'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.

Emerald Isle - Maiona cothold

Pristine sugar white sands are lapped by turquoise waters in the quiet cove that forms the lower end of this hold. The ruins of what was once a dock, lies bleaching in the sun. Lush tropical growth shades the beach, while the waters, clear-shot with sunbeams, shimmers beyond with an array of rainbow-hued fish. Just at the center of the curve of the cove a stone wall made with blocks of grey lavastone opens in an arched gateway to a crushed coral path that winds through yellowfruit and palm until it tops a windswept, lonely hill, thigh-high grasses rippling in the tradewinds. There is nothing there to show people once lived in this spot save a foundation in blocks cut from the same lavastone.

Dusk gathers on the eastern edge of the sky where the last rays of Rukbat have already kissed that horizon good night, the pale peach retreat leaving a sprinkle of stars in its purpling wake. The west-facing cove is lapped by a low tide which leaves seaweed-shrouded boulders exposed and shining in the fire of oranges, golds and magentas of the setting sun. The boys have left Inyri back on the path to collect what fruit catches her eye. They're faced with the task of gathering driftwood for a fire, gathering shellfish and snaring some spiderclaws. Edani is weary, but relaxed as he steps back on the soft white sand, companionably pointing out things here and there such as, "Up in that tree when I was around you age is where I got my britches snagged so tight, couldn't get free so wriggled out and ran home without 'em. They're still up there somewhere." It's barely light enough to see in the gathering shadows, but one might just make out a tattered flutter of cloth. Or it could be a nocturnal flying critter.

Ezra laughs when Edani points out the tree, peering into its depths to see if he can spot anything. He seems to be full of energy, especially after that little rest. Ahh, boys. "What about this piece?" he asks, lifting some driftwood for Edani to inspect.

Edani will be happy to let Ezra dash about the beach all he wants to and collect the twisted bits of wood scattered there. "Perfect!" says he, which could also sum up their time here on the island so far. "Sometimes I 'see' things in the weird shapes they make. That one…hmm. Not sure. But," more brightly now, "when we burn it, the minerals left from the sea will burn green, teal, pink, yellow and purple. The fire will be very pretty." He paces to the far end of the cove near the rocky point where they'll have a view of the night sky to dump his load of vegetables and tubers on the sand, a bottle of some sort of liquor that Inyri had chosen from the cellar cabinet. He's snagged a small carry-net from that lean-to in preparation for lugging those hapless spiderclaws with and now tucks the end in one of his back pockets of his swim trunks. Hands free now, he can help gather more firewood.

Ezra helps fetch all the firewood, stacking it wherever Edani says to. "Um…" he finally says, glancing over at the older boy. "Could…" He trails off and clears his throat, turning a smooth piece of wood over in his hands. "I wanna go back to Stonehaven," he says, a bit in a rush. "An' will you go with me?" It's a huge thing to ask and he knows it.

Edani nears the pile just as Ezra gives him that uncertain look. He tosses his chunks onto the pile one at a time, unhurried while waiting for the younger boy to finish his thought. If he's surprised by the request he doesn't show it, though he does lower himself to a nearby boulder while leveling a keen look at him. His answer comes in a gentle question, "Are you sure you want to go back, Ezra? And why you want to?" He doesn't wait for the answer before assuring him, "Of course I'll go with you. I'd be honored to." The truth is, he'd be very worried if the boy just went on his own.

Ezra nods his head slowly. "Because it's mine," is his simple answer. "Yes, I do. I want…I want to get it back. And running. A proper cothold again. Start…start over, I guess." He shrugs, sitting down beside Edani and glancing at him, the relief almost palpable that he said yes.

This is something Edani can understand. Very much so! He nods slowly, "So your da was the holder there." Not a question. He's perhaps digesting this new tidbit facet to the boy. Both of them holder's sons. He hadn't known they had so much in common. The waves gurgle softly out in the cove amongst the stones as the tide begins the slow turn back to land. "Like Maiona is mine," he says at last, a faint smile playing on his mouth. "You and I have the same goal; I plan to take hold here one day when I reach Senior Journeyman." He lets a breath out in a silent laugh, a whoosh through his nose and adds wryly, "If I don't impress." Casting a curious look at the boy, "I hold the title here, but you said, 'get it back'. Is Stonehaven’s leadership contested then?"

Ezra nods, "That's why m'name's Stonehaven." He looks around, and smiles a little bit. "It's a good plan. A good place," he agrees. "It's home to you." And that is all that matters. And then he shrugs, swinging his legs a bit so his heels bump against the stone. "The weyr's got it, s'far as I know. Since Laris… No one's been allowed to go there."

Edani ahs. He hadn't paid close enough attention to that. "Yeah, it'll always be home. I'd prefer Maiona stay in my family… if… I could ensure that." But as for Ezra's situation, he reaches a hand to gently rest on the boy's shoulder. "You know, I'd bet Fort will do right by you. When you're fifteen maybe they'd give it back to you. Twelve turns old is… rather young to take up holding. You weren't thinking of trying before that were you?"

Ezra turns his head a bit when Edani rests his hand on his shoulder, but the boy doesn't pull away. If anything, he leans into it a little bit. "No, I know," he's quick to say. "I'm not. Got no one to hold it /with/ me. After these turns it's…it's gotta be a mess. There's nothin' there, m'sure. No food, crops or nothin', no animals left… It'd…I'd need people I guess." But he winces a bit at that, shifting a little with unease. People are his weakness.

Edani looks relieved, giving the boy a reassuring squeeze before he drops his hand from his shoulder. "Probably," he says in agreement. He won't sugar-coat the truth; he's got nothing here to start holding with either, hence his pursuing the beastcraft to supplement his income. "I've been saving for buying more stock, but… ah, did Laris steal all Stonehaven's savings, do you know?" He bites back a smile at that wince. "You would need people, yes. When the time comes, you can have the harpers put out the word. Might be surprised who'd come wanting a fresh start."

Ezra nods, his pale eyes darkening with anger. "Everythin's gone. Animals, food, stores, tools, jewelry, money…s'all gone." And he sighs, looking down and his shoulders slump, momentarily overcome with how little he has. How impossible it all seems. He doesn't even have a craft to fall back on. He's got nothing. Nothing but a canine. And he sighs again, legs swinging and heels kicking the stone.

Quietly, "You have the land. Laris couldn't take that from you!" Edani offers as encouragement. "And," he brightens as the thought occurs to him, "if there are records, you can see if there are outstanding debts owed to Stonehaven. That'll get you started. And you might be able to get some credit too." He ducks his head to try and catch the boys eyes, offering earnestly, "I'll give you a loan. Faranth knows when I'll need the marks anyway. Won't be a whole lot, but enough to buy some tools and some basic starter stock." He has to do it – it's the beastcrafter in him – when he offers his best advice, "Buy females. Pay the stud fees. It'll be cheaper than feeding and paying healing for a bull, boar, ram and stallion." Overhead the sky is deepening into twilight as stars begin to twinkle overhead. The west-facing cove catches the last fading pinks of Rukbat's sunset. Edani and Ezra are out near the point sitting talking quietly on some boulders by a pile of driftwood. The tide is out, just now turning to gurgle softly amongst the exposed seaweed-covered boulders and soon they'll be collecting spiderclaws and shellfish.

Ezra glances at the older boy, nodding his head a little bit. "Thanks, Edani," he murmurs. "You're a good…" And here he hesitates, words sticking in his throat until he clears it, and then turns his head to spit. Charming. "Friend," he mutters, soft, as if it's a dirty word almost. Hesitantly spoken. "Females, okay," he adds with a small nod.

"What about females?" Perfect time for Inyri's return, right? Arms full of whatever she could find that might make good drink, piece of meal or snack either one — or perhaps all of the above — she was unable to overhear the rest of the conversation. At least, by her expression, she seems to assume they're talking about animals; maybe more likely dogs than livestock, but still, she doesn't appear to be that suspicious. What she does appear to be is successful; that's a lot of fruit.

While Edani has been speaking, he's slipped from that boulder he'd been sitting on and shoved the net of tubers, onions and other vegetables - and that bottle of spirits he's let Inyri select from that liquor cabinet - away from the firepit, while he arranges the kindling, striking the flint and steel he's got to catch the tinder, concentrating on blowing the sparks to catch. He peers up at Ezra at the hesitation, then chuckles when the boy spits. "I try," he says lightly, lips parting to add more but Inyri's voice forestalls him. Pushing up to crouch on his knees, he quips with a grin in answer to the question of females, "They are of key importance?" He coughs, "Seriously, just giving Ezra some advice on building his herds. For the someday." He pushes to his feet and pulls out the net he'd tucked into his back pocket. "You're just in time to help us catch our dinner."

Ezra looks up sharply at Inyri's return, squirming a bit and shooting Edani a look that borders on nervousness when he starts to explain what they were talking about. He hops down off the rocks and smiles a little bit, looking to Edani. "How do we do it?"

Inyri doesn't ask 'do what,' because she's not at this point entirely sure if they're talking about herds or about catching dinner; instead, she piles her fruit together on top of the cloth she'd gathered it in and settles to watching the fire for a minute. Or — truth be told, much less than a minute, but long enough to give her a chance to think. "And what is it? I mean, fish. But — spiderclaws, you say? I don't have all that much experience, I've got to admit —" She's used to the kind of fishing you do with a rod, and isn't all that good at it, either.

Hopefully his casual 'someday' deflects unwanted questions. Gesturing to the rocky strip of exposed beach, Edani's answer to them is simple, "I'll show you." The dry driftwood catches easily, casting a dancing light in a wide radius, though there is just enough light to see out there. He reaches into the net on the ground, chucking the tubers right into the fire to roast. Then he leads them to where the slippery seaweed-covered rocks are, stooping to part the greenish curtain and expose rock, plucking a purplish-colored bivalve from its anchor with a twist of his wrist and tosses it in his carry-net. "These are easy; the spiderclaws are more of a challenge. They're out of their holes now, but not far. You'll have to pounce ‘em quick." He manages after a few tries to grab a skittering, scrambling shape, but by a leg. "Damn!" He gets soundly pinched and has to shake his hand into the net to dislodge it, afterwards sucking on it. "Watch your fingers. Grab them by the top of the shell," he mumbles around the digit in his mouth.

Ezra watches Edani work and can not stop a giggle escaping from between his lips. "Fun!" he says, in a way that only boys can say 'fun' at watching someone getting hurt. And he lunges after his own spiderclaw but misses, before grabbing for another and getting a handful of its back end instead. Which gets him a pinch, and he hollers, shaking his hand so hard the spiderclaw flies off and cracks its shell on a rock. This sets his expression into one of pure Stonehaven stubornness (perhaps Stonehaven and Irondell were once of the same line), and trudges after another one.

"I am going to get my fingers butchered," mutters Inyri, who is, of course, altogether too focused on her nails for anything good to come of it. Not physically, at that exact moment — but she's certainly going to be bothered if — or rather when — a spiderclaw wrecks one. So for now, she's sticking to the fish that are easy to scoop up. "So I'll just keep going with the 'easy' — you two can have all the fun." She's laughing, though, and it's unlikely that her disinterest in participating in spiderclaw catching is going to last.

Edani chuckles despite his throbbing finger. He can't help it when he hears Ezra. He hadn't thought about Inyri's manicure, but wait until she tries to de-shell the meat. Her polish will take a further beating. While she's collecting the clam-like shellfish, he encourages her to, "Keep an eye on your toes!" Speaking of which, it grows darker by the second, so he resumes his mad scramble for spiderclaws, first picking up the one Ezra hurled - it's dead and still edible. No sense wasting it. "Ezra, watch this," he whispers to the boy, taking a bit of seaweed, he lobs it high in the air towards Inyri's back. Plop! Somehow today is bringing out the kid in him.

Ezra looks up from his Very Serious Task of stalking spiderclaws, clapping a hand over his mouth at Edani's throw. "That's mean!" he hisses, but the moonlight shows the gleam in his pale eyes just the same. Then he's after more spiderclaws, his triumphant cries showing that he's managed to grab a few

Playfully tossing a bit of seaweed towards Ezra, Edani corrects laughingly, "It's play; mean is sticking minnows in her ear or tossing baby spiderclaws down her shirt." Both of which he probably did to his sisters once upon a time before he became a gentleman. If Inyri retaliates, he'll snicker while slip-sliding around on those rocks until he deems they've got enough dinner. Then he simmers them up a rich seafood chowder, while Inyri makes concoctions to sip and they’ll eat it by the starlight and that crackling fire amidst easy, laughing conversation.