Monthly Archives: February 2019

Dragon’s Fire: The Search For More Firestone

Last time, we took a sprint through the end of Tenim during yet another successful firebombing (stabbed by Pellar, assist Halla, although there’s some part of me that suggests that if Halla can put a knife in Pellar’s hand with a throw, she can bury it in Tenim’s head equally easily, and it would have been much more satisfying to see that happen that for Pellar to stab him repeatedly), Cristov recovering from the firebombing in a Weyr, Aleesa getting sick and Moran leaving to find medicine, at which point he’s picked up and delivered to Fenner for justice by being someone who looks like they could be Shunned, and Kindan basically grabbing a speculative thought that there might be firestone that isn’t terribly volatile and running with it until something happens to actually disprove it.

He hasn’t found anything yet.

Dragon’s Fire, Book II: Chapter 11: Content Notes: Child labor

In your Hold you are secure
from perils that the dragons endure.
‘Tis your duty, ’tis your due
You give to them, they shelter you.

Which makes me wonder if any Hold ever refused to give their Tribute and was summarily left for Thread to devour by the dragonriders. It doesn’t seem like they would, because they know what kind of devastation that wreaks on the area, but it would be an interesting Record to discover.

This rhyme also seems to have links with previous chapters. Someone with more fannish patience than I should probably go through these and see if they can be assembled into a single song, or a few songs, so that we can read them as they would have been sung or taught. I suspect it would say a lot about Pern as a society.

Plot-wise, Kindan’s got allies and might behind his idea of a non-volatile firestone, as the chapter opens with Cristov in a meeting with Aleesa, Mikal, Kindan, D’vin, Murenny, Zist, and B’ralar about the idea and who would be logistically necessary to go to the Southern Continent and find the appropriate firestone, should it exist.

There’s also an accurate, if perhaps unintentional, portrayal of how visible disabilities do a lot to make the disabled person feel unwelcome.

Of all them, Kindan made him feel most uncomfortable. However he tried, Kindan could not quite keep his eyes from Cristov’s injuries. If he hadn’t been so obviously understanding and sympathetic, Cristov might have hit him.
If Kindan had looked a bit smug, Cristov probably would have. But Kindan looked even more apprehensive than Cristov felt.

Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity, or perhaps one of mindreading, that Cristov doesn’t see Kindan’s expressions as pitying rather than sympathetic. I have seen from many a person who deals with disability on a regular basis that wanting to pop someone in the nose because they’re pitying you for your disability is a pretty common thought. Kindan can’t help himself from staring, and that can’t be all that helpful for Cristov’s mental state.

B’ralar approves the expedition to find the magic firestone, and Cristov and Alarra proclaim they’ll be the ones to mine it. When Kindan points out that two people is not nearly enough to mine enough, even if they do find the stable variety, Murenny, Zist, and Mikal suggest that if the Shunned knew they weren’t condemning themselves to an explosive death, they might willingly work the mines in exchange for a reversal of their status. Moran’s name comes up as the (still only, WTF) harper who was sent on the task of understanding the Shunned, and now that he’s resurfaced, Zist thinks he can put his Journeyman to use once again.

The narrative switches over to Halla, who, well, is having feelings.

Halla tracked Pellar down at last, ready to pummel him for departing their hidden camp without leaving her the slightest message. It had taken her over an hour to find the first sign of his trail and another two to find him. She was hungry, hot, irritated, and–she hated to admit it–relieved at finding him.

Hang on a second, I was with you until the end, there. But this same idea continues on as Halla recounts having drug Pellar away from the explosion, and then finally figured out that Pellar needed to write to communicate, not that he had lost some ability to speak from the explosion. (And then, on her return of finding him something to write on, he’s written a message in the dirt with a stick.)

Halla’s relief had been so great that she had cried for the first time since she’d been with Lord Fenner of Crom. She was surprised and grateful when Pellar wrapped his arms around her and held her tight while she cried out all the fears and horrors of the past weeks. But she also felt a bit uneasy; with Lord Fenner, Halla had felt that she’d been with someone like the father she’d never known, but with Pellar she felt more like she’d come home–and it scared her.

Um, exactly how long have Pellar and Halla known each other? The narrative this time around suggests it’s only been for a little while, a few weeks at most, and it didn’t seem like Pellar and Halla spent all that much time together previously to this. In fact, Pellar was chasing Halla, to some degree, wondering about her and who she was, and they had only a small amount of interaction. Why has Halla developed feelings for Pellar that are anything other than “this jerkface that I pulled out of the wreckage that gutted Tenim and that keeps trying to disappear on me?” Pellar and Halla hide from Shunned who have come to loot the remains of the mine, and have a fight about whether to call down the dragonriders on them. Pellar opposes it because it’ll mean the same fate for them as this mine had, and Halla can’t budge him on it.

The first thing that might be a sign of something that works for friendship happens after all of this.

He turned at the sound of her approach–which irritated Halla to no end as she could have sworn no one could hear her–and grinned, holding up something cupped in his hands.
It was yellow. No, they were yellow.
“Yellowtops!” Halla exclaimed in surprise. Then she remembered her worried hours of searching and shouted at him, “You went looking for yellowtops?”
[…Pellar nods, and then leads Halla to the place where he’s going to use them…]
Pellar’s eyes met her just as Halla leaned up and kissed him.
“It was you!” she said. “You were the one.”
Pellar nodded. She kissed him again and grabbed his hand, dragging him after her as they made their way down the rise to the neat graves set in the dale below.
Wordlessly they stopped and knelt in front of the mounds. After a moment, they leaned forward and carefully placed the small yellowtops on each grave.
One was Toldur’s, one was Tenim’s, but Halla could not tell which was which. Nor did she care; in her mind, the dead were clear of all debts.

There are two issues here. One is that I’m pretty sure that it was Pellar who was trying to figure out the mystery of the strange girl who placed flowers on all the graves in Camp Natalon and along the way, and Halla was the one finding the flowers and putting them there. Pellar did one of his own, sure, but he’s been chasing Halla the whole time, so if there’s anyone exclaiming “It was you!”, it should be Pellar doing so to Halla. In writing, of course, because he doesn’t talk. Someone has forgotten the events of what happened in this book. And is now using them to justify Halla falling in love with Pellar because he went looking for flowers. Had it been Pellar plucking the flowers and explaining to Halla that he knew she left them at gravesites and he wanted to do the same, this could be a very nice start to a friendship that could blossom into love, but Halla’s forming a bond very quickly with him. Far quicker than anyone has a reason to. (Would someone check and see if a mating flight passed over their heads at this point?) So, no, I’m not buying Halla falling in love with Pellar this quickly. Getting attached to him because she’s had a childhood of insecure attachment and having to develop as a skill the ability to get close to people so that she can feed herself and the small children in tow, absolutely. Love? No.

Second, I can’t really buy that Halla is willing to forgive Tenim, the person that threatened to leave her to die of expsoure, and that promised he would take sexual revenge on her for the “favor” of cutting her down, among probably many other offenses that we haven’t seen on camera, because he’s dead. Maybe, perhaps, if she had stuck him herself or otherwise took his life, but she didn’t do that. She provided Pellar with the knife so he could do it. She presumably witnessed Tenim’s death, and that may help keep her warm at night knowing that he’s in the ground, but Tenim’s traumatized Halla far too much, implicitly and explicitly, for her not to hold a grudge against him for a long time to come, even if the rest of her life turns out to be hot baths and friendly people and otherwise being able to heal and let the scars and the vigilance fade a little bit over time. If Pern had, say, qualified and competent professionals who could help someone who has gone through as many traumas as Halla has and help her situate them in their proper context and healing, then perhaps, with a lot of time, she can let Tenim go, but she’d not going to do it just by placing a flower on what might be his grave. I have an ex who I am probably going to have a grudge against for the rest of my life, even if many of the things that were terrible about being with her are replaced with happier memories, because some changes are permanent.

The narrative hops over to Zist, Moran, and Fenner discussing that Halla went off to try and make good contact with the Shunned before trying to track Tenim to the firestone mine, before explaining to Fenner about Kindan’s discovery and Moran volunteering himself to go find Halla. We pop over to the Southern Continent, where Cristov has just arrived and is feeling very nervous about the place that the Ancestors had to flee from. There’s some dragon antics and food and naps and spotting fire-lizards and a little bit of reasoning about what the firestone in question would need to look like in terms of size, weight, and otherwise, and with a little digging from Hurth, a suitable specimen is found. It looks like sandstone, and when cracked open, has a blue-green crystal inside. They feed the crystalline specimen to the dragons, and eventually, both of them can burp flame appropriately. It appears to be a slower-acting firestone that allows for flaming with less effort for longer times. To make sure it’s a non-reactive firestone, Cristov takes one of the specimens with exposed crystal and heaves it into the ocean, waiting for the Pern-shattering kaboom that never materializes.

There’s a quick scene between Pellar and Halla where Pellar is trying to convince her that they need to go north so that they can help the dragonriders get more firestone. Halla is understandably unhappy about this prospect, given that she wants to settle down with Pellar and stop running.

“Go on then, get killed. See if I care,” she cried, and ran away from him into the dense underbrush. She didn’t go far and crumpled into a heap when she failed to hear Pellar coming after her.
I don’t need him, she thought. I can survive on my own.
After a moment she asked herself, then why do I hurt so much?
Pellar sat in silent thought for a long time after Halla had run off. Then, with a sigh, he stood and walked off purposefully in the opposite direction.

