Digging It Out


Ahnika.jpg F'min.jpg Isilna.jpg

Date: 8/15/10 (IC: Day #: 07 Month #: 09 Turn #: 1 Time: 09:34:00 AM)
Location: EW: Lakeshore
Synopsis: Chorework at the lake with Ahnika and Isilna, and F'min dropping in with his two cents, too, as the three
Rating: PG
Logger: Ahnika

Eastern Weyr: Lakeshore

At present, this large scoop in the ground - which only grows larger each day - looks a bit odd. There's a string of makeshift fencing around the edges to try and keep those without business there out of the way. However, small wooden poles and three lines of twine are more of a suggestion than a deterrent, and weyrbrats can often be seen playing in the sections not filled with digging workers. A small sign hung on the highest bit of twine states 'LAKE HOPELESS' in forcibly fancy script, yet there's not a drop of water to be seen anywhere in the scoop.

Nearly mid-morning and mid-shift of the candidate detail sent to work on the Lakebed today finds the young potential riders under a clear sky of warm sunshine for a change. Ahnika is here as well, having drawn the early shift for lake-digging for chore duty today. While it is not raining as it has been, the ground is still damp enough to make this dirty, sweaty and hard labor. With a swipe of her sleeve at the side of her face, Ahnika glances around the quartered off section of the lake that her particular assigned detail was sent to dig and move rocks out of. Then she gets back to work, shifting between a shovel and a pick as either are needed.

One of the people in the same detail as Ahnika is having a hard time of it. Isilna hadn't exactly recoiled from all the dirt and digging that they'd be doing, but she's simply not used to such manly tasks. Men dug ditches and such, women did other things, in her mind. Furtively she looks at the others at the task, some already sweaty and toiling away, while she has only half-heartedly plodded on with her section. Her pickwork is almost dangerous, so one of the others quickly gives her a shovel and tersely orders her to dig. Her firelizard chirrups encouragingly and even gets down in the hole to help with the digging, tearing up great gouts of muck and mud as if he hadn't just been oiled that morning. "What are we doing here?" Isilna mutters under her breath as she struggles to outline whatever rock her shovel just clanged against.

Occasionally, Ahnika looks over at Isilna, though there’s no teasing note to the glance. She actually seems to be trying to keep an eye on the newest candidate out of genuine concern and encouragement. When someone hands Isilna a shovel and tersely orders her to dig, Ahni purses her lips together. When the firelizard gets involved, trying to help, Ahni actually laughs, and cheers him on. It is with the question that the redhead shrugs, smiling over to her, “The weyr needs a lake, so we’re helping to dig it.” Simple and uncomplicated as that as far as Ahni is concerned. Watching Isilna a moment longer, Ahni offers, trying to be helpful, “Try to work the shovel with your thighs and back like this,” and demonstrates, “And then your arms. And don’t forget to stretch after, or you’ll be even more sore come morning.” She returns to her own work, commenting, “I bet this ain’t like nothing you’ve ever had to do before. But you’re smart. You’ll get used to it.” As if it takes more brains than brawn to dig a lake.

Isilna seems grateful for the suggestions on how to make the chore easier on her, but shakes her head at how Ahni took her question. "I didn't mean what we're doing here right now, toiling like drudges," she explains, although she puts the redhead's suggestion to use. It's an awkward motion at best. "I meant, here at the Weyr," she adds, sounding rather dispirited. Mellon's attempts to help her are noticed, and she spares the bronze a warm smile and thought of approval, careful to ensure her shoveling doesn't get too close to him. "It's like the world's turned upside down, and I don't know what I should be doing, or how I should be going it." She pauses and then quietly admits, first checking to see if anyone too close is listening, "If I know it wouldn't offend to say so, I would surmise that T'ryn's brown Ockath hadn't actually selected me… they just wanted me to get away from the Hold somewhere safe." When she finishes figuring out the length and breadth of the stone she's found, she does try to pull it free, but she simply hasn't got the strength, and she rises upright once more. "I don't belong here."

