Dragondrums: A Guy Like You

Last chapter, Piemur survived another round of deadly Thread, likely bending a few laws of nature to do so, collected a pet runnerbeast and a queen dragon, and had serious doubts about returning to the world he left in a sack. Meanwhile, the rescue effort finally got authorized by Robinton with an appropriate cover story.

Dragondrums: Chapter 10: Content Notes: None, again

Chapter Ten stays with Piemur, Farli, and Stupid for the entire time, so no cuts to elsewhere. The action starts with the arrival of red-sailed ships landing on his part of the land.

As Piemur continued to watch the disembarkation, he became aware of a growing sense of indignation that anyone would dare invade his privacy, would have the audacity to make a camp and set up cooking fires with great kettles balanced on spits across the flames, just as if they belonged here. This was his river, and Stupid’s grazing grounds. His! Not theirs to litter with tent, kettle, and fire!

If this is Piemur trying to do an impression of Yertle the Turtle, I’d say he passes. But Piemur is not king of all he sees, and even if he were, there’s one thing that he keeps forgetting in all of this – he hasn’t actually revealed his presence to anyone yet. So nobody knows that he’s staked a claim on the land.

Nor will anyone, because Piemur decides to move inland and erase the traces of his existence rather than go say hi to the work crew, who are here to harvest numbweed. Because Piemur hates the smell of cooking numbweed (as does everyone else, apparently, that isn’t forced into having to make the salve) enough to abandon the shelter he currently has set up. Piemur, as he moves inland, while Farli is scolding at something, starts to construct a story so he could impress the work party, strolling in like he owns the place, and spinning a yarn full of almost-truths with a few key omissions…

“Hello! What are you doing sneaking around here?”

Busted.

A tall girl stepped into his path, blocking his way. On one shoulder was a bronze fire lizard, on the other a brown, both eyeing Farli intently. She let out an apologetic squeak, as startled as Piemur. As she also dug her talons into his shoulder and tightened her tail about his neck, all that came out of his mouth was a choked cry of astonishment. A quick chirp from the bronze caused Farli to relax her tail. Piemur turned his head toward her, annoyed that she hadn’t warned him.
“It’s not her fault,” said the girl with a wide smile, easing her weight to one leg as she enjoyed Piemur’s discomfiture. She had a pack strapped to her shoulders, a belt with a variety of pouches, some empty; dark hair wrapped with a band tightly about her head so strands wouldn’t tangle in branches; and thick-soled sandals on her feet as well as shin guards tied around her lower legs.

I’m trying to picture this and figure it how it will work in relation to collecting plant material and/or wielding harvesting weaponry. If the plants are thorny, it doesn’t seem to make sense to cover the shins, but leave the tops of the feet open and reinforce the soles. If the trees tangle hair, wouldn’t something like a braid, possibly with weight on the end, be more useful for keeping hair out of the trees? And what happens if this new girl has to climb or crawl? Should we be assuming she’s wearing sturdy full-leg and full-arm coverings, which would make it very hot for her? If not, how does she avoid injury? (Later, we find she has a wherhide jacket for protection.)

“Meer,” and she indicated the bronze, “and Talla know how to be silent when they wish. And when they realized that she was already Impressed, we all we wanted to see who had got a gold. I’m Sharra from the Southern Hold.” She held out her hand, palm up. “How’s you get down here? We didn’t see any wreckage as we came along the coast.”
[…Piemur explains in the Robinton way, letting Sharra think he’s been wrecked…]
“That’s all past history for you, lad,” said Sharra, her deep, musical voice compassionate. “If you survived the southern seas, and three Threadfalls holdless, I’d say you belong in the south.”
“I belong here?” Suddenly, the prospect heartened Piemur. Sharra was as perceptive as the Harper. The thought of being permitted to stay on in this beautiful land, walking where no one else, maybe not even Sharra, had ever trod before, made Piemur’s heart tip over.
“Yes, I’d say you belonged,” said Sharra, wide mouth curled in a smile. “So, what name shall I call you by?”
If she hadn’t given him the opportunity to state a name, any name, not necessarily his own, Piemur might have prevaricated. Instead, he answered her with a grin. “I’m Piemur of Pern.”

I’m wondering if there isn’t something else making Piemur’s heart tip over, considering puberty and such, but for now, we’ll take Piemur at this word that it’s exploration and having a place to call his own that warms his heart.

Piemur introduces the rest of the cast to Sharra, and finds out that she makes very sure to be well away from the numbweed factory, collecting other herbs, because she hates the smell, too. Piemur offers to help her, which she accepts, and then proceeds to shamelessly use him to retrieve difficult-to-collect herbs from trees, thorny bushes, and tight spaces over the next few days.

