When we last left Fiona, she was about to talk to Ellor about borrowing Tintoval to have a look at the much-recovered T’mar, who regained consciousness after his bronze was involved in three mating flights and their attendant energies, even if Kindan and Lorana were the ones physically present to keep Zirenth on task. In one of those mating flights, Fiona came to herself to find herself and Kindan having sex, and she angsted quite a bit about whether or not she was stealing Kindan away from Lorana, even though Lorana, at least for the moment, has been the one engineering their getting together and saying that she’s perfectly fine sharing Kindan with Fiona. T’mar, apparently, thought that being a Weyrwoman meant loving more than one person, but since he had this explanation given to him while he wasn’t in full possession of his faculties, one wonders whether he’s really truly okay with all of it, including the possible sex, or whether T’mar believed “love” was much more metaphorical than physical.
Dragongirl, Chapter 13, continued: Content Notes:
So, over some food, Fiona expresses her desire to borrow Tintoval.
Ellor pursed her lips before responding. “You’ll bring her back?”
Fiona gave her a look of surprised hurt in reply.
“It’s just that so many people seem to stay in your wake once attracted,” Ellor said, working hard to keep her expression neutral. “Lorana, Kindan, even that weyrwoman from High Reaches, Jeila.”
“I think Jeila chose Telgar more for H’nez than me.”
Ellor shook her head. “And why do you think H’nez is at Telgar?”
The question caught Fiona off balance. “He’d been fighting with K’lior, he wanted to be posted to another Weyr.”
“All true,” Ellor said, clearly believing none of those reasons to be the principal one.
Because that was the first open Weyr that he could go to, and K’lior said it was a good idea. We know that. Ellor, however, seems to suggest that there’s more than that as a reason.
“I’ve no love for H’nez!”
“No,” Ellor said. “And I’m sure he knows that, too.”
“So why would he want to be at Telgar?”
Ellor sighed, clearly debating something with herself before deciding to say, “Because you are good for him.”
Fiona raised her eyebrows in response.
Ellor gave her a quick grin. “Sometimes, even when we don’t want to admit it, we know that someone has something we can learn from them.”
“H’nez can learn from me?”
Ellor nodded. “And you can learn from him.”
“He’s not without hs strengths,” Fiona admitted reluctantly. “And Jeila seems to be a good judge of character.”
“And while I’ve never known him not to be a bit bullheaded, H’nez is perceptive enough to know his own weaknesses,” Ellor said. “And driven enough to strive to remove them.”
“I certainly see ‘driven,’ ” Fiona said, taking a sip of her klah.
Cocowhat by depizan
This is some bullshit, man. Perhaps more formally: Your Honor, I object. The narrative is presenting facts not in evidence. It’s entirely in the keeping of how these books are being written, and how the narrative keeps insisting that H’nez is something other than a bronze rider with an overinflated sense of ego, and that Fiona keep noticing these hidden depths to H’nez and the others when they act like something apparently different than their core person, but it’s still pretty clear that H’nez would much rather be in charge and running the place his own way, in his very traditionalist no-women-with-power-ever style. We’ll have to see whether being partnered up with Jeila rounds the edges off or causes some actual change, but no, H’nez has yet to demonstrate that he can do any of the things that Ellor attributes to him. Which Fiona rightly snarks at, because she hasn’t seen any of it, either. That the narrative is still on this idea of making H’nez redeemable makes me worry that he’s going to turn out to be important to the plot in some way, rather than just being the asshole rider that has to be put in his place or flung out somewhere else that will be better-suited to him.
