|Chapter 12||Dragonsblood||Chapter 14|
The morning after the disasterous first Threadfall, M'tal announces that they Weyr would drill will mixed wings. Two more dragons had gone between. He agrees that the sick dragons should not fly. He asked Lorana and Kindan to call out random "casualties" from time to time to increase the realism of the practice. Kindan and Lorana were searching the Weyr's Records for anything that might help. He'd also asked MasterHarper Zist to search the Harper Hall Records for any possible assistance. L'tor remarks that Kindan and Lorana were possibly working too hard, and worried that they might miss something vital from being too tired. The riders complain about Tullea's slacking of her duties as Weyrwoman. The drill goes well, with B'nik's wing dropping ropes, popping in and out between above the riders dropping handfuls, to simulate clumps.
Kindan and Lorana are searching the Records, some of which were disintegrating from age. Kindan remarks that most of the Records were nothing but dull, dry, repetitious facts, recording crop yields, rainfall, etc. Kindan vaguely remembers something about a song, but can't remember anything more. Their sandglass runs out, indicating that they should call out another "casualty". Kindan chooses Ganth, T'mac's brown, leaving J'ken without a wingsecond.
Lorana suggests that they should look through the oldest Records. After a few hours, Lorana complains about the uselessness of the old Records. Salina enters the room and suggest taht she could help, and that Lorana should feed her dragon. Lorana leaves, and Salina sits down to go through the Records.
Two days later, Threadfall was due over lower Benden and upper Nerat. Three more dragons had gone between (bringing the total number of draconic fatalities to 50). There were eight more sick dragons. The total number of fighting dragons left to him were only 196, slightly over two flights. The dragons went between to lower Benden, to await Thread.
M'tal was prepared, though concerned about expected casualties. Thread begins to fall, and the dragons are ready to meet it. Unexpectedly, Tullea appears below them, the Weyr's sole mature female. Her prescence throws the wing into confusion. He attempts to order her back, but Tullea said it was her "duty" to be at Threadfall. M'tal orders the spare riders to protect her and the rest of the dragons to regroup. M'tal asks his dragon to talk to Lorana, to have her explain to Minith that she should return to the Weyr, that she was too near her mating flight to risk Threadfall. She returns to the Weyr.
Tullea was outraged at Lorana for calling her dragon back. She yells at Lorana, who is defended by Kindan and Salina.
K'tan and Kindan discuss the incident. K'tan remarks that Tullea was the only person he knew he got less sociable after she Impressed. K'tan remarks that he'd heard that Kindan had been tapped for Master, but Kindan replied that it didn't seem a good time to leave the Weyr. K'tan darkly replies that if he did, there might not be a Weyr when he returned. Four dragons had been lost during the Fall, and another 15 severely wounded and 22 with minor injuries.
L'tor approaches and tells K'tan that M'tal wanted to see him.
K'tan arrives at the Council Room, M'tal and B'nik being the only other people there. M'tal remarks that they'd started the Pass with 370 fighting dragons, and were now down to just 215 able to fight, after just two Threadfalls. They had 19 more days until the next Threadfall, over Bitra. He tells B'nik that, if all went well, he'd have him lead the next Fall. K'tan estimates that they might have only aroudn 170 dragons able to fight in the next Threadfall, based on estimates of how many more would fall ill by then.
At the Harper Hall, MasterHarper Zist is awoken, at three hours past midnight, by the watch drummer, Terilar, with Kindan's message, asking if he would trade him news about the Weyrs. Zist immediately understood the significance of the request. He summons Masters Jofri, Verilan, and Kelsa, and calls for some hot klah. Jofri understands the significance of the message, that the Weyrs weren't sharing information.
Verilan, who was Master Archivist, reported that he had found no information on any kind of illness among fire-lizards, dragons, or watch-whers. Zist asks Kelsa to search her memory and her library for any songs concerning lost fire-lizards or dragons, in the hope of finding some kind of clue.
At Benden Weyr, M'tal had just gotten into bed, when Tullea barges in, waking him up, demanding to know "what [he] think[s he's] doing". Kindan and Lorana, in the Records Room next door, over hear her entering, shouting. Kindan listens carefully. Tullea accuses M'tal of trying to kill B'nik. Neither M'tal nor Salina have any idea what she means. She had come to the conclusion that M'tal's decision to have B'nik lead the next Fall was some plot to kill him. She also demands that Salina move out of the senior Weyrwoman's quarters. M'tal tells her that they'd already begun moving her into B'nik's quarters.
Kindan and Lorana enter the room. Salina asks Lorana to get some klah and food, or wine. Kindan agrees and adds, in an undertone, that the wine should be laced with fellis juice. Lorana leaves the room. The argument continues, with Tullea saying that when she's Weyrwoman, she'd order Lorana to tend to her dragon. M'tal suggests that she should start being Weyrwoman, by taking over the search through the Records.
On her way down, Lorana runs into B'nik. He was on his way to try to catch up with Tullea. By the time Lorana returned, Tullea had grown quieter, but still determined that B'nik shouldn't lead the next Fall. B'nik insists that it's his duty, and that he wants to do it. After a few moments, B'nik and Tullea leave.
M'tal and Tullea try to figure out why she'd been so irritable for the past three Turns. Salina wonders if there might be something in her diet that was making her that way. Kindan and Lorana decide to call it a night and go to sleep. Out of earshot of Tullea and M'tal, Kindan asks Lorana if it was possible the disease could be caused by some missing nutrient.
The next day Lorana and Kindan are searching through the Records. Lorana notices a reference to Fort Weyr, which she'd seen several other times. She decides that Fort Weyr seems to be where the Weyrleaders go when they're stumped, presumably because they have the oldest Records, and are able to get copyists from the nearby Harper Hall.
In bed, Tullea apologizes to B'nik for her earlier actions. She tells him that she feels "pulled part, dizzy; I can't concentrate. I feel out of control all the time ... it's been like this for Turns ... I want me back, I want to be who I was, not angry all the time"
Lorana and Kindan are looking for M'tal. They find K'tan, who tells them that there are two more sick dragons. From first syptoms to death took two, maybe three sevendays. Lorana notices a dragon on the ledge of its weyr, sneezing. She notices a cloud of green ooze spraying down, and wonders if that's how it spreads. K'tan suggests that they isolate the sick dragons on the lowest levels, though Lorana points out that the riders still have to walk across the Bowl, and the dragons washed in the lake. A couple of other theories are mentioned, and K'tan suggests looking for a patter on a map of the weyrs. K'tan tells them that M'tal was off training. Lorana called Gaminth, his dragon, back.
Lorana, Kindan, K'tan, M'tal, and Salina gather in the Council Room. K'tan notices that the dragons on the lower levels were more likely to be infected than the ones on the upper levels. M'tal says there's no way they can go to Fort Weyr because of the quarantine