46 – Further Investigation Needed

Previously in this story arc: Elphynia ran away from Dufas in the company of T’yul, who lost her at Poppy’s Inn. There, she was stuffed in a sack by some ruffians, but soon rescued by Bastion. Afraid of being returned to Dufas if anyone finds out who she is, she lied to Bastion and introduced herself as Delia, then explained that she’d been kidnapped. Ever the gallant, Bastion has offered to get her a room to stay inside the Inn until she figures out what to do next.

POPPY’S INN

Bastion secured a room, telling the Inn Mistress that he was here with his new wife. Elphynia was impressed by the lie, and also a little nervous about what sort of intentions he might have in mind. They were shown up the stairs to a long, dark hallway with doors leading off each side. Their room was all the way at the end of the hall, off the left side of the hall.

“I had to pay a little more for a room on this side,” Bastion said, “but I thought you might like to have a window.”

The window was tiny and dingy, nothing like the walk-out windows she had in her own chamber back at Dufas, but she knew that normal people almost never had such luxuries, so she did her best to appear suitably impressed.

“Bastion, it’s wonderful!” she exclaimed, and hurried over to the window to examine the view. It was a lovely view, she had to admit. Behind the colorful trader wagons, the fields of red poppies stretched out as far as you could see, meeting a brilliant blue sky.

Motion down among the wagons caught her eye. A group of heavy-set men were prowling around, making themselves nuisances to the friendlier, normaler folks who were trying to mind their own business. She frowned, a wisp of a thought flitting through her brain. These certainly looked like her father’s brute squad, but if they’d been the ones who stuffed her in a sack before, why hadn’t they immediately started lugging her back to Dufas? And she’d come here on dragonback. How could they have caught up with her so quickly?

Just then, one of the men turned to face the Inn. Elphynia let out a yelp and jumped back from the window.

“Delia, what is it?” Bastion said, hurrying over to her.

“Oh, nothing, nothing,” she replied, momentarily flustered by the use of her strange new name. “It’s just… those horrible men are still out there.” She didn’t have to try too hard to appear frightened.

“It’ll be all right, it’ll be fine,” Bastion assured her, putting out a hand to pat her tentatively on the shoulder.

“But Bastion!” she exclaimed, suddenly distracted. “Where are we supposed to sleep?”

For there was only one bed in the room, and devious as she was in attempting to wiggle out from under her father’s grasp, not even Elphynia was precocious enough to compromise her virtues.

“You’ll take the bed, of course,” Bastion said without hesitation. “I’ll borrow a blanket and sleep on the floor.”

Something stirred inside Elphynia – a warm feeling in her chest. She appreciated the gesture infinitely (with her virtues firmly in mind), but she was also a little anxious. Did he not find her attractive? Did he not feel the temptation, even a little bit, to take advantage of her? She pursed her lips. This was a problem that would require investigating.

45 – Beauty & the Beast

Previously: While pining after a starsmith, Kyllia-in-the-past has been distracted by a dragonrider asking her father for her hand in… candidacy? (PS: I think the title of this post is *really* clever. ;) )

COMOS HOLD – 10 turns ago

Lenall looked at the bluerider, stunned. “My daughters? Goldriders?” he asked, a note of awe creeping into his voice.

“Well sir, there is only one gold egg, of course. But there is a very good possibility you could have a goldrider in your family, yes indeed.”

Kyllia’s brothers were popping up behind Lenall, curious and covered with wet clay.

Lenall let out a full-chested laugh. “Well what do you say, girls?” The grin on his face couldn’t have been bigger as he slapped a hand on Kyllia’s and Nyla’s shoulders. “Goldriders. I guess at least some of you will be finding a craft today after all!”

“Yes, okay, but first I just want – ” she peered behind her again, but the beautiful starsmith was hidden behind a wave of people.

“Are these your boys too?” R’van asked, smiling down at the many brothers.

“Good, strong boys,” Lenall said agreeably, suggestively.

“Well let’s just take a walk over here, and we’ll get your girls signed up and see if maybe any of your sons also have the knack we’re looking for, eh?”

And just like that, Kyllia was herded off to her future as a dragonrider, peering back over her shoulder at a man she could no longer see…

SHARDIN WEYR, present day

… and he had always been her “What if?” Nothing in her life could have been better than Blaasth, but there was a certain element stubbornly missing from her life. That young, handsome starsmith from so long ago was what filled that void most often in her dreams.

And here he was.

“Come with me, Starsmith,” she said. “We need to talk.”

44 – You Should Always Ask Dad First

Previously: Kyllia-in-the-past was pining to meet a young starsmith at a gather, but was inconsiderately interrupted.

