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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 - 22. An Announcement

The following day was an ironing day. Jevikel and Kadin were kept busy, folding the freshly laundered garments, then stacking them in the niches by size, or handing them out to riders and weyrfolk. The riders were meant to stitch their names inside the collar or waistband, but some had frayed and others just hadn’t bothered, so much of the time it was a question of assessing the build of a man and then finding an appropriately coloured shirt that might fit him.

‘That’s not my shirt. Mine’s a paler green. Matches my dragon.’

‘I can’t see your dragon and I doubt she’d fit in here anyway.’ Kadin was becoming quite assertive. ‘So, go and look through that pile of green shirts and if it’s not there, it’s because it isn’t ready yet.’

The man stomped off, grumbling. Jevikel bet he’d deliberately mess up the shirts so they’d need refolding. ‘Proddy, I’ll bet,’ he said, under his breath.

It was relief to get out on their break. Jevikel blew on the surface of his klah, trying to cool it down more quickly. Breaks were shorter on busy days.

‘So, when do you think you’ll get some work?’ he asked Kadin, who had told him excitedly the evening before that the band leader had decided he was good enough to join them and that he could earn marks through being hired for private parties.

‘Probably not until the weather turns, A’dag said. But I’m going to practice with them every sevenday, so I can learn some more tunes.’ He sighed. ‘Being able to play again is brilliant.’

Jevikel was glad for him. He wished he had some special skill, but herding didn’t count, not unless he actually became a beast handler like Kemi. He supposed that was an option, if he didn’t Impress. ‘Good, good,’ he said, slightly absently as his thoughts were elsewhere.

‘Mind you, when we Impress we’ll be so busy, I might not have so much time.’

‘If, not when. Don’t tempt fate.’

‘That’s just a silly superstition. Two Search dragons have selected us. Of course we’ll Impress.’

Jevikel wished he had the same confidence. ‘Not everyone Impresses first time,’ he said, passing on what he’d gleaned through talking to various riders. ‘They always send in more candidates than eggs, so some are bound to be disappointed.’

‘I know that. But we won’t be.’

Bavi clapped her hands together. ‘Back to work, girls and boys. Let’s get this lot finished. I’ve just been told there’s an important announcement being made in the rider’s dining hall this evening, so if we get there early we’ll be sure of a good view.’

‘Not another one,’ Judna grumbled as they made their way back into the laundry. ‘This Turn we’ve had one every month. Sometimes twice in a month. Never happened like that when R’gul was Weyrleader.’

‘That’s because he never did anything.’ Shiyun said. ‘I like it that we’re informed, even if it doesn’t affect us.’

Judna just grunted, shaking her head.

Jevikel carried on folding shirts and trousers. He and Kadin had it down to a fine art. They were having a competition to see who could fold ten shirts the fastest, when their game was disrupted.

‘Hey, girls. Got my shirts ready yet?’

Jevikel looked up. It was one of the bronze riders who’d soaked everyone at the lake. ‘I’m not a girl and neither is he.’ He nodded toward Kadin.

‘Then why are you in here? Laundry’s women’s work.’ He must have spotted their shoulder knots. ‘Candidates, too. Bet you’ll both get greens.’

‘Nothing wrong with greens,’ Kadin said. ‘Some bronzes, though…’

He didn’t have time to finish his sentence, as the rider leaned over the table and grabbed a fistful of his shirt, pulling him across the garments he'd just folded and spilling them onto the floor. ‘Candidates don’t insult riders, or haven’t you been told that yet.’

The rider was taller than Jevikel, but he bet he’d never learned some of the dirty fighting moves he’d seen. ‘Let him go,’ he said, keeping his voice even.

‘Or what?’

‘Or I’ll make you regret it.’

He smiled unpleasantly. ‘Try it and I’ll have you barred from the Hatching.’

‘You can’t do that.’ Kadin struggled to free himself.

‘Now, then. What’s going on here?’ Bavi must have seen what was going on.

‘This one,’ he shook Kadin, ‘Insulted me and the other one was about to start a fight.’

Jevikel kept his fists clenched, ready to act if needs be. ‘It wasn’t like that,’ he told her.

The rider released Kadin with a push that sent him flying. ‘You’d take the word of these two over a bronze rider?’

‘Certainly. I know you, L’cal. I was in Southern, too. You were always an arrogant sort, but lately you’ve turned downright nasty. Now, get out of this laundry.’ She stood with her hands on her hips, looking fierce.

