WARNING: Other players should not read this until Chapter 1 is complete.
Autumn 1253: Day 2 at Ruatha River Hold
Toria managed to get a few hours of sleep before waking up to a great deal of noise from within and without the Living Cavern. Kebrin wasn’t in the cot that she and the soldier had dumped him last night, so she took that a a good sign. Supplies and assistance had finally arrived from further afield than Fort Weyr beholden areas. There was now a full second row of banners from all the other Holds as well as many craftholder flags flying above tents that had seemingly sprung up overnight. Also present were more soldiers, as well as runner beasts and drey beasts. Efforts were being made to make a more permanent bridge where the rope bridge was, which made Toria absurdly happy seeing as she had to cross it to get back to the Living Cavern.
Master Zemel was quite cross with her at first, having thought she had shirked her duties, until she presented him with the list of all the people she had examined. He was mollified and relieved when she told him there was no evidence of communicable diseases brewing in the tent city. When she showed him the other list she had with information about the missing or those left behind and where, he told her to take it to Ruatha’s Healer Master once she had time.
On her way back from giving the Master her list, she found Kebrin, who was getting ready to head out to check out the cotholds on the West side. She asked if he was well enough to go out and he seemed unconcerned about fainting the night before, brushing it off as exhaustion. She offered to go with him, both to keep an eye on him and because they had seemed to make a pretty good team the day before. As they made their way out towards where Toria had landed only the day before, she thought she spotted a familiar dragon. Looking closer, she exclaimed to Kebrin she recognized the dragon and rider as those who had brought her and her Master over from Healer Hall.
Kebrin suggested asking them for a ride out to the farthest cothold he had to check on, much like they had done the previous day. Toria nervously approached ‘Jory and explained that she and her friend were going out to check on cotholds likely affected by the disaster, and would it be possible for her and Avelith to take them to one of the farther out ones? She agreed, and shortly afterwards they were in the air. From their vantage point in the air, they could see a massive amount of debris out in the ocean.
Soaring closer to the Blackfin Reef cothold, they caught sight of what appeared to be a child repeatedly swimming out towards a rocky reef, but getting pushed back by the force of the waves. As they were hastily dismounting, Toria got a wild hair and tried pushing feelings of gratefulness and thanks towards the green dragon. ‘Jory turned towards the young Healer and said “Avelith says you’re welcome!” Startled that it actually succeeded, Toria grinned as she rushed towards what they would now see was a young girl with Kebrin.
Frantic and soaking wet, the girl reported that her mother and baby brother had gone under the rocks and hadn’t come out. Toria’s heart sank. There was no way the two of them weren’t dead. Pondering their options, ‘Jory settled things for them when she said she and Avelith would be well suited to heading out in to the strong waters and looking for the bodies, then bring her to the Hold afterwards. Thanking rider and dragon, Kebrin and Toria headed off towards Gull Landing, the next cothold Kebrin had marked on his map.
The cothold appeared to have focused on boat building and repairs. There, they found a woman who had stayed behind because her house had collapsed, injuring her in the process. She said the rest of the cothold had made for the Hold, but she and her mother, who later died, were unable to make the trek. She hurt inside, mostly her back, she said. Toria examined her, giving her numbweed and some anti-inflammatories so she could bury her mother and then head to the Hold once she had.
Before they moved on, Kebrin continued his practice of marking on the door or side of a building with a grease pencil the number of missing, dead or any information those in the cotholds provided on its inhabitants. Next, they headed to Barnacle Bay, where they got mostly good news. Four people had survived by fleeing inland when the tidal waves hit. One of the men, Joras, was struggling with guilt at having to leave his parents behind. They were older and couldn’t move as fast, so he fled with his wife, Zeba instead. Kebrin comforted him, saying that he made the best decision he could at the time.
At Sage Mill, they found over twelve survivors. Heavy stone buildings had helped them survive the worst of it, though a few had been taken out by the unexpected tidal waves. A local Harper named Riken was among those at the cothold and he asked Kebrin to pass along news of his survival. Crosstide Harbor saw them finding five people who has managed to survive the event by being on a drifter fishing boat at the time. They were self-sufficient, having already buried their dead and salvaging whatever useful items they could.
Their next stop was East Grove, a overland logging cothold, where valuable hardwoods came from. The duo came across three teenage survivors who were determined to stay and rebuild. One of them, Kezzia, had broken ribs, which Toria wrapped. She was crying on and off, because she said the waves had been so beautiful, but then they killed everyone. Kebrin managed to impress upon them that to survive and rebuild, they would need help that they could find at Ruatha River Hold.
