Help. Please. (T'ryn/R'tal)

Laura Walker

((Myholth.)) Draconically, it was about as loud as the Weyr ever got. There were keens, shouts, wails for help, calls to check others were okay. Still, Talith’s voice was clear if shaken. ((Yours needs to come. Now. The guards have been told to let him through.)) R’tal was working on keeping as many as possible out; some decisions needed to be made right now but more people near the eggs didn’t feel right.

((He comes.))

Both dragon and rider had sprung into action almost immediately after the explosion, trying to calm and direct those around them from flying into full on panic.  Now T’ryn was racing towards the Caverns, his expression grim as he pushed past those gathering around to either try and help, or gawk at the horrifying scene that was unfolding.

“R’tal?  Let me through, shardit!” T’ryn swore as he shoved his way through.  “R’tal!”

“It’s fine - let him through - it’s fine!” It wasn’t fine, but R’tal could hear the panic in T’ryn’s voice and hurried forward before it could spread.

“The feck’s going on?” T’ryn growled, looking a bit wide-eyed.  With all the screeching and keening going on, it was clear he was fearing the worst.  

“Keep them out!” R’tal snapped at the guard; not the guard’s fault, not anyone’s fault but staying calm right now was hard. He grabbed T’ryn’s arm, dragging him through to the Sands where they could talk in privacy.

T’ryn allowed himself to be pulled into the Sands, glad to be out of the crowd, even if the sight of the damaged Caverns was horrific. He was, to some extent, used to horrific scenes.  He’d lived through enough of them, after all.

“Talk to me, R’tal.  I need to know what you know, if anything.”

“I need -- Faranth, I don’t know.” Close up, R’tal was looking less calm, just barely holding it together. “I need someone who knows how things work enough to keep my head together. Talith’s hurt but I can’t -- if N’shen and I lose it right now it’s going to be a panic out there and we can’t afford a sharding panic!” He was pulling T’ryn back towards Talith as he spoke, the need to be near his dragon something near-primal just now. 

T’ryn followed R’tal, allowing the Weyrleader to pull him along towards his dragon.  He gulped at the sight of the smashed eggs and quickly averted his eyes.  His heart went out to Foreth all the more, seeing up close and personal the loss she’d suffered.  Clearly Talith was hurt as well, and Truenoth also.

“Right.  So clearly, you need someone in a better state of mind to take charge, yes?” T’ryn asked, gripping R’tal’s shoulder sympathetically.  “Or at least keep you from losing it completely?”

He’d never wanted this sort of responsibility, but Faranth help him he wasn’t going to just slink away to leave R’tal and N’shen to try and push through this.  If he was needed to step up, and by the First Shell, he’d do it.

“If you need me to, I’ll step up, R’tal.  Just say the word.” 

Talith dipped his head as they approached. The scorch marks on his hide were ugly and the brown’s eyes looked wrong, unfocused even on his rider. R’tal reached up to him automatically.

“N’shen is fine, but guilty, and wants me to have the answers. You can’t think out loud with someone who wants you to have the answers, they don’t contradict you and you can’t backtrack,” R’tal said frankly. “I just need to talk it out with someone who knows what I’m talking about and can pick holes in it.”

“Fair.  I can do that for you,” T’ryn answered promptly.  He winced at the sight of Talith’s head, and tried to hold back the anger that it brought forth.   Whoever was responsible for this was going to pay, and pay hard.

“Have the healers looked at Talith yet?  Do you need me to get someone for him, first?”

Having Talith tended to first might help restore some of R’tal’s calm. 

“Master Larsin’s been.” R’tal rubbed his forehead. “It-- it looks like Talith and Truenoth were looking right into the blast. They-- it might not be permanent but for now someone’s going to have to lead Fall.” 

He said that too calmly, forcing himself to set aside mentally what that meant. Don’t think about the fact that maybe he’ll be blind forever, focus on the right now practicalities of who leads Fall because if you think about the other maybe you’ll go mad or at least not be able to be the Weyrleader the Weyr needs today.

Oh.  And just what did you say to something like that?  There really wasn’t anything T’ryn could say that wouldn’t fall flat, or come off as empty reassurance.  The most that anyone could do was hope for the best, and that the healers would be able to pull off a miracle.  This was a Weyr, they could go and find an expert healer with more ideas if there wasn’t anyone here who could come up with something more. 

“Well, there are plenty of us that can lead during Fall, R’tal.  There’s M’gal, and myself, and probably half a dozen other experienced bronze riders who can take up that responsibility as long as needed.”

“Right,” R’tal agreed automatically, though from his expression he was only half-listening at most. There was no way to have this conversation without your mind trying to cast ahead to ‘but how long for though’ and then shuddering away from the answer. “And-- shells, we’ll need to tell the other Weyrs or they’ll be here wanting to know what happened.” He pressed his hand over his eyes a moment. “Feck, this is Conclave business.”

Feck!  He was right, though.  It wouldn’t take long for word of this to get out; bad news traveled faster than anything.  

The last Conclave he’d been part of had been bad enough, he did not want to have to deal with another one.  Not on his own.  And he didn’t want to think that maybe someone from one of the northern Weyrs might be behind this attack.  Arolos had rather difficult relationships with a number of them at any given time; someone could have very well decided to up and do something about it now.

