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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 - 21. Picnic by the Lake

Another sevenday passed. Jevikel was able to discard his crutch and found it much easier getting around the Weyr, even though he still had to be careful.

‘You know, I can’t see your ribs any more,’ Kadin said, as they got out of the baths one morning.

It was true. He felt as if he had a lot more energy these days. ‘We’ll look like proper weyrfolk soon.’

‘I’d forgotten what it was like not to be hungry.’ Kadin dried between his toes. ‘I haven’t felt this good since we lived in Bitra.’

That set Jevikel thinking about what was happening back at Pinnacle Hold. It seemed far longer than just a few sevendays since they made their escape. It almost felt like another life; something that had happened to someone else. ‘I’m sorry you had to go through all that.’

‘Don’t be. I wouldn’t have met you otherwise.’ Kadin threw the towel around Jevikel’s shoulders and pulled him in for a kiss.

Jevikel had got over his initial caution. It wasn’t uncommon to see folk in the baths kissing, or more, although they tended to find a private alcove for that. Anyone passing just ignored what was going on. It was the way of the Weyr.

‘Come on.’ Kadin led him over to one of those alcoves. ‘Time for a quick one before we have to go to work.’

‘All right.’ Now he was eating well, an unexpected side effect was an increase in his sex drive. Good job there were so many more opportunities for intimacy here.

The laundry was already busy when they arrived, even though they weren’t late. Some of the workers always started early and took the time back later on, when there was more going on around the Weyr. Being the day after Threadfall, there was plenty to be done.

‘If we get through this lot quickly, then I’m going to have a picnic by the lake later on,’ Bavi said. ‘The weather’s set to stay fine and its a rest day for all the riders.’

‘Some of us are going to Greystones this afternoon,’ Jekki called across.

‘Well, join us afterwards. We’ll be outside until late.’

‘What’s the celebration for?’ Kadin asked.

‘Nothing special. We always have a few outdoor gatherings in the summer. Once the weather turns, there’ll be plenty of parties held inside weyrs, but there’s not so much room in those. So we make the most of it while we can. You two can help carry some of the stuff over.’

‘I knew there’d be a snag somewhere.’ Kadin gave a cheeky grin, then began to sift through the smelly socks in the basket.

It was early afternoon by the time they finished. Bavi took them to the kitchens; an area they’d kept away from previously. Even when the door was open due to the good weather, it always seemed so busy. Jevikel was glad they’d not ended up being assigned to work there. Some of the other lads had told them about the quantity of vegetables and tubers needing to be peeled and cut every day and how Tidula, the kitchen supervisor, had eyes in the back of her head. There was no slacking or shirking in the kitchens.

Baskets of food had already been packed. It took a few journeys to carry all of them down to the lakeside. One of the cooks brought out a spit and got a fire going to roast two large wherries. Next there were blankets and cushions. While they were spreading those out, a couple of riders turned up carrying musical instruments.

As he unpacked, Kadin kept looking at them with a wistful expression on his face.

Jevikel remembered he’d not been able to play since last Turn. ‘Go and introduce yourself. I’m sure they won’t mind.’

‘Can you manage on your own?’

‘I should be able to set out a few cushions without any help.’ He gave Kadin a gentle push in the direction of the musicians. ‘Go on.’

‘Kadin plays pipes and gitar,’ he explained to Bavi, when she came over. ‘Back at our Hold, he wasn’t allowed to, so he’s a bit shy about it.’

‘Not allowed to play music?’ She looked aghast. ‘Why ever not?’

‘Just how it was. But I’ve heard him play when we were up in the hills and he’s really good. He was taught by a proper Harper.’

‘Well, I never.’ Bavi grabbed a couple of the cushions and put them down in a small group, then stood back to admire her handiwork.

Jevikel glanced over. It seemed as if Kadin had struck up a conversation. One of the riders handed him his gitar. The look on Kadin’s face as he checked the tuning and strummed a couple of chords was a joy to behold. The look on the rider’’s face as he started playing a lively dance tune was something else. One of the others began accompanying him on a small hand drum. Jevikel didn’t want to move in case he broke the spell. He’d not heard anything like it since that long ago visit by Harpers to Pinnacle.

