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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 - 30. Asking Favours

A sevenday passed. Jevikel was glad to have finished midden duty, although Hortaimin and Narrirec had now taken that task over as part of their kitchen duties. Hortaimin seemed far more subdued than before. The others from Lemos had begun to integrate to a certain extent with the rest of the candidates. Having done midden duty along with Tafush, Jevikel had even spoken to him a few times and found out a little more about Hortaimin.

‘His father never took much notice of him. He had two older brothers. Sometimes, he used to do things to try and get attention. Like, one time, he loosened the watch wher’s chain by a few links, just to scare folk, you know? The drudges had to walk past to get to the room where they slept. Anyway, one of the women was going by at the usual distance and the watch wher managed to grab her. Hortaimin beat it off her, but she was badly mauled. His father didn’t even care he’d saved her. “We’ve got plenty of drudges,” was all he said.’

Tafush had told it as if it was just a stupid prank, but the woman could have died. Perhaps there were worse places than Pinnacle?

‘Anyway, when he was Searched, the old man was so proud. One of his sons, a dragonrider! But then the pressure was on. If he doesn’t get a brown, at the very least, he won’t be welcome at home again.’

‘What if he ends up with a green?’

‘I think he’d kill himself.’

‘He can’t if he has a dragon.’ Jevikel was horrified. ‘We all know what happens when a rider dies.’

Tafush shrugged. ‘That’s what he said.’

Lessons continued. They visited the eggs a second time, as promised. Ramoth had moved them around, so now there was more space between them, almost as if she was giving them room for the moment the hatchlings struggled to break free. This time, they were allowed to go closer and even touch the shells. Jevikel found himself drawn to the small egg with the brownish patterns. The lines looked as if they’d been painted on, like a map. It didn’t look like any coast he recognised, though. Gingerly, he traced one of the outlines. The shell was warm and smooth.

All around, the other candidates were doing the same. Some, like him, only touched one egg, while others moved between several. Would it make any difference on Hatching Day?

‘You seemed to like that egg,’ Kadin said, after they’d left the silent space of the Sands.

‘It felt… right.’ He didn’t have the words to describe it. ‘Didn’t you get that kind of feeling?’

‘Not really. I touched about three of them. Jurrendon said he felt like that, though. Do you suppose that means you’ll both Impress and maybe I won’t?’

It was his first real sign of doubt. ‘I don’t think so. I reckon Jurrendon and I were the odd ones out. Nearly everyone else went round and touched a lot of eggs.’

It seemed to reassure Kadin. ‘It’s a small egg,’ he said. ‘Might be a green or blue.’

‘We won’t know until it cracks.’ Jevikel had noticed how many of the candidates had clustered around the larger eggs.

‘So you like greens now?’

’T’rai showed me what Hinarth could do and told me there were special straps so tall people feel more secure on smaller dragons.’

‘At least I won’t have that problem.’ Kadin was a head shorter now, especially since good nutrition had given Jevikel another growth spurt. ‘I’ve been thinking about names,’ he continued. ‘Apparently there’s a rider called K’din from Prideth’s clutch. He’s in Southern half of the time, but he’s based at Benden. So that means I can’t use the same name.’

‘Pity. You don’t have a lot of other options.’

‘I was thinking of letting the dragon choose. One of the green riders said quite a few folk do it that way. D’mer used part of his dragon’s name - Merranth - because he didn’t have enough syllables to play with. She likes it, too.’

‘Sounds like a good idea. I’ve been thinking, too. If it hadn’t been for T’rai, neither of us would be here. I’ve been wondering how he’d feel if I used part of his name and just keep the J at the start.’

‘You need to ask him, though I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.’

‘I will.’

It was the evening after Fall; a short one over the vineyards of Benden Hold. There hadn’t been many casualties, so everyone was in a good mood. Dragons sunbathed in the golden evening light which still caught the rim of the Weyr, although the Bowl was already in shadow. Most of the riders had left their dining hall and sat in small groups outdoors. Someone had lit a fire at the lakeside and a couple of the Weyr musicians were playing pipes and drums, encouraging people to dance. Jevikel spotted T’rai along with some of the other green riders. Most were from the five Weyrs, but there were a couple of younger Benden riders, too. That was good to see.

He made his way over. ‘Mind if I sit with you?’ he asked T’rai. ‘I wanted your advice on something?’

‘Old uncle T’rai,’ one of the others said, raising a laugh. ‘He can give advice on anything from dragon care to healing a broken heart. Which is it for you, youngster?’

‘Well, I don’t have a dragon at the moment, or a broken heart. I’m happily in love, thanks.’

