The medication that K’ren had prescribed through Mariska was helping some, but it did little to stem the tide of anxiety. Of course she had a lot to be anxious about after a weird flight breaking Foreth’s leg, the failed attack, two gold eggs, and the girl who had tried to touch the eggs. Having her mates sleep with her in the night helped during the night, but they all had things that they needed to do during the day and didn’t need her interrupting it.
It was N’shen’s time to come for the morning meeting. Kassia tried not to pace, but failed. That Foreth was also anxious only made things worse. She didn’t have her gold to be her rock.
"Good morning," said N'shen as he rushed in to meet with Kassia. "I'm sorry if I kept you waiting." He had done his best to be on time – he even had the Weyrleader's timepiece to ensure he would be… But perhaps he should be even earlier if she was pacing as she waited for him.
"How are you feeling?"
“No, no, you’re fine,” she said, waving it off. “It’s not you. It’s me. I can’t stop thinking.” Thinking and pacing. Thinking and pacing.
"What are you thinking about?" asked N'shen. If it were Cotai, he would offer a shoulder massage, but he was not sure whether that would be appropriate here… Perhaps he might offer anyway. It seemed that Kassia could use one, whether it was entirely "appropriate" or not.
“Everything,” she said with a dramatic fling of her arms to encompass around her. “What if something happens at the Hatching? What if the gold eggs are duds? What if someone gets hurt? What if someone tries to get through with a knife again? So many things could go wrong. Both me and Foreth are worried.”
Out on the Sands Foreth was pretending to sleep, but she opened one eye. It swirled with the colors of worry.
N'shen nodded and walked around behind Kassia.
"Would it be weird if I massaged your shoulders?" he asked as he walked. "There are a lot of what-ifs. Let's talk about what we can do to stop them from happening and what we'll do if they happen."
"We'll start with… what was it, something happening at the Hatching? What could happen? We could have another cave-in… that's happened before. Can we reinforce the cavern ceiling any more than we already have?"
“If you want. Maybe it’ll help me sit down.” Kassia took a seat in the Stands. There was plenty of room behind her for him to sit if he chose.
N'shen sat behind her and began to try to work through some of Kassia's muscle knots. He doubted his hands were strong enough to get them all, but he could try…
"All right, so we'll schedule reinforcement work after the eggs are off the Sands. And a thorough inspection of the subterranea? What else could happen at the Hatching? More crazies running for the eggs? Between Foreth and the others, I can't imagine anyone would get through. And that girl must have already put the fear of death in most of them."
Kassia moved her braid so that he could get better access to her neck. She made a happy sound as he started in on her tight muscles.
“Someone could always try to attack like they did at the Gather,” Kassia said. “A bunch of people running in with knives while everyone is distracted.” Clearly she’d been reaching into the recesses of her mind for weird things that could happen.
"We have a choke point at the cavern entrance," said N'shen. "And we've mostly reassigned any guards who are young enough to Stands Impress. If the guests would submit to a search before entering, we could ensure that no one brings any weapons in and then stop anyone else from coming in once the Hatching is officially underway."
There was actually a smaller, human sized entrance off to the right that led into the Weyr and to the stairs to the Upper Caverns, but he was right. The majority of people would be coming through the main Cavern entrance.
“It’s a nice idea,” she said, “but there won’t be enough time to check everyone. We don’t have to worry about the Candidates, I don’t think. Nor the Arolos riders, but maybe a spot check here and there is possible.”
"It may have to do. I'd say we could have a check-in list for anyone purporting to be family of one of the Candidates, but I'm not sure how feasible that is, either. A bit faster than a frisking, perhaps," said N'shen. "And someone could put on a pair of Arolos knots without too much trouble… Even the guards who have been here forever don't know everyone by sight."
“You’re not helping,” Kassia said, only partly joking. “At least there will be at least three dragons that would react if there was a problem. Maybe that’s enough of a deterrent. So maybe that’s not a problem. What about with the gold dragons? What if there’s a problem there?” The list went on and on.