As if summoned by the music, people began to arrive. A couple of dragons set down, landing extra gently so as not to stir up too much dust. One of them was the colour of fresh spring leaves, another a dark seaweed green and much smaller, marking her as an Oldtimer dragon. The third was a sleek pale blue.

‘I knew H’rek wouldn’t be long,’ Bavi said. ‘I swear he can smell roasting wherry from the other side of the Bowl.’

The tune finished with a flourish and a roll of drums. Shortly after, Kadin returned. ‘That was amazing,’ he said. ‘They said I’m welcome to join in with them if I want. I’m just going back to fetch my pipes.’ He set off at a fast walk, breaking into a run after only a few paces.

‘Who was that playing?’ asked the blue rider, a young man with a dark beard.

‘Kadin. One of my fosterlings.’ There was pride in Bavi’s tone.

‘He’s good.’

Jevikel noticed the other rider who came to join him; the Oldtimer. He was short and stocky, with dark blond hair and a friendly expression. He was using a crutch, which immediately brought a pang of sympathy. It wasn’t easy negotiating the uneven ground of the Bowl. Probably the reason he’d flown rather than walking the distance.

‘This is Jevikel, my other fosterling,’ Bavi said, introducing him.

‘Hey,’ he said.

‘Ah. You must be the two T’rai rescued.’ The rider with the crutch had an accent similar to T’rai’s, even though his shoulder knots were brown and black; the colours of Fort Weyr. Jevikel was pleased he’d managed to remember that.

‘That’s right.’ Did anyone in the Weyr not know by now? He doubted it, somehow.

’T’rai will be over to join us later. I’m J’rud, by the way. And that’s Zurinth.’ He pointed at his dragon, who had launched herself to dive into a deeper part of the lake. She made a huge splash for a fairly small dragon.

‘Sh’ran of blue Izaeth,’ said the bearded rider. ‘And I think you’ve already met H’rek, Bavi’s unofficial fosterling.’

H’rek smiled. ‘Has she still got you sorting through smelly underwear?’

‘Afraid so.’ Small waves lapped on the stony beach as the other two dragons joined Zurinth. ‘Can I ask you something?’

‘Sure.’

‘Why do dragons like swimming so much?’

H’rek laughed. ‘No one really knows. When we were down south they spent most of their free time in the sea.’

‘Herebeth likes to catch fish,’ J’rud said. ‘And eat them.’

‘Well, he would. That dragon’s mind is focussed on food,’ H’rek commented. ‘Unlike his rider.’

‘Pity D’gar’s not with us today.’ J’rud nudged a small stone with the sharp end of his crutch, propelling it into the water.

D’gar! Wasn’t that the name of the Oldtimer Wingleader who’d yelled at Kadin and he? Jevikel felt relieved he wouldn’t be there.

‘He’ll be back later,’ H’rek said. ‘Gone to visit R’feem at Fort.’

‘Oh?’ J’rud asked. ‘Why’s that? Everything’s going fine, isn’t it?’

‘Just keeping in touch, that’s all.’ H’rek seemed slightly cagey about the subject. ‘Anyway, let’s go and see how that roast wherry is coming along.’

It was only as they went past, Jevikel noticed the reason J’rud was using a crutch. His left leg stopped just above where his ankle should have been.

Bavi caught him looking, then waited until the three were out of earshot. ‘Poor love. He and Zurinth got caught by Thread. It took half his foot off and the healers had to amputate what was left.’

In the few sevendays since they’d arrived at the Weyr, Jevikel had noticed a few injured riders. It was another reminder that fighting Thread was a dangerous undertaking. People back in the Holds never saw that side of it. He wasn’t sure what to say.

‘He’s coping well,’ Bavi went on, relieving him of the need. ‘Of course, Sh’ran’s been a big help. Good thing those two paired up before it happened.’

‘How did that come about? I mean, Sh’ran’s a Benden rider and J’rud’s an Oldtimer.’

‘The Southern riders and the five Weyrs folk both came here around the same time. Think they both felt a bit like outsiders. By the way, they don’t like being called Oldtimers.’

