Lessa from "People of Pern"
© 1988 Robin Wood.
Used with Permission. http://www.robinwood.com
Vital statistics
Gender Female
Rank Weyrwoman
Dragon Ramoth
Era Eighth Interval
Ninth Pass
Affiliation Ruatha Hold
Benden Weyr
Spouse F'lar (Weyrmate)
Parent(s) Lord Kale
Lady Adessa
Children F'lessan
First appearance Dragonflight

Ruatha Hold Benden Weyr

Lessa was the Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr during the Ninth Pass, and the last survivor of the Ruathan bloodline during the depredations of Fax, the self-styled «Lord of Seven Holds».


Early Life

Lessa was the youngest daughter of the leaders of Ruatha Hold, Lord Kale and Lady Adessa. She was extremely headstrong, and quite independent. Her father referred to her as being «stubborn at four [years old]», and took great pride in her.

When Fax and his men attacked Ruatha Hold, Lessa was warned, by a visitation from herself from the future, and hid in the watch-wher's den. That allowed her to save her own life, but not the rest of the Ruathan bloodline, who were wiped out.

Life under Fax

After Fax destroyed her family, Lessa became a drudge in the hold that should have been her own. She arranged the demise of several stewards in her quest to win back her ancestral Hold. As for the first steward, she honestly regretted the necessity of his death, because he had been a fair man. The second had been a greedy, grasping man determined to squeeze Ruatha of all it produced so that some profit would drop into his pocket before sending it on to Lord Fax. It had been easy to create misunderstandings between the Ruathans and the second steward. From there, the quality had gone down hill until Ruatha was barely surviving.

Ten Turns after Fax's take-over of Ruatha, dragonriders came on Search for strong women to Impress to the new queen. Wingleader F'lar, of bronze Mnementh, led the twelve members of his wing which included his half-brother, F'nor. Fax permitted the Search, but was impatient with the riders' need for thoroughness. While the wing was at Ruatha Hold, Fax's First Lady Gemma went into labor. Fax claimed that he would renounce Ruatha in favor of Lady Gemma's child if it was male and survived. Seeing an opportunity to be rid of Fax, Lessa announces that the child had been born alive, and was male. Fax flew into a rage, and fell at the hands of F'lar. The child was in fact male, and alive, though he had been cut out of his now dead mother's womb. Because Lessa was chosen as a Candidate for the Hatching, she chose to give up her claim on Ruatha to Jaxom. Whilst leaving Ruatha, the watch-wher, who was emotionally, if not telepathically, attached to Lessa, attacked F'lar because it thought he and Mnementh were kidnapping her. However, mid-leap Lessa told it otherwise and the watch-wher broke its back in an attempt to stop its attack. The dragons gave the watch-wher a tribute only used at the death of a dragon, and Lessa went on to Benden Weyr.


From «Dragonriders of Pern» Boardgame © 1983 Robin Wood. Used with Permission. http://www.robinwood.com

Dragged onto the Hatching Sands by F'lar, Lessa was one of a dozen girls presented as queen candidates. Two girls were mauled by the hatchling queen, one was thrown aside by the queen, and the other, when the queen reached out a claw for support, she got scratched from around the ribs to her ankle. Lessa thought that girl could have moved aside, instead of staying as still as a statue. Lessa moved to put the golden head into her eyes, impression had been made. Impression is described as «She looked into those magnificently, expressive eyes and she was lost in the beautiful rainbow.» And from that moment on, Lessa was never alone again, for she had Ramoth.

Return of Thread

After becoming Weyrwoman, Lessa was educated in her duties by R'gul, Benden's conservative Weyrleader. Lessa disliked the numerous restrictions he placed on her, such as forbidding Lessa and Ramoth from learning to fly. In addition, she came to dislike his policy of placating the Holds. Lessa soon came to realize that the Weyr was short on food, due to a lack of tithes from the Holds and Crafts. Eventually, however, Ramoth rose to mate, which would allow for a change in leadership. Despite R'gul's efforts to have his competitors absent, F'lar's Mnementh flew Ramoth, making F'lar the new Weyrleader. F'lar would immediately deal with an uprising from several Lord Holders. Lessa would participate by having riders kidnap the Holder's wives as hostages. During the confrontation, Lessa would fly on Ramoth for the first time.

