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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 - 20. Confirmation

‘So we buried her up on the hill, under stones…’ Jevikel bowed his head as he finished the story. He and Kemi had walked down to the lake shore while she was on her break.

Kemi was solemn, too. ‘I never thought I’d say this, but I feel sorry for her. And now I know how she and father were forced into a loveless marriage it makes me even more appalled they tried to do the same to me.’

Jevikel nodded slowly. ‘That’s how I felt, too. She wasn’t the best mother, but her life wasn’t all it should be. And she died not knowing you were still alive and well. I don’t know if I can forgive myself for not telling her.’

‘Don’t.’ Kemi placed a gentle hand on his arm. ‘You weren’t to know what would happen to her. And it wasn’t your fault. It’s father’s fault, if anyone’s to blame at all. But that’s past now. You’re here, starting a new life.’

That was certainly true. In the three days since they’d arrived at the Weyr, he’d learned so much. Even though there was regular routine to their day, work didn’t seem like the same grind as at Pinnacle. Not being hungry all the time helped a lot. ‘It’s so different here,’ he said. ‘I didn’t know what it was like, not really, but I never thought it would be so huge. And with so many people.’

‘I know. It took me a while to get used to that. Coming back from Southern, it hit me all over again. There weren’t many of us there, compared to Benden.’

A group of dragons descended towards the landing area. Even from this distance, Jevikel could tell right away that they were mostly all Benden  - or Southern - hatched as they were far larger than the stocky, compact brown who led the formation. Why would an Oldtimer be flying with so many Benden dragons? Another puzzle.

‘You and Kadin seem to be settling in.’

‘We are. Bit nervous about Fall tomorrow.’

‘It’s not over the Weyr this time. That only happens every few sevendays. Sh’ros says it’s mostly out at sea. You’ll probably just carry on with your work and so will I.’ She sighed. ‘I always worry about him, though.’

‘I’ll bet you do.’

‘That’s why I prefer to keep working. It takes my mind off the awful risks he’s taking. Although Bruganith looks after them both.’

That brought his mind back to dragons. ‘We’re seeing another Search dragon tomorrow afternoon, once Fall’s over.’

‘That’s wonderful.’

‘Yes, but what if Relth was wrong.’ He hadn’t even spoken his fears to Kadin, but he could to Kemi. ‘What if one of us passes and the other doesn’t?’

‘Search dragons are usually reliable,’ she assured him. ‘Relth will confer with the other dragon. If he thought you were both good prospects as candidates, it’s just a formality, really.’

‘I hope so. Maybe this sounds crazy, but after what happened to me and Kadin - after what we’ve seen - we want to be able to fight back against Thread.’

‘It’s not crazy at all. If I’d been allowed to, I’d have stood. But women can only Impress gold and there haven’t been any golden eggs since Prideth hatched.’

‘You never know. Ramoth might lay one this time.’

‘Maybe.’ She didn’t sound too hopeful. ‘But queens don’t lay gold eggs very often, I’m told.’

Jevikel watched the wind sending tiny ripples across the placid surface of the lake. At the far end, herdbeasts grazed contentedly. Several of them had been separated from the main herd into the feeding pen. He’d not seen a dragon eat yet, but had heard it was gruesome. He couldn’t imagine one creature eating another would be anything like as terrible as Thread’s mindless and voracious consumption of whatever it touched. ‘It’s so peaceful here,’ he mused.

‘Yes, it is. You should have seen Southern, though. Wild jungle, except what we cleared and everything growing so fast. The heat was so intense, everyone stopped work in the afternoon. We spent a lot of time in the sea. So did the dragons. They adored it.’ She sounded nostalgic.

‘Don’t you want to go back?’

‘I did, at first. When we returned it was spring here, but felt so chilly. I missed the sea and the bright sunlight. Sh’ros had the option to go back. He was in T’bor’s Wing and T’bor’s Weyrleader there. But he thought he’d get more chance to fight Thread at Benden, so we stayed. Anyway, I’m not sure as I’d feel safe in the south now Thread’s returned. Everything’s out in the open.’

