Artemis wanted to be unimpressed. Originally, she had been; but on the other hand, her arrival to the Weyr had been accompanied by the biggest headache of her life, and she had forced her introduction tour short to take a nap.
But now, with sleep and the realization of why she had a headache on the forefront of her mind, she could focus on her new home.
And honestly? It was impressive. Big and sprawling; dragons perched on the tops of walls and the littler ones walked alongside those who had Impressed them. Firelizards flitted from here to there. People thrived.
It must take a lot of strength and effort to keep it running.
The corners of Artemis' lips twitched upwards as she stepped into the Bowl, glancing around with bright eyes and a determined mindset. The occasional pang of hunger or thrive of annoyance panged her, and the headache lurked in the back of her mind, but sheer willpower kept it all down.
Nobody knew what she was, and until she thought it would help her, nobody needed to. She had gotten here without revealing it, hadn't she?
Striving forward, the brown-skinned girl perched herself on a rock, focused on not having a headache, and waited for somebody to notice the new girl in town.
Barlow was being unnoticed again. It wasn’t really a bad state to be in, and that was good, since he tended toward that rather than anything else. At least when he wasn’t doing chores or helping the dragonhealers. He kinda expected as much. Being short, quiet and often encouraging people to overlook him at times had that effect. For the time being he wasn’t being burdened with duties from any source so she was slipping out for a breath of fresh air.
Stepping out into the Weyrbowl was much like it always was. Busy, but interesting. Dragons were usually going in and out, so if one likes to view the colors that existed at Rainbow Mists one could do so. Barlow used to do so, but he had long since traded his daytime viewing for other kinds. He proceeded around the Bowl quietly before pausing. A girl was standing on a rock near the WeyrBowl. He stared for a moment, curious. It didn’t look like she was waiting for a person, exactly, it looked like she was waiting for something to happen. He tilted his head slightly, trying to determine why that might be. Nothing came quickly to mind. He stood there for a moment, determining what he was going to do, but he already knew. He was going to talk to her.
As a general rule, Barlow only talked to people he found interesting, and she had qualified today. He hadn’t seen her around before either, so it was a point in her favor. Otherwise it was rather random who he might find interesting. Either way, he walked over, naturally quiet, and went straight to the question he had.
“Waiting for something?” Barlow noticed rather quickly that he and this new girl were about the same height. He was rather short for a guy, that much was true, but he didn’t mind it any. Appearances were deceiving. For what it was worth, the girl he was talking to now had a rather exceptional appearance. That wasn’t what had him interested in talking, but it did not hurt anything he supposed.
Her eyes fixated on a quiet DarkBlue dragon, Artemis didn't notice Barlow until he was right next to her; she couldn't let people be sneaking up on her, now, could she? It just wouldn't do.
But it was hard to focus here; emotions that weren't her own pressed in on every side, muffling her own senses and dulling her ability to concentrate. Perhaps if she had actively reached out to test this more when she was younger, or if she had grown up in the Weyr - but it was all new and sensitive and ready to rub her raw if she let it.
Good thing she had a spine of steel, then.
"Oh, no, I'm just looking around." Artemis shifted her gaze from the dragon to the young man in front of her, eyes flickering up and down for a quick assessment. Not a dragon rider, not a person of authority; a Weyrling, perhaps, and not an important one that that.
"Are you waiting for somebody? I'd be happy to keep you company."
It was the best she could do, given her senses, but it should be enough; besides, he seemed quiet, and the quiet ones always knew the most, and she needed to learn about her new home.
Barlow observed her as she sized him up, smiling a little bit at that. Interesting indeed. She probably didn’t think too much of him, but that was okay. Her verbal response had him looking at her quietly. Just looking? If she said so. He didn’t say anything about it though, and just let her new words wash over him for a moment.
“Waiting for someone? I don’t do much of that. Just thought you might be needing something. My mistake.” The first part was actually quite true. Barlow usually snuck up on his friends whenever he wanted to talk of hang out. Otherwise he was perfectly happy to keep himself busy. He didn’t like being idle. Well, at least most of the time. Between chores it was okay in his mind to slack a bit. Get a breather so to speak.
Barlow took a moment to get a look at the dragons and humans in the Bowl at the moment. He recognized faces, but not too many that he could place a name to. That was the way of things, he supposed. Lots of people, not much connection. He didn’t mind. He didn’t mind a lot of things.
“How long have you been here?” She could have been here turns without him knowing, he supposed. He didn’t find that likely though. The question could also be taken as how long had she been waiting at this spot. He left that up to her to answer.
She couldn't tell if the apology was sarcasm or sincerity. She blamed the edges of the headache rather than her own lack of perception on his part, but Riders and Weyrpeople were a strange breed; she should be able to get a handle on them soon, figure them out as she had people in her town.