COMOS HOLD – 10 turns ago

“Excuse me, ladies,” said a new voice. Both girls turned to see a short, dark man with a huge smile. He seemed to be talking to them, rather than asking to pass by. “Have you ever considered riding a dragon?” He addressed this question to Nyla, but as soon as the words were past his lips, a confused expression crossed his face. He turned to look at Kyllia with an expression of surprise, though he recovered quickly and returned to smiling broadly at both of them.

“A dragon?” Nyla said, her mouth dropping open in surprise. She looked past the young man and sure enough, several lengths down the field was a pair of blue dragons and one green. They were surrounded by a crowd of young people who were being allowed to stroke them and examine their huge claws and wings.

“The Weyr is searching for candidates,” the man said. The knots at his shoulder indicated that he was the rider of one of those blue dragons. Nyla glanced over at Kyllia, but Kyllia was straining over her shoulder, still trying to oogle the starsmith. Nyla jabbed her hard in the ribs with an elbow. Kyllia grunted and turned back to the rider.

“I was actually thinking about going into starsmithery,” she said breezily, and was about to turn away again when their father appeared.

“Starsmithery my shorts,” he guffawed. His dislike of the rather erudite craft was well known. “I’ll not have my children staring at the sky all day.” He addressed this last comment to the bluerider, who looked surprised.

“Oh, no sir. I’m not with the halls at all. I am Bluerider R’van, from Shardin Weyr. I was just explaining to your daughters here that there is a gold egg on the sands, and my dragon over there suggested to me that your girls…” there was a very slight hesitation around the word “girls”, “would be ideal candidates to stand. But of course, I should speak to you before I even speak to them – how, sir, would you feel about having a weyrwoman in your family?”

43 – Not the Proposal You Were Hoping For

Previously: Kyllia interrupted Vilex’s attempt to scam the Headwoman and Crechemother – but why does she recognize him? We have traveled into a delightful little flashback to find out.

COMOS HOLD – 10 turns ago

There he was, at the next booth down – the most beautiful man Kyllia had ever seen. He was tall, dark, and devistatingly handsome.

“Oh,” she breathed, beginning to move unconsciously toward his booth.

“What is it?” Nyla asked, noticing her sister’s distraction.

“Look at him,” Kyllia replied, nodding toward the crafter’s display. The man was standing up on a raised platform, pointing to a chart with a long stick. The chart seemed to be covered with a multitude of dots, and there was a strange instrument on a stand just to one side. Another man was standing by the instrument, explaining something to a holder who had one eye pressed up against it.

“Oh, he is a nice slice of wherry,” Nyla agreed appreciatively. “But good luck convincing father to let you join the starsmiths.”

“There’s no harm in going to hear what he has to say, right?” She shuffled closer and Nyla trailed along behind. All their brothers were distracted at the potters’ booth, so it seemed harmless enough.

“Would you like to see the Dawnsisters?” called the man standing next to the instrument. “Even in the day, they’re a wonderful sight through our telescope! First glimpse is free for those thinking of joining the craft, or for pretty ladies.” He winked unsubtly at Nyla, but seemed not to even have seen Kyllia. It was the way of things.

Nyla waved him off. “We’re just looking. What’s he talking about over there?” She gestured to the tall man on stage with his poster of dots.

“It’s the stars in the night sky, my dear. Come back after dark tonight, and I’d be happy to let you use my telescope to see them properly.” His tone was taking a decided turn toward indecent. Kyllia pulled Nyla away, wanting to get closer to the other man.

“I’m going to ask him a question,” she said. “Help me think of a question to ask, I want to hear if his voice is as beautiful as the rest of him.”

“Excuse me, ladies,” said a new voice. Both girls turned to see a short, dark man with a huge smile. He seemed to be talking to them, rather than asking to pass by. “Have you ever considered riding a dragon?”

 

42 – Crafts, Husbands, Same Difference

Previously: While trying to con the Headwoman and Crechmother into revealing secrets about Galina’s children, Vilex was interrupted by the arrival of goldrider Kyllia.

SHARDIN WEYR

Kyllia did a double take, taking in the tall, lanky form of the master starsmith. “It’s you!” she exclaimed. The man who had starred in her dreams for so many years, here before her, in the least likely place she could imagine.

Vilex was racking his brain to figure out why the young goldrider seemed to recognize her. As one of the two goldriders in his territory, he of course knew who she was. And he also knew that they had never met before. Besides knowing that he’d never been face-to-face with any of Shardin Territory’s goldriders, Kyllia had a face that you didn’t forget. Something was wrong with her eyes. Was one lopsided? Did she squint because of that, or was the squint another problem all together? And that wart… No. He had certainly never met her before.

But if somehow he was wrong and she really did recognize him, she was about to blow his cover. He couldn’t let that happen.