Jevikel couldn’t stop the shudder. Being exposed to Thread falling wasn’t something he’d forget any time soon. ‘I’m glad you stayed. If you hadn’t, we wouldn’t be talking now.’

She smiled. ‘There’s that, too. Plus there's little Keshel. It’ll be better for him to grow up in a proper Weyr, with plenty of friends around.’

Keshel. Jevikel spoke the name in his head a few times, to try and fix it in his memory. Forgetting the names of the other lads was bad enough, but he should be able to remember what his nephew was called. ‘I’d like to meet him.’

‘I’m sure we can arrange something. He’s with his foster mum in the nursery while I’m working, but we can sort something out next free day.’

They strolled back along the shore. A couple of bronze dragons skimmed overhead, to dive noisily into the deepest part of the lake. Up on the heights, a green dragon shrieked loudly. Although he’d noticed there was a wide range of shades to each colour, this one seemed so bright she was almost glowing.

‘She’ll be off soon.’ Kemi had looked up at the noise.

‘What do you mean?’

‘She’s going to mate. See how all the male dragons are getting interested.’

Several blues, browns and two bronzes had flown over and watched the female intently as she preened and taunted them. Jevikel suddenly wished he was somewhere private with Kadin. Egevan had showed them the small room under the main ventilation ducts where he sometimes took lads he fancied. He didn’t mind sharing it, he’d said, so long as they didn’t all want to use it at the same time.

‘Are you feeling it?’ Kemi asked, in a concerned tone.

He nodded, slightly embarrassed to be admitting sexual feelings to his sister.

‘Don’t worry. Most people do. But you can ignore a green flight, if you want to. When it’s a queen, that’s a whole different experience.’

He concentrated instead on watching the dragon play her suitors. A couple of times it looked as if she was about to take off, then changed her mind, throwing some of them off balance. Finally, after another round of shrieking and flapping, she launched herself. The pack of male dragons followed. Jevikel held his breath, fearing they might snag wings, being so close together Within a few wingbeats, it was clear two blues had taken the lead.

‘They probably won’t be in the air too long, especially as she didn’t blood first.’

‘Eh?’

‘Sometimes they’ll kill one of the wherries or even a smaller herdbeast. If a female dragon gorges on meat, they’re too heavy to fly far, but if the rider makes them just suck the blood it gives them extra energy to go further. It doesn’t really matter with a green, but a long gold flight usually means she’ll lay more eggs.’

More useful facts. Jevikel looked across the Bowl, seeing several riders file into one of the ground level caves, too small to be a weyr. Knowing what was going to happen in there made him wish Kadin was nearby again.

Kemi looked relieved. ‘At least Bruganith isn’t involved this time. He chased a green a couple of sevendays ago but didn’t catch her. He probably won’t bother again for another few months at least.’

The dragons had almost disappeared by now. He could just make out the tiny specks against a blue sky. ‘Don’t you mind?’ he asked.

‘Nothing I can do about it, or Sh’ros for that matter. The dragon decides, the rider complies. It’s not like he’s going to fall in love with the other rider just because Bruganith catches their dragon.’

They carried on walking. Jevikel tried to imagine how he’d feel if Kadin was in that cave and he wasn’t. He didn’t think he’d be able to be so casual about it as Kemi, but then, she’d been at the Weyr so much longer. It had become normal for her.

‘It’s one of the things Hold and Craftbred folk find difficult to get used to,’ she went on. ‘The Weyrbred have seen it going on all their lives. It’s just another aspect of being paired with a dragon.’

‘I suppose so. Do you think that’s why the Weyrs are so much more relaxed about sex? About folk like me and Kadin?’

‘Most probably. Although I’m told some of the Holds and Crafts are far more tolerant than Pinnacle ever was. It probably depends on who’s in charge. Mind you, they’re never as open about it as here.’

