Fall was over, and weary dragons glided down towards the lake to have
the ash and firestone dust scrubbed from their hides. R'fal leaned down
over Marlath's neck, exhausted and relieved that he'd once more made it
through alive, without messing up badly enough to be noticed. He knew
that it wasn't uncommon for a new rider to be lost at this stage, and
counted himself lucky that the Threadfalls had been uneventful, so far.
Although it was busy, Marlath found a clear space by the shore and
landed, waiting for R'fal to remove his straps. Once that was done, he
headed straight for the water, crooning his relief and pleasure. R'fal
watched him with the straps in his arms. Every time he flew with the
Wing, he seemed to end up more tired out. However, he couldn't rest
until Marlath was bathed and oiled, and he wouldn't get that done
standing around. After finding a dry place to leave the straps, he went
in search of a scrubbing brush and sweetsand.
Irradis had been assigned to dragon washing duty, so he was by the
scrubbing supplies. He spotted someone who looked close to him in age,
not an older rider, and waved broadly, hoping to catch his attention. He
liked working with people closer to him, not older riders who could be
gruffer or more scarred or less likely to converse. "Ho, rider, I can
give you a hand," he offered.
"Oh - thank you!" R'fal sounded slightly surprised. He was still getting
used to having candidate or weyrbrats to help him with Marlath. Usually
he did it all himself, leaving the young people to help the
higher-ranking riders, but today he was grateful for the offer. He held
out a hand in greeting. "Well met. My name's R'fal, and my dragon is
"Don't worry, I'm weyrbred, I know what I'll be doing in washing, you
won't have to treat me like I'm green," he boasted. "Hi R'fal, hi
Marlath," Irradis added, belatedly.
The young brownrider smiled, his mood improving with Irradis'
enthusiasm. "Marlath says hello," he replied as they walked down to the
lake where his dragon waited. "As to knowing what you're doing, you've
most likely been washing dragons longer that I have! I haven't even been
at the Weyr a Turn."
"My mom's a dragonrider. Irrkali, with the weyrlingmaster's staff. We're
new _here_, I mean - just came in from Rising Moons," he added. "I've
been playing with and washing dragons forever and ever."
"Lucky you! I've never washed any dragon except Marlath." He'd not been
at the Weyr long enough to be assigned that duty before he Impressed.
R'fal pulled off his boots and waded out into the water where his brown
was waiting, watching his new companion with interest. "What's it like
at Rising Moons? I've never been there."
"It's cooler than here, snows sometimes, and there's lots of talllll
trees in the region. I really liked it there. But there's something
really neat about there being a beach," Irradis chattered as he pulled
off his boots and his shirt and went out to the waterline. "The Weyr
itself has electricity and stuff like that. It was a shock to me Dolphin
Cove didn't have it everywhere. I mean I hear that's because it needed
to get added since Dolphin Cove was the replacement after Thayan Peak
had the earthquake. It's just so weird I have to help change _glows_ and
stuff as chores."
R'fal couldn't help a laugh. "Must have been nice to grow up without
that chore. Where I'm from, we didn't have anything but candles. When my
Da told me about the electricity at Emerald Falls, I thought it was just
one of his stories." He felt a pang, remembering that about his father.
It was a good memory, nonetheless.
He dipped his brush into the water and began to scrub Marlath's hide,
carefully cleaning around the brown's big forelimbs. "So, you're a
Candidate, right? Have you been to see the eggs yet?"
Irradis shook his head. "Nu-uh, they're still pretty fresh. Soon, I
hope. I like touching them. I hope..." His voice trailed off, wistfully.
R'fal surely understood that part of the longing.
"I know I can't do anything to change it one way or the other, other
than get myself in as best shape as possible and help out and learn a
lot." He aimed for a positive determined noise.
"Being in good shape definitely helps. I thought I was pretty fit from
farm work, but weyrling training..." R'fal made a face. "And my brain
was even more tired than my body from all the classes." He'd realized
that his experience was relatively unusual, having barely had time to
get used to being a candidate before he'd become a weyrling. Most of his
classmates had stood several times before Impressing. He gave Irradis an
encouraging smile. "Sounds like you're doing all the right things."
"Well, helping you out...helps...too." He frowned, thinking he sounded
like a child. "I just hope I have what they're looking for, and I don't
know how to test on that."
R'fal didn't have any idea either, and he tried to think of what might
help. "Maybe it's good to be older when you Impress, even if you have to
wait. The youngest ones in my class didn't have it easy. They had to do
all the same drills and lessons as the weyrlings in their twenties, and
even now, they aren't allowed to fly Thread, even if their dragons want
to. I'm glad I was old enough to go straight to a Wing."
"That's true. If I had to stay behind and watch everyone else join up,
I'd feel awful."
Irradis chewed on it silently for a moment, then paused. "I'm not
scrubbing too hard, am I? I didn't hurt him?" he asked as he brushed the
brush over a spot that seemed rough.
"Oh, no. He says you're scrubbing him really well." The brownrider
smiled as he worked his way around Marlath's neck. "He says you can come
back and scrub him any time, if you like. And he also asks if you like
"I really do, and I think I'm pretty good at it," he said. "I'd be happy
to help you both any time you need. I know you're new to the wings so
like, maybe it's really new for you to have other people wash your
dragon, but. I like giving people company and help."
"Thank you!" R'fal's smile was sudden and surprisingly bright, as if
he'd been holding back all the time they'd been talking and only now,
for a moment, allowed himself to relax. Now that they'd graduated and
his friends all flew in different Wings - and with everything else that
had happened - it felt like a while since he'd had company like this.
"I'd like that."
Sensing his rider's lifted spirits, Marlath turned his head to look at
Irradis and let out a low, pleased rumble, his warm breath sending
ripples across the water.
"Great, we can be friends then!" Irradis beamed.
Last updated on the August 19th 2019