Thread: Fan Fiction: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)
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Old Nov 4 2008, 11:16 AM   #5
D. M. Domini
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Default Re: The Skyboom (v2 - rewrite)

Chapter Five

Master Teslay slowly sat down in his chair after the large dragon that had landed in the courtyard at this strange hour of the night took off, with a passenger load of three. Two of them had been Masters Sebell and Menolly, which was not all that usual, particularly when dragons came calling after sunset. The third, however...

Well. There really was no call for a dead man to be riding around on a dragon, no matter how popular and well-loved he had been during life.

He wished it had been light enough to see their faces, or that he had returned to the guest quarters he was occupying just a little bit earlier. As it were, he'd only heard something through the open window about going between without proper riding gear. Although, come to think of it...that said quite enough, given who one of the speakers had been, and that rich baritone was unmistakable to any musician's ears.

Mater Teslay was of two minds regarding the late Masterharper Robinton; on one hand, there was no denying that he had cared very deeply for the people under his supervision. The Harper Hall had hit heights of popularity that had no precedent in known history during his tenure as Masterharper, and as a result, most everyone in the Hall had prospered. And in person, he was certainly charismatic, well-spoken, and not without a sense of humor, which Teslay thought was critical for men in power to have.

However...he was but a man, and Master Teslay was not sure that the complications of his last legacy for Pern were completely balanced out by the good he had done throughout his life.

This was practically a treasonous viewpoint to have among Harpers, and would get him well shunned among his peers if it ever got out, but Teslay wasn't entirely sure that the Abominators were entirely wrong. This wasn't an ignorant and ill-informed viewpoint; he had been stationed at Landing himself for several turns, and had used the machinery and computers left to them by their ancient ancestors himself. So, he considered himself to have an educated viewpoint, which was more than some people could say.

And, his viewpoint was, you didn't just unleash technological advancements and new ways of thinking upon people without expecting some form of socio-economic backlash greater than a few malcontents. He feared the hidebound and ignorant Abominators were the least of their worries; more disturbing was the possible long-term consequences on their society and planet, which would be paid for by their children's children's children long after everyone currently alive on Pern was dead. The Abominators were mostly driven by fear of the unknown, complicated by the fear of learning. But that didn't mean that there wasn't a grain of truth in their fears.

It was all a rather bit short-sighted of Robinton to have missed these things. And even more so for his Apprentices and effective heirs to keep on the same path, following close on his heels like a canine's litter of puppies, unhesitatingly and unthinkingly.

So it was worrisome to suddenly discover that Masterharper Sebell and the Dragonriders obviously couldn't let well enough alone, and had gone and done some sort of between time stunt to bring Masterharper Robinton back. For how else could the man be walking the planet again?

Teslay rubbed his face and wondered if he was going to get any sleep tonight with thoughts like this running through his head. No, probably not. He might need some klah to help, however.

There was only a single Journeyman whom Teslay was not familiar with in the kitchens when he arrived, but a pot of klah was still warm, so he gave a casual wave to the Journeyman and found himself a mug.

"Did you see that the Masterharper left again?" the Journeyman asked. He was nursing a small bowl of something at one of the tables. "Been in and out of here all day; I wonder what's gone wrong."

"I saw," Teslay said, sugaring his klah liberally. "Did you see who they had with them?"

The Journeyman chuckled. "Nah, already dark, and Canth casts a large shadow."

"Canth," Teslay said, thinking. "Isn't he..."

"Brown, rider is F'nor, the Weyrleader's kin."

"Ah yes. I knew I remembered the name. Must be getting old," Teslay quipped. "The Benden Weyrleader, right?"

"Indeed. Why, have the Fort dragonriders started getting involved in interesting things too?" the man asked with a laugh.

"Oh, that would get Fort Hold's tail in a bunch. They already have us to deal with!" Teslay said.

The Journeyman chuckled. "Very, very true." He tucked into his food.

Swishing a spoon in his mug to dissolve the sugar, Teslay nodded to the other Harper, bid him goodnight, and returned to his quarters.

It was good to know that others had noted the comings and goings of the Masterharper today, but after mulling over the idea of questioning around to gather more information, Teslay abandoned it; if he began probing locally, no matter how subtly, it would get back to Master Sebell or Master Menolly soon enough. And if he wanted to keep an eye on things, he couldn't afford being posted somewhere far away and inaccessible...as a Master he technically had a choice of positions, but in practice it would be trivially easy for the Masterharper to bring pressures to bear should he begin to make a nuisance of himself.

