The sky was quiet, unbroken by any sound or sight, and clouds skittered across the blue expanse, driven forwards by the winds. Rather abruptly, that was shattered, as a massive, silvery gray form broke into it, bugling, her voice hoarse from her more than sixty Turns of life. However, she was still strong and agile as she circled in the skies above the Weyr she used to call home, looking it over and noticing all the small changes, as well as the larger ones, before she began spiraling downwards towards the Bowl.
On her shoulders, two forms sat, though who they were was difficult to tell with the distance from those on the ground, but those who had known the great Queen would recognize her from her scar patterns and the way her hide glinted, if dully these days.
It wasn't a particularly cool day in the valley as during their dryer, winter months, but Kayleth had decided she was already snug in her weyr and didn't particularly feel like moving. Soon enough summer, long anticipated, would arrive. It would be a great season for the new weyrlings to learn and stretch their wings. She hadn't seen enough of the Weyr's new hatchlings, but most of that blame was on herself. Regrettably, more and more days she preferred to stay in and rest, entertaining the occasional visitor. Her quarters were not the grand rooms of the Senior Weyrwoman's as they had once been, but they were comfortable and quite a bit easier to keep tidy, as Kaya liked to point out.
It was shaping up to be another slow day when a bugle rang out above the Weyr. It held a note of leadership and strength, but was worn and not as loud as it ought to have been. Curious, the large Gold got herself up to investigate, as there was peacefully and blissfully little else exciting going on in the Weyr lately. She would take it over the chaos of her young days. Kayleth left the thoughts at that, not wishing to retrace them other than to linger on the memories of her weyrmate with bittersweet longing.
When she reached the ledge her wings fell open of their own accord. There in the sky was an unmistakable figure. They were sisters after all and both retired leaders of Pern. Aurorath, welcome. A warmth found its way into Kayleth's self and she decided to meet the Silver in the Bowl. Her wings lifted for the glide down and she made her way leisurely to the stone surface below.
As her claws clicked dully Kayleth reached out to her Rider's mind. Mine. We have guests. Come see Aurorath and her Mine.
The old Weyrwoman, who had just finished a small meal and some quiet conversation was more than happy to find her way down to the Weyr Bowl.
Aurorath rumbled softly as she saw the Golden Queen she knew so well, and on her shoulders, her Mine smiled, watching the older Queen. Her bonded continued circling, until she was able to settle, backwinging and alighting gently to the ground. Kayleth, it has been far too long sister, she replied, just as much warmth in her tone. She then looked to Kaya and rumbled softly to her as well. From her shoulders came a soft laugh, and her Own slid down, not as nimble as she used to be. Her once bright hair was snow-white, with only traces of its formerly fiery shade.
"Kaya! It's been far too long dear," she said, moving to embrace the other woman. She then motioned to the second form seated on her Silver's shoulders. "I've brought you a new Candidate."
Oh much too long. I regret there aren't any warmer places this 'tween time of Turn. Else I should suggest we take a vacation there at once. Kayleth chuckled at her own suggestion but did intend next winter to spend some time in a warmer area, perhaps the south and northern Ista if they weren't so inclined to keep to themselves on their island. But that was another matter.
"I know that laugh, I swear I do, but what's this face?" Kaya joked in greeting, returning Terayne's embrace. It was a feeling felt all around, but it was true. It had been far too long since the four of them had seen each other. "A new one, hm?" Kaya grinned, "Let's see." She looked to see not only the new girl but that her Gold had already noticed the Candidate sitting on Aurorath's back. Sizing her up already, love?
I shall do as I like, Kayleth replied in good fun, taking another good look at the girl and a sniff for good measure. You'll do. the Queen addressed the girl directly, meaning to get a playful rise out of her. Life was no fun keeping to oneself. She really ought to have more guests.
