After talking to Ko’ssen about A’shran, Kassia headed to the Caverns as that was where all her stuff still was. On the way she got the info that Kashara had been involved and had to pause to take care of that then she finally made it to the Caverns.
By that time she had a pounding headache and was fired up. Neither was good for a pregnant woman. Who was carrying twins.
Strictly speaking they could leave the Caverns now. The eggs were Hatched after all, and K’ren and R’tal had always been based on the ground next to the Infirmary. They could have just walked right over but that would have meant people seeing and.. On second thoughts R’tal was getting used to the little temporary weyr. Anyway it had a desk. He could work from there.
“I thought you’d still be here,” Kassia said, stomping over with one hand on Brogan’s head. A sure sign that she was fired up. “We need to talk.”
“Aren’t you meant to be in the Infirmary?” R’tal looked up, clearly surprised to see her. “I’m just--” He paused, realising that if she had thought to look for him here she clearly knew.. Well, more than he had thought she knew. He glanced up guiltily to Talith. “Ah..”
Kassia stopped and looked over. “Why is Talith still here?” she asked, momentarily thrown off. She didn’t answer his question. They both knew the answer and that she wasn’t intending on listening to the healers.
“He’s… resting.” It sounded a better answer then that R’tal couldn’t deal with parading his dragon across the Weyrbowl wearing eyepads for people to stare at.
“But why in here?” Kassia pushed. “There are no more eggs. There’s nothing else to be done in here. Most dragons like to rest under the sun or in the lake.” Talith’s presence in the Caverns just struck her as weird.
“Is this really what you escaped the Healers to come talk to me about?” When stuck for an answer, divert. “K’ren’s not opposed to scolding Weyrwomen and Weyrleaders if they don’t behave you know.”
Kassia turned away, but she wasn’t happy with answer. Something was going on, but that was probably low on the list right now
“No, I don’t even know where to start,” she said, ignoring the headache that never wanted to go away. R’tal would keep his secrets. She’d keep hers. “It’s your fault that I’m having twins. And Kashara is over there helping the boy who had been banned from Standing get on the Sands. And there’s people exploding everything.”
R’tal blinked. Then he got up to very cautiously come around the desk to her. “And-- what kind of medicines did they give you exactly before you left the Infirmary? Strong painkillers was it?”
“They gave me some...” She eyed him suspiciously. “But I’m fully aware of what’s going on around me. I said what I meant to say.”
“I believe you. But let’s get you--at least back to your weyr while you tell me why this is my fault.” If it wasn’t for the wher and the dagger he might have tried to put his arm around her.
“You’re trying to avoid the issue,” Kassia said. “And maybe it’s not your fault, but you’re on the list. Someone put twins in me.”
“I blame Sh’ain,” R’tal said easily. “Or at least if it’s not him, he’s probably the best of us at raising them so he might as well take the blame. Though N’shen seems keen as well so--” he paused. “--wait, twins?”
“Yes, twins,” Kassia said with a roll of her eyes. “I wasn’t expecting one and now I have two coming. Apparently I can’t control the children I already have. My oldest two are in a relationship. Kashara is aiding and abetting a bad Candidate. And who knows what Rassia is doing. Taking over the Weyr, probably.”
“Is Brogan going to bite my arm off if I try putting it around you to help you back, or are you not at that level of annoyed with me yet?” R’tal inquired. “Only, you might remember, I live with the WeyrHealer and he tends to get a bit annoyed if I steal his patients..”
Kassia grunted but motioned for Brogan to get to her left side so that R’tal could help her. “The Weyr needs to be smaller. And people need to stop fecking up.”
“Of course they do,” R’tal said soothingly, starting to lead her past Talith. Past Talith’s head, past those obvious eyepads -- before he’d had his back to her.
Something weird caught Kassia’s eyes as she went by. She looked up and her eyes widened.
“What the feck happened? Can’t he see?” she asked. Apparently someone else had fecked up, and she didn’t mean the person who set the explosion. No one had told her.
