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» NPC Candidates
by Kestrana Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:13 pm

» 3941.03.14 - Fort Weyr/Hold - Settling into Hiding {Silvara, T'lon, Sim, Alyena, H'lee}
by Simmarrah Fri May 20, 2016 7:23 pm

» Poll: DLG or books?
by Simmarrah Fri May 20, 2016 5:21 pm

» Threads to rp
by Silvara Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:34 pm

» New posting rules
by Alina Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:30 pm

» 2789.07.01 - It's back! the future? {T'lon, Silvara, Alina, H'lee}
by Kestrana Sun Mar 13, 2016 7:36 pm

» 2759.05.21 - Boys will be boys {T'lon, H'lee}
by mwaltz Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:08 pm

» 2765.09.23 - Halfway there {T'lon, H'lee}
by mwaltz Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:05 pm

» 3941.04.07 - Candidate Interviews
by Simmarrah Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:15 pm

» 3941.04.14-15 - Candidate Lesson #7 - Touching
by Kestrana Sun Feb 01, 2015 8:59 pm

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Admin / Weyrlingmaster
H'lee was infernally glad he wasn't in T'lon's boots right now, trying to iron out the difficulties among the riders, all from different Weyrs: two bronzes from Ista and Xanadu Weyrs; five browns from Fort, High Reaches, Ista, Southern, and Monaco Bay Weyrs; nine blues, one from each Fort, High Reaches, Ista, Igen, and Xanadu Weyrs and two from each Southern and Monaco Bay Weyrs; and twelve greens, one from each Ista, Southern, and Monaco Bay Weyrs, two from Fort, High Reaches, and Xanadu Weyrs, and three from Igen Weyr.  Naturally, the other two bronzeriders thought they'd make better Wingleaders than T'lon, nevermind that T'lon was the only one with Wingleader experience; the others had Wingsecond and Wingthird experience, but so did a couple of the brownriders, which was making THAT interesting, too.

H'lee had refused flat-out to have anything to do with that.  "I'm the Weyrlingmaster and you've saddled me with 38 eggs.  I am going to have my hands MORE than full with them, I can't express how much I don't want a part of Wing leadership, thank you very much."  He had glared at Sikra and the other two goldriders who'd brought their egg-heavy queens forward to help and were trying to settle the leadership question for everyone before they returned home and they'd chuckled and allowed that he would.  He'd actually argued for not putting T'lon in place because he was going to need a bronze to help with the gold weyrlings, but they had, logically, pointed out that that particular job requirement was only part-time, so T'lon could continue as Wingleader and erstwhile Weyrleader until the golds were old enough.  Which effectively left H'lee alone with the weyrlings.

"Why are you so worried about this?  It's not like you haven't dealt with that many weyrlings before," Lery asked him.

"Yeah, at different ages, at least four months apart in age.  Not 38 of the same age!"  There wasn't much Lery could say about that.

38 eggs, 6 Weyrs: none of them felt comfortable using Telgar Weyr, too many negative emotions relating to the disease that had been unleashed.  And Southern and Monaco Bay didn't have well-enclosed Hatching Grounds.  That meant six eggs to most of the Weyrs, with a seventh egg in a couple of Weyrs.  Benden and Fort were selected for the extras.

So here were H'lee, T'lon, Silv, and four others, bringing seven eggs to Fort Weyr, including one of the precious gold eggs.  And H'lee, T'lon, and Silv were in the middle of an argument about children; specifically, Nylee.  Lerane had stood for a couple of Hatchings already, although H'lee had been nervous about it with all the violence directed at the Weyrs.  After losing Nylee's parents, H'lee had become a bit overprotective of her and he was not at all keen on letting her Stand at what he was calling the "mega-Hatching."

Lery and Alina had both chimed in on the subject.  Lery pointed out that since both her parents were dragonriders, it was almost a given that Nylee would be as well, and keeping her off the Sands wouldn't likely prevent that.

She will make a good rider.  Warrelith knows it.  We all know it.  She should stand.  Seeth was saying as they landed a bit after midnight in Fort Weyr's Hatching Grounds.

"Oh, c'mon, not you, too," H'lee groaned.  Seeth settled his precious burden on the Sands and snaked his head around to snort at his rider.  Undoubtedly, Roth and Warrelith were agreeing with Seeth on this; for all he knew, the other four dragons were, too.  He glared at the lot of them.  "After what happened to her mother?  Do any of you know if she even WANTS to be a dragonrider?" he growled.

Do you?  Have you asked her? Seeth huffed at him.  The brownrider snarled but didn't answer.

