The dead cannot birth the living.
With a sad tone Sixwith reminded her rider yet again
that what she was telling her was impossible. Despite it being evident the tan was carrying a clutch in her swollen belly she refused to believe it. Every day Frayya asked if she felt ready to lay her eggs. Every day Sixwith reminded her of the reality of the situation which left Frayya more and more frustrated. In a last ditch effort to force her dragon to admit she was going to lay a clutch Frayya had taken to sleeping in the stands so that Sixwith would spend time on the sands - though it had yet to produce any results.
It was early morning, far too early for Rukbat to have woken from its evening slumber just past the Weyr walls - there was only the faintest hint of its rise in the distant horizon. The heat from the sands had woken her despite having chosen an area higher up in the stands to sleep, it was simply unbearable. Though the season called for layers she spent most of her time in a light billowy top and short pants; of course for the times she left the sands she had plenty of other clothes to layer on before stepping out into the cold. Unable to sleep she resigned herself to the long day ahead of her as she gazed over the tan's ethereal form curled up on the hot sands, not a care in the world. A heavy shirt was pulled on over her lighter one and then followed by a thick coat as sweat began to lightly trickle down her back. Rushing she pulled on a loose fitting pair of pants over top the first pair and finished it off with a pair of boots lined with fur. The thud of her boots on stone as she made her way down the stands was muffled by the hat she tugged onto her head and down further to keep her ears warm. Trudging through the sands she immediately regretted changing up in the stands as her heavy boots made the passage difficult, sinking into the sands as she trekked forward at a snail's pace. Eventually she escaped the suffocating heat of the sands only to be thrust into the opposite extreme, the cold air biting harder thanks to the layer of sweat she wore under her clothes.
The wind was mild compared to other winters, though she knew the season was just beginning. Snow had fallen early on and a fresh layer overnight - her boot prints were only interrupted by those of the handler patrols that had been out in the nighttime. Crossing the weyrbowl she entered the dining hall and immediately slipped off her heavy coat to drape it over the end of a table before wandering to the kitchens for a mug of klah. No sooner had the hot liquid met her lips when her tan whispered, I feel much better now.
Nearly choking on her drink Frayya's head whipped towards the dining hall's doors as if her tan would be standing there. You feel... better? Care to tell me why?
Mug was drained in record time with whatever managed to escape her mouth being wiped away on her sleeve. There was little point in leaving it behind - she felt she might need it more now than she had initially.I had been feeling out of place since I went out towards the Beyond. Not to the Beyond, you know, I would not leave without you.
Sixwith's tone was a mixture of happiness and sadness as she spoke, Frayya grabbing her coat in her rush back out into the cold.Yes, you were heavy with eggs. I'm sure that makes even the most experienced mother feel out of sorts.No. You know I cannot lay eggs be-The dead cannot birth the living. No matter how many times you have said it, that will not make it true. You are fat, can't you tell how much you've changed?
Frayya broke into a run with her coat flailing about in the air to her side. She did not see Sixwith in the bowl, nor in the sky, and a glance to their ledge saw it barren as well. Good, she must still be on the sands.I do not see a difference anymore.
As Frayya burst into the sands with snow sloughing from her boots only to melt and be soaked up by the dry sand she groaned. Sixwith was correct - she no longer had the tell tale bulges pressing her sides outwards or the heavier set belly of a dragon laden with eggs. A look past the smug tan offered an answer as to why
she looked leaner - seven eggs had been deposited in her absence. "You laid all those while I was gone?!"
Snaking her head around the tan looked over the eggs, Those are not mine. I found them last night, when you slept. Poor things were abandoned. I watched them overnight. It is sad that their mother is not around to keep them warm and safe. I cannot warm them like a living dragon could.
"You laid them last night?! Why didn't you wake me up! SIXWITH YOU HAVE TO LET THE WEYRWOMEN KNOW!" Sweat trickled down her body but the heat was all but forgotten. How could this have happened a second time? In her younger turns it might have been more forgivable but how on Pern did she sleep through her dragon clutching again
? She was right there up in the stands all night, yet she had not stirred until the morning and even then she had walked right by the clutch
without seeing it. "Shards and shells Sixwith, you're determined to kill me off aren't you?!"It is not time for you to go Beyond yet, my Frayya. Please calm down. The eggs look fine. I'm sure we can find their mother. Which dragons flew recently?
In her own little world she had completely forgotten why
she had flown out over the ocean not so long ago. Only living dragons flew after all, the dead had no business falling with males from the sky.
"Sixwith. Please. Please listen to me. The Weyrwomen must be informed promptly." Inhaling deeply she held her breath for a moment before slowly exhaling. For a moment she wished she could be like her tan, living in her own little world where responsibilities didn't fall upon her shoulders and she could just check out of things she didn't want to participate in. The moment passed and she added, "I'm certain that the blue will want to know too. Uviqueth was his name, I believe."I am sorry it is so early but my Frayya was rather insistent. I found a clutch of eggs last night on the sands. I did not see who laid them... They seem healthy though!
Sixwith finally headed her rider's wishes and reached out to Couineth
, as well as Uviqueth
for good measure. Look for yourself my Frayya, they are fine. Even without a mother they did well through the night. I am sure they will hatch out strong little dragonets.
Sixwith crooned softly to her rider as she made her way back towards the group of eggs. Panic having finally settled to an unsettled knot in her stomach, the heat came back at the woman with a vengeance. Pulling the extra shirt off she wiggled the extra pants down as far as the boots would allow her to without taking them off as well. Short stiff steps brought her further onto the sands to investigate the eggs her dragon had deposited overnight. Seven in total, each was as different from the next as they possibly could be. If she didn't know better she would have sworn that the tan had painted them - or at least half of them. Three looked more like rocks or dirt to the weaver, the three nestled towards the middle of the bunch. On the far left side was a bright green egg that reminded her of spring, the odd oblong egg next to it giving the same effect. A purple one looking more like fruit than an egg was towards the front of the small mound the tan had made around the eggs, by far the smallest egg of the clutch. The egg to the right reminded Frayya of summer skies with the blue hues that had been draped over the shell. "They do seem alright... We must stay here with them. You know that, right? If we cannot find their... real... mother, then you must act as a surrogate."I cannot do much to help them, my Frayya. I would do better out looking for the dragon who laid them...
"I think you will be a fine surrogate mother. It is a shame that you are... dead, you would have made a great mother to your own clutch." Laying her hand on the tan's side she sighed. If you can't beat them, might as well join them.
A closer look at each individual egg: