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.