Stories, Myths and Unpleasant Truths

Infirmary

The pungent aroma of the healing arts permeates this large cavern. Large wooden doors roll back and forth across the rectangular hewn entrance, allowing in larger occupants when needed, and keeping the weather at bay the rest of the time. The cavern is divided into several areas, about a third of the room subdivided by curtains into beds for human patients. In the central region there are four areas set up to handle the most critical of dragon patients. A cabinet on one side of each area houses critical components and a small cot next to it looks to serve the human half of the dragonpair. On the far side away from the patients a training work area is set up for the healers. Shelving holds numerous books, scrolls and charts which look frequently referenced. Desks provide a few moments respite to Masters and Journeymen, catching up on the days records and patient paperwork, while the nearby tables look more practical for the work of healing and testing one's skill. A smaller doorway looks to lead back to a small storage room for the healing supplies which must be kept close at hand at all times. Only the most critical stay here for any length, patients are sent back to their home beds and weyrs as soon as possible and visited by the healers until they are fully recovered.


It's a beautiful summer evening in the mountains of the High Reaches, the stars are sparkling overhead. Out in the bowl a carter's caravan, prepares to pull out. Beasts are harnessed to wagons, lanterns lit on every one of them, while the restless lowing of animals anxious to be off despite the odd hour drifts into the open infirmary. A small roughly-dressed group, a man, a woman and a couple of young teens – all wearing knots from Tillek, so they are likely with the caravan, not from here - are just leaving. Watching them go from one of the cots is a teenaged girl with caramel-brown hair. She waves to them until they're out of sight, then and only then do the large, fat tears roll from her large hazel eyes.

With one hand securely held in the other and a small, light trail of blood droplets following him, Killian arrives on the scene just in time to squeeze past the family group with a charming "'scuse me, pardon me" and his typical roguish smile for whomever chooses to meet his eyes. Once past the traffic jam at the infirmary entrance and into the internal lights of the many bright glows the young man heaves a sigh and looks around for a healer. He notes teen with the absent air of one on business until finally getting the attention of Emmaline. "Sit over there and don't cause trouble. I'll find you someone." The woman moves off and Killian takes a seat on the cot next to the crying teen. "Hello, little bug. What seems to be the trouble?"

Thus far, Raelii has ignored the infirmary bustle, effectively shutting out everyone but those with her so she's been in her own little bubble. The voice is slow to penetrate her self-induced fog of misery, but when it does, after a few moments (and a few more tears chasing the others down her rounded cheeks), she blinks over to the young man and immediately those cheeks flush to a rosy color. He's cute and here she's been caught crying like a baby! She attempts a watery smile and while rubbing one eye with the heel of her hand in a curiously childlike gesture, lies. "Nothing!" And then she sniffs. How convincing!

Killian glances away quickly so that the amusement in his eyes isn't seen but smile he gives to Raelii seems genuine. "Ah. Of course not. Please forgive my mistake." He gives a somewhat over elaborate sitting bow, and then extends his two hands outwards, finally loosening the clasp so a blood splattered rag can be seen between them. "I'd offer you a cloth, darlin, but I'm afraid you'll not want this one." He clasps the hands back tightly again. His eyes flick upwards, to something over and behind the girl but return to her face quickly enough. "I am Killian. And since I can't continue to call so a pretty little thing as you little bug, perhaps you'd do me the favor of your name?" He leaves off, as if it really were a question and not the demand it is.

Raelii’s one-eyed regard follows the bow down, then back up while her hand continues to grind her other eye. Though that motion freezes when the bloody rag is offered for her viewing pleasure. Slowly she lowers her hand, blinks spiky lashes at his once-again clenched hands, curiosity replacing her own distress, then peers back up at him. She doesn't seem bothered to see the blood, but she does ask, her words running into his introduction, "What happened to you, um, Killian?" She's quite forgotten her manners tonight; his question recalls her to them though and a flush of guilt replaces her interest in his poor injured hands. "Oops! I-I'm Raelii (it sounds like 'Ray-lee') and," she flicks another look at the door, tosses her head with a sniff of injured pride, points towards the bowl, "and they're leaving me here!" How dramatic! Outside the snap of whips and the creak of wheels as the wagons begin moving out heralds the departure of the train.

