In the second part of this week’s writing challenge, “I remember,” Altyira, the main character of my Dragonriders of Pern fanfics, remembers when she is first taken to her Uncle’s home. I’m not sure exactly how old she is, probably 2. I did really debate on whether to include speaking lines, as she is so young, and in the end decided for just a few. Scientifically we start having memories at 3, but since this is a huge change in her life, and fiction, it’s permissible that she remembers.
My uncle’s small hold was down a long, narrow road that wound past both fields of crops and pasture land for his herdbeasts. They were mostly runners, and this made sense to me as I had been told many times that that was his craft. His home was nothing at all like the main hold at Fort. My mother had had a room there, and a position in the Lord’s household. In comparison, my Uncle’s small home, part of Goren’s Hold, was not worth much.
As we neared the small stone structure, it seemed more and more sad. While smoke rose from the chimney, the outside was dirty and unkempt, and there weren’t even curtains at the windows. A few hens squabbled in the yard as our runnerbeast approached, Lynia drawing in the reins until it stood still. A scruffy looking man appeared at the door, which had stood open the entire time, a wet dishcloth in his hands. But he smiled when he saw us, and as we came near, I could see that he looked somewhat like my mother. It was almost like seeing a familiar face, which, as young as I was, comforted me.
I don’t really remember what was said, but words were exchanged, and soon I was lifted down from the runner and my bags handed over before Lynia dismounted herself. As we passed through the door, I gazed around, not sure what to think. The inside of the house was marginally better than the outside. It at least seemed to have been scrubbed recently—likely in the two weeks since my mother’s death, as he’d prepared for me.
“I know it’s not much right now, but it’ll get there,” he said. “It’s only been me living here the last few years, and I don’t need much, you see.”
Not knowing what to say, I merely nodded. Lynia, on the other hand, briskly handed him her cloak and walked around the room before.
“Where is she to sleep?”
Pulling back the heavy, faded curtain along the back wall, Uncle revealed a hallway. On one side was a large one, and on the other a much smaller one, along with the washroom. Lynia looked into the small one, me beside her. It wasn’t much, but the cot seemed serviceable, and the sleeping fur clean, if matted from previous use. Otherwise there was only one press, and it would easily hold the belongings I’d brought with me—a sevenday’s worth of clothing, another pair of shoes, and a few trinkets. There weren’t any cobwebs, but a few trundlebugs made their way up the outside wall toward the window.
The whole place pretty much smelled like it did outside, with all the windows and the door open.
“Don’t you have any…” I started, but Lynia stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. I didn’t know if I wanted to stay here, everything looked so rough and unlike what I was used to.
Lynia took me back to the kitchen, where we sat at the table, and ate Uncle’s bland porridge. Despite his apologies, she told him it was a welcome break from rich food we normally ate at the Hold. I kept my mouth shut. A while later she was gone, and we were alone.
I know this ends rather starkly, but be assured that Altyira quickly learns to love her uncle, the simple life, and working with animals. She is eventually Searched as a dragonrider candidate, and later becomes a queenrider at Fort Weyr. I may eventually post stories for her on Booksie.
However, I’d like to touch on some personal history here. Anne McCaffrey’s books were first introduced to me by my mother via Dragonsong when I was in middle school, and a self-insertion fanfic was my first attempt at writing. I read all the available books voraciously, and awaited new installments such as The Dolphins of Pern and The Skies of Pern, and became a walking encyclopedia of the Dragonrider world. I have also read a few of Todd’s books (Anne’s son and her designated writer to carry on the series), but I must admit most of the plots seem repetitive, and so I stopped reading them. I may try again in the future, though. That one first book lead to reading several series and novels by Anne (the Ship, Talent, and Crystal Singer series to name a few), and eventually lead to my current writing, so Altyira’s stories are something I occasionally pick up for work again out of both love and nostalgia. Sometimes it is amazing how much one can remember even after years of removal from something one has internalized, as I can still pull out reams of data and knowledge on the subject.
Although the characters here are original, the Dragonriders of Pern series is (c) Anne and Todd McCaffrey.