Last chapter, there was more excavation and discovery, this time with discovery of the warehouse and its accompanying stores, still shrink-wrapped. And Toric went off to smash someone he felt was taking things away from him. Yeah, that’s it.
The Renegades of Pern: Chapter XV: Content Notes: Sex-negativity, Ridiculous Masculinity, Patriarchal Attitudes
(Present Pass, 17)
The chapter starts by continuing where the last left off – cataloging the discovered stores. Piemur wonders aloud whether the Ancients were clueless about Thread when they landed, because the way Landing is laid out has lots of windows, and then the clear scramble northward to caves without windows, demonstrating a deductive reasoning that many of the people more in charge than him clearly lack. They’re trying to match up the markings in the storehouses with the manifests that Piemur found the first day he went into the warehouse, but soon enough, he calls a break and then disguises it as a business trip to Paradise River.
He climbed on behind the girl, well pleased with himself. It would be perfectly legitimate for him to put his arms around her during flight.
And you’re still a creep, Piemur, for arranging yourself that way and not asking Jancis’s consent or opinion on the matter. Admit your crush and be willing to suffer the consequences.
Instead, there is bickering about the purpose disposition of the goods in their discoveries.
“It’s one thing if they contain artifacts — but otherwise they are being useful, efficient.” He threw in that word more out of pique than as a humorous reference. “They’re not being desecrated or misused. They’re not inviolable. They’re certainly durable.”
“Then you believe we should use the shirts and boots and other materials in that cavern?” Jancis turned on him, her eyes flashing and her jaw set in a determined line.
“If they fit, why not?”
“Because it’s–it’s profane, that’s what!”
“Profane? To wear a shirt because it’s a shirt and was made to cover nakedness; boots because they’re boots and made for walking? I don’t understand you.”
“It’s a misuse of historical relics.”
“Besides the building slab, Master Fandarel’s using some of those drills — sharpest steel he’s ever seen.”
“Grandfa is not wasting them!”
“These aren’t being wasted, either,” Piemur declared. He raised his hands up high in frustration, then brought them down smartly to his sides. “Go read the bloody carton labels! That’s what you came down here to do. I’m going back to the hold. Jayge’s right about the heat of the day. It affects some people’s thinking.”
And there’s a spat, and heat, but Piemur’s wits aren’t dulled enough to not notice the invading force landing on the beach and spreading themselves out. He wakes up and warns Jayge, and picks up some weapons to fight. Both Jayge and Piemur do try to fight the group of attackers, but they are overwhelmed and both knocked out, with the hope of Aramina having done as ordered and gotten herself and the kids. In the blackout, the viewpoint changes to Jayge, who comes to trussed up uncomfortably. But he does hear that Aramina escaped and that Thella has a plan to make Jayge suffer first and then die, with the knowledge that Thella has Aramina and has tortured her first. Thella also has complaints about the quality of the hired help, after they complain about how difficult it was to get by Jayge’s dogs.
“There were six of you, with swords and spears! More than enough to take a drudge slut.[…]
Here I had thought that drudge didn’t need any additional bits on it to be the worst insult ever. But apparently there had to be that extra knife twist for the woman. Although we have seen men for drudges, I also suspect that the “drudge” insult is meant mostly, if not exclusively, for women, so the “slut” part is just extra on top of that.
Secondly, how exactly is it that the word “slut” survives? Promiscuity is baked into dragonrider culture, and while the Holders have a lot more invested in keeping their women from having sex outside of approved channels, I don’t see that particular insult sticking around for a couple thousand years, even with a dedicated group trying to make everything static. Not to mention that it would have had to have survived long enough to be part of FSP slang before that. Language evolves.
Jayge is considering his options with regard to how to get out of his situation and some smug satisfaction that Thella’s searching is not going to be in the places where Aramina is. He can’t actually get out of his ropes, but good things happen to those in the favor of the narrative…
“Easy!” a quiet voice cautioned.
“K’van.” The bronze rider was already sawing at Jayge’s bonds. “Aramina yelled — a good knack to rediscover at a moment of crisis. Heth responded. I can see why. Did Thella leave only the one guard?”
[…logistics and the knowledge that Aramina is safe…]
“You rescued Ara?” Jayge reeled more from relief than physical weakness.
K’van steadied him, eyes twinkling. “Plucked her out of the trees this time — her, Jancis, and the two children. Had to leave the canines behind.”
Well, previous theory goes out the window, then. Aramina apparently still does have the knack, and it was just slowly fading into the background. I wonder what it was, then, about that particular dragon that she didn’t hear them.
Jayge requests K’van to get help in dealing with Thella. K’van refuses, considering it a matter of Hold business and that fulfilling the request would be seen as interference, even as he helps get everyone unbound and back up to fighting condition. He’s hoping he won’t catch too much hell for what he’s already done because Heth heard Aramina and that was the end of the discussion.