‘Oh.’ Everyone else seemed to call them that. He’d never even thought about it. ‘I didn’t know.’

‘Well, you wouldn’t. But “Five Weyrs” is how they like to be called as a group. Or just the name of the Weyr they’re originally from.’ Bavi opened up one of the baskets. ‘Now folk are beginning to arrive, let’s set out some food.’

He unfolded one of the tables and held down the cloth until it was sufficiently weighted down with bowls and dishes so as not to move. A slight breeze served to keep the afternoon heat tolerable. The three dragons had been joined in the water by several others. None of them seemed bothered that some were from Benden and some from the other Weyrs. He made a note to tell Kadin that piece of information. Now he knew it was rude, he wasn’t going to keep on calling the riders ‘Oldtimers’. ‘Is that how H’rek got to know them?’

Bavi moved a plate of meat rolls slightly to the right, then stepped back to survey her handiwork. ‘He was down south, with me and Sh’ran.’ She smiled. ‘I tried to get them together, one time. Then when he got back, Rioth took matters into her own hands. Rose to mate and got caught by D’gar’s Herebeth.’

‘Oh.’ Jevikel couldn’t imagine anything more dreadful. ‘Poor H’rek.’

Bavi gave him an odd look. ‘H’rek’s head over heels in love with the man. Not all mating flights turn out like that, but theirs did. Why? Have people been saying things about D’gar?’

‘Not really. He yelled at us in the infirmary, though.’

‘Well, that was right after Fall. I wouldn’t take much notice of it. He’s usually very polite.’

Maybe she was right. They had only met that once and he’d been worried about T’rai and Hinarth.

Kadin skidded to a halt beside him. He must have run all the way back, as he was dusty and out of breath. ‘Have I missed anything?’

‘No. We’ve only just got the food out.’ He saw the uncertainty on Kadin’s face. ‘You head over and join the musicians, if that’s what you want.’

‘You sure?’

‘Yes. Go ahead. I haven’t heard you play for far too long.’

‘I’ll come back later,’ Kadin promised.

Jevikel helped himself to food and a cup of beer. It was cool and refreshing. He didn’t want to get drunk, but it gave him a pleasantly hazy feeling. He was glad Kadin was comfortable going off on his own. They’d made a few friends together, but it was good to get to know other people, particularly as the Weyr was going to be their home.

The music started up again. Another gitar player joined them. Someone else had brought an instrument that was played by drawing a bow across the strings. The clear, bright notes of the pipes provided the melody for the first song. Jevikel had no idea what it was called, but it reminded him of the hills and the wild grasses waving in the wind.

‘I never knew Kadin could play.’ Egevan plonked down to one side of him, Kernam on the other.

‘He didn’t know if it would be allowed.’

‘There are some here who shouldn’t be allowed to play, the racket they make. But he’s good. So, where’s that beer?’

Jevikel pointed to the lake’s edge, where skins had been immersed to keep the contents cool.

‘I’m going to get some. Want a top up?’

‘Thanks.’ He lay back again to enjoy the music and the sunshine. There were two several loud splashes from the lake. He sat up. Kernam and Egevan hadn’t fallen in, although they were both wet. It was obvious why. Two bronze dragons had landed in the shallows and were now using their powerful wings to splash each other. Their riders, still perched on the neck ridges, laughed. A few weyrfolk who had been sitting close to the waters edge moved back abruptly, shaking their heads and muttering.

Egevan ran back, wringing water from his long hair. His shirt was soaked. ‘Stupid idiots.’ He stripped it off and laid it on a rock to dry. ‘Some of those bronzes think they’re the only ones who matter round here.’

‘Who are they?’

‘Prideth’s clutch. They’ve only just come back from a stint in the south.’

Kernam carried the beer carefully up the beach. ‘Sorry if it’s a bit watered down.’ He looked even wetter than Egevan. ‘They’ll give up in a minute if everyone ignores them.’

‘I thought bronze riders were supposed to be responsible leaders.’

‘The older ones are, mostly.’ Kernam took off his wet shirt, too. ‘Good job I wasn’t going to be wearing that for long.’