Before they headed out, one of the boys asked them to look into a tunnel they had noticed while out foraging for food. He was sure it hadn’t been there before. It was the kind of tunnel as one might find leading into a Hold, but… as Kebrin noted, there weren’t any Holds on the map where the boy had indicated. Their curiosity peaked, the two of them headed out to find the ‘mystery Hold’ after bidding farewell and good luck to the trio of survivors.
After a bit of walking and searching, Kebrin and Toria found a rocky area, possibly exposed or shifted around by the earth shakes, any sand would have been sucked away by the force of the water. A tunnel, just like it was described, was leading further inside. Kebrin was almost beside himself with the possibility of discovering a lost and forgotten Hold. They had reached the end of Kebrin’s list of cotholds to check on, and Toria found herself excited at finding something from long ago. She agreed to delve in, but suggested they spend no more than two hours looking around.
As they head in, Toria noticed that the air smelled stale. The tunnel was dark, and eventually, they noticed an odd humming sound amidst the other strange noises reaching their ears. Taking her pulse, Toria noted that it was a bit more sluggish than usual and she warned Kebrin that they would not want to stay down here too long. Suddenly, with no seeming reason Kebrin stopped. Massaging the back of his neck, he stated that they should leave but couldn’t say why. Feeling ill at ease herself, Toria argued they were already here and might as well delve in a little further. Out of an abundance of caution, made sure her knife was easily reached.
Moving further in, they spot an unusual handprint sized carving about 3 feet off the tunnel floor. It had been knocked askew, they could assume by the recent shakes. Kebrin took a rubbing of the angular, claw shaped carving before prying it off to expose a small cubby in which a few things were stored. Kebrin first pulled out a small scroll, which he placed in a water-proof case. Next he took out two ornate pieces of gold jewelry. They stared in awe at the pieces, a man’s ring styled like a coiled dragon looking off to one side, with a rich blue gem as the eye and a woman’s necklace that had a dragon pendant with outstretched wings and the same blue gems for eyes.
A scrabbling noise coming from ahead caught their attention. They spot a gold firelizard peeking around, and Toria feels a mixture of fear and hope coming from the little one. The duo speculated that the normally skittish firelizard might be seeking humans out because she can’t get to her eggs due to the high water. While Toria started a fire, Kebrin stripped down to his undergarments and prepared to go diving into the water. He carefully took the scroll out of the case and gave it to Toria for safe keeping so that he could keep the eggs protected. The gold flitted about and Kebrin observed the direction it was heading as it disappeared between.
After a few trips back and forth under the water to the spot where the firelizard’s clutch was, he had all the eggs out and Toria had a small fire going, with sand brought from outside spread along a extra shirt she had brought with her. As Kebrin dried enough to put his clothes back on, Toria tended to the eggs as the mother hovered protectively nearby.
For a brief moment, the only noise heard was the crackling of the fire. Suddenly, the gold hissed, grabbing the gold egg and disappearing between. Kebrin and Toria looked at each other with alarm… and then the earth began to shake. Hastily grabbing their belongings and the shirt with the eggs on it, taking care not to jostle them more than necessary, they dashed out of the Hold. Neither fancied being caught in a cave during an earth shake.
Calming down, the two of them talked about their options. Toria agreed with Kebrin when he suggested bringing the eggs and other items back to the Hold and asking his Master what to do. In the meantime, they built a fire to keep the eggs warm while Toria wove together a basket out of reeds, in which they nestled the eggs in some sand. As they made their way back to Ruatha River Hold, they noticed a number of makeshift bridges had been constructed.
At the Eastern entrance of the Hold, they noticed a newly constructed guard gate. After stating their business, they were allowed to pass through and Kebrin set off to find where Master Carthan was. Directed to the Main Hall, they made their way through huge rooms with the most ornate rugs, furniture and architecture Toria had ever gazed upon. A page outside the doors of the Hall escorted them in when Kebrin stated he had business with his Master. For her part, Toria felt horribly out of place in such fancy surroundings and tried to keep her gawking to a minimum.
Having been alerted to their presence, Carthan got up and approached the two of them with a grin on his face. Quietly, his words at odds with the carefree attitude he was affecting, he asked Kebrin why he was here, now, while he was dining with the Lord and Lady Holders, among others. Kebrin quickly sketched out the details of their amazing finds of the mystery Hold and the contents within. Having delayed almost more than proper, Carthan lead the two students to the table where various dignitaries were dining.
