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Chapter One: Search Comes to Southern Boll

This is Pernfic. It has no title yet.

Word count: 2194

The day the Searchriders came, Tealtesa was in the weaving room helping her father with some undyed wool broadcloth on the big loom. Tealtesa wasn't apprenticed at the Weaver Hall, and she didn't expect to be; the plain tabby weave of the broadcloth was all her meager skills could aspire to, but she could make it nice and even with the proper tension, and Nialt insisted both his daughters keep up the practice, since it would come in useful wherever she settled. Everybody needed cloth.

But oh, it was boring! Tealtesa wished she had the skill of her friend Jessana, who was apprenticed and who could not only weave beautiful patterned twills but was also special apprentice to the Master Tailor himself. Her garments were almost as fine as those made by Tealtesa's mother, Tertha, who was a talented journeyman, which rank Jessa was expected to gain any day now.

Nialt was the reason Tertha wasn't actually journeying and hadn't done so for almost twenty Turns. He was a teaching master weaver (although not the Masterweaver) here at the Weaver Hall, had just gained his mastery when Tertha espoused him, and so they had settled here, hoping to raise their children in the trade.

That hadn't worked out. Tealtesa didn't have the aptitude for it, and while her older sister, Niatesa, did, what she didn't have was the interest. Nia didn't mind weaving or sewing, but she considered the fine, delicate work frivolous, and would only consent to make "practical" garments--boring, plain, everyday clothes in sturdy fabrics, with excellent fit and, Tealtesa had to admit, usually quite nice lines, but nothing like the fashionable gather wear that was their mother's specialty.

Nia was boring and sturdy and practical, just like her work: meticulously correct in every detail, and insistent that everyone else should be as well. The line of her mouth, seemingly always pursed in annoyance, was as tiny and straight as her careful stitches. Even for best she wore the kind of clothes she made, fading into the background at gathers in boring, modest dresses in muted tones, no jewellery to speak of, her hair pulled back severely from her face, never dancing with any of the boys from Hold or Hall, her lips always set in that thin little line.

Tealtesa thought Nia was strait-laced to the point of being ridiculous, and on top of it was wasting what she had. Nia's coloring was like their mother's, flame-red hair and bright green eyes designed to catch the eye, but Nia seemed always to try to blend in with the walls. Tealtesa didn't understand how someone could have such natural advantages and not make use of them. She herself had their father's coloring: dust-blonde hair and grey eyes, nothing to make anyone look at her twice. She had to make up for it with the colors and wild patterns of her clothes, which thankfully she had Jessa to help her make since Nia wouldn't stoop to it and Tertha was usually busy with Braenna's latest request.

Braenna was the younger daughter of Lord Bonn's second son, and she was a beauty. Tall, slender, graceful, her waist-length satiny hair the sunlight blonde that Tealtesa's would never be, she had a proud bearing and an eye for fashion (and a deep purse) that Tealtesa could only envy. Few were the days Tertha could not be found in her workroom, draping one of Braenna's latest fancies on the mannequin in shades of blue and green.

Braenna came to Tertha not because she was the best or the most sought-after of the Hall's working tailors--there were several among those not busy teaching who were better and whose work was more highly-prized, although Tertha was very good--but because she had found Tertha the easiest to work with. Tealtesa loved to watch the second-nature ease with which Braenna and her mother worked out the details of a new sketch, the one often saying what the other was thinking. Their visions of fashion were very much in tune; Braenna had found in Tertha the perfect designer, and Tertha in Braenna the perfect client. It was a joy to help bring their creations to life, even if the most Tealtesa could do without ruining them was to help with the measuring and cutting and to stand in the room saying "yes" or "no" when they needed someone to ask whether some design experiment worked.

Braenna was likely in Tertha's workroom now, Tealtesa thought, her hands working steadily over the loom alongside her father's. She wished it had been her turn instead of Nia's to help their mother work. Nia would only complain the whole time about how silly it was to wear something so frivolous as whatever Braenna was wanting, and it would only put her off.

The watchdragon bugled a greeting, which was answered by more than one dragon voice, and Tealtesa looked to Nialt for permission. He granted it with a nod and a small, indulgent smile; she dropped her shuttle and ran to the window, flinging open the shutters and poking her head out into the fresh breeze of the courtyard between Hall and Hold to watch the three dragons, two blues and a brown, touching down on the well-swept flagstones not three dragonlengths from her. The wind of their great wings closing ruffled her fine hair and she grinned, turning her beaming face back to her father, and said: "Two blues and a brown--do you think it's a Search?"

Nialt chuckled at his daughter's enthusiasm. "We'll know soon enough, Tealta. Maybe they just want new tunics."

*****


"Ordeth says there are several minds here that might be right for dragons," said Garinna, hopping down her dragon's shoulder with a spryness that belied her Turns.

Ordeth is right, Werenth said. I sense them too.

D'noz felt the corner of his mouth turn up, patting his dragon's forelimb. Later, big guy. Go sit in the sun, we've work here you can't help with.

Werenth rumbled affectionately and sprang into the sky, Ordeth and Bikuth following him to land on the fireheights and chat with the watchdragon--looked like Wiketh from here. It is her, Werenth told him, exchanging affectionate nuzzles with the green; D'noz raised a hand to wave at Wilinna, Wiketh's rider, who gave a small wave back. He remembered she had been stationed somewhere but he hadn't known it was here. Their dragons got on well, and that was something; D'noz wasn't sure, though, whether she liked him. She was the shyest greenrider he had ever met. Not that he would prefer her otherwise.

Lord Bonn and Lady Anathra were coming across the courtyard to meet them. As D'noz politely inclined his head, he saw out of the corner of his eye the Masterweaver rushing out of the Hall. He smirked to himself; Master Coran was always a little late.

"Wingleader!" Lord Bonn greeted D'rial exuberantly, shaking him firmly by the hand.
"Lord Bonn, Lady Anathra," said D'rial, smiling. "And Master Coran, how have you been?"

"Fine, fine," said Coran, still thrusting his arm through the sleeve of his jacket so he could accept D'rial's hand. "Busy, as always." The dragonriders laughed politely. "To what do we owe this pleasure?"

D'rial grinned. "Well, as you know, there's a clutch on the sands at Fort." He raised his eyebrows. "These are my Searchriders, Garinna and D'noz."

The blueriders shook hands with Lord, Lady and Masterweaver, Garinna greeting them crisply while D'noz raised a sardonic eyebrow. "Garinna has been doing this a lot longer than I have," he said.

"It's the boy's first Search," Garinna said. "My ninth."

D'noz glanced sidelong at her. "My first except for the one you brought me in on," he said, and she ruffled his hair.

"Knew you and Werenth would have the knack for it before he was a Turn out of shell," she said. "Neither of them does a lot of talking," she went on, addressing the Holders and Weaver, "but they definitely pay attention."

"Well, we're honored that you've come to Southern Boll," said Lady Anathra, smiling, "and we certainly hope you find what you're looking for."

"Please come inside," said Lord Bonn. "My steward will show you to the guest quarters, and get you settled in in time for dinner."

*****


Niatesa was womanfully restraining herself from rolling her eyes and viciously sticking pins into the hemline of Braenna's latest creation as the girl nattered on to Tertha about some silly thing. The two of them were like wherry hens, chattering on the way they did; it was ridiculous. Tertha behaved like an eighteen-Turn-old herself, for all she'd thirty eight. It almost shamed Niatesa to call her mother, the way she acted, gossiping with the Hold girls about boys as if she wasn't twenty Turns espoused and a mother for nineteen of them. How Nialt put up with it Niatesa would never know; but she did have her father's patience, and she grit her teeth and held her tongue and kept sticking the pins into the fabric.

She almost stuck Braenna in her slender ankle when a round-faced and prepubescent apprentice burst through the door, startling all three of them. "Some dragonriders have come from Fort Weyr," he cried. "They're saying it's a Search!"

Niatesa lifted an eyebrow skeptically. "And who did you hear that one from, Porret?" she asked. "You can't believe everything you hear, you know."

Porret scowled at her. "I seen 'em in the courtyard myself," he insisted. "Ninna--" a senior apprentice weaver and not given to exaggeration-- "swears she heard the brown rider say the word 'Search'."

"Be that as it may," said Niatesa. "Can't you see we're busy?"

"Nia!" Tertha scolded. "Sure Porret's right to think we'd want to be told there's a Search!"

"Are the dragonriders very handsome?" said Braenna wistfully. Niatesa snorted.

