Kai: Kaira tiptoed out of her family's rooms closing the door quietly behind her. It was the first time her mother had let her out of her sight today, and she didn't want to do anything to attract her attention. She turned and walked down the hall, glad to be able to do something of her own free will. As she walked toward the kitchens she reached back to undo ribbon holding the braid running down her back. Annoyed that her mother always insisted on putting back her hair every morning, she tried to brush it out with her hand, only it tangled leaving her with half a braid and a frizzy mess. She reached the kitchen and went out the door into the sunlight of the court yard. She sat down next to the door and leaned against the wall.
Neshomeh: In the courtyard, three men were just finishing their conversation. The younger two were both riders--one taller and dark while the other was only a little over five and a half feet and fair. MasterHarper Alric dominated them both. He handed off the message rolls to be carried to his family in and around Galen, clapped the fair rider on the shoulder, and strode toward the main hall. Alric's keen blue-gray eyes missed little, and he nodded at Kaira before disappearing through the great doors.
"Well," said the fair rider, "I guess we'd better get back, then." He looked toward the fire heights, where their dragons were sunning themselves. The stirred themselves and dropped to the courtyard, blue and albino fitting easily in the enclosed space. It was the blue whose head turned, causing the dark-haired rider to tug on his companion's sleeve.
Kai: Kaira caught her breath in surprise as the two dragons swept toward her. She stared at the two dragons in awe. She had never had a chance to see dragons this close before. She knew a lot of people who would have thought it scary to be this close to a dragon, but she found it hard to see them as scary, they were just too beautiful.
Neshomeh: The blue kept his muzzle pointed at Kaira, tilting his head this way and that to look at her from as many angles as possible. Now the albino turned to see what had captured his friend's attention and an amused rumble went through his chest.
"Looks like Kraitonth's spotted a potential candidate," the blue's rider said, coming around his dragon to see for himself. The dark-haired young man raised a hand in salutation to the girl. "Hello."
"I didn't know you were a Search pair, S'ryn," the fair-haired man said, tilting his head at the bluerider.
"Neither did I." S'ryn grinned.
Kai: Kaira noticed the riders moving towards her and though her first instinct was to look down at the attention at least her lip reading lessons were firmly ingrined enough that she looked up in time for her to see the blue rider say hello.
"Hello," she replied scrambling to her feet. Even after a year she could not quite get used to talking without hearing herself. She wondered what she had done to get the rider's attention. She stood nervously not quite sure if hello had been the adequate greeting to give a rider.
Neshomeh: S'ryn searched the girl's clothes for any hint of rank or position. Finding none, his smile turned quizzical. "Are you an apprentice, by any chance? Who's your superior?"
The other rider rolled his eyes--hazel, dominated by sandy brown. "You might start with her name. Or yours."
"Ah." The bluerider cleared his throat. "Yes, well. I'm S'ryn, Kraitonth's rider. He's L'el, Minth's. And you?"
Kai: Kaira looked away shyly. "My name is Kaira. I'm not an apprentice." She shifted nervously.
Neshomeh: "Well then." S'ryn was relieved--he wouldn't have to clear the impromptu Search with the MasterHarper. "Parents? Siblings? What I'm getting at," he added at an amused--if slightly exasperated--look from L'el, "is, do you want to be a dragonrider?"
Kai: Kaira's eyes widened with surprise. They wanted her to be a dragonrider?
"Yes!" she said excitedly. Being a dragonrider would give her the perfect excuse to get out of his trap of overbearing parents and painful memories. Then reality sank in. Would they even let her be a dragon rider once they knew she was deaf? "It's just..." she said quietly. She didn't really quite know how to put it. She had never really had to explain it to anyone because everyone around here knew what happened.
Neshomeh: "Just?" L'el prompted kindly, seeing S'ryn stick at what to say to a nervous Search-ee. The younger man was out with L'el specifically because he was a more junior rider who lacked experience with the world outside the Weyr.
Kai: "Well, there's a reason I'm not an apprentice or anything... I can't hear," she almost whispered. It seemed like the the hope that had risen in her chest just a few seconds earlier had turned into disappointment.
Neshomeh: Both riders blinked. S'ryn conferred briefly with his dragon, whom he felt ought to have told him so in the first place. Kraitonth gave the draconic equivalent of a shrug. He had only followed his "nose," as it were. Holding up one finger in the barest excuse to Kaira, S'ryn walked around the dragon to stand head to head with L'el. They talked quietly and rapidly with the occasional glance in Kaira's direction and much gesticulating on S'ryn's part. The dragons looked on impassively, eyes idly whirling with deep blues and greens. Finally, L'el gave the girl a long, hard look and, disregarding a frustrated gesture from the bluerider, approached her.