You don’t need him, Halla. Assuming that he has any feelings at all for you, he’s going to drag you back into things that you didn’t want to participate in. Go find the Traders and live comfortably and happily with Tarri and put him out of your mind.

She won’t, of course, because it’s Love, but we can hope for just a moment that the characters will behave like people rather than plot pieces. There’s a short bit where Moran gets dropped off to go talk to the Shunned again, and then we go back to Halla and Pellar. Halla is mad that Pellar left, but she discovers a pair of yellowtops twined together, and then another, and then another, and so on, following the trail he’s left behind until she finds him, sleeping in the open, and realizes that he believes that she’ll be the person who watches over him through the night. So she snuggles up to him.

For a moment, Pellar was awake. He wrapped an arm possessively over her, drawing her tight against his stomach; then he fell asleep once more.
Though her back was against him she knew he was smiling. She smiled, too, and closed her eyes peacefully., a feeling she hadn’t felt in Turns overflowing in her heart. She had only one name for it: home.

I mean, I suppose it’s not out of the ordinary for characters with demonstrated psychic powers and dragons to also spontaneously manifest straight-up magical abilities, but Pern has always tried to make itself the product of some sort of science fiction realm.

There’s not really any reason for why Halla is crushing so hard on Pellar. But they’re having spats and sleeping together non-sexually and are basically behaving as if they have a big backstory and are well-established at this point, so I guess we’re just supposed to take it as reality that they’re a couple now.

The narrative moves forward with Cristov trying to find the right kind of stone for his work, eventually causing a rockslide that puts Alarra out of commission, and then causing a rockslide of his own that knocks him out. But Halla and Pellar arrive, having heard the slide, and get him out of it.

Pellar nodded and bent over his face, clearing the smallest dirt away. He pressed his ear close to Cristov’s mouth and then looked up at Halla, alarmed. Then, to her surprise, he leaned over again and parted Cristov’s lips, put his own mouth over Cristov’s and blew a death breath.
“Pellar,” Halla exclaimed disgustedly. “Eww!”
Pellar paid her no attention, looking instead at Cristov. He repeated the movement. This time Cristov coughed and sputtered.

I wonder why Halla thinks this is gross. Is it because Pellar is doing something while Cristov has a dirty mouth? Or is she making some sort of commentary about what she thinks about the prospect of the two sharing a kiss? The world will never know, unfortunately.

Anyway, with Cristov revived and ordered not to move, he is frantic to know whether or not he found his firestone. Halla happened to have pocketed a shiny stone on the way in. When she shows it to Cristov, he nods enthusiastically that it’s the right firestone, of the “doesn’t explode when submerged” variety and they need to tell the Weyrs immediately. So Cristov gets bundled back off to the Weyr infirmary, where Alarra is annoyed at him for finding the firestone before she could get back out into the field and Sonia tells them both that they’re going to have to sit and rest long enough to heal up, rather than trying to stomp back out and keep mining.

About now is when I’m going to mention that for the last few chapters, there have been hints and suggestions that Cristov should stay at the Weyr, and that there are possibly other things he can do other than mine. We’re not quite to the point where they’re telling him flat-out that he should stand as a candidate for Hatching, but we’ve gone from Cristov remembering his childhood dreams to ride a dragon to seeing the eggs to Sonia almost not being oblique about it.

Sonia turned back to face Cistov, eyeing him cryptically and saying, “There are other ways to serve Pern, you know.”
Cristov grimaced. “This is the one I know.” He remembered his father’s sour comment from Turns back. “It’s what I’m fit for.”
The look Sonia gave him was pitying. “If you say so.”

In case we needed any more evidence that the things we say to children will mess them up for a lot longer than their childhoods.

There’s a quick time-skip, as in four days, as D’vin brings Cristov back to the place he found the firestone, and Pellar and Halla give him the whirlwind tour, which now consists of three mines all running at top capacity, and all the necessary support structures that go with it, because Pellar, Halla, and probably a big bunch of dragonriders and harpers, like Moran, spread the word of finding firestone that didn’t explode and the need for workers to work the mines, and the Shunned responded in droves. There are farmers and launderers and miners and a plan’s been mapped out by Pellar and Halla, and they’re asking for Cristov’s advice on how to further proceed. Cristov is floored at the progress.

“No,” Halla said, “the Shunned.” She took in Cristov’s stunned expression. “They can work here without shame and without fear. This is their hold.”
“Their hold?” Cristov repeated in surprise. A hold for the Shunned–how was that possible?
“If they work,” Halla said. “If they don’t, they can leave. We feed their children,, but if the adults don’t work, they don’t eat and they don’t stay.”

Which is better than starving to death, I’m sure, and it turns out that Pellar can summon a wing of dragons as needed to impress upon the people here that the deal they have is a really good one and they don’t want to upset the firestone cart. Still, I’m sure the authors think they’ve found the perfect solution to avoiding taking on the people who really deserve to be Shunned by promising essentially only hard work in exchange for being able to live when Thread falls from the sky. It’s not perfect, at all. But it does seem to have found at least some way that the people who do get Shunned can find a way to survive under the auspices of a legitimate organization and by doing work that is essential to the protection of the planet.

There’s also a useful and terrifying tidbit sandwiched in with all of Cristov’s amazement at the swiftness of construction.

“Some of the Shunned were telling me that holder children don’t start working until they’re twelve Turns or more,” Halla remarked as they walked toward the shaft entrance.
“That’s silly,” Cristov said. “What do they do with all their free time?”
“I don’t know,” Halla said. “The youngsters here all work.” She gestured toward the camp outside. “They want to learn a craft before they marry and, by twelve, they’re already courting.”
Pellar handed Halla a slate he’d been writing on and she read, “Harpers don’t marry until they’re older.” She glanced back at Pellar. “What’s older?”
“Sixteen?” Cristov guessed, glancing to Pellar for confirmation. Pellar made a “go higher” gesture with his free hand. “Eighteen?” When Pellar nodded, Cristov exclaimed in surprise, “Miners are lucky to live thirty Turns. We usually mate much earlier.”

I mean, the life expectancy for your average peasant wasn’t all that great, even if for the lords it was signfiicantly higher by not having their bodies wrecked by all the manual labor. Still, being married at twelve and dead at thirty sounds abominable to me. I suspect a lot of that life expectancy comes from mining things that are volatile and likely to try and kill you, either by dust or explosion or any other potential disasters like cave-ins. This tells me a lot about how well the supposed pastoral-medieval experiment that was Pern has succeeded, in that life expectancies have gone back to approximately what they would have been in feudal areas of Europe. And still were in plenty of poor places long past that.

The kids get instructed by Moran, who seems to be a competent Harper so long as “We keep an eye on his drink,” according to Halla. D’vin’s return warrants a call of a Hatching, and everyone thinks that Pellar should go fill the last spot for candidates, because a hatchling without a rider just warps themself into hyperspace. Pellar refuses to go to the hatching, insisting that he’s needed at the mine more. Or with Halla more. Either way, he’s not going anywhere, and Halla very unsubtly hints that Cristov should go instead. Cristov demurs, considering it an honor beyond his station, and then insisting there’s work to be done at the mines. Pellar and Halla shoo him off, and Halla gives him an extra taunt just to make sure that he goes.

“Are you afraid, then?” she taunted. She grabbed him and turned him toward the dragon. “There’s your future. Go on, Impress! Impress a bronze for us all and show them at High Reaches. Show them what to expect from Fire Hold.”
She gave him one final push and turned away, walking back to the waiting crowd of miners.
Head held high, Cristov walked to his future.

Which leaves us just to do the Epilogue.

Dragon’s fire way up high,
Light the way, protect the sky.
Dragon’s flame, burning bright,
Char away the Thread mid-flight.

Because apparently there’s still one more question that needs answering, and C’tov, rider of bronze Sereth, can finally get it, three Turns after his Impression. (Damn. I really was hoping for a blue. I guess we’ll never know now, then, what C’tov’s inclinations were.)

Halla has grown “tall and graceful”, Pellar “tall and broad”, so much so that Cristov feels “nearly dwarfed” by him. There’s still a moment of ambiguity, as

He took a moment to grab Pellar and pull him into a deep hug, putting into his motion all the gratitude he felt for the other’s selflessness Turns gone by. Strengthened by the warm embrace, he pushed Pellar away and stared deep in his eyes. Then he turned to Halla. “Would you let us talk alone for a moment?”

But it’s not about C’tov confessing his feelings for Pellar, it’s about why Pellar turned down the opportunity to get a bronze dragon, since he could have brought Halla with him. And really, there would have been someone to look after the Shunned at Fire Hold.

Pellar held up a hand again for patience, then raised the other and grabbed them together, going down on one knee–pleading.
“Whatever you want,” C’tov told him fervently. “Always and forever.”
[…Pellar asks to talk directly to Sereth…]
Pellar, and C’tov was surprised by the warmth of his dragon’s tone when referring to the mute harper, says Halla is his voice; that he is her song; and only together can they make music. The dragon paused for a moment. The music they make is compassion, and their song is for all Pern.

And that’s it. Which is a nicely poetic way of ending things, but still doesn’t really give us any answers as to why the pairing happened in the first place. Or, for that matter, whether or not C’tov, had he not become a dragonrider, would have been perfectly happy with a mine and possibly the company of a strong miner as his partner in life. I don’t think I’m reading this as queerer than the text is presenting, but it would have been nice for Cristov to be confirmed as leaning that way before he became C’tov and received enough mitigating and complicating factors in the form of Sereth that we won’t actually know. Thbpth.

