IC Date Reference: Set approximately a sevenday post Gather. Date approximately 22.214.171.124.
At least it felt as though things were finally getting somewhere. Albeit a bit slower than he might like but Ked’son could appreciate that being so new to the role, Ko’ssen was focused on being careful. But there was also a thing as being a little too careful. Maybe he’d approach the man for an impromptu and relaxed chat about things, something less official. Get the ball rolling and give him some advice about the fluid nature of Weyrlings. Maybe. He didn’t want to tread on any toes. But he didn’t want to see the man flounder either, he seemed to have a decent head on his shoulders. If possibly a bit overwhelmed.
He was surprised he hadn’t worn a track in the tunnels by now and soon he was knocking on the familiar door. “Mornin’ Ambrelli!” he called through the door cheerfully, “It’s your favourite Weyrlingmaster coming to annoy you again!”
Ambrelli opened the door, her appearance impeccable as always, hair pulled back, functional and practical clothing, yet still tailored to ensure a polished appearance. She hadn’t slacked on the days she’d been sequestered, and she wasn’t about to start now. Besides, Ilexeth was sleeping more at night now, which meant she was back to getting her normal 5 or so candlemarks a night. And she was able to get up and run, with one of her three dragon babysitters coming to watch Ilexeth while she went on a run. And she still had time in the Infirmary. So all in all, her routines were getting back to normal. Which in some ways made things easier, and in others, harder. Being so close to normal was at times more infuriating than when her life had been panicked.
But at least now she didn’t have to hide behind the door when Ked’son or Dytha or Z’go or Larsin came calling on her. She had a cup on klah in both hands, and she held one out to Ked. “You’re my only Weyrlingmaster. Don’t confuse lack of choice for preference,” she said in a teasing tone, as she stood aside for him to enter.
“Ooph you’re a harsh woman, and here I was about to compliment you on looking impeccable as ever. You’re not giving me a chance to scold you for not being ready on time!” As ever, he was fully of boyish charm as he stepped in, gratefully taking the proffered mug of klah.
“Mornin’ to you too Ilexeth,” he called out as he headed towards his familiar indentation on the couch. He had a folder under his arm but then, that was nothing new either. By comparison, he looked a little ruffled and suspiciously as though he had slept in the same shirt. Falling asleep on the couch in his office was, a lot of the time, more regular than making it back to his own bed.
“A woman is always on time. She is never late, nor is she early, she arrives precisely when she means to.” Ambrelli teased him, closing the door behind him. She took in his appearance with a slight frown. “Sleeping on your couch again, dear Ked’son. They make beds for a reason,” she said, a quick look at her own in the corner of the room showing no use. She still slept with Ilexeth in a pile of furs. One of these days, she’d just drag the mattress in there and leave the wooden bedframe to sit bare.
At his greeting, Ilexeth raised her head from the couch, gave another sleepy yawn, and languidly slid off the couch. She was not nearly as big as some greens, still just about three feet in length, and it was obvious that she was going to be a small petite green. A giant stretch later, and she sauntered up to the awlm, her walk still being uncoordinated enough to nearly give her an appearance of sashaying, and sat down in front of him.
((*Good morning, rider of Blue Thaath.*)) the second consisted of less words and more images of Thaath himself. ((*Will you scratch me now?*)) A pause. ((*Please.*))
Collapsing onto the couch, Ambrelli’s comment earned her a snort of amusement. “What can I say, my couch is comfortable. I keep furs stashed in a basket behind my desk for a reason.” He grinned that boyish smile at her again as he took a slurp of his klah with a groan of happy appreciation.
He turned his attention to Ilexeth as she sauntered towards him, noting the still ungainly momentum - even if it made her ground walking rather adorable. But even so, it was clear she still wasn’t sure about where to place her feet. Hmm. “Good morning to you too, Green Ilexeth of Ambrelli,” he responded in a teasing echo of her own politeness. “I see Thaath’s been working with you on your manners.” He held his hand forward for her to push into her head as she liked.
“I’m going to warn you now,” he called over his shoulder to Ambrelli. “By the end of today you’re either going to hate me or really hate me.” Because he wasn’t entirely the bearer of good news, at least, not in the way that they had initially hoped things would go. But, hopefully she would see that it wasn’t all bad. Just, perhaps for her, a little less than ideal.
“You should keep a clean shirt stashed in the basket as well then,” she said with a shake of her head but a small smile on her face to keep the statement from being a rebuke. She topped off her cup, listening to him before she moved to sit on the opposite end of the couch. Her face showed no reaction to his words, as she steeled herself for what she assumed was coming. He and Ko’ssen had decided her fate.
Ilexeth meanwhile had done as expected, and was now using his hand as a scratching post for all of her itches on her head.
“I’d like to kindly remind you that she has teeth now. Keep that in mind as you speak your bad news…” she said drolly. “And I do so prefer men that give me bad news to bring wine...or brandy.” She looked back at the table. “Not even flowers or fruit. No bribes mean it can’t be that bad.”
“I brought my dazzling company?” he tried hopefully, happily reciprocating the silent request and letting his hand scrub into Ilexeth’s hide around her neck and head. “And I’ll have you know that this is my clean shirt. I just haven’t got around to replacing the one I took out of my desk bottom drawer yet.”
Right. Enough jokes. Ambrelli wasn’t one for dithering about, he’d picked up on that already. “Okay. Cracking on with it. Ko’ssen has come to an agreement about your living arrangements and we’ve also set up what we think will be your lesson plan for the coming weeks. You’ve been announced to the Weyr as you know and Ko’ssen is going to, if he hasn’t already, going to be having a chat with the rest of the Weyrlings so that the bubble of drama has dropped…” He paused, knowing that his next words were possibly not going to be received brilliant. “... by the time you’re moved into the Barracks at the end of the month.”
“Surely you have a worker who can at least press your shirts for you. You do have rank you know,” she said with another smile. She watched Ilexeth as he spoke, forcing her mind into a place of calm to temper her reaction. So it was to be the Barracks. There were worse things, but it ranked up there as something she definitely didn’t want to do. Somewhere she didn’t want to be. Still, she showed nothing.
He felt he owed her some explanation, felt it had been himself getting too far ahead of his surety of what Ko’ssen would agree to. “I know it’s less than ideal - in more ways than one. But it wasn’t a decision made on a whim. With the concerns raised about your safety, the constant presence of numerous Weyrlingmasters and the fact that the Barracks doors are closed and locked at night, were the overarching deciding factor given that Ilexeth isn’t big enough to defend herself yet. That was the predominant chain of thinking. Plus it doesn’t stand out.” He wasn’t going to give her a mountain of excuses so, unless she chose to raise any more questions about what had led to the decision, he would leave it there. “As for your lessons - I’m afraid for the most part, you’re stuck with me.” He offered a wry smile, but he couldn’t stop the tinge of apology that tweaked it. “We’ve unanimously agreed that a lot of the basic lectures are going to probably drive you around the bend and that it won’t do your mental state any good. So you’re going to be spending a lot of one on one time training with me. However…” Another pause, this time to ensure that she was following as he sipped his klah. “You are going to need to attend the general times with dragons present - for example feeding and bathing times as these will be crucial for Ilexeth’s socialisation development. Time spent around her peers. In time this will extend to include the physical lessons - again more socialisation, her learning how to communicate with multiple dragons, working as a team, generally building up her physical strength and so on.”
Ked’son paused a moment, this time to give her opportunity to raise questions. He was fairly sure what the next question might be about - her Infirmary time.