Further arguments ensued among the dragons and their riders over the suitability of Nylee, Lerane, and the handful of other children brought along by their rider parents while the group carefully nestled the eggs they'd brought into concealed nooks and crannies, safely out of sight to an alert observer.  Someone would have to search the Sands quite thoroughly to find them.  Finally, H'lee called a truce on the debates about potential Candidates and suggested that they all get some sleep.  Except for Silvara, they'd be going out in pairs the following day to follow up on any potentials that Silv and Warrelith were able to pick out.  He gave Silvara a pointed look, knowing that she would likely have difficulty sleeping with so many unfamiliar people around and knowing what would happen...or was happening...or had happened...whatever...back in their time; he'd intentionally made sure that there were some herbal sleeping draughts as well as a small bottle of fellis in her pack just in case.  Regardless, he fully expected that she and Warrelith would do a little mental sneaking around in Fort Hold before falling asleep, if for no other reason than to reassure themselves of each other's presence.  And also to make sure that they weren't about to be discovered by some curious holder child or Harper Apprentice.  They all remembered the legends of how Harper Hall Apprentices were expected to stay overnight in the abandoned Weyr in Lessa's time, it wouldn't surprise them at all to find out the same thing happened now, despite the stigma attached to the Weyrs in this day and age.

In the pre-dawn light, three pairs of riders slipped out cross-country to come into the Hold from different directions.  Certainly, they couldn't be seen coming in from the direction of the Weyr.  They needed some herdbeasts or wherries to feed the dragons, or even fish; that was one of their ruses for entering the Hold and possibly visiting some of the nearby holdings.  Silv was in contact with them through Warrelith or their dragons, depending on what needed to be conveyed.  She was scanning the area for anyone with strong empathic or telepathic Gifts and, through a strong rapport with Warrelith, performing a somewhat more traditional Search.  If and when one of them identified a potential Candidate, Silvara used her Farsight to get a location fix on the potential and then would relay the location to the nearest pair of riders.  Then the pair would move in to observe the potential, maybe ask some roundabout questions about the target, at least enough to find out their name and rank, and then move on.  After they all returned to the Weyr that afternoon/evening, they'd discuss the potentials and decide which ones would be easy to extract and take to the Weyr at Hatching time.

H'lee and T'lon took the easiest route to the Weyr, H'lee playing shamelessly on his crippled leg to get that dispensation from the others.  They arrived half an hour after dawn, footsore and bickering about whether Lery would prefer herdbeast or wherry to feed them.  The Hold was no longer confined to the walls, it sprawled out some distance from the main Hold.  On the one hand, that meant there were no guards in this area and it would be relatively easy to find the food they were sent in search of, but on the other hand, that simplicity would make it more difficult to come up with reasons to linger.  Fortunately, they had considered that and had brought some goods to sell or trade.  Some street-corner peddling would keep them in the area a little longer, or so they hoped.  H'lee's trade as a tanner also gave them an additional reason to be looking for living livestock, as well as a reason why they'd had to walk a long way.

Seeth, let Silvara know T'lon and I have arrived, would you?  He half-expected Warrelith to be the one to contact him back rather than relaying through Seeth once he and his rider found a location of a potential in their area.  Meanwhile, they started wandering, looking for some breakfast and any place they could buy or trade for the meat their dragons needed.

Sim - give Silv a chance to post and then you can have at.  :-)  T'lon probably won't be able to post 'til Monday, so it's up to you if you want to wait for him or not.

#Simmarrah #Silvara #Tlon #Hlee #Site-Main-Plot
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Last edited by Kestrana on Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:29 pm; edited 1 time in total


Gold Weyrling
Alyena headed out early with a large cart and a pair of old runnerbeasts to head down to one of the markets on the edge of town. The inner Hold, where she worked, was too crammed with people to raise livestock, so when fresh meat was on the menu, someone had to go out to a market and buy them. And, to be honest, Alyena preferred to get veggies, fruits, and flour from the markets, too; it was a little more expensive, but the quality was usually higher. She'd become a shrewd haggler during the two years between finishing her Apprentice training and when she had been allowed to walk the tables to Journeywoman. That in combination with regular weekly visits to a specifc few booths in a couple different markets allowed her to get more goods for fewer Marks than anyone else sent to get supplies, a fact that had not escaped the Senior Journeyman Steward that Alyena reported to; now she was the only one sent out to the markets each week on fresh-meat runs.

