Thread: Fan Fiction: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)
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Old Nov 25 2008, 11:36 PM   #6
D. M. Domini
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Default Re: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)

Chapter Six

"Robinton?"

Robinton made a purposefully indecipherable mumbling noise, hoping that it would chase the man who was sitting on the edge of the bed away. But of course, it had no effect on F'lon at all, and the sagging presence on the edge of his mattress didn't disappear. So Robinton rolled over under the furs, his head throbbing unmercifully at his temples, and gave his friend a baleful glare. "What do you want, F'lon? I was sleeping." He rubbed his gritty eyes and wondered why a tunnel snake had decided it was necessary to excrete in his mouth sometime during the night.

"Well, you need to get up anyway. And I wanted to apologize. For insinuating that you have a lousy love life in front of the Weyrleaders and the Masterharper. And also, that female Harper. That was pretty ill-mannered of me--I don't really know what I was thinking. I can't believe I just left you there all by yourself!"

"...you were there with me when we spoke with them," Robinton said in confusion.

"No! I meant, when I left you at the Hall. I'm thinking, we're in a totally different era, so who knows what could have happened to you? I at least have Simanith around if I end up in a bad spot, an angry dragon scares the wits out of anyone in their right mind, and I know how to use this knife..."

Robinton wearily kicked off his furs and sat up. "I'm hardly a helpless babe, F'lon, and besides, they were quite nice to me. Especially since I was more than a little drunk at the time. But how does this have to do with your derogatory comments about my love life?"

"I'm sorry for both things, is all. And, also, that we got hit by lightening."

"I didn't, you did. It set your head on fire; I put it out with my bare hands."

"It was? You did? I don't recall that!"

Robinton chuckled a little, although it made his head throb a little more. "You were a little dazed at the time."

"I guess I owe you three apologies, and one debt of gratitude, then."

"Four apologies; you did wake me up just now," Robinton grumbled.

"That doesn't count; if I hadn't been the one to, I think Weyrwoman Lessa would be here instead. And," F'lon added, hastily looking over his shoulder to make sure nobody had entered the room to spy on them, "Frankly, I think that would have been worse. The more I observe her, the scarier she is. I don't ever want to get her well and truly angry at me. She has this presence..."

"...she's as tall as my bellybutton, F'lon," Robinton said. "As long as you treat her with respect, I don't know that there's anything to be scared of..."

"Have you seen her dragon? Ramoth?"

"No, not really. It's dark at night, you know."

"Ah, I won't say any more then. You'll understand everything when you do see her."

Robinton sighed, and slid out of bed. "Have you ever considered that maybe you have a phobia about Weyrwomen that might be affecting your judgment?" Robinton asked, as he found the pants and shirt he'd slung over a chair the night before, and pulled them on with a rustling of cloth. "Considering that you were thrown out of the Weyr in the first place by Weyrwoman Carola?"

F'lon narrowed his eyes. "I don't have a phobia. Being fostered out of the Weyr is a good thing, it broadens your horizons, keeps us in touch with the Holds; it's how I met you, after all."

Robinton held up his hands. "All right, all right. Let's not start off the day with arguing. You still owe me a fourth apology, though. I accept the other three, in the meantime."

"What about the debt of gratitude?" F'lon asked.

"I'll save that for a rainy day," Robinton said with a grin. "You can bring me to some small hold on the coast that unfortunately has a tragic lack of menfolk, and I'll show you why I've never had to resort to physically manhandling women into my lap so that I could spout bad poetry in their ears."

F'lon threw back his head and laughed. "That sounds like a plan, my friend! You let me know when you want to go do that!" Then he grimaced. "Ow, why did you make me laugh...?" he added, touching the side of his head gingerly. "Winehead isn't very fun."

"It's our bodies forcing us to do everything in moderation. If winehead was fun, everyone would be drunk all the time and nothing would ever get done. And the toilets would be very crowded. You said the Weyrwoman wanted us?" Robinton asked, once he was dressed.

"Yes. We're to meet her by the lake. She said we should bring our things--your gitar and the like."

"Are we leaving Benden?" Robinton asked.