With widened eyes and raised eyebrows, the black mop tilts back in playful shock. "Oh dear! How unfortunate for them to lose out on both your own sweet self and the joys of a future clutch soon to come to the sands!" Killian leans back in towards the girl as if imparting some grand secret. "Raelii, my sweet, how lucky you are to arrive just now with the warmth of summer in the Reaches." He winks playfully, allowing the tease for what it is. "We shall have to assure that when next they return, you have so much to tell them, they shall dispair at what was lost to them and given the weyr." And now he sits back upright, in a quick change of topic. "As to this," with a wave of his gripped hands. "I'm afeared I've cut myself with a rather sharp knife." He clears the bandage away to show a small gash in the ball of his thumb, not so long as to be serious but deep enough to require a stitch or three. "At least it's stopped bleeding." He adds thoughtfully, staring down into his own hand. "I do some leatherworking as a sort of hobby."

As Raelii listens to Killian, confusion clouds her face and their differences in age is no hindrance to her blurting out, "What's a clutch?" The pet-names and winking might at another time draw a completely different response from her, but tonight, with the caravan sounds fading and his definition of her being dumped here as something they've lost draws a laugh of disbelief and the return of some spark to her woebegone eyes. She tilts her chin and says with sassy spirit, "They are glad to be rid of me! Cos the only thing they're losing is the accidents that are always my fault!" Her cheeks are drying, though and that's something. She leans forward to peer at his thumb when he shows it to her and with a little gasp, she commiserates, "Why, you're lucky you didn't cut it right off! Because I would have! Only… they would never trust me with a blade." Awe. That's the look he's getting now, because he's tough enough to have all of his fingers intact.

Killian's lips purse in a supressed smile, but continues to examine his thumb along with the indignant and awed youngling. "Yes, I am lucky cause doing so would keep me off the sands for what's likely to be my last chance at impressing." He wiggles the thumb a bit, checking movement and pain which is obviously present by the quick wince he gives. "As for what is a clutch?" And at this statement, the greenrider Emmaline returns with a healer to look over the injury. While the journeyman works, Killian continues the conversation, shifting and grimacing as needed during the cleaning. "A clutch is eggs. In this case, eggs from our senior queen, Xaeth, who is very pregnant and likely to lay those eggs sometime in the next two or three sevendays." The healer snorts and mutters something about lame-brained candidates which only draws a chuckle from Killian. "So you see, you really are here at an exciting time. One where every hand is needed so I promise you, you'll be most welcomed."

It's a clear summer evening, a lantern-lit caravan has just departed from the bowl headed down the mountain trail towards High Reaches Hold. Killian is having his thumb seen to by a healer and he's talking with a young teen who appears to have been crying recently. Bing! The clue-light goes on over the girl's head. "Oh dragon eggs!" Raelii says in an 'I knew that' sort of tone, embarrassed by her ignorance to commonly-known Weyr lingo. She leans to one side to better see around both greenrider and healer to peer at the older boy with a wide-eyed sort of wonder. "I've never met a candidate before." Her presence in the Weyr at this time is exciting? That goes right over her head. She nods to that though and says uncertainly, "My father said there's plenty of work to do at a Weyr." She grimaces then, adding, "Before I start work, they-" she jerks a thumb in the direction of the desk in the back of the room, "-want to watch me overnight to make sure I didn't addle my brains when I-" Her lips close firmly on what stupidity she'd been about to confess to.

Into the infirmary steps a young woman with dark hair pulled back into a simple runnertail at the base of her neck. Dressed in a loose brown tunic complete with goldrider's knot, belted at the waist and hanging down over the top of simple dark brown trousers, Nyalle moves slowly into the infirmary, as if not certain she should be there. Though the way she holds her right arm across her body suggests that this is exactly where she should be. Glancing around, she catches the attention of a Healer on duty and is shown to one of the examination areas, near where the others are talking. Giving Killian and Raelii a little smile, the goldrider sits on the little exam seat and waits.

There is a pregnant pause as the healer, rider and Killain all exchange a 'significant' glance. The black head nods ever so slightly as the healer turns to gather up his suturing materials. "Well, I'm sorry you have to be watched Raelii, but I'm glad you're here to distract me while this cruel heartless one sews up my poor thumb." There's another snort from the healer and a snide, "Keep it up and no numbweed for you. You're nothing but trouble." Emmaline laughs and walks off towards the dragon side of the infirmary. Meanwhile, Killian has turns his eyes a soft and puppy like as possible. He fakes a pout, "Tell me a story, sweet Raelii and keep my mind from the pain?"

Raelii's lips part and before she can stop the words, she asks with a perky, "Are you a harper, Killian? Cos you sorta seem like one." The word flamboyant is searched for, missed as she waves her fingers and comes up with, "Flowery-talking and all flirty-like." Not that it bothers her in the slightest, this girl who speaks her mind (often before she thinks!) Movement through the door draws her eyes to the young woman entering and she smiles tentatively at her, new surroundings and the events of the past few hours have definitely dampened her irrepressibility - at least a little. She waggles her fingers in response, notes the goldrider knot and out pops, "I hear your dragon is pregnant (Hi I am Raelii and I have no filter between brain and mouth)." Killian's request for a story draws her attention back and the puppy dog eyes prompts a giggle, her melancholy at being abandoned in this strange place dissipating completely. "A true one or a made-up one?"

Oh, Emmaline is here? Nyalle gives the greenrider a quick little smile before she holds out her wrist for the Healer to look at. "I think I sprained it," she says quietly, so's not to distract from Raelii's story. "I was dismounting and it caught and I slipped and just wrenched it a bit. Clumsy…" she mumbles with a little blush. Just what the weyr needs, another clumsy goldrider. Mind the stairs. Then she blinks, a bit startled for a moment. She is?! And then it clicks in and she laughs, pressing fingertips to her lips and shaking her head slightly. "Oh no, not mine. Xaeth is the one who is pregnant. Kayeth hasn't had her maiden yet…" Which makes the teen blush.

At the content of the words, if not the sound of the voice, Killian shoots a quick glance over at Nyalle and stiffens. The young man goes from being somewhat harperesque in speech to nearly silent. "Either." he says to Raelii, in a voice that sounds more distracted than anything. His head drops down to crowd that of the healer as if he too were closely examining the stitching in progress. But when no complaints or punishments come his way from the goldrider, the young man's body begins to relax again. "And, no, I'm not a harper. Just simple weyrfolk really." He motions towards his injuried hand. "I help out the tanners and leatherworkers in between preparing firestone sacks for training."

"Ohhh," gasps Raelii, enlightened somewhat. Though she looks a touch blank at the word 'maiden', she's sure she just committed a faux paus and insulted the young woman. "I'm sorry, Ma'am," she adds with a proper dip of her head, belated manners kicking in. She may not know that there are more than one golden queen at Weyrs, but her folks have drilled manners into her skull, even if she sort of forgets to use them sometimes. Noting the change in Killian, her large hazel eyes flicker between the pair for a few ticks. She can't figure out the dynamics and so she dismisses it with a little shrug, nodding at the explanation of what Killian does. With the choice left up to her, she thinks. Profound though is not her forte, for she gives it all of three seconds and says, "I'll tell you a true one then." She sits up and begins with, "Once upon a time there was a girl who decided to ride one of the burden beasts pulling her father's wagon. Now those beasts just plod along slowly so she got bored. They have nice, broad backs, so she thought to herself, 'I'll bet I can do this standing up!' And so she pressed her hands against his back and stood up slowly, trying her best to keep her balance."

Punishments? Should there be punishments from the goldrider? Watching Killian's reaction to her arrival has the goldrider blinking, and then shifting awkwardly, sensing the change in mood and knowing it was because of her arrival. Glancing at Raelii, she just smiles and nods, accepting the apology easily and without hesitation. "It's fine. I'm Nyalle." The /other/ goldrider in the weyr. And then she quiets down to listen to the story as the Harper prods and rotates her wrist, earning a soft hiss from the young woman. "Yup, it's a sprain…"

Finally the stitching is done and the bandage on. Killian listens to both story and the terse healer instructions, surprisingly not missing either much from either. He visibly winces when the girl in the story stands, muttering softly, "This can't end well." And the comment from Nyalle's healer has him wincing again. "And that can't be good either." Clumsy goldriders? Check. High Reaches? Check. One can almost see the train of thought passing through his little brain. "Cursed." he mutters though it could easily been seen as applied to the story or the goldrider.

