Greetings, quiet visitor. I hope I find you well?
Don't be silly, Taliphith. Of course they're fine. They wouldn't exactly be wandering the Weyr if they were ill, would they?
It's a simple enough courtesy, Ygraith. It might be beneficial to you, too; more people might be interested in adopting us.
So? I didn't say I wanted to be adopted. What's wrong with staying here at Mountain's Note?
Nothing, really. Only... I think I'd like to be bonded.
Why? The humans don't want us, Tali'. That's why we're here! If they had really cared, they would have been there!
You don't know that, 'Graith. Zalaeith and her rider did look for Candidates... we're just so isolated, up here. I'm not even sure if many riders even know the coordinates for the Weyr.
So? It's not like there's anything we can do about it...
Why not? Anyway, you know the obvious solution; all we need to do is leave the Weyr.
Taliphith! You wouldn't leave me here... would you? You can't leave! No... please?
I wouldn't leave without you, 'Graith. We've been through so much together... Even at our hatching.
No one expected silver-blue Zalaeith clutch to hatch so soon; but then, expectations don't really matter when to dragon's clutch. Eggs harden all the same, as Valecaea of Abri discovered, that unexpected evening...
Valecaea! Wake my Candidates! Zalaeith's imperious call was repeated again before her rider noticed. She rolled over, trying to go back to sleep.
Can't be, 'Laeith. Not now. It's too late, it's past midnight...
The young clutchmother snorted. As you wish. Don't forget to tell the Candidates that they didn't Impress because you were too lazy to get up.
Tell the candidates... Val repeated dutifully. Suddenly, everything clicked. The Candidates! But... Zalaeith, we don't even have half enough!
There is nothing to be done about that. Perhaps some of my children will bond from the stands. But if you do not hurry, no one will Impress!
"I'm going, I'm going!" Val grumbled aloud, shrugging into a gown. Despite her feigned sluggishness, she was quick to dash down the halls to the Candidate barracks. "Wake up, come on! Zalaeith's clutch is hatching!" Not waiting to see who heard or answered her summons, she took the stairs two at a time in her hurry to reach her bond.
On the Sands, Zalaeith paced slowly, silver-blue hide shining faintly in the moonlight. On the other end of the sands, Zyradeth lay curled around her own pile of eggs.
The Candidates were surprisingly quick to answer Val's summons; they were followed by the Weyrleaders and a slow but steady trickle of riders and guests. About half a candlemark later, Alyia turned impatiently to Valecaea. "Is Zalaeith sure that the hatching will be to-"
Val frowned, almost as irate as her dragoness. But before she could snap a reply, the first egg cracked, broken by the force of a small green leg.
The little hatchling looked cautiously out of her shell, and returned with a squeal to hide in the remaining shards. Zalaeith gave her daughter a gentle nudge; while the movement failed to dislodge the little green, the partial egg did rock into its neighbor, giving the nearby egg the necessary momentum. The second of the eggs cracked with the sound of a cannon-shot; the remnants of the green's haven shattered, and she was rudely deposited on the sands. She shivered on the shadowy sands; but when no rider proved forthcoming, she retreated to her mother's side. Zalaeith wrapped a comforting wing around the hatchling green, and then turned back to watch her hatching.
The occupant of the second egg, a dark, white-frosted hatchling, had meanwhile righted himself and dried his egg-wet wings. Now, he walked slowly through the sparse clusters of Candidates, and stopped before a girl, Blue. I am Kanorth, and your name is my color. Do you accept me, forever?
Blue beamed at her sister, before turning back to the little blue. "Of course! I'd never reject you!"
As the first pair left the Sands, another, larger egg shuddered. Several moments passed; when it did not crack, the hatchling green left the shelter of Zalaeith's wings, and gently tapped the egg. Its movement came to a halt; undiscouraged, the hatchling butted harder, ramming her nose against the shell.
When the green paused her efforts, a pleading cry became audible to everyone on the grounds. Help me, my sister!
The green cocked her head in surprise, then jumped suddenly to the top of the egg. Wings flaired, she dropped all her weight onto the stubborn egg. A myriad of cracks decorated the shell; as she continued to scratch, using tooth and claw, she was finally rewarded as a bronze head poked free. Determined to free her brother, she redoubled her efforts. Do not worry, Hyzleth.I'll get you out!
