Gaylen joined the healers working on the bluerider, S'lem, nodding her praise to the apprentice who'd thought quickly enough to make him take the fellis. It was a bad score, and as they tore away his fighting gear, she caught her breath and shook her head.
Deep ... but narrow. That was good, in that it could be sutured easily, but at the same time, the depth of the wound might invite infection. Someone handed her the suture materials ... had she not been quite so focused on doing the job, she would have been touched deeply by the show of confidence.
"I'm going to leave this open at the bottom end," she said to anyone listening, "And insert a drain. That will have to stay for a good sevenday. He's to remain in the infirmary ... it'll give the dragonhealers a chance to keep an eye on his dragon's leg, too. One full day in bed, and then you all have to make this young man get up and walk around the infirmary several times a day. Believe me ... he's not going to want to move, but he must. It'll help keep this draining and prevent an abscess."
She couldn't help wincing at the rawness of the wound. Thank the First Egg for the quick thinking of the young dragon who'd taken him between to freeze the monster trying to eat his rider alive. This was bad enough ... but it could have been far worse."
As his rider worked, Alabanth crooned comfort to Griflith, reaching out to touch muzzles with his fellow blue.
Time stood still for a few moments, long enough for A'tair to look at the insanity around him and wonder if he would ever make it out of this alive. The silver Threads falling like some otherworldly rain of tunnel snakes, hissing into their watery graves, shimmered oddly in the sun. Such a contrast to the black soot they would become, the things were. In a way, in some sickeningly twisted way, they were almost beautiful, shining in a way reminiscent of falling water. It was the only thing beautiful about this day. Everything else was a rush of nervous energy and focused concentration. Madness.
They were Riders, created for this sole purpose. He gazed at the sky, trying to see above the Fall. To see the ones dropping this. He shook his head slightly. I'nk was wrong. No human hands could cast this much death into the sky and not be blackened by the hate they bore in their minds.
Let's go, he said to Tristiath. I trust you not to drop me; after all, I'm strapped in. We're flying the upper level. Make sure you come out of between at the proper height. I don't want to imagine a collision before the first flames.
Stop worrying, my A'tair. Dragons never crash, not when they're not in the midst of fighting Thread.
As we will be later? The sky took them into its arms, then, practically lifting them up as the bronze, with surprising grace for such a large creature, got high enough to go between. From there it was almost mechanical. Check around, flame, give Tris more stone. Repeat. Repeat again. Again. Again. Again. And again. Listen to the shouts of dismay, all too close. This one was their wing.
Seath's. L'kas. A'tair's heart thudded to a stop for a moment. Those two weren't allowed to get injured. He had no experience. But they were still in the sky, and their wing, perhaps, would live another day. Or another minute, at the very least, as two more in the wing were victim to the parasite's ravages in quick succession.
They flew the upper levels. They'd known the risks, though he couldn't help counting as at least one of them returned to the ground. How many more would follow before this Fall would end?
Minth? Love, are you alright? You're shaking. Q'tris' hand rested against the green's neck, expression anxious. Minth had never feared Thread before. So what was this anxiety she was radiating?
They have never fought Thread before. The mental voice was almost angry with indignation. Most of them have not even seen Thread before. Q'tris' brows pulled together, darkening his already serious expression. This was a conversation that had been touched upon before but never pursued. It hurt too much to consider the odds of all these young riders and dragons surviving their first Fall. Q'tris trusted his Weyrleaders wholeheartedly but this was one thing he could not forgive them for. They had jumped too close to the Red Star's return. Their forces were still minimal at best. And all the training in the world could not fully prepare a Pair that had never felt or saw, with their own bodies, the horrors that Thread could induce.
We'll make due. Q'tris murmured quietly. Mine, I have seen them hatch and grow. I do not want to see them lost as well. And this was something the rider had no answer for. Only that he agreed whole-heartedly.
Q'tris reflected on this early conversation as he directed Minth between, tensed to get this whole sharding thing over with. Thread was something he should have considered before jumping. In his attempt to secure a flourishing draconic future for his daughter, he'd also dragged her into the line of fire. Not my brightest move... No, they need us here more than in the past, Mine! We are right where we should be![/color] Minth announced as she burst from between, full of fire and drive. And although he wished he could deny this, Minth was right.
It was all a blur of activity, one that Q'tris had forced into focus many times before. But not with so many inexperienced riders. He could feel the same concern echoed in Minth's mind as the green extended herself farther than necessary to char as much Thread as she could. To better protect the young ones, she had explained between bursts of fire from her maw. But this practice was putting Minth in greater danger. They were already in the most exposed position as it was. Easy, Minth, there are other dragons here as well. Q'tris rested a hand on Minth's hide, willing her to relax just a little. Reluctantly, she eased her frantic race, picking up a steadier rhythm. Though her attention was occasionally diverted by the slightly more juvenile roars of distress.
