Matchmaker! Matchmaker! Att: Nykantiath/Zerenth

Jerzy Tobin

Nykantiath was lying on the ledge of her weyr, taking full advantage
of the sunny day to soak in the warm rays. Hers was, as usual, busy
with work. Hers was almost always busy with Work, more so now than
she had been before. And while the gold was of the opinion that this
did in fact mean that their star was rising in the Weyr - more work
for hers meant they were more responsible, after all - that didn’t
mean that Hers should spend all of her time working. Even the
Weyrwoman had mates, after all! Why couldn’t Nykantiath’s Andronda
have someone?

Of course, the gold knew that Hers couldn’t be bothered to go looking
for someone herself. She didn’t have the time, or so she told
Nykantiath. It was one thing to make time to take care of her dragon,
but she couldn’t be bothered to go and try to find something as silly
as romance when she had so much else to do. Foolish human.

Well, if Andronda wouldn’t go looking, then that just meant that
Nykantiath would have to do it for her. And there were plenty of
eligible bronzes and browns around for her to choose from. It’d be
good for her, too. There were a few bronzes and browns near the
Weyrling barracks, and one in particular she wanted to speak with.
Zerenth. He had seemed a good, caring, reasonable bronze, and the few
surface thoughts she’d gotten from Andronda led the gold to think that
Hers thought well of the bronze rider. So he should definitely be a
candidate in this.

((Zerenth? Are you busy? May I come spend some time with you?))

She was aware he had a duty to the little dragons, and she wouldn’t
get in the way, but if he was free, she’d visit him.

"Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the goal of arriving safely
in a prettily preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a
shower of gravel and party shards, thoroughly used, utterly exhausted,
and loudly proclaiming: "F*** ME, that Rocked!!" -unknown

Whizzy: Jerzy
Aim: Yue146

Matchmaker! Matchmaker! Att: Nykantiath/Primith

Jerzy Tobin

Nykantiath was lying on the ledge of her weyr, taking full advantage
of the sunny day to soak in the warm rays. Hers was, as usual, busy
with work. Hers was almost always busy with Work, more so now than
she had been before. And while the gold was of the opinion that this
did in fact mean that their star was rising in the Weyr - more work
for hers meant they were more responsible, after all - that didn’t
mean that Hers should spend all of her time working. Even the
Weyrwoman had mates, after all! Why couldn’t Nykantiath’s Andronda
have someone?

Of course, the gold knew that Hers couldn’t be bothered to go looking
for someone herself. She didn’t have the time, or so she told
Nykantiath. It was one thing to make time to take care of her dragon,
but she couldn’t be bothered to go and try to find something as silly
as romance when she had so much else to do. Foolish human.

Well, if Andronda wouldn’t go looking, then that just meant that
Nykantiath would have to do it for her. And there were plenty of
eligible bronzes and browns around for her to choose from. A few
ledges away, there was a very handsome bronze indeed. She had noted
him before, but hadn’t actually spoken to him before. Large, with
handsome features, he was what one thought of when one thought of a
bronze dragon. Was his rider just as handsome?

((Hello!)) She called out to the bronze. ((I’m Nykantiath, and I am
bored. Would you care to keep me company?))

"Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the goal of arriving safely
in a prettily preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a
shower of gravel and party shards, thoroughly used, utterly exhausted,
and loudly proclaiming: "F*** ME, that Rocked!!" -unknown

Whizzy: Jerzy
Aim: Yue146

We're In Trouble. (Garanth/Ardeth)

Laura Walker

When you were in trouble the Fort way was to look for allies. Particularly when you were desperate and running out of options.

Ardeth looking for people might have been M’ayen’s idea, and certainly the bronzerider had a better idea than his dragon who might be able to help. There was nothing faked about the urgency in the bronze’s tone though, a frantic note as though Ardeth wasn’t far off panic despite a gold pushing to ward that off. ((Garanth. Garanth, help, mine needs help.))

Not hard to guess why. Anyone who had been listening, particularly anyone involved with the Candidates, would know that M’ayen had been arrested and the Weyrleaders weren’t particularly inclined to look on him kindly right now. How to react though, that was a choice.

Garanth was on the rim, sunning himself. He was confused, because His was worried. T’ril had heard about the arrest, and was cower--sitting in his weyr waiting for his own arrest. He didn’t dare go to the Candidate classrooms, even though what he’d done didn’t seem so bad. So he’d called a few of the girls cu--sluts, put kids in detention for imagined transgressions. He hadn’t gone so far as to strike them, instead working on more mental abuse.  After all, it was how you thought of yourself that made you a good, or great, rider.

But Garanth didn’t understand most of this. He just knew that there was some bad stuff going down and His was on the outskirts. But Ardeth’s, His was in the middle of it. Be that as it may, Ardeth was his senior, and he was obliged to help.

{{What can I do to help Yours?}} he asked.

((Can you tell her she’s wrong? Please.)) M’ayen would have asked with dignity, would have phrased it in such way that it barely sounded like a favour at all, perhaps just as the respect and duty owed to a senior. M’ayen hated asking at all, hated the weakness it implied.

Ardeth was a dragon who had just been told he might never fly with his rider again. With such judgements, dignity was lost. ((They’re going to hurt him. And they say we can’t fly together. They were meant to just let him go!)) 

As a bronze, as a senior bronze, Garanth knew it would be BAD to contact Foreth’s directly. On the other hand, Foreth terrified him. She was Senior Queen, and she always seemed to be in a bad mood.

{{I don’t like talking to Foreth,}} he complained. {{Did she say why you aren’t allowed to fly together? Should Mine talk to Hers?}}

((They say he’s bad. He’s not bad,)) Ardeth said fiercely. ((He says yours should think about transferring or they’ll come for you next. But don’t leave him here!)) Hard to tell which part was the dragon and which was the man in that message. ((They won’t let him out ever.))

Garenth decided it was time to talk to T’ril, but T’ril wasn’t helpful. He’d become timid since his stabbing; and no longer a leader but a craven follower. 

{{Mine says that THEY won’t let him transfer. THEY won’t let anyone who’s friends with Yours transfer. Mine says that THEY think Yours is tainted. We know they’re wrong, but I don’t know what we can do. Mine wants to go live like the Holdless, away from everyone in charge. Would Yours want to do that?}}

((They won’t let us. Foreth says I am not allowed to fly with him any more.)) There was an echo of Ardeth’s earlier keen in that. ((Will they let yours visit him?))

Garanth thought about that, again conferring with T’ril. {{He said he’ll try. He’ll go ask, but,}} and suddenly there was a note of alarm in Garanth’s mind-voice, {{he thinks we’ll be under the same punishment. But I don’t want to leave you here alone.}} After all, there was no way to get around a queen’s compulsion, was there?

((They’re going to hurt him.)) Ardeth sounded shaken. ((And they won’t let him sleep right and they’re not feeding him right. He’s old, Garanth.)) And Ardeth was old. Old and sleepy and with a mind fuddled by panic but not stupid. Old bodies didn’t stand for what younger ones did. ((What if he gets sick.))


That was what decided Garanth. His had been sick. Very sick. For a very long time. And he never wanted to feel that again.  There was argument. There was pleading. And then, there was acquiescence. 

{{Mine will go and speak with THEM right away,}} he assured Ardeth. {{You deserve to be happy. THEY just don’t understand how it works.}}

((Thank you.)) Relief radiated from the bronze at that promise. And then, quiet and tentative, ((May I come sit with you?)) And the mighty had fallen indeed if Ardeth were so desperate for company.

{{Of course,}} Garanth said. He always had been more sociable. {{The sun’s warm here. It’ll make you feel better.}}

A moment and then the old bronze landed next to him, already looking somewhat shrunken from the proud dragon he had been. Quietly he settled in the sun. ((Thank you.))


Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.

Passing Punishment JP Kassia/Ma'yen/N'shen/"R'tal


The next morning Kassia and the others headed down to the interrogation room. Kassia waited impatiently while the guards brought Ma’yen in. She’d dressed in riding leathers with more than one knife peeking out. She’d thought about the sword briefly out of amusement, but figured that was overkill. 

A few minutes later the door opened, held on each side with another guard leading with his wher was Ma’yen, his arms shackled behind his back and his legs also in shackles to keep him from running. Foreth was watching Ardeth closely outside, just in case.

M’ayen was furious. The bronzerider was kept to a slow careful shuffle by the manacles, and by the results of several nights attempting to sleep in a cell. Still there was no repentance in his gaze and he looked from Kassia to each of her Weyrleaders, glaring as though they were the ones at fault.

“Weyrwoman,” he said coldly. “This is a sharding pantomime, I must say.”

“You’re welcome to keep thinking that,” she said, offering him a smile that was just as cold. “This is your chance to admit to anything you have done. It won’t likely change much, but it’d look better for you.”

N'shen stood dutifully behind Kassia, dressed formally, but not in his absolute best. He watched M'ayen closely and let Kassia be the one to speak.

Raobehr stood aside and watched. He was prepared to read formal charges when and if he was directed to do so and to take notes on the proceedings to keep a record of everything the parties said. He was honored, as it seemed, to have become someone trustworthy enough to keep such records.

On the opposite side to N’shen was R’tal, though he was keeping as much of an eye on Kassia as he was M’ayen. Just in case the stress got to her, just in case he needed to step in.

Still it was Kassia M’ayen directed his words to, chin held high. “And what? You’ll threaten Ardeth again if you decide you don’t like the truth?”

“Nope,” she said with a shake of her head. “I already have all the information I need. I’m just curious whether you’re man enough to tell it yourself or whether you’ll stick to being a coward. Or we can just have the charges and sentencing read.”

“Fine then.” M’ayen didn’t break eye contact. “Have your Harper write this down. According to the Weyrwoman’s orders I attempted to impose order on the Candidates following an event where eggs were nearly harmed due to their misbehaviour. According to her wishes I attempted to instill discipline in means that were strict but did not include physical punishment. Later, when a Candidate illegally broke onto the Sands to Impress the Weyrwoman gave the order to find out who aided him and as she requested I interrogated a Candidate who was clearly involved as he was minding the new Weyrling’s firelizard..”

Raobehr dutifully recorded what M'ayen said. He had no stake in the outcome, and he showed no offense at being referred to as though he were not present.

“Fine, keep being cowardly,” Kassia said. “We’ll just go through the charges then.” She started through the charges, “Imposing bodily harm to a minor, abuse of power...” rolling through them until finishing with, “One last chance to say something for yourself before we pronounce your punishment.”

M’ayen was silent this time, still glaring, refusing to be cowed. 

Outside though Ardeth was starting to look fidgety, far more anxious than his rider about the outcome. ((Please. Don’t let her hurt him.)) He would plead for M’ayen even if his rider refused to plead for himself.

“So be it,” Kassia said. “You’ll be moved to a small weyr where you will remain under arrest only to be let out in order to drill, fly Thread, and for manual labor. Ardeth will be forbidden from chasing by Foreth. You will receive ten cane blows as well.”

((Yours is receiving the punishment he brought upon himself,)) Foreth told him. 

“Manual labour?” He almost spat the words and it was a moment before that last announcement impacted. His eyes widened slightly. “You.. you would not dare!”

I would and I’d put out a messenger to the Weyr so people know to come and watch,” Kassia said, not at all surprised that it was the manual labor part he objected to the most. “Give your hands something better to do than injuring young Candidates.”

“I thought your policy was that Arolos does not use physical punishment?” He was too angry to be worried about it, and besides, a lifetime of applying a cane or a belt to various children’s hands and behinds had almost served to convince him himself that this was very little as far as punishment went. The future pain did not worry him; the humiliation did. “Or are you not even telling those lies to yourself any more?”

"Sentencing for criminals and punishment for discipline are two entirely different matters," said N'shen, unable to listen to M'ayen impugn Kassia any further. "Or do you contend that this sentence doesn't fit the crime?"

“You’re an adult who committed serious crimes,” Kassia said, unmoved. She fondled the Silk Dagger. “Trust me, I know that it’s far from what a greenrider would get for transgressions at Fort. Real or perceived. This isn’t Fort, but nor will be lenient on a man who thinks it’s okay to terrorize children.”

“Child? Your double standards are showing again,” M'ayen said disdainfully. “Not too much of a child to chose to Stand, not so much of a child you wouldn't have waved him into the sky if he Impressed. He was a young man, not a baby” 

He glared at Kassia again. “When a young lady sneaked onto the Sands where she wasn't meant to be you treated it as a crime and punished it as such. Which was it?”

“He’d have been held until he was old enough to fly,” Kassia replied. “And that young lady was turns older. Either way, your behavior wouldn’t be tolerated toward anyone, let alone to someone who was under your watch and where you were expected to be protecting them and guiding them. Not bullying them and targeting them for abuse.”

“And I took a lazy boy who would have been very little use to anyone and by the end of it he would have made a far better rider.”

Behind Kassia R’tal held his breath, willing the man to follow that up, willing him to say something about greenriders. But no, it seemed even M’ayen knew that would be a step too far for this audience.

"The boy has been ruined for the Sands, let alone the wings. After what you've done to him, he'll never be a rider now," said N'shen. "And before you make the inevitable claim – no, you haven't done him any favors. A good Candidatemaster could have built him up. You tore him down, and he may never be the same. You are guilty of the charges against you."

M’ayen sneered. “Well, if you want your wings full of disobedient riders who plot against their Weyrwoman to sneak people onto the Sands I suppose you might have a problem.”

“You’re done.” And that was R’tal, quiet and firm. “Whether this was a crime is not up for debate. That much has already been decided.” Because otherwise M’ayen would have them debating the rights and wrongs of bullying children for the rest of the day.

“Sentence is passed,” Kassia said. “Enjoy your hard labor.” She gestured to the guards. “Take him back to his cell.”

M’ayen dug his heels in, trying hard to resist. “Wait,” he protested. “How long for?”

“Indefinitely,” Kassia said, her smile anything but pleasant. “Until you’re too infirm to do so. There’s plenty of rocks and such that need moving.”

For the first time the bronzerider’s certainty faltered a little. “That-- that’s hardly in proportion.”

Outside Ardeth was restless, anxious. ((But.. I will be able to see him?)) he queried, panicked by that. ((You can’t keep him away forever!))

