Checking on my Mentee (WLM Ko'ssen/wL S'ryll)


TrueTricia
 

OOC: After the Clutching for time keeping purposes.

IC:
It was nearing the end of three months since the Hatching of the MidSummer’s Clutch and a bit less since his promotion to wingleader.  He was still adjusting to the new duties, the hidework, the stress.  Every injury in Threadfall was on him.  Every error made his as well.  He’d expected it, but the reality was always different than the expectation.  So today he’d decided to take a little break and go check up on the young bronze weyrling K’el.  He knew the youngest group was still sequestered away from the Weyr, but he could go ask the WLM about his young mentee.  He’d been genuinely happy when the lad Impressed, and he wanted to continue building up the next generation of bronzeriders.  Perhaps it was his ego, wanting to mold the lad in his image as an example of how great he was.  Perhaps it was genuine desire to help and assist the next generation of Riders.  Perhaps it was just a desire to prove to the Weyrleaders that they’d chosen correctly when they’d given him the wingleader position.  


Regardless, that one afternoon he knocked on WLM Ko’ssen’s office door, waiting for the other to answer, not so patiently running his fingers through his hair as he waited.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Ko’ssen was sitting at his desk, a mug of klah still steaming having recently finished brewing a small pot of klah on his tiny stove (an idea he’d liked from when he’d visited with Ked’son). In front of him were some papers, organized only in a manner he knew, all revolving researching information in preparation for the twin gold eggs on the Sands. 


As there was a knock on his door, Ko’ssen’s head bobbed up to glance at the closed door, but before he responded for them to come in he took a second to close a few of the files he’d been reading, open the desk drawer, and place them in it before shutting them securely away. Those didn’t need to be on his desk and visible for anyone who walked into his office.

Once that was done, he pitched his voice loud enough and called out “Come on in!” while at the same time he stood up to greet whoever was stopping by. Mirroring the person who’d been standing outside his door, aside from the impatience, Ko’ssen ran a hand through his hair to smooth it back down a bit as he waited for the door to open. 


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll heard the permission and went inside glancing at the man who didn’t look a day his senior, even though there were several Turns between them.  WLM Ko’ssen had a face that made him look younger, while S’ryll looked timeless, or so he told himself.  He gave one of his effortless smiles as he entered, nodding his head in greeting, his dark eyes taking everything in.  


“WLM Ko’ssen?  I’m wingleader S’ryll of bronze…”


<<greatest bronze…>>  S’ryll ignored him.


“Vastolth.  I trust I’m not intruding,” he said, a wave of his hand indicating the numerous hides that were still on his desk.  


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


As the door swung open, Ko’ssen recognized (even without glancing at the other’s knots) the bronzerider having seen him around back before Ko’ssen got promoted to WLM. But, while he recognized the other as a broznerider, the name didn’t immediately pop in his head. Glancing over the other, taller rider, Ko’ssen gave the Wingleader (this needed a glance at the other’s knots before the introduction) a friendly smile as S’ryll walked in. 


At the introduction, and the questioning tone regarding his own name, Ko’ssen quickly confirmed that with a nod saying in response to the other’s question and hand-wave at the desk. “Not intruding at all, just some research. Come on in Wingleader, and you’re welcome to take a seat. And yes, WLM Ko’ssen of bronze Zerenth.” Here Ko’ssen moved slightly around the desk to offer the other bronzerider his hand in greeting. 


As he moved, careful of the hot stove, Ko’ssen also asked curiously “What can I do for you today, Wl S’ryll? And, I just brewed a fresh pot of klah if you’d care for a mug.” 


The seats offered were either a reasonably comfortable looking chair opposite his at the desk, or a seat on the couch he’d gotten in the office. Ko’ssen had no problem following the other brozerider’s lead on the tone of this conversation based on the seat picked.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll took the other’s hand in greeting as well, a firm grip, and then he sat in the seat across from the other’s desk, casually sitting back in the chair, his demeanor relaxed and nonchalant.  “I never turn down a cup of klah,” he said with a smile to the other man.  


Well, the WLM certainly got down to business, no small talk.  He could appreciate that, even if today he was looking for a distraction.  “I’m actually here about one of your weyrlings…” he said, although his tone and casualness made it obvious that it wasn’t about to be anything terrible.  


