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As long as the people of Pern could remember, the Holds had protected them from Thread, the deadly silver strands that fell from the sky and ravaged the land. In exchange for sanctuary in the huge stone fortresses, the people tithed to their Lord Holders, who in turn supported the Weyrs, whose dragons were Pern's greatest weapon against Thread. But not everyone on Pern was part of that system of mutual care and protection, particularly those who had been rendered holdless as punishment for wrongdoing. And there were some, like Jayge's trader clan, who simply preferred the freedom of the roads to the security of a hold. Others, like Aramina's family, had lost their holds through inj