Letting out a deep exhalation of breath, Wygelle ran her hands through her hair as she left the conference room. Shells, this was going to take a sevenday if they kept at it. The tunnel led out to an open ledge looking out over the Weyr Bowl and she headed for it, wanting air even if it was the close, humid air of the South.
Spotting Maryl as she came out of the tunnel, Wygelle wanted to check on the other Goldrider. This was the first Conclave that New Fort had been exposed to and she had the overwhelming desire to apologise profusely for the fact that once again the Weyrs, for the most part, struggled to behave themselves.
“So,” she said as she came up beside Maryl, a wry smile on her face, “Feeling completely underwhelmed and somewhat exasperated yet?”
Maryl shrugged. “I don’t even see the point of these things if nothing gets done,” she said. She was no stranger to Weyrleaders disagreeing with each other, or running roughshod. But this...it was ridiculous.
“Benden just wants to complain, Ista is totally antagonistic, Igen is too busy fighting within itself. And the fact that Weyrleader N’shen hasn’t finished his investigation yet...why are we even here?” She would have rolled her eyes again, but they’d gotten enough exercise before the break.
“Unfortunately a Conclave is where the differences in the core tenets and structure of each individual Weyr really shows its colours,” Wygelle commented, leaning on the stone wall barricade and looking down at the people scurrying about below. “And ironically, it’s where individual Weyr autonomy clashes the most. Everyone comes in with their own opinions from the start because they’ve already got their own opinion about how they think the Weyr of discussion should be doing something because they’re comparing it to what they would be doing. And unfortunately, Arolos already has its own reputation to up the stakes of antagonism from the start.” She shook her head with a short huff of annoyance.
“It’s all huffing and bluster at one another, getting the little digs in, making little comments. Hopefully once people have got it out of their system we’ll actually start being adults again. And it’s all a big showy pretence to hide that behind it all, they’re probably all quietly terrified it could happen to them. But would much rather hide that by pointing fingers and trying to convince themselves that it’s just yet another Arolos related problem.”
“It’s not, is it?” Maryl said. “Arolos is an easy target because they’re unconventional. Whoever’s doing this--they bring Arolos down, then focus on the next Weyr. But to what avail?” She turned her musings inward. “No Weyr means no defense from Thread. No defense from Thread means more death, from famine if nothing else. There’s still half a Pass to go before the Weyrs aren’t needed for another two-hundred Turns.” She shook her head.
“No one’s going to listen to me, or J’lian, this time around. We’re still too new, and too unknown. But figure out who stands to benefit the most from the death of a Weyr, and you’ll know who did it.”
“Admittedly F’loran had had one brandy too many when he first came to me about his thinking. But after he sobered up and started explaining his thoughts more clearly, no, we are both of the opinion that the attempt on Kassia was something separate and more personal, potentially opportunistic and that the explosion incident was intended to be something far more sinister but for whatever reason, didn’t happen at the intended moment in time.” Wygelle ran her hands through her hair. “Because the reality is, all of the Weyrs are probably at their most vulnerable when a clutch is on the sands. People are coming in, people are going out, we have visitors wanting to congratulate us, you name it. F’loran is convinced that it wasn’t just about impacting the Weyr but also to put the wind up the Craft Halls and Holds that would be in the Stands on Hatching Day. Showing people that the Weyrs aren’t invulnerable for one thing.”
There was a deep sigh and it seemed tinged with annoyance. “And unfortunately, the shadow of your predecessors is going to hang over your heads a bit for a while. Because some of us can carry a grudge and get stuck in the past.” This time, the eye roll wasn’t held back and the exasperation came through in a note of sarcasm. “Because you all stepping up and picking up from where Fort was left a shell clearly hasn’t been enough already.”
This was something she’d already seen firsthand. Maryl sighed. “If it had been a delegation from all contemporary Weyrs, I think Fort would be seen in a better light. But we’re not contemporary. I’ve heard whispers that Arolos is unconventional. I have a feeling that Fort is going to move from a Weyr with a permanent cloud over it, to a Weyr that makes Arolos look hidebound. And with good reason--at least, good reason for the Eighth Pass.” She waved her hands through the Weyr. “This is positively primitive!” This was a discussion she and Wygelle had had numerous times, though, so she wasn’t going to continue.
“We need more inter-Weyr transfers. At least of information. I get the feeling that some of the things y’all are fighting against are things we have solutions to. But, without an information exchange, we have no way of knowing.”
“Unfortunately it will be desperate clinging onto traditions and propriety that will be the biggest stumbling block. Take Weyrhealer K’ren here at Arolos - he has done positively astounding things by our standards but has been blacklisted from the Healer Hall because he dared to perform surgery. And this is a man who is possibly one of the most intelligent I have ever had the privilege of working with. Even if we have bashed heads on more than one occasion in the past. But you will continue to be astounded by what gets frowned on because “it’s just not done”. Even the fact we’ve liaised about sending you browns and bronzes to assist with your population will no doubt raise scandalised eyebrows.” Wygelle had indeed spoken with Maryl on many an occasion about the sheer contrast between the two times and though she herself had been half convinced it was all an elaborate ruse at first, in time she had been baffled at how the “ancient” Second Passers seemed to be far more progressive and open-minded to the “new” Eight Pass civilisation.
“Personally, I think Arolos would be open to sharing information. Some of them might struggle to get their heads around it but I think if you’re going to find people wanting to learn from you as best they can, potentially come up with solutions and new skills, Arolos would be a good place to look first. As I’ve said to you before, whilst High Reaches wasn’t considered as traditional as Fort, historically it’s been considered a very traditional Weyr.” The chuckle that came was tempered with genuine amusement. “As you can imagine it caused initial uproar when a Goldrider from Arolos of all places was the one to claim their Weyr! But in time? They’ve gotten more used to my ideas. And that I’m not as wild and crazy a Southerner as they believed all this time.”
“Pfft. We all came from the South, initially. Little do they know. And with your browns and bronzes, at least our dragon population is growing. Yes, I think that Arolos is where we should focus our next liaison on. And they seem to need help. The Weyrwoman isn’t going to be up and about much longer--carrying twins takes a toll off the mother. But, I brought some tea we’ve developed that will ease some of her pain. I just hope she won’t take offense that I brought it.”
“I dare you to tell them what you told me about them coming from firelizards… Although you might be single-handedly responsible for killing off half the Weyrleaders in Pern in one go when they all die of shock.” There was a wicked glint in Wygelle’s tawny eyes and for a moment some of the anxious stress that had been clinging to her seemed to ease for a second. “Although if you find yourself down this way again, tell it to Tyne here. She’ll probably love to hear it and be able to tell you about the shared memories in some more detail. Or rather - at least translate it so a human can understand it.”
Maryl’s concern brought an abrupt shake of her head from Wygelle. “Oh I hardly doubt it will cause offence. Just don’t be alarmed if she gets someone to test it for her first. I imagine Kassia’s already on edge if someone tried to kill her recently. And if it’s anything like some of the teas you’ve been sending to our Healers, I’m sure it will work wonders and then some. I’ve already had Master Orson harping on about how that last batch you sent has done wonders for his arthritis.”
“Yes, I brought enough that she could, erm, share. I don’t blame her for being paranoid. I’ve heard that this was only the latest attempt on her life; that she’s been the recipient of threats since she Impressed.
“What a cutthroat bunch of people you are. You trust no one. People try to assassinate the Weyrwoman for Faranth knows what. It’s positively obscene.” Something even she knew, since she’d also received some veiled threats since they moved house to Fort.
“Oh, there have been enough tales to probably make your hair curl. At some point I’ll give you a history lesson - although it might involve stopping over for the night. And will probably require a few strong drinks.” Wygelle had lived through her own share of chaos and not all of it had been entirely based on Arolos’ doorstep. Her thoughts drifted to Kassia and she couldn’t stop the frown of concern. What the shells had been going on here? And more to the point, when was it going to stop? Or worse… what would happen next?
The two Weyrwoman continued to exchange some quiet conversation between themselves until a staffer emerged and politely advised that the Weyrleaders were reconvening in the conference room. With a brief word of encouragement to one another, High Reaches and New Fort braced themselves for round two. Tempered with the hope that things might actually start to make progress.
= End =--
Nutmeg on the Wizzy.
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