|Chapter 15||Dragonsblood||Chapter 17|
Kindan, B'nik, and Lorana return from Fort Weyr. Lorana rushes to her weyr to reach her dragon as quickly as possible. K'tan was waiting for them in Lorana's quarters. After embracing Arith, she tells K'tan that they'd found something at Fort Weyr, a reference to special rooms. She comforts Arith, who tells her to go look for the rooms.
At Ista Weyr, Dalia had appointed J'lantir as interim Weyrleader, supported unanimously by the other wingleaders. Only three days had passed since the fatal Threadfall, and the Weyr was preparing for another fall, over the abandoned Igen Weyr. J'lantir had only 124 fighting dragons left. The Weyr goes between to face Thread. It promised to be a nasty Fall, with terrible weather making it harder to fight Thread.
K'tan catches up with Kindan in the evening. Kindan had been searching for signs of the Oldtimer rooms, without any luck. K'tan reminsd Kindan that Ista Weyr was about to fly Thread, and that he might want to be there for Lorana. He agrees and heads to her quarters. Arith was resting, her breathing seeming to be easier. Lorana was leaning against her. He sits down next to her, and begins massaging her shoulders.
In the Council Room at Ista Weyr, J'lantir met with the surviving wingleaders and wingseconds. M'kir, enters the room. J'lantir tries to send him back. Of the wingleaders besides J'lantir, only S'maj was left.
Dalia enters the room. She tells them the casualties. Fourteen dragons had gone between, 20 were severely wounded, with other three months befoer they cuold fly. Another 31 with lesser injuries, still requiring several weeks to recuperate. And another eleven dragons were sick. Dalia reported that only 48 dragons would be available to fight Thread over Ista Hold in three days.
The next morning, Kindan awakes, still leaning against Arith. Arith flies off to the lake to bathe. Kindan had a map of the Weyr, showing where they had already looked for the special rooms mentioned in the Record at Fort Weyr. He'd had little success so far, and couldn't think of anywhere else to look. He meets B'nik, who tells him that K'tan said the new riding harnesses had arrived. Among them, were a set for Lorana. Kindan had ordered some brightware earlier for her, and now had leather to attach it to. The design on it included the Benden Weyr symbol, and a healer mark, with a picture of an animal, indicating a beasthealer.
Lorana did appreciate the flying gear, and Arith was excited about it as well, hoping it would mean they could fly together soon. K'tan said she needed to grow some more before that could happen. K'tan, Kindan, and Lorana discuss the possibility of quarantine, though they don't know what the best method of quarantine would be, since they don't yet know how it's spread, and there's also the problem of not knowing if a dragon that seems healthy wasn't already sick.
Tullea believed the search for the rooms was a waste of time. B'nik decided that Lorana would search for the missing rooms, while K'tan and Tullea would tend the sick and injured dragons, freeing Kindan for his teaching duties.
Salina comes up to Lorana, apologizing for not seeing her more. They talk, and in the course of the conversation, the special rooms were brought up. Salina figures out that if they weren't mentioned in the Weyr's own Records, they must've been considered too obvious to bother mentioning, but no one could find them now, so, she concludes, it must've been a cave-in that isolated them. Salina realizes where they probably are.
Salina tells M'tal what they'd figured out. M'tal suggests bringing Kindan along, since he was miner bred. Salina and M'tal head down to the Bowl, where Kindan was already singing.
Kindan begins Wind Blossom's Song, though he does not know the name. Lorana runs out of the room, and Tullea demands teh song never be sung again, B'nik agreeing with her. Reluctantly conceding, he sings more common songs. M'tal asks Salina to go see to Lorana.
Salina finds her in Arith's weyr. She's afraid that people will believe that she had brought the Plague to the Weyr. Salina comforts her, telling her that she'd never think of asking her to leave, and would help her solve the problem.
Meanwhile, Kindan is beating himself up over his choice of songs. M'tal suggests that a start in making it up to her would be to start looking where Salina thought the rooms were. He initiall intended to go immediately, but M'tal and K'tan talked him out of it, suggesting that he instead get some miners. The next morning, K'tan, M'tal, and Kindan set out the first thing, with B'nik's blessing.
They arrive at Mine Natalon, Kindan's home hold. Kindan and K'tan soon return back to Benden to make preparations while M'tal arranged for transport.
Five miners arrive at the Weyr, lead by Dalor. Dalor inspects the site of the cave-in, admiring the Oldtimer work. He noted that the tunnel they were in, where the cave-in had happened, went through a slip in the rock, where two layers met, which is why it had caved-in. Dalor and the other miners consider the work ahead of them.
By lunchtime the next day, the miners had broken through the cave-in. Dalor makes a faux pas in referring to M'tal as the Weyrleader, which Tuella takes offense at, though B'nik smooths things over.
They enter the newly-cleared corridor, lead by Tuella. She finds a door, and impetuously touches a square plate to its left, causing the door to open, releasing bad air. Tullea loses consciousness. Dalor suggests waiting an hour at least for the air to clear out.
Upon regaining consciousness, Tullea immediately demanded to see the Oldtimer Rooms. B'nik insisted that someone else go in first once the rooms had finished airing. Kindan volunteered, but Dalor gave Regellan the privilege.
He enters, testing the air, which proves perfectly fine, declaring that the room was "full of the most amazing things". Tullea races in to be second, also amazed at what she saw. Tullea pocketed some small silvery object. Then she moved to pick up some vials, looking at them, and setting them down again, not where she'd found them. When Kindand asked her if she remembered which went where she shrugged it off. Tullea continues looking around. B'nik pulls her away, leaving it to K'tan and Kindan to inventory the room. M'tal returned the miners home. They offered to return again whenever they needed help.
Hours later, Kindan and K'tan have found nothing useful. Only the four glass vials and some syringes, probably for injections, and cryptic designs on the wall of interconnected rods and balls (a depiction of PNA). Kindan is certain that the song he remembered had a clue, but he couldn't remember the end. There was another door, but they couldn't figure out how to open it.
Late that night, Lorana heads to the Oldtimer room, driven by concern for her dragon, seeing it now for the first time. Kindan was there, asleep. Lorana suggests that Kindan get some sleep while she looks around. She noted that the four designs on the wall were similar, but not identical, and that they appeared to be each connected with one of the vials.
Arith woke up, coughing. Lorana promised her she'd come. Arith knew she was dying, and Lorana decided to try the vials. She figures one of the vials had to have the cure, and decided to mix a little of each, Arith encouraging her. Arith tells Lorana she'd meet her at the entrance to the Hatching Grounds.
Tullea angrily woke B'nik up. She demanded that Lorana be kept away from the Oldtimer room for her own sake. As she argues with him, J'lantir from Ista Weyr arrives. J'lantir tells B'nik that Ista has only 46 dragons fit to fly Thread when it next fell, at Ista Hold, in less than two days. B'nik declared that Benden would aid them, lending them three wings, one flight. B'nik said he'd ask M'tal to be the flight leader. J'lantir thanked him and promised to reciprocate.
Lorana mixed the contents of the vials into a syringe. She hoped she had the right quantity, and the right amounts. Nervously, she injects the fluid into Arith. Initially, Arith didn't feel any different, but then she started feeling ill. Her skin turned splotchy. Arith complained abuot itching, then burning, then an intense pain. Arith suddenly went between. Lorana tried to reach her between, drawing on the other dragons, but to no avail. Arith was gone, and Lorana was dragonless.