OOC: Set the day before the Gather opens and has several NPC members of AWLM K'synn's family.
It was still early morning when Tiscarth landed, the brown touching down as K’synn slid from his back. He could see the tents going up, the wagons being pulled into position. Everyone was working together to get the posts up. Men were pulling on ropes attached to pulleys to lift the posts into place. Their bare muscles shimmered with sweat in the early morning sun, sweat dripping down their skin like raindrops.
A sentry came to speak with him. A few words later, and K’synn was there, hands on a rope pulling to help raise the tent. Within a short period of time, he too was shirtless, his own muscles gleaming, the recent Threadscoring on his left arm still lightly bandaged against irritating the new skin. He spent the next candlemark helping to set up the Gather, enjoying singing the work songs from his childhood memories as they went along. Tiscarth watched amused, commenting that he could help, but the trader kids were happy to play with him, and he played with them while the parents worked. The brown did occasionally help when asked, but for the most part, staying still helped the runners that were working to be calm.
It was several candlemarks later when he was done and taking a water break that someone approached him from behind. “Feeling sentimental, Kerlsynn? Missing your old life?” a husky voice asked before another one interjected. “Oh for Faranth’s sake! K’synn, how are you?”
He turned around, the faces of two of his many siblings greeting him. And one immediately had her arms around him. “Ro?” He said astonished, looking at her. Confirming it was her, he wrapped his arms around her. “How are you here?” And then he looked over her shoulder at the source of the other voice he’d heard. “Relkynn?”
“Correct big brother! In the flesh!” His younger brother clapped him on the back with a smile.
“What are you two doing here?” He asked as Rowaen released him from her grip, her blonde hair falling down in waves as she regarded him with her blue eyes. The only sibling in the family to have blue eyes.
“Here brokering trade deals for the family,” Ro answered him.
“And they sent you two?” he asked with a smile, teasing them.
“You’re helping, bro,” Rel retorted with a laugh. “Mother and Father are going to need your help to pull some of this off. You and Willow,” he said, referencing the eldest sister in the large family.
“Oh, so you need Circeth and Tiscarth!” he said with a chuckle. Circeth was Willow’s green dragon. She was the eldest of the siblings, and had Impressed young to the sweet green dragon. “I’m just along for the ride.”
“That’s not totally true…” Rowaen said laughing. Her laughter was infectious as always, and like bells across snow. “You know we love it when you come to visit. But yes, some monthly transportation services is the service due to your family. Willow is already paying hers.”
“Least you could do for us Pern-bound people you know,” Rel joked. “Come on. Let’s grab an ale…” Ro rolled her eyes at both her brothers, but linked arms with K’synn, leading him over to some tables while Rel went to grab some drinks.
“So how is Arolos?” she asked. “Tiscarth doing well? I think we saw him over that ridge…” she added. “I’d have gone to say hello, but Rel wanted to surprise you.”
“Arolos is different. New Weyr still and all. Some interesting characters down here, but it’s not bad. And being a weyrlingmaster is interesting. The hours are shite, but it’s good to be mentoring and teaching as a job. I like that. Tiscarth is healing, slowly but surely. He’s getting better.” He paused. “He says hello. My arm’s doing well too, thanks.” He teased a sour face. “How’s Taelyn?” Rowaen had Impressed a brown wher up North which she used to help guard the Caravan. He wasn’t as tame as a Callamere wher, but he wasn’t the most aggressive Northern wher either.
“You’ve always been a good teacher. And definitely the goodie of the group. Certainly more patient with all of our antics than I would have been,” she said with a wink. “Taelyn is fine,” she said with a smile. “He’s no dragon, but he does just fine for our purposes. So any fun times at the new place. Anyone in particular you’re spending that time with?” This time she asked with a glint in her eye that he knew all too well.
“If I never told you when we lived together, why ever would I tell you now?” K’synn chuckled, smiling at his sister. He rarely smiled, but with his siblings, it came more freely. She always wanted to know about his love life, but he had always been reticent to disclose.
“What are we talking about now?” Rel said as he returned with three ales. Like K’synn, Relkynn had dark hair and fair skin, although K’synn’s had already started to lighten in the Arolosian sun. Rel was slightly shorter than K’synn, standing just at 6’, and he had slightly narrower shoulders. But the family resemblance was readily visible in the face, the slant of the brow and the cheekbones, in the tilt of the noses and the hardset jaw. With Rowaen, it was different. She was light of hair and complexion, which wasn’t in and of itself strange since their mother was that way. But the features in her face were just off a bit. But it was truly the blue eyes that made her different than everyone else. They all had green or gold eyes. But Ro was adopted, having lived with them since she was a toddler. Her and Lisilia, his blood sister, had been nearly the same age, and they’d grown up nearly like twins. And were equally as troublesome.
“K’synn’s love life!” Ro retorted as she took a glass of ale.
“Is he actually sharing details, or is he being as uptight as usual?” Rel asked.
“He is being a considerate decent human being,” K’synn interjected. “You should learn how to be one,” he added.