<<Ask him when he’ll be back to helping you bathe me.  He was very good.>>


>>He has his own bronze now, Vastolth.<<


<<That doesn’t mean he can’t help!>>


>>I will be sure to bring that up in the future…<< S’ryll mentally rolled his eyes.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Ko’ssen shook hands with the other bronzerider, his own grip practiced and confidently firm, before releasing the other’s hand. As S’ryll took a seat at the desk and sat back relaxed, Ko’ssen nodded once with a smile at the other’s acceptance of klah and turned slightly to the small stove. 


He paused before turning all the way to the stove at the bronzerider’s words about being here because of a weyrling. He glanced back at the bronzeirder, noticing the casual pose and not hearing a tone that made it obvious something was wrong, and so Ko’ssen nodded his head at the bronzerider saying with that same friendly tone “Alright, now you have me curious. Who would you be wanting to talk about?”


With that question, Ko’ssen then finished moving over to the stove and in smooth, quick movements, had gotten one of the many extra mugs he kept for visitors in a row on a shelf, poured a mug of klah, and placed it in front of the other bronzerider as well as a small tray with a stirring spoon, sugar, milk, and some other fixings available for S’ryll to add to his klah. Ko’ssen was careful to shift the hides out of the way of the tray he placed it down, not wanting anything to spill on them as he moved the hides a bit more into a stack. 


That taken care of, Ko’ssen finally sat down himself and picked up his own mug, pausing before taking a sip to say “It’s not the typical Arolosian blend there, but a different one I’ve recently been introduced to and enjoy, just a heads up.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll noted the klah tray and fixings.  That was an idea he should incorporate into his own office.  He took his black though, regardless of the blend.


<<Like you’re heart if you don’t ask about bathing me!>>


“It’s good,” he said, noting the difference after the first sip.  He couldn’t quite place it though.  He’d never been one to drink wine to excess, but he certainly drank less now as the wingleader, and much more in private.  If he drank with his wing, it was to be social, not to get drunk.  So he’d substituted much more klah for wine, so the subtle flavors of this blend, while previously would have been indistinguishable for him, now seemed much more apparent.  


“I’m here about your bronzeling K’el.  I was informally mentoring him for a few months before he Impressed, and I wanted to check on him, see how he’s doing.  How’s young Alberith?”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Sitting back and sipping at his steaming klah, Ko’ssen was glad he’d had the thought of the small tray himself. It made it easier when people came to visit to just pour a mug of klah, put it on the tray already prepared, and set it in front of the guest. The only thing he had to do was to make sure and get fresh milk every morning, but the pitcher with it’s sealed lid kept the milk chilled nearly all day, and the closely sealed lids of the sugar and other fixings kept those fresh as well, and kept out any crawly things too. 


Ko’ssen smiled as the other bronzerider said it was good, relaxing back in his chair as he mentioned “It’s a Fortian blend, containing a bit of cinnamon and I believe a few other spices, if you were curious.” 


As S’ryll mentioned the weyrling in question, and why the interest, Ko’ssen’s curiosity smoothed off his face in understanding as his memory was refreshed and he nodded while responding with “That’s right. I did see mention of K’el, as a candidate, working with you informally.” 


Ko’ssen paused here, considering K’el for a moment and what he knew of how the bronzeling pair had been doing and comparing that to what it was appropriate to say to someone outside the WLM team...Ko’ssen did think there needed to be a certain level of confidentiality between what the WLM team knew about their weyrlings and what got told to those not in the WLM team. It’s be one thing if S’ryll was K’el’s future Wingleader (or even the Weyrleader himself), but at the moment neither of those things were the case, so Ko’ssen wanted to make sure he was careful here.


After a moment of consideration, Ko’ssen said “He and Alberith have butt heads a bit, as I believe any bronzeling pair do in weyrlinghood. There was...an issue with thicktail, but other than that the pair have been doing fine.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

S’ryll looked at the cup of klah.  “Well, not everything Fortian was bad.”  Truth be told, he wasn’t nearly as easy-going as most of the Arolosians, and had to make very concerted efforts in the beginning not to be as hidebound as the tales of old Fort.  He still had to make that effort when confronted with a green wingleader -- although he was now friends with one -- or some other very Arolosian mentality.  But he’d also never subscribed to the level of cruelty at Fort either.  It was more his own ego that accentuated some holder cultural norms, and in the right environment, had cultivated an entitled view of the metallics within a Weyr.  But it had never been a cruel viewpoint.  


