Honor those the dragons heed,
In thought and favor, word and deed.
Worlds are lost and worlds are saved,
From those dangers dragon-braved.
Dragonman, avoid excess;
Greed will bring the Weyr distress;
To the ancient Laws adhere,
Prospers thus the Dragonweyr.
Kim groaned as the smell of cooking numbweed woke her. It had been a full turn now since her arrival on Pern. Kith was flying well. Her skills as a rider had improved greatly. And she'd even been given one of the two spare weyrwoman quarters since Ramoth refused to allow more than two junior queens within the Weyr. F'nor, brown Canth's rider and the Weyrleader's wing second had claimed the other.
Another groan escaped Kim's lips as she remembered her duties for the day. She had to ride search and patrol over Nerat. There were a few good holds there, and she'd get a little more experience dragon back before thread fall… Kim gave an involuntary shudder as that thought ran through her mind.
She'd been given a wing of her own now, and would be flying the next thread fall. Her first real battle with thread as more than a weyrling. She'd be fully loaded with firestone and flying in the upper levels. Not covering the Queens Wing with other weyrlings, or riding sweeps for borrows. Kim smiled as she got up though because for once she was going to be back in action. Not just supporting it.
"Kith, you awake?" She called to her dragon.
More than, and hungry! We've search to ride today as well.
"I know. But I need breakfast first, then we'll head overland for a bit before we jump between. We'll start at Nerat hold and spend a couple hours there before moving toward Half Circle Sea Hold, and on up the coast." She told her dragon, smiling as she slipped into her wherhide riding gear.
She pulled on the black leather pants and boots, the white tunic, then a red wherhide riding jacket. She smiled as she closed it up. The only female rider on Pern who didn't sit astride a golden queen, she was instantly recognizable. As an afterthought, she picked up her belt knife, slinging it into place. Then she turned back toward Kith. The great bronze had grown remarkably. He was now just a couple hand spans smaller than Mnementh.
"You go feed you great hulk, but don't gorge. We've got sweeps to patrol, and I need you flying your best. Not to mention we're fighting thread in a few days at Lemos."
Have I ever let you down? I'd fly you to them all overland if you wished.
"I do believe you would… but we'd never make it to all the holds I wish to visit…" Kim smiled. "Go, eat, I'll do the same and we'll be off."
Kim smiled as she watched Kith fly off toward the feeding grounds and she made her way to the kitchens. She looked toward the hatching grounds. Another queen's egg was hardening on the sands, and Ramoth was as protective of her eggs as always. She looked toward the other weyrs and saw F'nor coming down the steps as well.
"Brown Rider!" Kim called to him.
"Bronze Woman!" F'nor called back as they met at the bottom of the stairs, "You ride search today?"
"Over Nerat, and up to Keroon if I can reach all the holds I wish. Where's Canth?" Kim asked, not seeing the large brown anywhere.
"Sleeping, the slothful wretch. I see Kith is feeding…" And they both looked toward the bowl as Kith came down on a large buck.
"Yes, and I hope he remembers not to gorge. I plan to do some drills as well. Workout before thread fall over Lemos." Kim eyed the feeding dragon.
"A sound plan, but you're the best flier in the group that impressed at your hatching," F'nor assured her, "You'll fly well and sear thread like a pro I'm sure."
"Only because I had you and Canth to teach me…" She looked toward the kitchens, "Come on, let's get some Klah and eat, you searched yesterday and I know you didn't come in till well after the kitchens stopped working."
"True, glad to join you." F'nor smiled as they walked toward the lower caverns, and deeper into the reek of numbweed.
As they walked on, Kim took a look at the Weyrlings drilling and smiled. She hadn't gone through the traditional drills with a weyrling leader because there was so much more she needed to learn. She caught F'nor's eyes on them as well.
"What are you thinking?" Kim asked.
"Just glad F'lar is insisting on offering up older boys for impression. They understand more what has to be done. Even hold and craft bred boys can grasp the responsibility of being a dragon rider, not just the dreams of the young." He smiled.
"True." Kim smiled, "unless they're like me." she pointed out.
"But you understood quick enough, it wasn't your age but your lack of knowledge in our world." F'nor looked around the kitchen.
The fumes were thick and made his eyes tear, and many of the hearths held the acrid mixture of numbweed, but the nearest held klah and stew. He gestured to Kim and they quickly filled there cups just as a voice called their names. Both made quick glances, and Kim pointed over to Manora, together with Lessa and a third girl. They were examining a kettle. They quickly walked over to the three, and Kim deferred to F'nor.
"My duty to you Lessa, Manora…" F'nor stumbled over the name and Kim smiled.
"Brekke." She added.
"F'nor, I'm shocked. You searched Brekke for her impression and you need Kim here to remind you of her name?" Lessa teased him.
"How can you expect anyone to see in a place dense with fumes?" F'nor demanded and Kim laughed as he blotted his eyes to make his point. "I haven't seen much of you Brekke since the day Canth and I brought you from your crafthold to impress young Wirenth."
Kim groaned, "F'nor, you remember the dragon's name and not the riders?"
"He's as bad as F'lar." Lessa said.
F'nor wisely ignored them both, "And how fares Wirenth Brekke?"
Kim watched the girls timid smile, then the way her eyes shined at F'nor. At first she thought it was her imagination, but the slight blush as Brekke tried to deflect scrutiny told the red head she was right. Kim nodded at Lessa and the Weyrwoman quickly got the idea.
A loud tap of the pot she held brought all attention to her, "Look at this you two. The lining is cracked and the entire batch of numbweed is discolored."
Both riders whistled, and then looked at each other, before returning there attention to Lessa.
"Would either of you know what it is The Smith uses to coat these with? I wouldn't dare use tainted salve, and yet I hate to discard so much if there's no reason." Manora looked at the two.
"See what it does to the salve?" Lessa thrust a bowl at the two, the normally creamy yellow salve was a reddish tan. Kim watched F'nor dip a finger in.
"It works." He said.
"Yes, but what would happen to open thread score with a foreign substance cooked into the salve?" Manora asked.
"Good point, what does F'lar say?" F'nor looked at them.
"Oh, him." Lessa reaction made Kim chuckle as the Weyr Woman expressed displeasure at her weyrmate, "He's off to Lemos Hold to see how that Woodcraftsmen of Lord Asgenar's is doing with those…" she looked at Kim, "What did you call them?"
"Paper sheets. Their as common in my world as… sand in Igen. This world is progressing rapidly on some things and slowly on others… but I think I understand why." Kim smiled.
"Too bad you can't help us progress faster." F'nor said.
"I do, when I know enough how to… but a lot of the stuff you're working for here we had in my world. I don't know the details of how it all works or how to create it, just what it is." Kim shrugged.
"True enough…" Lessa said.
"Well, I have search to ride, but I don't think F'nor is busy today?" Kim smiled.
"I've no objection to running your errand, even though I am searching… I can search in Telgar as well as anywhere else, and I don't mind a visit to the Master Smithhall. I'll take your pot to Fanderal, but it looks to me as if you have enough numbweed to coat every dragon in all six… excuse me, seven weyrs." Kim watched him smile at Brekke.
Then the redheaded rider nodded her exit and let them finish the conversation as she made her way toward her meal, her thoughts on the search in Nerat. Another rider had flown there yesterday, but one he thought likely was a fosterling of Vincet, the Lord Holder of Nabol. He'd only been a green rider, and they'd not believe he was a Benden Rider. So he'd spoken to Kim.
"A whole new world, and still being asked favors…" Kim laughed.
I thought you were in a rush to get out of the Weyr to do flying drills?
"The Weyrwoman needed my attention, and as a wingleader, I couldn't very well ignore her." Kim said aloud, though she spoke to Kith telepathically.
