Taylor sipped from his pitcher of
ale. He was enjoying his evening. No-one had bugged him yet and he hoped it
would stay that way. He leaned back, stroked his fingers through his now
short hair and stopped in the middle. Old habits take a long time to die.
His hair had once been long. His name had once been Araman. Now he was
Taylor and he didn't have to live with the shame of having been left
standing at 7 hatchings. Even the searchdragon that had searched him had
than admitted she wasn't sure of his potential anymore. He sipped more ale.
But that was all behind him. Time to quit his silly dreams about dragons and
start working. Taylor, he couldn't remind himself of his knew name too
often, was medium built, about 25 years of age and quite strong. He didn't
have a wife or children which made him good for a number of interesting jobs
and tasks. His newest would start tomorrow, he was to be a messenger in the
Southern Continent of Pern.
Running errands in the Southern Continent would do him good. He'd have some
time for himself, just being who he was. He'd always thought dragons chose
the people who were right for them. But now he wasn't as sure. They might
just chose the people who they could mould into whomever they wanted. he had
observed bronze and brownriders getting more leadery and blue and
greenriders more eccentric. All in all his 3 years in the Weyr as a
Candidate had learned him a lot. Taylor knew he was too stubborn to be a
dragonrider. No dragon could ever change him. Nor would any woman, many had
tried and all had failed. He didn't stay long enough for them to get started
anyway. Deep down he really hoped his theory was right, because if it
wasn't... he sighed. Thinking about dragons always got him philosophing,
this time it was no different. Especially since he'd had some beers.
Taylor looked up. Someone had been
pulling his sleeve for some time now. He didn't like it when people did
that. At first he had thought someone had just made a mistake, or brushed
against him. But now the pulling was getting harder and harder. Taylor
looked up, an angry expression on his face. No man, and he meant no man had
ever been so bold as to disturb him while he was thinking. Taylor was about
ready to aim a swing when he saw who had been bothering him. A girl. A
"Excuse me." she said and winked.
"Yes?" her eyes were deep green. The kind that look like forest ponds on a
hot summer day. Very nice.
"Would you pretend to be my lover? I want to make a point."
"Gladly." he said and kissed her.
"Not know!" she giggled.
"And why exactly do you want me to be your boyfriend?"
"Because my old boyfriend needs to be thought a lesson."
"How big exactly is your old boyfriend?"
"Not much bigger and you look smarter." she assured him.
"Where do we go?"
"Oh, you don't need to go anywhere, I'll bring my boyfriend by."
Taylor watched as the girl left and suddenly realised he didn't even know
her name. This was fishy indeed. But he couldn't refuse to help her, what if
she was in some kind of real trouble?
As promised the girl returned to the bar. She entered and signed for him to
follow her out. But before she could open the door again Taylor grabbed her
by the arm, pulled her close and whispered in her ear:
"What's your name?"
"Galel, but everyone calls me Gel."
He let her go and said:
"Well Gel, where's this friend of yours?"
Taylor followed her outside and looked up. Her boyfriend had only been
slightly bigger. yeah right. Make that a huge head taller and twice as wide.
She had been right on the intelligence part. He didn't look to smart. He had
fought guys like this before, though never alone. It just wasn't sane to
attempt it. Then what was he doing here? Well in his defence he could say he
was quite drunk...
"Who dares defy Sazen?" the boyfriend asked.
"Euhm..." Was he serious?, "My name's Taylor."
The giant turned to Gel and said: "Your new boyfriend is puny."
"Well, he's better than you in bed." she told him.
Taylor nearly knocked himself unconscious when she said that. Was she crazy?
Did she want him dead? He looked at Sazen and saw he was red with anger. For
a moment it looked like the man would controle himself, but at the last
moment he changed his mind and launched a swing at Taylor.
Taylor ducked in reflex, but he felt the wind of the fist cutting through
the air. Taylor knew he couldn't get up so he dropped to the ground and
rolled. He jumped up on the other side of the giant and jumped on his back.
