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Chapter twenty-eight: C’mine

We tend to refer to young dragons as ‘dragonets’ until they graduate from weyrlinghood, but the distinction between juvenile and adult isn’t really that clear-cut.

A dragonet is, more properly, a young dragon under one full Turn of age – the age at which the most precocious of them reach sexual maturity. Bronze dragons aged one Turn and over are capable of participating in mating flights, though for obvious reasons, weyrling bronzes are prohibited from taking part in senior flights. In practice, a young bronze is best served by leaving the Weyr entirely during a queen flight. His biological imperative would oblige him to chase, but the exertion of pursuing a queen – and the rough-and-tumble of the chasing pack – could do permanent harm to a dragon who has yet to come into his full growth.

Brown and blue dragons are also capable of rising in pursuit of greens by the time they are a Turn old, though they tend to be slightly less forward than their bronze siblings – who often seem to think they have something to prove. A young male of any colour will struggle to compete with experienced dragons, but some adult green riders will take pity on juvenile males who are still virgin and allow them to catch their greens. This is often a useful educational experience for young rider and young dragon alike, though a Weyrlingmaster must take care to see that none of his charges are being exploited by their elders.

Green dragons are slightly slower to reach mating maturity, but most will rise for the first time between the ages of fifteen and nineteen months. These maiden flights are strictly restricted to dragons of a similar age group to the rising green – typically, her own clutchmates, and dragons from the clutch or two before – though a green weyrling may also get permission for an older dragon to join the pursuit if he or she has a particular attachment. Again, the Weyrlingmaster must take pains to ensure that such a rider is not taking advantage of a weyrling’s youth, inexperience, or infatuation.

Queens are slower still. A queen will not typically reach sexual maturity until she is at least two, and more often two and a half or even three Turns of age, by which time she is no longer the Weyrlingmaster’s responsibility, and by which age he can no longer offer her the same protection that he did to her clutch- and classmates.

– Weyrlingmaster L’stev, From Dragonet To Dragon

100.03.17 (100TH TURN, SEVENTH INTERVAL)
MADELLON WEYR

C'mine (Micah Johnson)C’mine was inspecting W’lenze’s latest attempt at bevelling the edge of an offcut of harness leather when Darshanth interrupted him with a report. Vanzanth has returned with Djeth.

“You’re still not getting the angle quite right,” C’mine told W’lenze. “I think you’re gripping the beveller too tightly. You want to hold it firmly but not tightly, and let it follow the line of the hide rather than forcing it.” He demonstrated on the other edge of the scrap of hide as he spoke, paring off a thin shaving of leather. “Do you see?”

“I think so,” W’lenze said doubtfully.

“The rest of your leatherwork is fine,” C’mine said. “It’s just the finishing on the edges that still needs some work. It doesn’t matter so much now, when you’re cutting new harness so often, but when Goldevath stops growing you’ll want to craft his rig to last. You can do it. The edges on your current harness look great.”

After a painfully long pause, W’lenze said, “G’dra helped me with those.”

C’mine winced. He gripped the young rider’s shoulder, feeling Darshanth’s attention shift to Goldevath. “It’s all right, W’lenze,” he said, and then, when he felt the lad tremble, “Hey. It’s all right.”

W’lenze was the youngest of Madellon’s weyrlings, only just thirteen Turns of age, and he’d taken the deaths of his classmates very hard. He bit his lip and raised his head, dry-eyed. He shot a glance sideways at the adjacent table, where three of the Southern weyrlings were working on their fighting straps. “I’m fine, C’mine,” he said. “I am.”

C’mine took his hand off his shoulder. A young man’s pride was a fragile thing at thirteen. “Good lad. Practise some more on that scrap, and then we’ll work on the real thing together.”

As he got up to return to his own bench, K’ralthe preceded L’stev into the workshop, carrying Djeth’s harness over his shoulder. K’ralthe wore an expression betraying the same mixture of disappointment and relief common to all those who’d gone out with the Weyrlingmaster before him. After the first six such excursions had yielded no results, C’mine had stopped asking Darshanth for a report, and after twelve, even the other weyrlings had ceased looking up expectantly when L’stev returned with yet another dragonpair.

At least they hadn’t lost anyone. That was the main thing.

L’stev stumped over to C’mine’s workbench and sat down, looking weary. “All quiet here?”