She and her empty cart rattled into the Eastern Beast Market square to pick up the pair of herdbeast steers, half a dozen wherries, and three or four barrels of salted fish. After haggling the price down to something reasonable (naturally, her supplier couldn't offer her a lower starting price or every other shopper would hassle him), she loaded the birds and fish into the cart and tied the troublesome beasts to the bed and drove her cargo back into the Hold proper. After delivering this load, she headed out again, this time to the Northern Farmer Market square; here, she could fill up on the berries, grapes, sugar beets, and assorted other vegetables that were grown in greenhouses north of the Hold, up on the south-facing slopes above the sprawling population center.

She noticed a couple of strangers in the Beast Market square as she'd dickered with the Herders and Fisher from whom she bought those supplies from. Now she noticed another pair in the Farmer Market. Seeing strangers in the Markets wasn't exactly unusual, by any means, but these ones wore clothing that was a bit more out-of-style than the usual remote holders, and despite the nip in the air, their jackets - well made and apparently lined with wool - were open to the chill. One of them, an attractive older man, walked with a noticeable limp, but he and his friend each carried a pack and looked as though they might be selling something. She was tempted to look and then sharply reminded herself that she was at the Market on business and Journeyman Rathe would start wondering where she'd got off to if she didn't get her produce and hightail it back to the Hold.

She turned her attention back to the booths, smiling as she approached the Vintner that she purchased grapes from; as usual, the man made a show of complaining about using good grapes for anything other than making good wine, and as usual, she allowed that it would be shame, but he wouldn't be selling his good grapes in any other form than as good wine, so these must not be all that good. He pretended insult and swore he wouldn't sell her a bushel for less than two Marks. She suggested that he wouldn't get more than a 1/2 Mark for the wine produced by the same bushel; he replied that it was one of the first bushels of this type of grapes, but maybe he'd get 1 3/4 Marks from that gentleman over there. "Spring's almost over, Anton, you've had this variety of grapes for three weeks now! 1 Mark!" Eventually, they settled on their usual price of 1 5/16 Marks per bushel and she bought three from him. A similar charade went down at three other stalls, where she obtained four bushels of mixed early vegetables; two barrels of winter wheat flour; and a half-bushel of early strawberries, and a half flat of raspberries. With her purchasing complete, she led her cart team around behind the stalls to load up her purchased goods; she had to do the loading herself, the Crafters were much too busy trying to make more sales after setting aside her purchases. Once she finished, she'd head back up to the Hold.
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Simmarrah woke with the chirping of so birds in the tree outside her window. She smiled as she rubbed her eyes, trying to drive the sleep from her mind. A dream still lingered, memories of her mother brushing her hair and telling her stories of the dragons. She could still feel her fingers untangling knots in her dark unruly hair, their gentle brush down her back and neck. It was a dream she had often, always the same, making her heart clench and feel warm at the same time. She shook her head, her curly hair whipping around her face. She missed her mother so fiercely that it hurt, a dark hole in her heart that never left. The dreams gave her a brief moment of happiness, allowing her to feel like a kid again, not the caretaker of her younger siblings. They took the weight off her shoulders, until she woke and reality came crashing back down. Sim sighed and swung out of bed, letting the blanket fall to the floor. She dressed quickly in the cold, a light weight tan jacket over a green shirt and a pair of matching tan trousers. She slipped on her knee high boots, quickly made her bed, ran a comb through her hair, and trotted out the door. She was the only one up this early, other than the cook, who was kneading dough for breakfast. "Morning!" Her cup of Klah was sitting at the end of the table, along with a bit of yesterday's bread. She scarfed it down, sipping slowly at the Klah to wash it down. "Mira, can you let father know that I am taking Rescue out for a training run and won't be back until later?" The cook nodded, a soft grin on her face. She knew Sim's tendencies to slip away were in response to her fathers new wife taking charge of the Hold and family. "Then take some more rolls with you child, and a canteen of water." Sim nodded, threw the necessary items into a pack and rushed out the door, with Mira calling "and be safe out there!"

She jogged to the stable, reveling in the crisp air and the sun beating down on her head. Runners hung their heads over their stall doors, whickering for their morning feed. Sim laughed and grabbed a bucket of grain from the feed bin. She went to each stall and dumped a scoop into the food buckets, sometimes having to shove a heavy head out of her way. She could sense their hunger and the happiness they had now that she was here and feeding them. Rescue was slightly grumpy with her, he only got half a scoop since he was going for a run, and she didn't want him to get sick. Sim then threw some hay out in the two pastures closest to the barn. She turned the mares and some of the geldings out into the further pasture, and put the runners that were going to the market today in the near pasture. Her dad and one of her brothers would take them up later, when they woke.

