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Exhibit Hall For the exhibition of artistic creations by our members, from poetry and prose to drawings, photography, and digital art.

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Old Dec 5 2013, 05:40 AM   #1
Kath
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Default Falling all over again

There was something about the Weyrsinger's face that puzzled him. Something about her smile. It wasn't that it didn't reach her eyes – because it did – but rather that the deep lines of age that underscored her features seemed to weave a very different pattern to the one of cheerful joy that lips and eyes sent shuttling across her features in the long pauses between her verses.

Eventually, the song ended and she set her gitar aside. And then someone in the audience said something that made her laugh, and at that moment he imagined he could hear it, too: the absence, the loss, the lie. It caught in his gut with all the slow agony of burning flesh, but he swallowed his grief down hard, following it up with an improperly large gulp of Benden White. Robinton would have been appalled at him, part of him thought, while the rest of his brain insisted as loudly and persuasively as it could that while she might have sung of the joys of dragonriding, might have lived her life surrounded by enough riders to know how best to card those emotions into words and song and then spin them right back into the cloth of a rider's heart again, she didn't – couldn't – know.

Menolly, sitting beside him, stretched out a hand and patted the back of his, a look of pure compassion on her face and all the calculation of next Turn's crop of ballads behind her eyes. Discomfited by her scrutiny and unsure of how concerned for his well-being she really was, Lytol glanced back at the Weyrsinger again. The woman was still laughing merrily as she turned in his direction, swinging a young child up off the ground and into her arms. And then she saw him, and all of her laughter stopped.

“The lyrics and tunings may not be up to Hall-standards yet,” Menolly muttered to herself, “but going by your reaction I don't think that matters. Lytol? Why are you looking so...D'ram has already introduced you to her, hasn't he?”

“No,” he snapped. He might never have realised the truth if she hadn't asked, but he could put the disparate clues together as well as any man when they were shoved in his face like that. She'd been a weyrwoman then; that, or Mirrim hadn't been the first of her kind after all. “D'ram would never be so crass.”

Later – much, much later, when the music and dancing in the impromptu square had become wild enough to drive anyone with any sense at all towards the peace and solitude of the beach – he saw the Weyrsinger again. She was walking towards him, quite purposefully, in the way that older women often did. “If you're here to-” Lytol began, before falling into an awkward silence. She didn't have anything to apologise for, and Menolly had already done so on her own behalf once. He hadn't received it particularly well, mind, just graciously enough to avoid having her write a stinging rebuke in verse in return for his rudeness. “What do you want?”

Ignoring him completely, the Weyrsinger walked right past him and on towards the breaking waves. He half-turned to watch her, his curiosity piqued. She stooped, picking up and then discarding one pebble after another, until she found one that suited her. She tossed it between her hands several times, back and forth, then slipped it into a pocket of her skirt.

“What do I want?” she said, so softly that she was almost whispering. “What I want doesn't matter. What I want isn't why I'm here. Why are you here, Lytol?”

She had her back to him, and he couldn't see her face. “D'ram invited me to-”

She cut him off with a shake of her head, then said, her tone hardening into a demand, “Why are you alive?”

He sucked in his breath between his death, furious that anyone would dare to ask that question of him, that question above all! He was still thinking of what to say in reply when she spoke again.

“The first time I came here – hundreds of turns ago, back in the old-time – I had rocks in my pockets, not just the one stone. The seams split before I was knee deep. It was ever so funny. I laughed for three days straight, and everyone thought I was quite mad, but she would have known better. It made me remember my promise, you see.”

There were too many emotions tangled up in what she said, and any one of them alone would have been enough to break him out of his anger. “What promise?” he asked.

“To live,” the singer said simply, still with her back to him. “So I weighed myself down with children instead, half a dozen wonderful, delightful little youngsters, knowing they'd live their lives safe and free of Thread. Of course they were all dragon-mad fools, so they leapt at the chance to come forward to this Pass with the rest of the weyrfolk. What else could I do except follow them? They gave me grandchildren before they were lost, so that's something I suppose. She wanted me to live, and I'm glad that I did, but by Faranth...” She broke off long enough to sigh, but her clear disgruntlement only intensified when she spoke again. “By Faranth, it'd be a lot easier without dragonless men taking my choices personally and looking at me like I'm some kind of traitor to my own dragon's memory! You had the same choice, Lytol, and you chose the same path. You don't get to judge me without judging yourself at the same time.”

What could he say to that? Lytol closed his eyes, and decided on the truth. “I judge myself every day. I am a traitor. Larth went without me, and I blamed him for not taking me with him. And then...” He opened his eyes again, and stared out to sea. “And then too much time had passed. He was gone, and I was still here. I lived because I had nothing better to do, loved because I had nothing to lose, and lost it all anyway. Loved again -- too little, perhaps but he was a good enough boy that it wasn't too late for me. And it's good that I had that chance, to take some delight in the life I still have, but it's not one that I deserve.”

The woman chuckled. “Of course not! Were you always such a deadglow? The world has never owed us anything. It's us that carry all the debts.”

She took the stone from her pocket again, then launched it high into the air. Lytol lost it for a few seconds before the twinned moonlight caught it again, a little short of apogee.

“Jendaroth,” the Weyrsinger whispered as the stone seemed to pause and hang, her voice breaking on the last syllable.

And then the stone's tumbling, falling flight continued, until it hit the surface of the sea and disappeared. The whole thing had taken no longer than the time needed to cough three times, Lytol realised.

What would you say to her, Larth? Lytol asked the emptiness that used to be the greater part of his heart. Larth didn't answer – Larth never answered – but the answer was already on his lips, all the same. “D'ram should have introduced us turns ago.”

“Oh?” the woman asked, then chuckled again. “While you were living for your work, doing great things for the betterment of all Pern?” She turned her head far enough to look him in the eyes. “But we've met now. We share some things...but there's much more that we don't.”

Minor gulfs between them, compared to the larger ones that filled their respective hearts. He wondered whether she'd ever been to see Landing, and decided that he might ask her in the morning. Not right yet, though. “Would you sing for me again?” he asked her instead. “The verses you didn't sing earlier?” The ones she'd written for her own dragon, not those of other riders.

She gave him a grave smile. “I wondered if you'd heard them. Not all of us do.”

So she sang again, and for a brief while he sang alongside her, while Larth and Jendaroth flew.
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Old Dec 5 2013, 03:37 PM   #2
P'ter
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Default Re: Falling all over again

Wow! Where did that one come from?
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Old Dec 5 2013, 03:41 PM   #3
Kath
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Default Re: Falling all over again

Quote:
Originally Posted by P'ter View Post
Wow! Where did that one come from?
I'm bribing people with fics to leave reviews for The Regicide. This was just a little something I whipped up the other afternoon. It was meant to be a 100 word drabble, but the word count kind of exploded on me...


Thanks though! I do like getting 'wow's.
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