Last chapter, Jayge first tried to warn Benden Hold and Weyr about Thella, then rescued Aramina from Thella with the help of Readis. The two of them are planning on sneaking down to Southern so that Aramina can have much fewer dragons to listen to so that she’s not ultimately traumatized every time she hears communication. In a normal story, this would mean it’s time for a tense chase sequence…
The Renegades of Pern: Chapter Ten: Content Notes: None
(Southern Continent, Present Pass 15.05.22-15.08.03)
…but instead, we have a time jump of two entire Turns and so there’s no resolution to this problem, excepting, perhaps, as an aside somewhere.
And we’re on Southern, no less, so we’re back with Piemur and Toric. Toric is hiding the map of the settlements under a cover, which amuses Piemur, before the subject of why all the dragonriders, except Mardra, have gone away from the Weyr becomes the topic of discussion. Toric doesn’t like how things are going.
“My first loyalty is to my Craftmaster,” Piemur replied, holding Toric’s gaze. So far Piemur had managed to retain his first allegiance, warped a trifle, but unsullied.
“Understood.” Toric flicked his fingers in acceptance of Piemur’s response. “But my first loyalty is not to those — those sisters’ mothers.”
“Understood.” Piemur grinned at the description of the [time-skipped], though the incestuous implications drew a gargled protest from Saneter.
[…reassurance of Toric…]
“What could they be up to?” There were not that many [time-skipped] to be effective at anything: both men and dragons were old, tired, and more pathetic than dangerous. Except T’kul – lately no hold woman was safe from that womanizer.
I wonder what things Piemur has done that he considers his loyalties bent in such a way, but still intact. And while Toric thinks of it as a joke, the exile of the dragonriders to the South basically ensures the genetic isolation of the dragons, too. Unless they go off to try and participate in other mating flights, which Benden does allow them to do. Toric, for his part, swears in front of the two Harpers that he has no knowledge of what the dragonriders are up to, with Piemur and Saneter witnessing this oath and suggesting that Toric send word to Benden about the strange activity of the nearby Weyr. A few days later, both Mnementh and Ramoth arrive and sweep the Weyr, looking for the egg stolen from Benden, although nobody on the South knows this yet. Fortunately, N’ton arrives soon afterward with the news, and everyone at Southern Weyr is on eggshells, just for a few hours, until N’ton’s fire-lizard delivers news of the egg’s return and Lessa’s complete indignation. And that Robinton’s counsel was ignored and he was sent away until everyone cooled down. Toric and Piemur spend a lot of time realizing just how close to utter annihilation the South came, had the North decided to extract a scorched-earth revenge against them, and then Toric turns to the question of whether or not the Northern dragonriders would have noticed all the work Toric has done to build the South up into a powerhouse. Piemur assures him that there’s no reason to believe the North was looking for that, and that things are well-camouflaged from the air.
“What they don’t know won’t hurt them. I’d bide my time, Toric.”
“You’re with me, then?”
“If today didn’t prove that, I don’t know what will,” Piemur said, cocking his head to one side. He liked Toric, admired him, but he did not entirely trust him. Which was fair. Toric did not completely trust Piemur, especially not too often in Sharra’s company. Piemur had noticed how Toric tried to keep them apart; the Holder had just given Sharra her long-sought permission to go on an adventurous trip south, beyond Hamian’s mines. “So, if we’re back to normal tomorrow, I’d like to see what’s beyond that headland east of Island River. Maybe even get as far as the cove that Menolly found when they were storm-lost.” He noticed the alertness in Toric’s eyes. The holder had not liked that inadvertent excursion; he had always been suspicious of just how far Menolly and the Masterharper had gone, though he could never deny that they had been storm-driven, and that only Menolly’s sea skills had kept the small boat afloat. “A dragon can’t go between to a place he’s never seen,” Piemur reminded the Southerner. “Likewise, a man can’t hold what he hasn’t beheld! How about it, Toric?”
That is a textbook non-answer, Piemur, and confirms to me that you are still playing a double game with Toric. And that Toric still thinks he has the ability to choose who Sharra will be paired off with. And also, Piemur, that your interest in Sharra is still far too obvious for everyone’s liking.
That, and we are still retreading time periods that have been covered in other books, just from new perspectives. Which isn’t wrong, necessarily, but doesn’t produce a lot more of new timeline stuff. At the very least, stick with Thella and the action, until Toric’s plan comes to fruition.
