Lessa feels sorrow over Gemma's pain, but also anger over her ill-timed groan, and, unconciously, squeezes, practically crushing, Gemma's hand. Lessa hisses to her that she had come so close to getting Ruatha when her groan broke the tension. Gemma believes in the impending arrival of Thread.
Gemma dies before delivering the child. Lessa feels guilt over her anger towards Gemma, who had done her no harm. She decides to announce (a lie she believes), that the child had survived and was male. She announces this. Fax, angered, strikes her, knocking her to the ground. F'lar is concerned for her, suspecting that she was the source of the power he felt.
F'lar demands that Fax honor his oath to renounce the Hold for the child. Fax rejects it, scornfully dismissing the Dragonriders as "Women! Parasites on Pern". A duel soon breaks out. F'lar is injured, but Fax is killed.
F'lar takes the fallen drudge - Lessa - to his chamber. He is relieved to see that she was alive, and young. She awakens. He tells her that Fax was dead, and declares herself as the true heir. She tells F'lar that Gemma had died, the babe unborn, and that she therefore had no rival. She ran off, then, F'lar chases after her, encountering F'nor, who informs him that hte child had, in fact, been born, and was male. Mnementh caught Lessa. He reaches her, unable to resist taunting her with the knowledge that Gemma's child had been born and was male. F'lar informs Lessa that, had she approached him when he first arrived, he could've championed her cause.
The watch-wher, in its confusion, believes Lessa is in danger, and attacks F'lar. Lessa cries out "Don't kill! Don't kill!" The watch-wher, at the last minute, adjusts its trajectory, crashing into the ground, cracking its neck and dying instantly. The Dragons mourn its loss as they would a Dragon.
They go between to the Weyr.
Lessa is quartered in F'lar's quarters. R'gul and S'lel arrived with, respectively, 5 and 2 candidates. K'net and T'bor likewise brought candidates, but F'lar was unconcerned, convinced that his candidate would be chosen.
Characters Introduced Edit
- Unnamed midwife