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Chapter 12 Dragonquest Chapter 14

Robinton arrived at Fort Weyr on dragonback, for the unveiling of the distance-viewer and the possible planning of an expedition to the Red Star. It was six days after the disaster at High Reaches.

The dragon that Robinton rode landed at the Weyr, and he got off. He arrived at the place where the distance-viewer was set up. He meets Lessa there and asks about Brekke. She told him that she was doing as well as could be expected. She was now in F'nor's quarters, and was never left alone, with either F'nor, Mirrim, or Manora with her at all times. Lessa told him that they were planning to present her as a Candidate again at the next Hatching, hoping that she could re-Impress. There was opposition to this plan, though not from the Oldtimers this time, who appeared to be sure enough that she couldn't do it that they weren't concerned. F'nor and Manora were the main opposition. Brekke herself expressed no opinion, being completely shut in on herself, frustrating Lessa. F'lar was feverish, due to his having gone between to High Reaches immediately after the knife fight.

Meron arrives at the site of the distance-viewer as well. Ignoring the hostility directed at himself, he approaches the distance-viewer, scornfully. Wansor quickly approached him to ask him not to touch it. When he demanded to know why not, Fandarel came to his assistance, explaining that it had required great care to set up. Fandarel explained to Meron how to use the distance-viewer, and how to adjust it if needed. After several minutes, Groghe tells Meron to let others view. He refuses to give up his place. Fandarel picks him up, and sets him down further away, and gives Lessa the chance to look through it. She is startled at the sight of the Red Star through the distance-viewer. A succession of Lord Holders looked through the Distance-Viewer. Meron remained on the outside of the group.

The assembled viewers argue over what was land and what was water, or if the features they saw were something else entirely. During the discussion, a brief scuffle breaks out between Oterel and Sangel over who should look through the distance-viewer next, and they knock into it, ruining the alignment. Wansor realigns it.

Robinton at last takes a look. He takes a brief look at it, and stands up. Meron asked if he had a comment. He replied only that he felt it was wiser to keep their distance. Meron implies that Robinton "does as Benden Weyr decrees. And since Benden Weyr does not care to exterminated Thread at source ..."

Both Lessa and Robinton take offense at his comment. Meron implies that Robinton had a "hopeless passion" for Lessa. Robinton laughs it off, stating that Lessa had not half the attraction for him that Benden Wine did. Robinton emphasizes the hard, dangerous, work the dragonriders did to protect Pern, and how glad they would be to be free of that duty. Lessa admits that F'lar was planning an expedition to the Red Star.

Meron continues insisting that the dragonriders had no intention of ever destroying Thread, and that they would continue to make the Holds and Crafts dependent on them forever. He claims they were no longer needed, with fire-lizards. Lessa asks him if she should tell T'bor he no longer needed to protect Nabol. He turns around and leaves without a reply. Nessel nervously asks if she would really do that, and she points out that Meron did not ask that, and there were innocents beholden to him that they could not, in good conscience, abandon.

Lessa departs to return to Benden. On her way to Ramoth, Robinton asks her for her personal opinion on the proposed expedition, and she tells him it scared her.

The next morning, F'lar asks Lessa what she'd seen. She tells him that she'd had N'ton get Thread for his project, since F'nor was now busy taking care of Brekke. She tells him that, as he'd though, when they poured the Thread in, the grubs instantly rose to consume the Thread, which quickly disappeared.

Lioth and a green dragon arrive, announced by Mnementh, announcing that the green was a messenger, with a very excited man.

N'ton and Wansor arrive. Wansor excitedly announces the discovery of new worlds in the skies above Pern, one with several smaller sattelites. N'ton recalled a drawing in the Council Room at Fort Weyr which showed several small globes on circular routes, the meaning of which was now clear. As for the Red Star, however, they had still not found any adequete co-ordinates.

N'ton hypothesizes that the Southern Continent was abandoned to permit the grubs to perpetuate. N'ton offers to sneak into the Southern Continent to map it out, and check to see if grubs were elsewhere than in the area they'd found them.

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