S’ryll nodded, not realizing his mentorship with the other had been well-known, but then, he had vouched for him one day when the kid had missed Harper lessons, so he shouldn’t be surprised.  “Vastolth liked him, and he was very eager to help.”

<<When is he coming back?>>


>>Seriously!?  Give it up already!<<


As Ko’ssen talked about the lad and his dragon butting heads, S’ryll chuckled.  “Have you warned him yet that with a bronze, it rarely gets better?”  He took another sip of klah.  “As a Candidate, he seemed to be lacking a bit in confidence, but he was quite capable.  I imagine though a headstrong bronze will both challenge the lad and make him a bit more confident in turn as well.  I’m glad to hear he’s doing well.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Ko’ssen heard the comment about Fort as S’ryll looked at the klah and he wondered at the bronzerider’s words and if they reflected something regarding his beliefs...whether they fell more on the Arolos side of things, or leaned toward the ways of Fort. But, he refrained from commenting on that, as his own views were very lax for a bronzerider...he’d always felt more comfortable interacting with blue and greenriders actually, something that had carried over from his belief that he’d been supposed to impress one of *those* colors instead of Zerenth and all the leadership his bronze hide carried with him. 


At S’ryll’s comment, Ko’ssen grinned saying “Yes, that makes sense. He’s shown an equal eagerness to learn in the weyrling classes.” Ko’ssen did wonder if S’ryll’s bronze liking K’el was a reflection on the fact that K’el would then impress bronze himself.


With S’ryll’s question, Ko’ssen answered with “While I’ve not specifically said that to him, he’s currently being closely mentored (along with the other bronze weyrling in the class) by one of our bronze AWLMs and I’m sure that’s been one of the things mentioned in the ‘bronze-specific’ classes they’ve had.” 


Ko’ssen nodded at S’ryll’s last comments about K’el gaining confidence with his bronze, after all that did tend to be necessary when you impressed such a dominant, strong personality color. Either that or you became their doormat, and a bronze wouldn’t Impress to a candidate who wouldn’t be able to rise to the occasion like that. He’d figured that out himself in weyrlinghood. So, in response Ko’ssen just answered with “Our bronze lifemates do have that effect, helping us rise to meet them if we were not so confident before Impressing them.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll nodded as the other mentioned bronze-specific classes.  “I remember those, though it seems like forever ago.  I’m sure your AWLM is giving him good advice on what to expect.”  He’d meant the comment more as a joke than literally, but it was good to know that even Arolos ascribed to the color-specific weyrling classes needed for the metallics.  It wouldn’t have surprised him if they hadn’t.  


He took another sip of his klah.  He’d known some riders and young weyrlings like K’el.  Shards, the one he’d bullied during Candidacy that had gone onto Impress bronze had been one.  He wasn’t sure the kid had ever really grown into his dragon though.  Not everyone lived up to their potential.  


“I’m afraid it was the opposite for Vastolth and I.  I still had to tone him down, but we matched each other for egos and ambitions through and through.”  He was just able to admit it now, and back then, not so much.  “Shards, I could have killed K’el the first time we met though, when he called Vastolth ‘Vastolth the Great.’  Do you have any idea how many sevendays it took to get him to stop demanding me to introduce him like that to everyone?”  He chuckled.  “Still does sometimes…”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


The little bit of humor S’ryll had tried to do with his joking comment had actually gone over Ko’ssen’s head, as he’d been so focused lately on classes and making sure everything went as smooth as possible that that was where his head had gone immediately. At S’ryll’s response, Ko’ssen nodded replying with “Yes, been forever for me as well.” With a wave down at the hides full of lesson information, he added “Impressing at 12 myself, so long ago, I’ve actually sat in on some of the lessons just to be better informed to be able to bring fresh ideas. And, to see how the classes here differ from the ones I’d gone through at Ista.” 