"Do you think you could keep you and your lifemate safe during Threadfall?" he asked.
Kai: Kaira was somewhat startled by the sudden question. "Uh... I guess so... dragons speak in your head so I'd be fine there... I can talk to other people, as long as I'm looking at them. If there are any really loud noises I can feel them," she answered haltingly. "I'm not really sure if that answers your question."
Neshomeh: L'el nodded. "It's good enough for me. It'll be up to the dragons in the end. How long will it take you to consult whoever and pack? Only, we're supposed to be back soon. This wasn't part of the plan." He grinned, making the skin at the corners of his eyes crinkle with fine sun lines.
Kai: Kaira had forgotten all about her parents. She wasn't too sure how they would take it. "Do I have to tell my parents?" she asked, somewhat disappointed. "I might think I can handle a dragon, but there is no way they think I could even take care of a feline." She didn't add 'or myself.'
Neshomeh: L'el looked around abruptly, responding to something S'ryn had said. L'el chose not to respond, but rather looked Kaira over again. "You might leave them a note," he said. "Your life is your life, but there's no cause to give anyone a reason to accuse the Weyr of abducting young women. ... Not that the MasterHarper would stand for such nonsense," he added. Jenni was the man's niece, after all. "You might tell him, as well, since it is his Hall."
Kai: Kaira was relieved. "I'll just be a second." She ran down the stairs, through the kitchen, and down the hall to her families quarters, slowing to a pace that she hoped wasn't making any noise right before she got to the door. She opened the door cautiously making sure no one noticed her. Luckily no one was home. She went into her room and started shoving her clothes into a sack as fast as possible. She thought about taking her recorder that she had made, but decided against it. On the way out she hurriedly scribbled a note:
If you can believe it, I've been Searched. Please don't worry about me.
She ran back up the stairs and out into the courtyard where she stood winded from the run.
Neshomeh: L'el, on a brainwave, had sent S'ryn to go tell the MasterHarper what they intended with Kaira. The albinorider tilted his head at the girl when she reappeared in the courtyard. He idly wondered how she would take to the long tunnel stairs at Galen, which came as an unpleasant surprise to many candidates, some of whom were less physically fit than others. They either adapted or went home.
"If you're ready," he said, leaving his thoughts unvoiced, "we can go. Do you have a heavy jacket? Better put it on if you do."
Kai: She searched through her bag finding her winter coat and put it on. "I'm ready," she replied. She was a little bit scared about going between, but she knew she would have to get used to it.
Neshomeh: "Good." He turned and vaulted astride Minth's pearly withers, then extended his hand first for Kaira's carisak and then for Kaira herself. He settled her in front of him so that she would be braced front, back and sides.
"Here we go," he said--then realized she couldn't see him to read his lips. Minth, would you please warn Kaira when you take off and go between? he addressed his dragon.
It is done, the albino replied, for he had foreseen the need and adroitly advised the girl to hang on. The muscles bunched in his legs, his wings spread for greatest purchase, and he leapt.
Kai: Suddenly hearing a voice for the first time in a year caught Kaira off guard until she realized it was the dragon, just in time to hold on for take off. She felt the strong wing muscles of the dragons back beating under her.
Neshomeh: Once he gained enough altitude, Minth addressed her again: Hold on. Then the cold of between enveloped them.
L'el instinctively tightened his grip, though he could no longer feel Kaira and he knew she could no longer feel his arm about her middle.
Count three breaths, said the dragon. One... two... three! On three, they were in the sultry air over Galen Weyr. The ocean was clearly visible, stretching out for miles to the north. The Roanoke River which fed the bay wound away to the south. On the east bank, the Weyr cliff rose up, the hill backing it rolling down to the sandy Bowl and the forest that housed most of Galen's riders.
Kai: Between was like nothing Kaira had ever experienced before. It was completely dark and she couldn't feel anything, except the dragon counting the seconds until the other side. It was completely unnerving, but it was worth it. The view of the Weyr from dragonback was stunning.
Neshomeh: Minth descended slowly, giving the girl time to take it all in. L'el, upon realizing he still held her a little more tightly than was polite, eased up.
As the albino touched down in the sand, a green fire lizard appeared and darted around L'el's head, shrilling angrily all the while. "Bother it, Greyza!" the rider cried, raising an arm to ward her off. "You could have come, you silly creature! Go on!" Somehow he contrived to help Kaira down and dismount without anyone being accidentally scratched. "Now!" He made sure he was facing Kaira. "I've got to go deliver these messages, but the candidate dormitory is right over there. Ask for E'mizil. He'll help you get settled. Good luck!"
"Kaira's Search" by Neshomeh and Kai, May, 2006.