‘What about my shirts?’

‘I’ll make sure you get them… after everyone else has picked up theirs.’ Bavi stood her ground.

L’cal’s face reddened. ‘I’ll report you to Manora,’ he threatened.

‘Go ahead. She doesn’t like riders being abusive to her staff either.’

L’cal gave them all a dirty look, then turned on his heel and strode away.

‘Are you all right?’ Jevikel went to Kadin first.

‘Fine. What a bastard.’ He brushed down his shirt, glaring after the departing rider.

‘There are a few like that.’ Bavi shook her head. ‘Young and foolish. He’s one of H’rek’s clutchmates, more’s the pity. Throwing their weight around because they aren’t in a proper Wing yet. He got away with it in the south, but he won’t here.’

‘Could he get us barred?’ Jevikel asked.

‘Not at all. He may be a bronze rider, but a very junior one. He’s all mouth. Next time he sends anything decent in here, I’ll make sure it gets ruined. Accidents happen.’ Her mouth turned up in a smile. ‘Just ignore folk like him.’

After work had finished, they fetched their good clothes and went to the baths to change before eating. It always felt good to freshen up. Working in the laundry wasn’t dirty, although a certain amount of fabric fluff got onto everything you wore.

‘I don’t think I like bronze riders,’ Kadin said.

‘He’s just one among many. Bavi said he was nasty.’

‘So why did he Impress? Aren’t bronzes supposed to choose good leaders? That idiot couldn’t lead a herdbeast to water.’

‘Maybe he was the nearest when his dragon hatched? Who knows? Don’t bother yourself about it?’

‘What if there are ones like him in our clutch?’ Kadin still seemed worried.

‘I doubt it. All the lads we’ve met are sound enough.’

Kadin dived under the water. Jevikel followed him. His swimming was definitely improving. He’d managed half a circuit of the lake a few days previously. Given how much time dragons spent in the water, it seemed like a necessary skill.

They surfaced at the shallow end of the pool. Kadin rubbed sweetsand into his hair. ‘Wonder what this announcement is about?’

‘We’ll find out soon enough.’

By the time they returned to the sleeping chamber, some of the other lads were already speculating. ‘It’s about the new Weyrlingmaster,’ Lukodan said. ‘Has to be.’

‘Or they might be giving N’ton his own Wing at last,’ Egevan suggested.

N’ton was one of the bronze riders from Ramoth’s first clutch. Jevikel had heard his name mentioned a few times. Hopefully he wasn’t as unpleasant as L’cal.

‘Could be both at once.’ Nursheldor slipped a clean shirt over his stocky frame. ‘Maybe one of the Wingleaders is gonna be made Weyrlingmaster, so N’ton has to fill the position.’

There were a few nods to that. ‘Makes sense,’ Lukodan agreed. ‘So, which Wingleader, eh?’

‘Has to be R’gul.’

Jevikel glanced at Kadin. Even though he only knew R’gul by reputation he imagined him as being something like Vikkel; hard to please and unbending when it came to rules.

‘It’ll be fine,’ Kadin said quietly. ‘Even if it is him, we won’t be weyrlings forever.’

Many of the workers had already got to the main dining hall before them. A few riders already sat at the long tables, including everyone from one of the Five Weyrs Wings. Jevikel recognised T’rai and B’dant among them, plus D’gar at the head of the table. He kept his head down, not wanting to be noticed and found a place to stand near one of the alcoves used for storing plates and bowls.

More riders began to file in. Jevikel supposed their dragons told them when they were expected to be somewhere. That would be a useful way to pass on messages. Kitchen workers streamed through the arched opening leading from their domain and spread out to either side. The dining hall, large though it was, soon became crammed with people.

F’lar and Lessa arrived. Jevikel had never seen the Weyrleader and Weyrwoman so close up before, only mounted on their dragons before a Fall. The crowds parted to form a corridor through which they made their way to the top table. An expectant buzz of conversation followed them.

Finally they reached their seats, although F’lar remained standing and looked around the room slowly until everyone fell silent.

