Title: Meet and Greet
vergess - November 9, 2011 12:50 AM (GMT)
//A week or so after hatching
After serious deliberation, A'bral had decided to seek assistance. A very particular kind of assistance. The sort of assistance that his sister and his dragon- the phrase was still new and made him vaguely giddy- were both incapable of providing.
Toyotama was rapidly maturing, which mostly meant developing an even larger attitude, and tiny Kaira had almost reached full size. With five firelizards, he could, technically, seek an official promotion to Messagemaster. But with the strains that Weyrlinghood had already put on his schedule, that seemed unlikely.
More importantly, with the way Toyotama so thoroughly enjoyed ignoring his order to harass Tenno, the young man wasn't sure he wanted the title. Not yet, anyway.
But she will listen to me. Zaketh had pointed out as he tore through another bucket full of meat only an hour prior. And that was true. Toyotama was disconcertingly willing to obey Zaketh. Almost as readily as Tenno obeyed Eyduth. Perhaps his metallics had convinced themselves they were dragons. More importantly, the woods are full of dirt. I won't go. You can't leave me.
A'bral had considered the merits of that statement, then, happily oiled his dragon's wings for a long while. With the predictability of all newborns, Zaketh had dropped off to sleep soon enough.
Two days ago, he had gotten Hiko to take Kaira along, delivering a small note to another one of the well-known firelizard trainers around the Weyr. A man named Tasban. It hadn't been a particularly eloquent message, but a polite request that the man help him train his fair a bit. The five flitters were all well enough behaved, but they weren't message carrying material.
Perhaps, though, it had been a bit presumptuous to assume that he would just be freely available in the middle of the afternoon to go traipsing in the woods...
Lurhstaap - November 9, 2011 02:21 AM (GMT)
Tasban had received the note with a certain amount of surprised pleasure. Certainly, the Journeyman Leathercrafter had never made any secret of his love of dragonkind, particularly fire-lizards. He was 29 Turns old, and he had Stood for at least a decade's worth of clutches before finally aging out. Tasban had dealt with that disappointment in two ways: By remaining at the Weyr to practice his Craft, thus allowing him to at least life and work in service to dragonkind and dragonriders even though he now knew he would never be one of them. And, secondly, by focusing on his fire-lizards. He wanted to become a Messagemaster someday, but he only had the three -- and, if he was honest with himself, the only one he could actually use for such work was his blue, Fishhook. 'Hook was smart for a blue, and, while the blue was rather aggressive and stubborn, Tasban knew exactly how to trick him into responding to training. It was as simple as piquing the little creature's ego, really.
However, Tasban's brown, affectionately named Branch for his wooden looks and personality alike, was absolutely unmotivatable. Tasban often suspected both openly and inwardly that Branch was a bit... slow. Perhaps he didn't Hatch quickly enough, didn't get enough air in time, as sometimes happens to human babies. And of course, he knew for a -fact- that poor white Tailbiter was improperly developed. The white flit was tiny even for a white and showed various neotenous traits. It was absolutely sexless and even though it was 10 Turns old, it looked and acted like it was only half grown. Tailbiter was the flit equivalent of the perpetual child, in short, and while Tasban loved and cared for all three of his flits with equal yet individualised love and attention, he could not lie to himself about the capacity of either Branch or Tailbiter to do work.
He would simply have to Impress at least four more fire lizards and train them, that's all. He had plenty of Turns to do it in and he actually relished the idea of the challenge. He loved the Leathercraft, even hoped perhaps to become a Master someday now that he knew he'd never be a dragonrider, but working with fire lizards added spice and variety to his life and allowed him to feel close to dragonkind despite still being just Tasban, not the dashing Wingleader T'ban he'd often fantasized about being as a young boy.
So when he received a note from a weyrling asking him for help, he was obscurely pleased. He liked the idea of being consulted by riders for help with their fire lizards. It meant he was genuinely doing well in training Fishhook; clearly, people had noticed.
