Alaya lazily turned over on her back and stared up at the sky, watching the clouds slowly pass overhead.  She could sit for hours, making pictures out of the shapes overhead, and letting time slowly pass her by.  Alaya saw a watch-wher in one cloud, and a dolphin in the next, and then sighed.
Threadfree days are boring. Alaya thought contentidly.  If only everyday were as easy as this one, then perhaps I'd never have to sing another note again!
  Alaya grumbles unintelligably, and sat up.  Just thinking about her life as a Harper upset her, although she couldn't tell why.
I've everything I could want; shelter, friends, appreciation of my talents....
  "But that's not what a want," she suddenly said aloud, to herself, "I want to be appreciated for myself."  Alaya rustled uncomfortably and the lazy, peaceful mood of the day was suddenly gone.  She stood up and looked around her. 
  She had left the Hold that morning, as soon as she made certain there would be no Thread that day, and as soon as she made certain that no was following her, she broke into a jog that landed her a few miles away from home, in the hills.  She had always come here, when she needed to think, and when she needed to get away from the pressure her apprenticeship required of her.  She took no joy in music, and so a profession of Harpering upset her greatly.  But it was that or get married to some twenty year old wherhide-for-brains Weaver, and so she choose the Harper.
  Her natural singing voice was apperant from a very early age, and her mother had milked that for all it was worth, ensuring everyone knew of her daughter's talent.  Alaya would always hate her for that. Alaya had turned against her mother when she was twelve Turns, refusing to sing or recite anything having to do with music.  Her mother was gravely upset, and told her she could either Harper as was fitting for a girl of such talent, or marry the kind Weaver who had requested her as a mate.  At fourteen she choose to be a Harper, and harpering she did, from morning to night she apprenticed with the Hold's Harper Lix, and hated every moment of it.
  Alaya had no dreams of singing,  and had enough trouble learning to read the notes  on a sheet in front of her without worrying about composing more..  Alaya had real dreams, dreams that would make her truly happy, and bring out the best in her.  But as the Turns went by, she slowly dismissed these dreams as childhood fancy.  What person didn't dream of dragons anyway?  Why should she think her wishes were any different from anyone elses.  No one was every truly happy, she had decided, they just do the best they can with what they're given.  I was given a voice, so I must use it to support myself.  But how she wished she could have been a dragonrider!
  A sharp snap of a twig caught Alaya's attention, and she looked about sharply, wondering who had the nerve to follow her.  But she saw no one, and hearing another snap, she turned in the direction of the "beach", and quickly trotted down there.
  The beach was no actually a beach, as there was no ocean anywhere near the Hold, but rather a huge sandpit, nestled next to a hot lake, surrounded by tall grasses and shrubs.  Alaya never went there, the feeling of the place left much to be desired, and made one think that between wasn't such a bad place afterall.
  But to Alaya's surprise, once she reached the "beach", she could discern tiny figures, creeling on the sand.
  "Fire-lizards...." She murmured, and then smiled ecstatically.  "Those are fire-lizards!"  She had no idea that they made their homes here, in this steamy place.  She crouched down behind a bush, and waited to see what they were doing here.  She watched as fire-lizards of every colour gathered about on the sand, and sat chirping and grooming one another, and she watched the beautiful, tiny, queen walking about like she owned the world, chirping and giving commands to everybody.  Alaya smiled at the queen's behavior, for it so mimicked that of a real queen dragon. 
Why, it's like they're having a Gather,  I wonder what brought them together?
  Suddenly every movement stopped, and each creature turned towards a central spot on the sand, and began to thrum loudly.  Alaya couldn't believe her good luck.  A hatching!  Wait until she told those wherry-headed Holder girls that she, Alaya, had seen a fire-lizard hatching!  They wouldn't be able to stand her after that one, and the thought made Alaya smile. 
  Alaya watched for the better part of an hour as the tiny dragons hummed, waiting patiently for their progeny to arrive, and when that moment came, Alaya was nearly asleep with fatigue.  She hadn't realized it was so late, and she'd begun nodding off.  So when that first little nose poked through the sand, she missed it, and when several bodies crawled up to the surface, she missed that too.  Head in her arms,  dozing restlessly, she missed the young fire-lizards drying their wings, and taking flight as they went to find their first meal.
