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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Dragonriders of Pern series was created by Ann McCaffrey in 1967 and spans 24+ books published by Ballantine Books, Atheneum Books, Bantam Books, and Del Rey Books.  Any recognizable content in this story is from Ann McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Gigi McCaffrey or their representatives or inheritors.  Original content provided by author of this FanFiction story without monetary compensation.

The Rider's Pride - 13. Chapter 13

Gorenth says we are to bring your father to Fort Weyr. Liliath told J’shon as Pern’s sun sat behind the western seas. They, along with riders from every Weyr on Pern had strung out in a North/South search pattern to the East of Fort, trying to see if they had missed the First Fall of Thread that had been expected.Each Weyr is to redouble their sweepriding in case Thread has fallen elsewehere.No sign of Thread has been reported.Why is that? Will Thread not come?We are to fight it, but how do we fight it when we cannot find it?

That is why we bring father to the Weyrleaders. J’shon answered her, projecting as much calm as he could.She was getting frantic the more she thought about how Thread had not fallen where it was supposed to fall.The Ancient charts were supposed to have been accurate; the records in the Weyrs had been accurate every other time Thread fell.Why weren’t they accurate now?

With care he pictured Whitestone Hold in his mind. It would be night there, but Belior was just rising and Timor would be in the southern sky by now.Placing the position of Pern’s two moons in his mind, he gave Liliath the picture and told her to take them between. As cold as the air above Fort had been, between was colder yet, and his teeth started to chatter when they came out of between just above Whitestone.He silently thanked his father for teaching him to learn and understand the patterns of the moon and stars as they whirled above them at night.

Kapian had said many Master Fishermen used the stars to travel at night, checking their positions more surely than they could with the sun.Kapian had learned a little of that craft as a young boy while his father, the Master Harper Crivan was assigned to a Sea Hold.Father said he’d had a good friend there, who was now the Master Fisherman. Crivan and Kapian had returned to Harper Hall after that for four full turns before taking Kapian to Fort Weyr for another turn.It was after that turn that Kapian had devoted himself to copying and studying old records in Harper Hall until he decided to leave the Hall, and turn in his Journeyman rank for status as a Holder.He’d met Serece in Keroon, and from there proceeded to charm Lord Bisal until the Lord Holder gave him a grant for a hold in the middle of the plains, against all tradition.

Under the light of the two moons, he was able to make out how much the Hold had improved since his last visit. No plants grew within a dragonlength of the Hold, and a set of drums was easily visible under a protective stone alcove on the roof of the hold.Light shone from many of the windows on the first floor, and even a few on the second.

Let them know we’re here, love. J’shon thought to his green dragon, who lifted her head in a warm bugle as they spiraled in for a landing. He was glad for the lessons from D’kov in how to go between to a place you knew, but couldn’t get exactly perfect. For tonight, if he’d tried to put lights in specific windows, he might have gotten it wrong and never come out of between. Instead he’d focused on the positions of the two moons and the major constellations in the night sky, with the hills and plains below them, and the shadow of Whitestone on the ground.That had been enough, and he was here, safe as Liliath landed. Unhooking his straps, he slid down her side, patted her shoulders and walked towards the nearby ramp that led to the Hold’s interests.

“What’s your business here, dragonrider?” One of the two men who had come out of the Hold’s doors asked him and J’shon stared at them.He knew neither of them, and he shuddered as he realized the gulf that had opened between him and his family. Out on the plains, it had been them and a few other families, but here, by last accounts, his father ran a Hold that had almost two hundred people and was likely to double in size by the end of the next turn.

“I am here to see Holder Kapian.” J’shon said formally, deciding that it was best to approach his father as dragonrider first, and son second.Still, he knew why he’d been sent for his father. Kapian had tried to warn Hall and Weyr something might be wrong with Threadfall, and they’d dismissed him out of hand because Kapian had been wrong about Thread not falling at all, or had he?

“It is night time, rider.” One of the guards said sourly.“Bother him in the morning. You’re Igen, and your Weyr has done enough to insult him lately.”

“How dare you say that!” J’shon nearly shouted in outrage.

“It’s true, isn’t it?” The second guard, for that was what they were with their long belt knives and stout apparel. “Them and the Harpers have shunned him even after he admitted he was wrong.Harper Crivan was furious, even though the good Holder acted like it didn’t matter.Holder Kapian’s a good man. He’s given us a second chance, dragonrider, and not many of his kind do that for the likes of us. So, shove off with your little green girl and come back at a decent hour.”

Why are they so rude? Liliath asked in an agitated tone, feeding off of her rider’s disturbed mental state.

“Fine, I’ll leave.” J’shon said with an evil thought.“Be sure to tell Holder Kapian that his son, J’shon, rider of green Liliath is saddened to hear that he is no longer welcome at his father’s hearth.”

