F.L.I.T. Part Six
N'varr slipped away early with Kevlarth and his full complement of fire lizards. Ostensibly they were re-investigating a murder site - in reality, N'varr was taking a day off from his work with a trip to a flower filled meadow.
He had a surprise in mind for a certain lady.
They landed neatly at the edge of the open field and N'varr slid happily down Kevlarth's obligingly slanted foreleg. It was a gorgeous spring day, warmer than usual and the purple and yellow flowers had been joined by blooms of many other colours. The fourteen fire lizards who had popped into the air after Kevlarth cheeped and chittered in excited delight as the swooped in and around the flowers. It looked like a game of tag, but N'varr never figured out who was it. That didn't stop him from joining in, however, and he spent several minutes chasing swift, squeaking fire lizards around the meadow before settling down to the gravely important task that had brought him there.
N'varr's uncle on his mother's side was a glass smith, noted for the delicate crystal he produced. The last time N'varr had visited, he had bought a fluted, cut crystal vase. He had an eye for beautiful things (like Sarine, his unruly mind mentioned) and now he had someone to offer it to.
The bronze rider was careful in his choices of flowers, so as to pick the prettiest and sweetest smelling ones. He had only picked a few when something, he didn't know what, caused him to look upwards. And when he did, he saw the figure of a small brown dragon flying almost directly overhead.
"Kevlarth?" he called to the bronze who was stretched out with his eyes closed. "Who was that?"
Kevlarth raised his head and blinked.
Yabelith of Mackenzie Weyr, he replied.
"Ask him where he's going," N'varr told the bronze. It was fairly unusual to see a weyrling alone outside of the Weyr.
There was a pause, then Kevlarth turned his head to N'varr.
He wouldn't tell me, the mental tone of the dragon was tinged with surprise.
N'varr was immediately suspicious. With a faint feeling of regret, he put his carefully picked flowers down on the ground and vaulted up to Kevlarth's neck. After hooking the riding straps and calling to the fire lizards (who ignored him, being intent on chasing the bugs, the butterflies and each other) N'varr thumped Kevlarth's neck.
"Let's just follow them," he suggested and Kevlarth rumbled agreeably. They were in the air a moment later and N'varr spotted the rapidly diminishing figure of the young brown.
Looks like they're heading in the direction of Hillside, N'varr commented as Kevlarth stroked the wind strongly with his frail looking wings. Why wouldn't they just go between? He can surely give a clear enough picture of his home.
The Weyrlingmaster has forbidden the Weyrlings to go between until they are trained, Kevlarth reminded his rider. Yabelith would not disobey Ath's command.
But apparently H'ley would happily disobey K'nedy, N'var mused. I'm certain he doesn't allow unescorted trips, even home. He thought for a second. Is H'ley's sister with him?
Kevlarth rippled his skin in a draconic shrug. N'varr thought for a moment, then, when he determined that Yabelith and H'ley weren't changing their heading, decided on a course of action.
To Hillside, beloved one, he told his weyrmate, picturing the small cothold. I think we'll wait for them there.
Kevlarth didn't reply, but N'varr felt his approval as they slipped between. Three heartbeats later, they emerged in the air over the now familiar cothold and Kevlarth delicately landed on the ground. N'varr had a sudden sense of deja-vu as the same small child came pelting out of the building towards them.
"Hi!" the little boy called, recognizing them. "Ride again?"
N'varr thought fast. If he refused, the boy would be around when H'ley and Tory showed up, but if he agreed...
How long until they get here, Kevlarth? He asked silently.
Hour, maybe longer, Kevlarth replied, swinging his head down to the ground. N'varr turned to the boy who had begun to fearlessly pat the bronze's nose.
"I have a plan," he suggested, hunkering down to the child's level. "Why don't we play some games for awhile? Then go for a ride?"
"Ok," the boy replied, wide eyed at the thought of an adult wanting to play with him! Within moments, they were off on a Thread killing flight across the meadow, N'varr dutifully following the commands of his "Wingleader", who had finally given the name of Galan.
They are close, Kevlarth finally announced. N'varr couldn't see them but trusted his dragon's judgement implicitly. He stopped exhaling "fire" and called to Galan.
"How about that ride now?"
Galan, although disappointed that the game with the funny man had stopped, was more than eager to ride a real dragon instead of a stick. He rushed to N'varr's side and the man lifted the boy onto Kevlarth's foreleg. Leaping up after him, N'varr placed the boy on the bronze dragon's neck and securely fastened him to the riding straps. Then, he leapt down to the ground.
"You're not coming?" Galan asked, his lip quivering in excitement and a little fear.
"You're a big strong dragonrider, remember?" N'varr reminded the child of the game. "You can handle Kevlarth all right, can't you?"
"Sure!" Galan sat up straighter and took a tight hold onto the strap in front of him. "I'm a good dragonrider!"
