K’brin: Chapter 5, Journal 10 – The Impossible Journey
- Finally, the day came when Master Althea said it was time for us to make the long jump to Varlada.
- We left as early in the conjunction as we could, to give us as much time as possible to explore Varlada and hopefully return with the Elixir of Two Moons.
- Every Weyr sent a full wing, with firestone sacks, to guard Great Isle after we left.
- Benden – P’dair of bronze Nydroth and Mistral Flight’s Gamma Wing.
- Fort – K’ton of bronze Vacarth and Sapphire wing.
- High Reaches – V’gor of bronze Brontith and Fortitude wing.
- Igen – L’rad of bronze Chalkoth and Tempest wing.
- Ista – B’ran of bronze Norolith and Belior wing.
- Telgar – Z’ran of bronze Magnuseth and Umbra wing.
- All of the Wingleaders and some of their Wingseconds wanted to meet the members of Faranth’s Wing that night, to see if our mission was really worth possibly ordering their dragonriders to fight and die. I played the role of diplomat that night exquisitely.
- As the Wingleaders and their Wingseconds retreated from the tent to tend to their own men, L’nos approached and said that he could arrange for me to speak with K’ton – and suggested that I do so. I was tired but did as he asked.
- K’ton is 48 Turns old, and is the only other person I have ever met who has the same striking hazel eyes as Kevlen and me. He lost an open mating flight at Ista Weyr to G’mar about twenty-six or twenty-seven Turns ago and, after some discussion, thinks that he’s probably my half-uncle.
- With the ice broken, K’ton proved to be surprisingly personable and we spent a good bit of time talking. The weathered dragonrider and I got along surprisingly well. He said that I, and maybe the twins, should come and visit with him at Fort Weyr when my mission is done.
- We jumped between with an honor guard of six full Wings of dragons, more than I had ever seen in the air at the same time in my life – more dragons than all of Ista Weyr has.
- 63 seconds – The terrifying length of jump between Pern and Varlada, more than long enough to begin wondering if we were going to die in the cold darkness.
- We emerged above a craggy, verdant landscape with thick, thick undergrowth reminiscent of that on Pern before Threadfall returned.
- N’lan sent through his dragon, “I couldn’t believe it was real until this moment.“
- We caught the sounds of many different animals coming from the forests below, some that were probably birds and many more that we couldn’t identify at all.
- In the distance stood the silhouette of a single tall mountain.
- We found the village pictured in “The Book of Crossings” on a small river, not far from a ridge.
- Low stone walls separated the village into sections, and well-paved roads ran everywhere.
- Most of the buildings were made of beige or sand-colored stone, and up to three stories tall. They had tall, angled roofs covered with some type of thin shingle. They faced whatever direction their builder thought had the best view, and there was greenery everywhere – even going right up to the buildings.
- The tallest building in town was a six-story tower topped with a metal bird.
- The largest building in town was a pale cobblestone structure with a steep roof, ivy cultivated up the sides, and many, many glass windows. It sat at the center of a paved square with spiral patterns set into the stone.
- The women wore simple but elegant dresses, and the men wore tunics or short-sleeved shirts with vests over them – often with patterns embroidered into them.
- Some people stopped and stared when they saw us, while others hurried toward their homes. A bell tolled in the distance to announce our arrival.
- We landed on a large, neatly-trimmed lawn on the outskirts of the village and were quickly greeted by Mayor Izhora, an elderly woman in a storm gray dress with her hair held in a bun by a black ribbon, and two terrified bannermen.
- One bannerman carried the heraldry of Carindas, a cross on quartered gold and green. The other carried unfamiliar heraldry, a green shield with diagonal lines basket-woven over it.
- Mayor Izhora welcomed us formally to Woodgate, and asked why we had come. When I seemed reluctant to answer, she asked if we had come from the Lindley Observatory. T’ria sensed that she thought she was being very clever, deducing where we had come from, so I played along – and told her that we had come to Woodgate to discuss something from the Observatory with Lorekeeper Findmar. Mayor Izhora instantly looked more relieved, and said that they would be glad to escort us to the Lorekeeper’s house. As we walked, she also invited us to dinner with her that night.
- Mayor Izhora led us to what I guessed was a medium-sized single-story house made of cobblestones with chimneys on either end. Like most of the homes in Woodgate, it had glass windows. It was shaded by a huge, beautiful oak tree and its small front yard was bounded by a short wrought-iron fence.
- The front door was Harper blue. I muttered softly, “I guess some things don’t change.”
- Findmar looked nervous when he saw who was at the door, and then completely froze when he saw my eyes. He muttered tremulously, “Eldritch,” almost in a trance. Then he recovered a little and invited us into his home with a polite bow.
- Inside, the building was mostly open – with sleeping and bathing rooms at one end and a kitchen and pantry at the other. The timberwork of the vaulted ceiling was beautifully carved, and the top of the off-white walls were painted with interlocking geometric squares. Light came from several oil lanters and two wide, multi-paned windows. Again, even more glass inside – hinting that it was far more common here. Also, a number of almost overflowing bookshelves hinted that paper was neither rare nor expensive here.
- Findmar offered us tea and, once we were settled with large mugs to drink from, he made a show of respect for us being dragonriders. Realizing that there was no good or gentle way to break the news, I stood and offered him my open hand in greeting. “I’m afraid that we’re a bit more than just dragonriders. The Book of Crossings said that we would find an ally in you.” Findmar muttered, reverently, “The Oracles.” T’ria reported that the Lorekeeper suddenly felt totally and completely validated, like his entire life suddenly made perfect sense.
- When gently pressed, Findmar explained that Lorekeepers are sages and historians who gather, collect, and disseminate all types of information. The Oracles are a secret order of Lorekeepers who maintain the Book of Crossings. Only Lorekeepers who are Oracles will know what we are, and help us. They’re led by a Lorekeeper named Havardan.
- The Shrine of Landarfal is on nearby Bygruith Mountain, and is kept secret by dragonmen because a tunnel there leads down to the Zamruda stones – a valuable alchemical substance. Findmar believed that the Zamruda stones were protected by some sort of tests to make certain that you’re worthy to possess them. He’s read that those who fail the tests usually die of horrifying wasting disease over the following Turn. He’s also read that those who don’t know their way through the tunnels may prevail through the use of paper and chalk, suggesting that there is a puzzle or pattern that can be figured out even by those who don’t already know the way.
- A “shrine” is a place of rare cultural significance, respected by all regardless of politics.
- Alchemy is the study of when unexpected things happen when you combine multiple substances together. It’s a very lucrative profession.
- Lindley Observatory is on Malbin Peak, where it’s always winter. Malbin Peak is a volcano, but it’s too open and has too many “scrambling cliffs” to serve as a Stronghold – where dragonmen of Carindas make their homes. Astronomers (Starsmiths) there study the stars and weather, so they can warn people when rain or bad storms are coming. It’s famous for its specters, men made of shadows with rainbow halos around their heads. They’re never reported as appearing in daylight, but always instead at some distance when it’s foggy, very overcast, or nearly night. Findmar has never heard of these specters doing anything bad to anyone and some people even thing that they’re lucky.
- Most people today don’t know much about the Great War that sundered the Sakarian Empire, and almost none remember the Ambion Rebellion at all. When pressed, Findmar explained that the Great War had been about power; everyone wanted to do things their way and refused to compromise. In the end, no one won the Great War; they just agreed to stop fighting and go their own ways.
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