Jevikel still couldn’t quite believe no one was going to criticise he and Kadin for their relationship. They’d both seen other weyrfolk hugging, or holding hands, or giving each other a quick kiss before going off to their separate workplaces when breakfast was finished, whether the couple was mixed or same sex. A part of his mind always thought about how Vikkel would react to that.

‘Father probably knows about us by now. I expect he’s disowned me.’

‘Do you care? What’s being a Holder at Pinnacle compared to the possibility of flying on your own dragon.’ She gazed wistfully up to the sky. ‘Obviously I’ve flown on Bruganith many times, but it’s not the same.’

He looked up, too. The mating flight had passed out of sight, but not entirely from his mind. When Kemi returned to work, he sat a while by the lake before making his way back. Like him, Kadin was working a later shift and had gone to the baths with some of the others. He’d never bathed so often at Pinnacle, but there was something to be said for being clean all over and wearing decent clothes.

Egevan and Kadin were still splashing around when he arrived. The others must have left.

‘Hey!’ Kadin called out on spotting him. ‘Did you get to see Kemi?’

He nodded. He’d spoken to Kadin of his intention to tell her about their mother’s death.

‘Was she all right?’

‘It was a bit of a shock at first, but remember, she left Pinnacle much longer ago than we did.’

Egevan swam over. ‘Which green was it who went off?’

‘Not sure. A Benden dragon, definitely.’ At least now he could tell the difference.

‘Probably Jelzinth. F’vinn said she was about due.’

‘How come you know all these riders?’ Egevan was always name dropping riders or their dragons.

‘My half-brother Impressed a green from Prideth’s clutch down south. Now he’s back at Benden, he’s introduced me to most of his friends. The younger riders are nowhere near as stuffy as some of the older ones. A lot of them won’t even talk to candidates.’ Egevan leaned on the side of the pool. ‘I’d like a green. Green riders have the most fun.’

‘He’s been telling me all about the meetings and the parties,’ Kadin said. ‘Well, sometimes the meetings are parties.’

‘You two would do well with green dragons.’

Kadin nodded. ‘I reckon so, too.’

Jevikel wasn’t sure. ‘Isn’t it best to keep your options open?’ He’d heard stories about folk who had set their mind on a certain colour not Impressing at all.

‘Well, yes, but green dragons know who’s going to be compatible. They mostly choose lads who like other lads. And there are always more of them in a clutch than any other colour, so it’s more chances.’

That was all very well, but Jevikel saw the flaw in his reasoning. ‘If we both have greens we’ll never get to be with each other when they mate.’

Egevan laughed. ‘Even when riders are weyrmates with different colour dragons, it’s still not certain. Anything can happen in a flight.’

It wasn’t the first time he’d heard that said. ‘We’ll see.’

Later on, when they were alone, Kadin carried on with the theme. ‘Having a green dragon’s like being in a club. All the green riders stick together. I think I’d like that.'

‘We haven’t had a chance to talk to any other riders, though. And remember what Lukodan said about greens not getting much respect.’

Kadin shrugged. ‘That was mostly in the past. It’s different now.’

‘Maybe. Anyway, tomorrow we’ll found out if we’re going to be allowed to stand. No point speculating about what colour dragon we might have if we can’t get on the Sands in the first place.’

Fall was due early the following morning. Before beginning work, they watched the Wings form up and sacks of firestone being delivered to each dragon. The noise from all those jaws chewing the flammable rock was incredible. Some riders looked serious and focussed on the task in hand, while others joked; mostly those in the Oldtimer Wings. He guessed that was because they had done this so many times before it had become second nature. Seeing the modern dragons next to their older counterparts made plain the size differences. The modern greens, though lighter boned, were taller and with a greater wingspan than the Oldtimer blues. Their browns weren’t much bigger than a large Benden blue and when you compared the bronzes, the difference was even more pronounced. Jevikel had heard someone say that Mnementh, the Weyrleader’s bronze, was the largest of his kind ever hatched and that was plain to see. Although there were no other gold dragons for comparison, Ramoth was clearly huge.