Strictly speaking, Tasban had work he ought to have been doing, but one of the privileges of being a Journeyman is that to a certain degree, as long as your work gets done on time, you get to choose when to do it and in what order... at least, when the Master isn't watching. Besides, a dragonrider had requested his help, and, mere weyrling or no, you didn't tell a dragonrider 'no' if you could help it.
So Tasban had sent blue Fishhook, protesting but obedient, with an affirmative response. And now he was walking to the specified meeting spot on the appointed day and time. He was wearing better clothing than he usually did, including a pair of leather breeches and a leather coat made of many irregularly shaped and sized pieces of suede in various shades of jade, emerald, sapphire, ruby, and inky black all sewn together in an interesting pattern, both of which he had made himself. He was unconsciously advertising his professional skills as well as trying to look as good as he could for the encounter with the dragonrider. He was trying to show respect as well as appear respectable himself. He had even tried to do something about his generally unruly hair, ruthlessly untangling it with a comb, then pressing it down so it didn't fly wildly about.
Tasban spotted someone standing in the walking path ahead of him. That must be the weyrling he was meeting. On his shoulder, little white Tailbiter raised its head, hissing suspiciously until Tasban touched its hide, silencing it. Branch was sound asleep on his left shoulder, while Fishhook was flying about, inspecting just about everything they went by, snatching up interesting bits of nothing only to drop them again and move on, but never going too far from His, as if he were on an invisible leash. "Ho there," Tasban called, waving to the other person. "A'bral, is it?"
vergess - November 9, 2011 12:45 PM (GMT)
At the appearance of a new firelizard, in particular a new blue male- since Himay had made her claims on Hiko very clear as soon as kaira had even attempted a light hearted flirtation- Kaira abandoned her watchful post on a nearby limb to chat with him as he explored. What fun! Hers never did have enough friends, and with everyone else in the pair sectioned off by history or rank, Kaira was sometimes alone.
Toyotama and Tenno, at least, weren't fighting this morning, settled instead on branches in two separate trees. Sometimes, they would compete to see who could best please Theirs, and other times, they were unspeakably hateful towards eachother. This quiet ignorance was rather peaceful.
And, of course, Hiko and Himay were lounging upon head and shoulders respectively.
Having been waiting specifically for the man, A'bral had prepared a short sentence as greeting. But, as it often did around strange new people, his voice seemed to die. Instead, he nodded sharply in response to the question about his name. Which was definitely, as Zaketh liked to remind him, A'bral now.
After a deep breath, though, he managed to repeat his prepared words. If he could, he would have scripted the entire conversation, but that never worked out very well. Other people tended to diverge from his plans awkwardly.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Journeyman Tasban. Thank you for coming today." He began, voice flat, but words rushed together in a nervous huff. "I have been told that your blue can find things on other people's command. Is that true? And can you help me teach my fair?"
It was by far the most A'bral had spoken aloud since coming to the Weyr, especially since Neffa's impression a few months ago. He was almost proud of himself. And, Hiko and Himay were clearly proud too. The green even gave a little, cheerful trill of congratulations.
Lurhstaap - November 9, 2011 11:13 PM (GMT)
Tasban was surprised by the weyrling's formality. The other was stiff, clearly reciting a rehearsed greeting. It brought him up short, startling a rather doglike bark of laughter from the older man. "Shells, boy, it's just ol' Tasban. I ain't no Master y'all gotta duck an' scrape around." He snorted at the very notion, raising one thick, fuzzy eyebrow. "You just drop that 'Journeyman' stuff. Shards, you're the dragonrider, I oughta be makin' nice at you." The man seemed rather amused, clapping A'bral on the shoulder.
Little white Tailbiter's eyes whirled with scarlet-orange aggravation, but Tasban put a thick, callused finger to its muzzle again without even looking at the creature and it settled, though not without a resentful rattle of wings. Tailbiter felt possessive of Tasban, especially with so many strange fire lizards about. Fishhook, however, welcomed Kaira's company, chattering brightly at her about the many random "treasures" he had found on the walk out there. Pebbles! And bugs! And smelly flowers that made you sneeze!