“Perhaps one day, after I’ve seen all the greatest beauties of Pern.” Rel chuckled. “Until then, I’ll take my bawdy tales like any good Vanner.” Rel used the colloquial term for the Cavanners. Sure, they were traders, and used that title with outsiders, but inside the small inner circle, Vanners was more often the term. They considered themselves apart from the traditional Pern, who hid in their stone halls and holds. Vanners lived out in the space between, the wild open lands, and learned to survive in it. Very few men could go from hold life to Vanner life, far too often the prospect of Thread under a dragonless sky inciting fear and panic.
“You’re worse than a Rider,” K’synn teased his brother.
“Aye, but brother, you set a low bar,” Rel teased back. “And Ro here…”
“Don’t you go draggin me into this,” Ro shook her head with a smile tugging at her lips.
“Right!” K’synn said, shaking his head in amusement. “Why don’t you tell me what you’re doing here and draggin me into,” he said, feeling himself start to slip into the Vanners way of speaking again, the words just slightly different. It always happened when he was around his family.
Ro looked to Rel, who took the lead. “You know the South is rich in materials, but poor in Craft. And the North can’t compare to the raw goods here, and has more Crafters than supplies. So Father wants to leverage your presence here in the South. It’s as good a reason as any. He figures we’re set up now with some particular trade routes. Set up a secondary smaller route here. Then you and Willow run the goods between on an alternating schedule. Takes you hardly a blink of an eye, but saves a good mark or three on the transportation costs.”
Ro jumped in. “Trade routes here don’t have to be big. We wouldn’t be looking to run all over the continent, simply help facilitate goods and forth between some particular areas. We can make a Turns worth of marks in the quikal alone. Small holdfasts that can barely afford a decent wine, but we pass through all the time, suddenly able to buy a drink to toast their efforts.”
“How noble of us, helping holders to get drunk,” K’synn said with a small amount of disdain.
“Other things too, brother. Medicines and finished goods. Smiths in particular are looking for a better way to get their products down here. And the Northern holds can hardly imagine the fresh fruits from here in the middle of winter.” Rel said, knowing the access to seasonal goods would be huge.
“And I’ve got to do a run once a month? That’s all?” K’synn asked suspiciously. “Father built a lot of hope on a promise he hadn’t extracted from me yet.”
“He says it’s time to pay the Blood Debt.” Rel sat back to let his brother process. This was the debt that K’synn owed his family for raising him. Had he stayed with the Caravan, it would be worked off naturally, but for those who left to join a Craft, Hold, or Weyr, it was something to be paid. It wasn’t something to be used lightly, but it also wasn’t something that could be refused absent extraordinary circumstances. That their Father would outright play that card meant he had a lot riding on this venture and wanted no room for trouble. When K’synn nodded, Rel continued. “Once a month, maybe one or two trips a go, depending on the cargo. A couple candlemarks and you’ll be done.”
“Until you tell me it’s twice a month.”
“Aye, there’s that. But it’ll take time for business to get that busy. We’ll have the cargo loaded in nets Tiscarth can carry from his claws. You come, you take them, you go, you drop them, and you go home. Nothing more. Shards, you did more work this morning than what we’re asking you to do.”
“And,” Ro added, “we promise not to interfere with the weyrlings training, so we’ll coordinate the pickups with you.” She smiled.
“Why do I feel like we’re selling Flight or bootlegging?” K’synn asked suddenly.
“Not far off, brother. But it’s all legitimate trade deals. We won’t have you tarnish your reputation with the underhanded things.” Rel shrugged. Traders traded in all kinds of goods, some more acceptable than others. The drugs and other more questionable items didn’t make up the majority of the business, but it still was there.
“Father’s been setting this up for awhile now. He called in Willow’s Debt too. A few others that were still owed or accounts unsettled.” Ro sipped her ale.
“And who’s he going to have run the Southern vans?” K’synn asked with a nagging suspicion.
“Why us of course, brother!” Rel said with a smile. “Tiemit too, a few others.” Tiemit was his father’s Second of the wagons, usually a position that went to the next ranking family group of the caravan. Farek, his eldest brother and Larek’s heir, would eventually take his father’s position, and the heir of the Second Family would inherit the Second position. There were plenty of intermarriages and children that blended between the two, and many times, a Second was a cousin once or twice removed of the Caravan Head, by blood or marriage. “But it’ll be a small outfit.”
Ro chuckled. “Lisilia’s doing what she does best. We’re here to broker deals. She’s here to ensure they’re kept…” Lisilia Obsidian was the same age as Rowean and of similar temperament. She’d trained as a sentry and was skilled at many things within her Craft. She was an expert knife thrower, could track anything that moved, and had beat boys twice her size in hand-to-hand combat. But her real skills were her intelligence and keen sense of observation. She often went into Holds and Halls before the main Caravan arrived, getting a feel for the people, the climate, the needs. She often came back with vital information that helped her family make shrewd deals or stear clear of holds less friendly to the traders. She was as patient as he was but more bold and decisive. She enjoyed letting men think she was a waif of a woman, only to grind them into the dust in a test of skills. She got off on besting the boys, truth be told.
“Faranth save the South,” K’synn mocked groaned into his glass.
“Indeed, brother. Indeed,” Rel said with a toast and a wicked glint in his eye.