The Wings took off, one by one, transferring between once they were clear of the Bowl. It was a splendid sight to see the whole Weyr prepare for their battle with Thread.

‘Stay safe.’ Jekki gave a final wave as her weyrmate flew off.

Bavi grabbed her around the shoulders and gave her a hug. ‘He’ll be fine.’

‘I wish I could be so sure.’

‘The more Falls they fly, the better they’ll get at dodging Thread. Come on. Let’s get to work. It’ll take your mind off worrying.’

By the time they came out of the laundry for morning klah break, some of those dragons and riders had already returned with scores.

Bavi noticed him looking over toward the infirmary. ‘It’s a hard business, fighting Thread. But dragons heal faster than their riders and they don’t remember their injuries for long. They’ll be back up in the air sooner than you’d think. You’ll see for yourselves when we’re assigned to help out.’ She glanced up. ‘Still, I always worry about H’rek when he’s up there.’

By the time they broke off for the midday meal, Fall was over. There was a lot more activity outside the infirmary now. A few riders, grubby and weary looking, were removing straps from their dragons. The lake was full of them, wings flapping in a melée of different colours, while the riders queued for their turn in the baths.

‘No one died this time,’ Lukodan said while they were eating. ‘That’s a good result.’

‘It was only a short one.’ Nursheldor bit into a fresh meat roll. ‘Still, I hate that sound when someone’s gone.’

‘What sound?’ asked Kadin.

‘All the dragons know when one of their kind has died. The ones who are on the ground keen for them. It goes right through you.’

Jevikel forced himself to eat. He was beginning to feel nervous about the assessment. During the morning, he’d been able to put it to the back of his mind, but now it was closer, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

‘Don’t worry too much.’ Kadin picked up on his mood, or more likely that he wasn’t eating as heartily as usual. ‘We’ll be fine. Even your sister said it was just a formality.’

Lukodan overheard. ‘Yeah. By this time tomorrow, you’ll have your white braid. Then when the training starts, we’ll all be in it together.’

‘I hope so.’

They returned to the laundry. Shiyun showed them both how to judge when an iron was hot enough to press clothes, but not so hot it would scorch them.

‘See, you lick your finger, then hold it close to see how quick the moisture evaporates. Some people spit on the iron instead, but I think that’s dirty. Who wants clean clothes with someone’s spit on them?’

Jevikel tried gingerly. He was more worried about burning his finger than the hygiene aspect. Concentrating on the technique, he didn’t notice Bavi and a dragonrider coming towards them until Kadin nudged him.

‘Careful,’ he said, jerking his finger away from the hot metal. Then he looked up and realised their time had come.

‘This is V’nax.’ Bavi introduced the rider. ‘His Zorleth is one of the best Search dragons at Benden.’

V’nax smiled. ‘Five out of five for Ramoth’s last clutch. So, you lads have already met Relth?’

‘He came to our Hold last Turn,’ Jevikel supplied.

‘Well, if you want to come outside and meet Zorleth, we’ll see what she thinks.’

Jevikel’s heart quickened as he followed the rider. Kadin looked just as nervous as he felt. He grasped Kadin’s hand and pressed it gently for reassurance. This was it!

Zorleth stood on the landing ground. She was a pale green, like new bean shoots that had just sprung from the ground. Her eyes whirled gently with a bluish pattern and her tongue flicked out once, then twice as they approached.

‘You can touch her, if you like.’ V’nax encouraged them to go closer.

Jevikel wondered if he was testing their bravery. He knew by now that dragons would never intentionally hurt a person, apart from when they were just hatched, so he felt confident to place a hand on her shoulder. Her hide was smooth and warm. She twitched slightly, then turned her neck to look at him.

Just as with Relth, he felt her mind brush his; a strange sensation, yet not painful or unpleasant. He met her gaze evenly, seeing the colours change through various shades of blue and green.

You’ll do well, said a voice inside his head. He realised she had spoken to him in the same way as she must do with her rider. So that was what it was like.

