IC Date Reference: Approximate IC date 184.108.40.206.
Elphith knew it was poor manners to land on a ledge uninvited, but she was already in the air. She would be ready to land when and if Ponth accepted her invitation.
((Ponth,)) she said, ((would you perchance be interested in a bit of a snuggle?))
The sound of an unexpected voice brought the small green’s head out from under her wing. Even from the air, she looked miserable, curled into a small ball of nothing with her back pressed against the stone wall of Dytha’s weyr as though she were waiting for something to pounce on her from behind.
(( You don’t normally come here… )) The hesitance was immediately audible in her quiet mind-voice as she peered up at Elphith. She did know the other green, but hadn’t spent much time with her. Although the invitation hadn’t been given, there would be space for Elphith to land, even on Ponth’s small ledge.
((Would you give me the chance to begin to make up for that?)) Elphith asked. ((I would like to help you. I like to help.)) She continued to circle the bowl rather than landing without permission.
Her dark shape was more like a shadow than green, but even so her head moved as she observed the other carefully. The still healing claw marks on her shoulders and flanks would still be visible and she shuffled as though she were tossing the idea around her head and it caused her to fidget. (( Mine says I wasn’t to talk to anyone about it… She said it would help me forget… )) It was clear the small green was having some sort of moral quandary and likely would need a bit of encouragement. Normally it was not unusual to see Ponth sprawled with whoever had given her a kind word, but of late, she had barely left her ledge.
((You have something to forget?)) Elphith asked. ((I think I may be able to help better than forgetting. What if I could deal with the problem?)) she asked, slowly descending toward Ponth's ledge.
(( Mine says I am not to think of it because it happens. And that we need to forget about it so it doesn’t worry us next time. )) It was clearly a mantra that had been driven into her head and one that Ponth was trying to resolutely stick to. But with no Vukoth to protect her, the green had been struggling to find the sensation of safety that was niggling under her skin like a splinter stuck in a thumb. It felt as though there were monsters in every corner, just waiting to jump from the shadows. Even a glow basket was on the green’s ledge, one that had clearly been left there for the dragon and not the Rider.
Instinctively, she shuffled to one side a bit more as Elphith moved towards her ledge. It was small compared to others, a large section having fallen away Turns ago in an earthquake or some such, but two greens would be able to make space. For now, at least.
Elphith took the making of space to be as much of an invitation as she would get, so she landed and gently snuggled up to the other green, extending her wing over her.
((What if it doesn't just happen?)) she asked. ((What if I can help you keep it from happening? I want to help. I am… very concerned for you.))
It didn’t take much to make a green as small as Ponth disappear under the extended wing. As the warm darkness surrounded her, almost immediately Ponth’s breathing seemed to calm and although not seen, the anxious whirling of her eyes slowed a little. (( Mine says it does… We we told that sometimes it does… )) It wasn’t a challenge so much as it was confusion. She knew Hers wouldn’t lie to her. (( Mine says we are to avoid Him and he will leave us alone because His got what he wanted. ))
Ponth wasn’t being intentionally vague, not knowing that she was using the objectifying terms that Dytha had deliberately been using herself so that the small details… such as names and faces did not have reason to stick in her dragon’s mind.
((It can happen. Though it should not,)) said Elphith. ((And it is not your fault that it has, nor your rider's. I am loathe to speak of these things as though it is your responsibility to stop them. However,)) she went on. ((There are ways to avoid Him more completely. Because They are never satisfied, They who do these things.))
((Let me tell you a story. My rider has favorite people. And I rise. As we all must, we greens. For Turns, he has let me rise and then let the chasers catch me as they will. But now. He has his favorite people. He and I flew away. We took our favorites with us. We chose our chasers beforehand, and we chose a safe place. We escaped there, and the blue I wanted caught me. His rider caught mine.))
((In the same way. If you know a safe person. And a safe dragon. You can take them with you to a place where no one else will find you. You can take away from Him what He wants. And if He tries to take it any other time, no one will make excuses for Him.))
Ponth listened to Elphith. This sounded very similar to what Bajezeth and Hers had said. But… There was a pause. And a silence. Then the sound of a huff of breath. (( Mine has heard that. But my Vukoth is not here. And Mine… she was not flying with me. Not until not long ago. She kept herself locked away and angry until she hurt herself. So she decided she needed to be there as she was meant to. So she would not stop flying with me again. She… arranged for Kiyosareth’s to be there before. But, only the once. She said she had to do things the way they were meant to. ))
Of course, Ponth would have no idea if any of this made the slightest sense to Elphith. But in her small cave of warm darkness, her small body seemed to sag a little with relief for the first time in days. If dragons could cry, she probably would have. (( Mine promised she would not let Him win again. )) There was a plaintive hopefulness there, the same innocent and absolute belief as a child believing that Faranth herself brought their presents at Turn’s End.