They laughed at that, too and someone poured him a cup of klah from a jug. ‘Well, go on then. Or is it private?’

‘Not really.’ Jevikel took a sip of klah, realising he felt nervous. ‘I know it’s unlucky to talk about how you’d contract your name before you Impress, but I don’t know what to do.’

‘It’s not unlucky at High Reaches,’ T’rai said. ‘The lads there play games trying to make the funniest name they can. You’ve got an easy name. Plenty of ways to contract it.’

‘Yes, but…’ he paused. ‘All of the ways that I can do it remind me of my father’s name. We didn’t get on.’

‘Ah, difficult,’ said J’rud. ‘I see your dilemma.’

‘So I want something to reflect my new life here at the Weyr. And to honour the man who saved me and Kadin from being eaten by Thread.’ He turned to T’rai. ‘If you don’t mind, I’d like to use the last part of your name to make my new one. If I Impress, that is.’

T’rai beamed. ‘I’d be glad for you to do that. J’rai sounds pretty good.’

‘Does that make him your son?’ someone else said, causing more laughter.

‘I’d be proud to have a son like Jevikel. And I’ll cheer louder than anyone in the Hatching Grounds when he Impresses his dragon.’ T’rai pulled him into a hug. ‘Maybe you’ll Impress green like me, too. Then you can join our group.’

Kadin had told him about the green groups, although he wasn’t allowed to go to their meetings, not having a dragon yet. ‘I wasn’t so keen on the smaller dragons until I rode Hinarth the other day. So I really don’t mind what colour dragon decides I’m the right person for them. If any of them do.’

‘Don’t worry. Just think happy thoughts when you’re on the Sands. If you’re worried, or scared, that puts off a hatchling,’ B’dant advised.

‘That’s what D’gar keeps telling us.’

‘You know he deliberately didn’t Impress the first time.’ J’rud leaned forwards. ’S’brin was ill in the infirmary; too ill to be on the Sands. Those two were as much a couple as you and Kadin. Got together at around the same age, too. The Weyrlingmaster made him stand, even though he didn’t want to, so he just closed off his mind so the hatchlings would pick someone else. Then, when S’brin recovered, they both Impressed the same day from Kadoth’s clutch.’

‘That’s romantic,’ said one of the Benden green riders. ‘He might have missed his chance entirely.’

‘I know. It changed everyone’s mind about him, too. Before that, they were all saying he’d get a green and S’brin a blue. But the only dragon who seemed interested in him was a bronze. But he walked away, so K’torl Impressed Ganath instead.’

Jevikel was intrigued by the story. ‘I thought there was only one dragon for each person.’

‘Not exactly. I mean, no one’s entirely sure why they’ll go for one particular person when they have plenty of choice. But dragon’s personality is usually similar to their rider’s, so maybe they’re looking for something in his mind that matches. And if they can’t find someone that’s exactly right, they’ll go for the next best. Dragons have to Impress or they die.’

‘I know. He keeps telling us that all the time, too.’

‘D’gar wants to be a better Weyrlingmaster than the one we had,’ J’rud said. ’N’teren didn’t like him, or S’brin, so they kept getting midden duty all the time.’

That explained a lot. Jevikel recalled D’gar’s lecture after the fight; how he didn’t want him to end up with a bad reputation like S’brin. He understood why, now. ‘Was S’brin very strong?’ he asked.

‘He threw a table across the dining hall once. He was a bit taller than you, but much more built up.’ J’rud smiled. ‘He used to make D’gar copy all the exercises he enjoyed. He even swam in an ice lake because he thought it was good for him. He was really tough.’

S’brin sounded interesting. Jevikel felt sad he’d died. How many more riders must have lost lovers, brothers or friends to Thread? Still, at least D’gar had met H’rek and seemed happy now.

He sipped his klah and listened to them talk. Most of it was gossip. Someone called V’chal had a voracious sexual appetite and was trying to work his way through every man at Benden before they were sent back to Fort. T’garrin was already taking bets on which candidate would Impress which dragon.

‘I’m betting on you getting a green.’ T’rai said. ‘You’re bold and daring and you prefer men. Profile fits almost exactly.’

‘Thank you. We’ll just have to wait and see, though.’

The following morning they did more exercise, followed by practical training. This time, they had another messy visit to the kitchens to butcher a couple of freshly slaughtered herdbeasts.

D’gar went off somewhere as they practised under the supervision of a couple of workers who specialised in the task. They made it look so easy, like anyone who has mastered a skill. Jevikel didn’t reckon he made too bad a job and if it was a little ragged at the edges, he was sure a dragon wouldn’t mind. The important lesson was to cut the meat small enough for hatchlings to swallow easily.

‘You need to be careful when they’ve just hatched,’ said one of the men. They’re starving and they want to gobble it all down. Got to feed it to them slowly. Little pieces and often. As they get bigger, you can cut the meat larger and they’ll manage fine.’

‘Will we have to come to the kitchens all the time? Only it’s a long way from here to the barracks.’ Amertill looked sightly dismayed and rightly so. Each herdbeast was heavy enough to need four full grown men to carry it.

The worker shook his head. ‘Usually the Weyrlingmaster will get his dragon to kill them and bring them to you. You just have to cut them up and feed your dragons.’

As they were finishing and helping to clean up the mess left behind, D’gar returned. ‘Right, back to the barracks when you’ve done. I’ve been finalising the Hatching list with the Weyrwoman and we’ve decided who will be standing this time.

That hurried everyone up. Hortaimin looked worried, as did Narrirec. On the way over, Kadin kept close. ‘What about my age?’ he said.

‘Don’t worry. Everyone’s saying you’d make a good candidate. They aren’t going to change their mind because of a couple of months, surely.’ Jevikel hoped fervently he was right.

They assembled in the teaching room. D’gar perched on the edge of the desk and spoke. ‘The Weyrwoman is worried the Sands will be too crowded if all forty-eight of you are there on Hatching Day. She asked me to limit the numbers and have just ten more candidates than the number of eggs. Those surplus candidates will be able to Stand for her next clutch. If your name isn’t up on the board, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you won’t get your chance, just not this time. Also remember that not all those who do get on the Sands this time around will Impress. There will be ten who don’t succeed on Hatching Day.’

Kadin clutched Jevikel’s hand. They were too far away to see all the names on the board.

‘Now, file past and look for your name. If it’s there, you’re in. If it’s not, you’re not. I don’t want to hear any grumbling. The Weyrwoman and I discussed the pros and cons of each candidate before making our decision. After you’ve looked, you can go and clean up, then come back here after your midday meal.’

Jevikel’s heart was beating as fast as when Kadin first kissed him, except this wasn’t pleasant anticipation. Perhaps his fighting had ruled him out? But when he looked, his name was there, just under those of the Weyrbred lads. Amertill and Germessont’s names were there, too. He skimmed down the list, but didn’t see Kadin’s name anywhere. Kadin must have realised at the same moment, for he took a short breath, then quickly walked out.

Jevikel followed him outside. He could see Kadin was trying hard not to cry. Hugging him, he tried his best to reassure him. ‘It’s all right. It’s not just you missing out. Shards, but I might not Impress either.’

‘You will. And then we won’t be clutchmates. You’ll get into a Wing before I do.’ He sounded inconsolable. Other candidates emerged from the doorway, a few looking equally as downcast. Egevan and Kernam, however, were almost dancing with excitement, until they saw Kadin’s face.

‘What’s up?’

‘I’m not on the list.’

‘But why? You’ve not done anything wrong.’ Kernam glanced back at the door. ‘Go and ask D’gar.'

‘I can’t. He said we weren’t to complain. Anyway, I know why it is. I’m a few months too young.’

‘Like we were last time,’ Kernam said. ‘It’s sharding awful they keep changing the ages.’

‘Would you take Kadin to get some lunch?’ Jevikel said, feeling suddenly determined. He knew what he needed to do. ‘I’ll go and speak to D’gar.’

‘Are you sure? What if you get taken off the list, too?’

‘Then we’re both off.’

Kadin looked up at him. ‘Don’t do this.’

‘I said I wouldn’t Stand without you and I’m sticking to that. So, maybe we’ll have to wait until next Turn. That’s not a hardship. We’ve got jobs and good food to eat. We’re a lot better off here than we’d ever have been at home.’ With each word, his determination strengthened.

They all watched as D’gar walked past into his quarters. Herebeth lay outside, his head resting on his front legs. On the way past, he rubbed the dragon’s eye ridges; a tender gesture, although he didn’t look happy.

‘Go on,’ Jevikel said.

Kadin pulled him close, despite them both being smelly from the morning’s lesson. ‘I’ll never forget this.’

‘Together, forever.’ He kissed Kadin’s lips lightly.

‘How romantic,’ Kernam said, clasping his hands together. ‘I hope I’ll find someone to love me like that one day.’

They led Kadin off. The last few candidates wandered out from the barracks door.

‘Not on the list, eh?’ Hortaimin must have noticed his expression. ‘Your own fault for breaking his nose.’ He pointed to Zanethur.

‘Get lost, you worthless piece of dragon shit!’

Hortaimin smirked, then they left, too, laughing and joking, probably at his expense. He glanced at Herebeth, who opened one eye to look back, then at the curtain drawn over the weyr entrance. He remembered what J’rud had told him. Right! He was going to do this. He knocked the clapper a couple of times.

‘Yes, come in.’

He hesitated, then took a deep breath.

‘Come in!’ D’gar shouted, sounding irritable. Maybe he’d expected a few disappointed candidates to pay a visit? Jevikel slid slowly around the curtain, taking a few steps forward. Last time, after the fight, D’gar had said he didn’t want to see him here again. Oh well, like it or not, here he was.

‘Well, what is it?’ He definitely sounded annoyed. Best to keep his distance and be as polite as possible. ‘Come here if you’ve something to say.’

He moved a few paces closer.

‘I don’t bite, you know.’

‘Well, sir, I wanted to ask you something.’ The sentence came out all in a rush.

D’gar nodded his head. ‘Go on.’

‘Those candidate lists that’ve been posted. My name’s up there, but Kadin’s isn’t.’

‘It’s down to age. You can’t Stand unless you’re fifteen. You’re just past that, but your friend is almost half a Turn younger.’

Jevikel bit his lip. ‘I know, but I don’t want to stand without him. If we’re going to get dragons, I’d like us to Impress together.’ There. He’d said it now.

‘It’s only a few more months,’ D’gar said. ‘Kadin will be old enough by the next time Ramoth clutches. The rule’s there for a good reason, you know.’

Jevikel looked at him, then at the floor. ‘In that case, can you take my name off the list too. I don’t want to have the chance if he’s not allowed.’

‘Can’t do that. Sorry. I’ve got just the right number now.’ He sounded very brusque. ‘Do you know what happens if a hatchling can’t find his or her rider when the egg cracks?’

‘They die,’ Jevikel said, very quietly.

‘Exactly. And I don’t want any dragons dying on my watch.’

Jevikel felt miserable. If he was forced to Stand, he’d do what D’gar had done, closing off his mind. But what if one was looking just for him? What if he caused a dragon to die?

D’gar said nothing for a while. He looked as if he was deep in thought, or maybe just talking to Herebeth. ‘You do realise that even if you both Stand, there’s no guarantee you’ll both Impress from this clutch,’ he said at last, slightly more softly.

Jevikel nodded. ‘Or at all.’

‘Good. At least you’ve been listening to some of what I’ve been telling you all.’ He leaned back, letting the chair rock onto its rear legs. ‘I’d rather have willing candidates on the Sands than reluctant ones…’

What did that mean exactly? Was D’gar going to take him off the list? There were spare candidates now. One of those could go on instead of him. He still wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing, but what other choice did he have?

‘So, just this time, given the circumstances in which you came to the Weyr, I’m going to bend the rules and let you both Stand.’

‘Really?’ A flood of joy swept over him.

‘So don’t disappoint me,’ he added gruffly. ‘Either of you.’

‘No, sir.’

‘I’ll see you both later in the teaching room. Now, off you go. I’ve work to do.’

Jevikel raced back across the Bowl, grabbed a change of clothing and went to the baths. Most of the others were still there. Kadin was looking for him eagerly. He kept his face stony as he joined the group in the warm pool.

‘Well?’ Kadin asked eagerly.

Jevikel allowed the grin he’d felt all the way back to spread across his face. ‘He said yes. We can both Stand this time around.’

The cheers echoed around the cavern. Various other candidates pounded them both on the back in congratulations. It was a light-hearted lunch.

‘How did you persuade him to change his mind?’ Lukodan asked.

‘I don’t think anything I said did that. At first, he started lecturing me about dragons dying if they can’t find their rider, then he thought about it a while and said he’d rather have willing candidates on the Sands than reluctant ones.’

‘What’s that mean, exactly?’ Germessont asked. ‘It sounds like a riddle.’

‘It’s what happened to him. J’rud told me about it the other day.’ He quickly told them the story. ‘The Weyrlingmaster at Fort was very inflexible. I suppose he didn’t want to act the same.’

‘So, would you have done it? Closed your mind off, if he’d insisted you Stand without Kadin?’ Egevan craned forward.

‘I suppose I would.’ He admired D’gar’s determination. It wouldn’t have been an easy thing to do.

‘Well, you don’t have to, now.’

