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    Mawgrim
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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.
Recognized characters/events/plots from Dragonriders of Pern belong to Ann McCaffrey

To the Weyr - 18. Reunited

Kemi sat at the end of the bench and told her story while Jevikel ate. ‘When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the Weyr. i didn’t know where I’d fit in, but as soon as I told them I had beast handling skills, that was it. They never have enough folk volunteering to work with the herdbeasts. After being cooped up in that cheese room for so long, being outdoors was a breath of fresh air. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.’

Jevikel nodded, in between mouthfuls. It was good to know Kemi had settled in well. He still didn’t quite understand how she appeared so much older, when he knew there was only around a Turn between them.

‘After a couple of months I met Sh’ros. Well, I’d caught him looking at me a few times, but he was shy.’ She smiled, as if in reminiscence. ‘The more I talked to him, the more I knew he was the one for me. We didn’t become weyrmates right away, though. Both of us thought we should give it some time.’ She laughed. ‘Little did we know we’d have plenty of time. Has anyone told you about Southern Weyr yet?’

Jevikel couldn’t honestly recall. ‘I don’t think so.’

‘When Ramoth’s first clutch hatched, things were desperate. So the Weyrleader sent all forty-one of the weyrlings to the southern continent, only ten Turns back in time. That’d give the dragons time to grow and mature, ready to fight Thread. We didn’t know that until later, of course. Being part of T’bor’s Wing, Sh’ros had to go. I volunteered, so we could stay together. We were only away four Turns in the end, but that’s why I’m twenty Turns old now. Oh and I had a baby while we were there.’

‘A baby!’ Jevikel almost spat out his mouthful of food. He was aware of Kadin seeming equally surprised, while Lukodan and his two friends tried not to look as if they were listening in, but obviously were.

‘That was two Turns ago, so he’s walking and talking now. They grow up so fast.’ She tucked back a stray strand of hair, making the silver bracelets on her wrist clink together.

It was hard to believe, but he’d heard so many stories of time travel today that something he’d have thought impossible last night now seemed almost normal. And there was no denying that Kemi was a grown woman, rather than the young girl he remembered.

‘So, tell me how it is at Pinnacle. How long has it been for you since I left? I’ve lost track of the Turns.’

‘You left the day the shake happened. That’d be, oh, about halfway through eighth month. Not quite a Turn ago by my reckoning.’

‘It all seems so long ago.’

It would, he supposed. She’d had four Turns to forget all that, to live her life, fall in love and have a baby. ‘There was a lot of damage to the Hold in the shake. And a rock fall. Everyone thought you were buried under it. That you’d died.’

She gasped. ‘No!’

Lukodan and Egevan leaned closer, evidently eager to hear the details.

‘It wasn’t a bad thing. Meant no one went searching for you. We didn’t get told about it until we got back from the hills.’

‘Yeah, we had to act surprised and grieving when we knew you’d got away safely. Then, when the dragons came, we knew for sure you’d made it to the Weyr.’ Kadin added.

’T'sum said he’d given you my map.’

‘I still have it. It helped us to get here, too.’ He’d left it in his pack, or he’d have shown her.

Lukodan leaned forward. ‘So you’re Jevikel’s sister?’ he asked Kemi.

‘That’s right. I had to run away to avoid a marriage I didn’t want. I hoped these two would join me as soon as they could.’

‘The Hold was in a state,’ Jevikel explained. 'And mother was injured in the shake.’ He’d have to tell her of Jemina’s death at some point, but not when there were so many other people around. ‘It felt wrong to leave just then. We helped with the rebuilding, as much as we could. By then, it was too late in the Turn anyway.’

Kemi nodded. ‘I reckoned as much. I hoped they’d pick you up on Search for Ramoth’s clutch, but it was decided to go for older lads that time. No one under sixteen Turns, so they’d be full grown by the time their dragons were ready to fight. We were sent south just after the first battle against Thread. Everyone had known it would be tough, but until then, no one realised how many men and dragons would be out of action after each Fall. With only one hundred and forty four dragons trying to cover the area of six Weyrs, it was our only hope.’

