I Can Tell You There Is More

The skinny little blue’s scream of pain echoed through the Cavern. On the sidelines, the dragonhealers readied themselves, and one of the Weyrlingmasters moved up to urge the candidates to move a little closer to the dragons, because the sooner the injured dragon was Impressed, the better the chances of calming him and getting him treated before he panicked and /betweened/. The dragonhealers knew better than to approach an unImpressed dragon.

((What are you crying about?)) the new, muscular green demanded, her mindvoice booming as she glanced around and down at the source of the noise.

((Sister, you’ve landed on his wing,)) Domandrath cut in quickly. ((You’re larger than he is — please move!))

((Oh! Well why didn’t you just say so?)) The green sat up, freeing the dark tip of Arlith’s wing, which the blue immediately pulled in protectively, trembling all over.

Domandrath stepped gingerly past the egg shards littering the Sands so that he could get a closer look. ((Arlith, let me see. I can help. Can you flex it? Can you spread your wing?))

((I don’t want to,)) the blue whimpered. ((It hurts.))


Reluctantly, carefully, the blue extended his wing, wincing a little as he flexed the joint nearest the tip.

((It doesn’t look broken,)) Domandrath mused.

((Ha!)) said the green, ((He’s only being a big baby about it, that’s all!)) She headbutted the blue good-naturedly, nearly making him stumble again. ((Suck it up, little brother!))

Humiliated (and no longer in quite so much physical pain now that his wing was freed), Arlith drew his wing back in and curled in on himself self-consciously. His sister was *bigger* than he was. Oh. Quinharth would probably laugh and laugh.

((It *did* hurt,)) he spoke up defensively.

((A little pain never hurt anyone!)) the green rumbled, laughing.

((I’m pretty sure that’s the very definition of pain,)) Arlith mumbled.

((What was that? I can’t hear you!))


Domandrath sighed, relaxing a bit now that it was obvious that his brother was uninjured. Tiny and short-legged and skinny, and with obvious self-esteem issues certainly, but that could all be worked out, or around, in time. At least his wing wasn’t broken. ((I’m glad to see you’re okay, Arlith. I know it hurt, but it’s all over now.))

((I’m glad you’re not hurt, too!)) the green boomed. ((I wasn’t trying to land on you — I just had to fight my way out of that thing!)) She looked around at the shards of her egg as if they were personally and maliciously responsible for keeping her imprisoned, kicking one of them mightily. It sailed a fair distance, pinging off the dark shell of the Cuddles Are Welcome egg, leaving behind a distinct crack. ((Who has the upper hand *now*, egg? Ha!))

((Can’t you move a single step without breaking something?)) Arlith asked peevishly, eyeing the growing crack in the Cuddles Are Welcome egg with growing trepidation. ((Or some*one*?))

The green laughed, thumping him across the back with her tail. ((And what would the fun in that be? Man up, little brother! Are you dragon, or are you firelizard? Fighter or hatchling?))

((HATCHLING!)) Arlith pointed out sharply. ((We’re all hatchlings, I’m a hatchling! What do you people *want* from me?))

((Oh, I don’t know…)) said the Cuddles Are Welcome egg — or rather, the petite green that was pushing her way out of it, ((*I* think you look like a fighter.))

Somehow she managed to make shoving aside two halves of a cracked egg, and then slipping out covered in egg goo, look graceful, landing heavily on her feet but recovering quickly enough to sit up, tilting her head invitingly at Arlith. ((Hello, handsome. I’m Chamralth.))

If dark blue dragons could blush, Arlith would have blushed right down to his toes. ((Uh, er, uh…)) He glanced around. ((…Are you talking to *me*?))

((Well of course I am, darling — who else would I…))

Domandrath stepped out from behind the egg that had been blocking him from her field of vision, and Chamralth trailed off.

((I mean, no, I was talking to this fine fellow,)) she finished instead, sidling up to Domandrath.

Arlith wilted like a flower.

The big muscular green frowned — or rather, frowned in her mind, but the emotion behind it was clear to any dragon actually paying attention. ((Well. What a bitch.)) She slapped Arlith with her tail again, brightening. ((Don’t pay any attention to her, blue. I don’t put much stock in looks, myself! I’m more interested in fighting spirit!))

Somehow, Arlith seemed to wilt even further.

((You may be a giant wuss and a coward, but I like you anyway!)) she boomed enthusiastically.