And that wasn't even counting the involvement of the shadow Harpers, and the pressures they could bring to bear merely by sitting in the same room as a man and staring at him.

So he sighed, and decided to start his digging abroad, best as he could. "Sapho?" he queried, looking around his quarters to see where his little blue scrap of a firelizard had stationed himself. "Sapho?"

A chirp, from the floor under the desk. Teslay looked there, and found his firelizard nestled in the velvet inside of his gitar case. "C'mere; I've a task for you."

Sapho was not the biggest or brightest of firelizards, but by dint of repetition and generous helpings of praise and spiced meat rolls, Teslay had trained him to the best of both their abilities, and Sapho had been known to do his assigned tasks better than browns, bronzes, and golds twice his size. Granted, he didn't have the initiative or flexibility of the higher ranking colors if something unexpected happened, but what he did do he did well. It was certainly a point of pride on Teslay's part, and he fancied Sapho was proud of himself too, sometimes.

Teslay held still as the blue firelizard unwound himself and climbed up his outstretched arm. "I've not updated your markings yet, have I?" he told the firelizard as it re-settled itself on his shoulder, noting that the colors for Landing were still visible on the creature's neck. "Ah, well. I'll get that fixed...just not right now. Might help us out a bit. Let me get your harness..."

Teslay had a friend he had made at Landing, a Tailor, who had then bounced around the various major Holds, Crafthalls, and Weyrs, making sure that this or that important or up-and-coming person was dressed to the nines for all the right Gathers. Currently he was at Benden Weyr, creating a commission for one of the junior queenriders.

The note Teslay wrote to his friend was quick; he said that there was an acquaintance he wanted to reestablish contact with, but it had been so long ago since he last saw him that his firelizard had never met the man, and was unable to find him. Blues just weren't quite as savvy as bronzes and golds, you know. He had heard, however, that the man had been to Benden Weyr recently. The man was tall, with blue eyes, and a baritone. Or, "middle-tone" as his friend liked to call it. Oh, and yes, he's a Harper. Was he actually there, or was the gossip wrong?

It was so technically true that it was painful, but Teslay figured it would do the trick. If his friend could confirm there was indeed a Harper there by that description, perhaps Teslay would then be able to find out a bit more about the situation. So he sealed the note with a dab of blue wax and his thumbprint, slipped it into a small carrying tube, and attached it to Sapho's harness. "There we go. Remember Tailor Camolien?" he asked, picturing the Tailor's lean, golden-skinned face and blue eyes. "Tailor Camolien?"

Sapho chirruped after a moment of staring at him, and unfolded his wings.

"Good. Bring this to him. See if he has a message. If so, bring the message back. Understood?"

Sapho made another chirp; Master Teslay hoped it was of confirmation. Either way, the little blue jumped off his shoulder, and went between a foot above the floor.

"And now I wait," he said to himself. He idly cleaned up his desktop of various scattered scores and pen nibs, then took his klah and dragged a wooden chair over to the window. It really was amazing how noise from the courtyard drifted up to the second story, crystal clear. Teslay settled down in the chair, and drunk his warm, sweet klah slowly, sorting through what he knew of the current political climate, and what within it might prompt Benden and the Harper Hall to try to bring The Harper back to work some sort of miracle.

#

Journeyman Camolien typically hated working by the light of glows; it gave everything a greenish or bluish tint, turned subtle colors into sullen ones, and made imperfections appear that weren't actually imperfections. But, he had no choice. This was a nighttime Gather, you see, or so goldrider Tiomandi insisted. Lit by glows, and also some lights rather like the ones at Landing. So the outfit had to look stunning in the sallow light glows provided, no matter that sleep dragged down his eyelids, and he'd jabbed himself so many times with the sharp steel needle that he'd had to resort to wearing a thimble. A thimble! Because he'd managed to stab through the thick calluses on his fingers. He felt like such an Apprentice.

When a familiar little blue firelizard appeared, the Tailor didn't know if he should be relieved or irritated. It was already well past his bedtime, and although the blue landed politely on his table, well away from any of his fabric or scissors or tools, it still represented something Unknown.

"You're Teslay's, aren't you?" Camolien asked the blue. "Bloody workaholic. He needs to learn how to go to bed like a normal man, rather than worrying over things of no consequence to normal people. Really, what do they feed Harpers? Every single one of them a..." And, grumbling to himself, he reached over and stroked the small blue's head, before removing the message from within the tube attached to Sapho's harness.

After reading the letter, he sighed. "And he wants me to do his spying for him. I wonder why?"

The blue chirruped.