As S’ryll went on to explain how things had been for him and his bronze, Ko’ssen sipped his klah and listened curiously, always interested to hear how other bronzeriders weyrlinghoods might have differed from his own. When S’ryll finished, Ko’ssen was chuckling at the ‘Vastolth the Great’, imagining it wouldn’t have been so very different if Zerenth had been called something similar. Giving a small, amused shake of his head Ko’ssen responded with “Yeah, I could very much see Zerenth doing that too in that situation. My experience with my bronze in weyrlinghood was very different from you and Vastolth. I’d never expected to be found on the Sands by a bronze, expecting blue or green, so having him by my side while so young, I had quite a struggle to adjust to the new expectations he brought with him.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll nodded.  “I imagine that would have been quite an adjustment and a shift in expectations, but you were young enough still at the time.  Likely would have been harder if you’d been older.  Why didn’t you think you’d Impress bronze?”  A normal person would have added something like ‘if you don’t mind’ to the end, but S’ryll was often oblivious to such small niceties.  He was better than he used to be, but still.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll’s words about the adjustment and the age he’d been earned the other bronzerider a firm nod of agreement. At the question, however, Ko’ssen stilled for a moment. He reached out, feeling for Zerenth to see how much attention the bronze was paying to the conversation, as the topic and S’ryll’s question was very much leading to territory that the arrogant bronze did *not* like his lifemate thinking about. But, Ko’ssen had opened that door with S’ryll because of his comment, so he’d follow through. Thankfully, the bronze was busy on the rim talking with a pretty green dragon who’d started flirting with and flattering Zerenth. Ko’ssen could just *feel* Zerenth’s arrogance inflating even more at the green’s words. Wonderful, his bronze wasn’t paying much attention to him and the conversation.


After checking on Zerenth, Ko’ssen answered “Short answer? I didn’t think of myself as a leader.” 


Taking a sip of his klah as he adjusted in the chair to be more comfortable, Ko’ssen then continued with “Long answer is...well, while I’d grown up in a Weyr with rider parents, I’d never thought to be a rider myself, I wanted to be a dolphineer actually. Until just before turning 12, and my mother didn’t come back from ‘Fall, protecting a Gold from some Thread that had been missed. So I joined candidacy, to live up to what she’d died doing: protecting people.”


After a pause, Ko’ssen finished with “I Impressed only a few months into candidacy, and not only did I not think of myself as a leader I was content to follow the crowd as long as they were going the way I wanted to anyway. Zerenth, however, very much disagreed with my assessment of myself...and still does sometimes.” 


Here he gave S’ryll an amused grin as he glanced around at his office as Weyrlingmaster before saying “And now here I am, Weyrlingmaster at Arolos. If I went back and told 12 turn old me Standing on those sands that I’d be sitting here, I know 12 turn old me would have busted a rib laughing.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll listened to the other’s story.  It wasn’t unexpected really, especially at 12 Turns.  Who really knew what you were capable of at that age.  Oh sure, some like himself, thought they did, but in truth it was wherry shet at that age.  


“A dolphineer to Weyrlingmaster.  Definitely related,” he said with a chuckle.  “I was on the opposite end of the spectrum.  I grew up in High Reaches Hold, my parents no one of any importance. But it wasn’t long before I found I was good with runners, and I could ride nearly anything.  Racing runners are strong-willed beasts, and I was a good jockey and could handle them.  So naturally, I acted like a cocky wherry shet as soon as I started winning races.  Depending on whom you ask, I still do,” he said with a shrug.  “So when I was Searched at 17 and came to the Weyr, I just knew I was going to be a bronzerider, and then eventually Weyrleader someday.  When Vastolth Chose me at nearly 20, it didn’t exactly help my attitude, and vindicated me instead.”


He paused, sipping his klah.  “We both had to learn to be leaders, you and I.  We just came at it from opposite ends of the spectrum.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Ko’ssen’s own chuckle echoed S’ryll’s first comment as the WLM ran a hand through his hair, slightly embarrassed and said merely “Indeed.” And then he fell silent as S’ryll told his own story. 


Sipping at his klah, mug warm in his hands, Ko’ssen listened. Smiling at the other’s memories of riding and even racing runners, he then chuckled at S’ryll’s description of his own behavior and attitude: the typical future bronzerider attitude even before his impression to a bronze. Nodding understandingly at the belief being vindicated by S’ryll’s impression, Ko’ssen held back his surprise of S’ryll already being a wingleader within 10 turns of impression, but he supposed the quick advancement was helped along by S’ryll not needing to sit twiddling his thumbs through 4 turns of weyrlinghood before he was old enough to even join the wings...and just goes to show what an actual ambitious bronzerider could achieve. 


S’ryll’s last comments earned the younger bronzerider another nod of agreement before Ko’ssen replied with “Yes, we certainly did. But, our different starting points help to give us specific insights that we wouldn’t otherwise have, of the abilities necessary to get to the same point from where we each started.” Ko’ssen took another sip of his klah before asking with a curious look “Racing runners, hmm? Seems a bit more related to dragonriding than dolphineering, that’s for sure. I can’t imagine my life without Zerenth, but I wonder, never actually having gotten the chance to get into a craft myself...I wonder if you miss it? The craft you had before.” 


