Fort Weyr is the first Weyr on the Northern Continent. It bordered on the northeast High Reaches Weyr and on the northwest Telgar Weyr. Holds Fort, Southern Boll and Ruatha were beholden to Fort Weyr.
- A detailed description of the Weyr, established, the surrounding countryside, the economy and the other (on the basis of the The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern)
The medium-sized caldera that Fort Weyr occupies was found during flyovers to Fort Hold. Within five years at Fort Hold, the dragons and riders had begun to outgrow their quarters; they moved over to Fort Weyr in the fourteenth year of the colony, under Weyrleader Sean Connell and bronze Carenath, with his wife Sorka, senior queen rider for Faranth.
The Weyr was built to hold a maximum of five hundred dragons. The architectural style is a fairly simple one. Because the Weyr was occupied in a hurry, the rough edges were knocked off the walls and floors to make it livable. But many modifications were made over the next fifty Turns.
Stonecutters were employed to join individual underground caverns into a single complex. There was enough fuel to cut any configuration the architects wished. The corridors twist on for quite a way into the mountain, though not all of the passages are still in use. The Weyr Bowl was left untouched, but the Living Caverns were thoroughly redone.
The Hatching Ground at Fort Weyr is very showy. The upper deck, where spectators sit, is supported by natural columns. The caverns in Fort Weyr are all very high and rounded, left behind by bubbles in the volcanic flow. The Star Stones and Eye Rock high on Fort Weyr's rim are the largest on Pern.
Behind natural small cliffs dotting the walls of the volcanic crater, the individual weyrs were made large, taking into consideration the size into which dragons were intended to evolve eventually. At first the original dragons, who numbered only ninety-two, rattled around in the large chambers like clappers in a bell, a situation very unlike the cramped arrangement they had left behind in Fort Hold. Very quickly, Kitti Ping's formula for increased size began to manifest itself in successive generations of dragons until, by the Second Pass, dragons had reached the size they would remain until late in the Second Long interval.
The other four northern Weyrs are not as carefully made as Fort or Benden. Dragonriders with a talent for stonemasonry in Igen, Ista, High Reaches, and Telgar spend their spare time chipping out new corridors and smoothing the walls in frequently used chambers. Because it is such hard work, and accomplishing anything major takes such a long time, there is little perceptible style to these Weyrs. Fort was able to assume a grandeur suitable to the first Weyr on Pern.
The Fort Weyr kitchen is up an imposing flight of steps and lies under an elaborate vaulted ceiling. The hearths run along the outside kitchen wall, with room to feed not only the 450 dragonriders but the 1,200 support staffers who live in the Weyr. The night hearth, which always has a pot of soup or stew and a kettle of klah heating, is in a separate room just off the kitchen, where runners coming into the Weyr from between or by the Fort Hold road are fed.
Copper utensils ranging from immense soup cauldrons to tiny saucepans hang from the ceiling in rows, shined by drudges until the head cook can see his face in every one of them. Some of these copper pots were made here, but many predate the Second Crossing. They are the Head Cook's pride and joy, and reputed to be a finer collection than that in the Fort Hold kitchens, where his grandfather is the Head Cook.
Hectar is a tall, thin, sad-looking man who came from Fort Hold when his great-grandmother Agatha reported that the Weyr needed a new Head Cook. His assistants are all much shorter than he is, so he does not understand their need to get the steps to take down pots from the hooks, which he can reach without effort. Hectar is never satisfied with anything he cooks and is forever moaning that his stew does not taste right, or that he has burned the bread. He complains that the flour did not arrive premilled, and that it was badly ground by the kitchen drudges. The dogs did not move evenly around the spits, and the meat is undercooked. All of his complaints bemoan his imaginary inadequacies. The head woman of the Lower Caverns is accustomed to soothing him, assuring him that the food tastes magnificent, which it does, and that he did not leave out a single ingredient.
Hectar lives on tastings from his recipes. He does not eat much otherwise and never touches sweets. The stews and soups never taste the same way twice because he is always experimenting, varying the amounts of spices and the proportions of vegetables. His anxiety is doubled by his great-grandmother Agatha's insistence that his grandfather is a better cook than poor Hectar ever will be. Hectar is the exception to the rule that you can never trust a thin cook.
Agatha retired from the headwoman's job a few Turns ago, but she still keeps a finger in every pie. Like all the aunties, she is honored for her age but teased for her arrogant and overbearing airs. Her strength of purpose was needed to hold her own with the Oldtimer women, who felt she was taking a job that rightfully belonged to one of them when they came forward. Her approval is and was respected. She held the job of head-woman for a long time and was still keeping the Weyr caverns in perfect order when she was persuaded to retire for her health's sake. Agatha's «Hmph! Not bad» is high praise.
