The Weyr loomed closer, and Yarrow took a deep breath. Can I really do this? She wondered. But, Mason had been so calm once she'd "revealed" herself as a "Dragonrider." She hoped everyone would understand; he'd been very freaked out before that. So scary to travel with.
She hadn't heard from B'nick in hours, nor Visigoth or any other dragon or rider, but she could still feel them. The feeling got more intense, the closer they came to the Weyr. It was like a pulsing, throbbing miasma of sensations that Yarrow couldn't even piece together.
The dragon on watch spotted them, she knew, and Yarrow gulped as she felt the inward growl from her and her rider. I – can do this, she told herself forcefully. The sand and the brush all seemed to be dragging her back, something nice to hang on to, and to hide in. It was nice, it was something she was used to. It almost called her, though plants didn't speak any more than the ground did.
The way up to Southern Weyr was rocky. They were on a low cliff, edged in beach peas and trundlebugs. The sun was hot. Yarrow felt the heat intensely on her neck, and figured she'd likely been burned. Nisha sat on her shoulder, broadcasting her anxiousness about Mason and the whole situation, but being very cautious because Yarrow kept telling her to. Tointel kept out of sight.
They went up into the Weyr, and Yarrow felt the intensity, so much that she could almost pass out from it. Anger, confusion, rage, fury, fright – none of them could believe it, not dragon nor rider. And they all feared that it could happen to them. Yes, she felt that, but otherwise, she couldn't get any one of them to talk to her. It was as if they suddenly couldn't trust her because she was with this person, this thing who'd once been one of them and was now – what? She had no idea.
Which way do we go? Who do we talk to? She asked in her mind, knowing that they were all listening. There was nobody around, they were all staying away so it was like going through a dead Hold. Mason walked with his head down beside her, quiet and complacent, though she could sense that inside he was a raging mess – worse than the sensation of the dragons and the riders of the Weyr that lay in wait for them. Who? She demanded. I brought him here, so SOMEONE COME TALK TO US!
A man appeared, sandy hair, the usual dragonrider muscularness. He walked with the confidence of a leader. Mason seemed to know him; he immediately gave the dragonriders' salute and dropped to his knees before him, babbling something or other.
That was when the other riders appeared; she sensed them before she saw them, but she didn't know what to do. You did well, a voice came quietly into her mind. She looked and saw an older woman striding toward her. Adrea, I am Adrea, said the voice. Adrea put a hand on her shoulder.
Yarrow started to cry, and she didn't know why. She felt like the world was swirling around her, and she could hear the murmurs of dragons and riders – a million questions and exclamations and statements and confusions all rolled into one thing. It was going faster now, and she saw Mason and his Weyrleader in the center of it, that was all she could see clearly, everything else was fuzzy. . . .
She woke up in a strange bed, with Nisha on her side, watching. The little firelizard blinked at her, sending confused images of dragons, dragons everywhere, and very upset people. Nisha didn't really understand, but apparently the worst of that was over because she was only reporting on it.
Someone pushed back the curtain and entered: B'nick. He looked at her, a mix of frustration and anger in him still, that she could feel. But it wasn't directed at her. He was just worried about her, that showed in his eyes. "You feeling better?" he signed.
"It's going to be – all right, I think," he signed slowly, looking confused. "K'van and Adrea talked to him a lot, you were right. He's – he's not right anymore. . . " B'nick's frantic signing broke down, and so did he, and he put his head down on the end of the bed, sobbing. Yarrow felt her friend's intense sorrow, and she put her hand on his head to try and comfort him, because she didn't know what else to do. She knew that the pain dragonriders felt at such times wasn't something other people could comprehend fully, so she just tried to be there for him. He'd certainly done it enough times for her.
After awhile, they hugged, each knowing the other couldn't fully grasp what was going on with the other person. I missed you, I missed you! He finally sent to her. Yarrow nodded.
"I am back now," she signed to him, looking firm. "And now – well, now we know."
Yarrow nodded, sitting up. She got out of the bed, and went out into the Weyr with them. The other dragonriders were hanging about, many watching her cautiously, others with a little awe on their faces. Oddly, she found herself looking for Mason.
He is – with the kitchen drudges, said someone who Yarrow couldn't identify. She started, a little shocked at this ultimate decision. Well, what would you do? She reminded herself. It was up to them; Mason was one of their own. To be made into a drudge – then again, he could have been sent to the mines in Crom. To be just made into a drudge was kinder, maybe, she figured after a few minutes' thought.
B'nick caught up with her, and they walked out to the beach. Visigoth was there already, bathing in the water with some other dragons. "What are you going to do now?" B'nick asked her.
"What do you mean?" Yarrow signed, feeling uncomfortable. So much had happened. . . .
And you're free.
She hadn't thought of that. Her whole journey, looking for the truth about who killed Toric, the last request for her because of her parents and who she was, was over. She could go anywhere now, do anything. She wasn't stuck in a sham marriage anymore, wasn't under Petia's thumb. . . .
Petia. You know about. . . .
Yes, he sent to her, looking sad as he brushed hair out of her eyes. A friendly gesture. I'm afraid Brevis and his brother both will have to be put on trial. They can't get out of it this time. It looks like Mink will Hold more than he thought he ever would.
She stared at him, her heart sinking. "Brevis?" she signed, feeling a choke in her throat. Inwardly, she knew why; he'd at least harbored two criminals, and who knew what part he'd played in the death of his father?
Yarrow took a deep breath and nodded. It had to happen, it was inevitable.
Adrea came to her room next day. Yarrow had been working in the kitchen, and helping with the Weyrlings. She was resting, talking with B'nick, when the Weyrwoman appeared. She and B'nick exchanged sorrowful glances, a private look that said a lot. They understood something that Yarrow knew she never would.
The Weyrwoman turned to Yarrow and sighed. My signing is bad, but I hear you know the inner speech? She sent. When Yarrow nodded, good.
"I understand lips, too," Yarrow signed, pointing to her mouth. Adrea nodded.
"So, you've done us a great service, bringing – him – here," she said, slowly. "He will be – taken care of."
"And," Bnick added, "I was just mentioning that the others will be brought to trial."
"We don't know how to reward you," said Adrea. "K'van would have come – but he's taken this very hard, like much of the Weyr. Yarrow, I know you've had a rough road. I'm sorry for all the pressure that was put on you, to bring him here." She smiled lamely, shuffling her feet like a girl.
Nobody knew exactly how to act anymore, it seemed. Yarrow felt confused herself. So many emotions ran through her mind all at once, and they weren't connecting well. She felt almost as trapped as she had back when Petia was holding her in an invisible cage back at the Hold.
Yarrow shook her head. "I need to rest, and think, if I might?"
The dragonriders nodded. On his way out the door, B'nick squeezed her shoulder.
When they were gone, she cried for a long time.
Yarrow faced a new day with new possibilities, not sure of where to go. She spent a little bit helping out in the Weyr kitchen, cutting vegetables and getting meat salted for preservation. She went out to the shoreline to fish, and collected shells. Once she found a large flock of firelizards, who wheeled up into the sky like a beautiful, moving rainbow.
Whee – click! Whee – click! Laughed the dolphins out in the water. Come play, come play! They cried.
This time, there was nobody and nothing to stop her.