MAIN

MARLEEN
Stats - Dragon
LATEM
Stats - Dragon
KARIMA
Stats - Dragon
JONAH
Stats - Dragon

LANTESSAMA

Backgrounds from:
Castleberry Arts
Sneugle's Tubes

 


Latem carefully weeded out the shoots that looked to feeble and turned the ground just enough to allow the remaining shoots to take root easier. Though he was by himself right now, soon enough the other three students in his study group would assemble. Latem enjoyed this quiet time in the day though and made sure he came by half an hour before they'd agreed to meet up. Sometimes Marleen was there early as well, but today she seemed to be running late.
Latem whistled and his green firelizard, Bree, responded by doing a small loop and giving a chirp. She usually liked it when he whistled a song and expressed her happiness by giving a little show. He sat back to wait, combing his hands through his shaggy black hair, and kept whistling, watching Bree as she twirled, rose up and dove down, chasing shadows. After about 10 minutes of rest, Latem figured he might as well start helping one of the others with their patch of shoots. Marleen would probably enjoy doing the work herself, but Karima was often busy helping out at her parents' farm and taking care of various animals. Latem set to work on her section of the field and retreated in the pleasant buzz of the repetitive work. His lanky body bending and stretching as he pulled weeds, hoed the ground and made sure no shoots had their roots exposed. 
When he'd done a good stretch of work, Marleen arrived and called out to him: 
"Have you finished work on your field already?" the green-eyed red-head asked.
Latem nodded and answered: "Pretty much."
"As long as you don't help Jonah." She shrugged.
It was no secret that Marleen and Jonah didn't like each other. They were both strong personalities with a tendency to take up the leader-position. And though Marleen was all about organisation and thinking of the greater good, while Jonah lived to defy tradition and seek out his own pleasure. Latem usually kept as far away as possible from their arguments. Which is also why he didn't comment about Jonah's field. Marleen would probably notice herself what plants the younger student was cultivating. 
"How are the grain shoots doing?" Marleen kept the conversation going.
Latem thought for a bit and answered: "the cross we obtained from the previous study group is showing definite signs of being stronger and faster-growing than the regular species. Though they don't seem to thrive on the rockier soil. I believe we could improve on that point."
Marleen nodded. Latem was perfectly capable of long sentences but it always surprised her a bit when he launched in one of his explanations. But he had a point. Several previous study groups had crossed Northern grain-species with local southern varieties hoping to create a sturdier strain that could withstand diseases on either continent and yielded optimal harvest in a multitude of climates. 
"Which type of grain do you think we could cross it with?"
"I'd try the Wiggle strain."
"Why did they even call it that?" Marleen asked to no-one in particular.
"They thought it was funny?" Latem said dryly. 
That strain was the one the study group from five years ago had developed. They'd focused primarily on developing grain that could grow on mountainous terrain, hoping to inspire farming in mountain villages. Latem was certain they'd been on track. 
"Is there a plot we could still use?" Marleen pondered.
This time Latem didn't answer because he knew this question was something he couldn't answer. Marleen grew silent and went over all possible scenario's in her mind. There was a reason she was studying management. It was a specialisation in the clerical courses with few job opportunities outside of running a hold. But Marleen knew she would be taking over her family's farm and knowing how to manage a large estate and all her siblings' future families was very important. For their school project they were using multiple fields. First and foremost the practice field from Remyndal Hall. But since all four of them lived in Eillan they had several other options. 
"I believe Karima's farm has a plot with rocky soil. We could ask her later."
Footsteps on the road alerted them that someone else had come. Marleen turned around and saw Jonah approaching them, looking like he'd just rolled out of bed. 
"How nice of you to join us." she said coldly, knowing that he was at least half an hour late. 
"I'm not the last one here." he shrugged and sauntered to his own little part of the field. 
Jonah had noticed that ignoring Marleen generally worked best. Talking back just meant he'd get a headache and he'd rather not. Unfortunately thought, the woman one year his senior followed him and seemed intent on making his life hard. 
"This is a joint project. We all need to work hard to make this happen."
"I don't see Karima around. Are you going to give her this same sermon?"
"She has her circumstances."
"Well so do I." Jonah growled, standing up suddenly.
He was a full head taller than Marleen and about twice as wide. Jonah knew full well he could be menacing if he wanted to. And today he very much wanted to. The redhead had been getting on his nerves since the start of the project. Things would have been fine if they'd all just taken a cross and made a report on that separately. But Marleen had insisted on a gazillion meetings, planning discussions and who knows what else. 
Suddenly Marleen's eyes fell on an unusually shaped leaf and insight dawned.
"Those aren't grain sprouts." she hissed, "What did you plant here?!"
"Nothing that will harm the project." Jonah said, taking a step closer, pushing Marleen back.
At this point in time Latem got up and started making his way to the two others, not really knowing what he could do to keep their clashing personalities from starting a full on war, but he felt he should at least try.
Luckily for him, Karima appeared from around the corner, running and panting. Her two firelizards, a blue she called Ismael and a bronze she'd named Eymen, flying around her. All three of them seemed to be excited and elated. Without noticing the atmosphere, Karima crashed on the patch of grass where Latem had previously rested and said:
"Sorry I'm late! But we had one of the cows go into labour and then she seemed to be in trouble and we all had to help her deliver twins. Both made it and I was so happy about that that I'd completely forgotten about the time..."
By this point little green Bree had joined the other two firelizards as they were spiralling around the charismatic blonde. She was the youngest in the group and with her white-blonde hair, bright blue eyes and casual way of acting she was liked by everybody. Latem let out a relieved sigh when he noticed that Marleen and Jonah had stepped back from each other. But his relief might have come too soon as Marleen hadn't forgotten what had happened right before Karima's arrival.