She was quite ready and prepared to daub him with numbweed whenever necessary, but she did have to point out that his size made him the logical person to pursue the shyest herbs in their protective environment. Nothing would permit Piemur to lose honor in Sharra’s eyes.

For his scratches, Piemur learns a great deal about the medicinal properties of the herbs he’s collecting, as well as quite a bit about the surrounding area, while he admitted to having been a herdsman’s son. He also learns about a better plant to use for bedding while he shares the light blanket Sharra has with her.

In other types of stories, this would be something to be negotiated, because Sharra and Piemur would both be acutely aware of their differing genders and not want to give off an impression of invitation or imposition unless they could be sure the other was receptive. Since we’re still in the boy’s adventure story, though, possibly handwaved by Pern customs outside of Weyrs, there’s no direct mention as to whether either of this pairing finds the other attractive, as there’s still adventure to be had. Maybe if and when Piemur gets back to Southern Hold, there will be some commentary to the matter. Maybe not, though – Menolly didn’t have any crushes she was leaving behind to go out from Half-Circle, after all.

One night’s hunting from the fire-lizards yields an interesting piece of information about the world they both live on. Having dispatched a whersport, something entirely new to Piemur, that the fire lizards brought, Sharra explains a bit more about the local wildlife:

“There’re a lot of strange beasties in this part of the south. As if all the animals you have in the north got mixed up somehow. A whersport isn’t a fire lizard, and it isn’t a wher. For one thing it’s a daytime beast, and whers are nocturnal; sun blinds them. Then there’s far more varieties of snake here than in the north. Or so I’m told….

Hrm, crossed strands in an ancient room, a disturbing connection between fire lizards and dragons, and apparent “mixing-up” of the animals on the north. And grubs. Seems like the ancients had access to some very high-level scientific procedures.

Chapter 10 closes with the cooking of dinner from the whersport and some plants and tubers.

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15 thoughts on “Dragondrums: A Guy Like You

  1. aussiesmurf May 28, 2015 at 1:24 am

    The asexual nature of the interactions between Piemur and Sharra contrasts interestingly with Jaxom in TWD. Without being spoilery specific, Jaxom is an excellent depiction of the adolescent male in that he things of almost every girl / woman in his age vicinity in terms of their attractiveness, availability etc.

    Here, you can note that Piemur’s observations of Sharra are purely regarding her fire-lizards and clothing, with barely a mention of her *ahem* other features.

  2. boutet May 28, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Considering that Piemur hasn’t shown any sexual/romantic interest in anyone so far (and scorn for most of the girls of near-age that he interacted with so far-the girls training at the hall) he would be a great candidate for an asexual/aromantic character… except that McC goes on to write more about him. Sigh. Everyone must be mated! By dragon (divine) intervention if necessary! Or at least be retconned a dead mate later.

  3. emmy May 28, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I think we’re supposed to believe that Piemur is simply too young at this point to think about girls as anything other than slightly taller playmates, and that his voice breaking happened much faster than the rest of puberty for him. I can’t remember how this lines up with our guesses about his intended age from the earlier chapters though.

  4. genesistrine May 28, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Hrm, crossed strands in an ancient room, a disturbing connection between fire lizards and dragons, and apparent “mixing-up” of the animals on the north. And grubs. Seems like the ancients had access to some very high-level scientific procedures.

    Another possible explanation: the Northern Continent is an ecological disaster area, with most of its native species driven to extinction. Maybe overfarming?

    (Stupid’s a runnerbeast, BTW – a foal, not a calf. Not that Pernese herders seem to have a vocabulary for the different ages/genders of their stock the way earthly herders do….)

  5. Nothing May 28, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Was I the only one who disliked the choice of “Stupid” as a name for a horse? Or anything else, for that matter? I mean, yeah, it’s an animal, not a super-smart one, either, but still. That always bothered me. Not entirely sure why, even. Maybe because one would presume affection for a pet, but the name would seem to override that affection/serve as a dismissal of the actual importance of the creature? And also, if it’s as young as I have the impression it is, from its being trapped beneath its mother (must be pretty small), I don’t think it should be able to graze/eat anything but milk. That also bothered me–and McCaffrey owned horses; she certainly would have known this.

  6. Nothing May 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    And, as another note, I am kind of dreading The White Dragon, since I recall a scene that… I wonder if anyone else remembers. It ruined Jaxom for me, is all I can say.

    Some of the relationships in this series are unsettling. While Piemur seems a romantic at this point, I remember somewhere in one novel, he seems a bit jealous of a female friend’s boyfriend. Don’t remember who or when though, so no danger of spoilers from me.

  7. aussiesmurf May 28, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    @Nothing I’m pretty sure I know the scene of which you are thinking (*cough* Corana *cough*). To be honest, I always viewed Jaxom as similiar to Holden Caulfield – an immensely flawed adolescent protagonist whose flawed journey is interesting.