“We’re the judge of that,” Kassia pointed out.

The guards gave another tug.

Foreth was there to calm him, her energy sweeping over him no matter what his rider had done. Her words were gentle. Relatively. ((Mine will not keep you away from Yours, but you won’t be doing as much together. You will be in a small Weyr where you can see him, but not fly him anywhere. Understand?))

((I can't fly any more?)) M'ayen had taken the punishment with stubborn calm and anger. Ardeth was less so. It was a shock to wake from a series of long comfortable naps to discover you were in such serious trouble -even if the truth was that left to himself Ardeth might have done precious little flying anyway. ((..Ever?))

M'ayen was still trying to hold his ground, searching for another protest he could possibly make. At present none came to mind. He appealed to the Harper finally. “You can't think this is reasonable!”

Raobehr quietly continued to transcribe the conversation and did not answer. It was not his place to intervene; it was his place to document. If he decided the sentence should be appealed, he would write up that appeal separately in accordance with whatever law was in effect in this present day.

“I do,” Kassia said simply and turned her back on him, secure in the knowledge that Brogan was watching her back.

((You can fly yourself and you two will fly in wings and drills, but otherwise, no,)) Foreth clarified. ((Yours did bad.))

For a moment Ardeth was stunned into silence and then his voice lifted in a keen to grieve what his rider wouldn't, the lost freedom and togetherness.

For a moment M'ayen's face was stricken, his dragon’s pain cutting in a way Kassia had been unable to.

N'shen thought that such an expression might have been gratifying for him to see. It was not. Instead, he only seemed inclined to mourn the person M'ayen could have been if he had chosen a different path all those Turns ago. Or if Fort had been different.

Kassia had no pity for M’ayen, but she did spare some for Ardeth. It wasn’t his fault he’d been Clutched in a Weyr where cruelty was systemically allowed and had permeated down to where even the dragons were corrupted. Ardeth would pay the price for his lifemate’s choices.

Kassia left the guards to deal with Ma’yen as she led the way out, her hand clutching the Silk Dagger. 

What Do We REALLY Do About Ma'yen? JP Kassia/R'tal/N'shen


Kassia now had all the ammo she needed to be sure that Ma’yen had done everything he’d done to Garatt. Now she needed to figure out what to do about it. 

Rather than bothering the dragons, she sent runners to N’shen’s and R’tal’s offices to come to hers where they’d find her trying to be better about relaxing. She was in her chair by the coffee table and her feet up anyway.

Until he arrived at Kassia's office, N'shen had been half-sure she was going to tell him she was going to give birth. The fact that he was imminently to be a father to as many as four in the very near future weighed on him. Every second he had to spend on trying to track down saboteurs was a second he was not spending with his children's mothers.

"Is everything all right?" he asked as he entered.

“I need your opinion on something,” Kass said. “And R’tal’s. There’s klah and cookies if you want it, but you might want alcohol by the end of this.”

"The klah will be fine," said N'shen as he poured himself a mug. He stopped a moment. "And a cookie." He took one of the treats and shoved it into his mouth.

R’tal was a couple of minutes behind N’shen (and slightly more out of shape, and catching his breath for a moment as he stepped in after a headlong dash from the Hatching Grounds. “...We need to talk about how you communicate ‘not an emergency’ again, don’t we?”

“I sent a runner, I didn’t use dragons,” Kassia said. “Do I need to send Harpers to sing ‘not an emergency’ with the runner next time?” She raised her eyebrow at him.

"That does sound lovely," N'shen sighed. He was in no mood to fight. But he could be persuaded – with a cookie, perhaps – to take care of the business of giving advice. "What sort of advice do you need?" 

“Yes to the Harpers. I thought maybe all the golds of the world had decided to descend on us again.” R’tal threw himself into the closest chair with a sigh. “Are we doing advice now?”

“Ma’yen,” Kassia said bluntly. “I want advice on what we can do with him because I’m pretty sure that I’m not allowed to use my dagger on him.”

“Okay.” And R’tal sat up, looking more serious. “Run me through what we know again. My head has been all Conclave the last few days.”

Kassia nodded. “While he spent some time doing things against some of the Candidates, he focused his attentions on a boy named Garatt. He systematically turned other ACMs against the boy and started by instituting an impossible amount of detentions over minor issues. During those detentions he used his hand and cane on Garatt’s hand and buttocks multiple times. Garatt was seen in the Infirmary for the damage and also for trouble sleeping, likely inspired by the abuse. There has also been indications that he may have been grooming the boy for sexual abuse, although there is no evidence that he went that far.”

"Skies above," N'shen breathed. "Well. You've already taken care of the obvious. He's not going to hurt anyone else from a cell. I suppose the question is whether you can just… leave him in that cell forever, isn't it? Well. Why can't you?"

“I’d like to,” Kassia admitted. “But he has the complication of having a dragon. I suppose we could arrange for guarded visits, but we can’t keep them apart forever.”

Faranth.” R’tal wasn’t looking so relaxed any more. He poured himself a klah, buying himself time to think with a mouthful. “Okay. What do we know happened, how do we know it and what do we just think happened?”

“I have evidence from the healers, their records, Nayari and her dragon, and Culyar and his dragon,” Kassia said. “The detentions were all recorded in his own records that Nyari gave me and I can show you. Culyar took care of the boy and recorded the evidence of caning, physical attack by hand, and sleep disturbance. Nayari talked to Ma’yen and she said that he implied that he’d make a good ‘green rider’ and the connotations that went with that while he showed signs of arousal, but that part is more speculation than surety.”

"Gross," N'shen spat. "Can we not exile them? I know I never want to see his face again." Nor the face of anyone else who would dare hurt a child this way. "And whether it's Ardeth's fault or not, they're a package deal."

“Where do we exile him to?” Kassia asked. “You can’t exile a rider out of a Weyr and who would take him knowing what he is?”

“More to the point, if we exile him what happens after that?” R’tal said. “If you dump him somewhere like Ista and Faranth help us he manages to manipulate himself back into a position of power.. And he’s really very good at that, isn’t it?” He grimaced. “Do we have any proof at all he was touching the boy? We’ve got options for rape, but if we can’t prove it..”

She shook her head. “The evidence suggests that he didn’t actually rape the boy,” she said. “At least, we couldn’t prove it if he did and I had Foreth ask subtly. The rest we have solid evidence on. I could have Foreth try again and push, but I’m not sure we’d get the answer we wanted anyway.”

“Shells.” R’tal looked disgusted as a memory struck him. “And when the kid ran and we arrested him.. Wasn’t he fresh from a flight then?”

“The young greenrider?” Kassia asked. “I doubt it’s coincidence. Nothing we can act on, but we can act on the rest and keep Garatt safe from now on.”

"And anyone else he might target in the future," N'shen sighed. "What's the longest we can keep him locked up? Or can we cane him and call it done?"

“Okay.” And as was R’tal’s habit he reached to swipe paper from Kassia’s desk. “First thing, he doesn’t get to have flights anymore. Can Foreth ground Ardeth from those indefinitely? I don’t trust him with them.”

“I assume it’s something she’ll have to keep doing, but I’m okay with her doing that,” Kassia said. “I’m also a fan of lashes.” Let the arse get some of what he gave.

"Doling out a punishment and more concrete permanent restrictions will be much easier than trying to keep him locked away," N'shen agreed. "Of course, he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children."

“Keeping him locked away without Ardeth is difficult,” R’tal agreed. “Though I must say I’d have no objection to him being confined to his weyr -- or a weyr - for a longer period. He’s Fort, if he’s out free and feeling misused he’ll be spilling poison and frankly we have enough to deal with.” No need to reward him with a usual bronzerider weyr. Other weyrs would be available. “We could live without another thing that needs guards, but..”

“Keeping him locked to a weyr with Foreth keeping Ardeth grounded might be workable,” Kassia agreed. “But jailing him doesn’t seem like enough. We’re not Fort, but we can’t be soft of people who hurt others like this. Young people like this.”

"Bread rations? Bread and vegetables? Water? He should certainly be deprived of anything pleasant," said N'shen. Perhaps a regular dusting of itchweed powder, too, if such a thing were possible.

R’tal sighed. “..We need to talk to a Healer,” he said after a moment. “K’ren, maybe. If he were twenty turns younger I’d have no objection to lashes, not for this. But.. he is old. If it went wrong and it killed him..”

Kassia made a face. She didn’t want to kill the man, but she wasn’t pleased that lashes might not be on the table. “Fine,” she said with a dismissive wave.

"Agreed." N'shen was not sure he would lose any sleep over M'ayen if lashes were too much. But Ardeth… Well, it was best that the punishment fit the crime, and they could not very well punish him for all the crimes he probably committed at Fort.

“You are right though,” R’tal added. “It doesn’t feel enough. But--” He shrugged helplessly. “Give me ideas here. Other than throwing him in the darkest dampest weyr we can find and only letting him out for Fall.”

“We could check to see if he’s healthy enough for some sort of manual labor?” Kassia suggested, feeling a bit helpless for options. 

"Whatever he hates, I'd make him do that," said N'shen. "But… I'd be afraid of what he would do if he were unsupervised." He shrugged.

“Who said it was unsupervised?” Kassia asked. “I hate to have to use the manpower, but I don’t want him anywhere without a guard whether it’s a weyr he’s jailed in or wherever we might want him.”

“If he’s healthy enough to fight Thread he can do manual labour,” R’tal said. “Though.. Let’s be careful here. Is the kid going back to the Barracks?”

“I have no idea,” Kassia said. “I’m not sure he knows what he wants to do yet. But either way I don’t want Ma’yen anywhere near him or the Barracks.”

"Agreed," said N'shen. He could spare a guard to keep an eye on M'ayen if Kassia could, most definitely. "Scrubbing pots, washing laundry… and drilling and fighting Thread are about all I want him doing."

R’tal bit his lip. “I’d agree but.. Both of those are chores that tend to be heavily occupied by Candidates on chore duty,” he pointed out. “What about-- we are going to need to tidy up mess left by the Hatching Grounds explosion.”

“I was thinking something more physical like that anyway,” Kassia said with a nod. “Let him join that group which should be primarily men from staffers or crafter backgrounds. No Candidates and away from the Barracks.”

“And people big enough to hit back if he tries anything. I wouldn’t put it past him to try on the Kitchens staff if Larissa wasn’t stood over him glaring,” R’tal was making notes. “Drilling, fighting Thread -- will Ardeth hunt without his rider?”

“I suppose we could have Foreth make him if he won’t,” Kass said, reaching around to pull her braid over her shoulder so that she could tug on it. “I’m hoping that’s not necessary though. Otherwise that’s another place Ma’yen gets guarded and gets out. I’m really not liking how often he gets out. Too many chances of something going wrong.”

N'shen nodded. "Best make a trial of that one. See whether he'll go on his own. Then escalate from there if we have to."

“I’ll just have Foreth keep an eye on him and if he’s not hunting, we’ll act.” Kassia gave another tug on her braid, playing with the end of it. “This is my fault.”

“This is M’ayen’s fault,” R’tal corrected. “How was Ardeth acting when Foreth questioned him? Complicit?”

Kassia grunted, not accepting his correction but she said, “He was sad, understandably. He doesn’t think that Ma’yen did anything wrong. He doesn’t understand what the problem is and apparently Ma’yen had him thinking that I was going to change my mind and let Ma’yen out at any moment.”

"It's no surprise M'ayen has him thinking he's in the right," N'shen grumbled. "I don't know whether he can be convinced otherwise. He's old. But maybe. Should we try? It might help if Ardeth wouldn't enable him."

“I’m afraid of having Foreth push too hard and sending him ~between~ honestly,” Kassia replied. “This is a lifetime of indoctrination to work against. A lifetime of denial. If we could convince Ardeth of who Ma’yen really might be too much.”

“A dragon is made to love his rider,” R’tal said ruefully. “Whoever they are. Though I’d almost feel better if he was plotting along with M’ayen. It would feel more justified.”

"Well. Is there anything else to decide?" asked N'shen. They could hardly wring their hands about this all day. At least, it would do nobody any good if they did.

“No, I guess that’s out plan,” Kassia said, looking troubled. “Thank you for coming and helping me work this out. R’tal, can you talk to K’ren?”

“Yeah, I will. You want us with you when you tell him?” R’tal offered. “Or should it be us? Border-line. Riders are ours, Candidates are yours so..”

“Let’s show a united front,” Kassia said. “He fecked up for all of us.”

"United front," N'shen agreed. He had no reason to do otherwise. And at that point, he was more inclined than ever to consider R'tal and Kassia his closest allies outside of his own family.

R’tal nodded. “Tell us when and where and we’ll do it together then. And get a Harper to write it down. Let’s do this properly.”

“Let me get it together and we’ll do it tomorrow morning,” Kassia said. “Am I missing anything?”

“No. But dress to look terrifying.” R’tal smiled at her at that. “I know you can.”

Kassia grinned. “Can I just go in wearing nothing but knives?”

"He might like that. Bleh," said N'shen. "But knives would likely not go amiss. Just be sure to keep them out of his reach…"

Kassia made a face. “Take all the fun out of it.” Her eyes narrowed as she looked down at her dagger and then back up. “He’ll be nice and tressed up before we get in there. He’s not going to get a chance at a knife.”

“He’ll hate that.” R’tal’s smile widened to a grin. “I approve entirely.”

“Maybe we can just leave him that way for a while.” Kassia’s grin returned as she met R’tal’s. Then she glanced at N’shen. “All right. We have a plan and I’ve been told I’m supposed to spend more time on my back, so...”

"Get some rest. Can I bring you anything?" asked N'shen. If he had noticed the potential for the double entendre, he did not show any outward sign. For someone who was very likely carrying his child, he seemed to have trouble seeing Kassia in a sexual light.