Much of the hope that I had that fresh blood would help this series is gone, given the first two books of this sequence. There’s still one more that could salvage the partnership and the series, at least to this point, but I’m not holding out much hope. Especially because the series synopsis already means that I have some swearing to do. I didn’t notice it then, but Kelsa has the feminine ending for it, which means that in this book, we’ve established already that Menolly is not, in fact, the very first female Harper, she’s the first of her era, and possibly of a long time after a period in which women were forbidden from it, but she’s no longer the special character that she’s always been.

There will likely be swearing. Probably about how there managed to be such a great gap that Menolly was considered special. And likely other things, but I’ll hold on to that for when we get into the next book and the time is right.

See you next week for the beginning of Dragon Harper, where we go back to a very familiar place on Pern so that we don’t have to spend all of this time worldbuilding and actually having to care how the rest of the planet, aside from lords, Harpers, and dragonriders, actually live.

Deconstruction Roundup for February 22nd, 2019

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has another of a series of programs to perform tonight.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Elizabeth Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jen A. Blue

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are utterly unsurprised at the way in which everyone seems to be falling down on the job of actually governing through having been far too exposed to it to be surprised by it. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Fire: Reality Asserts Itself…finally.

Last time, we took a long ride on constructing and destructing firestone mines, and had a comparison between D’vin getting actual miners and treating them with care versus D’gan’s lack of feeling and insistence in using expendable Shunned until they inevitably make a mistake. Or get firebombed by Tenim, who thinks he has a brilliant plan to be the only source of firestone on Pern and make a killing in selling it. By the end of his last terrorist act, he’s got Pellar, Halla, and a horde of dragonriders gunning for his ass.

Dragon’s Fire: Book II: Chapters 8, 9, and 10: Content Notes: Terrorism, Revenge, Murder, Ablism, A Profound Lack of Genetics Knowledge, Unintentionally Standing on Someone’s Triggers

To flame the skies
Your dragon must chew
A hundredweight
Or more for you.

And that’s something that the miners have to produce, one hundredweight for each Fall, for each dragon, for each time they go out. There’s no way that a single mine can produce that much material, and even more so if it’s volatile material that doesn’t like getting stored. And yet, we start the chapter with B’ralar and D’vin having a chat about keeping their own firestone mine secret, given the snit that D’vin is having about not having one of his own. They’re concerned about Tenim as a terrible person, and there’s a confirmation that this time, Tarik is well and truly dead, instead of being used as a guilt chip on Cristov. B’ralar also suggests that D’vin might be his successor as Weyrleader, and suggests that D’vin not do anything he might regret later.

Then we go back to Cristov, Toldur, and D’vin, who are discussing the fact that they need to ramp up production with more mines and more miners, but Toldur offers the sobering news that they asked the Masterminer for volunteers and got none. And also asked weyrfolk to volunteer for mines and got none from them, either. Why should they, given how clear it is that the life expectancy is nonexistent and the material itself is so volatile that even if they do it all right, it could very easily all go explosively or poisonously wrong? That same idea continues in a short scene where D’gan tries to find or insist that there be more workers for another mine, but there aren’t any Shunned in his territory to conscript into the mines, and the Holders seem to not be generating any new ones.

So, the actual plot itself kicks back up with Sidar and Tenim having a meeting.

Sidar points out that there’s a worldwide manhunt on for Tenim, and then mentions the mine in High Reaches, which punctures Tenim’s belief that he’s the only person on Pern with firestone and forces him to change his plan. It being Tenim, the plan change becomes murderous.

“I wouldn’t want that,” Tenim said agreeably. He slung his pack off his shoulder and fished in it for something. “Seeing as you’ve been such a good friend, I’ve got something for you. Call it a going-away gift.” He looked around and spotted a small jug. “In return all I want is some water.”
Sidar eyed him warily and backed away until he saw what Tenim had pulled out–a rock.
“It’s just a rock,” Sidar said. “Why should I trade water for that?”
Tenim threw the rock at him and the older man caught it reflexively. Tenim stepped over to the jug and filled a mug.
“No ordinary rock,” Tenim responded smoothly. “That’s firestone.”
Sidar eyed him warily and the rock speculatively. “It’s not worth my water,” he growled. “You’d best leave.”
[…There’s a little more banter while Tenim pretends to be sad at rejection…]
He [Tenim] threw the water at Sidar who grunted in surprise.
“And quite deadly,” Tenim added, stepping back as Sidar gave a strangled cry and lurched away from him. Tenim continued on as if nothing were happening, completely ignoring Sidar’s frantic movements. “It seems that if the gas doesn’t explode outright, it burns the lungs and the air in them. Death is quick, if painful.”
Tenim watched as Sidar’s desperate movements became more and more feeble and finally stopped. Shaking his head, he turned to go, only to turn back again for one final admonition. “You should have bought when you had the chance.”

Aerodynamics does not work that way.Which is to say that if there’s enough of the phosphorous gas to burn out Sidar’s lungs from the water exposure, there’s enough gas to burn out Tenim’s lungs, too. This sounds like a clever plan if and only if there’s no way that it won’t backfire spectacularly, which it should have. I can’t imagine that the firestone isn’t still emitting gas as Tenim stands there and watches Sidar die, which gives him even more reason to have his own lungs burned out completely. Tenim’s story should end here.

Instead, he leaves the dray of firestone, selects himself a horse, and heads toward High Reaches. Halla discovers his carnage and curses her luck before hitching a ride with traders who deliver gossip that D’gan is really looking for anyone he can to work the mines. The next scene is Pellar hitching a ride with a boatman who talks about D’gan offering bounties for any Shunned that can be found, before his tracking and wilderness survival skills finally fail him in a snowstorm and he asks Hurth for help. And then gets himself assigned to guard the new mine in High Reaches over the objections of just about everyone who knows him, and only if he promises to call in Hurth the minute he sees someone suspicious. The only part worth noting in all of this is this set of lines right here:

“Not everyone gets a choice.”
“How’s that? Isn’t it justice they do?”
“Justice is different from Lord Holder to Lord Holder.”
A chorus of assents passed around the campfire.

Of course, that’s dangerous thinking, I’m sure, if you ask the lords about that idea, but it’s completely true. And there’s got to be at least a few Lords that you don’t want to get caught doing anything around, because they’ll Shun at the whisper of a rumor and have brute squads on hand to do it without even needing to go before said Lord. There are probably some locations that are more favorable to trade. Or steal.

The plot, such that it is, then settles on Tenim, and this is how the narrative describes his thought process.

Tenim didn’t know whether he wanted to swear or laugh when he found the High Reaches firestone mine. There was Tarik’s brat digging firestone along with one of the other miners from Natalon’s camp! He’d get revenge for all the things the miners had done wrong and he’d have the honor of exterminating Tarik’s brat!

It’s also “infuriating” to Tenim to see how well the miners are being treated, as Tenim can apparently tell they’re living high on the hog, because of the house, the pumps, the rails, their clothes, and a dump for the stone so that someone else can do the bagging work for them. And the guards, but Tenim already has a plan to deal with the guards and get even the dragonriders to come to heel.

So, it’s okay to exact generational revenge on Cristov because Tarik had the bad sense to get caught when Tenim felt he had to do something about Natalon? And Tenim is still attached to the idea of selling firestone for an inflated price, and thinks it’s a good idea to piss off even more dragonriders than he already has. Like, for supposedly being a tactical genius, or whatever Plot Armor justification we’re getting for him, Tenim is going about things really, really, stupidly.

And even then, his plan succeeds, at least at the beginning, because the falcon attacks the dragon, and then the guards, and that apparently is enough of a distraction for Tenim to lob firestone at the mine while Grief tries to kill Pellar, except Pellar’s ready for the bird and kills it with his knife, which enrages Tenim and after Pellar is able to extract someone from the mine, Tenim tries to kill Pellar, but for the appearance of a knife, thrown by an unknown benefactor, (although it’s strongly implied to be Halla) that Pellar then uses to stab Tenim first in the chest, and then in the throat, for Chitter.

Personally, if Halla could float a knife into Pellar’s hand, I believe she could bury it in Tenim’s face/chest from that range and accomplish the kill herself, but can’t have girls killing boys that effectively or stealing Pellar’s thunder in that moment.

Tenim finally gets what’s coming to him, but another firestone mine gets destroyed in the process. And on we go to Chapter 9.

Dragonrider, this is true:
Others all look up to you.
Your hard work and bravery,
Keep Pern safe and skies Thread-free.

The viewpoint character at this point is Cristov, who was the person Pellar pulled from the mine before it went up completely. He doesn’t know the full extent of the damage, either to himself or to anyone else, because the healer, Sonia, tells him to stay down and says that if he’s lucky, in three sevendays he’ll be back up to getting on his feet. Before he falls back asleep, though, he realizes that Sonia’s not touching his ear, and he wants to know what happened to it. Before we get to that point, though, we switch over to D’vin and Alarra, Toldur’s mate, with D’vin

expecting Toldur’s mate to burst into distraught tears and crumple into a trembling wretch at the site of the burned-out mine and her mate’s tomb

and getting basically none of that. Instead, Alarra tells him

“I’m the mate of a miner, dragonrider; we share our burdens,” she told him. A smile twisted across her lips fleetingly. “If I’d been the stronger, Toldur would have had me in the mines.”
D’vin was surprised and it showed.