  8. aussiesmurf May 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Using the word flawed twice in five words probably wasn’t the best idea there…

  9. notamolly May 28, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Jaxom was a messed up kid who had too much power and almost no real mentoring. His guardian was mentally broken with NO mental health follow up from the cluster called healers, he was trained by the rapist bros and that manipulative old prick Robinton (really can not stand that psychopath) as his “mentors” and not a female who he respected who was at his rank level as a youngster (Lessa is a walking case of PTSD if there ever was one). My guess is there was not a female presence in his world he had to treat with respect.

  10. genesistrine May 29, 2015 at 2:42 am

    @Nothing: speaking as a UKer it’s a common affectionate insult; I call my cats idiot and dimbulb and brainless all the time. I wouldn’t stick any of them with those as names, personally, but maybe Piemur’s naming ability ran out after Farli….

    And Jaxom, ugh. The epitome of Mary Sue; he gets the super-special origin story and the super-special Hold and the super-special dragon and the super-special plotline and all he does is WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TAKE ME SERIOUSLY about it. Can’t stand the entitled little arsehole.

  11. Only Some Stardust May 30, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I really dislike naming an animal by an insult, but, that’s just me. I once talked to/made internet friends with someone who named their cat Shit. As the cat’s primary name, not just a nickname. I call my cat brainless on occasion when he rolls off the couch and silly stuff.

    (trigger warning: social conflict story follows, mention of…. I don’t know what to call it. rape fantasies, I guess. Kinda long n ranty, sorry, . Now that I got the old memories stirred up I just need to get them off my chest.)

    That person… was probably one of the more messed up people I’ve ever talked to; that person ended up getting in a fight with admin over breaking rules, and in retaliation posting massive spam / repeatedly signing up again to post more spam, etc.

    rot13 rapey bit:
    Gurl, hz… nyfb bapr fnvq gurl jnagrq gb or encrq. Sbe erny, abg whfg va n fgbel. V qba’g xabj vs gurl jrer n znffvir gebyy be whfg irel pbashfrq ba jung gur jbeq ‘encr’ zrnaf, ohg gung’f frevbhfyl gur zbfg ovmneer naq perrcl fragrapr V’ir rire unq qverpgrq gb zr. V fgvyy qba’g xabj jung gb guvax bs vg. Irel JGS.
    Gurve EC punenpgref jrer irel encr-l naq ivbyrag be encr ivpgvzf. V jnf cerggl lbhat onpx gura fb V qvqa’g ernyvmr lrg ubj gbkvp naq qenvavat pbafgnag encr ecf jrer sbe zr, qvqa’g rira xabj jung n gevttre jneavat jnf, ohg V abj jvfu V’q pyvpxrq njnl naq arire ybbxrq onpx. V qvq xabj V unq zvkrq srryvatf nobhg gur jnl rirelbar jnagrq zr gb ebyr-cynl n encvfg jbznavmre naq gur cybg raqvatf V xrcg rkcrpgvat gb unccra (inyvnag ureb pbzrf va gb erfphr naq fnir gur qnl) arire zngrevnyvmrq. Ab bar jnagrq gb rira gel; va snpg, gurer jnf zber vagrerfg va bar-hccvat rnpu bgure jvgu ubj rivy gurve punenpgref pbhyq trg.
    V guvax V riraghnyyl tbg gung ohea bhg gung npgbef jub cynl cflpubcnguf trg – V sryg jbea qbja, fvpx gb zl fgbznpu. Vg arire tbg vagb qrrc qrgnvy, ohg vg qvqa’g arrq gb. V abj haqrefgnaq fbzr crbcyr rawbl encr snagnfvrf, ohg, V qhaab, vg sryg cerggl bire gur gbc. Gbb bsgra gurer jrera’g rira jneavatf be nfxvat bgure cynlref vs gurl jnagrq gb or vaibyirq va gung xvaq bs cybg. Gur pbzzhavgl unqa’g orra yvxr gung hagvy gung crefba naq gurve ohqqvrf wbvarq hc, juvpu vf jul V fgnlrq fb ybat. Gung naq V gevrq gb gryy zlfrys vg fubhyqa’g obgure zr, vg pyrneyl qvqa’g obgure gurz.

