Who

Veresch, Onari

What

Veresch drops off a Hatching invitation for the Reika, then invites Onari to the Galleries to look at the eggs.

When

It is the afternoon of the twenty-eighth day of the fifth month of the first Turn of the 12th Pass.

Where

Caravan Grounds, Galleries; Igen Weyr

OOC Date

 

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Caravan Grounds

Deep grooves in the hard packed earth criss-cross a large patch of denuded ground, bearing mute testament to the caravans that frequent this area. Despite the midden holes set back a ways from the main center of traffic, the air is sweet, redolent with the sagebrush that forms a loose perimeter around the flattened expanse. In what is as close to its center as the vague boundaries suggest, a stone ringed fire pit has been dug and surrounded with the odd log or two, ash overflowing from its darkly blackened core.


Given that Tuli's schedule of delivering invitations to the Hatching has seen her all over Pern the last few days, is it any surprise that there was bound to be a few more on the home front as well? The galleries are going to be packed. The messenger delivering these, Veresch, is looking slightly (thoroughly!) tired as she strides into the Caravan Grounds with the last of the dispatches, dressed in attire that's definitely not Newtimer, but not quite Oldtimer either: long-sleeved, modest blouse and a pair of wherhide pants with a separable skirt over them, rather like a wrap, and sturdy boots against the mud. It's flapping and floating in the pre-storm winds, and she bends her body into it a little more.

Pre-storm winds notwithstanding, the Caravan Grounds are alive with activity today - particularly around the rustic wagons of the Reika caravan. The deep, rolling laughter of the wagonmaster (not his bellowing, today!) can be heard from some unseen spot around the bend, while the clanging of a farrier's hammer invites any in need of runnershoes and tack to draw near and inspect his work. A weaponsmith haggles jovially with a dubious-looking cluster of young men from the window of one wagon, and nearby, tying a beautiful black colt with white feathering over his hindquarters, is Onari. The brown-eyed trader girl looks like she's just returned from somewhere and could probably pass for related to Veresch, judging by what she's wearing; it's practically identical! Onari cracks a wide grin at the greeting of a familiar customer, then turns to pay attention to a slightly more harried man who seems to have been the target of her father's temper earlier in the day. She listens patiently, used to such things. When the Reika need a diplomat, it's either her or her mother they turn to…

And it's to Onari that Veresch turns, though she has to fight the wind to do so: in the visual absence of the girl's father it's the easiest option. She makes for the young woman through the busy life of the Caravan camp, and pauses only here and there to hold out a hand in greeting, or nod to faces that she doesn't know all that well. When she finally manages to get in behind the colt she's tousled and windblown, in need of a minute to tug everything straight, smooth the pertinent bits down and nose-wrinkle at her boots. "Good afternoon," she greets afterwards; whilst she's likely met Onari a time or two before, this is the first meeting in any real sense. "I trust your family is well, Onari, and the rest of the Caravan? I've an invitation here for your father — is he available to give it to, or can I just hand it over to you? It's to the Hatching, Weyrwoman's orders." There's a slight pause. "Weyrwoman Tuli's orders."

Gola - Onari's colt who is now apparently serving as a windbreak - turns his head and whickers curiously at the newcomer hiding beside him while Onari finishes her assurances to the man who'd approached her. That done, it's Veresch's voice that draws her attention now, and she turns to find herself eye to eye with the younger girl - a fact which seems to surprise her a little bit. "Good afternoon, Veresch," she returns with a smile, trying to tuck some stray hair back behind her ear before it drives her to distraction in the wind. "We are, thank you - all of us! And I can take it. Father's busy talking up the head of Wherz somewhere over there…" She flaps a hand in the direction of the laughter, ends up spitting that same errant bit of hair out of her mouth as the wind yanks it free again, and casts an appraising eye over the messenger. "Would you like to come out of the wind for a bit?" she asks, gesturing to the wagon door. "You look like you've been out and about as much as I have today."

Veresch, on the verge of producing the invitation, nods to the verbal one, abject gratitude in the tired lines of her face. "I'm feeling a little tired," she manages. It's possible that Tuli hit on the correct method of keeping her out of trouble - keep her so busy that she can't think sideways, let alone get into devious places. "If you have some klah in there, or tea, I will personally fall to my knees, hug yours and proclaim my everlasting loyalty." She winces as a particularly strong wind tugs and whips her hair into her face, and not even Gola's admittedly pretty lines can distract her from the thought of some peace and solitude. "Lemos, Tillek, sown South to catch those I didn't catch yesterday — my backside is starting to turn numb indeed, despite the dragons doing most of the work." Perhaps it's the effort of being so polite and respectful all the time.

"Oh, that won't be necessary," Onari laughs as she leads Veresch into the big wagon, pressing herself up against some drawers just inside so that the younger girl can pass and she can shut the door. "Sorry for the mess…shardit. Kal!" That's called out the window, and when a low tenor answers with a petulant "What?", the brown-haired trader takes a moment to harangue him for leaving dishes all over the place again and then turns to Veresch with an apologetic sigh, rolling her eyes in exasperation as she gathers the offending items and drops them in a basin. "Have a seat," she says, gesturing Veresch at a comfortable-looking bench along the left wall of the wagon as she bustles over to a tiny cooking nook and pours a mug of klah for her visitor. "Faranth, that is quite a bit of work!" she pronounces, the tapering slant of her eyebrows dancing upwards. "Is that who has you running all over the place? The weyrwoman?" she asks, eyes flicking to Veresch's knot - something looking a bit more complicated than she remembers the girl having the last time she saw her.

The knot. Yes. Worn for official work - which this very much is - Veresch still treats it like an embarrassing set of boobs, something to be hunched over. Squeezing past Onari, she manages to get to the bench after a quick peek out the window. "He still a pain in the backside?" she asks quietly. With a quick movement, she has her boots off and curls up in the corner, giving a sigh of bliss as, for a moment, she's out of the winds, out of the public eye and definitely out of work-mode. "I had to deliver a stack as tall as my arm. I never knew there were so many people that ranked being invited to the Hatching." Her eyes open, tired hazel, and she summons up a smile for Onari. "And you? Been out all day wrestling fractious animals, two-legged and four?"

Onari simply grins as she pours herself some klah and then turns to find a seat not far from Veresch, handing the other girl the steaming drink before getting off her own feet. "Brothers are always a pain in the backside," she says within the framework of a chuckle. "As for the Hatching, I know Father will have us there, of course. I can't wait; I don't get many chances to go into the Weyr proper." Earnestly stated, that, before she blows at her klah and takes a tentative sip. "Mostly the two-legged, today," she replies with a nod. "I helped Mother with a couple of drays, but otherwise, I was out trading at the River Hold most of the morning." Leaning back and raising her hand to free her hair of the runnertail it's been bound up in all day, she gives Veresch an eagerly curious glance. "So if you're running errands for the weyrwoman, you must be in the Weyr a good deal. Have you gotten to know many riders?"

Veresch cups the mug in her hands, closes her eyes to enjoy the rising steam coming from it. Her words are carefully chosen, a new facet of her life she's still uncomfortable with. "I know quite a few riders. I grew up in a Weyr, in Ista-that-was, so there's no escaping them at times." Hazel eyes peek at Onari. "There's no reason for you not to come over to the Weyr side, you know. I can show you around a little bit. Right now - if you don't mind the wind, that is - we could probably sneak in to get a last peek at the eggs? Have you ever seen dragon eggs before? They're very vivid." One sip, then two, and a long sigh. "There are a few very nice ones — riders, not eggs. There are a few you have to watch out for as well, but they're not that bad. Nor are the rest of the Oldtimers."

Onari nods thoughtfully. Life in a Weyr, life on the road: two very different things, as she's come to learn. Having to stay Igen for the past Turn or so has certainly driven the point home! Her nod quickens somewhat at Veresch's initial point. "Oh, I know. I think a lot of us are just, you know, a little cautious about venturing over there because of…why we're here. And the dragons… They're incredible, but I still feel like I'm getting used to them. But I'd love to go around with you sometime." The suggestion about visiting the Galleries has her eyes shining with the prospect, as if she might be breaking a minor rule by doing so. "I don't think the wind can get to me much more today," she surmises, a bit wide-eyed. "I saw the clutch before this one, just for a few moments. They were very colorful - what I remember of them, anyway. I…wouldn't mind seeing these ones!" It's not as if she has any other obligations today!

Whether there are eggs or not, Veresch is not going to rush the first cup of klah she's had all day. She sips slowly, thoughtful at the wonderful brew, and hides a puckish smile behind the rim. "Some of them are really frightening," she explains at length. "And some really nice, and some really standoffish, just like other people." Dragons, presumably; not quite people, but definite personalities. "It's just … to tell you the truth, it would be nice to show someone around there. Sometimes I wish that everyone would forget about bazaarfolk and weyrfolk and traderfolk, and just be folk all together. It's kind of this silly idea I have." Finishing the mug of klah at length, she stands and stamps into her boots again, and puts the mug with the rest of the dirty dishes. "I'm kind of curious to see how much they've grown as well. C'mon!" Excitement renewed, there she goes.

"Just like people," Onari echoes pensively on the matter of the dragons, sipping in kind at her own klah before she's smiling wildly at Veresch's next. "So very, very silly," she teases lightly with a shake of her head. "What will you think of next, Veresch?" At the younger girl's rising, she watches curiously before setting aside her own mug, whipping her hair back up onto her head, and snatching up an oilskin - because who knows when it might start raining these days? "Oh! Alright!" With that, she follows Veresch out of the wagon and toward the Hatching Cavern, excitement touched with a bit of nerves glinting in her eyes.


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Galleries
Though occasionally cleaned by ambitious (or neurotic) drudges or weyrbrats being disciplined, the lack of Eggs over the last several Turns has led to the Galleries falling into a state of disrepair. Sand can be found…well, everywhere. On the benches, under the benches, on the railings and walkways. There is also the random tidbit leftover from people who've wandered into the gathering place since the last cleaning. A random bit of cloth here, a bit of something that might have been a carving-in-progress once there.



It probably starts to drip at least a little as the two girls rush through the bowl towards the Hatching Cavern, and nearly one trip from trying to run with a flappy leather skirt, at least in Veresch's case. Once they arrive inside the tunnel, then scoot up to the Galleries, she unties the skirt with a wrinkle of her nose and pounds up to the first row of seats with a grind of sandy grit underneath her boots. "Come on, this way," she whispers excitedly to her partner-in-curiosity, and skitters to a halt at the prime seats. There, bowing low to the clutchmom, she plonks down on her rear and reaches to beckon Onari close. "Look!" she gets out, face shining with excitement. "They've gotten so hard — aren't they weirdly gorgeous?"

Onari's skirt isn't leather, but it is of a heavy cloth made for rough work, and something she's used to running in. Breathless as she reaches the Cavern entrance right on Veresch's heels, she's grinning with the prospect of what she's about to see - but it's the sight of the gigantic queen, Elicheritath, and the smaller but still-looming bronze Sekhaenkath, that has her eyes going round, rather than the eggs just yet. Mouth slightly agape, she soundlessly follows the younger girl, eyes on the dragons the entire time until she spots Veresch bowing. Haltingly, she does the same, and then the eggs register as she drops down beside the other girl. She just nods emphatically at first, surveying the strange sea of many-hued ovoids. "They are," she breathes. "There're so many…" Trailing off, she flicks her eyes up at Elicheritath again. "I've never been this close to a queen before. Or a bronze. They're so…so…" Incredible! More than this trader ever thought she'd get to see in her lifetime.

Veresch grins sideways, stares back at the eggs and spreads her hands around the rim of the steps she's on, clutching it to contain her glee. "D'you remember that feeling you get when you've ridden one of those huge work-runners for the first time, and you're not sure how you're ever going to get your legs to close again?" she mutters with a snicker. "I mean, I'm sure you can imagine what it's like." Focused, her eyes glance over the two dragons, and she jerks her chin towards them. "I'm sure the gossip's made it to the caravans so far, but Sekhaenkath's from Southern — it caused a bit of a ruckus. But forty eggs! That's really respectable. Anyway, his rider?" She bumps Onari with her shoulder. "Really, really pretty, but I think Igen happened to him a little. Or Tuli happened. But whatever happened, it happened well enough for there to be a gold egg, although I think Elicheritath might be protecting it again?" She squints down at the sands to see if she can get a glimpse of it.

Onari blinks a bit at that initial aside from Veresch, nonplussed. "I…do, yes," she answers, smirking in spite of her bemusement. "I've had to ride them plenty of times. Why?" The question gets glossed over in favor of a nod with regard to knowing where the clutchfather is from, and then her shoulder's being bumped and an opinion about a man being given, and the brunette trader grins impishly. "Oh? Igen 'happening' to someone can work out alright." Or not! "You'll have to point him out to me sometime!" Then she's looking out at the Sands herself to see if Veresch is right about the queen egg being protected. "I'm so happy there's a queen this time," she says, still watching. "With all the girls being allowed to Stand, she's got so many to choose from… I wonder if it's hard for the baby dragons, choosing who to be with for the rest of their lives. Or maybe they know exactly who they're looking for, from when the Candidates are allowed to touch the eggs."

"Imagine for a moment, if you will," Veresch invites, "what it'd be like to spread your legs around a neck that size. I walked funny the first time I did it." With that tantalizing bit of info out there, she taps her fingertips against the stair, frowning down at the sands. "I will. I offered to show him around a bit, but I think he's going to skip out on that in favour of drinking and more women's underwear to stick into his pocket." There's a brief, irritated twist of her mouth at that, and she shoots Onari a sideways glance. The enthusiasm mellows her, turns her thoughtful. "I don't know," she finally says. "I really can't imagine it. Everyone wants that, right? Someone that cares for them first in the world? I hope… I hope they're all very lucky." Her gaze returns to the sand and the non-present glimmer of gold, expression blanking to contain her thoughts. "Girls on the sand… she can only choose one, so there'll be plenty for the other chromatics to choose from as well." There's a slight pause. "Do you think that's wrong?"

The trader girl imagines for a moment alright, though her consideration of what that might do to someone unused to such a thing isn't as pronounced as it might be if she weren't so used to riding already. "It would be a stretch," she agrees, "though if someone is used to riding before Impressing, I imagine it'd be easier. Still, it must be a lot like your first time on runnerback. Just ten times worse!" At Onari's pronouncement about the clutchfather's rider, her lips take a somewhat chagrined slant downward. "Oh. One of those sorts, aye?" she observes with a headshake. Unfortunate. Veresch's last observations make Onari quiet again as she returns her gaze to the queen…until the last question, which has her blinking over at the younger girl. "I guess I'd never really thought about it," she confesses. "We always assumed women couldn't Impress fighting dragons, except we'd hear tell of it happening anyway. Then the Oldtimers came forward with so many women riders already, and more are allowed to Stand here…and the dragons choose them. I can't very well believe it's wrong if it's the dragon's choice, now can I?" She shrugs, smiling lopsidedly. "It's still a thought that takes some getting used to…but it doesn't feel wrong. The women riders here are every bit as good as the men, from what I've heard."

"I know some really great female riders on chromatics," Veresch murmurs, eyes still on the eggs. "Some of the best people ever, you know? There's even one that's a wingleader. And then there are others that aren't so much in love with it." Her arms lift to brace on her thighs as she leans forward. "So, there's this game that the Weyr plays every time there's a clutch, and there's huge betting on the outcome of it. See, the thing is you have to guess what's going to come from which egg. If it's the gold egg, it switches to who's going to impress the gold. There are even people that bet on who's going to Impress and who not. You can't always go by egg sizes, I think; I can't remember the last one too well, but I think there were some pretty surprising matches. So! Which ones are your favourites so far, and what do you think is going to hatch from them?"

Onari nods, leaning forward to match Veresch's posture without realizing it. "I've heard about her - the wingleader for…the Arroyo wing, isn't it? Who would have thought? Though I suppose if it was going to happen sometime, it would happen here." Her tone isn't disapproving in the least, just thoughtful. Her smile slowly widens as Veresch explains the game, and she giggles a little as she looks out at the eggs, considering the other girl's question. "I don't know how well I'd do at that game. Finn won a few marks at the last Hatching, though. Kalfor sulked for almost a whole seven afterward. Hmmm…" Eventually, she points at a very red egg in the midst of the lot. "That one sure stands out. It's so odd for there to be red when there aren't any red dragons. Except some browns and bronzes look a bit reddish, don't they? Maybe a brown from that one. And maybe a green from that one?" She points at another one - shiny green, but splashed with orange, blue, purple, and red. "That would be too predictable, though. I'd bet on a blue." She shrugs and glances back at Onari with a grin. "Which ones do you like?"



