Thread: Fan Fiction: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)
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Old Dec 27 2008, 05:38 AM   #10
D. M. Domini
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Location: Chicagoland
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Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
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Default Re: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)

Chapter Ten

"Izz zstill have a hand..." Robinton mumbled in amazement when it became clear to him that the bandage-wrapped hand lying next to him on the pillow was indeed his own, and he had awoken.

Immediately several people moved in the room, most of them coming to his bedside.

One of them was F'lon. "We're still here," he confided, sitting on the bed next to Robinton, and making it dip.

Robinton closed his eyes. His entire body ached and complained, in different ways. His left hand felt burned and sore. His right foot, particularly his toes right down to the bones and joints, the same. His ribs felt as if they'd been captured in a vise-grip at some point in time and squeezed, and his skin ached strangely all over, as if it had somehow been flayed and burned without touching the muscle or flesh underneath. "Thazz juss not fair," he slurred tiredly, his tongue not wanting to move properly with his lips. A little dismayed at his poor enunciation, he closed his mouth and then rubbed at it with his undamaged right hand.

Brekke was among the people gathered at his bedside. "Are you in pain?" she asked, taking the top off of a jar of numbweed she already held.

Not screaming-pain, no. But the throbbing, burning ache in his left hand worried him, and he drew the appendage in to himself and picked at the bandages lethargically, until Brekke reached over and helped him work it lose. The bandages they unwound were stained yellow with salve and fluids, but there wasn't much blood. When they got the last of the bandages off, Robinton could see that there was a large, straight, burned-looking welt across his palm and fingers, presumably where the metal pole had been clutched in his hand. Delicately, Robinton moved each finger one by one. It was painful, but each one seemed to have some sort of movement still. He didn't seem to have enough energy to actually try to make a fist, and he suspected that that would hurt unbearably if he tried, so he sighed and let Brekke take his hand back and dress it with fresh numbweed and bandages. Stupid that he had never considered the possible effects of lightning traveling through his hands...but F'lon hadn't been too affected by it, and when he had been hit it had gone through his head.

Perhaps that explained the difference. Robinton tried to file the thought away so he could tease his friend with it when he felt more like teasing.

"You should be able to play once that heals up," Brekke assured him.

"Thazz good. 'M not pretty enough t' be a Singer." Fatigue and sleep dragged at him. "'nd it'd make Petiron mad."

F'lon threw back his head and laughed at that.

"That you didn't fulfill his expectations?" Brekke asked soothingly.

"That'd compete with moth'r, too." Robinton muttered, and closed his eyes again for a moment or two.

F'lon laughed harder, and Robinton re-opened his eyes to make sure that F'lon was alright.. There was a note of something akin to hysteria in F'lon's laughter. The hysteria of relief. Robinton offered a quarter of a tired smile, hoping that would suffice to calm his friend down.

"How long do you think before he can play again?" Another voice asked. Sebell, Robinton identified.

"It's hard to give an exact estimate," Brekke said. "It depends on how deeply the damage went below the skin. He may need to exercise the hand once it heals, to ensure it's flexible enough."

"I have something that can help." Menolly, this time.

"I'd forgotten about that," Sebell murmured.

"I still use it," Menolly said. "From time to time."

Robinton didn't know what they were referring to, but it was very kind that they wanted to help him, despite that his own stupidity had put him in this state in the first place.

"You're going back to sleep, aren't you?" F'lon asked.

"'d be nice," Robinton said. And a moment later, he was offered some fellis juice. He opened his eyes and managed to sit up enough to drink it, and soon darkness rolled over him again.

#

"What happened?" Robinton asked a day or two later, when his head had cleared, he could enunciate words properly, some of the more minor aches had faded, and nobody else was in the room at that particular moment.

