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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 - 19. First Days

‘You picked a good day to start.’ Bavi was as every bit as cheery as she’d been the evening before. ‘Well, a bad one is what I really mean. The day after a Fall is always extra busy.’

The air was even more steamy than in the baths. Several large pools ringed the room, where women - and yes, it seemed as if laundry was generally women’s work at the Weyr - scrubbed and kneaded and rinsed out garments, their sleeves rolled up and hair tied back. The room was noisy with their chatter.

‘Now, as Manora said neither of you was to do anything too strenuous, I’ll let you sort through the dirty clothes, then when you’re done with that, you can hang out the clean stuff to dry. You must have seen the lines outside?’

‘On that flat piece of ground,’ Kadin said. ‘What do we need to sort?’

Bavi led them over to a large wicker basket piled with crumpled and stained clothes. ‘We do the socks and underwear separately from the shirts and trousers. Anything with blood on it - dragon or human - needs special treatment to get the stains out, so put those in this other basket. Take the shirts and trousers over to Judna for the first wash.’ She pointed to a tall, thin woman who was stirring clothes around with a wooden implement in a foamy pool. ‘Got that?’

‘I reckon so,’ Jevikel said. It seemed easy and was certainly not too strenuous for him to manage.

Kadin picked a sock out, holding his nose. ‘This stinks.’

‘Your feet would stink after riding Fall for a few hours. Actually, they already do.’ Jevikel ducked as Kadin threw the offending object at him. He retrieved it and put in in an empty basket set aside for the purpose.

After handling a few pairs of smelly socks and underclothes, Kadin lost his squeamishness. Jevikel also found the smells less offensive. After a while, your nose just got used to them. He paused when he found a shirt with one sleeve bloodied and half of it missing. At Pinnacle, it would be washed and mended, but he wasn’t sure about the Weyr. ‘Er, Bavi?’

She looked up from her own task of applying a solution to remove stains. ‘What is it?’

‘This is badly damaged. Does it get mended or used for rags?’

She glanced at it. ‘Rags. It’ll still need washing first, though.’

As he carried on sorting, he noticed a rider come in. Red and black knots with a green strand identified him as being a green rider from Benden. He was young, with distinctive blond hair cut short on the sides, but left longer on top. Jevikel hadn’t seen an ugly dragon rider yet, but this one took good-looking to the next level. Kadin noticed him, too. Jevikel threw another smelly sock at him. ‘Eyes on the clothes, not the men,’ he joked.

‘You were looking too,’ Kadin hissed, obviously aware the rider might hear.

The vision of male beauty stopped by Bavi. ‘Are our clothes ready yet? I can come back later if not.’

Jevikel had the feeling Bavi liked him and was willing to do favours she wouldn’t for others. maybe she fancied him, too?

‘Over on your usual shelf. How’s that weyrmate of yours this morning?’

‘Berating himself for not being perfect again. Forced himself to run three times round the lake as a punishment.’

‘He needs to relax more. Take him to one of the southern beaches for the day. Sun, sea and sex usually does the job.’

‘He’s out flying with some of my clutchmates. Teaching them Threadfighting moves. Browns and bronzes this morning, then it’s us greens with the blues later on.’

‘What’s he want to do all that for?’

‘He enjoys it. Says it’s not like work. And it’s useful for all of us.’

Bavi nudged him. ‘Well, you can still make him relax later on.’

The young man smiled. ‘You can count on it.’ Then he noticed Jevikel and Kadin. ‘Got some new workers?’

‘Temporarily, at least. They’re the ones who got rescued.’

He turned to them. ‘Is that right? Enjoying the Weyr so far?’ He wrinkled his nose at the smells coming off the dirty laundry. ‘Pity they’ve given you such a shitty job. Literally, sometimes.’

‘Don’t tease them, H’rek,’ Bavi said. ‘Back before you Impressed I remember you being sent to help out with laundry quite a few times.’

‘And if I hadn’t, I’d never have met you.’ His tone was teasing. ‘I’m only kidding,’ he said to Jevikel. ‘I heard what happened and I’m glad you both arrived safely. You won’t be stuck in here forever.’

‘I heard that,’ Bavi called across.

‘Not everyone loves laundry the way you do,’ he replied. ‘Anyway, I’ll grab our things and clear off.’

