snow, and the dragon sinks up to his first leg joint. The snow is awfully deep, yet Ainea remains perched atop it easily.

How could that be?

She is so small, her weight barely registers on the crusted over surface of snow. Her white-grey outfit allows her to blend in with the snow as it falls, just another shadow on the terrain around her. Her hat conceals another secret: her long pointed ears.

They would be so cold if they were not covered by the high furry hat. When the rider dismounts and begins walking, he sinks to his waist almost immediately.

Oddly, as he begins struggling through the snow, he finds that there are almost steps up out of the frozen mire. When he gets to Ainea's area, he is standing on the top of the snow, rather like her. But there is more to it than that.

"How did you do that?" Asks the man, towering over the little ice elf. "I was halfway buried!"

Ainea tilts her head. She does not understand his speech, but she gets the gist of his question.

I shape the ice and snow, she thinks to him. It is not an easy thing. And it will get colder out here before it gets warmer. Would you follow me? I'm afraid your dragon will have to stay outside, as my home den is ... rather built for me.

Not at all phased by the fact that the little girl-sized person spoke into his mind, R'lan announced that he was, "R'lan, rider of blue Ancith, search rider for Ryslen weyr."

What is "weyr"? Ainea asked, her mind buzzing with questions. And why have you come here?

"Honestly," R'lan panted, his breath pluming visibly in the chill air, "I don't even know where here is. A Weyr is where our dragons roost, and where dragon riders live."

I have ridden a snow bear, Ainea commented but said nothing more. Still completely silent, she edged up against a sheer cliff wall. It was white with ice, covered in snow as it fell. If the dragon and rider had not stopped when they did, they might have crashed right into this wall and never even seen it.

Ainea places her tiny hand on a small crop of rock, and a portion of stone slides away revealing a dark tunnel.

Would you come in side? I have a fire, and there is water everywhere, and somewhere... She begins to walk into the cavern, I have some herbs. They will keep a chill away...

(was ainea-holt)

Ancith stands restlessly outside as R'lan follows Ainea inside her dimly lit den. Sorry, make that completely UN-lit den. The rider fumbles in the dark and his dragon makes a snide comment about him not being nearly good enough in the dark, not like Ancith could be!

As if you can see in complete ... dark... ness?
R'lan thinks to his dragon but then trails off. Ancith takes in the sight as the human's eyes get used to the dim light. There is light, it is not completely dim.

The corridor had turned twice, once a sharp right, and another a sharp left, both halls slowly leading down a bit of a slope. At the end of this couple-minute stumble in the darkness, was an open cavern about the size of a typical weyr.

There have to be other entrances scattered around, because the bottom of the cavern is filled with water, steam filling the inside, gently wafting up to the ceiling. But along all the walls and even under the crisp, clear water, there are signs of glowing lichen.

"You've got glows here?" R'lan mutters.

I know nothing of 'glows' but I know lichen well enough. Many kinds of it glow. Ainea thinks, matter of factly. She waits until the rider obviously can see and waves her arm. Over this way, it's where I sleep most nights.

She leads the way into a small side cave, which is set up a few steps from the walkway. It is dimmer than the surroundings, but is warm.
In here, there is a vent from the volcano some days walk to the south. Ainea claims. Feel it?

She holds R'lan's hand over a fissure, and sure enough there is a noticible rush of warm air over his fingers. It is then that he notices, "You've only got three fingers!" He blurts out without thinking.

Yes, and you are human, so you have four and your thumb. I do not need another finger. I have things you do not.

Her mental voice is almost gloating, but she merely smiles kindly and continues the tour.

Around the covered pond there are three other rooms. One is a store room where Ainea shows the rider her selection of dried and smoked meats, a few scarce fruits which she tells him were brought from very far away at a great expence, and a rolled bunch of animal skins and hides for use in clothing.

Another room is her 'trophy' room. In it are scattered the horns and antlers of many deer or antelope, hooves, and a number of large teeth or claws. They decorate the walls and she seems very proud of them. R'lan makes no comment on them.