The question was...part curiosity on his own part, not having experienced a craft before his life was joined so permanently with Zerenth’s, but also because some weyrlings *did* come from craft backgrounds before they Impressed and he’d been curious.  But never so curious as to actually ask a weyrling (not wanting to potentially upset the new weyrlings and have that carry over to their new lifemate). 


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll chuckled.  “It felt about the same for the first few months.  The headstrong runners though had nothing on my little bronze.  But I aced my drills as a result, and I can still ride better without straps than most, something that’s come in handy a time or two in an emergency.”  


He sat back and thought for a moment.  Vastolth wasn’t paying as much attention now that it was obvious the idea of K’el coming to bathe him was out again.  “It was hard at first, once the novelty of the dragon wore off.  But I’d stood for three Hatchings before Impressing, so by the time Vastolth Chose me, I’d have given my right arm for him.  But there is this immense sense of starting over.  I’d just made journeyman in the Craft before coming to the Weyr.  Being a weyrling is like starting all over again, and in truth it is.  But that thrill you feel when you ride your bronze… It’s so much more than racing a runner.  Once we’d graduated… I raced a few times after that.  Until I got thrown, and I realized that racing had always been dangerous, but back then I wasn’t risking a bronze dragon too.  So I gave it up.  I just ride for pleasure now, even if I’ve raced the WW on a few occasions.  I do miss it, but I’d never go back.”  He sipped his klah.  “I think I miss feeling young and invincible more than I do the Beastcraft.  This profession of ours constantly makes us face our mortality.”  It was hard to see Threadscoring and not be reminded of the horrific injuries it could inflict.  


“My parents were content to be no one.  I was not.  I achieved that when I was a famous jockey in the High Reaches circuit.  But at its best, that was short-lived.  My Craft would only have taken me so far.  With Vastolth, I could do so much more, be so much more.  Especially with the right gold, and I thought I’d found her Turns ago.”  He sat up now, and his hand waved towards the gold-specific materials on Ko’ssen’s desk.


“Foreth’s future twin golds...They’re not the first, you know.  And the remaining weyrwoman from that set is here at Arolos…”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


As S’ryll talked about his experiences with his new bronze being similar at the beginning, Ko’ssen couldn’t hold back a laugh at that thought and then followed the laugh with a nod of understanding at mentioning riding better without straps. Yeah, that actually made sense for a former runner racer.


But as S’ryll continued after a short pause, Ko’ssen focused on back on the other bronzerider’s words. He’d not been left on the Sands once, impressing in the first shot, so Ko’ssen couldn’t imagine the feeling of being one of the unchosen left behind but the feeling of being willing to do anything for a dragon, giving anything...he’d heard that spoken enough that it wasn’t unusual or not understood. 


Leaning back in his chair, Ko’ssen listened as S’ryll talked about the feeling of starting over, the thrill compared to runner racing, and the decision to never race again because of the danger to S’ryll’s bronze. Through those words, Ko’ssen’s face flicked from a bit of understanding (at the starting over), to a smile of agreement (at the thrill), and finally to sadness for the other bronzerider (for having to give something up that he enjoyed) as well as firm understanding. Ko’ssen didn’t think he’d every do anything that would possibly cause injury to Zerenth. 


As S’ryll mentioned the ‘feeling young and invincible’ feeling he missed, Ko’ssen actually said “That feeling, if I had it, would have been before I turned 12. From the moment of impression, even that young, I’d never been under the illusion of being invincible. Not faced with ‘Fall and it’s dangers. Thank you, S’ryll, for explaining your story and talking about your former craft feelings.” 


Ko’ssen did nod in understanding at the idea of a bronze hide being the boost needed to take their rider places they otherwise wouldn’t reach. As S’ryll mentioned finding the ‘right Gold’ Ko’ssen’s gaze turned curious again, but at S’ryll’s wave down at the hides Ko’ssen took a quick glance down just to be sure (again) that there was no sensitive information still visible. 