Rescue was the only horse left in the barn after she was finished, and the sun was several notches higher above her head. She brushed him out and saddled him with her old training saddle. It was worn and soft from use, and was the only one she felt comfortable in. Sim lead him out of the barn and with a spring hopped onto his back. He snorted and gave a little buck as she started him off, but quickly warmed up. He arched his brown neck, and tugged on the bit. She chuckled at his antics. It had been a few days since he had been ridden and he was definitely feeling his grain. After a couple of minutes of trotting to warm his muscles up, she kicked him into a canter. He fought her for the reigns almost yanking them out of her hands. The colt wanted to go faster, and with a sigh, she released him. He took off like a rocket, and they both rejoiced in his speed and agility. Simmarrah laughed and urged him to go faster as they doged rocks and trees. He jumped over a ditch, and she felt as if they were flying while they were airborne, but they quickly came to land with a jolt. Her dark hair whipped in front of her face, and she brushed it aside with an annoyed flick of her hand. Sometimes she wished her father would let her cut the long tresses off, but he always denied her request with the all too familiar 'but they remind me of your mothers hair.' Simmarrah and the chestnut runner galloped for several miles, until his breath became ragged and he began to falter. Multiple times while they ran she tried to merge her mind with the beast, a trick that she had only been able to do a couple times before. Finally she was able to succeed, and no longer felt as if they were horse and rider, but a single unit surging across the plains. Rescue was tiring, and was starting to complain to her. She nudged him on, encouraging the horse to find reserves of speed that he did not know he had. They ran into a rocky gully, and he started to stumble over the slick ground. She separated her mind from him, to allow him to concentrate on his feet and her on the path they were taking. She steered him around boulders bigger than her room, until they came upon a dead end. Before them rose a red wall of rock, too steep for even a goat to climb. Sim allowed Rescue to to slow to a walk, not letting him stop. She knew that he needed to cool down before he could rest, or he would get sick.

The chestnut was lathered with sweat, and was no longer fighting the bit. She patted his neck, looking around her as she turned him back. She was crooning to him about what a good boy he was when they rounded a bend and she stopped him dead in his tracks, the words frozen on her lips. Before them, blocking the way out of the gully, sat three riders clothed in dark leather, their faces hidden and ropes coiled in their hands. "That's her boys." Muttered a female on a dark grey runner, pointing at Sim. The other two began to advance, one on a bay, the other on a chestnut similar to Rescue. They began to unwind the ropes as they closed in on her. She whipped Rescue around and ran him to the back of the gully, searching for a way out. She was blocked in, trapped, and they all knew it. Rescue began to get frantic as he sensed his riders fear. "Don't be afraid little girl," snickered the man on the bay, "we aren't going to hurt you, much."

Her breaths came in short little gasps as she tried to control her fear. An idea came to her, and she reached out with her mind to the raiders mounts. Once she had their attention, she filled the gully with snakes, thousands and thousands of snakes. The riders cursed as their runners began to buck and scream, fighting to run away from the vision. The woman shouted "she is controlling their minds! Hurry and get her!" One of the men dismounted handing his reigns to the female. He advanced on Sim, his face dark. A rope sung out of his hands and landed around her chest as she tried to get Rescue to bolt past them. He yanked hard, and her breath was knocked out of her and her concentration lost as she landed on the ground. Their horses instantly calmed as the snakes disappeared, and the woman approached as Sim tried to get her breath back. She was dizzy and her head hurt as the woman dismounted and kneeled next to her. "I'm glad we finally found you, little girl. You will fetch a good price on the black market." She turned to the man holding the rope. "tie her up and gag her. We will have to drug her when we get back to camp." She laughed, a dark and sister laugh that sent more chills up Sim's spine. "You were foolish for coming here. Dont you know that bandits run these hills?" Sim could only glare as she was gagged and bound, struggling as they threw her on Rescues back. She fought the ropes, but only succeeded in rubbing her skin raw. It took them only a few minutes to reach the bandits cave. Tears streamed down her face as she realized how deep in trouble she was. She hadn't told anyone where she was going, and these caves were unfamiliar to her. This was country not well traveled, perfect for bandits. And she had foolishly fallen into their trap.