Ambrelli looked down at Ilexeth, reminding herself of why she was going to tolerate this. “I should have never trusted Ko’ssen. I asked for help, not imprisonment.” She spoke with neither surprise nor hatred, but instead it was with resigned neutrality. She continued to stroke the green’s head. She had no desire to spend time with the other weyrlings, children all of them, but she also understood that Ilexeth needed to spend time with the dragons of her own age. But the training, despite Ked’son’s avoidance of saying it, was meant to make her a Rider, a fighter of Thread. She may have desired that once upon a time, but not so now. Now, it was the last thing she ever planned on doing. It was too early yet to take drastic measures, and ones that may not be needed. So it was either refuse outright and face the consequences, which would likely include a complete cutoff from the life she knew as payment for her petulance, or play the game and bide her time. She could endure anything if necessary, for a time.
“What else, Ked’son?” He was leaving more out she knew. He’d yet to explain her Craft status or Z’go. The two things he knew she’d care most about.
Ambrelli wasn’t the kind to collapse into dramatic hysterics. In fact, as far as Ked’son had observed, she seemed to pride herself on her immense self control - despite the cause of it having to exist. So he didn’t argue with her statement, suspecting that it was as close to a slip of emotion as she’d likely ever allow him to see. No, she hadn’t asked for any of this and could see why being consigned to the Barracks would feel more like a punishment than a safety measure. He was glad he had been practical about it, instead of trying to push it into a far weaker argument of random opportunities of Ilexeth’s socialisation. Now wasn’t the time to push points or argue when to do so, would be, well, pointless. And it wouldn’t achieve anything.
“One day of weyrling classes - whether that’s your intensive training with me, or the group physical classes, a day in the Infirmary. The only exception is the fifth day where you will spend the morning attending to weyrling duties and then the afternoon is yours to spend in the Infirmary. Regarding your mate…” A moment’s pause as he flicked through the notes he had taken. “The weyrlings now work on a five on two off pattern to give them appropriate downtime, homework time and so one. Those rest days are yours to spend with your mate. Plus I’m fairly sure we could make some wiggle room around the evening meals… for example on your Infirmary days. Obviously the same rules stand as have currently applied regarding physical contact and so forth. But you will be able to leave the Barracks, either with Ilexeth or she can be left for short periods whilst sleeping - such as you have been doing with your runs and left in the observation of another dragon - for example, Thaath.” He hoped it was something of a buffer, it was why he had told her the “worse” news of having to relocate first.
There was a soft rumble from Ilexeth as Ked’son finished. Ambrelli stroked her head, taking it into both of her hands, the little dragon putting her paws on her lap to lift herself up to touch her forehead to Ambrelli’s. The rumble continued, and Ambrelli sighed. “Hush, Lexi. There’s no need for that now.” They both ignored Ked’son’s presence in the room, and Ambrelli stroked her little green until she calmed, the rumbling abated. It was, Ambrelli noted, completely and utterly her fault. She may have been keeping her face from revealing her dislike of the situation, but she hadn’t shielded Ilexeth from that. The little green knew both that Ambrelli was unhappy and that somehow, it was tied to what Ked’son had just said. Well, she couldn’t shield her out all the time and from everything. Not now that she was awake more and more, and that there was likely to be more unpleasantness to come.
It was a moment before Ambrelli looked up, Ilexeth’s forepaws going back on the ground. Ambrelli smoothed her tunic, and let one hand go back to Lexi’s head, again resting on her lap. “It is what it is. It could have been worse, I suppose.” And she was sure it could have been. She might be annoyed now, but she knew Ked’son to be sensible. If this is what the compromise had been, she could only imagine what Ko’ssen and the Weyrleadership had been pushing. Once again, her choices were not her own. Ilexeth had Chosen her; this was that price. She’d pay it, but not gladly, and there were always ways. She hadn’t missed Ked’son’s hints about that either. Still, she was finding it hard to be grateful at the moment. It wouldn’t do to focus on that though.
“Is that it?” she asked, finally looking back up at him. “So what’s on our lessons for today then?”
No, he hadn’t been expecting hystronics but the lack of further questions did surprise him. He had been silent as she calmed Ilexeth, ironic that it was a positive thing to comment on when she was so very likely disappointed if not outright upset. The folder was slid over to her. “That contains all the new schedules and so forth. I’ve also taken the liberty of preliminarily suggesting a wallow that is slightly away from the rest of the class to afford you as much additional privacy as possible as well as a bunk map. If somewhere else takes your fancy, say the word and it’ll be arranged for it to be yours.”