A half-hour later.......
  Alaya woke with a start.  It was dark all around her, and she could hear the insects buzzing.  How long had she been out here?  They must be sick with worry, she thought bitterly.  They'd have missed my 'glorious' voice at dinner.  But she suddenly remembered the fire-lizards, and when she looked, she noticed they were all gone.  A sudden sadness enveloped her, and without thinking she felt a tear slide down her cheek.  How could she have fallen asleep at a time like that?  She must be the dumbest person in the Hold.  Even those wherry-necked girls had more sense than she.  Alaya wallowed in her self-hating mood until she heard a light creening coming from the sand, and peering more closely, she could make out a little body on the beach.  A fire-lizard!
  Without a thought she stood and was quickly by the hatchlings side.  Despite it's struggling, she reached down and cradled the tiny body next to hers.  The poor thing had obviously hatched much later than his siblings, for his wings were still wet, and without a proper welcome, the beast was probably confused as to what he should do.  Alaya felt the need to comfort the baby, and she immediatly felt like the tiny creature was a kindred spirit.
  "We were both left fend for ourselves.  Neither of our mothers gave a second thought to either of us....." Alaya whispered softly to the hatchling, who had stopped struggling and sat, crying hungrily. 
How dumb of me....I must get it some food, it's probably starving, and it's not going anywhere with it's wings that wet. 
  "Now little one, I will be right back with something delicious for you.  Stay here and keep quiet.  Be thankful there are no snakes in this part of the world."  Alaya sat the lizard, gently, back on the sand, and, standing quickly, jogged back to the place where she had layed on the hill.  Her pack was still there, and with it, some meatrolls.  The fire-lizard would love the meatrolls. 
  It took her a few minutes, but she finally managed to dig them out of her pack and raced back to the beach.  Alaya set the food in front of the hungry baby, and watched as it gobbled up all the meatrolls, and was still creening for more.  But less urgently, she thought, and was all of a sudden struck by the feeling of his hunger, not just the knowledge that he was hungry. 
He? It's too dark to see the colour, how did I know he was male? Alaya picked up the creature and all of a sudden knew, I have Impressed him! Tears flowed from her eyes as she held the little body next to hers, squeezing him tightly. The little thing crooned with delight at her touch, and Alaya thought she'd never been so happy as she was at this moment.  She didn't even care what colour the little beast turned out to be in the light, he was hers and she was his forever, and she would name him Kindy. 
  Alaya held him in her arms as she walked slowly back to the Hold, savouring the moment, and when she reached the Hold's outer walls, with the glowbaskets lined so the light shone in the doorway, she saw, for the first time, her little bronze fire-lizard, and named him Kindy.

A few months later.....
Alaya finished the final touches on her "composition".  She would be a journeyman, well, woman, soon, or so Nix had told her, and she had to "polish up" all her skills.  Soon, she knew, her mother would send her to the Harper Hall for training. 
  But I don't want to go! She thought angrily, and in frustration crumbled up the music in her hand.  Realizing what she had done, she heaved it across the room, and nearly screamed.  How could she have done that?  It took her forever to finish that piece, and now she had to start again! 
  But before she could scream for real, the door to her room opened and in walked her mother.
Just what I need.....she thought, and to make matters worse her mother was smiling. Smiling.  But then she got a sinking feeling, something was not going to go in her favour today, and she suddenly felt afraid.  She gulped down her nervousness, and looked at her mother.
  "Yes Tinya?"  She saw her mother scowl at the use of her first name, she had always encouraged her children to call her "mother", and she knew her children knew she was upset when they called her otherwise. But the scowl quickly corrected itself, and she beamed at her daughter.
  "They've called for a dragon to take you to the Hall today! Isn't that magnificent?" The forced enthusiasm in her mother's voice was too much, and Alaya suddenly felt nauseas, and for a fleeting moment Alaya felt her own will flare up, and thought to defy her mother.  But that will dissipated as soon as she saw the look of warning on her mothers face.  Alaya resigned, and sighed.  She was only sixteen, and still under her mother's jurisdiction for two more years. 