She was yanked off of Rescue and thrown to the floor of a cavern. The small entrance was hidden by boulders, only a few feet from the trail that ran into the gully. Inside, the cavern was almost as big as her hold, and the horses hooves echoed as they stepped across the rocky floor. Near the back, a small fire burned, giving off a little heat and light. That was where she was tossed, her knees scraping the ground as she fell. They rummaged through her pack, taking everything that was valuable. Tears dripped down her face as she silently watched. She was scared, and didn't know what to do to get out of this mess. The woman was stirring something in a pot next to the fire, then scooped some up into a cup and brought it over to Sim. "Now you be a good girl and drink this. It will make you more compliant." She removed the gag from Sim's mouth, and Sim spit in her face. "Bitch." Said the woman, and rewarded her with a slap that rocked her whole body. She yanked Sim's head back and poured the mixture down her throat. She gagged and tried to spit it out, but the woman held her mouth shut. She was regagged and her hands and feet were bound together so she couldn't run. She wouldn't have been able to even if she had wanted. The mixture made her feel incredibly strange, as if her whole body was numb and full of sensations at the same time. Her mind wandered, and her eyes closed as wonderfully colorful visions swam across her eyelids. Concentrate girl. her mothers voice seemed to echoe from the bottom of her mind. You need to call for help. You can do it honey, just call... Confused, Simmarrah tried to mumble help around her gag, but got the feeling that that wasn't it. Tentatively she called out "help" in her mind. You have to be louder honey. Again she mentally cried out "help", this time stronger. She tried again, this time screaming at the confines of her mind. Someone please help me! the horses in the cavern bucked and reared, and the raiders went to calm them down. Sim settled back, hoping that someone out there would respond, that she wasn't in this all alone.
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Moderator / Master Healer
Silvara spent as much time with her mother and the other Gold riders as she could when they were in this new time point learning everything she could both from them talking but also making “copies” of their minds in her own. This was not something she was wholly comfortable with doing but Sikra had pointed out that it was the best way to ensure that all of their knowledge would be preserved so she could be both Weyrwoman and Teacher for the future Weyrwoman when the golds hatched and were matured enough to take up that role. She was also dreading the fact that for all intents and purposes she was also THE Queen dragon once the golds went back to face their fates. She hated it so much. She hated knowing that they were going back to die and yet there was nothing that could be done without dooming them all.

She found herself on several occasions ready to yell at the other riders from the other weyrs to get their acts together and work together as their infighting was grating on her already raw nerves. At those points Warrelith would step in to get the other dragons to calm their riders down before she lashed out with her gifts knowing none of them would like what that would entail.

When it came time to settle the eggs into the different weyrs Silvara was glad to just be away from the majority of other riders even if the bickering over weather H’lee’s daughter was going to stand or not was making her want to smack some individuals upside the head. Mostly H’lee for being blind since there was no way she was NOT going to impress and he would just have to accept that but she kept that to herself for the time being not wanting to add to his stress.

As they settled down for the night she knew she would not get much sleep. Between what had/is happening in the past and all the minds of the present she was not ready for what sleep would bring. She also wanted a chance to work with Warrel on looking at the hold and surrounding areas for potential candidates while things were in a slightly more peaceful state. Her mind ranged far that night before Warrel forced her to drink some herbal tea to chase the dreams away and get some sleep so she could be focused for the day ahead.


Silvara kept watch as the three sets of riders left and slowly made their way to the hold and surrounding areas to start the search and to do some trade. She had given H’lee and T’lon some of her metal work to sell as well knowing it should fetch a good price since she liked making very intricate pieces of jewelry which should be easy enough to sell in such a large hold. The few weapons she had made so far she had kept for the weyr and their folk knowing it was likely they would need such and more to stay safe in this changed age.

She smiled when Seeth reached out to tell Warrelith that they were in the town and she spoke back to him directly that she was aware and glad for the update and to tell H’lee to not overdo it with his leg since he would have to make the long walk back!

With that she cast her mind a little farther afield watching over the three groups while also keeping an eye out for potential candidates. Her mind soon latched onto a young woman who had the feel of being a potential Gold rider. After getting a better fix on the young woman named Alyena she passed the message onto the three teams as she seemed to be moving in and out of the different market areas getting goods for her craft hall, which would allow at least two of the groups to watch her and get a feel for her themselves. With that she turned her mind elsewhere still looking for potential candidates while also making sure her riders would be safe and no other gifted were about to catch them as it were.

That’s when it happened. A Call for help caught her and pulled her forcefully to a cave in the hills south and west of the hold and weyr. A remote area far from cottages and other habitation and not a place one would expect to find honorable individuals. That’s when she “Saw” a young woman held by bandits, the call coming from her in that dark foreboding place filled with greed and now despair. Without a second thought Silvara called to H’lee and the other riders directly telling them a short version of what she saw and felt before running towards Warrelith. It would take the others a great deal of time to get free of the hold and back to the weyr let alone to the remote location the girl was being held. Which meant that she was going to go and get the young woman herself and make the filth that held her captive pay for their actions and that was that.