Taylor knew he had to get the giant as soon as possible, even if it meant
fighting dirty. It was the best chance he had. Taylor grabbed Sazen's neck
and squeesed as hard as he could. He felt the giant trying to get him off,
but his attempts became weaker as he started to run out of air. When the
giant had stopped completely and his head was turning an unhealthy shad of
blue Taylor let go. While the man was heaving for breath Taylor launched a
punch at him and saw him go down.
Taylor sighed. The fight was over and he was the one left standing. He
turned to the girl who was still standing at the bar. She'd be happy to see
her old boyfriend had learned a lesson. But she was nowhere to be seen.
Well, maybe she wouldn't have been happy, maybe she would have hit him in
the back of the head because he had knocked the man she still kind of loved
down. Taylor shook his head and smiled. No he was better off like this.
That was when the piece of wood hit him full in the back of his head.
Taylor awoke later and saw it was
still night. His head was pounding and he could hit himself for letting the
girl talk him into this. He got up and walked to his room. There he fell on
the bed, not even bothering t pull up the sheets. He fell asleep almost
Taylor awoke from only a few hours sleep. He wasn't quite rested, but there
were worse things than starting a message run tired. Like starting one late.
Taylor hastily got out of bed and rushed to the present runner station. He
wasn't a real runner, but that wasn't why they had hired him. He was one of
the two men who would guard the wagon heading to the East.
"Reporting for duty." he said when he entered the runner station.
Something hard hit him and Taylor felt he was ready to faint. He just barely
managed to hang on to his conscious.
"Don't show your face here again!" the man behind the desk yelled.
"What happened?" he asked.
"You knocked down your companion for the trip and you ask why I won't take
you?" the man came closer, his fists raised. Taylor managed to get out and
make for the town. Wherever he went he saw people looking at him like he'd
just killed their brother or something.
A redfruit hit him in the back. An overripe redfruit by the smell of it. He
looked over his shoulder and saw a young boy aiming more fruit at him.
"That'll teach you to hurt my brother!" he squealed.
What would be next? Taylor knew he shouldn't ask, but it was too late. From
around the corner about a dozen men came running toward him. Screaming and
raising fists and knifes. Knives?
Taylor ran as fast as he could and finally lost them on the road to the next
town. He wasn't much of a sprinter, but the adrenaline had given him wings.
He bent down and breathed heavily in and out. The run had left him tired and
weak. He sat down and nearly screamed when one of his legs got a cramp. He
strecthed himself as best as he could and waited for the tension to stop.
When he finally got up it was almost midday and Taylor was hungry. He hadn't
had breakfast and he could forget lunch too. He looked up, there wasn't a
fruit to be seen on the tall trees. Taylor did the only thing he could do.
He started walking.
The green dragon circled overhead. It wasn't the first time he'd seen it. If
it was the same dragon, and why shouldn't it be? It had circled above him
five times now. Taylor left the road and followed a much smaller wildpath
into the forests. If he remained close to the road he wouldn't get lost. But
most important, the spying eyes of the dragon wouldn't see him.
"Maleeth! What's wrong." Zana asked,
"You've been circling this spot for ages and I know that just can't be a
"Hmmm", her dragon thought and circled
Zana looked down but she couldn't see a soul on the road below them. Nothing
that would draw Maleeth's attention as a searchdragon.
Taylor looked up and saw the dragon
disappearing. Good. Just to be safe he decided to stay on the wilpath for a
few miles more. For the first time since his depart, well if you could call
it that, he noticed the environment. The trees were thin but straight with
leaves almost to the ground. On their branches were birds singing happy
tunes and squeeling angry when another dared entering their territory.
Taylor wasn't sure of this, but he thought he had seen some small roadents
flee just seconds before he got to their living places.
Taylor knew there was a town not far off. Maybe Sazen wouldn't have much
friends there. He took his mark pouch and saw he was running on empty. A few
small pieces, but nothing that would support him for days. Taylor started
"Maleeth! You're doing it again,
what's out there?" Zana called out.