Plus, she thought, I've nowhere to go even if I did defy my mother. She looked over at her sleeping bronze fire-lizard. And there's no way I could pack enough food for myself and Kindy.  No, mother's right, you don't have to love what you do, just do it well enough to make a good living and enjoy your off time all the more. But Alaya felt like she was lying to herslef.  A lifetime of sitting in one place, singing and writing made her skin begin to crawl. Someday I'll do something where I can be outdoors, and moving, not cramped up in a tiny room in a tiny hold! And that was a promise.
  Alaya plastered a fake smile to her face and looked daftly at her mother,
  "Yes mother, that's wonderful."

Later that evening Alaya sat, stroking Kindy, on the great steps of the Hold.  The bronze fire-lizard crooned approvingly of her petting, and leaned into her.  Alaya had always loved him for his willingness to be held and coddled, she had seen so many others dislike being touched, even by their owners.

"It's just like everyone to forget about me, isn't it Kin?" The fire-lizard looked at her anxiously, and she smiled at him.  "I mean, they wished me luck, and "don't forget where you came from...", and all that stuff.  But they don't even come out to see me off!" Alaya stamped her foot on the ground, startling Kindy, who quickly fluttered up to her shoulders for a more secure perch.  Alaya stroked his head absently, as she continued to vent her anger with words.
  "I'm sure they'll all come out as soon as the dragon arrives.  I'm not important enough for them to brave the cold weather, but another dragon is!  At least my mother could have come and sat with me, as she's the one who gets the most out of me going!"  Alaya pulled her wherhide coat more tightly around her lean frame to keep the worst of the chill out.  Even freezing was better than sitting in the Hold, hearing "aren't you going to go wait for the dragonrider!?  I cannot believe you would be so dishonourable as to sit in here instead of watching out there....". 
Dishonourable indeed!
  Alaya looked up sharply, scanning the steps for the owner of the voice.  Seeing no one she looked about the yards.  Still, no one was in sight. 
  "Great, now I'm hearing things."  But she suddenly felt very odd, and through her thick coat, she could still feel Kindy's claws digging more sharply into her back.  She looked up, and there, hovering in the sky, was a beautiful green dragon!  Alaya's breath caught in her throat,
I've never seen a dragon....
   She watched in awe as the dragon landed, very quietly she noticed too.  The rider hopped easily from the shoulder's of the great beast onto the ground, and strode purposely towards the girl.  Alaya stood, uncertain of how to greet the dragonrider, who was obviously very self-assured.
  "Er..hello Greenrider."  Alaya never thougth to here herself grovel so, and nearly laughed at what she had said.  Of all the silly things to do, she had lost her voice!  Alaya smiled pleasantly at that thought.
  The greenrider smiled, "You must be Alaya." The woman said kindly, and looked with interest at the fire-lizard wrapped tightly on the girl's shoulder.  When the girl nodded she continued, "I'm Tinala, rider of green Peremoth," and Alaya could swear the dragon bowed her head in acknowledgement, "and I suppose we're to take you to the Harper Hall."  Tinala had the look on her face, the one that people would give you when they thought you were excited for something, letting you know they encourage you.  Alaya couldn't even make herself look happy, or even decent, her dispair showed as clearly as the stars in the sky on a clear night, and the greenrider missed nothing. 
  "I know I look sad..." Alaya began to make an excuse, but the greenrider interrupted her.
  "You seem to grieve for your trip more than rejoice in it?  That's not a good sign."  The tall dragonrider said pointedly.
  "No, I suppose it's not." Alaya agreed.  Not giving in to the woman's obvious plea for more information.  She looked towards the dragon, and thinking that she would never feel the same way about green dragons, because she would always remember it was a green who left her at the Harper Hall.  Tinala, mistook Alaya's expression, and said angrily,
  "Greens are just as good as honourable a ride as golds and bronzes.  You needn't be offended by our low ranking.  The only reason we're here anyway is because that fool-headed Holder you've got  in there requested nicely, that they send a Searchrider to look over his daughters!  As if anyone from this Hold could Impress a dragon!"  Tinala stopped suddenly, aware that she had misread the girls thoughts, and had frightened her too. 
  They stood there in an unusally uncomfortable pause for what seemed an eternity, but in reality lasted just under a minute.  Tinala thought to apologize, but couldn't think of what to say to this girl she had probably just mortally offended, and Alaya thought that Tinala was right, no one from her Hold would ever Impress, so that was the final straw of her dream.  Both women regretted trying to speak to the other, and both felt they had overstepped the bounds of politeness.  Alaya finally broke the silence.
  "Shall we go then?" Her voice was meak and shallow, as if she were clenching her throat to keep from letting something more forceful out.  Tinala thought the girl would cry, and was doubly surprised when she didn't.  But the green dragon had something to say to her rider before she let either of the women mount, and Tinala was amazed at her dragon's findings.
  "What is it?" Alaya asked quietly, now seated on the back of the dragon.  She anticipated the ride on the beast as one anticipates a first kiss, knowing it was right there, almost about to happen, and the time between this moment and that was truly forever, and gone much to fast.  The greenrider smiled, causing more butterflies to appear in the girls stomach.
  "It appears, Alaya, that you may not have to go to the Harper Hall afterall." Alaya couldn't mask her joy, anyting to get out of going to that dreadful place, anything!  She waited for the greenrider to continue.  "It seems that Peremoth thinks you might make a fine dragonrider yet." 
  Alaya's heart stopped beating, but she could hear the pounding of it still, drumming her head into pieces.  Her entire body stopped working.  Everything burned on the inside, and began to freeze on the out.  She no longer could think in a logical fashion, only pictures of dragons searing Thread from the skies danced in her mind. 
  It was finally Kindy who brought her back to reality, warbling impaciently in her ear.  She shook her head free of all the dancing images, and snuggled more deeply into her coat.
  "What did you say?" She whispered the question, daring to believe she had not just made the whole thing up, and was rewarded with a look of affirmation on the greenriders face. 
  "Peremoth thinks you're an excellent choice for one of our abadoned dragons." Tinala's face looked suddenly sad.  "For whatever reason, they've been left riderless, and need someone to love them."  Alaya gulped back the tears that she felt for the dragons.  To be without your life-partner, the one you had chosen to be with you forever.  Alaya reached up and pulled Kindy into her arms, and snuggled him close.  He crooned comfortingly in her ear, and nuzzled her fingers as she stroked his back. 
  "See," Tinala continues, "you feel it.  You feel how they feel, except you haven't lost anybody yet.  I knew from the moment I mentioned the Hall you didn't want that place, anymore than you want to be here. Isn't that right?" Alaya could only nod, still caught up in thinking about those lost, lonely beings, waiting for someone to love them again.  Tinala kept speaking,
  "Peremoth said she felt good speaking to you when we first arrived, that says something."
  "That was her?" Alaya said, snapped out of her trance.  " 'Honourable indeed!'..That was her!?" Alaya couldn't believe her good fortune.
  "Yes, that was Peremoth." Tinala said indulgantly, patting her beast on the neck with affection.  "So what do you say?  Peremoth said she knows the perfect dragon for you, she says little Hivarath would match you fine.  So will you go with us?"  Alaya burst out laughing, tossing Kindy into the air.  He caught himself gleefully and glided to his perch on her shoulder, making happy noises.
  "Of course I'll go with you to Dragon Soul Weyr!" Alaya had never thought that her life could actually be happy until that very moment, when she believed, for the first time, that she could decide her own future, and make her own dreams come true, just by being herself.

  Alaya flipped slowly through some old record hides she had found stored in her "weyr".  The old place hadn't been inhabited in Turns, and she had a lot of cleaning to do before it was livable again.  Every corner was coated in dust, every piece of cloth and hide was in tatters, and the two tables were sure to tople apart at any moment.  Alaya loved it anyway, and spent every moment she could spare fixing it up.  Well, every moment when she wasn't in pain anyway, like now.
  All morning she had been at weyrling practice, and every muscle in her body hurt.  She had never believed she was so virgin to such physical work, she had always thought herself strong and athletic.