Bavi came to check on what they’d done so far. She watched H’rek stroll through the laundry, exchanging greetings with few of the other workers as he passed. ‘Handsome, isn’t he? When we first met, down south I hoped I might be in with a chance. No such luck, though. Still, at least he found someone who appreciates him, not like those stuck up clutchmates of his.’

‘Can I ask something? Does everyone in the Weyr fancy men?’ So far, it had seemed that way.

‘Well, most of us in here certainly do, except for Kayo and Judna. You mean riders though, don’t you?’

‘Yes.’

‘There’s probably less than a quarter who only like men. And they aren’t all green riders, either. The rest mostly fly both ways, though there’s some who prefer women. Well, outside of the flight cave anyway, but when your dragon mates, no one has much choice in the matter.’

‘Someone else was telling us about mating flights yesterday,’ Kadin said. ‘It sounds sort of… odd. I mean, why should you have to have sex with someone just because your dragon likes theirs?’

Bavi glanced toward H’rek, who was on his way out, carrying a pile of freshly laundered and ironed clothes. ‘He asked me that a few times, too, before Rioth rose the first time. Now, bear in mind I don’t have a dragon so I can’t speak from experience, but when you Impress you become linked with your dragon, forever. Whatever they feel, you do. So when they want to mate, you’re with them all the way. Most riders don’t even remember much about it afterwards. It’s just part of having a dragon.’ She sifted through the basket of stained clothes. ‘I’d best get started on these. You’re doing a good job so far.’

There was a break half way through the morning. It was good to get away from the steamy heat of the laundry for long enough to enjoy a klah out in the fresh air. Several of the women had heard the tale of their rescue and came over to ask about it. It was hard to believe that this time yesterday, they’d still been descending from the mountains towards the tithe road, unaware of what was to come. Probably a good thing, really.

Hanging out the clothes was another good excuse to go outdoors. Jevikel didn’t think he’d ever get tired of looking around the Bowl. As it was a fine morning many of the dragons were out at the front of their weyrs, soaking up the sunshine. A few took off now and then, to find an even sunnier spot up on the heights, where fires had burned yesterday.

‘They’ll get all ashy,’ Kadin said.

‘Maybe they like that. Or they’ll go and wash it off in the lake.’ Two or three wallowed in the water already, splashing each other with wings and tails. Dragons were evidently playful creatures.

‘I just can’t believe we’re here.’ Kadin pegged out yet another shirt.

‘I know. I feel like that whenever I think about it.’

‘And the luck of you meeting Kemi again without even having to look for her.’

‘Hmm. That’s weird, too. I mean, her having spent four Turns in the past and being so much older than I am. I’ll never catch up with her.’

Kadin nodded thoughtfully, then smirked. ‘Hey! I just thought of something. You’re an uncle now.’

He would have been anyway, in a couple of Turns if she’d married Feldin as planned. But he wouldn’t have seen that child much or been involved in its life. As they were all here together, he supposed he’d be much more involved with his nephew or niece. He couldn’t recall if Kemi had said if the baby was a boy or a girl. But then, he couldn’t remember a lot of what had happened the previous day. It had been too much to take in.

By the end of the working day, the huge backlog of laundry resulting from Fall was completely washed and mostly dried. Tomorrow would be ironing day, Bavi said. Jevikel felt tired by the time they went in to dinner; the good kind of tiredness that comes from having worked hard. Tonight’s main course was wherry pie with a selection of vegetables, tubers and gravy. It was just as delicious as the previous night’s meal and he managed to eat a few mouthfuls more before feeling stuffed to the brim.

He recognised several of the lads who shared their sleeping room. Lukodan had told him their names the previous night, but he’d been too tired to absorb them all. ‘Could you remind me who everyone is?’ he asked.

‘Sure. There’s Egevan and Nursheldor, over there.’

‘I remember them.’ He’d met them earlier on, when his brain was still working.

‘This is Taltien.’ Lukodan waved a spoon at a lad sitting at the other side of the table. He had a long face reminiscent of a runner beast and hadn’t said much during the meal. ‘Next to him is Kernam.’

In contrast to Taltien, Kernam had hardly stopped talking while they ate. Most of what he’d spoken about was Weyr gossip concerning subjects such as two riders who allegedly hated each other, yet had been seen going in and out of each other’s Weyrs, which greens were going to rise soon and who might become the new Weyrlingmaster. Jevikel had listened in on some of it, trying to absorb more information about his new home.