“Now wait a minute!” The first guard shouted as J’shon turned to leave.The guard’s voice was agitated.“Shards, why didn’t you say you were that boy of his that Impressed a dragon?”

“There are two of Kapian’s sons in the Weyr.” J’shon said indignantly as he turned on his heel and glared at the two guards. “If our father will turn away dragonriders in the middle of the night because his ego is bruised, he’ll have no sons in the Weyr!We shall disclaim our relation to him!”

“Hold a moment, lad.” The second guard said in a smooth tone.He felt worried though, and J’shon’s ire faded to amusement.“We were just trying to protect our Holder. We like him, and we don’t like him being shunned by the Weyr. A bronze rider came here days ago and chastised him in his own hall for ‘misusing’ the privileges he’d been given and for abusing the Harper Hall, not that we believe he did that.”

“Who was the bronze rider?” J’shon’s voice was edgy again, and he was mad now, but not at these two louts, who it seemed, were only trying to look out for his father.

“I don’t rightly know, lad.” The first guard said. “He had Fort’s knots on him though.”

“Do you see Fort’s on my shoulder?” J’shon asked sharply and both shook their heads, only slightly sullen. “Try this again, and you two will live to regret it.”

“Ock, lad, we were just thinking the Weyr was insulting him, calling him out at night and sending just a green dragon to escort him.” The first guard said defensively as the second tried to shush him. At least one of them had some sense.

“I am a mere green rider, am I?” J’shon was angry. “Tell me, when Thread falls in the sky will you care if it is a green or a bronze that flames it before it can consume you?”

“You’re right, rider, we should be more respectful.” The second guard said quickly with an honest look in his eyes before he bowed quickly.J’shon relaxed a bit after the first guard also bowed.

“Take me to my father, man.” J’shon said, suddenly impatient.“He has been summoned to meet with the Weyrleaders of every Weyr on Pern!”

Both guards mouth’s dropped open and the first one had bug eyes for a moment before the second one bowed again and turned to lead J’shon into the hold.He set a brisk pace, but J’shon still saw how much different Whitestone looked. Now it looked like a hold, cared for and happy.Glows lit the hallways, and the guard led him to a large, central room that fit about forty people and another twenty or so older children, all sitting in a loose half-circle. Facing them was Crivan, Kapian, J’shon’s sister Larana, and two people he didn’t know. They were singing a lively tune from High Reaches, and he realized why they had not heard Liliath’s bugle. Together they made a pleasing sound that filled the room with both happiness and camaraderie.

“J’shon!” Larana cried when she saw him, and ran through the circle of holders to hug her brother. The song ended rather peremptorily at that point, and both Crivan and Kapian made their way through the crowd to him. His mother joined them, as did his brothers, and he bit back a gulp of nervousness at the attentive audience behind them.

“What brings you here son?” Kapian said in a neutral tone.

“Am I not welcome?” J’shon said, still defensive from his altercation with the guards, and the one who had escorted him shifted his feet nervously.

“My sons are always welcome in my Hold.” Kapian said in a loud voice and looked at the guard with a penetrating glance.

“The drums have passed the word across Pern that Thread would be falling at Fort today.” Crivan said as he put a hand on his son’s arm.Kapian settled down at the touch, and J’shon also found he was growing calmer. “They messaged that a wing from every Weyr was to fly Thread today.We assumed you’d be up there with Weyrleader H’mal’s wing.”

“I was.” J’shon said. “We rose to meet Thread as planned.”

“You don’t smell of firestone the way I’d expect after flying Thread.” Kapian said sharply.

“We rose to meet it, but Thread did not fall.” J’shon said, and regretted saying it where so many people heard, from the gasps in the room.

“Thread is not coming?” Shouted several throats and several people began laughing. J’shon’s cheeks wanted to burn in shame, but they didn’t through a supreme effort of will on his part.

“Order!” Kapian shouted and the room quieted. He gave J’shon a long, penetrating look and then nodded for his son to continue.

“The Weyrleaders are meeting at Fort Weyr and sent me to ask you to attend them.” J’shon said, embellishing his mission a little.His father had been right this last time, and deserved that respect, even if it had not been necessarily a part of his orders.

“I will get my flying gear.” Kapian said without hesitation and J’shon sagged in relief.He was still cold, although the warmth in the room was finally starting to seep into him. “Bevan, you know what needs to be done on the morrow.”

“I will come as well.” Crivan said in a soft, but undeniable tone.J’shon nodded.Liliath could take both, and he had the necessary safety straps for both men. One of his roles as a maneuverable green rider was to ‘save’ another rider if he fell from his dragon during a Fall.

“Bring some klah for my son!” Serece called out and smiled at her son as a mug of the warm drink was brought forward. As he sipped the warm drink and waited for his father and grandfather, he was grateful for his mother because she fended off any awkward questions by asking about K’mer.“How is your brother fairing?”

