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Moment of Truth

Writers: Avery, Curious
Date Posted: 26th January 2021

Characters: Z'kai, K'aur, Mirima
Description: Z'kai and blue Lakiath search at Amber Hills Hold.
Location: Amber Hills Hold
Date: month 8, day 5 of Turn 10


Z'kai had been a dragonrider long enough to know that being a rider of a dragon with Search potential wasn't much different when there weren't clutches. You still had to fly Thread, do wing drills, ride sweeps, sit watches, and occasionally transport packages, pick up guests and do transport duties. Occasionally, during the course of those duties that took one outside the Weyr, your dragon might notice a really good potential to be a dragonrider, and then you might Search them even though it wasn't the Search season, but flying Search wasn't actively scheduled or encouraged.

But when a gold flew and eggs were going to be laid and Candidates were needed, well, then it was active time. Sweep and watch duties were set aside in favor of being sent out on Search, and Z'kai's Wingleader had him on a very heavy Search rotation. For there were now not one, but _two_ clutches of eggs on the Sands of Dragonsfall Weyr at the same time. That meant they needed as many Candidates as possible to be Searched to give the dragonets the best possible choices.

Amber Hills was a decently-sized Hold, and Lord Zathris was favourable to the Weyr, so when Lakiath emerged from /between/ and bugled a greeting to the watch dragon before spiraling down to land in the courtyard, Z'kai hoped he'd receive good treatment here.

He dismounted Lakiath and nodded at the guard who approached. "Bluerider Lakiath, on Search from Dragonsfall Weyr. Can the children of proper age be assembled and presented, please?"

Word of a dragon on search was something that traveled fast. When you had made it known that you hoped to be search, it traveled even faster. Kesricaur had been scrubbing a pot (somewhat) dutifully when a tarried looking messenger boy approached with the news.

To pot clattered into the basin with a loud _clang_ as his hands impulsively opened. "Shards!" he cried. "That's... Shards!" the pot, messenger boy, and assorted grumbling lower caverns folk were all abandoned as he turned on his heel and raced out of the lower caverns. Perhaps it was a _little_ jerkish of him to not even thank the boy, but... No. No. There was no time. Not when he had to find his sister and get to the searchdragon and hope to Faranth that his good look would hold up for a little while longer.

It didn't take him long to find Mirima at all. It felt like ages, sure, but he knew that it wasn't. He had been running far too fast for it to be. "Mirima," he hissed as he tugged on her shoulder, the urgency in his voice reflected in eyes that were all but feverish with terrified delight. "The Searchrider's here! We need to get out to the courtyard. Right. Now."

Mirima had been set to work cleaning the dining hall after lunch. So since Kesricaur had been in the kitchen, he was not in fact that far away from her and found her fairly quickly. She wasn't used to him interrupting her at work, and looked up with a flash of irritation. What did he need to bother her about that couldn't wait? "Kesricaur! What?" she started.

Then his words kicked in. Sure, they had chores. Sure, they had duties. But this was Search. This was their chance to get out the Hold, away from their mother's bad reputation, away from the part where she'd have to be married soon because she wasn't allowed to craft or do anything else because she was a _girl_... And it _was_ the duty of the Hold to provide the youths to be Searched, wasn't it? They couldn't stop them from being at least looked at by the dragons, could they? Even if they were just drudges and holdbrats.

"Okay. Let's go," she said, dropping the rags to head to the courtyard, noticing as they rushed along they weren't the only eager youths on the way. Of course everyone wanted to be Searched.

Kesricaur moved through the crowd at the most brisk pace he could manage without breaking into an outright run. Some of the beats streaming out into the courtyard had already given in to the temptation. He couldn't help but think that they looked quite foolish. And yet... Well, it was a temptation for a reason.

The air hitting his face as he stepped out into the courtyard felt like a breath of life. He was so, so, _so_ close. Only a few more steps. After that, it was all up to the dragons.

It was at that moment that the anxiety he had kept at bay for so long finally reared its ugly head. _The dragons_. What if whatever they wanted was something that he didn't have? He wanted to impress so badly, and he was trying so hard, and he was so _sure_ that he had what he took, but... What if it was something that he couldn't will or force or change? What if?

Nausea curled in his gut. His next step forward was marred by an almost-imperceptible hesitation. Not entirely though. He noted it. Ugh, what if _Mirima_ noticed it? He risked a brief glance back at his sister, just for a second, and forced himself to swallow his nerves.

He _had_ to be searched. His pride was on the line - and so much more.

Kesricaur lifted his chin and joined the line of search hopefuls.

The lineup of hopefuls was a _lot_ of people, ranging from holdbrats who looked barely old enough to young adults who seemed too old, and people their age. She recognized Daniva and Yscari and Salyren all from the female drudges and scowled. She liked none of them and hoped the dragons didn't pick _them_ to Impress.

"Pay attention!" shouted a large guard who had talked it over with Z'kai when he'd seen just how many people were coming out for this Search. He'd seen dragonriders come before and the youths get excited and come out, but sometimes there was what felt like a more focused Search, with a few youths being looked at at a time, not this large group all swarmed up.

"It goes like this," he said, pointing at the kids. "Form up in groups of six. I'll wave your groups up one at a time. The dragon and his rider will look at you. Then he'll either ask you to stick around or send you back to your chores, and you will go back if he says you're not fit."

Mirima stepped closer to Kesricaur to ensure they'd be in the same group. They were, and were two groups behind the first. "Gosh, that's a large blue, and very bright," she said, looking at the dragon.

Unlike his sister, Kesricaur didn't pay any attention to the other holdbrats lined up for search. He didn't even catch the disapproving glances and glares sent his way by some of the boys he'd gotten into _debacles_ with anyway. They didn't matter right now. His gaze was reserved for the searchdragon and the searchdragon alone. It was all he could do to spare enough attention to keep track of where his group was in the line. As such, it look him a moment to process Mirima's words.

"And that's just a blue," Kesricaur whispered. "Thank of how big some of the others must be!" his voice rang with excitement and dazzled awe. He then paused as a thought struck. When he spoke again, it was with a little less wonder and a little more thoughtfulness. "Maybe that's why they send the smaller colors to search, because browns and bronzes would scare too many people off. Although..." he gave Mirima a devious grin. "Maybe they _should_ do that. Get the cowards out of the way."

"Make sure only the bravest will approach and can ride? I can see it," she said. "Though it sounds like you just want to ride to the Weyr on a bronze, yourself."

"Don't be rude," Kesricaur shot back. "It can be both. Maybe I want to scare the cowards off _and_ make sure I make a strong first impression. Although, if all goes well, I suppose I won't need it." The side of his lips pulled up in a little smirk.

The first group was sent away with no one retained. "Hah, glad to see Daniva didn't make it," Mirima muttered.

They were waved forward to be in line, waiting. It meant they could watch what happened as the second group was inspected. The children were lined up before the cerulean blue dragon. The brown-skinned dragonrider talked to them, then the dragon who swung his head slowly to look at all of them, in one case leaning forward so his muzzle was close to Yscari. Mirima hissed in displeasure. The dragonrider tapped her shoulder and had a conversation with her, then motioned the rest off.

Kesricaur didn't know Daniva well enough to comment on her rejection. However, he couldn't help but snort at his sister's displeasure over Yscari making the cut. "Jinxed yourself," he murmured.

"Your turn now," said the guard, ushering them forward.

Mirima walked forward with their group to stand in the lineup before the rider. Her right hand fluttered out to seek Kesricaur's, then thinking better of it she pressed both of her hands together behind her back like she was standing some kind of attention pose.

Meanwhile, Kesricaur went from jibes and smart comments to not saying anything at all. Didn't know how to say anything. Could barely hear what was going on. Everything was drowned out by the sound of his blood rushing in his ears, the feeling of his heart trying to pound its way out of his chest, and the bright, bright blue in front of them. This was it. The moment of reckoning. The chance to prove everyone wrong, to show that he wasn't just some delusional kid desperately clinging to a dream far above his station. It was the chance to receive confirmation that he wasn't worthless. If the dragon just... If he just...

"I'm Z'kai, and this is Lakiath. We're from Dragonsfall Weyr. Lakiath is here to see if you have potential, and I'm here to answer questions you or your family may have. Anything?" he asked.

"How does it work?" Mirima asked.

He nodded at Lakiath. "He may get his muzzle close and snuffle at you. That's expected. I don't think they look for a physical scent, but they like to get close."

Lakiath then turned his large blue head to examine them, one faceted eye whirling bright blue-green as he looked them over. It was a long, lingering look at the group as a whole. He ignored Tenica, the laundry drudge and Navhen, the runner hand. Neither had a bright glow to their minds. The third one... the third one spoke right to him.

The silence was too _much_ for Kesricaur. He had to say something, if only to keep himself from fidgeting. He couldn't _fidget_ in front of the search dragon. "So," he began, drawing his lips up into what he hoped looked like an easy grin. "See anything you like, mister blue?"

Z'kai grinned when he heard the youngster address Lakiath. "He's flattered you spoke to him," he said aloud, while touching his blue to see his take on it.

**He's not afraid or he hides it better. What do you think?**

}:I like ones without fear,:{ Lakiath said. He concentrated on that one, extending his muzzle right up to Kesricaur so that his breath was ruffling the boy's clothes.

Kesricaur's breath caught in his throat. He didn't dare move a muscle, not even to smile at the bluerider's comment. His stillness wasn't exactly out of _fear_; for all that he was large, Lakiath didn't strike him as a particularly frightening creature. It just felt _wrong_ do do so. Something about the moment felt like spun glass, precious, yet able to be shattered by the slightest twitch.

}:His mind-glow is very bright. He is willful.:{

**Any of the others strike you?** Z'kai inquired.

Lakiath moves his head slightly. One was dull. The other, brighter, but not as bright as the speaking one. }:Her.:{

"As a matter of fact, he did see something he liked," Z'kai responded.

The bluerider's words made Kesricaur snap out of his trance. A belated grin crawled across his expression, slowly at first, but rapidly growing as he processed the words. There held more of a genuine quality than his earlier smirk, but the glimmer of ambition in his eyes kept it from being outright cheesy. "Care to elaborate?" he asked.

"He thinks you have potential. What's your name?" he asked the boy who Lakiath liked so much.

}:And her,:{ the blue reminded.

"And you, too," he said, gesturing at Mirima. "The rest of you can leave."

The other three slunk off. Mirima watched them go, then turned to stare at the bluerider. Kesricaur was right - he'd done it - something about him had won the dragon over.

And so had something about her...

Last updated on the February 19th 2021


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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are © Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2013, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author. The Dragonriders of Pern© is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.