"Hello Karima, don't worry. We understand." Marleen said and turned back to Jonah, "However I don't understand why you're growing some of these plants that I assume are meant for recreational purposes."
Jonah hadn't thought he'd be lucky enough to escape Marleen's wrath. Jonah had permission to grow these herbs as part of his medicinal courses, but he wasn't about to just use that as an excuse. She had no business telling him what to do. As his temper rose again, he smiled charmingly and said: 
"I'm seeing if any of these are advantageous for the grains."
Karima, suddenly finding herself in the middle of a discussion gone south, tried to smooth out the kinks as she was apt to do.
"That could be a valid point. It might even get us some extra credit for thinking about that." she tried and hoped Marleen would let it go.
"We don't even know if these are poisonous." Marleen answered, "And this will just make all of our research more difficult to interpret. Intervening factors should be something for a different study group."
"They're not poisonous." Latem said quietly, "I checked."
Karima held her breath, hoping Marleen wouldn't pick up on the fact that Latem apparently already knew about the extras in the fields. Well of course he knew, he was almost always there and had helped her caring for the plants that should have been her responsibility. Luckily Marleen seemed to back down.
"Just make certain this is the only field with the extras near it." She finally said, "Conditions here are fairly similar to the one at my home so we have something to compare it with."
"I'm glad we see eye to eye." Jonah smirked, feeling he'd won this battle. 
The rest of the morning the four of them spent their time working the fields and taking notes. Marleen could see that most of the fields were doing well but annoyingly Jonah's field was thriving. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of telling him that and vowed to take extra care of her private field. They weren't at harvest yet.
Karima had heard from Latem about the plans to use a rockier patch of ground to test the Wiggle Strain and compare it to both the regular Southern grain and the Remyndal-10 Variety that had been cultivated by the previous study group. She could see the extra worth this could have and had agreed to ask her parents if she could use a patch of their land. She already had a perfect spot in mind. The land would not be used for cattle the next two years anyway and because it was so rough it could not be used for much else anyway. If they could use it to farm grains to feed all their livestock it might be worth more to them. She'd asked Latem to come with her and after her father had given permission, she'd taken him to the stony patch of ground. 
She turned to Latem and said: 
"Thank you for helping me with the fields."
"I like tending to crops so I don't mind." Latem shrugged.
"I'm still thankful." Karima insisted, "I don't think I could keep up otherwise. So I'm happy to be able to help with the Wiggle Strain."
Latem smiled and replied: "It's a big help." 
"I can't help but wonder, just what is Jonah growing?" Karima asked.
"Herbs that make you feel good when you smoke them but when you make a stronger tincture from them they can numb chronic pain and help sedate people during medical operations." Jonah answered from behind them.
Karima felt her face redden as she'd been caught being nosy. 
"I'm surprised you knew about them, Latem." Jonah continued.
"Reference books and a question to the right person." Latem said quietly.
"Not much gets by you." Karima said, "When do you sleep?"
"When do you?" Latem reversed the question.
"Standing in the fields with half an eye open." she grinned, "And I suspect we all take naps instead of sleep like we should."
"Why do you figure?" Jonah asked, "Aren't I the lazy one?"
"Come on, you take two courses at Remyndal and are not failing them. You must study at night to keep up. I might not know herbs but I can add two and two together."
Marleen appeared on the road toward them and she waved. The three others went toward her and met her at the fork in the road that bordered Karima's and Marleen's farms. 
"Ready to go back?" Marleen asked.
"I am." Jonah said and looked at the other two.
"Ready." Latem added.
"I can prep this patch later today. If we don't leave we might be late for afternoon classes." Karima said. Usually classes were in the morning, but as summer was nearing, mornings were just better to work on the fields. 
"We'll come over tonight to help you." Marleen said, "this patch is going to be tough."
"That's he point." Latem said, "We don't need to get it in good shape."
"That seems so wrong." Marleen shuddered, "But it's for the experiment."
"That's the way, live a little." Jonah snickered.
All four of them headed back to Remyndal Hall, discussing the project but managing to keep it civil. Just as they were nearing the school buildings, they were met with Blanca, the journeywoman harper who was second in command after the head mistress. For the last years she'd taken on most tasks that came with running the hall and keeping it's relations with other institutions on Pern friendly. 
"Just the people I wanted to see." she said, "I have a proposition..."
Their project would have to wait for a bit.

Karima squeezed her eyes shut when Shydaroth entered between. An instantaneous feeling of cold that should have only lasted a split second enveloped her. But Ashimor had told her they'd be right out again. And yet the cold kept. Panic rose in her throat as she tried not to breathe to keep from choking in the void. Something had gone horribly wrong...
Jonah tapped Karima's shoulder and said: "Open your eyes and breathe. We've arrived."
He'd noticed the Karima's discomfort. Unlike her, he'd kept his eyes open, eager to learn all he could. He didn't need to focus on the image of where he wanted to be after all, that was Ashimor's job. Beneath them a wintry landscape unfolded, something that reminded Jonah of home though he'd left many turns ago. 
Shydaroth landed and Ashimor helped them down, which wasn't as easy as it seemed when you had no clue where to grab hold. When they finally stood on solid ground again, Ashimor turned to them, giving both of them an unsettled feeling as his red eyes focused solely on them.
"You can go to the cabins right next to the hatching sands and someone will take your names and assign you rooms." Ashimor said and pointed them in the right direction before heading back out.  

(arrival of Latem and Marleen)


Lantessama Isle