Jevikel hadn’t realised how bad things had been. Like everyone else outside the Weyr, he’d just assumed the dragons would be there for each Fall.

‘But it didn’t work out,’ Lukodan put in. ‘No one foresaw the strain of living in two times at once. It’s even worse for folk who’ve Impressed.’

‘That’s right,’ Kemi agreed, seemingly not bothered by him butting in to her story. ‘So, like I said, we returned after only four Turns, with seventy-two extra dragons. But in the meantime, Lessa had gone back even further, figuring out that if the other Weyrs disappeared, they must have gone somewhere…’

‘Wasn’t that a big risk?’ Kadin asked.

‘Very. But remember, we were desperate. Anyway, thankfully she succeeded and all the other Weyrs came forward.’

‘We knew that part already. It was one of their riders who saved us.’

Jevikel glared at Kadin, but it was too late. Again.

‘Saved you?’

‘We arrived this afternoon, just as Thread was about to fall.’

Kemi put a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide.

’T’rai and Hinarth were on sweep.’ Jevikel was glad he’d remembered that bit of Weyr terminology. ‘They spotted us, swooped down and got us out of there. Otherwise…’ he left unsaid what would have happened.

‘I shall have to thank T’rai, Oldtimer or not. Some of the folk here don’t have a good opinion of them, but they’ve always been polite to me. At least they don’t let their dragons run the condition off our herdbeasts like some other riders I could mention.’

It was good to hear another point of view, but then Kemi had never been one to judge. Jevikel speared another piece of meat with his belt knife. He wasn’t going to let it go to waste, even though he felt as if his belly might burst.

‘How did you two manage to escape, then?’

Kadin’s mouth wasn’t full, so he answered. ‘My mother helped. But it wasn’t too difficult. We were taking supplies up to the caves where we hid your pack. Just kept on going.’

Kemi looked puzzled. ‘Are people living in the caves? Was the damage that bad?’

‘Not at first. Only Vi…’ Kadin checked himself before saying the name. ‘The Holder decided to replace the damaged slates with reeds on the Hold, just as he had on the barns. It wasn’t safe and folk had seen what happened when Thread hit the barn roof.’

Kemi looked shocked again. ‘Shards, but that must have been awful.’

‘Pretty bad.’ Jevikel had managed to gulp down the morsel he’d spiked. ‘It was worse for Kadin. He was out on the hills with the herds.’

‘You were outside, in Threadfall?’ Lukodan leaned forward, as did his two friends. Jevikel noticed quite a few others on the table seemed keen to hear their story, too.

‘I found a cave to shelter in,’ Kadin said, as if it had been the easiest thing in the world.

He hadn’t mentioned Berrand and Jevikel wasn’t going to. Kadin didn’t need reminding of that. He tried to sound casual, as if he hadn’t been scared at all that day. ‘To be honest, dragons catch most of it before it gets to the ground. It was just a tiny little piece that got through to the barn, but that was enough.’

Kadin nodded. ‘The last few months were hard. The weather last Turn made for a bad harvest, then we lost all those supplies when the barn was destroyed.’

‘That explains why you’re both so thin. Even when I arrived here, everyone kept giving me extra food to fatten me up, but it sounds as if it got a lot worse.’

Lukodan passed a platter of tubers down. ‘Have some more of these.’

‘No, honestly, I couldn’t eat anything else.’

‘He’s right,’ Kemi told them. ‘When you don’t have enough food for a long while, your stomach shrinks. If you make him eat any more, he’ll probably throw up.’ She gave a wry smile. ‘I learned that the hard way. It’s best to eat little and often for the first sevenday or so.’

‘What did you get to eat?’ Egevan asked.

'Porridge and watery stew, mostly.’ Kadin grimaced. 'Sometimes there was a bit of meat in it, if we were lucky, but it was mostly tubers and roots. You’d go to bed with your belly trying to touch your backbone.’