She turned her attentions to Kadin. He seemed entranced, his eyes unfocussed. Jevikel recognised it as similar to the look riders had when they were communicating with their dragons. He hoped Zorleth would find Kadin acceptable too. No reason why she shouldn’t, but he couldn’t help feeling concerned.

Eventually, Kadin snapped out of it. ‘She spoke to me,’ he said, a touch of awe in his voice.

‘She does, sometimes.’ V’nax smiled again. ‘And she says Relth certainly wasn’t wrong about you two. We Search riders aren’t permitted to bet on the results of a Hatching, but if I could, I’d wager you’ll both Impress.’

‘So that’s it?’ Kadin asked. ‘We’ve passed the test?’

‘That’s it. I’ll report to the Weyrwoman we have another two candidates. All we need now is a Weyrlingmaster, although I’m told they’ve someone in mind.’

Jevikel glanced at Kadin, hoping it wasn’t R’gul, as everyone seemed to think.

‘You must have heard the rumours,’ V’nax said. ‘R’gul seems to be the favourite, although I can’t think why. F’lar and Lessa will want the best for Ramoth’s clutch. I reckon they’ll go for someone a lot less hidebound.’

That was a relief to hear. While they had V’nax there, Jevikel remembered the question he’d wanted to ask. ‘I’ve heard people saying they don’t want to Impress green. Why do you think that is?’

V’nax frowned. ‘There’s a couple of different reasons. A few of the Wingleaders don’t appreciate us because our dragons can’t fight a full Fall without tiring. Mind you, some of the smaller blues can’t, either. On the positive side though, my Zorleth is fast and can turn in her own length. She’s kept us safe so far. Remember, the larger the dragon, the bigger the target for Thread.’

That was a good point. Jevikel remembered how quick and agile Hinarth had been when she rescued them. If she’d been a blue, or a brown, there might have been a different outcome.

V’nax continued. ‘Some of the older riders aren’t very respectful to us, but that’s an attitude left over from the Interval. It’s changing already, now everyone’s fighting the same enemy. And now we have a different Weyrleader. F’lar knows every dragon counts, whatever their colour.’

‘What about the mating flights?’ Kadin asked, never shy to say what was on his mind.

‘You get used to them. I’m lucky that Zorleth tends to favour the same dragons each time she rises and I’m friends with their riders. And she doesn’t get proddy like some.’ He rested a hand her neck. ‘A green dragon only rises to mate somewhere between three or four times a Turn. That’s not so bad.’

‘No,’ Jevikel agreed.

‘All dragons need to mate,’ V’nax added. ‘So whatever colour you impress you’ll end up in the flight cave sooner or later.’

Another good point. Maybe some of what the other lads were saying was just teasing. He recalled the older workers at the Hold deliberately frightening newcomers with stories of creatures who lived in the hills that would snatch herdbeasts and occasionally herders. Telling tale stories to newcomers happened everywhere.

‘Anyway, if you want to go up for a spin, I can show you some of the moves only a green can do. Best not to eat too much beforehand, though.’

‘That’d be great. Thanks.’ Kadin beamed. He seemed a lot more relaxed now their ordeal was over.

‘Let us know next time you’ve a free day. If you tell Bavi, the message will get to me.’ He grasped the lightweight straps Zorleth wore, then with one fluid move, swung himself up to her neck ridge.  It looked easy, but probably took a lot of practice.

He stepped back as the pair took off. Zorleth’s hide was even paler under her wings and belly. She ascended quickly, then made a quick turn to land on her weyr ledge, high above them.

Kadin sighed. ‘I’d love to fly properly. Don’t remember much about our last trip on dragon back.’

‘Me neither,’ Jevikel agreed.’ Not sure I’d want to, either.’ He still had dreams about Thread sweeping toward them and being unable to flee.

‘You know, all of the green riders we’ve met so far have been really nice.’ Kadin looked thoughtful. ‘Maybe it’s not so bad to have a green?’