‘Then these other two are Ullanton and Jurrenton. Half brothers, on their mother’s side.’

They did look similar, with light brown, unruly hair, but while Ullanton had dark brown eyes, Jurrenton’s were a distinctive green.

‘Then there’s the leftovers from Ramoth’s first clutch, Amertill and Germessont.’

‘Searched, but never stood.’ Amertill was dark-complexioned and stocky. ‘I was brought here, then they decided I was too young. I knew I’d not be welcome if I went home, so I opted to stay until there was another clutch laid.’

‘I’m from Ruatha, like the Weyrwoman.’ Germessont stood out with his pale skin and fiery red hair. ‘After a Search dragon picked me, my father said I might as well go to the Weyr right away to save them having to keep feeding another mouth. I almost got chosen for Prideth’s hatching, down south, but they said I’d burn terribly in all that sun. So, still here, still waiting.’

Jevikel tried to match all the names to the faces. He hoped Kadin would remember the ones he didn’t. Having grown up in a large Hold, he had a better memory for new people.

‘So, any news about whether they’ll let you two stand?’ Nursheldor asked.

‘Nothing so far. But it’s only been a day.’ Jevikel had no idea who would speak up for them. Manora, he now realised, was far too busy to concern herself with the day to day needs of newcomers. ‘Should we talk to someone about it?’

‘Your foster mother will do that.’ Egevan put in.

‘Foster mother?’

‘We all have ‘em. Most women in the Weyr don’t raise their own children.’

‘Oh?’ Jevikel thought about that. Even at Pinnacle, many children were raised by women who hadn’t given birth to them. It was a well-known fact that some liked looking after children more than others. He and Kemi had spent far more time with Granny Val than Jemina. ‘So how do we get one of those?’

Germessont spoke up. ‘I’d been here about a sevenday before anything was arranged. At our age, it’s a fairly informal arrangement, but it means you have someone to go to if you have questions. They know the ways of the Weyr better than folk like us who weren’t raised here.’

It was another thing he should probably ask Kemi about. He’d not seen her yet today, but maybe she’d be enjoying the last of the evening sunshine. It still niggled that he’d not been able to tell her about Jemina’s death and all this talk about foster mothers had reminded him of that.

‘So, what colour dragon do you want?’ Amertill asked.

Jevikel hadn’t really thought about it. He still wasn’t certain if he and Kadin would be allowed to stand, and thinking about Impressing a particular colour seemed like tempting fate. ‘I don’t know,’ he answered truthfully.

‘Isn’t that up to the dragons?’ Kadin said. ‘That was what I was told, anyway.’

‘Yeah, but some folk reckon you can influence it up to a point. I mean, if you decide you want a blue, only concentrate on the blues that are hatching. They often go for the lad who is closest to their egg.’

‘Everyone knows you want a blue, Lukodan,’ Egevan said.

‘And everyone knows you’ll get a green.’

Egevan shrugged. ‘Just because I’m friends with a few green riders doesn’t mean anything.’

‘So, what’s the wisdom on how dragons choose a person?’ Jevikel was genuinely interested to find out.

Kernam jumped in. ‘You have to think welcoming thoughts.’

‘And not be afraid,’ Nursheldor added.

‘Why would you be afraid, anyway?’ Kadin asked.

The weyrbred boys looked at each other. Kernam answered for all of them. ‘Last time it all went smoothly. But the Hatching before that - the time Lessa Impressed Ramoth - people got killed on the Sands.’

‘“The Bloody Hatching” they called it.’ Lukodan said. ‘I was only twelve, but I can still remember that day. Most of us were there, watching.’

‘Was that normal?’ Jevikel asked.

‘There are always accidents. Hatchlings are clumsy and have sharp talons. If people don’t get out of the way quickly enough, they get trampled. It’s not the dragon’s fault.’

Jevikel glanced at Kadin. Judging by his expression, this was one aspect of Weyr life he hadn’t known about. ‘So, no one got hurt last time?’

‘Well, no. It was probably a fluke, though.’

‘Maybe it was because they let the candidates onto the Sands before the day?’ Amertill suggested.

‘Maybe,’ Lukodan agreed. ‘That was Lessa’s idea, though and old C’gan went along with it. Whoever they put in as Weyrlingmaster next might go back to traditional ways. Tradition says the first time you step on the Sands is when the eggs are about to crack.’