About a lot of things, the least being that he doesn’t get to play hero consoling the widow of the brave man. I’m all for a strong woman in these situations, but I also am going to be a bit something about the fact that we keep having a hell of a body count here with all the firestone and terrorism going on. Like, Tenim should have been killed several times over before now, and the narrative never really gave us a reason why he didn’t, even as his plans got more grandiose and less thought-out. They discuss the amount of injury to Cristov, and basically say that Toldur gave his life sheltering the boy from the blast. Alarra says she’s ready to stand in for whatever Toldur was doing and get to work mining firestone, but D’vin has the courtesy to at least say options need discussing first.

And then the narrative jumps away to D’gan, who is getting ever more intense about needing more firestone and more people to mine it with, and then to the Harper Hall, where Zist and Murenny are talking about that desperation as they await Kindan’s arrival. He’s right on schedule, which means Zist wins a bet, and Kindan is assigned to scour the Harper Hall archives and learn everything he can about mining firestone.

But the narrative jumps back to Cristov, who can now see the full extent of the damage, “the horrid mottled flesh that lined the left side of his head where hair and ear should have been, the burn mark where the exploding firestone had seared his flesh completely away.”

The first thing D’vin does is to say that scars make a dragonrider look distinguished. Sonia shrugs and says she looks at the heart, and Cristov points out he’s not a dragonrider anyway. But Cristov gets quite a salute from the dragons themselves, and thanks from B’ralar (who Cristov doesn’t realize it’s the Weyrleader until he looks at the rank knots) and is dragged to see the eggs even as he protests that what he should be doing is starting over again.

There’s a bit of Ancient technology mentioned (“mirrors guiding the light into the Hatching Grounds…Made of some sort of metal. The weyrlings are assigned to polish them when it’s dark.”) before Sonia and D’vin mention to Cristov just how much hope they have riding on this clutch.

“If it’s not a queen egg,” D’vin continued, “and Gairirth dies, then we’ll be queenless, like Igen.”
“Would High Reaches band with Telgar?” Cristov asked worriedly.
D’vin laughed, shaking his head. “I doubt that would be Weyrleader B’ralal’s first choice,” he said. “No, I imagine we’d barter for a queen egg.” His face grew grim as he added, “Doubtless that egg would come from Telgar and we’d be beholden.”
Cristov gave him a questioning look.
“We’d be beholden,” D’vin explained, “to open our mating flight to the bronzes of Telgar.”

Cocowhat by depizan

I’d like to believe that genetics is not quite a fully lost art at this point in time, but this doesn’t make any sense apart from someone thinking through the political consequences and no others. Because it’s essentially “we’ll give you some of our genetic stock, and in return, you have to allow us to potentially inbreed that stock because we’ve decided that dragon sex is the only way to establish political power in a Weyr.” Which, I suppose, has always been a problem, if any of the bronzes of a queen’s clutch stay at the same Weyr they were hatched at. There’s never been any magic but plot magic that suggests the breeding of dragons doesn’t result in some very inbred traits. It’s always just been the case that nobody who was from too close a line ended up breeding with each other, or that sons and daughters didn’t end up doing so, either. At least on camera, anyway.

The rest of the bit is Sonia and D’vin pointing out to Cristov that it would be foolish for High Reaches to send the sole surviving successful firestone miner back out into the field before he could train others, and that the Harper Hall had their best apprentice on the job of trying to find out more about firestone. Cristov recognizes it as Kindan, and has a small laugh about how Kindan is indirectly working for him before we go back to the Harper Hall, where Kindan and Kelsa are poring over the records. They discover a report about how firestone was discovered (by observing fire-lizards using the stone to spout flame), initially dismiss it as a story (“You’re right, that’s cracked,” Kelsa says.), before deciding to take it seriously, based on the fact that the colonists named them fire-lizards.

And on that bet, and the consequences that might come from another firestone mine somewhere in Telgar, they decide to go wake the Masterharper, which is srs bzns.

And onward to Chapter 10.

Harper learn,
Harper read.
Harper help
Those in need.

If only that were true. But that’s what we’re supposed to keep in mind as this chapter opens, because it’s all the way back to the wherhold that Moran has been stationed at while Pellar has been out exploring the world and finally achieving his revenge against Tenim. Aleesa is apparently feverish, and Moran says he has to go somewhere to get the proper medicines for. This makes Jaythen suspicions, because we’ve established well enough through Halla’s eyes that Moran is not the shining Platonic form of the Harper that the chapter poem wants us to believe. (Also, this poem and the one from Chapter 6 seem to be part of the same work, which makes me wonder where the Holder one will appear to complete the triple.)

There’s also the swift judgment that Aleesa is crazy, although Moran is at least trying to find a socially acceptable reason for it, rather than just declaring it and being done, as Pellar did.

Moran quickly determined that the self-styled Whermaster was more than a little crazed by a long life of trauma, not eased any by her association with watch-whers. But somehow he and Aleesa had found and kindled a strange sort of respect, bordering on friendship.

It’s still assuming facts not in evidence, though. Moran is also, despite having worked with the Shunend more, working on the assumption that the life that the Harpers and other more privileged people lead is normal and correct, and any deviations from trying to live that life, even if you have really good reasons not to, mark you as being crazy. Moran really should know better, if his backstory is anything like what we keep getting told it is. Like the narrative does in the very next paragraph.

Perhaps he recognized a kindred spirit, tormented by past decisions and indecisions, torn between high ideals and petty indulgences. Or perhaps it was Aleesk, with her strange looks and quiet presence. He learned quickly enough that Aleesk was the last gold watch-wher, and that Master Zist and even the dragonriders found the creatures valuable. After so many Turns spent fruitlessly striving to find an answer for the Shunned, or hope for their children, Moran found the issue of the watch-whers and their handlers to be an easier burden, and he was in need of a rest.

It’s interesting to me how the narrative lionizes Moran when we’re looking at things from his perspective, as if his own internal narrative has gained more power and respect, like the narrative allows him to narrate himself, a courtesy it doesn’t really extend to anybody else. It sets up the conflict as to who is to be believed, Moran’s own self-narrative of high ideals thwarted by petty indulgences, or the more pragmatic and much less rose-colored view of him and the world that permeates everyone else’s chapters. Why does Moran get the privilege of the benefit of the doubt for himself when nobody else does, despite being, perhaps, one of the most morally ambiguous characters in the story? Why does he get favored?

As it is, Moran heads out and makes reasonable time, before flagging down a passing dragonrider and trying to trade on his status as a harper to get him where he needs to go faster. The dragonrider, K’lur, doesn’t buy it and instead transports him to Crom to face Lord Fenner’s justice for trying to impersonate a Harper. (Because this is Telgar territory, and any excuse is a good excuse for generating more Shunned to work mines with.) There is something that is going to work in Moran’s favor, though, or at least make his story more plausible.

As he marched up the length of the Great Hall to the dias on which Lord Fenner sat, Moran noticed several people–even children–watching from tables placed alongside the walls. One of the children pointed at him with wide, surprised eyes. Moran paused, stunned. “Fethir?” Another child appeared familiar. “Marta?”
Rage, sudden and immense, filled Moran. He shook off his guards and raced to the end of the hall. “What are you doing with them?” he demanded at the top of his lungs. “Are you sending children into the mines?”
He looked around feverishly, recognizing the children he’d left with–“Where’s Halla? What have you done with her?”

After Moran has to be restrained for his outburst, they finally get it sorted as to where Halla went (after Tenim, who has been implicated in Sidar’s death by firestone gas), what the kids are doing here (Fenner’s wards), and that Moran is not actually going to be Shunned, despite K’lur suggesting that associating with them is enough to get someone Shunned, and D’gan needs more bodies for his firestone mines work. Having invoked Zist’s name to identify himself as the lost apprentice, Fenner sends word to the Harper Hall to see if Moran’s claim checks out, and passes along the additional message that Aleesa needs feverfew with it after Moran mentions that it’s a watch-wher that’s in danger. Narra is sent with the instructions to use the emergency signal three times when sending the message. Given that there’s no way Moran can get the medicine back, they’ll have to rely on dragonriders to get things to Aleesa in time. Thankfully, the Harpers can draw on more than Telgar to make this happen.

Moran is definitely not off the hook with Fenner, however.

“Your name came up not too long ago, as I recall.”
Moran raised an eyebrow. “My lord?”
“Yes, a poor man named Nikal swore a complaint on you,” Fenner said. “Said he’d paid you for a month’s Cromcoal and never got it.” Fenner paused, watching Moran’s face carefully. “When he told me you’d claimed to be one of my harpers, I felt obliged to fill his lack.”
“I had hoped–” Moran began, but Fenner cut him off with an raised hand.
“The issue will be between you and the Masterharper,” Fenner told him. “For which you should be grateful; I’ve Shunned men for stealing.”
“It was for the children,” Moran explained.
“You should have come to me,” Fenner replied.
Moran shook his head, confused, and momentarily lost for words. He licked his lips and winced. “They were Shunned.”
Marta came back at that moment with a wet washcloth. Fenner smiled at the child and directed her toward Moran. She handed him the washcloth and darted away, an action that spoke of no great affection for the harper.

Nikal made good on his promise, then. Also, I would like to know what this process entails and how one fomally swears out a complaint against someone, because it seems like this would be a large part of what a Lord Holder (or anyone else, for that matter) would be doing in court. And while Robinton had a part where he sat in on court, it really wasn’t elaborated much at all about how the process of justice actually works on Pern. The most complete account we’ve had so far has been Tarik’s Shunning and Halla’s justice hearing, and perhaps a small amount of when Shankolin and the other Luddites were exiled for attacking Robinton, but even then, it’s always seemed like it’s a given that there is a justice process on Pern, but nobody actually cares enough about what it is to help establish some characters as being good and others less so. It’s just the widespread acknowledgement that justice varies form place to place, and occasionally, apparently, the mob can do what they like as well without necessarily suffering repercussions from the Lord in question for usurping his prerogative.