Ahnika is good at talking and listening while working. In fact, she generally prefers having something for her hands to do while socializing, and so she is able to spare another couple of glances for Isilna as she digs, pausing now and again to load a rock onto one of the wheelbarrows nearby. Some might sniff at the ‘toiling like drudges’ statement, but not Ahni. When Isilna clarifies she meant the weyr, Ahni nods in better understanding, though she doesn’t respond to it. Instead, she allows the other candidate to get everything said, only a brief arching of her eyebrows to the statement about Ockath, and then more silence stretches for a brief time after her last and then Ahnika says simply, “You know, I didn’t even have a dragon Search me.” She grunts a bit at a particularly heavy load on the shovel, and then continues, “I had a bronzerider throw me over his shoulder like a sack of tubers and carry me halfway down to the Headwoman’s office for my knot. For all I know, since a dragon wasn’t involved, I’m just as much not meant to be here as anyone.” Her expression is somewhat somber about that prospect, her grey eyes darkening, and without any pomp and fuss, she moves over to where Isilna is and wedges the shovel against the hard-to-move rock, trying to use the shovel as leverage to help Isilna get it out. She does this without invitation. It is simply the thing that needs to be done and Ahni is right there to do it. Practical. “So, where would you want to be if you could be anywhere?” She asks, her gaze stealing a glance for Isilna a moment.

If anything, Ahnika's words only seem to prove Isilna's theory that being Searched must be some kind of con job, and her expression says so more eloquently than anything she might say. With Mellon's assistance, the stone that Ahni is levering up is hauled out of the lakebed and manhandled with much straining and grunting to the cart to be hauled out later. At the question, the exiled Lady Holder shakes her head, leaning on her shovel once more, already winded by that single excavation. She ignores a snide comment from one of the other workers. "I don't know. Benden was my home. The only place I ever really knew. And now, I have no Hold, no real place here, and nothing but a stupid gown that's only good if someone else of my former rank married. Even these clothes I'm wearing are borrowed. I have not had a chance to speak to the headwoman about getting something else so I can return these."

Taking a moment to catch her breath after helping with that one rock, Ahnika sticks the shovel in the dirt and leans on the handle, looking at Isilna as she shares. Anyone who says anything to her or Isilna, Ahni just gives them a ‘look’ and then turns back to the Benden lady, definitely giving her the rest of her attention. Her grey eyes scan Isilna’s clothes, and more specifically, sizing the other woman up – literally. “Should have said something about that sooner. I visit the Headwoman frequently enough on my own time. I’ll have some fresh clothes sitting on your bunk before the end of the day. They won’t be the finery you’re used to, but they’ll be yours and not something borrowed.” She then steps back over to the corner she was working at before helping Isilna, and after a moment says, “That gown sounds pretty, though. I wish I’d been able to see it, or the wedding for that matter. Bet my foster da would have given his arm to be able to go.” Then as if to explain, she adds a heartbeat, “He’s a Weaver.” Another grunt to the work at hand and then Ahnika asks, “So, were there a lot of people there? Sounds like it’s something that takes a lot of planning. A long time.” If Ahnika is trying to be distracting or comforting, it’s perhaps not done as subtly or even smoothly as a mindhealer or diplomat might do. Though, at least she’s not ranting at the other woman about how she shouldn’t dwell on things she can’t change and to just suck it up. Perhaps the fact that Ahni is talking to Isilna like this draws a few curious eyes, those who know her well enough anyway.

Isilna blinks and looks at Ahnika for a moment, surprised and even touched by the offer of kindness. "Thank you," she says, taking a moment to wipe something that's not quite sweat from her face. "I'm used to making my own clothes," she adds, "but not from the same sorts of fabrics. It was what we did while the Hold staff did their work. Mother would never let any of us pick fabrics from common Hold stores." She sighs softly, now aware more than ever of how that was a privilege. "I've the dress in the barracks in my press," she says. "It's all I have left of the place, and Masterweaver Torina herself worked on it… I couldn't just tear it up into rags or something useful, could I?" she asks rhetorically. After another sigh, she nods. "There were a great many people there. Many Lord Holders and their Ladies, various Weyrleaders and Weyrwomen, like Alara here. The Masterharper was to officiate." A grimace and pitying look appears on her face. "Well, he got to do that, anyway. Poor Isabella… but she wouldn't mind Lord Voronis," she says, mindful of the fact she now has to call him by his rank the same as everyone else. And then her eyes fall on one of the spectators watching the candidates work, a herdsman supposedly keeping an eye on the herd, but there's none in the bowl. "Who's that?" she asks in a low tone.
At the thanks, Ahnika looks up from her shoveling and smiles to her, nodding, “Sure. We all do for each other here when we can,” spoken as if she’s lived in weyrs all her life, which she hasn’t. Then she looks back at her work, nodding and listening once more. “Well, if you’ve of a mind to show it at all sometime, I’d love to see what something like that looks like,” she says. Making plans for her own dress perhaps? Max, be afraid! She nods again at talk of the wedding and all the arrangements. She pauses after a moment and rubs her hand across her forehead, frowning thoughtfully, “So, I s’pose it was something invitations went out for a long time ago? The date was set awhile back, yeah?” Poor Ahni. She’s really trying hard and not very good at this sort of thing. And then the herdsman is spotted and Isilna draws attention to him. Ahnika stops working, breathing a little heavily and wiping some of the sweat from her face with her tunic. She peers up at the herdsman, murmuring with a frown, “I don’t know,” and in Ahni’s favorite sledgehammer way, she yells, “If you’re looking for your sharding herd, they’re not down here sucking up the mud!!” She is definitely in no position to go running after the person. She’ll never catch the herdsman when she has to climb out of the lake first. But maybe it will draw attention to him and someone closer will do something about it.

Isilna nods as she and Ahnika are toiling away at the bottom of the lake's eventual bed with a bunch of other candidates this late morning. Her firelizard is helping them, rather enthusiastic of the critter. "It was set awhile ago, yes," she affirms with a nod of her head and another pause to wipe her brow, leaving a trail of mud behind. And then when Ahnika yells at the herdsman, Isilna blinks at the behavior. "Lord Voronis wanted it sooner. In fact, as soon as the Conclave agreed to his taking over at Benden, but Mother wanted it done properly." She continues watching the herdsman uneasily. "I get the creepiest feeling from him," she says quietly to her companion.

F'min is on his way down towards the Lake bed, or what will be the lake bed, when he pauses, glancing up towards one of the blue dragons working on the lake. He shakes his head as he continues on down towards the candidates, then stops about a length away from Isilna and Ahnika, a choking sound coming from him as he 'hears' something from his dragon. He turns a bit red, and then smoothes his face over. "Go get her, old boy," he says out loud, before waving his hand to the two women. "Well met, how are ya ladies doin' today?" He swings a water skin from his shoulder and offers it to them.

Distractedly, Ahnika looks away from the herdsman, just hoping someone closer is going to interrogate him on why he is where he is and what he’s about loitering and ogling, without a herd. The weyr is on lockdown after all, and so just about anything suspicious should be investigated, at least as far as Ahni thinks. Instead, something Isilna says captures her interest, “What? He wanted it as soon as possible?” She sticks her shovel in the stony earth again and looks at it before looking back at Isilna, “And your mother insisted it be done when it was?” She seems thoughtful a moment about that, and then looks back at Isilna, “But all the guests knew when it was, too, didn’t they? Lots of time then.” She frowns thoughtfully again, hefting a pile of dirt and stone off the shovel, and nods, looking back to the herdsman once more, who must not have heard her or must not have been terribly moved by the outburst. “Yeah. Something ‘bout that seems downright unsettlin’ if you ask me.” And then F’min is there and she blinks a little at the rider, dipping her head to him, “Well enough, sir,” she says, smiling at the water skin, “Thank you.” She takes a long drink and then hands it over to Isilna, and while catching her breath offers, “And yourself, sir?” Another distracted look is spared the herdsman, and then back to F’min.

"I think Mother simply wanted the big show, make a huge event out of it," Isilna says and then smiles weakly as she spies the handsome rider that made her blush that one time at Landing. "Hello, F'min. How is your Voldrath today?" she asks quietly. "Um, sir. My apologies. I am still getting used to my changed status." The last time he saw her, she was wearing finery and jewels and a much larger knot than she has on now. Now, she's dirty and tired and confused and wearing borrowed clothes. Mellon launches himself out of the lakebed to chirrup a greeting to Voldrath, if he can find the brown nearby. "Voronis didn't want there to be any question to his taking Hold, although Lord Risdan of Nerat gave him a piece of his mind, saying the Hold had to stay in Benden Blood… so that's why he abruptly married Isabella, to keep his legitimacy. None of the Lord Holders wanted me to be Lady Holder… only that one widow, Liryia of Peyton Hold, Holds in her own right… and everyone's after her to marry, they don't care to whom. It's just the way of things in the Holds, really. I can't say I'm surprised Lord Gregor had a fit about me running away." She sighs again and once more does her best to work on the chore at hand, but then she hisses and looks at one of her hands, where a blister has cropped up already. "I need gloves for this, I fear." And then she gingerly gets back to work.

At the mention of Lord Gregor of Fort Hold, the herdsman suddenly moves out of sight.

Following the conversation of the two girls, F'min's eyes follow to Ahnika's to the herdsman's, and his eyes unfocus for a moment. As the herdsman disappears, a rather large brown dragon glides overhead, appearing to meander along but following the same general path. Because of this, the brownrider finds himself coming into the conversation belatedly, but it doesn't take him long to pick up on the fact that they are discussing marriages, and so he has nothing to add. He lets his hands drop as Ahnika takes the water skin, and nods to Isilna. "I'll let it this time, candidate," he grumbles in his seacrafter's accent, but he winks as he chastises, taking the sting out. "Doin' well, thank ya, Candidate, I'm not sure I caught y'r name, though." The last is directed back to Ahnika as he takes the waterskin back. He slings it over his shoulder, and nods his head, about to move on when Isilna notices her blister. "They should o'given y'gloves before y'started," he mentions, tugging at the fingers of his own riding gloves. "Here. Can't have y'gettin' blisters on y'r first day, then how can we make y'dig more tomorrah?" The black wherhide gloves are handed over. Granted a bit too big for Isilna, but they'll protect her hands.

Drink taken and handed over, Ahnika gets back to work herself, though she distractedly looks at Isilna as the other woman speaks about the whole affair with her wedding. At one point, she straightens, knuckles her back, and scratches her head, and then gets back to work, picking and digging out rocks and earth on this fine, warm and clear morning. Ahnika seems ready to say something about gloves, when F’min offers his riding gloves over to Isilna, and the redhead grins at the rider approvingly. A moment later, Ahnika says, “Ahnika, sir.” Briefly, her grey eyes stray skyward to the brown dragon moving overhead, and some of the tension in her shoulders actually ease. Not to say she likely won’t be telling someone about that herdsman now, she will. But she does feel a little better at least. Returning to her work, Ahnika returns to the topic at hand. “So, let me see if I can riddle this briar-patch out,” she says at long last to Isilna. “Lord Voronis tried to marry you sooner. Your mother wouldn’t let him. At the wedding, your betrothed was a terrible cad to you. You rejected him as any self-respecting woman of a sound mind would, and he ended up with Lady Isabella and your Hold. You got Searched and came here,” said without any sarcasm or bite to her tone. Ahnika genuinely wishes to understand this stuff and seems somewhat confused. She pauses to look at Isilna again, waiting to see if she broke things down to their most simplest parts. “Is that right?”

Isilna takes the gloves proffered solemnly, blushing faintly again. She can't help it that the brownrider is handsome. "Thank you," she mumbles while Mellon, her bronze firelizard, goes with Voldrath to spy upon the herdsman for a bit before he gets bored and comes back to help with the digging. "I think they may have assumed I had some gloves already, and I'm afraid I do not." She puts the gloves on, wiggling her fingers in as well as she can, but not before she strokes Mellon's eyeridges and gives him praise for a job well done. "I hope no one will think ill of me if I hope that I do not get this chore again tomorrow." She nods to Ahnika's words. "Although… it's pretty much standard procedure for Lord Holders to want to sow their seed, as it were. It's expected. Marriages of the Blood are ever so rarely done out of love. It's always for some political gain. I hold no illusions about that," she assures her listeners as she tries to get back to work. "It would not have been so bad if he hadn't had his other woman's name on the marriage mark." It was the one fact that no one had yet been told, and no one other than the Masterharper who'd scooped up the mark when she'd cast it aside to slap Voronis had seen.

