(CONCLAVE) Whispers In Corners Andrette/Telsa #conclave2020

Laura Walker

Anyone  who knew anything about Conclaves knew that while discussion might happen in the open the real politicking happened in the breaks. So it was that while people stretched their legs and grabbed a drink Andrette wandered casually over to Telsa.

“So, what are you thinking so far?”

Tesla was grabbing her own drinks when she caught Andrette approaching out of the corner of her eye. She finished filling her glass and then met Andrette with a faux bright smile.

“Good morning, Andrette, glad to see you even if the reason is not a happy one.”

“How are you coping with the heat?” Andrette asked with a touch of sympathy. “I think we’re the only ones here used to it - except those who Impressed here of course.”

Telsa waved her hand in front of her face and then took a sip of her drink before saying, “I’ve been better. I don’t know how you all live with this heat all the time. I’ll take my snow, thank you.”

“Hopefully we’ll be finished by midday or you might see what heat really is,” Andrette warned, then looked around, inspecting the room. “Still, they have actually tried to find somewhere reasonably cool. Hm.” She conceded that with mild irritation and sipped her drink.

“You think we’ll be done that quickly then?” Telsa moved around so that she could keep an eye on the other occupants of the room, her back to the wall. “As usual with these things, it takes forever to get anywhere.”

“It would help if they would stop hiding things.” That was more than mild irritation, that was true exasperation and Andrette blew a stray hair out of her face with a sigh. “I understand they wanted to investigate first but can’t they see we could have been attacked ourselves while waiting for them?”

“They know more than they’re saying, I’m sure of it,” the Benden Weyrwoman said. She took a sip, her eyes roving the room before she added, “Part of me is worried we’re on the list. The other part of me feels like maybe they just brought this down on themselves.”

“There’s something not right about those Hatching Caverns,” Andrette confided, dropping her voice. “You know J’lson got his firelizard to take a look? No building works to speak of.”

“Did the firelizard take a look inside?” Telsa asked, leaning in while keeping her eyes watching around her for someone who might get too close. Whispering and secrets among Weyrwomen and Weyrleaders were not just a possibility, but expected.

“Mmm, and -- let me let Wotarth pass Braedath the images?” Andrette suggested. “There’s something not quite right here.”

Telsa gestured with her glass. “By all means.”

The gold passed them over, as passed to her from her Weyrleader’s bronze firelizard. There were no building works in sight.. But there were two Weyrleader’s dragons in there. The firelizard’s vision was skewed; he pictured the dragons as enormous and strong because all dragons were enormous and strong.

But there was no hiding the eyepads. And Talith was curled up asleep, but there was something odd about the way his skin folded, as though he’d been losing weight.

“Faranth,” Telsa said softly, somewhere between sympathy and anger. “No wonder they didn’t want us near the Caverns.”

“They’ve been very careful, haven’t they, not to talk about what damage was actually done,” Andrette pointed out quietly. “Now we know why.”

“I wonder if they’re hiding more about Kassia as well,” Telsa said. “They seem to be lying about a lot. You have to wonder if any of them are fit to lead.”

“Well, she’s clearly not lying about the pregnancy at least.” Andrette glanced back over her shoulder, checking the Arolos Weyrwoman was nowhere near them. “Unless.. You don’t think either of the golds were actually injured, do you?”

“I don’t put it past them.” Telsa shrugged. “Not dead, I don’t think. They’d still be in mourning if that was the case and nothing would hide that, but possibly injured? Maybe to the point of being unusable? Who knows.”

“They must know though that they couldn’t hide that forever.” Andrette grimaced. “Though.. If their dragons are injured, that won’t be hidden for long either. Are they thinking Foreth will rise again maybe?” It wasn’t unknown. Weyrwoman’s golds had ways of dealing with a vacuum for Weyrleadership.

“Maybe that’s what they’re hoping for.” Telsa shook her head. “They have two Weyrleaders and yet manage to be without a functioning one. They’d better come up with something or we’ll have to do it for them.”