"I don't know; I guess we'll see. Could be she just wants a tune."

Robinton grunted at the unlikeliness of that, and finished braiding his hair so that it was out of his face.

The guest quarters that they'd been tucked into were on the ground level of the Weyr, so it was only a brisk walk across the bowl to get to the lake. Halfway there, a queen descended, and landed on the bank; then a tiny speck on her back slid off to the ground.

Robinton stopped, and rubbed his eyes, which felt bleary. "Wait..." The perspective seemed...a little bit off.

F'lon laughed. "That's Ramoth."

"...that's one magnificent specimen of a dragon," Robinton finally admitted in awe, once his brain adjusted to the fact that not all of Ramoth's apparent size was due to Weyrwoman Lessa being a tiny little thing.

A few moments later, Simanith landed as well. Simanith was no small bronze, and his presence just reinforced how large the queen next to him was.

"See?" F'lon said.

"Indeed."

Once they were in range of the Weyrwoman, Robinton gave her a respectful bow--something he'd been too drunk, distracted, half-frightened and disoriented to do the night before. F'lon, too, acknowledged her seniority appropriately, and if Robinton was reading her right, she seemed pleased well enough by this.

Weyrwoman Lessa was dressed in full riding leathers, subtly different from the ones he was used to seeing on weyrfolk. He wondered if it had to do with the Ninth Pass being in progress, or if it was just a shift in fashion. She gave both of them an appraising look, then nodded. "I see that you've recovered your manners," she said.

"My mother will be wroth with me that it took so long, Weyrwoman," Robinton said meekly.

Lessa raised an eyebrow at F'lon. "And you?"

"His mother will be wroth with me that it took so long, Weyrwoman," F'lon said.

Robinton glanced at his friend. "Has my mother ever been wroth with you?"

"Yes. And I have to say, it's worse than my father being upset with me," F'lon said, surprisingly candidly.

"Huh," Lessa said, obviously suspicious that they were acting up again. But when neither young man said anything more, she got on with business. "We are going to meet the Harpers at a small outpost north of here; we'll be flying straight. I'm told, bronzerider, that Simanith should avoid going between for a couple of days, but should be fine with ordinary flying. Is this true?"

F'lon opened his mouth to speak.

"Good," Lessa said, nodding to Simanith.

F'lon closed his mouth and cocked his head to the side at his dragon.

"Robinton, you will fly with me. F'lon, you and Simanith follow behind. You can attach your gitar, Harper, with the luggage straps there," and Lessa, turning to stride back to her dragon, waved her hand at the harness behind the front riding positions.

"Right," F'lon said. "We'll be right behind you, Weyrwoman."

Robinton turned to look at the gigantic golden queen dragon, who, surprisingly, seemed to be eyeing him right back. He bowed deeply to her. "It is an honor to journey with you, Ramoth," he said, realizing that he'd never ridden upon any queen before, much less the biggest one he'd ever met.

Yes, it is, a voice said in his head casually. Soprano, a slightly deeper and richer echo of Lessa's voice. Then she crouched for both Lessa and himself to mount.

Robinton quickly strapped down his guitar so that it wouldn't get rattled about on the journey, and then donned the flying leathers he'd brought with him and seated himself behind the Weyrwoman, before strapping himself in. A large ridge separated him from Lessa, and he gripped it firmly (but hopefully not tightly enough to pain the dragon).

A firm grip will not hurt her, someone reassured him. Lessa, who had been climbing up in front of him, paused and gave him a long look.

"Weyrwoman?" he asked.

"Simanith is correct," she sad, after a pause. "Grip as tightly as you need to."

Robinton felt slightly awkward and exposed for some reason, as if he'd unintentionally committed blasphemy without knowing it, or even meaning to. But Lessa strapped herself in without further comment, and a few moments later she warned him that they were going to launch. Then Ramoth crouched even lower for a moment, her weight on her hindquarters, before launching them powerfully towards the sky.

Once aloft, Ramoth circled the Weyr below once, waiting for Simanith and F'lon to reach the proper altitude, and then both dragons turned northeast.

