White Knot Woes

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Candidate Baracks

Carved from a natural bubble in the volcanic stone, this small dorm room has room enough to hold around two dozen occupants comfortably. Along the walls are stationed sets of cots and clothes presses, each made up to the standards of the weyrwoman. Above, the soft white light from electric lamps cast down during waking hours.

J’en’s retreating footsteps fade into the distance until only the echo and memory of them remain. Sevran is left in silence, though this time it is not companionable but gaping. A huge, echoing silence that bounces off the walls of the empty candidate barracks, whispering the same word over and over in his head.

Searched. Searched. Searched. You’ve been Searched.

But why?

The knot in Sevran’s hand has almost been forgotten. Almost. Now it’s lifted. Examined. Carefully scrutinized to ascertain its authenticity. Maybe it was a joke? It looked real enough, though. Sevran ran his fingers over the silken fibers, letting the feel of them confirm the reality of the situation.

What did it mean, though? Could someone’s life really change that quickly?

Of course it could. Sevran was weyr-born. He’d seen dozens of Hatchings; hell, he’d even helped prepare for them. Rising as soon as the crooning began, he’d assist the butchers with the quick slaughter and preparation of the ‘beasts that had been selected and set-aside for just this purpose. Sevran knew well the look on a candidate’s face, when faceted eyes met human, and a life changed forever. A total change.

The death of yourself. The birth of a new you.

Did he want that?

Sevran looked at the knot, gently turning it between his fingers.

Too late now, right? He’d already said yes. But what else was he going to say to the massive bronze and his equally intimidating ‘rider? No? Sevran emitted a snort of amusement. Yeah. That would have gone well.

Sevran sank into the nearest cot, flopping backwards to stare at the ceiling, letting the hand with the knot rest on his stomach. He decided he would indulge himself this time of reflection and woe. Do it now, before anyone comes in. Do it quickly and move on.

Did he want this?

He liked being a butcher. He liked the simple joy of providing a service to the Weyr, or anyone really, that was appreciated, if misunderstood. He liked fading into the shadows, being behind the scenes. Now he would be in the spotlight (albeit, not by himself), standing on the Sands, potentially bonding to another life.

Did he want this?

Dragonriders were respected. And the bond could not be denied; it did look nice, from what he saw on the faces of those who Impressed. But the idea of another sentient creature in his head, his thoughts no longer his own…

And then, an utterly horrific thought made itself know.

What if he Impressed a green!

The voices of his sisters entered, unbidden, into his thoughts. Their squeals and giggles, and jeers and taunts. No. No way. A girl in his head? Fuck no. Please no. Shit.

He could back out, right? It wasn’t too late to say “no, thank you. This is a mistake” and hand the thing back. He could say he was just shocked. Took it out of surprise. Hadn’t considered what he was doing before he did it.

He scowled at the ceiling, barely aware of his fingers clenching around the white knot in his hand. He wouldn’t retreat. It was too late now. The thing was done.

Besides. The chances of Impression were slim to none. The number of candidates vastly outnumbered the eggs hardening on the Sands. In a month, maybe two, he’d stand out there, let the dragons have their pick, and then go back to his ‘pens.

That’s what he wanted. Right?

An hour later, and Sevran still didn’t have an answer.

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