Betraying none of the concern he had been a mere moment ago, the elder Harper introduced “my wayward apprentice, just come from the field” along with a brave Healer-in-training to the Lord and Lady Holder and guests. They had come to them with a most extraordinary find…. firelizard eggs! He displayed those to the now excited nobles with aplomb. Barely giving them time to process that news, he presented the exquisite jewelry, declaring they must be relics from long ago ancestors of the Lord Holder. It sounded plausible to Toria, but….there was no way he could know that right now. Odd. As he was showing off the ring, Toria noticed Carthan faltered for a moment as if something had disturbed him.
Surely, Carthan said with enthusiasm, the Lord Holder would want such fine pieces to be cleaned before claiming them. The man agreed readily to this suggestion. For their part in bringing the firelizard eggs to the nobles, Toria and Kebrin would each be allowed to select an egg, since some of them didn’t want such pests to take care of. Toria was thrilled. She would actually be getting her own firelizard! Once they had picked their eggs, the duo was sent of to eat by Carthan, who said he would talk with them later. As they were walking away, Toria noticed the man hadn’t said anything to the nobles about the scroll.
Over a meal far removed from prying ears, Toria and Kebrin talked about their day. She was curious about his odd reaction in the mystery Hold, which he had said he would explain later. Sighing, he said that just as she had trusted him with her secret, he would trust her with his. The reason he could never be a dragonrider, he said, was that he had a gift that made him too valuable to ‘waste’. He had the ability to sway the emotions of others, to push them to feel something so long as it wasn’t against their deeply held beliefs. He emphasized that nobody else could know about what he could do, he didn’t even know if his soon-to-be former Master, Salinda, knew. It was a rare but valuable ability, and Kebrin confirmed Master Carthan was like him when she asked about it.
Toria was shocked at Kebrin’s revelations, but honored that he trusted her with his secret. She assured him she would keep it to herself. She said didn’t feel comfortable lying if a Master were to directly ask her about it, but she also wouldn’t let on that she knew, even to Carthan.
Eventually, Kebrin’s future Master arrived and the three of them talked more in detail about the day. When they reached the part about encountering the gold firelizard, with her permission, Kebrin disclosed to Carthan about Toria’s ability to forge emotional connections with dragonkin. She detailed how she figured out what she could do, from her early encounter at the Gather with the hungry firelizards to the brown saving her life by getting help at the Hold when she was poisoned.
Carthan brought out the ring and with an odd tone in his voice, told Kebrin to put it on and try to ‘push’ him into thinking he’s hungry. Toria silently watched, wondering what it meant that Carthan was asking this in front of her. Kebrin seemed to concentrate and reported that the deep blue gem was glowing and vibrating slightly to him. The two Harpers seemed to think it was quite the find. He brought up that the scroll has a poem on it written in a beautiful calligraphy:
Not through words, nor strength of arms
The swift shadows cast upon the land
Dispatched by flame, a feast of ashes
In discipline and unthinking frenzy
Someone has written in a less skillful hand and different ink at the bottom:
Prophecy tells us what may yet be, not what should.
The word ‘prophecy’ was unfamiliar to everyone, but he said he would look into it later, when he had access to more resources. Turning to Toria, Carthan asked her why she got into Healing and what she hoped to do with her career. She told him that an early encounter at Katz Field has given her an opportunity to learn at the feet of the Master there and she discovered she had a passion and aptitude for healing. She wanted to specialize and even try to become a Master in Medicine, with a focus on finding treatments for poisons of various kinds instead of managing the symptoms it caused.
Casually, Carthan asked Kebrin if he was still seeing the harpist, which Kebrin said was the case. Conversation wound down and before too long, they went their separate ways. Toria ended up staying at Ruatha River Hold for another sevenday, before anyone at Junior Journeyman rank or below was sent back to the Hall to resume their classes. Coming back from the chaos and emotional highs and lows took some getting used to. For the first time, Toria had gotten a taste of the greater world outside the walls of Healer Hall and it was both terribly exciting and scary.
She was curious to see what came of the items she and Kebrin had discovered at the mystery hold and beyond excited for her firelizard egg to hatch in a few months time. What color lizard would she get? She hoped that getting a firelizard would help ease the pain Kebrin surely still felt about being denied his dream of dragonriding. Waiting for the eggs to hatch would definitely be a test of her patience.
A few days after returning to the Hall, Master Zemel told her that she had acquitted herself very well during her time at Ruatha River Hold. He was proud of how she done and would be happy to sponsor her further education at Healer Hall. Things were looking up for Toria!