"Massive chaos," F'lon said. "You were talking pretty, getting down off of Simanith. And then, blam, out of nowhere, lightning hit that rod in your hand. And you. It pretty much blinded and deafened me, but Simanith is clever and he grabbed you around the chest and took us between. Unfortunately, it didn't work. We landed back where we were, and everyone was still recovering from being blinded and deafened. Simanith and I took you back to Benden Weyr after that, and they woke up Brekke to see if we needed to take you to the Healer Hall or not, and somebody got the Masterharper roused and to the Weyr when Brekke was examining you." F'lon hesitated, then nudged Robinton in the arm conspiratorially. "You're pretty bloody good at the diplomacy thing, you know, I'm really impressed; after that, nobody dared do more than give us dirty looks for the stunt we pulled. You just looked so pathetic lying there with your hair singed off that I bet they all figured that that was punishment enough!" F'lon paused, and seemed to relent how he was painting people. "In all fairness, they were all absolutely terrified that you had been seriously hurt. The Weyrwoman was nearly in tears and I don't think she's the type to cry very often." F'lon paused again, and patted Robinton in the shoulder. "I knew you'd pull through though," he said roughly, in a way that belied his words a bit.

Robinton pushed the furs away from himself and rose enough so that he could swing his legs around and sit on the edge of his bed. A quick examination showed a few bruises around his ribs--probably from where Simanith had grabbed him. He was somewhat glad he didn't remember that part; he liked Simanith quite well, but he still thought he would have had a moment of sheer panicked terror...assuming the terror wasn't all used up by the lightning...if the large bronze dragon had manhandled him like some sort of doll while he had been aware of things. "I suppose it was a pretty stupid idea."

"But if we hadn't tried it, we'd still be wondering."

"Indeed," Robinton said. Then he hesitated, something said earlier percolating through his mind. "My hair's singed off?" And he felt his hair, to see.

F'lon cocked his head to the side. "Something singed; you smelled pretty crispy-fried when we brought you to the Weyr. Your hair doesn't look too bad; perhaps it was the riding leathers that burned."

Robinton looked at the bronzerider dubiously, but he didn't encounter any obviously missing swathes of hair with his fingers when he searched. He did need a bath and a comb in any case, though. And some food stronger than broth. Feeling as if he had aged over seventy turns overnight, he sighed and pushed himself up out of bed.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa--where are you going?" F'lon asked him in alarm.

"Somewhere I can wash the singed smell away."

"Oh, I can't even smell that anymore," F'lon assured him. Then, upon seeing Robinton's expression, backpedaled. "...okay, alright. Lean on me, would you?" he offered, jumping up when Robinton took a step forward and found that his right foot really didn't like that idea. Robinton tried another painful step, but limped badly again, and when F'lon quickly rounded him in apprehension and propped him up on the right side, he didn't protest, but leaned on his friend's shoulder.

F'lon was a very good friend. Robinton wasn't sure that many people would still be talking to him after participating in such a spectacular failure that he had essentially masterminded. Not that there had been any Mastery to the scheme. Perhaps it was just because he wasn't a dragonrider, but it seemed that there wasn't all that much understanding of how between worked. If they knew how between worked in the first place, perhaps they would be able to figure out what was going wrong here.

"And how, exactly, does the sun shine?" Robinton muttered to himself as he and F'lon made a rather awkward and slow, limping way out of the room Robinton had been stashed away in, towards, presumably, the closest bathing area. "Once we know that we'll be able to make it light outside at night, and get more work done!"

"I'm assuming your babbling actually makes sense when you know what's going on inside your head," F'lon said.

"Isn't that always the case?" Robinton asked.

"I suppose I'm doing a little more than assuming. Simanith says your head is all right. I'm trusting him on this one."

Robinton made a sound that was possibly a laugh, and tugged the door to the bathing room. It was a little stuck, and took a good pull or two before flying open and banging right into his foot. He let out string of curses as pain flared up his shin all the way to the kneecap. "Bloody mother of a thread-eating wher's--" And he tacked on a few more adjectives and verbs before he trailed off. His toes throbbed direly.

"Nice one," F'lon said absently. "I'm almost tempted to step on your foot to see what else you come up with."

"Only if you want us to be emergency-flown to the Healer Hall so they can remove this foot from your--" Robinton warned, giving the dragonrider a dire look.

F'lon grinned like a madman, but didn't tempt fate by testing out matters. Instead he helped Robinton to the side of the pool, located some sweet sand for him, and even helped with a knot that Robinton's faultily-responding fingers had trouble with. Then he hared off to find them some food and replacement bandages while Robinton unwrapped the dressings from his hand and foot so he could get a good look at the damage.

Ugh. Both hand and foot had a lurid purple and red blistered welt across them, and they seemed to be... with a small sound of pain, Robinton removed his clothes, dropping them to the floor in a pile, and twisted around. The two welts were connected. It seemed the lightning had entered his left hand, streaked down the inside of his wrist and from his arm to his body, curled around the side of his ribs and down his back, across his right buttock, and down the back of his thigh until it curled around again under his knee to his shin, and then continuing downwards to encompass his right big toe. "Wonderful," he said to himself after examining the painful purple welt best he could, given much of it was on his backside. "I'm going to carry a full-body memento of this stupidity for the rest of my life."

After fulfilling his curiosity, he slid into the deep waters of the steaming bathing pool, hoping that perhaps F'lon would bring him back some numbweed too; the water made the welt start to throb furiously everywhere, to go along with the ache in his hand and foot. He ignored it best he could, and submerged himself, using the sweet sand to carefully wash away the grime and sweat from the ordeal.

Some time later, F'lon returned. He had the Harper woman Menolly along with him; she was holding a fresh pair of clothes and some bandages and numbweed, while F'lon carried a tray full of something that smelled delicious. Behind them, one of the tamed firelizards flew; it was the golden queen, and she caught Robinton's eye right away. What a lovely creature, Robinton thought, before re-focusing on the food as his stomach rumbled. F'lon set the tray down at the edge of the pool, while Menolly carefully set down the jar of numbweed next to it. Robinton wrung some of the water and the last of the sweet sand out of his hair and swam to the edge of the pool to examine things.

"I brought this for you, Master Robinton," Menolly said, seemingly having forgotten, once again, his proper rank. Robinton felt a little awkward, his instincts telling him that his earlier theories about Sebell and Menolly having been his Apprentices were almost certainly correct. And he didn't have the heart to correct her this time; she seemed rather worried about him, judging by her body language. Menolly held out a little wooden box, oblivious to his thoughts, and then, realizing he wouldn't be able to open it without using his wounded hand, opened it for him, and showed two perfectly spherical ceramic balls.

"What is it for?" Robinton asked, as F'lon observed from the side.

Menolly folded her rangy frame into a sitting position next to the food, and then showed him her own left hand. It had an old, deep scar, like a knife wound, cutting across the palm of it. "You use the balls, along with these oils once the wound has healed a bit more," and she waggled a different bottle he hadn't noticed nestled among the clothing, "to help keep the scar tissue stretched and supple enough to be able to play. You want to start using these, like so." She plucked the spheres out of the box and showed him some sort of exercise with her left hand, almost like something a juggler would do absently before hurling the balls into the air. Menolly didn't start to juggle, however. "The sooner you start the exercises the better, so that your hand heals with the proper mobility you need to continue with the gitar. I almost started too late, myself."

"And if I don't use them, I won't be able to play?" Robinton asked.

"That's something you will need to ask Brekke, or another Healer, to know for certain," Menolly said. Then she pointed at his hand. "But you're already holding it curled up. Doesn't take much foresight to know it could end up healing a little curled, instead of properly."

Robinton looked at his hand. It was true; it was curled a little, because it hurt to extend his fingers out. Cautiously he spread his fingers, and felt his palm ache and protest, but before he could force his fingers wider, Menolly caught his hand with hers and stopped him. "Wait until the skin heals a little more, so it doesn't split and get infected. But once the scabbing is gone, use these twice a day, every day, along with your gitar practice."

"And you're not a Healer?" he asked with a smile, given how earnest her instructions were.

