|RL Date: 29 July, 2016|
|Who: Bekah, Clefin, Iothan, S'faeo, Sian, Tamsin|
|Involves: High Reaches Weyr|
|What: How holder's daughter, Tamsin, became a dragonrider.|
|Where: Briny Crag Hold and High Reaches Weyr|
|When: Roughly Day 1, Month 10, Turn 28 to Day 8, Month 12, Turn 28|
|Mentions: Azaylia/Mentions, Brieli/Mentions, Iolene/Mentions, Jocelyn/Mentions|
|OOC Notes: Tamsin Impressed in Clutch:43.|
"You can't, Tamsin!" Bekah sounded scandalized.
Good, Tamsin thought, hiding her too pleased smile behind a shirt that she held up between them for inspection and judgement. That's just how she wanted her friends at Briny Crag Hold.
"I can, I will," she claimed with a haughty twist to her looks, calculated for magnifying the effect of the horror Bekah already felt for her intended undertaking. Bekah obliged, as she always did, buying into every one of Tamsin's plays and maneuvers. Tamsin realized that as they got older, there would be far more challenging people to manipulate, to impress. That's part of why she had to do this, now. Who else in her circles would be able to claim that they, brazenly, went to the Weyr in search of Search, who Stood - if she managed to catch a dragon's eye. She'd heard that's how things were done.
"Your parents will never allow it," Bekah tried, but her voice warbled with warranted uncertainty.
"Oh, tch," Tamsin dismissed folding the shirt haplessly over itself and tossing it into a pile on the bed - a servant would come fold and pack her things soon enough, and put away all that she'd chosen not to take. "My parents will give me anything I want, with the right motivation," she turned away before Bekah could catch the bitterness in her expression.
Her parents spoiled her. She was the only daughter among enough brothers that she often pretended she couldn't remember all their names. It's not that her brothers couldn't make advantageous matches, but none as advantageous as she. She could be some Holder's lady, where the brothers that weren't to inherit at Briny Crag could only offer a good home and decent living to some daughter of a neighboring hold. There wasn't expectation for a great match from them in the same way there was of Tamsin.
Sian, Tamsin's mother, had less sympathy, but probably, Tamsin thought, because Sian seemed genuinely happy with her father, Holder Clefin. Not blissfully happy, not happy like the old Harper tales, but happy, which was a far cry from some from what she'd heard about some of the other matches and Sian probably held out hope that Tamsin would end up reasonably content in whatever marriage she ended up in.
Her father, on the other hand... Tamsin never knew for certain, but she guessed that his guilt must have been the sort to keep a man up at night because he let her have just about anything she wanted. He'd drawn the line once, but just once, when she'd tried to convince them to let her keep a wild wherry as a pet.
She didn't really want the wherry (who would, when they're so bizarre and wild?), she just wanted to see how far she could push the line and get her way, at seven. Her father had forbade the wherry, but within a seven he'd given her a puppy to make up for it. She'd have liked it less, she felt sure, if she'd had to clean up after it. But she didn't. She wasn't given responsibility here beyond doing her lessons with her tutor and her mother, and she did those things - they were easy, so why not?
Asking to go to the Weyr, intending to get asked to Stand... this was a bit bigger than a pet wherry. Still, Tamsin thought she had the right argument. It would reflect well on the Hold, if the Holder's daughter did her duty to the Weyr, were she asked. And what were the chances, really? There were always far more candidates left behind than those that were claimed by a dragon. And there had never been a dragonrider in her family - never, not even once (she'd checked the genealogy in preparation for the argument) - so truly, she was quite safe and she wanted this.
She wanted this thrilling story, to be in the land of savages - well, no, not quite savages, she reminded herself. She didn't really believe the stories about dragonmen snatching up unsuspecting girls and keeping them locked away in their Weyrs for turns on end until the girls were so deprived of other pleasures that they loved their captors better than themselves and let themselves be placed on the Sands for clutch after clutch, just to see if a dragon would fancy them.
Still, she had heard some stories she did believe: communal bathing - men and women together, women of loose morals who didn't even bother to collect money for time spent in their bed, and men-- oh, la. She'd seen the dragonmen a time or two when she accompanied her parents to one of the larger Holds. What girl wouldn't swoon for just a moment of attention from any one of them? Not fourteen turn old Tamsin, she was thoroughly prepared to swoon!
"Tamsin, are you listening?" Bekah was giving her that look. The one that meant she'd probably been making an impassioned speech as to why Tamsin should give up on her plan while Tamsin had been thinking of dreamy, dreamy dragonmen prepared to catch her deepest swoon.
Tamsin blinked at Bekah and then with a drawn out sigh, she stepped daintily to sit beside her best-friend in all the world, taking up her hand and interlacing their fingers, "I know you're worried about me, Bekah," she sidestepped the question neatly and infused her tone with just the right amount of tenderness - it wasn't difficult as she really did care for Bekah (though Tamsin wasn't the least surprised that her own well-being would be such a concern; it was for most people in the Hold).
"Perhaps there won't even be a dragon who pays me the least mind once I get to the Weyr." Tamsin affected a light tone, "And I'm sure Rupert or Patrick or whichever one of my brothers-- maybe whatshisname, or thatotherone, whichever one will be going with me will take good care of me." She smiled at her friend, a sunny, reassuring look she'd practiced in the mirror for just such occasions - the occasions when an idea was questionable at best but when she didn't want anyone to stand in her way of going through with it anyway.
Bekah chewed her lip, on the edge of being convinced. Tamsin thought of putting forth the effort to tip her into acceptance, but she really didn't need Bekah's support, so instead, she changed the subject, "Let's go see if Cookie has cooked the dinner rolls yet." With a squeeze to Bekah's hand, Tamsin rose and tugged her along out the door.
"Clefin, you can't let her do this," Sian's tone was firm, even muffled as it naturally was by the door that separated the conversation in progress from where Tamsin pressed her ear to the wood.
"Sian," her father began. His tone was not nearly so firm as his wife's but Tamsin could tell by the particular timbre of his resignation that he was resigned to arguing on Tamsin's side. She nearly stepped away from the door to do a giddy dance for that much triumph. It wasn't the first time she'd pitted parent against parent, and she doubted it would be the last, but having one of them on her side meant that she had a real chance with this.
"It's mad!" Tamsin could imagine one of her mother's (rare) heated glares landing squarely on her husband.
"It's childish," her father replied. Tamsin didn't like that much, but she'd forgive him because he said next, "Sian, her whole future is decided. In another turn we'll announce her betrothal, another turn after that, she'll be married and gone from our care forever."
Betrothal. The word pitched Tamsin's heart into her throat. She hadn't heard a whisper about anything spoken of, let alone settled in the way it sounded.
She pressed her face to the wood, listening to nothing for some moments before her mother's voice came, "And what if she does end up with one of those beasts? It's not like a puppy. The servants can't just care for it, she can't keep it in a shed outside. It's too big a risk."
"Sian, there's never been a dragonrider in our family. There's no reason to think the Weyr would have any interest in our girl, even if she does go up there and traipse about in front of the dragons like a delectable meal. Iothan will keep her safe." His tone was soothing and Tamsin could imagine him wrapping his arms around her mother - wishing that he would step out into the hall and wrap his arms around her, to give her comfort and a feeling of safety when it felt like her world had slipped out from under her at that one word, betrothal. It wasn't that she didn't know it was coming, and likely too soon, but she wasn't prepared for it now.
Iothan being named as her escort was at least a little bit of luck. He was not so much older than she and he would be more interested in seeing what the Weyr had to offer in the way of loose women to mind much what she was going to be doing there. Hearing the word "betrothal," so settled, so near had lit a new fire within her. She was going to get Searched if it was the last thing she did. She was going to get Searched if she had to make herself look entirely ridiculous to do it. She was resolved. It didn't sound like she was going to miss anything she didn't want to miss if she crept away now, so she did, already imagining the ways to get a dragon's attention.
Well, the Weyr wasn't at all what Tamsin expected.
First of all, they expected she and Iothan to work for the duration of their stay and the Headwoman's assistant hadn't seemed at all pleased that Iothan couldn't be more specific than "a seven or two" for their intended stay. He'd said that they'd come to visit a cousin, and that had been accepted, though Tamsin doubted the Headwoman's assistant had believed them, but since they were willing to work, she'd given them beds in the residents' cavern for the time being. Tamsin wondered how many young people showed up to visit distant relations when eggs were on the Sands
Secondly, not nearly as many dragonriders were devastatingly good looking as she had thought when you saw them up close. One of the women even looked like her Great Aunt Gerda, and no one would ever want to look like Great Aunt Gerda and no one in the whole history of Pern would feel the least bit faint let alone swoon by casting an eye on Great Aunt Gerda. So there was a great deal less swooning to be done and after her first night in the living cavern for dinner, she'd concluded that probably a great deal of these dragonmen and their support people (that's what the rest of them were, right? She thought so, and thinking so was enough to make it fact,) were as boring and empty headed as any old holder.