As the last shards fell free, the bronze nuzzled her affectionately. I never doubted you, Denorith.
As Mountain's Note's first dragonpair exited the grounds, wing on wing, a sturdy young brown pushed free of his entrapping shell. He slowly scanned the sands, gaze pausing on Belan, the only male Candidate. Yet he looked away, and released a piercing note of grief. He would remain unbonded, the first of his hatching.
But not the last. Moments later, another egg split violently, and its blue occupant bugled his arrival to the world. He did not seem interested in finding a rider, but instead spun to face the brown. His flailing, whip-like tail caught another egg, spilling another hatchling onto the sand.
The watchers gasped at the newest dragonet, for she was the image of her dam. No, not quite, after all; as she spread her wings, she revealed the darkly shadowed markings of a burnished dragon. Although dizzy from her brother's collision with her egg, she moved resolutely towards the Candidates, and chose Sabina out of them all. She shook her head slowly, and the new rider frowned in concern. "Is something the matter, Senisilith?"
My head hurts, but I shall be all right. Hunger is the more pressing need.
Laughing, Sabina helped her bond join their sisters in the feeding caverns.
Belan, the last of the candidates, scanned the remaining eggs a little nervously. Surely one of the hatchlings would choose him?
A brown, hatching from behind, fell into the boy in his eagerness to reach his rider. No, not one of them, B'an. Me! Excentrith!
The Candidates were all bonded, but this fact did not stop the pale green tail that poked out from one end of another egg. Its owner shoved against the confining shell; with a crack, the opposing end also relented. She spread her wings, pushing out the sides of her prison, and was suddenly lying uncovered on her back. Despite her embarrassment, she got to her feet, and sauntered over to join her unbonded brothers.
And we met for the first time, Ygraith added, unusually quiet. Taliphith nodded slowly, not at all annoyed at her interruption. They had been friends ever since their hatching, and he was well used to her swift mood shifts.
And then Tarahoth and Jyretiwth bonded, you know.
I know. But they have each other, and we have no one. She laughed for a moment with childish pleasure. And I get to tell the next story, no matter what.
Alyia sighed, glancing around at the Weyr's youngest occupants. It seemed as if Zalaeith's children had grown up so quickly, and Zyradeth's clutch was rapidly hardening. Hopefully more Candidates would arrive before the momentous day...
But now, a more pressing problem faced her. The dragonets had recently graduated to weyrlinghood, and were ready for the most exciting part of any weyrling's training: learning to fly.
The Weyrwoman glanced slowly around the motley crowd: there were a few normal human-and-dragon bonds, two dragonpairs, and three unbonded dragons. How could such a mixed group ever be trained?
You will manage, Karenenth assured her bond. You are my clever, resourceful rider.We will teach them to fly!
Alyia smiled. Thanks, love.
Elsewhere in the group assembled that morning, further doubts were being voiced...
Ygraith twined her neck gratefully around his. Thanks, Tali'. She freed herself and stared downward, regretful. But it's not the same.
I know. But we have something our bonded siblings do not, Ygraith. We can be independent, do as we wish. We don't ever have to face being abandoned. A flurry of movement caught his opalescent eye, and he nudged her gently. Come, 'Grai. It is our turn to fly!
As he spoke, blue Zenth, outgoing and fearless from his hatching, took a running leap into the air. He flew haltingly for several seconds, then flopped back to the ground. Mentally laughing, Ygraith mimicked him; but she had the greater speed, and remained in the air, skimming only meters above the ground. Taliphith smiled to himself, before following, his large wings catching and trapping the air.
This is fun! Ygraith bugled, swooping down from above. Taliphith checked his flight rather abruptly to avoid collision; unperturbed, the pale green landed just ahead and below, skidding slightly in the sand as she tried to stop herself.
The larger brown rose above her, and hovered to watch his friend right herself. She was speedy and graceful in the air, but she lacked his stamina and steady flight. He watched as she rested and regained her balance, then replied. I agree, 'Grai. You okay there?
She nodded, and they listened as Karenenth called the disorderly weyrlings to regroup. Exultant in their new abilities and freedom, the green and brown joined the newest wing as they soared over the Weyr.
