Manhandled Into Candidacy


Ahnika.jpg E'ro.jpg

Date: 7/20/10
Location: Eastern Weyr: Upper Hatching Galleries
Synopsis: E'ro comes looking for Ahnika, finding her sweeping in the Galleries. He apologizes for his previous behavior and talks to her about staying at Eastern and Standing. She accepts, but only on her terms and E'ro shows her just what he thinks of that.
Rating: PG-13 for mild language
Logger: Ahnika

Eastern Weyr: Upper Hatching Galleries

The galleries appear to be rather typical for type. Long rows of benches surround the warm sands, giving the guests a clear view of the place where it all happens. Six tiers of five benches each provide plenty of room for anyone to come in and sit during Hatchings or other times. The natural warmth of the Sands wafts up into the room, making it a more popular place in wintertime, especially for those reared under the hot Southern sun. A bar runs its course around the edge of the dais, protecting one and all from a fall, or worse yet, an angry gold dragon.

It’s not unusual for there to be the odd few people wandering around the galleries, with an impending clutch coming. Either a hopeful candidate or speculating rider, most often. Of course, then you also have the drudges who are working hard in the wake of the crafters who carved out this massive place. With the drudges working in shifts to sweep and make superficial repairs in preparation for clutch and the hatching itself, there are usually a handful about the place, likely. However, it is the usual hour for dinner and at present all the workers have vacated the galleries in favor of a full stomach. That is, all save for one. Ahnika is apparently choosing to continue working through the evening meal, sweeping along the stone rows. Her expression appears to be one of supreme concentration on the task at hand—or else she is brooding on something. The only really out-of-place thing is the large basket at the end of the row she is working on sweeping now, which, should anyone have enough of a care to look would find week-old kittens dozing quietly within, nestled on a soft blanket.

Some guy somewhere told a certain dragonman that he could find the redheaded holdless girl in or around the galleries, or so he'd been told. It was a crazy hunch to go off of - he could have been eating dinner instead - but E'ro decided to trade in his ticket to a full belly for a chance to meet Ahnika on her own time. He meanders in, looking a little lost and confused; at the sight of his victim however, his face transforms into proper delight. Maybe she'll notice he's got his knot on this time, he's not carrying around any littles, and his hands are notably free of fruit. "Ahnika," he says, which carries far despite how gently he speaks it, "I've been looking for you." Whatever response he thinks that'll have, likely it's not the best, because he hurriedly puts up his hands as if in defense. "I wanted to apologize.. for what I've done." Does he even know what he's done? Does he have any clue? Unlikely, but he'll ask for forgiveness regardless. Fuzzy wuzzy kittens have yet to be spotted.

Starting a little out of her thoughts, the redheaded teen looks up at her name, broom still in hand. Whatever or whoever she may have been expecting, E’ro wasn’t it. Initially, there is a grimace. He’s been looking for her? Could her day get any worse? Better not ask that. But she takes in his appearance, noting the knot, and the lack of children to hide behind. Then there comes a slight slump of her shoulders and the usually “feisty” girl appears somewhat weary instead. She sighs, brushing some loose strands of hair from her face before resuming her duty of sweeping. “Okay,” Ahnika says simply, softly, allowing the acoustics to carry most of that for her and spare her the effort. “Thank you, sir.” And then there is merely the soft brushing sound of broom on stone, with her grey eyes staring down at her work.

There's a glance towards the door, which encompasses the whole of the cavern. What is this, punk'd? Is this real life? What happened to the snappy redhead he's come to know? E'ro looks taken aback by her reaction, as it isn't atypical of Ahnika whenever he's in the vicinity. "I.. you accept my apology?" He hesitates a moment, takes a few steps forward, but then he's faced with hindrance of a certain basket. "Who left" His expression freezes as he peers down into a box full of sunshine, rainbows, and kittens. "I see." In a swift motion, he jumps down a step, puts a knee on the bench near the basket, and leans forward to have a closer look at the fuzzy lumps snoozing within. "Cute things, huh? Where'd you find them? Hope not outside the Weyr, cause you've got one pissed off momma out there."

