What If It Worked Out? (Vignette)

Candidate and Weyrling Barracks
Xanadu's barracks are a massive, L-shaped amalgamation of caverns and construction, squared on one end, rough-hewn and oblong on the other, with weyrlings and candidates separated from one another by a large communal area. Wood and stone floors meet in a clever spiral pattern that interlaces and spreads, creating harmony in a space meant for completion of chores, classes, and storage of both dragon supplies and bedding for humans. A singular wooden door leads into an office for the weyrlingstaff.

Windows stretch the length of the candidate barracks, a long, low-ceilinged room that opens off the training grounds. One wall is slightly curved, set against the outer wall of the hatching arena, with a locked door closing off a tunnel that leads onto the sands. Cots are set in two rows along the length of the room, each with its own small press at the foot for personal belongings. It's always warm here when there are eggs on the sands; candidates seldom need more than a light blanket, but a diminutive hearth is available for the warming of beverages or the occasional firelizard-surprise.

The weyrling half of the barracks have been burrowed back into stone. Close and dark when shutters to the outside world are drawn, the ample paths between dragon couches have been lit with dim strips of light. Smaller couches are obviously intended for the very young weyrlings, while the largest ones at the back are for those close to graduation. A second small hearth abuts a massive cavern opening that slopes gently down to the training grounds outside.

There’s no reason for it. There’s not even a specific target. It’s just always there, simmering just under the surface, no matter what is actually going on: A deep, burning anger ready to strike at the least little provocation. Dannissin hates it. Just like she hates everything else. The only thing that seems to be able to calm her down, even a little, is the little bronze pest she’d fed on impulse a couple of turns ago. Wrinkled looking and awkward, her firelizard is the only living thing she actually believes cares about her, and even then, it’s probably only because she feeds him…

Why did she even accept that white knot from that awkward bronzerider? Just because his dragon said that he thought she had a chance at Impression? Yeah. Right. Like a dragon would ever be dumb enough to choose someone as broken as her! She’s just a stupid girl from a backwater cothold that ran away the moment she learned there could possibly be something more for her than a life of raising babies and scratching out a poor living along side her brothers and sisters and cousins. She ran away from a future married to one of her many cousins, hoping for more– hoping for a life of adventure, for a challenge! What did it get her? Three turns of her life wasted at the side of a man that dangled that coveted apprentice knot just out of reach, until she’d finally gotten tired of being little more than a drudge, following around a man that she hadn’t even known before deciding to throw her entire life away for nothing.

She’d thought about going home a few times in the turns since, but she never heard of anyone returning after leaving… Would she be welcomed back? She’s not the same naive, innocent little thirteen turn old she was when she left. She’s spoiled. She’s damaged goods. And for what? For nothing. Nothing is better. Nothing has changed. Not for the better, certainly. So what if she’d never seen a computer before she left home? So what if everyone back home still does everything the hard way? So what if all of the cothold’s records are kept by hand? So what if she would have never known anything of the stars or modern conveniences like air conditioning and refrigeration? So what if she would have had nothing more to look forward to than a life being worn down with pregnancy after pregnancy, of turns toiling away in the fields? Wouldn’t it have been better to never have learned about anything beyond the confines of home?

Maybe Danni should just return that white knot, after all? It’s not like there aren’t enough candidates to provide the dragons with a choice when they finally hatch… And really. What dragon is going to want to tie themselves to someone like her? What dragon is going to decide that the young woman, who would have already had at least four children if she hadn’t left home all of those turns ago, is the perfect match for them? She’ll be lucky if her temper doesn’t end up getting her kicked out of the Weyr, even if she does Impress! Shouldn’t she save everyone the trouble and just… leave? Again.

It’s the only thing she’s good at, after all: Running away.

But… What if? What if a dragon does choose her? What if she did stay? What if they don’t tell her to leave? What if she DOES find a techcrafter willing to give her a coveted apprentice knot? Sure, she’s a lot older than most apprentices just starting out, but she learned a lot under that jerk Wenton’s –care– supervision. It’s not like she’d be completely clueless going in. Can she possibly let herself hope? Can she let herself dream?

Can she give herself a chance?

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