Now that she is retired, she gets too little exercise to keep the joint ailment from which she suffers at bay. She takes fish oil for the vitamin E to ease her stiffness. She has more time on her hands than she needs and spends much of it bickering with a crony of hers, a gifted tanner who can make wherry hide as smooth as fabric. He has high blood pressure, which he treats with garlic. Anyone in the caverns can find either one of them just by following the stench of fish or garlic.
Garlic is popular as a cold remedy. The sandy soil in the Weyr Bowl is good for raising all the bulb and root families of vegetables. Moreta used it as a palliative when the plague was starting its ravages. It serves as a medicinal herb, as well as a condiment.
The new headwoman, Margetta, is so young and full of energy that she runs at full speed until she collapses. She came from the Old Time, but she hardly seems to be like the others who came forward with her. Everyone knows when she is awake, because then she seems to be everywhere at once, overseeing the drudges, measuring out spices from the locked stores, or counting heads in the dining cavern. Everyone knows when Margetta falls asleep, too, because her snores are as loud as a roaring dragon.
Margetta is the one to whom the duty falls to inform the Senior Weyrwoman of shortages in the stores. She and her stewards oversee the repair of furniture, rugs, and tapestries. They also see to the replacement of riders' clothing, sleeping furs, and boots, and provide hide for repair of riding gear. Margetta is also the liaison with the Craftmasters who work inside Fort Weyr.
The extensive Lower Caverns and Hatching Grounds are much the same size as the ones at Benden Weyr. Some corridors in the back of the caverns end in blind walls. The blocked-off area in back of the Weyr dates from the end of the First Pass, when those living in the caverns cleared out to other Holds and Benden Weyr. In these back rooms are remnants of the move from South to North. With the decline in Weyr population, most of these rooms have been turned over to storage. Empty plastic packing cases are used for contemporary supplies. Bits and pieces make their way to the workshops of the Weyr's smith: screws, fasteners, engine parts, coils of electrical cord, wires of rainbow colors, and connectors. No one has uses for some of the parts. Sixteen-pin chips are turned over to the children as toys.
Behind a fall of earth, there are further corridors, closed during an avalanche, that no one has been in for millennia. Records on plasfilm are stacked everywhere. Some are indistinguishable from the dirt in which they are buried. The inhabitants of Fort Weyr always meant to rescue the contents of these rooms, but they never got around to it. Now there is not even a memory of the existence of the rooms themselves.
Margetta also has the task of clearing out a weyr when a dragonrider dies. If he has designated no one to have his belongings, they either go into the common storerooms or are thrown away. Anyone who wants them can have the discarded possessions, and the headwoman is happy to get a little space emptied out. The storerooms are chock-full of twenty-five hundred years worth of dra-gonriders' impedimenta.
A weyr has little furniture. Beyond the dragon's stone couch and its weyrmate's bed, there may be a garment chest. There are closets in a few of the principal chambers, such as those of the Weyrleaders and Weyrwoman as the power tools began to wear out, closets ceased to be priority construction items. A rider will have rugs and tapestries to keep out the cold of the stone, and perhaps a small table and chair, especially if he practices a handicraft, but generally dragonriders do not keep many personal possessions.
Dragonriders have spare-time occupations, which they fit in between taking care of their dragons and their duties within the Weyr. Most riders make their own riding straps, because they need to be able to trust the leathers to the last tug. Some riders have a talent for tannery and make more goods than they need, to barter with or gift to other Weyrfolk. Those with a bent toward tailoring or barbering are sought after in the evenings. Furlined clothing is a must in the stone weyrs, especially in Fort Hold's cold winters.
All the Weyrwomen keep their hair cropped close, with the exception of Lessa, who takes pride in her thick, dark tresses and keeps them plaited closely under her flying helmet, and Mirrim, who admires Lessa enough to copy her. Moreta was looking forward to the day when she would be able to let her blond hair grow out. As mirrors are rare, no one tries to cut his or her own hair. Anybody in the Weyr with a deft touch at cutting hair is much in demand during restdays or in the evening. The men tend to be cleanshaven: Due to genetic drift, Pernese males have very little body or facial hair. Some Lord Holders allow their hair to grow longer than dragonriders do as a mark that they are of the leisure class, but they, too, tend not to cultivate facial hair. Drudges, who need to keep their hair out of the way, have it clipped under a bowl by a headwoman.
Most riders prefer short hair for safety. There is a risk in keeping one's hair long during Threadfighting. The first time a longer-haired rider gets threaded across the back of the neck, or has a fragment of Thread tangled in his hair, he is usually first in line for the barber.
Dragonriders enjoy gambling. Fort dragonriders like a good dice game and have reinvented craps and other games of chance. Like all the Weyrs, they play dragon poker. Since this is an Old Time Weyr, there are some decks still in use whose face cards bear the likenesses of riders so long dead that no one remembers who they were. Fort Hold plays board games, some of which have made their way into the Weyr. Chess is often played in the evenings. Before the Fire Lizards came, a game could be left set up on a table for days until the players got back to it. Now players are well advised to finish before they leave, lest when they return they find the pieces rearranged or missing.
