Thread: Fan Fiction: Weyr Search
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Old Dec 13 2017, 09:27 PM   #2
Brenda
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Default Re: Weyr Search (working title!)

Kylara tossed and turned in the unfamiliar bed. It was warm, there were plenty of furs, but the rushes smelled strange. That wouldn't have been so bad, but it was the noise that kept her from sleeping. She had always had a room to herself, and now she was sharing with three of the four other girls from Telgar.

Four of them! R'gul had made it sound as though there were no other candidates, that she was the one he needed – the only real prospect he had found there, the only true candidate for the Hatching! And then to find that he had been planning all along to bring those four as well – with half a dozen more already at the Weyr!

All herded through a maze of tunnels and left for the night, three and four girls to a room. Even the sister of the Lord of Telgar.

Kylara tossed again, uneasy. The other girls were all terrified, and not just from the flight to the Weyr. Apparently she was the only one who had received a formal request to stand as a candidate; certainly she was the only one who had actually wanted to come. The others had not been asked, only told that they were to go with the Dragonriders. Some of them didn't even understand why they had been brought here.

Once the shock of the flight had worn off, the whole lot of them had fallen into weeping and moaning, late into the night. Some of them had finally fallen asleep, but there were still a lot of irritating noises that made it impossible for her to sleep...

Any hope of it actually getting quiet was shattered as one of the girls woke up screaming. As the others tried to calm her down, Kylara groaned and pulled the furs up over her head. It was going to be a long night.

* * * * *

She finally managed to fall asleep, only to be woken at an unforgiveably early hour. A woman came around banging on doors with a call to breakfast. Kylara groaned and considered staying in bed, but she was hungry – it had been a long time since that dinner at Telgar. Besides, they might not wait breakfast here if she did.

She reluctantly put on the same clothes she had discarded the night before, and resolved to ask about getting some more. At least these were some of her finer garments, worn to impress R'gul. Although apparently his standards were not as high as she had thought, if the other girls he had brought were any indication. Certainly not after crying all night.

The woman waited as the girls finished dressing, then led them through the tunnels to an impressive dining cavern, where they were given a table to themselves. The food was filling but plain; at least the klah was good. Kylara filled her cup again and sipped, and wondered what to do next.

When was the Hatching going to be? R'gul had said it would be soon, but that could mean anything. If she was going to be waiting much longer, she would need some fresh clothes. And a bath!

And when the Hatching did arrive, what would happen? How did it work? She had been focused the day before on just getting away from Telgar, but now she needed to find out everything she could to make sure she could stay here.

She looked around but there were very few people in the hall. Everyone else had already finished eating and left. She could hear the noise of women working and talking in the adjoining kitchen cavern, but what would they know of it? She needed to talk to a dragonrider.

She scanned the cavern again. There! A man dressed in wherhide was standing in the entrance to yet another tunnel, talking to one of the women who had been serving food. He was quite good-looking, too! The woman was certainly hanging on his every word...

Kylara started to get up, to walk over and introduce herself, but the man turned and walked off down the tunnel. She muttered a curse. She couldn't go rushing off down random corridors in a place like this – she would have to ask one of the women after all –

“Manora! Manora!” The woman the dragonrider had been talking to was rushing across the hall, calling excitedly for the Headwoman. The noise from the kitchen stopped as the women began coming out to see what was going on.

“What on Pern is the matter?” asked Manora in alarm as she pushed her way through to the front of the crowd.

“Oh, Manora, F'nor is back, and you'll never guess what's happened!”

Manora looked even more worried. “What? What is it?”

“Lord Fax is dead!” Pindra burst out. Everyone gasped. “How?!” “What's happened?”

“F'lar killed him in a duel!”

At that, the entire crowd erupted in a babble of voices. Even some of the Searched girls seemed to take an interest.

Kylara sat there, feeling stunned. Fax, dead? What would happen to his Holds?

Others were voicing the same thought. “Who will take those Holds, then?” “Whoever can, I suppose...”