Careful, Luneth! Minth called in conern, as the younger green narrowly avoided a clump of Thread. Stay focused, love. They're fine. Q'tris chided. Keep on tra---"Uhg." The rider doubled over his stomach, feeling the fire of Thread as Minth cried out in alarm and pain. BETWEEN! The ice was there before he'd finished the thought but something was wrong. As they reappeared from the cold limbo, Q'tis realized he was unmarred. Yet the burn continued -- "Minth!" The call was more a cry of anguish. "Minth, the Weyr!" Expression disheveled with fear, he leaned over the straps, rubbing at the lovely green's hide comfortingly, wincing at the shared shadow of his bonded's hurt. She'd been scored.They need me! Even the mental voice was distorted by pain. I need you more!! With one last flash of flame, Minth relented.
"Please! A healer!" Q'tris yelled as Minth landed less-than-gracefully at the infirmary. He was off her back before she'd even folded her wings, running to the first person available, eyes wild with worry. Hang in there, Minth. You'll be fine. Thread scores were common, he reasoned, not unfamiliar with them, but never had his Minth been hurt this badly before...
Q'tris, Candidatemaster, of green Minth Brell of blue Brueth
Madness. Absolute madness. Weyrfolk were running everywhere, injured dragons were crying out as clumsy landings were made in the Bowl, and some mad woman was screaming incessantly. As disgusted as Brinne was by this, her reaction may not have been so calm had she not been given a purpose. Even now, if she looked into the sky, she could see the occasional flash of flame and coloured wing. Thread was falling directly over the Weyr now; the fight had moved inland.
Thread. Thread. She had never really thought to even hear of it actually falling on Pern, and here it was, an occasional clump tumbling down into the Weyrbowl. Little spurts of flame erupted from the Weyrlings who had chosen to hunt those clumps down, and Brinne closed her eyes for a moment, hoping they would all be careful.
Elinth watched the entire situation with blazing colours in her eyes, an occasional snort escaping from her as if she was trying to produce flame. "Are you sure you don't want to join them?" Brinne asked again, fearful yet tempted by the thrill of seeing her dragonet chase down Thread in such a relatively safe situation.
No. We are needed here, And at that moment, another green, though this one many times Elinth's size, spiraled heavily downward. The cries of her fearful rider beckoned Brinne onward, and she clutched the bandages and numbweed she had been carrying to a Healer, racing to Q'tris. Quickly, mine! Minth hurts!
"But I'm not a Healer," Brinne murmured, eyes wide with fear. Was there no one else to help?! A headbutt from behind set her into motion, and she unscrewed the numbweed jar, swallowing her horror at the sight of the Threadscore and reaching forward.
In case anyone was wondering, major injuries will leave scars, while minor injuries are simply cuts and bruises.
Calysta – collision, rider injured – minor back injury
A'idin – collision, both injured – rider minor left arm injury, dragon left side major injury, return to infirmary B'rec – blunder
Calysta swoops too low, causing a collision with A’idin.
Myra – fire injury, dragon injured – minor left side injury H’ter – near miss Brell – blunder
Brueth’s flame comes dangerously close to Aglovth’s side, causing a minor injury, and H’ter narrowly avoids a collision.
D’rom – both injured – dragon minor head injury, D’rom major chest injury, unconscious, return to infirmary D’gellin – rider injured – minor 'below the belt' injury (don't ask how... XP) Journye – dragon injured, minor right wing injury N’yrl – Near miss
B’kay – both injured – major head injury, dragon major neck injury, return to infirmary H’run - singed A’idin – near miss B’rec – both injured - major back injury, dragon minor stomach injury, return to infirmary Toni – both injured – minor head injury, dragon also minor head injury
H’ter – Near miss Brell – dragon injured – Minor neck injury
B'kay cursed loudly, and ordered his wing to close ranks as the injured A’idin and Gaelrith were forced out of the fight.
How bad, Syth?
I do not know, Mine ... but it is not good.
His Wing was quickly dwindling to nothing!
"One more loss," he shouted above the cries of chaos and the hiss of thread being charred from the sky, "And the remaining Seablades are going to have to join another wing!"
Cursing under his breath as Syth dove after a large tangle, B'kay was about to voice a loud mental complaint about untrained riders just out of weyrlinghood flying Thread when horror struck.
The wind shifted.
Before they could swerve, the massive tangle was blown directly back into their faces. From the scream beside and behind him, he knew that the errant Thread had not just hit him.
Fire ... his face, his head, his neck ... no, his dragon's neck ... fire, flame, burning and then ... ice!