“I’ll be fine,” Kassia said. “I just need some rest. Unless something comes up, I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

Re: A lil chitchat never hurts a thing. (Vayka/Temeir)


OOC: sorry it's taken me a bit

IC: She nodded happily her blonde hair moving with the motion. "Oh usually they have to stay in an office or the break room. They're no trouble there. I mean no one wants to come in with a finger half off and have a flit eat it now do they?" Nope she didn't think that comment out. "But if he stays out of trouble long enough you might get away with it. For now though he can stay here. If you look up you can see all the work young apprentices have put in." Above them was a maze of spots to perch, along with the normal chorus of chirps and chatters that a group of flits produced. Up above a light colored green noticed the new flit and sent him a flirty chirp.

"Well here we're more likely to end up treating a dragon or flit too, than just people. We even take a few emergency classes in just that. for the dragon's I suppose they do sometimes. They don't often to me. I don't hear them well you see. But there are quite a few of our healers that hear them quite well, and the dragon's well they know who to talk to. They don't even bother with Cremsden. He's a good sort if a bit crabby. If you work with him, don't mind the yelling. It's just his way, he don't mean anything by it. Now suit up, the coveralls are there in that closet. Keeps your clothes from getting the gunk of our work on them. The weyrwoman will be here off and on for a bit, poor thing's pregnant. Twins this time. Soon enough she will be on bed rest just you watch."
Have fun with any of my characters. Alyx, , Vayka (Healers), J'hen, D'vik, Teyra, Cotai (Riders), Rotasta (AWLM), L'rin (Weyrling)

Re: Trying to be Subtle atten: Tamalack/Kalain


"That would be bad," Tam agreed. "Losing you as a friend, that is. I'm sure it will work out though." 

Chato, no longer upset now that emotions had been put under control, went and curled up with Sleek. Tam imagined himself curled up with Kalain, and liked the image. Then he laughed.

"Karla's going to be so mad at me," he said.

On Sat, Oct 3, 2020 at 11:24 AM sailyn2 <empressoftheworld@...> wrote:
Kalain blushed. "Something to look forward to," he said. "Something to make sure we're not making a mistake, too. Just so we can not rush into this. I don't...I don't want to lose you as a friend any more than I want to lose Sleek." He looked down at the gold curled close to him.

Re: It's Nice to Have Help atten: I'des/Kassia


Paperwork was boring, but sleeping on Sunstreath's back, or even just strolling around the Bowl, had gotten boring so quickly that I'des had started actually showing up for work early- whether or not Kassia was in or not. The one benefit was that he was cleared, finally, to actually tend his dragon, instead of roping Candidates into it. The bronze liked that, and his color had been better lately. 

He entered, checked the reception office, and then knocked on Kassia's door out of habit, to check if the Weyrwoman was in. 

It's Nice to Have Help atten: I'des/Kassia


Kassia was supposed to be taking it easy and she was even complying. Sort of. She was at least spending more time sitting than running around and using her helpers more. She was waiting for I'des to come in for the day as she sat behind her desk.

Tell Me More JP Cuylar/Kassia


After leaving Garatt and Cremsden, Kassia went back to her office and had a note sent for Culyar to come to her as soon as he could. Then she waited.

Cuylar reported as soon as he received the summons. It was never wise to keep the Weyrwoman waiting, especially when she had a say in whether he could continue his work in the Infirmary.

"You called for me, ma'am?" he asked.

Kassia didn’t waste time. “I need to know everything you know about Garatt,” she said.

Cuylar expected that Kassia would want to know about Garatt, but he had not expected to be asked for everything right at the beginning. Not in so many words, anyway. He was not sure where to begin.

"Uh," Cuylar stumbled for a moment. "Well. I met Garatt when he came in to the Infirmary with trouble sleeping. It was then that I first discovered the injury to his hand. I documented the visit and prescribed a sleep study, which began when the Candidates returned from their field trip. I also volunteered to travel to the field on a nightly basis to administer medication for Garatt to help with his restlessness until such time as they returned."

"Of course, you know, the trip was cut short after… after the attack on the Sands. I brought another Healer with me to witness Garatt's injury the night the attack happened. If… if there was a delay in the first report, it was partially my fault. But the explosion distracted us all."

Kassia nodded. “Unfortunately understandable,” she said. “A lot was missed due to the explosion. Go on.”

"The sleep study was partly just to get Garatt out of the Barracks. To observe whether it was anxiety induced there that was causing his sleep problems," Cuylar explained. "And it proceeded apace after the Candidates returned. He slept well every night with no need for medication."

"It seemed that everything was going to be fine after that. Until the Hatching. The Candidate who was banned left his firelizard with Garatt. And after the Hatching, I had a long shift in the Infirmary to take care of those who were injured. So the next night, I had the night off. And Garatt didn't get on well with the Healer who took my shift for me. I still don't know exactly what happened, but he wasn't doing the best job of listening, and he lost Garatt's trust. He had his first rough night since beginning the sleep study and required medication to sleep."

"The next night, he didn't make his appointment. So I went looking for him in the Barracks. I coordinated with Candidatemaster Nayari, and we conducted a search for him. We found him with Master Tolfast. And he had, as you are doubtless aware, been much more severely injured at this time."

"Now, I have met his father and his aunt, who had a hand in raising him. Garatt, that is, of course… is there anything else I've missed?"

“Describe the exact injuries and any other observations you can think of,” she said, making notes.

"I submitted reports detailing the injuries both times, which will be more accurate and detailed than my memory," said Cuylar, "and I'll make sure to get you another copy of those if you need. The injuries were the result of a prolonged battery with a cane. Garatt's hand suffered severe bruising, and his backside – lower back, buttocks, and upper thighs – suffered bruising and minor lacerations, which I treated with redwort and numbweed salve. He also showed indications that he had been assaulted with hands. There were handprint shaped bruises on his buttocks."

“Did you ever ask or did he ever indicate who was the perpetrator?” Kassia ignored the now familiar pang of guilt. There was nothing she could do for past Garatt, but she was working hard on helping current and future Garatt.

"Garatt and I spoke at length about this, because I was also a Candidate under M'ayen. He was very reluctant to name his abuser, but I am familiar enough with the way M'ayen operates that I assumed it was him. When I spoke to Garatt under the assumption that it was M'ayen, he did not contradict me," Cuylar explained.

"And further, when I found Garatt after he ran away, I offered Elphith's ear to him. She agreed to listen for him so that he could call to her for help, if he should ever be in need of it again. And when he tried, for practice, well… he more or less overflowed. Anything and everything that was on his mind, he showed to Elphith. Jumbles of words and thoughts and feelings and memories. I can say with confidence that these memories confirm that his abuser is M'ayen. If Garatt is unable to testify, I am willing to ask Elphith to submit to questioning from Foreth to provide that evidence."

Kassia nodded. “I wish we’d gotten this information sooner, but I think we have enough information. I’ll take Elphith’s information if needed, though. Thank you. Anything else you can tell me.”

Cuylar blushed. He had assumed the reports would be forwarded through the proper channels… but that explanation had felt just as hollow when he had given it to Attlin and Sherill. He could say it was not his fault until he was blue in the face, but it would not change the fact that Garatt was hurt, and what he had done to try to stop it had not been enough.

"If anything else comes to mind, I'll tell you immediately, ma'am," he said softly.

“Thank you,” Kassia said. “Please send me those full reports as soon as you can. Dismissed.”

Getting the truth left a taint inside. (JP Nayari/Kassia)


IC Date Reference: Set several hours after the events of “Playing the Devil’s Advocate”.

Even though she had scrubbed until at times the scalding water had run red with the thin lines of freshly drawn blood, Nayari still felt… tainted. After she had left M’ayen’s cell, the Guard had steadied her when her knees had suddenly all but given out. She felt vile. Dirty. And she would tell herself until the day she died that it had been worth it. 

Leaving M’ayen to fester in his haze of dragonlust, she had spent over a candlemark trying to scrub the taint out of her flesh. It would be days, if ever, that she would feel clean again. Before the rumours of her “encounter” with the man made its way to her, Nayari wanted to speak to Kassia personally. And as she made her way to the Weyrwoman’s office, in her arms she had everything she had gathered. Only now she had the notebook, the names and a motive.

She greeted the Guard politely. “Candidatemaster Nayari for the Weyrwoman. If she’s busy I can come back but if that’s the case, please could she just be advised that I need to speak to her as a matter of urgency in relation to the current Candidate related enquiry.” Part of her didn’t want to be here, wanted to be back in scalding water before collapsing into the bottom of the strongest alcohol in her weyr. Wanted to forget. To push the entire encounter from memory and let it rot in a pit of nothing.

Kassia was supposed to be taking it easy. Multiple healers had told her that she needed to. At best, she’d managed some time putting her feet up and making people come to her more often, but laying down and actually relaxing hadn’t happened yet. Judging by the alert her guard gave her, she still wasn’t going to relax.

“You may go in,” the guard said.

Nodding in gratitude as she passed, Nayari stepped quietly into the room. “I apologise for the unexpected arrival, Weyrwoman. I assure you I will only take up as much time as is needed before I leave you in peace.” It was apparent that the woman was tense, her whole posture seemed drawn as tightly as a bow string. 

Kassia gestured. “Have a seat. How can I help you? Ma’yen, I assume?” They had yet to talk about the man, mostly because Kassia was torn between being angry at herself for creating the environment for the situation and being angry that nothing was done sooner and knowing that the latter anger was really still just anger at herself. So she’d let it go and focused on Ma’yen.

“More, that I believe I can help you. Or rather, the direction of the enquiries.” The folder had been set on the edge of the desk, the notebook on top and although all she wanted to do was pace furiously around the room to take the edge off the sensation beneath her skin, Nayari politely took a seat. “I have spoken to M’ayen. Directly. And I have obtained information that I believe to be valuable in terms of both his motive, his actions and also his influence on other members of the Candidatemaster team.” She couldn’t help it, her mouth twisted in distaste as the memory of just a few candlemarks before rose up in her mind as unbidden and unwanted as yesterday’s dinner.

Kassia’s eyebrow raised. She shouldn’t have been surprised that his influence had grown to include other ACMs,  but she was. She took a deep breath and nodded. “Go ahead.”

“First, you will need this for your own files.” Nayari pushed the folder forward. “It is the enquiries that I was making prior to Garratt going missing. As you will be able to see, it displays little of evidential value and only the beginnings of suggestion that there was something more concerning developing. But that the main obstacle was lack of concrete proof.” Next, she pushed forward the notebook. “I found this in M’ayen’s office and he confirmed to me that it was the journal he was logging Garratt’s punishments in separately, not via official channels in his reports to myself.” She paused, giving Kassia a chance to leaf through them before she continued.

Kassia took a minute to look through and confirm Nayari’s words before setting the file aside. “I’ll look at it more later. What else did you learn?”

She paused, how exactly did she put this into words? Edge about it or be direct? Finally, after a moment, Nayari spoke again. “When I spoke to M’ayen, he mentioned on several occasions that Garratt would… make a “decent greenrider”... and I don’t think he was talking in terms of Arolos’ standards.” A breath, swallow down the bile that burned the back of her throat. “I encouraged him to talk about Garratt, played into the idea that I thought exactly as he did - that Arolos was too lax. It had the… desired effect.” Another pause, this time an unnecessary unfolding and refolding of her legs. “During our… conversation, M’ayen displayed signs of arousal. He said that Ardeth was looking to chase. However… I believe it was self instigated because M’ayen’s actual intention was not one of setting an example - although that may have been his justification at the start. I…” She didn’t want to say it. But she knew she had to. “... I believe that M’ayen was grooming Garratt. Or at least, attempting to. In order to prey on him. Sexually.”

It was all but impossible to get the sentence out in a seamless flow. Instead it came out as a jarring, terse clash of words.

Kassia swallowed hard against the nausea in her stomach. It looked like Cremsden’s words had a basis in reality. Guilt stabbed her repeatedly, followed by an anger to return the pain done to the boy to Ma’yen threefold.

“That’s sickening,” she said, her hand reaching for her knife as if she could use it. “Did you get...any indication that it was more...that he’s actually raped Garatt?”

She shook her head, swallowing furiously. “No, I don’t believe he was able to get that far. It was the emphasis on being a “decent greenrider” that sat with me. And I… I needled at him. Played on the idea of what that meant… in Northern terms. Fortian terms. It had the effect I was looking for. He was clearly uncomfortable, blamed Ardeth but I suspect he actually encouraged him to look for a chase.” If her jaw clenched any tighter, the bone would break. “I allowed him to think I wanted to help him. That I believed he had been… misunderstood or was being martyred as an example. I played on his ego.” Each sentence was tight, controlled as if she was using every drop of her willpower to keep herself coherent.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Kassia said, pushing away her own blinding anger. She had to focus on Nayari who was in front of her and not the fecker that she wanted to stab. Repeatedly. One thing at a time.

“Of course he would have to blame it on Ardeth for wanting to have sex with a boy. Sick. Sick. Fecker!” There weren’t words enough. “I hate to ask, but did you learn anything else? You mentioned he brought other ACMs into it?”

“Yes. In the last moments before he was entirely overtaken by dragonlust, I asked him who would vouch for him. Who he could trust.” A piece of paper was slid across the desk, names carefully written down. “Whilst I do not believe they would have had the same motives, I  believe these to be members of my staff over whom he had a degree of influence. Likely managing to convince them to up the punishment for the good of the Candidates. Talena, D’xon and T’ril. They will all need to be spoken to independently to establish to what extent their contact and relationship with M’ayen was.”

“Feck it,” Kassia growled. “Talk to them, but I’m tempted to just toss them. I don’t want people like that in my program. I made that mistake already and won’t be making it again.”

“I would prefer to establish whether it was genuine coercion first. Talena for a start is exceptionally new to the staff. It’s not hard for someone wide-eyed and eager to fall for the voice of wisdom. But if I have any concerns whatsoever, rest assured, they will be removed from the staff and if necessary, also placed under arrest.” As much as it was tempting to toss them all out on their ear, Nayari wanted to flesh out the trail. Knee-jerk reactions had no place when emotions were already running high. “I would also suggest that you have Foreth ask Ardeth to find M’ayen’s memories around his feelings for Garratt. The things he thinks of. I do not believe that there are necessarily memories for Ardeth to find, but I suspect M’ayen’s own thoughts will incriminate him.”