‘R’gul’s big on tradition.’ Ullanton spoke for the first time. ‘My dad reckons he’ll get the job for sure. Knows all his Teaching Ballads back to front and upside down. And he was Weyrleader all those Turns.’

‘When we never had enough to eat.’ Kernam made it clear how he felt about that era. ‘He didn’t believe Thread would come back, either, not even when we saw the Red Star framed in the Eye at Turn’s End.’

‘He believes it now, though.’ Lukodan said.

‘Hard not to when it’s falling all over Pern.’ Kernam clearly didn’t like R’gul. ‘Plus, he was never very good to green riders, even though his own son Impressed a green.’

‘Probably because of that,’ Egevan put in. ‘Thought he’d let down the family honour.’

Jevikel was puzzled. Why did everyone look down on green dragons and their riders so much? From his own observations there were more of them than any other colour in the Weyr. All of the riders he’d spoken with so far had been greens - apart from that angry Wingleader - and they had all been friendly and helpful. ‘What’s so wrong with greens?’ he asked.

‘Well, like I said before, they can be scatty sometimes,’ Lukodan answered.

‘Some of ‘em get proddy when their dragons are close to mating,’ Ullanton offered. ‘Likely to snap a person’s head off if he says the wrong thing.’

‘Yeah, like when women have their monthlies, only worse.’ Nursheldor made a face. ‘Most of the Wingleaders don’t really like them and they’ll never be given any responsibility.’

Jevikel remembered Lukodan saying something about green riders getting the worst jobs. To him, it seemed an unfounded prejudice, but even the Weyr wasn’t perfect. He decided to ask someone who really knew; someone who had a green already. ‘Anyway, no one’s really said how dragons choose a person.’

‘That’s because no one really knows,’ Kernam said. ‘Before every Hatching there’s loads of betting on which candidate will Impress which colour. Most of them get it wrong.’

Egevan shook his head. ‘Not always. It’s said that lads who’d make good leaders and who are ambitious are most likely to Impress bronzes.’

‘Yeah,’ Lukodan agreed. ‘You can only make it to Weyrleader if you’ve a bronze. All the Wingleaders have to be bronzes, too.’

‘Except for the Oldtimers,’ Kernam said. ‘One of their Wings is led by a brown rider.’

Lukodan rolled his eyes. ‘Well, that’s Oldtimers for you.’

‘Browns can be Wingseconds, though,’ Nursheldor added. ‘Look at F’nor, for example. He’s got plenty of responsibility.’

‘That’s because the Weyrleader’s his half-brother.’ Lukodan countered. ‘Even if he rode blue, he’d have the same privileges.’

Kadin nudged Jevikel. ‘Seems like kinfolk look after their own here as well,’ he whispered as the others continued to talk about how brown riders were always scrabbling for positions and having to try and impress their Wingleaders if they wanted a promotion.

‘R’gul and S’lel change their Wingseconds around all the time to keep them on their toes. Who needs all that hassle?’ Lukodan stated. ‘That’s why I want a blue.’

The conversation was disrupted as the dining room began to empty, ready for the next shift to eat.

Out in the Bowl, it was the same as the previous evening. The people who’d eaten first took up all the benches. Jevikel took more notice of the riders now, comparing shoulder knots. All of those on the benches wore the red and black of Benden. Men with other colours had taken themselves off to the flat piece of ground, where they sat in small groups. There were a few Benden riders among them, but they were mostly younger. He recognised H’rek, talking with T’rai and a couple of other green riders in animated fashion. He also noticed the angry Wingleader in the same group, although he was smiling now. It was probably best to keep out of his way, though.

He didn’t see Kemi that evening, which was slightly disappointing. Perhaps she’d was with her weyrmate? They sat outside for a while until the sun sank below the high edges of the Bowl, when most people began to drift off inside. Kadin proved his winning streak the previous evening hadn’t been a fluke, although Jevikel saw him deliberately ‘lose’ a few times.

‘Best not to let them think I’m too good, or no one will play,’ he explained later, as they got ready for bed.

‘You’ll slaughter them at dice.’

Kadin smiled. ‘In good time.’

Feeling more confident, they had a cuddle before going to their own beds. Jevikel still wasn’t sure how blatant they could be in a room full of other people.

‘Hey,’ Egevan called over. ‘If you two need some private time, I can show you the best places to get away from this lot.’

‘Not everyone’s like you,’ Lukodan called over.

