Kit’s tail flipped back and forth as she rode on B’ow’s shoulder. The Pink was enjoying the ride, since the rider’s smooth walk didn’t attempt to disturb her from her perch. If it did, then her claws would have something to say about it, but for the time being it was pleasant. So she crooned softly as they traveled, just enough so he could feel her vibration on his shoulder. As for B’ow himself, he was more preoccupied with other things.
B’ow wasn’t exactly worried, but he wasn’t entirely sure about how things would go. His previous experience with Queenriders was getting shot down. Hopefully that would not be the case this time. He would try to find a way around refusal, by investigating other sources, but as it was, he would hope things went well. Hailreth remained in the Bowl, contemplating other projects, but was keeping a close eye on his rider. The Neon Purple expected things to work out. He always did.
Soon enough he found himself at a weyr he had not visited before. He held the notebook in his hand a little tighter, making sure he hadn’t dropped his writing utensil, before knocking on the door of the former Weyrwoman’s door. Kaya had been the Senior Weyrwoman a long time ago, rather, at the time he was most interested in knowing about. He did not know the reaction he would get for bringing up the past, but he was intent on it being to help, not to rile people up.
It was an old Blue firelizard that heard the door. Sliki picked up his head and blinked slowly. He stretched and slipped down from the elderly woman's lap. He fluttered over to the door, landing with an odd hunch in his back hips. He scratched at the door from the other side. People. He chirped and looked back at the sleeping human in the chair. It was about this time Kayleth felt Sliki's stirring interest. Door. Hm.
KayaMine, wake up. the Gold nudged softly. We have a visitor.
It took moment, but Kaya felt herself being drawn towards waking by Kayleth's voice. Visitor. She breathed in deeply and noticed that her lap was empty. She shifted the blanket and tried to sit up a bit in the chair. Invite them in please, she asked.
Come in, Kayleth directed at the mind at the door. She didn't recognize it. Not family then, they would have known to ask Kayleth directly. All the same, Kayleth thought visitors did her Rider some good. She should have more company than the women that brought food and helped her into that chair. Don't fuss over me so, Kaya protested. Ah, but I must.
The short rider was a bit surprised when his knock was responded not with a voice, but rather with a mind touching his. Not the excitable Purple voice he was used to, but one that he could only assume belonged to a Gold dragon. He looked at the door, and tried the knob, finding it unlocked. By habit he opened it as quietly as was possible, and more slipped inside then entered properly. Old habits. He found that Kit was watching an older Blue firelizard intently, which was just on the other side of the door, but largely ignored that. Kit was at her best when she didn’t think you were looking. Didn’t mean you ignored her entirely though, just in case. Besides, he had more important things to pay attention to.
He stood up a little straighter when he saw the elderly rider sitting in her chair. Didn’t make him much taller, but it could help. It wasn’t really the point either. It was more the natural tendency to stay in line.
“Good morning. I hope I am not intruding.” He shifted the notebook in his hand so that it took up both of his hands. Better that they were both occupied. Best keep on then, he didn’t want to just be the ‘strange boy’ for too long. “I am B’ow, of Purple Hailreth.”He didn’t say as much, but Hailreth’s mood reflected the message of ‘That you are.’ Purples.
"Morning," Kaya replied, watching the short young man fidget. She noticed he was holding something to write with, wondering what that could be about. She took a deep breath to reply, the tiredness of sitting quietly in her chair still hanging on. She introduced herself, for politeness' sake. "Kaya, of Gold Kayleth, as you know. What can this old woman do for you, B'ow?"
Well, he couldn’t procrastinate any longer. Best get to the point early. He wasn’t particularly good at shooting the breeze to stall in any event. He did however briefly preface his request.
“I have been researching the history on a particular color, and wanted some more firsthand knowledge. If you would not mind, is it possible that I ask you what you remember about Tundra and Azure Atraiyith?” He had some information but no one really felt like noting in the history books what people were like or anything. So far, he didn’t know who else had known her, that was still at Rainbow Mists. This was a good place to start.
My, that was a long time ago, the Azure. Wasn't there a second one floating around now? She thought so. Two Azures, in her lifetime. Well. Kaya looked up from her thoughts and collected herself. "Those're some old tales. What I remember? Oh. Well, s'long story if I can remember it all. You should take a seat," Kaya said, feeling a bit more awake. Still, she was tired. She could feel Kayleth encouraging her to engage with the visitor. You remember I have more than a decade on you... Kaya reminded the insistent Gold.