But until then, she supposed she could answer the questions that Barlow posed, and she didn't even need to lie; it would be a common fact that she was the new girl. That could work in her favor. Fascination and the need to prove oneself could lead to information -- maybe not from him, but from the Weyrpeople in general. If that was how she worked.
Funny that she was one of them now.
Of course, this thought process never showed on her face; the rapid-fire figuring out of what to do occurred in seconds, and Artemis kept a small smile and a calm composure the entire time.
Nearby, a dragon realized it was hungry, and Artemis fought off a pang of hunger as she turned her attention back to Barlow and away from where she had been looking, just past him, towards nothing.
"Been here or been on this spot? Not very long on either, I'm afraid."
Barlow’s head tilted slightly when he realized that attention was diverting to him. He was trying to hear if there was someone out of sight. That didn’t seem to be the case. Odd, what was so interesting then? Well, perhaps interesting was the wrong word. He seemed to be missing something. He wasn’t sure he liked that feeling. As it was, he had very little on which to go on. However, waiting and watching often did him well. So he continued without too much disruption.
“In that case, perhaps you would like a tour? That is, if not very long is quite a short time indeed.” Barlow kept the small smile on his face. He didn’t seem to be particularly extravagant in his movement or in his emotions. “Of course, that is if you would like one. I would not like to impose.”
His eyes flicked away for a moment at the sight of a dragon enter the Bowl. It was a White, but his eyes turned back a moment later. It was not, as he assumed, the White dragoness that he knew so well. Blue and White dragons tended to catch his eye, but it wasn’t out of interest for the colors themselves, it was to make sure he didn’t miss greeting his parents or their dragons.
A tour sounded... perfect, actually. She could get a better idea of her surroundings. It would help her know where to go, where to avoid.
It could also betray her before she had even begun if she ended up in a cluster of dragons, their thoughts buzzing around her own. (And while she knew it would be easier if she could just accept that she could hear them and let their thoughts filter through, she still fought against it and fought to control it, as she did with everything; that is what gave her the buzz of a headache, and it wasn't a habit she could change yet.)
So she let a smile flicker over her face and slid her feet on the ground, arching her back gracefully to land on the ground from the rock. "Thank you, Barlow. I would much appreciate a tour."
And as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ears and glanced around the Weyrbowl, she wondered absently - who named their kid Barlow?
Barlow’s eyes locked on the girl before him, examining her again once more. Did she realize…? No, she likely didn’t, not with that tone of voice. That was the kind of thing one called more attention to. He looked at her for a few moments longer before remembering he should really get on with the tour. If she didn’t notice, then he didn’t have to either. It was surprising, yes, but he’d figure out what was going on, sooner or later. He didn’t really feel like making a big deal out of it either.
“Well, if we are out here, perhaps a visit to the Arch. Not that it’s very interesting but you can see the beach from there, and the road. Have you been to Cliffside before?” Barlow started walking slowly, his feet naturally rolling to minimize sound. He was still thinking though, quietly about before.
He hadn’t introduced himself. How did she know his name? He mulled over this mystery quietly, all the while trying to be a good tour guide. Eh, he could handle it.
“I don’t swim much, but there are quite a few people who regularly go out. Some dragons like getting their feet wet at times. It’s a sight certainly. Cliffside is a nice place to go to if you just want a day away from the Weyr and don’t have a ride. When I have a day free I go and listen to the harpers play.” Not that he got many days free. Apprentice and Candidate combined did that. He’d had a few hatching happen on his free days, which was annoying, but he wasn’t complaining. Hatchings, as much as they could be disappointing, were exciting as well.
"Do you have harpers in-resident or do they just come around and visit?"
Artemis trotted after Barlow obediently, wondering when she had learned his name. Had he introduced himself?
And if he hadn't - she positioned himself behind her, head pounding as she mentally shoved the dragon voices aside. One of them had known, and they must have said something to another dragon while she wasn't paying attention, and now she knew it.
Annoying now, yes, but if she paid closer attention to it - well, she could learn a lot of information that way. Enough to - to what?
Her train of thought was broken as she tried to pay attention to Barlow, and all thoughts of paying attention to him were lost as her foot crunched onto a dead rat.
"Shards!" She jumped back, looking at the blood and clumps of fur stuck to her boot before her eyes darted back over to the now eviscerated remains of the dead rat. She had seen too many dead animals when she worked at the docks to be too bothered by it, but still, she had stepped in it.
"Is this kind of thing normally here?" She shook out her foot absently, blood scattering over the open plains of the Weyrbowl.
“We have a few around, and there are plenty that come in and out. Somehow it always seems there is a party or some such that needs entertainment.” It did seem that the folks of RMW found every occasion to party. Well, it wasn’t a bad thing he supposed. Better to have reason to celebrate then to mourn.
