Timande Mei'Rhakarndi's Story: Chapter Five
There's one hour to go, and Raesun sits quietly in the room he and his bond share, eyes shut and breath coming slowly. It's quiet, and has been for the past hour, a state not terribly unusual for the two yautjadragons-- but the purpose is a bit different, for neither of them are doing anything. Raesun is sitting with his paws together and tail curled around him, holding his heels to keep his balance and keep his hands still. Timande is less still, shifting his weight now and then and swishing his tail from side to side, but this had been his idea to begin with so, of course, he is not going to get up.
::It's called a vigil,:: he'd said gruffly when he told Raesun what they'd be doing. ::It calms you down before a big event, helps you focus, and gives you time to think.::
Though Raesun is not particularly agitated or worried, he has no problems with trying this thing out. He'll try most things that he can see no harm in. A rest before the afternoon actually got started sounded like a good idea, at the time. He is also amused that, though Timande had suggested it, he is really rather bad at it. But he knows that Timande did this before his test, over three years ago now, and so thinks perhaps it will help his young bond, whether it is "the thing to do" or not. Though Raesun has already gotten most of his excitement out, he appreciates the gesture.
When the call went out the day before-- not a personal call, as Raesun had been half-expecting since he knew all of the summoners in person, but a mass summoning over the Huntermind-- Raesun couldn't help but contact his bond immediately. He knew it had been coming any day, what with preparations going on for a few weeks and his second birthday just past, but he was still excited.
::Timande, Timande! Did you hear?!::
Of course he heard; he is on the Huntermind, too, after all. There was what sounded like a sigh on the other end of the bond, but it was not an annoyed one. ::I heard, Raesun. Tomorrow is the big day.::
Raesun let him be after that first exchange and a burst of wordless happiness-- he was at work, at the time, and busy-- and did not pester him with questions. It seemed silly, after all, to ask "do you think I'm ready?" and "what should I expect tomorrow?" If he wanted to know what Timande thinks he ought to expect, he had his bond's memories of his own testing at his mental fingertips. He has reviewed those memories before, more out of curiosity than need, and again that evening just to refresh his memory, and heard it told from Timande's own thoughts when he asked before. It is possible that the test has changed-- though Rhakarndi doesn't seem the type to improvise-- but he thinks he can improvise if need be.
And he knows, too, that he is ready-- ready for it to be over, at the very least, and life to go on! So much time and effort has gone into preparing for this test-- which theoretically also prepared him for life after it-- that Raesun can't help but find it a little silly. Life isn't about testing; it's about doing good and helping people. Even if he fails his test, he doesn't think he'll mind, because he can go out and do good with or without a title or rank.
Even so, he hopes he can put up a good fight, if just to honor his teachers. Timande has trained him well, as have his teachers on the station in things other than weaponry, combat, and tactics. So has, to Timande's endless frustration, Netahiln, who he still sees once a week to stalk the back-streets of the station's residential and commercial decks, in search of things of her bond's make to heal and purify, or just learn about, and learn how to handle. It makes his bond angry, that the chaos-mutt is teaching him things-- valuable or otherwise-- but every time he suggests he stop, Timande tells him not to stop until he is satisfied with his knowledge. Since he has no desire to stop learning, he continues to see Netahiln.
Even then, no matter how much training he has, he still might be a little concerned about his readiness, except for his experiences with the other yautjadragons.
Over the past year, the four adult yautjadragons on the ship have been taking all the various second-generation-ers from the Destiny out when they go hunting. Timande confided more than once that they were much toned down from the "real thing", but Raesun has no objections to hunts done for practice. It seems better than getting overwhelmed by the real thing and then failing. Over the past year, these training hunts have not been terribly common, but they have been common enough that Raesun has noticed an increase each time in their difficulty, and a decrease each time in instruction-- though Timande continues to instruct him, anyway.
Raesun has to admit, as much as he cares about his bond, he hopes he doesn't treat him like a student forever. Maybe they'll have to continually take in apprentices, or something, so Timande always has someone to teach... or maybe he'll get used to it, and will stop on his own. For now, Raesun is putting up with it; Timande is intelligent, when it comes to hunting, tracking, and bringing down the enemy, so what he has to say is useful. But he won't be a student for much longer.
The last practice hunt actually took them to a corrupted place, and once they brought down the thing that had caused it-- not a Balespawn, but something probably just as evil and corrupting, if not quite as godly-- he and the others had been charged with returning the locale to its pure state. That had been a true challenge, and one Raesun proudly feels like he overcame. There is a lot of satisfaction in seeing the unnatural return to the natural, in restoring what something or someone should be instead of that they were forced to be.
So, after that, and after two years of training, Raesun doesn't feel nervous about this test. He hopes to do well, but he's not nervous. He does wonder, however, whether Timande is nervous for him: he's still adjusting his position every minute or two, restless and unable to really hold still. The older yautjadragon is perfectly capable of holding still when it's for a hunt or a duty, but right now he is just so fidgety. It's a little bit funny, actually.
Half an hour to go. Timande tosses long dredlocks from his face and gets up, shaking himself vigorously. Raesun follows suit, though his hair is still loose-- not for much longer, if he passes his test.
It is still something of a surprise to be looking at his bond and teacher in the eye, when they both straighten and meet the other's gaze. Raesun was a big hatchling, but apparently so was Timande, for they are now of a height. He smiles at his bond, who hasn't gotten used to the change in height either, and gets a pleased not-quite-smile in response.
::It is nearly time.::
Looking fierce, or maybe fiercely pleased, Timande continues, ::I know you will do well. We will be Blooded together, soon.::
Shrugging his wings and smiling again, Raesun asks, ::Will you still be pleased, if I'm not?::
The question puts Timande off-balance. ::But you will be. There is no doubt, no one doubts it, I'm sure.::
::But if I'm not,:: Raesun persists. ::Will you still be proud of me?::
Scowling now-- an expression Raesun knows well, on his bond-- Timande says, ::You are a good student, and you will be a good partner, Blooded or not. But if you fail, I will have to take things up with our Grandfather, because you don't deserve to fail.::
Huffing out a chuckle, Raesun answers, ::It's always possible. I'll just be happy to be able to go out in the world and get going on the "defeating evil" part.::
That brings back a smile. ::We will be a good team.::
Of course Raesun agrees-- he chose him, after all. ::Come on, let's go! We won't be too early, if we go out now.::
Now it is Timande who chuckles-- reminded a little of himself, he thinks-- but he leads the way out the door, and Raesun follows expectantly behind.