Silv normally would have let H’lee or the others take care of the situation but knew that the young woman, Simmarrah, had been heavily drugged to the point that it was a danger to her health and could not risk waiting. She just hoped she and Warrelith would not be spotted by anyone while doing this. Taking to the air they went between right from inside the weyr to near the hills and cave where Simmarrah was located coming out in a rather secluded and partially hidden spot. It paid to have far sight some days.

Once Warrelith was on the ground Silv was off his back and running with easy strides in the direction that the cave was keeping a mental eye on the bandits and the surrounding area as she moved. Soon she reached a point where she could watch what was going on just outside the cave without being spotted trying to figure out what to do about the bandits as she was loathed to kill but these people were little more than scum she quickly found out after reading their surface thoughts without them being any the wiser.

Reaching out with her own Telepathy she lightly brushes Simmarrah’s mind with her own hoping to give her an anchor in the sea of drug haze. ::It will be all right young one help is on the way, just hold on.::
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Last edited by Silvara on Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:08 pm; edited 2 times in total


Admin / Weyrlingmaster
H'lee rolled his eyes at Silvara's admonition to take it easy on his leg. Not like he'd been walking on it for the better part of 5 years! And who was the older one, anyway? Still, he couldn't help but smile a little: the fact that she was able to worry about something as mundane as that meant she was feeling halfway decent today, at least.

H'lee, ever the ladies' man, was the one who spotted the young woman when Seeth relayed the information to him, haggling with a vintner over grapes in what was apparently a Farmer market. There seemed to be some organization to the outer areas of the Hold that was not readily apparent to the two riders - this certainly wasn't where they were going to find beasts for meat.

T'lon was in his element, although he had to bite his tongue to keep from exclaiming over the variety that was available, even in March. In the process of haggling for a couple of boxes of produce that they could easily carry back to the Weyr with them, the bronzerider discovered that his friend's raw leather - which was not even the Weyrlingmaster's best leather - was quite valuable. Apparently, in this day and age, good leather was no longer common. T'lon nearly gave them away when he asked why not; fortunately, the young man he was dealing with was of an age to think the two riders "ancient" and therefore unlikely to understand current fashion, and simply snorted and said, "Because it's too much work. Llama wool is just as warm and is renewable." T'lon almost asked what they did with the hides if they didn't tan them, but H'lee stepped on his foot and stopped him before he could. At any rate, the young man was more than happy to trade a couple of hides for two large boxes of produce. They were not easy to carry, but it didn't seem like they had much choice.

H'lee shepherded his friend over to the vintner booth the young woman had been at a few minutes before. Both riders missed having wine - it was a luxury they'd forgone during their trip forward, choosing instead to pack more valuable items, and the vintner had some for sale. The merchant had skins as well as glass bottles, labeled as "travel skins." H'lee pulled out a couple of his smaller but better hides which could be turned into wineskins with a little care, something that the vintner appeared to take. The man was quite happy to trade hides for wineskins at a two-to-one value, so they got three skins. Toward the end of the sale, H'lee casually asked, "The young woman you were haggling with earlier, who is she?"

"Young Alyena? Tsk, if I'm too old for her, you most certainly are!" the man laughed.

"Maybe you two are, but I'm not!" T'lon stated, incurring further laughter.

"She's a shrewd one, she is. She'd see right through your rusty attempts at chivalry," the vendor continued. "Naw, she's destined to be Headwoman up at the Hold proper. They only send her down here now, folks take advantage of the others because they think they have more money, and the others figure they don't need to worry about how much the food costs, so they don't haggle as much. Yon' Alyena, now, she knows what's what."

Inwardly, H'lee cursed. Silv was certain the girl was goldrider material, and her current rank supported the idea, but she would be missed. He had no idea how they'd get her away to stand at the Hatching. Well, that could be a problem for another day; eggs weren't going to Hatch for another five fortnights anyway. He thanked the vintner for the information and asked where they could find livestock for sale. The vintner frowned for a sec, then looked at the good leathers he'd just traded for and concluded that's why the stranger wanted livestock. "You'll want the east side," he gestured vaguely in that direction.

It was shortly after that when Seeth contacted his rider with significant alarm and moments later H'lee and T'lon both stumbled as Silv shoved a brief message and image down their mental throats. The brownrider's curse was not internal this time, and it was T'lon's turn to keep his friend from blowing their cover. "We can't rush back now without drawing attention," the bronzerider hissed.

Muttering under his breath, there was nothing H'lee could do but agree. "She could use your truth-reading ability, we should head back as soon as possible." So rather than join the pair at the Beast Market, they instead hefted their packs and their boxes of produce and headed north, back the way they had come.