"Now, then, 'bout these time-wasters," the Leatherman continued, chuckling as he ran a soothing, affectionate finger over Tailbiter's hide to keep the white quiet. Despite the term used, his tone was affectionate and it was clear he was devoted to his lizards. "Fishhook's a stubborn boy, but 'e's a bright one. I got 'im bringin' us in the Leatherworkin' Cavern all kindsa stuff. For the most part, now, 'e only listens to me, but if you know th' way of it," he winked, "you can get 'im to do anything. Jes' prick 'im in the pride!" A booming, rolling chortle. "As for your lot -- blimey, you got a good fair there, don'cha? -- Yeah, as fer them, you'll hafta learn their ways, their minds an' foibles, so as to find the right strings ta pluck," he concluded with a wink.
"I ain't gonna lie," Tasban noted, raising one index finger warningly while the other hand was still busy caressing Tailbiter. "Not all flits're cut out fer workin'. Outta three a'mine I got ezzak'ly ONE -- " He pointed to Fishhook, playing with his newfound friend. " -- that's any good. But sure 'nuff," he nodded smartly, "if any'a yers got the smarts an' the will, we can git some good work outta 'em!"
vergess - November 9, 2011 11:56 PM (GMT)
A'bral flinched away from the sensation of the man's hand on his shoulder, casting a panicked glance at the offending limb while Himay hissed warningly. The green wasn't capable of making much of a threat, with her strophied muscles, but Hiko's red eyes revealed his anger. Theirs didn't like touching! Why didn't this man know that? Well, he would know!
Unable to quite wrap his mind around a proper command, A'bral wordlessly copied the man's gesture, silencing Hiko with a fingertip. It worked surprisingly well, though probably only because Hiko, of any of his fair, was the most likely to be trainable. Then, perhaps Toyotama, though she was too young to tell, as was Kaira. Himay was too weak to do much, and the idea of forcing her to strengthen herself was vaguely nauseating. And Tenno... A'bral shot a quick glance at the bronze. If Toyotama could be trained, Tenno would follow along just to show her up.
He tried to make sense of the man's explanation of his own firelizards, but it did make his head swim somewhat. Though, that was probably more related to his pronunciation than the content. It sounded familiar, but he'd only come into contact with such strong accentuation a few times, and Neffa had always been there to translate.
Perhaps this had been a bad idea.
Himay wriggled in what was intended to be a soothing manner, and A'bral took a deep breath.
"Hiko." He said finally, as if that was an answer. But, of course, it wasn't. Wide eyed and anxious from his own confusion, A'bral nodded to dislodge the blue from his head. Go get this. He commanded silently, visualizing the small jar of numbweed on his bed, given to him to treat scrapes that Zaketh might incur.
The Blue winged up and away, disappearing. It would take eight seconds for him to reach the Weyr, eight more to return. Plenty of time for A'bral to construct his next sentence. "Hiko listens well." He explained, each word drawn out carefully. Was it possible that his own diction was hard for Tasban to understand? Perhaps that was the reason for those comments about 'making nice' and 'ducking and scraping'? "Sent for a jar."
And, on cue, Hiko returned, jar clutched tightly in his talons. It was awkwardly heavy for the small blue, but he managed. There was frost on the ceramic, but otherwise, it was safe and sound when Hiko placed it at A'bral's feet, chittering proudly enough to momentarily draw Kaira away from her examination of all the wonderful things Fishhook was showing off. Not for long though. They were doing the fetching thing again, and that was always boring.
Lurhstaap - November 10, 2011 02:50 AM (GMT)
Tasban observed the way the boy quieted his lizards when they reacted defensively (not recognizing that it was just mimickry of what he himself had done,) saw how the blue left and returned promptly with what he'd been asked to get. He grinned, folding his strong arms over his chest with satisfaction. "Wellnow, that one's got it down. Looks t'me like it's yer self-confidence needin' some buildin', boy, not yer trainin' skills." Remembering how awkwardly the other had taken his previous backslap, Tasban resisted the impulse to repeat it. He was a folksy, backwoods sort, having been born and raised in one of Ista Hold's smaller, more remote cotholds; and no matter how long he lived in Ista Weyr that would likely never change. He was also totally deaf to his own accent. To him it was the well-educated folk of the main Hold and the Weyr that had an accent. He didn't find it difficult to interpret, but it definitely sounded excessively formal.