I've finished eating, so I'm waiting on you…
"As if you don't enjoy sunning yourself on that ledge I know you've perched on." Kim laughed as she made herself a bowl of stew, and downed it quickly before the medicinal taste could get to her. Then she downed the hot klah and headed out to Kith.
"Lets go, I want to run high passes and…" Kim stopped, looking at the firestone supplies they'd gathered for the upcoming fall. She quickly grabbed a small pouch and filled it with the phosphine baring rock, ran toward Kith, "we'll run some flame passes as well."
The great bronze lower his shoulder, letting Kim leap up to sit astride the neck ridges, gripping the fighting straps well, before he leapt into the air. His large wings spreading to pull him up with sweeping strokes. As he soared into the air, Kim let out a whoop of enjoyment. She grinned at the heights her Kith could reach.
"Bank toward the heights of the Benden range, we'll flame a few passed, and do some skips between, as if we were avoiding thread, then we'll make the jump to Nerat Hold." Kim spoke as they flew.
Kith didn't answer, but he made the sharp bank, then climbed as he turned his head, waiting for the firestone. Kim quickly fed the beast, then they dove and skimmed the mountains as Kith belched forth an inferno. She whooped again as the fire seared the mountain tops and burnt the few mountain grasses to ash. As they did, Kim couldn't help but call out one of the teaching songs she'd been taught.
"Drummer beat, and Piper blow, Harper strike, and Soldier go." Kim ducked low on Kith's neck as he banked into a hard turn and stretched back, tossing more firestone into his mouth. "Free the flame, and sear the grasses. Till the dawning red star passes!"
Another pass to sear a new streak into the mountain range, then Kim gave the order to start the quick jumps and the darting moves. Without hesitation Kith began to make sharp turns, climbing and falling quickly, blinking in and out of between. Finally he jumped out of between and flared his wings, breaking his speed and flying high. He starts to climb high again and looks back at Kim.
"Beautiful Kith, you're flying perfectly." Kim smiles, "Just remember though, thread fighting isn't the same as these drills. Now, we've work to do. To Nerat…"
Canth is calling… Our teacher is injured at the Master Smithhall.
"We search later! To the Smithhall!" Kim yelled and they blinked between.
The dark void of between chilled Kim to her bones as the Kith moved them in an instant. When they erupted into the sky over Telgar, they were soon joined by Mnementh and F'lar. Both bronzes circled quickly down to the Smithhall. Kim leapt from Kith's back while he was still in the air, rolling to absorb the impact and coming up running to the hall. She burst through the doors and ran to F'nor, her eyes taking things in as best she can. She heard F'lar enter at a run, and she knew he was doing the same.
As Kim knelt next to F'nor's unconscious form she examined the wound, then turned to the nearest smith. "The healer?"
"On his way… He was trying to protect me… it's all my fault." Terry worried.
"Nonsense Terry," F'lar said as he reached them.
"F'nor's a good soul, he'd have protected anyone who couldn't do so themselves. Just as I would, and The Weyrleader, I'm sure. F'lar, I can see to F'nor, if you wish to find out what happened… Someone! A clean cloth to wrap this arm…" Kim looks over to the cauldron, seeing the numbweed inside. "And the Mastersmith!"
"I'm here Bronze Woman… but why you need me." The hulking form of Fanderal appeared as F'lar walked off with Terry.
"The lining of that cauldron is cracked!" Kim said, "It tainted the numbweed salve, so unless you have a store of numbweed readily available…" She gestured to F'nor.
"You need to know if it be dangerous to use on an open wound…" Fanderal thought for a minute, "The lining we use isn't toxic…" He dipped his finger in just as F'nor had, "And the numbing properties work." He looked at the pot carefully. "It's just picked up some of the sediments coloring, that's all. It won't effect the numbweed any other way." Fanderal said.
"Good. A clean cloth! Now!" Kim called again and someone handed it to her. She quickly grabbed the numbweed and applied it to the wound, then wrapped it with the cloth. She ripped F'nor's belt off and used it to create a sling for the wound.
