Buri blinked at the quiet trainee who sat in the pool in the bathhouse, speaking just when she was spoken to, not joining in with the banter of her fellows.
The odd one out, she thought to herself. Of course. There’s one every year. This young woman was too large – too broadly built and too tall – for ponyback. She was, according to the talk, the daughter of a noble clan, who had wanted to train as a knight. Something had gotten in the way of that dream, and now she was mixed in with newest batch of green recruits.
“Trainee Keladry,” Buri said.
“Commander?” Clear hazel eyes, framed by long lashes, met hers squarely. There was a quiet determination in the face, more than what she normally saw in girls of fifteen.
“What made you decide to join up? We don’t often see noble trainees.” And when we do get them, they almost all wash out within the week, she added silently.
The girl shrugged and levered herself out of the pool. “I wanted to make myself useful, Commander. The Riders seemed a better fit than a more traditional role,” she said, reaching for a towel. Her face was carefully blank, no hurt showing in her expression.
Buri grinned. “I was going to say, if you joined up because your kin couldn’t feed you any longer, I don’t blame them.”
Keladry grinned back, and began to dress. “If my parents encouraged my choice, that was probably why.”