Ruatha Hold is one of the Major Holds in the Northern Continent. It bordered on the east Telgar Hold, on the south Fort Hold, on north-west Tillek Hold and on the north Nabol Hold. Fort Weyr fights Threadfall over Ruatha Hold.


A detailed description of the Hold, established, the surrounding countryside, the economy and the other (on the basis of the The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern)

Ruatha, the second oldest Hold in the Northern Continent, has given Pern many of its most famous Weyrwoman. It is also the breeding place of the finest runnerbeasts on Pern.

At the time Ruatha was first inhabited, Fort Hold had reached the bursting point with all the former inhabitants of the Southern Continent. Ruathas lovely valley and cave system was only two days ride on horseback from Fort Hold, and its grass flats and portageable river were suitable for raising food animals and transporting them elsewhere easily. Red Hanrahan, who first called the stakehold Redsford Hold for the fast-flowing river between it and Fort, elected to move into the new Hold with his family. In time, the Hold's name was translated to the Irish for Reds Ford, «Rua Atha», by one of Red's grandsons.

The saying came to be known that «Fort Hold just happened, but Ruatha was planned». It was designed to be expanded as need arose.

Red Hanrahan was a veterinarian with an uncanny way with animals. Between the dragons and the herd beasts, Fort Hold had become too crowded for the breeding of healthy beasts, Red moved his half of the problem to Ruatha, where he was able to allow the beasts to multiply rapidly, sometimes producing three lambs at a time out of a single ewe. The meat was desperately needed by the Fort Holders. With the help of the dragonriders, the beasts were rounded up and herded into the caverns. Refrigeration was still possible, so the meat was frozen as soon as it was slaughtered. Dressed meat went downstream past what is now Ruatha River Hold, south to the Fort Hold water, and upstream. Vegetables and fruit raised in the hydroponics tanks at Fort Hold went back to Ruatha, balancing out the beast-holders' diet.

Red and his family loved horses. Though they were of little value as a meat animal or as a beast of burden until the roads could be finished, he still spent time raising them. With the sperm and ova available, he could breed for strength, speed, and beauty in riding stock. He raised heavy horses, too. The mechanical plows would run out of fuel soon enough, and Red had in mind Clydesdale-Shire stock, as well as oxen, to take their place.

Ruatha was much larger in its earliest days than in later Turns, when many of the inhabitants moved out to smaller holds after the end of the First Pass. When the rooms were no longer in use, the rear corridors were blocked off. Most of the additions had been built on the outside of the Hold rather than the inside.

Descendants of Red and Brian Hanrahan continued to Hold in Ruatha. In the Sixth Pass, Lord Alessan's family still maintained the. tradition of raising runnerbeasts, the genetically adapted equines. Alessan had the empathy for both runner and dragon that caused dragonriders on Search to ask for him, but his father, Lord Leef, refused to let him go, as he was to be heir to Ruatha.

Alessan's father wanted his son to breed strong beasts of burden that could work hard on little food, but Alessan did just the opposite, and he created a supreme stock of racing runnerbeasts. These, tragically, became almost the only remnant of the glorious history of Ruathan horseflesh after the plague. Alessan's descendants held Ruatha until shortly before the Present Pass, when Lessa, last of the Ruathan Blood, went to Benden Weyr.

Except for an interruption of Turns during which Fax broke Ruatha into the ruin it was when Jaxom and his regent, Lord Lytol, took Hold, Ruatha was the site of the most prestigious runnerbeast Gathers on Pern. To be asked to race one's beasts at Ruatha was to receive an honor much sought after among breeders. Lord Jaxom has been striving to recreate Ruatha's former greatness.

In Lord Leef's day, Ruatha was much smaller and less ornate than it is now. Alessan himself began the new construction that increased the Hold's size and utility. The courtyard wall was a simple one, and the tower and gates that now block entrance from the causeway road were added over the Turns. Over the next thousand Turns new stables were built out from the southern end of the old one. Women's quarters were constructed over the kitchen complex, and many small craftholds grew in the shelter of the cliffs and the ramp. The Watch-wher den in which Lessa took shelter did not exist in Moreta's and Alessan's day. But Alessan's precious racetrack is still where it was a thousand Turns ago.

The stables were converted within the last ten Turns into a combination weyr and sleeping room for Lord Jaxom and the white dragon Ruth.

Lessa herself is the last full-blooded descendant of the Ruathan house. Through a curious discovery that had been lost over four hundred Turns, she was able to go back between times thirteen Turns to save herself from Fax's slaughter of her family. (That the process was known in Moreta's day is evident to modern dragonriders; no single dragonrider merely going between places could have covered all the stops necessary to deliver the life-giving serum in the course of a single day.) Another jump in time verified Lessa's discovery. She went forward ten Turns from her childhood to the day on which F'lar came to Ruatha on Search and killed Fax.

Benden Weyr, during the beginning of the Ninth (current) Pass, was becoming desperate. It was evident that the number of dragons and riders was too small to combat Thread adequately. No solution had yet been found either to the haunting «Question Song», which held the clue to the reason for the five empty Weyrs. Once Lessa had learned to go between times, she became convinced that the five Weyrs had come forward in time to her era, to fight Thread in the new Pass. No one else believed her, so she took it upon herself to prove it and save Pern. There had once hung in the main Hall a tapestry, a treasured family heirloom of the House of Ruatha, which Lessa believed depicted the Hold as it had been four hundred Turns before. When the tapestry was woven, the carven door cap and lintels had not yet been added, nor had the Tower, gate, or second courtyard.

Once she had returned the tapestry to Ruatha, Lessa used it as a focus for Ramoth to travel between four hundred Turns into the past. The effort nearly killed both of them, but Lessa's solution to the «Question Song» was the correct one. In fact, it was her urging that had prompted it to be written, so that through the temporal anomaly, she could later solve it. Lessa returned to her Turn with eighteen hundred fighting dragons and seventeen queens to fight the next Fall.

The Oldtimers, as they came to be known, were a mixed blessing. Their Pass had been over just long enough that they were bored with peace. In the Weyr there is not much to do during Interval. The Oldtimers had developed an adrenaline addiction from being under constant tension for fifty Turns that made it impossible to slow down. The younger Oldtimers had an easier time adjusting to the end of the Pass, but the condition was permanent in the longtime fighters. It takes only four Turns to make it irreversible. Providing them with the challenge of a new Pass probably saved the sanity of many.

Minor Holds and Crafthalls

Ruatha Hold was known to have at least twenty minor holds and three mineholds by the Sixth Pass.


First Pass / First Interval

Founded mid-First Pass by Red Hanrahan and his family. It boasted an impressive main door (stripped from the shuttles from the colony ships).

First Interval / Second Pass

Second Interval / Third Pass

Sixth Pass

Eighth Interval /Ninth Pass

Almost the entire native population of Ruatha was butchered shortly before the Ninth Pass by the usurper Fax. Among the slain were Lord Kale and Lady Adessa, though their daughter Lessa survived to become the Weyrwoman at Benden Weyr.

While on Search a number of dragonriders, led by F'lar, arrived. During a dinner a duel broke out between the dragonman and Fax, resulting in the latter's death. Jaxom, the newborn son of Fax and the Lady Gemma was then proclaimed Lord. A Steward, Lytol, was summoned to hold in his stead until the coming of age. Lytol was formerly L'tol, rider of brown Larth.

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