Letitia had been surprised by just how much Lesk ate that first night. He had eaten enough porridge that his belly became huge and his weight had doubled. Once she and Lesk were shown where they would be living in from now on, Lesk curled up in his wallow and passed out without much announcement or anything. At first Letitia wasn't sure what to do, but she did realize she was going to have to report to the healers in the Weyr. Her apprenticeship would likely have to be postponed for now, making her sigh in frustration that her plan was being derailed. Sure, she could just not accept Lesk, the bond seemed so weak after all it wouldn't be hard or probably detrimental to him, but she didn't think that was the right thing to do. Darilex, her father, would be terribly disappointed in her for it, she was sure, and did Lesk really deserve to be left alone? Not really, after all, his mother was the one that had chosen her, not him, and besides that, Letitia had been considering wher candidacy, she had just been planning for it after gaining her Journeyman knots in several turns. It would be selfish, ungrateful, and needlessly cruel to abandon Lesk just to try to bond later on, assuming she would even be allowed after that, which she somehow assumed they wouldn't. Nope, this was it, though it changed all her plans and she hadn't really been old enough for candidacy, her time for Wherlinghood was now, not later.
After working through all of it, Letitia fell asleep in her new bed, finding it pretty easy with how tired she was. However, she was quickly interrupted when Lesk woke up from his nap, and while he wasn't really overly pushy or energetic, he still demanded food. Letitia had to get up, it seemed, especially when a knock rapped upon her door. It turned out to be the Wherlingmaster with food for Lesk. Turned out the other wherlets from the hatching were waking too, so it was time for another feeding, much to Letitia's surprise.
Letitia fed Lesk, and while she did, the Wherlingmaster spent a few more minutes with her to explain what to expect for the remainder of the night and what to expect tomorrow. Lesk would eat one more time that night, and remain pretty sluggish until he went to sleep right before dawn. Tomorrow, tomorrow night specifically, the Wherlings would be gathered for the blooding ceremony, which the Wherlingmaster explained what Letitia should expect for that and what she would need to do for it. The Wherlingmaster also made sure to express to Letitia that if she really didn't want to be a wherhandler or be bonded to Lesk, she should decide that before the blooding, as the bond would be harder to break after that, and would have negative affects on Lesk. After that, Letitia was left to clean up the mess Lesk had left from his feeding, and wipe off the dirty wherlet's face.
The rest of the night passed quickly for Letitia, partly because there were only so many hours left of the night after the hatching and Lesk's nap. As told, Lesk ate once more that night, further surprising her with just how much one wherlet could eat in one night. Shortly after his second feeding, he went back to sleep for the dawn, giving Letitia a chance to finally try to get more than just a couple of hours of sleep. Thankfully, the tunnels were dark, even if it was light out, and she was tired enough from being up pretty much all night that her concerns weren’t enough to keep her awake.
Her wakeup came in the form of a pale blue blob of color in front of her eyes, roving with spots. It was Lesk, her tired mind soon realized as he snuffled at her, nudging her and searching her person for something to eat.
He chanted with the impatience of a hatchling wherlet, making Letitia have to get up to figure out what to do to get him food. Perhaps it would be provided to them, she thought, and as she got dressed and brushed out her hair, much to Lesk's impatience, there was a knock on her door once more.
"We're meeting in the common room in a few minutes," she was told by Irena, the Wherlingmaster, before being left alone. Letitia knew that she would be expected to be there with Lesk. Perhaps they would have food there, she hoped, which only made Lesk more excited and eager to get out of the room. He was definitely more energetic today than he was yesterday night. She was wondering how much of his actual personality she was seeing now when she heard her door latch click. So she turned, only to see Lesk's tail slipping out of the doorway.
"Ah! No, wait," she called after him, not even having time to put on her shoes before she had to run out after the retreating wherlet. Really, how had he figured out the door? How had he gotten it open? She was surprised he had even managed to reach it on his own before she had noticed. She, luckily, managed to catch up to him when he stopped to sniff around to try to figure out where to go. As she caught up, she quickly fell to her knees and threw her arms around Lesk before he could try to continue his adventure.
He explained as Letitia pulled him back toward her so she could sit on her knees for a moment but keep him from running off again.
