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A Loyal Family (1/2)

Writers: Estelle, Paula
Date Posted: 15th July 2019

Characters: R'fal, Tasni, Corowal, Lirena, Galveden
Description: R'fal and his mother petition Corowal regarding the fate of their family's cothold
Location: Emerald Falls Hold
Date: month 11, day 10 of Turn 9


R'fal arrived early at the cothold which had once been his home. Much to
his relief, the appointed time for their meeting with Lord Corowal had
not coincided with wing drills, and he'd been able to swap his duties
with another young rider from his Wing. Otherwise, he'd have needed to
request leave from his Wingleader, and explain that his father was in
prison and he was trying to save the family farm for his brother. R'fal
was not sure he could have faced the disapproval - or sympathy - that
might have followed. It was better, he thought, that the bronzerider
knew nothing about it.

As Marlath landed, he saw his mother and Holder Galveden emerging from
the building, both dressed in their best clothes. He dismounted and gave
his mother a quick embrace, then turned to Galveden, unable to hide his
embarrassment. "Sir. I'm so very grateful to you for this - we both
are..." He glanced at his mother.

Their neighbour cleared his throat, equally disconcerted. "Think nothing
of it, lad. I want to see this cothold stay in the family as much as
anyone. It wouldn't be the same, with strangers."

"We don't know what Lord Corowal will say yet," Lirena reminded them
quietly. The petition and proposed contract had been prepared for them
by Harper Tasni, and submitted soon after the trial. Now they had to
make their case to the Lord Holder himself.

"But he must at least be willing to consider it," Galveden said, trying
to sound encouraging. "If he'd someone else lined up to take over the
cot, it would have been turned down flat."

"I brought you both riding jackets, so you won't get cold," R'fal said,
handing them over to his passengers. He didn't want to rush them, but
above all, they mustn't be late.

"Thanks." Galveden held up the jacket and shook his head, then looked
over at the patiently waiting Marlath. "Riding a dragon, at my age. What
a wonder!"

***

At Emerald Falls they were met by Tasni, bearing copies of the papers
she'd drawn up, and an assistant steward who was to escort them to see
the Lord Holder.

"Don't be afraid," the young harper advised them. Holder Galveden was
still too astounded by the dragon ride and the sights of the Hold to be
nervous, she thought, but both R'fal and Lirena were pale and tense. She
wasn't entirely calm herself, having never spoken to Lord Corowal apart
from at the trial. "Just answer his questions honestly - and don't
forget," she added, with a glance at R'fal, "we have accepted the
verdict against Holder Terren. Our argument is that his son is innocent
of any crime and deserves a chance to inherit his family home."

R'fal wanted to object. He longed to tell the Lord Holder that his
father was a good man and there had been a mistake. But he'd promised
his mother that he would follow the harper's advice, so he kept quiet as
they arrived at the Lord Holder's office. He took a deep breath, trying
to calm himself. This wasn't as bad as facing Thread for the first time,
and he had done that.

Corowal studied the group that was led to his office. Once the
introductions were take care of, he flashed one of his charming smiles
and asked: "What brings you here?" He wanted to hear them tell in
their own words.

"The family of the former cotholder Terren wish to present a petition
regarding the ownership of his farm and land," Tasni explained briefly.
If they were to be successful, they had to win his sympathy, and she
thought a personal appeal might carry more weight than the most polished
harper rhetoric. She looked to Lirena to explain.

Despite the Lord Holder's cordial manner, the holder woman was extremely
nervous about speaking to him, and at first her soft voice could barely
be heard. "My Lord, we accept your judgement that my husband had proved
himself unfit to hold in Emerald Falls. Yet the land has been in the
care of my family for generations. My parents and their ancestors have
always been loyal to their Lord Holder. I only ask that you consider our
proposal to continue that tradition."

"Your family? So, Terren became cotholder by marriage?," Corowal
wasn't as familiar with the finer details of Emerald Falls history as
someone who had actually been raised there. "Do you have any
brothers?"

"No, my Lord, only sisters. Their husbands have holds of their own and
mine did not, so he was chosen to succeed my father." Lirena glanced at
Galveden. She knew he would remember that painful time and how the
family had been divided over whether Terren deserved his inheritance.

"As you know, my eldest son cannot inherit the land, because he is
serving Pern as a dragonrider." She was clearly proud of R'fal, and her
voice rose a little as she gained confidence. "Our petition asks that
his younger brother be allowed to take his place, once he is old enough
to do so. Until then, my neighbour Holder Galveden has offered to run
the farm, and foster my son so that he can learn to be a good cotholder."

"Too bad there's no suitable male relative, I would have no qualms
passing the Holding to them," Corowal remarked when she told about his
sisters. He listened further, paying attention to their body languages.
"Are you sure he's not just aiming to annex your lands to his?"
Corowal asked with shrewd look at Galveden when she was finished.

The cotholder bristled at that suggestion. "Sir, Lirena's father was my
friend as well as my neighbour. I would never cheat his grandson out of
his inheritance."

"I do trust Holder Galveden," Lirena added quickly. If he offended the
Lord Holder, their petition might be rejected.

Galveden saw her warning look and hastily moderated his tone. "Besides,
that young lady," he said, nodding towards the harper, "has drawn up
such a tightly worded contract that I couldn't get my hands on the land
even if I wanted to."

"If Lirena's son is not able to take over the cothold for any reason,
then the decision about who will replace him will revert to you, my
Lord," Tasni explained. They'd had to consider the possibility. The
boy's brother was a dragonrider; he too might be Searched.

Last updated on the July 22nd 2019


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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are © Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2013, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author. The Dragonriders of Pern© is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.