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If anyone noticed Sallyn and H'lania return to the Weyr together early that evening, they didn't make any mention of it.  However the two were certainly noticed scrubbing all the sea salt off their dragons next morning at the lake.  The girls were laughing together and splashing each other just as much as their dragons.  It was a definite departure from their normal habits!

After that day, two other changes became rather obvious – for one H'lania spent a great deal more time at the Weyr and for two – she and Sallyn became nearly inseparable.

This didn't sit so well with several of Sallyn's suitors and there was a fair amount of grumbling.  Those with bruised egos though figured it was likely just a passing phase on Sallyn's part and they reminded themselves that Thalleth would rise to mate some day and small, little Praneth wasn't very likely to catch her; so the hopefuls seemed content to bide their time.  

Neither girl cared much about the opinions of others though and were very open about their newly-formed relationship – holding hands as they strolled across the Bowl and even stealing a kiss once in a while.  They met in one or the other's weyr more than once just to chat or play music together.

The Weyrleader seemed rather troubled by this pairing, but since he had no right to forbid it, he simply step-upped H'lania's dressing downs after Falls.  The girl met the rebukes with a renewed stoicism.  He could say what he wanted, she honestly didn't care anymore.  She still flew her best in every Fall the Weyrleader allowed her to fight in, but she was no longer hurt when she was taken off the lists for some small, pointless reason.  It meant she could spend more time with Sallyn – as S'ligar was still reluctant to assign her any meaningful tasks - and since the queen rider was still technically a weyrling, it meant more time was spent with the other growing dragons and their riders.  

Since she was there anyway, H'lania offered to help Cr'not with the harder to train riders and in doing so she realized she might have found a new calling.  Cr'not certainly wasn't going to want the job forever.  He had been kind enough to her while she was training under him and he seemed to appreciate the progress she helped the slower students make.  

Maybe if she couldn't make Wingleader, she could someday talk the Weyrleader into giving her the position of Weyrlingmaster – it'd get her off his rosters for a few years and even he couldn't deny she was good at instructing inexperienced riders.

She felt useful, she felt loved and even though neither of those feelings came from places she would have ever suspected, she was content.

Sallyn still spent evenings singing in the Lower Caverns but H'lania now knew the smiles and flirting looks were just part of the performance.  Sallyn was very good at what she did and what harm did it do if a rider who'd had a hard day in the Wings felt that a lovely young queen rider was singing just for him?

And so days passed.  The weyrlings moved on to weyrs of their own and eventually joined the fighting wings.  There were injuries, there were losses but that was life in the Weyr.

Kilanath laid her Clutch and excitement started to mount around a Hatching again.  Despite it being a sizeable Laying – though without a queen egg - there were still plenty of Candidates left over from Tamianth's last Clutch so a Search wasn't going to be necessary this time.  

H'lania heard that S'ligar had extended the invitation to any girls who hadn't Impressed at Tamianth's Clutch the option to Stand for the greens.  She was happy to hear that news as it was continued rumor the other Weyrs weren't encouraging such things any more.

It seemed High Reaches Weyr was the place for surprises at Hatchings and this one ended up being no exception: a trading caravan had pulled into the Weyr a couple days before the big day and as a thanks for providing needed goods for the upcoming celebrations, S'ligar had invited the traveling folk to stay at the Weyr for the event.

Much to everyone's surprise, the leader's own son Impressed a blue and he wasn't even on the Sands!  It made for quite the jolly party – though H'lania could tell some of the Holders weren't overly pleased by such a large gathering of Holdless folk.

Such was the way of the Weyr though.  Dragons Chose people from all walks of life and Weyr-folk had adopted that mindset by not turning away anyone who wished to live in a Weyr – Crafter, Holder or Holdless.

Things did eventually settle again and life returned to normal.  With both girls in fighting Wings now, there wasn't as much time as before that Sallyn and H'lania could be alone together, but they stole any breaks they could to enjoy each other's company.

One evening, after Sallyn had sung herself hoarse in the Lower Caverns the two were heading over to the queen rider's quarters when T'zan approached them from the shadows.

"You disgust me," he sneered at Sallyn.  "You sing coyly for all those men and then slink off to your weyr with that woman!"  He was deliberately ignoring H'lania, though he did point in her direction as he spoke.

"What business is that of yours?" Sallyn asked head held high, arm around her lover's waist.

"You should have a man in your life.  A real man," and he took a threatening step forward.

"So help me T'zan," H'lania said quietly, though the danger in her tone was unmistakable.  "If you lay one hand on her I'll draw on you and you will lose."  Her hand was already on the hilt of her knife, ready to follow through with her warning.

They heard someone approach before they saw who it was in the growing dark.  It wasn't the Weyrlingmaster breaking up a fight this time though – it was Falga, the Weyrwoman of High Reaches.

"Such a lovely evening," she said casually – completely ignoring the dangerous tableau before her.  Though it was obvious she had indeed missed none of the party's intentions when she said in a continued social manner, "T'zan, you object to the pairing of these two lovely ladies?"

"By the Shell I do!" he replied hotly, standing up straight, scorn dripping from his voice.  "It isn't natural!"

"Who are we to judge the whims of nature young bronze rider?" and H'lania could detect a little steel creep into her eyes.  "There are plenty of women in this Weyr and I'm sure there is at least one of them who would be happy to bed down with you.  Why don't you go find her?"

"I don't want another woman; I want her!" This time pointing to Sallyn.  The girl held her ground – no longer shy and shrinking.

"We don't always get what we want young T'zan.  I had thought you were old enough now to learn that important lesson."  She spoke patiently as though to a slow but loved child.

His face darkened with anger but this was the Weyrwoman speaking and he held his peace.  "It's just not right," he muttered through clenched teeth.

"Perhaps I'm not making myself clear," Falga said, this time her voice was hard but still elegantly controlled.  "If you take any actions against either of these girls, directly or indirectly, and I find out about it – and I assure you I will – you will be expelled from this Weyr quicker than you can bat an eye.  Do you understand?"

His face drained of color and he slowly nodded before nervously skittering away.

"Thank you Weyr-Lady," Sallyn said in humble gratitude.

The Weyrwoman turned a warm smile on the two.  "Life is too short to get tangled in such silly squabbles.  You girls go enjoy yourselves."

Sallyn and H'lania were happy to oblige and continued merrily on their way.  They didn't see the sad look on Falga's face as they departed.

It wasn't too long after that that Praneth woke H'lania very early one morning from a dead sleep.  Gianarth summons us.

"Hmmm…what?" H'lania sat up in bed, trying to get her eyes to open and focus at the same time.  "What time is it?"

Half a Watch before daybreak.

H'lania yawned greatly and swung her legs out of bed.  The Weyrleader wants us now? She asked, trying to clear her mind by using it to speak to her dragon, though he would have heard her fine either way.

It appears so.

H'lania was already pulling on clothes and gathering her riding gear.  Lately the Weyrleader had been taking an interest in sending her out on little errands.  Nothing exciting, challenging or even all that fun, but she was thrilled to finally be used in any capacity at all – even if he did occasionally have a penchant for picking strange times of day.

"Good morning Weyrleader," she said as alertly as she could manage when she walked into his meeting room after Praneth had dropped her off at S'ligar's weyr.

"Ah H'lania, good.  Please come look at this map."  The Weyrleader and three of his Wingleaders were clustered around a sizable map of the Tillek coast rolled out on the large table that occupied most of the chamber.

When she curiously approached – more awake now – he pointed to a spot out to sea, north and west of Tillek Hold.  "A ship has foundered off the coast here" - and he tapped the location – "In a storm that blew up in the night.  It's apparently trapped on the rocks and isn't in immediate danger of sinking.  Lord Diatis has asked me to send someone out to rescue the crew as the seas are still a little too rough for an effective rescue mission and also to perhaps salvage the ship.

"Your Praneth is pretty agile in bad winds and is as strong as any bronze here in the Weyr.  Do you think you two are up for the task?"

H'lania was speechless.  Never before had the Weyrleader charged her with such responsibility!

"Well girl speak up!" his voice was just the right mix of firm but understanding, so she didn't feel overly nervous in answering.

"Yes.  Yes, of course!" She couldn't believe this!  She studied the map closer.  "Am I to report to Lord Diatis first?"

"Yes.  You know the Hold well enough I take it."

"Yes," she was dizzy with excitement.

"Well then be about it girl!  There's men that need rescuing!" again there was that little bit of casual humor to know he wasn't really angry.

"At once Weyrleader!" she started to dash out the room but then turned at the door.  "And thank you Weyrleader!"
This is a Dragonriders of Pern fanfic that takes place two Turns after the book "Moreta".
Please see the 1st Chapter write-up (link at bottom) for more details.

I had to cover a lot of ground in this Chapter so it does kind of fly by. I am happy to be able to resolve the conflict with T'zan a little better than just to leave things hanging though.

So H'lania gets sent on her first big assignment, exciting!

Two chapters left folks!! Do make sure to stop by and see how it all ends :)
As always, thx much for reading!!!

Updated every Friday (or somewhere there-abouts)

New to the story? Start from the beginning:
Chapter 1: [link]

Go back to the previous Chapter:
Chapter 16: [link]

Or continue to the next Chapter:
Chapter 18: [link]
:iconcollon28:
Collon28 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Certainly interesting. Even more interesting now that I've started on Dragonflight. I'll be moving on to the next one soon enough.
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:iconkiuslady:
KiusLady Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Excellent!
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