Elphith held her as closely as she could and nuzzled her gently.
((She may have to make these arrangements every time,)) said Elphith. ((And I and my Cuylar will help her however we can. We can show you our secret place. We can help you find another safe dragon. You are so small… I have heard there is another place with small ones like you. My Cuylar knows that place… Maybe if you were to go there when you will rise, then you would be surrounded by dragons like you. And they would keep big dragons like me away.))
((I will think of ways until we have thought of the right one. I won't leave you only to hope that things will be OK.))
(( My Vukoth was not small! )) For a moment, it sounded almost indignant. (( He is magnificent. His wings darkened the sun! And besides… )) There was a snort from beneath Elphith’s wing and the disdain could have been translated by human or dragon. (( HE is one of us. Except he was already grown when I was still in my egg. Mine said he is one of the ones who chose to stay behind when the others left. HE said Mine is not worthy because HIS Weyr chose only those that deserved to be chosen! ))
Despite the cryptic element, Ponth was unwittingly giving away small titbits of information about who their assailant had been. A Second Pass dragon who had chosen, for whatever reason, to not leave with the rest of his kin to travel to the recently abandoned Fort Weyr that they could then claim for their own. There was a mixture of ire and complete dismay in her mind-voice. Those of her own blood had been far more of a threat than those that dwarfed her. (( Next time I shall fly longer and not get so tired. His shall not be allowed to win even if he is the only dragon behind me! ))
((Pah. He lies to himself as well as you, I think. If his weyr took only the worthy, then it was they who left him here and not he who chose it,)) said Elphith. ((A shame that they treat Arolos as their dumping ground,)) she then grumbled.
((I believe in you, that you can fly far and fast and high. But I do not trust Him. He is sneaky and false and gross. Does your rider have friends? Someone she trusts? A woman, perhaps?))
He had been sneaky, slipping in between a gap at the last second as she clumsily misjudged a thermal. The confusion was quietly rumbling inside of Ponth. What much of Elphith said made sense. But at the same time, much of it was also in direct conflict with what Dytha had said to her about not limiting themselves to a favoured few because they couldn’t always be there.
(( Not many… )) She admitted, although carefully ensuring the communication was between dragons only. (( But Mend-a-lee has her Nimoth now. And Ambrelli cares for little Ilexeth… Mine knows Bajezeth’s, she helped when Mine hurt herself flying alone. But we do not have many friends. Mine is often too busy with the dragons. Or the eggs… )) The reality was probably one that Cuylar himself was familiar with. So much time spent working meant little time for socialising. And Dytha was hardly the sort to go socialising in the Dining Hall to meet new acquaintances. The diminutive DragonHealer often kept to herself or within a very select social circle.
((Cuylar is much the same. He works and works and works, but he still has the Healer. And he has the Big One. And sometimes, he has the Big One's friend, and a few others,)) said Elphith. ((He makes time for important people. And the Big One made time for him when last I rose. Traynth and I flew together, just the two of us, and it was beautiful.))
She left out the part where their riders' poor planning had left them hiding from the sun in the shadow of a cliff naked for an hour or so before she and Traynth were rested enough to feel like taking them back to the weyr.
((All it takes is planning ahead. Not waiting until it's time to rise. Perhaps my Cuylar can help her make another good friend. He would be her friend, too, but alas, I couldn't catch you when you fly.))
(( I don’t think I want to fly for a while. )) Not that she had any control over it. But in that moment, Ponth didn’t feel as though she wanted to fly ever again. She was morose over the absence of Vukoth just as Hers was over the absence of his Rider. (( And I don’t think I like blues anymore. Maybe if I didn’t fly for a while, then He wouldn’t want to find Mine again. He would forget about us. And maybe Vukoth will have come home… ))
But she was missing the fact that not only could she not wait forever, it didn’t solve anything in the slightest. She had as little control over her rising as she did over the sun rising in the morning. But suddenly, the prospect of finding people (or dragons) to trust seemed to be a huge and impossible task.