After this exchange, and promising to get Tintoval back quickly to Ellor, Tintoval agrees to going on the trip, with a request to stop by the Healer Hall and collect a few of the newly-minted journeypeople for the trip, so as to get them field experience and “tantalize some of them with the allure of Weyr life.” In conversation with Betrony, the Masterhealer, Fiona asks if he’d be willing to take on Bekka (and Seban) as apprentices. Betrony asks a few questions about Bekka, understands that she’s cast in the same mold as Fiona(?) and Tintoval, and says that he’ll take them. That gets a little clearer with an exchange of jokes about how Fiona apparently learned a bit herself about Healing, which she attributes to “[a]ll those lessons you gave me,” prompting the response that Betrony thought she was asleep for most of his lessons. And also making me wonder whether the Healer Hall has the same “send your daughters to us to learn useful arts” arrangement that the Harper Hall has, and if so, whether this is replicated across the planet, or whether it’s a quirk of Fort Hold being so close to the Healer (and Harper) Halls that the children of Fort’s Lord get trained in both of those places for at least some amount. I’d personally enjoy for it to be a worldwide thing, and wonder whether the daughters of the Big Lord Holders get rotated around all of the Crafts to learn some useful arts as part of learning how to run a household and to see where their strengths and weaknesses might be. (Which would be way cooler, of course, if those daughters weren’t treated as second-class characters only there because their daddies bought some training for them to make them more marriageable instead of a viable pool of potential apprentices to draw from. One good thing about the Toddverse is that it’s much more populated with women as part of at least a few crafts, even if they’re not evenly distributed across everything.)
We also are treated to Fiona making light of something that she was furious about in the first book of the series.
As she climbed up behind Tintoval, she said loudly, “Healer, be sure the others are properly hooked on with the riding straps. The weyrfolk are under strict orders to let plummeting healers fall.”
Tintoval turned back long enough to give Fiona a droll look, recalling their first meeting and how Fiona had been rebuked for risking the life of a queen and her rider for a mere healer, before turning back and making sure the others were secure. Fiona craned around her side to make her own inspection and, satisfied, sat upright before ordering Talenth to leap once more for the sky.
I assume this has to be a joke, because I don’t think Fiona has had so much of a personality change in her time at Igen that she would seriously say something like this. That said, it’s a joke that really only works between her and Tintoval. For the other Healers on board, unless they have the context, that wouldn’t be funny at all. And given how furious Finoa was in the beginning, I don’t understand why she would choose to make fun of this, unless her attitudes really have changed significantly since she chewed out a bronze rider for not having enough straps and for flying dangerously enough that the new healer might have been endangered. This would be the part where having the narrative give us some extra description as to how Fiona delivers this makes all the difference in figuring out how it was intended and how it was received. Because this sort of thing might really sour someone’s initial impression of Telgar Weyr if they think the Weyrwoman is seriously being cavalier with their lives and safety.
The trip to Telgar is uneventful, and the three healers, named Birentir (used to be a Harper, now a Healer), Cerra, and Lindorm, all clamber up to the correct Weyr, where they meet Kindan and Lorana. Cerra has apparently met Kindan before, and Birentir offers profound thanks to Lorana for what she’s done to save everyone, which Lorana is ambivalent about. At that point, since Tintoval has very pointedly not said or done anything (which Fiona understands as Tintoval saying that she’s not going to lead things), Birentir turns his attention to T’mar, asking questions about how long it’s been since the concussion and what roused him. When Fiona provides some of those answers, Birentir is “dismissive”, which sets Fiona’s blood boiling and probably sets up what happens later – when Birentir chases a tangent about who’s actually in charge, and tells Kindan that Zist will be waiting for his report, Cerra cuts him off and Fiona throws him out.
“Oh, please!” Cerra cut him off. “Would you get out of the way, so we can see to the patient?”
“I am examining him,” Birentir said haughtily.
“No, you’re not,” Fiona declared, gesturing for him to move away from T’mar. “In fact, you’re just leaving. I think you’ll find some food in the Dining Cavern.”
“You can’t–” Birentir spluttered in amazement “I’m the senior here and you’re–you’re just a girl!
Shh, Talenth! Fiona called as she felt her queen readying to bellow in angry support of her rider.
“You idiot,” Bekka snapped, with an impertinence that surprised everyone, “she’s the Weyrwoman, she can do whatever she farding well pleases!”
Well, good to know that certain ableist terms have gone all the way through to the far future, even though by the time the book was written, I think 21st c. Terra is pretty well on the pathway to understanding that IQ means nothing and that the term “idiot” is used solely in insulting ways. But, of course, the strangest of things survive in Pern.