She is such a little person, he bespeaks Ancith, how could she have possibly killed something with teeth this big?! The tooth he holds is at least as long as his little finger, which is to say twice the length of Ainea's own fingers. Ancith gives off a mental shrug, and follows his rider's progress through the beautiful underground weyr.

The last room is chilly, almost frigid. There is more light in here, coming directly from ...

"Is that a window?" R'lan asks.

It is an ice-window, yes. There would be a very large hole here, but I covered it with ice and shaped it so it would not melt or blow over with snow. It makes this room very easy to use. Don't you think?

R'lan can't help but agree. The room is some kind of work room, with some leather pieces spread over stretching racks, works in progress from the other den. There are a number of small pots and baskets, with smelly herbs or pastes in them, obviously used for tanning the skins. But also, there are delicately shaped objects hanging from the ceiling and overhangs.

He dared not touch any of them, but Ainea seemed to be pleased that he noticed them.
They are crystals. It is all right to touch them, I know they look fragile but they are more sturdy than all that.

R'lan takes one of them, something shaped a little like a dragonfly, and examines it in the half-light coming from the ice-window. "It's very beautiful."

I can show you how I made it, if you wish, Ainea claims, and it looks to her like she would love to do so.

(was ainea-power)

Within the chill room, R'lan watches as Ainea takes off her hat and gloves. He is startled more than before to notice that the girl has long pointed ears under her black hair.

Her skin is dark, a yellowish brown color fit for people who live long under the summer sun and then spend months below a twilight sky. Her eyes are huge and brown colored, bigger than any child that R'lan has ever met.

"You are ... not a child, are you?" He asks.

No, I am an elf. What did you think I was? Do humans allow their children to live alone in the tundra?

"N-no..." R'lan stammers. "But I thought, well, you are the size of a child and all. That's all. I meant nothing by it. Show me this," he waves his hand at the dangling crystaline forms.

I shall. Let me get comfortable, and you should do the same. It may take a while. Hmn... Your dragon gives me an idea!

As R'lan finds himself a low stool of bones strapped together with sinue and covered by hides, Ainea closes her eyes and holds her small three-fingered hands over a mushroom-shaped table. When R'lan looks back, he sees a faint glow around her hands, and a brighter glow over the table itself. Within moments, there is a strange yellow-white object erupting from the table top.

Ainea breathes slowly and concentrates, bringing the crystal formation to the surface.
There are many such crystals all over this area, I merely locate them. Now... This will do.

Her fingers touch the crystal and suddenly the object becomes nearly transparent. All impurities fall away from it magically. Then, as if it were molten metal or a figment of imagination, the crystaline form begins to move around itself.

A number of minutes later, R'lan is still watching, captivated by this act of natural magic. The crystal under the girl-elf's hands has stretched to become a long cylinder like object, with several nubs off it. Then, her magic coerses those nubs to become legs and wings, between long thin neck and tail.

There, Ainea pants. She is sweating though the room is still cold. It is done. If you wish to have it, it is yours.

"It's a dragon!" R'lan states. Ainea's big brown eyes blink and she smirks.

Yes it is.

After examining the object and putting it carefully into his jacket, R'lan says, "why don't you speak, Ainea?"

I have never needed to. I do not know any people to speak with.

"But you can communicate just fine."

This way, yes. But I do not speak with my mouth. She looks away, there is something more to this story, perhaps something she will tell later.

Sensing that he would not get this story at this moment, R'lan stands up and points at the skylight. "So you built that, with your magic?"

Yes. Ainea seems relieved that he is willing to let the uneasy tale pass unheard. I can work ice and snow, it takes less time than this crystal, but it obviously is not permanent. Every few eights of days -- she holds up her two hands, eight fingers in all -- I must re-shape it. Otherwise the ice will just start leaking and the snow will come in.

"And it's how you got me out of the snow out there."

Yes, I learned how to do that long ago. Once I sheltered myself within a shaped dome of ice for several days during a storm. I was not even here at my den yet. I was very young.