“It’s a wonder they’ve done any investigations at all,” Andrette commented, her voice still soft. “Likely they’ve been running around like headless wherries. You can’t leave that position vacant.” She made a face at herself. “Believe me, we know!”

“We may have to be quick to act,” Telsa said. “But it’ll need to be more than you and I.”

Andrette glanced around at that quickly. “Who then? They have High Reaches in their pocket.”

“I’d say New Fort, but Wygelle seems to have that all buttoned up. Telgar seems to be in Kassia’s pocket, too.” Telsa made a face. “If we had time, I’d say we’d be better off working the Weyrleader angle.”

“It might be worth at least talking to High Reaches to see if they have a theory as to who did this,” Andrette said. “They seem to have their own theories. Not me though. F’loran is not a reasonable man where I’m concerned.” She considered. “I could talk to Tedileen.”

“I could try L’nyr, but I don’t always trust him not to flub it,” Tesla admitted. “I don’t see F’loran working for me, either. Maybe we should just go with what we have. Spring it on Arolos and watch them flounder. They’re not likely to come out looking good.”

Andrette considered. “If I spring it, there’s some who are going to ignore it out of spite,” she said honestly. “If you did though..”

Telsa raise an eyebrow. “You think they’ll listen to me more? It’s not even my Weyrleader’s flit that passed on the information.”

Andrette shrugged. “Together then? You ask them how their dragons are. When they start lying about it - which I’m betting they will - we’ll share the images.”

Telsa smiled and nodded. “That I can do. We’ll catch them in their own web. We’ll get more answers whether they like it or not.”

For a moment Andrette hesitated, pity warring with that need to be right. “...Do you think they know?” she asked. “I mean.. They must. Or are they lying to themselves too?”

Telsa frowned. “If it were you, wouldn’t you lie to yourself rather than believe that your dragon was going to be blind for the rest of your and their life and your position as a leader of the Weyr is also now over?”

Andrette shuddered at the thought, reaching to touch her own gold’s mind to reassure herself. “Do you think it’s just that even? R’tal’s dragon at least looked.. Sick.”

A thread of sympathy went through Telsa now that they were talking about the dragons and not the politics. “He’s probably not eating well if he can’t see. Do dragons get depressed? Maybe that, too.”

“Did you notice N’shen was the one doing all the talking?” Andrette was thinking about it now, running the conversation through her mind. “R’tal’s the more experienced obviously and from what I’ve seen in the past Kassia’s preferred choice -- if he is taking a step back there’s something wrong.”

“N’shen was the one running the investigation,” Telsa mulled. “Maybe because R’tal’s dragon isn’t doing as well? Maybe because Kassia wanted R’tal at her side for other things? We all know how fickle and demanding she is.” 

Kettle black.

Andrette choked back a laugh at that. “The woman has two weyrmates, according to rumours around my Weyr, how insatiable exactly can one person be?”

“Two weyrmates and I bet her Weyrleaders are at her beck and call, too,” Telsa said with a snort. “R’tal at least give how much she favors him. But then he seems to be the favorite of Arolos Weyrwomen in general given how often he’s been Weyrleader. Bet he gets to know them well before flights.”

“Well, those days might be at an end now at least.” And however acrimonious the relationship might be there was a little compassion in Andrette’s voice at that. “What do you think of this two Weyrleader thing? Is there a story?”

Telsa shrugged. “Something about both dragons caught her at once. Feck knows how that happens, but a gold doesn’t let two males into the Caverns to protect her eggs unless they’re the father. Outside if they’re really trusted, sure, but not inside. I’m inclined to believe it. Leave it to Arolos, though.”

“That could more or less be their motto,” Andrette noted with a slight laugh. “Right. I’d better see what my Weyrleader is doing before he gets us into trouble.”

“Same here.” Telsa raised her glass of wine in a small salute and then slipped off to find L’nyr.


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.