((You may stay earthbound for a time, but eventually, you will rise again. There is no stopping it,)) said Elphith. ((It may not be tomorrow… I will help you find a sweet, steady brown.)) That would surely help. Browns could be very protective. And they were rarely capricious and mean. ((With a rider who only likes women for flights. Then your rider need not fear he is after her.))
Normally, Ponth would have immediately leapt up in interest at the prospect of encountering a new companion. Especially a male companion. Instead, after a moment’s deliberation, a meek mind-voice spoke up. ((I… suppose that might work… If they were a Healer like Mine, that might make her be nicer to him… She is very skeptical of people being nice for no apparent reason. ))
((Some people are actually nice,)) said Elphith. ((Kaith's rider, the Master, might be difficult to convince to help… he has a weyrmate. But it cannot hurt to ask. After all, he is a Healer.))
Ponth chuffed in agreement. She couldn’t fathom why Hers was so suspicious of niceness. Why, she had met other dragons before for the very first time and they had been nothing but pleasant. And yet Hers was suspicious of similar overtures from humans. The two-legs were so peculiar. (( Oh! Someone strong! If they were big and strong like Vukoth, they would make her feel safe. She is as small as I am! And Vukoth makes me feel very safe. )) There was a thoughtful pause. (( And would be strong enough to scare Him away if he was there. He was big too. That was how he was able to hurt. Mine… was useless beside him. ))
((The Master,)) said Elphith, ((is tall and strong, though not quite as big as Cuylar nor the Big One. But he is kind. He hears us all – we could both speak to him, if you were comfortable. But we could also speak to Kaith.)) Even if this did not go the way she planned, convincing Ponth to speak to K'ren would open up doors for more help.
Something clearly niggled in Ponth’s mind at the reminder that Kaith’s Rider could Hear all of them. And he was important. (( I can’t. No one is meant to know. Because it’s not allowed to be a “thing” and people weren’t to know. That is why Mine called for Mend-a-lee. )) She wasn’t sure what a “thing” was but the sudden memory of Dytha had surged in her thoughts - a memory of Dytha talking to Cremsden. Dytha telling Cremsden “... then it becomes a thing and we freeze up all over again…”
It couldn’t be a “thing”. Whatever that meant.
Elphith wanted to curse, but she held it in. She had been close there.
((You would not have to tell Kaith why,)) she said. ((It doesn't have to be a thing. You may simply find… that you like him. And he likes you. And he, being helpful, may agree to follow you away to your safe place when it is time to rise.))
Ponth was not convinced. Humans were clever. And dragons could be too. (( Maybe not Kaith… Maybe we should… think of someone else who is nice. Who isn’t so Important. And mine won’t get into trouble for not telling. )) Clearly Dytha’s lesson had been well ingrained into the small green. Under Elphith’s wing, she fidgeted a little, trying to settle where her shoulders and flanks would not ache. When Hers was home, she would ask for the smelly salve that made it stop.
(( Why did he do it, Elphith? Why did he want to hurt Mine and me? )) It seemed to come out of nowhere but the miserable note in Ponth’s mind-voice would be impossible to miss. It was quite clear that the small green couldn’t remotely fathom why someone would want to do what they had done..
((Some people are broken. Some dragons, too. And they often find one another and revel in their brokenness. They take joy in causing misery. And no matter what anyone says,)) said Elphith with fire in her voice, ((it is not merely something you must put up with. No, it can be fixed. It can be dealt with. Cuylar will help us fix it, if your rider decides it is time.))
((Until then, I will help you find a different Healer with a brown dragon. I would not give up.))
Elphith was very convincing. Even Ponth was somewhat taken aback by the vigour in her voice as she fell back into contemplative silence. (( Mine is determined she must keep it secret but… but even if I cannot tell them, I think… I think I would very much like a friend. ))
((Well, from the first, you have me, now,)) said Elphith. ((I am your friend, and you are welcome on my ledge always from here on.)) She leaned gently a little more against the little green for a moment. ((And we will find the way to stop Him from hurting you ever again, if I have to search from now until the Red Star passes.))
The gesture was clearly enormous and beneath Elphith’s wing, Ponth sagged against the other green’s side. She was so very, very tired. She had spent nights awake, startled out of sleep at the slightest noise, just as Dytha was. But how did you sleep when you knew the monsters were waiting to get you? Monsters in blue hide with startling blue eyes that were so strong escape was an impossibility. (( I would like that. )))
For the first time in many nights, the green’s breathing seemed to slow and her small body drooped. For the first time, she could sleep.
= End =