"I know, but you can't just run off like that. I know you don't understand, but please don't do that." She sounded a little shaken, and Lesk's head tilted one way as he seemed to try to process her words and feelings.
She was surprised by how quickly he accepted that, even as he reminded her again that he was hungry.
"Ok, just let me get my shoes from the room and we can go. I'm sure they'll have food for you where we need to go." She sure hoped so anyway. She didn't want to find out if wherlets could throw fits.
A few minutes later found Letitia and Lesk in the common room, only to find everyone else was already there. She flushed with some embarrassment at being obviously late and how everyone turned to look at her. Irena though, just nodded and smiled with a, "Good, we're all here now."
Food was passed out to the wherlets first, more of the gross weird porridge stuff they had fed them at and after the hatching. Lesk didn't eat quite as much as his first feeding, but then again, they had only given each wherling pair a certain amount, she was sure he would have eaten until he got sick if she let him. Any of the wherlets probably would.
Once they finished eating, the bowls were taken away by one of the night drudges and the wherlings wiped up their messy wherlet's faces. A full cleaning instruction would come later, Irena told them.
"Before you give your wherlets their first bath and oiling, it's time for the blooding ceremony." Irena said, standing before a table where she rolled out a long piece of leather, showing inside several simply designed knives. Each knife looked the same, obviously all made the same, and were simple in nature with very simple handles.
"For those that don't know," Irena continued, "the blooding ceremony is an important part in bonding to your wher. Right now your bonds are weak, made only through initial imprinting and food, a bond with a firelizard is stronger right now. The blooding ceremony will improve and help solidify your bond together. Here I have simply made knives you will each select and use. One at a time, each of you will come up, select your knife, and go through the blooding ceremony. You will use the knife selected to make a cut on your forearm, and once blood has welled up in the cut, you will present it to your wherlet to taste. You don't need to worry about them getting salive or their tongues on the cut, they have surprisingly clean mouths right now. Those of you who need it, I will help when it's your turn. So, we will start with the smallest wher to the largest."
That meant the little green and her handler would go first. But that also meant Letitia would be second, so she watched closely as the first person went up, she didn't know his name, and tried to watch what he did. He was very assured in his actions, which made sense, given his fully grown blue wher was right there with him during his ceremony. Thankfully, Letitia wasn't squeamish, so watching the older man cut his arm and let the green wherlet taste didn't bother her much at all. Too soon, though, the first blooding was done, and it was Letitia's turn. She swallowed nervously, but stepped forward with a confident stance. She didn't want the others to see her sweat, after all.
"So, you have decided to stay with Lesk," Irena asked Letitia quietly when she approached, making her pause in selecting her knife for the blooding. She hesitated a moment, looked down at Lesk by her side and met his large eyed gaze. She had thought about all of this last night, multiple times. She was sure she was making the right decision now.
"Yes, I have," she answered confidently with a nod. Serisk chose her, even if it had been at an unplanned time, she had still been chosen. She couldn't let Serisk, her father, or Lesk down. Irena nodded, and let Letitia pick her knife, which wasn't a hard decision since they were all exactly the same. Once the knife was selected and Letitia crouched before Lesk, Irena quietly guided her through it, telling her the best place to cut, how long, and how deep. The knife was also very sharp, having never been used for anything before. This made making the cut easier and less painful than if it had been a duller knife, though it still hurt. It was a necessary pain though, and one Letitia would always remember as the blood welled in the cut and tried to drip out over her pale arm.
She didn't waste time presenting it to Lesk once the blood beaded, not wanting to lose any of it to the floor. The wherlet sniffed curiously, and then ran his tongue over the cut, lapping up some of the blood before more came in. That initial taste made Letitia's mind tickle first, then start to nag somehow. When Lesk took another taste when the cut beaded with blood again, that nag turned into something of a pull, or perhaps it was a push, one that got stronger with the next lap of his tongue. Another taste, and she felt it was definitely a push, the kind of push to make room for something else. One more, and she felt as his mind seemed to slide in next to hers, small and not very loud, but definitely there. In fact, it was much more obvious than a firelizard's mind, she thought, as Irena seemed satisfied with the amount that Lesk had been given and instructed Letitia to withdraw her arm and stand up.
"Congratulations, you're on your way to becoming a Wherhandler now. Keep the knife, it'll serve as a memory of this day."