He sat back, regarding her and the green. It was clear that a little of the boyish humour had faded slightly and though he would never tell her outright, he had his own reservations about this - even if the vast majority of it was about showing the Weyrleadership that efforts were being made. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure how much time would be needed to discuss this. I’ve brought with me the follow up notes for the review work we did the last sevenday. Nothing major, just a few minor brush up notes for you to look over in your own time. It’s nothing major, just a few remarks on additional information that would be covered in a slightly different direction of detail to where your Healer training has covered.” Ked’son paused, weighing up his thoughts.
“So for once, rather than me telling you what you’re doing today, is there anything you want to do?” And if that included asking him to leave, well, he could do that too.
She took the folder, opening it to leaf through it briefly. It was as he described, so nothing surprised her. She appreciated his blunt honesty, even if in the moment she disliked the results. She looked at the bunk map, Ilexeth lifting her head to look at it. Ambrelli handed it back to Ked’son. “As far away as possible, if you please.” She flipped through the rest of the notes, her long fingers tracing the list and mentally ticking off boxes. Wasn’t that the mantra Ked’son was trying to get her to live by? Ticking off the boxes.
If he’d had a lesson plan for her for today it would have been easier. She needed work to keep her mind from racing. And the idea of choosing something herself, well, there was no doubt what that would be, what it would always be.
Ilexeth lowered her head from Ambrelli’s lap, and Ambrelli stood. She set the folder on the table, and nodded. “Yes, I’d like to go to work now, if there’s nothing else. I have much to do to prepare for the changes coming and to make up for my earlier absence. There is plenty to keep me busy.” She looked at Ilexeth before looking back up at him. “So unless there’s something else, Ked’son…” she said, knowing she couldn’t dismiss him or call the lesson over. Ilexeth stood next to her, physically touching her, a slight wing just barely opened to touch Ambrelli’s calf.
Ironically, he had been on the fence about whether to prepare a specific lesson. But at the same time it had felt, well, patronising to thrust weyrling lessons down her throat when in this second, he suspected she was potentially not wanting to engage with anything remotely to do with “weyrling-related” activities. She still had to be treated like the adult she was, not just as the Weyrling rank she had acquired.
It didn’t take long to drain the klah. He was more than used to klah on the run. Although it was more normal to drink a cup that had been cold hours before. Rising to his feet, he swept down his rumpled shirt although it did little to remove any of the creases. “Not a problem at all. I know tomorrow is already allocated for you to have Infirmary time so I’ll be out of your hair until the day after.” He was already headed towards the door, keenly aware that he didn’t want to outstay his welcome any longer than his “news” already had done for him. “You know how to find me if needed. I’m just a dragon-shout away.”
He supposed that it had gone just about as well as it could have. So that had to be something. Right? He’d have Thaath keep an ear ready, although he imagined that the blue would already be doing it whether he was asked to or not. Shells, but it felt as though he were walking a tightrope and he was terrified what would happen if he fell.
“Then expect me to have my favorite weyrlingmaster’s cup ready and full of klah,” she said with a slight smile. After all, she knew he was her ally in this and not her enemy. She led him to the door, saying her goodbyes as he left her. She hadn’t lied. There was much to do to get ready for the changes coming. And she’d have to tell Z’go as well. But she needed to wait until she was calmer before talking to him. And at the moment, she couldn’t quite express her feelings. It was better to calm down first through hard work and let that filter out the emotional aspects so she could focus on the practical.
So it was that a half a candlemark later, Ambrelli led Ilexeth down into the Infirmary to start on a long to-do list, her Journeyman knots displayed on her uniform in a near defiance of the new role despite the little green by her side. There was perhaps never so neat of records or detailed of lesson plans as there was by the end of that shift, Ambrelli’s need for tasks being turned to a benefit at the very least.
= END =
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