Again, the girl-elf becomes silent. R'lan nods, and asks about the furs stretching on their racks, in the other room.

Ah, those are to be my next season's coat and leggings. Would you like to see them?

"I would, and then I think we should talk about why I am here..."

(was ainea-skills)

Oh! Where have my manners gone?! I told you I would make some tea! Ainea gives a mental titter and guides R'lan into the work room, where it is warm and dim. I will be right back. If you want to take a look through my hides, most of those are finished.

She points her delicate hand at a stack of neatly folded furs and hides. Then she vanishes into the dark corridor. R'lan communicates to his dragon the different textures and weights of skins, the supple leather and the rich furs.

She is talented, what is that skill called again?

Tanning, R'lan tells the dragon. Tanner craft. She's quite good. A master, perhaps, would have a hard time getting their leathers to be this soft. And she does it up here in the middle of nowhere--

Here you are, Ainea thinks, and hands her visitor a warm cup of tea. There is always hot water when a volcano vent runs beneath your home!

Laughing, R'lan sips at the tea, letting it warm him inside and out. "It's very good, what is it made from? I haven't tasted tea like this."

Ainea looks at her store of herbs, and takes a couple boxes down.
This is white-root, it grows near the ground and has a bitter taste, but it gives the sinuses strength. And this, she holds up a pale-green colored leaf, is echo-mint. It is very hard to find, but I know just where it grows. It keeps you awake, clear headed. I h... She glances away, suddenly looking a little concerned. I hope that it has the same effect on humans! If it makes you ill, I can make something else...

She starts to fret, turning her hands around themselves. "No, no, it tastes just fine. I do feel the tingle, in my nose." The rider breathes quickly through his nose, making Ainea laugh silently.

You've looked at my furs? I think this one will be the best... She holds up a pure-white piece, it drapes to the ground and beyond, when she holds it to her body. It will be a nice full coat. I am going to line it with that grey suede. Do they make all riders wear this stiff leather? She asks, fingering R'lan's brown colored riding jacket.

"Well we, uh... I suppose 'make' us wear is a little harsh..." He hems and haws. "I guess you're right. But the leather has to withstand the very chill of between, it's remarkably..." he glances around, slowing his words, "cold, between..."

Ainea makes the first actual sound that R'lan has heard in the hours he's been near, a snort of laughter. It almost surprises her too.

It is very cold here, and it is always this cold here. What is between? Why is it cold?

R'lan explains the method of dragon teleportation, which seems to intrigue Ainea. She listens intently, and then nods.

Then would my furs not be better for it? If you must be going between places it only lasts a moment. But you may as well look nice doing it too. And stay warm the rest of the time!

"Well, it's not all cold, everywhere you know. Some weyrs are quite warm, even in the desert and tropics..." He pauses, "you have heard of those, haven't you?"

I know what 'desert' is, a place with no rain. There is a cold desert up in the flats north of here. It does not ever rain, sometimes it does not even snow. It's just very very cold and very dry. I cannot imagine being warm without my clothing. I suppose that tropics is something better?

"It's wonderful," R'lan says, "where the rain is warm, and you can swim in the water without worrying about freezing to death..."

Ainea looks at him as if she might believe him, if only she could see such a thing for herself.
Sounds uncomfortable.

"Oh no, it's nice. But if you're used to this kind of cold, of course, it'll be far too warm."

They speak of her work, the hides being scraped and smeared with brains and fats make them quite soft when done right. R'lan comments again to his dragon that even a master tanner might not be able to produce a work like her fur lined gloves. Not with wherry hide, at least.

Find out what it is made from then! Are there any good herd beasts I can eat? I am hungry!

(was ainea-hunt)

"Say, Ancith is getting sort of hungry. Are there any animals locally he could hunt?"

Oh! Well, there are many creatures outside which are big enough for a dragon to eat. A good scoop-horn would fill his stomach nicely. Come. I can show you where they are.