Menolly wrinkled her nose at him, and looked a little embarrassed. "I'm only passing the instructions the Masterhealer gave to me on to you."

"The Masterhealer?" F'lon asked in surprise.

"To be certain his advice to me a few turns ago still applied here, I asked him about it." Menolly said. "Harpers don't actually acquire Healing knowledge by proximity. Although some of us like to think so."

Robinton chuckled at that. Once or twice a year they rounded up each new batch of Apprentices from both the Harper Hall and the Healer Hall and gave them a talking-to about incorrect information. The Healer Apprentices liked to goad Harper Apprentices into eating things vile but not technically toxic, saying anything from it being "good for your voice" to "it'll make your...you know...bigger...hey, stop hitting me! It's true!" and the Harper Apprentices liked nothing more than to lie their dear little heads off, the bigger story the better. Occasionally in the past these tendencies had escalated into mishaps, and the Halls liked to try to nip those sort of things in the bud. "You have my sincere appreciation for not attempting to fool me into eating wherry gallbladders and runner tripe, then," Robinton told her.

"...Wherries don't have gallbladders," F'lon said. "And more runner tripe makes its way into Gather meat pies than you know. It's harmless. I think. Simanith likes it well enough."

"Oh look!" Robinton said, pointing above F'lon's head.

F'lon glanced up. "What?"

"A joke went between right over your head, but you missed it."

Menolly stifled a laugh incompletely. "Sorry," she muttered, not looking very contrite.

The bronzerider made a face. "You sir, are something...I'm not actually going to utter because there's a lady in the room."

"Please," Menolly said. "I was the only Craftswoman in a Hall full of men for Turns." The gold firelizard that had settled onto her shoulder made a clearly disparaging sound in F'lon's direction.

Robinton laughed in delight. "Did she just...say something to him?" he asked Menolly. "Did the little queen say something to you, F'lon?" He asked his friend. He turned back to Menolly. "Do they say anything? Ever?"

"You're having entirely too much fun at my expense, Robinton," F'lon said.

"No, no, no, that's not it!" Robinton said, waving a hand at F'lon. "I think she said something. She put a lot of emotion into that noise. Petiron has trained Singers with less nuance. I have taught Harpers with less nuance. She said something, am I right?" Robinton asked hopefully.

"Firelizards aren't dragons," Menolly said after a moment, seeming reluctant to squash Robinton's expectations. "Depending on the firelizard, it's like talking to a very young child with an even shorter than normal attention span. Whether the child has one turn, or two turns, or four turns depends on the particular firelizard, and their color. Beauty here tends to react more to my emotions, and my state of mind, than have her own comments like a dragon would. That being said," and she regarded her queen firelizard, who was regarding her right back. "She's aware that we're talking about her. She will probably gossip with Masterharper Sebell's queen Kimi about this later on today. And she's apparently not afraid of Simanith, for all that he's a bronze dragon. That may be bravado, though."

Beauty made another noise.

"That was a comment," Robinton insisted.

"She knows I'm making fun of her," Menolly allowed with a laugh, and briefly rubbed the tip of the queen's muzzle with a finger.

"Firelizards are scared of dragons?" F'lon asked.

"It depends on the dragon," Menolly said, looking at him with her head tilted to the side. "Some dragons are annoyed by them, and chase them away by striking fear into their flighty little hearts. When that happens, I don't hear the end of it for days. Others are indifferent and don't care if they come or go. Some enjoy their presence, and their gossip. Those dragons tend to have something of a perpetual multi-colored escort. Firelizards find dragons pretty fascinating. They talk about them all the time."

"I thought you said they don't speak," Robinton prodded.

Menolly shrugged. "They sort of blast excited, disjointed pictures at you when they gossip. Emotions and pictures. Not really words. You sort of have to fill in the gaps, if you want to understand what they're actually saying. Sometimes you have to go talk to other people with firelizards before you get enough pieces of the puzzle put together." Menolly suddenly sighed. "I shouldn't be telling you this, you know." Her face was both resigned and amused.

