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Runner of Pern
Of course, the legendary "lopers" -- the ones who had been able to do a hundred miles in a day -- had perished ages ago, but their memory was kept alive. Their endurance and dedication were an example to everyone who ran the traces of Pern. There hadn't been many of them, according to the legend, but they had started the runner stations when the need for the rapid delivery of messages arose, during the First Fall of Thread. Lopers had been able to put themselves in some sort of trance which not only allowed them to run extended distances but kept them warm during snowstorms and in freezing temperatures. They had also planted the original traces, which now were a network crisscrossing the entire continent.
While only Lord Holders and Craftmasters could afford to keep runnerbeasts for their couriers, the average person, wanting to contact crafthalls, relatives, or friends across Pern, could easily afford to express a letter across the continent in runner pouches, carried from station to station. Others might call them "holds," but runners had always had "stations," and "station" agents, as part of their craft history. Drum messages were great for short messages, if the weather was right and the winds didn't interrupt the beat, but as long as folks wanted to send written messages there'd be runners to take them.
Tenna often thought proudly of the tradition she was carrying on. It was a comfort on long solitary journeys. Right now, the running was good: the ground was firm but springy, a surface that had been assiduously maintained since the ancient runners had planted it. Not only did the mossy stuff make running easier but it identified a runner's path. A runner would instantly feel the difference in the surface, if he, or she, strayed off the trace.
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