Also in that quote, while I’m not surprised that Marta has no love for Moran, given that Halla seems to have been the only one who treated any of them with anything resembling affection, I’m very surprised that the narrative doesn’t launch into some sort of stirring defense of Moran’s ideals, given that Marta gave us the impression that she’s in Halla’s world, not Moran’s, and Moran is currently the viewpoint character. I mean, not too soon after that, Moran realizes he’s fainter than he thinks, and the narrative shifts away to Kindan, but this seems like just the right spot for the narrative to defend Moran against Fenner, even though it’s already been established that Fenner is one of the good people.

So the narrative darts out to Kindan, who is being awakened from his archive dive by the emergency signal and sent off to Murenny and Zist, who are joined by Mikal and the situation explained. Kindan and Mikal go off to the wherhold camp by dragon to deliver the medicine, and Kindan says hello to Aleesk, having figured out without prompting where her nest is. That relaxes the tension among the wher-group, who have been suspicious of the newcomers (again, with good reason) and allows Mikal to get to work with the medicines and cure Aleesa of her fever. Kindan, for his part, has taken a nap with Aleesk, and when Mikal comes into the lair, he declares it a good place and that he’s going to stay here with them. Because it has good rocks and crystals.

Which gets Kindan thinking, and he asks aloud whether or not Mikal knows of a different kind of firestone, and that it was a bit strange that nobody actually asked Mikal about this.

In an instant he knew why.
Mikal sank against the floor, his legs suddenly weak. Kindan moved to help but the old man waved him away. Feebly, he explained, “My dragon died from a firestone explosion.” He searched Kindan’s face. “Are you saying there is a safer firestone?”
“Maybe it was all used up,” Kindan said in a vain effort to ease the pain so evident in Mikal’s eyes. He had heard of the bond between dragon and rider, but he’d never thought it was so strong that tens of Turns later it would still cause so great a pain. This was nothing like the feeling he’d had when his watch-wher had bonded with Nuella.
Mikal’s look demanded more.

Which works really well as an example of how we can very easily stand on each other’s triggers, and sometimes without actually knowing the why and the how.

Plot-wise, however, it sparks a discussion where Kindan argues there’s a different kind of firestone, and that perhaps all the people who knew about that one ended up dying without passing the knowledge on — perhaps because they discovered the new firestone and it blew up in their faces. Kindan resolves to go, somehow, to the Southern Continent and see if he can’t find samples of the non-explosive firestone, bringing along someone with a fire-lizard to see if they’ll find and eat the mineral themselves and thus prove that there is a safer version that can do the same thing. As hope goes, it’s probably a longer-shot, based mostly on conjecture and reading various ancient Records just right, but it’s this kind of long shot that often results in the eureka moments sought.

And there goes Chapter 10, so we’re starting to move back toward the longer chapter format. We’ll call a rest here, and then see what we can do about finding the new firestone in a post-Tenim world next time.

Deconstruction Roundup for February 15th, 2019

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has successfully yet again escaped Red Day intact.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Elizabeth Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jen A. Blue

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are utterly unsurprised at the way in which everyone seems to be falling down on the job of actually governing through having been far too exposed to it to be surprised by it. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Fire: An Ignorance of Power

We left Halla last time with a sackful of money and a large group of children, with no direction of where to go or what to do, because the responsible adult in their lives just decided he had to go stop his wayward adoptive son from doing something truly terrible and stupid. As one might suspect, Halla is going to do her best to turn this lemon shower into lemonade, but she’s probably going to need help.

Dragon’s Fire, Book 2: Chapters 6 and 7: Content Notes: Fatphobia, Trauma-Causing Obliviousness

Halla, for her part, does the first thing she can think of – she heads for shelter with the children, and the night watchman who spots them and hears their plea to be let in is pissed that they’re out so late without their parents. (Since none of them have the S on them, and the guard checks, which is more of the fractal wrong that children can be Shunned and are supposed to be treated that way, they make it inside.) Sufficiently pissed off that Halla finds herself before Lord Holder Fenner, who has been woken up to deal with this problem. He’s not too happy about the situation, but before he lays into Halla, he recognizes that he’s seen her before. Which adjusts his behavior…a little.

“Wait a minute,” Fenner said, kneeling beside her and peering at her dirt-stained face. “You’re that girl Cristov pointed out. The one that found the bubbly pies.”
He looked past her to the sobbing youngsters. He raised a hand and told his guards, “Get someone to settle them in a guest room.”
The children’s wails rose as the guards tried to remove them from Halla, and Halla grabbed at them impulsively.
“No, no, no,” Fenner told her irritably. “No one’s going to hurt them.”
[…Halla demands to know where they’re going, but Fenner ignores her and then remembers her name…]
He noticed that Halla was still resisting the guards’ attempts to pick up the other children.
“No, no, leave off that!” he scolded her. “They’re only taking them to bed. You’d think they were going to be Shunned, the way you’re–” Fenner abruptly stopped speaking, his gaze intent on Halla’s forehead. Slowly, almost apologetically, he reached out and parted her hair. He grunted to himself when he saw that she was unmarked.

Fenner’s still clueless about how he’s coming across, and also the fact that he’s checking her for the mark is even more fractal wrong. If she had it, what would he do to her? Toss her out the window? Send her packing back into the cold? What sort of monstrosity do you have to be capable of to send a child away?
Plot-wise, Fenner pegs Halla as being present at the incident earlier when the mob wanted to shun her for something she didn’t do. Halla begs for the children’s lives with him, figuring that she’s going to get Shunned all the same.

Halla startled as Fenner’s strong hands grabbed her. Would the Lord Holder strangle her here and now? she wondered frantically, clawing at him with all her might. Maybe if she could break free, she could rescue the others.
Stop struggling!” Fenner’s voice boomed over her. Halla went limp, sobs wracking her small body, eyes scrunched tightly closed. She felt herself being lifted. Huge arms wrapped around her and hugged her tight. Was he going to crush her in his arms? Halla wondered anxiously. She squirmed once more.
“I said, stop,” Fenner growled. “By the First Egg,” he continued, “it’s as though you expected me to Shun you on sight.”
The impact of his words registered in his ears and he peered down at the figure shaking in his arms.

DING-DING-DING! Lord Fenner finally gets it!

This entire book seems to be predicated on making sure the action happens and the conflict is over people who should know better acting cluelessly. Pellar, Fenner, Tarik, Moran, just about everybody here is creating the conflict of the story by seemingly deliberately avoiding using the knowledge they have in their brains and then continuing to charge ahead in that same manner instead of stopping and reassessing once they encounter an unexpected response. Gaaaah.

Having realized what it looked like to Halla, Fenner changes to be softer and more gentle, and after missing Halla’s age by three Turns because of her gaunt structure, he asks Halla’s permission to hug her, and shows her significant comfort before putting her to bed. That ends Chapter 6. I can’t really see why Halla would let her guard down so readily and easily, but there’s also the possibility that she’s just really fucking tired, and in the captivity of someone who can destroy her at a word, so she’s decided the best way to survive is to play along and give no resistance. And there’s warm and fuzzies and a soft blanket and such.

So here’s what Chapter 7 tells us:

Lord Holder, your role is assured.
Lead the hold, help all endure.
Set the pace and show no slacking;
Let the lazy ones go packing.

And, of course, to be a true Lord Holder, he’ll need to be out front leading the way, right? He certainly wouldn’t do something like stay in his Hold and just give orders on how everyone else is supposed to do the work. Because if all the lazy ones are supposed to be Shunned and sent packing (and who determines lazy, anyway?), then clearly the Lord Holder should set a good example.

We all know that doesn’t happen everywhere.

Halla starts Chapter 7 with a series of successive revelations. She’s in a bed with clean sheets (which she believes she’s way to dirty to be part of), the children she had with her are all sleeping in the same bed that she is (so it’s a really big bed), and, as soon as she hops out of the bed, she realizes she’s in her underthings and has a moment of embarrassment at the thought of Lord Holder Fenner having stripped her tunic off to get her into bed. Trying to get the drop on anybody outside (after wrapping herself up in a towel) meas that Halla gets to meet Nerra, Fenner’s daughter, who has been instructed to make sure Halla gets fed before she gets her bath. (Fresh bread, with butter, and dried fruit.)

“I can have a bath?” Halla repeated, her skin crawling with excitement at the very notion. She turned her head to peer around the hallway. “Where is the bucket?”
“Bucket!” Nerra snorted. “We don’t have a bucket, we have a bath room.”
“A whole room?” Halla exclaimed, eyes wide.
“Certainly,” Nerra replied in a surprised tone. She gestured back to the room. “But first we should eat.”

This is one of the few places where someone being surprised at the way a person has been used to doing things makes sense. Because Nerra has never had a whiff of what Halla has experienced, and the reverse is also true. And both of them are so used to their world that they can’t really conceive of the other one’s.
Halla has a good soak, but ends up having to help restore order (clad only in a couple of thick, plush towels, the narrative tells us) and gets some of the younger kids into the bath to enjoy as well. Which has the side effect of soaking the captain of the guard, since he’s been assigned to make sure everyone’s safe.

And then we get another example of the bad kind of obliviousness, even though it’s less obliviousness and more making sure the formalities are handled. The only warning Halla gets about what’s to happen is Nerra telling her that Fenner’s not the growler he pretends to be.