‘Good evening,’ he began. ‘I called everyone here for this announcement because it’s an important one; something that will affect many of you indirectly and quite a few in a more direct fashion. We’ve been without a Weyrlingmaster for over two months now, which meant both Ramoth and Prideth’s last clutches had to make do with instruction from a number of different wing riders while they were in the south. However, for Ramoth’s next clutch, who will be raised here at Benden, we realised we needed to have someone permanent in place.’ He paused, looking around the room again. ‘It was a difficult decision to make. C’gan had been in the position for so long that most of the riders here today were guided through their earliest Turns as dragonriders by him. And I think you’ll all agree he was very thorough in teaching us all. But things have changed. Most of us Impressed our dragons and grew up during the last Turns of the Interval. Now we’re in a Pass and rather than the Spring Games being the be all and end all of our training, we’re fighting Thread; a very real, yet mindless enemy, that doesn’t forgive mistakes.’

There were nods and noises of agreement around the room.

‘Both Lessa and myself recognised we needed to pick a rider who had practical experience, not just a good knowledge of theory and Teaching Ballads.’ He glanced over to one of the Wingleaders; a heavyset older man. Jevikel wondered if that was R’gul. If it was, he didn’t seem entirely happy, or maybe that glowering expression was his normal one?

‘I’m not going to keep you in suspense any longer. Our decision was that rather than picking an existing Benden rider - and let’s face it, none of us have more than two months experience of fighting Thread - we’d ask someone from one of the other Weyrs to fill this important position.’

Some of the Benden riders shook their heads at this; mainly the older ones.

‘So tonight I’m happy to announce that not only do we have a new Weyrlingmaster, but also our first transfer to Benden from another Weyr for over four hundred Turns. Riders and weyrfolk, Benden’s new Weyrlingmaster is to be D’gar of brown Herebeth, from Fort Weyr.’

D’gar’s wingriders burst into loud cheers, banging the table and stomping their boots on the floor. Jevikel scanned the other candidates. All of them looked slightly surprised at the announcement. R’gul wasn’t generally liked, but he was a known quantity. D’gar wasn’t.

Some of H’rek’s friends also took up the cheers, while the Benden riders either did nothing or clapped in a rather half-hearted fashion.

F’lar silenced them all. ‘So now the news is out, enjoy your meal. And D’gar, both Lessa and myself wish you all the best in your new appointment.’

D’gar smiled politely as his Wing plied him with drinks. Jevikel had heard the Old - Five Weyrs riders - all drank far more heavily than was normal. It obviously wasn’t just a rumour.

‘Come on, then.’ Bavi began to usher them out. ‘Everyone will want their food now and we need to get to our own dining hall.’

As soon as they were seated, the gossip began. ‘I can’t believe it.’ Lukodan put his head in his hands. ‘We’re going to have an Oldtimer as Weyrlingmaster.’

‘Can’t be worse than R’gul,’ Jurrendon said. ‘Might be better.’

‘They don’t like being called Oldtimers.’ Jevikel thought he might as well clear that up.

‘Friends with them, are you?’ Nursheldor asked.

‘I’ve spoken with a few. One of them told me they prefer to be called Five Weyrs riders, or just referred to by the name of the Weyr they’re from.’

‘What’s wrong with “Oldtimers,”’ Nursheldor persisted. ‘They came here from the past.’

‘J’rud told me it makes him feel like a doddery old man.’

‘Who’s J’rud?’

‘He’s weyrmates with a rider from Ramoth’s clutch. Thread ate his foot.’

‘Really? Gross.’ Egevan made a face.

‘Maybe he was too old to dodge.’ Nursheldor laughed. ‘Hey, what was that folk were saying when they first got here? Something about travelling through time making their dragons smaller.’

‘“Did your dragon shrink during four hundred Turns between?”’ Kernam quoted. ‘That was it. I thought it was funny.’

Lukodan looked up with a despairing expression. ‘He’ll have us swimming the lake in midwinter to toughen us up. Endless filling up firestone sacks. Midden duty - or worse - if anyone annoys him. That’s what they do at those other Weyrs.’

Kadin spoke up. ‘Maybe he will. But at least we’ll learn how to fight Thread from someone who’s done it for Turns instead of just learning Teaching Ballads about it. Plus, he’s young enough to remember being a weyrling himself.’

‘There is that,’ Jurrendon agreed. ‘He’s been teaching Prideth’s clutch loads of new fighting moves. It can’t be all bad.’

‘I expect he’ll want to meet us soon.’ Egevan said. ‘Before all of the others come in from Search.’