When the Weyrs are all in harmony, the Weyrleaders meet at Fort. There is a beautifully appointed chamber known as the Council Room. It is dominated by a table in the shape of a half oval with seats for each of the six original Weyrleaders at the top, and seats for visitors and others of less consequence arranged at the curve opposite. The Weyrwo-men sit at the sides near the Weyrleaders.
The wall decorations, brought forward from the Old Time, are tapestries pertaining to each Weyr. They are very lavish and beautifully made, showing Masterwork of need-lecraft. The ones depicting Benden Weyr were left behind when Fort Weyr was abandoned, and have four hundred Turns more wear on them.
The tabletop is a magnificent mosaic done in chips of semiprecious and precious stones, the work of a lifetime from the Mine-craft lapidaries. Each of the chairs is ornately decorated, with fancy chair arms and seat-back. The padded seat pads are sumptuously embroidered.
Because of the frequent change of Weyrleaders, the seat pads are newly made for each man. The Senior Weyrwoman of each Weyr is usually the only one to attend these conferences, and her chair decoration is of a more permanent character.
The Weyr trains its own dragon healers, mostly from riders who show an aptitude and an interest in healing, though anyone with training and knowledge can help heal injured and burned dragons. Dragonriding takes up most, but not all, of a rider's time. The Healer Hall instructs all healers in basic techniques of first aid, but apprentice dragon healers learn from others in their Weyr. Moreta, for example, was a dragon surgeon. A dragon healer needs dispassion, skill, and dexterity to be effective. It does the dragon no good if a healer is afraid to perform a painful operation to save a wing or a leg. In case of emergency, a beastcrafter may be called in to assist a dragon surgeon.
All Weyrlings physic their own dragons. If a young dragons tail is too thick, denoting constipation, his weyrmate must administer the purge. If he has bitten his tongue learning to chew firestone, the rider applies numbweed salve until the bleeding stops and the ichor has clotted. Fortunately dragons are a healthy breed, but dragonriders are always encouraged to learn more about caring for them.
Fort Hold, Southern Boll Hold and Ruatha Hold were beholden to Fort Weyr. Although the borders changed over the years, by the Ninth Pass, Fort Weyr's area of protection generally matched the borders of the three Holds it protected.
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It was established in the First Pass by Weyrleader Sean Connell, rider of Bronze Carenath and his wife, Weyrwoman Sorka Hanrahan, rider of Gold Faranth. As with all of the Northern Weyrs, Fort was located in an old volcanic crater. Fort and Benden Weyrs were the only two Weyrs to be partly excavated using the stonecutter equipment brought north by the miners. As a result, the wall are smoother then, the other Weyrs which are hand carved.
- Dragonrider with status:
- Dragonrider with status: junior Weyrwoman — ; Wingleaders — .
- Dragonrider with status: junior Weyrwoman Fiona, Tannaz; Wingleaders T'mar.
- Dragonrider with status: junior Weyrwoman Lidora, Haura, Oklina; Wingleaders S'peren, P'nine; Weyrlingmaster F'neldril.
- Dragonrider with status: junior Weyrwoman — ; Wingleaders D'kor, S'bor, K'ron; Weyrlingmaster J'cob.
- Dragonrider with status: junior Weyrwoman ; Wingleaders — ; Weyrlingmaster K'nebel.
Fort Weyr is said to be the largest Weyr on Pern. Since Benden Weyr is known to have a capacity of five hundred dragons by the Ninth Pass, and Telgar Weyr had achieved a six hundred dragon capacity by the Second Pass, it can be assumed that Fort Weyr has a capacity of something over six hundred dragons.
It should be noted that a Weyr's capacity changes over the years, as riders make expansions and carve out new Weyrs for themselves. For example, the capacity of all Pern's Weyrs went from 2300 Dragons in the Sixth Pass to 3000 Dragons in the Eighth and Ninth Passes. Early in the First Pass, Fort Weyr was said to have 520 dragons.
- While earlier Pern novels stated that only Fort Weyr and Benden Weyr were founded in the First Pass, it was later revealed that all six Northern Weyrs had been founded by the end of the First Pass. This can easily be explained as a result of Weyr records decaying over time, and thus creating confusion about when the Weyrs were founded.
- Oddly, D'mal and Nara are mentioned as being the Weyrleaders of Fort Weyr in two completely different eras of Pernese history; first in the late First Pass and early First Interval, and again in the late Second Interval. It can be safely assumed that this is an inconsistency, and as such, their names being the same should be viewed as a coincidence.
|Northern||Benden • Fort • High Reaches • Igen • Ista • Telgar|
|Southern||Southern • Monaco Bay • Xanadu • WeyrHolds: Honshu • Malay River|
|Western||Eastern • Midriver • Northern • Sky • Southern • Southriver • Western|
|Holds • Stakes • Crafts and Halls|