“Mostly,” C’mine replied. L’stev didn’t need to know that K’dam and L’mern had come almost to blows over the use of a particular grooving tool. There were plenty of tools to go around, but some were better than others, and the two groups of weyrlings needed no encouragement to find a point of contention. “How did Djeth go?”

“Same as the rest of the guessers,” said L’stev. He poked distractedly at the carved leather of Darshanth’s dress harness with one stubby finger. “Jumped in fine, but couldn’t find his own way on the tether.”

The day had begun so well. M’touf and Atath had gone between and emerged, triumphant, shortly thereafter. L’stev had had them repeat the feat several times, coaching them through both blink jumps and absolutes. Each time Atath reappeared exactly where she was asked after exactly ten seconds. C’mine had never seen a young rider bursting quite so openly with pride for his dragon.

But then L’stev had started his work with Soleigh and M’rany, and the early victory of Atath’s success was overshadowed by their failure. Even after Vanzanth had carried her between and out the other side, Bristath still refused to jump alone. She consented to go between on the tether, with Vanzanth beside her, but panicked once she was there. Vanzanth had brought them both out again. L’stev had stood the shaken Bristath down for the day.

It had been the same story with each of the other Wildfire dragonpairs. Some would go between and some wouldn’t, but none of them could find their way out again. The experiment they’d begun with such nervous high hopes in the morning was producing, if not the worst possible outcome, then the second-worst. Atath excepted, Madellon’s dragonets couldn’t go between.

Neither could Southern’s. After the first dozen Wildfires had tried and failed, L’stev had consulted briefly with Valonna, and then taken one of the Southern blues between. Palth had met with no more success than any of the Wildfires. Nor had any of his clutchmates.

But L’stev didn’t believe in leaving a thing half done. “Who’s next?” C’mine asked.

“Tarshe,” L’stev said. He made a disgusted face. “And Sh’zon’s insisting that Kawanth takes Berzunth between, so I’m having to wait for them to be available. Idiotic. Santinoth’s already done five. I’ll have to brief Sh’zon from scratch.”

“Tarshe tells me Sh’zon’s protective of her when it comes to other bronze riders,” said C’mine.

“T’rello’s far too mannerly to get inappropriate with a weyrling. Tarshe could do worse than pair up with a rider like him when the time comes, even if he is younger than her. T’rello’s a Weyrleader of the future, C’mine; you wait and see if I’m wrong. Making him P’keo’s Wingsecond was one of the wisest decisions T’kamen ever made.”

C’mine tensed reflexively at the mention of T’kamen’s name, then made himself relax. “If he doesn’t come back –”

“Don’t play that game,” L’stev told him. “Not yet.” He looked irritated. “But we can’t have Deputies running the place forever. If it comes down to a choice between the two, H’ned’s not so appalling.” He cocked his head. “Sh’zon’s ready. Keep the lid on this lot. Tarshe!”

C’mine felt a degree of extra anxiety as Tarshe followed L’stev out of the workshop. He knew it was irrational. Karika and Megrith had already tried and failed without mishap. But C’mine didn’t have the attachment to Karika that he did to Tarshe, and Darshanth didn’t pay Megrith the same kind of close attention that he did Berzunth. Perhaps that would change over time. C’mine didn’t know how long it took for a transferred queen to win the devotion of a new Weyr. Once Megrith was mature she would command other dragons just as any queen could, but C’mine wondered if a foreigner would ever equal a native queen in the opinion of Madellon’s dragons.

He turned his attention back to the rig lying in pieces on the workbench before him. The weyrlings spent several afternoons each sevenday working on harness, and L’stev had suggested that C’mine lead by example with some of his own. Darshanth’s dress rig had hung untouched on the rack in their weyr for months, and the leather had suffered from the neglect. C’mine had disassembled it, taking apart each strap, removing the buckles, and unpicking the stitching around the metal fittings. The buckles and rings were soaking in a vinegar solution to loosen the rust while C’mine cleaned and greased the wherhide.

All around him, the weyrlings of both groups toiled at their own harness. L’stev had always been very strict about upkeep. Harness put away dirty or wet deteriorated fast, and good hide was at a premium. The Weyrlingmaster inspected the harness room most mornings, and any weyrling whose rig didn’t meet his standards could expect to spend the breakfast hour bringing it up to scratch. It hadn’t happened since C’mine had been working with the weyrlings. The importance of good harness maintenance was ingrained into the Wildfires, as it was into every Madellon rider L’stev had trained. But the Southerners took excellent care of their rig, too. L’stev wouldn’t have ignored a fault just to keep them quiet. Young as they were, the Southern weyrlings had been well taught.