They were blissfully Between!
Syth skipped back out from Between nearly at ground level, screaming in pain. B'kay was in too much agony to scream. He could hear, through the blood pounding in his ears, healers and helpers all around him. Hands were helping him off his dragon, and somewhere in the back of his mind he was aware that Syth was being forced to hold still by an experienced healer's dragon.
All was confusion, pain and fear. Voices were muffled in his ears ... was that old Gaylen instructing them to smear the numbweed thick and pour the fellis between his clenched teeth?
B'kay thrashed, he fought. Then someone held him tightly to protect him from himself.
As the fellis took hold and he drifted into blissful nothingness, he unclenched his jaws to cry out....
Thread was falling above the open Bowl. It was all she could do to keep from leaping up, screaming, to run into the safer confines of the labyrinthine passages of the weyr. Undeniably, though, that was the act of a coward, and in this new opportunity to have a life worth living, Corenne was determined to be anything but that. She took a deep breath, needlessly closing her eyes and hoping that whatever it was that gave her what luck she had would be generous today. It was either hold onto that hope, however insubstantial it may have been, or die, and she wasn't willing to face that chance just yet. Perhaps at one time, but that day had come and passed and was now only a memory's shade- terrifying, but locked far away and incapable of affecting her now.
She made her careful way to where the most activity was. The reek of charred flesh and soft moaning of injured riders and anxious dragons confirmed that she was in the right place. Where else would they treat them but where they landed? She swallowed convulsively as a dragon landed heavily not more than a couple of meters from her. Either the dragon was injured pretty badly, enough to impair his or her flight ability, or their rider was urging them to get to ground before they fell off. In all honesty, she couldn't be entirely certain which outcome she would rather were true.
She heard Gaylen instructing the others, guiding them through how best to help these people. The woman was undoubtedly lost in her own memories half the time, but now she sounded confident, assured. She spoke with a voice now that Corenne had never before heard the blue rider use.
"Gaylen, how can I h—" she was interrupted by a man's desperate cry, slurred by the fellis juice he had undoubtedly been given, though there could be no mistake what he'd said.
They echoed in her, those words. "I can't see!" Hers was a fate she wouldn't wish on anyone, no matter how much they deserved it at the moment. People changed, and if there was one moment when they were a good person, it would make that wrong beyond any belief. She steadied her mind; this was no time to fall apart. "How can I help? Tell me what to do."
Loyalists Corenne: 22 Turns, of blue Coresk. Fiercely loyal, though blind. Felina: 17 Turns, rider of brown Breunth. Determined to ensure the survival of Pern at all costs.
Rebels A'tair: 23 Turns, rider of bronze Tristiath. Generally amiable, but slowly becoming more paranoid. A'mnir: 15 Turns, of green Miladath. Overly trusting and friendly
As the Wingleader of the Seablades landed heavily, both rider and dragon badly injured, Gaylen left the assistants and others to finish up the rider she'd been working on. Suturing was done, the wound looked clean, there was no more to do but to finish the bandaging, and move the rider to an infirmary bed.
He cried out that he could not see as the fellis took effect, but there was so much blood and char on his face that Gaylen couldn't see how much damage was done to his eyes. The helmet and goggle straps had been completely eaten away on one side, and it was obvious that was what allowed his eyes to be exposed.
Alabanth was holding Syth steady, and Gaylen watched as the dragonhealers ran to the dark bronze. That wound would scar deeply ... and it was ironic to Gaylen's mind that it would almost perfectly match the shape of the old scar on B'kay's face. At least the scar which had been there for turns....
Gaylen was just about to reach for the redwort tinged water to flush the blood and ash from the unconscious rider's face, when a voice by her shoulder offered to help.
The "previously retired" healer turned to see Corenne ... the blind girl from the lower caverns. "My dear," she said quietly, "You're the perfect assistant for this man." She handed Corenne a clean towel and showed her how to use it to cushion and support the rider's head as she lifted it. "I need to wash his head and face off to see the extent of the wounds, but want him raised slightly so the water and blood runs away from his eyes."
Indeed, it appeared that B'kay's eyes had been burned, but not badly ... no actual live thread had touched them, only the hot char. The living thread, before Syth had gone between, had seared much of the skin from his scalp above the ear, and the flesh was eaten away around the old scar, obliterating the wound pattern everyone had come to associate with the Weyrlingmaster.
The old healer glanced to Syth, and whispered to Corenne, "It appears that B'kay has transfered his old design to his dragon, and will be sporting a newer model from now on. His wounds are here-- here-- and here--" She touched Corenne's face and the side of her head, to trace an outline of the extent of the threadscore. "They're not deep, thank the First Egg, but will have to granulate ... build scar tissue ... as they heal from the inside out. There's nothing I can suture, sadly, so this will be an ugly scar. I hope he's not too vain, as I doubt his hair will grow back above his ear."