The goldrider's easy manner momentarily dumbfounds Raelii. She stares, mouth partially open before a wide smile stretches it. "Really? Because my momma says the stuffed shir- ahhh, never to offend the folks in charge." Or something like. But she's delighted at Nyalle's informality and responds with, "I'm Raelii." Though it sounds more like Ray-lee when she says it. "Ha!" she says to Killian, which could be in response to either of his muttered comments. She continues the story, "Well they were moving so slowly and the trail was going through a flat meadow, so she balanced just fine. This got boring fast." A sage nod follows that revelation and she adds, "So she lifted one foot and put it on the back of the other burden beast - the one harnessed in the traces beside the one she was on. Only she forgot that this one was new to pulling." That's a wry admission, paired with a fatalistic roll of her large eyes.

Nyalle stiffens slightly at the muttered word from Killian, looking over at the young man with a quick darting glance. "I'm not cursed," she protests softly. "It was an accident." Just like Janja's fall. Still, the goldrider is blushing a deep red and staring down at her lap. Only to glance up a moment later to peer at the other girl. "I wasn't offended," she says, "but that is good advice. Well met, Raelii." As the Healer begins to wrap her wrist and give her quiet instructions, she half listens to the Healer and half listens to the girl's continuing story of death defying feats.

Killian gives the goldrider an unhappy smile in apology. "Sorry, weyrwoman. It's hard not to get nervous with our history." He sits back, listening to the rest of the story, though the ending is foreshadowed nicely by the teller herself, and mimiced by the injuried goldrider nearby. His injuried hand rests in her lap and it seems as if the young man might finally be either tired or warn down the cares of the day. "Can't say as I'd ever had the gumption to ride drayback." He gives Raelii another wink. "Little bug, more and more I'm finding myself glad you've come to stay. You're like to keep things interesting in a good way. Seems we could use a bit of that around here."

Hazel eyes flit back and forth between Nyalle and Killian. Cursed? History? Faranth, what have her folks dropped her in the middle of? Raelii recovers enough to bob her head hastily to the goldrider. "I'm glad because I never mean to make them upset. I- I mean, thanks. It's great meeting you too!" Back to her story, "So yeah, the beast was green and he started bucking and running, which got the other one running too and the girl fell off and hit her head on a grass-covered stone. The cart tipped over and it was a big mess." Cue dramatic sigh. She can't help but perk up at the comment from Killian though. "Really? But… this is a Weyr. You have dragons and stuff." In her mind Weyrs are already quite interesting.

Nyalle returns Killian's unhappy smile, nodding her head slightly. "I know," she says, and that knowledge weighs heavy on her. Perhaps she should have gone with her first instinct and had a Healer sent to her private quarters, rather than coming down here. Faranth knows the rumors that will spread from this one, and she makes a mental note to wear only long sleeved tunics and perhaps even gloves until the brace comes off. "I used to," she offers, almost shyly, as if she's not sure she's welcome in the conversation. "Back home, I'd ride the beasts while Daddy plowed, sometimes." Then she trails off a bit awkwardly, glancing between the two others. And then winces. "You hit your head on a /rock/? Are you okay?" Dumb question, perhaps, but it's automatic.

With a chuckle and a shake of his head, Killian looks impressed with Raelii. "You ladies are unstoppable. A little scary, but unstoppable." The young man stands and stretches. He begins to pace somewhat restlessly around the area of the infirmary, stopping periodically to smile or wink at other patients nearby. "With that kind of spunk, I wouldn't be surprised if the weyrlingmaster isn't after you for the next clutch as well." He fakes as if to tickle the younger girl without actually touching her. "Couldn't you say so, Nyalle?"

"You did?" This perks the ex-carter girl up quite a bit, and a bright smile is shared with the weywoman. She and rock indeed connected, says her rueful nod. Thank goodness for tall meadow grass left to grow long that effectively padded said rock. "Ye-e-e-e-s?" It's a reluctant admission to Nyalle while her hand automatically lifts to feel the knot at the back of her head, wincing when her fingers find it. "Not… really. They wouldn't take me on trail because I'd been out cold for so long." Her eyes drift to the bowl doorway and her hand lifts to her mouth, where she nibbles on her thumbnail while her brows knit, "Papa says the train won't be back until spring to collect me cos that's how long the Tillek, Crom, Nabor, Ruatha run will take." Killian's pacing draws her gaze, which follows his restless pacing. Spunk? Riding beasts seems within normal to her. This elicits a look shared with Nyalle and a tiny, baffled shrug. The pantomimed tickling draws a squeak from her and she grabs the pillow she's been leaning against, using it for a shield, her peal of laughter abruptly gulped to a halt at the thought the older boy ends with. Wide eyes peer from him to Nyalle over the pillow. She's speechless.