"There, that'll do till I can have a healer see the wound. Thank you Master Fanderal." Kim stood and looked at the huge smith.
"Thank you Bronze Woman… The healer is away, we weren't sure if he'd make it to see to F'nor." Fanderal sighed.
"Kim, have you seen to F'nor?" F'lar called.
"Yes Weyrleader, but I'm no healer. He'll need proper care and quick…" Kim turned back as she heard F'nor groan and begin to awaken.
"Kim?" He asked, half out of it.
"Rest F'nor… you're injured… easy. How did this happen?" She turned to the Weyrleader.
"Two riders from Fort Weyr," and F'lar growled, "They brought a green out when she was close to mating, and the green's rider attacked F'nor, over a belt knife."
"A belt knife?" Kim looked at the smiths.
Terry picked the jeweled bobble from the floor and showed it to the two riders, "It was commissioned as a gift for Lord Aesginar's wedding, but the rider, B'naj saw it and wanted it. I tried to explain that it was not mine to give, that I couldn't… F'nor came in. He defended me, and the rider… tried to kill F'nor."
"This is bad F'lar… and I'm not even considering that a dragonrider tried to extort a knife from a smith, that's bad enough… but I've seen the green rider's when their dragon's are enamored… and the effect that could have on commoners? Then trying to kill a rider?" Kim shook her head.
"Two of our oldest traditions…" F'lar said, "I'll send some help for F'nor, we'll fly him overland to Southern, he shouldn't go between with that wound. Then I'll call for a meeting of the Weyrleaders at Fort!" F'lar turned and left quickly.
"He's upset." F'nor noticed.
"You nearly got yourself killed. Haven't you learned to duck yet?" Kim looked at the man.
"I blocked one knife, and he used another…" F'nor groaned. "Sorry I don't have your superhuman reflexes."
"Yea, well, we're teaching you to fight first thing when you get back from Southern. My way. Can't have a friend getting themselves hurt just cause I'm not there to watch their back… you should have had Canth call me." Kim tightened the bandaging on his wound.
"Hey… that's tight…I can even feel it through the numbweed." F'nor complained.
"And I'm not able to stitch the wound, so deal." Kim shook her head, "At least you're not Ron. He'd be screaming his head off and running around like wounded wherry hen." Kim smiled, "And this is so not the drama."
"Easy for you to say offworlder!" F'nor teased her, "You're not the one stabbed."
"When you've fought a woman with claws sharp as a wherry, and hands that can burst into green flame, then we'll talk about drama my friend." Kim added in her own teasing tone.
"I still say you're making that up." F'nor said.
"Why would I?" Kim smiled, "besides, I'm just waiting for
a healer and someone to come help me fly your sorry self to southern,
"Kim looked back toward the door. "And tell Canth not to worry,
he's spooking the smiths the way he keeps shoving his head in the
Kim looked up at Lessa as she heard the Watchrider's call and the answering bugle. Her face serious as she looked over at her Weyrwoman.
"That's F'lar." Lessa said, moving to pour a glass of wine.
"Hopefully he'll have something good to report…" Kim said.
"F'lar is going to be in a fine temper, with F'nor hurt… thankfully we still have you Kim, you've made yourself indispensable over the past turn, and now as a wingleader, you'll be even more so." Lessa gripped the girls shoulder firmly.
"You've no idea how true that is Lessa, and neither of you will like what I've to say…" F'lar took his seat, "To start, R'mart and T'kul weren't even at the meeting… I've the feeling that T'ron knew how in the wrong his riders truly were, but he refused to accept it. And T'bor, a brilliant Weyrleader but the man needs to learn to hold his temper when necessary. He nearly cost the entire affair."
"What happened F'lar?" Kim asked equitably.
"They put all the fault on Terry. Saying that he should have just gifted the knife the moment it caught B'naj's eye, then he would have left, and none of this would have occurred." F'lar cursed.
"That's nonsense F'lar." Lessa said.
"Completely, and they all know it, don't they?" Kim said.