((Thanks,)) he grumbled. ((I think.))

((Come on. Why don’t we leave these two lovebirds alone and go find something else to do?))

((I don’t even know your name!))

((Didn’t I tell you? Well, I’m Igribith! Come on, shorty — let’s wrestle! Test your mettle! I’m sure you’re more of a warrior than you think you are!))

Arlith skittered backwards as she advanced on him, only to trip with his short little legs over his over-large wings. ((No no no, wait…!))

His shrieks of protest as Igribith pounced on him went mostly unheeded, as Domandrath was busy trying to peel Chamralth off of himself. He didn’t want to be rude, but the little green — pretty though he had to admit she was — was clinging like glue.

((I’m flattered, Chamralth, really, but this is hardly the time,)) the brown said diplomatically. ((I think Arlith may need to be rescued.))

Chamralth laughed lightly. ((Oh, him? I’m sure he’s fine. Igribith won’t hurt him. She’s only playing!))

((Yes, but she plays rough, and Arlith is a bit…))

((.. of a whiner?))

Domandrath grimaced. ((I was going to say ‘delicate’.))

She laughed again. ((Oh, he’s fine! Come on… let’s look at all these beautiful egg shards lying around! Why don’t you get me one, Domandrath?))

((Why don’t you get your own?)) the brown suggested smoothly. ((They’re right in front of you, after all.))

((Domandrath! Don’t you know anything? It means more if someone gives it to you as a gift!))

((But you know what you want better than I would.))

((Well…)) She nuzzled his neck. ((I guess you’ll just have to get to know me better then.))

Someone cleared their throat, very loudly, just behind the brown and green couple. They turned to look.

A very large, bright azure dragon with a dark patch on his muzzle stood there, shards of the Missing the Centre egg still clinging to his body here and there (stuck with egg goo), and one very large, colorful piece of the Play Me Away egg clutched in his mouth as an offering. His eyes were wide and hopeful like a puppydog, trained on Chamralth.

((Hi, I’m Tanikith!)) he said happily. ((I helped!))

Meanwhile, The Heart of Stone egg had begun to rock furiously, finally spilling out a rather unremarkable young blue: average in size, with a slightly greyish faded look to his color, like a worn pair of denims.

((COULD YOU ALL SHUT THE FUCK UP NOW?)) he demanded, shaking his head. ((A dragon’s gotta get his sleep when he can! We’re gonna have a big day tomorrow, and I wanna be ready!))

Either no one heard him, or, by this point, no one really cared.

He glowered, looking off to his left, where Chamralth was giggling girlishly over the Tanikith’s gift, and even Domandrath was looking distinctly confused.

Then he looked off to his right, where Arlith was trying valiantly to escape Igribith, but the larger and much stronger green clearly had him pinned and seemed only encouraged by his cries of protest.

((…Fuck this,)) he decided, charging off towards the candidates. Now that he was up, he may as well stay up he supposed — but that didn’t mean that any of the rest of this shit was his problem. No, he was pretty sure he had problems enough of his own, even if he wasn’t entirely sure at the moment what they were.

((MERCY!)) cried Arlith. ((FOR FARANTH’S SAKE, MERCY!))

The faded blue tuned him out, trying to focus instead on the candidates around him.


((Oh, don’t be such a baby!)) Igribith shouted.

((Not my problem,)) the faded blue grumbled to himself, looking up at a boy near the front of candidates, but the face there wasn’t the one he was looking for.


((Stop your bawling!)) Igribith chastised. ((You’re shaming yourself! You’re shaming *us*! Come, give it some real effort! I know you can! You’re Istan — it’s in you!))

((Not my problem,)) the faded blue repeated to himself, gritting his teeth.

Arlith went limp and began to cry hopelessly.

((UGH!)) the faded blue relented finally, turning on his heel and marching away from the candidates, straight for Arlith and Igribith. ((Hey fatty, get the fuck off him! I’m tired of listening to him cry!))

Igribith paused in her assault. ((I’m not hurting him!))

((I know, but he’s saying stop, so STOP!))

The green considered for a moment and then, with a sigh, stepped off of the beleaguered blue. ((A pity. I’ll have to find a new sparring partner.))

((Don’t look at me,)) the faded blue snapped quickly. ((I’ve got shit to do.))