Jevikel had almost forgotten about that. There were only ten prospective candidates at the Weyr so far; a mix of Weyrbred lads and those like himself and Kadin, who had passed muster for Search previously. If Ramoth matched her first clutch of forty-one eggs, then they’d need at least another thirty.

‘I think it’s exciting,’ Jurrendon said. ‘We’ll be the first load of weyrlings to be trained here this Pass. F’lar and Lessa wouldn’t have picked someone unless they think he’ll do a good job.’

‘But an Oldtimer…’ Nursheldor said. ‘They don’t think the same as us. When someone in their Wings dies, they just drink a lot and joke about him. No respect.’

That didn’t sound very kind. Did they tease J’rud about losing a foot as well? He had a sudden, sobering thought. How many of the lads in this room, right now, would die fighting Thread? He shook it off. No point in worrying about the distant future. Even if they all Impressed, it would be Turns before they faced Thread and they’d have plenty of training and experience behind them by then.

The next day was a rest day. Jevikel had spoken to Kemi a few days previously and she’d told him Sh’ros had agreed to take them all to Greystones on a day out. ‘Wear layers,’ she’d suggested. Even if it’s hot at ground level, it gets chilly when you’re flying, not to mention when we go between.’

They met on the landing ground. Keshel toddled alongside Kemi, dressed in a miniature wherhide outfit, looking just like a tiny dragonrider. Kemi wore a rather battered looking wherhide jacket, plus her thick trousers and working boots. Jevikel had borrowed a coat from Lukodan, who was a similar height as himself, although broader in the chest and shoulders. It made him feel as if he was back at Pinnacle, when Jemina used to give out clothes in a large size ‘to grow into’.

Kadin’s coat had been loaned to him by Egevan. It was also slightly too large.

Bruganith was the largest brown dragon he’d been close to since the two riders visited the Hold that time. His neck ridges appeared dauntingly high.

‘Is he going to be able to carry us all?’ Kadin asked the question he’d been wondering as well.

Sh’ros grinned. ‘Two adults, two lads and a toddler’s easy for him. The pair of you probably don’t weigh much more than the firestone sacks he carries through Fall. He’ll be fine.’

‘Here you go.’ Kemi lifted Keshel and handed him to Jevikel. ‘You can pass him up when I’ve got on.’

Bruganith obligingly lowered himself, then Sh’ros gave her a boost up to the neck ridge behind the one he’d usually sit in. Jevikel held up Keshel as high as he could, which wasn’t the easiest thing to do as he squirmed quite a lot. Kemi reached down and scooped him up, setting him in front of her as she used the straps to secure them both in place.

‘Who’s next?’ Sh’ros asked. Kadin stepped forward an instant before Jevikel, which is how he found himself at the back, almost between the dragon’s wings. It was a long way down to the ground and he took care to make sure the straps were tight. Falling off at the Weyr would be embarrassing; falling off in flight deadly.

Sh’ros gave the customary signal for take off that Jevikel had seen many times by now. It was a warning both to his passengers and to anyone who might be walking nearby. The next moment, Bruganith leaped into the air, his strong wings allowing him to ascend rapidly. As they passed, Jevikel had a glimpse inside several of the higher levels weyrs. In a very short time, the Bowl was far below. Sh’ros had already explained he would count them down to the between jump. He held up his left hand and crooked each finger in turn. When his hand became a fist, blackness enveloped them. It wasn’t quite as much of a shock as the first time on board Hinarth, but expecting it didn’t make it any more pleasant. He was glad of his bulky coat in the icy darkness, even though he could no longer feel his hands around Kadin’s waist, or even the dragon beneath him.

Suddenly, they burst out into daylight and bright sunshine. Below was an amazing expanse of water, stretching as far as the eye could see until it merged with the sky. Jevikel had heard of the sea and imagined it as a larger version of the Weyr lake, but the reality was incredible.

As they descended towards a rocky beach, he saw many dragons and riders had already arrived. Greystones was a popular place for a day out from Benden. ‘Some folk prefer the sandier beaches at Nerat, but the dragons like some waves to play in,’ Kemi had told him.

Bruganith set them down gently. Jevikel decided he liked landings better than take-offs; they were so much smoother.

They got down in reverse, then Sh’ros removed the riding straps, so Bruganith could go for a swim. Everyone took off their heavy coats right away; the sun had heated the rocks, making the cove a real sun trap. Most of the riders and weyrfolk wore nothing at all, lying on blankets or even directly on the large, flat rocks and soaking up the sun. Without a second thought, Kemi undressed Keshel first, then herself, making a neat pile of her clothes. Jevikel wasn’t sure where to look, while Kadin had already lost his inhibitions after being at the Weyr for a few sevendays.