And Telgar, which had been on constant guard at all of its borders since Fax first came to power, would now be at risk of invasion from those who would imitate him! Kylara was surprised at the urgency she was feeling – it had been so long that even the threat of Fax in the distance had grown accustomed. Now the danger was fresh again. She wondered if it would be possible to send a message – although Larad would certainly not welcome any more dragonriders.

“Lady Gemma will have claim to Ruatha.”

“Lady Gemma is dead, too!” cried the woman who who had brought the news. The voices rose in a clamor again, this time of dismay.

“What?!” “What happened to Lady Gemma?”

“She died in childbirth. At Ruatha,” the woman explained.

Manora's strong voice broke through the babble of questions. “That's enough of this! Be quiet, everyone, or we'll never find out what's happened!” She turned torward the news-bearer. “Pindra, could you please tell us everything F'nor told you, in order?”

Pindra nodded importantly. “F'lar's wing went on Search to the High Reaches,” she began. “They went from there to Ruatha, and Lord Fax rode there as well along the ground, with some of his men and with Lady Gemma and her ladies. And her with child!” she added indignantly. There were agreeing mutters from the women listening; Pindra had th full attention of everyone in the room.

“Fax kept insulting F'lar, provoking him, but he didn't give in,” she went on. “Then Lady Gemma went into labor just as it looked as though they were about to fight after all. F'lar somehow got Lord Fax to say that he would renounce his Holding of Ruatha in favor of Gemma's child, if it was male!” There were startled exclamations from the group of listeners.

“Then someone came in and said Lady Gemma was dead – but that the child was alive, and that it was male! So F'lar called on Fax to keep his sworn word and renounce Ruatha, and Fax went for him with a knife instead! So they fought, and F'lar won. Fax is dead!”

“And F'lar?” Manora asked, concern in her voice.

“He was wounded, but not badly, F'nor said,” Pindra told her. “He sent F'nor back to High Reaches to fetch L'tol – well, he's called Lytol now, isn't he... to bring him back to Ruatha.”

Kylara wondered at this. Who was Lytol? That first time, Pindra had pronounced it like a dragonrider's name. Was the Weyr presuming to take over Ruatha for itself? She felt a surge of righteous indignation, then fear. But Pindra was still speaking.

“Lytol,” she said carefully, “is to be Lord Warder at Ruatha Hold, and guardian of Gemma's child. The babe is to be the heir to Ruatha. F'lar had some of his wing stay behind to help Lytol protect the Hold.”

That was all right then.

“Well, Gemma did have some Ruathan Blood,” Manora said. “That was Fax's pretense for Holding Ruatha after he killed Lord Kale and the others.”

“It's only right that her son be the heir,” one woman said.

“It's not as though there were other candidates to choose from!” said another.

“Oh! I almost forgot!” Pindra exclaimed. “F'lar brought back a candidate from Ruatha! She claimed she was of the original Ruathan Blood and was the rightful heir, but she agreed to come to the Weyr and leave Ruatha to the babe. She'd been in hiding as a drudge all this time!”

One of the Ruathan blood, still alive? And of an age to be a candidate for the Hatching? Who could that be? Kylara tried to think back to the old days of lessons – being forced to memorize the histories of all the major Holds, and all the immediate family members of each Lord Holder for three generations back. Just another useless duty that the Lord's children had to do, and she hadn't even given it a thought in Turns, but if she could just remember...

Ruatha. It had been Lord Kale who was killed by Fax. Lady Adessa. All those sons... and, yes, a daughter. That was right, there had been a daughter, just a Turn or two older than herself – there had even been talk of her fostering at Telgar one day. What had been her name...?

Lessa. That was it, Lessa. If this candidate from Ruatha was telling the truth about being an heir and was not just some distant cousin – or simply lying, or crazy – then it would have to be Lessa. Another candidate from a noble Bloodline – and another who had volunteered to come. All the anxiety Kylara had been suppressing with the thought of how useless all the other candidates were rose again. How could she be sure of getting the dragon if no one would tell her anything about the Hatching? R'gul's promises had been just so much talk after all, it seemed...

