T’ria: Chapter 5, Journal 10 – No Going Back

Ninth Month of 1,265

Rough notes from first journey to Varlada.

  • Continue flying, reach mountains, see numerous paths cut in stone and what looks like fresh snow, but is really tiny and sharp shards of crystalline rock. Pass under arch, then see path down. Probe ahead, it bounces back at all of us. Second effort is more intense and gives me a headache.
  • Inside, natural cavern with 2 glowing purple braziers (Usara stones from Galatia, crush to make light), LARGE angry black dragon carving over only doorway. Passing under dragon triggers psychic attack. A few of us fend it off, everyone else frozen in place until K’brin shields them. Come to maze, 3 paths forward, grey stones everywhere, some white stone and patches of flesh color. Sense ahead: left gives feeling of extreme nausea, ahead feels of impending doom and right feels nothing. K’brin sends some people back so he won’t have to shield so many. ‘Mala, M’din, Gil stay.
  • K’brin and I navigate through maze by going to the place where people glow, come out into cube-shaped cavern, no other exits. 9 large stone blocks on 1 wall, 3 rows of 3 with symbols on them. Around room, bas relief carvings of unfamiliar mountain peaks, each with symbol below it, matching those on the blocks.
  • Spot Dark Key symbol above the door we came in. Cover pushes in and inside is small carved stone with detailed etching of peak in a range of mountains. Looks like Syfrin Valley, a spot at the base of the peak and surrounding area from woodcut of Southern Continent. How? 
  • K’brin thinks Zamruda stones are in Syfrin Valley, that the stone carving was left here to guide us to them if those from Pern came to Varlada in search of them. He wants to leave Varlada, go straight to S. Continent. He confides about why Lord Holders were building siege weapons. They were going on ships to S. Continent, with weapons made by former dragonrider Mordican of Igen, working with Lord Valkran. They had become aware about the search for caches: K’brin was a promising Harper before he was searched to stand the sands and then made a Wingleader as a brown. They’re not dimglows. They think something of great value is on the Continent, they had information gleaned from the library at Tillek before they burned it. K’brin got permission from Weyr leaders to give LH’s the woodcut.
  • Dragons seem more tired than usual, ‘Zana says we weigh more here.
  • I examine Feth to see what, if anything I can do for her. Might have to wait til return, don’t have right supplies. ‘Zana there to ‘help’ me, but also document differences between her and Pern dragons. Use ring of voices to see how Feth sounds: less wordy, gives more images, feelings, impressions.
  • Back at Findmar’s, read books First Blood is Drawn, a historical novel and Hero’s Gamble, a novel, to get ideas of culture, anything useful.
  • Findmar suggests going to Galatia next because they have best music, “brothers in poverty” for K’brin. Musicians not as respected in Sakaria as Harpers on Pern.
  • Findmar suggests asking in Galatia or Kirengar about Phrenium, what Sapp. Masters did to buy our freedom.
  • Galatia is heart of Sakarian empire, wealth/noble bloodlines stayed there, has oldest libraries.
  • Findmar shows K’brin finely decorated book (gold calligraphy with gems on cover) called Herald the Dawn. Book of morality and philosophy given to Findmar by mentor. 30-ish Turns old.
  • Based on sketch of Syfrin Valley, plan return to Pern. Risky. Feth spots patrol coming as getting ready to leave, 8 in vee pattern, with dragon slightly ahead (gold or bronze?). K’brin orders jump between, 1 minute later, come out over Valley. L’nos takes 15-20 seconds to show up, says he thinks queen was trying to stop him from going between.
  • Landscape below shows evidence of threadscoring.
  • Active Hold down below with ballista, ramparts, watchtowers, see heraldry in brown/red, with threading in yellow/white.
  • ‘Mala volunteers to go down and check things out, assure those below we’re friendly, rest of us hover far enough away to not appear threatening.
  • Commander welcomes FW to Syfrin Valley Outpost.
  • Weaponry: 6 catapults with lots of metal parts and 4 man teams, 4 ballista with 2 man teams, spiked earthworks dug into the ground.
  • Meet Captain Volden, 40’s, lightly armored clothes. He thinks they have the mineral we seek, and his Commander is arriving soon: Mordican, formerly M’can of brown Griffith, is from Igen. Dragon died in threadfall.
  • Emotional read shows Captain Volden seems slightly put out, Mordican comfortable (because he’s in the know?)
  • Riders from Sakaria followed us: 1 brown, 2 blue, 4 green in a vee. K’brin demands they leave or will be fired on.
  • Greens drop some sort of exploding weaponry, blues try to draw fire, brown strafes one ballista and opens fire. We’re grounded due to lack of firestone. One green hit in wing with spear, pulls it out herself. Another green killed by a weapon that threw out glass shards when it exploded, the brown is hit by boiling tar bomb. Took awhile for those manning the siege weapons to effectively attack dragons. Horrible to watch. Fighting to the last, all the Sakarian’s are killed. No sign of the queen.
  • Help with healing in army barracks a ways off from the Outpost.
  • Overhear some men say they feel dirty attacking/killing dragons, don’t want to go home after term is over.
  • Overnight, soldiers build bonfires around carcasses. Light them in morning. Smell is beyond awful.
  • Talk with Mordican about getting access to gems. Head to cave with Gil, air hot & humid, see thousands of quartz crystals, then see Zamruda stones. Feel slightly… alive? He chooses a few samples of the best stones.
  • Leave Syfrin Valley, fly straight 11 hours to Ista (HOME!), debrief in Council Room.
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