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A Mother's Worries

Writers: Devin, Estelle
Date Posted: 9th August 2023

Characters: R'lor, Alyena
Description: R'lor talks with Alyena about R'ayl while the weyrlings drill.
Location: Dolphin Cove Weyr
Date: month 13, day 9 of Turn 10
Notes: Mentioned: R'ayl


R'lor
R'lor

}:Orosmath needs to tighten up a bit,:{ Kularth observed as they
watched the weyrlings drill.

**I'll speak to his rider after drills.** R'lor knew Kularth would
already be correcting the dragon, and sure enough, the blue adjusted
his position.

Alyena came out of the Lower Caverns and tilted her head back, enjoying
the sun on her face after a morning's work in the kitchens. She had a
short break before it would be time to start preparing the noon meal,
and she often came out to see if she could catch a glimpse of her son.
Now they'd progressed to flight drills, it wasn't so easy. She shaded
her eyes and tried to pick out Delorth among the young dragons flying
far above.

R'lor noticed the woman watching. "Just curious, or do you know
someone up there?"

"Oh - yes." She turned her gaze from the sky, startled. "My son, R'ayl.
His dragon is Delorth. I'm sorry, Weyrlingmaster," she added hastily,
recognizing his knots. "Am I in the way?"

"No, no. Not at all. R'ayl . . . he's a sweet boy." He glanced back up
at the drilling pairs. R'lor had gotten a little more attached than he
should be and he worried about the upcoming/betweening/ training, not
to mention the blooding.

"He is." Alyena's manner warmed considerably at the praise of her son.
"Though he's still very young..." She hesitated, not wanting to seem to
criticise the Weyr. R'ayl seemed happy, but she wasn't sure he
understood the dangers he would face as a dragonrider.

"Yes, he's certainly on the younger end for Impression. I keep telling
him not to compare his physical abilities to the twenty-Turn-olds."
Though the lad was certainly looking much more healthy and fit than
when he'd first come to the Weyr.

"I've tried that too. He'll have time to catch up when he's older, but I
don't think he wants to wait." Alyena thought back to what her son had
said about his time as a Candidate and now, as a weyrling. "You must be
Weyrlingmaster R'lor? R'ayl told me how kind you were to him, when he
first came here." She smiled. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Yes, I'm R'lor, of blue Kularth. Sorry I should have
introduced myself." Odd to think this woman had raised both a
notorious would-be murderer and gentle, shy R'ayl.

"That's all right. I'm Alyena." She looked up at the dragons again. They
were moving into a new formation, a V-shape. "R'ayl says that they'll be
learning to go /between/ soon."

"A pleasure to meet you, Alyena. Yes, it's one of the most important
milestones in training." And the most dangerous, aside from the
Blooding. R'lor didn't like thinking of the potential of losing R'ayl,
or any of his charges. "It's such an amazing ability, that dragons can
take us anywhere on Pern in just a few breaths."

"It is. I can't even begin to comprehend it..." Alyena wasn't certain
how to ask about what she feared. No one had said anything to her
directly, but she listened, and knew that some of those she worked
alongside had lost family members, sometimes children, in weyrling
training. "Is it difficult? For them to learn?"

R'lor nodded. "It can be. That's why we have drills and classes
leading up to it, and we assess each pair to make sure they're ready.
R'ayl should have a slight advantage with his weaver training,
visualization is key, and he's had some experience with learning
patterns." He wanted to be honest, but he also didn't want to
emphasize the danger.

"I never thought of that." She was reassured, remembering how R'ayl
had always been the most observant of her children. But still she
couldn't help thinking of how going /between/ would bring him one step
closer to Thread. "I suppose it can't wait until he's older?"

"All weyrlings learn to /between/ regardless of rider age. He won't
join the fighting wings until he's older, though."

"Oh - I see," Alyena replied, unable to hide her relief. "I thought
that you might have needed all the pairs you could get." She hadn't
entirely trusted that the Weyr wouldn't send even a boy as young as
her son to fight.

"We do, but the Weyrleader remains firm that riders must be sixteen
turns before joining the fighting wings." That was the traditional age
and R'lor agreed with it. "There was a brief time the previous
Weyrleader lowered the age to fifteen, but that was when Dolphin Cove
was in dire need and it was before my time here."

Alyena supposed that was another reason to be thankful to the
Weyrleader. Barring any catastrophe, it would be more than three Turns
before R'ayl would have to fight Thread. "What will he do until then?"

"He'll be a Weyrling Assistant, which means he'll be helping me." The
corner of his mouth turned up.

"He'll like that." She was glad, too. The Weyrlingmaster seemed to be
a good man who'd taken the time to reassure her, and hadn't judged
R'ayl for what his brother had done. "He really looks up to you."

"It's good to hear that." It warmed R'lor's heart. "Sometimes I worry
I'm a bit soft for this job, but I don't believe compassion is
incompatible with discipline. Baby dragons and young humans need care
to thrive."

"I agree." Alyena's reply was heartfelt, but a moment later she
realized it might appear she was putting her own thoughts on a level
with the Weyrlingmaster's. She glanced down, embarrassed. "I mean - he
seems happier here than he's ever been."

"Ah. I'm sorry his life wasn't better before now." R'lor didn't want
that to sound like a criticism. "I hear things were difficult for all
of you at the cothold."

"It wasn't easy. We didn't have any experience of farming, or cothold
life. My husband was a guard, and we'd always lived at the main Hold.
Then, when he died, and Grev..." She caught herself. "After that, it
was only me and the children working the land. It was too much for us.
I should have given up and gone back to Emerald Falls." She hesitated.
"I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm saying all this. It's in the past."

"Sometimes we need to talk about the things we've been through."

"Perhaps, but..." She looked up at the drilling weyrlings with a
rueful, half-embarrassed smile. "Maybe this isn't the time, or the
place."

"Ah, yes." Kularth had been keeping a close eye on the young ones, but
R'lor should focus his attention. "But feel free to speak with me if
you have questions or concerns."

"Thank you. This isn't the life I ever imagined for R'ayl, and I'm
still trying to understand what it all means for him, and for his
sister. Living in the Weyr." At least one of her fears had been
allayed. She'd been afraid that weyrling training would be harsh, but
her son appeared to be enjoying every moment, and there was something
about the Weyrlingmaster that made her trust him to look out for
R'ayl. "I'd better be going. I don't want to be late back to work."
She looked up at the blue dragon, still watching the skies. "My duty
to Kularth."

"Thank you," R'lor said. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Alyena." The
Weyrleader had said he didn't think R'ayl's mother was involved and
now that R'lor had met her he didn't sense any deception from her
either. All he saw was a concerned mother, and if she_had_ been
involved in some way, her son becoming a dragonrider had to change
things.

"And you, Weyrlingmaster. Thank you again." Alyena nodded respectfully
to dragon and rider, then hurried back to the kitchens, feeling easier
in her mind than she had before. She didn't think she'd ever stop
worrying about R'ayl, but it was good to know that someone was looking
out for him among the dragonriders.

Last updated on the September 4th 2023


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