Adelia watched the greetings with a smile, knowing her great-grandmother was definitely enjoying this. She'd spoken constantly and quite fondly of the Goldrider, and she was eager to meet the woman. As Kayleth's nose came up to sniff her, she blinked, then chuckled, resisting the urge to stroke the beautiful nose. She knew, after all, that some riders were finicky about who they let touch their dragons.
"Oi, Kaya," Terayne replied, laughing softly once more. "I have missed you dear. I wish I could stay, but Waterfall Valley only released me long enough to bring you my Great Grand-daughter." She motioned the girl down, and Adelia leapt down, with all the ease of someone who'd been riding dragons for many a Turn. "This is Adelia. She's K'yne's Grand-daughter." She smiled fondly at the girl, and curled an arm around her shoulders to hug her. She then moved it as two small forms leapt into existence, chattering at the girl, one rich Blue and one a pale yellowish shade.
"May I present Sunlance Beam, and Blue Wave," Adelia said politely. "Guys, this is Kaya and her Bonded, Kayleth." The two fire lizards chirped and bowed respectfully to the Queen and Her's.
"Busy times at the Weyr? I guess you're right. They find something for us old folk to do, though I do wish they'd let you stay longer," Kaya lamented, wishing her friend could stay. There was a fond memory that touched her heart, the two of them stargazing and talking about life. It was that night Kaya had adopted Terayne into her heart as a sister. "You'll have to come by again, soon, hm?" Kaya quietly insisted. She would have time. It was time and not much else that she had these days.
Kaya backed up half a step when the fire lizards arrived. She figured if the girl loved flitts enough to put up with their antics she might get a kick out of meeting Sliki. He was an old and thoroughly greyed Blue, but a Blue all the same. She called him with a nudge of thought and a promise of a treat later. The large Blue arrived and took his place on Kaya's right shoulder as he did when called.
"You've got a large Blue, like me." Kaya mentioned, reaching up to move Sliki, or rather get him to move. She loved him but he was just too much for her shoulder now. "Sorry old boy. Shoulder's too old for that. Turns of your landing on it," Kaya insisted. "This is Sliki, and Terayne that's wonderful for K'yne. How big is your family now? I can't recall. Tyra still lives here with her Sunset but K'ryn moved after his Tiger caught a dragoness elsewhere and he has a couple kids and, before I knew it, they had kids too. Go figure. All the same, welcome to the Weyr family, Adelia. Glad to have you," the Weyrwoman grinned, a flash of her forever young spirit shining through. She knew more, that was true, but now she was more memory than person, as that was where she lived when the present world didn't require her. Perhaps with a new favorite Candidate to cheer on she might find a few new memories to make.
"But of course, my dear," Terayne replied, gently placing a hand on her shoulder and squeezing. She then looked to Sliki and smiled, watching the old Blue as he settled to his Mine's shoulder. "Hello Master Blue," she said lightly.
Adelia cocked her head slightly and eyed the Blue, then hummed softly. Her own Blue exited her shoulder and soared over to his aging counterpart, crooning a greeting to him, and Beam also voiced it, though she didn't move from her Own. "I do," she replied with a smile for the flit, then looked to Kaya once more, listening to her curiously.
Terayne smiled a little sadly, and shook her head. "K'yne was my only one. After his birth, we just couldn't get pregnant again. He has his daughter Nedella, who's a Greenrider, and her Weyrmate is a Brownrider. A very sweet man. She's his only child with his Sunlancerider, who we lost to illness about three Turns ago. All of us are at Waterfall Valley. But Addy expressed a desire to come here, so here she is." The SilverRider smiled more fully this time, more proudly, as she looked to the girl, then back to Kaya. "And I do hope she doesn't cause trouble for you."