When they got back to the teaching room, he saw that D’gar had added Kadin’s name to the board. So now there were forty-two candidates for the thirty-one eggs. One more wasn’t going to make a lot of difference, after all.

‘This afternoon, we’ll be covering more theory, plus two of the seamstresses will be coming over to measure you up for your Hatching robe.’

‘Some of us aren’t going to need them.’ Kell, one of the Benden lads, muttered.

D’gar heard. ‘You won’t need them this time, but you will fairly soon. Queen dragons can rise twice in a Turn when a Pass is beginning, so I’d estimate there’ll be another Hatching come spring. Plus, more spaces might arise before the day. There may be reasons one or more of the chosen candidates can’t Stand this time, such as illness or injury.’ He turned his expression fierce. ‘That doesn’t mean you should go and trip someone up or push them down some steps so you can take their place. In such circumstances, you’d likely be banned for all time, or sent home if you aren’t Weyrbred.’

Good job he’d added that. Jevikel wouldn’t put it past Hortaimin to do something of that sort simply from spite, even though his name was already on the list. He wondered why D’gar and Lessa hadn’t eliminated Hortaimin for his previous actions. It was probably because, apart from the odd barbed comment, he had been acting like a reformed character. Jevikel still didn’t trust him any more than he’d trust a tunnel snake, though.

‘When’s the Hatching going to happen?’ asked one of the Bayhead lads.

‘When it’s time, Shebil. All we can do is wait and hope it’s not in the middle of lunch. Ramoth will know when the Hatching is imminent. As soon as we know it’s the day, we’ll start sending out dragons to pick up your parents. I’ve noticed I don’t have details for some of the candidates, so if that’s you, then let me know afterwards.’

Jevikel gave Kadin a quick glance. Even though Kadin would like Merida and his sisters to be there, neither of them wanted any dragons going to Pinnacle; at least not until they rode back on their own.

‘Now, lets go through that Teaching Ballad about feeding dragons again…’

The afternoon sped past. None of the robes were long enough to fit Jevikel, even with hems unpicked.

‘We’ll have to add some extra fabric to this,’ said the seamstress who was measuring him. ‘And let’s hope you don’t grow any more before the day.’

Kadin found one to fit almost right away. It seemed that the tall and bulky were those who were problematic.

Egevan and Kernam started prancing around in theirs, singing a silly song about young maids going to gather flowers in the meadows and coming home deflowered. Even D’gar grinned at their antics.

‘That’s it for today. Tomorrow’s a normal work day, so I won’t see you again until the one after.’

When Kadin went to leave, Jevikel pulled him back. ‘We’d best let him know we haven’t got anyone to attend.’

‘Oh, yes.’

D’gar was rolling up hides on his desk.

‘I wanted to say thank you,’ Kadin said immediately. ‘I know I’m a few months too young, but…’

‘It’s all right. I understand. I’m sure the Weyrwoman will, too. Now, do you want to arrange for your relatives to come to the Hatching?’

‘No point in asking. They wouldn’t come. My dad’s dead anyway.’ Kadin scraped his boot on the floor, as if trying to rub out unhappy memories.

‘They don’t even care if we’re alive,’ Jevikel added. ‘In fact, my father probably hopes we’re not. And my mother’s dead, anyway.’

‘Fair enough. It’s your choice. I won’t pressure you any more on it.’

‘I appreciate that,’ Jevikel said. ‘It’s not as if we won’t have anyone in the audience rooting for us.’

‘Ah yes, Bavi.’

‘Lots of the others in the laundry, too. And we’ve made friends with some riders as well. That’s enough for us.’ Kadin took Jevikel’s hand. ‘Coming to the Weyr is the best thing that ever happened to us. We don’t have to hide our feelings for each other and I’m allowed to play music.’

‘If we Impress, then it’ll be even better. And if we don’t, then there’s other jobs need doing here.’

D’gar smiled. ‘Oh, you’ll Impress. If not this time, then next. Now get off with you. I need to tell the Weyrwoman the news.’

One more chapter to go - Hatching Day!

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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1 hour ago, JimCarter said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I think D'gar sees a lot of himself in Jevikel.  I think he also sees a lot of S'brin and himself in our current romantic pair. This might explain the change to allow them both to stand this time and that also explains his comment about less than excited candidates.

I hope mister bully impresses a green so that he will have plenty of male company on mating flights.  Isn't that fitting the homophobe needing to learn the ways of the wyer.

D'gar definitely remembered the way he was ordered to Stand, and the result. He's much more flexible in his ways (even though he's from the past) and thus fits in well with the Benden ways. You'll have to wait and see what happens to Hortaimin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

i

 

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