Once away from prying eyes, they picked up their pace as much as H'lee's bum leg would allow. Just because they were out of sight didn't mean their dragons could come pick them up, though, so they had to keep going on foot. H'lee tried to move faster, certain that Silvara was in some kind of danger, although Seeth had not conveyed anything but a general feeling of anxiety. It was nearly noon when they finally arrived back at the Weyr, and by then, they new Silv's fate, as well as that of the young woman she'd gone to rescue.
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The hallucinations were getting worse.

Sim could handle the rainbow swirls that first came with drug induced haze, but they shortly melted into twisted living nightmares. The one she was seeing now was the worst, and most insistent. Her mother lay before her, her belly unnaturally swollen, even with a full term pregnancy. The skin over her womb moved, and the skin stretched to show the imprints of the hands pushing out. With every push the skin would stretch further and further, until her stomach split like a ripe tomato. Sim's little brother, Niko, crawled out of his mothers womb, not as an infant, but as the child he was now, with the twisted face of a demon. Each time he would look at their mother, then point at his sister, blood dripping from his shaking fingers as he whispered death....death.....death....

She closed her eyes, trying to block him out, but she could still hear the whisper in the tiny child's voice, death....death.....death.... Then, her brother would grow, and his face would change, until her father stood before her, a wherrhide whip in his hand. Her dead mother would then stand next to her husband, her belly split and bleeding, her face twisted into that of her step mother, whispering into his ear. death....death.....death.... Gambril would then raise the whip, and she screamed as he brought it down to slash across her face. Again and again he struck her, each time she screamed out, each time she felt the pain of the whip, and her scars would burn.

"Wake up you little bitch. Quit yer squealing."
Her father/Niko melted into the form of a stranger, kneeling before her. Her stepmother/mother became the female that first drugged her. She stared at them uncomprehendingly, their forms shifting in and out of focus. "Hit her again. She is still not with us."The stranger struck her again, his hard hands knocking her head back. She blinked at them, then cried out as he roughly shook her. "Welcome back princess." The female raiders voice was harsh and cold. "Mikki said if we kept you drugged for much longer we would lose you to the haze, so you are to behave yourself until we take you to your new home." She placed a bowl of stew besides Sim's bound feet, then removed the bonds from her hands. Sim bit her tongue to keep from crying as needles shot up her fingers and arms, and she forced herself to try to clench her fingers. The drug was still there, she could feel it in her body, feel it trying to creep it's way back into her mind. Her thoughts were still jumbled, and she couldn't focus on anything besides the pain in her hands, so she let that keep her in this world, and used it as an anchor.

