While on a run to Fort Hold, Tenna is forced off the runner trace - a track whose use is restricted to runners - into a sticklebush by an unknown man on a runnerbeast. Planning to report the man, she continues to Fort Hold, where she checks in at the Runner Station and has her injuries treated by those there - who note the man was probably Haligon, a son of Lord Groghe's who has a history of causing such accidents.
Due to her injuries, Tenna is kept from running messages until she completely heals - although she is allowed to run the simple route to Fort Sea Hold. Along with the others at the Runner Station, she is to attend the upcoming Fort Gather, and she obtains Gather clothing to wear from Silvina at the Harper Hall - although it has to be adjusted slightly to fit her.
As the Gather begins, Tenna meets with a number of runners who have come to visit; one of whom has also been injured by Haligon. Tenna plans to trip Haligon on the dance floor, but instead settles for punching him when she sees him with friends; knocking him out cold and into a pile of runnerbeast droppings. Another man runs over to her, and asks the reason why she punched "Haligon"; Tenna notices a look of guilt when she retells her story. Shortly afterwards, the other runners reveal the man she was talking to was Haligon - she knocked out his twin brother Horon, who is bad enough in his own way.
In time, Lord Groghe approaches Tenna and formally apologises for Haligon's actions, and assures them he will be kept off the traces in future. Not long afterwards, Haligon comes up to Tenna - bringing as a gift an expensive green hide from the Tannercraft that she wanted to make shoes from - and apologises - having also done so at the Runner Station - before inviting her to dance, where they end up kissing.
As the crowds die down, Tenna and Haligon walk back to the Runner Station. Haligon reveals the reason behind his use of the traces; he is breeding runners, and he was using the specialised traces to test the various strains - but was unaware he was causing injuries to runners using the traces. Haligon asks if Tenna would consider doing more "western runs" so they could see each other. Tenna she says she might, before kissing him and heading into the Runner Station - noting a future raising runners the four-feet type and messager and a family might be nice one day.
- Main article: List of characters in Runner Of Pern
Preceded By: The Masterharper of Pern Pernese Stories (In Publication Order) Followed By: The Skies of Pern Preceded By: Dragonflight Pern Stories (In Chronological Order) Followed By: Dragonquest
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