Although he’d been too far away to be splashed, Jevikel was beginning to feel hot, so followed likewise.

Egevan gave him an appraising glance. ‘Now you’re filling out, you aren’t so bad to look at.’

‘Thanks. I should probably get some exercise to build up a bit of muscle.’ All of the riders he’d seen made him feel puny, even though he knew he was strong for his age.

Kernam chuckled. ‘We’ll have plenty of that once the new Weyrlingmaster starts. C’gan had Ramoth’s candidates running round the Bowl in all weathers, doing push ups and sit ups and throwing sacks of rocks at each other.’

‘Then there’s all the dragon care. Washing and oiling and feeding.’ Egevan took a swig of his beer. ‘That makes you pretty fit.’

The bronze riders jumped off their dragons. They waded to the shore, talking and laughing loudly. Utterly sure of themselves to the point of arrogance. If that was what it took to be a bronze rider, Jevikel didn’t think he had it. Or wanted it, for that matter. He wasn’t sure green would be a perfect fit either, but maybe blue or brown might. He needed to talk to some of the other riders.

Spotting Sh’ran lounging on one of the larger cushions, he made his way over.

J’rud was propped up against him, while H’rek sat cross legged, talking with a couple of others around the same age as himself. Clutchmates, probably.

‘May I join you?’ he asked.

‘Sure. Grab that blanket to sit on.’ Sh’ran pointed to a spare one close by.

He was aware of them both waiting for him to speak. ‘I’m going to be a candidate for Ramoth’s next clutch. I’d like to find out all the pros and cons of the different colour dragons.’

J’rud shifted slightly. ‘You don’t choose them. They choose you.’

‘I know that. But all the other lads keep going on about what colour they want to Impress.’

Sh’ran and J’rud gave each other a look. ‘Folk always do,’ J’rud said. ‘But it doesn’t make any difference.’

He’d heard that a few times now. ‘They say bronzes pick ambitious lads and browns go for the more steady and reliable ones.’

‘In most cases, that’s true. Although that pair of bronzes chose a couple of brash idiots.’ Sh’ran gestured towards the two youngsters, who were still causing disruption on land. ‘I always hoped to Impress a blue. Lucky for me Izaeth was of the same mind and picked me. But despite what the Weyrbred lads might tell you, there’s no special secret.’

J’rud nodded. ‘What would you like to happen?’

He only had to think for a few seconds. ‘For both me and Kadin to Impress at the same time, no matter what colour dragons we end up with.'

J’rud smiled. ‘You’re together?’

‘Yes. Have been for over a Turn.’

‘I remember another pair like that. They got their wish. Green and brown. Pity the dragons never felt quite the same way about each other as their riders.’

‘Who was that?’ Sh’ran asked.

‘D’gar and S’brin. My clutchmates. S’brin didn’t make it to the end of the Pass.’

It reminded Jevikel he was one of those who had come forward. He also remembered what Bavi had told him. ‘So should I call you a Fort rider, or Five Weyrs?’

‘Anything’s better than “Oldtimer”. We didn’t ask for that name and it makes me feel like some kind of doddering old fool.’

‘It’ll get better, once more folk get together like we have,’ Sh’ran said. ‘Or like H’rek and D’gar.’

‘Maybe.’ J’rud sighed. ‘But some are too hidebound to change.’

‘Who’s hidebound?’ H’rek chipped in, having evidently caught part of what was being said.

‘Some folk here at Benden and…’

H’rek interrupted before he could finish. ‘Tell me about it. Some of those Wingleaders don’t like D’gar being part of their exalted company, even though he can fly rings round them.’

J’rud nodded. ‘I was about to say it’s not just here. There are folk like that at every Weyr. Mostly the older ones, but not always.’

Jevikel felt as if he was getting another insight into the way things worked. Dragonriders, just like everyone else, weren’t exempt from petty squabbles, or bad behaviour. The Weyr wasn’t perfect, although it was a good deal better than Pinnacle Hold.

‘D’you reckon that wherry’s ready yet?’ H’rek asked, sniffing the air. ‘I’m starving.’