Some of the Wildfires were cutting completely new harness. Weyrling rig was always crafted with growing room, but all the Madellon blues and greens were in the eleven-month growth spurt that C’mine recalled from his own weyrlinghood, and their riders were having to buckle to the last notch or two of their main straps. L’stev had started them on cutting their new harness the previous sevenday, and most of the Wildfires had almost finished. Only W’lenze was really struggling, and C’mine wondered how much of that was down to genuine difficulty with the craft and how much to his continued grief for G’dra who, it seemed, had been the standout leatherworker of the Wildfires, as well as one of W’lenze’s closest friends.

C’mine finished rubbing oil into the aft neck band and laid the heavy piece of wherhide down on the bench. Then he got up, partly to stretch his legs, and partly to distract himself from the thought that Berzunth was up there now attempting to fly between. He moved slowly between workbenches, seeing how the weyrlings were doing. “You’ll get that finished a lot sooner if you work and talk at the same time,” he said quietly as he passed the bench where the two Southern green weyrlings, Jhilia and Sia, sat with their heads bent close together, whispering furiously to each other, their leatherwork neglected in front of them.

W’lenze was working with the bevelling tool, concentrating hard as he pushed it along the edge of the piece of scrap hide. C’mine watched for a moment as a narrow curl of leather peeled away from the edge under the steady pressure of the v-shaped blade. “That’s it,” he said. “I think you’ve got it now. Why don’t you have a go at the edge of your safety now?”

He stayed long enough to see W’lenze, with increasing confidence, bevel the top and bottom edges of the safety-strap, and then moved on.

Karika sat at the end of a workbench, rubbing leather soap into the soft inner of Megrith’s harness, alone. While Megrith was still clearly the centre of the Southern dragonet band, Karika had become increasingly isolated from her Weyrmates. The Weyrlingmaster tracts C’mine had been reading from L’stev’s collection remarked that queen weyrlings often did end up detached from their classmates, usually by choice, but that clearly wasn’t the case with Karika. The Southerners had begun to shun her after their abortive attempt at democracy had met with failure: subtly at first, and then with increasing ostentation.

C’mine paused by the bench where Leah was sitting with her friend Kessirke. “Karika’s all on her own over there,” he said.

“You should see what it’s like in the barracks,” Leah said, with relish. “No one’s talking to her at all!”

“Why don’t you invite her over to join you?”

Leah looked horrified. “Do we have to?”

“No,” C’mine said. “But I’m asking you.”

“There’s not enough room,” Leah complained, casually spreading out bits of Jagunth’s harness to cover more of the surface of the table.

C’mine looked at her.

She sighed exaggeratedly. “All right. Fine. You ask her over.”

It wasn’t quite the inclusive response C’mine had wanted, but he supposed he was asking quite a lot. He stepped around the benches to where Karika was working. “Karika, why don’t you move over and sit with Leah and Kessirke?”

Karika didn’t lift her eyes from her work. “Thank you, Weyrlingmaster, but I’m happy here.”

“Wouldn’t you like to –”

“Really, Weyrlingmaster, I’m fine.”

C’mine hesitated. L’stev had told him not to let the weyrlings defy his authority. Karika was always flawlessly polite and proper in her manner, but this wasn’t the first time she’d politely and properly resisted a suggestion. “Karika,” he said, “you’d be setting a really good example to your Weyrmates if you’d try to get along a little better with Madellon’s weyrlings.”

Karika raised her gaze to his. “I’d rather not.”

In the back of C’mine’s mind, Darshanth gave a surprised little start, as though someone had poked him with a pin.

Did Megrith just try to lean on you? C’mine asked him, taken aback.

Darshanth sounded more outraged than intimidated. Yes!

C’mine frowned at Karika. “Don’t try to do that again,” he told her, in what he hoped was a no-nonsense tone of voice. “You’re a weyrling and a guest, and if I ever catch your dragonet trying to bully another dragon of any age, I’ll…”

Have her sent back to Southern, Darshanth supplied.

“…have you sent back to Southern.”

Karika’s nostrils flared, and she lifted her chin. “That’s not up to you.”

She was right, but she was also twelve. “Do you want to rely on that?” C’mine asked. When Karika didn’t answer, he said, “If you’re planning on staying at Madellon, you need to make an effort to find some common ground with our weyrlings. Now go and sit with Leah and Kessirke.”