"A human... a very strange human."
"And why is he strange?"
"Because he runs from me. Other people like me.
Aren't I friendly?"
"Of course you are. Well, maybe he doesn't know better. We'll land, we're
close to our destination anyway."
Maleeth started to make her way down to the a large clearing where she could
land. The village they were sent to, to search likely candidates only a mile
Taylor suddenly stopped. He'd heard
something. Something big. Carefully he took another step and then another.
He was running out of forest. Maybe he'd just heard some people.
"See him?" a girl suddenly asked.
Noone answered. Was she talking to him? He looked at her and noted her hair
was red. Not another redhead, he'd had enough of redheads, all they did was
get you in trouble. Slowly he tried backing away.
Suddenly he thumped into something. He turned and yelled as he saw the head
of the dragon nudging his shoulder.
"Don't worry! She likes you!" the girl called and rushed toward him.
Taylor watche dthe dragon. He remembered another green, long ago who had
looked at him like this.
"What's your name?" the girl asked.
"Well Taylor, would you like to be a dragonrider?" she asked him bluntly.
Taylor couldn't believe it. Not again. He was cursed or something. He turned
away from both the dragon and the girl and started running toward the denser
Taylor stopped, how had she known his name? He looked at the girl, she was
looking at her dragon, not at him. But the dragonw was.
"No, Taylor. Araman is dead." he said.
"Doesn't matter," the girl said, "Whatever you did in your past will be
forgotten in the Weyr."
So the dragon hadn't told her what had happened in his past. He wondered why
she kept looking at him in that passionate way when she knew who he'd been.
"I'd like you to try again." the
"But I don't want to!" Taylor cried out.
"It's your destiny."
"Please, for me? We desperately need candidates." the girl said the same
time her dragon answered.
"Ok then. But if I don't impress I'm leaving."
The girl looked surprised. "Not all impress the first time." she said.
"I'm going when I don't impress." he repeated.
"ok, ok, I get it." Zana said and helped him on her dragon.
"Where are we going anyway?" he asked.
"Opal Moon, there's a very special clutch on the sands. The last before we
move to another world."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
It was night, Taylor laying awake in his bed. He knew the hatching was imminent, he could feel it, disappointment waiting to happen. All around the Eyr dragons started to hum and bugle and people stirred to get everything in place for the hatching. The candidates were awoken - as far as this was still needed - and were escorted to the hatching sands. There were many of them and Taylor felt slightly off at the sight of some of his rather exotic fellow aspirants to bond a dragon.
An hour after the first bugles had sounded, the eggs were still only rocking. People were sitting arched on their seets, waiting, holding their breath while other yawned. Tension was in the air, would this clutch ha-tch? Would the dragonets inside have survived the trip through space? Would they be normal?
The hacthlings soon proved that they had not suffered during the trip, the only effect the move through space and time had had seemed to be their strange celestial colours. Stars anbd solar systems with burning suns lined their wings and bodies while gemstone colours sparkled from their skin. The hatched in waves, each time allowing a short period of time in between groups of hatchings. And then there were no eggs left, and three candidates still standing. Like it had been before, no dragon for Taylor as there had been none for Araman.
But this time was different, as different as the two men were even though they were the same. The dam of the clutch did not move and in stead lifted her wings, showing three more eggs rocking. Three more chances.
One burst open, spilling out another quartz planet. The dragon peered at the three remaining candidates, though it was obvious to his parents that he'd had one young man in mind from the moment he'd broken free from his bonds. Looking up at his mother, who was, in essence, his reflection, for he was a white as she, though differently patterned, among other features, he gave a croon, which was echoed by her.
"Araman!! Don't even try to tell me that your name is Taylor!! I like Araman so much better... it sounds like the name of a rider, doesn't it??"
Taylor cracked a smile, something he didn't do often, as it sunk in that he actually had impressed.