Ainea takes R'lan's empty tea cup (it was made of carved bone, he noticed a moment too late to comment on it), and decides on a warm coat which is mostly finished to wear outside her clothes.
If you want to take a fur as a cloak, you might want to. You'll be sticking out in the snow with that dark jacket and pants. I have some sinue you could use to tie it about yourself with.

She holds up a long grey-white short-furred skin, something which would cover most of the rider at least while he crouched. "I ... don't hunt all that much, mostly on Ancith's back. He does most of the work."

You bet I do! Bellowed the blue outside. They return to the brightly lit exterior, to find that the snowstorm has finally abated. The sun gleams off the snow, and Ainea made a tisk sound with her tongue.

You'll blind yourself, here. Let me get a visor for you... She darts back into the cavern, and returns a moment later with an odd bone device. It has two eye-sized pieces of flat bone, with a tiny slit cut through the middle of each of them, and a long cord connecting the pieces at the back. You can adjust it by sliding the sinue through the holes... She tells him, though he's figured it out himself. The glare is blocked almost completely, but he still has enough vision to see Ancith grunting a laugh at him.

Shut up. You want me to go snowblind?

Never. Yet another reason dragons are far superior to humans...

Or elves?

That remains to be seen, rider mine. Ah, she has a strong image in her mind of these 'scoop horns'. They are big! I like that!

The moose-like creatures which Ainea leads the man toward live in a narrow gulley, but there is one which seems bigger and older than the rest. Two younger males and three females complete this family, and Ainea makes a decision.

If your dragon must eat, tell him to try for the big older buck. That one has already bred and he is getting too old to fight for his harem any more. I have watched them for a while. I do not hunt them alone. I live on smaller prey.

The dragon springs into the air, heads over the cliff face, and locates his rider with no trouble at all. Then, diving over the moose and scattering their small herd, he snatches the old male who bellows almost as loudly as Ancith himself. The bloody deed over, and Ancith gorging himself on the rich spicy meat, Ainea takes out her hunting equipment.

Now, if you do not mind I will try finding a smaller prey than that...

"I don't mind at all," R'lan says, watching her. Ainea takes out a narrow bone-and-cord object, and a pair of arrows. They have nocks about two thirds of the way to their ends, rather than at the very end like a regular arrow.

With this I can get good range, and strike soundly into something. Are you hungry?

"Um, no, I... ate before I left..." R'lan claims, though he is hungry he's not at all sure about this hunting in the wild thing. Used to living in a weyr with cooked food and all...

Then watch, and be silent. Your dragon has not frightened off all the prey in the area... There. A moss-deer.

The smallest deer-like creature in the tundra comes picking its way through the low stones and high drifts of snow. Though there has been a storm recently, much of the snow blows away while it falls, leaving the short mossy grasses and what few trees grow in this tundra exposed.

The deer begins to eat, nibbling carefully at the ground. Without even a sound, Ainea's arrow whip snaps and the small thin-legged creature (which R'lan has never heard of, since there are no deer on his world) is scored through the chest.

Ah, I wish I could have had that through the head... Ainea claims, as she goes to retrieve the animal. Some nice hide on this little one. Though the deer is little, it's almost half her size anyway!

"You'll be able to rescue it," R'lan says, confident. "Are... you going to have that out here?" He asks, as Ainea begins cutting away at the deer's belly.

Oh no, but I leave the entrails for the predators. They will come anyway, I just want to leave them something too. And I do not like eating this... She allows the steaming guts to drop to the ground wetly, and grins like an imp.

Together they make their way back to Ainea's den. By the time they get back, it is beginning to get dark.

Ainea places the stripped carcass on a spit, over the small fire which has continued to burn -- though there is no obvious source of wood for it.
Perhaps it's fire stone, comments Ancith.

R'lan looks to the pit, and sees similar lumps of burning black coal-like material, but it doesn't really resemble firestone that he knows.

It is lava stone, the only way I can get it here is to shape it. Like the crystals. But it is worth it...
She turns the spit while R'lan decides how best to talk her into coming with him.

(was ainea-cand)

"So the dragons insist on having as many good candidates for their hatchlings as they can. It's to ensure that the next generation of dragons will be ridden by the best."

Ainea listens to R'lan carefully. Her eyes narrow in thought.

"If you don't bond, I can have you back here as if you'd never left. But... Ancith brought us here for a reason, and I think it's because the Flurry will be demanding some strong cold-loving bonders. You're about perfect for that, I'd say..."

I do not know if I should be offended? Ainea thinks, not serious. Let me think about it... Would you? I cannot just leave my works... Or can I?

She stands and munches on her lightly-charred meat. Though he claimed that he was not hungry, R'lan eagerly took the offering when it was ready, and found that the deer meat was a bit sharp tasting, but very filling. He too gnaws on one of the slender leg-bones of it, as he watches Ainea pace about her home.

The elf stands at the edge of her den, looking into the main cavern.
It is so beautiful here, and it is my home. Would I be able to return here?

"If your dragon can teleport, you'd be able to. There is no reason not to. I think there will be some special hatchlings, at the Flurry. Since it's so many different matches of dragon pairs, no one knows what will really happen. But I've heard of other mating frenzies which end with some remarkable dragons, pairing with some remarkable people."

Ainea nods, and sighs.
Could I ... wait a while? If you found me here once, could you not find me again? I want to gather my things, and see these eggs that are on your 'sands'. But I also ...

Her face turns from its strangely innocent look, to one of more determination.

No, I am sorry, I have nothing here I really need to bring along. I shall take my hides, if I can? So I can finish them while waiting? They will rot otherwise, and I could not use them.

"You could sell them at the weyr, or a gather, probably! They're all beautiful furs, Ainea. Your work is beyond compare. You'd be able to buy whatever else you want, at the gather grounds. The festival will be in full swing when we get there."

Her huge eyes look up curiously at R'lan.

What is 'festival'?


When Ainea saw the land below her, she was stunned. As she descended to the ground, among the other dragons, riders and candidates, she continued to be so.

With her tiny face wide-eyed (moreso than normal) and taking everything in, Ainea watches this Gather get going. Stalls have been erected on the still-snow-filled field near Ryslen's entrance.

Is it always... this busy at a 'weyr'? Ainea sends to R'lan.

"No, no, this is just the winter celebration getting ready."

It isn't already going? She sends, stunned. I am ... sorry, I have never been around this many hum-... people before.

It is obvious that she's never been around humans
AT ALL, let alone this many. There were one or two "other" people, some riders of the Flurry dragons who had reverted back to a strange half-human half-animal nature a ways back. Those seemed more perfectly at home here, than this tiny elf woman.

"I ought to have asked before," R'lan says, "I know your name is Ainea, but what is your age, and if you wish me to list you as a tanner?"

List... me... Ainea glanced at the hoards of folk running through the stalls with bells, long hats with poms at the ends, and snowballs in their mittened hands. She shakes her head, and then looks back up at R'lan.

How old am I? Why would you need to know that?

"Well, I know it's not a man's place to ask a woman's age but..." He laughs, and surprisingly Ainea does to with her silent snickering face. "But it is important for our records. Sometimes we have a very young bonder, sometimes an older one."

But I am not human, and I do not age as a human would. I am more than three hundred snow-seasons old, R'lan of blue Ancith. I have lived in the snow of the World's Spine all of my life, so I know nothing but what I have learned myself. But I am a tanner, yes, I suppose that I am...

Three hundred!?

She is not human, rider mine, Ancith reminds R'lan. How else would someone get that good at her arts?

I suppose... She's just the size of a child is all...

And you feel like she's a little girl, but she isn't.

If you want to ask me something more, you could stop talking to your dragon and talk to me instead...
Ainea comments, aware that there is communication going on. Perhaps she's been spying on their conversations all along, more likely not.

"Well, here then. Let's get you up to the candidate record room, and I will make sure that everything is properly signed..."

They make their way up into the weyr, and Ainea feels more at home inside. The bustle is still there, many people laughing and shouting and singing. R'lan gets a cup of klah for himself to warm back up with, but Ainea declines.

It is so noisy here...