"I bet it's nice to have family around," Kaya commented, trying to remember the last time she had visited K'ryn and his family. Too long, in all likelihood, was the answer to her question. "If Waterfall Valley needs you though I shouldn't keep you. Come another day though. You can meet the younguns that are becoming the new face for this Weyr. But more importantly, Adelia, we need to get you settled. The Candidates' Barracks shouldn't be too crowded - once the weyrlings move out, anyway - since Archith just had her hatching. Do you need anything first, dear?" Kaya asked and then pointed out where the Barracks were located.
"I Ought to give you a right proper tour, but I'm not sure if my hips are up for more than one set of stairs," Kaya laughed, hiding a small amount of bitterness. It wasn't easy getting old, but it was what happened to those who refused to give up younger. "I bet Tyra could do it if you asked her nicely. She's my girl. A good Sunset Rider. Tell me, when did you get your flitts?"
Both SilverRider and Candidate eyed the Goldrider with concern, and Terayne reluctantly nodded. "I do need to be getting back," she said quietly, then looked to Adelia. "BEHAVE, my girl. Or you know we will hear about it." The firm reprimand in her tone had the girl bowing her head obediently, though it quickly rose once more so she could follow Kaya's finger.
"Yes ma'am," she said in response to Terayne, then she looked to Kaya once more. "Well, when I was 7 I got Wave. Beam I just got about two or three Turns ago." She smiled at both of her beloved flitters, then looked to the Weyrwoman once more. "They're both from my Grandfather's Gold."
"I see that look," Kaya protested, giving a bit of a glare. "If anything, I should be worried about you, but I'm too old to worry about things any more. Let younguns be young and us elders be old. I earned this silver hair," the Weyrwoman insisted, trailing her aged fingers through the once golden strands of silver hair. "You're older than me anyway," Kaya scoffed, and moved to give her dear friend a hug goodbye. She wished Terayne could stay but she understood Weyr business.
"I've had Sliki since I was real little too. Let's see what else we have in common. You grew up in the Weyr and a Southern one at that, so, can you name all the colors?" Kaya asked with a grin on her face. It was a fun little test of hers to see what Candidates knew about the dragons they so admired. "I'll give you one. Gold."
Silver, Kayleth added to their conversation. It earned her a scorning glare from Kaya, all in good fun of course, but a glare nonetheless. What? She certainly already knew that one, the Gold insisted.
Let Adelia get the rest, Kaya finished, taking off at a good stride (for her age) toward the edge of the Hatching Grounds. The people had moved inside for a good feast and the shells were likely still on the sand. It was a kind of mystical sight, the remnants of great events. The onlooker would see what great happening must have just occurred, and yet the scene would be still and quiet. Perhaps it would be a hint toward the future for Adelia.
The Silver-Rider stuck her tongue out at Kaya immaturely, then smiled fondly and hugged her. "As have I darling," she said lightly, returning the embrace, then moving to lean back against her Silver and eyeing her Great-GrandDaughter for a moment. With a sigh she turned and remounted Aurorath, who reached over to nuzzle her older sister gently. It has been too long Kayleth. We must get together again soon, she said gently, then stepped back and flared her wings, leaping into the sky and circling upwards. Once she was high enough, she vanished into the darkness of Between.
Adelia watched a bit sadly as Terayne left, then turned to Kaya and cocked her head slightly, trotting after her. "Well, there's Bronze, Crimson, Rainbow, The Cursed Azure," here she hesitated, knowing that Kaya had had a few Azures live at her Weyr in the past through Terayne. She then drew a deep breath in and continued. "Abyss," here she shuddered, "Tiger, Brown," a smile touched her lips, "Iron, Blood, Cloud, Purple, Starlight, Sunset, Midnight, Jungle, Moonlight..." She trailed off as they reached the Hatching Grounds, looking around at the shells and cocking her head. "You guys just had a Hatching?" she asked curiously, looking up at the Goldrider.
(( Yes she forgot the Ice Stone hues. I did that on purpose. ))
Good bye, Aurorath. Clear skies to you, dear friend. Kayleth watched with a bit of sadness as her Silver friend left. She was so glad to have seen her, if only briefly. Perhaps she should have to summon her on official Weyr business so they could have more time to chat and relax.