In the weeks following, Lessa would choose to support F'lar unconditionally in his efforts to prepare the weyr for the imminent return of Thread. Meanwhile, Ramoth would lay a large clutch of eggs, which resulted in over 30 dragons, including another queen. One day, F'lar taught Lessa and Ramoth to go between. Lessa's first trip took her to the Ruatha of her childhood, leading to the inadvertent discovery that dragons could travel through time. When Thread finally fell, F'lar and the riders would briefly travel back in time to combat the threat, but suffered a number of casualties. Lessa and F'lar would decide to send the hatchlings back ten years to mature and increase the number of fighting dragons.

Bringing the Five Lost Weyrs Forward

Despite this plan, Lessa and F'lar realized that the 200 or so dragons of Benden Weyr couldn't protect all of Pern. Knowing that the other five Weyrs had disappeared 400 years ago, Lessa came to the conclusion that they had actually come forward in time to assist with the threat of Thread. Lessa, against F'lar's orders, took her destination from an ancient Ruathan tapestry and went between and back in time four hundred Turns. She passed out when she reached her destination. Upon recovery, Lessa described the tapestry which led her to the proper time frame in the past. Mardra of Fort Weyr recognized this as a tapestry her father, Lord of Ruatha, had just commissioned. The five Weyrs were convinced by Lessa to come forward and save the Pern of the Ninth Pass. Before she left, Lessa commissioned the «Question Song» to be written to provide her future self with the necessary clues to go back in time for the other Weyrs. This adventure became "The Ballad of Lessa's Ride, " with strong parallels to «The Ballad of Moreta's Ride.»

Dealing with the Oldtimers

Initially, relations with the Oldtimers, as the newly arrived riders came to be called, were good as the Benden riders learned from their peers. During this time, Lessa would give birth to Felessan, her and F'lar's first child. However, the difficulty of the birth led to the two taking precautions to ensure that Lessa did not become pregnant again, making Felessan their only child despite Lessa's desire for more. Over time, tensions arose between Benden Weyr and the Oldtimers as it became apparent that many of the Oldtimers did not recognize the increased rights of the Crafts and Holds. Tensions would come to a head when T'ron would attempt to kill F'lar in order to rid the Crafts and Holds of their strongest ally. When F'lar defeated T'ron, he exiled all Oldtimers that would not follow his lead to the Southern Continent. Lessa would tend his wounds, then oversaw the removal of the Oldtimers. Shortly there after, Lessa would travel to High Reaches Weyr, the new home of the displaced Southern riders, where two queens dragons were attacking each other during a mating flight. When both queens died, Lessa would take charge, drugging the disappointed bronze riders and restoring order. However, F'lar would become sick due to traveling between with an open wound, leaving Lessa to take over some of F'lar's activities. In addition to attending an observation of the Red Star, Lessa would enlist N'ton in a project to seed the Northern Continent with Thread-devouring Grubs.

After several years, the reducing numbers of dragons and the lack of queens or greens to provide relief led the Oldtimers to attempt to steal a queen egg from Ramoth. Though the egg was returned, it came back nearly hardened and ready to hatch. The insult angered Lessa to the point that she was willing to set dragon against dragon in an attempt to get revenge. Lessa was talked down, but she retained a grudge against fire lizards, for their role in the plot. Lessa would later be present when T'kul attacked F'lar at Ista Weyr, where she tended to Robinton, who suffered a heart attack from the stress.

Exploring the South

After the discovery of that the Southern Continent was lush and fertile, F'lar and Lessa made plans to eventually secure some part of the continent for dragonriders, in the hopes that they would no longer be dependent on the Holds and Crafts for support. Lessa would make several trips to the Southern Continent as new discoveries emerged. First, several individuals, including Robinton, Wansor, and others would discover that the Dawn Sisters were actually manmade objects. Later, fire lizard memory would reveal the location of the original settlement on Pern. Lessa would take part in the early excavations, with Ramoth's aid in digging. The next major discovery would be the original ship that the settlers landed in. Lessa would particularly appreciate the ship's maps, which showed the size of the Southern Continent in detail. However, the biggest discovery would be an ancient computer system called AIVAS. Lessa was one of the first summoned, and listened to its recital of the first years of Pern's history.