“Sure,” Ahnika says with a mildly despondent shrug of her shoulders to his first question, as if to say ‘who cares?’ and continuing to work her way down the row, toward the kittens in the basket. With his follow up questions on the kittens, she pauses to regard him, and apparently satisfied that he has no intention of feeding them to his bronze, she resumes work. She evades saying where she got them from, but does clarify, “Their mother was trampled yesterday morning and they’ve been left in my care until they can be weaned proper and on their own.” Her tone is matter-of-fact and flat, neither happy to have wards of her own, nor unhappy about it. It is just a fact of her new life here at the weyr and nothing more. “Don’t worry, bronzerider, I will take them with me when I’m done. I won’t leave them here or let them get in the way.”

"Trampled isn't the way to go. That's one less feral feline we've got running around though. Makes me feel safer about leaving the Weyr." E'ro doesn't look even half concerned about being mauled - he's a dragonrider, they're prepared for that kind of thing. "Do you got time for that kind of thing? I wouldn't think so with everything you're always doing." He reaches a hand to stroke a soft kitten back, his rubbing causing a little mewl. "Haven't seen something this little since I was a boy back at Keroon. They don't much allow pets at Harper when you're apprenticing and here, there's no chancing having something that small running underfoot." Glancing up, he addresses Ahnika plainly, "I didn't say they were in the way. What's gotten up your skirt today?" Truly, on his way to be forgiven.

Continuing to sweep, Ahnika doesn’t respond to his commentary on cat care other than to say, “Mm,” non-committal at that. She sweeps to the end of the row, pausing just in front of the basket now, and lifts it up and away from E’ro to set on the step above. At the final question, Ahnika scowls a little with some heat to her cheeks with the memory of what very nearly came close to being up her skirts the night before, a hint of her old self coming through with that scowl, but she sighs and bites back on the angry retort to finish off the couple feet that had been occupied by the basket before tapping the broom next to the pile. Finally she says in a neutral tone, “Nothing.” Certainly nothing she will share with someone she doesn’t trust. “Is there anything else, bronzerider? Your apology is accepted.” She manages, with extreme visible effort to hold back the ‘you can go now’ statement that was on the tip of her tongue there. Without waiting on a response, she heads back to the other end of the section she was sweeping, moving up the step and starting to sweep along this new row, again moving toward the basket at the end of it.

Oh no, kitties are gone! E'ro frowns his displeasure at having the basket removed from his grasp, but he doesn't go chasing it. He's thinking and from the looks of it, thinking pretty hard. What could he do to get her to open up and possibly talk to him? What was one silly prank? There's a lack of humor in her that he can detect, and still he wants her forgiveness. It might border on obsession, how badly he wants to be acknowledged and his offer of friendship reciprocated. Then again, friendship might be a long way off. "You really don't like me, do you?" he asks coolly, trying to school his features into a mask of neutrality. "And you do realize, if you stay at Eastern, you'll have to deal with me for as long as you are here?" His eyes watch her closely, taking in movements and changes in expression; she's bound to slip up at some point, and then he can pounce.

