Dragon’s Kin: Heat Vision

Last time, Kindan and Nuella got down to the business of training Kisk in the mines. Which involved Kindan having to learn how to navigate in the dark. Nuella learning about safety equipment and procedure for the mine, and deliberately exposing themselves to potentially harmful air so as to teach Kisk what it smells like. Kisk, for her part, provided a consistent vocalization for Kindan to clue him into what to listen for in case that bad air smell returns.

Dragon’s Kin: Chapter X: Content Notes:

Hot air rises, cold air falls,
These are thermodynamic laws.

There were other things, as well, like Nuella revealing her crush on Zenor, and the tiny detail that nobody but Dalor knew they were actually in the mine doing this. Which is relevant in that it’s Zenor giving them both a dressing-down for the plan, based on the potential for disaster it had.

While we let Zenor chew them both out for a bit, that that rhyme up top doesn’t. At least, it doesn’t for me, because of the way I pronounce the “ll” and the “w”. Perhaps it does for others.

In any case, the back and forth continues, despite Kindan’s efforts to try and squash it, until Kisk interrupts Kindan to indicate there are visitors.

[…] Kisk nudged him with her head, stood up off her front legs, and flapped her tiny wings at him, making a throaty chirp. Kindan cocked an eyebrow at her. Kisk repeated herself, complete with chirp.
“You two, we’re going to have company,” Kindan said.
“What?” Zenor said. “How do you know?”
Kindan gestured. “Kisk told me. A dragonrider.” The watch-wher shook her head firmly, unmistakably. “Two dragonriders?” Kisk nodded vigorously.
“You’ve been practicing!” Nuella exclaimed delightedly. “What’s it like?”
“Well,” Kindan said, consideringly, “it’s almost like I get images from her–but it’s not. And I guess it’s more like communicating with a fire-lizard than with a dragon. Or maybe somewhere in between. Whichever way it is, she tells me until I understand her.

I thought Menolly was supposed to be the person who rediscovered what talking with fire lizards was like after it disappeared with the colonists, but perhaps I am wrong and it hasn’t disappeared yet. Also, if this is how good of communicators whers are, then it makes even less sense about how all of their lore has been lost, because there could be a lot more continuity of teaching or just rediscovering this fact repeatedly over time.

We get a little bit more about why Tarik is still around, despite all the reasons for him to disappear, and it’s…that Natalon is afraid of the rumors he’ll spread about Nuella?

“His mother was blind too, you know. He’s afraid it’s passed on, that any daughter we kids have will be blind, to. And he’s afraid that it makes him look weak–as if anyone would care. It’s not like he’s the one who’s blind.”
[…Kindan tries to be comforting and suggests out might pass by Larissa, the new sister…]
“I could see just fine until my third Turn and then, over the course of a year, everything got blurry and dim.”
“Does Tarik–”
“I think that’s why Father keeps him around,” Nuella said. “He’s afraid Tarik will spread tales. He’s afraid about what’ll happen to me, if I’ll ever get married–“

That “year” is in the original, which suggests that the editors didn’t quite catch everything they needed to.

More importantly, though, what does Natalon actually fear from Tarik? “My daughter has no marriage prospects” shouldn’t even register unless Natalon expects Nuella to marry up. Or be promised, sight unseen, to someone else. “My son won’t have any marriage prospects” is a bigger threat, but since this affliction seems to only affect the women of the family, that doesn’t seem like it would stick to Dalor. More pressingly, though, if the mine fails, nobody has marriage prospects. Or, for that matter, any means of living where they would care about such things. A successful and wealthy miner can negotiate marriageability. A failed one can’t. So, really, Tarik is the one with the most to lose, and who should be the most afraid of his social standing, not Natalon.

Then again, abusive relationships don’t always follow logic, and Tarik really does look like he could fit the profile.

Kindan wants to know how Nuella will take care of herself, but Nuella chews him out for saying platitudes like he’ll always be there for her, because she knows that mining is dangerous, and Kindan is likely to be in the middle of dangerous. Kindan says he can get out of anything, and the whole thing eventually ends up with Nuella realizing that Kisk might see heat rather than light, and that would explain why watch-whers don’t go out in the daytime. An unknown man comments it’s an interesting theory before we spin the clock back to how the sentry child, Renna, saw the arrival of the two dragonriders, J’lantir and M’tal, who talk about there being someone here who has the potential to be a queen rider…and also “so gifted and not able to Impress,” according to J’lantir, because well, if the girl is blind, she clearly couldn’t Impress, because that’s done through eye contact. Except it isn’t, because Nian Impressed without actually fully making eye contact until the very end of the process. So I’d be in to guess that Nuella could probably Impress even without seeing the dragon. Except perhaps through the eyes of the dragon, maybe?