"Who says that three times is the charm, or strike three, you're out?? I just think they picked all the wrong clutches for you, that's all. If they'd waited until this one, you'd have bonded for the first time, instead of the eighth. Does this mean that I'm special??"
Taylor nodded. "Yeah, Klierth, it does indeed."
The two trailed off the sands, as the second to last egg began to rock.
Taylor, Araman, Ara'an, it did not matter what his real name was. In Weyrling training everyone was treated with equal sadistic pleasure by the weyrling trainers as well as the maintenance crew of the Eyr. But even with all the extra work, the loss of his valued freedom and loneliness, nothing could make Taylor want to turn back time and deny the request of that one searchrider. He still went by the name Taylor among the humans, he had been Taylor for quite a few years and felt that that was more his name than any other, but that did not matter for Klierth who insisted on calling him Ara'an.
In the first days of training that had led to some entertaining scenes in which he had been denied acces to a kitchen because his name did not match the name Klierth had given him, on other times he'd been asked which dragon he had impressed only to be told that there had been a mistake in the records where a certain Ara'an had been noted as the bond of his dragon. These events had greatly amused Klierth who tried to convince Taylor to become Ara'an completely, but Taylor had shut the door behind the gullible young boy called Araman. he was no longer that same person and worked through every case of mistaken identity until he thought everyone at the Eyr knew him by now, or that Klierth had given up trying.
In the back of his mind Taylor knew he would not stay on Lao Demia. He was also not fond of the idea of going back to Pern. In his mind the transition was what had changed his faith. A new world, a new chance.
But for now he had to stay here, train every day and do his chores. Picking up his riding gear, Taylor went outside, seeing Klierth following him from the sunning ridges where he had been sleeping.
"It's time rider mine." he told Taylor, "Our first flight."
Taylor nodded and answered: "I have faith in you."
"Ara'an,..." Klierth asked softly while his rider was still sleeping. Taylor, only called Ara'an by his bond, did not stir.
Sighing, Klierth looked outside at the moon and wondered what his rider saw in the parties he sometimes went to. Drinking and laughter were all fine at first, but the next morning Taylor was always hard to motivate to get up, dressed and ready for travel or duty.
Losing his trail of thought, Klierth noticed how different the moon was on this planet. He had been used to Lao demian skies, and then to Pern's two moons for a short time. But now he and ara'an had moved again, going where they could, where they were needed on jobs. In short succesion they had been fighters, bodyguards, message deliverers and transporters of goods and people. Not that Klierth minded, he was feeling the need to take a break of it all, like a vacation. Maybe sign up for a flight...
"What?" the muffled voice of Taylor sounded from below his blankets.
"I'm an adult male of my species Ara'an. I have needs like you do." Klierth seemed to arch an eyebrow.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You seemed busy. Besides, there never was a female I liked rising in the places we stayed at. Or when there were, the females would not have accepted me."
"What makes you think this time is different?" Taylor asked.
"The females are smaller here. Even the ones considered large are only a little larger than me. Well one of them is."
"Haven't you paid attention to anything that goes on on this isle?" Klierth asked, "There is an old world gold flying who is seriously out of my league and then there is blinding hope Naderenya, the most beautiful colour combination in a dragoness I've ever seen. Dawn-Sunset..."
"I suppose I can sign you up." Taylor shrugged, "I've heard these dragon-flight things can be quite intense."
"Her rider might need some considering..."
Taylor looked at Klierth with a look that asked: "What do you mean?
"She is very fragile. Just be gentile."
"Aren't I always?" Taylor asked.
"You can be, but you sometimes forget."
"Not when it comes to ladies in distress, Klierth, I've never passed one by without helping."
Klierth seemed to shrug, "So it's settled?"
"I'll sign you up tomorrow."
Klierth chased Blinding Hope Naderenya
succesfully at Lantessama Isle
A lasting bond has been formed
Taylor is a Candidate at