Yes, Love, I remember. When we met. Nice day, that. Kayleth let the memory drift. So many days gone by, people and dragons she wanted to see again. She left the sad longing to wind down the old stories with the emotions that belonged to that time, instead of now.
"So you want to know about Tundra? Faranth, it's been a long, long time. No one expected an Azure, especially not out of a White. And then she grew to be so large. Tundra was a doting girl, in these old thoughts. With that dragonet all the time. Can't blame her, with people whispering. I wasn't sure what to believe. I was a Hall child, I didn't know old dragon lore. And then when things started happening, well, who was I to say? Maybe the curse is real," Kaya started. She hoped B'ow would have his own questions. Easier that way.
B’ow nodded and took a seat, letting the Goldrider get her bearings. He had gotten far enough already, what with her having agreed to tell him what she remembered. It took her a moment to organize her thought, which was to be expected. When she began to talk, his notebook flipped open, and he made a few notes. Nothing major, but anything new he found would be put in. Kit shifted shoulders, settling on the one that didn’t correspond to his writing hand.
“I havn’t heard much about that hatching. Did anything particularly notable occur? Perhaps something that might not be construed as interesting in the light of a Queen hatching?” It wasn’t such a strange question to ask, he didn’t know what he was looking for after all. He theories and counter theories, but remained sure that there was no such thing as a curse of the Azures. He tried to note everything though, just in case. It was only fair.
“During their weyrlinghood, did they receive training from anyone special? Did anyone target them or was it mostly dirty looks?” He had to keep his questions in order, for his own sake. Hopefully that would be helpful to Kaya as well.
"Notable?" Kaya repeated, turning over the question. What was notable about the Azure's Hatching? It seemed almost a silly question, given how everyone knew about it. That made it notable. "Well...let's see," Kaya thought. "Could you help me up, actually? I've been sitting all morning and I know I'm stiff but a shuffle about might help jog my memory," Kaya requested, waiting for the young man to help her up. She had something nagging at her mind. There was so much to this tale. She could give him a story worth retelling.
With help, she was lifted up from her chair. Her hip smarted, but she felt a rebellious enjoyment leaving the chair. She rubbed at her sore hip and shuffled towards the way to the overlook of the valley. "I got this old letter once," she said as she came up on the view. "Nai was scouting time for us, all hush hush, that. Trying to figure out the 'Wings. Sent me a letter with her reports. Said she saw me in my young Turns, back when I'd first met T'ren. I hadn't been weighed on by the Weyr yet. Before the War, before the DeathWings. I was just a silly girl in love."
"Y'know...there were other things about Raith's Hatching. That White, that was her name. She was the Weyrling Mistress's dragon. I think her name was Kori, something like that. She was a working friend of mine. Life's dream to have a clutch, the two of them. So I allowed it for them. Back in that time it was very rare for a dragon that wasn't a Queen to Clutch. It was occasionally done, Sakura told me once. Usually for specially chosen folks, close friends of the leadership, outstanding acts of service, important relatives, something like that. Sometimes they'd reward them, see that their dragon's first Flight resulted in a clutch. I liked Kori and she was a good Weyrling Master... so I granted it her. Caught by a Bronze. Faranth, I don't believe in fate. I think we make our own paths. But if I had known... That Hatching. No one thought a White could have more than an egg or two. She showed us. She had six. The Azure one of them. And, I was talking about the War, thought o' this, Deikoeth was shelled from that one too. Poor, warped mind. I hated him. He's so long gone I just have sadness left. That weyrling was targeted, to answer your question, I think. He was taken by another Crimson Rider, brute who wanted power and defected when he didn't get it. Stole two of my weyrlings. And thousands lost their lives for it."
"I can't recall anyone taking particular attention to Tundra. She wasn't the kind of figure that stood out too much to folks. Common and important as water, that girl. Vanished one day. I didn't see her again until many Turns later..."
"Ya got more of 'em questions?" Kaya asked, tending her hip again. "Actually, if you don't mind, bring those chairs out here. It's a nice day, good view. ...actually, bringing my chair's an order. Bring yours if you like, youngin'," she amended with a grin.
B’ow rose at the rider’s prompting, helping her get up. He followed quietly, letting her go to look out at the Weyr. She spoke more, commenting about the time from when the hatching was from. He noted it down, for more context. He jotted down notes as she spoke, finding himself intensely interested in the goings on. Sure, not all of it would be relevant, but he would figure that out later. He circled the dragon’s name, the Crimson, before continuing his notes.
He paused when she made the comment about Tundra and water. Interesting. He noted the comparison, before getting a request turned command. He looked up at the rider and found a little smile on his face. As logical and straight faced B’ow was, he didn’t use logic when he decided he liked people. He was just sure he was. In this case, he was pretty sure he liked Kaya a lot.
“Yes, Ma’am.” Smile still on his face he closed his notes before returning with a chair for Kaya, followed by one for himself. As he returned with the second chair he spoke again. “It was a long time until you saw her again, was there anything different about her dragon? Aside possible growth.” Curious question, but might as well ask. He opened his notebook again, flipping to the right spot with the aid of his writing utensil doubling as a bookmark.
“She had a clutch, as I remember, was there anything notable about it? Or of the flight preceding?” Careful, couldn’t get too caught up in the moment and jump to the interesting bits. Had to go chronologically. He was leading up to the big part, the point he was really curious about. Of course it was the biggest part, it was half the reason he was transferring.
Kaya nodded in thanks and took a seat in the retrieved chair. Could use a new cushion. She'd ask one of the ladies when they came later that day. Sliki flittered over and climbed up into her lap. The old Weyrwoman smiled and put a hand on the Blue firelizard. About then B'ow returned with the second chair and started with the questions again.
"Huh. You got yourself some interesting questions, Rider B'ow. I 'spose I can only hope to answer them well. We got the weyrlings back, you may have read in the histories they were kidnapped. I suppose it is notable, though probably in your books, that Tundra and Atraiyith were taken first. Then the others started disappearing. Never really found out what that loony wanted. Weyrfolk, some of 'em anyway, blamed it on the curse. We didn't have any more accidents like that one for a long time. There was one here several months ago, right? We got 'em back though. Always do. Anyhow, our Azure finished growing up here. I worked to train her in Weyrwoman's duties but she was never all that interested in them. Wanted to go work with the common people, she said. Strange aspiration, but Azures and their Riders will be as they are, I suppose. Perhaps since there was so little tradition about them, they dreamed of doing something different. Atraiyith Clutched, it was a difficult Hatching. Several dragonets died, some of them not like ones we'd seen before. A discolored Pink, she ended up sickly and died in weyrling training. Sad thing that. And some sort of red hued black, so much rage in that young thing. Died on the sands. We got some good Riders from the bunch, a sturdy Bronze Rider that took after the clutch sire. But we had one Rider from them that was troubled. Spent a lot of time in the hills. Eventually put himself together enough, and having worked through so much in life he took over the weyrlings for a handful of Turns. He had an unusual assistant. Just a Candidate-turned-Weyrfolk woman who never Impressed. I don't remember anything about the Flight that lead to the Hatching. Atraiyith didn't want many more children after that, it was a hard day for her as well. It was her decision to Chew, and Faranth it was hard to see her struggle though that. She still laid a couple eggs now and again, mostly duds, but we'd hide them in with other clutches, since the two were free spirits who weren't sticking around to tend what was probably dead. A couple of them may have hatched but it's not well documented."
Kaya turned the memories over. There were a lot of them, it turned out. It just took someone asking after them. She felt a sort of bittersweet loss for the persons and Riders of her past, but she had her children and they had grown up well. She had things to be thankful for. She watched B'ow's pencil wag. She waited for it to stop before she asked, "Can I ask why this interests you today?" She had her own curiosities, though she expected a fairly generic answer she asked anyway.
B’ow listened with renewed interest as Kaya went on about a time long before he was born. It was curious, the previous Azure pair seemed to have been a nexus of interest, but he didn’t quite get why people seemed to up and decide she was the cause of it. It seemed like it all went back to the silly curse idea. He had time to investigate further. Still, it was interesting, as a weyrbrat, he didn’t always think about how a hatching affected so many. But it really did. Before, he just wanted it to change him, get him a dragon. It was something to consider.