Of course you are. And so am I. We're older now - that's what I was telling you. We're adult, we can take care of ourselves. We can leave the Weyr.
But... Tali, why? Where would we go?
We can go anywhere! We're grown up - almost. Alyia would let us leave, if we asked.
Ygraith's eyes lightened with hope, but she ducked her head again. I'm sorry, Taliphith. But it wouldn't work.
Why not? He sounded disappointed, and she knew she'd hurt him. She also knew, all too well, that he was so much more independent. She tried to be regal, strong, confident... but it was just so hard.
We don't have riders. What Weyr would accept us? She sighed, knowing what she had to say. Tali, you should go. You've been a wonderful friend, better than anyone else at Mountain's Note. I owe you so much... But I know you want to travel, and I shouldn't try to stop you. You don't need to stay, just for me. Go, Taliphith.
And suddenly he was laughing, warm tenor voice relieving her sadness. Oh my dear 'Grai, you don't understand at all. There are other kinds of bonds! Don't you remember that Hyzleth and Denorith bonded to each other?
She nodded, not quite understanding. Yes, and Tarahoth and Jyretiwth, after our hatching. But what does that have to do with us, Taliphith?
The brown was smug. Everything. I've been talking with Zalaeith, and she told me about a dragoness hatched on Abri's sands. She was abandoned, but she's now a Candidate. Just think, 'Grai! If she can Impress again...
Then why can't we Impress? Ygraith exclaimed, completing her friend's thought. Only... what Weyr would take us?
Taliphith did not know. But it's the chance that matters.
Ygraith looked up, eyes whirling blue, tolerant of the brown's unusual mood. Hello, Tali. How was Fall? She herself had elected not to chew firestone, and as she had no rider, she was unable to fly in the queens' wing.
Taliphith snorted dismissively, obviously scornful of such a trivial subject. Oh, that. Fine. But Ygraith, this is important! I've found a place where we can stand!
Really? Ygraith really looked at him for the first time, curiousity clearly written in her gaze. Where? Most Weyrs seem so... hidebound.
Your first mistake, 'Grai. It's not a Weyr... not even on Pern.
The green dragoness sighed at this cryptic reply, and settled down, knowing that Taliphith would tell her everything in his own time.
The world we're going to is called Alskyr. It's somewhat like Pern... except the Weyrs are called Caers, and the Holds are Houses. People go to the Caers to bond with dragons. But there are also sea dragons, and gryphons.
Anyway, it's fairly common for hatchlings to bond to each other, or for dragons to bond to each other. If we went to Alskyr, we could bond, too!
Wait a moment, Tali. Ygraith slowly raised a transluscent wing, cutting off the brown's flow of words. Don't you think you're assuming too much? How do you know I'm going?
What are you talking about, 'Grai? Of course... Taliphith trailed off. I'm sorry, Ygraith. But you've got to come!
However, the green was still a little offended. Why must I do anything?
Her brown friend turned persuasive. Because the Caer I heard about has a clutch of eight on the sands, 'Grai. And only three candidates. Now, I know you would never let a hatchling remain alone like us because his or her bond had refused to attend... right?
Ygraith stared at him for a moment, well aware that he would have his way. But so put, Taliphith's argument did sound so convincing... Finally, she gave the draconic equivalent of a smile. And you even had to ask? What's the name of this Weyr... I mean, Caer?
Wild River. Somehow, Taliphith managed to fit a world of triumph and joy into his two-worded reply.
Will the Hatching never come? Ygraith had never been possessed of great patience; now, with so much at stake, she was a bomb just waiting to explode. Outside, to her slight satisfaction, the weather mimicked her high-strung nerves. The rainy season had come; peals of thunder rolled over the mountains, while branches of lightning split the distant sky.
Her brown companion only laughed. Come, silly one. If you were not so impatient, you would know that Vissa and Jumar call us to the sands!
Ygraith snorted, trying to protect her dignity. I... knew that. And with this retort, she scampered out of their cavern, Taliphith following more sedately.
Of course you did.
Seth, the Junior Caerlord, led them to Vissa's clutch of eight, smiling slightly as they joined the semi-circle of bonders.
Do you think we'll bond? Ygraith whispered, suddenly doubtful. We weren't born here... maybe Pernese dragons can't bond after hatching.