Nayari paused and the hint of shame twisted her features before she had chance to control it. “I also wished to inform you that M’ayen is likely to use my… conduct to bring my statement into question. I was in company with Weyrguard Ramnor the entire time. He will be able and willing to act as witness. He was also made aware, prior to my engagement with M’ayen of the strategy I intended to use.”

Kassia nodded. “I will give it a day or so for Ma’yen to calm down and then have Foreth talk to Ardeth again. I will also defer to you about the ACMs, but even the smallest of concern and I trust you will address that. I am also unconcerned about your methods. Nothing that comes from Ma’yen’s mouth is truthful, but I appreciate for your own sake that you had someone with you. Again, I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

Nayari nodded, a tight, barely there movement of her head. “Thank you, Weyrwoman. I brought this to you now before any chance of hearsay could come to your door first. I would also like your permission to attempt to speak to Garratt, if he will let me, whilst in company of a Healer.”

“You can try,” Kassia said, “but he’s still pretty terrified that he’s going to get in trouble when he talks to authority figures. Or at least me. Just be careful not to upset him more than you have to.”

The statement felt redundant but she could appreciate why the Weyrwoman felt the need to reiterate it. “Of course, I don’t want to pressure him in any sense, or for him to feel as though he is being so. I don’t intend to merely arrive, I wish to liaise with the Healers first and also for him to give his own permission or refusal. It is important for him to see right now that he does have power, does have control.” 

“Good idea,” Kassia said. “I trust you to be careful with this. Get back to me afterward and after you have talked to your ACMs. I also want to make sure there are no more Candidates of concern we need to keep an eye on.”

“Yes Weyrwoman, of course.” Nayari shifted, a subtle gesture that she was happy to leave unless Kassia had further questions. She wanted to bathe again. And burn the clothes she had worn to M’ayen’s cell. Then, for the first time in a long time, she wanted to banish the memory into the bottom of a bottle.

“Thank you for your help, Nayari,” Kassia said. “Dismissed.”

The Candidatemaster rose to her feet, still every inch as taut and strained as she had been the moment she arrived. There was a lot to do before this was all over. But for a few candlemarks at least, it could be safely put to one side. 

Tomorrow, it would begin all over again.

= End =

Nutmeg on the Wizzy.
Recluso#6042 on Discord

I'm sometimes slow and have the memory of a sieve at times, so don't hesitate to poke me if you think you've been forgotten!

Conclave: Beginning to appreciate the severity of things. #Conclave2020 (End) #conclave2020


Part 4.

As they continued to  bicker and squabble with only New Fort seeming to show half an ounce of neutral common sense, Wygelle was growing increasingly more agitated. Time was sliding past them and they had achieved absolutely nothing thus far. More and more, she was finding it harder to focus on what was being said, what thoughts she might have and more toward the gravid gold she had left at High Reaches. Beneath the table, as though aware of his Weyrwoman’s restlessness, F’loran squeezed her knee gently and she took the hand gratefully.

“Maryl and J’lian have been about the first amongst us to offer anything remotely proactive to this table. The time for bickering and petty jibes is done. It’s quite clear that we all have our own thoughts, our own concerns about how this could have happened.” Wygelle’s voice was more tense than it had been before and her jaw was somewhat clenched as she forced her thoughts back to the moment in hand. “In all honesty, the discussion about Arolos’ competency to continue their current leadership isn’t even on the table. That is not the reason we came here and using it to stick needles into old scars is getting us nowhere.” She paused, casting her eyes about the Weyrleaders gathered about the table. “This is not about our political allegiances or personal opinions about Arolos, but whether we need to go home and consider whether there are potential enemies lurking at all of our doors.”

F’loran chimed in, for once seeming to be taking the whole thing seriously. “High Reaches has made its concerns known that this was a calculated attempt on a Weyr where the opportunity to obtain access was available. I shall emphasise again that we do not believe that this was a singular attack on Arolos but rather a seized opportunity to target a Weyr. Which makes us believe that potentially all of the Weyrs are under some form of observation and surveillance. So the question is, what do we want to do about it when we put our boots under our own tables and let our guard back down because we’re home safe and sound?”

“We’ll watch our own backs,” L’nyr said with a sniff and a glance at Arolos with clear meaning that Benden was far more superior in that regard. “No one will find Benden an easy target.”

Telsa gave him a look, so maybe they weren’t entirely lockstep. “We will, of course, relay if we hear any concerns that should be passed on to the rest of you.”

“We need to be honest about transfers.” That was J’lson rather than Andrette. The Istan Weyrleader had been relatively quiet for most of the meeting but he spoke up now.. “I know sometimes it’s tempting to let a rider go be someone else’s problem but right now.. We need to know that we know everything we need to about a new rider.”

“That is a sensible point,” Tedileen said. “We need to have communication between the weyrs that can alert in the event of an emergency as well in a manner that would not alarm others. A coded communication perhaps. A request for support, or a warning of issues or danger - I wouldn’t necessarily entrust that to a flit, or even a watchrider.”

“I am willing to work with this idea,” Kassia said. “Better communication would help us all.” She barely left out ‘and then maybe then you all wouldn’t decide to drop a Conclave on people’s heads’. Barely.

She shifted uncomfortably. The events of the past couple of days weighed heavily on her. She was supposed to be taking it easy and every moment she seemed to be under more and more stress.

“Shoring up protections around our Weyrs wouldn’t hurt either,” she added, really just wishing they could get to the point.

"I'm sure we all have riders prone to visiting other Weyrs, whether for friends and family or just a change of scenery on an off-day," Cathern pointed out. "It wouldn't look terribly suspicious if we started having them check in more formally when they did so, and could use trusted ones to pass a message.  Or at least no more suspicious than a Conclave," she added.

“F’loran and I have been discussing measures in relation to events where members outside of the Weyr often have access. We have discussed the increase of recruitment in our Weyrguard whose duty it will be to perform security sweeps, to restrict access to parts of the Weyr to limit free wandering and for there to be a documented register of who enters the Weyr and for what purpose. This will also likely extend to a form of generalised checking for weaponry. Crafters can be verified, Traders will be harder, as will common Holdfolk.” Wygelle paused, chewing her lip. “I think constant vigilance will be to all our benefits, no letting it slide one day and coming down the next. But to be alert, not alarmed.”

“We have the ideal opportunity to step up security,” I’tria said. “You know, after all this. They will assume that was the purpose of this.”

“I think if Arolos can keep us all fully apprised of the ongoing investigation, we can follow any leads if they should prove to be the result of something larger with our own WeyrGuards,” Tedileen said. “That seems straightforward enough. If it is isolated then we will have lost nothing for the precautions.”

"I will keep you all informed by way of whatever clever communication we come up with any time I uncover a new lead," said N'shen. At this point, he was exhausted with the lot of them and might have agreed to anything that sounded even remotely reasonable.

“And now, I apologise for rushing you all, but I would remind you that our Weyrwoman is pregnant and this has already been a very long meeting,” R’tal said. “Unless anyone has anything more urgent that needs to be said, I would like to wrap up, please.” Which was as polite a way to be told to feck off as was likely to be said.

“No, I should think we’re done here,” Telsa said, pushing to her feet already. L’nyr was right there with her.  Unable to resist herself, she added, “Please do kindly keep your trouble here and away from us and we’ll do the same.”

Cathern rolled her eyes at the other Weyrwoman.  "If it's just their trouble, I'm sure it shan't bother you any, Telsa.  Though I think we all suspect F'loran is correct in his thoughts that they were merely the first target of opportunity."  She stood up as well, and R'orsh quickly followed.  "Kassia, R'tal, N'shen, good luck in your investigation, and my apologies for our intrusion."

“Quite so,” Tedileen agreed. “We have come to an agreement on the main issue and your hospitality for unexpected guests has been very gracious in the circumstances.” She moved to stand as did her Weyrleader.

Finally, it seemed as though they were starting to get somewhere. “High Reaches will keep Arolos apprised of its own enquiries regarding the explosion and also liaise with the other Weyrs regarding relevant intelligence.” Wygelle was already on her feet, F’loran fumbling up to a stand beside her. It was impossible for a man as large to be remotely graceful. “Whilst I would have otherwise stayed, I do have a gold to return to. Weyrwoman Kassia, I have had a small congratulatory parcel sent to your office given your pending arrivals.” It wasn’t like Wygelle to be so overly formal, it was a clear testament of her own desire to leave as soon as possible. If anything, she looked worried.

“We will also keep the Weyrs apprised of any strategy we devise regarding Rider movements, in case it can be of any help.” F’loran added, placing a hand in the small of his Weyrwoman’s back. “We would also like to extend our gratitude to Arolos for hosting our most impromptu visit and extend the invitation in return to anyone who wishes to come to High Reaches to discuss these matters further or to consider shared ideas for future security options.”

“Fair skies,” Kassia said, moving as gracefully to her feet as someone with a broken arm and pregnant with twins could. “I hope that some of your concerns have been allayed and that we can all take actions to increase the security of all our Weyrs. Please feel free to send a messenger at any point.” And stay the feck home.

She gestured for everyone to head out.

And so, despite the initial finger pointing and bickering, the Weyrleaders of Pern had finally gathered themselves together, had finally begun to consider the bigger picture. The reality was, their work was only just beginning. If there was truth to the idea that there was an outside threat just waiting for the opportunity to strike… it was a truth that would bring many late and sleepless nights to the Weyrs. For now, all they could do was try to cooperate with one another, to put aside their differences and ways of working in order to try and unite. But no doubt, as each respective Weyrleader and Weyrwoman took to the sky, there was a question burning in each and every mind. 

Which Weyr, if any, would be next?

= End =

Nutmeg on the Wizzy.
Recluso#6042 on Discord

I'm sometimes slow and have the memory of a sieve at times, so don't hesitate to poke me if you think you've been forgotten!

Conclave: And so the tensions continue to rise... #conclave2020


Part 3:

The Weyrleaders and their respective Weyrwomen trooped back into the conference room. Whether it had been of any benefit or not to take a break was yet to be seen as they filed in and took their seats. But what was obvious was the anticipatory note that seemed to be in the air and an unspoken sensation that they were clearly waiting for Arolos to start speaking first.

During the break, the Headwoman had placed drinks in front of each of the Conclave attendees, and her ever-efficient spies had allowed her to put most of their non-alcoholic drinks of choice for each one, including a carafe of klah whose battered appearance suggested guardroom origins for R'tal.

"Thank you for that chance at a break," Kassia said, back at her seat. "I believe we left off with concerns about who was responsible and why."

F’loran had dropped into his seat with all the finesse of a bull and had immediately reached for the mug that had been set out. He already felt as though that he was drying out from the inside out in this infernal heat. “I know ideas have been thrown about and I’m sure we all appreciate that Arolos is still clearly in the midst of their own enquiries. But we need to cast some serious thought on who could  be willing the target the Weyrs from outside of the Weyr itself. I think we’re going to blindside ourselves if we try to stay too insular and be unwilling to consider all of our options.”

From his seat L’nyr sat forward, his hands folded on top of the table. “Perhaps before we go there, we should consider a different pressing issue. Related and perhaps more important. Given that a little flit has passed on the information as to why we can’t see the Caverns, we have reason to wonder whether R’tal and N’shen are in a position to be in charge to start with.”

Satisfied that he had dropped enough information for others to want more, he sat back.

“I would have thought the reason was obvious,” Tedileen said already weary of the insinuations. “There was an explosion. We don’t go into unsafe areas, that would be foolish.” Really, it couldn’t be that hard to understand. “Is all the dark hinting really necessary? If there is a conspiracy here, it is from those that perpetrated this attack.”

“We would prefer not to have to tell your Weyrs that you have unfortunately had your brains bashed out by large falling rocks,” R’tal said dryly. Though in the case of L’nyr’s brain it was possible he might make an exception.

Whilst F’loran looked positively murderous, Wygelle’s eyes slid not to Benden, but to Ista. A “little flit” hmm? How terribly convenient. And extremely unsubtle. The disdain beneath the suspicion was clear for all to see but the High Reaches Weyrwoman turned her attention back to L’nyr. “Would kindly leave the theatrics to Harpers. At least they’ve had lessons in how to act. And at least try to pretend that you’re not enjoying yourself, Weyrleader and get to the point.”

L’nyr shrugged, ignoring R’tal entirely. “As you wish, Weyrwoman. The reason that we’re not allowed to see the Caverns is that currently both of the Weyrleaders’ dragons are hiding inside with their eyes covered as if they’ve been blinded by the explosion.” At that he at least sounded somewhat sympathetic. His next words were less so, “Which begs the question whether those two men qualify as Weyrleaders to start with. Combine that with a Weyrwoman caught up by pregnancy and a broken arm and things aren’t looking good for the Arolos contingent.”

So they did know.  Good thing Kassia had informed her so she wasn't taken by surprise.  Cathern leaned forward.  "That's it?  That's your big news?  That their dragons may be injured?"  The Telgar Weyrwoman laughed.  "And here I am thinking you had something important to say!"  She looked around at the others.  "Who here hasn't been in a Weyr with a Weyrleader grounded by injury, or a pregnant Weyrwoman?  Do we really want to start questioning the competence of Weyrleaders with injured dragons?"

Next to her, R'orsh, not let in on the secret, looked stunned, and he flashed a look at his Weyrwoman before hastily taking a gulp of his klah and settling back down  

It would have been better if R’tal could have held his temper. He could have sat back, let others react, been the calm cool-headed one who looked oh-so-reasonable compared with Ista and Benden’s plotting. But he’d been fizzing gently since the break like a shaken bottle that needed somewhere to explode and now he was on his feet, leaning across the table to snarl into L’nyr’s face.

“You fecking bastard.” Clearly the time for diplomatic language had long since past. “Get the feck out of my sharding Weyr.”

Whilst F’loran lunged forward across the table to prevent any blows - however much L’nyr would look better with a black eye whilst he attempted to wrestle R’tal back into his seat, Wygelle spoke up first and it was to the Istan Weyrleadership. “Spying?” She spat, the word loaded with venom. “You have the absolute audacity to insult our hosts by spying? And with such blatant clumsiness with that firelizard of yours “A little flit” my foot. Does Ista actually want to improve its reputation around the table or is it quite happy to continue to garner the mistrust of every Weyr it comes into contact with?” There was a cold and furious anger on the Weyrwoman’s face. “We are here to problem solve about the cause of this and you’re still stirring the pot and causing trouble instead. Get with the sharding program and stop your trouble-making!”

