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The Dragon Is Not The Man. (Alyx/Ardeth)


Laura Walker
 

Had M’ayen and Ardeth in fact been at Fort it was unlikely anyone would have given the bronze another thought. The dragon of a man that deep in disgrace could fend for himself, or not, as the case might be.


But they were not at Fort, and the dragon was not the man which was why R’tal sent a quick note to the infirmary to request someone make sure the bronze was kept washed and oiled. And after a moment’s thought he added a note to the effect that the person, whoever it was, should not be an unsupervised child. The dragon was not the man but there was no reason not to be careful.


Alyx was just coming on for the evening shift when she saw someone posting up a note. She wandered over just to see what was going on. So many rumors had been flying of late. She looked and it felt like her heart fell in her chest. She knew that the rider and man were separate, and separated at the moment. Without another thought she signed her name to the note as one of the volunteers.


It didn’t take long at all to gather up the supplies. They kept some on hand for injured riders after all. Then she set out. Once away from the Infirmary she was joined by her two flits who would be assisting. She set out for the lake, wondering how to call him, but, he was already there, and obviously alone. Even the other dragons seemed to be keeping distance. Alyx ignored the stares, and muttered comments and walked right up to Ardeth. 


“Hello again my friend, I’m sure you have plenty of itches by now. Would you like some help?”


He opened his eyes to look  at her, and then look at her more closely. It had been a while. Usually there was M’ayen’s memory to lean on when he forgot things, but M’ayen had never been friends with Alyx and so searching through his mind did nothing to dispel the brain fog. And it had been particularly foggy fog of late. Ardeth had been quite content with his thoughts slowing to molasses to the point where people had expected he should have been watching what his rider was doing.


((I..knew you once,)) he said slowly, doubtfully, questioning that. ((I think?))


“Of course you did my friend. I haven’t seen you in a while. Life took me away from being a candidate. But I am still your friend if you’ll have me.” She paused a minute looking him over for a long moment. He was thinner than she remembered, and his hide seemed dull. She felt horrible for him, and it didn’t take much for her to step closer. Others might be afraid because he was M’ayen’s but he was still a dragon, and her friend.


“You poor thing, let’s get you cleaned up, and then maybe something to eat? That will make you feel a little better. It will help your rider too. Knowing that you are staying strong.”


((I ate earlier. I think.)) Ardeth hadn’t, but that was foggy too. It had been a long long time since he’d needed to think without relying on the easy back-up of what his rider knew. He focused on her, still trying to recall who she was. ((Were you friends with mine?))


“Not exactly. But we never fought either. But come, I know you must itch. My small friends and I can help with that. Come on now my large friend, into the water with you. Must get that dull hide shining again.” Alyx tried to stay upbeat, but her heart hurt for him. She made a mental note to check in on him more often and gently patted his hide, grimacing slightly at the dryness. Yes, a good bath, some oiling, and if she could convince him, a good meal.


Ardeth stood with a sigh, as though it were an effort, and lumbered the few steps to flop back down in the Lake, sending a wave towards Alyx. ((They won’t let him out,)) he confided in her. ((They say he’s bad. He’s not. He’s.. mine.)) It felt as though that on its own should erase any amount of sin.


Poor dragon, she knew he wouldn’t understand human morals, there was no point in trying to convince him. But she hurt for him. She followed him into the water, not minding the waves at all and started scrubbing at the worst looking areas.  


“He did things that weren’t so good. Dragon riders are supposed to protect people, not hurt them. He was misguided. But you’ve done nothing wrong my friend. And while yours is punished. I will come and help you as much as I can.” Alyx promised the large bronze, patting his hide gently.


((He only hurt them because she told him to,)) Ardeth was insistent on that point although he lay passively under the washing. ((She said they were behaving badly so he was going to make them behave.))


Though she’d heard some of what had happened, she knew that’s not what the weyrwoman had meant, and M’ayen had too. But she didn’t want to hurt Ardeth more. Instead just continuing with the scrub. There was much to scrub,  no one had been caring for him, and it showed. But little by little Ardeth looked cleaner, and even began to get a dull shine again. Which would be better after the oiling too. The back was a little harder and she had to climb up his side to get it well. 


“I’m sorry Ardeth. I wish I could change things for you. But no one’s likely to listen to me about it. But I will talk to some people. See if I can’t at least get him a little time to spend with you everyday. Not for him, but for your sake. Alright, out of the water please. Let’s get you oiled and looking your best. Then we can go get you something to eat. I can hear your stomach growling.”


((They say we can never fly again.)) There was grief in Ardeth’s voice at that, not even anger because who could get angry at a Weyrwoman? Just grief. He stood up with a groan; it seemed to take more effort that time. ((I don’t want to hunt without him.))


Shaking her head sadly, she grabbed the oiling brush and got to work. There was so much to oil, and she was very careful to give the places she’d had to scrub a bit more oil, they’d need it. She was careful with all the joints and folds in his wings, even rubbing the oil in with her hands massaging muscles gone tense in the days with out his rider. Once that was all done she stepped back. Other than the dullness of not eating and stress he looked a lot better.


“We should get you to the feeding grounds. If you aren’t up to hunting I am sure there will be someone there that will bring you something. I’ll go with you Ardeth. I’ll help take care of you till yours can again.”


((I really think I ate earlier.)) Ardeth seemed reluctant to move again once settled. ((Do you think they’ll let him hunt with me later, if I wait?))


Alyx sighed and sat down on a rock near his head. “I don’t know. But I will see what they say. This isn’t fair to you. If nothing else I will have someone bring you something here. You need to eat Ardeth, and stay strong for him.”


((They don’t feed him properly.)) Ardeth’s eyes whirled anxiously. ((They don’t let him sleep properly and they’re going to hurt him. They’ll make him sick.))


A legitimate worry for sure. Especially in an aged man. But what the weyrwoman decreed..she didn’t know if she could do much to change it, but decided, for Ardeth’s sake she would ask. She didn’t really think M’ayen deserved much better than what he’d gotten. But she was still Ardeth’s friend, and that meant she would do what she could for His sake.


“I’ll talk to them my friend. I promise you that. I’ll see what I can do to get him more comfortable for your sake.” It was a big promise to make in some ways. But she’d do it for him.



--

Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.