Kyuuki was at a general loss of what to do with her time recently. She got up slowly, sat around, and mostly tried to keep warm since it was winter. Sometimes that felt like a full time job. But not really. She was never the most social of people, but now it felt like she had to visit people every now and again to stop from going mad. She hadn’t been taking her retirement well. Vallesh had been trying to help, keeping her apprised on Lifewing matters. As lovely as it was to keep up with Vallesh’s mate and progeny it was not really the same thing.
Today she found herself sitting at a table for an eon long lunch. Well she had actually finished a long time ago. For right now she was just sitting at a table, nursing a cup of Halk. She remembered when she couldn’t drink more than a sip or two. It got her thinking. And thinking. Her mind went back to old places, to people long, long dead, and she remembered.
At least no one took away memory. She could remember all day long to have something to do. After all, she had come a long way.
Eira rolled into the kitchen hunting for a mug of halk over everything else. She swooped a mug off the counter and ladled in the spicy drink from the hearth. A plate of sweets was lying not too far off, so she swiftly picked one of those and headed towards the tables. Her feet hurt and she was glad to be changed, clean and on break. She saw Kyuuki looking a bit down and so made her way to sit with her.
Her short hair bounced as Eira took a rough, unladylike seat. The halk dribbled over the side. She reached to mop it up with the pastry. It was nice to be in the Weyr after having spent the last sevenday in the Hold. "Halk not spicy enough for those old bones?" she teased. The satisfying feeling of delivering a healthy baby through a particularly difficult situation would stay with her throughout the day. She took a gulp of her own drink, quickly. "Hot," she commented, breathing out.
Kyuuki looked up, still in a bit of a daze when Eira spoke up. She had hardly heard her come up, and it was only the proximity of the words that broke her out of her thoughts. Eira had said something about the Halk, right? She examined her own cup, but when a second glance didn’t help, she decided to put her hand over the lip instead. No steam. Must be getting cold.
“I hadn’t noticed.” The words were half mumbled, but she shook her head and tried to focus on Eira. She had been remembering not so pleasant things, so that was difficult. “I should, um, hope so.” She tried a smile, but it was a bit weak. There had been a time where she probably wouldn’t have even managed this much. Such a long time ago. It was amazing how she was so very used to a place that hadn’t even been heard of when she was born.
"Can I get you a fresh one?" Eira offered, "It's no trouble," and deciding that was the thing to do she got up and acquired a second mug as quickly as the first. She even snagged a second sweet, in case Kyuuki wanted one. She returned and laid the prized halk and pastry in front of her former coworker on the table.
"You seem quiet. Even for you," Eira said, picking up her own mug again. The warmth from the sides seeped into her cold hands. She sighed.
Kyuuki nodded, and Eira soon swept away to get a haul of goodies. Not a haul, and it wasn’t quite as speedy as she thought, but it was fast enough. She gave Eira her thanks and reached for the mug, letting the heat seep into her fingers. The treat looked nice, but perhaps later, after her fingers got a little more warmth in them. Soon enough Eira got to the heart of it, which made Kyuuki look up, before sighing.
“I was thinking. About, uh, my childhood. And the rest.” It was so long ago, that her childhood reminded her of her teenage years, reminded her about all the time that led her to a tiny little adventure. She stared into the distance for a time before mentioning quietly, “Before I had heard about Deathwings.” She looked a bit sheepish before saying, “That is, um, no one had heard of them. You know.” Hopefully Eira knew what she meant.
The women sat with their fingers wrapped around their drinks, a companionable quiet passing by. Eira's thoughts drifted back to the baby girl she had delivered that morning. And a live and happy mother. She smiled thinking about her job. But she was here to swap words with Kyuuki and so she let the thoughts from the morning drift back into the background.
"Oh," Eira acknowledged when Kyuuki spoke up. "Strange thing that, a world without Wivishes and Valleshes... I got history in training, but, that's different. What were you, uh, thinking about from before?"
Kyuuki slowly nodded. It was a bit different, learning about history rather than having lived it. That wasn’t quite what she was thinking about now though. Eira prodded gently, and Kyuuki let her words flow from memory, rather than thought out.