“Enough!” Tedileen said with a voice that used to having everything she said obeyed, and had the experience to back it up. “Never have I heard such base and appallingly craven insinuations made with the sole intent to cause discord in a time when we should be pulling together.” She glared at all of them. “If you are an honourable rider you will be seated now and be an example of rationality in the face of such provocation. Now, all of you, I remind you we are here as Wygelle had said to solve a problem not create more.” She took a deep breath . “Ista, one more attempt to destabilise our unity and I personally will be challenging you, even if it has to be an unbladed duel… do you understand?”

Kassia had held herself back, but the anger stirred just below the surface. So much had happened over the last few days and it was a wonder she held it together at all. She managed not to jump across the table, which was good given her swelling belly, but it was a near thing. Under the table her hand gripped the Silk Dagger.

“How cowardly,” she said quietly, her voice barely controlled. “Spying and trying to trip us up while you’re in our Weyr uninvited and unannounced. You come in expecting to catch us off guard and then are surprised when we’re not able to show you our perfect best. We were attacked not days ago. You’re here because we’re attacked. And instead of focusing on how to fix this problem and keep it from happening again, you attack us all over again. And if you think that I’m incapable of ruling just because I’m pregnant and have a broken arm, you’d be sorry and wrong. Get over the idea that we’re somehow incapable and focus on the matter at hand before you become the ones with injured or even dead dragons.”

Maybe she should have shut up somewhere in the middle of her speech, but she’d never been good about keeping what was on her mind to herself.

“If Arolos had been up-front with the truth to start with perhaps we wouldn’t have needed to sneak around,” Andrette retorted. “If Arolos have nothing to hide then why tuck their dragons away under a lie about falling rocks? Why not be upfront and honest about it?”

"Possibly because they knew you'd react precisely how you are now," Cathern retorted, then looked around at the others.  "How would you act in Arolos' place?  Attacked, injured, and then invaded… how 'upfront and honest' would you be about your injuries?  Be honest… how many of you would not have done  the exact same thing?  I know I wouldn't have wanted certain vultures getting their claws on that knowledge."

“To anyone with half a brain, it is perfectly obvious why they did not advertise anything,” Tedileen said. “If you have been attacked by an unknown force, you do not then shout potential vulnerabilities from the Weyr rim.” She shook her head.

I’tria nodded. “Seriously, even I know that. It’s a basic - and I thought it was one of the reasons we turned up here unannounced - so whoever it was didn’t have time to prepare, or use us as a potential target.” It was a surprisingly sensible point from the laid back younger man - at least it was surprising to Tedileen.

"I offered to answer your questions during the break," said N'shen, laying his folded arms back onto the table in front of him. "The matter of injured dragons is internal business. But if it would set your troubled heart at ease, L'nyr – our Master Dragonhealer has given both dragons a prognosis of full recovery."

"We have appointed seconds to lead Fall while they convalesce. I hope you'll forgive me if things are so vastly different where you lead, but at Arolos, it is customary for seconds to take such a role when the leader is injured. Given that it seems the custom of minding one's own business seems to be different, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised if these things differ, too."

"As I am certain your firelizard has not reported that Foreth has flown again since Talith and Truenoth caught her, that leaves us in charge and in our rightful positions. Have you any other questions you deemed beyond my answering?"

R’tal subsided reluctantly into his seat, though his glare across the table said that if he were not actually punching L’nyr right now that said nothing about how much he wanted to. His fists were balled still under the table and right at that moment he was grateful to N’shen for being the calmer cooler head. Any words he tried to speak at that point in time were unlikely to be half as neutral.

“We have nothing but your word that your dragons might regain sight.” If L’nyr was concerned with the outrage it was hard to tell and whether that was ignorance or sheer arrogance was also hard to tell. Likely a bit of both. “I personally am just happy you’re on a different continent so we don’t have to worry about any gaps in fighting Thread this might leave. Of course, with your dragons not flying, maybe that just means more time you’ll have at trying to figure out the mess that I’m hoping is your problem and not going to spread.”

Even Telsa gave him the side eye, but not enough to make him shut up. More as if she was willing to let him keep running off at the mouth to see what he might accidentally unearth.

As R’tal moved back, so too had F’loran. Even if he had only been a second from a flying fist himself. “Oh, please,” he sighed with dramatic elaboration. “What are you demanding now, that their Master Dragonhealer get up here and give his expert witness opinion? We have been given a perfectly acceptable explanation that the Wingleading has been covered and now you’re just desperately trying to pick a fight like a bully-boy in the Craft Hall yard.”

Wygelle leaned forward, her face puckered in a frown as beneath the table, a hand squeezed her Weyrleader’s knee in a silent gesture of hush. “Right, we’re not getting anywhere with all this nitpicking and needling at each other. Of course you’re hoping it’s one Weyr’s problem. Deep down half of us probably all are. But we’re also not idiots or naive. The reality is there is at this time no proof that this is a singular issue and not something that may cause concern to us all. And we need to keep that in mind and stop pointing fingers like children! We all need to try and be practical otherwise we’ll not get out of here until next Pass comes.”

"Grounded is grounded, doesn't really matter why or how long.  'Slong as Foreth hasn't risen again, he's still, ah I mean *they're* still the Weyrleaders, according to all the custom I ever learned."  Redness tinged Rorsh's face at the slip, but his voice remained stubbornly adamant about the rightness of his words.

Cathern shot her Weyrleader a look of surprise but picked up where Wygelle had left off.  "Right.  We're not here to try to declare otherwise… are we?"  This was said with a glare to L'nyr.  "As much as I'd like to write the explosion off as only affecting one Weyr - Sorry, Kassia," she smiled slightly at the other Weyrwoman before turning serious again, "I don't think we can afford to.  F'loran is right about what would have happened had it gone off when the Caverns were full. It would have affected far more than a single Weyr, or even the continent."

“If we’re done gaggling at my Weyrleaders’ recovering dragons, we can spend the time looking at how as a whole we can come up with a plan to make sure that no one else is put at risk. Every Weyr will have its idiosyncrasies, but there’s plenty that can be looked at here.”

“Wait.” Andrette held up her hand. “Wingleading is covered, but what about the rest? One Weyrwoman pregnant and apparently too ill to call a Conclave in timely fashion. Two Weyrleaders with hurt dragons which might compromise their judgement. I’m sorry, but this is relevant. If Arolos isn’t capable of investigating this it compromises all of us.”

“Hey now,” Kassia broke in. “I should think it’s fair to need an extra day or two before calling a Conclave after being blown up. That doesn’t mean I’m incompetent. And that’s beside the point. I’m capable of working now and my Weyrleaders are capable. N’shen’s already done his preliminary investigation.”

“Not to mention,” Wygelle interjected. “There is such a thing as Junior Goldriders. Who often and regularly are delegated duties by the Weyrwoman. It’s not as though Kassia and Foreth are Arolos’ only Gold in the Weyr for Faranth’s sake. You’re talking as though Arolos is entirely bereft of a healthy Gold population to provide assistance to Kassia.”

“And you did actually hear the part where Weyrleader N’shen discussed the investigation? You know, the part where some of the enquiries were explained?” Now F’loran piped up but now he looked more exasperated than annoyed. “This certainly isn’t the sort of thing to be solved in a day. Or even a sevenday. Whoever was behind this was clearly savvy enough to cover their tracks. They also clearly don’t want to make any claims to the incident so they’re not interested in bragging rights at the moment - no, this is to put the wind up us. All of us. Someone is pointing a big, fat finger and telling us we’re not as impenetrable as we all thought.”

"I agree.  Perhaps if we had given them time to actually investigate rather than barging in, we'd have something to actually talk *about*," Cathern pointed out. "Personally, I'm rather bored with hearing about the many reasons they're apparently incompetent.  'Too pregnant,' for Faranth's sake!  Everything I've seen has convinced me that they have things well in hand, despite setbacks."

“Fine, fine, they’re so competent,” Telsa said, just barely refraining from rolling her eyes. “What’s the plan now? We’re here now and I don’t want to leave without a plan only to have to come back to in a sevenday or two.”

"I would have presumed that since you were so eager to drop in," said N'shen, "that you would have had a suggestion in mind. We will continue our investigation, and once we know more, we will share that information with you insofar as it is pertinent to Dragonmen as a whole."

"One thing, one good that has come of this – if we meet spontaneously, we will give no warning to those who might try to attack us when we are all together."

“Unless, of course,” R’tal spoke up quietly but he turned a hard look, first on Andrette, then on L’nyr, “they’re receiving some help from someone here.”

“Of course they would have no such thing from us,” Tesla said, affronted. And maybe less helpfully, “Besides, why would we alert such people to our arrival here and put ourselves in danger?”

“We haven’t mentioned them.” Wygelle spoke up carefully and now there was the beginning of worry pulling at her face. “And I don’t know if that’s because none of us wants to think about it. But we all know who’s good at deception. Who thrives on uproar and destabilising. And we haven’t heard anything about their activity in months…” She took a breath, as though the words tasted bitter. “... Would the RedStars be this bold?”

“...Maybe.” R’tal sounded uncertain. “It’s certainly one of the avenues we’re looking into.” He hesitated. “There’s one who hasn’t been around for turns who’s suddenly turned right back up like a bad mark.”

“And what have you been doing about that?” L’nyr asked. “You didn’t think this was a concern before?”

“As he turned up right after someone tried to stab my Weyrwoman I thought I’d just sit on my hands for a bit, see what would happen.” R’tal turned on him sharply, though the claim of ownership was unconscious. This place is mine, this Weyr is mine, this Weyrwoman is mine, I might share nicely with N’shen but you can feck off. “We started monitoring visitors to the Weyr while we were trying to work out what they were up to, what do you think we did?”

“Yes L’nyr please do bring out your map of secret RedStar hideouts, we’d love to know how you managed to track the lot of them down.” F’loran’s dry comment was openly sardonic as he drained his mug, refilling it from the pitcher on the table.

“It just seems to me that this sort of thing happens a lot with Arolos,” L’nyr deflected, crossing his arms. “And wasn’t it the pond that was being built that was the way for the explosive to be snuck in in the first place?”

“That may have been how they disguised it, but surely you aren’t blaming Foreth wanting a pond for it,” Cathern remarked dryly.  “From what I know about the RedStars, though, this doesn't really seem their style, though.  Too… flashy, and prone to mishap.  As evidenced by the timing," she pointed out.  "Unless you think that maybe the timing wasn't a mistake, and just a way to get us at each other's throats, in which case… well done, apparently."  The Telgar Weyrwoman forebore to mention exactly who was the reason for them being there getting at each other's throats.

“Oh no, Cathern,” Kassia said, looking across the table. “L’nyr was absolutely correct in suggesting that Foreth conspired with the Redstars by having a love of fish, gave me the idea of a pond, and set it up just so that her eggs and everyone else could be in danger. She did a great job concealing it from me, too. I mean, I know she’s a mastermind, of that there’s no doubt, but the rest...” She threw a scathing look at the Benden pair.

R’tal reached up behind Kass to, very gently, tweak her braid which in R’tal terms when it came to Kassia probably counted as a huge display of personal affection. “It seems likely they were looking for a way in and saw an opportunity.”

Kassia quelled slightly, but kept glaring at the pair. And the Istan pair for good measure. The only reason she wasn’t tugging on her own braid out of frustration was she was trying to not show the others just how frustrated and stressed she was to give them ammo. She wouldn’t regret trying to give her lifemate something to help her even if it was corrupted.

Telsa sniffed but looked a little embarrassed. L’nyr didn’t  have that much sense.

“ENOUGH!” Maryl rose, slamming her hand on the table. Shards, that hurt! Good thing she was a pro at not showing her pain.

“Is this what a Conclave is? An excuse to turn you all against each other?” She fixed each Weyrpair with steely eyes. “Obviously it hasn’t occurred to some of you that you’re playing right into your enemy’s hands.” She thought for a moment. “Or maybe it has.” This time she looked directly at Ista, then Benden.

“I’m not sure that Weyrwoman Kassia isn’t right; that this is something pulled off by one of you.” She smiled, but it was a feral, evil smile. “Only time will tell. The last Weyr left standing will be the one masterminding this.”

J’lain put his hand on Maryl’s arm, and she sat down. “No. We don’t believe this is the work of another Weyr, no matter what Maryl says.” He gave her a hard look. “I believe this was the first incident, and F’loran was right. The explosion was premature. If you’d like, I can lend you some of our engineers who are experts in different explosives, to make sure. Maybe they could even tell where the materials came from, but that’s a long shot.” His face twisted in a semblance of disgust. “We no longer have the tools that would tell us without a shadow of a doubt.”

He was silent long enough that Maryl took the chance to speak again, before another Weyrleader could. “He’s right. We do have a lot of tools that can help you out. And it’s time for us to start sharing them. This incident--I have a feeling it will not be an isolated one. I hope it is.” She glanced at the others. “But I doubt it. So, can we just table the fighting for now, and come up with ways to counter what may be thrown at us?” She sat back, then leaned forward for another moment.

“Arolos Weyrleaders--my Healers may have something that can help your dragons. Someone come see me at the next break.” Once again, she relaxed in her seat, waiting to be shouted at by...someone.

Kassia looked at the pair who was as neutral as any could come by in the situation and tried not to look too grateful. “We would welcome a chance to speak with your people about the explosion and the healers about N’shen’s and R’tal’s dragons. Your unique perspective may prove to be of great value.”

Cathern smiled at Maryl as she made the offer of tools and knowledge.  Perhaps these new Forters would be able to break the mold - and the curse - after all.  "I agree, I can't believe any Weyr could be complicit in such a sickening event.  No matter how we may feel about each other at times, none of us would harm eggs… and especially so when golds are involved."  The plague that had decimated the dragon population so many Turns ago was still far too recent for anyone with a dragon to wish harm on a gold, even should they keep their own dragons from learning of the action. 

= To Be Continued… =

Nutmeg on the Wizzy.
Recluso#6042 on Discord

I'm sometimes slow and have the memory of a sieve at times, so don't hesitate to poke me if you think you've been forgotten!

Arolos Women JP Kassia/Cathern #conclave2020

Kevin M

After a quick trip to the privy, Kassia headed back to grab a glass of juice and then looked around. Wygelle was busy with the Fort Weyrwoman, but Cathern was free. With Brogan at her side, Kass headed for the Telgar Weyrwoman.

Cathern had greeted a few others, but mostly stayed by herself.  Well, by herself with R'orsh at her side to keep him out of trouble.  When she spotted Kassia headed her way, though, she murmured something to him (which didn't sound anything like 'go have a playdate with I'tri while the grownups talked'), sending him on his way.

"Kassia," she greeted the other woman with a nod, followed by a grimace.  "I'm sorry about all this."

“It’s not unexpected,” Kassia said with a shrug. “It’s just been one thing after another. Can’t really blame the rest of you from being spooked though. It would have been nice to have some formal heads up though.”

"Things moved too quickly once Ista got the bit in their mouth.  Only formal notice I got was a note saying they were going now.  We knew it was coming, just not sure when."  Cathern's voice was apologetic; even the informal notice she'd given the other woman hadn't been that long ago.

Kassia wanted to reach back and tug her braid, but luckily was prevented by having a glass in her good hand. “Ista and Benden are going to be trouble,” Kassia said, eyes on the room. “Not sure about Fort. We’ve done nothing wrong, but people get twitchy.”

Cathern nodded in agreement, taking a sip from her own mug of klah.  "They've been standing in the corner plotting something.  They clammed up as I walked by, but I think they've got some surprise planned."  She took a surreptitious look around herself and lowered her voice.  "I don't want to pry, but… is there anything, anything at all, that they might have found out somehow?  Anything that they could use to ambush you?"

Kassia glanced in their direction before looking back at Cathern, debating in her mind. If the pair had somehow found out about Talith and Truenoth then letting Cathern know ahead of time would prepare her. On the other hand, if she didn’t know, she might feel obligated to bring it up. She took a sip of juice and then leaned in closer, hoping she was making the right gamble that the news had gotten out and that Cathern would be on their side.

“Talith and Truenoth may have taken some damage temporarily to their eyesight in the blast,” she said. “We have the wings taken care of with T’ryn, a previous Weyrleader and my weyrmate who was my last Weyrleader. Nothing we can’t handle, but that won’t stop people from causing trouble.”

Cathern's eyes widened and she swore under her breath.  She managed to restrain herself from looking at the two Weyrleaders, but was glad her back was to most of the people in the room.

"Let me guess, they're still in the Hatching Caverns?" she ventured, quickly putting things together.  "Yeah, that could definitely  cause trouble.  Are you sure it's only  temporary?"  Her voice held sympathy for the two bronzes, not calculation.  "And Foreth, is she okay?"

“The healers seem adamant,” Kassia said, hiding her own concerns. She’d believe it when she saw it, but the Weyrleaders needed her strength in this. “Foreth’s fine. She got some minor burns and she’ll need a little while longer to get over her babies getting smashed, but otherwise she came out of it okay. Her hind end was to the blast.”

"That's good to hear," Cathern smiled, reaching out to rest her hand briefly on the other Weyrwoman's arm.  Her eyes went thoughtful  as she considered, and then she nodded sharply.  "Right.  If they do know this and trot it out and try to use it for something, I'll emphasize that it's temporary and point out how it's no different than a Threadscore which grounded a dragon."  Nobody was likely to want to mess with that precedent.  "And even if it proves to be permanent, it wouldn't be the first time a Weyrleader had to delegate Fall until the queen rose again."

The smile that came to Kassia’s lips was perhaps a bit too relieved. “We certainly have things under control here. We don’t need anyone coming in to mess with things. And certainly pregnant or not, I’m perfectly capable of being in charge so we have stable Weyrleadership even if someone else...who has plenty of experience mind you...needs to run ‘Fall right now.” 

"Of course," Cathern nodded.  "It certainly seems like you have things under control to me, and I'm sure Wygelle will agree."  She glanced over her shoulder to where the High Reaches and Fort Weyrwomen were chatting.  "I hate to say this, but have you considered talking to Maryl about this?  They might have other methods than we do to treat the blindness."

“I’ll talk to R’tal and N’shen and suggest it,” Kassia said. Whether to go to the weird old timers from Fort was a personal decision the Weyrleaders would have to make, though she thought it was a good idea. “For now we’re just trying to get through this Conclave. Whatever support we can get to minimize the problems here and make this smooth is appreciated. We’ve got a Weyr to run and I’m sure the rest of you want to get back to your own Weyrs.”

Cathern made another grimace.  "I certainly do.  Much as I enjoy the warmth, I have my own business to deal with, and I can't wait to be able to pull my nose 9ut of yours.  I'll certainly do what I can to do so quickly."

“I appreciate that,” Kassia said. “But my back’s starting to hurt so I’m going to see if Wygelle and Maryl need me before taking a seat.” Maybe having to sit would look like weakness, but she was carrying twins and she hoped that at least the women would understand the need to get off her feet.

"Of course," Cathern smiled.  "With luck, you won't have to be stuck sitting here with us for long.  I'll see you inside."  The Telgar Weyrwoman gave the Arolos one a nod of farewell and went to find a bit of food.

LrdSlvrhnd on the Wizzy thingie, and also on Discord

Playing the Devil's Advocate (JP Nayari/M'ayen)


IC Date Reference: Set a couple of days after M’ayen was arrested.

She had been told that there was no way she was going in without a Guard. So with a Guard she went. Albeit stopping the man outside the door and advising him that on no account was the Weyrwoman to be advised of the content of the discussion until after it was all said and done. Because, as she advised him, Nayari was going to try a different tact. One that was designed to get into someone’s head. And she wasn’t going to go barging into the room clearly antagonistic. No, no. She had already heard how unsuccessful the previous encounters had been with the man. And he was Fortian. You had to play a different game.

Which was why, as the door was opened to the small cell, the small table and chairs she had requested were already in place. And as the Guard in front of her stepped out of the way, it was apparent that Nayari didn’t come empty handed. The scent of fresh klah permeated the room as did the scent of the new baked bread and hot sausages sitting on plates beside the steaming jug.

“Help him up off the floor, Ramnor. And get those shackles off him. He’s not an animal. He’s still a Bronzerider and shall be accorded the appropriate dignities.”

With anyone else, being locked up overnight might have at least subdued them a bit. There was something in M’ayen’s head though, a deep and utter certainty that actually the problem here was not (never had been) that he was wrong, but that the Arolosians repeatedly failed at understanding why he was right. So, he accepted the hand off the floor calmly, and with his head still held high rather than dipped in shame.

“CandidateMaster.” And it was like a Forter too to greet her by title. “Is the Weyrwoman too embarrassed to admit her error herself then?” Because clearly Nayari was here to admit the mistake and release him.

“No M’ayen, I’m not here on any errand of the Weyrwoman. Her enquiries are entirely her own. As are mine. And rather than point fingers and throw around accusations, I’d like to actually talk to you.” It was a gamble, she wasn’t really sure what had happened in the discussions with the Weyrwoman. But if the Weyrwoman was still acting anywhere near as erratic as she had been… Well then, it was a card to use.

“Please, take a seat.” Setting the tray down and demurely taking a seat herself, Nayari poured two mugs of klah, not really looking at the man as she stirred in the sweetener in her own. “I also presume you’ve not had a decent meal the past few days. I imagine the Weyrwoman has had you on bread and water. If that.” She tsked to herself. “The last I heard, one was innocent until proven guilty.”

“The Weyrwoman can’t take responsibility for her own sharding whims.” And usually M’ayen was more careful to watch his tongue but it had been an uncomfortable few days and perhaps he wasn’t as guarded as he usually might be as he sat down and reached for the bread. Someone sensible had already cut it; M’ayen might be a civilised behaving prisoner right now but they still weren’t giving him a knife.

“I definitely hear what you’re saying. In and out of my office like a tropical hurricane before the Hatching,” Nayari sighed as though somewhat exasperated by the memory. “Tells me the Candidates need to learn their place in one breath and then claims accusations of abuse the next. How on Pern are you supposed to keep up, let alone set an example - especially to some of the more wet behind the ears Assistants.”

She paused, nodding politely to Ramnor who was following his instructions and moving to a location that was less obvious, assuming a post near the door. “I’ve asked Marith to keep an eye on Ardeth, I know she’s just a green but she will try to be helpful to him if he needs anything of her.” It was a careful downplay, a subtle put-down of her own rank. A mere Greenrider compared to a Bronzerider. Because that was how it should be. Well, in Fort.

She tried to get Foreth to bully him.” M’ayen was fuming at that still as he poured the klah. “Threatened to have her rip memories out of him, if you please, because apparently my word wasn’t good enough.” He had been dwelling on that the last day or two, particularly as Ardeth was uncharacteristically subdued. “It wasn’t even as though he were being unhelpful.”

“You can’t rip what isn’t there.” Nayari said sagely. “Although I’m hardly surprised that a heavy handed approach was used. Tact doesn’t appear to be a well-versed word in her vocabulary. And allegations aside, you are still a Ranker. Not some lowly drudge caught pocketing a Rider’s mark pouch in the Rider’s Hall.” Nayari sipped at her klah, inspecting it as though somewhat disappointed by the blend before sighing. “It’s just not like what they make at home. No matter how much I try to steep it.”

“And doing as she asked,” M’ayen said indignantly, scowling as he wrapped his hands around the warm mug, holding it close to enjoy the scent. “She wanted to know who helped the stupid boy Impress!”

“I don’t know if it was just me… but she has just been so… unpredictable. Wants something one day and then completely the opposite the next. Her erratic behaviour was clearly having a negative impact on some of my most sensible Candidates, ones I’d have happily seen Standing in High Reaches.” Nayari added a little more sweetener to her klah. “I can’t imagine what effect it was having on some of the other Assistants. Probably didn’t know which way was up without having an irate Weyrwoman landing on their office doorstep.”

“She’s ashamed,” M’ayen opined firmly. “She knows what she wanted all right, and if I’d found out there would have been no problem then. But she’s ashamed she wanted it so clearly it has to be someone else to blame.” He snorted to himself. “And maybe I’ll transfer to High Reaches when she’s got over herself and passed down the order to let me out. I don’t see any value in staying around here.” 

Nayari was under no illusion that M’ayen would be going anywhere. But her tactic seemed to potentially be headed in the right direction. “If it were me, I’d be eyeing Benden. High Reaches has Wygelle now. Not that she doesn’t try. But she’s Southern too. And I’d bet my last mark that Benden is one of the last places where you’d find respect for proper, traditional values. I’ve come to see just how Arolos got its reputation as “liberal”. Just look at what turns up as Candidates. Females flaunting their flesh like Pillowcrafters, boys proud of Impressing a green because it “lets them be who they are” - flaunting it as bold as you like.”

“And they don’t have any respect!” Given an opening, M’ayen allowed himself to be led. “If we were at home you’d expect a room full of Candidates to be as silent as the dead, but here? They fidget. They talk back. They sneak on to the Sands and then we’re at fault for not stopping it when we’re not given any weapon to stop it with!”

“I couldn’t believe the gall.” And as much as she hated to admit it, there was an element of truth to Nayari’s words as well. She had been stunned and deeply disappointed at Asheran’s antics. Yes, he had gone off to Impress a bronze of all things, but even so. It had come at a cost. And ironically, it was Garratt who had been caught in the fallout. “Yes, be committed. Be determined. But explicit disobedience does not come under that criteria.” She sighed and shook her head. “I know that I’m sure the other Assistants saw me as a peon under the Weyrwoman’s boot. But you’ve got a lot of experience under your boot. And I intend to continue as I started and turn the Candidacy into a disciplined program that inspires respect, not an outlet for debauchery and disobedience. I need to know who has the potential to be shaped into that. Someone not afraid to put their foot down and take no wherry-shite from a smart mouthed youngling with barely a whisker on their chin.”

“Well, I hope you don’t expect to get any thanks for it from her,” M’ayen said, still bitter. “If I were you, I’d get out while the going’s good. She’ll only blame you for it. Whether or not it works, you’ll be blamed.”

Nayari smiled and there was a wolfish quality to it. “Oh, I fully intend to see precisely what the rabble is made of. And expect most of them to go home in tears because they don’t have the mettle. Half of them treat the entire thing as though they’ve been given ten marks to spend at the Gather. I think it’s about time they woke up to the realities of the future they dream so desperately about. But to do that, I need a good, stable and most importantly, loyal team behind me. Some of them are much too soft. Or in the Weyrwoman’s pocket. One of her mates and her uncle? Well, we know who whispers in the ear, don’t we?”

“And if they haven’t sired the Weyrborn Candidates they’re still related to them in some way.” M’ayen made a disgusted face at that. “You can’t keep order in a class like that. It’s impossible. They know too sharding well that if they go complain to Daddy he’s going to take their side.” He set his klah mug back onto the table with an angry thud. “And that T’rifoshe never keeps his sharding nose out!”

“No formal Mindhealer training… and yet somehow the “Candidate Counsellor” - whatever in the world that is. If Candidates need regular “counselling” without referral to Healers, then they’re clearly in the wrong place to begin with.” Nayari glanced up at M’ayen for perhaps the first time. “You know she tried to interrogate one of my Candidates? She was ready to spit blood when she realised I wasn’t going to let her play that game. The girl had foolishly decided she wasn’t going to put up with the nonsense of jumping hoops over who the Weyrwoman thought was acceptable to see the gold eggs - as though she has a say in how they decide and had her hoisted off to an office. With only T’rifoshe as witness if I hadn’t come around the corner when I did.”

“And yet if someone else interrogates them..” M’ayen waved a hand as though to indicate where they were. Apparently any shyness about the fact he had been doing just that was forgotten.

Nayari sensed an opening and slid a hand behind her back. Of course the Guard knew the notebooks were “discreetly” tucked down her waistband. She had shown them to him. And told the man he was to look incredibly surprised. And surprised he did look. It wasn’t hard to fake it when it was tinged with the genuine surprise at seeing the normally prim Candidatemaster effectively commit treason to obtain information. And that it seemed to be working.

“I found these.” And now her voice was low, almost conspiratorial as she pushed the books forward. “I got into your office before they did. I understand some of it. Not all. But I think you were right in keeping the documentation separate. And that you may have been onto a strategy.” It was a bold play. Incredibly so. But hopefully the careful use of distancing language, “they” not “the Weyrwoman” or “the Weyrleaders” might have begun to have an impact too.

M’ayen too looked surprised for a minute, flustered, reaching very hastily to grab the notebooks in the hope of-- what? Hiding them? In here? In front of a guard?

Better just to hang onto them.

“They don’t know what they want, you understand?” he excused himself hastily. “They want well-disciplined Candidates, but--”

“But what?” she urged gently, her voice still that same low, almost secretive tone. “Tell me what they mean. If we do it right…” Nayari let her voice trail away, nodding in what she hoped came across as quietly eager encouragement. That she wanted to know his “secrets” and not to tell on him, not to paint him the villain. But to carry on his great work that was so rudely interrupted. 

“They’re just.. Notes.” M’ayen still held them tightly, still unsure what to actually do with them. “On punishments. Nothing exciting.” Just.. the ones he’d failed to log as he was meant to. The extra ones. Because the Candidates, even Garatt, knew they should be logged now. Write them in a separate book and it looked official and they never knew what went forward for official logging.

“I wish you’d told me he was causing so many problems. I had no idea that we had Candidates who were so clearly unfit for the Program.” She reached for the pot, topping up the klah in both mugs. “Not that they’ll understand the need for secrecy, no doubt they’ll try and tell you it’s some perverse monologue for sick pleasure.” She paused, frowning as if she was trying to recall something. “I… think I vaguely recall someone coming to me about additional physical training. That a concerning pattern of… well, softness for lack of better wording, was observed in Candidates that had a background in particular Crafts. Talena, I think?” Nayari sighed, shaking her head as though thoroughly disappointed at her own inability to have seen something so terribly obvious. “She’s very new, I just assumed she had made some green assumption… so I sent her away telling her we already had fitness training in place...”

“Talena’s a sensible woman,” M’ayen allowed. He wouldn’t be sleeping with her again, certainly, but he’d allow that. “The boy -- pcha--” He made a disgusted noise. “Coddled by his father until he was no good for anything and then tossed into Candidacy to get rid of him. When else are you going to see an heir Standing to Impress?”

That was interesting praise. And gave rise to the suspicion that Talena had been an ear listening to M’ayen’s point of view. “She seems forthright and to the point. And no-nonsense.” Nayari nodded as though approvingly. “If I could get away with it. I’d probably clean ranks and leave none but more like her. We’re not here to handhold and mollycoddle. Although with all this to-do about “Impression Anxiety” - something that seems to run rife in Arolos.” Nayari’s tone had turned sardonic, complete with sarcastic use of her fingers. “What do you expect when we’re allowing all and any to grace our doors.”

“Is the boy being sent home?” That was an abrupt change of subject, as M’ayen’s thoughts strayed for a moment away from the conversation. “I presume they found wherever he’d run to.”

“Honestly, I’ve hardly paid attention.” There was an idle wave of her hand in accompaniment to her comment. “They located him and the last I heard his father had been instructed to come here, presumably to remove him back to his Hold. It’s quite clear that he should never have been here in the first place. Between you and me, I suspect a bribed Searchrider received a handsome tip for taking the boy off his father’s hands.” She felt her gut coil at just saying the vile things. But he had to believe her. Had to believe she was there for his side of things. Because he was never going to talk to someone who was openly an enemy. They just wouldn’t understand.

“No character to the boy at all. Cried like a girl.” But M’ayen fidgeted with his mug when the subject turned to him, tongue running almost nervously over his lips for a minute. “Might have made a half-decent greenrider with a bit more conditioning. Maybe.”

Nayari snorted, “Only if Arolos suddenly started teaching about how ranks fit in the world. They have a green Wingleader. I might be a Candidatemaster but even I still know how the world is meant to work. Unfortunately they’d never see it here. It’s too closed minded for them who apparently don’t see the need for structure.”

“Ach. Get it into them early and it doesn’t matter what the Weyr is. He’d have settled down nicely and never questioned.” Teach them to obey unquestioningly and they’d never want that Wingleadership, even if it was offered. M’ayen had an image suddenly of Garatt, the boy’s face screwed up and earnest, offering his hand for punishment without being asked. 

The room was suddenly very warm, and he shifted a little in his seat as though uncomfortable behind the small table. “But.. he’s gone home now, you say?”

Where had his mind gone? Clearly somewhere and the way he fidgeted… It gave rise to more questions, but not ones to be asked in front of the man. No, they were for someone else. “Oh, I believe so. And if not yet, I’m sure soon. Can’t imagine they’ll want to keep him, even she will have to admit that he’s clearly not suited to end up on a dragon some day and we’ve all seen how precious she is about who Impresses her eggs.” It was still in a nonchalant, almost indifferent tone. “Why do you ask?” Nothing accusatory, just mild curiosity.

“Oh, just.. wondered.” If he were outside and free he could have done something with that sudden prickle of arousal, told Ardeth to find a green chase again, worked it off. There were all kinds of disadvantages to being stuck in a cell, and one of them was having no way to distract from the images, from the memory of Garatt’s hands on his trousers, terrified but fumbling with the ties because he had been told to.

Faranth, what that boy would have done if he had been told, if M’ayen had kept him just a little longer..

Again, that fidget, reaching to refill his mug as though to mask the way he was moving in his seat. M’ayen’s eyes flickered over Nayari, a quick up and down assessment lingering for a moment on her breasts. She was a greenrider, after all. Of course it would be too convenient if her green just happened to rise right now, but it was still safer to think of that, indulge in that fantasy than.. anything else. 

The sensation of eyes on you was one so unique that it was impossible to confuse it with anything else. But for a second and only a second before, Nayari had been all but convinced she had seen something else in the man’s eyes. A flicker of darkening, a slight dilation of the pupils. Was he getting turned on by some memory of what he had done? The bilious sensation of disgust tried to claw its way up her throat and it was sheer force of will that she swallowed it back down with a mouthful of klah. 

She pretended she hadn’t noticed, but it had the potential to be a tool. “It’s so hard to find the ones with the right potential,” she sighed, leaning back in her chair and folding her legs one over the other. “The ones that are just the right sort of clay to mold into shape. Those ones just pliable enough that you know that if you get it right…” She made a small, satisfied noise, “Well, they’ll do just about anything.”

Focus on the woman in front of you. The long legs, nicely displayed as she leaned back like that, the swell of breasts -- not large ones perhaps, but the woman knew how to dress herself to display them properly. Focus on that, try to feed the feeling of arousal into that and not, absolutely not, the memory of his hands on the boy’s hips, pushing his hands to his ankles.

Difficult when Nayari was feeding that memory. M’ayen shifted again and was grateful for the table, conveniently covering anything that might be happening in his lap. “He could have made a decent greenrider,” he granted, and if he sounded gruff and guarded it was more because he was doing his best to steer his mind away from what Garatt might have done given the right orders than attempting to hide anything from the CandidateMaster.

“Mmm, well yes… he did have that… subservient potential, didn’t he?” Nayari felt sure she had found a needle and she wanted to stick M’ayen with it. Because something was niggling in the back of her brain, something that was jumping around with a great big red flag of “something is going on here”. The change in his tone, a tone that suggested an attempt to what? Keep something in check? It was entirely speculation on her part. But something was niggling. And niggling.

((Ardeth, is anyone rising?))

The bronze stirred, roused from his afternoon doze, bewildered by the request. Someone would be rising no doubt, with so many greens in the Weyr there almost always was. ((But you can’t get to a flight room.)) Not that he objected to chasing - if prodded into it he would happily comply - but at his age he was just as happy to keep dozing in the sun.

((It doesn’t matter.)) M’ayen wriggled his toes, rubbed them together inside his boots, any kind of physical sensation to keep his mind on the here and now and fight the urge to drop a hand into his lap and deal with the..issue that was occurring there. ((Find out if anyone is rising.)) Find me an excuse, a reason to need to work this off, even if it’s with my hand. He swallowed, hand gripping his mug tightly, thumb rubbing slightly at the rim, again hunting for something physical to distract.

“I’m sorry,” he apologised, aware Nayari would have seen the unfocused look in his eyes. “Ardeth just needed me a moment.”

“I suspect he would have been broken the way he should had this been Fort. Broken, subservient, willing. None of this fire and determination in greenriders that you see here. No. A place for everyone. And everyone in their place.” Yes, she had seen that lack of focus and she didn’t believe him for a minute. A carefully constructed look of concern crossed her face. “Is there anything Marith can do for him? I appreciate he must be quite worried for you, is he being looked after?”

“He’s ah--” M’ayen didn’t quite hide the brief look of relief as somewhere near the Lake Ardeth got up, shook himself off, and went to find which green the males were clustering around that day. “--Wanting to chase. Someone’s about to go up apparently. Bad timing but--” He shrugged as though to say what can you do, when it’s your dragon?

And she was a gold dusted wherry. “Oh goodness no, I completely understand. Would it help if I left and gave you a little privacy?” Wide eyed, innocent understanding, even as she fanned herself with a hand as though a little flustered. “Faranth, it can’t help that it’s so hot in here.” Of course the gesture made her neatly button shirt shift and pull, of course it made her body jostle. That was entirely the plan. If she could get him flustered enough… he might let something slip.

Oh, he noticed. Noticed and swallowed again, his gaze drawn like a magnet to where the buttons pulled. “I’m afraid if you stay, this might end up a mothing situation.” Afraid was the wrong word, his mind was already providing him with suggestions of Nayari over the table, or legs wrapped around his waist, or up against the wall. His hand twitched for a moment towards his lap and then was sternly placed with its partner around the mug where it could do no harm.

“Perhaps not for the best. It would be hard for me to argue impartiality should that occur.” That and she would need to scrub herself for a sevenday. But there was still something she could do to her advantage. Well, hopefully. Leaning across the table, Nayari placed a hand on one of the hands wrapped about the mug. “I want to help M’ayen. There’s going to be more people who understand. Tell me who to talk to. Who else in the Candidatemaster staff would be willing to vouch for you? To prove this is all just some horrible misunderstanding of old school discipline being misunderstood and poorly reacted to?” Nayari fought to ignore the crawling sensation that ran up her arm as her skin touched his own. Fought to ignore the stomach churning nausea. In its place, was a face full of optimistic concern.

His hand was warm under her touch, his skin flushed and Faranth, she was close, wasn’t she? Easy to shift a little, let his hand capture hers, resisting the urge to just pull her across the table. Fair skin, grey eyes, tall, but not heavily built -- she’s a greenrider, a small voice whispered, if she protests it’s only for reasons of proprietary, if you just told her.. His tongue ran over his lips again, wetting them.

She’d asked him a question. What was the question? “Talena,” he said distractedly. “T’ril would. D’xon.” A moment. His hand tightened around hers. “You could stay.”

The second hand had joined the first, squeezing his hand in what could be read as encouragement, maybe even gratitude. “I can’t…  not if I want what I end up saying to have any strength behind it. They could use it. She would. And she needs to hear the real story. Not the one she made up in her head.” Her eyes turned to the notebooks, apparently forgotten. “I’ll keep them safe. You have my word.” Of course she would, wouldn’t risk them being lost or worse, falling into the wrong hands. They would be under lock and key.

“She wouldn’t need to know.” M’ayen had forgotten by now about the guard stood behind him, his presence a distant memory as he leaned forward. Somewhere Ardeth was rising with a pack of males, though he remained near the back of the crowd, still confused as to why he was doing this. It didn’t matter. It was hardly as though he needed much of an injection of dragonlust to add to his own existing lust. He stood in one quick movement, leaning forward, reaching to take her by the shoulders.

Ramnor had been carefully side stepping the room the moment he felt the tension begin to notch up. Even as M’ayen lunged forward, the Guard clapped a heavy hand down on the man’s shoulder, yanking him back. “In your seat.” The man growled, deftly reaching for the manacles to slap them back over M’ayen’s wrists.

Nayari knew the infiltration of dragonlust, knew that the sands in the timer-glass were on their last grains. Even as M’ayen stood, her boot heels pushed the chair sharply back and she was on her feet. “No, M’ayen.” Was all she said, even as she stepped to the side, letting the Guard get the man back under control. The notebooks had been swooped into her hands as she went, held in a vice-like grip.

And M’ayen might successfully overpower a skinny fourteen turn old boy but he stood very little chance against a trained guard. Back down into the chair he went, though not quite quickly enough to hide the issue of trousers which were by now definitely feeling overly tight. Of course it could be a flight issue, it was frequently a flight issue, but that quickly?

And it was a problem which most definitely wasn’t going to be remedied by the addition of manacles. The likelihood was that it was going to be a long frustrating flight for M’ayen.

(Which really made it all the odder that he had basically volunteered for it.)

“To the door ma’am. Wait there.” As the Guard manhandled M’ayen into place, shackles secure, Nayari did as she was told. For a moment her back was turned as she moved but as she turned back again, the compassion was gone, the kind concern an illusion. In its place was something much colder. “I’m sorry M’ayen.” And the soft, kind tones were gone - now it was the voice of Nayari that was much more familiar. Clipped. Cool. “I’m sorry that I let the Candidates down by letting you anywhere near them. By not seeing exactly what kind of man you are.” She lifted the notebooks, reminding him that she had them. “But thank you. Thank you for giving me exactly what I couldn’t prove for all the sevendays I was looking into you. For all the information I need to make sure your influence is wiped out of my Barracks for good.”

= End =

Nutmeg on the Wizzy.
Recluso#6042 on Discord

I'm sometimes slow and have the memory of a sieve at times, so don't hesitate to poke me if you think you've been forgotten!

Re: Trying to be Subtle atten: Tamalack/Kalain


Kalain blushed. "Something to look forward to," he said. "Something to make sure we're not making a mistake, too. Just so we can not rush into this. I don't...I don't want to lose you as a friend any more than I want to lose Sleek." He looked down at the gold curled close to him.

Interrogations JP Kassia/Ma'yen


OOC: This occurs before I Fecked Up.

A short while later Kassia and N’shen were in one of the guard interrogation rooms. Ma’yen was in shackles with two guards on either side and a third guard at the ready. Just the sight of the man’s face made Kassia glad she didn’t have Brogan with her. As it was, she rubbed the hilt of the Silk Dagger longingly.

“Do you know why you’re here, Ma’yen?”

“No. Is this really necessary, Weyrwoman?” M’ayen was pointedly polite, his tone cold even if he looked a little thrown by the shackles. “I don’t know what game you’re playing at but you could just have asked me to come to your office.”

Ardeth was less calm, yanked rather abruptly from his post-coital comfort. ((What happened?)) The normally calm bronze was very much agitated. ((We didn’t do anything!))

Ma’yen’s tone might be cold, but Kassia’s was hot. “We have strong evidence of you abusing your charges, including one in particular who has now gone missing. You can spare your dragon me having Foreth rip the information I need from him by telling me right now or I’ll be forced to put your dragon through it.” 

((Mine needs to talk to Yours,)) Foreth said simply. They might be having a different conversation in a minute though depending on how much Ma’yen cooperated.

N'shen stood silently behind Kassia with his arms folded. He was there to listen and to observe. He would not speak unless spoken to, or if he knew something Kassia needed to know. And he could send that through Truenoth.

Calm as he might be attempting to be, even M’ayen looked a little thrown by that. “You let Ardeth alone!” he said sharply, and that reaction was real, not a pre thought-out protest. “If you want to do.. Whatever this little sharding display of power is to me then fine, but leave Ardeth out of it.”

“I want to know where Garatt is!” Kassia yelled at him. Her voice lowered a few decibels. “And I want a full confession of just what you did to him and anyone else.”

“Garatt?” And this studied innocence was rehearsed. “Had him in my office two hours ago for cheating. Then Ardeth decided to chase a greenflight or I’d have had the documents to Nayari. Why, what’s happened?”

Kassia didn’t buy the innocence. “I’m asking one more time and then I ask Ardeth.”

“I don’t know where the boy is!” M’ayen could say that truthfully enough. “Get a guard to check my office, the documents are there!”

“Then what did you do to him?” Kassia asked. “Why was he terrified of you? Why do I have a class full of Weyrlings angry and terrified of you. TELL ME!” Her anger was rising fast and if the healers were there they probably would have stopped her, but they weren’t and she wasn’t backing down now.

“Weyrwoman.” And again, M’ayen went back to that pointed politeness, as though by being more reasonable he could make her look more unreasonable. “Can I remind you that you ordered a crack-down on poor behaviour by Candidates?” He knew as he said it how inciting it was, and actually leaned slightly as though anticipating an inevitable slap.

Kassia gritted her teeth, but didn’t take the bait. “I didn’t ask for them to be hurt. You’re deflecting. I’ll just go to Foreth...))

“Leave Ardeth alone!” M’ayen raised his voice as though the order would make it so. “He’ll only tell you what I’ve told you!”

“We’ll see.” Kassia’s voice had dropped from angry to cold.

((Foreth...)) She relayed what she wanted.

((Ardeth,)) Foreth called, sending calming feelings toward him even as she fed him all of the images she’d been given before. Then she pushed, gently to start with. ((I need to know everything Yours has done like this and to *this* boy.)) She added the image of Garatt.

((I know that one!)) Difficult for any bronze to disobey compelling. ((He needs punishing a lot. He was cheating, and he helped the one who should not have been near the eggs. He was angry about that.))

“Weyrwoman..” And M’ayen did not like this line of questioning, that much was clear. “I haven’t done anything to deserve this. Leave him alone.”

Kassia ignored him as Foreth filtered the answer through.

((Mine wants to know what Yours did to *him*,)) Foreth pushed. ((How did he punish him?))

And Ardeth was willing, more than willing to take the images from the top of M’ayen’s mind, to show Foreth the cane; the strokes on the hand and the strokes on the rear. No more than that, for M’ayen was himself working hard to forget those moments that punishing had turned to touching and to his mind the ‘punishment’ was those strokes, not the raging and torment that came before...but no less either than the red marks that rose after a severe caning.

Why wouldn’t he be willing? It had never been a problem at Fort.

Kassia’s blood was boiling hotter. “You fecking arse,” she snarled.

She had to be sure though.

((Does Yours know where *this one* is or have any information on where he might be?)) Foreth asked for her.

((He was going to run away.)) Ardeth sounded confused by that, made uncertain by his rider’s certainty. ((I..think?)) 

((Check harder,)) Foreth pushed.

“I don’t know where he is!” And M’ayen was snarling too now, feeling his dragon’s obedient rummaging. “I told you!”

((He doesn’t,)) Ardeth confirmed. ((Except not in the Weyr. Or at home.))

((Fine.)) Foreth released the compulsion.

“Ma’yen, I order you to be held pending further punishment for abuse of a Candidate,” Kassia said, ready to be done with the disgusting man. 

M’ayen glared at her, unrepentant. “If I had found who else had helped him onto the Sands you would have thanked me,” he predicted, apparently certain of that.

“Not the way you chose to do it,” Kassia growled. “There are ways to do things around here and caning Candidates isn’t one of them.” The next words came out louder with each one. “This isn’t Fort!

“He helped someone get on the Sands who you had banned!” It felt like justification to M’ayen. Even if a whole lot of stuff had come before that it felt like justification. “I was helping you!”

“You’re full of dragon shit,” Kassia snapped. Her hand tightened on the Silk Dagger wistfully. “You know you weren’t helping me. You were serving yourself. If you thought you had any information, you would have passed it to me and you wouldn’t have had to use violence to get it.”

“Ask Ardeth that then!” M’ayen would have snarled it in her face had he had the ability. The guards’ grip on him tightened. “Ask him if I was trying to get the information for you! Or are you just going to give the sharding orders and then pretend you have nothing to do with the results?!”

Kassia took a minute to work her energy back down. Her next words were forced through clenched teeth. “I thought I’d made it clear that abuse would not be tolerated. Apparently what you heard was that it’s okay so long as it’s only one fecking Candidate.”

“You asked that the Candidates be brought back into line due to poor behaviour!” M’ayen was more than capable of returning her anger full-force; no repentant meekness here. “What did you want us to do, talk to them sternly and send them to bed early?”

“For you not to take advantage of my words and give detentions every time someone wiggled in their chair! For you not to make anyone a victim! Abuse is not punishment! And Arolos has never allowed physical punishment like that of Candidates. Ever.” Her words were rising again. “I fecking left Fort and Will. Not. Bring. It. Here.”

“This from the Weyrwoman who not ten minutes ago was threatening to rip information from my dragon?” M’ayen went to fold his arms, reminded only when he tried that he was shackled. “Keep telling yourself that, Weyrwoman. Deny it all you like, you asked for this!”

“Forget it. You can’t rationalize with a man who is a Fortian through and through.” Kassia spun about and gestured for N’shen. She called over her shoulder, “Guards take him to a cell.” She turned back and headed for the door.

N'shen glared at M'ayen for one long moment and then turned to follow Kassia. This was not his business, but oh, how he wished it was. He had seen to keeping Kassia safe, and now he would let the others take care of the rest.

I Fecked Up JP Kassia/ N'shen


After dealing with Ms’yen, Kassia stopped N’shen as they headed out the door. She didn’t think that R’tal was in a good space to help her, but the other Weyrleader probably was.

“Come with me to my office?” she asked.

"Of course," said N'shen. He offered his arm to Kassia to help steady her if she needed it.

Kassia shook her head. The arm would have been useful, but she didn’t want to be seen as weak. She could walk on her own and still run the Weyr even if she had made a very questionable decision.

Back at her office she did let him close the door behind them.

Brogan jumped to his feet and came over to nuzzle her.

~Kass back. Kass no leave again.~

“I’m not leaving you again soon,” she assured him as she took a seat.

N'shen took the seat opposite her once she had taken hers.

"Are you OK?" he asked her. He had still been more than a little riled up at the end of the interrogation, but now his worry for Kassia had overwhelmed his anger with M'ayen.

She shook her head, anger flowing into guilt and back in waves. “This...this is my fault.”

"... What is your fault?" N'shen asked, after he thought for a moment and failed to see how any of this could be Kassia's fault.

“I brought Ma’yen back knowing his background here and at Fort and told him to get the Candidates in shape.” She put a hand to her head where another headache was blooming. “I may as well have told him to go use physical, abusive methods to get what I asked for.”

"That… is how he seems to have taken what you said," said N'shen. "But if he really didn't know that wasn't what you wanted, he wouldn't have tried to be coy about it. He knew. He's just trying to shift the blame."

N'shen held back from asking why Kassia had allowed M'ayen back to begin with. She likely did not need that particular guff just then.

“I should have known...I should have known. I just thought...I needed someone experienced. He ran the edge of what was allowed before, but he...I didn’t think.” She lowered her hand and looked at N’shen, her face begging him to understand.

"You left him under the charge of a Candidatemaster you do trust. If she couldn't see this coming and didn't stop it, then how could you?" asked N'shen. "Obviously, none of us thought he would do something like this. Because this isn't Fort. He should have known he would be caught and held accountable if he tried it."

“She should have caught this,” Kassia said, anger rising. “Someone should have caught this. But I should never have put him in that position in the first place. Clearly he doesn’t care. He’s still Fortian deep down. Even his dragon is caught up by the Fortian way of thinking. Doesn’t see problems with what his rider did.”

"Then we'll deal with him. And we'll… do whatever we can to make it right with the boy he hurt," said N'shen. "We'll learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again. That's all we can do."

“I made a mistake, but he’ll be punished,” she growled. “Imprisonment isn’t enough...he needs...something like was done to him. He wants Fort, then he can have lashes.” She caught N’shen’s eyes, daring him to disagree.

"To tell the truth, it's good that it's not up to me," said N'shen, scowling again. "I would be hard pressed to give him a fair punishment. I want to hurt him. I want revenge. And I know that's not…" He sighed. "I know that's not necessarily right, but when I hear someone hurt a child, fair is the last thing on my mind."

“I’d use my knife if I could,” Kassia said, lowering her hand to fondle the Silk Dagger. “The things I’d like to do...but this isn’t Fort. And there are things just not possible.” She shook her head. “You don’t hurt children. You just don’t.”

"You just don't," N'shen agreed. There were probably ways to deal with such a problem. Especially if one were, say, a wingleader in charge of his wing during Fall.

But this was not Fort. And N'shen was no wingleader. Not any more. His heart began to race again as he remembered Truenoth's injury.

"I trust you'll discipline him to the fullest extent of the law."

“I’ll verify with R’tal, but I’ll do what I can,” Kassia promised. “Just what we need on top of the coming Conclave.”

"It's one more thing, but at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if he was in on it and did this just to give the North a rod to beat us with," N'shen sighed. He really did not believe it. But he would not be surprised.

“Or he’s a part of the people wanting to kill me,” Kassia said, though she didn’t believe that either. “Anyway, we have other things to do rather than listen to me berate myself over an arse.”

"Agreed," said N'shen. "Are you going to be OK?" he asked then, on a more personal level.

“I could do with a few less memories and a lot less guilt,” Kassia said, “but I’ll get over it. The Conclave is going to be a lot more painful.”

"So I guess we have that to look forward to." N'shen offered a weak smile. "After all this is over, and the babies are weaned, I'll treat you to an expensive bottle of wine."

Kass offered him a wan smile. “Thanks.” She pushed to her feet. “Thanks for helping, N’shen.”

"I'll always be here to help," said N'shen. Even when another dragon inevitably caught Foreth. He could hardly abandon a friend in need.

Re: I spy with my little eyes... (Tyne's flits/Tolfast/Cuylar)


"Find Cuylar or Elphith, sweet one. Show him. And this." Tyne had seen Tolfast's office herself. Knew where it was. How to find it. "And then Cremsden. He'll know what to bring." And as she sagged back into the chair and Bobbin took to the air, vanishing in a quick blast of Between, her own faire was returning, their clamour muting as they felt the familiar mental exhaustion that pulled around their Mistress.

But they had found him. Now it was up to everyone else.

The moment Cuylar had the image of where Garatt was, Elphith turned to fly him there – and a moment later, he was on the ground and running inside.

Green Flit Rising... Sort of... (ATTN: Any chasing firelizards)

Jenna Cunningham

Felix had come to the dining hall to eat her feelings after the rude dismissal by her person.
She had a lot of feelings.
Winging in with a pathetic creel, she landed on one long table and started to work her way across it, begging food off hapless candidates and service staff, stealing from less hapless riders when they weren't paying attention, gorging herself on every bit of FOOD she could find - rewarding herself for being perfect, even if her person failed to see it because, really, wasn't she just being extra perfect when she had been told to go back to him? Wasn't she just following orders? Shouldn't he have very gratefully opened his arms and pushed more FOOD REWARD into her waiting maw when she appeared, as he always had before, because she was just the most perfect, obedient fire lizard in the entire world?
The gall. The... The sheer impudence of her person.
Felix paused mid-choking down a whole bun stuffed with meat and gravy, aware of a sudden warm, brilliant sensation building in her gut, spreading heat elsewhere, shiny heat, heat that felt a lot like the promise of FOOD on a day that had been previously without FOOD.
If her person wouldn't reward her, she would need to find someone who would FEED HER. Someone WORTHY of feeding her.
Smeared in gravy, gorging on a whole plateful of stuffed buns like a little miniature dragon blooding carcasses, her very slow mind finally caught up to her very fat body. Yes. There was a plan, now.
She would RISE, and she would summon the FOOD PROVIDERS.
They would acknowledge her perfection, and they would REWARD HER with FOOD.
With a ringing cry, stretching her wings out and knocking over a wineglass to the annoyed shout of some faceless dragon rider, Felix sprang into the air.
...and then moments later thumped back into the table. Even she thought she was too fat to fly for very long after her emotional feasting.
Well, no matter.
She began to haul her prodigious bulk across the dining hall table, wings stretched out in some simile of flight, calling the males to her.
FOOD, FOOD, FOOD, she sang. I AM FOOD.