“He’s doing well.” J’shon murmured. “The Weyr has been busy the last few days, but we’ve seen each other a bit.He’s tired, like all of us, but he’s happy.”

“What about the others, your friends A’toly and B’rrel?” She asked.

“What about Pinath and Ramina?” Larana asked excitedly, and J’shon found himself laughing with his mother.

“We’re ready, son.” Kapian said at that point, and J’shon turned to see his father and grandfather both with their flying gear on and ready to go.Minutes later, they were on Liliath, and J’shon was glad his father wasn’t the type of man to pummel him with questions he could not answer.Both men held tight as Liliath leaped into air, and J’shon drew his mental picture of Fort again.He pictured a spot out to sea, with the land to his right and the moons and stars in the right positions.After checking it twice, he signaled Liliath and Whitestone was long gone as they appeared a few seconds later, high above the sea with Fort to their right. Liliath swung in a gentle turn, and pumped her wings to deliver them there as quickly as possible.

All three slid down the sides of Liliath right after she landed near the stairs leading to Fort’s Council Chambers. A hulking brown rider stood at the foot of the steps in the light spilled by a fresh glow. He didn’t say anything as Kapian and Crivan passed him, but he put a hand on J’shon’s shoulder, stopping him from following his father and grandfather.

“Sorry lad.” The older rider said firmly. “The Weyrleaders left instructions that just the Holder was to pass.You can get a fresh mug of klah, and some soup from the night pot in the Lower Caverns.”

“You let my grandfather pass.” J’shon complained.

“I’m not going to stop a Master Harper from entering.” The rider said firmly.J’shon sighed, let his shoulders slump and turned to head to the Lower Caverns.

“Tell your dragon she can rest in the first lower level weyr near the Caverns!” The rider called out before he’d gone more than a few paces.“The heat’s been turned on in there for her.”

“Thanks.” J’shon called back bitterly. He would have preferred to know what was being said in the Council Chambers.

It would be nice to warm up. Liliath said softly as she headed into the referenced weyr while J’shon entered the Lower Caverns of Pern’s first Weyr. It was certainly different than what he was accustomed to at Igen.Here the Lower Caverns were carved in a way that seemed almost magical. The walls and floors were smooth, not the rougher rock like he knew from Igen. Intricate decorative patterns were carved into the rock by techniques long lost on Pern.He found the pot of klah, and poured a mug while filling a bowl of soup from the night kettle.It was a decent wherry-based soup, and he could still see some of the bones of the creature simmering in the pot. It had a good flavor, and he found himself grabbing a second bowl in the nearly deserted cavern.

“You’re the rider from Igen that brought in the Holder, right?” A handsome young man said as J’shon finished off the second bowl and considered grabbing a third. He tried to speak to Liliath real quick to ask her who the rider might be, but she was already asleep in the warm weyr she had been provided.By the man’s shoulder knots he was a Fort blue rider.He was tall, dark-haired, and fairly slender. J’shon guessed he was a turn or two older than himself.

“Yes, I brought in Kapian and Master Harper Crivan.” J’shon said shyly.He’d seen, and even met a few riders from other Weyrs, but never this informally. “I’m J’shon, rider of Liliath.”

“N’faren, rider of Stentath.” The blue rider said with a smile and sat down.J’shon noticed he’d had a mug of klah in his hand, and the blue rider set it down on the table.“Everyone’s talking about today and they say Kapian may have an explanation. Do you know him well?Doesn’t he have two sons at Igen?”

“Yes, I know him well.” J’shon said with a smile. “And he does have two sons at Igen. One’s a brown rider, the other is a green rider.”

“Ah, so you are his son!” The man said with a smile.B’rtal, he’s my wingleader, thought you might be him since he seemed to remember one of the sons was a green rider, but he sent me over to ask.”

“Here I was thinking it was my good looks.” J’shon said jokingly, and felt a surge of surprise. He was flirting with the strange blue rider like he’d seen other green riders at Igen flirt with other riders. But he wasn’t…

“My apologies, green rider.” N’faren said with a pleasant smile.“I’ll stop by Igen with an apology gift as soon as I find one fair enough for you.”

“That, uh, um, it’s not necessary.” J’shon stammered, feeling his cheeks blush.N’faren laughed a little more.

“Seriously, everyone is dying to hear an answer as to why Thread didn’t fall today.” N’faren got back to the reason he came over. “Can you tell us anything?”

“They wouldn’t let me in there.” J’shon said cautiously.

“But you have to know something?” N’faren nearly whined.“Please, come sit with us and tell us what you do know.Here, I’ll fill your mug with more klah.”

J’shon moved to the other table, which had about ten riders sitting at it, and introductions were quickly made before B’rtal, an older rider in his fiftieth turn got around to digging out everything J’shon knew about why his father might have been summoned. When they’d heard all he knew, they spent some time speculating on what could be happening.All of them were reassured when J’shon repeatedly assured them that his father still believed Thread would fall in this Pass.

“I was an apprentice Healer when I was searched.” N’faren said as the blue rider walked him to the weyr where Liliath was still sleeping.It was on the ground level, and usually used for convalescing dragons that had been injured. “Now I help the weyrwomen when dragons are injured as well as fly in my wing.”

“That must take a lot of doing.” J’shon said with a shudder.He remembered the awful sounds a dragon could make when it was hurt. Usually it took a gold dragon to calm the injured dragon down enough so that his injuries could be tended.

“It has its rewards.” N’faren said with a friendly smile as they reached the guest weyr.He looked like he wanted to say more, and J’shon found that watching N’faren’s back wasn’t nearly as interesting as looking at his handsome face. The thought disturbed him a bit as he paused to make sure Liliath was comfortable.He shoved the uncomfortable part of the feelings aside and decided that maybe he was just finally accepting what it meant to be a green rider. As he settled into the guest bed with its warm sleeping furs, he closed his eyes and dreamed of what it might be like for the handsome N’faren’s blue Stentath to fly Liliath the next time she flew.

I hunger.Liliath said the next morning as soon as she sensed J’shon was awake.Her hunger did not surprise him.She had been in the air for a long time, even if they didn’t fly Thread.

Is there word from Goreth? He asked her, referring to the Weyrleader’s dragon.

His rider sleeps in the next weyr.She told him. His rider was up until almost dawn.We are to fly back when he wakes, but that could be for several more hours.

Let me find someone from Fort to talk to about your hunger. He said as he got out of bed and put on his riding leathers from yesterday.Her last comment held an edge of a whine to it, which meant she was very hungry indeed. As he entered the front area of the small weyr, he saw her sitting on her couch, with eyes that whirled with a bit of red, showing her hunger.Her color was off as well.

“J’shon, you awake in there?” The familiar voice of N’faren called out from the entry.

“Come in, N’faren.” J’shon said with a sigh of relief.He could ask the blue rider.

“I brought some oil in case you needed it.” N’faren said as he entered, holding a pot of oil and wearing a smile on his face. J’shon blushed as he remembered his dreams from the night before, but he returned the blue rider’s smile.

“Thanks, but what she really needs is to eat.” J’shon said as he took the pot.Their hands touched for a moment longer than was necessary, and N’faren smiled a little wider.

“Just a moment.” The blue rider said and his face went slack for a second while he conferred with his dragon.“As long as she doesn’t gorge herself, she’s more than welcome to feed here.”

“Thank you.” J’shon said as Liliath rumbled off the couch and brushed past them.J’shon followed her outside, with N’faren right behind him and they were in time to see her stoop into a dive, bringing up a screaming, fat wherry as she pulled back up.She flew a few dozen feet to another part of the bowl and began to tear into the now-dead bird.

“She sure makes short work of eating.” N’faren said with a laugh.

Chew it, dear. J’shon reminded her in a refrain that was something he’d been saying from the moment they were Impressed.“I’ve been trying to get her to chew her food since the first time she ate. Liliath believes the only time she should have to chew is when she’s eating firestone.”

“She’s a fine dragon.” N’faren said in a voice that made J’shon want to shiver, and he purposely didn’t look at the rider.

“Thank you.” J’shon said softly.

“Are you hungry?” N’faren asked. “Morning meal is being served just about now.You’re welcome to sit with my wing while you wait for your Weyrleader.All the Weyrleaders ended up staying last night, as did your father and the Harper.He’s your grandfather, right?”

“That’s right.” J’shon agreed. “Let me put this pot away and I’ll join you.She likes to be oiled after she eats.”

“Sounds like a fine plan.” N’faren said gently.

As well as being older, Fort was also a bigger Weyr than Igen.There were over four hundred riders in the Lower Caverns, eating their morning meal. The Cavern hummed with conversation, and J’shon was very glad of N’faren’s company or else he’d have been too shy to enter the Cavern.N’faren’s Wingleader welcomed J’shon to their table.It was an enjoyable meal, with no mention of his father and grandfather, although there was to be an announcement by the Fort Weyrleader later that day.

After his meal, and hers, J’shon went back to their temporary weyr to oil a few rough patches on Liliath’s hide. He had just finished when Goreth relayed a message to her that they were to return to Igen.A Fort dragon would return his father and grandfather to Whitestone.

In the end, they took to the air in the company of N’faren, who had been assigned to return his father and grandfather later in the day.They stopped by Whitestone first, where they stayed in the air just long enough for N’faren to memorize the coordinates before J’shon headed back to Igen and N’faren back to Fort. Igen was quiet, with most of the riders gathered in the Lower Caverns, waiting for news on what was happening. J’shon was immediately pelted with questions, but K’mer and B’rrel formed up on either side of him to fend off the worst of the questions, and D’kov and S’flin joined in when the two younger riders were almost overwhelmed.J’shon ended up fleeing the Lower Caverns and heading to the weyr he shared with B’rrel.