S’ryll’s last words brought Ko’ssen’s gaze up to the younger bronzeriders, and Ko’ssen couldn’t help the flicker of...multiple things that crossed his face: knowledge (as he’d already known this fact), guilt (over coming from the Weyr who’s Weyrwoman had caused the disaster, over not doing more to stop things before they got out of hand), and apprehension (feeling like he *needed* to go talk to Tyne in order to try and be better prepared for the twin golds weyrlinghood but unsure if *he* should) being the main emotions.


Putting his mug down carefully, Ko’ssen took a breath before saying carefully “Yes, I’d...actually discovered that fact already, on the night of the clutching. I’d heard in passing at the Party, with the announcement, that there’d been a previous clutch with twin golds and came back that night to begin research on that weyrling class. And I’ve seen Lady Tyne around Arolos.” 


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*b


“Weyrwoman Tyne,” S’ryll responded almost automatically.  “She was born here, Impressed here, her and Myrandith.  It wasn’t a good experience for either of them... “  It wasn’t his story to tell, and he wouldn’t, but just enough for Ko’ssen to understand.  “Their weyrlinghood was not pleasant, and I daresay the twin golds were like fire and ice from the way she described it.  She told me about it long ago when we were back at High Reaches, before that terrible flight.”  He paused.  He shouldn’t assume that everyone was as familiar with Myrandith’s death as he was.  “You know what happened to Myrandith?” he asked, his voice somber now on this gravid subject.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


At the correction, Ko’ssen dipped his head a little in respectful apology to the bronzerider who apparently actually *knew* Tyne. And then S’ryll began talking about Tyne’s weyrlinghood, small snippets of the golden pair’s history at Arolos, which lined up with what Ko’ssen had already read (multiple times) from Tyne’s weyrling file, the file now safe and secure in his desk drawer. Ko’ssen took the time to nod agreement to S’ryll’s words about ‘fire and ice’.


And then the younger bronzerider paused and, in a turn to a very terrible subject, asked a question. Ko’ssen glanced away with guilt on his face as he nodded silently at first, silent a moment longer, considering that S’ryll knew Tyne, before adding “Aye, I do. I was there...one of the bronzeriders chosen to attend from Ista.” Swallowing hard a moment as memories pushed their way to the forefront, checking on Zerenth’s attentiveness to the conversation, Ko’ssen added “I was there, Zerenth was badly injured during the Flight. He, well...we, tried to get between them, to help separate...I know, we’re always told doing that is the *worst* idea, getting between two fighting Golds, but we had to try *something*.” The thought of just how close he’d come to Zerenth getting stuck in the mass of Golds and other males and getting lost between with them caused Ko’ssen to swallow hard again. 


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll didn’t have to wonder at why Ko’ssen’s face was suddenly overcome with guilt, a look on his face that S’ryll knew all too well.  He knew those emotions because he’d felt them, worn that same look on his face how many times?  This they had in common.  Golds didn’t die every day, and not nearly in as spectacular a fashion.  There was no explaining these feelings to those who hadn’t been there, who hadn’t gone through the shared bond of panic and turmoil with their dragons.


“Vastolth and I as well,” he said with a nod of his head.  “Then we’ve met before, even if it was in a haze of lust and death.  Vastolth was injured as well, but before he could become entangled.  He’d just landed when they went between for good.”  He sipped the klah, wishing suddenly that it had brandy in it instead.  


“I keep telling myself that there was nothing we could have done, but I imagine that works as well for you as it has for me.  Tyne and I…” he paused again, unsure what to say.  “Vastolth and I were often found with Tyne and Myrandith, and she and I had plans to rule Fort, to remake it how we had so often talked about.  It made what happened all the harder since we had been constant lovers.”  And now they weren’t even on speaking terms.  “I lost them both that day…” 


He stopped, unsure what else to say.  He didn't’ wear his emotions on his face to the same extent that Ko’seen did, but they were there nonetheless and plain to see.  


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Still not quite looking at the other bronzerider, sunk a bit into his own memories that were still fresh from when he’d discovered Tyne was one half of the previous twin gold weyrlings, when S’ryll said that *he’d* also been at this tragic Goldflight over Fort is when Ko’ssen’s eyes raised to meet the younger bronzerider’s. Examining the other’s face again, a bit closer, Ko’ssen tried to pull memory of the other rider to the forefront, but there was no memory of S’ryll. Even in normal goldflights it wasn’t the other males who were most remembered, it was the goldrider...and this had very much not been a normal goldflight so Ko’ssen wasn’t shocked by not remembering. 