But apperantly holdbred athletic was different from weyrbred athletic, so when she wasn't "training", she was laying sorely on her bed, reading.
  Alaya had never imagined she could love reading so much, but with the availability of material, her love of the printed word had grown as big as her hatred of the printed music.  But reading was only to keep her mind occupied, and to keep her from thinking about the dragon. 
  She had met the Weyrwoman, who had said as soon as she finished weyrling practice, she would be taken down to meet the abadoned dragon Hivarath.  Alaya wondered what Hivarath was like, and whether or not the dragon would allow her to Impress.  But whenever she thought about it, her stomach tied up in knots, and she grew restless and agitated.  So she read, and she cleaned up the weyr where she stayed.  When asked, she helped with any chores she could, but the women in the Lower Caverns were sensitive to the fact that she wasn't used to so much physicaly straining activity, and told her she wouldn't have to work very often until she was feeling better.
   Sighing, Alaya slowly sat up, her tired body complaining of the movement.  Rubbing her back, she crawled off the bed, and went into the main part of the weyr. 
  The room was designed as simply as possible.  The sleeping chamber was approximately a third of the entire weyr, and was full of shelves, tables, chairs, and other miscellaneous items that had always been there.  The rest of the weyr was a huge "dragon room", with a large sleeping couch and hooks to hang harness on.  A huge red tapestry hung in front of the ledge doorway to keep the chilly air out at night.  Alaya would miss this place, but she knew this Weyr was not for her.
  There was a Weyr that she had heard of, farther west, called Dawn Sisters.  Alaya felt as if there were strings on her heart tugging her there.  If she Impressed, she would go to Rathlin, and join their fighting ranks.  She hoped the Weyrwoman, Zyala, would not be angry, but it was her right to choose a Weyr..if she Impressed.

A month and a half later....... 
Alaya never thought her confidence would be so low.  Every nerve in her body was screaming for her to get out before something bad happened to her, and Alaya had a half a mind to listen.  Today was the day they were taking her to meet (and Impress?), Hivarath. 
  Two months had passed since she arrived, and she hadn't heard from her mother after the initial first letter, telling Alaya how dissappointed she was in her.  Alaya didn't mind, she had made other friends while she was here, and afterall, she still had Kindy. 
  Suddenly she heard footsteps in the hallway outside her door, and gulped.  She fingered her loosely flowing white robe.  Zyala had been adament that she still wear the white, as was required of any Canididate, and Alaya was still a Canidate.  She felt extremely frightened right then, and reached for Kindy, who was dozing easily on the bed next to her, and she held him tightly as the Weyrwoman entered her weyr.
  "Are we ready?" Zyala asked calmly, smiling at Alaya.  Alaya felt a rush of affection for the older woman, and fidgeted nervously.
  "I....I suppose I am..." Kindy chirped readily, and Zyala laughed.
  "Well then, let's take you to meet Hivarath."
Dragon Soul Weyr
Alaya walked into the caverns ready to turn back any moment.  The Weyrwoman had left Alaya at the entrance, pushing the girl forward and reassuring her.  It was up to Alaya now, and Hivarath.  Alaya gulped, scared of what might happen.  Suddenly a huge bellow shook the cavern around her, and Alaya shrieked and nearly ran back.  It's too hard, she thought, Hivarath won't want me. Why do I try? But a feeling of urgency drove Alaya foward, and she was faced with the large green Hivarath.
Alaya's mind whirled with emotions and thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness.  She didn't know whether it came from her or Hivarath, but she knew that the dragon was so incredibly lonely.  Alaya wished she had brought Kindy with her, he would have boosted her confidence. 
  "Um, hello Hivarath."  Alaya said shyly, almost crying, although she didn't know why.  The dragon stared at her for a moment, eyes dead, and bellowed loudly again.  Alaya had to cover her ears to block out the wall shattering noise.  Alaya sent out feelings of love and want to the green, as she was told she must do.  She strained to make the green hear her thoughts of welcome and friendship, but Hivarath didn't acknowledge her presence again. 