By late-morning, H’mal had returned on Goreth, and the entire Weyr assembled in the bowl to hear his words.

“With the help of Harper Hall and Holder Kapian, we have determined why Thread did not fall as expected.” H’mal said as he stood before his Weyr.J’shon was in the front rank, along with all the other riders of H’mal’s wing.“As with so many other things, as our ancestors fought against the depredations of Thread, many of their secrets died with them.Among those was the study of our skies.

“Our Master fishermen still keep some elements of studying the stars alive today.They use it for navigating, even as some of us use it for when we travel between at night.Once, our ancestors understood more.It was they who established the Star Stones so we would know when the Red Star passes close enough for Thread to travel to Pern.

When man came to Pern, he established a good hold in the South, but moved north to shield.” H’mal quoted one of the oldest passages of the oldest of records now known to Pern.There was silence at that, and J’shon figured what the next words would be out of the Weyrleader’s mouth.He wasn’t to be disappointed. “Many believe that man once crossed the stars to come here, to this planet we call our home. Legend says, and I believe, that when they came here they did not know of Thread.When Thread fell, legend says they created our dragons from the little fire-lizards of legend. If we believe they came across the stars to Pern, then it is not impossible to believe they could create our magnificent dragons from such little creatures.

“The same legends say that Thread took them by surprise, and many things were lost in those early days. We have preserved what could be preserved, but what we know from the legends is that even as we are not perfect, so too our ancestors were not perfect.Yesterday was an example of both our own imperfections, and the imperfections of our ancestors.

“For all their knowledge, they never anticipated the Long Interval which graced this world many centuries ago. The Star Stones were built without foreknowledge of such an occurrence. Thanks to Harper Hall, the records of Fort Weyr, and the studies of Holder Kapian, we know what mistakes we made.

“The Star Stones were built to show Thread was coming when, at the Winter Solstice, the sun rose over the Finger Rock and the Red Star was bracketed in the Dragon’s Eye. The Red Star was only to be bracketed in the Dragon’s Eye at that one time, but we saw it bracketed during the summer, and it has stayed there ever since!

“Records from the Third Pass indicate that something similar occurred towards the end of the fifty-turn Pass. The Red Star was not bracketed, but slowed in its progress across the Star Stones, and when it did the pattern of Threadfall also changed.Charts that were, until then, always accurate as to when and where Thread fell suddenly were useless.Thread which normally fell every third day fell every two days, or sometimes every day in different parts of Pern.Other times it fell four days apart, and many times it fell in unusually light, or very heavy falls.

“We believe now, thanks to a night of long study and review, that we will see the correct bracketing of the Red Star at this next Winter Solstice, now just four months away. Thread will fall after that, and it will fall in unusual, unpredictable patterns. Between then and now, it is our task to prepare better, and to ensure all of Pern stands ready.”

That was the end of the speech, and the assembled dragons and riders let out a cheer, but J’shon felt slightly hollow inside. How would the holders react? Would the Lord Holders believe them when they had all been wrong, or would they believe this a trick of the Weyr to maintain a dominance they did not enjoy during an Interval?

“Those aren’t our concerns.” K’mer said later that afternoon as they sat in J’shon’s weyr with B’rrel, once again dealing out cards. “Those concerns are for the Weyrleaders and people like our father, and our grandfather. If they don’t believe, and Thread falls, they will believe then.”

“That’s right.” B’rrel agreed with a nod of his head.“The moment Thread touches one of their fields, or a bush above their Hold, they’ll be screaming bloody murder for having a dragonrider at hand.”

The next few sevendays proved that both B’rrel and K’mer were right.With H’mal’s wing, J’shon flew to every major and most minor holds to spread the story of what happened and what was to be expected.Most Lord Holders took it in stride, voicing their continued support for the Weyr. Their Harpers had been spending the days since Thread did not fall as predicted softening them up to the new situation.Minor holders were a mixed bunch as far as reaction.None were exactly happy, but most were trying to deal with a very bad beginning to winter.

Snow came early to the northern parts of Pern, and people were given another reason to be thankful for having dragons around. Sweepriders from High Reaches, Telgar, and Benden Weyrs rescued hundreds of travelers caught by surprise in the early storms.Ista’s dragonriders rescued several fishing crews whose ships were severely damaged by wild storms in the seas, and after a groundquake damaged several homes in southern Keroon, riders from Igen Weyr flew to their aid with valuable supplies and assistance in digging people out from collapsed holds or mines.

K’mer and J’shon also helped several herders recover their herdbeasts and runners that had stampeded during the quake. Dragons proved excellent at guiding the herds back to their owners, and a month later tithing trains appeared at the weyr with full tithes from all the holds that looked to Igen Weyr. With few exceptions, these events reminded holders and craft halls alike that the Weyrs did more than fight Thread.