Suddenly her thoughts were interrupted by a loud humming noise. The sound was deep, as if the stone itself was vibrating, and she clapped her hands over her ears to try and drown out the sound. It did no good – the vibrations seemed to shake her very bones.

All the kitchen women burst into a babble of speech, while the girls who had been searched stared around in confusion. The humming subsided, then started up again, louder than before.

“Quiet! Manora's voice broke through the hubbub. “No reason to stop working! We knew the Hatching would probably be today, and we'll need to eat either way. Back to work!” She turned to Kylara and the others. “All of you, back to your rooms, now! The dragonriders will be coming to take you to the Hatching Ground.” She strode off down the corridor toward the sleeping rooms, and Kylara hurried after her. What was going to happen now?

Manora turned into the first room. “In here, everyone.” She went to a chest along the wall and opened it, then began taking out folded bundles of white cloth and handing them around.

“Put these on, all of you, and quickly! There's very little time.”

Kylara took the bundle she was handed. It was a dress, of sorts – more like a long, sleeveless tunic. Simple and plain. She pulled it on and shivered.

“All right now, everyone, out this way!” Manora was hustling them down a long corridor, which Kylara recognized as the one she had entered through last night. She could see daylight ahead.

The girls emerged, blinking in the bright sunlight. The warmth felt good on Kylara's bare arms. Her eyes adjusted to the light, and she flinched, startled to see a number of dragons right in front of her. She glanced around hurriedly, looking for R'gul. The three biggest dragons were the same dark metallic color as R'gul's dragon, but he was not among the dragonriders standing there. The riders stepped forward, and it became clear that there was one for each girl.

“Come with me,” said the one in front of her – handsome enough, but lacking in manners, for he grabbed her hand and began pulling her toward the waiting dragon. She had to run to keep up. The dragons seemed agitated, not calm as in the courtyard at Telgar, and as they reached the brown dragon she realized that the loud humming sound was coming from the dragon! All of the dragons! She had no time to wonder about this as she was boosted roughly onto the dragon's neck and lurched into the air. She clung tightly to the rider in front of her, cursing him for not having provided her with even a strap to hold onto, then gasped as she saw where they were heading - a great hole at the top of the mountain, with a hundred dragons all looking about to fly into one another! She clutched harder at the rider's waist and felt him laugh.

“Don't worry!” he shouted. “They know where they're going!”

Somehow the brown dragon slipped in between all the others and into the hole at the peak, plunging them into darkness again.

As her eyes adjusted, the dragon began circling, and she struggled to see what was going on. They were in a huge open chamber, with dragons perched on ledges all around the walls.

She tried to focus on the floor below. It was sandy, lighter than the walls around it. In the center was a group of young boys dressed in white, standing around a cluster of a dozen or so big round mottled objects. They seemed to be moving, rocking back and forth – those must be the eggs!

Then she gasped as she noticed the enormous queen dragon off to one side of the Hatching Ground. She was not the bright gold Kylara had heard about in old Harper songs, but only a dull ochre. Her eyes were closed. Kylara tried to remember what R'gul had said... The Weyrwoman was dead, and her dragon had laid its last clutch. So did that mean that the dragon was dead? If not it might as well be. As agitated as all the other dragons were, it really must be dead, to not be reacting at all.

Just in front of the dead queen, on a raised section of the floor, was another egg, this one half again as big as the others, with a distinct gleam of gold. And a dark-haired girl in white was already standing there.

As they circled, one of the other dragons flew down and hovered over the queen egg, depositing a girl. Then the brown dragon was swooping down and they were hovering, and the rider was turning toward her, gesturing to her to get down. She tried to protest – why couldn't they land first? - but he gripped her arms and forced her to swing around, supporting her as she slid to the ground. The dragon immediately took off, and another flew down to deposit its burden.

Kylara stepped back to get out of the way of the next girl to be dropped. Sooner than she would have thought possible, the last dragon was descending. As the rider helped his passenger to the ground, Kylara heard him say, “Don't be afraid!” Then the dragon was gone. The girls were all gathered on the raised part of the floor. Most of them clung together, weeping.

“Don't be afraid!” What a foolish thing to say! How could they expect anyone to be unafraid after being swooped around by dragons with no warning and dropped in the middle of a Hatching with still not a single word to tell them what to expect or what to do!

The dark-haired girl who had been there first stood off to one side, and Kylara could not help staring at her. Could she really be a long-lost member of the Ruathan blood? To have hidden as a drudge for all that time – well, she was certainly skinny enough for a drudge, with a great bruise on her face. But she held herself proudly, and did not show any fear... Kylara felt a twinge of the fear she had been trying to ignore. What if she failed?

The great golden egg rocked suddenly, and all the girls gasped. Kylara found herself stepping back with the others in spite of herself. It was just so big!

Then one of the girls, who had been weeping all this time, let out a scream. Kylara followed her gaze out to the main floor, where several of the eggs had split open and the hatchlings were crawling toward the young boys – children, really – that waited for them.

Kylara stared in horror as one hatchling mauled a boy and flung him away. Another knocked a boy down and trampled him, gashing him with its claws as it went. No one had ever even hinted that the Hatching might be dangerous! Vague mentions of not letting the dragon overeat, yes; risk of being sliced open, no!

And yet, even as some boys were bleeding from vicious wounds, others were kneeling and caressing the ugly, awkward little dragons. How were they doing it? Even the boy who had been trampled was now reassuring a different hatchling that he was all right, and it was nudging him and crooning. How did one tame a dragon? The adult dragons were frightening because of their size, but they did their riders' bidding. How could a person gain control of a dangerous creature like that?

Soon all the hatchlings had paired up with boys. Blue dragons and their riders led the awkward pairs away, while green dragons came and carried away those who remained. They left behind dark patches of blood, still seeping into the sand covering the Hatching Ground floor.

The big gold egg had been rocking all this time and now was beginning to crack. Several of the girls had fainted, and the rest screamed as the crack widened and the dragon's head broke through. Fair enough – they hadn't had any choice in coming. She had asked to be here, and now she was reconsidering that choice.

The dragons' humming had subsided, but now started up again, louder than ever. It seemed to be coming loudest from the seven largest, darkest dragons on the first ledge. The volume kept increasing as the shell shattered and the hatchling emerged, glistening gold. Kylara gasped at the sight. It was so bright!

The little dragon – not so little, as it was half again the size that the others had been – staggered forward. It tripped in the sand and stopped short, flapping its wet wings to get free. Without warning, it darted forward and clutched at the nearest girl, shaking her violently. Her head snapped audibly and she collapsed.

The dragon lunged again, its claws catching in another girl's shoulder and tearing the length of her body. Her scream broke Kylara out of her shock – it had all happened so fast! She turned to run. Nothing was worth this risk. She scrambled off the raised platform and ran toward the tunnel the boys had gone into. She was half aware the other girls were fleeing as well. She got well away, then stopped and looked back.

The hatchling, crying pitiously, had lurched down from the platform, trying to follow them. The dark-haired Ruathan girl, who had not run with the others, moved toward it. Kylara gasped as the girl grabbed the dragon's head and swung it around, forcing it to look at her... and something changed.

The dragon stopped struggling. More startling was the change in the girl's face. Where it had been cold and distant, it now held an expression of unbelievable joy.

Kylara stared, stunned, as the hatchling began crooning at the girl, and she spoke softly back to it, assuring it that it would be fed soon. Was that it? All that violence, and now it was as docile as a lamb?

And that girl – the one who came out of a run-down Hold, who had given up her Blood claim – had won it? How?

She stood there, staring at the stranger and the golden dragon, until a dragonrider came to carry her back out of the Hatching Ground. The last thing she saw, as the brown dragon circled to gain height, was R'gul – leading the new Weyrwoman away with her queen.

Last edited by Brenda; Dec 13 2017 at 09:48 PM.
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