Date Posted: 28th April 2017
Characters: Zatirra, Etiaren
Description: Etiaren discovers his daughter is missing and makes plans to deal with it.
Location: Sunstone Seahold
Date: month 11, day 20 of Turn 8
Notes: Follows after “SSH: Search Means Freedom”
Etiaren had been frustrated by the visit of the Searchriders, even if
one of them was his nephew. He didn't like the dragonriders coming to
poke around his hold and take away the good young men and women who were
needed here to be working the fields. It was his hold and he needed them
and the Weyr had no right to be taking them! Always the Searches, the
need for more dragonriders, all because “Pern needs riders to protect it”.
And then the sharding younglings didn't even have the decency to
Impress and be dragonriders! The last two who had been taken from Echo
Ridge last turn, neither had Impressed and neither had come back. They'd
both written their families that they were going to stay on for the next
clutch in hopes that this time it would work out.
But Etiaren didn't believe that one bit. The girl was probably ruined
for marriage already, and the lad had been an addle-brained daydreamer
not even good at the fields working. The Weyr had taken away the boy's
use as a pair of hands, but they'd taken away the requirement to feed
**At least they didn't _take_ anyone this time,** he told himself,
trying to content himself with that knowledge. The guards had managed to
hide all of the girls before the appropriate ages of children had been
paraded in front of the Searchriders.
Well, all the important girls. Possibly one or two of the servant girls
had been in the lineup, but they would be no big loss. The good girls –
by which he meant, his and those of his Steward and the family – had
surely been hidden in the ladies' rooms far away from the eyes of the
riders and their dragons.
Even though they hadn't taken anyone, the presumptuousness of the visit
had left him out of sorts and cranky. As a result he'd taken dinner in
his office rather than with his family. He didn't feel like dealing with
anyone else right now, and he knew with his temper that nobody else
wanted to deal with him, either.
He started reading over the marriages-related correspondence on his
desk again. His oldest daughter Etiza seemed like an addle-brained
daydreamer to him, but she was very pretty and his wife had trained her
well in the talents of managing. Most importantly, since she was halfway
into her fifteenth Turn, she was of marrying age now. So at least she'd
be some other man's problem soon. Very soon, in fact, because he had not
one but two proposals for her hand…
River Bend's Holder was offering his second-oldest son's hand in
marriage. On the one hand, it was a minor hold of comparable size to his
own and the alliance would prove valuable. They were better situated to
deliver items to the broader territory since they were a major stop on
the river, while Echo Ridge only had land paths. An alliance would give
him privileged access to their port. But he rankled at the offer of the
second son and not the eldest, who he happened to know for a fact was
also unwed and thus eligible.
In contrast, the head of Headwater cothold was offering his eldest
son's hand in marriage. And Headwater was less than a day's ride away,
so he'd be able to see his daughter as much as he wanted. Which was more
of a concern for the women and less of a concern for him. But they were
just a cothold, though one of decent size, and did he really want to
trade his eldest to them? No, better to tell them to match their second
son with his second daughter, and - .
When his wife entered the room without even knocking, he lifted his
eyes from the letters and swore at her. “I'm working, woman. What the
shells do you want?” he demanded.
Zatirra knew he didn't like to be interrupted. But she did look
wide-eyed and out of breath, so maybe something was wrong.
“I can't find Etiza anywhere,” she blurted.
**Is that all?** he thought. He wasn't sure why Zatirra was so worried.
After all, their eldest daughter had a habit of hiding herself somewhere
and losing track of time. It was such an annoying habit.
At his lack of response, Zatirra kept talking. “It started when the
dragonriders came earlier. I didn't see her in the ladies' chambers with
the other girls, but I was distracted keeping all of the girls calm So
once the dragons were gone, I checked the laundry and there were girls
there but not her. Then I checked the stores and she was still missing.
I sent guard Riekan out to look for her in case she was out in the
fields, and he just came back and said he can't find her.”
Etiaren wasn't liking where this was going. Damn the girl! Daydreamer
as she was, could she have missed the calls to hide? But she wouldn't
surely still be tucked up somewhere avoiding work? He frowned as a more
sinister possibility occurred to him – she knew how he felt about the
dragons and their riders, and she couldn't _possibly_ have defied the
order to hide…
“Has anyone seen her since the dragons left?” he asked.
“Not that I heard,” his wife said. “You don't think she tried to hide
with the boys when the dragons looked at them?”
“I was there and I would have seen her,” Etiaren said. He wouldn't have
missed her face even if she'd tried to be a servant girl. “But the
guards said they stayed a few minutes longer before leaving. I thought
perhaps they were conferring with each other about something. But what
if she tried to talk them into taking her?”
“Husband, they can't possibly have taken her to the Weyr!” Zatirra's
hands flew to her mouth and she looked horrified at the concept. “She'd
be ruined if she stayed there.”
Etiaren agreed with his wife's assessment. She was young, pretty, and
foolish. She'd fall into the bed of a handsome dragonrider, become
indoctrinated into their perversions. Then she'd never be marriageable
again and either alliance he was contemplating would never happen.
“I'll have two other guards search outside while you keep searching
every building and every store room,” he told his wife.
A brilliant idea hit. “If she's missing by morning, I'll write a letter
to the Weyr demanding for aid in searching for our missing child. If she
headed with them they'll tell us and if she's legitimately missing they
have to help us find her.”
“Thank you, husband. I'll take Tiaza and we'll search inside, just in
case,” Zatirra said before disappearing out the door.
Etiaren pulled sheets of hide close and began to draft that letter to
the Weyr. The more he thought about it the more it seemed like she could
have either run away or convinced one of those sharding riders to take
her. And if his daughter was at the Weyr, then she needed to be returned
**Better write one to Lord Bryvin, too, just in case.** After all, the
Lord of Sunstone would surely be sympathetic to the plight of one of his
holders against the depredations of the Weyr…
Last updated on the June 15th 2017