  Feeling utterly rejected and alone, Alaya slumped down in the corner.  She was such a failure, how could she face any of the dragonriders?  She might as well stay here with the dragon who didn't want her.  Alaya buried her head in her arms, ignoring the fact that she was getting her white "candidates" garb dirty.  She began to sob silently, stopping the tears before they ran down her face.  Hivarath rustled.
  When Alaya looked up she saw the green dragon sitting, a few feet from her, head down and body almost lifeless.  Alaya smiled.
  "It'll be okay Hivarath, just wait.  You'll find someone you'll turn to.  No one wants you to live like this, and I'll spend the rest of my life finding someone for you to bond with if it's all I ever do.  You don't deserve this Hivarath and....neither do I."  Alaya stood up then, and sent some reassuring, loving thoughts to the dragon, and began to leave.  The dragon hadn't wanted her, and Alaya wouldn't force her presence on the dragon any longer.  She turned around for one last glance at Hivarath, and looked deeply into the dragon's eyes. 
  Suddenly a whole sensation swept through Alaya's body, it was the worst misery and the greatest joy she'd ever felt.  All sorts of thoughts and memories came rushing into her mind and Alaya thought of nothing but the green.  She had Impressed Hivarath!
She didn't want me. A sad, light voice came into Alaya's head, and Alaya was immediatly beside the large green head, stroking it in love and reassurance.  Hivarath crooned slightly, rubbing on Alaya's robes. 
Oh Hivarath, I'm sure she wanted you.  Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. And Alaya thought of being a Harper, and shuddered despite herself  She felt more love coming from the dragon.  A tear slid down Alaya's cheek. 
Why weren't you there when I hatched?  I would have chosen you if I could have!  I didn't really want her, but what choice did I have?  We were meant for each other, why weren't you there? Hivarath's mental voice was close to hysterical, and she was lashing her tail and stomping her feet.  Alaya was glad to see her eyes whirling brightly again.  Even though the dragon was angry, she had life in her now.
  "I would have if I could have my love.  But how was I to know that it would be you, my lifepartner, hatching that day?  Hivarath, if I had known about you on that day, nothing would have stopped me from being at your hatching!"  The dragon sent feelings of joy to Alaya, and the girl felt, for the first time, whole.  "Are you hungry Hivarath?  The Weyrwoman said that you hadn't eaten in a long time."  The dragon warbled.
Yes, I'm very hungry.  You will take me home now?  I want to get out of this horrible place.  I'm so hungry......  I remember when she used to take me to feed.......Hivarath's mind voice began to once again draw close to the edge of hysteria, and Alaya quickly calmed her.
  "Don't think about that Hivy, I'm here now.  I'll take you to feed."  The dragon warbled again, causing Alaya to smile.  Never again would she be alone.  Never again would she be forced to do anything against her will.  Hivarath would always be there for her, and she'd always be there for Hivarath. 
I love you Alaya. The green dragon stated. 
I know. Was Alaya's response. I love you too. A flash of bronze came darting into the cavern, followed by shouts and angry footsteps.  Kindy landed frightfully onto Alaya's shoulder and peered at the green dragon.  Suddenly he chirped, almost in surprise, and began to trill happily.  Hivarath rumbled with him, almost dancing on her feet. 
  Alaya flung her arms around Hivarath, promising her dragon the world, as Kindy held on for dear life.  The trio felt a sense completion, and at just that moment the Weyrwoman and several dragonriders came rushing in, cursing at Kindy.  Alaya beemed proudly at them.
  "This is Hivarath, my green Hivarath."  Hivarath's triumphant bugle shook rocks from the ceiling, and not even a roaring bronze dragon could drown out Hivarath's joy.
Alaya's Stats

Rank- apprentice harper
Family Ties-daughter of a Holder's sister
Appearance-very tall girl with short brown hair and inquisitive brown eyes.  She is somewhat plain looking, with a figure that is not either to thin or to round.
Personality-a calm girl, she cares very much for people.  She cannot stand to see anybody lonely, because she is, and she feels a desperate need to help others.  She is also "controlled" easily by her mother, and before she came to the weyr, had no willpower of her own.
Pets-bronze fire-lizard Kindy
Dragon-green Hivarath, Impressed at
Dragon Soul Weyr.
Send a message through Kindy.