"I'd wager that G'narish and D'ram are quite aware of the fact, but they refused to accept it by alienating T'ron. If R'mart had been there, it might have been better… but I'm not sure. In any case, they did agree to put all the riders on guard about this to avoid a repeat of the occurrence." F'lar sighed.
"That's something at least, but I feel that T'ron and his riders are getting off light after such a blatant breach of tradition, especially after calling us on our so called 'blatant disregard for the traditions of a proper weyr'." Lessa said.
"I agree, but F'lar has the right of it… despite the Fort Weyrleader's avoidance of responsibility, the important thing is that this doesn't happen again." Kim said.
"Level headed as always" F'lar said, "I could have used you in that meeting."
"Doubtful, I'd have just been another 'breach of tradition' for them to use against you." Kim smiled, "I can however take up the slack from F'nor being gone… With your permission Weyrleaders?"
"That is an excellent idea… though we'll see how well you enjoy it when you put it into practice." F'lar smiled.
"True," Kim smiled, "Now, Weyrleader, Weyrwoman, Kith is
already asleep in our weyr, and it's high night, so I believe I'll
join him." Kim bowed and left the
Ramoth's bugling call brought Kim leaping from her sleeping furs in alarm, "Kith! What's the matter?"
Thread falls at Lemos! Kith's answer echoed in her mind as the huge bronze barreled to the weyr ledge, his own call echoing into the air as he perched awaiting Kim.
"Thread at Lemos? It's early!" Kim yelled as she scrambled into her fighting gear. "Organize our wing! I want them fit to fly NOW!" Kim yelled as she shouldered two bulging packs of firestone and ran to Kith's side, attaching the sacks to his fighting straps.
All are ready! They await orders! Kith responded.
"Good riders…" Kim smiled to herself as she leapt astride Kith's neck, she looked up to F'lar astride Mnementh as the two perched on the eye rock.
When the order came to go between her entire wing leapt to the call and Kim whooped as the emerged into threadfall. Kith's flame belched forth tremendously searing a patch of thread from their path before banking at a seemingly impossible angle to sear some more. Kim let another howl escape her throat as Kith turned his head for more firestone.
"Finally in the action!" She smiled, then turned her mind back to the task at hand.
Glad you're not letting your excitement get the better of you.
"And risk your glorious hide? Never." Kim's eyes watched the thread and the patterns of fall, "Just keep your flame hot!"
With pleasure! Kith roared as he belched forth a stream of flame to sear another patch of thread.
The huge bronze turned sharp to cover another rider flame belching forth again as the call of an injured rider sounded. Kim's head turned to identify Virianth winking between.
"An injury so soon into the fall? F'lar won't like that…" Kim turned her eyes back to the battle.
The thread falls wrong Mnementh says, the Weyrleader orders everyone on their guard.
Kim nodded as Kith belched forth another stream of searing flame, checking the stores of firestone in her bags. She grabbed a piece of firestone as she twisted the fighting strap around her free wrist. Kith's warning came with just enough time for Kim to prepare as he winked between to avoid a heavy patch of thread with his flame depleted. As the emerged Kim went to thrust the firestone in her dragon's mouth before the pain struck.
Kim's senses reeled as a searing line of fire seemed to trace down her cheek, her scream cutting the air for a brief moment before they winked between again and reappeared under the fighting wings.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry… that thread should not have been there.
"Apologize later, fight now…" Kim said as she felt the last shreds of the frozen thread blowing away into dust.
Right! Kith's answer rang in Kim's mind as he turned back to the battle, his fire replenished by the stone Kim fed him. Soon it became a pattern for them, each belch of flame followed by a steadier and steadier retreat until finally the fall ended and Kim had Kith fly high to examine her wing.
Ours was the only injury in our wing, Kith said, I'm informing Mnementh.
"Good, now fly over our wing and let's check the grounds. I want to be sure nothing got through our wing." Kim said.
You should see to your thread score. Kith's response was stern.