“Greetings, my lord,” she said, doing nothing to ease Halla’s fears. “I bring the prisoner for your judgement.”
Prisoner? Halla’s eyes widened and she found herself once again seaching for the best exit from the Great Hall.
“What are her crimes?” Fenner called from his seat at the end of the hall.
“Complicity in theft, flight from a crime,” Nerra replied formally. Quietly, in a totally different tone, she confided to Halla, “But I told him you didn’t do it.”
“Lady Nerra, please stick to the forms,” Fenner growled in exasperation.
Nerra gave her father a grumpy look but nodded. “What is your pleasure, my lord?”
“The rule of Crom rests with the Lord of Crom,” Fenner intoned severely. He crooked a finger at Halla, beckoning her forward. With a slight push from Nerra, Halla found herself walking down the long way to the Lord Holder’s chair.
When she was directly in front of him, Fenner held up a hand for her to stop.
“What is your hold?” he asked her, his tone still formal.
Halla shook her head in silence.
“What is your craft?”
Again Halla shook her head.
“So you claim no hold or craft?” Fenner asked, his tone full of solemn disapproval.
“None, my lord,” Halla said honestly, her arms hanging limply at her side. He had seemed so nice, too.
“And did you steal as accused?”
“No,” Halla answered honestly.
“Were you not identified as a thief and nearly Shunned?” Fenner asked, leaning forward to gaze directly into her eyes.
“Yes.”
“How plead you?” Fenner asked solemnly.
Plead? Halla looked at him questioningly. She shifted on her foot nervously. Was she supposed to beg for her life? Or did he expect her to tell him that Milera was the thief? If Milera ever found out–and Halla wondered where she’d been so long–she’d choke her for sure.
“Not guilty,” Nerra whispered stridently to her. Halla turned to face her with a questioning look. “Say ‘not guilty,’ ” Nerra whispered again.
“Not guilty,” Halla said. Hastily she added, “My lord.”
“Good,” Nerra murmured approvingly. “Now demand justice.”
Halla nodded and swallowed. “My lord, I demand justice.”
“In what name?”
“My name. Halla.”
“Very well,” Fenner replied. “Justice is asked and will be given.”
He closed his eyes for a moment in thought. When he opened them again he looked straight at Halla.
“The issues against Halla of no hold are dropped,” he declared. “The judgment is that the children traveling with you will become fosterlings of Crom Hold, under my protection until they come of age.”

And there you have it. This whole thing would have been a lot less traumatic if Halla had an inkling of idea of what was about to happen and how it would turn out. Nerra clearly knew what was going on. Fenner squashed her attempts to make it less terrifying. I don’t know how many witnesses there are in the room with those three, because if there aren’t any others, someone for whom the necessary formality is for the scribes or some other records, this could have been done a lot less horrifically for Halla.

And also, Nerra is acting as Halla’s lawyer. Which I think it great, given the tradition of women as judges and legists in the colony world, but it once again gives the lie to the idea that Pern doesn’t need lawyers. There was a specific formal process that had to be done, and Halla needed someone who knew that process as her advocate! And Fenner will ask her in a few paragraphs why she didn’t ask for the mercy of the Lord Holder, and Halla’s truthful answer will be “I didn’t know.” Because she didn’t know! Nerra was the person closest to her who might have had a clue, and she didn’t say anything about that. It sounds like an assumption that someone would be taught, wherever they came from, that asking the mercy of the Lord Holder was part of the process. But Halla’s been traveling with the Shunned since she was little. There’s nobody there who has any reason to teach about the mercy of a Lord Holder, since plenty of them are out there because of them. It’s the bad kind of ignorance, of being unable to conceive that someone might exist in this world without what you consider to be basic knowledge, even when you know that the universal schooling provided by the Harpers only extends to the people who haven’t been Shunned and their descendants.

Fenner also has ulterior motives for pardoning Halla. He wants her to make contact with as many Shunned as possible so they can start hammering out an arrangement where the Shunned start getting reintegrated into society because the alternative is dying horribly from Thread. As Fenner puts it,

“When Thread comes, we will all need everything we can get–shorting one man makes no sense.”
Halla nodded, wondering why Moran hadn’t told her this. Of course, she thought sourly, he was a fat man.

And here’s another brick built on the idea that Moran’s self-image is divorced significantly from the reality of who he is. Moran being “fat” suggests that he’s doing a lot more of the eating than the children he is nominally looking after, which suggests his priorities are backward about who should be taken care of first. (Halla has already mentioned by this point that not all the children she was taking care of made it to this point.) It’s also a shame that we’re using fatness as shorthand for poor decision-making, but fatphobia isn’t even on the radar at this point in our history, much less being taken seriously.

If this was an intentional decision on the writing team to portray the Harpers, who are supposed to be the all-loved, always-good even when their methods suck, as deluding themselves about their virtue, it’s brilliant and I am there for it. But I have the sneaking suspicious that before we’re done, it’s going to be deflected in some way or papered over what Moran did in the name of his ideals, and so this scathing denunciation of Harpers, Holders, and the entire social system, in the person of Halla, is going to be nothing more than an accidental truth.

Halla agrees to the plan. And the narrative shifts away again to Cristov and Toldur, trying to find a suitable vein to tap into for their firestone mine. Cristov is surprised that the speed of logistics goes a lot faster when you have hyperspace transport at your side, but the two of them are able to find a suitable spot for mining. They do have to test their stones, which they do by finding rocks that look like firestone and then throwing them into a cooking pot of water to see if the stones emit gas that explodes on contact with the air. After that, they hollow out and build a mine entrance, making sure that the moisture in the air and any water above their entrance is redirected away so that it doesn’t ignite the firestone they will be exposing by dripping or raining inside.

D’vin returns the next day with Hurth to test and see if there is firestone involved. Hurth chews it and burps fire, so it’s high-quality stuff, but there’s a second reason now to wonder whether this firestone is the same one that we’ve been seeing in the Ninth (the extreme volatility being the first):

“Is he okay?” Cristov asked, looking up at Hurth worriedly.
“Have you ever heard of the hot peppers from Southern Boll?” D’vin asked. Cristov nodded. “Imagine that you’d eaten a whole mouthful of the ripest, hottest of those peppers.”
“That bad?” Toldur asked, shaking his head in awe at Hurth’s constitution.

They talk a bit about what sort of designers make an essential part of being a dragon so painful, and Toldur and Cristov talk about what they’ll need to stand the mine up as quickly as possible. D’vin title-drops getting the Mastersmith to help out in the possibility of getting the mine air pumps to run by water power, promises help in making good boards to help shore up the mine, and asks about other supply needs. After Cristov figures out that the Weyrs will need about two hundred forty long tons (tonnes) total of firestone each week during Threadfall. Which is way more than two miners can do.

D’vin laughed, shaking his head. The two miners looked at him in surprise. “Weren’t you planning on sleeping?”
“Well, yes,” Toldur said, wondering why the dragonrider had brought up the issue.
“Or eating?”
The two miners nodded.
“Then I suppose you’d like a place to live and perhaps a cook to take that burden off of you.”
“We can sleep in our camp,” Toldur said, surprised at D’vin’s generous offer. “And we cook well enough.”
D’vin shook his head, holding up a hand to forestall further comments from the miners. “The least the Weyr can do is to provide you with a warm place to sleep, hot meals, and hot water with which to bathe.”
A look of joy and amazement flashed across Cristov’s face only to be replaced by bemusement as he wondered why the Weyr would consider treating two mere miners so well.
“It’s the least we can do,” D’vin said in answer to his unasked question. “And, if you think about it, it’s for the most selfish reasons–every waking moment you’re not mining firestone means less practice time for us.”

So Cristov gets a lesson on what you can do when you have actual clout and a logistics brigade behind you and supporting you.

And while that’s going on, we switch back to Tarik, and get an object lesson in why he should have gone into WitSec. Because Tenim is back, and still alive, and he almost chokes Tarik to death as his way of saying he means business before explaining that Tarik is going to mine him firestone to sell in the night with a second crew that Tenim will provide to mine and move the stone. Tenim demands Tarik provide him with two tonnes of firestone in two days, and then gives Tarik a crew of small children to help him move the firestone into Tenim’s dray. All the whole casually threatening Tarik’s life and being sociopathic about the whole thing.

Not that long after, Pellar arrives at the camp, although he’s not named as such, but instead described as a last who doesn’t speak but can write and work as a scribe to help Tarik keep records. Tenim looks at him but doesn’t recognize him, and then ups his demand to four tonnes in two days so as to build his stockpile to sell with.

Of course, that’s not going so well.

It has surprised him to discover how difficult it was to find a buyer for his firestone, given how ask the other Weyrs had complained about D’gan’s stinginess. Tenim had been convinced that it would be easy, and profitable, to sell firestone, ah he was much surprised to discover that neither was the case.
[…he’ll keep trying, though…]
“Firestone?” Sidar repeated with a horrified look on his face. “You’ve got firestone?”
Tenim didn’t move a muscle. He’d come to Sidar after exhausting all his other resources. The man was known to cheat, steal, and murder for his profit–methods Tenim preferred to reserve to himself–but when he paid, he paid well.

Sidar explains to Tenim why nobody wants to touch firestone; in addition to its volatility, anyone caught with the stuff who isn’t a dragonrider is going to be Shunned, no questions asked. Sidar has no interest in commerce with Tenim and throws him out before their meeting erupts into violence.