"Now, what's it ye're wantin' from 'em that they ain't doin'? Y'all wouldn'ta asked iffen there weren't somethin'."
vergess - November 11, 2011 03:16 PM (GMT)
Confidence building? That was an odd idea, to A'bral. Could one simply learn confidence, the same way people learned reading? Then again, given his current issues with that particular skill, he probably couldn't. He shook his head at the suggestion, then, but Tasban had moved on to other things.
A'bral studied the jar at his feet, trying to put together the right words. How could he explain this to someone without a bond to his mind? He delicately lifted it, and held it out to Tasban awkwardly.
"I tell Hiko; he brings it." He said, slowly. That was a good start. He paused for a moment, while Hiko spiralled lazily over head. "You tell Hiko, he doesn't."
Was that enough? Did he need to say more? Maybe. But he stood ramrod straight, feeling as if he had somehow done something wrong. Maybe he shouldn't have asked for help at all. But then, how was he supposed to train his flitters to listen to others, if there weren't any others around?
No, this was the right thing to do. But he wished almost desperately that Zaketh could be there, with him. Zaketh was much better with words, always understanding what A'bral meant and telling him how to tell others. Except, Zaketh was still young, and slept most of the day, rousing to eat and bathe.
"You understand?" He asked finally, in a small voice.
Lurhstaap - November 11, 2011 08:34 PM (GMT)
Tasban could tell the boy was in dire need of some self-esteem boosting, but he wasn't sure how to accomplish it at that moment. He chewed at his lower lip thoughtfully. He'd come up with a way. These youngin's often needed such encouragement to test their wings and learn they weren't as weak as they thought they were. But he didn't mention it again for the moment; harping on the topic likely wouldn't work with A'bral... at least, not until the right moment. You could use words to get into some folk's heads, but not everyone's, and even then, timing was critical. He'd have his say... but not -just- yet. So instead the Leathercrafter simply focused on what the weyrling was telling him, nodding slightly as he did so to communicate that he was following the other.
"Yep, yep, them's definitely two different bowls o' bait," Tasban agreed, kneeling to pick a grass stem nearby to chew on idly. This specific species of grass had a rather sweet flavor and he'd developed the habit of chewing it as a child, many, many Turns ago. He simply chewed for a moment, regarding A'bral. Then he spoke around the grass stem in his teeth. "Boy, you gotta unnerstand somethin'. Most folk woulda had to ask help even to get this far. The average flit ain't trained worth a shell," he snorted, spitting to one side. "People jes' don't bother 'ceptin' if their flit's a particular nuisance. An' even then some people jes' let 'em go 'round, stealin' food an' shiny stuff from folk, actin' all long-sufferin' like they can't do nothin' about it." He pointed a thick, callused, dye-stained finger at A'bral and waved it sternly. "But you ain't gonna make it any further without believin' y'all can do it! You gotta be firm with 'em, no doubt, no sway in yer mind, or they'll pick up on it."
He leaned back on his heels, regarding the other, then spoke again, removing the grass stem from his mouth. "You got the skill to do this, boy. You just need a bit 'o guidance, an' a bit o' confidence. I can give y'all the guidance, but yer gonna hafta find the confidence fer yerself, boy. Can't no one fix a man's mind for 'im but 'imself."
vergess - November 15, 2011 06:33 PM (GMT)
A'bral stared with what would politely be called a dazed expression at the man. Perhaps he was misinterpreting that accent again. Because, really, the idea that he might have some kind of unusual skill was... mind boggling. Compared to his siblings, compared to his peers, even compared to Zaketh, though the dragonet would never admit it, he had always been somewhere a level below.