Kaya listened with inner appreciation as Adelia traced over the colors. So many had a history rooted in her younger days, from the infamous Abyss to the little known fiasco with the first Sunset. From her tones for certain colors it also seemed that Adelia had some knowledge of Pernese history as well, always a bonus to know things before weyrling class.
"Yes, we did actually. Earlier today. Archith, the ruling Queen, had her first clutch and did us proud. Don't worry though. You're familiar with Weyr life. Another Hatching will come along soon enough. Though we currently only have one Queen - Archith - who isn't retired. Bylanath finished her Turns as a mother only a couple Turns ago and of course Kayleth isn't a spring youngster any more. We're actually looking to bring in some new blood. And if you look that way," Kaya pointed, "You'll see that entrance to the side of the Weyr Bowl. That leads to a cavern with the Candidate and Weyrling Master's offices and further back are the barracks, where you'll be staying."
She listened carefully, cocking her head and noticably absorbing the information. On her shoulders, her flits were also listening, though how much they understood was up for debate of course. When informed they were searching for a younger Queen, she went to open her mouth, then closed it again, worrying the lip. She didn't think her opinion would count for much, Terayne's kin or not. She was just another Candidate here, after all, no one special. And she didn't wish to be, if she was honest. She didn't wish to be treated special just because of her Great Grandmother.
When informed where she'd be living, she nodded, turning her head to follow the finger. She hadn't expected the Hatching to have JUST ended, but she had no qualms about waiting for the next one, whenever it might be.
"Come, come, you can ask me whatever you need," Kaya insisted with a smile when Adelia looked as if she tried to say something and then - it looked to her - didn't have the words for it. "Really, I've heard it all. Don't worry about upsetting me, or whatever it is. I'm too old to worry any more." Kaya continued as she walked into the entrance to the Barracks. She kept on until the Candidate Master's office but as she suspected, the woman was out, either working with the Weyrling Master to transfer over people, dragons and papers or rather, hopefully, enjoying themselves at the feast that should surely have started by now. Too bad Terayne couldn't have stayed for it.
"Candidate Mistress Moraiya seems to be out. I'm sure she won't mind my poking in her office," Kaya thought aloud as she walked into the room. It didn't take her long to find the record book she was looking for. It seemed that Moraiya was at the feast after all, otherwise she'd probably have the book with her to check out former Candidates-now-Weyrlings. "There were quite a few Impressions at Archith's Hatching," Kaya told Adelia, "Twenty six actually. So the Barracks will be pretty free. You can live by yourself if you want, and there should be rooms near the entrance and far from it, I would imagine. But since this isn't updated I can't check you in anywhere unless it was already empty. Is that okay, or would you rather wait, get some food, come later? I'm sure you'll find fine people and good food up in the Dining Hall still."
She shook her head slightly and just followed Kaya, waiting as she poked about. Why should the Candidate Mistress mind the retired Weyrwoman being there after all? Once she had finished speaking, the girl nodded and nuzzled Beam gently, since the Sunlance was rubbing against her cheek insistently. Wave was merely sitting quietly, and it was because of a slight mental nudge and an image from him that Adelia spoke what she'd considered saying earlier.
"With regards to your comment about looking for new blood... I... Well, one of my best friends has a young Gold for her Bonded. A beautiful little Queen who just finished her Weyrling Training and has yet to Fly... Aura wants away from Waterfall Valley... She keeps complaining she feels stifled... Although I don't know why. It's a beautiful place. Course she's used to open sea, so that might be part of it..." She worried her lower lip once she finished, looking down at her hands. She then shrugged. "But that's up to your Rilora of course."
She then continued. "I'm alright with just being here is all. Although I would like to meet some of my fellow Candidates eventually." She smiled shyly at the Goldrider.