"That's what happens when you live in a weyr, there are people. People are loud..."

"Sometimes they can be silent," says a woman, whom R'lan immediately introduces by way of spilling his hot klah onto.

"Tiyanni! Weyrwoman! Sorry!" He sputters, trying to hold on to his cup and the stack of Ainea's hides, and not look incredibly stupid in the process.

Tiyanni looks down to the diminutive Ainea. "I see he's finally brought you safe and sound to us. Do you think you want to sell your wares?"

"How -- how did --" R'lan says, still attempting to clean the weyrwoman's sleeve.

"Litayth told me," she points out. "Ancith was more than eager to tell her everything about your trip. So, I'll take it from here. Why don't you get yourself another cup and leave her to me?"

Gladly, R'lan set the pile of fine furs (hoping he hadn't spilled anything on them) beside the woman and the elf woman. "Sorry, you'll do great. I hope to see you again."

He leaves the hall, muttering to himself about dumping a whole barrel of klah on the weyrwoman and why doesn't she just kick him out now... Tiyanni on the other hand murmurs a bit of a curse when she realizes that her shirt is in fact a bit soaked through.

I can help you clean that, Ainea sends, And I have wares he said would sell quickly at this 'gather' of the weyr. What would I do to 'sell'? And why should I need to?

Tiyanni laughs, ignoring her shirt and fields all of the elf's questions with ease.

Hours later, Ainea has been set up with a small covered stall with her furs and hides placed over wire lines strung along the poles. It's the easiest way to display such things, since they are not fully clothing or merely hides any longer. Tiyanni instructed the elf about not taking less than three 'marks' for whatever item she sells, though what a 'mark' is and how one would use it is still quite beyond Ainea.

I never had to do anthing like this at home... Though I traded with the Gliders once... I suppose that is similar. Oh! That is a pretty jewel!

Distracted by the wares which she suddenly notices around her, Ainea at last falls into a smiling silent laugh.

By the end of the day, all but two of her best hides have sold. Of course Ainea kept her precious white-fur robe and the suede aside for her own use. She trades several items away for things which she knew she would use: a beautiful wooden box -- wooden! Who could imagine using this much wood when she's barely even seen a true tree! A pair of metal knives with bone handles, and a set of fine sewing needles and leather tools.

The leather workers especially seem either in awe or quite intimidated by the elf's work. Remaining humble the whole time about it though, Ainea is polite (and sensible) enough to ask the master crafters about using a certain kind of needle, what kind of threads work best with furs... Chit chat which endears her to some and makes apprentices jealous.

At last, though, the day is done and Ainea heads up to her little den. She has been kept apart from people for so long that she seems very intimidated by having a room mate, but she points out that they could be sharing one of the major chambers with six other girls. Not her style!

With a full stomach from the stew and wine, a warm smile graces Ainea's face for the evening.

And soon, the eggs on the sands will hatch!

