NOTE: This scene takes place a few Sevendays after Kebrin Episode 3.6
After Toria uncharacteristically missed her second training session, Kebrin decided to check on her – just to be on the safe side. He asked one of his friends’ girlfriends, who was also attending Healer Hall, to get advice on finding her. She told him the name of the dorm building appropriate for Toria’s age and provided basic directions. Realizing that he might have to interact with adults who didn’t know him, he groomed a little more thoroughly than usual and dressed in his nicest casual clothes. He then set out for Healer Hall, which was only a short walk from Harper Hall – where he had spent most of his life for the last two Turns.
The young adults at Healer Hall pointed Kebrin in the right direction without comment. The girls outside Sabelas dorm, however, couldn’t help but nudge each other and giggle as soon as Kebrin’s back was turned. As he stepped inside, he noticed that the living area was smaller while the bedrooms were larger than those he was used to.
Toria was in the common room, trying catch up on all the work she had missed while recovering from the Krite’s bite. Concentration was proving difficult but she persisted, doggedly reading and re-reading the words. A bandage covered her right arm from elbow to wrist and she looked more pale than usual. Hearing some noise coming from outside, she looked up and spotted a very cleaned-up Kebrin.
“Kebrin? What are you doing here?” she inquired, sounding tired.
Kebrin had been studying the architecture, mentally comparing it to the dorms that he himself had lived in – or at least visited – at Harper Hall. He hadn’t quite gotten around to looking at the conversation areas purposefully arranged within the relatively small room. His attention shifted immediately when he heard Toria’s voice, a familiar easy smile flashing across his features when he caught sight of her.
“Ah, there you are.” He studied her posture and general body language as he walked over to her, sensing something was amiss. “I came to make certain you’re alright. You missed our last two sessions, and that’s not like you.”
Toria smiled and put down the book she had been reading. She gestured to her wrist, lifting it up to show the bandages, saying, “Ah, yes. That would be because of this. A Fire-banded Krite decided it didn’t like me being near where it was spending time and attacked me. I had to defend myself and in the process got bit and was quite ill for awhile.”
Looking somber and a bit emotional recalling the attack, she continued, “I was saved by a wild firelizard, if you can believe it. Otherwise, I um… might have died, I think.” She looked at Kebrin briefly, placing her left hand on her bandage and trying to collect herself. “I’m sorry I didn’t let you know, it just slipped my mind with all that was going on.”
Kebrin walked closer and perched on the arm of a chair adjacent to Toria’s. His brows furrowed a little with concern as he listened to her account of how she had been hurt.
“A krite? Big, foul-tempered, and…” He paused in concentration, “Venomous?” He thought he vaguely remembered one of his friends from this region mentioning them during their early outings to search for firelizard eggs. “No apologies necessary. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Sorry you got bit.”
He paused for the briefest of moments and then asked, “It wasn’t too near Fort Hold, was it? Do you know if they sent out a team to kill it?”
Toria nodded as Kebrin described the creature to her. An odd look crossed her face as she said curtly, “It’s dead, I killed it.”
She looked around the room, not wanting to be interrupted by dorm-mates or have any more gossip fly around than was already going to. “You want to go sit in the courtyard? We can talk un-interrupted that way.”
Surprise was written plainly on the young Harper’s face, “Oh. I didn’t realize.” He paused, one of the few times Toria had ever seen him fumbling for words, “Nicely done.”
He shrugged in response to her question, not certain why she wanted more privacy but not against the idea. He stood from where he had been half leaning, half sitting against the arm of an overstuffed chair and followed her out.
Toria found an out of the way spot in the courtyard, where there were few people milling about or sitting at other tables. She sat down, made herself comfortable, and waited as Kebrin did the same.
“I well… I figured you might be the one person I know who might appreciate this. Like I said, a wild firelizard saved my life and it was uh, a really good thing. It actually went between after,” she paused, trying to find the right word, “sensing I was bad off. A friend later told me it actually got a Master’s brown firelizard involved. They caused such a fuss that they got the Watch-wher and its handler to sort out what was going on.”
Kebrin slid into a seat opposite Toria. He listened intently, although surprise was obviously written on his face. “That’s really amazing, Toria. I wouldn’t believe it, if I hadn’t seen how that firelizard – which I still think was wild – acted around you at our first Gather. I’d never seen anything like that before and haven’t since. You…”
He paused for a heartbeat, choosing his words carefully. “You obviously have some sort of gift, with both firelizards and dragons. If you’ve ever thought you might want to live in a Weyr – or be considered to stand the sands – I bet you could. I could even introduce you to some riders from Fort Weyr, if you want?”