‘It was never that bad even when we had rationing here,’ Lukodan put in. ‘Lots of salt fish, though.’ He shuddered. ‘Thought I was going end up looking like one.’

‘Yeah, it wasn’t fun,’ Egevan added. ‘Still, sounds as if you had it a lot worse.’

People began to get up from their seats. ‘Looks like we’ll have to get out ready for the next sitting.’ Lukodan stepped over the bench. ‘Need some help? he asked Jevikel.

‘I’ll manage.’ He was starting to get the hang of manoeuvring with his crutch.

‘We can sit outside,’ Kemi said. ‘It was sunny earlier. Then we can carry on talking.’

There were a lot of people milling around in the corridor, but finally they made it back out into the Bowl. All of the benches were already occupied, but Kemi led them over to a dry piece of ground and sat down there.

‘Your dress will get dirty.’ Jevikel said.

‘It’s only an old thing. We sat on the ground a lot in Southern, so I’m used to it.’

‘I might need a hand to get up again.’ Jevikel lowered himself carefully.

They’d barely settled when another woman, seemingly around the same age as Kemi, strolled over. ‘I wondered where you’d got to when you didn’t meet me straight after dinner. And who’s this with you?’

Kemi smiled. ‘My brother Jevikel and our cousin Kadin. This is my friend, Bavi. We met in the south.’

Bavi looked them over. ‘They’re even skinnier than you were when you got here.’

Bavi certainly couldn’t be called skinny. Jevikel thought ‘round’ was the best way to describe her. Round and bouncy. Even her thick, curly hair seemed to have a life of its own.

‘So what do you lads want to do now you’re at the Weyr?’ she asked.

‘Impress dragons, hopefully.’ Kadin sat next to him, propping him up.

‘Didn’t think they were Searching yet.’

‘They weren’t.’ Jevikel wondered how many times he’d have to explain it. ‘A blue dragon came to our Hold last Turn and said we’d be good candidates, but we had to leave before anyone came to fetch us.’

‘Oh, you’re the ones who got rescued?’

It hadn’t taken very long for word to get around.

‘That’s right,’ Kadin confirmed.

‘Have you been assigned duties yet?’

‘No.’ Jevikel answered. ‘Manora said we’d be on light duties for a bit. I hurt my leg on the way.’

She looked them over. ‘I could do with a couple of extra hands in the laundry now Bralleh’s off to have her baby. I’ll mention it to Manora.’

Although Jevikel wasn’t overly keen, he’d already decided Bavi was friendly. It wouldn’t be so bad working with her, even if what they were doing would have been labelled ‘women’s work’ back at Pinnacle. Maybe that was different at the Weyr, too?

Bavi settled down and began chatting to Kemi. Jevikel lay back on the warm ground. The sun, the food and the events of the day combined to make him sleepy. The sound of voices became more distant as he drifted off.

‘Hey!’ Someone shook his shoulder gently. ‘You don’t want to sleep there all night.’ Lukodan stood over him. ‘Can’t blame you for being tired, but we’d best get inside.’

The sun had slipped beyond the edge of the Bowl. The sky above them was clear and he felt the chill of night in the air. Kadin sat up, yawning and rubbing his eyes.

‘Your sister’s weyrmate came to pick her up. She didn’t want to wake you. Says she’ll try to see you again tomorrow.’

‘Ah, right.’ Jevikel stretched, feeling his body protesting in lots of different places. It would be worse in the morning, after all that running and the frantic scramble onto Hinarth’s neck. He realised he still hadn’t had a chance to tell Kemi about their mother’s death. Although Kemi - like himself - hadn’t really enjoyed much motherly attention from Jemina, it would still be a shock.

Lukodan was talking. ‘…this time of night, folk usually sit around in the dining hall or go back to their sleeping rooms. Can either of you play dragon poker?’

Kadin perked up. ‘We usually favoured dice at the Hold, but I’ve seen it played in…’ he paused. ‘Where I lived before.’