F'min listens as the women talk about women talk about the wedding, his gaze wandering and unfocusing again. He nods once as Isilna mentions the ways of blood. "Have ta say, I was always glad t'be out o'that crowd. I was a crafter's son, an' would o' been a crafter m'self if Voldrath hadn't decided otherwise. I guess it's a bit different, since I've never actually been married, and can't really. But I'm not expected t'have t'live with a person I can't stand just t'make th'rest o'Pern happy." His dimples flash towards Isilna in sympathy for the predicament she was in. He turns to the readhead. "Ahnika. Well met, I'll do m'best t'remember th'name. An' if ya need yonder herdsman dropped off between, just let me know," he says with a wink as the brown comes circling back to land a couple lengths away.

Levering up another large stone from the ground with her shovel, Ahni wipes her brow with her sleeve once more before heaving the stone into the nearest wheelbarrow with some effort in catching her breath. Still, it’s clear she is listening to Isilna’s response and is definitely interested in learning about this sort of thing. Of course, Ahni wants to learn just about anything and everything, so that’s not terribly surprising. “That’s pretty dumb if you ask me,” which no one did, but Ahnika continues, getting back to work as she has caught her breath. “I mean, putting that other woman’s name on the mark was dumb. If he wanted a paramour so bad, and it’s something that Holders all considered expected, doing something like that is just begging to get caught and a right slap in the face. Yeah?” Of course, Ahni doesn’t understand yet that that was probably entirely intentional, that Voronis meant to do that as an insult to Isilna, and not an accident. The comments from F’min have Ahnika sliding her attention to him next, and she nods, smiling a little at the mention of the brownrider Impressing, and briefly looking wistful, her own desires clear. She nods to the response of introducing herself, and then blinks suddenly at the notion of the herdsman being dropped Between. The thought rather startling her to stillness, and she shakes her head, saying, “I think, uh, the weyrwomen should just be informed about his oddness, is all. Lurking about. Watching.” Then she shrugs a little and gets back to work, “Clear skies, sir!” smiling congenially to him, just as the smith in charge of their group calls for the shift rotation, sending those who had come in this morning, like Ahni and Isilna’s group, to lunch and bringing in the later group to take over. With an exhale and a roll of her shoulders, Ahnika remains behind some of the others to hand over the shovel to her shift relief. She starts to move out, and then looks at Isilna, “I was planning on having lunch with the headwoman, so I’ll talk to her about the clothes.”

"Well, I was," Isilna observes with great dignity. "Only, I really have no idea what to do now. If I Impress, and I consider that a very weak possibility, then I'll know something. But if I don't… what then? That is the question to which I have no answers. Plenty of well-meaning suggestions… such as find a craft to apprentice to, but there isn't a craft on Pern that would take someone as old as I." She doesn't speak from depression, but merely a bit of melancholy as she sizes up the facts as she sees them. She musters a grateful smile to Ahnika for her kindness. "Thank you. I honestly don't know what I'd do without your help."

F'min looks startled as Ahnika takes his suggestion of dropping the herdsman off between. "Uh, well, no. We wouldn't actually do that, y'know. It's not quite th'thing. But th'Weyrwoman is aware ov'em. He doesn' seem t'be th'one we're on lock down t'look fer, though." He nods to Ahnika's farewell, then turns to Isilna. "If y'do have any problems, just let me know. Y'can send yer firelizard t'Voldrath. Just tell him t'find th'big grumpy brown dragon, they all know 'im." He stands looking at the candidate for another moment, then he starts as the crews are called in for lunch. "Good day, Isilna. Y'never know what it is that'll impress a dragon. I didn'think I stood a chance, either." He backs off, then turns, and heading towards his dragon.

Ahnika looks a bit relieved at the mention of the weyrwomen already being informed of the herdsman and he’s likely not the one they’re looking for. She turns back to Isilna, then, “Well, I would think what you’d do if you didn’t Impress would just be a matter of focusing on things you like to do. You mentioned sewing earlier. If that’s what you like to do …” Ahnika’s voice drifts off a moment as she watches her shift relief start to take over her spot, but seeming to see through him and not really interested in what he is doing. “If you’ve not finished your candidate robe yet,” She says, suddenly, looking back at Isilna, “Then maybe after chores today in the barracks we can work on ours together and you can help give me pointers. I darn and mend well enough, but making my own robe from scratch will require some helpful suggestions, I think, from someone more experienced.” With that and a nod and a smile, Ahnika gives a final wave to F’min and then Isilna and starts to climb out of the lakebed, and onto lunch.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Lee Dorsey - "Working In a Coal Mine"

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