When he finished he was about to proceed his methodical questioning when she asked him a question. Oh. He supposed it did seem odd that he might just arrive out of nowhere and start asking questions like this. At least, to those who didn’t know how he had come to this point. He didn’t make a habit of keeping it a secret, he just wasn’t forward with it. So he neatly closed his notebook and spoke.
“I was raised here, trained as a dragonhealer before impressing Hailreth. Still want to pursue the craft. Hailreth impressed me right before Zabrielth hatched. I’d heard about curses and the like, but I was never satisfied with it. I like facts. I also like knowing everything I can about dragons. What I don’t like, is for people to form opinions without thinking it through.” Hailreth brushed his mind, the optimistic Purple controlling the forceful opinion that was surfacing. B’ow kept things professional. “So, my goal is to present something that gets people to think about why they believe what they do. Because once people start to really think, well, I think the real power of the ‘curse’ will be weakened.” It was fear. It was always fear. But once they actually thought about it, magic giving way to logic, that would change things. And that was what he really wanted.
“That, and I intend to transfer to Waterfall Valley Weyr to continue my research. It would make speaking to you a great deal more complicated.” He gave a small smile. He intended to get lost in old documents for a long time. Insomnia and a wired dragon meant that spending late nights with old dusty tomes was a fair way for his time to be spent.
"Ah, I see," Kaya acknowledged the end of his explanation. "Pern needs those who seek to create acceptance. I wish you luck with your task. If there's more I can do for your research, please do feel free to come visit me here again. I don't get too many visitors besides my family, and they only come so often. My oldest is practically retired but she's a fiery one. She does best with short visits. Ah, but anyhow, please do come visit as often as you like. It's no matter for my schedule. I haven't one, really," Kaya shifted in the seat.
"I do hope you like Waterfall Valley. It's gotten a little quieter there but you'll still find southern openness. Ask after Iriala when you're there, if she's still around. She was a flitt egg trader in her youth, on all sides of the War. Well traveled. Who knows. Maybe she can help you. If not she's a good ol' soul who could use a conversation with a new face from elsewhere. Ah, you got any more questions? Or have I satisfied the ones you've found so far?"
B’ow hadn’t really thought about it in that light before, but he supposed that the older woman was right about the acceptance bit. He thought of things much more in terms of facts, Hailreth was the one all full of thought of people and fun. As she continued though, he couldn’t help but let the small smile sneak back onto his face.
“I would like that very much. Once I have settled in, I shall come back to report back, so to speak.” He was somewhat comforted by the description of the Weyr he was going to, and noted the name with a quick jot in his notebook. He looked back up when she asked if he had any additional queries.
“I had one more thing to ask. Do you know where they might be now?” Common line was ‘disappeared’. How maddeningly unhelpful. “Or just any ideas would be fine.” Better than any theory he could come up with.
Kaya was hopeful that B'ow would make good on his offer to come back and see her again. She was curious about his work, yes, but more than anything she just wanted the company.
"Now?" she repeated. "B'ow, dear, Atraiyith was born about seventy Turns ago. The last time I saw them was at least a decade ago...they stopped checking in so often once Atraiyith stopped laying the occasional egg, and that was long before. So I'm sorry to say, but I suspect they died some time ago. I'm to turn eighty nine soon enough. Tundra was only just younger than me, and we don't all live to be quite so old," Kaya explained, her mind caught between her luck to still be kicking around and the loss of so many she had known. "Sorry, lad."
B’ow shook his head. “Don’t apologize. It’s rather helpful.” He noted it down that a decade back was the last time anyone (that he knew of) had seen the pair. It was all relevant. He was aware that he could keep a sort of professional distance from it all, they were born far before he was and he could count the people who actually knew them on one hand. The idea that they were probably dead was an interesting one, since a central aspect of the curse was about the rider getting murdered. However, it obviously hadn’t happened at any Weyr or major Hold. Being able to point out what hadn’t happened would have been nice, but so far he was still following weird leads.
“That was all I had to ask. Thanks for your time, Kaya. I appreciate it.” His notebook was closed and his writing utensil was likewise put away. With his right hand free he held it out for the Goldrider, with an optimistic smile. Possibly the most enthusiastic one he had on in a long while. “It was a pleasure to meet you.”