    They had friends who ended up throwing a big fuss (when that person was banned) and eventually tearing the little forum community apart. Those friends were convinced the admin was spying on them (which, um, if you’re reported for bad behavior, yeah, the admin is going to look at your PMs) and had it out for them…. things seemed to get better for a little while though. In the final blow up, I deeply misjudged the situation, didn’t realize how deeply involved they were with the person who got banned, and tried to start a friendly fight game with top dog buddy number 1 thinking they’d like it since they’d played fights before and rp gaming was the point of the site. They took it extremely seriously badly, didn’t understand character and player separation at all and claimed it didn’t exist (they killed off a character who had nothing to do ICly with the fight characters just to spite me, put out a virtual money reward to kill my characters, said they’d happily take advantage of loopholes in rules to win battles even if it sacrificed interesting plot…). Buddy number 1 never seemed to have quite so bad a reaction to anyone else… come to think of it, I was the only person to ever beat them in a fight RP previously and I’d won a war before. They might have been scared despite outnumbering my side 10 to 1 (RP fights are very psychological). More likely I think they were just angry; they sounded pretty convinced I was ‘out to get them just like the admins’ even as I said I’d be fine with not playing the fight if it bothered them. Part of the problem was that they apparently interpreted their characters as the good guys and were pissed I interpreted them as, well, rapey bastards. Very wtf.

    The admins wanted me to make nice with them and I just couldn’t do it even though a part of me still wanted to be friends, I was too upset, so I left. I should have left earlier, when I started to realize the game just wasn’t what I wanted to play anymore. The community, when I checked back on it later, had been closed down; a part of me had hoped my leaving would mean it would go back to normal again. Put me off heavy social interaction for months. Actually I’m still a little put off, but I’m finally able to look back at it with a cool head and not feel horribly guilty, even laugh a little at how absurd it seems now.

    end/rant/TLDR: So… I seriously look sideways at anyone who names their animal a slur or swear or anything derogatory. Bad memories there. Kind of a tangent, but I mean, I suppose someone who names their animal Stupid or Shit could be a law loving guy/gal and super affectionate… or they could be totally a Bro with rape culture and think an authority figure who tortures or rapes someone is A-OK and that any end justifies the means to win against the enemy. I see disturbing parallels, is all.

    If you want to know what someone is like, look at how they treat their inferiors, with condescension or respect. It’s a good warning sign.

  12. genesistrine June 1, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    @Only Some Stardust: yeowch. There’s some really messed-up people out there. And it’s amazing how easy it is to get sucked into something that’s so bizarre on looking back.

    I hope you feel better for getting it off your chest.

  13. Only Some Stardust June 1, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I do, much better, thanks for listening. Yeah; when you have emotional attachments to someone/a community, even if it’s just minor buddy buddy attachments, you kinda want to make excuses for things going wrong, and you want to self blame for ‘starting it’ (especially when others are blaming you for starting it). I’m just glad I learned that lesson with an easily escaped from internet community instead of something more real, although that’s probably part of the reason I tolerated it: I wasn’t expecting it there. That and I had no concept of rape culture or anything like that at the time to give me a warning that others might not buy into the ‘rapey evil guy always beaten by the good guys/gals’ narrative but instead see ‘rapey evil guys’ as some ‘gritty realism’, ‘fun’ or somesuch bullshit.

    Anyway! Ranty time over. Sorry if I derailed at all.

    —-

    Back to topic… I don’t mind Mary Sues per say in small doses, but the whiny ones really get on my nerves; in fact, anything that brings the feeling that they are the only real special ones in the whole universe begins to annoy. Unfortunately the whole Special One / Chosen One thing rather saturates fiction; Jaxom, as the sole rider of a white dragon, definitely smacks of The Chosen Special One, even if he chose the white dragon more than it chose him. I don’t know what the word is for a Chosen One who ‘chooses’ the special destiny themselves (Yet no one else can manage to do the same for some reason) – I guess Mary Sue is as good a term as any?

    Mary Sue/’Gary Stu’ has to be, for me, done really carefully not to get incredibly annoying. One way that works is by having a genuinely unprivileged group thrown into the spotlight and shown they can produce exceptional individuals too – that I tend to like. Special Rich White Guy Heir, by definition, does not fit into that.

  14. Silver Adept June 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    No derail, certainly – seems like they would fit in completely in Pern. And all want to be dragonriders so they could act out all their fantasies and not have to worry about consent.

    As for Jaxom, he comes across to me as the kid that is desperately trying to find a place to fit in, and nobody who should be accepting him is. Because of that, though, he’s going to get all the worst traits of both of those groups.

  15. saidahgilbert September 11, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    I had a scary thought while reading some of the above comments. The reason why the society is so strictly classified and all the animals present have some usefulness for humans is that AMC actually supports slavery. In this world, it seems that there are a few chosen ones (Elites) who are Masters of all they survey. So this means that everyone who is not in the upper echelons of society is a slave and all animals (including ‘intelligent’ animals) are there only for their usefulness to humans. Which means no pets, no wild animals, no insects. I am only now reading these books for the first time and I’ve just realised that wild animals and insects don’t get a mention in these books especially in this part where Piemer found himself in the wilderness. I suppose we should be grateful that up to this book she have not explicitly described someone who is of African ethnicity.

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