“My dear goldrider!” Vilex exclaimed. “You were also on my list of people to meet with today. Is now a good time for you? I fear I did not make any appointments, which seems to have inconvienced these good ladies considerably. I will make an appointment for a better time. With you, too, of course… if now isn’t good?” He favored her with his most charming smile, which, considering his generally slimy demeanor.

Kyllia felt herself go wobbly in the knees. She hadn’t been sure at first. The funny, tight black clothing seemed wrong – she remembered him in robes more after the holder fashions – but as soon as he smiled, she knew. It may have been fifteen turns, but she knew that smile anywhere.

COMOS HOLD – 15 turns ago

Not even the fact that this gather was full of mostly crafters talking about how great they were could dampen Kyllia’s spirits. Coming all the way up to Comos for a gather was something her family only did once a turn.

“When do we get to go over to the food stalls?” moaned Lydan, her youngest brother.

“I’m not leaving until at least one of you picks a craft,” her father replied. Lenall had said this several times during the morning, but his words sounded less and less like a joke every time.

“Or a husband? Would it be okay to pick a husband instead of a craft?” asked Nyla, grinning and poking Kyllia in the ribs. Kyllia swatted at her.

“Lay off, or I’m going to start writing love notes to Bisler and signing them in your name,” she told her sister. Nyla turned on her with a glare, but their brothers cracked up.

“How about pottery? You like playing in the mud, Lydan. Potting was invented with you in mind. Let’s go talk to them.” Their father took the young boy by the elbow and steered him over to where the group of potters was demonstrating to a crowd of young folk how to make little animals from balls of clay.

Kyllia began to trail after them, not from any sort of interest, but because that’s what she’d been doing all morning. But then she saw him. At the next booth down, there he was – the most beautiful man she had ever seen.

41 – Long Lost… What?

Previously in this story arc: Starsmith Vilex is pretending to be a woodcrafter selling cradles to find information about Galina’s children. The only problem is that he’s really bad at it, and also, the Weyrwoman has just walked in…

SHARDIN WEYR

“Weyrwoman!” Goona exclaimed, looking over their shoulders at the persona who had just entered the room.

Vilex’s heart practically stopped. Galina? Here in this very room with him?

“Goldrider Kyllia,” Namora said, turning and nodding respectfully to the newcomer, though her use of the term “goldrider” instead of “weyrwoman” showed her general opinion of the Weyr’s younger goldrider.

“Good day, all,” Kyllia piped cheerfully. “I was in the area so I thought I’d swing by and pick up the sevenday’s reports and check on my nephew. But I see you have a guest, so perhaps this isn’t a good time…?”

Vilex, who was grinding his teeth from the disappointment of not getting to meet Galina face to face, finally turned around. He donned his most charming smile and swept an elaborate bow.

“Weyrwoman Kyllia!” he exclaimed. “I do not believe I have yet had the honor of making your acquaintance. I am Master Samson, visiting from Comos.”

He expected some kind of reply, and when none was forthcoming, he peeked nervously up from his bent position. Kyllia was looking at him with an expression of absolute shock.

“Weyrwoman?” Goona asked nervously.

Kyllia shook herself. “It’s you!” she exclaimed.

40 – A Girl With No Home

Previously: Bastion and Zyria have freed Elphynia from her sack, and now Bastion wants to make up for T’yul’s dishonorable behavior by taking her inside to get the situation “sorted out.”

POPPY’S INN

Elphynia was alarmed. What did he mean, “sort this out?”

“Wait!” she called. “I, um… I don’t even know your name yet.”

The young man stopped, abashed.

“Beg your pardon, my lady. I am Bastion, journeyman weaver. I am passing through here in the company of the Sunset Train on my way to begin my mastery studies. My duty to you.” He swept her a low, dignified bow, the likes of which she’d rarely even seen in her father’s court.

And he had called her “lady.” Did that mean he recognized her? She decided to gamble on the fact that he was simply being overly polite. She’d rather chance that than chance that he was another secret spy of her father’s.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Journeyman Bastion. I am Delia, formerly of Dufas Hold.” The only thing true in her statement was how pleased she was to meet him. She did, at least, know a girl named Delia, though she was at Idjut rather than Dufas Hold. But how would he check up on that? Unless – oh shards! – he came from Idjut?

Thankfully, her lie passed without comment.

“What brings you to this place, then, so far from Dufas?” he asked.

“I was kidnapped!” she said, without even thinking.

Bastion frowned. “By who?”

“Listen,” she said, “not to be paranoid, but might this conversation be a little safer if we have it after you’ve taken me inside and hidden me away, like you suggested a moment ago?”

“Oh, of course!” Bastion said, blushing a little. “If you’ll come with me, my lady?” He offered her his arm, which she gladly accepted. They began making their way toward the Inn, rather more covertly than might have been necessary.

 

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