Secondly, though, how is Birentir able to mistake Fiona for “just a girl,” given that she’s clearly a gold rider and therefore has to have at least some level of importance in the Weyr that she’s in? I could see Birentir mistaking Fiona for a junior queen rider, because, as best I can tell, nobody really walks around with their dragon color and rank on their sleeves all the time. (Well, maybe the bronze riders do.) So perhaps Birentir didn’t know he was insulting the Senior Weyrwoman when he gave her a dismissive look. The only plausible explanation I can think of as to how Birentir manages to step in it so thoroughly is if he’s just completely dismissed any woman as being competent at the healing arts. Despite being in the presence of Master Tintoval and Journeywoman Cerra, you know. Which, sure, that’s entirely plausible for Pern and for dudes, but it still sounds like the kind of thing that it takes a really specific combination of ego, lack of tact, and lack of intelligence to manage. On the gripping hand, there are more than enough stories of our era about how women have had to fight their own doctors to get their pain and symptoms recognized as something other than hysteria or something psychological, so&hellip:.
Anyway, getting back to the second half of Fiona giving Berentir the business:
“Shh!” Fiona said to Bekka. “You’re hurting T’mar’s ears.” She turned to the older healer, saying coldly, with all the dignity learned from Turns watching her father deal with such arrogance, “Journeyman Birentir, I believe that we no longer have need of your services.”
“I–” Birentir’s eyes shifted around the room nervously and he licked his lips. “I’m sorry if I offended, Weyrwoman.”
“I’m sure,” Fiona agreed, gesturing for him to move away. “My headwoman’s name is Shaneese, you might meet her in the Kitchen Cavern.”
Reluctantly, Birentir rose and backed away from the group, his lips moving as he searched for some words that might heal his breech.
So Cerra and Lindorm take over, with Bekka’s help, and while neither Cerra nor Lindorm admit to not having much experience with head injuries, everyone else has plenty of confidence in them because they, at least, knew not to irritate a Weyrwoman in her own Weyr. Which is a pretty terrible thing to base a decision on, but whatever, because Bekka takes charge (as she should, since she’s one of the few characters that’s been given regular agency, even if it keeps getting classified as something impolite) and starts describing the problem – T’mar needs to move, and if they were certain that he doesn’t have spinal injuries or other such things, Bekka would have him get moved, in his sheets, to the pool so he can soak, clean, and possibly move around a bit. Cerra wants to know where Bekka got her knowledge, and in the course of that conversation, Fiona tells them that Bekka has been accepted to the Healer Hall. Bekka jumps for joy at this, and then everyone turns to the question of how to figure out whether T’mar has injuries that would prevent him from moving, with Cerra referring to Bekka as “apprentice Bekka” to reflect her change in status. Cerra takes the lead and shows Bekka how to feel along the head and neck to see if there’s something out of place or wrong. Bekka, practicing on Cerra, points out something wrong, Cerra confirms this, calls it a misalignment, and then pops the offending bone back into place, then has Bekka practice on Lindorm before pronouncing that Bekka’s ready to try it on T’mar. None of the three healers finds anything amiss, so they move T’mar to the bath and lower him into the water. Fiona notes that Lindorm doesn’t hesitate to get his clothes wet to make sure that T’mar is properly cradled and ready to be gently lowered into the bath.
For the next part of the examination, Lindorm mentions they’ll have to strip T’mar of his clothing, which apparently turns into a subtle test of whether Bekka’s ready for the work of healing or not.
“Perhaps Bekka should be excused,” Lindorm said.
“Not if I’m going to be a healer,” Bekka said. Her expression changed and she glanced down to T’mar. “Unless you don’t want me, Weyrleader?”
T’mar smiled. “Were you the one who changed the bandages on my leg?”
“Yes,” Bekka replied offhandedly, not seeing any connection.
“She’s been watching mothers give birth since she could crawl,” Seban said by way of assurance.
“But if you’re going to be embarrassed, Weyrleader, I promise I won’t look,” Bekka said in assurance.
T’mar’s lip twitched. “Do what you must, healer.”
Bekka’s face flamed into a brilliant smile at the compliment.