“My family. We lived in the south, with too much sun for me. The, uh, runners. It was good for them. My parents worked with runners.” Her blue-gray eyes looked into the distance and she could just see them both, next to a nice brown runner. “I always thought my mother was the most beautiful person. Her hair matched the runner’s tails, long and black and straight. My Dad too.” A bitter thought seeped in. “I always envied them.” Her words were in the same tone as always, but they were a little easier coming out. “They were always there for me.” She smiled sadly. She had never had a sibling, sometimes she wished they had. But it was hard to deny, it had been rough raising her, what with all the talk. “Even thought I didn’t get on so well with the outdoors.”
The out of doors. What must it be like to live in a place where it isn't always ice and snow. Even though she spent much more time going to and fro as a Rider, she and Wivish were still limited by the cold. Well, less so Wivish.
"Sounds like a good childhood, with those parents," Eira commented. She wasn't really sure what to say. She had known Kyuuki for Turns but for work, not so much for personal matters. She felt lacking, realizing she was relating everything Kyuuki said to her own experiences when Kyuuki's story could simply exist on its own. "What else?" she asked, trying not to interject and simply listen. Perhaps all her friend needed was to talk.
Kyuuki’s expression grew more closed up, when Eira commented. Her parents were great, yes. But…
“They were wonderful, but… I didn’t look like either of them.” No one had really believed she was her father’s child. That had followed her. Followed her until the day they died. After that, it hadn’t mattered so much. As a kid, she hadn’t known, not until her teenage years, but the looks, she had understood the mood. After, she had gone to the weyr, first one, then the other, and not meeting one’s family was far, far more common. So no one had to ask about her, they only knew she was a skittish, quiet person. But she shifted to Eira’s prompting.
“They were the best part of my childhood. And the, um, baby Runners. All limbs and awkward.” She smiled a little. They were cute. Not that she had gotten to learn that sort of thing. “My uncle, he worked with canines, and helped keep herdbeasts in line. Most of my relatives worked with animals.” So much early morning rising. She could remember that her father worked with the light, only appearing when it got dark. Kyuuki liked when things were dark. “My Mother was a fair cook, and taught me what she knew. Let me play with dough when I was little, and often teased me about getting into the flour, even when I hadn’t.” Kyuuki smiled a bit more at that. “Said ‘If you wanted to get baked, you should have just gone outside’. Then she’d dust off my hair and give me something to do. It was, uh, nice.”
Eira noted a dimmed expression at her comparison. Not as simple as that, of course. Her mum- No, she wasn't comparing. She was listening. Baby runners, yes she imagined they'd be clumsy like that. But what did she ask, or say even, for Kyuuki? Was listening all she really needed? Could she do something more to help brighten her friend's day?
And canines. And cooking. Eira laughed softly at the flour joke. She tried to imagine Kyuuki's out-of-place appearance in the south. Skin pale as in the north, or more so even, in a sea of tan skinned folks. And though her soft white hair looked normal enough at a glance when one was retired, a youngster with those locks would be constantly noticed. She had seen a boy once, she'd returned to deliver his sister some Turns later. A shock of blond-white in his dark hair. It stood out.
"...did ya want questions for your story?" Eira asked, trying to be sensitive. She felt inadequate instead. They were friends, she should know. She didn't. "Or maybe you wanna tell me about how you and Vallesh got together?"
Kyuuki looked up at Eira when she asked about questions. “Of course you can ask, if you want.” If Eira wanted to know, it was alright. The other rider had worked with her many a time, she didn’t have a problem with that. She hadn’t had a real reason to keep her past quiet in turns. It was only that Kyuuki had discovered being shy kept its own secrets without effort.
“Vallesh… I only met her after doing the bravest thing I could think of, at the time. I lived at Rainbow Mists Weyr at the time. It was after a Queen hatching. I hadn’t impressed, obviously, and, uh, was feeling a bit down. I thought a gather might cheer me up, but, well good came out of it later, not at the time.” She paused then mentioned as an aside, “If you ever need to buy a firelizard egg, pick one that’s awkwardly on the edge between two categories. It will work out.” A peculiar statement, but it had worked out for her. Twice. “Not that you will ever have to.” Kyuuki smiled a little at her rather useless advice, but she did feel like talking right now, so she said what she thought. Well for the most part.
“Shortly after, word got out they needed people to help explore some of the places around Ice Stone. It sounded, um, terrifying.” Kyuuki smiled a little. “But a lot of people went. I thought, ‘Maybe I can go, be a little bit of help’. It was still terrifying, but there wouldn’t be another big hatching in a long time, and I didn’t want to just sit at the weyr and wait either. So I went.” She took up her mug and enjoyed the heat. “I thought I would freeze solid when I got there.” A sip of Halk was taken, as if to remind her that she was better suited to this place now.