As if his morbid train of thought could change reality, immediately after he heard a crunch. Barlow turned around and looked down, frowning at what he saw. Dead rat. He leaned down to get a better look at it, trying to determine its state before being introduced to a boot. Maybe he had something on him to help examine this better. He reached into his pouch and fished out his faithful gloves but it didn’t look like much else. Too bad, he was hoping he had something like a stick or knife to manipulate the rat remotely. He didn’t much want to get his gloves dirty, but he would if he had to. He wasn’t squeamish, since blood and ichor were only different in color, in his view. Practically he knew the differences, but it was all a wash to him.
“Not usually. I’m hoping this one is from the jungle, not the Weyr. Now to figure out which is true.” Barlow straightened up and observed the rat quietly for a moment. Direction didn’t mean anything, it could have been acting irregularly before it died. If it had fibers or something on it, it made it more likely to have been from the Weyr, but to show it was from the jungle instead would be harder. He turned back to the girl he was talking to, just observing her annoyed mood.
“On second thought, maybe you would prefer to just to proceed? Not sure how interesting it would be to investigate.” Well, Barlow would find it interesting. That was just him. He never assumed he was a classic example for the way a person should view things.
"How would you know? If it's from the jungle and not the Weyr?" Artemis, never one to be squeamish, leaned down to take a closer look at it. "I presume the ones in the Weyr are smaller or - well, more similar to house rats than wild rats, correct?"
Her head pounded once, twice with - well, that wasn't important right now; she mustered up her willpower and pushed the headache away. She would like to continue the tour, but if this nonsense kept up, she wouldn't even be able to stare ahead for much longer without losing control of the pain in her head.
"I wouldn't mind investigating at all. Perhaps we could take the remains of this and bring it inside?" Pulling up the sweetest smile she could, eyes sparking and lips curling upwards, she tilted her head to the side and waited for his answer. No reason, of course, to tell him why unless she had to.
Barlow nodded a little bit, still looking rather intent on the rat’s remains. “That’s certainly a good way, but I am unsure how viable it will be at this exact moment. Perhaps comparing skull length. References would be required.” A half dozen other ways to try and determine things went through his head, before she spoke up again and pulled him back. Oh, well she was right, it would likely be best to get somewhere else to look at it, after all Weyrbowl was a busy place and there was no need to have any more boots try and get at the already mangled creature.
“It seems prudent. I have an idea of where we can go to get a better look at things.” He bent down and pulled on his gloves before gently peeling the rat off the ground and trying to slide it onto his other glove in one piece. It worked, mostly, which was good for him. He’d have to wash anything the rat touched thoroughly, in the event something about the rat would cause humans ill. He wasn’t likely to find what killed the rat, and that wasn’t what he wanted to know anyway.
“I got an idea of where we can go. Follow me.” He started off toward the Weyr proper, uncaring to the possible stares from people who noticed what he carried. Not like most would remember him. Maybe some dragons. He knew where a nice out of the way storage room was, and there was a table in there. As long as he cleaned up, no one would care about him using anything there. He made a beeline there and found that it was not being used for anything. Good. He placed the rat remains on the table, aware that everything he did would have to be cleaned up later. As he looked at it he pondered what the next step was.
“Have you been walking around in the grass recently? Maybe we can tell from the absence, or presence of plants on its fur or in its stomach.”
The dead rat didn't bother Artemis in the least, though she sensed it would make some of the other Candidates at least squeamish; she had spent too much of her life around dead fish and live rats to really be bothered by a combination of the two.
And getting away was, indeed, what she wanted; her headache began to fade in the dark recesses of the room, farther from the dragons - even though, if she tried, she could hear them. She would have to find a way to control that.
She supposed she could ask somebody. But that would betray that she could do it, and for now, she didn't want anybody to know. Perhaps there were books somewhere.
"Barlow, do you mind if I leave you to this and check in later? I'm sadly useless in helping here, and I won't lie -- I haven't eaten much today, so I have a headache pounding right now. I'll talk to you later, at some point, though?" Artemis flashed the same bright smile she had when he had wandered over at first, hoping that it would be enough for him not to question her. He shouldn't, really.
Barlow was busy thinking of how to figure out how to prove where the rat was from, and how to handle it afterward. He’d want to make sure if it was from the Weyr he could go and find where it had been from and hopefully keep it from being from some sort of problem. When she spoke though he got a pang of guilt. Headache. He knew something had been up, but he hadn’t picked that up. Drats. He turned around to address her properly, pulling off his gloves and putting them next to the rat.
“Of course, I wouldn’t want you to hang around here if you have more important things to do. But uh,” Barlow reviewed what he knew about this candidate and pondered how to do this correctly. She knew his name but she had never offered hers. So he decided the best way to handle it, for the time being was to just offer an introduction. “Look, I’m sure today hasn’t gone quite right, so let’s start over. I’m Barlow Triplock, it’s nice to meet you.” He extended his hand, intent on introducing himself before they went their separate ways. If she knew his name already, he didn’t mind introducing himself. He actually looked the most pleased he had during their entire conversation. Odd kid that he was.