"You are indeed," N'varr replied. Keep him safe and away until I call, funny face. Feel free to talk to him.
Why thank you, the dragon's tone was coloured in sarcasm.
N'varr chuckled and slapped Kevlarth on the leg. Moving back, he watched as his bronze made a careful takeoff and ascent into the air. When they were well on the way in the opposite direction that Yabelith and his riders were coming, N'varr found his way to a large rock cropping and settled down, hidden. He didn't have long to wait.
Yabelith landed in nearly the same spot that Kevlarth had been and N'varr watched as H'ley dismounted. He was a little disappointed that Tory wasn't with him. It looked as though his efforst were in vain. Still, there may be something to learn here, he thought, edging out from his hiding place once the now riderless Yabelith had taken off for the heights of the tall hill that the cothold was built into. H'ley, his helmet tucked under his arm, was walking towards the entranceway. N'varr moved back to his hiding place, closed his eyes and called his fire lizards. They appeared silently around him and settled down, all business.
"Ok," he told them in a soft voice. "Go follow H'ley," he pictured the boy," but don't let him see you. Relay messages back to me."
N'varr fitted his lean body into a comfortable spot in the rocks and closed his eyes as the fire lizards flitted off. Almost instantly, pictures began appearing in his mind. The confusion of seeing things through several sets of eyes started to appear but N'varr concentrated hard and one set of eyes cleared while the others faded into the background. He was ready now and could see what was going on.
H'ley walked into the building and the first person he saw was obviously a relative, for the woman squealed at his appearance and rished to hug him. The view was a little awkward, looking down from above, but N'varr blessed Raye, who's eyes he was using. She was the best of his fair at getting close without being seen!
"Harl...H'ley!" the woman corrected herself, holding the boy at arm's length. "You look wonderful! We weren't expecting you!"
"I came back for a visit, mother," H'ley replied with a smile. They walked into a room and the vision jumped as N'varr switched to bronze Zip who was already hiding in that room. A momentary distraction of swooping down on a gossamer spinner made N'varr frown - he'd have to have a word with Ranny about not doing her job!
"Where's your brown dragon?" H'ley's mother inquired, looking around as if expecting to see the brown in the room.
"He's up on the fire heights," H'ley replied, then leaned forward earnestly. "Mother, has any of Galand's friends been to visit recently?"
N'varr watched as the woman's face grew pinched.
"Rebard is here now," she said stiffly. "He came by and wanted to see Tory but I of course told him she was at the Weyr."
"Is he still here?" H'ley inquired, his face serious.
"He left yesterday," H'ley's mother replied. "Sweetheart, I don't want you..."
"Hush," H'ley commanded. "Did he say where he was going?"
"Mackenzie Weyr," the woman admitted in a voice so low that N'varr, listening through the hidden Lita's ears, hardly heard.
"Well then, he has a long walk," H'ley smiled. "Now, how about some dinner? And where's Galan?"
"Why, he was around here somewhere," H'ley's mother again looked around as if to see the little boy who was, at that moment, whooping with delight on Kevlarth's back high up in the sky. "He'll be back soon, I'm sure. He's as dragon crazy as you were."
They left the room and N'varr instructed his fire lizards to keep watch while he disengaged from their minds.
Ok, c'mon back, he called to Kevlarth. We can leave now.
Kevlarth returned to view fairly soon and landed as gently as he ever had. N'varr jumped up to release Galan from the straps. The boy's eyes were shining and his hands clutched N'varr's in hero worship as the bronze rider helped him down.
"Now listen to me for a second," N'varr knelt down to face the boy. "Can you keep a secret?"
Galan solemnly nodded his head.
"Then I want you to keep the secret that I was here until after your brother leaves," N'varr told the boy, not really thinking that Galan would stay silent, but hoping that he would. "If you keep the secret, I'll come back someday and you can be a dragonrider again."
"Promise?" Galan asked, and something in his tone made him think that promises had been broken to the boy before.
And I promise too, Galan, Kevlarth said and N'varr smiled as Galan's face lit up at the sound of the dragon's voice. Keep the secret and you can be a dragonrider with me again.
"I will!" Galan stroked Kevlarth's nose, then N'varr patted the boy on the head. He was rewarded with a sudden hug and the small arms around him made him think that children of his own might be nice someday.
He will keep the secret, Kevlarth advised his rider. And he will ride a dragon of his own someday.
I think so too.
"Bye Galan," N'varr called down as he leapt up to Kevlarth's neck. "See you soon!"
Galan waved until Kevlarth winked between then went to his room with his secret where he could play dragonrider in his dreams.
Back at the Weyr, N'varr first put the flowers he had returned to gather in the crystal vase, then plotted out what he would do the next several days to try and get more evidence on Tory. That evening at dinnertime, his plans were all rendered useless.
Quarantine was announced and N'varr, like everyone else at Mackenzie Weyr, was going nowhere for a long time.