Firelizards. Well, she accepted that many liked them. Eira didn't. It had been Turns since she'd really had one spying on her, but the memories left a bitter taste in her mouth.
Kyuuki's narrative resumed from the firelizard aside. It sounded familiar. "Wait," she said, face crumpling with the look of concentration. Where had she heard this before? Her eyes jumped up and open. "You? You were one of the first? In that party exploring, right? That's incredible. That's the time you mean, right?" Eira backtracked. She realized how excited she must look. She broke the gaze she had left on Kyuuki and shifted her eyes around, uncomfortably unsure where to look. That had been the birth of their kind. Admittedly the second one, but integral. There had been so few. Adding to the numbers. She ended up burying her nose in her mug of halk.
Kyuuki’s concentration on her story was broken with a sudden burst of excitement. She was unaccustomed to such things from Eira, so she was rather shocked. She reflexively held her Halk a little closer, looking a little like she wanted to scamper off into a hole. It was Eira though, so she stifled her usual impulse. She wasn’t used to being thought of as the first of something. But soon enough she broke into a soft smile as Eira looked nervous as well. So she spoke up with a little more feeling.
“Um, yes. But no one knew there were going to be Lifewings hatching at the time. Lots of riders with small dragons, or people who weren’t impressed at all. We needed to get in and around places. But then people got excited. I didn’t see why, I was near the back.” Of course she was. “But I heard music.” She paused and her eyes went distant. There were some tunes she couldn’t forget. Some that couldn’t be. She knew Vallesh’s song like she had been taught her own. “I heard her first. High and clear, it was a song that sounded like they had won a great contest. It echoed across the icy walls, so I didn’t know until she had slipped in, looked directly at me. She was so small for such a big song.” She could see the little chick, that had black webbed feet and a black bill in front of her. With a song that resonated against hers. “She told me who she was. I was really happy. Oh, but, I was almost scared I had done something wrong. I was supposed to be stand for the dragons. It was silly, um, but I was worried at the time.” Kyuuki laughed a little. “That day I got a new friend and a new home, all in one.”
Kyuuki didn't call her out on it, thank Faranth. Eira regained her composure with a sure smile as her friend continued with her tale. Neither of them had expected to be a LifeWing Rider. They were both from outside the Weyrs and the Aeries originally. Eira supposed the latter didn't even exist in Kyuuki's youth. Both thought to be for other futures.
Eira, your head feels funny, Wivish chimed in.
Hm? Eira tilted her head up and to the side, eyes loosing focus. I guess. It's not every day we swap life tales.
You feel warmer, like me! And the way feathers feel to you human people. ...it's weird, but I kind of like it.
I'll be sure not to compete with you for warmness, Wivish.
No, it's okay. I can share! ...I can still be warmest, right?
Eira just smiled in reply. The ice in the north did, on the surface, melt a little and reshape sometimes. So it was. And it would likely change in company less familiar than Kyuuki.
"Sorry, Wivish," Eira mumbled, looking back up at Kyuuki.
Say I say hi.
"She says hi," Eira shook her head fondly. "Anyhow, sorry to interrupt. So you Linked Vallesh in the explored northern caves and found your new home up north. Was that a big transition, moving from the south? I can't imagine how any of you southerners had the blood to stand an expedition to the far north, let alone move here," she grinned.
Eira’s attention drifted for a moment, but it was fairly easy to figure out why. Kyuuki nodded a bit, as she heard it was the other’s Lifewing. Kyuuki mentioned for Eira to pass along greetings as well, before the other Lifewing rider mentioned about southern folk settling down in Ice Stone. She thought about the question for a moment before speaking.
“I, uh, didn’t have that hard a time, actually. It was very cold, but I have always preferred the inside, so my habits didn’t change much. Only, um, I was learning such different stuff. I could wrap a bandage okay, but I was never trained for healing before. And I had to unlearn most of the dragon stuff.” Dragons were not Lifewings. “Oh, and I didn’t like Halk before.” She took a long sip. Oh good, it was still nice and hot. “But, well, most of the people who came up were excited to try out the cold. Or, um, a few had been here before. Not in the places we were going to explore, but they had gone with Nai or someone.” The former Ice Stone Weyrwoman was half legend by the time she became a candidate. The Whiterider was still a legend. “But not all.” It was such a long time ago that this place seemed so strange and new. Everyone was curious about the new but ancient place dragons called home. A long time ago, though.