Then, because it’s Pern, there’s time spent making sure all the women and children get to safety, including Aramina.
Aramina bristled. “I’m not running away again, Jayge Lilcamp!”
“I think you’d make it a lot easier for Jayge if you were out of Thella’s range,” K’van said firmly. “You and the children. Let him deal with her. It’s going to come to that one way or another, you know.” And with that the bronze dragonrider looked Jayge squarely in the eyes.
“And long overdue!” Jayge said savagely. “Go on, Aramina. She won’t find me such an easy mark this time.”
[…the defenders get themselves ready with weapons, a second dragonrider arrives, but is prevented from joining by K’van, and Farli returns with a report of having found Alemi and his men and reported what was going on to them…]
Jayge caught Aramina’s hand add she gets a fishing spear. “Oh, no, my love. You will take yourself and our children as far away from here as possible. Do you understand me? There’s no time to argue the point. You’re going.”
“And Heth and I will make sure she does.” K’van said unexpectedly, taking Aramina by the arm. “That much I can do.”
She hesitated one brief moment, then acquiesced, her shoulders drooping. “Just don’t let her slip away again, Jayge. I don’t ever want to be faced with this again.”
Uggggggh. Your masculinity is getting in the way of logic, Jayge, because Aramina is probably strong and capable of introducing Thella to Mr. Pointy based on the fact that she’s been doing the work of your Hold and raising your children, too. But no, we can’t have a competent heroic woman in the presence of men because Pern is all about the penis’s divine right of rule. (Which is, incidentally, how this whole Thella thing started anyway.)
In any case, Jayge and his five well-armed friends try to sneak up on Thella…who has fifteen underlings that they can see. Having Aramina along would have cut the odds to almost two to one with a surprise element. Having the dragonriders along would have made it better, too, but the mounted martial force apparently chooses not to interfere on anything that doesn’t directly affect them. Which makes it all the more problematic for Jayge to refuse Aramina’s help, after K’van refuses – he’s going to need all the help he can get!
The plan, such that it is, is to release the hounds, use them as a distraction (and possibly to do some damage) to pick off as many of Thella’s men as possible, then confront her when the odds are in their favor.
Thella also has a less than flattering description at the hands of Jayge, which could be some sort of metaphor about how her interval cruelty manifested in outward ugliness, but that would be for a different story.
Thella’s patience, such that it is, has worn thin and she orders her men to gather fellis plants and set them ablaze so as to smoke Aramina out of the trees. The first attempt is stopped by the man sprouting a knife on his back, and then Jayge orders the assault, having both humans and canines attempt as much killing as possible.
Jayge attempts to intimidate Thella using the idea of the loudness of his sword being drawn. Except that swords, when sharp, should be silent, not loud, and dragging an edge across a thing to make it be loud will dull things. Admittedly, one could easily make this mistake, since Audible Sharpness has been a trope for a very long time.
In any case, Thella and Jayge lock blades, and Thella taunts Jayge while circling him. Jayge has a small wonder as to why Thella might be doing that, but is too focused on responding to her insults to really think about it. Unfortunately for him, Jayge finds out that Thella isn’t bluffing about her skill with weapons, and he only barely avoids getting killed several times, until he is able to back Thella up against a tree (lucky) and then block her attacks and wound her severely on one arm (for Armald), then the other (for the lost people and horses in the ambush), and then across the middle, for Readis.
Before he can deliver the killing blow, though, Aramina stops him, at least until Thella tries one last time to get to Aramina and Jayge runs her through to protect his wife. Thus ends Thella.
The Benden Weyrleaders arrive as soon as Threadfall ends, and both of them are immediately in K’van’s face for “involving himself in a holder dispute.”
Cocowhat by depizan
I’m a bit chuffed at this particular choice of language, because this entire book has been all about denying Thella the opportunity to be a Holder, mocking her for being Lady Holdless, and otherwise denying her legitimacy to achieve that office. This, in the official opinions, is not a holder dispute, because there aren’t two holders opposed to it. If that was what was keeping K’van out of it, then he should have been able to charge right in without fear.
The remainder of Thella’s crew will be shipped off to be drudges for others, Thella’s death is meant to be used as propaganda against someone else getting the same ideas, at least for a while, and Lessa leans hard on Aramina to come back to Benden and be a queen rider, since that hearing dragons thing is a specialty of the Ruathan bloodline, and it might pass on to her daughter, too…
That ends the chapter. It has certainly taken long enough to get Thella, but this is not the last chapter of the book, because there’s apparently still something left to do after Toric is humiliated and Thella killed. (Thella is still a waste of a good villain. She was perfectly designed to expose and exploit the flaws and the problems associated with the society Pern created for itself, and instead gets wasted as greedy and vain instead of oppressed and sympathetic.)