** Continues below summary! **


Bonding at Ryslen Flurry

Age: 311 (at start of her adventures) Sex: Female
Soul Name:Tomei Known By: herself, *Shatter*
Mate Status/Sex Preference: Single, straight, eager to learn
Children: *son Icecap*
Parents/Relatives: Deceased
Height: 3'9" Build: muscular but well padded
Hair Color, Length, Style: Black, short cropped, kind of messy, very straight, covered with hat
Eye Color, Size, Shape: Dark brown, large
Skin Tone: Yellow-brown darkish
Voice Quality: Never speaks; was a very young child and called out - warning the humans nearby that the elves were approaching. Elf chief throttled her so badly that her throat was damaged. A healer spared her life, but was instructed to make sure she never spoke again.
Clothing -- Summer: ..... 'summer'? (loses robe/cloak)
Clothing -- Winter: Leather leggings and tunics, fur lined robe or cloak, hat, gloves and boots fur
Jewlery Worn, Made: none, no use for such things where they freeze
Tatoos/Markings/Scars: scar on neck, from old chief's attack, probably minor others from hunting or cutting hides
Pets/Animals Kept: none
Notable Posessions: Crystals, shaped by magic; plenty of well-tanned hides, bone items
Holt Function: doesn't live in the holt, but trades often with whoever she can reach. She has a very strong ability to work with hides and furs, producing some of the finest leather and fur pieces that the Holt could ever have.
Magic? How Powerful? Sending 10/10, Magic Feeling 8/10 relies on sending exclusively for her communication and as such is able to connect with minds at greater distances than most, but also 'duller' minds, including humans or even alien life, where others cannot possibly reach
Ice Shape 8/10, can shape snow or water to less extent but prefers solid ice, and uses this daily to shape her home, create safe passages in the Ice Wall, and traverse dangerous territory while hunting; Crystal shape 4/10 can extract crystals from rock (rock shape 1/10) and form them into beautiful and handy items (as time goes on she uses this power quite a bit more, growing to 6/10, and rock shaping to 3/10 due to this work)
Climate/Locations Preferred: Cold, snowbound areas; would rather be among rocky peaks than wide flatlands, but doesn't mind them when they're covered in deep snow; enjoys the winds while on dragon-back.
General Likes: being alone much of the time, trading and bartering, learning new things, riding, tanning, shaping and artistry
General Dislikes: crowds, forceful people (they remind her of her chief), angry people or actions, being wrong
Fears/Worries: some day her old-old chief might find her. It's not likely, he probably died a hundred years ago, but she doesn't know that and does not want to find out. Losing her dragon. That she won't find enough food to survive.
Special Strange Info: Ainea was indeed exiled from her small ice-gliders tribe when she was only around twenty turns old. She won't talk about this, not even to her Recognized, Shatter, though he does know what happened to her and remains silent about it too. The events leading up to this are so painful that she wishes she could forget them all, but she knows they also made her into a strong, self-sufficient elfess. *Note that at a much later time, she does learn how all this played out...
Basic Personality: Patient, calm, a bit jumpy around authority figures, guarded
How they feel about
: well the ones she's met at dragonries are all kinds of good! The ones on Abode? Not so much.
Elves -- herders: has never met one, actually
Elves -- magic users: she's one, though she's hardly given it thought until after meeting others who cannot do magic; she appreciates her gifts well enough that she will treat herself to a pretty shaped item, but eagerly give it to someone else if they want it
Elves -- bond-riders: her dragon knows she loves them best; there were other riders, elk masters and wolf-blooded elves, and they appear to have come in fits and starts to Bald Mountain too!
Trolls, etc: Believe it or not she learned some things from Two-Edge. She almost wishes that he'd have stayed with her longer, he was comforting and knew pain like she did... he had places to be and people to toy with...
Bond Animal Info if any: Silver Adisath, Crystal Grey Winter Nivoan

(was ainea-bond)

There are so very many people here... Ainea is a bit intimidated. But she is accepted like some others, oddities in a human world. Her leather working ability gives her quite the edge when the times came to show off.

If she couldn't be big, she could be talented.

And actually, it seems, talent is the only thing that was on the minds of the search riders. Some very strange people indeed have been brought to Ryslen. Ainea stands nervously like the others, lined up on the hot sand.

She is almost too hot! Never having been around anything other than the occasional hot spring, or warm sunny day, these sands are so warm as to make her dizzy!

But what bothers her more is that she must stand here, among her peers, as they all bond away... Her heart begins to sink a bit. Where before, there was a brilliant hope, now there is a dull ache.

So many eggs, and so many candidates, but not all the eggs are even visible! The last batch, is it the last? They finally start to hatch. Ainea takes a good look at one as the pair of bronze and rider dig and uncover more eggs.

There is a tiny egg, the smallest on the sands, the smallest apparently that many here have ever seen, and it breaks open. A very small dragon creeps out, snow-and-ice wings draping over white body. The winter-white speeds over to Ainea, tiny Ainea, the only candidate good enough, and small enough, for this teeny dragon.

Hello, friend, Ainea sends.

Hello Ainea, I've been waiting. My name is Adisath.

She nuzzles the little elf woman, and the bond is complete. Now, to feed, sleep and think only of the now...


