(CONCLAVE) If I Knew You Were Coming I'd Have Baked A Cake #conclave2020

Laura Walker

IC Date Reference: Set approximately 3 days post Hatching. IC date approximately

Part One:

Today was the day, that was for sure. The firelizards had been flying in and out of the Weyrleader offices as though they had been chased by dragons breathing fire on their tails. But between the Weyrs, the arrangements had been made and the necessary placations had been issued. It was notwithstanding that some of the Weyrs had been far more anxious to deal with this entire situation sooner rather than later. But the reminder of a recent Hatching and still dealing with the aftermath of injuries had felt as though that it had at least, slowed it as much as it was going to be. But, no more.

It was barely mid-morning in the hot, Arolosian heat when the first dragons began appearing above the Star Stones in a fanfare of announcement, circling the Weyr Bowl as they came in to land. Wygelle had insisted that High Reaches would be amongst the first, if not the first to arrive - wanting to show solidarity with her former Weyr. And also wanting to get the entire affair over and done with, the sooner the better. It was only Antelath that appeared, albeit followed shortly by a pair of significantly smaller dragons and the bronze landed with all the pomp and irritation that the situation curdled into being. Wygelle had… insisted on coming herself. Despite Ormanth being ready to clutch imminently, it was also hard to argue with a Weyrwoman who looked as though she was about to throw something breakable at your head.

F’loran slid down his bronze’s leg and held out his hand to assist Wygelle, more a gesture of polite unity than actual requirement. “S’ppose we need to get this done.” The High Reaches Weyrleader looked more grim-faced than his usual, more jovial appearance. Even Wygelle seemed to have an aura of tension about her, her eyes darting uncomfortably about as her boots hit the dusty floor. “Whether we like it or not, it was going to happen. All we can do is try to make sure we don’t end up killing each other before the day is out.”

Today was the first time they’d been here since they left, several Turns back. Maryl peered over the back of her dragon to look. Even after being here these four Turns, she still couldn’t get used to the obscene sizes of the dragons.

At least Ryadith was throwing eggs that were much more normal in size, even though they were still larger than she was comfortable with. She looked across at J’ian and Solrakth. When Ryadith rose the first time at Fort Weyr, she was caught by one of the other SEF bronzes. J’ian was mourning the loss of his Weyrwoman and best friend, and hadn’t had the heart to fly another. And Maryl wasn’t about to allow any of those dirty Eighth Pass Fortians touch her, or her dragon.

But the next time the queen rose, a Fortian brown caught her. By then they’d laid down the law, letting the natives know their former power games would net them nothing but time in a prison cell. Their dragons may have been small, but SEF had ways to make people mind them.

Unwittingly, Maryl had been following Kassia and Foreth’s lead, rarely letting the same dragon catch them twice. For Maryl, though, it had made good sense, allowing them to expand the gene pool.

Ryadith and Solrakth  landed, Maryl and J’ian dismounting. “Hasn’t changed much, has it,” J’ian said softly to his weyrmate.

“Did you expect it to?” She looked around and shrugged. “I’m not sure what they expect us to do here, but, here we are. Let’s go reacquaint ourselves with the Weyrwoman and Weyrleader”

Altalath and bronze Permuth appeared next, quickly winging down to land.  For Cathern, this was almost a homecoming, but R'orsh was new to both his duties as a Weyrleader and the Arolosian heat.  They slipped down their dragons to the ground, and R'orsh was already mopping his brow.  "Faranth, and you lived here?"

Cathern quirked a grin.  "You get used to it.  And you'd best do so quickly, or learn to fake it," she warned, humor quickly fading.  Fortunately, her Weyrleader seemed inclined to follow her lead, thank the stars.

Another gold and bronze pair appeared, these from Benden. Gold Braedath landed first with a delicate touchdown while Solth hit the ground with a thump.

“I hope we’re not down in this Faranth forsaken place for long,” Tesla muttered as soon as she joined L’nyr on the ground and they moved out of the way to let the next contingent come in.

Ista was the next to land, the bronze and gold landing neatly at almost the same moment. They stuck closely to Antelath, knowing and dealing with High Reaches more than with most of the other Weyrs. Both dragons and riders seemed more than a touch wary of the others as they dismounted. The last Conclaves, after all, had been to judge their own Weyr and despite that this might have been thoroughly deserved it was still not completely forgiven.

Andrette stood close to her bronzerider, J’lson and whilst those two at least seemed to be on the same Weyrleading team (unlike the last Weyrleader, who no one was going to forget in a hurry) their glances around the Weyrbowl had a certain hostility to them.

“No-one’s arrived to greet us yet then?” Andrette asked in a clear, carrying voice, as though a group of Weyrleaders arriving without notice in a weyrbowl were an easy thing to prepare for. Already Arolos riders and civilians were starting to cluster at a safe distance as they checked out the unexpected gathering.

Igen was a little later turning up, gold Quesith coming down in neat precision to land followed by a much younger bronze. Tedileen looked irritated before she even set foot on Arolosian soil, mainly at her new, and much younger and laid back Weyrleader, I’tri. If there was ever a more mismatched pair to lead a weyr, they would certainly have competition, because I’tri was barely out of weyrlinghood at first glance and seemed far more interested in having a good time than doing hard work. The fact of the matter was that he had one major asset - a very large dragon. Bronze Folioth was definitely one of the larger bronzes around and was doting on his queen even as their riders joined the other weyrleader. “Our apologies for being tardy,” Tedileen said curtly. “We were unfortunately delayed by...weyr business.”

“Folioth wanted to finish his snack,” I’tri said with a broad grin. “Dragons eh?”

Foreth normally kept half an eye out on comings and goings anyway, but after being warned about the impending arrival of rival Queens she was completely on point. With the arrival of the contingencies from the other Weyrs, Foreth bugled something that was probably supposed to be a welcome (maybe), but instead came out as an angry bugle at her Weyr being invaded.

((They are here,)) she called, her mindvoice just as angry as she bespoke her lifemate and the two Weyrleader dragons.

That was one message at least Talith had seen fit to pass on. R’tal had been sitting, theoretically working, but mostly just sitting waiting for something to happen. He made certain to hurry as though surprised, though in reality the creases of his shirt were so carefully pressed that he could have done nothing but put it on and sit perfectly still afterwards.

“Hello?!” He tried to sound querying as well as annoyed. He did not need to fake the annoyance. “Has something happened?”

N'shen arrived a few moments later much from another direction, his clipboard and investigation notes still in his hand. He made a decent show of a concerned worry as he ran to greet the metallic entourage.

"Is everything all right?" he echoed.

Kassia was a lot slower to the party, her pregnancy and the concussion having taken their toll. She’d had help that morning getting dressed so she looked appropriate for a Weyrwoman without looking either overdressed or underdressed with Brogan nearby. She looked for one of the men to help walk with her and let them take an arm on either side.

F’loran was trying very hard not to think what the other Weyrs were already thinking of the whole “double Weyrleader” ensemble. He hadn’t had enough brandy to start the day for that story. He moved forward, trying also to ignore the fact that Antelath was feeling very exposed in this bevy of Weyrleader dragons without Ormanth at his side. “Weyrwoman Kassia,” he extended politely, “Weyrleaders R’tal and N’shen.” All three were given due deference but the air of uncomfortable formality notched up the tension. With an uncharacteristically impatient sigh, Wygelle jostled her fumbling Weyrleader out of the way.

“I’m sorry that we have had to barge in on you all like this, I’m sure that you’re still managing the immediate organisation of your most recent Hatching - to which High Reaches extend their deepest congratulations on your newest gold weyrlings - Unfortunately it is Weyr business that brings us all here and the need to speak with you all in person, is past the ability to wait.” She seemed terse, fidgety and to a degree, she was. But this whole sharding thing needed dealing with.

Before anyone else could say anything, Kassia shook away from her Weyrleaders and looked around at the group. “We have indeed been caught up in the Hatching and all” -she left off specifying further- “but we always stand ready to welcome the other Weyrs as, I hope, would the other Weyrs would should the same need arise. Before we get too far into - or away from - pleasantries here, perhaps we can retire to one of the big conference rooms and send down to make sure that we’re all comfortable with good wine and food. As you can imagine, I’d prefer to get off my feet sooner rather than later. Carrying twins and all.”

"I think that is a good idea," R'orsh said after a subtle elbow jab from Cathern.

"I'm sure we would all like to take a seat and relax," she added.  "Please, lead the way.  And may I add my congratulations on both your recent Hatching and your pregnancy?"  Her tone was possibly warmer than it had ever been towards the Arolos Weyrwoman.

“Perhaps we could take a quick look around your Hatching Grounds on the way?” Of course it had to be Ista who rocked the boat. Andrette was still looking around, surveying the territory. “It would be good to see the damage done.”

“Oh, if only you’d let us know in advance.” Not quite as believably regretful as he wanted to be. R’tal’s smile was a little snarl-like. “Unfortunately, now the eggs are gone we’re taking the opportunity to get repair work done and it really isn’t safe.”

Andrette was still smiling but she leaned to say something quietly to her Weyrleader. A moment later the bronze firelizard on J’lson’s shoulder stood up, stretched, and leapt away into between. Not exactly subtle. 

Maryl rolled her eyes at that. “Rude,” was all she said, but it got her point across. A blast was a blast was a blast. No need to go digging deeper for it. Several of the old SEF riders who’d chosen to stay here had already reported in to her. If these other Weyrleaders didn’t have their own spies, too bad.

Resiting the urge to swear loudly, F’loran pinched the skin between his eyes. If they were already pulling out the knives to stick in each other’s backs, Faranth only knew what sort of bloodbath they’d be walking out of by the end of the day. Providing it only took a day. At this rate, they’d be in negotiations for a turn and tend days. Scrubbing a hand through his hair, the High Reaches Weyrleader shot a look at J’ian that seemed to resignedly say “told you I wasn’t making it up”. 

Tedileen sighed  a little. “Weyrwoman Kassia, Weyrleader R’tal, thank you for your kind welcome. I believe your suggestion of adjoining is eminently sensible. “She looked around at the other Weyrleaders. “Of course we would not want to discuss potentially sensitive issues where all of Pern could overhear.” Her tone made it clear her irritation was with those who thought this was some sort of witch hunt. Whatever their agenda was, she was all about the information.

I’tri nodded. “I could use some of that refreshment you were talking about. It’s really kind of you to do all this at short notice.”

“I don’t know why we’re supposed to be listening to them,” Telsa said, none too quietly. “They can’t even manage to have the proper amount of Weyrleaders. And now we can’t see the Caverns.” 

“Shhh,” L’nyr said, and steered her on.

Kassia pretended not to notice. Any of them really. And held out her arms for her two Weyrleaders, Brogan sticking close but out of the way. They could think what they could think. For now they could get settled and fed. Maybe they’d think a bit better with food and wine in them.


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.