Thread: Fan Fiction: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)
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Old Dec 1 2008, 03:08 AM   #8
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
Gender: F
Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)

Chapter Eight

It was actually Lessa who brought Robinton a slate and chalk two days later; the slate was clean and new, housed in a metal frame, and had a hole bored in one corner, through which a cord was strung. The cord had a little bag with the Mining Hall stamp on it, and within the bag was several newly-made sticks of chalk. Some were in colors other than white, which was interesting. Robinton accepted it solemnly (his entire body was sore from the work she'd had the two of them do yesterday to make the cothold more livable), and watched as she gathered up F'lon and Simanith for some lessons on going between times, and left.

"I'm bored already," Robinton said to himself once the two dragons had vanished out of the sky, while looking at his blank slate. Then he shrugged and investigated the sticks of chalk in their bag. "I'll be quite the Seer when I get back home; Thread is coming, and, oh yes, we'll be able to put pigments into slate chalk in the future! Isn't that astounding?"

There was nobody to answer his dripping sarcasm, so he wandered back into the cothold and retrieved his gitar, parchments, a pen, and a bottle of ink. "Ah, well. Perhaps I'll get some sheet music tomorrow. For now, I will have to be content with attempting to put this all to music. It's a pity lyrics are quite out of the question. Or perhaps a blessing; how could I ever put words to this saga so that people from my time would understand? Or perhaps I should dress it up as a fantasy, an improbable tale. Of course, I'd need some suitable moral or point, otherwise it's just a story..." And he settled himself down outside under a tree, pulling out his gitar as he did so, already lost to the melodies beginning to unwind inside his mind.

The sun had risen quite high in the sky by the time Lessa, F'lon, and their dragons had returned. Lessa and Ramoth didn't land; instead they watched F'lon and Simanith from on high for a while, before disappearing between. F'lon dismounted, spotted Robinton under his tree, and immediately made a beeline towards him, shedding riding gear carelessly into the grass.

"How did it go?" Robinton asked as F'lon wadded up his riding jacket and collapsed onto the ground, using the garment as a pillow.

"Don't ask," F'lon groaned.

"Well, unfortunately I can't go between time and un-ask it, now that it's been asked," Robinton joked.

"Well, don't look at me, because neither can I!" F'lon said mournfully.

"The lessons went that bad?" Robinton said in sympathy.

"Yes. She's worse than Carola. What did you do with yourself all morning?"

Robinton showed F'lon his slate.

"I'm no Harper, but I see four notes there."

"That is correct. I didn't get too far." Robinton let out a melodramatic, gusty sigh.

"There's also a lot of erased smudges. Didn't anyone ever tell you not to use your shirt to erase slates?"

"They didn't give me an eraser," Robinton said, tugging on the hem of his shirt to inspect it. It puffed colored dust when he did so. "So I made do. At least I didn't try to lick the slate clean."

F'lon laughed. "You had one of those in your classes when you were little too?"

"I think there's always one or two. Just like there's always an Apprentice or two that sniffs the varnish."

"The varnish for what?" F'lon inquired.

"Instrument-making. It has fumes that do strange things to your head if you get too many of them. Someone always sniffs it on purpose and starts to hallucinate, then they end up in the Healer wings for a few days."

F'lon laughed. "That reminds me. Did you ever hear the story about the Journeyman Smith who specialized in chemistry who changed Crafts and became a Chef?"

"No, and it sounds more interesting than this," and Robinton threw the slate and chalk into the grass. "Tell me."