‘It’s easy to pick up. We can explain the rules as we go along.’

Back in the sleeping room there were more introductions. Jevikel felt sure he would’t remember a single name by the morning. His brain felt as if it had reached overload. Although he watched them play a few hands, he wasn’t really retaining much of that either. Kadin must have had beginner’s luck as he won several hands in a row once he’d got the gist of how it worked.

Eventually, everyone got ready to sleep, dimming the glow baskets. Although he’d been tired earlier, now he was lying on a comfortable mattress, in darkness, his mind kept going over the events of the day. Here he was, safe at the Weyr, rather than dead outside it. It had been a close thing.

He woke to the sound of voices and people stirring. For a moment, he felt confused, then as his waking mind began to reassert itself, he remembered where he was. He looked over to Kadin, cocooned in his blankets and snoring softly.

‘We’re on first shift at breakfast,’ Egevan called across. ‘Need to get down there early. It’ll be better next sevenday when we change to second.’

Jevikel leaned over Kadin’s bed. ‘Better wake up if you want breakfast.’

‘Eh, what?’ Kadin’s hair stuck up in all directions and he looked as confused as Jevikel had felt earlier.

‘It’s breakfast time at the Weyr.’

‘The Weyr? Oh, yes.’ Kadin smiled. ‘I was dreaming about flying on a dragon.’

‘Probably because we did yesterday.’

‘No, proper flying. It was brilliant.’

Jevikel didn’t like to think so far ahead. What if they already had enough candidates for Ramoth’s next clutch? At least six of the others sharing their sleeping room wore the white candidate braid in their knots. Maybe they’d have to wait, especially as they hadn’t arrived by the conventional route? He didn’t want to dash Kadin’s hopes, though, so he didn’t say anything.

His ankle hurt as soon as he put weight on it, reminding him of the recent injury. The healer had given him a small pot of numbweed before leaving the infirmary, but to put it on, he’d need to unwind all the wrapping. Probably best to leave it until after eating.

Pinnacle Hold seemed a world away as he finished off a plate of buttery scrambled eggs with crisp strips of smoked meat. As with the evening meal, everything tasted good. He helped himself to another slice of freshly baked bread and sipped the strong, sweet klah, then contemplated trying one of the round orange fruits piled high in a bowl. It fitted well in his hand and he was about to take a bite when Lukodan stopped him.

‘You need to peel that first. The outside’s bitter.’

‘Ah. Thanks. Not seen these before.’

‘They grow in Nerat and down in Southern too.’

Jevikel carefully sliced off the outer layer with his belt knife. The inside was a paler colour and divided easily into segments. It tasted amazing; tart and sweet at the same time. ‘Hey, Kadin. You need to try this.’

‘Oh, an orange. Not had one of those for a few Turns.’ He took one of the segments and popped it in his mouth. ‘Lovely.’

‘I thought you two came from the same place.’

‘We did, most recently,’ Kadin said. ‘My father died and mother took us back to her family Hold.’

It was a common enough story and didn’t place them anywhere in particular. Jevikel ate another piece of orange. He was beginning to feel increasingly comfortable that no matter if they were allowed the chance to Impress a dragon or not, they’d be welcome to stay at the Weyr. Still, it was as well to be cautious a while longer.

‘Best eat up. Second shift’ll be waiting outside.’

Lukodan and the others had finished their food a while ago. After Turns of deliberately eating slowly, to make a meal last as long as possible, Jevikel realised he was going to have to change his ways. It wasn’t necessary here, where food was available all the time.

After breakfast, they went to the baths again and while all the others stripped off and jumped in, Jevikel carefully unwound the bandages. His injured ankle looked swollen compared to the other one and felt slightly warmer. He washed off the old numbweed and reapplied fresh. The pain diminished almost right away. Putting the bandages back on was a bit more tricky. He couldn’t seem to get them tight enough to provide support.

‘Need a hand with that?’ He looked up to see a young man, probably in his early twenties. Like everyone at the Weyr, he appeared healthy and well fed. His lack of a shirt showed off his well-muscled torso and wet hair proved he must just have got out of the baths.

‘Er, thanks.’

‘No problem. My weyrmate got himself scored on the leg a couple of Turns ago, so I’ve had plenty of practice.’ He began to re-roll the bandage with nimble fingers. ‘How did you do that to yourself?’

‘Running.’ Jevikel’s brain began to work. Firstly, the man’s weyrmate was male and he was being perfectly matter-of-fact about it, as if it wasn’t at all an issue. Secondly, Thread hadn’t been falling a couple of Turns ago, not here anyway, so he must be one of the Oldtimers Lukodan had warned about. Thirdly, how were you supposed to tell where someone came from by shoulder knots when he wasn’t even wearing a shirt? ‘Running to the Weyr, actually.’

‘Ah. Were you one of the lads T’rai rescued?’

‘You know T’rai?’

‘We’re in the same Wing, although he’s from High Reaches and I’m from Igen. B’dant of green Jokairth.’ He sat down beside Jevikel. ‘Now, put your foot up on my leg there and I’ll get that ankle strapped up in no time.’

He was wrapping carefully when Kadin jumped out of the pool and ran over, naked and dripping. ‘Is he bothering you?’ he asked Jevikel, clearly concerned.

‘No, just helping.’

B’dant smiled. ‘Don’t worry. I’m only touching his ankle.’ He glanced at Jevikel. ‘Are you two weyrmates?’

Jevikel saw no point in lying. ‘Well, I suppose we would be if we had a weyr.’

Kadin glared at the rider. ‘They warned us about the old lechers in the baths.’

‘Calm down,’ Jevikel assured him. ‘B’dant’s not exactly old and I asked him to help.’

‘My weyrmate might not be too happy about me chatting up young lads, either.’ He finished off by securing the bandage with the end ties. ‘There you go.’

‘Thanks,’ Jevikel said. ‘That feels a lot better.’

Kadin must have realised there was nothing to worry about. ‘Sorry,’ he said to the rider. ‘I just saw you here and assumed…’

‘No harm done. Have a good day, lads.’ Recovering his shirt from a nearby niche, he pulled it on, showing the yellow, black and green colours of his shoulder knot. ‘See you around.’

Kadin turned to Jevikel. ‘Sorry. I thought he was pestering you.’

‘It’s fine.’ Jevikel wasn’t sure whether to be pleased Kadin had thought he needed help, or annoyed he didn’t think he could look after himself.

‘It’s just with all these strangers around you can’t be too careful.’

‘It’s all right, he said again, reassuring Kadin with a hand on his shoulder.

‘You said we were weyrmates.’ He smiled. ‘I like that.’

‘We will be one day, when we get a weyr.’

Kadin grabbed a drying sheet from one of the niches, which had been restocked since the previous day. ‘Got to have a dragon first.’

Copyright © 2022 Mawgrim; All Rights Reserved.
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New chapters will be posted each Thursday.

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.
Recognized characters/events/plots from Dragonriders of Pern belong to Ann McCaffrey
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Chapter Comments

I'm glad the hatching is still relatively far in the future, Ramoth hasn't even laid the eggs yet. The boys need time to get healthy and used to being in the Weyr. But I'd like them to be confirmed as potential candidates soon, which will give them status among their peers. Once they relax, I'm pretty sure they will find friends, because they are decent and kind.

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On 6/2/2022 at 3:35 PM, drsawzall said:

Grrr...you just had to go there and mention he who should not be spoken of...🥵

Okay... Let's not add Harry Potter to this mix! 😛

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8 minutes ago, Ordu378 said:

Okay... Let's not add Harry Potter to this mix! 😛

Zoiks...Could Voldemort and F'drun possibly be related due to some sort of temporal displacement across the multi-universes and parallel dimensions??😬

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9 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

Zoiks...Could Voldemort and F'drun possibly be related due to some sort of temporal displacement across the multi-universes and parallel dimensions??😬

Hmm, String Theory? Anyone?

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