"Are you waiting for a reply?" Camolien asked. "Sure he doesn't think I'm going to go running around in the dead of..."

Sapho watched him curiously.

"Of course he does. All right. This means he pulls strings, and gets me into the Harper Hall as a costumer. I'll do it. But I bloody well better be designing frou frou for some girl-Harper before this Turn is out. I better get a Masterpiece out of it too...these goldriders have no imagination! All they want to do is look like one another, except better. How do you get better if you don't try something different? You'd think weyr-women would be more adventurous than hold-women, but nooooo...!"

And with that exclamation, he sighed and got up to putter around his quarters, collecting empty bowls and mugs to bring back to the kitchens.

There were a few weyrfolk and dragonriders eating a late supper in the lower caverns, but to Camolien's eye, nobody that looked like a Harper. Camolien deposited his dishes in the appropriate spot, considered chatting someone up, and decided that really, he was just too grumpy for this. So he immediately changed his mind about helping that silly Harper Teslay, and decided to talk to people on the morrow, when he wasn't as likely to bite their heads off if they said something stupid, or criticize their clothing because they looked like a drunken wher had dressed them.

Sapho appeared in the room, flitted around near the ceiling watching him, and followed him back out when he stalked out again.

Manora was in the hallway of the guest quarters when he returned, escorting two men wherever they needed to be. One was...a visiting dragonrider. He had to do a double take, thinking at first it was the Weyrleader or maybe F'lessan. The other person following the Headwoman was a tall man with hair that really needed to be re-braided again, and, by the red star, he really, really needed some new pants too. Unless, of course, there was some weird youth style going on where your pant legs ended somewhere around your calves. He also had a worn spot going on on his right buttock, which would soon tear open if he managed to snag it on a bench, which would flash his hindquarter to all and sundry. Camolien highly doubted the young man would appreciate that happening. Young men had a lot of pride.

"You need some new pants," Camolien said.

The three of them turned around and looked at him. Camolien looked the one man up and down; he was wearing a rather nice riding jacket, but the pants? The pants looked like he'd borrowed them from his grandfather's old chest. They should be turned into rags by now.

"Excuse me?" the man said.

"He said you need new pants," the dragonrider said. "Isn't this the...third, fourth time someone in the Weaving or Tailoring crafts has told you about this?"

"Oh, you're a hopeless cause?" Camolien asked. "The kind that would wear burlap if it didn't itch so horridly?"

Manora eyed the Harper's pants too. "We can get you something from the stores, R--Harper," she said. "How have you been, Journeyman Camolien? The queenriders have been anxious to see your work."

Camolien almost brandished his oft-punctured fingers, but really, that wasn't something a Journeyman Tailor should be complaining about. So he shrugged. "They should be done in time. Do you really have something in his size in the stores? We don't even make pants that long for the Gather stalls." Then a light dawned...the poor man was wearing Gather pants. One of those poor souls who couldn't afford the custom work, even though their particular body shape demanded it. He patted down his pockets and found a measuring string. Before the man could run away from him (like some folk had been known to do), he did a quick measure from waist to ankle, memorizing the number of knots, and then darted behind him and did a quick measure from hip to hip across the plumpest part of the Harper's buttocks (while dragonrider started to look highly amused), and then around his waist, compensating for the thick riding jacket by subtracting a few knots. "There, you're done. I'll leave them in the lower caverns for you, Manora." He glanced at the Harper's face and complexion. Tanned, blue eyes, brown hair. Earthy. "They'll be green," he said decisively. "Not blue. I'm going to bed now, Manora--let me know if you need everyday wear in more strange sizes...I could use some rest from this finnicky stuff for the goldriders."

Manora laughed lightly. "Alright, Journeyman. Have a good evening."

Camolien tucked his string away, and chanted the song about knots to himself, so he would remember long enough to jot them down once he returned to his quarters. Sapho appeared in the hall again, flying back and forth above him, and followed him. Behind him, Manora and the two men turned down another corridor.

"Gather pants. Poor man was wearing gather pants. Whoever looks after him should be ashamed of themselves!"

#

Author's Notes

Edited to insert chapter. Many many apologies for taking so long; the holiday distracted me. (Stupid real life!) Original text of this post below:

I've updated this on fanfiction.net to add 4 more chapters. I'll add them here when I have a moment to go through and add all the italics, just wanted to make folks aware.

Or you can download the Word doc (my preferred format) at http://www.dmdomini.com/fics/skyboom.doc.
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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 1 2008 at 02:53 AM. Reason: Inserting chapter 5.
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