Nyalle blinks a bit, a little shocked at Killian's words. "I wouldn't know, Kayeth does not Search," she says quietly, eying the man. "Don't get her hopes up. We don't even know yet if there will be a gold egg." Though her wistful voice betrays her hope that there is. "If nothing else, you'll get to see the eggs," she adds with a small smile for the girl.

Killian raises a brow and frowns at Nyalle. "I never promised anything. Besides, girls can still stand even without a gold egg." He glances significantly over at the greenrider serving her shift in the infirmary. "Personally, I like a girl on green. I think they can be more stable than some of those men." He grumbles to himself for a moment, adding defensively. "And O'mohe hasn't forbidden it." The 'yet' hangs in the air unspoken but loud indeed. He sighs and his shoulders slump. "Not that it's like to matter. Clutches have been so small, we probably already have too many people signed on."

Raelii doesn't look hopeful. Nay, she looks like she wants to bolt from the infirmary and run screaming down the trail to beg her folks to take her back. She's slowly scrunched down the headboard a bit until naught but her eyes show above her pillowtop. Eyes that bounce back and forth between the two grow wider and rounder (if that's even possible) as they talk. Not because she's scared of dragons but because there are overwhelming thoughts running around in her mind. She does notice Killian's slumped shoulders and is perceptive enough to discern the cause of it even if she doesn't understand why it is troubling to him. So she pipes up to ask, "What's wrong with small clutches?"

Nyalle frowns back at Killian, shifting her wrist when the Healer is done. Then she exhales heavily, shaking her head. "She's new to the weyr. You have to be careful talking to new people about Search. And we don't know, it could be a large one," she adds, quietly defending the weyr's other gold. Then she looks over at Raelii, staring for a moment before she pushes to her feet. "We need all the dragons we can breed, with thread returning," she says quietly, deciding not to beat around the bush. "Which is why Kayeth should rise soon." Should. Please, please have her rise soon.

Killian's face is set and he's clearly half off in some internal world. "Yes, well..whatever we get, we need them now rather then later." He looks around once more, noting out dark it's drawn outside the door. "If you ladies will excuse me." The cheeky fellow gives one final roguish grin and a mocking bow encompassing both girls. "Sleep well, little bug. Welcome to High Reaches." And with one last "weyrwoman" to Nyalle, he turns and heads out into the bowl.

"Thread?" Oh Raelii. She does the worst thing possible, please forgive the girl. She bursts out laughing. "That's a myth, everyone knows that." Her eyes are dancing as they waver between the both of them though there's a wee hint of unease lurking in the depths because Killian looks troubled enough for the seed doubt to sprout and begin setting out roots in her mind. "Bye, thanks Killian," she calls after him. Her eyes return to Nyalle and she gives her a mute look that pleads, 'Right? Tell me Thread is just a fairy tale?'

Nyalle grimaces slightly at Killian's use of 'little bug' for Raelii, though with nothing said, it's hard to know why. Then she's blinking in total surprise at Raelii's laughter, frowning as her pride and position is a bit stung. "It is not a myth," she says firmly.

Little Bug doesn't seem to bother Raelii at all. "Oh," she says in a small voice though she looks somewhat unconvinced. Her mama would be sighing and facepalming if she were here, apologizing to the weyrwoman before dragging her daughter off to scold her in private that there are some things that you just don't say to weyrfolk. Raelii? She blurts out what's on her mind, in a muttered, "I sure hope you're wrong." Her eyes drift towards the exit where her folk have so recently left, seeing not the doorway but the wagons somewhere out there under the skies that have always been friendly to them. It's then that a healer coughs, having waited for some time to see Raelii. "To bed with you now, child. We want you to rest." It's a firm command that the girl obeys, sliding down under the covers but still hugging that pillow to her. "I hope you're wrong," she says again and then burrows under the pillow, curling on her side to hide from the sudden changes that surely have her overwhelmed.

Nyalle looks a little guilty, but she steels herself from that emotion for Raelii's sake. "Rest well," is all the young goldrider says before she takes her leave, accepting a bag of ice on the way out the door.

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