I could never have guessed how wonderful this could be! Ainea laughs mentally.

Which part do you mean, my friend? The part where we are learning to fly, or the part where you and I are together forever?

Both! She laughs. The icywhite dragoness spreads her wings out, and though she is small by typical standards, her wings are now large enough to support a flight or two. The other young fledgling dragons are in the air, too.

Adisath springs into the air with ease, and Ainea clings on for dear life.
Slower! Slower! We'll crash!

I will not allow us to crash, my friend!

Then you should look where you're going!!!

With her heart thumping hard in her narrow chest, Ainea breathes a sigh of relief as they narrowly miss hitting one of the other new fliers. Because she is connected to her dragon, and telepathic to begin with, Ainea can tell that the rider of the other dragon is just as glad to have escaped disaster -- and neither blames the other.

I will do better keeping my eyes open, Adisath says. I promise!


The time has finally come... They tell me that we are big enough to leave. Ainea sends to Adisath. There is a tint of sadness in her mind.

We could stay, Adisath wisely returns. We could find a place.

I want to go home, and didn't you want to see where I live? Where we live?

Of course I do! Adisath turns on her side, the silver sheen of her skin reminding Ainea ever so much of that very same home which she misses so much. It has been the only thing to keep her from being far too sad.

But I will miss my clutch mates, and you will miss selling your skin-things.

I can make more. And... The elf got a gleam in her dark eyes, and we can always get back here to sell them. I never realized how much I liked being around people. Even though they are all bigger than me...

And all the other dragons are bigger than I am, but that does not stop me! Adisath laughed.

So we will go, then. I know my home well, and I remember the stars there. I will be able to show you exactly how to get there. And I will memorize this place, too. Ainea sped off down the hall, however, to pick up something from an office.

When she came back, Adisath was waiting with her head tilted.

What is that you have?

It is called a star-chart. This way I can plot where we are. I know how to use these number-things now. They show how long it takes for these stars to rise and set.

Ah, I remember watching the stars with you. So... they will be different stars where we will live?

Very much so, Adisath. It is a whole different world, and I do not even think there are any dragons there.

Adisath gasped in her draconic way, but Ainea was quick to calm her.

But I think that we will visit here often. And besides, perhaps there really are dragons there, and we just haven't been able to find them. After all, I'm the only elf I know with a dragon! There could be more. Or maybe even the humans there have matured enough to bond. But... I doubt it.

Ainea smirked, and arranged her items carefully into a smooth carry sack, which she rolled up as a kind of front-harness that sat in front of Adisath's neck and over her shoulders. That way, her pack would not interfere with the white's wings.

They bid a quiet, mentally loud, farewell to Ryslen, with a promise that they would someday


Needing to supply candidates for the new Flurry eggs, Ainea and Adisath were on a patrol farther to the south than they'd been in a while. The elf and dragon passed over a vast forest, feeling slightly out of place since they were both used to soaring over snow and ice. They spotted a great black bird, at least as big as any ride-worthy dragon, who shakily flew from a glade below, into the air nearby. It had been hunting, unsuccessfully. And while it noticed the flying dragon, the bird barely realized it could have been prey itself at that point. Adisath's mind reached out and surprisingly connected with the bird.

She indicated that it was hungry, exhausted, half-molted and very, very old. All it wanted was to go home to its aerie, and its... elf friend? So Adisath completed the hunt that the bird had attempted, plucking the still-terrified deer from a nearby stream shore. She urged the bird to land, again, and with effort they helped pull the deer apart, almost feeding the bird as if it was a hatchling. Images came from the bird's mind, and his name: Nightride. Grateful, hunger sated at last, and energy a little restored from it, he drank from the stream and left a trail of poorly-grown feathers as he took flight again. He would lead them to ...

She discovered there were a group of elves nearer than she'd seen! They had set up in a smallish mountaintop, and they were to become her new Tribe! But they were welcomed, and had surprising news for those elves indeed.


The next part of Ainea's story jumps a bit into the future!