As she began to spoon her stew Sim took the opportunity to look at her surroundings. She was no longer in the giant cavern that she had first been brought to, instead she had been chained to the wall in a smaller cave, just off the main cavern. Barrels and crates surrounded her, some overflowing with goods. She spotted markers from several different Holds and caravans on some of their sides. Exotic animals huddled in pens much to small for them, their cries adding to the racket of the main cavern. This must be where they store their stolen goods before they resell them. She mused, trying to fight to keep the stew down. She began to inspect the animals stored with her, mainly out of curiosity, mostly because she loved any unusual creature. Most were exotic birds, their cries and caws almost deafening in the small space. She was excited to see a large lizard, only to note that it had no wings and was not the fire lizard of her dreams. It flicked its' tongue at her, as if sensing her disappointment.
Mowr? Sim pushed back a barrel blocking her view of the rest of the cave and gasped at the creature pressing against the bars of its cage. She had heard of the large dangerous cats of Southern, how they could rip a man apart with one swipe of a paw, or crush his skull with a quick bite to the head, but had never seen one in person. Mowr? Its cry was weak, and it pushed a silver paw through the bars to reach towards her. Sim's heart melted; the poor thing was barely a kitten, its skin hanging off its skeleton. Bright blue eyes caught her own and she was overwhelmed with the sense of hunger and loneliness the kit was sending out. Sim glanced down at her stew, more than half of it was left, along with several chunks of meat and bread floating in the slop. She sighed, and began to try to push the crates and barrels away so she could reach the kit, as the chain attaching her to the wall was fairly long and allowed her some limited movement, she assumed it was to allow her to shit somewhere other than where she lay but she didn't know how a raiders mind worked and it wouldn't have surprised her if that had not even crossed their minds. As it was she reeked of shit and piss, and they had stripped her of her clothing. She didn't know why they had taken her clothes from her, the cave was comfortable enough, so she wasn't cold, and in her drugged haze she wouldn't have been able to resist anything done to her person. Her mind started to settle on that unsettling thought, but she pushed it away as she pulled herself closer to the kitten. If they had raped her, she did not know when or how often, nor was she 'present' during due to the drug, and for that she was grateful. Best not to dwell on something that she could not have controlled or stopped.
Her chain allowed her to barely reach the cage, if she stretched, and the kit stared her down, his nose quivering as he smelled the food. Mowr?! It reached out again, it's silvery white leg covered in black stripes. "Poor baby. Don't worry I'm givin you some food, I just want to look at you first." He blinked his eyes at her, as if he understood her, and pressed his head against the bars as he dangled his paws out of the cage. From what she had heard, the cats of Southern were tawny creatures with dark spots or stripes, though every once in a while a pale version would be found. She had seen a white pelt hanging at a Gather once, though it's stripes were paler than the kits. His coat was a tad longer too, though she couldn't tell if that was because he was a kitten or if he came from a different region. Either way, he was a prisoner like her, and not getting the care he needed. She studied the cage. It's bars were close together, not big enough for her to fit the bowl through without spilling its contents, and as far as she could tell there was no opening. Mowr! His little cry was insistent this time, and she received another wave of hunger from the cat. She reeled. Felines were not given the mentasynth that the dragons used to communicate, at least not told of by the Harper hall. The only cats that had been modified were created by Zimmerman or Tubberman at Landing, she couldn't remember which, and they had been wiped out shortly after. At least, that was what history told them. But this kitten was communicating with her mentally, telling her of his hunger and sending images of an older tawny cat, with a sense of questioning. She tossed him a piece of meat from the bowl, and he deftly snatched it midair with his paw and snapped down the mouthful like he had not eaten in weeks. As she tossed him more chunks, his hunger began to fade, and the questioning image became more insistent. "No sweet boy, your mother is not here." He blinked at her and the images stopped."I wonder if I can sense you because of my 'gift', and maybe you aren't mentally special like I thought and that I'm just able to pick up your emotions like I would any other creature." He cocked his head at her and blinked the startling blue eyes again. She gave him the last of the chunks, and sipped the broth before crawling back to her spot. He mewed at her and she called out to him "don't worry little one, I'm right here. I won't be going away."

Every day turned into a routine. The morning would bring a raider and a bowl of drugged stew. He would unclip her hands and watch her eat, taking the bowl with him when he was finished. Lunch and dinner also included a raider and some sort of food, but they would always leave her to eat it in peace. That's how she figured that the morning stew was drugged. They didn't care if she ate her meals the rest of the day, as long as she ate the entire bowl. Sim even rejected it once, throwing it back at the raider when he handed it to her. She got a beating for that, and more stew.
Lunch and dinner she always shared with Ichigo, the kitten, as he only was fed every few days, and a poor fare at that. Vicious towards the raiders, he became like a house cat when she approached his cage. Paws that would claw at the raiders hands would rest their soft pads on her arm as she leaned against his cage. His throat would purr for her, and his eyes would slowly blink as he projected his happiness. She was careful to never let the raiders catch her with him, as she did not want this small piece of companionship to be taken away from her.

Every day she struggled through the haze to push out with her mind, desperately trying to call for help. Sometimes she could feel another presence, and a memory of hopeful words would flit through then disappear, and she could never quite touch the other. Every time she came close her mind whisped the connection away like a bit of wind on a cloud. The drug, which she hatefully termed the Haze, was enough to dampen her gift, at least for anything long distance, and she began to despair of being rescued.
One morning, the routine changed. There was more activity in the main cavern, she could hear the raiders shouting and things being moved. Some came in to gather the barrels and crates, Ichigo hissing and swiping at the ones who moved him out of the cave. The female raider came to get her last, unchaining her from the wall and roughly dragging her to her feet. "Moving day little princess! Time to go to your new home. Don't struggle now, or I'll break a couple of fingers." Sim obeyed completely, though her mind screamed out. Help! Please! Help Me! She started to drag her feet, anything to show a little rebellion. The raider snatched her pinky and Sim cried out as the woman wrenched it backwards. "Any more and I'll break the fucking thing. Now MOVE!" She pushed Sim ahead of her, into the light of the main cavern.

We come....

Sim almost froze as the voice, most definitely a dragon, pushed through her haze. She desperately clung to that thread of hope as she allowed the raider to push her out of the cavern and into a wagon. They were all dressed in tunics worn by the local caravaners, which would make it easier for them to ship their products across the country without people snooping. She couldn't reach back to the voice, but Sim was calm as the wagon began to move, and the 'caravan' began to make its way down the road.[/b]
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