Anyway, the next paragraph has Piemur hacking through the underbrush and discovering a house on a coast that’s not supposed to be there and way too big for anything that Toric would have let get built. Plus, colored fish nets. And canines that start barking to alert the house residents to their visitor.
Those residents turn out to be Aramina, Jayge, and their toddler child, shipwrecked on a run from Keroon Beasthold, trying to deliver beasts from Rampesi to Toric. Aramina is sure that they were dragged to the shore by shipfish (dolphins), a story that Piemur confirms and reinforces with Rampesi’s accounts of shipfish rescues. Aramina and Jayge are the survivors of both the shipwreck that had Aramina the only person without a broken bone and the fire-head fever that followed that claimed the rest of their ship party. And then all the survival parts that come from being on a new continent with new diseases and plants and critters. Piemur is impressed with the settlement, and Aramina and Jayge mention they found the place rather than building it, which makes Piemur’s eyes pop because he knows full well there shouldn’t be anything here. So, instead, he gives advice for them to hold what they have and we get treated to descriptions of just how weird a place this is, with sand that just washes off, insulated walls, strange containers and nails, and the nets. And also,
“I’ll have to introduce you to the dogs tomorrow,” Ara said. “We have them against snakes and big spotted cats.”
“You have them here, too?” Piemur asked eagerly. Sharra had thought those cats a local sport – she would be interested to know that they inhabited other parts of the Southern Continent.
And the predator cats survived yet again. And yet managed not, as an invasive species, to completely destroy the ecosystem.
Also, there’s also a thing about how much space there is compared to the number of people.
“More than we need right now,” Ara said, swatting at Jayge affectionately when he winked at Piemur. Though her figure was not yet distorted, the harper had suspected she might be pregnant again. There was a luminous quality to her eyes and face that Sharra had told him often enhanced the beauty of a gravid woman.
Pregnancy glow is a thing, apparently, even here. I do find it interesting that it’s Sharra, who has Healer training, that can recognize this. And that Piemur actually paid attention enough to this to recall it later.
Anyway, there are drinks, and conversation, and people both realizing that they’re not telling the whole truth to each other, but not really doing a whole lot of anything to fix that. Piemur is ready to get into the records and learn as much as he can about the original settlement on the South, since more and more of it is being unearthed by accident, but he stays the night with Aramina, Jayge, and tiny Readis.
He is rewarded by getting the tour with them, where we learn that this is the remains of Paradise River settlement, and that there are some artifacts that survive even to the current now. Plastics, after all, do not biodegrade easily, and don’t let Thread through.
As Piemur turned it in his hand, its texture, despite the stains of age, was somehow soapy. The leaves fell open to clever illustrations so humorous that he smiled; he glanced at the words beneath them – short sentences all, and the letters, while recognizable, were absurdly big and bold. Master Arnor would never have let Harper Hall apprentices waste so much space; he taught them to write in small but legible letters, so that more could be crammed onto each page of hide.
“Clearly a youngster’s book,” he agreed. “But no teaching song I’ve ever read.”
The other materials are maths books with equations, and a nice plastic box to put them all in.
This is also another one of those situations where Pern is incredibly weird. Two thousand years of linguistic drift and yet the written language is recognizable? Goodness, no. Not for any script that I know of. But then again, the Harpers are charged with trying to keep the language static. (And we see how well they’ve done that.) And have a monoculture, perhaps, since all the people talked about in the origin stories seemed to have washed away into people who are tanned by the sun and those who aren’t. Even so, things should still be moving and changing.
Piemur stays longer, having Farli map the place out mentally while he does the same on paper, and then giving Jayge and Aramina training on how to handle the fair of fire-lizards they’ve Impressed. Until a message arrives from Sharra telling him that Jaxom is ill with firehead at Robinton’s cove. Piemur heads off, leaving the happy couple behind.
Thus ends this chapter, and if this is supposed to be the resolution to Thella, then someone has disappointed their readers horribly. Yes, babies ever after is the way things go for many of these stories, but Thella hanging in the balance is a big narrative problem. Since it took until Rescue Run to get the final resolution for Stev Kimmer, we can only hope that Thella will be faster in their plans to get captured or get Jayge and Aramina.
And that we will get to a spot that hasn’t been covered by a different book some time soon. Forserious.