It was a wisely calculated move, in all honesty, because it actually makes the teenager pause and look at him over her shoulder where he sits, now a couple rows down. Her expression is one that could be said to be a cross between mildly impressed with his words – or the fact that they are coming from him – and general thoughtfulness over his last comment. After a moment regarding him like that, she resumes sweeping, saying simply, “I think you’re dangerous.” A pause and she explains further, “I think you’re out-of-control, reckless, and that makes you dangerous.” And Ahnika being one who loves to bring order to chaos, and when she is unable to do so (as in this case for lack of rank), it frustrates and infuriates her. “I think, if I may be so bold … I think you need a weyrmate. A strong one. A woman who can keep you in line. Until that happens, sir, you’re dangerous, and your activities get people in trouble and hurt. No, I don’t like that.” Though at least she doesn’t say she doesn’t like /him/. There is a bit of a longer pause before she adds, “I don’t see how. You’re a bronzerider. I’m … “ she stops there, not really sure what she is. She glances at the place where a knot would go if she had one, and then hurries to resume sweeping, “If my work displeases, then I suppose I will be put out. Fortunately, there are other places I can go. I’m not tied to Hall nor Hold nor Weyr.” For a moment at the end there, her voice lifted and she actually is starting to like the sound of it, that liberty, and she pauses to brush some more strands of her hair from her face. No men to hurt her, no one to push her away, and the ability to experience the world first hand. Not from a book. See new things … a smile touches her lips for a time, and she resumes her sweeping, “Maybe that’s what I ought to do anyway. Go.”

Dangerous, out of control, reckless - that's E'ro. He's that guy you don't want to cross, that guy you don't want your daughter to meet, and the one friend whom you never know what to expect from. It's a difficult thing to accept sometimes, but once you do, you never go back. Ahnika just isn't at that point yet; she's too caught up in what she thinks he is and how to change that. Yet he's not insulted and he's wont to agree with her words, if a bit too readily. "I think," as he situates himself so one palm is resting on the bench, "we are not that different." Before she can take that the wrong way, he blows out a breath and finishes, "I've been thinking the same thing. Problem is, there's only ever been one I've met that could curb me and last time I met her, she was forty years my senior, wed, and hit me upside the head with a ladle. Not that the former two facts would have stopped me, it's just when I woke up, she was gone." His lips twitch, providing illumination on his humor; as to which parts of that story are true, well, she may never know. "My understanding is that, no one can be someplace they don't want to be. Unless they're under servitude," he says slowly, "but, if you're of a mind to leave, no one can stop you from doing that either." Of course, there's a caveat, one which he levels on her with a steadfast gaze. "You could, however, stay here as a candidate for one of the two clutches. You're full of crap, but you're great." Turning his head to the side, he gives her a head-to-toe look. "Yep, you'd make a good addition."

The girl straightens as he comments how they are not that different, and she manages to conjure up some of that old ire he found in her that first night of meeting. Her protest is forestalled as he continues, and she resumes sweeping, shaking her head in either disbelief or exasperation or both as he talks about the ladle-wielding woman. Ahnika gets to the end of the row, where the basket is now, and turns back at him with the offer for Candidacy with an open scowl. “Don’t be absurd. I’m not falling for your tricks this time, bronzerider.” She lifts the basket up to the next level, and finishes sweeping out the row.

Everything is as to be expected. "Absurd? Hardly. I would get Yzuruth out here to do it for you, but he's not got the clout for searching. I pick them as I see them and I'm willing to bet you make a match out there." Actually, that sounds like a perfect idea. E'ro leans towards Ahnika's general direction, blue eyes dancing gaily. "I'll wager you that if you Impress, you've got to let bygones be bygones and accept my proposal of friendship. And if you don't," here, he gives the sands a long, lasting look, "we'll never speak of it again." That's how certain he is, by golly! "I haven't got the knot on me, but we'll clear that up with the Headwoman once you say yes or no." His finger starts going back and forth like a metronome, oscillating from 'yes' to 'no'. Which will she choose?

Ahnika waves a little dismissively at him while she walks back down to the other end of the section, steps up one more higher, and resumes sweeping. By the end of his little speech, however, she has slowed and stopped altogether, and turned to look at him, leaning on the broom. Her expression suggests that she must think something about what he says is somewhat convincing, but there is still a doubtful tug down at the corner of her lips. After all, he was pretty convincing that first night they met. The moment is drawn out as she tries to riddle out what E’ro could gain of lying to her now, and figuring that he might actually get in trouble with the Weyrleaders for Searching someone who wasn’t a genuine possibility, she asks, “How do I know you’ll keep your word?” Considering it seriously for a moment.

"Because," E'ro says quite passively as he leans back and clasps him hands in his lap, "if you don't, you won't be presented this opportunity again. It's a once in a lifetime thing. Candidacy doesn't happen to everyone." He chances a look at Ahnika, gauging her reaction to his words, "There's two kinds of life out there, Ahnika. There's the life of a single individual, weyrfolk, crafter, holdfolk, and then there's the life of a dragonrider. We're never alone, and we've got at least twenty-something-odd people to call our own at any one time. Not everyone has this and I'd be damned if I didn't." But he would have been a harper right? An honest man making an honest living. "Yzuruth saved me from a life of boring lectures and teaching assignments." His smile returns as he casts another furtive look in her direction, "We could arrange an exchange of sorts, if it'll ease your mind. I have few treasured possessions, but I'll hand over my mother's favorite pendant if you'll stand and keep to our bargain. No tricking the dragons into thinking you're a buzzkill either." Because that would ruin the whole process!

The idea that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity has Ahnika straightening a little from the broomstick, standing a little taller – which for this willowy girl is saying a lot – but if that is because this would be a new experience for her and something more to learn about or if it is because of the honor that it is, itself, she doesn’t make clear. She remains quiet, but attentive and (remarkably) still, not fidgeting for a change, as she listens to E’ro continue. When he says the words, ‘we’re never alone’ something in her grey eyes sharpens noticeably. He’s hit the mark there, and her eyes show it. She knows little about the business of actually being a dragonrider, but one of the most widely understood principle of being a dragonrider is the fact that you have a companion for life, someone who needs you, and will always need you, for life. She’ll never have a fear of being abandoned or discarded by her dragon. Her dragon. For a brief moment, Ahnika’s eyes grow moist with her hunger for that, all of it, including the unconditional love it would mean, and she blinks the moisture back, suddenly turning away from him for fear he would see, and clearing her throat. Her back to him, she works to regain her composure. It all seems so clear to her now, what she should have done long ago, and she wonders why it never occurred to her before. Eventually finding her voice, she says, “Keep your mother’s pendant, or give it to the woman you wish for a weyrmate. I’ll Stand without it and just expect you to keep your word on penalty of going to the Weyrleaders.” A heartbeat later she adds, “I’ll take that wager, bronzerider. You’re on.” She resumes sweeping.

Truth of the matter is that it /is/ an auspicious occasion, a life-changing event, no matter how persuasive E'ro was trying to be. He believes everything he said, right down to the bottom line, and he would do it all again given the chance. "Alright then, I'll need you to stop doing that now," is spoken of the sweeping, as there's more important business to attend to - such as knotting and moving into the designated candidate area. "I'll keep to my word, just you see." At least he has faith in himself, right? "Now as for those kittens." There's a basket full of them just yonder. "It's not practical to have them with you while you're about a candidate's business. You have a few choices. You can find someone to keep them or I'll see that they get placed." Dire, dire straits, that, but maybe she'll see the sense in it.

Ahnika blinks and looks back at him, “Don’t be silly. It still needs doing.” Says the defiant workhorse, turning her back to him once more and resuming her sweeping. The kitten issue has her working out the problem in her head a moment before saying, “I think … I can find someone to look after the kittens. I’ll do that as soon as I’m done here.” She continues to sweep. If she has crossed a line somewhere, she doesn’t appear to realize it, or perhaps she is just testing the envelope. It’s anyone’s guess.

Oy. Ahnika will likely see the undoing of one patient bronzerider. Even he's having trouble staying seated, which he doesn't. E'ro rises instead, brushing off his trousers before crossing his arms over his chest and giving her the eye. She's under his authority right now, in this situation, and she's gotta pay dues to the big dog. "Give me the broom - you need to get your stuff situated and your clearance with the Headwoman." He takes a threatening step forward, just in case she needs encouragement. "Stop.. now."

Something in his tone actually gives Ahnika pause. It’s the authoritative side to him that Ahnika’s never seen before and a frisson cascades through her somewhat unexpectedly. It gives her pause. She briefly considers the broom that he demands, thinking of just how she should give it to him. Her grey eyes sparkle with a rare life of impishness in her, picturing the joy it would be to crack the broom over his head. But that would be a poor start to candidacy, wouldn’t it. Still, she calls his bluff, her chin jerking up slightly and some of that fire he’s seen before finally returning in earnest, “Or what? You’ll toss me over your shoulder like a sack of tubers and carry me and the basket off? The eggs aren’t hatching in an hour, ‘rider. Things can wait until this sweeping gets done. Don’t be ridiculous.” She turns her back to him once more, and resumes sweeping.

Let's do this the hard way, shall we? E'ro doesn't hesitate any longer than he needs to, eating up the distance between them with a few long-legged strides. He's making good on his threat and her suggestion, picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder like a tuber sack. "You shouldn't have opinions on things you're unfamiliar with. As a candidate and as a weyrling, sorting and carrying firestone sacks is part of your chores." Which is why he can carry her so easily as he makes his way to the basket full of kittens. "You should also learn to keep your mouth closed. I'm more good natured than a lot of my fellows, and no one is going to tolerate your jabbering about trust and danger and shenanigans. You live here now, missy, and you best be learning the rules." Or he'll mete them out first hand, likely.

Oh boy. As he closes the distance, the redhead actually flinches and recoils, stumbling back and being well off-balance and perfect for scooping up and being tossed over a shoulder like a sack of tubers. Somehow, miraculously, she manages to cling to the broom in the process, however – Ahnika is truly a workhorse, it seems – and proceeds to swing with it down toward E’ro’s bum, shouting noisily, “Put me down! Unhand me this instant!” But the positioning is too awkward with her over his shoulder and the broom handle being so long, and so whether or not she connects, it’s only after two swings that she loses her grip on it and it falls in the wake of the brutish bronzerider, her grabbing at air toward it like a life-line, even though it is hopeless. And that’s when she starts squirming and kicking and trying to hit his back with her fists, but she’s surely not strong enough to hurt, possibly strong enough to be annoying, however.

Annoying, that she is, but E'ro has experienced too many waspish women to be truly concerned with her actions. "If you quite squirming, it won't be too bad. At this rate, you'll be too tired but do anything except pass out on your cot." He gives /her/ bum a swat, before clamping his arm around her calves to keep them in place. "How's the view up there? Calming?" Humor is severe in his voice, and if she could see his expression she might be pissed by how smug he looks. "Candidate, I don't think anyone's gonna care at this point."

Ahnika gives a peel of shriek as he swats her on the bum, and it only serves to make her angrier. When she realizes how futile it really is, Ahnika sighs and stops fighting, but she tries to make herself as close to looking dignified as possible from her position, propping herself up a little more with her hands and elbows and relaxing her legs. To his last question, she simply says, “You’ll pay for this. Somehow, someday, when you least expect it. Just you wait.”

"I relish the day you get the gumption to get your revenge," comes the cheeky reply. E'ro's grip is firm and unrelenting, which is kind of unnecessary, given she's not fighting anymore. "Even better if you pull it off without a hitch." Ah, the student bests the teacher, what of that? Perhaps he's serious and he's excited about the prospect, or he thinks she's full of crap and desperate to get the last snack. He's not interested in letting her go, simply in carrying her off to the next phase in her life. "Remember everything I've said when you look in that dragon's eyes, eh?"

“You’re incorrigible,” Ahnika comments in a petulant tone, “Do you know that? And a brute!” She wriggles again, her tunic probably sliding all over the place, as she tests his grip before sighing and giving up again. “I won’t forget, but you seem awfully sure that I’ll Impress. Better not get your hopes up, bronzerider. As you can see, I’m not exactly ‘rider material here.” Spoken from behind his head as he continues to carry her off. “You may just have to suck it up and never speak to me again.”