"I won't tell," Robinton promised, giving her his most winsome smile.

"I recall you making a promise once before," Menolly said lightly, replacing the ceramic spheres she had been holding for a while into their box.

Robinton hadn't expected Menolly to be the first one to chide him for their stunt, and a hundred excuses vied in his mind for a moment, along with his inner melodramatic, theatric actor. Working on gut instinct, he dismissed all of it just as fast. "I had a reason," he told her with honesty, meeting her eyes squarely, and without missing a beat.

Menolly met his gaze. "That does not surprise me; you usually do. I'm just more used to working with you when you have a rather larger store of wisdom."

She delivered the words in a gentle manner, but Robinton felt the tips of his ears sting fiercely...along with a few of the other assorted wounds he bore from his ordeal. He fought not to let it become a full-body blush of embarrassment. "Ah...well..."

Menolly shifted topics to allow him a way out. "I'll let you eat before your food gets cold, and dress. If you feel up to more activity afterwards, rather than napping--the Healers recommend the nap, by the way--come meet Sebell and I downstairs."

"Me as well?" F'lon inquired.

"No, the Weyrleader would like to speak with you separately once you're done here. And you don't get a nap," she said with a wicked grin.

"Alright," F'lon said. Robinton could tell that he wanted to make a smart-aleck comment, but was refraining due to the circumstances.

"I probably won't nap," Robinton told Menolly. "I've been abed for most of two days.

"I rather thought you wouldn't," she said. "Eat up then. I'll see you soon." And Menolly unfolded herself and rose to her feet, and waggled her finger at the box with the spheres, and the small bottle of oil. "Don't forget about those. Not now, but soon enough."

"I won't," Robinton said, and watched her leave the room.

The two young men were silent for a few moments, then Robinton planted his palms on the edge of the pool and heaved himself out. F'lon handed him a cloth to dry himself with, and made a hissing noise when he saw the ugly welt traveling across Robinton's back. "That looks painful."

"It is, now that the numbweed has been washed off. Where'd that jar go?" Robinton asked. He dried his hair and legs and dropped the cloth in his lap and grabbed the jar. Then he spent a few moments re-dressing the wounds, and then himself, with some help from F'lon.

"Man, I'm so sorry this happened to you," F'lon started to say, but Robinton quickly shushed him.

"My idea, my fault," Robinton said. "At least it only hit me, and not you again. I'd feel much, much worse if it had been my idea and your body that ended up like this."

"Why are you bringing things like logic into this?" F'lon complained. "Doesn't make me feel any better."

Robinton chuckled. "True enough." He extracted a plate of food from the tray, and started to devour it by the side of the bathing pool. His stomach had been getting more and more insistent that it wanted to be fed. Fed right now, if you will.

"She's sort of interesting, you know?" F'lon told him while munching on a chunk of bread.

"Menolly? If all you can say about a woman is 'she's sort of interesting', you shouldn't be considering flirting with her," Robinton advised.

F'lon looked at him, and made a sound. "She's not really my type, Rob."

"Then why are you asking me if you should flirt with her?" Robinton asked, gulping down some klah.

F'lon widened his eyes and shook his head, making clear that he'd never actually asked that. "...so you're really just that interested in the firelizards?"

"What?" Robinton asked.

"Or are you just being situationally insensitive and deaf?"

"What was that?" Robinton asked. "Speak up, lad."

F'lon snorted. "Harpers!" he said to the air, as if that explained everything.

"This is my way of sticking my fingers in my ears and going, 'La la la la la!'," Robinton agreed. "Without the atonal 'la la la' part. And yes, I am that interested in firelizards. I wonder if Beauty would let me hold her? Or does she only allow Menolly to do that?"

"You are a sad, sad specimen of a man."

"Halls and Holds, Weyrling brat. Halls and Holds." Robinton put his empty dish back onto the tray, and shifted around in preparation to stand.

"Here, you're never going to make it on your own. Let me help."
__________________
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)


Last edited by D. M. Domini; Dec 29 2008 at 10:44 PM.
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