Then the narrative shifts to Halla, who is explaining to Veran, of Tarri’s group, that Tenim is the one that stole his dray, and to request supplies to follow Tenim and retrieve it. It goes back to Tarik, who gets an extra tonne required from D’gan because his mine isn’t blown up and his people aren’t dead and then a visit from Tenim, where Tarik lets slip that his new assistant can’t talk, making Tenim suspicious.

Later that night, Tenim puts into action what he thinks is his best plan yet. Since he can’t find a buyer, he thinks it will be a good idea of he can cut off the supply so that everyone has to come to him to buy whatever firestone he has in stock. So he uses some of his firestone supply to firebomb the dam and release all the water to go into the mine area and destroy it explosively. Pellar tries to stop him, but still can’t actually beat Tenim in a straight up fistfight. Tenim thinks about killing him, but when the mine goes up, he decides it is better to pin the blame on Pellar than kill him and disappears,

firm in the belief that he had just made himself the richest, most powerful man on Pern.

This is a monumentally bad plan, Tenim, unless you essentially plan on trekking to every firestone mine that gets put into existence and blowing it up. Pern is a pretty big place, Tenim can’t travel faster than the dragonriders, and he probably also can’t evade them when they start stationing guards, either with dragons or fire lizards, at the mines with orders to kill anyone who gets close that isn’t riding in on a dragon.

Like, becoming a well-known terrorist of firestone mines and trying to corner the market you’re creating by being that terrorist, when the forces you’re pissing off are the most powerful social and military class on the planet is…hubris of fine order.

Then again, for some reason the narrative seems to be giving Tenim a lot of luck and success at his hubris, at least so long as he has been defrauding the Lords Holder and other lower classes. Now that he’s put his sights on the dragonriders, his end is likely to be swift.

The rest of the chapter is Halla chasing the explosion, Pellar managing to survive it all and call Hurth for help before deciding to track Tenim, D’gan getting in D’vin’s grill about intruding on his lands, before leaving him to tracking Tenim and his dray, and Halla deciding she’s going to track Tenim and knife the son of a bitch before he can hurt anybody else.

Okay, Halla doesn’t use that exact phrasing, but it’s pretty clear she’s going to find him so she can stop him.

The only thing that’s of any interest in this, other than advancing the plot, is in a segment where Pellar remembers how he survived the first time Tenim tried to kill him and Grief got Chitter. Mikal apparently taught more than just what plants are useful and what creatures are edible.

He’d sought out the healing rocks from the streambed, looking for quartz above all. Carefully, he placed the crystals as he’d been trained by Mikal, aligning their vibrations to help his healing.

Which is an entirely curious thing to appear here, given that up to this point, while Healers have been dealing in roots, plants, and other herbology and botany based on the plants’ demonstrated effects on the human body, there’s nary a whiff of anything about energies and vibrations or other metaphysical anything attached to them, and they’ve been desperately trying to reconstruct the scientific processes lost.

At least not until the anti-AI faction started showing grisly rumors and pamphlets about how unnatural that science was and that its aim was to create grotesqueries and enslave humans under the control of the AI, but even then, the appeals were to tradition and “natural” things that didn’t have metaphysical implications.

So, where, exactly, is this spiritual component coming from all of a sudden? Unless we’re supposed to take as a fact of Pern that crystal work is scientifically accurate and mainstream practice. Despite not being mentioned until now.

Next week, Tenim gets to find out how terrible his plan is, and how much it’s already gone wrong.

Deconstruction Roundup for February 8th, 2019

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who always knows more about the state of The Organization when talking outside of a work context.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Elizabeth Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jen A. Blue

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you were waiting for substance to come from a televised address and found it entirely wanting. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Fire: Too Chipper By Half

Last time, we saw the beginning of an All-Weyr Games, where people admitted to supplying Telgar with too much and pointing out D’gan’s been stealing more for himself. Cristov frightened the hell out of Halla by recognizing her and asking her to help out in finding D’vin bubbly pies, and a design flaw in Firestone Mine #9 meant Tarik’s attempt to get himself water got everyone in the mine killed.

Pleasant, right?

Dragon’s Fire: Book II: Chapters 5 and 6: Content Notes: Child abandonment

A silver swath falls from sky,
Dragon and rider rise in high.
Practice fighting Thread with flames,
‘Tis the purpose of the Games.

We’re back at warp speed through the relay portion of the games. Same idea, queens throw clumps of “Thread,” wings go through and flame it. If more than one team succeeds, the queens spread out further and do it again until there is only one winner.

Or we would be, except we’re first treated to Kindan describing how oxygen deprivation works for dragonriders, and Toldur reminding Kindan and Cristov that it can happen in the mines as well.

The narrative makes an interesting decision to stay with Cristov’s understanding in a limited perspective, rather than an omniscient one.

The cave-in at Camp Natalon had been Tarik’s fault. He had skimped on the planking for the tunnel his shift was digging. Natalon had discovered this and, in the process of trying to repair the faulty tunnel, had been caught with most of his shift in the cave-in. Kindan Toldur, and Nuella, Natalon’s blind daughter, had defied Tarik’s order that no one go in the mine. Cristov remembered the shocked look on Kindan’s face when he’d arrived with his axe to help.

Except Kindan knows Natalon was alerted to it by Zenor after he and Nuella were walking Kisk around. And while we haven’t seen it on screen, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that Tenim deliberately caused the cave-in, but nobody on the platform knows about Tenim. Because Halla disappeared as soon as she got the opportunity.

Cristov remembers a conversation he had with Jamal about Impressing a dragon. Jamal wanted a bronze so he could become a Weyrleader. Cristov isn’t really aiming that high.

Cristov imagined how he’d feel, his face splitting wide in surprise and joy as a dragon–his dragon–spoke telepathically to him and told him he would forever have a friend, a champion. He tried to imagine how his father would react–and could only see him frowning.
“It’ll never happen,” he had said firmly, turning away from Jamal. “Father says I’m only fit to be a miner.”
And now Tarik was Shunned, be Cristov stood next to the Masterminer and Crom’s Lord Holder not knowing what was in store for him, and Jamal was nearly three Turns dead.
Cristov locked his eyes on one of the high-flying bronze dragons and tried not to be envious of his rider.

What Cristov could really use is a friend, but has hasn’t been able to make one, really, because Tarik has interfered with it up to the point where he’s no longer in Cristov’s life. I also realize that social mobility is almost nonexistent on Pern, but it seems like if he wanted to, and the opportunity was there, Cristov could have changed guilds, were it not for Tarik.

The competition continues, and it turns out to be D’vin’s terrible luck that his weyrling gets caught at mine #9 when it blows up and killed in the same explosion. Hurth mentions firestone “burns wrong”, D’vin remembers what kind of games he was playing with his life when he had to be the weyrling to fetch stone, and Cristov worries about how anyone can work with that difficult a mineral, but the Games continue without much thought spared to the weyrling and dragon that were just killed, narratively and otherwise.

And speaking of narrative shift, guess who is here?

Tenim is in the narrative long enough to use the cover of the explosion to steal a jeweled dirk meant for D’gan. He thought it would be a good idea to keep it for himself and possibly make some money on it, but then he sees Cristov and decides Cristov deserves to be punished for all the trouble Tenim had to go through to frame Tarik for stealing the coal and the wood by leaving all of that coal and wood behind to be found. Because Cristov is the one to blame for helping save Natalon and ruining the plan. (More evidence that Tenim was likely responsible for the cave-in.)

What Tenim’s plan turns out to be is to plant the dirk on Cristov so that after it’s been discovered stolen, Cristov will be blamed for the theft and Shunned. First, though, we get a peek into something that Cristov does very well.

Cristov frowned at that, while trying to do the math in his head. First place was worth five points and second place worth two, so Telgar would earn three and a half points if they tied with Benden. Add that to the five points Telgar already had for winning the wing event and Telgar would have eight and one half points. Ista had seven points and Benden would add three and a half to its two points, so neither would beat Telgar. Satisfied, he nodded in agreement.
“Did that without moving your lips,” Britell said to Cristov with a smile. “I’m impressed.”
Cristov turned red with embarrassment.

So it turns out Cristov has a head for figures, which, if I recall correctly, was something that either Tarik or Natalon mentioned would be important for a miner, because calculating space and the necessary widths and thicknesses of supports as well as the sizes of rooms is important. Mental math without needing to talk it through, even to yourself, is a prized skill.

Tenim’s plan works far better than it has any right to, as the discovery of the dirk sparks immediate calls for Shunning from the assembled crowd. Tenim is leading the charge, and Halla gives him pushback.

Halla heard Tenim shouting, “His father was Shunned, Shun him, too!” She followed his voice to spot him standing right before Lord Fenner’s stand, urging the crowd on and Halla knew that Tenim had planted the dirk on Cristov. Tenim glanced her way, smiled, and nodded evilly. “Speak up if you want to join him,” Tenim told her.

Hang on, how close is Halla for Tenim to ten her this and not have that draw a reaction from anybody? I’m having trouble with the blocking here.

“He’s innocent!” Halla shouted, but her small voice was lost in the crowd. Desperately, she strode forward to the steps and shouted once more, “He didn’t do it!”
Tenim’s gleeful look vanished from his face and he slipped back into the crowd. Even if she couldn’t convince others, he didn’t need Halla pointing the finger at him.
[…it looks like D’gan is going to give summary judgment, but D’vin steps in and appeals to Fenner…]
“My lord, I happen to know that this lead was here on the platform for the entire Gather, except when he accompanied me on your request. Is that not so?”
“Well, yes,” Fenner replied, glancing uncomfortably at D’gan, “yes, he was.” To D’gan, he explained, “Cristov and Toldur were invited to attend by Masterminer Britell.”
“And why was that, miner?” D’gan demanded.
“I asked that they be here cause they are being promoted in rank,” Britell replied. “Toldur to Master and Cristov to journeyman.”
“Is it your habit, then, miner, to promote thieves?” D’gan asked in a vicious tone.
“No, it is not.”
“Yet am I correct in remembering that this lad’s father was just recently Shunned?” D’gan continued.