It was an afternoon in the middle of the tenth month that J’shon collapsed wearily onto the couch in his shared weyr. B’rrel was out with his new wing, having officially graduated from being a Weyrling. While K’mer had been transferred officially following his sixteenth birthing day back to H’mal’s wing, B’rrel had been assigned to the newest wing of Igen.P’lin, a dragonrider several turns short of thirty had been made the Wingleader of his own wing after his Sammath managed to catch Pinath on her first mating flight. H’mal had declared that the open flight for Pinath would result in the formation of a new Wing, and whoever’s dragon flew Igen’s third queen earned the Wingleader position of that new Wing.

Four brave browns rose in that spectacular mating flight.Every morning, Ramina had asked J’shon if the timing had changed, and he figured out why when he saw her repeatedly eyeing the red-haired P’lin. J’shon had won six marks betting on the results of that mating flight, this time for guessing that it would be P’lin’s Sammath who flew Pinath.

Even as he lay on his couch and watched Liliath curl up on her perch before going right to sleep, J’shon hoped that B’rrel would return with at least a little energy.Seeing his dragon already asleep in their warm weyr, for it had been a cold day of flying over Lemos, J’shon chucked off his riding gear and moved to his own room before crawling under his warm furs and slipping into his own nap. His hopes were answered when Liliath woke him several hours later.

B’rrel is back. She said, waking him up.Most dragons didn’t regularly name other riders, normally they just would say something like ‘Ojeth’s rider is here’, but lately Liliath had been naming B’rrel directly. She’d reached her full growth of twenty-six meters, and according to those who knew more about dragons, had reached her full maturity.Whatever the reason for her now naming B’rrel directly, she also named K’mer the same way.

I’m getting up. He moaned and she chuckled softly, knowing how he hated getting up out of warm furs into the cooler room.Despite whatever ancient methods had been installed in Igen long ago to keep air flowing and warm air moving around, weyrs like his often grew chilly in the winter months.The nap had refreshed him after a day of flying in cold winds that seemed to buffet man and dragon alike.

“Are you ready yet?” B’rrel’s voice called out a few moments later as J’shon had donned half his riding gear.He’d already packed a travel bag with a change of clothes.

“Just about!” J’shon shouted back and hurried up as he donned the heavy winter riding jacket.

“It’s almost sunset already so it’ll be dark there by now!” B’rrel yelled back as J’shon grabbed the last of his stuff and headed out into the main room.

“Let’s get a move on!” B’rrel said with an impish grin.

“You’d think it was your birthing day!” J’shon teased his best friend.

“Yeah, well I’ve never spent a night outside the Weyr before.” B’rrel said and J’shon’s face went slack with surprise. He’d never known that and he thought that by now he knew most everything about B’rrel.

Do you need anything before we leave, love? J’shon asked Liliath who was stretching from her nap.

There better be a warm place for me to sleep.She complained. Dragons didn’t really feel the cold, mostly because they were so warm-blooded, but she liked to pretend that she did.

Father says he has something fixed up nice and warm for you. J’shon replied and she sighed before letting him fix the riding straps on her.Once both young riders were mounted, they smiled at each other and nodded. Moving in unison, with wings folded along their backs, the brown and green dragons ran several steps before leaping off their ledge, unfolding their wings in unison and took to the air.It made an impressive sight, especially for the newest batch of weyrlings who were doing Ground Drills below them.Old T’pern was running the weyrlings through their drills and looked up with annoyance as the display by the two riders distracted his weyrlings. His bronze, Kerinadeth was sound asleep, or he’d be bugling a reprimand, and the blue watch dragon was busy laughing with his rider at the display.Liliath and Ojeth loved to do this maneuver as it displayed their ability to work together very well.

Sharth says we are show-offs. Liliath chuckled as K’mer joined them in the air with his brown Sharth.They moved into a familiar formation that they used when it was just the three of them. Liliath was in the lead with the two browns on either side, proud males escorting their little sister, or at least that was how J’shon saw them when they flew like this. D’kov had made a joke one time about it being two jealous lovers pursuing the object of their affection, and earned a swat across the head for his trouble.

It was actually four swats, one each from S’flin, J’shon, B’rrel, and K’mer.

As was his usual practice, J’shon used the image of the correct positions of Pern’s two moons as the focus of his image for the journey between to Whitestone.When they appeared above the Hold he was glad he’d used the moons because there was a light dusting of snow on the ground around and above the brightly lit hold. While the dragons glided in for a landing in front of the Hold, his father led his family out to the top of the ramp. As soon as they were landed, his family swarmed around the three dragons.

“Bevan, show the dragons the new weyr we built for them!” Kapian said after they had dismounted and gone through the usual hugs and backslaps.J’shon begged off to see the accommodations and was surprised at the large stone building along the western side of the hold.It was big enough to house four decent-sized dragons, and had large doors that the dragons easily fit through.Two fireplaces, one on each end kept it warm.

“When did you build this?” J’shon asked in surprise.

“Well we have two dragonriders for kin, so we thought it only proper for their dragons to have a place to stay if they ever visited for longer than a few hours.” Bevan said with pride.“We thought they’d bring a friend or two, so we built it big enough for them as well. Besides, the Runner station is getting big enough they can use it as an administration building without dragon smell scaring their runners.”

“Good thinking.” K’mer said, slapping their brother on the back.K’mer was now as tall as Bevan, and once again taller than J’shon.All of his brothers, except for his youngest who was now four turns, were now taller than him.

“So the Runners are working out well?” J’shon asked and Bevan nodded.Runners, not to be confused with the runner beasts they rode, were the most reliable form of communication on Pern, and the most accessible to the common holder. They claimed to be the oldest Craft on Pern, and probably were.For a very small fee they would take a message anywhere on Pern. It took longer than drum messages, which were most often restricted to official Hall, Weyr, or Lord Holder business, but they were cheaper and more reliable.Dragons would on occasion take passengers or messages for a fee, but that was usually much more expensive.As Kapian was allowing them shelter and resources from his Hold for their relay station, a portion of every mark earned by the Runners here was paid to him as Holder.

“The income from their tithe is offsetting much of the cost of running the Hold over winter where we’re not planting or selling beasts.” Bevan said as the three dragons examined the building before settling down in the center, Liliath sheltering between the two browns. “Da also has several other operations he’s planning on setting up. Once first planting is done, we’ll be working on building a pier at the river and a small outpost there.It’s a good stopping point for river traffic, and it’s only two hours away traveling by cart, or quicker if you’re riding a runner.”

“Trust Da to figure out all the ways he can to make a profit from this place.” K’mer said as they closed the doors and headed back to the Hold proper.

“We need it, if we’re not going to end up in debt up to our ears.” Bevan groused.“Already we owe Lord Bisal nearly four hundred marks for his help getting it cleaned and ready for sheltering us.Add to that all the people we’ve taken in so far this winter, and we’ll be lucky if we’re not another hundred marks in debt to the Lord Holder by Spring.”

“You’ve taken people in?” B’rrel asked.

“We’ve barely been touched by all the disasters that have been hitting Keroon.” Bevan said as they walked up the ramp to the Hold. “The big quake shook dust loose a bit, but that was all.Lord Bisal said he’d give us a credit of five marks per head that we took in, but I’ll believe that when it comes time to tithe to him after spring harvest.”

“He’ll keep his word.” J’shon said.

“Well at least there are now three journeymen Beastcrafters here along with Master Rinald.” Bevan said as they entered the main entrance.It was brightly lit, and J’shon was surprised at the bestiary to the right. It was packed with herdbeasts and runners in their neat pens.

“You’ve got more stock there.” K’mer noticed it as well.

“Yes, Lord Bisal sent us stock from some holds where the family didn’t survive the quake.” Bevan said with a sigh. “It’s a strain keeping them fed with our fodder from storage, but at least we can slaughter a few every now and then to feed all the extra people we have here now.”

“Brother, I think you’re looking a gift runner in the mouth.” J’shon said with a laugh for Bevan’s sour expression. The man could make Gather feast look like a bad thing.

“So do you approve of the lodgings for the dragons?” Kapian asked as they entered the residence section of the first floor of the hold.

“Absolutely.” B’rrel said with a smile.

“Well I’m glad to hear that.” Kapian said with a smile.“We rushed to get it ready for tonight, but all these extra hands we’ve got now came in handy. Several of them are crafters of one type or another and are already proving their weight in marks saved. I’m hoping that come spring we can convince most of them to stay.If they do, we’ll be one of the most prosperous holds in Keroon by mid-summer instead of two or three turns!’

“How many people do you have here now?” B’rrel asked with real curiosity.

“There are fifty-five permanent holders and their families in the Hold proper.” Serece said from where she stood near Kapian. “The Runners have a group of about ten people here full-time, and we might host three or four more a night depending on the flow of their craft.We’re hosting another hundred and forty refugees from the groundquake.”

“That’s a lot of people.” K’mer remarked.

“It is, but even the refugees are doing their part to make things work.” Kapian said with a shrug.

“Let me show you around so you can see all the wonderful things.” Serece said, taking J’shon by the arm and leading him and the other riders further into the Hold.The ground floor was mostly work spaces and offices. The large kitchens in the rear of the hold were fully working now, and J’shon’s mouth watered at the smells coming from there. The large dining hall that had once seemed too big was now crowded with tables being set by a horde of children of various ages, and J’shon wondered how Crivan was handling the teaching classes.