Thirdly, even though she'd told the Headwoman's assistant that she liked to work outdoors, she was finding that she was expected to actually work when she was outdoors, rather than just make eyes at the passing dragons. It had been nearly a seven and a half and none had given her the least bit of notice. And today, she wasn't even outdoors, wasn't even where the dragons would be able to see her hard at work for the good of their Weyr (she liked to think that would be something that would impress them).
Today, Tamsin was stuck in the greenhouse, working with the gross decay, turning it, they said. She thought they probably just liked to see a nice holder girl get up to her elbows in muck. The laughter was in her head, until it wasn't. There was a bonny haired young man, only a handful of turns older than herself, looking ridiculous in flight leathers that had clearly been made to handle another growth spurt or two, and with the most ludicrous collection of facial hairs doing their best to imitate a moustache and goatee, and he was laughing, at her.
"Oh, shove off," Tamsin glared in her best impression of her mother. "Can't you see I'm working here?"
"Is that what you call it?" The young man asked when he could speak.
"What would you call it?"
"Doing it wrong," came back to her just as quickly.
Tamsin stared at him in open disbelief. "There's a wrong way to stir shit?"
"Oh, come on, it's only a little bit shit." He shrugged out of his jacket and started rolling up his sleeves as he added, "It's mostly just vegetable and fruit scraps. Some egg shells, maybe." He stepped up beside her and reached his arms in alongside her own.
Tamsin drew back, not willing to surrender the compost bin to him - not willing to give him that much of a victory, but back enough that he wasn't only a breath from her own arms, her hands still submerged. She sideeyed him a long moment before allowing herself to take in the motion he was making with his own (well-muscled, her jerk of a mind made note for her) arms were making. She stiffened as she realized the difference it made: his effective motions versus... her well, not.
Her lips settled into a pucker of distaste. It made him laugh which only deepened her resentment. She gave him what she hoped was a scalding look - she hadn't had much cause to practice those except on her brothers and it never worked on them anyway. It made him laugh harder. "Well, if you're so good at it," Tamsin said only barely remembering not to reach up and fluff her hair as she pulled her hands free of the stuff, "why don't you just keep on? It seems like you have time on your hands." She flashed him a dazzling smile.
She should have known that he would just laugh. She wanted to slap that laughing smile right off his stupid face, the dirty hands would just be a bonus.
"You don't know how to accept help, do you," it wasn't really a question. "And here I thought Hold girls were supposed to be full of gracious grace or something." He quirked a challenging brow.
"I accept help with graceful gratitude all the time. I'm just not used to gentlemen being unwilling to really help a lady," Tamsin sniffed and then wished she hadn't, forced to recognize the irony of calling herself a lady... with shit on her hands.
She thought he'd laugh, but this time he just grinned. "I'm helping you a lot more by teaching you how to do it right than I would be for doing your work for you. No one gets a free ride at a Weyr, you know, and if you intend to stay, you don't want to be on the management's shit list." He glanced down and then grinned wider at his own cleverness.
Tamsin looked at her hands. She could leave a nice, big splotch on his cheek, she could-- "What do you mean if I intend to stay? Why would I want to stay?" Tamsin demanded (nevermind that that was just exactly why she came, to stay, at least until the eggs hatched.
When he reached up and scratched the side of his jaw with one of his own dirty fingers, slapping him lost all its appeal. Well, almost all. Tamsin sighed and stuck her hands back in, doing her best to mimic the motions he'd shown her. "You know about how people end up dragonriders?"
Tamsin balked silently, pausing to level another look at him. She wouldn't dignify that with a response.
The look made the dragonman grin. Dragonboy Tamsin thought, nearly hatefully. It's like he was here just to vex her.
His, "Okay, maybe that wasn't giving you enough credit," was slightly mollifying. "Anyway, there are eggs on the Sands. So in a few months there'll be a hatching. If you wanted, you could stay and be a candidate, although," he scratched his jaw again, leaving another streak, "you'll probably have to learn to deal with shit a lot better than you can now, especially if you end up Impressing."
Tamsin didn't realized she'd started staring at him, jaw agape, but found herself to be so when he finished speaking, his look turning a little sheepish in the silent moments that followed.
"That... It was... I'm offering you the chance to Stand for the clutch here." The dragonman straightened, though he still looked a little awkward and fidgeted as she stared at him.
"Doesn't a dragon make those kinds of decisions?" Tamsin bit out the first thought she managed to form to give herself time to have a few more.
"Uh, well," the young man looked briefly abashed and cleared his throat, making gesture to the panes of glass and Tamsin felt a blush flood her cheeks when she realized there was a green close enough to the ledge the greenhouse was made from to be looking in the windows with some interest. "She wanted me to come in. To see about you."