I heard from Zenth only days ago, the brown returned, nuzzling her. He bonded at another of the Caers, to a beautiful young green. Now hush - the eggs are cracking!
His warning was almost unnecessary; Vissa and Jumar's welcoming bugles made conversation very difficult. Besides, the pale green, who had seen very little of even her own hatching, was too entranced by the first hatchling to care.
He was a strong young red with deep blue wingsails, a striking mix of his parent's colors. And, despite the stunned silence of the crowd, he made his way to Donan, the only human man on the sands.
The next hatchling was a large blue, slightly darker than usual but otherwise normal. He glanced around, crooning sadly as he bypassed the bonders. Finally, he lay down at Seth's feet. The rider frowned slowly, and Taliphith heard his friend's sharp intake of breath when the Junior Covelord announced that the little blue could not find his bond.
But the brown's attention did not linger long on his friend, for the largest egg shattered abruptly and a young dragoness danced out, bugling sharply. Everyone's gaze quickly snapped to her - as well it might. Her delicate body was colored by a pale, iridescent rainbow, and her wings were snow-white. Uncaring that she was now the center of attention, she creeled more insistently, spun rapidly around, bounded forward, and crashed into Taliphith's brown hide.
There you are! I knew that there was someone here for me! She exclaimed, rearing back in an attempt to see her chosen all at once. I'm Hyperith, and you're my only choice,Taliphith.
The brown laughed, well used to such a personality - after all, he'd lived with volatile Ygraith for several Turns. Well, well, Hyperith. Your name certainly fits.
What's that supposed to mean?the rainbow-white dragoness snapped, cocking her head to look at her bond.
Ignoring the amused glance that Ygraith shot him, Taliphith gently nudged his gorgeous bond in the direction of the food. Nothing, love. Nothing.
Ygraith called a congratulation to her friend; nevertheless, she felt a little disappointed that he and his new bond had left her; she who hated to be alone, who relied on the calm, dependable brown so much.
But as she stared after them, a small nose nudged her gently, then more insistently when she did not respond. Ygraith, could we go with them, please?
The pale green dragoness spun in surprise, and stopped, bewitched, as she met the rainbowy gaze of the dragonet before her. But his eyes were not alone in the spectrums they displayed; his dark hide was splashed by color, as if the black had been separated into all the colors of the rainbow. The dark hatchling displayed none of his sister's excitement and unpredictability, and his gaze was steady as he stared back at the awestruck green.
Finally, she regained her speech. Of course, Calmith.
The rainbowy hatchlings' hunger had finally been sated, at their older bonds were able to talk for the first time since the hatching. They lay in a large weyr, talking quietly to avoid disturbing the sleeping dragonets.
Ygraith lay curled around the warm body of her dark bond; every so often, she nuzzled him gently. Brown Taliphith sprawled in another corner, forepaws curved protectively around his rainbow-white lifemate.
She's beautiful, Ygraith observed. They both are. I can't believe that they chose us.
The brown chuckled softly. Believe it, 'Grai. Now, aren't you glad I convinced you to come? Your Calmith might have stayed unbonded, as we did.
The pale green dragoness shivered. I don't know how you can even talk about that.
Relax, Ygraith. It didn't happen.
She was silent for a moment, reflecting. Finally, she voiced her thoughts. But I wonder why Calmith chose me, and Hyperith you? I mean...
Taliphith's eyes whirled blue with amusement. I know. I thought that their names made sense, too. Hyperith didn't get it.
I'm not sure I understand, either, the rainbow-black hatchling commented, opening a sleepy eye. But 'Grai, I know you're right for me. Imagine what would have happened if Hyperith had chosen you. She's so... excitable, and you are,too. You wouldn't have been able to take care of each other. But I can stabilize you, as Taliphith does for his bond.
I am not too excitable! the rainbow-white dragoness exclaimed, eyes popping open. Her clutchmate and his bond began to laugh; when the brown too smothered a chuckle, she hung her head slightly. Well... okay ,maybe Calmith's right. But it would be boring without me!
Ygraith giggled, sounding almost as young as her bond. And Faranth protect us from that horrible fate!
The rainbow-black nodded. Never fear, my 'Graith. The great Hyperith has forgiven me.