Toria looked surprised and a touch excited at Kebrin’s words, “Really!? I mean, I visited Tilton, the Watch-wher’s handler, the other day. He told me I have the ability to make a connection with dragonkind, to… know what they’re feeling,” she said, sounding like she was quoting something.
“He had me imagine the most delicious meat I’ve ever had when I was standing in front of Foltisk, the Watch-wher, and he um… he drooled on my feet,” she explained. “He said some people once in a great while can actually hear them, all of them. It sounded like a curse, the way he talked about it.”
Kebrin nodded, “Maybe they’re cursed, but you’re not. I mean… I don’t think anybody entirely knows what dragons look for when they and their riders go out on Search, but it seems like you’re more than halfway there already. I think you should tell somebody from Fort Weyr. It would be a real shame to let a rare gift like yours go to waste.”
He leaned back and made a not-so-subtle attempt to compose himself. “It’s your decision. You could stay here in Healer Hall, but lots of smart people could become Healers. Not everyone can do what you do.”
Toria looked less excited as Kebrin finished talking. A pained look crossed her face as she took in what would happen if she told someone what she could do. She wouldn’t be a Healer, something she had worked Turns for. “I couldn’t be a Healer then, if…” she stopped, clearly conflicted.
“Not everyone can just be a Healer, it takes the right connections, it takes some luck and a whole lot of skill. I mean, how useful could doing what I can do even be?” The Healer-in-training sounded like she knew full well the answer, but was saying it anyway.
Kebrin leaned back, uncharacteristically quiet and thoughtful for several heartbeats. He then answered carefully, “Well, first of all, Weyrs need Healers, just like everywhere else. There are even ones who specialize in people and others who specialize in dragons. Second, it’s true that you have to be smart and lucky – or have some kind of privilege – to join one of the Halls. But how many students, out of all the Halls, can do what you do? Not a single one, I bet. You could use your ability to help a lot of dragons, since their riders can’t always communicate with them – like when they’re really sick, or unconscious. And that’s something I bet nobody else could do.”
Toria thought about it, tapping her fingers on the stone table. “I can’t really… communicate with them though, not with words. I made enough of a connection with the wild firelizard to get across that I needed help, which, I mean, I guess is communicating.” She sighed, clearly at war with herself. “You do make a good point. You’re saying that, even if I don’t become a dragonrider, I could still be a Healer in a Weyr?”
Kebrin nodded enthusiastically, “Yeah, of course. And they might even ask you to stand the sands. Like I said, it seems like you’re more than halfway to being able to talk to dragons already. How cool would that be? Wouldn’t you like to have your own dragon? Be able to fly, to visit anywhere in a little more than a blink of an eye?”
He paused dramatically and then made a show of trying to act disinterested, “I mean… if you’re really not interested, I won’t press. But I’d really like your help talking some firelizards into giving me at least a couple of eggs. I bet that wouldn’t be hard for you at all, not if you can convince a wild one to carry a message all the way back to Healer Hall.”
[Attribute check: Will 11, rolled 11.]
Toria found herself suddenly grinning in excitement at the idea and nodded, “It does sound pretty great! Can you introduce me to one of the riders you know from Fort Weyr? It can’t hurt to try, at least.”
Kebrin nodded, “You already know K’len and it sounds like you’ve met Tilton, too – but I would be happy to mention your gift to K’len and see what he says? Or tell him you’d like to talk to him about something? Maybe after you’re healed up and caught up on your studies?”
“K’len, I remember him! Whatever you think best. I mean… if you want to come with me that would be errr, helpful. It might take me a few days to get to it. I’m a whole sevenday behind on my classwork,” Toria replied.
Kebrin stood as he nodded, “Alright. Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll tell him that you’ll be joining me on a visit in the near future.”
He stretched briefly and then added, “Think very carefully about what you want to say to him before we climb all the way up there. He’s been around a long time and seen a lot – he’s got loads of good stories – but that also means he doesn’t have much patience left. Keep it brief, and include only the pertinent details.”
Toria nodded, still caught up in the feelings of anticipation and wonder at the possibilities in front of her. “Of course, maybe by the next time we train, say, another sevenday? I probably won’t be able to take hits with this arm for another month at least, but I can learn some off-hand things.”
She stood up and muttered “Blasted Krites…”
Kebrin clapped Toria encouragingly on her good shoulder and made a point of meeting her gaze, “The people here might not understand, but I do. Be proud. You killed a monster. Not many people can claim that. I’ll tell K’len that you’d like to speak with him in a few days and we’ll climb up there together.”
He gestured casually around the courtyard, “I assume your dorm mates and friends are getting you everything you need, but if not – just let me know?”
Toria nodded at Kebrin, “Thanks, I will.” She pointed at her right arm and smirked, “Y’know, this right here is one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to use a knife.”