As S’ryll mentioned that they'd met before, even though Ko’ssen’s memory had failed him, the WLM nodded in silent agreement to that statement. Still silent, Ko’ssen listened to the bronzerider talk about Vastolth being injured, and then nodded again to the statement of his guilt not listening to reason of not being able to do anything else. Because...well, Ko’ssen felt even now that maybe he *could* have done more...not even at the Goldflight either, but beforehand at Ista with their two scheming goldriders. He’d very nearly driven him (and Zerenth a bit too) crazy with all the ‘what if he’d done this or that’ that had attached itself quite firmly in his head. Only many candlemarks over many months had done any good to help him through the initial mountain of guilt he’d struggled with. 


And then S’ryll’s words moved to the close relationship he’d actually had with Tyne at High Reaches, the plans, and although Ko’ssen worked hard to keep pity or sympathy from his face at S’ryll’s loss, another consequence of that day, a bit of it might have been visible in his eyes. 


As S’ryll’s words trailed off, Ko’ssen stayed in his seat for just a heartbeat before he smoothly got up and went to a back corner cabinet. Unlocking it and reaching up to the *very* top shelf, Ko’ssen grabbed first one tightly corked bottle and then a second slightly different tightly corked bottle before he closed the cabinet. *He* might have given up on drinking, but he had enough non-weyrling visitors that he’d be a very poor guest if he didn’t keep some amount of alcohol on hand, just in case, even though it stayed locked up and out of interested weyrling hands. 


Walking back, grabbing a secondary mug on the way back to the desk, Ko’ssen silently set the 2 bottles on S’ryll’s side of the desk but slightly to the side (not directly in front of S’ryll), with the new mug, and sat back down. One bottle was clearly a deep, vibrant red wine (of very good quality, he was WLM after all), and the other bottle was (as if Ko’ssen had read S’ryll’s mind) a light golden brandy. Ko’ssen didn’t say anything about the alcohol, but the offer was there for the other man if he cared to partake in either, or to not take any. 


Settling back in his chair, Ko’ssen considered his own words for a moment before he said “That was an admirable plan that you and Weyrwoman Tyne had regarding Fort, and it would have worked if it were not for...well, were not for the golds from my Weyr for which I am deeply regretful of Ista’s part in that tragedy.” Here a bit of the guilt was clear in his voice before he continued with “My situation, with the Istan gold, was...quite different than between you and Weyrwoman Tyne. Goldrider Breda…” 


Ko’ssen paused here, considering his words knowing how *bad* it sounded to criticize goldriders, especially deceased goldriders who had been at your own Weyr of birth. But, Ko’ssen had worked hard to try and separate himself from those goldriders, so after a moment he continued with “Goldrider Breda was very much another of Weyrwoman Eilid’s ilk, and so between the three Istan goldriders if I had any connection with one of them it was the Junior Weyrwoman instead of either of them...” 


Ko’ssen also fell silent at this point, having considered saying more but thinking it might be a bit...tactless or come off unfeeling to say that the impact this tragic event had had on *him*, due to his lack of real connection to the Istan goldriders, did not seem to be as profound an impact that he had experienced regarding Tyne. 


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll nodded in thanks as the other put wine and brandy in front of him, and he poured himself a two-finger pour of brandy, drinking much of it with the first sip.  These memories went better with such things.  He shook his head at Ko’ssen’s words, coming out of his own memories slightly.  “Was it admirable?  Or was it just youthful Ranker arrogance?  Thinking that we could take a place like Fort by coup, a secret plan that served only to result in the death of so many… We were all fools.  I encouraged her, encouraged Myrandith, built up her leadership in her mind and my own until there was no way that Vastolth wouldn’t win -- that flight or the next -- and that she would not make the greatest Weyrwoman of all time.  We were blind to any other possibility but that one, and it cost dearly.  No, there’s plenty of blame to go around, so remember that when your shoulders feel heavy from Istan weight.”  There was a bitterness to his voice, and it was obvious that these were demons both men wrestled with often.


After a moment, “Say nothing of this when you speak to Tyne.  And you should.  Her story is her own to share, but I think she’d tell you of her weyrlinghood if only to ensure that another is spared similar pain.  But say nothing of the flight or your guilt, for her sake.”  S’ryll might be wrestling with his own feelings for his former lover at the moment, but if they believed their guilt was heavy, hers was a weight about her neck that had nearly drowned her.  