Renna wonders where there could be such a blind child, since she’s been everywhere and knows everyone, and there are no blind children. Except for the second floor of Natalon’s hold, where she hasn’t been, that is. And that could hide such a child.

Before we see the fullness of Renna’s thoughts and plans, though, we go back to the dragonriders, who are introduced to Nuella and Kindan. (Kisk had talked to Gaminth when they arrived, which is how Kindan knew they were here.) J’lantir is a Wingleader at Ista, tasked with finding more information about watch-whers in the same way that M’tal is interested. J’lantir and Nuella devise a test to see how Kisk actually does see.

Very soon he and Nuella were engrossed in devising a complete test of the watch-wher’s sight.
“We could just ask her,” Kindan said to himself.
M’tal smiled at him. “But then it’d take away all their fun.”
“No, it wouldn’t,” Nuella said with her usual lack of deference. She put at hand to her mouth. “I’m sorry–I meant, my Lord.”
“She’s like that with everyone,” Kindan murmured.
“She’s got good hearing, too,” M’tal agreed, with a twinkle in his eyes. He turned to Nuella. “Nuella, I think that we will all be working together quite a great deal, so I think it best if we dispense with formalities and just get on with things–what do you say?”
Nuella’s eyes got very big. She nodded, speechless.

Kindan asks if that really means using names, and J’lantir replies it seems fair, and when Zist arrives, J’lantir will say he was just telling Nuella that he prefers less formal addresses by friends. Even though it was M’tal who was talking there.

Also, even when not the focus, Benden is always the best Weyrleader, it seems, since M’tal is the first to suggest the lack of honorifics. In any case, Natalon arrives to greet the riders, Zenor is willingly pulled into their preparations, Zist helps Kindan perform a simple experiment about whether whers see heat more than light (they do), and everyone gets down to the business of learning what they can about watch-whers, now that the Ista Weyrleader has charged his riders with finding and writing down everything related to the care and feeding of a Weyr in Threadfall, including watch-whers, which is what J’lantir was assigned.

It’s confirmed that dragons can talk to watch-whers, and the dragonriders think they might be a good early-warning system to alert dragons about Threadfall, but Nuella squashes that idea by pointing out watch-whers are nocturnal. The dragonriders then suggest watch-whers could have been useful emergency broadcast systems for various holds that were snowed-in last winter and had no way of contacting anyone about their status.

J’lantir suggests developing a standardized training system for watch-whers and their handlers so that everyone can communicate with each other, and with dragons, with a shared set of words and concepts. He and Nuella spend the next three evenings, when J’lantir can leave Ista, hashing it out with each other before J’lantir has to head back to Ista for a readiness check. Kindan asks whether watch-whers could transit through hyperspace, and both Nuella and J’lantir conclude it wouldn’t work, because human eyes can’t visualize the heat map that a watch-wher would need to successfully warp themselves, since dragons theoretically need a picture of where to go to safely make their own transits. As infrared technology is a long way off, there’s no real reason to believe that anyone on the planet, except Nuella (who mentions she might be able to imagine it) could provide a sufficiently detailed mapping.

Nuella misses having J’lantir around to talk to, which makes her cranky, until Kindan convinces her that more training for Kisk is a good idea. And we learn that the mines are only worked three days out of seven, with two more spent bagging and grading coal, shoring up the mine (and cutting trees), and helping the Camp. The last two days are “free”, in that so long as there aren’t any Camp tasks that need attention, the miners are free to do what they want.

We also learn that Nuella has demanded Kindan wear a blindfold while down in the mines training, so that he can learn to navigate in the dark and keep his counts running even while thinking about other things. And that bruised shins and bruises from Nuella any time he forgot have contributed to this awareness, even if his map isn’t as detailed as hers.

Which is why it’s disturbing to both of them that the supports they’re expecting in the space Tarik is assigned to aren’t there, and then, aren’t thick or wide enough to be correct when they are found. There are also avenues running off the street that suggest someone is already mining the coal, despite Natalon’s insistence that the seam be explored fully before any real mining started. This suggests a lot of things, but the narrative only tells us that the two decide to train on the other street instead before a disagreement about whether Kisk should be trained in how to dig someone out, and then Kindan figuring out how to play hide and seek with Kisk, until something very interesting happens.

It was then, just on the edge of sleep, that Kindan thought he saw something–a glowing shape, like someone curled up in a tight ball just like he was. No, he corrected himself in amazement, it is me!
He heard the soft padding of Kisk’s feet as she made her way over to him. In his mind’s eye, he saw the shape get closer, saw the head become more resolved–not a face, but a sort of smudged oval-shaped rainbow–and then became obscured as bright jets, the orangeish-yellow color of flame, came streaking over it. He felt Kisk’s warm breath blow gently through the straw over his face, seeming to perfectly match the flame he was imagining.
Kisk bleeked happily.