After the discovery of AIVAS, Lessa put her full support behind its plan to eliminate Thread. Though Lessa became somewhat familiar with the use of a console, most of her lessons tended toward the practical needs of the Weyr, such as dragon physiology and Thread. Together with F'lar and Jaxom, the three would make the first successful trip to the Red Star, looking for points to place antimatter engines to push the Red Star out of orbit. However, Lessa would not participate in the actual placement of those engines, as Ramoth was in clutch at the time.

Lessa would remain as Weyrwoman in the years following, intending to finish out the pass, though she occasionally considered retirement. She and F'lar became responsible for helping to process claims for holds in the South, though she and F'lar had not yet chosen their own place yet. When a giant fireball impacted in the SOuthern Ocean and caused a tsunami, Lessa would come to Landing to help organize evacuations. At Landing, Ramoth would coordinate the large numbers of dragons entering and leaving, while Lessa had food and drink prepared for the exhausted riders. While the evacuations were successful in preventing loss of life, dragonriders came to bear the blame for failing to prevent it. In response, Lessa would attend a meeting at Cove Hold with the other Weyrleaders to discuss a response for the upcoming council meeting. Lessa would support the proposed plan to form a craft for dragonriders to watch the stars in hopes of tracking future threats.

However, the next day a near-tragedy occured when Lessa's son F'lessan and his weyrmate Tai, were attacked by felines along with their dragons. The four were only saved when Tai's dragon Zaranth taught the dragons how to use telekinesis. Lessa would put on a brave face, but broke down in private alongside F'lar. While processing the event, Lessa and F'lar began to consider the effect that the newly discovered ability of dragonic telekinesis could have on their planet. Realizing that it could potentially help divert incoming fireballs, both agreed to take the matter slowly.

Personality and traits

At first, Lessa is portrayed as an extremely unsociable, cynical and uptight personality, having known nothing but abuse and petty revenge in her time at Ruatha. In the course of the books, however, she grows into her broader role, becoming much more personable; developing a genuinely loving relationship with F'lar. Nevertheless, she is always notably short-tempered and occasionally uses her considerable psychic ability to influence the mood of others and affect their perceptions of things through the use of her ability to talk to all dragons. Though desperate for more children early on, she would come to admit that she was never a mothering person. Despite this, she cared deeply for her only son, F'lessan, and was driven to tears after his near death at the hands of felines.

Lessa was eleven when she went into hiding as a drudge at Ruatha. She left Ruatha for Benden Weyr ten passes later, and so is twenty-one at the hatching of her queen, Ramoth. Lessa spends the next three passes waiting for Ramoth to mature, in the meantime under the dull Weyrleadership of R'gul. During Lessa's twenty-fourth pass Ramoth mates with Mnementh, making F'lar both Weyrleader and Lessa's mate. It is shortly after these events, still in Lessa's twenty-fourth pass, that the Thread begins to fall--for the first time in four-hundred passes.

Lessa tends to wear her waist-length «thick, fine dark hair» in a practical and efficient braid. Her face is described as 'curiously beautiful', it is narrow, with high, prominent cheekbones, arched brows, and delicate, feminine features. She has grey eyes. Lessa is petite in stature and, after a decade of malnutrition under Fax, she remains slight of figure, although womanly in form. Evidently, her hands belie her noble ancestry, as--despite callouses, dirt and broken nails--they are notably «small, delicately boned» and even graceful. Once able to discard her guise as a drudge, Lessa stands with her shoulders back, head high, and her chin up.

Around the Weyr, Lessa wears an under-tunic, an over-tunic tied tight with a sash at the waist, a voluminous skirt reaching her ankles, and a pair of sandals. On special occasions, such as her First Impression and her ride before the assembled Pernese army, she wears a long, plain, sleeveless white shift-dress. For riding, she favors a fur-lined leather jacket, trousers and boots.


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