Ah. And there was what he had been hoping she wouldn’t notice. R’tal grimaced, reaching with his free hand to rub Talith’s head lightly. “He-- the DragonHealers think it’ll pass.” Hoped. Hoped it would pass, but R’tal was pinning everything on that hope.
“You didn’t tell me.” Kassia did not sound happy as she pulled partially away to get a better look at him. “Anything else I don’t know?”
“Yeah, well, I was kinda hoping it would be fixed before you needed to know.” Before anyone needed to know. The less he talked about it, the sooner it would go away. “It’s not always about you, Kass.”
“You don’t think that it’s important for me to know Talith’s blinded?” she asked. “I don’t need to interfere, but I do need to know. Which you know or you wouldn’t be trying to hide it from me.”
“Don’t say it like that!” And maybe the way R’tal had nearly flinched at the word ‘blinded’ was an explanation in itself. Sometimes it really wasn’t about Kass.
“Fine, fine.” Kassia would have put her hands up in front of her if one wasn’t in a sling and the other around R’tal. “Just...keep me up to date.” She was getting sick of people doing things behind her back, but she left that thought aside as it’d get her nowhere.
“Right.” R’tal rubbed his free hand over the brown hide a moment. “Anyway. Candidates. Again.”
“Weyrlings now,” Kassia corrected. “And my own daughter was involved. Put everyone at risk because she felt that the boy should get to Stand.”
“Start at the beginning, I’m missing half the story,” R’tal said. “I assume this is about the lad who eh.. That little green tore into.”
“No, not that one.” Kassia shuddered. Even second hand that image...she’d remember for a long time. “This is the boy that was a part of the reason we closed the Caverns. He was banned from Standing and Kashara helped sneak him onto the Sands. Yes, coincidentally he Impressed, but he shouldn’t have been there.”
“Oh! I think Shalia was trying to talk to me about him, before-- well.” R’tal glanced back over his shoulder at Talith. “Then things got a little chaotic. Ash-something, wasn’t it?”
“Asheran...A’shran now,” Kassia said. “Picked up a handsome bronze. So I can only do so much to punish them. I don’t know who helped him besides her, but I doubt it was just her. She very happily confessed after the Hatching Feast.”
“From what Shalia was saying, wasn’t it a bit of a case of wrong place wrong time to start with?” R’tal frowned, trying to recall. “She seemed to think he’d got a raw deal.”
“Apparently Kashara did, too,” Kassia grunted. “Either way, he pissed off three dragons. What if any of them had realized he was there? Do you think that would have gone well?” The headache was squeezing again.
“You mean, worse than being disembowelled by a baby dragon?” R’tal said drily. “It’s always a complete matter of luck how well Hatchings go. You remember that time a puppy got onto the Sands?”
“Yeah, I didn’t need that memory,” she said with a shake of her head. “But it could have gone even worse. We got lucky as far as A’shran went. I just never thought my daughter would be involved in something like that. I thought she had a better head on her shoulder.”
“Well, to be fair, Shalia did try to deal with it properly and I-- well, it wasn’t a good time for me to listen,” R’tal pointed out. “Do you think the lad did get a raw deal? I can’t remember what she was saying - he was saving someone, wasn’t he?”
“So he says,” Kassia said. “I suppose I could ask him towards the end of Weyrlinghood and find out through his dragon to know the truth, but we just had his word and all I saw was a second person going for the Sands.”
“What?” He turned his head to stare at her at that. “Why? Haven’t we got enough to worry about? Unless -- are you thinking he’s involved in the exploding?”
She threw her arm up. “How am I supposed to know? We know nothing, unless you’re keeping something from me. All I know is that I have no patience for someone who endangered Foreth’s eggs. And that’s even more so after the explosion. The eggs were endangered. Our dragons. Me. My...twins.” That word would take getting used to.
“Okay.” R’tal was quiet a moment. “Then we have two issues here. The first -- you don’t have to have patience with him. Your part with him is done. Unless his bronze starts chasing one day there’s no reason you ever need to deal with him again. He’ll be his WeyrlingMaster’s problem and then mine.”
“Weyrlings are still mine to make sure he gets the punishment he needs,” Kassia said. “Otherwise we encourage people from all overs trying to sneak on the Sands for a Hatching.” Kassia was nothing if not persistent.
“People from all over have been trying to sneak to see the eggs for turns,” R’tal pointed out. “Do what we do with them; you’ve caught him, so punish him and forget it. Unless he is involved in.. the other thing. That’s different.”
Kassia sighed, the sound not happy at all but a bit resigned. “I don’t really think he was involved in that. Why fight to Stand after being involved in trying to blow up the eggs in the first place? But none of this makes sense to start with. How are we supposed to solve this?”
R’tal considered it. “Right,” he said finally. “Get one of the golds -- not Foreth, I’d say Andronda’s young one, to question his bronze - gently, he’s only a baby. Get N’shen to sit in, he’s handling that investigation. If it comes up with something, then we worry. Otherwise.. Just punish him and forget it, Kass. Does it matter who helped him when we likely have a Conclave coming up?”
“My daughter is a reflection on me,” Kassia said, though she sounded less stubborn about the fact. Her head hurt and she was running out of steam.
“Sure she is,” R’tal said, “When she’s stripping in the Dining Hall in front of half the Weyr. Does anyone else know Kashara helped?”
“I don’t think she’s hiding it from her class,” Kassia said. “She almost seemed proud about it. I don’t know if she managed to pull seeming sorry off to Ko’ssen, but I know her better and she wasn’t sorry.”
“Well, her class isn’t allowed to talk to anyone for-- what, five months? By which time they’ll be finding something new to talk about -- someone who stole firestone or tried flying early or whatever.” R’tal, who had no responsibility for Weyrlings, could sound very relaxed about such things.
“I’d let it go, but he Impressed a bronze, not a quiet green. He’s going to be trouble and I’m afraid he’ll drag Kashara along with him.” The grudge wouldn’t die.
R’tal snorted at that. “You think a daughter of yours is going to be dragged into anything she’s not entirely happy to go along with?”
Kassia shot him a look, but she couldn’t quite hide the amusement. “I suppose not. That’s what I’m afraid of.” She shook her head. “I don’t envy Ko’ssen. Here I thought his only problem was going to be the golds.”
“If you make it a problem, it’ll be a problem,” R’tal said. “Draw it out, make it a hill to die on and they’ll club together and still be fighting you when they’re out of seclusion because of some weird principle they’ve long forgotten. Punish it, get it over with and if he becomes a bigger problem treat him as one then.”
“Why do you have to be so reasonable?” she asked. She was still angry, but she was running out of things to aim it at.
R’tal looked rueful. “I’m saving all my anger for the Conclave I can see steaming towards us?” he suggested. “Look, big stuff, small stuff. This is the small stuff.”
“I guess Andronda gets to go, because I can’t go,” Kassia said, sounding only partially irritated about that. She didn’t like the young rider going in her stead, but she also knew that she couldn’t risk things with being pregnant.
He glanced at her, looking perplexed. “...Kass, they’re going to have to come to us, aren’t they?”
“I think it’s going to end up that way,” Kassia said. “That’s the only way I can be involved and since I was the one attacked...”
“Not just you.” It hurt to have to point it out. “We can’t fly, Kass. Not unless they’ll wait. And they won’t, not for something this big, not for long enough.”
“Oh, right,” Kassia said and felt a flash of guilt at forgetting. She should have known better. “This could be a bad.”
This time R’tal’s quietness wasn’t because he was being thoughtful. “Kass,” he said slowly. “K’ren is going to kill me for bothering you with this but-- has it occurred to you they might use it against us?”
“I haven’t had much time to think of anything,” Kassia said. Well, besides A’shran and Kashara, but when you were trying to avoid thinking about the serious things the lower level thing was a good place to send her attention.
She reached up with her good hand to tug on her ponytail. It was harder to braid her hair with one hand and she didn’t want to bother the healers to braid it for her. “Of course they will,” she said bitterly.
