Thread: Fan Fiction: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)
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Old Sep 24 2008, 11:41 AM   #3
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
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Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)

Chapter Three

"Sit, dragonrider."

Weyrwoman Lessa glanced across the table at her mate, and could tell that despite the calm, firm command, F'lar was not nearly as collected as he seemed. The young bronzerider pacing around the room was, after all, F'lar's long-deceased father, even if F'lon was not aware of this fact at the moment.

F'lon shot F'lar a rebellious look with oh-so-familiar yellow eyes, but sat on the stool on the other side of the table. Then he jumped up again. "They should be here by now. It shouldn't take this long to make a jump between from the Harper Hall to here. Did you send somebody incompetent?"

"Given the story you told us, I would be hesitant in calling somebody else incompetent," Lessa reprimanded her mate's father when F'lar hesitated a second too long in formulating a reply. "They will be here soon enough, so have patience; with the knock Simanith took to the head, he shouldn't be making any trips between for a while, particularly when you consider the circumstances at hand."

F'lon ran a hand through his long hair, and shook his head to himself. "I can't believe I left him there. Simanith decided not to land in the courtyard like he usually does, but I thought he just didn't want to navigate it in the dark, tired as we were. Shards. I just left Robinton among strangers!"

"He's not really among strangers," another voice said, and Manora entered the room, looking much more hesitant than normal. "He'll be fine. We sent F'nor to get him, and trust me, F'nor isn't going to let you down."

F'lon looked irritated for a second, then he gave Manora a second glance, and a furrow appeared between his brows. The other people in the room held their breaths, waiting to see if he recognized the woman who had borne his second son, but he didn't seem to entirely make the connection between the woman who stood in the doorway now, and the young woman he knew from his time, and looked away, the question in his eyes unanswered.

Manora pressed her lips together, but in the end, did not enlighten him. Not yet.

They didn't wait much longer for F'nor, Robinton, and the Harpers to arrive; the Weyrleaders glanced at one another when Mnementh and Ramoth told them that Canth had arrived, and not long after that three familiar figures walked in, and one mostly unfamiliar.

"Rob!" F'lon cried, and embraced the Harper as if they hadn't seen each other no more than an hour ago.

And as Robinton returned F'lon's surprisingly hearty hug in amiable surprise, Lessa realized with a shock that she recognized the man. Not as Robinton, their Robinton with white jaw-length hair and wisdom in his blue eyes and a ready smile for everyone, no, but as the man with the thick, long brown braid who had frequented Ruatha Hold more and more often in the days before Fax had...

"You taught me a song," she told him before she could stop herself.

"Beg pardon?" Robinton asked, realizing he was being addressed.

"You sat me on your knees," Lessa said. "And taught me a song my Harper didn't know."

"Which song?"

Lessa tried to recall the exact tune, and, surprisingly and to her own dismay, could not. "It was about the holds," she said pensively.

Robinton blinked. "This one?" And he sang one of the older teaching songs, in a clear, skilled baritone that had perhaps less age to it than they were accustomed to. It was a voice that hadn't been heard in the Weyr for Turns.

"I sing that one a lot to young children," Robinton said, after completing the first verse. "And it is true that I've sat some of those children on my knees before. The version that commonly circulates isn't my original, and I think the original is more in tune, if you will, to a young child's mind, given I was a young child myself when I composed it. But--" and he looked apologetic here, "--if I may be so bold, you're a little...grown...Weyrwoman...to have sat on my knees at any point while I sang you teaching ballads."

"Are you sure?" F'lon asked.

Robinton's brow furrowed. "What?" he said to his friend.

"Are you sure that, if you rack your brain, you've never sat a grown woman on your lap and sung to her?"

That surprised a tenor laugh out of Sebell. Menolly tried to hush him, but it didn't work well given the note of laughter in her voice too.

Robinton gave F'lon an indulgent look. "Yes. I'm sure."

F'lon turned away and ambled back to the stool he'd sat on earlier. "Well, that explains the sorry state of your love life," he said to the room in general, and sat. "Imagine, not using your biggest talent."

Robinton stalked over and laid a hand on F'lon's shoulder, while leaning over to speak in his ear. "Don't worry F'lon; you have a dragon. As long as he keeps catching greens, your love life will be just fine." And he patted F'lon's shoulder for effect.

"How much did you two actually have to drink at that Gather you were at?" Menolly asked, while F'lon struggled to either come up with a retort or restrain laughter. Lessa thought it was a good question.

"Enough that when we tried to go home, home was there, but without the people we're accustomed to," Robinton said, turning the course of the conversation onto a safer track. "I must say, I might actually abstain next time after this..."

"About that," Lessa said.

Robinton met her eyes directly for the first time, but there was no recognition on his end. He had never met her, as far as he knew. "...are you planning on holding me to my promise to abstain, Weyrwoman?" he asked.

"Actually no," Lessa said wryly. "That would likely be an impossible task. You shouldn't set unattainable goals for yourself, Harper," and she permitted herself the slightest of smiles as the rest of the room made a few sounds of amusement. "What I was referring to--you actually did teach me that ballad. I just didn't realize that had been you, until now. You never spoke of it, and by the time I met you again, you looked somewhat different."

"...I don't understand," he said.

"This is a topic that is classified," F'lar said. "Understand that it can not go beyond this room."

Sebell cleared his throat. "Naturally we'll be discreet, but there are a few individuals in the Hall that will be notified that haven't been already," he interjected.

F'lar nodded. "I'm more saying this for the benefit of these two," and he nodded towards F'lon and Robinton.

"I'm listening," Robinton said neutrally.

"Dragons are capable of--" F'lar started.

"Simanith has taken--" Lessa said at the same time, before halting. F'lar gestured for her to go on, his broody expression lightening with the faintest hint of a smile in the corners of his eyes. She kept her expression stern for the rest of the room, however. "Simanith has taken the three of you between in time," she said. "Forward, from your time to ours."

"--how far forward?--" F'lon said.

"--would this affect the duration of between?--" Robinton asked at the same time. They looked at each other, and Robinton made a motion of his hand, as if waving F'lon forward. "Your question is more pertinent."

"Over fifty Turns," Lessa said when they both turned their attention back to her.

F'lon let out a whistle. "Babes in diapers are grown with grandbabes of their own," he said.

"Do you know us?" Robinton asked, the pieces visibly falling into place on his face. "Or, did you? Are we still alive? As, as...older men?"

"Both of you have passed on," Menolly told them gently.

Both young men thought about that.

Menolly continued after a few moments. "I think the biggest issue here--and correct me if I'm wrong, Weyrleader, Weyrwoman--is that we were not expecting you."

Lessa nodded in confirmation.

"How do you mean?" F'lon said.

"Your present is our past," Lessa said. "What happens happens because it already happened, if you want to have a go at understanding that riddle, Harper. But neither I nor F'lar recall--"

"Menolly and I don't recall anything either," Master Sebell said.

"--being told that either of you remember coming forward. It seems a strange omission."

"Quite frankly it makes you a bloody good actor, and a bald faced liar," F'lar said to Robinton. "Considering that in your future--and my past--you disavow any previous knowledge of between times."

"I once had an intensive discussion about between times," Menolly said, "With...with the older you, Master Robinton--"

"--Journeyman," Robinton corrected softly.

"Journeyman," Menolly said, while Lessa narrowed her eyes. Why would Robinton and Menolly ever need to have an intensive discussion about between times? Had they been up to something?

"I was wondering about my firelizards, they were giving me...interesting...visions at the time, but anyway that's not important. What's...what I find confusing is that you, this younger-you, is here now, but yet you never made any hint or mention of this to me in the past. Why not? It seems a strange thing to omit, given the subject we discussed. It would have been more in character to pull me and Sebell aside, and warn us that you would be coming forward in time at one point, even if you never gave us details on how or when."

"Was I as similarly close-lipped?" F'lon asked her.

"I was never acquainted with you," Menolly said.

"You were convinced that Thread would fall again, but never mentioned anything to me about traveling between times," F'lar said.

"You never mentioned anything to me either," F'nor agreed.

"I've always believed Thread will return; why else would the Weyrs be here?" F'lon said. "You just don't find the manpower and time and resources to cut not just one, but several, Weyrs out of solid rock unless they are needed for some reason. And history gives us that reason," he explained.

"I think that negates that theory," Sebell said to Menolly.

"Theory?" F'lon said.

"That you were convinced Thread was going to return because you'd already come forward and seen it."

"Thread exists?"

Robinton began to laugh at F'lon, who turned around and shook a finger at him.

"Hey, now, there's no call for that. I never said that I believed Thread would fall soon. I can be surprised that Thread is falling in...in this time. I'm no hypocrite!"

"Peace," Robinton said. "I never said you were." But there was still laughter in his blue eyes. Then he sobered. "I can't even begin to calculate the ramifications of ending up over fifty Turns in the future. Or...or of the capabilities of dragons traveling between different...different whens."

F'lar nodded slowly in agreement. This version of the Masterharper was younger, perhaps, but not stupid. "There are ramifications, certainly. For example, if you were to go home now, you would know that the Ninth Pass is coming."

F'lon scratched his jaw thoughtfully. "And you were hoping that, in my future, I told you about Thread before it actually came back, because you just told me now?" F'lon asked.

"It usually works that way," F'lar said. "That it's not working that way now says that we're missing a piece of the puzzle, or that we are wrong in our understanding of things." His brow furrowed. "The latter is worrying."

Everyone was quiet again.

Finally Robinton spoke. "Would it be so inappropriate for me to indulge my curiosity in this...world-of-my-future?" He looked so hopeful and young that it nearly broke Lessa's heart.

Behind his back, the Harpers looked at each other, and Manora, who had been lingering, silent, the entire time, finally had a wisp of a smile cross her uncharacteristically dour face.

"I don't think--" Sebell began.

"No," F'lar said firmly.

F'lon chuckled, and looked at his friend. "C'mon, did you really think they were going to say yes? Besides, we'll eventually see it the good old-fashioned way," he added, blithely unaware of his future fate.
Robinton shook his head. "Not really; we're dead. Or did you miss that part, when Master Menolly told us?"

F'lon turned back to everyone else. "How long dead have we been? Are we just somewhat cold and stiff, or entirely rotted away?" His tone was light--that of a young man who had never seriously contemplated that he could die, and who was unwilling to look at it entirely front-on right now.

Nobody answered.

Robinton leaned over the bronzerider's shoulder. "C'mon, did you really think they were going to answer that?" he said, mimicking F'lon's earlier tone exactly. "What can we be told? Are we going to be brought home?"

"It would be best for Simanith to bring you two home," Lessa told them. "Once he recovers, and we provide proper training so that you two don't end up arriving before you left, or something else as complicated. He has the coordinates, and it is the simplest course of action."

"And until then?"

"Get some rest," F'lar said. "I was hoping talking to both of you as well as Masterharper Sebell and Menolly would give us some conclusive knowledge as to what and how much you should be made aware of, but that doesn't seem to be the case."

"It would be prudent to approach things with a fresh mind and fresh day," Sebell agreed. "I would invite the both of you to the Harper Hall for the night, except given that Robinton is recognizable upon sight by many of the senior Masters, that would probably be unwise, since it would cause considerable talk if they found out a younger version of a deceased Harper was staying at the Hall for the night."

"It would be best if both of you stayed here, at Benden Weyr," Lessa agreed.

"I'm not recognizable?" F'lon asked humorously.

"Dragonriders are more pragmatic about traveling between whens," Lessa said. "Stray time-travelers...happen. They will keep quiet about it, and won't bother either of you."

"Harpers are nosy and big-mouthed," Menolly added, shrugging. "Traveling between whens makes for a good ballad. And ballads get sung everywhere."
Robinton looked slightly thoughtful, Lessa noted, but did not elaborate on his line of thought.

"All right," F'lon said finally. "That's probably a good plan. Rob?"

"I certainly could use some sleep. Thank you for your hospitality, Weyrleaders."

"Never let it be said we ever give stray time-travelers the cold shoulder!" Manora said humorously, drawing attention to herself for the first time. "Come with me, Robinton, F'lon; I'll get you all squared away, and a bite to eat if you're looking for it, too."

"Manora runs the lower caverns," Lessa said. "We'll reconvene in the morning--does that work for you, Harpers?"

"Oh, we'll find time for it, somewhere," Sebell said with a grin. "Good night, Bronzerider F'lon, Journeyman Robinton."

And Sebell, Menolly, Lessa, F'lar, and F'nor watched as Manora led Robinton and F'lon out of the room.

"That's a trouble-making pair, if I ever saw one," Menolly commented with a smile as the door closed.

"Understatement," Sebell murmured. "Luckily for us, they don't seem inclined to mischief."

"Considering the wound on Simanith's head," Lessa said, "It might be more correct to say that they aren't inclined to mischief now."

"Do many of your dragonriders go between times by mistake?" Menolly asked.

"On occasion," F'lar said. "With poor visualization. But usually backwards, not forwards. Another reason this is unique. But...I would expect them to return to their own time within a sevenday or so without any issue."

"So the question is of if we should lock them in a very small windowless room until then," Sebell said.

Menolly looked horrified for a moment, then realized that the man was joking. Sort of. Mostly. She scowled at him direly, then softened when he winked.

"Not to cast doubt...well, yes, to cast doubt, but I don't actually mean to...Canth doesn't actually react to Robinton as if he's The Harper," F'nor said.

"How so?" Menolly asked.

"He's indifferent. I can't really get an explanation out of him, though."

"I would say it's more unusual for a dragon not to be indifferent to anyone who isn't a dragonrider..." F'lar said. "But I get your point. Lessa?"

Lessa had already started to ask Ramoth her opinion on things.

The Harper is gone, Ramoth replied, and wouldn't elaborate, although Lessa caught the feel that it was perhaps a stupid question to the great golden queen dragon. Mnementh and Canth had similar viewpoints, when she queried them on their thoughts about Robinton, and were similarly disinterested in elaborating on the difference between this Robinton, and the Robinton whose death had caused the entire planet to mourn. "They are ambiguous," she said. "It may just mean that this Robinton is too young for them to connect with our Robinton. I would think that fifty turns will alter how a man thinks. Perhaps they are picking up on that?"

F'nor seemed unconvinced, but was willing to let it drop; if the young man they'd talked to a few moments ago wasn't Robinton, he was certainly doing a good enough impression.

"What do the dragons think of F'lon?" Menolly asked, curious.

"He's F'lon," both F'lar and F'nor said at the same time.

"Simanith is Simanith," Lessa added.

"Well. Okay," Menolly said.

Sebell looked like he was about to say something, then shook his head and didn't. "In all seriousness, do we want to request that they limit themselves in exposure to our times? Or will it work itself out, because it already happened?"

"I thought a sticking point was that we don't know that it did happen," Menolly said. "Being as none of us were made aware of it. I don't know if we want to be making decisions on theories that are flawed. Particularly when both men involved end up highly influential."

Both Harpers looked at F'lar and Lessa.

Lessa spoke. "It's possible that we're just missing a piece as pointed out earlier; Robinton has a tendency to be very subtle. Is there any possibility you could look in the Harper Hall archives to see if something may be there?"
"We were intending to," Sebell said. "We'll let you know what we find, if anything."

"Thank you," Lessa said.

F'lar yawned, then looked around. "I suppose there's nothing else that can be done about this tonight; we'll look in our archives as well, although I don't expect to find anything."

"We'll take our leave, then," Sebell said. "F'nor, if we could impose upon you again--"

"--not a problem," F'nor assured them.

And with that, the meeting between Harpers and Dragonriders adjourned, until the next morning.
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