‘I reckon these two are.’ Egevan smiled. ‘You are a couple, aren’t you?’

Jevikel thought he might as well admit it. ‘Well, yes.’

‘That’s one of the reasons we ran away.’ Kadin pulled him closer and smiled.

‘Glad I didn’t grow up in a Hold.’ Egevan pretended to shiver. ‘They aren’t good places for folk like us. Anyway, tomorrow, after work’s over I’ll let you in on my secrets.’

‘Thanks.’

‘That’d be great.’ Kadin grinned. He had that look in his eye Jevikel knew all too well, making him wish they could climb into bed together right away.

After all the work and the food, he fell asleep almost at once. The next morning followed the same routine of washing and reapplying numbweed to his ankle. Kadin re-tied the bandage this time. Then, after breakfast, they made their way to the laundry again.

It was just before the morning break when Manora came in. Jevikel noticed how all the women took care to look busy, even if they’d been having a chat just beforehand.

‘How are you getting on,’ she asked.’

‘Very well, thank you,’ Kadin said.

‘Is Lukodan helping you out?’

‘Yes,’ Jevikel replied. ‘He’s introduced us to most of the other lads and told us loads about the Weyr.’

‘Glad to hear it. Now, I don’t know if he’s told you this yet, but everyone at the Weyr who’s under eighteen Turns is assigned a foster mother. She’ll be someone you feel comfortable talking to about any problems and she’ll also liaise with me regarding any concerns.’

‘He did say something about that.’

‘Thankfully, the decision’s been taken out of my hands. Bavi has offered to foster you and if you both agree, we’ll make it official.’

Jevikel glanced over at Bavi. Although he’d not known her for long, he liked and trusted her.

Kadin spoke up. ‘I’m happy with that.’

‘Me, too,’ Jevikel added.

Bavi smiled broadly. ‘My first official fosterlings. Though I had a couple of unofficial ones down south.’

‘Oh, and while I’m here, I brought these for you.’ Manora reached into a pocket and brought out two sets of shoulder knots in the black and red Benden colours, but without the white braid of a candidate.

Jevikel felt confident enough to speak up. ‘Thank you. But… when we were still at the Hold a dragon visited. Relth, his name was.’

’T’gor’s Relth,’ Kadin added the rider’s name, which Jevikel had forgotten.

‘Anyway, T’gor said Relth thought we should be Searched, although they couldn’t take us right then. That was one of the reasons we decided to come here when we left the Hold.’

Manora nodded. ‘I’ll certainly have a word with him. Once the new Weyrlingmaster is in place, Search riders will be going out to find more candidates. If you’re both suitable and as you’re already here, there should be no reason why you can’t be included.’

Jevikel felt reassured by her words. He gladly accepted the new knots and slid them into place. ‘Thank you.’

She smiled. ‘I’ll leave you to get on with your work. Even if it takes a few days, you haven’t been forgotten.’

After she left, the volume of chatter increased again. Bavi came over. ‘I hope you didn’t mind me stepping in like that. Only Kemi suggested it and I thought, why not.’

‘It’s good,’ Kadin said.

Jevikel nodded. It did feel slightly odd, as Bavi was nowhere near old enough to be their real mother, but if that’s how things were done here, he’d go along with it. ‘Fine,’ he said.

‘I know you’re not kids, but this is still a strange place for you.’ She put her hands on her hips. ‘So, from now on, anyone who treats you wrong has to answer to me. All right?’

‘All right,’ they both echoed.

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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I agree with drsawzall, I love this story and look forward to many more from you. Bavi is a good person, full of information and volunteered to be their foster mother.  She is pragmatic and caring so she will advocate for them every chance she gets.  The more the boys learn about dragons and their riders, the more they are relaxing and feeling more comfortable in the weyr.  Great first day for them.

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If Bavi takes them under her wing, they have a great champion for their life in the Weyr. If anyone is nasty to hem, they'll see their favorites shirt shrunk in the wash. :lol:  I'm sure they have already impressed a few people by being hard-working and nice.

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3 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

If Bavi takes them under her wing, they have a great champion for their life in the Weyr. If anyone is nasty to hem, they'll see their favorites shirt shrunk in the wash. :lol:  I'm sure they have already impressed a few people by being hard-working and nice.

Don’t mess with the laundry staff!

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I liked the comment about most riders flying both ways. Makes sense, and it would be an advantage for the weyrs.

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