"We know big words, do we?" It's not clear what she thinks she'll get out of him, except encouraging his bad behavior. "Yeah, yeah, you're not rider material. None of us are rider material until the dragon picks us and it's very, very obvious what that 'thing' is. Could be your use of authority, could be your cleanliness, or maybe one loony dragon will like how sharding crazy you are. I don't know, I can't ready into the minds of dragons aside from Yzuruth." E'ro lets out a contented sigh as they move towards the exit. "I'm certain though. It's not something you can spell out, but dragons like variety. You've got enough.. personality to sink a ship. I'm sure you'll do well."

“Hey! Enough personality to sink a ship? I resent that, ‘rider!” Ahnika’s ire is stoked anew. But she seems to have conceded defeat on trying to break free of his grasp for now. “Where are you taking me?” She asks in that same petulant tone, trying to turn enough to be able to see ahead of them as he totes her along. “What’re you about?”

"I'm taking you where you belong." Presumably to her stuff, to the Headwoman, and then to the cots where the other candidates are stationed until there can be a cavern carved for their purposes alone. "You'll need to get your belongings, say your goodbyes to anyone you need to, get your knot and get squared away with Indira." Nevermind why E'ro's addressing the woman by her proper name, instead of with the proper distinction and titles; guess Ahnika isn't the only one who knows the woman well. "What did you expect?"

Ahnika is quiet a long moment after that last question, and then admits, “I dunno. I’ve never lived in a weyr before Eastern. Can’t I walk now?” She struggles to get comfortable, but his shoulder is jutting into her gut after all. She frowns, “Is this how you treat all your candidates, ‘rider?”

"Fine." E'ro relinquishes his victim, setting her on her feet so that she can walk freely. "Now, did you learn your lesson?" Hopefully she has, because he's still able to sling her back over if he needs to. Kittens momentarily steal his attention as he checks on them, and he's satisfied to find they're still dozing amongst the blankets. "I treat everyone how they deserve to be treated. You're intent on testing me and being a pain my ass, therefore I'll be a pain in yours." He smiles big, leaning forward to whisper, "Any time of the day, any time of the night. You're a resident of Eastern now, girl."

Working to catch her breath and her balance as she has been set back down on her feet, Ahnika tugs her tunic back down over her exposed midriff, and sniffs a bit like a lady holder would. As he leans forward to whisper, she moves her hands up, intending to press them to his chest and push him back a bit if she can. “You were a pain in my ass before I ever met you,” she counters, “so how is this supposed to impress me?” She turns her face away from him, “Shards, don’t you ever bathe?” She jabs, apparently trying out some of the local swear words at the same time.

Hands to chest, but it doesn't work too well, he's too solid. "Ditto," E'ro exclaims in all seriousness. Her next words wipe the serious strain from his face, as he throws his head back in hilarity. "That's the spirit," whenever he gains his composure again, his grin wide and unrestrained. "You're already getting the lingo and the attitude. Used the communal baths yet? We could stop their on our way." His eyes, twinkling with impish glee, are fixed on her face. What now, miss priss?

If she can’t push him away, well then she is just pushing herself away. Ahnika steps back and away and reaches for the basket, “I just so happen to bathe at the end of my day, after I’m done all my work. It’s more practical.” She grimaces, “The day I bathe with you in the pools, is the day I will need to call upon the services of a mindhealer.”

"You bathe when the candidates get free time from chores, and that will likely be with other candidates and riders." E'ro hands over the basket, though not letting her out of his presence just yet. "That could very well be a day with me, in the baths. You don't get a choice," he helpfully points out. Then he's twirling his finger, directing her to turn around and head out. "Stop talking and more walking. Go!"

Another pursing of her lips as Ahnika takes the basket he offers and looks at him, listening him out and finally saying, “We’re not done here, with this.” Promises. Promises. But she does as ordered and turns and walks in the direction he points, grateful for some of her dignity back, at least.

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