“I’ve asked T’ryn to WeyrSecond for me. M’gal’s taking the Fall part.” He turned to look at her fully, very serious now. “Kass, this is really important. It doesn’t matter what you think of T’ryn, if anyone asks between now and a Conclave you think he is truly incredibly competent and you trust him absolutely, do you understand?”
Unfortunately she did. Not having someone to play Weyrleader would be very bad. Ironic, two Weyrleaders and yet they needed a third person to play the role. One that she could barely tolerate. But she still trusted him more than whoever the Conclave might want to bring in.
“I understand,” she said and couldn’t quite hide the nervousness around the subject.
“If I can argue this is a temporary situation we’ve got under control with local riders in control we’ll be safe,” R’tal said. “If they come in and see two Weyrleaders who can’t weyrlead and you injured.” He shook his head, face grim. “I’m not having that again.”
“No, I don’t want to do that again,” Kassia agreed. They were getting closer to her Weyr now and she was ready to be out of the bright light. “We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“Throw me and N’shen to them if you have to.” In his head, R’tal had already run that scenario, was ready to face it as though it threatened at any moment. “As long as it’s someone from here running the place..” Whether or not they would ask for that was immaterial, right now all other Weyrleaders whether friendly or not felt like a threat.
“I should be officially cleared in a few days,” Kassia said, rubbing her head. “But the rest...I’m guessing none of the three of us is going to be...okay for a while.” Not after what had happened.
“I’m fine.” That was pure stubbornness talking for a minute before he added. “...But I asked N’shen to lead the investigation. Second guessing too much with that.”
“You’re less fine than I am, I think,” Kassia told him.
They reached her weyr finally and she nodded at the guard standing outside before letting them in. She gestured for him to take a seat. She probably should have been the one to take the seat, but she went to the kitchen area to get some water heating for tea.
“Kassia, K’ren will actually kill me if I don’t make you rest,” R’tal followed her through anyway. “Or at least tell me off. In a really disappointed way.”
Kassia sighed. “I’m sick of laying around. I’m sick of being cooped up like I was at the Caverns.” Even with her head pounding she didn’t want to sit down.
“So clearly what you need is for my weyrmate to come lock you back up in the infirmary.” R’tal reached to take the kettle from her. “You know he would. And has authority to. Don't test it.”
Kassia gave him an unfriendly look. “You can finish the tea then.” She took a seat on the couch. “There’s just so much that has to be done.”
“Tell me about it. You’d think with three of us it would reduce a little.” He knew her kitchen well enough to find what he needed for tea.
“I think it’s just made more,” Kassia said, pulling on her ponytail again. “What are we going to do about this Conclave?”
R’tal sighed. “Ignore it? Wait until they get to demanding it?” The way he combed his fingers through his hair suggested he wished he had a ponytail to pull at that point. “The longer we wait the more we can make it look under control.”
“Maybe it’ll blow over.” Nothing in her tone suggested she believed those words at all. She leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes. “I had hoped never to hear that word again for decades. This happens way too often.”
“I’ll work as though it could descend on us any minute and hope it doesn’t.” R’tal poked at her tea. “How long do you brew this stuff for?”
“Give it a few more minutes.” Kassia opened her eyes again. “I just need to get K’ren to get off my back and I can get back to work.” Taking a break, an even more so one than just for being pregnant, had never been her style.
rink it and take a rest and I’ll forget to tell him you were wandering around the Weyr,” R’tal promised. “I need to get back to Talith anyway.” Unspoken was the fear that if he was away too long with the brown blind and unable to see to defend himself something else might happen.
“Thanks, R’tal.” She sighed and knew he was right. Maybe lying down would help her headache. She’d already done far more than she should have done for the day.
He filled a mug and set it in front of her, tweaking her ponytail lightly with one hand. “We’ll be down at the Hatching Sands if you need us.”
“You know where I’ll be.” She grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “I might even behave and take it easy.”
Somehow he doubted that would be true for either of them. At least not until they’d navigated their way through the current disaster.