It turns out that Kisk can transmit her sight to more than just Kindan – Nuella can see through Kisk’s eyes as well, which results in tears of joy for her. Kisk can’t provide a lot of details, since she still only sees heat sources and diffusions, but it’s enough for motor movements and other such things. I’m guessing it’s a bit like the visual effect created for the Daredevil movie where Matt Murdock takes a beautiful woman out into a rainstorm so that he can see her fully using the movement the rain makes on her to create the picture.

Now knowing much better how Kisk sees, hide and seek becomes a much more interesting game to play with all sorts of people, and Kindan and Nuella start training Kisk on how to find people even with all sorts of stuff getting in the way of her heat-vision. Nuella also gets Zenor to change shifts to Tarik’s shift, with the idea that Zenor will see and report what Tarik has been up to in his section of the mine.

And, as time goes on, Nuella gets increasingly more frustrated that the dragonriders haven’t come back to continue Kisk’s lessons.

“But nothing’s happened. And I’m no help at all.”
“You’ve helped me.” Kindan told her softly. Kisk gave a reassuring chirp and walked over to butt Nuella’s shoulder with her head. “And Kisk. We wouldn’t know half what we know if it hadn’t been for you. Soon we’ll be ready to go into the mine and–”
Nuella’s derisive snort cut him off. “Sure, you’ll go into the mine and then what? What will I do then? ‘Thank you, Nuella, you’ve been a big help, now you can go back to your room. And don’t get caught!’ ” Her voice choked on the last word and she buried her head between her knees.
Kindan didn’t know what to say and the silence between them stretched out interminably. Finally he opened his mouth to speak, only to see that Nuella had held up a hand and cocked her head in the direction of the curtains at the doorway to the shed.
“You may as well come in,” she said out loud. “You’ve heard too much already and I just don’t care anymore.”
After a moment the curtains rustled and a small figure could be seen in the dim glow light. It was Renna.
“You look just like Dalor,” the figure exclaimed. It was Renna.

And the rest of the chapter is introductions and the arrival of J’lantir, and the revelation that Renna is who Dalor has a crush on, and that the crush is requited.

Let’s tackle this quoted but in reverse order. Good that Renna is clever enough to put it all together, even though the narrative has Nuella say that Renna followed her only because she looked like Dalor and Renna has the crush on Dalor. But Renna’s remark that Nuella looks like Dalor could only make sense tempered with “when she’s in disguise” or “looks like him in the face,” because we’ve already established from Kindan and Nuella that they’re different heights and that there’s a strong likelihood that Nuella is starting to develop breasts. Dalor and Nuella are, as best I can tell, fraternal (thanks, Digitalis) twins of different body configurations. So, I’m going to assume that Renna means it in those configurations because it makes sense to do so, even if it’s not literally true.

However the most important part is that Nuella is right. She doesn’t have anything to look forward to and is likely to end up stuck even more tightly in her room and the area once Kindan and Kisk take on regular mine work. There’s no prospects for her, other than perhaps lessons with Zist, and it’s unlikely she’s going to be introduced to the world at large while Natalon is still afraid of a nonexistent issue. Nuella has every right to be utterly bitter about the fact that everyone has been ablist and has been hiding her while she could have been doing something significant this entire time. Although I don’t know if she would have accepted the idea of being a caretaker for small children being her lot in life as a young woman.

Given the presence of a new author, though, I can hope that this one doesn’t end with Babies Ever After, right? For any of our protagonists?

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Deconstruction Roundup for November 9th, 2018

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is waiting for the results of local measures that affect their job.)

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 making sure that all the people who used their franchise are tallied officially. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Kin: A Training Regimen

Last chapters, Kindan got an egg and hatched it successfully. Tarik is entirely sour on it, but everyone else in the camp seems to want to try and help. Including Nuella, although it’s getting a lot harder for her to disguise herself as her brother because puberty is starting to arrive…

Dragon’s Kin, Chapter IX, Content Notes:

Walk, baby, walk, come you to me.
Soon, baby, soon, you’ll walk away from me.

That’s…depressing. Also, true, but still. I’m beginning to believe that most of these rhyme snippets we’re seeing are from the folk music traditions of Pern, since it doesn’t seem likely that these are creations of the Harper Hall. This means having to grapple with whether Yanus was just a fundamentalist and his belief that women shouldn’t be making music is extreme, or whether there’s a general belief that songs are the province of the Harper, or whether those snippets we saw in the later books about Robinton collecting and distributing songs are supposed to be the norm.

All the same, this seems a lament about how quickly children grow up and become adults, which seems a rather apt song to be singing for the people of this particular camp, given the disaster that caused more than a few young children to have to cut their childhood short so they can work in the mine.

The chapter proper opens with Zist complaining there isn’t a whole lot of written material in anybody’s archives about watch-whers and even less about the care, feeding, and training thereof. Despite, as has been pointed out repeatedly, whers supposedly being important enough to keep around all the way to the Ninth Pass. We could certainly speculate that every wher-handler throughout Pern’s history has been of the class that is either illiterate or not socially high enough to have access to writing implements and parchment, but if we do that, we also almost have to say there’s been an unbroken line of succession from, say, Wind Blossom to whenever the now is, and that succession line has been able to orally transmit everything someone needs to know about being a handler from the person who was a handler before them. It’s not impossible, but it is improbable. I am reminded of how Shankolin was about to learn the craft secrets of Norist, before Norist was exiled for his role in the AIVAS attacks. Oral tradition does seem to be very important on Pern.

And speaking of puberty, it has apparently come to Kindan, now that he’s twelve, and his voice is cracking and making it difficult for any sort of singing to happen well. Furthermore, now that Kisk is nearly full-grown, Kindan will start having to use her in the mines soon, which will end the Zist-Kindan partnership for good. This upsets Kindan a great deal.

Nuella, for her part, recognizes the new mine shaft is rather close to the secret passage that lets her traverse between Natalon’s house and the mine, and Kindan thinks it would be great training for Kisk (and himself, he realizes, after Nuella points it out) to navigate in the dark.

It goes about as well as planned, with Nuella and Kisk doing fine in the darkness and Kindan eating his shins a lot until he gets a little more used to navigating without his eyes. (Nuella also tells him to stop trying so hard to hear everything, which annoys Kindan more about how she seems to be able to understand everything in the dark and he doesn’t understand anything.)

Once he’s able to visualize the layout of the mine, including the new shaft, Kindan realizes it’s a good plan for being able to live and work without risking worker or coal to the voracious appetites of Thread (because Thread eats carbon-based everything, and coal is mostly carbon. The More You Know…)

“That’ll be a good thing for the next Pass,” Kindan said aloud.
“Only if the Camp is proved,” Nuella responded. “Otherwise it’ll all be a waste, like Uncle Tarik’s Camp.”
“What do you know about that?” he asked, intensely curious.
“Shh!” Nuella hissed. She added, in a whisper, “We’re getting near the end of the passage. I’ll tell you later.”

We’d like to know, too, thanks!

Regrettably, while being a lovely example of foreshadowing, this exchange also makes Tarik’s behavior make less sense to me. Yes, he might be bitter and jealous that Natalon is getting the chance where he failed, but that seems like motivation to make it succeed so there’s a place to live, rather than wanting it to fail and nobody having space to hang their hard hats. I suppose it could be “I want it to fail enough that I’ll get elected, and then I can magically make it prosper,” but that’s a fine needle to thread, and I don’t think Tarik has the skill for it. Or, at least, Tarik in the hands of this author collaboration doesn’t have it. Tarik reminds me too much of Toric and his supposed clever machinations to be any better than Toric about the delicate art of politics.

The theme of teenagers realizing what’s obvious to them is not to others continues, as Kindan successfully manages to talk Nuella out of leading them into the mines.

“And no one’s supposed to go into the mines without the shift leader knowing. What if there were a cave-in? We’d be trapped.”
“I suppose you’re right about that,” she admitted after a moment’s silence. “I hadn’t thought about it before.”
Kindan snorted, remembering how he had had to remind Nuella to put on a hard hat–there was a shelf of them behind the secret door into the passageway. Everyone who went into the mines was taught to wear a hard hat as a matter of reflex.

Kindan gets his in return when he slams into one of the curves of the secret passage face-first after forgetting to count his steps. And then gets admonished to listen before opening the secret door, so as not to give away its existence. The first Nuella smothers a laugh for, the second, not so much, but at least they remember to bring something to shield Kisk’s eyes with. That way, when they encounter a bright fire, they can keep Kisk safe and not in pain.

Also, it might be my twentieth century instincts interfering again, but when someone says “hard hat,” I think of strong plastics. Of course, helmets have been around for a very long time, and made it of metals and alloys. So I’m going to chalk it up to a vestige of language, point out that the strange anachronistic language seems to be everywhere, and move on.

There’s only a couple points of interest in the subsequent scene with M’tal ,and both have to do with watch-whers. The narratively later part is that watch-whers understand dragon speech, in much the same way they appear to understand humans sending them pictures and such. This is fascinating to M’tal, despite what he just says earlier (which is the other interesting bit):

“Apparently, watch-whers have become forgotten on Pern.”
M’tal frowned. “I don’t like that. They were clearly bred from the same source as dragons, so there must have been a need for them. We shouldn’t have lost that lore.”

No kidding. I can see, say, Wind Blossom trying to erase all her data in shame at not having been able to breed a better dragon, but watch-whers still exist, and they’re being bred, and they’re being kept as sentries at the very least, so someone should have that data, and even just as Harper gossip, somewhere it should be written down. Of course, if it is gossip, there’s no guarantees that it can be found easily and quickly, but what they think they know about whers should be written somewhere.

Nuella is incensed that she didn’t get to meet the dragonrider, but she substitutes an incisive probe into what happened as a poor second. Kindan notes Nuella has learned the art of good questioning (although he doesn’t make the connection that Zist does the same, and Nuella has been Zist’s student for a while now), and the plan is going to use Dalor as the person who knows what’s going on.

Nuella is sour that she can’t pass as Dalor any more because of their height difference. Kindan points out there are other aspects that are changing as well, which leads to Nuella confirming to Kindan that she’s crushing on Zenor (after earlier saying that the reason Dalor is going along with their plan is that she threatened to expose Dalor’s crush)…and then threatening Kindan over the disclosure of that knowledge.

At which point we get useful information about how the mine is laid out and how things are mined – things that Kindan and Dalor are likely to know, and Nuella seems to have picked up by being around everyone, given that she uses specific terminology (“the new street”) to describe the space.

“Streets” run the length of the seam (east-west), “avenues” the width (north-south), and the style of working the seam is “room and pillar”, where large pillars of coal are left behind to support the rock and prevent a cave-in. It’s also noted as the only practical method left with the tools and people available for the mining.

So naturally, they head for the newest street, which Kindan looks at dubiously because it has extra supports built in. Nuella tells him that’s Natalon’s way and that Tarik thinks it a waste of time and people to add extra support. Even though Tarik is also spreading rumor about how the mine isn’t safe enough based on all the accidents. And Nuella highlights this incongruity by mentioning that Tarik claims his own mine was too dangerous to work based on pockets of bad air. The narrative notes he time indicates she didn’t believe that claim at all.

Nuella, however, did bring them here to see if they could teach Kisk what bad air smells like, as Natalon is making a new street to probe whether the problem that killed Dask runs the entire western part of the field. Eventually Nuella and Kindan get in an argument about whether or not Nuella can teach anyone anything, just based on her having to help with raising the baby, and the argument is enough to mask the fact that bad air has infiltrated their space.

So they get to teach Kisk what (one of the) bad air smells is, and in return…

The watch-wher took a breath and let it out with a rasp. She looked up thoughtfully at Kindan and chirped, Errwll.
“Stale,” Kindan repeated, taking another breath.
Kisk took another breath. Errwll.
“You’ve learned a word!” Nuella exclaimed.
Kindan have her a look and was glad she couldn’t catch it. “I can’t see how you can say that errwll sounds like stale.”
“I didn’t say that. I said that you’ve learned a word. Now you know that when Kisk chirps ‘errwll’ she’s telling you the air is stale.”
A look of comprehension dawned on Kindan’s face. “You mean, she’s teaching me her language?”
“I doubt watch-whers have a language. Even the dragons don’t have a language–feet male noise for emphasis but they don’t speak. They don’t need to, they use telepathy,” Nuella said. “But that doesn’t mean the two of you can’t work out ways to communicate together.”

Nuella is wrong. All creatures that communicate have a language. That humans don’t understand it has nothing to do with whether it exists or not. But it is good that Kisk is making the same noise to indicate the situation at hand, so that Kindan knows which response to give to that noise.

The rest of the chapter is essentially everyone getting away from the bad air, since they’ve been standing in it the whole time and they’re starting to get a headache from it. Nuella thinks of this as a good discovery, Kindan reminds her that he knows this already because of rescuing her earlier, and Nuella gives him a sincere thanks for the rescue. And that’s chapter IX. Progress, it appears.

Deconstruction Roundup for November 2nd, 2018

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is still more than ready for a court to start insisting, since no other governmental entity will, that trans people exist and are entitled to protection under law.)

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 making sure that all the people who have the franchise are able to use it. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Kin: Egg!

Last chapter, we found out that Natalon promised a winter’s worth of coal for just the chance for Kindan to get a watch-wher egg, but the dragonrider who (eventually) answers the call turns out to be a terrible asshole and the local Weyrleader. With everything seeming lost, Zist calls in a favor from a different Weyrleader he helped out earlier on in life, and preparations are made to not only get Kindan to the right place, but also the right time, as it’s been a day or two since the deal was supposed to happen, thanks to Weyrleader Asshat.

Dragon’s Kin: Chapter VII and VIII: Content Notes:

Watch-wher, watch-wher in the mine,
Help save life, yours and mine,
Guide us in the darkest night,
With your keen unfailing sight.

This chapter is the shortest one of the book (and only now does it ping at me that this V-shape of novel has been in place in just about all of the chaptered books so far) and could be summed up in a single sentence: “Kindan gets the egg.”

What we learn about Kindan and watch-whers, however, is worth the price of going through the book. At the end of the last chapter, Kindan overheard that the fate of the camp rests on whether or not he can successfully raise a watch-wher to help in the mines. Which is a pretty big thing to put on his shoulders. But also makes me wonder how other mines are doing, since the introduction implied that Natalon’s choice to use watch-whers was experimental. Even with the constant sabotage, is Natalon doing better or worse than other mines in terms of injury and fatality? We don’t know.

In any case, the travel back in time for a day takes slightly longer than M’tal said it would (five coughs instead of three), and Kindan gets a slight reassurance from Gaminth that they’re nearly there because of the extra time.

Kindan’s instructions from Aleesa might do great in a technical challenge from the Great British Bake-Off:

“I’m to bow to the queen and make my way toward the clutch. If she lets me, I’m to choose an egg and take it, bowing again and walking backward.”

Seems simple enough, right? Except that’s clearly not all of it, because otherwise it wouldn’t be such a fraught affair. Kindan, running on instinct, proves that he learned a lot more from Danil than he knew.

He cleared his throat and murmured the soft chirps that his father always used when entering Dask’s lair.
Behind him he heard a surprised remark from Aleesa. “Well, at least the lad knows what to say to her.”
[…Kindan approaches, trying to sound friendly…]
When he was close to the queen, he held out his right hand. There was not much of a scar left from where his father had slit his thumb pad to blood him to old Dask. He altered his sound to a reassuring tongue tell and showed her his palm. She ran her tongue over it. It was a nice, dry tongue. Sometimes Dask’s had been skinny and not at all something you wanted licking you. He increased his trill to what he thought was a glad “Thank you.”
[…more of Kindan’s thoughts about whers, including that Dask was chosen to sire a couple clutches. Kindan yawns. …]
“Excuse me,” he said, deathly afraid he had insulted her. “I’m tired. We went back in time to get here and–well, I’m afraid.”
He bowed to her and formed the image in his mind of Gaminth and their journey back in time from tomorrow.
The queen gave a surprised chirp and Kindan got the impression that she’d picked up the image from his mind.

Which she most likely did. Kindan is successful in selecting an egg at random (“Eeeny meeny, tipsy teeny, ah vu bumberini. Isha gosh bumberosha, nineteen hundred and two. I pick you.” is the actual chant, which seems like nonsense words through a lot of it.) and trills his thanks before leaving. Kindan then successfully asks without asking what to feed a newly-hatched wher (oat porridge and fresh blood mixed together for the first three months, then meat when the wher can properly chew), and everyone goes back to the place and time where they came from.

Kindan using what he learned informally from his father rings true to me, mostly because as I get older, the things that Dad tried to teach me about tool usage and other bits of knowledge have come in handy when I remember them, despite not really being interested in the things at the time. In Kindan’s case, it’s probably more true that he didn’t have the opportunity to learn it, being the youngest, but he still apparently picked up enough to be helpful and successful in collecting an egg.

Now that’s he’s gotten it, we’re on to Chapter VIII, which means a new rhyme-chant:

Watch-wher, watch-wher in the egg,
Grant to me the boon I beg.

I’m almost always saying these as skip-rope or jump-rope chants, rather than as songs or poetic forms, because they scan to that so well for me.

Chapter VIII starts with Kindan admitting to Zist he knows squat about raising and training a watch-wher. Zist promises to help (and send a few messages with questions, if needed) in what way he can. Zenor is awed by the egg, but the actual hatching takes place in the middle of the night, three days after retrieving and returning with the egg. Kindan hatches a green, then remembers that watch-whers teethe and resolves to get something to help with that pain. When he’s done feeding her, and feeding her, and feeding her – it takes three giant pots of porridge before the watch-wher is sated. And then Kindan realizes he has to cut himself so that the watch-wher knows whose blood she answers to. Zist offers to sharpen the knife, and Kindan is a bit squeamish on the matter, so he is going to ask Zist to do the cut. After he shows Zenor the hatchling, since Zenor was in the mine when it all went down. Zist makes the cut, and the hatchling laps up plenty of blood from Kindan for the bond.

Kindan has to sleep with the watch-wher and free around it near constantly, not because it needs that kind of care, but because Zist makes a sensible remark that there are people in the camp that might wish the new wher harm.

Like Tarik, who seems to have a constant stream of complaints.

“It’ll eat more than it’s worth,” was Tarik’s first dour comment. Later, it was “And how long before it’s ready to go down the mines?”
“When does that ugly creature reach its growth?” was the next snide remark. “Not much use as it is now, is it?”
And yet again, “Natalon paid how much coal for that bag of bones?”
Kindan’s hatred of the head miner’s uncle grew steadily greater with each return visit and insulting comment.

He found himself afraid to leave the watch-wher unattended, not only for fear of what Tarik might do, but also for fear of what the watch-wher might do it of its own fright. The poor thing had already nearly bitten Zenor once when he arrived early one morning and threw back the heavy curtain draped down behind the door to protect the watch-wher’s delicate eyes.

Which is to say, Tarik’s an asshole, and Zenor nearly got bit because he wasn’t thinking and exposed a watch-wher to bright light. Neither of those seem like the sort of thing that would be conducive to a young child raising something essential.

Kindan, for his part, finds his nerves unraveling at having to constantly take care of the watch-wher, although this does give him an appreciation of what Zenor went through when his younger sisters were born and young. So when Nuella appears and gives him a break to collect food, Kindan takes it, and then realizes that it may not have been the best idea when Zist pointedly asks about what happens if Nuella has to raise an alarm. The watch-wher gets fed, Nuella suggests meat scraps as a dietary change, which makes everyone much happier, especially the wher, who eventually gets a name — Kisk. Because wher naming convention is apparently some letters of the handler and the -sk extension to indicate a wher.

There’s also a remark from Kindan that Nuella isn’t going to be able to pretend to b be her brother for much longer, which suggests that Nuella is starting to show some anatomical differences.

The chapter closes out with Kindan taking Kisk on a walk after she makes it apparent that she wants to go outside at night. Along the way, he meets Cristov, who wants to see the wher for himself, as it appears the house is divided about whers.

“I know my father doesn’t like them,” Cristov continued breathlessly, holding out a hand palm-up to the watch-wher, “but my feet says we should respect them. She says, ‘A grown-up makes their own decisions.'”

Which is very useful advice. And comes in handy, even if Cristov doesn’t yet have practice at it, when Tarik and Dara both end up intruding on the scene of Cristov being locked affectionately by Kisk. Tarik is his usual caustic and dismissive self, and Dara not only gives him the evil eye for it, she asks politely how Kindan and Kisk are doing.

So now we have a small watch-wher and the boy who gets to train her. Which is fabulous, except for the part where, well, nobody has a fucking clue what they’re doing. But they’ll believe in their ability to adapt, and it will likely turn out well.

Training starts next week.

Deconstruction Roundup for October 26th, 2018

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is more than ready for a court to start insisting, since no other governmental entity will, that trans people exist and are entitled to protection under law.)

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 are making sure that all the people who have the franchise are able to use it. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Kin: One Giant Asshole

Last time, Kindan took Nuella out to a Gather, after the traders arrived with reinforcements and goods to trade. Zist is appreciative that his apprentice is quick-thinking, even if he’s not as fond of the solutions Kindan comes up with.

Dragon’s Kin: Chapter VI: Content Notes:

Cromcoal, Cromcoal, burning bright
Warm the cold of winter’s night.
Cromcoal, Cromcoal, underground
Where the best of all coal’s found.

Which sounds like either an advertisement or a cheer, neither of which I have seen in Pern before and that adds an entire new set of questions that I’m very sure won’t get answered.

The actual action starts with miners complaining in Natalon’s ears that they need another watch-wher, as accidents continue to keep happening to the mines. Natalon passes their complaints on, until a cryptic drum message, “Aleesa will trade,” sets in motion the knowledge that Natalon is trading a winter’s supply of coal for a watch-wher egg. Which is to be given to Kindan to hatch and raise, as Zist and Natalon fear the mine will fail without a watch-wher. They consider this so important that the Camp’s dragon-summoning fire and flag are lit.

And then it burns for two days before a dragon comes to investigate it, giving Kindan a new story to tell (and Zist a way of instructing him in the telling of that story so that it takes a full fifteen minutes to get done and leaves the audience in awe). But a significant amount of time passes and there’s no dragon yet. Zist is a bit torn – the Camp needs its wherhandler, but training to do so means Kindan won’t be a Harper apprentice any more.

Kindan is nervous in anticipation, and wonders what will happen if there’s no dragon, so Zist tells him a story about being posted as a Healer to Benden Weyr. During a hatching, after impression, Zist cheered for his new rider friend, and it startled the dragonet enough that it tore up the wing. Zist still blames himself for it, but the point of the story is that he met an older man and together they healed the dragonet. Zist mentions the name of the song about the affair–“When I Met Myself Healing”–and Kindan twigs to the implication that it means dragons can time travel.

Which is a good thing, because the dragon that answers the beacon in the middle of the night has no time nor respect for those who set the beacon.

“You set a beacon for this?”
Kindan sensed Master Zist tense angrily beside him.
“We had hoped day we could ask for the hospitality of transport,” Natalon replied. “We give fair tithe.”
“The beacon and dragon pregnant are for emergencies, Miner,” the dragonrider responded, beckoning to his dragon and preparing to depart.
“Lord–” Zist called urgently, stopping the irritated dragonrider in his tracks.
“I am Lord D’gan, Harper, lately Weyrleader of Telgar Weyr,” the dragonrider replied, drawing himself up to his full height.

Oh, naturally the Weyrleader comes out to investigate the emergency banner. That said, based on this opening of the exchange, it seems rather incongruous for a Weyrleader to come out and investigate. The further attempts to get D’gan to carry them will reinforce the idea that D’gan doesn’t give enough of a shit about the Camp to have come investigating in the first place, even after the long wait.

Also, this is the first time I’ve heard a dragonrider or Weyrleader addressed by the title “Lord,” since dragonriders own no property nor serfs.

“Camp Natalon is a prosperous Camp with good prospects, my Lord. We have found much coal here which is greatly in demand–”
“Not by dragons or their riders, Harper,” D’gan interjected. “If you were mining firestone, it would be a different matter. I care little of Holders are a bit cold this winter.”

“We are mining Smithcoal, my lord,” Natalon said. “Our coal is of such quality that the MasterSmith himself has laid in a large order for it.”
D’gan clocked an eyebrow at him. “I am very pleased for the MasterSmith.”
“My Lord,” Zist said, and Kindan could see signs of restrained anger in the old Harper’s face, “that coal is used to make the steel that binds your fighting straps, strengthens your helmet, and buckles your belt.”
“I am glad to hear it,” D’gan replied. “We be had many complaints on the quality of the steel coming from the Smith Hall. Now I know the source.” He moved toward his dragon.

I don’t think it’s the Smith Hall that’s the problem of why you get shoddy steel, asshole.

“My Lord!” Zist called. “Of old the dragonriders of Pern have been courteous in responding to the just requests of the Holders and Crafters.”
D’gan stopped and whirled back, his hand on the dagger at his side. “Courtesy is much lacking in this Camp. Of old the dragonriders have been given more respect and have not been asked to provide frivolous thrill rides. Do not presume on my courtesy anymore!”
[….which finally gives Natalon, Zist, and Kindan the opportunity to explain what they’re asking for, but the story of Dask’s sacrifice does not sway D’gan…]
D’gan made a dismissive gesture with his hand. “You have only convinced me that Telgar’s previous Weyrleader was far too accommodating. Asking a dragon to give transport to collect a watch-wher.” He snorted again and smoothed his hair back. “Thread is coming again, as you should know, Harper. Do not presume on Interval courtesies anymore.”
With that, D’gan turned and flung himself onto his dragon’s back. In two chilling beats of its wings, the dragon was airborne and, in another, between.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the dragonriders of Telgar Weyr continued to receive shitty tithes, because there’s no way a colossal asshole life that would only be so derisive to the miners.

After this particular bit of asshattery, there is a moment of levity.

Natalon turned questioningly to Master Zist, but the old Harper was too busy swearing to offer him any advice.
“What shall we do now?” Kindan asked after having learned enough new oaths from the angry Harper to dine on for a week.
Master Zist paused in his swearing, aware that Kindan had been listening intently. “You’ll remember that I believe any youngster who swears should be his mouth washed out with soap. And I shall remember not to swear in your presence.”

Although I would like to know what those oaths are, rather than just hearing that they exist. Swear words are one of the most telling things about a culture, and it would be nice to hear what kinds of combinations a Master Harper could come up with when torqued the way Zist just was. Alas, we’ll probably never hear them.

Zist goes to Plan B, which is to specifically request the dragonrider that he helped himself save when he was young. M’tal is more than up for the transport. But there’s one tiny wrinkle. The deal was supposed to happen yesterday. Which would absolutely piss off Natalon, except that Zist knows, Kindan knows, and Weyrleader M’tal knows (but wishes the other two would forget those “old Harper songs” ) about how to achieve a deal that ended yesterday..

Kindan is sent for a nap that he desperately needs, and awakens to hear Zist and M’tal discussing the situation, and that Natalon believes Kindan knows a lot more than he actually does about wherhandling. The entire camp’s fortunes are riding on Kindan, and he’ll take the blame if things go south. Kindan swears to himself he’ll keep the camp open. And that’s Chapter VI.