Porret wrinkled his nose. "Why do girls always care what everybody looks like?" he asked rhetorically before sprinting off down the corridor, presumably to burst into another workroom with his news. Sure enough, Niatesa shortly heard his muffled voice shouting at someone else.

"My!" said Tertha. "Just think, some of our own friends and neighbors might be going to the Weyr." She covered her mouth with her hands. "Why, it might even be one of you girls, you're both the right age!"

"Did you ever have a chance to be Searched, Tertha?" asked Braenna, and Niatesa rolled her eyes again to hear the breathy tone of the girl's voice. Our age, she thought. I'm a full Turn older than she is.

"No," Tertha was saying sadly, "there was one when I'd twelve Turns and then another when I'd twenty, but I was already espoused and suckling Nia by then and it was too late." She sighed. "I'm happy to be a tailor and here with Nialt, of course."

Niatesa ducked her head. Of course her mother loved her, silly as she was, but every child on Pern cherished the hope of a chance at his or her very own dragon.

"Of course," said Braenna, patting Tertha on the arm. "Nobody would say you're ungrateful for what you have. And anyone can see you're happy here."

Niatesa stuck the final pin into the hem and stood, cracking her neck. Braenna was standing still as a statue while Tertha pinned some frivolous ruffled thing to her bodice and they both made indecipherable noises over its placement. "Nia, do you think this looks right?" said Tertha at length.

Niatesa did roll her eyes this time as she stepped around Braenna and glanced at the ruffle. "It's fine," she said.

"You didn't even look at it," said Tertha chidingly.

Niatesa glanced ceilingward as if to gather strength from the dragons she knew were sat on the fireheights and looked properly at the ruffle. She sighed. "I think the whole thing is silly, but you ought to move it about an inch to the left. It throws off the proportions as it is."

Tertha stood back, one hand on her hip and the other one pressed to her mouth. "I think you're right," she said at last, and started unpinning the ruffle. "And that will be the end of this fitting, I think, Braenna; I'll put in the hem and you can come back tomorrow."

"Oh, no, Tertha," Braenna giggled, "tomorrow's a rest day."

"The day after, then," Tertha laughed. "Too bad it won't be finished for tomorrow; with Searchriders here there's bound to be a Gather."

"If you're finished," Niatesa began.

"Run along, Nia," said Tertha. "I know you'll want to change before dinner."

Niatesa didn't; she didn't think there was much point in dressing in frippery just to put food in one's mouth, and she certainly wouldn't have been fitting a client--even if it wasn't her client, and even if it was Braenna--in clothing that could be considered inappropriate. But there was no use getting into it with Tertha for the umpteenth time.

"Thank you for your help, Niatesa," said Braenna sweetly. Niatesa managed not to glare at her from the door.

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Comments

( 7 found this pack — howl )
drelfina
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
new names! :D

of course one of the problems I have with fic like this is that there'd be that whole, blossoming thing. where the girl who is plain and whatever gets CHOSEN!!! and all. >.> I guess I read too much YA or something, because it's starting to get old.

And I actually am wnating to like Nia, but I get the feeling that whole pragmatism is laid on a bit thick? like she is trying too hard to write a pragmatic austere person, and comes across as pretentious, and I keep thinking that there are other ways that she could be pragmatic without rubbing everyone up the wrong way.

Though, I'm interested enough to want to read the next chapters - or more.

... and I haven't read pern fic for so long, the whole medieval-centric chauvanism makes me squirm now. argh. *wants to beat McCaffery in the head for a bit*
slythwolf
Nov. 4th, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
Nia is kind of pompous. She has certain ideas about The Way Things Should Be, and they are really too rigid to survive the shaking up of her life that is going to be her getting Searched and going to the Weyr and all that goes on there. She is going to have to reevaluate some things and do some growing.
drelfina
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
well, then, I'm glad she's going to get a shwoing. :P It's almost liek I can guess it'd either be Nia or her sister who get searched. Or both.

It'd be interesting to see them both be searched.

Are you going to stay with the lines AM stipulated, or can women be chosen for any colours?

(Yay for weyrwoman and Weyrleaders both being female! possibly.)
slythwolf
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's a great question but I'm not going to answer it because it's kind of a plot point. ^_~
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( 7 found this pack — howl )

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