Arlith struggled to his feet, trying not to blubber. ((Th-thank you…))

((Shut up, sissy-baby,)) the faded blue snapped again. ((Your crying was giving me a headache, that’s all. Don’t get any fancy ideas about me likin’ you.)) He looked deliberately off to one side, but rolled his eyes to look Arlith over for injuries, trying not to let on that he was doing so. ((Damn, you look like you need to eat a herdbeast or four. Go find somebody who’ll stuff some meat down your throat. It makes me kind of sick just to look at you.))

Arlith didn’t really need to be told twice. He ran off towards the candidates.

((And you,)) the faded blue addressed Igribith, ((there’s plenty of sparring partners over there, too. Maybe you oughtta let Arlith have *your* herdbeast — you’re already big enough. Let’s get outta here.))

Unruffled by the digs at her size (the better to fight with, after all!) and unable to find any fault in his logic, Igribith followed him back to the candidates, giving Arlith a parting thump with her tail as she passed him halfway after he took a second tumble, tripping over his own wings.

By this time, the faded blue knew exactly who he wanted, and he just wanted her as soon as possible so he could get out of here. ((Annaca,)) he called gruffly as he approached the candidates, all thoughts of his siblings left behind. The closer he got, though, the less confident he felt — not in his choice, of that he was certain — but of her acceptance. ((I, er… I’m Colstenth.))

He stopped before her, glancing away awkwardly.

((Well,)) he cleared his throat, eyes flicking back up to Annaca’s hopefully. ((We’ve got stuff to do, I guess.))

Igribith laughed heartily at her faded blue brother. ((Colstenth, ha! I’d not have expected such fumbling from you! And with your chosen, too! That’s not how it’s done! Let me show you how it’s done!))

She shoved past a couple of disappointed candidates, seeking her special one.

((JACTAR!)) she shouted as soon as his face came into focus, rushing right up to bully herself against his legs. ((Let’s show these lily-livered pansies how to *really* fight!))

Arlith had thought it prudent to stay where he lay on the Sands after his second trip — at least until Igribith and Colstenth were safely out of his way, that is. He watched them Impress, heart swelling with envy and longing of his own — but how was he ever supposed to pick one of his own when surely none of them would want him? Not when they could have one of these other much better dragons!

((Come along,)) Domandrath said gently but firmly, coming up behind him. ((Now isn’t the time to lose your resolve. You’re almost there! *We’re* almost there. Together.))

Arlith looked up, startled, then back to Chamralth and Tanikith. ((How did you…?))

((They’re a bit distracted by one another. It seemed a good time to slip away.)) The brown sounded as if he was trying to hold back some amusement.

Arlith looked back to the candidates. ((But what if none of them want me? What will happen to me?))

((Arlith, one of them wants you.))

((How can you know that?))

((Trust me,)) Domandrath replied confidently, nudging him. ((I just know. Come on. Don’t let your rider down, Arlith. If you give up now, what will happen to the person who’s waiting to be yours?))

Arlith got to his feet. He hadn’t really thought about it like that. Even if it seemed easier to just let himself fade away, what if there really *was* someone there waiting for him? And he never got to him? And something awful happened — all because he was too weak to take the chance?

Instinctively, he raised his wings up high to keep from tripping on them again, and raised his eyes to the candidates, daring to look.

A pair of hopefuly and sympathetic eyes looked back at him from the crowd, somehow catching his attention in the otherwise unremarkable (to him) sea of faces, like a lighthouse beaming out over the darkened ocean.

The blue gave a desperate creel, hurrying to close the distance between them on short little legs, his wings aching from his effort to keep them held high enough not to trip even as he was trying to run. ((Quilionas!)) he called. He could feel it — right there, so close, everything he needed to fill that dark and desperate hole inside himself, to patch up that awful oozing wound of self-doubt and inadequacy. Here was hope, here was brightness, here was everything he ever wanted.

He threw himself against the boy’s legs, not even daring to look up at him again for fear of rejection. ((Take me. Please take me! Please don’t turn me away!))

Domandrath watched, his heart warmed by the sight. He’d been a little worried that Arlith wouldn’t make it, but somehow he knew that everything would be fine now.

((It’s a good day when everything works out, isn’t it?)) he asked the startled candidate to his left casually, as if he’d been ready to Impress all along. ((I’m sorry to keep you waiting, but I had to make sure he was okay. Forgive me?))

The brown looked up into the boy’s eyes, confidence and love bursting forth from him in waves.

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