‘Come on,’ Kadin said, stripping off as he talked. ‘You can’t still be shy.’

It wasn’t shyness, exactly. Jevikel wasn’t quite sure why he still clung on to this last Holdbred reluctance. Kadin had managed to shed it easily enough, after the first couple of days at the baths. Even Kemi didn’t care anymore, although she’d admittedly had longer to get used to the lack of inhibitions with regards to nakedness. When Sh’ros also started adding his clothes to the heap, he realised still being dressed on the beach was more noticeable than wearing nothing at all, so followed suit. It had to be said that the warmth of the sun felt good on his body and there was a certain feeling of freedom that came with being unclothed.

Kemi obviously understood his feelings. ‘Can you imagine what father would say if he saw this?’

‘It would confirm all his worst suspicions about the Weyr.’

‘And yet, look around. People are just doing the same things as if they had their clothes on.’

She was right. One group were playing cards, another having a picnic. Small children bathed in the sheltered rock pools, while adults swam through the high waves alone, or with their dragons.

‘I wouldn’t fancy swimming with my clothes on.’

She nudged him. ‘Don’t be pedantic. You know what I mean. It’s just… natural. In the south it was always too hot to wear much during the day so I soon got used to it.’

Sh’ros sat next to her, leaning across to speak to Jevikel. ‘I’m Craftbred, so I was shocked by Weyr ways at first, too. Don’t worry. By next summer, you won’t even think about it any more.’

Kemi nodded. ‘And hopefully, you’ll have a dragon by then.’

‘Hopefully.’ Lately, he’d been having nightmares where Kadin Impressed and he didn’t, or vice versa.

‘You’ve both got a better chance than I did,’ Sh’ros said. ‘When I Impressed, clutches were much smaller and Nemorth went Turns between mating flights. You knew that if you didn’t succeed you might be over age by the time she laid her next batch. Ramoth’s risen twice in less than a Turn.’

It was a good point.

‘He worries too much,’ Kadin said.

‘Some folk do. But your dragon won’t mind that. They’ll find you.’ He gazed out to sea, where Bruganith was splashing around with a green and a blue.

‘Did you care about what colour dragon you’d Impress?’ Sh’ros was the first brown rider he’d had a chance to talk with.

‘Not really. Like I said, with clutches so few and far between, you were just glad any dragon had picked you. But Bruganith knew me better than I did. Don’t think I’d really have wanted a bronze. Browns are almost as powerful flyers and only a bit smaller. He can fight a full Fall, just like they can, but I don’t have to worry about him chasing golds and me ending up Weyrleader by chance.’

‘You were acting Wingsecond for a while, in the south,’ Kemi put in.

‘Yes. T’bor liked to give all of us the experience. Of course, we weren’t fighting Thread then, so the job was a bit different. Wingsecond’s enough responsibility for me, thanks very much.'

‘What do you think of the new Weyrlingmaster?’ Kadin asked.

‘If F’lar thinks he’s up to it, that’s good enough for me. Some of the others in the Wing didn’t like that he chose an Oldtimer, but he’s proved he knows what he’s doing. Not everyone feels the same, though.’

‘Just wait and see,’ Kemi said. ‘Get to know the man before you judge him. Some folk at the Weyr are almost as hidebound as Vikkel.’

That sounded about right.

‘Come on,’ Kadin said. ‘Let’s go for a dip. The sea looks like fun.’

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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It's been mentioned by others already, but the last few chapters have really impressed me with how much of the daily life of the Weyr has been displayed without it being pedantic. I suspect the action level is going to ramp up soon, but it has been delightful to get a good feel about daily Weyr-life as Kadin and especially Jevikel learn. Superb writing, @Mawgrim!

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41 minutes ago, Dr. John NYC said:

It's been mentioned by others already, but the last few chapters have really impressed me with how much of the daily life of the Weyr has been displayed without it being pedantic. I suspect the action level is going to ramp up soon, but it has been delightful to get a good feel about daily Weyr-life as Kadin and especially Jevikel learn. Superb writing, @Mawgrim!

Ditto What Dr.John Said ! 
              Cheers ,

                Johnny C 🐲

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