Jevikel glanced up to the weyr. Zorleth and her rider had disappeared inside. ‘Come on. I suppose we’d better get back to the ironing. Have to say, I’ll be glad when my ankle’s better. I mean, I like Bavi and all, but don’t think I want to work in the laundry forever.’

‘You won’t.’ Kadin said confidently. ‘In a couple of months, we’ll be dragonriders.’

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

1 hour ago, ColumbusGuy said:

I like what we've heard about Kemi's mate so far...and hope he shows up in person soon.

He will appear in the next couple of chapters, don't worry.

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Zorleth must have liked them a lot, since she spoke to them. But maybe it's also part of testing how suited they are. I'm glad they're asking questions and  forming their own opinions about what they see and hear, and not just relying on the other lads.

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13 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

Zorleth must have liked them a lot, since she spoke to them. But maybe it's also part of testing how suited they are. I'm glad they're asking questions and  forming their own opinions about what they see and hear, and not just relying on the other lads.

That’s a good point. I often wonder if Robinton could have Impressed as dragons speak to him so often in the books.

As newcomers to the Weyr, it would be easy to just go along with other's opinions, but Jevikel and Kadin have seen enough of people following along blindly at Pinnacle.

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You really have me torn between more chapters, and waiting so long for the guys to impress their dragons.  Patience is a virtue I have in very short supply.  I does appear that they are a shoe in for a dragon as well as they did with Zorleth.  Also, I hope that Jevikel's talk with Kemi will help her understand her mother better.  Kemi's weyrmate seems one of the few green riders that is not gay.  She deserves the best, so I am happy that Sh'ros is both green and straight.  She gets the best of both worlds that way.  He is safer on a fast and agile dragon, a dragon that doesn't get proddy, and he probably has a lot of experience in the bedroom. 😉

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Loving the story. I'm glad the boys are set to impress.  Perhaps I've been caught up in the uncertainty about green dragons and their riders after reading earlier series,  but the latest ones we have met have been very nice. Let's see. I'm sure the boys will impress as is right for them. 

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On 6/21/2022 at 10:35 AM, Doha said:

Perhaps I've been caught up in the uncertainty about green dragons and their riders after reading earlier series,  but the latest ones we have met have been very nice.

When you stop and think about green riders, it probably helps if you were at least Bi, if not entirely gay. That's the easy part. The hard part is thinking in terms of relationships, particularly any kind of long term relationship. It's outside what we would consider committed couple. Yet that is what it is if you have a weyrmate.

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2 hours ago, Ordu378 said:

When you stop and think about green riders, it probably helps if you were at least Bi, if not entirely gay. That's the easy part. The hard part is thinking in terms of relationships, particularly any kind of long term relationship. It's outside what we would consider committed couple. Yet that is what it is if you have a weyrmate.

You'd need to separate the emotional commitment of being a weyrmate with someone from the purely dragon driven sexual experience of a mating flight. Some people are going to find this easier to deal with than others.

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On 6/18/2022 at 2:24 PM, raven1 said:

Kemi's weyrmate seems one of the few green riders that is not gay.  She deserves the best, so I am happy that Sh'ros is both green and straight.  She gets the best of both worlds that way. 

Kemi's weyrmate is not a green rider. We actually haven't been told whether he is a blue or a brown (or even a bronze). When Kemi talks about Sh'ros dragon (Bruganith) not being involved, it's as a male dragon chasing a green.

Quote

‘At least Bruganith isn’t involved this time. He chased a green a couple of sevendays ago but didn’t catch her.'

So he's more likely to be bi, than if he was a green rider. Or he could be mostly straight, but accepting of the occasional mating flight.

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8 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

Kemi's weyrmate is not a green rider. We actually haven't been told whether he is a blue or a brown (or even a bronze). When Kemi talks about Sh'ros dragon (Bruganith) not being involved, it's as a male dragon chasing a green.

So he's more likely to be bi, than if he was a green rider. Or he could be mostly straight, but accepting of the occasional mating flight.

FYI Bruganith is a brown dragon. I thought I’d mentioned that, but maybe not. It's definitely made clear in the next chapter.

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