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The Lighthouse

Writers: Yvonne
Date Posted: 24th August 2020

Characters: Alina, Rehaan
Description: Alina visits a most unusual lighthouse keeper
Location: Dragonsfall Weyr, Elsewhere on Pern
Date: month 6, day 1 of Turn 10
Notes: Mentioned: J'ackt, M'gan


This is it?”

“This is it.” The Headwoman’s assistant gestured to the pair of crates near the entrance to the Weyr and made a mark on her hide as she turned away. Alina recognized the dismissal when she saw one. The crates she was now responsible for were large, splintered, and they looked heavy. And somehow she had to load them onto poor Imarith.

Her new weather-duties came with all sorts of extra perks.

}:I could lie down?:{ the green dragon offered. Her eyes glittered in the sunlight as she examined their cargo. }:Maybe I could roll over like that Beast.:{

The greenrider smiled in spite of herself. **You like that trick I taught Stumpy?**

Imarith blinked slowly, then with equal gravity folded her wings, lowered herself to the ground, and rolled over in the dust. Alina saw a few heads whip around and faces split into delighted, disbelieving grins as her silly green straightened and shook off the dust like a canine. }:Do I get a treat now too?:{

**No, you lummox!** Embarrassment warred with fondness for her silly dragon and she ducked her head, hoping that nobody she knew saw her dragon behaving like that. **Didn’t anyone tell you that dragons are supposed to be dignified? Help me with the cargo!**

Imarith grumbled good-naturedly and Alina bit back a cuss as she hefted the two crates one-by-one and managed to strap them to the green’s harness. Her weyrmate’s bad habits were rubbing off on her. Alina checked to make sure that the weight was evenly distributed and that no corners were poking into her dragon’s soft hide, and then she strapped herself in and did up her flight jacket.

She took a moment to picture their destination in her mind, carefully visualizing the points of reference for their flight. Mindful of M’gan’s admonishment to be careful taking so many jumps /between/, she hadn’t been able to get to a couple of the weather stations the previous day. This particular station also needed supplies, which was why she was carrying crates.

Imarith bunched beneath her, then leaped into the sky. Her powerful wings quickly brought them to the Star Ston, and after reconfirming her destination with the watch pair they blinked /between/.

The cold of it stole her breath. Black, blacker, blackest. Then sun-dazzled skies and sparkling blue waters. Imarith slipped through the salty air along the coast, marking their landmarks along the way to their destination: a narrow white tower with a glass top, perched on a lonely spit of land spilling into the sea.

Imarith dropped altitude in lazy circles until they landed on the rocky outcrop. Waves beat the shoreline and sent a fine spray of salt over everything. The lighthouse loomed before them, a narrow tower topped with glimmering glass. It was a lonely place; there was no road leading to it or settlements anywhere within sight. They often used the lighthouse as a marker for /between/ when flying Thread in the area. Alina tried to think of the closest cothold, and couldn’t.

She slipped from Imarith’s back and was lifting the crates down when her dragon alerted her that the door to the lighthouse opened. A man stood there, dressed in a worn brown tunic and a pair of trousers with holes in the knees. His brown hair was liberally streaked with grey and was tied back from his face. His beard reached half-ways down his chest and there were deep lines in his weather-beaten face. He looked worried, she thought. Alina smiled and stepped forward with her hand extended. “You must be Rehaan. I’m greenrider Alina. I’ve taken over J’pil’s route. Fenolth was injured, and they are grounded for the time being.”

The man hesitated, then took her hand in his. “Oh.” His palm was thickly calloused and he only touched her hand as long as he had to before pulling it away. Two of his fingers were twisted and looked unusable, the knuckles thickened with arthritis.

Alina gestured to the crates. “Is it alright if I leave these here?”

“Ah… yes?” Rehaan cleared his throat. “I mean, yes. Of course.”

“Good. Thank you.” Alina nodded to the tower, and Rehaan followed her gaze uncertainly. “They’re a bit heavy.”

“Ah… that won’t be any trouble.”

Alina studied him for a moment. Now that he’d stepped closer, she could see the mats in his hair and could smell the subtle tang of a body that had been out in the elements too long. His feet were bare, too; the soles calloused and thick where he stood on the rocks. “Have you been here long, sir?” she asked.

Rehaan blinked. “Ah… what do you mean?”

“Oh! I, uh…” Alina felt herself flush as she turned back to the crates. “I was.. just wondering how long you’ve lived at the lighthouse. Please excuse me if that’s prying. I didn’t mean to, sir.”

“Oh! Oh. Ah… some-- some time,” Rehaan said vaguely. He didn’t offer to help as Alina finished untying the crates and laying them on the doorstep to the cottage.

“Did you know J’pil well?” Alina asked.

Rehaan shrugged. “Well enough.”

She was at a bit of a loss, her ability to navigate the niceties with a stranger at its limit. Some of the other starsmiths had been reticent to talk as well, but Rehaan was proving to be vastly different from even them-- in many ways. Alina flashed him another big smile to hide her sudden nervousness. “Well, that’s it then. I’ll tell J’pil that you send your regards, sir. I’ll be off, then.”

“Oh.” Rehaan blinked at her. “Ah… safe flight?”

She was just about to get back onto Imairth when Alina remembered that she was supposed to pick something up as well as drop something off. She turned back to Rehaan apologetically. “I almost forgot… I’m supposed to pick up the weather report?”

Rehaan froze. They stared at each other for a moment, then he shook his head. “I, ah… I spilled ink on it. Last night. I can give it to you tomorrow. When you come back. It will be you, won’t it? Or will it be J’pil?” he asked anxiously.

“Me, I’m afraid,” Alina said. “J’pil… well, Fenolth won’t be cleared to fly for a while.”

“Oh. That’s… unfortunate.” Rehaan stared off toward the ocean for a moment. When he looked back at her, Alina felt pinned by the intensity of his gaze. “I’m sorry about the weather report, greenrider. But I promise you, I’ll have it ready for the next time you’re here.”

“Of course.” She smiled. “I’ll let my Wingleader know. M’gan. I’m sure that the Starsmiths will be able to do their work just as well without one report… although you would know better than I would. Did you need extra hides or anything, to help with the spill?”

Rehaan shook his head. “I should be fine. But I would like to know when J’pil will be back on duty, if it’s all the same to you. Fair skies, greenrider.”

“I’ll let you know as soon as I do. And clear seas to you,” Alina replied. She climbed back onto Imarith and the pair of them took off, leaving the lonely lighthouse and its strange keeper far below.

~*~

The next day was bright and sunny, with a light wind from the east. Alina hadn’t noticed before, but now that she knew that air had weight and weather was just math, it seemed like the skies had a whole new dimension to them. She and Imairth returned to Rehaan’s little lighthouse and circled twice before landing in the same clearing.

Rehaan came out to meet them, but looked to be a completely different man. He’d shaved his matted beard, bathed, and found clothing that wasn’t full of clothes. When she’d first met him she had thought he was in his fifties, but without his beard and his hair trimmed and combed back, he looked decades younger, maybe in his thirties... still weather-beaten, but oddly handsome and with a wholly unexpected cleft in his chin. He stood at the stoop of the cabin as she landed, tugging at the hem of his plain grey tunic. It didn’t fit him well, Alina noticed. The shoulders were several finger widths too small, and the cuffs exposed wiry brown wrists.

“Fair skies, dragonrider,” Rehaan called once Imarith landed.

“And to you, Starsmith.” Alina stayed seated on Imarith as Rehaan came toward her, a familiar rolled up tube in his hand.

“I appreciate you coming back, after my-- ah, accident. With the ink.” Rehaan held the scroll out to her. “I hope that the Weyrleader wasn’t angryt?”

Alina shook her head as she took the report. “I heard nothing from the Weyrleader, or my Wingleader. The Starsmiths at the Weyr are anxious for your report, however Threadfall shouldn’t be for a while and I don’t think that it was critical. Well, you would know better than I would.”

Rehaan rolled his shoulders, as if relieved. “I am glad that I didn’t get you into any trouble.”

“No, it’s all right.” She wanted to ask why he’d shaved, bathed… was it because of her? A greenrider instead of a bluerider? It was an uncomfortable thought. “I… ah, did you find what you needed in the crates yesterday? I can speak to the Headwoman for you if you need anything else…?”

He smiled up at her and shook his head. “More than adequate,” he said. “Thank you. You are very generous.”

“It’s the Weyr’s generosity, not mine. The Headwoman packs it all.” Alina ducked her head, suddenly shy. “If you need anything different next time, sir, please let me know and I will pass your requests. She’s quite accommodating if you don’t expect things immediately.”

The starsmith paused. His eyes wandered over the lonely lighthouse and its little cottage, both whitewashed and gleaming in the sunlight. “No… I think I have all that I need, right here.” He sounded surprised, and the way he looked at his outpost was like a man who had forgotten what he had. Like it was new. “I think… I think I am quite content.”

“Well. I… ah, ought to be going, then.” Alina fussed as she attached the tube with the rolled-up report to Imarith’s straps. “It was a pleasure, Starsmith. I will see you soon.”

“Fair skies,” Rehaan said.

“And to you,” Alina replied. As Imarith gathered to launch into the clear blue air, she wondered if starsmiths used that greeting as well. She narrowed her eyes against the wind, and once they were skyborne looked down to see if she could see Rehaan. The starsmith was gone, and the lighthouse once again the only spot of civilization in the wilderness.

Imarith went /between/ and they disappeared into the vast black.

Last updated on the October 13th 2020


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