“It will be, eventually, yes.  First we need to start an investigation, to try and shake down some solid answers as to who’s behind this, and why.  Or at the very least, some solid leads.  That way we have something to present to them, so they can see that we’re still capable of functioning on our own, and handling the situation.”

R’tal had continued half-listening, nodding along, up until that last when he went stiff, almost freezing in his seat. He hadn’t thought -- he hadn’t even considered that this might lead to another Conclave where he had to justify his own job. 

“Feck!” he cursed quietly and sincerely, leaning forward in his seat. “Oh, shard them all to the Red Star, that I do not need.”

“Hasn’t happened yet,” T’ryn cautioned.  “Might not happen at all.”

Well, there’d no doubt be a Conclave, something like this happening.  But that didn’t mean it would be that kind of Conclave.

“Right now we need to focus on the here and now, and what we can and should be doing in this moment.”

R’tal was quiet for a moment, leaning back in his chair, thinking. “Put your Weyrleader head on for me for a minute because I can’t,” he said finally. “Part of me says that taking a lead on that investigation is exactly what we should be doing. The other part-- if we found someone who looked even slightly guilty right now.. I’m not sure I trust myself, T’ryn.”

“Then don’t,” T’ryn said, quietly.  “If you’re in the frame of mind where you’re going to question your decisions, then definitely step back.  Faranth knows I should have, back then, and I’d hate to see you make a similar mistake now.  Given your emotional state, and N’shen’s also, I would think it’d be safe to say that neither one of you should be taking charge of the investigation.  Your first concerns should be your dragons, first and foremost.  That’s why a Weyrleader chooses a Second, after all.  

We definitely need to start that investigation, before anyone has a chance to slip away.  Order the guards to seal off all the exits to the Weyr, for starters.  No one in or out.  Same for the dragons.  We can have one of the other golds issue the order, so that the dragons won’t disobey.  That’ll give the guards a chance to actually figure out what it was that caused the explosion in the first place.  It *might* have been a freak accident, though something in my gut tells me that’s not the case.  But if everything’s sealed, we don’t lose the chance of finding the culprits.”

He hoped.

Thank you.” It  was a relief to have someone else do the thinking for five minutes. “Talith--”

The brown made a slight grumbling noise. Foreth he would move for but right now his face ached and message delivery duty seemed like work. 

((I’m going to sleep,)) he announced once the job was done, before T’ryn could find any other suggestions of how to help.

“Right then.  I’ll have to speak to Andronda and Delysia, since Kassia is going to be out for a few days at the very, very least,” T’ryn mused.  “I’ll definitely check with the healers that are working on her as well for more definitive answers, once they have something.  I wish there was something I could do for Foreth, but…”

He shrugged his shoulders helplessly.  There wasn’t anything anyone could really do for the grieving gold.

“We’re going to have to make an announcement to the Weyr at large.  Do you want me to handle that, as well?”

“I’ll do that. If they don’t see one of us at least they’re going to assume we’re all dying in the Infirmary,” R’tal said grimly. “Just pulling myself together before I have to face questions.” He turned to look at T’ryn. “I do need to ask you one favour though. It’s a big one, but it probably won’t be needed.”

“If I can do it, I will,” T’ryn said.  “Faranth knows I owe you big for more than one thing over the turns, R’tal.  What do you need?”

“The chances of N’shen and I sleeping anywhere the dragons aren’t for a few days is-- well, it’s not happening,” R’tal said flatly. “That’s going to put us in the same place if-- we’ll have guards actively trying to prevent another attempt, but I thought we were trying to prevent this one.”

“I understand that, and?” T’ryn said, eyes narrowing slightly.

“And if the two of us die in a second massive explosion and the Weyrwoman is still unconscious… the Weyr needs someone in charge.” R’tal looked at him steadily. “I’m not expecting to die, T’ryn. But we need to know someone is there if we do, because otherwise it gets messy.”

The bronze rider sucked in a deep breath.  There it was.  He had guessed that this might be what R’tal had been angling at, but now it had been clearly stated.

“And you want it to be me,” T’ryn stated flatly.  “I won’t say no, R’tal, because it’s you asking.  But we’re damned well going to make sure that that doesn’t happen.  Whoever was behind this, they won’t get away with this again.  We won’t let them.”

“That’s what we’re working on.” R’tal sounded exhausted. “But I’d be remiss in my duty right now if I let N’shen and I sleep in the same place without a WeyrSecond appointed in case that went wrong.”

“I can see that, and I definitely understand it,” T’ryn said.  He could hear the exhaustion in R’tal’s voice, and saw it on his face as well.  “If you want me, then you have me, R’tal.  You take care of that announcement, and then you get your butt back to Talith and at least try to rest.  You need it, and so does he.”

“If anyone asks--” And he trusted T’ryn or T’ryn wouldn’t be here, but T’ryn still needed to have his story straight. “They’re superficial wounds. Very minor, but they want to be near the eggs.” Only another ex-Weyrleader would understand the lies Weyrleaders sometimes needed to tell.

The bronze rider nodded, accepting the story he’d be expected to pass on if necessary.  He got it, he really did.  Eventually it might come out, or maybe not, depending on how well the dragons healed.  But until then, no one was going to find out differently from him.

“Understood.  Now go take care of that speech so you can get some rest.  The rest of us can take care of the rest.”


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.