‘There’s meat rolls and pies and all sorts on the table.’ Jevikel glanced over. People were picking out their favourites. They hadn’t put out all of the food yet, but maybe he should go and grab some for Kadin? He was still playing, although he’d borrowed a gitar now. Surely they’d let him have a break soon? Or maybe he didn’t want to, caught up in the joy of making music.

The roast wherry was tender and juicy, the skin crisply browned. Jevikel dipped a piece in one of the sauces on the table, stuffed it in his mouth and thought he was about to breathe fire, like a dragon. He coughed and spluttered until H’rek handed him a cup of beer to wash it down.

‘What was that?’ he gasped. It had even made his voice squeaky.

‘Spicy red sauce from Southern Weyr. We have something similar in Southern Boll. I’d stick to the green sauce, if I were you. It’s got plenty of flavour but won’t blow your ears off.’

He dipped a tiny morsel of meat in to try it and found H’rek was right. ‘Half the food they serve here I’ve never seen before.’

‘From a northern Hold, are you?’

He sensed H’rek wasn’t digging for information. Besides, he’d already indicated he was from Southern Boll, wherever on Pern that was, so it seemed polite to reciprocate. ‘Yes. Over the Benden mountains.’

‘Ah. So, are you settling in all right?’

‘Bavi’s helped us a lot.’

‘It’s what she does best. I wouldn’t have got through the change from Hold to Weyr so well if she hadn’t been around.’ H’rek carved off a chunk of wherry with his belt knife and slathered it with the fiery sauce, then took a large bite with seemingly no ill effect. ‘Ramoth will be ready to lay her eggs in a month or so. After that your training will start.’

‘If we have a Weyrlingmaster by then.’

H’rek took a swig of his beer. ‘Oh, you will, don’t worry about that.’

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

59 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

This was a superb chapter in so many ways, I loved the relaxed atmosphere, tho tinged with a sobering bit of reality when J'rud's leg was noticed, along with a bit of foreshadowing when the discussion about the new Weyrlingmaster.

It is good to see as the boys, for lack of better words, recover from life at Pinnacle Hold, that they are gaining a better understanding as to how the Weyr works along with politics. I'm hoping that the boys have a moment, soon, with D'gar...before they stand before the eggs.

One random thought...what are the chances Kadin doesn't impress and gravitates towards becoming a Harper???

Once the eggs are laid, the candidates training will begin, so they'll have plenty of time to get to know D'gar.

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11 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

I'm glad to see the boys being fine with spending time apart, but still checking in with each other and sharing their experiences - and some intimate moments as well. Jevikel was openminded about D'gar perhaps being nicer than the upset man they met after the rescue when Bavi, H'rek and J'rud talked about him. He didn't seem to pay much attention to the fact that D'gar had lost his first love and weyrmate, but I'm sure he'll remember later. He's good at thinking things over and connecting the dots. Kadin is bound to become popular with his ability to play and his outgoing personality.

They are really finding their feet at the Weyr. It's good they can make other friends after living at Pinnacle and not really being able to trust anyone else.

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This was really a wonderful chapter.  We got to to see the lighter side of the weyr; and Jevikel and Kadin got to see the lighter side as well.  Jevikel is going to have to get over his irritation at D'gar soon or have additional issues to deal with.  

So glad that Kadin was able to play with a group of musicians and get to stretch himself some.  He truly loves to play and should always have that chance.  

They will be announcing D'gar as the new weyrlingmaster soon; and that will start the work towards those chosen to try and impress.

Truly a lovely chapter, good job @Mawgrim.

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4 hours ago, ColumbusGuy said:

Thanks, I couldn't remember C'gan's name...

I seem to remember from the original series that either Mnementh or Ramoth said that Master Robinton could have been a dragonrider, but with the Interval and opportunity, he opted for a career where he could do far more than the average Master....

That's right. The fact dragons talked to him indicates he probably had dragonrider potential. I’m not sure, but I think F'lon (F'lar and F'nor's father) said something like that to him.

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It is great to see our boys coming out of their shells and making friends. Also good to see J'rud again. Looking forward to kadin and Jevikel meeting D'gar properly. Thank you for writing and continuing to spread joy.   

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