Veresch nods once, grin widening. "That's her. Trek. She's really, really nice if you ever meet her. But then there are female riders like Zeyta. Her you've got to watch out for if you can't take absolute honesty, because she'll stab it in right underneath your ribs and then laugh as you wilt from the burden." From the smile that grows, ever so slightly fond, she has no problem with it. "For my money though, Kyara's the best. She's the one teaching me self-defense and fitness and… and stuff, you know? She's the only woman I'd wager for in a knock-down, drag-out fight with any of the male riders. She's good." Perhaps just a twee bit hero-worship there. Alerted to the game again, she settles in for a good stare. "Hmmmm." Srs bsns, this! "That one there." She points to an egg that looks like a starry night's sky, then one with a texture like desert. "Those two," she notes happily. "I'm guessing… a blue from the first, and a bronze from the second one."


With a sotto-voce "ah", Onari interlaces her fingers, tapping a few on the backs of her hands. "Remember to watch out for a rider named Zeyta. Got it." At the mention of Kyara, the trader's eyebrows raise. "I know Kyara," she notes quietly. "She was one of the riders who found Father…and she helped escort us, when we got bound here." Some bitterness creeps into her tone - not for anyone in particular, but because of the memory in general. "She does seem like a good sort; I can say that much. She comes and checks on us every now and again. I've yet to actually speak with her, though." Then it's back to the more enjoyable topic of eggs, and she tilts her head a bit as she peers at the subjects of Veresch's guesses. "I can see that happening," she concedes with another small smile. "Maybe you'll be right about the sandy one, and it'll hatch first! They look like they could start in any moment now."

It's not a story that Veresch has ever heard in detail; from the way her expression changes the bits and pieces are fascinating, but almost unexpected. She considers Onari carefully, then reaches out an arm to wrap around the girl's shoulders for a few moments in an attempt to give some support. "It's not so bad here," she murmurs, hug tight for all its one-armed stretch. Her arm drapes for just a second before she's pulling back again. "I hope so. It'd be the first time I predicted anything correctly." Except angst, but that's an inborn teenaged gift. "I like that one over there as well, look, the green one that looks slightly cracked… and look at that black egg! I wish I could get a bit closer, it looks like there's something juuuuust out of view on it, or it could be the heatwaves as well, I suppose."


The hug is a little surprising, but Onari accepts it with a grateful smile, going so far as to lean into it a little bit before she sits up a little straighter. "I know. It isn't at all what I expected. Being able to trade in the Bazaar has done some very good things for us, and I really like the color of the place; it's grown on me, after spending a Turn around it. It's just this part," she says, gesturing around at the Cavern to represent the Weyr proper, "that I'm not completely used to yet. But I hope to be soon!" She takes a look at the next few eggs Veresch brings her attention to, then gestures to a couple more that catch her own eye. "Look at that little silvery one," she says, pointing to one set slightly apart from all the rest. "I wonder why it's sitting almost by itself. And that one almost looks…cold, somehow." That said of a rough-looking green egg etched with what resembles early winter frost before Onari pauses at a deep, rolling rumble that echoes in through the entry. "Sounds like the storm's here," she observes, the subtle scent of dampened earth reaching her nose. She sniffs quietly. "And it's raining. Well…I guess we can just stay here for a while, if it isn't a bother?" To the dragons? The few others occupying the Galleries? Both? "Or maybe we should try to get back to wherever we ought to be before it gets too muddy." She shrugs; it's really a matter of getting wet now or later, and she doesn't have a preference.


"You'll get to know it," Veresch mutters distantly as she stares at the eggs pointed out. "Hopefully you'll come here regularly in the future." The almost-argent sphere strikes at her imagination, makes her eyes narrow. "It's very small, isn't it? The silvery one, that is. It's so tiny I wonder if there's space for anything but a green in there, or a small blue…" Her thoughts trail off, away, as she tries to match her imaginary green with a Candidate. The other one is only grimaced at; clearly it's an egg she doesn't particularly like the look of. The thunder-roar of the sudden storm inspires another one. "We're going to be wet through if we go out now," she points out. "Perhaps later on we can sort of … scoot along the edges of the bowl?" Just her luck if she gets sick too close to the Hatching. Does she care about the people? Not so much. "There are more than a couple of dark ones, hey? Look at that one over there, and over there. Blues? Browns?"


"We can try!" Onari agrees with a laugh. No matter what they do, there's just going to be rain and mud involved. So goes springtime at Igen! "Yeah," the trader affirms as she picks out the next eggs Veresch is talking about. And so it goes for a time, the two girls making their markless bets about eggs and their possible occupants. Eventually, they'll make an escape attempt through the storm. For now, though, a bit of fun after a long morning of work is just what's needed.
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