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Ko’ssen sipped his klah and waited as S’ryll helped himself to the brandy offered. As S’ryll went on about how the plan had been flawed, how S’ryll had encouraged and pushed Tyne into this, Ko’ssen wondered at that but could understand the heavy guilt that S’ryll bore. Ko’ssen still believe the *idea* had been admirable as something had truly needed to be done to help those still stuck at Fort, and the Flight itself to get a new Weyrleader pair at Fort could have worked (if only…). But yes, from the moment the Flight ended it would have been a struggle to rein in Fort again and try to return it to some semblance of a working Weyr. 


As S’ryll finished, the bitterness heavy in his voice, the last statement an attempt (he believed) by the other man to say that Ko’ssen wasn’t the only one to be feeling the guilt, the WLM nodded silently but left it at that, unsure what else to say there. 


With S’ryll’s last words, Ko’ssen replied with “I understand, and I was planning to speak to her, actually. Her input on what the WLM team could have done better regarding having her and Jayden in the same weyrling class would be invaluable. I’ve been a little busy the last few days, the clutching and all, but I was going to swing by the Mindhealers first before approaching Tyne...just to check and make sure if there were any specific questions or even words I should avoid, aside from the more obvious ones. Or if they’d suggest it not be good to talk with Tyne at all about this. I don’t want to do or say anything that might set her back in how she’s been doing.” 


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

S’ryll nodded at the last.  “Healer Idri is who you’ll want to speak to.  She will help to make sure that such old memories do not cause hurt to Tyne as she is now.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually seeks you out.  Damn woman hunted me down once she realized that I had transferred here.”  He finished his brandy, setting the glass down in a way that did not seem like he’d pour more.  


He stood then, the last bit of conversation and shrouds of guilt having drained his desire for company.  “I will not keep you any longer, WLM.  When young Alberith is older, I would greatly like K’el to come and shadow my wing a bit, before he graduates, if his schedule could permit.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll’s suggestion earned him a nod and Ko’ssen saying with a small smile “Thank you, I will seek her out then, if she doesn’t come talking to me first that is.” 


When S’ryll stood, Ko’ssen followed suite and at the suggestion of K’el shadowing the wingleader Ko’ssen considered the request for a moment before saying with a nod “Yes, that should be possible actually, as there’s a point that they do spend some time shadowing sweepriders sometime after they’ve learned to *between*. I’ll make a small note in the files that you’ve requested K’el, for when we get to that point in the lessons.”


After a moment, Ko’ssen held out his hand saying sincerely “I appreciate you coming to check on your old mentee...and the conversation too. Fair skies, Wingleader S’ryll and to your Vastolth.” By his tone Ko’ssen was making it clear that he’d welcome another conversation with S’ryll, either in his WLM capacity or not.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


“That woman has a sense for protecting Tyne…” he said with a lighter voice, speaking of Healer Idri.  He gave Ko’ssen a curt nod at the agreement about K’el.  “I had a mentor that helped me as a young new bronzerider.  I’d like to do the same for him.”


He took Ko’ssen’s hand in a firm shake.  “Fair skies to you and Zerenth as well.  And Ko’ssen...you should go check out the dolphineers here.  It’s good to have something that doesn’t remind you of death or Thread at times.”


With that, he left, strolling back out to head to the stables and get a ride in, Ko’ssen’s questions making him realize he should take his own advice.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


S’ryll’s words about Healer Idri brought a relieved look to Ko’ssen’s face and he nodded in thanks before replying with “I understand that, I had a mentor too and sorely needed it.” 


As S’ryll took his hand, Ko’ssen’s own handshake was firm too and his face held a friendly smile on it which, at S’ryll’s suggestion of checking out the dolphineers, blanked for a moment before surprise crossed it. He’d...honestly been so focused on being a rider for so many turns that it had been...a bit over 20 years since he’d given the dolphineers a thought. 


Still looking a bit stunned from the suggestion, Ko’ssen nodded saying “I...I just might actually. One day, if I’m ever not swamped.” That last bit was said with a hint of humor, knowing that with 2 golds on the Sands that he’s not going to be *not swamped* until those 2 golds got through their entire weyrlinghood, at the very least.


Giving S’ryll a last respectful dip of his head as the other left his office, Ko’ssen sat down and made sure to retrieve K’el’s file and make the appropriate notes (not wanting them to slip his mind) before he delved back into looking over the gold lessons, with a note about Healer Idri sitting highly visible on his desk...


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

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