"Sorry. I'll try to keep it a bit more positive, eh?" N'shen worked at an especially stubborn knot in Kassia's right shoulder. "Would Foreth let one of the other golds help if it came to it, or would that just cause more problems?" he asked.
Kassia grunted and leaned into his hand. She doubted he could defeat the knot, but it was a relief that it was being worked on at all.
“Maybe Zivath if it was a desperate need,” Kassia said. “But I wouldn’t bet on it. Maybe if I was injured or something, she’d need the other golds to keep her calm. But if I’m injured then we have a lot of problems.” She shook her head, her braid shaking with her, as she tried to rid her head of things that weren’t worth worrying about. She took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders under his hands.
“But that’s not going to happen. I think I need more of that stuff for my anxiety that Mariska gave me. I may as well start worrying about getting a hurricane or a tornado for all I’m worrying. A thread tornado, maybe.” She turned her head to look at him. There was a small smile on her lips. “Maybe a bad thunderstorm will come through the area and there will be lightning bolts hitting Candidates. What else can we think of that’s ridiculous?”
"Why not a wherricane?" N'shen wondered as he finally gave up on the troublesome knot and moved onto something that was a little easier on his knuckles. "Clouds raining wherries and floods with whers at the crest," he suggested. "Wherries wielding pickles and whers bearing soap."
Kassia couoldn’t help it, she started to laugh. “Everyone in the Weyr getting food poisoning at once. All the Weyr’s clothing getting died green. Dragons burping up fish.”
"Runnerbeasts wearing people clothes!" N'shen added with a laugh of his own. This was a lot more cathartic than trying to figure out a way to allay each of Kassia's fears individually.
“I end up having a whole litter with ten different fathers,” Kassia suggested, laying her hand against her slowly swelling belly. “Every egg Hatches and they turn out to be golds. The golds eggs turn out to be Kabelth sized greens.”
"Ten different fathers!" N'shen laughed again. Surely, it could not be that many… "You would have to outdo Foreth, eh?" He laughed. "Maybe you'll give birth to two tiny golds, and two giant human babes will hatch from the gold eggs!"
“Faranth, that sounds even more painful than usual.” Kassia shuddered at that, but it was clear she was relaxing a bit. She turned to look at him again. “Thank you. That helps.”
"I'm glad," said N'shen. "It's a bit surreal with you and Cotai both with child at the same time. It's been so long ago since Gebrand's mum, I almost forgot what it was like… But if I let myself, I can slip back into the Dad Zone pretty easily."
“I have a feeling that this baby will have a lot of love and daddies,” Kassia said. “Hopefully I won’t be birthing gold dragons.” She took a moment to look around and then back at him. “If the offer is still there, I’d like you to move your office in here until the Hatching.”
"Of course, it is," said N'shen. "And I can do it right away if you'd like. I don't have to bring everything, and I'm sure Bl'by would be happy to work without me looking over his shoulder."
“Do whatever works for you,” she said. “I really appreciate it. I’ve got Mariska, but she can only spend so much time here.”
"Then I'll go grab everything I need," said N'shen, "as soon as we're done here. And then I'll be back as soon as I can."
N'shen turned to look toward Truenoth.
"True thinks this is a good idea, too."
Kassia smiled. “Thanks Truenoth.” She looked at Foreth. “Are you okay with this?”
Foreth grunted but said, ((If you must. Just remember, you’re Mine.))
Kassia switched to mindspeech. ((Yes, all Yours. I’m not going anywhere.)) And that was maybe part of the problem, but she took what she could.
"Thank you, Foreth," N'shen said to the gold. She might not have said yes, but it was best to be deferential to a broody gold one way or the other.
"What else can I help you with before I go to get my things?" he asked Kassia.
“Can you make the tea for me? The herbs are in a pouch on the table next to it. Just make it like normal tea. Then I’m going to drink it and then take a nap.”
"Of course," said N'shen. "When you wake, I'll have moved my office here, and I'll only be a shout away." He gave Kassia's shoulders one more squeeze and then stood to go make the tea for her.
“Thanks,” Kassia said, feeling a little better from everything. Maybe a nap would make it even better.