"And I will, as soon as our job is done and our duty carried out. I'd not let my wing fight without me, and I'll not slip off before every detail is seen to." Kim said as Kith veered to examine the stretch of forest that was her wing's responsibility.
"What do you see?" Kim asked.
Two infestations in our line, both being seen to by ground crews. The Weyrleader is with the lord holder. The other wingleaders fly to report…
"Join them." Kim said as Kith veered toward the reporting Wingleaders.
As they circled the Weyrleader and lord holder in the meadow Kith's head turned back to Kim, Mnementh says to have your thread score checked, though he commends you for fighting full fall.
"Tell that Bronze hulk I plan on it, back to the Weyr." Kim laughed as Kith winged up again and blinked into the cold black of between.
They emerged over the star stones, Kith's glide letting them settle carefully next to the weyr lake. Kim looked around as she dismounted from Kith and smiled at Manora as the Weyr's headwoman walked up to her.
"So the great Bronze woman is not invincible?" Manora teased as she started to apply numbweed to the burn on Kim's cheek, "Not a bad scoring, but you'll have a fine scar… how you get to be so lucky… it missed the eye completely. "
"Who told you I was scored?" Kim asked as she allowed Manora to see to the wound with her practiced hand.
"Mnementh told Lessa that you and F'lar had both gained a lacing, though F'lar's is ash burn and yours a pure scoring… least Kith is quick at ducking between, that could have been much worse. See that you clean it well after it's numbed and that you reapply the numbweed carefully. I've more injured riders to see to." Manora said and handed the small bowl of numbweed to Kim.
"Thank you Manora, Kith, go feed, you're hungry I know and I can already see Mnementh taking his pick of the stock." Kim said, patting the great beast's hide as she walked toward the Weyrleaders. "I want to speak with F'lar about this fall."
She heard Lessa talking as she neared the two, "What did Lord Asgenar say about the threadfall? I'd have joined you in the meadow, but Ramoth's got the notion she can't leave her clutch without someone spying on them. Oh, I sent messengers out to the other Weyrs to tell them what's happened here. They aught to know and be on their guard."
"It would have been courteous of them to have apprised us first." F'lar's angry tone surprised Kim. "Asgenar informs me that thread has fallen out of phase over Tillek and Upper Crom. He didn't blame me for not wanting to panic the commoners though…"
"Lord Asgenar assumed we all knew then…" Kim said.
"I would I had never gone back to get those oldtimers. You'd have found a way for us to cope F'lar…" Lessa's anger flashed in her eyes and made Kim smile at a sentiment she'd heard often in her turn here on Pern.
"Lessa," Kim said as she raised a hand to F'lar "You did what you felt necessary at the time, and it saved Pern. On top of that, by the time you went back to bring forward the Oldtimers, it had already happened so there was no way to keep it from happening." Kim said.
"Kim's right," F'lar said as he hugged Lessa, "But now, the Oldtimers are here and we have to deal with them."
"Indeed we will. We'll bring them up to date if…"
Kim smirked as F'lar shook Lessa, "Lessa. You can't change a watch-wher into a dragon, my love."
Kim smirked at Lessa's giggle, as Kith informed her of Mnementh's comment. "I think the thing now, since the messengers have been sent is to see to what we can… I for one wish to go to my Weyr and get fed. I'm sure we'll all hear from the other weyrs soon enough. "
"Kim's right, I'm as hungry as Mnementh. Feed me, woman." F'lar said as he started Lessa toward their own weyr.
Kim shook her head and started toward her Weyr.
A/N: To all my readers... I apologize for the long delay of any updates, and unfortunately, it looks like it's going to continue to be a wait on some. The latest chapter of my GhostRider story has to be completely rewritten, I've come up with a case of writer's block on my Metroid story, the Spider-Man Fusion is on hold till I get another inspiration on where to go with it, and to top it all, my family has gone nuts right now so I don't get the chance to write as often as I enjoy. Hopefully though, things will calm down soon and I can get back to it, and to all of you. As for this update. I hope you enjoy it, and please, let me know.