So now everyone can be sure that seeing naked bodies, as well as gruesome injuries, doesn’t bother Bekka enough to think that she might not have the stomach for being a healer. The plot continues with a further examination of T’mar’s spine, and Bekka suggesting there’s no spinal cord damage because T’mar was completely twitchy while she was changing the bandages on his leg. Cerra and Lindorm are satisfied that there’s no physical damage, but they’re still not sure that there hasn’t been brain damage from the injury, and so they want everyone to be on the lookout for mood changes, memory loss, and other related injuries. (They also refer to it as a brain that’s been hurt, so we continue to have a patchwork understanding of medicine in Pern that’s still best described as “knowledge as the plot demands it.”) With everyone satisfied that T’mar is going to live, there’s a little bit about head injuries, muzziness, and the suggestion that perhaps a future someone is still doing time-travel stuff because Fiona and company are still feeling pretty terrible, even though Tullea cleared up pretty significantly after her stint was finished and she reunited with herself. Fiona also decides to send Seban with Bekka, on the idea that Seban will also present himself as an apprentice, either to healers or harpers, and tells him he doesn’t have a choice in the matter, anyway. (Mostly.) So the group of people heading back to the Healer Hall and Fort are getting themselves ready to go. When Tintoval says she’ll go get Berentir, Fiona tells her not to bother. Tintoval gives her the raised eyebrow, and Fiona explains how she knows that Berentir lost someone in the Plague, a daughter about Fiona’s age, and that he was sick himself, before vowing to become a Healer to prevent it from ever happening again.
“ ’Arrogance is usually born of fear,’ ” Fiona said, nodding toward Kindan, who had told her that many Turns ago. Kindan jerked in surprise, delighted that she’d remembered. With a wry grin, she added, “I seem to have made it a habit to collect arrogant people.”
“It’s because you conquer your fear,” T’mar spoke up from his bed. All eyes turned toward him. “You still feel it, but you don’t let it rule you.”
“I don’t know about that,” Fiona said. The thought flustered her and she sought a means to divert herself from it. “Regardless, I think that we should get everyone back soonest, including Bekka and Seban.”
You know, I think I’m going to go with T’mar here and say that he’s right that Fiona keeps attracting arrogant assholes because she’s a young girl with confidence. I’m going to say his reasoning is entirely wrong, however, because despite Pern claiming to be Galt’s planet, saying they’re all attracted to Finoa’s confidence because they want some for themselves? Nah, brah. They keep coming to try and take Fiona down a peg, and then find out that she won’t take shit from any of them. Fiona then decides she wants to keep them somewhere so they won’t do anyone else any more harm, and if they’re lucky, they might learn how not to be assholes to other people and get over their own egos. Or maybe they stay because they can’t believe that Fiona wasn’t bothered by them and they want to keep going at her until they find out it’s not an act or an affectation. As befits her ability to maintain telepathy with Lorana and the other things that Fiona has already accomplished, Fiona got the Iron Will trait, and there will be many a person who goes up against that and loses spectacularly. The narrative supports my theory, at least in the sense that when Fiona goes down to see Berentir next, after telling T’mar point-blank that if he doesn’t get rest, she’ll kill him, Fiona again demonstrates that she’s not going to be intimidated by anybody.
She was not surprised to see Berentir at one of the pottery wheels, working the clay under the tutelage of Mekiar.
“How is he doing?” Fiona asked, startling the older healer and causing him to ruin the bowl he was forming on the spinning wheel.
“He is learning,” Mekiar replied drolly, glancing up to Fiona. “I would say that at this moment he is learning patience.”
“Good,” she replied. “See that he does.”
Birentir looked askance at her words.
“You’re staying,” she told him. Birentir’s eyes widened in surprise. “Bekka and her father are going back to the Healer Hall and I don’t need you there causing her grief on a daily basis.”
“You would prefer me causing ‘daily grief’ here?” Birentir asked with a flash of humor.
“You won’t be causing me daily grief, healer,” Fiona assured him. She softened her tone as she confided, “I’m more worried about fighting Thread without enough dragons.”
Birentir suggests that Verilan could help with the questions Fiona has, to which Fiona quips that Birentir does have a brain in his head, once he gets past the fact that Fiona’s young. And then the two of them talk about Birentir’s family lost to the Plague, and how Fiona will have Birentir’s stuff sent from the Healer Hall. Birentir thanks her for the second chance, and all of the people who are heading to Fort get on Talenth and Zirenth, and they all do the hyperspace hop successfully.
There’s still more left in this chapter, even though it’s only a few pages long, but there’s going to be more relationship talk and angst, and this is another good stopping point in the narrative, because we’re about to get more information about how potentially prevalent polyamory actually is on Pern. So we’ll stop here for this week and pick up again next week.