Hyperith looked suspiciously between the pair, but Calmith's eyes were wide and innocent, and Ygraith seemed suddenly preoccupied with the weather. Finally, she shook her head. I really don't know what any of you would do if I wasn't here.
Taliphith smiled softly, and nuzzled her. Neither do I, love. Neither do I.
Taliphith? Are we ever going back to Pern? The rainbow-white dragoness stared out over the Caer, wings wavering restlessly.
The brown glanced at his bond, a little surprised. Hyperith... you've never
I understand what she means, Calmith interjected, entering into the conversation. We can share your feelings, your memories, you know. At least... I remember what 'Grai knows.
Really? Ygraith looked up at her rainbow-tinged bond, who had grown from a hatchling to a dark weyrling already as large as she herself was. He wouldn't continue to grow so quickly, she knew, but still, it was comforting to have her protecting bond nearby.
Of course! But then... my pale clutchmate is known to have a shorter attention span than most, the rainbow-black teased.
I do not! Hyperith spun, sending her tail crashing into his dark hide. Ygraith giggled, Calmith assumed an injured look, and Taliphith awarded his friend and her bond a mock-stern look while raising a wing to hide a draconic smile.
Ygraith, I think you'd better tell Calmith to leave my bond alone, or take him away.
Take me away?! I can take care of myself! the rainbow weyrlings chorused.
Ygraith laughed. Both of you are impossible. She turned to the younger dragoness. Don't listen to them, Hyperith. They're only males.
Sounds like someone's proddy, Taliphith sing-songed, baiting her; Ygraith looked ready to follow Hyperith's example. But at that moment, a piercing bugle rent the air, and all attention returned to Hyperith.
Calmith 'tsk'ed under his breath; his sibling ignored him, smiling smugly at Taliphith's shocked expression. Now... are we going back to your home?
Why so eager to leave your world behind, love?
It's boring here! Ygraith and Calmith exchanged a mutual grin, recognizing the start of one of Hyperith's oft-repeated complaints. And... I think that you and 'Graith should be able to see your home again. I'd like to, too...
The brown nuzzled his green-sized bond affectionately. That's sweet of you, dear heart. And yes... if you wish, I think we could return to the world of the Weyrs.
As do I, Ygraith agreed seriously, and Calmith nodded his agreement.
Hyperith tore her gaze away from the mountain ranges, the deserts and huge forests, so different from the islands of Alskyr. Of course I do. She awarded Taliphith, who flew beside her, wing to wing, a winning smile. It's just as wonderful as you said, Tali'!
Green Ygraith gave her friend a questioning glance over Calmith's wing. How will we deal with Thread when it does fall?
Taliphith, ever the leader, was not at a loss for long. We'll just have to join the wings of a Weyr.
Taliphith's surety had not been overly assuming; the foursome had indeed found a place in the Weyr called Abri. In fact, at Angeoria's invitation, they had formed a new wing of their own; a wing exclusive to the dragonbonded.
And, with Taliphith and the rainbow Alskyrian dragons flaming Thread from the sky, and Ygraith using telekinesis to shield her bond and her friends... They could fight Thread. Ygraith had to work hard to keep them all safe, but she was willing to do what was necessary. And the system worked.
In fact, they did not fly alone for long; a pair of bonded females, green Emyrcieth and her sunset purple Jainoreth joined them, shortly after. They too learned to use t-powers, and the wing was balanced.
The next pair came nearly a Turn afterwards, and the green Alomath and male rainbow Errirrkarth kept the balance of fighters and protectors.
It was then that Taliphith decided they needed a break. The wing could sustain itself, and besides... his lovely Hyperith was proddy. With a rare touch of his own stubbornness, she refused to admit it, but he knew that her flight would be eminent. And although many of the Abrian dragons had his respect, only the best would claim his beautiful bond.
The solution, then, was to go somewhere where few males would wish to chase...
After consulting with Calmith, he chose Darkling Dawn. The young rainbow-black dragon was very much aware of Hyperith's needs, even if his bond was not. Ygraith, for her part, agreed to the trip to the new Weyr, though she didn't know what the males expected.
Of course, volatile Hyperith knew nothing of it... or perhaps she simply did not let on her knowledge. It didn't really matter; Taliphith had quietly warned the Weyrwoman that his bond was soon to rise...
and Ygraith hatched at:
Hyperith and Calmith at: