It was possible that sending Garatt to the BeastCrafter quarters was
the best thing they could have done.
If they had kept him in the Infirmary the chance were he would have
stayed there, trying to read, too nervous of being found to venture
out where there were people and with all the time in the world to
reflect on what had happened. But no. He was near the stables, well
away from the Barracks and everyone where and where he could hear
runners clattering and talking to each other from his room.
With that noise outside, no-one had to coax Garatt out of his room. He
came out himself, shyly at first but then no-one stopped him or said
he should be in bed or paid much attention at all and the runners were
right there. His hand was too sore for grooming and riding was out of
the question but there was absolutely nothing to stop him fussing over
the runners and some of them were more than happy for the attention.
Particularly if that attention came with a redfruit or orangeroot.
He was hanging over the door chatting to a particularly lovely mare
when someone came up behind him.
Chores and lessons had ended for the day, for Lennaye, at least. This
was her free afternoon, and as she had ever since getting her runner
at the Gather, she spent it in the stables with said runner, or at the
very least, in the stables. Who ever would have thought that she’d
find beast crafting so interesting? Certainly not Lennaye, not when
she’d first come to Arolos. But today she was looking forward to
being able to take Pip for a nice leisurely ride, getting more
experience herself at being in a saddle.
She was not the only one visiting Pip, though. Lennaye spotted a
familiar form at her runner’s stall, talking quietly to the mare. She
hadn’t really seen much of Garatt lately, not since the Hatching, now
that she thought about it. But, he definitely looked happier here
than she could ever recall him looking.
“Hello, Garatt,” Lennaye said softly as she approached. She clicked
her tongue at Pip. “Hello Pip!”
She spoke quietly enough that Garatt didn’t startle; sometimes what
worked on nervous runners worked just as well on nervous boys. He
turned at her approach, one hand -- the one that hadn’t been bandaged
- on the runner’s neck. “Oh! Is that her name?”
“It is! The holder Papa found selling her was calling her ‘Red’
because of her coloring, but that didn’t really seem to fit as a name,
so I renamed her to Pip.”
Lennaye felt herself puffing up with pride at the words, and the
memory. Pip was hers, completely, bought with the marks she’d won
from the Arolos Cup. Not a loaner, not borrowed to learn lessons with
- well and truly hers.
“I had originally wanted to buy one of the Callamere runners, since I
won the marks at the race during the Midsummer Gather, but they don’t
sell to candidates, or people who don’t know how to ride. But, after
getting Pip, I’m glad about that, because she’s really such a big
sweetie, and I’d have missed out on her completely, otherwise.”
“She’s yours?” Garatt’s eyes went wide and wistful at that. “You’re so
lucky.” He stroked his good hand down her neck again. “She’s not as
shy as some of the others. Came right over to see me when I called
Lennaye shrugged, but couldn’t really argue. It had been luck that
had gotten her Pip, after all. A lucky choice, a lucky win.
“I think she must have been around a lot of people before I bought
her. She’s always been friendly, and not at all nervous or spooked or
anything like that. Nice and gentle, which is good for me especially,
since she’s the first runner I’ve ever owned, or actually ever have
been around, really. She’s the reason I joined the beast craft. And
I can’t say I regret it, even if mucking out stalls does stink
She offered a small grin at that comment.
Garatt actually giggled. It was a small giggle, but still. There had
been precious little giggling from him in the Barracks, or smiling for
that matter. “My auntie used to let me mess around with hers,” he
admitted. “Just kid stuff, you know? How come you got her though if
you haven’t been around runners?”
“I watched the races at the gather,” Lennaye answered. “And the lady
that won the Arolos Cup, she’s a rider, and she races too! And well,
I was so excited by all of it, and the idea that maybe someday I could
race like that too, that I wanted to get a runner of my own. Papa did
try to talk me out of it, at first. Told me to wait a few days before
I spent the marks I won in case I changed my mind, but…”
Lennaye blushed a little, feeling a tad bit silly. It had been a
sudden, abrupt change in her life, that was for sure. She’d spent her
childhood playing it safe, doing things that someone being up as a
proper lady would do, like sewing and embroidery and the like.
Joining the beast craft had been a huge shake up to her normal
“But,” Lennaye continued after a moment, “it also seemed to make sense
to me, too. Its not so much different than what I’d be doing if I had
to care for a dragon. Not the learning to fight Thread part, but the
taking care of a large creature. And learning to ride. At least,
it’s a starting point, and if I never do Impress, at least I’ll have
“Your father sounds amazing.” Garatt didn’t sound like he thought she
was silly. Mostly he sounded wistful and a little jealous. A father
who could stop someone like M’ayen and would let someone buy a runner,
just like that, because she wanted to must be amazing indeed.
“I guess so,” Lennaye said, with another little shrug. “Honestly, I’m
still getting to know him, really. I never met him before I came
here. Ma and I lived in Igen for as long as I could remember, and he
was elsewhere, here, I guess. He is nice, I can say that much, at
least. And he does try to make time for me, so he must think I’m
important enough to make time for, even if I was a surprise to him.
But, a bronze rider doesn’t really have all that much free time to
begin with, and Papa is a Wingleader to boot. I only get to see him
for like an hour every week, and we have to actually plan for that.
Sometimes I get jealous, that his work takes up so much of his time.
But what can you do? He can’t help it, and neither can I, so I guess
there’s no sense in getting worked up about it.”
And she doubted that Garatt wanted to hear her mope about her home life.
“Are you thinking about working with the runners, here?” She asked.
“You definitely seem to like them a lot!”
Lennaye talked a lot, but Garatt was quite happy to have someone else
carry the bulk of the conversation. He fussed over Pip as she talked,
mostly relieved that she didn’t seem at all jealous of sharing her
runner’s time with him.
He shook his head when she finally seemed to stop for breath. “My
father wouldn’t like it,” he said regretfully. “I don’t know what’s
going to happen really.” For a moment he was quiet, combing his
fingers through the runner’s mane. “I didn’t meet him much for turns
either, not until I was ten really. My aunt had me until then but he
wanted me to go back.”
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. Especially since you seem to get on
with them really well. He wants you to follow what he does, instead?”
She didn’t actually know much about Garatt. And it wasn’t all that
uncommon for weyrbrats to be fostered out, so the fact that he had
lived with his aunt for a spell instead of his parents wasn’t really
shocking to her. It was a shame, though, she thought, that Garatt did
appear to be able to choose what he wanted to do himself.
“I’m meant to inherit.” Garatt admitted to that quietly and a little
sheepishly, and whilst carefully avoiding the subject of just how much
he was meant to inherit. Sometimes people looked at you funny when
they found that out and Garatt much preferred to avoid attention. “Run
the hold and stuff. You know.” He shrugged with one shoulder without
looking at her. “He thinks runners are mostly just wasting time.”
Well, Lennay thought that Garatt’s father must not be too bright if he
thought that, but she was smart enough not to say that out loud.
Garatt probably wouldn’t like it, and probably wouldn’t like her if
she did say it. But that first comment had her a little confused.
“But...He let you become a candidate?” Lennay asked, the confusion
evident in her voice. “What was going to happen, if you Impressed?
Dragonriders can’t be holders too.”
“I think he’d let my cousin inherit then.” Garatt turned to glance at
her, looking uncomfortable. “I’m-- honestly, I’m not very good at it.
He’s just not allowed to say that because I’m his son, you know?” His
voice was low still, it wasn’t exactly something to be proud of.
“Nonsense. You’re a very good person, Garatt!” Lennaye insisted. “I
bet your father is proud of you, even if he hasn’t said it. Maybe you
just have to find your own way of doing things. Just because some way
works for you Da, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. You just have to
work out the way that’s best for you. And...maybe if he was willing
to let your cousin inherit if you Impressed, if you really, really
wanted to work with runners, maybe he’d let you join a craft instead,
if you thought you’d be better suited for it. Shouldn’t he want to
let you do something that would make you happy?”
“I don’t think my father’s really very much like yours,” Garatt
admitted. “Yours sounds great. Mine--” His shoulders were hunched,
unconsciously drawing in on himself. “I think he mainly just needed
someone who could inherit and I was the only one there, you know? I
bet he wishes he had gone with my cousin now, but he already got me
back off my aunt so he can’t exactly say it.”
She hadn’t meant to make him upset, but she could see that she had,
and now Lennaye felt bad. She wasn’t sure how to put it right,
either. Pip, on the other hand, had no problem with nudging at Garatt
with her nose when he stopped rubbing her; people were there, and that
was supposed to mean pets if they weren’t doing anything else.
“Sorry!” Garatt apologised to the runner, reaching automatically to
rub her with his other hand before realising it hurt and letting it
drop again. “You aren’t having any more redfruit though. You’ll get a
stomach ache.” He spoke conversationally to the runner, much more
easily than he managed with people.
Pip whickered softly at the boy, lipping the hand gently, even if no
more fruit was forthcoming. She then nudged at Lennaye, who did fish
out a small lump of sugar for the mare, who took it eagerly.
“You, miss Pip, are very spoiled. Sugar and redfruit, today? Who
knows, maybe later you’ll get an orangeroot too.”
In an awkward situation, it was a lot easier to turn to the runner
instead. And it gave Pip a lot of attention.
“You’ll have to walk it off later, though. Otherwise you’ll turn into
a fat runner, and then what’ll we do?”
“You probably wanted to ride her, didn’t you?” Garatt realised
belatedly. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to -- I can go do something else if
you need her out. Or-- or watch, I guess?”
“Oh, you don’t have to,” Lennaye said, quickly. “Unless you want to
go do something else. I can always ride her a little later. I just
wanted to spend time with her, since I had the afternoon off.”
“No lessons?” Garatt looked a little surprised by that. It was easy to
lose the swing of things once you weren’t in the Barracks and besides,
M’ayen had eaten his free time for so long he had forgotten it was a
thing other Candidates had.
“Not this afternoon. Its my afternoon off. But I promised Papa when
I got Pip that I’d spend all my free time working with the runners, or
in the stables and all. That was part of the bargain for getting her.
He wanted to make sure I was really serious about it.”
“What’d happen to her then, if you Impressed?” It was Garatt’s turn to
be curious. “She’d miss you, wouldn’t she?” He hesitated. “I mean, she
is your runner. We could actually go in the stable rather than
“She’d be taken care of by the beast crafters,” Lennaye answered.
“And my wages would go to pay for her keep. Well, it already does -
the rest of the marks I won, and the eggs that my flit will have will
be sold to help as well. I know the other apprentices would take good
care of her, and after I became a full rider, even if I didn’t have a
lot of time, I’d still have some time to come and ride her. The
Weyrwoman’s daughter has a runner here, and so does the Weyrwoman. I
think some other riders do, too. So its not like I’d have to give her
up completely. Just while I was a Weyrling, and when I first start
flying in a Wing.”
She supposed they could actually go in, instead of standing outside.
She could groom Pip, if nothing else, while Garatt was around. She
didn’t want to chase him away if he was happy around the runner.
“Ok. I can give Pip a quick brushing, at the least. You can help, if
you want. Or you can just pet her.”
Garatt held up his bandaged hand looking sheepish. “It’s a bit sore
for grooming,” he admitted. “Sorry. I can pass you things though. If
you want.” The offer was made awkwardly, as though he were ready for
her to say no and would prefer not to look as though he minded if she
Lennaye flushed with embarrassment. She had forgotten for a moment
that Garatt was recovering from injuries. She didn’t want him to feel
like he was being chivvied off, though.
“Sorry, I forgot about that,” she mumbled as she picked up the brush
and began applying it to Pip’s coat. “You can keep her company,
though. You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to.”
“Sorry.” And now Garatt was looking embarrassed that she was
embarrassed in what was clearly a chain reaction of embarrassment.
“I-- when it’s better I’d like to help though. If they let me stay and
you didn’t mind.”
“I don’t mind at all,” Lennaye said hastily. She didn’t comment on
the ‘if they let me stay’ bit. She wasn’t sure if he was referring to
the Weyr at large, or maybe his parents. She was too afraid to ask.
“Maybe once you’re feeling up to it, you could ride her, too. Do you
know how to ride?”
“Oh, yes!” And Garatt stopped looking awkward and suddenly looked so
radiantly happy that it was as if it hadn’t taken a fairly horrible
situation to get him at all. “Before, uhm, when I wasn’t getting
detention, Master Tolfast sometimes let me ride Dara -- the dark brown
one out in the field. Have you seen her? She’s lovely.”
Seeing Garatt looking so happy again had Lennaye perking up too. She
thought for a moment, then shook her head.
“I don’t think I’ve met her, yet. Have you seen the white one with
the blue eyes? SilverSpark, I think that’s his name. He looks amazing
too, but his owner’s very particular about him. He’s a racing runner,
“I bet he’s worth a lot,” Garatt leaned against the stable door
watching her work. “At home we have really big runners for pulling the
ploughs, have you ever seen them? They make normal runners look like
foals, they’re so big.”
Lennaye shook her head, her eyes wide. “I’m Weyrborn, and I don’t
remember there being a lot of runners kept in Igen Weyr. But I also
never really looked, before, either. Can you ride those ones too? Or
are they too big?”
Garatt glanced either way as though checking for secret listeners.
“Weeeell, I’m not meant to. But sometimes if they’re sure no-one’s
around who’ll tell my father the stablehands let me up, just for a few
minutes. It’s so high up there!”
“Nice!” Lennaye giggled. “Sounds like it’d be amazing to be on a
runner that big.”
“I mean they only walk really, you don’t teach a runner that big to go
fast because I mean, if they were pulling something and then one of
them started galloping--” Garatt’s gesture was meant to symbolize a
runner whizzing away through the distance but it may have been unclear
that this was what a hand moving fast through the air meant. “It could
make an awful mess. But -- I guess they barely notice someone on their
back, at least if you’re not big.”
Lennaye listened intently as she brushed Pip. She guessed she could
see what he was saying.
“Wonder if they breed big horses like that to be dull-witted, so they
don’t spook as much. I mean, most runners are kinda nervy, aren’t
they? I’d think something that big would break the plow they were
pulling if they got spooked.”
“You can be smart and not nervy,” Garatt disagreed. “Maybe it’s just
that they don’t have to get spooked because they’re so big. Not as
much can hurt you when you’re big.”
“I guess so,” Lennaye agreed with a shrug. “I’m glad Pip doesn’t seem
to get too nervy. Least, she hasn’t with me. I’m hoping that maybe
by next turn, she and I will be ready enough to enter a race. Not the
Arolos Cup, not yet, anyways, but maybe a smaller one. That’s what
I’m hoping for, anyways.”
She gave Pip a final swipe of the brush, then patted the runner on the nose.
“But, we’ve got a long way to go before that can happen. And that’s
only if I don’t Impress, first.”
“You want me to look in on her for you?” Garatt offered shyly. “If--
when you’re in lessons? I can make sure she’s not lonely if you want.”
“Oh, that would be fantastic! Thank you for offering.”
Not that there wasn’t always someone in the stables throughout the day
anyways, but it made Lennaye feel better to know someone she *knew*
was checking in on Pip when she couldn’t.
“I can’t stay too much longer, unfortunately. I’m supposed to go meet
with Papa and Mama for a late lunch soon, and I doubt Mama wants me
showing up smelling like a stable. Thank you, for keeping me and Pip
Garatt grinned at her for a moment and then moved to politely open the
stable door for her. Hold manners of opening doors for ladies held,
even if he did have to be careful which hand he used. “I’ll check on
Grinning broadly, Lennaye did her best mimic of a curtsy before
stepping out of the stall. Still grinning, she waved to Garatt before
skipping off to get changed for lunch.
"Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the goal of arriving safely
in a prettily preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a
shower of gravel and party shards, thoroughly used, utterly exhausted,
and loudly proclaiming: "F*** ME, that Rocked!!" -unknown