"His eyes will also need to be rinsed out with goldenseal solution every day, three times a day, and the bandages changed. I'll show you how. I think there is a good chance he may regain his sight eventually. But this is a proud man and won't be an easy patient...."
She smiled slightly and turned her gaze to the girl's face to gauge her reaction to her next words. "Do you think you can handle him? I think I can get you transferred from the lower caverns to the infirmary, at least for a while. I have an 'in' with the Masterhealer."
Mine, your clutch brother and his Griflith have been injured. They are at the infirmary,[/color] Luneth informed her rider.
"WHAT?!" Calysta screamed, twisting in her straps to try and see her brother and his blue in the wings below him. She cold feel tears welling up in the eyes at the thought of her older brother injured, her brother wasn't supposed to get hurt!.
Mine! I need you to help me, stay focused on the task at hand please. We can visit our clutch brothers after this fight,[/color] Luneth tried to reassure her rider and keep an eye on the Thread still falling. She rumbled as she dove toward a clump, wanting to get it before it reached the lower wings, but she didn't realize how low she was herself until her vision was filled with brown hide.
"Luneth!" Calysta cried out just before her green collided with Brown Gaelrith. She yelped again as the impact jerked her in her straps, twisting her in them and pulling the muscles in her back sharply.
Luneth was tangled in Gaelrith's straps for a moment, clawing the brown's side in her desperate attempt to get free, her front claws grazing the rider's arm. The brown bugled in pain and Calysta could hear the rider yelling at them, cursing them.
Luneth quickly returned to her position in their wing. Calysta winced and shifted to get more comfortable in the straps. She and her green both felt bad for the collision they had caused, but they were both getting tired and she was worried about her brother.
Journye winced each time she heard the cries of pain around her, wanting to go back to the infirmary to help herself. She shook her head and turned her attention back to the the 'Fall.
Lucaith was quiet, so focused on his task that he didn't waste energy on anything else. He turned his head for more stone which Journye gave to him, watching to make sure he chewed it properly.
They were shifting to close ranks within their wing when a clump of Thread shifted with the wind, brushing across the tip of Lucaith's right wing. The blue bugled in pain and blinked between.
The blue reappeared back in position, the injury minor enough he didn't feel it necessary to return to the infirmary. Are you alright Lucaith love? Journye asked her blue, trying to see the injury to his wing.
It'll be fine mine, I can still fight,[/color] he reassured her.
H'ter could definitely see why the Weyrleader had compared Thread to the worst of storms. He shook his head and tightened his grip on the straps. He gritted his teeth as he heard the cries of pain all around him as minor and major injuries were inflicted.
His brown was doing well, flaming Thread as it came near them, ducking between when needed, and asking for more stone as his flame died down.
He was jerked in his straps as Bediverth slowed down suddenly, ducking between to avoid a collision. H'ter blinked and looked around as they reappeared, looking to see who had collided.
He sighed and shook his head, turning his attention back to the skies before him. This Threadfall was taking its toll on everyone, it was not going well with all the inexperienced riders in the skies, himself included.
A'idin and Gaelrith were completely focused on the 'Fall, training and instinct taking over for both of them.
Flame, shift back into position, duck between as needed, take more firestone.
The routine was well ingrained in both of them that most of it was automatic. They had just shifted back into their position in the wing when they were hit. Gaelrith bugled in pain as the young green's claws sliced open his hide on his left side. A'idin echoed the cry of pain as claws grazed his left arm.
"You young idiot! Keep an eye out and stay on your level!" He snapped to the rider just before Gaelrith slipped between. They reappeared over the infirmary grounds and the brown landed hard.
A'idin slipped to the ground and snarled as he ripped off his helmet and goggles. "Shard it all to between!" he yelled as he took a jar of numb weed from the apprentice that rushed to their side. A'idin growled when he saw how badly Gaelrith's side was and the fact that the straps were nearly sliced through as well.
He grumbled loudly as he removed the straps and began smearing numb weed on his brown's wound, speaking calmly to his brown through their mental link. He was no healer so he didn't know if his brown would need sutures or not, but the pain was fading away for his life mate, but the ichor was still seeping through the layer of numb weed.
A'idin slipped his jacket off and looked at his own arm, the scratch minor and only needed a smearing of numb weed. He was worried about his brown and looked around for the Dragon Healer. He knew the Master Healer was still in the skies. He'd rather keep the man grounded, but they had so few riders they had no choice but to have every able rider and dragon in the sky.