The Weyrwoman did not try to speak to him as they gained altitude, like F'lon was wont to do. Robinton had a few questions, mostly about where and why they were leaving the Weyr, but it didn't seem like he should ask about something that he would figure out soon enough once they arrived at their destination. So he sat back, and ventured to gaze down at the world unfurling below them; mountain tops capped in snow, with green valleys in between. Fields of crops, and fields for wherries and runners, all of them small moving dots to him at this high altitude. They were flying high enough above them that the herds didn't seem to panic and stampede at the dragons soaring overhead.

There was also a road, twisting between fields and out of a valley; as they flew, they seemed to cross back and forth over it a few times, and Robinton guessed that they were following it, but as a dragon would--no need to zig this way and that to avoid trees and irregularities in the landscape that caused a road to twist and turn.

Eventually, Ramoth tilted in a familiar-feeling landing spiral, and Robinton decided that they were going to stop at the small cot hold down below. There was already two dragons there, brown and bronze, and while Robinton didn't recognize the dragons by sight, it wasn't a far stretch to guess that Weyrleader F'lar and Brownrider F'nor were the riders of those two dragons, making the dragons themselves Mnementh and Canth. The only question was if the two Harpers Robinton had met were here as well.

That question was soon answered. Ramoth landed them on the road surprisingly lightly and delicately for a dragon of her bulk, and once they were settled on the ground, Lessa began unstrapping herself, and Robinton followed suit. A few moments later, he was standing on solid ground again, and slinging his guitar case over his shoulder. Lessa went into the cot hold. Behind them a few dragonlengths Simanith and F'lon had landed, and F'lon was in the process of dismounting.

"Weyrwoman Lessa, Master Robinton," the Harper woman Menolly called to them, ducking out of the small cothold to greet them as she did so.

"Er," Robinton began.

Menolly came up beside him, and noticed his discomfiture. "Sorry. Journeyman. But isn't it comforting to know that you'll make Master?" she asked him mischievously. "All that studying of decisively non-musical things will eventually pay off!" Her tone was knowing. The non-musical aspects of the Hall could sometimes be frustrating for Harpers that were deeply interested in music, who usually couldn't care less about politics and teaching and all of those other irritating things.

"I suppose it's comforting," Robinton said. Not all Journeymen became Masters. "If a little disconcerting in the manner of which I am informed of it. As it were, I do appreciate being addressed as 'Journeyman' if a title is necessary; to do otherwise would be a little conceited of me, by the standards of my own little world. Given my own little world is built upon a rather shaky foundation right now..." and he gave a little laugh.

"Does the world exist because we think it exists?" F'lon asked, coming up to stand next to Robinton. He stripped his riding gloves and goggles off, and undid a few buttons of his riding jacket.

"That's surprisingly philosophical for someone suffering from winehead," Robinton told him.

"Not really. I stole the line from you. I'm not smart enough to know what it means," and he winked at them mischievously.

Robinton's brow furrowed. "...I don't recall saying that. When did I say that?"

"I woke you up from some dream, and you directed the question at me. It was a turn or so ago. You spout a lot of weird theories on the edge of sleep. It's a hoot and a half, what comes out of your mouth at those times." He shook his head and grinned in a charming fashion.

Robinton stared at him.

"I'm sorry," F'lon said. "What were you two talking about?" he asked with a grin.

"The shaky foundations of my own little world," Robinton said.

The dragonrider grinned wider. "Oh, so your world is shaken, is it? Ha...it's strange day when the things you say are puerile, and the things I say are profound. Usually it's the other way around." Despite the potential insult in his words, his tone was teasing.

"...I thought you stole your profound thought from me. That would make me both puerile and profound."

F'lon raised an eyebrow and looked dubious. "If that's how you want to think of yourself..."

"Well, no, not really. Master Menolly--do you care to distract us with something of substance?"

"Oh no, I'm having way too much fun watching you to snipe at each other," Menolly said and smiled. One of her hands was scratching the eyeridges of the little queen on her shoulder.

F'lon gave a short laugh.

"If it wouldn't defeat the purpose of us coming here," came the voice of Masterharper Sebell, "I'd consider putting you two up on a stage."

