|Chapter 14||Dragonquest||Chapter 16|
Brekke had emerged from her deep depression. She speaks to F'nor, and the two embrace, she begins crying, a cathartic release at first, and then descending into hysteria. Manora snaps her out of it with a slap. Brekke was angry at having been forced onto the Hatching Ground. F'nor explains that that was F'lar's and Lessa's idea. She begins sliding back into her depression. Canth, Grall, and Berd all join, along with F'nor, in calling her back. Brekke asks never to be left alone. Canth tells her that he is there, and the fire-lizards echo him.
Mirrim arrives with a tray full of food for Brekke. She settles Brekke in her bed, and begins feeding her. She'd also brought some food for F'nor. Mirrim sends F'nor out to feed his dragon. Brekke momentarily feels a sense of panic when she sees F'nor and Canth leaving, until Canth reassures her that he's still there. Ramoth and Mnementh concur. As Brekke begins sliding into sleep, Mirrim tells her that F'nor had said she didn't like to be alone, and so she'd wait there until he returned.
In the Bowl, Lessa watched the feast. Lytol had gotten completely drunk, thanks to Robinton, distracting him, for the time being at any rate, from the problem of Jaxom's Impression of Ruth. She wondered what would be done with Jaxom. It was generally expected that Ruth would not live long, and Lessa wondered if he should be kept at the Weyr until Ruth died.
Lessa was concerned that the Lord Holders might upset the territorial balance on account of Jaxom's Impression of Ruth, despite the fact that he would be useless in Threadfall. She was determined that he'd have to stay at Ruatha.
Ramoth assured Lessa that Ruth would prosper, and Mnementh agreed.
Lytol was drunkenly insisting that there was no reason he should mind Jaxom's Impression. Raid insisted that, as he'd Impressed a dragon, he should stay at the Weyr. Lytol retorted that Ruth was not a proper dragon. There'd never been a white one before. Therefore, he insisted, Jaxom must remain at Ruatha. Robinton concurred. Raid insisted once more that he should remain at the Weyr, and Lytol replied that he must return to Ruatha, so that when the dragon died, he'd have obligations and responsibilities to give him a hold on life. Robinton fell asleep, and Lytol finished his wine.
Sifer pointed out to Raid that the fire-lizards were similar to dragons, yet they could live outside a Weyr. Larad concurs that Jaxom belonged at Ruatha, as he was the Lord Holder, and there was no one else who could take his place. The debate continued.
Jaxom arrived at the Lord Holders' table at about that time. Raid confronts him about his Impression, asking if he realized the trouble he'd caused. Jaxom tells him he was fully aware. Raid tells Jaxom that he had to stay at the Weyr, and that Ruatha was left lordless. Jaxom replies that the Lords present did not consist the necessary two-thirds quorum for a Conclave, and thus cuold not determine such a matter, but that he'd be quite willing to plead his case before a Conclave if needed. He further went on to point out that Ruth would be useless in Threadfall, was unlikely to survive to maturity, and was more an overgrown fire-lizard than a dragon, and thus should not be considered an impediment to his Holding. Asgenar and Larad approved of Jaxom's reply. Raid was still not convinced, saying that youngsters these days all act before they think. Jaxom went on to say that he had to act quickly to save the life of a dragon, as all are taught to honor them, him more than most. Lytol supports his ward. Raid remained unconvinced, but it was clear that he was the only one present who was still against Jaxom's staying at Ruatha.
That having been settled, Lessa turns to see why Andemon was there, and immediately runs into F'nor. Robinton joins them, and they go to the Rooms. They arrive to see Andemon inspecting a fellis sapling. F'lar and N'ton stood watching him.
Andemon told them that, if what he'd been told was the truth, that he was frightened. He reaches into one of the pots and pulls out some grubs, flinging them in disgust to the ground. He tells him that they were parasites. They'd been working to rid the southern part of the Northern Continent for centuries.
F'lar convinces him of their use, to Andemon's dismay, as that meant that the Farmers had been, unwittingly, working against Pern's best interest. He remarks that there was a Record instructing Farmers to watch for the grubs, and they had - destroying them, burning entire fields when necessary - when they were found. He laughs at the bitter irony, that the Record had said to watch for them without saying why they were to watch for them. Andemon asks what dragonmen would do if the Continent were thoroughly grubbed, leaving no work for them. F'lar assures him there's no immediate danger of dragonriders being unemployed, but deftly sidesteps the question of just what they would do.
F'lar asked Andemon to estimate how long it would take for the grubs to spread across the Continent, and he replied that he had no way of knowing, as they'd always seared fields with any signs of infestation before they could spread. F'lar suggested using Lemos as the first test site. Andemon was mostly convinced, but insisted on running his own experiments with the grubs and Thread. F'nor understood that F'lar had some plan in mind for the dragonriders after the grubs had been spread, but didn't know what it was.