Later that afternoon, Robinton felt belatedly ashamed for using his shirt as an eraser when the Tailor they had met at the Weyr the other day came down the road to meet them, package in hand. Robinton was typically fairly oblivious to what he wore, aside from the occasions when his role on stage as a Harper required that he wear a costume of some sort, but there was nothing worse than a Tailor to make you feel acutely aware of exactly what you were wearing and the hideous state it was in. Journeyman Camolien eyed Robinton up and down, sniffed, and handed him a puffy package. "Clothing for you and the dragonrider. If you put on one of the pairs of pants and they don't reach your ankles, you have the wrong pair of pants on. Give it to the dragonrider. Unless you want to look like a fool in Gather pants. And for Faranath's sake, if you don't have the marks to purchase custom-made pants, check up the leg of the Gather pants for extra cloth; sometimes we'll sew a couple of inches of leg up inside, and even a Harper should be able to rip out that seam and let the legs out so they're the right length. If that fails, just wear a pair of short britches to the Gather and someone will take pity on you and do a quick and cheap custom job, if only to cover your long hairy thighs up as quickly as possible."

F'lon began to laugh behind them. Robinton ignored it, and thanked the Tailor for the package and the cranky advice.

"You should be able to retire those clothes to slate-duty full time now," the Tailor added flicking his hands at Robinton's untucked shirt-hem, then waved goodbye and began the long walk back to the Weyr.

"Goodbye," Robinton offered politely to the man's back.

After he had left, F'lon came up to stand beside Robinton. "Is it just me, or do you find Tailors a bit creepy?"

"How so?" Robinton asked, tucking the package under his arm.

"Well, every Craft teaches its members to size up a situation in some way. But I think Tailoring is the only Craft that teaches its members to look at people as if they have no clothing on." He grinned.

Robinton threw back his head and laughed. "You know, I think you're right."

"Are you going to change into those now?" F'lon asked, flicking a finger at the package.

Robinton shook his head. "Why dirty something up that I'll only wear for a little while? It's almost sunset. Speaking of that, and the fresh provisions they brought us the other day--who's cooking tonight!"

"Whoever gets hungriest first. I'm going to bathe in that stream; that Weyrwoman makes me break out in a cold sweat."

Robinton thought of the petite goldrider again, and shook his head. "You have a phobia, my friend."

"I do not."

"I'm afraid you do," Robinton teased. "She's as small and cute as a dragon's ear, and here you are, shaking in your trews."

F'lon looked at the Harper. "Dragons don't have ears. And if they did, they wouldn't be small. You aren't sweet on the Benden Weyrwoman, are you?"

Robinton laughed. "As long as she doesn't come bearing gifts of Benden wine, I'd say no."

"And if she does?"

"I'll be anything she wants me to be if I can have a glass. The Benden Weyrleaders probably have access to some very nice vintages. The best of the best. They didn't bring us anything to drink with the provisions, did you know?"

"I don't see why they would waste perfectly good Benden wine on one lousy Journeyman Harper and a random bronzerider," F'lon said. "Also...we arrived here drunk. They probably don't want to repeat that."

"We had good reason to be drunk; coming here was just an accident. Not a single skin of wine, Benden or otherwise, or even a local brew or anything. It's quite horrible."

"Is there klah?" F'lon inquired.


"That's drinkable."


F'lon snorted and punched Robinton in the arm. "Then drink that. And stop whining. I'll be back after I take a bath." And he gathered up bits and pieces of his riding gear from the ground, and vanished behind the cothold in the direction of the stream.

Robinton sighed, and with the thought of klah on his mind, decided that he would be the one cooking this evening. Starting with a pot of klah.


Later that night, after their meal had been finished, the dishes washed and put away, and F'lon was already dead asleep on his bed in the room that was their bedroom, Robinton shucked his own clothes in preparation to crawl into the other bed. He threw them on top of the small rather rickety bound-reed dresser, next to the package that the Tailor had brought them. The package caught his eye, so he undid the twine that held it closed, removed the rough burlap cloth, and found a couple of pairs of clothes. The first shirt he held up seemed to be for F'lon, so he put it to one side and looked through the rest of it. He found three shirts that seemed to have arms long enough for him, and three out of six pairs of pants that seemed long enough for him. Two were green, one was brown. He held each up to his waist to quickly check the size, and noted with surprise that there were pockets on the rump of all three. Not that he'd ever say no to pockets, but it seemed strange to put them where you'd sit on the contents of them. Perhaps it was a fashion thing, meant to draw one's eye to your rear end.

He laughed softly to himself at that.

As he folded the clothing up into two piles--his and F'lon's--he noted that one of the green pairs of pants rustled a bit. He groped at the buttoned pocket, glad F'lon wasn't awake to make fun of him, and a moment later withdrew a small folded letter on paper of all things, sealed with a nondescript blob of blue wax that had had no seal or fingerprint or anything to verify the sender embossed into it. His name was on front, written in something other than ink, which smudged the tiniest bit when he rubbed a thumb against it. The Ninth Pass really was reinventing the wheel, wasn't it? He wondered if it was some sort of super-thin chalk stick that had been used, given his experiences with the slate earlier that day.

Putting that thought away for later (maybe he could ask Lessa or one of the Harpers if he saw them again; it seemed a small enough question), he cracked the wax seal, opened the letter, and sat down on his bed.

Master Robinton --

I hope this letter finds you well and in good health. If not, tell the Tailor and we'll see what we can do.

- T

Robinton flipped the note over, and even held it up to the glows to see if there was another message watermarked or something so that a casual glance wouldn't catch it, but it seemed that all the letter held was that cryptic message. If the handwriting hadn't been all wrong for Tuck, he would have suspected one of those Harpers trying to contact him, but he didn't recognize this particular hand.

But...if Tuck was alive in this when, he would be an old man, with Apprentices of his own. It was possible that Tuck had arthritis or the shakes, and would have assigned someone else to write the note. So Robinton pulled his pants back on and wandered downstairs to light a small fire and conduct a few more tests with various ingredients from the kitchen just to ensure he hadn't missed something.

He hadn't. Not unless they'd reinvented the wheel here too and were using a technique that he had never been taught. But that would be shoddy research, applying techniques that came into use too recently, and Tuck's type of Harper was even more observant and thoughtful than the regular Harper, so Robinton doubted that was the case here.

Still. It was curious that someone had found out about him and F'lon, and were trying to contact them. Or him at least. Was it a test devised by the Benden Weyrleaders or the Masterharper to see if he and F'lon were keeping their word about limiting contact with this time? Or was it someone else entirely that couldn't contact him through the established route--the Benden Weyrleaders? And if so, what sort of intents and goals did they have? Were they aware that they were essentially meddling with time by contacting him? Was the Tailor directly involved, or just a vehicle for bringing the letter to him? As far as he could tell, meeting the Tailor at Benden Weyr had been chance. And his clothes had been rather ragged. The difference stood out to him, obvious, now that he'd just handled some brand new clothing.

Robinton sighed and flicked the letter into the hearth, and watched the paper burn easily, and the broken wax seal bubble up and run to spatter into the fire, hissing and spitting. It sounded like they were waiting for him to contact them, before initiating anything. If he were lucky, he could just ignore it and that would be that. If he wasn't lucky...hmm. Perhaps he should mention it to Lessa when she came tomorrow for F'lon's lesson.

He didn't like that option too much. It was really a question he should address to the Masterharper, if it really did involve Harpers of Nip and Tuck's type. Perhaps he should ask her if the Masterharper was going to visit them. Although that might provoke her curiosity.

Robinton shook his head to himself, and decided to sleep on it. So he went back upstairs, undressed again, and closed the glows.

It took him a while to get to sleep.
Read my Pern and Talent fanfic on Archive of our Own.

Fanfic WIPs: The Day Benden Went to War (Pern/Talent); Slosh (Pern); Weyrbred Lads (Pern); When You Fall Asleep /Between/... (Pern)

Completed Fics: Flight (Pern), Flight v2 (Pern), Golden Glow (Pern)

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