Journeyman Harper and bronzerider both turned around, and politely acknowledged the man and his rank. Master Sebell looked at Robinton and quirked an eyebrow, but Robinton didn't understand what the Masterharper was trying to convey, so he dropped his gaze and bowed. When he looked up again, he thought he saw a ghost of unease cross the man's face, but then the man beckoned to them.

"Are you two feeling better today?" Master Sebell asked.

"I'd say we were actually feeling better yesterday, Masterharper," F'lon replied. "But I suppose we're more...clear-minded, today," and his tone was rueful.

"That's understandable," the Harper said. "Hopefully the headaches will pass soon. Or there might be some felis around here, somewhere." Then the man beckoned again, and the two young men, along with Master Menolly, followed him into the cot hold.

The cot hold had a rather martial air, Robinton noted, when they entered. It was only two stories high, and furnished sparsely and plainly. There were no tapestries on the wall, no dried flowers or herbs anywhere, no rugs, and very little color. In fact, it was rather uncertain if the cothold was actively occupied on a regular basis by anyone who wasn't a transient. The front room held a hearth, and a stone table with cold, unpadded stone benches on either side. On one wall there were weapons racks, and on the other, strange metal contraptions the size of a backpack, with odd hoses and nozzles. Robinton didn't have the foggiest of what they were there for, or what their purpose was. The scent of firestone lingered in the air, although it was stale, and mixed with something acrid, almost as if a Smith occasionally came here to do his work, although if there was a forge, it wasn't in this front room. Robinton momentarily wondered if he should be concerned about the martial nature of this cothold, when the dragonriders could have brought them anywhere, but then banished the thought from his mind as immaterial, because at this late date wondering if they were going to be locked up somewhere seemed too little, too late.

At the table, F'lar and F'nor were already seated, conversing quietly about something. Lessa was at the rack with the metal contraptions; she seemed to be checking them over for something, out of reflex. Sebell slid the metal door of the cot hold shut on its tracks behind them, and motioned for everyone who wasn't sitting to sit. Everyone except for Lessa obeyed, or rather, decided to comply; Lessa, however, was still occupied with the metal things on the one wall.

"We re-convened this morning, the five of us," Sebell began, addressing the two young men. "And to quickly come to the heart of the matter without any dancing about it, we've decided to request that you abstain from any unneeded contact with our when."

Ah, Robinton thought. It's nice that he's vaguely trying to ask us what is within their right to demand.

"What if we say no?" F'lon asked.

Robinton scowled at him. "That's a rhetorical question," he told the others.

F'lon raised an eyebrow. "It is?"

"I'd much rather be somewhat free in a secluded area that's likely not well accessible to most people than enclosed in a small windowless cell," Robinton told his friend. "Really, we're messing with time here, if by accident. It would be criminally incompetent to say, 'Oh, you don't want to? Well then, just go your merry way; maybe things will just turn out alright in the end!'."

F'lon laughed. "Point taken. So, rhetorical question...what if we say no?" he asked the others again.

"We lock you two in very small cells guarded by a starving watch wher," Sebell said, an evil glint in his eye. "And feed you nothing but gruel."

"See?" Robinton said. "I don't want to be eaten by a wher. The menu doesn't seem too appetizing either. Except maybe for the wher."

"In seems on par with the sort of things you cook," F'lon said. "You could make gruel. Probably. Maybe."

"I don't eat my own cooking," Robinton pointed out, to a few chuckles.

"So you agree to our request?" Lessa asked, bringing them back on topic.

"Our answer is probably yes," F'lon said, giving Robinton a look. "But what's the full terms?"

"This cot hold is used by our ground crews after threadfall; it's only accessible by a road from the Weyr, or by dragon, so any visitors you would have would have to fly in, or go through the Weyr to reach here. So yes, it is secluded," F'lar said. "We'd request that you stay here for the duration of Simanith's recovery, and during Simanith's training in going between times. You can hunt, fish, do whatever until then. You won't be allowed into the Weyr proper unless it is an emergency, and anyone coming here out here will be vetted by us first. Thread will not fall in this area for another two and a half sevendays, so you won't need to worry about that."

"Will it just be Robinton and Simanith and me?" F'lon asked.

"If we have your word that you won't hare off on Simanith, then we won't have anyone stationed here on a regular basis," Lessa said. "I would be coming by once a day however with F'nor's mate Brekke to check on Simanith, and later by myself to teach."

"Speaking preemptively here," Robinton said. "I realize you don't want us to have contact with this when, so I assume a bunch of sheet music to learn is out of the question, but do you think I could get a slate or something?" Robinton asked. "I suspect I won't be much more than a useless lump when F'lon and Simanith train with you, Weyrwoman. But I can keep myself occupied with a slate."

"Certainly," Sebell said promptly. "And I'm sure there's some sheet music we can find that won't destroy the universe if you read it," he said with a smile.

"Oh good. Thank you. I'd hate to destroy the universe by playing the wrong music," Robinton said humorously. "It would be rude of me."

"So we agree?" F'lon asked Robinton.

"The terms are reasonable," Robinton said. "But then I essentially already said that earlier."

"Alright," F'lon said. "I don't really want Robinton to be eaten by a wher either. So I agree."

"Very kind of you," Robinton said.

"I'm a generous guy," F'lon replied, while Harper Menolly seemed to be struggling not to show her amusement. Lessa looked resignedly tolerant, F'lar unfathomable, and F'nor inscrutable.

"This cot hold isn't really equipped for even temporary residence, so we'll be bringing over some necessities today," Lessa said. Then she paused and looked around. "It could also use a good scrubbing. Come with me, and I'll get you situated."

Robinton caught the Harper woman Menolly making a wide-eyed horrified look at him, before she flashed him a smile. He wasn't sure if she was laughing at, or providing sympathy over, the Weyrwoman's sudden implication that they were going to help her scrub the place down. He blinked, quirked an eyebrow at her, and rose to follow the diminutive Weyrwoman out of the room. F'lon caught on that they were supposed to be leaving, bowed to the other men in the room, and scrambled after.

Lessa gave them a quick tour of the cot hold; one room was being somewhat used for storage at one end of it, but there would be enough room to fit F'lon and Robinton and a bed or two into it, presumably, and, proving Robinton's theory correct, Lessa found some cleaning supplies and brooms, before abandoning them in the room that would become their sleeping quarters once cleaned out.

"I think this is punishment for being so crass as to travel between times drunk," F'lon said, while picking up a broom and looking at it as if he didn't quite know what to do with it.

"Indeed. Do you need me to show you how to use that?"

F'lon swiftly swung the broom around to hit Robinton with the straw end of it, but the Harper dodged easily. "I was a weyrling once--believe me, I'm a Master at wielding brooms!"

"Well then, Mastersweeper, you do what you know best. I'm going to see if I can organize some of this stuff so we can actually fit some sort of sleeping accommodations in here once someone brings them in."

"I'll laugh when you get everything all arranged perfectly to move a bed in here and they come back with sleeping bags," F'lon told him.

Robinton made a face. "Shush. Get to work."

"Since when does a mere Harper Journeyman tell the Mastersweeper what to do?" F'lon intoned imperiously. But he wasn't as good of an actor as Robinton, and his facade quickly broke and the two young men began laughing wildly for a long while. "Oh boy. This is going to be interesting," F'lon said, wiping tears from his eyes. Then he caught Robinton's gaze again, and they both broke into laughter again. The jokes weren't all that funny, but it perhaps eased the tension they felt at being in such a strange situation. "Alright, alright. Let's get this stuff sorted first. I won't be able to sweep until it's out of the way anyway."

"As the Mastersweeper commands," Robinton said snidely. This time F'lon's swat with the broom connected.

#

Author's Notes:

Again, to re-iterate...apologies for the delay in posting this! Original post below:

I've just uploaded chapter 9 to ff.net, and I see that I forgot to put italics in and post chapters 5-8 here. I promise to take a moment to do this tomorrow, for chapters 5-9 (have to run to the store tonight before it closes!). In the meantime, as always, it's up on fanfiction.net.
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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 1 2008 at 03:01 AM. Reason: Added chapter 6.
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