But, the more he thought on the idea, the more sense it made. He had assumed that people were merely lazy with their firelizards. He had a schedule, after all, and rules that couldn't be broken. Not without setting him into a fit. But most people didn't live like that. He had concluded that, perhaps, firelizards were like him: craving rigidity.
Had he really... Forced them to obey? The idea was simultaneously horrible and alluring. And, apparently, his gut response had been stronger than he'd realized, for the moment a sense of guilt- had he harmed them? Made them go against their own tiny wishes?- tried to settle, all five flitters were making obnoxious noises. Himay and Hiko attempted to give reassuring croons. Kaira had chirped confusedly- guilty? What was guilt? And, the metallic pair, as was their way, were reprimanding him for being so silly. Of course they needed him. Who else would lead them? Tenno even added the impression that Toyo was certainly far too young, which the Gold took immediate insult from, darting from her branch to his, to nip at him punishingly.
And that cacophony too seemed to support the man's theory. "Sway?" He asked, quietly. This was what the man meant, by sway and doubt, wasn't it?
The boy's brows drew together, as he tried to work his way through this issue as well.
Did that mean, all he had to do was... The word 'command' felt wrong somehow. All he had to do was make his firelizards want to obey others as much as he wanted them to?
It sounded easy, phrased like that. But he could tell it would not be simple. It might have been, before, but now the idea that he might hurt them had sprouted in his mind, he knew it would take a long time.
Still. At least he could now try.
"No confidence." He agreed, very slowly. "But... I will learn." The last words came out more forcefully than he had intended. Words often did seem to disobey him. But the sentiment was true enough. He couldn't learn to read, but he would learn this. It would be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, in its fashion.
Lurhstaap - November 16, 2011 02:10 PM (GMT)
Tasban watched his young charge -- for so he'd already begun to think of the boy, so certain was he that the Weyrling would rise to the challenge; was he not a dragonman, after all? -- carefully as he digested what he, Tasban, had said. Placing his grass stem between his teeth again, he chewed on it, apparently idly, but his gaze was focused, keen, and alert as it rested on A'bral, noting subtle shifts in facial expression and posture as the boy slowly but surely worked his way through the older man's words in his own fashion. He knew better than to say or do anything to interrupt the other's thought process just then. Besides, truthfully, he'd said his piece. Tasban was a plainspoken man, and he said what he thought in ways that were rather blunt but also had the virtue of being fairly concise. Sometimes it might take him a moment to work his way around to the right words for what he was trying to express -- he was no Harper-educated boy with 'good larnin', as he called it, and his vocabulary occasionally failed him -- but he'd said all that he felt he needed to say.
So the Journeyman just stood there, running the tip of one big, callused, scarred, dye-stained finger over little white Tailbiter's hide, waiting patiently for A'bral to complete his processing. When the boy finally spoke, Tasban listened expressionlessly at first. When A'bral was finished, the blank look held for a moment or two longer. Then the older man's pale eyes twinkled, and, apparently either forgetting the other's discomfort with physical contact or unable to resist the impulse, favored A'bral with another between-us-men style thump on the back.
"'Atta boy! See? You got the right idear already. Most folk, they'd say somethin' like, oh, I ain't got such good confidence... but I can change." Tasban's bluff, hearty face was serious now, and he frowned down at his charge, trying to make certain he understood. Removing the grass stem from his mouth again, he pointed it at A'bral. "What'd y'all say t'me? Think back," he said, but without waiting for an answer he completed his own sentence. "Y'said, 'I will learn."
There was a brief pause, in which Tasban gazed down at A'bral, then slowly began chewing on the grass stem again. It was getting rather short as he bit pieces off, chewed them, then spat them out. Such expectorations had punctuated the conversation periodically since he'd picked the grass. In fact, he looked at it for a moment, apparently decided it had become too short, tossed it aside, and bent to pick a replacement. He came up chewing the fresh grass stem.
"D'you know why those two words're so important, boy?"