Karika gave him a filthy look, but, with a show of enormous disgust, she picked up the pieces of Megrith’s harness and carried them over to Leah’s bench.

Jagunth says her rider says thank you so much, said Darshanth.

Tell her she’s welcome. C’mine resumed his rounds of the workshop. Did the idea of threatening to send her back to Southern come from Megrith?

She thinks very loudly when she’s afraid.

Afraid?

Because they didn’t go between. They are afraid we’ll send them back now.

How does that follow?

I don’t know.

Can you press her for any more?

No. She’s cut me out now. Darshanth sounded resigned. But Nerbeth’s rider wants to talk to you.

S’terlion was hiding away at the corner workbench with the least natural light. T’gala was sitting beside him. That part almost made C’mine smile as he made his way between tables. “What do you need, S’terli?”

“I was just wondering if you could maybe help with the spacing of the notches on Nerbeth’s main straps,” S’terlion said, looking up from beneath his shaggy fringe.

“Nerbeth’s smaller than Heppeth,” said T’gala. “I wasn’t sure how far apart they should go for a green.”

“Let me see,” C’mine said. “Budge up, T’gala.”

T’gala moved along, and C’mine sat down in the space she vacated. Between them, the two weyrlings had made a neat job of Nerbeth’s new harness. The cut was true, the bevels well-angled; all the stitching looked solid. There were a few places where the suede backing might have been skived down more precisely to fit the line of the heavy strap hide, but it didn’t really matter on a dragonet’s harness. The fore- and aft-straps fastened with two buckles each in case one failed, and all four had been sewn tightly to the billets and reinforced with rivets. The harness only lacked its last few touches – toe loops, keepers, fleece to pad out the throat ring where the two main bands joined under the dragon’s neck – and the holes where the tang of each buckle would notch.

“This is a very nice piece of work, S’terlion,” C’mine said, running the wherhide through his hands. “L’stev will be really happy with this.”

“T’gala’s done most of it,” S’terlion said, looking down at his cast wrist.

“I haven’t,” said T’gala. “Only the bits you need two hands for.”

“That’s most of it,” said S’terlion. “I’m useless with my left hand.”

“You’ve been doing fine, S’terlion,” C’mine told him. He’d finally made the time to look at L’stev’s dossiers on each weyrling, and S’terlion’s file made for uncomfortable reading. C’mine didn’t remember him being so retiring and tongue-tied when he’d helped him with Darshanth’s convalescence at Kellad. Impression could change a person’s character, and not always for the better. S’terlion had become very shy and passive, as though he’d taken a green’s place in dragon hierarchy to mean he should be submissive, too. “Do you have Nerbeth’s measurements?”

S’terlion pushed a slate across the workbench with his left hand. Beneath the notations of length and circumference and ridge-to-ridge distance, L’stev’s distinctive scrawl noted an estimated adult size. “She’s got quite a bit of growing still to do,” C’mine said. “So I’d say half-hand spacing would be about right. Have you marked where it fits her now?”

“Here,” S’terlion said, showing him a chalk mark on the unfinished neck band.

“You should start the notches two intervals smaller than that,” C’mine said. “Sometimes if you measure just after they’ve eaten, the extra water in their bodies can make them bulk out more than normal. Do you remember the procedure?”

S’terlion shook his head, and C’mine switched his attention to T’gala. “What about you, T’gala? How were you taught to punch the holes in your harness at Southern?”

T’gala shifted on the bench. “You measure the centre of the billet and mark it,” she said, in the quiet high voice that C’mine knew now to be feminine rather than just pre-pubescent. “Measure off the intervals you want. Then punch them with the punch and small hammer.” She paused. “At Southern we finish them with grommets.”

She said the last part almost apologetically. “We do here, too,” C’mine said.

Berzunth’s back, Darshanth said. Vanzanth says to send out Sparth’s rider.

“P’lian,” C’mine said, raising his voice over the tap of hammers and snick of knives. “You can go out to the Weyrlingmaster now.”

P’lian put down the oilcloth he’d been using to grease his harness. C’mine noticed T’gala following him from the room with her eyes.

S’terlion noticed, too. “He’ll be all right,” he told T’gala. “Everyone else has been.”

T’gala gave a little jump, snatching her eyes away. “No, I mean, I’m not…” Colour leapt to her cheeks. She was fair-skinned for a Southerner. “I mean, I’m…” She cleared her throat, and began again, deepening her voice in an attempt to sound more manly that C’mine found rather poignant. “I mean, I’m a blue rider, and he’s a brown rider.”

“That doesn’t matter,” C’mine said. “You don’t have to weyr with who your dragon fancies. There are at least two blue-brown weyrmatings at Madellon, and plenty of other combinations.”

“Other combinations?” S’terlion asked.

C’mine tried not to smile. S’terlion might have become withdrawn and quiet, but he was still a teenage boy, and there’d never been a teenage boy alive who wasn’t obsessed with sex. “Lots of doubling up,” he said. “Brown and brown is unusual, but blue-blue isn’t, and neither’s green-green, same gender and mixed. I even knew a bronze rider once who had a male weyrmate for a while.”

“Really?” S’terlion asked, with sudden avid interest. “Who?”

C’mine hesitated, realising he shouldn’t have mentioned it. “It wasn’t at Madellon,” he lied. T’gat was a Wingleader and shouldn’t be the subject of weyrling gossip. Even in the Weyr, the notion of a bronze rider in a relationship with another man – however long ago the affair had been – was unusual enough to be salacious. “But the point is, the colour of your dragon doesn’t dictate who you weyr with. Or that you have to weyr with any other rider, or anyone at all. Some riders never do.”

It was veering uncomfortably close to subject matter he didn’t want to discuss, but T’gala was obviously preoccupied with her own situation. “It’s just different for me,” she said, in a very low voice. “It’s always going to be different for me. Because I’m…wrong.”

“You’re not wrong, T’gala,” C’mine said, trying to put conviction in his voice without raising it loud enough for the weyrlings at the other benches to hear. “Different, yes, but different and wrong aren’t the same thing at all.”

T’gala looked down at the awl in her hands, turning the tool over and over. L’stev had been very worried about her in the first few days after they’d discovered her secret, and he’d asked C’mine to keep an eye on her. Darshanth was developing a closer rapport with Heppeth than he had with any of the other Southern dragonets, and C’mine himself took pains to make himself available to T’gala without crowding her or exerting any pressure on her to talk. But it was her friendship with S’terlion that seemed to be coaxing the truth of T’gala’s knotted fears and insecurities out into the open. The two shy weyrlings had been spending more and more time together. They were both too isolated from their respective clutchmates, in their different ways, to form a bridge between Wildfires and Southerners, but they had to be good for each other.

“But it is wrong, isn’t it?” T’gala asked, at length. “Because of what happened the last time.”

That was new information. C’mine hesitated, not wanting to pounce, but S’terlion turned to T’gala. “Last time? There are other blue riders who…who’re like you…at Southern?”

“No,” said T’gala. “I’m the only one now. But…there was one before. I know I shouldn’t have, but…Heppeth was all alone…”

“You don’t have to apologise for Impressing your dragon, T’gala,” C’mine told her firmly. “He chose you. A dragon’s choice is final, no matter how unusual it is.”

“They said it was only because there was no one else,” she said, with brittle self-doubt. “Because he was the last dragon to hatch and there wasn’t anyone else left.”

“Nerbeth was last to hatch from her clutch, too!” said S’terlion.

“Really?” T’gala asked, turning to him.

It was such a lovely moment of connection between them that C’mine had to hide his smile behind a cough. He knew L’stev always had reservations about late-Hatching dragonets, who could only choose from the few candidates that were left, but he wasn’t about to mention that. “They both needed you to wait,” he said.

But T’gala clearly wasn’t convinced. “They said it isn’t natural,” she said quietly. “That it’s not supposed to happen. They said that’s why B’nain died.”

“She –” C’mine caught himself, then rephrased. “B’nain was the other blue rider like you?”

T’gala nodded. “It was Turns ago. I was very small.”

“Do you know what happened?”

“Only that it was during a flight,” she said. “And it was before…” She broke off, looking uneasy.