When Tamsin turned her shocked regard on the young man she saw that he at least had the decency to flush along with her. "Oh," was all Tamsin could think to say.
"Yeah," he said, lamely, after a moment.
"Well." Tamsin went on, her mind still blank.
Tamsin looked at the young man who still looked so much like a caricature of what a dragonman ought to be. This wasn't anything like she imagined, but... It was a chance. The chance. She still didn't have interest in being a dragonman and, of course, she would change a lot of the details of the real story to suit her when she went back home, but she'd have had the knot so no one back home could call her a liar.
"I'll do it."
"You will?" When the dragonman's smile broke, it actually made him look-- well, just a little bit swoon-worthy. "You'll be our first candidate." He gestured to the dragon, his look turning to one of pride.
"Will I?" Tamsin couldn't help returning such a nice smile with an unexpectedly real and gleeful one of her own.
He nodded, grinning. "I'll, uh, walk you over to the Headwoman's office, then, to get your knot?"
Tamsin looked down at her hands, "Maybe by way of somewhere to wash our hands?"
"The bathing cavern's on the way." He said it without thinking and it renewed her blush.
To distract herself, she began to brush the dirt off her arms, and inquired in her most ladylike manner, "Do I get to know the name of my escort and-- his excellent lady?" She glanced toward the window.
The question, the manner, something defused the building tension and the rider grinned. "S'faeo. And that's Leazanth."
Tamsin smiled, and extended a dirty hand, "I'm Tamsin."
His smug, "I know," almost made her return to her original desire to slap him, but she managed to only clasp his hand. She was unprepared when the clasp turned into a tug, "Come on."
And so they went.
Candidacy was more annoying than hard. A lot more of that work that one was expected to do, but at least she hadn't had to be the one to break the news of her candidacy to her parents - that became Iothan's job. She did half-expect her parents to show up and demand she come home, but the day didn't come. Instead, her private room at home remained vacant while she enjoyed the hospitality of the Weyr.
The barracks was much noisier than the private room that waited for her back at home, but it did have the advantage of a ready abundance of possible friends. The most noteworthy of these was an awkward redhead from High Reaches. Tamsin found her curious because she didn't come with her pre-established friendships and was, therefore, just as much in need of friends as Tamsin herself. There was nothing wrong with her, not really, but she wasn't taking advantage of her best qualities to make those friendships that last a lifetime. Tamsin, in the very least, was a people kind of person and could show her the ropes. Or thought she could, anyway.
She might have gotten discouraged by the whole experience, even with Jocelyn and some others to count among her (new) close friends and confidants, but reminding herself that this was her big adventure and that she could fancy up the story as she liked once she was back home got her through each day. She'd never ached so much in her life.
Though the bathing pools here weren't private, they were hot enough to ease sore muscles and enjoy a thorough soaking. Determined not to let the weyrfolk scare her into appallingly holderly behavior, she took ample advantage of the pools during her candidacy. She was relaxing, trying not to think of the eggs that were, it was said, going to hatch imminently when a not-really-familiar, "Hey," interrupted her not-really-private luxuriating.
Tamsin opened her eyes to find herself staring into S'faeo's clean-shaven face. It made him look older, oddly (and, her mind made note, more swoon-worthy). Though she flushed immediately at his proximity in this-- well, they were both naked, and-- Well, Tamsin refused to be made uncomfortable, so squaring her shoulders a little (and sinking a little further down in the water) she greeted him civilly, "S'faeo."
"I just wanted to say good luck. Well, we did. Leazanth and I." S'faeo was a little flustered, but Tamsin doubted it was because of the setting. "We bet on you."
Tamsin had been about to quip something witty to his wish for luck, but that last-- that had guilt suddenly crashing into her chest and she, just as suddenly, found it hard to breathe. She stared at him until his grin faltered.
She didn't realize she had tears in her eyes until he reached, awkwardly, to brush one away. "I'm sorry," she murmured, sniffing and stepping back.
"You shouldn't have bet on me." The fact that S'faeo's voice held genuine concern for Tamsin's well-being only made her feel worse. "I'm sorry, S'faeo. I'll pay you back the marks if you tell me how much it was."
"Tamsin," S'faeo sounded confused and he reached to brush away another tear, "What're you going on about?"
"I'm sorry, S'faeo," came her hollow whisper and then the words poured out of her: how she wasn't going to Impress, how she only came so she could say she'd done it, how in just a few more days she'd be going home and he'd be out those marks because, for whatever silly reason, he decided to have placed undue faith in her.
And he laughed. She didn't slap him, but she did splash him, which made him laugh harder.
She was so busy trying to stop crying that she didn't really notice he stepped closer, didn't notice his hands until they were on her shoulders. It wasn't until he breathlessly said her name that she really looked at him and then froze from the intimacy of their proximity. She couldn't recall, at that moment anyway, ever having been so close to a boy that wasn't one of her brothers.
"Tamsin," he said again, with just a little shake to her shoulders, "You don't know what will happen on those hatching sands anymore than I do. If I lose my marks, I lose my marks. No one ever knows."
"But there's never been a dragonrider from my family," she protested.
"That doesn't mean anything. Leazanth saw something in you, Tamsin." S'faeo studied her a long moment, "Tams," (no one called her 'Tams') "If this isn't something you want, you need to go turn your knot in right now. Because if you step out on the Sands, no one can change what happens out there."
"But it does mean something," Tamsin clung to the arguments so long rehearsed. "You'll see, and then you'll be out the marks."
"Tams," was not quite pitying, but it wasn't a tone she liked either. Patronizing, tolerant, or something. She reached up and pushed his wrists with her own, neatly detaching his hands from her shoulders and took a step back.
"You'll see I was right in the end." Tamsin was pleased that she managed to sound calm even if this conversation shook her much more than any others she'd had about dragonriding through the course of candidacy. With every other conversation, she was developing a wild fantasy, a world that would never exist where she was Dragonrider Tamsin, with some beautiful lifemate, lithe and perfect. It was a dream, not one she wanted to have come true, but a dream nonetheless.
Right now, she just wanted to run for the nearest dragon and go home, to hide in her room until everything was over and this whole horrid experience could be put behind her.
The story might have had a very different ending if the hum of dragons hadn't resonated through the walls as she made her way back to the barracks. ---
People said hatchings happen fast. In long hindsight, Tamsin could entertain the idea that it had been fast, but at the time it seemed an eternity. It wasn't often that she felt small and young, even living in a place where some entries were made with dragonesque figures in mind, she hadn't stopped long enough to feel small after the first few days she'd been there. Standing on the hatching sands, bowing to dam and sire and filing into the semi-circle of others in white robes, many older than she, she felt tiny.
There was little doubt from the moment she stepped onto the Sands that this was going to be one shell of a story to tell back home. She probably wouldn't even need to exaggerate anything. She was thinking on it when the first dragon spilled from its shell: a bronze. A bronze who found his lifemate with an Islander boy. She'd heard the gossip since being at the Weyr and wondered how much that would matter in his future. She didn't have long to wonder before other eggs were cracking and dragonets spilling onto the hot sands.
It was a blur from that point. She felt like a close-up spectator, trying to remember every moment so she could retell it one day, but with so much happening she never stood a chance. There was a green, pretty, and a gold: not. Then there was that brown haired girl telling another brown haired girl to get off the sands. Words about Ysavaeth, about the hatchling who was-- well, to her mind, frighteningly savage. She cringed back when the gold bugled, only too happy to take steps back and away and even more glad when the gold ended up lunging in any direction that wasn't hers.
She covered her mouth with a hand, eyes wide and horrified as the gold raked that big herder's midriff, and then her hand dropped away when she was left aghast that the very same creature that had savaged the woman also Impressed to her. Tamsin wound her arms around her young frame. She felt ill. She didn't belong here. She was too young, too afraid. Maybe she should walk off the Sands like the other girl had. But she knew her parents were in the galleries. She knew, too, that after she'd begged to be here, had willfully managed it all on her own, that she couldn't, wouldn't shame herself or her Hold by walking off before the last dragon broke shell.
Later, her parents would sob that that was her mistake. Tamsin would never be able to see it that way. She was frozen, with fear, with determination as the last shell cracked. All she had to do was to wait it out and it would all be over. All she had to do--
The world went dark. Fear raged through her, warring with her resolve not to run, not to make herself prey for these dragons. She felt that fear trickle down her spine-- or maybe it was sweat? Only no, it felt cool now, blissfully cool, like descending to a creek winding through wild hills. Suddenly, somehow she was seeing both the Sands and the solid brown glancing at her and this other place that felt terrifyingly primal and yet perfectly natural at once. Then she was taking the few steps it took and without hesitation, embracing the adorable dragon, all the while her mind screamed at her to ignore the adorable and remember the big and scary. « Strangers in a strange land, » she heard whispered on wind that made goosebumps rise across her skin. « I am Tyth. Together, Tamsin, we will figure out what it takes to be a part of this place. » He sounded so sure, so for that moment, that was all there was to it.