Cocowhat by depizan

Plot-wise, D’gan is only going to be dissuaded from his leapt-to conclusion by the explosion of mine #9, so I guess that earlier explosion that killed the weyrling was at a storage shed or something else. It wasn’t particularly clear what happened, but we’re back on the timeline now. The chapter then closes with Kindan asking Cristov if his father is at the mine, right after Britell says there were no miners at the mine, so Britell is at least taking the nameless part seriously.

Back to D’gan. I realize he’s a terribly powerful bully with an entire Weyr of dragons behind him, but the Masterminer and a Lord Holder (and an apprentice Harper) vouched for Cristov’s presence, except for one errand where another dragonrider was present the entire time. There hasn’t been a moment where Cristov had been out of sight of a credible witness, and yet that doesn’t seem to have pinged to D’gan at all. A first-year law student could credibly defend this case, much less someone with their juris doctorate. But, since there are no lawyers, and D’gan is arguably the Emperor of Pern, nobody seems willing to tell him to go get bent, even as he disrespects the authority and gravitas of a Lord Holder, the Masterminer, and another dragonrider. If for no other reason than not to give the peasants a reason to agitate for change in the Weyrleadership, he really shouldn’t be doing this.

D’gan is long into the space of being a bad leader and that his subordinates should be getting ready for him to have a firestone accident of his own. If he can’t understand even the basics of how this makes him look, he’s going to get replaced by someone with more savvy.

So let’s hit Chapter 6.

Dragon fly, dragon flame,
Dragon char, dragon tame.
Rider watch, rider fight,
Rider aim, rider right.

I…can’t make heads or tails of what this is supposed to be, or mean, or where it would fit into a song or rhyme. I got nothing.

Chapter 6 starts essentially with D’gan seeing the mine is destroyed, meeting Tarik, the sole survivor of the blast (where D’gan accuses Cristov of taking his dirk to Tarik), and tasking Tarik with mining a hundredweight of firestone by morning, by himself, with a shovel, and without any food, if he wants to live.

D’gan doesn’t trust records about how long previous firestone mines have lasted.

Privately, D’gan wondered if the old Telgar records hadn’t been altered to disguise some earlier mismanagement. He knew that such things happened. He certainly saw no reason to leave records over which his eventual successor might gloat.

We also find out that not only are the Shunned used to mine the seams, they’re used to find the seams, and there’s a similar lack of care about their welfare in this task as there is in the mining.

After giving Tarik his impossible task, D’gan returns to Crom.

With gratifying speed and precision, his wingriders formed silently behind him and D’gan strode off briskly, heading back to Lord Holder Fenner and the others who were still on the platform. Waiting respectfully, as they should, D’gan noted to himself.

Cocowhat by depizan

His face tightened when he caught sight of Tarik’s brat. The brat had blond hair and blue eyes, while Tarik had both brown hair and eyes, but the shape of the face was the same.
Same vapid look, D’gan thought to himself. Same whining ways.
With a nod to himself, D’gan decided that the boy was as guilty as the father. Justice would be served.

“There were no survivors,” D’gan said. “The mine was totally destroyed.” He let that sink in before adding, “It looks like a miner caused the explosion. Sheer carelessness, overturned a water bucket. We won’t be getting any more firestone.”
This last he said with a sly look at D’vin and a sharp cut of his eyes to Tarik’s brat.
Only the Shunned worked the firestone mines. Why not arrange to have two miners and two mines? The idea appealed to D’gan not just for its redundancy but also for its efficiency–if both father and son died in the mines, then D’gan was doing all Pern a favor, weeding out a bad bloodline. And if they survived, Pern would benefit from the protection their labors helped provide. Yes, he told himself, a good solution.

This is an exemplar of the concept of a fractal wrong, as each new terrible thing adds complexity and augh to it until it’s a multi-faceted What. The. Fuck.

He’s told a son his father is dead, and is planning on pinning the blame on him for a crime he very clearly did not commit based on his distaste for that same father, without bothering to show down enough to listen to facts or consider tune politics of his decision, so he can greedily go after more firestone for his own purposes. D’gan shames and guilts Cristov into volunteering to work a firestone mine (which is likely to kill him swiftly) as reparations for his father’s reputation (which, by the way, is still nameless and Shunned) and for something Cristov did not do. And none of the adults around him, including those with power, are doing a fucking thing to divert or stand up to D’gan for this behavior.

This is so monstrous an action that D’gan’s own dragon rebukes him.

D’gan nodded absently, savoring the look of misery on the brat’s face. He should be ashamed, he thought, with a father Shunned.
He is not bad, Kaloth remarked from up on the fire-heights, punctuating his thought with a low rumble.
It’s for the good of Pern, D’gan responded, wondering what in the name of the Shell of Faranth had prompted his dragon to make such an observation.

It’s because you’re an asshole, D’gan. So, to recap at this point,

Right after this, after all of this has already been decided, D’vin decides at the very last minute to do something about the situation, and claims Cristov will come work for him in High Reaches. Kindan helpfully supplies that there are known firestone deposits in that space, and Toldur volunteers to supervise Kindan at his mine. D’gan, while frustrated at his inability to personally revenge himself on Cristov, assents to the arrangement.

And then they finish showing everyone who won the All-Weyr Games. Perhaps I haven’t been paying that much attention to this point, but in rapid succession, characters note that dragons leaving for and arriving to hyperspace make sound. Which means dragons create sonic booms every time they disappear or reappear, either as air rushes to fill the void or air is displaced by a dragon mass. My brain is now thinking of all the ways this can be weaponized by dragons with even an approximate sense of place. And perhaps this might be another reason why the Weyrleaders try to train everyone to respect a minimum height before warping. You can avoid putting yourself into something, and you can also avoid flattening a Hold or a hold by giving yourself enough cushion for the shockwave to dissipate before it hurts anyone.

The narrative pops over to Firestone Mine #9, where Tarik has achieved two hundredweight of firestone by…picking up the pieces blown clear by the mine. Which Tarik manages to parlay into getting himself his own firestone mine, with him at the head, which is apparently what he wants, since he seems pretty happy that D’Gan is taking him to go find it and then set it up. He could just be happy that he’s not getting summarily executed or left to starve, of course. After that, it’s back to Tenim

Even though he had two purses filled to near bursting, Tenim’s earnings weren’t enough. Especially if he was to share them with Moran and the harper’s starving brats. Sure, Moran had fed him and reared him ever since he’d found him, but the price had been paid; he was ready to move on. Large numbers attracted attention, and too many might remember him with Milera.
No, it was best, Tenim decided, to finally part ways.

Which will make a lot of people, including Halla, slightly relieved that he’s left. Given what Moran has been doing with the children, this isn’t an ungrateful child leaving home as much as it would have been earlier on in this series, but I suspect everyone is a little bit safer with Tenim gone rather than with him around.

Tenim, for his part, notices signs of departing dragonriders, figures out it’s related to finding a new firestone mine, and sets a new plan in motion to get his hands on as much of it as he can and to sell it to the other Weyrs for a premium, since D’gan is stingly with allotments. As a plan, it sounds great, but I don’t think Tenim has fully thought through the consequences of trying to get involved in dragonrider business. But, then again, there’s also no narrative reason for Tenim to think he can’t pull it off, given his run of successes so far.

I still want Halla to be the one that guts him like a fish, but I suppose I could relent that honor to someone else if it means Tenim bites it ignominiously. And speaking of Halla, she reports to Moran that Tenim’s gone as soon as the kids finish checking in with her so that she knows Tenim hasn’t come back.This upsets Moran significantly, because he apparently needs Tenim to be protection and muscle for the smaller children and he thought he could keep him under control by controlling the purse strings. Moran worries Tenim might have decided to seriously go after the watch-wher hold, and resolves to stop him from doing so, tossing Halla a sack of money and saying he’ll be back in a sevenday. And his reasoning for leaving them with her?

Halla was still a child, Moran told himself, glancing down to meet the challenge in her upturned eyes. Her brown eyes blazed at him, full of determination.
A child, yes, Moran thought to himself, but she’s been mother to so many that she’s a child only if measured by Turns.
A part of Moran shrank at that assessment. Well, no matter. He would not let Tenim’s greed destroy the dragons’ cousins.

There’s at least one small part of Moran that’s telling him what kind of a shithead he’s being by leaving the small children with Halla, but he justifies it with “well, she’s done it enough before, so she can do it again.” Dude, listen to yourself and think for a second what that means you’ve done to Halla. She’s never going to have had a childhood because she’s had to be a more responsible adult than you are. The only saving grace in this is that you gave her enough money, presumably, to last the sevenday that you think you’re going to be gone for. But it’s Tenim, so that money isn’t going to last.

We’re going to leave it here for now, because what happens next is going to need its own post, and also because I’ve done enough swearing for this particular post. Halla is currently stuck with a group of small children and a purse full of money, because Moran believes he has to go try and stop Tenim. And he believes that Halla is mature enough to handle the mothering duties because of her experience. At some point, things have to get better for her. Or perhaps this time, when she’s gone from Moran, she’ll stay gone from him and decide she’d rather adopt into Trader Tarri’s group. Bleurgh.