“Crivan is delighted that we now have our own Journeyman Harper to help him with that lot.” Serece said with a little laugh. “I can’t help as much anymore, there’s far too much to be done and the women would be unorganized if I didn’t keep them in line.”

Most of the second floor was living quarters for the refugees and their families.Along the east side of that floor was a long workroom filled with several large looms that had been restored to working order. It looked like several rugs and tapestries were in different states of completion, and Serece proudly announced that a Journeywoman Weaver and two apprentices were among the refugees. She’d even talked Kapian into spending several dozen marks on supplies for the looms.Another workshop on that floor was being used by furniture makers who were busy creating furnishings for the Hold.

The third floor was not as occupied, but most of the permanent residents had rooms on that floor. On the fourth floor were rooms for their immediate family and the families that had lived with them in the middle of the plains for the past seven turns.Both Bevan and their father had offices moved up here, and ran the hold from up here. A stair access led up to the roof and the drums set up there for relaying messages. Unless there was an emergency, they were largely silent at night.

The hold was settling down for dinner, with all three dragonriders at the head table, a position they were unused to holding. At Igen, they were junior riders, and none of them were ever likely to sit at the Weyr’s high table with the Weyrleader, Weyrwomen, and Wingleaders.Here, though, being dragonriders was enough to give them a seat at the high table, even if J’shon and K’mer weren’t sons of the Holder.

Stentath is here. Liliath said smugly from her warm building outside. J’shon reacted with surprise, as did the two other riders, and he could see the frown on B’rrel’s face. The handsome blue rider had visited Igen twice since that night they’d met at Fort Weyr, and each time B’rrel had suddenly found other things to do. J’shon knew B’rrel was jealous of the blue rider, and he had an idea why, but J’shon also believed the brown rider was being ridiculous. J’shon had no intention of surrendering to the advances of the handsome Fort Weyr blue rider.

“We have another guest, father.” J’shon said to Kapian moments before one of the Hold’s guards escorted the blue rider into the main dining hall.

“Serece, another place at the table, please.” Kapian said softly to his wife as the rider approached.

“Forgive me for dropping in unannounced, Holder Kapian.” N’faren said with a slight bow of his head. “I did not think J’shon would be here until tomorrow. I stopped by Igen to give him a birthing gift, but was told he had already traveled here.”

“Whitestone is always ready to welcome a dragonrider to its table, Rider N’faren.” Kapian said and J’shon remembered the blue rider had taken his father home the morning after that important meeting at Fort Weyr.“Please, we are preparing a place for you.If you have a gift for J’shon, your company is most appreciated.I was unaware he had made friends with riders from other Weyrs.”

“Just the one.” B’rrel said with a hint of resentment in his voice, and there was a long look from Kapian at first J’shon and then the blue rider.Kapian shook his head after a moment, and took a deep breath before smiling again. J’shon wanted to protest it wasn’t like his father was thinking, but he couldn’t find his voice to actually say the words that would broach that topic in his father’s hold.

“B’rrel, you won’t mind if we move you down one seat, would you?” Kapian asked after taking his deep breath and J’shon’s eyes widened.“I’m sure my son’s… friend would be most comfortable next to him.”

“No, of course not, Holder.” B’rrel said before shooting a dark look at J’shon that was not missed by J’shon, Kapian, or a smug-looking N’faren.J’shon had the seat of honor next to his father, and he found his appetite dwindling at sitting between N’faren, and his father who must think N’faren was his son’s… weyrmate.

You have upset B’rrel again, Ojeth says. Liliath’s voice was concerned. Ojeth and Stentath do not like each other and this building is not all that big. Sharth is upset because he has to move so that Ojeth and Stentath do not have to sit near each other.I do not like this.

I don’t like it either, love. J’shon replied with a sigh, trying to ignore the smile on N’faren’s handsome face, the frown on B’rrel’s, the look of suppressed mirth on K’mer’s face, bewilderment on both of his older brothers, the appraising look his mother was giving N’faren as if attempting to discern if he was good enough for her son, and the look on his father’s face as if he smelled something slightly odious and could not dislodge whatever was creating that odor.

No love, I don’t like it either, but maybe in the morning it will all be something we can laugh at together.

It better be. Liliath said with a mental snort, and J’shon sighed at the mountain of green legumes that was set before him by one of the new drudges.

Where was Thread when you really needed it? It would most definitely be less dangerous than this dinner.

©1967-2022 Ann McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Gigi McCaffrey; All Rights Reserved; Dragonriders of Pern is Copyrighted by Ann McCaffrey and her fine folks. This story belongs to dkstories.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Dragonriders of Pern series was created by Ann McCaffrey in 1967 and spans 24+ books published by Ballantine Books, Atheneum Books, Bantam Books, and Del Rey Books.  Any recognizable content in this story is from Ann McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey, Gigi McCaffrey or their representatives or inheritors.  Original content provided by author of this FanFiction story without monetary compensation.
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