Weyrbred weyrlings were generally pretty sanguine about dragon mating habits. T’gala, like all the Southerners, would have grown up knowing what to expect – but she would have imagined herself the rider of a female dragon, not a male one. She’d have a different role to play when Heppeth caught a green. C’mine wondered if that incongruity had been responsible for whatever had happened to B’nain. Young male green riders sometimes struggled with the physical reality of their dragons’ mating flights. The consequences could be tragic. A mating dragon whose rider, through fear or discomfort, suddenly broke the deep immersion of flight-merge might panic and go between. The thought tripped an old memory that he didn’t want to dwell upon. “It’s months yet before you need to worry about flights, T’gala,” he said. “And even when Heppeth is old enough to start taking an interest, he’s under no obligation to chase a green until both of you feel ready. Blue riders have the luxury of picking and choosing the dragons we pursue.”

T’gala looked suddenly hopeful. “Do you mean…he might not want to chase any greens?”

Darshanth, listening in, made a dismissive sound that C’mine hoped was only mental.

“He is a dragon, T’gala,” he said, gently, “and adult dragons have needs. It wouldn’t be fair to ask him not to ever act on those needs. It might not be comfortable or easy for you at first, but it comes with being a dragonrider, and in time you’ll find that it’s just an everyday part of your life together, like keeping him clean or mending your harness.”

“Every day?” T’gala exclaimed.

C’mine laughed. “I didn’t mean every day in that sense.”

“It’s all right for you, anyway,” said S’terlion. “At least you get a say in who your dragon mates with.”

“It’s not that bad, S’terlion,” C’mine said. “Most adult greens have favourites. Nerbeth will have regular suitors and you’ll get to know their riders. And we don’t let just anyone get involved with weyrling mating flights, so when Nerbeth does rise for the first time, it won’t be a stranger.”

Sparth has returned, said Darshanth. He almost sounded bored. Vanzanth says to send Ellendunth.

T’gala relaxed a bit, clearly relieved that P’lian was back safely, but S’terlion still seemed preoccupied with the issue of flight partners. “Is it true you can arrange for someone else to – you know – be…there? Instead of whoever wins?”

L’stev had told C’mine to expect that question, though he needn’t have. Half the non-Weyrbred green riders in his own weyrling class had hypothesised on the same subject. “It’s been tried,” he said, delicately. “It doesn’t really work.”

“Why not?”

C’mine supposed that the mechanics of what actually went on in a flight weyr during dragon mating had to be experienced, or at least witnessed, to be grasped. Once the dragonets were a Turn old, the weyrlings would be chaperoned in small groups to observe a real green flight in progress. It could be an eye-opening moment even for the most worldly young riders. “Well,” he said, resorting to the most banal reason why substitutes didn’t work, “for one thing, it’s very difficult to arrange. If you had an alternative partner, all the other riders in the flight would need one too. Greens don’t always rise to a schedule, so expecting all those extra people to drop everything and rush up to a flight weyr when your dragon takes off would be very…impractical. Nothing would ever get done in the Weyr.”

S’terlion looked crestfallen. “Oh. I hadn’t thought about that.”

C’mine was relieved when he didn’t push for any further explanation. There were other reasons why flight substitutes didn’t work – not least that anyone trying to interpose themselves between the riders of two mating dragons risked an ungentle experience at best, outright injury at worst – but C’mine was glad he hadn’t been required to explain that to a couple of very young weyrlings in graphic detail.

You dodged a tangle there, Darshanth commented, amused. Aren’t you glad they aren’t –

They aren’t what? C’mine asked, when he stopped abruptly.

Darshanth didn’t reply. C’mine was about to ask him again, and then he said. Oh. Oh, no. Oh!

And an instant later – long enough for C’mine to realise that every weyrling in the room had gone stiff and motionless – Darshanth’s mental moan, and the audible cry of all Madellon’s dragons, rose in a heartbroken scream that reverberated thunderously around the Weyr.

It went through C’mine like a knife, like the cruellest of blades, sunk into his chest, and twisted. Once again he heard the echo of that awful night, the one clear memory that remained to him of the worst day of his life, forever associated with the keening of dragons. Indioth is no more!

He couldn’t breathe.

C’mine! Darshanth’s consciousness slammed into his with dizzying force. Be with me now!

Darshanth’s mind was all around his, a muffling, comforting barrier, blocking out the cacophonous howl of mourning dragons. Shielded from the anguish of a whole Weyr, C’mine tried to gather his scattered wits. Oh, Faranth, it’s Ellendunth, isn’t it? For a seemingly endless moment his mind raced through everything he’d said to H’nar, every piece of advice he’d given him, anything he might have told him differently that could have averted this terrible outcome…

Then Darshanth crowded closer still; suffocatingly close. No. Ellendunth lives. It is Grizbath who has gone between.

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