What People Want

Who: Aerishani and O’rlen
When: Month 10, 200 AT
Where: Weyrleaders’ Office, Honshu Weyrhold
What: How to face the immediate future.

After finally emerging from the haze of Amorenth’s flight and its aftermath, this morning is Aerishani’s second foray into what was the burnt out office of Honshu’s former leaders. The first time she made herself walk in there – to find it cleaned and painted and freshly furnished, as requested – it was difficult enough that the moment she set eyes on O’rlen she encouraged him to put her new desk to a use that had nothing to do with paperwork. Now, she’s at least got as far as sorting through the documents that she’s had brought up from the records room, sat there sorting papers and hides into piles and adding to the lot of them with newly opened correspondence from across Pern.

O’rlen heads into the office adorned in riding leathers and red curls sweat-soaked and plastered across his forehead. He’s already discarded most of his flight gear – helmet, goggles, and jacket nowhere in sight. He makes his way across the room to plant himself at a chair across from Aerishani. He’s all smiles, as always, and seems prepared to sit there and simply watch Aerishani partake in her correspondence. It’s after a comfortable stretch of silence that he decides to interrupt her, leaning forward to retrieve one of the letters he can from her piles to read. “Hm. Any Weyrs or WeyrHolds //not// send a letter?”

Sometimes, it’s just safer not to look up. Though Aerishani acknowledges O’rlen’s presence with a shallow bob of her head, she doesn’t entirely trust herself to actually look at him and stay on task, so she keeps her gaze directed towards the myriad of correspondence and documentation for now. “All of the notable Holds in our territory have sent congratulations and requests for various meetings… Of the Weyrs, Fort has made it very clear that they’d be willing to send a more senior goldrider to ‘complete my training’.” Just what she thinks of that, she makes plain with a bitter grimace. “Several other Weyrwomen have not so subtly implied that signs of Honshu becoming a second Fort will result in ties broken.”

“There’s no reason you should need a more senior goldrider,” O’rlen’s quick to say, shaking his head at the mere implication. “It would make us look weak. Besides, you’re not untrained in other disciplines. You’re a journeyman Harper. If that doesn’t set you on a clear path to succeed as a leader, I don’t know what would.” He flips the letter he was reading back on the desk. “There’s a clear dissent in the wings,” he offers towards her, looking more bemused by that admittance than overly concerned. “Some of the older rider’s would like C’aol to lead Solaris still.” A shrug, his lower lip tucking between his teeth briefly before he releases it and looks to her. “You tell me what you wish me to do about that, Aerishani. I’ve never had a taste for leadership, but it rankles me that people would seek another when Roreliuth and I clearly won.”

“I imagine Fort believe that the Harper Hall will put pressure on me to accept a goldrider of their choice, but even if they try and take my craft rank from me, they can’t make it happen.” Aerishani sits back in her chair and sighs, finally lifting her eyes to O’rlen. “Flights have decided leadership since the beginning. If any of us start deciding otherwise, Weyrs will fall into chaos. Not you or me, or C’aol or the Hall are in a position to make that kind of decision for every dragon and rider.” She gives a light shrug of one shoulder. “They want C’aol because they know him and he //wants// them to need him. In any case, the wings aren’t really mine to interfere with. You need a Weyrsecond at the very least. Defiance… needs dealing with if it becomes destructive. //You// won. What people what is important, but not if it’s just because they’re not getting their own way.”

“I’m not so sure about telling C’aol he can’t be my Weyrsecond, but at the same time — it’s clear he wants to be Weyrlord,” O’rlen uses their new titles with ease, smiling to himself as he says it. “I assume it’ll allow die down once I prove a steady hand. Mostly, people just want to get on with their lives. They need stability.” He shrugs, leaning forward again to grab another letter. “Looks like Zaivar may be our best bet to form a strong alliance with now. There’s the connection to C’aol… but I get the feeling Lord Zaivar is not fond of his older brother.” He hands the letter back to Aerishani. “A celebration seems wrong, in the face of what brought us into leadership, but shouldn’t a party give people something positive to think about?”

“I don’t…” Aerishani hesitates, closing her eyes to give herself a moment to consider how best to phrase her thoughts. “As Weyrlady, I have no problem dealing with C’aol if and when I have to. But… me?” The woman without the knot or the responsibility. “I’m the route to what he wants. He… frightens me.” She knots her fingers together in her lap, letting the shame of that admittance fall heavily across her shoulders. “What if we wait until Amorenth clutches?” she suggest a little roughly, once she’s managed to find her voice again. “Then it’s not a party in the wake of deaths and it’s not about us: it’s about life continuing here. Invite the holders and the Weyrleaders we can trust.”

O’rlen’s head lifts up from the letter he was reading and his eyes lock on Aerishani as she shares her concerns about C’aol. He doesn’t question her, or seek further information. He sets the letter down and rises from his chair with a smoothness that seems odd for the bulk of him. He walks around the desk and kneels beside her chair, reaching for her hands to hold in the warmth of his own. “I will keep C’aol from you,” he promises her, fingers tightening on her hands. “And if there is ever a need, I’ll banish him from Honshu. //You// come first. Always.” He lifts one of her hands to press against his cheek, which is roughened from stubble he’s yet to shave. “After the clutching sounds fair. Who do you trust most of the other Weyrleaders?”

Locked up, Aerishani’s fingers only gradually loosen from the knots they’ve worked themselves into in the warmth of O’rlen’s hold, flexing weakly once she’s convinced them to unhook and uncurl themselves. “And I’ll keep him from you,” she promises in a murmur, fingertips grazing gently against stubble as she gently fits her palm to his cheek. “Whatever it means I have to do. He has no right to terrorise us for not getting what he wants.” She spends a few moments doing nothing more than exploring the line of his jaw, her deep blue eyes shading more distant as time goes on, only for her focus to snap back and bring a pink flush to her cheeks that betrays just where her mind has been wandering. “Ista, Southern and Ierne,” are easy answers as to Weyrs, “though we should invite at least one of the Northern Weyrs.”

O’rlen’s comfortable in that silence, his smile never wavering as he watches her go distant and relishes the feel of her palm against his cheek. He shifts his head to the side, capturing a kiss to her palm before he pushes himself up from his kneel. That desk that bore their combined weight not that long ago will serve as a comfortable perch, O’rlen’s weight shifted onto one leg as his hip rests on the edge of teh desk. He considers Aerishani with a nod as she lists the obvious choices. “Perhaps Telgar? To show off our wealth and stave off rumors that Zaivar’s mining operation will suffer from our change of leadership?” he asks, proving he at least has //some// mind for politics aside from the casual front he’s so easily settled into.

Aerishani inclines her head a touch, agreeing, “And they’re also distant enough from Fort that it wouldn’t seem as if we’d invited every Weyr save for them.” However, whether she likes it or not, she has to add and admit, “Though we should post some riders to the wind turbines as guards in-case Telgar gets any ideas. I heard there was damage done to one of Southern’s dams while some of Telgar’s wingleaders were there waiting on a junior queen’s flight.” Twitching her lips, she supposes, “It could be a coincidence, but…” It seems unlikely. She glances down at her desk, focus flitting from document to document before she blurts out, “Do you think it’ll be a good clutch? She flew to exhaustion but I don’t… remember much else.”

“Nothing is beneath them, is it?” O’rlen’s tone sours as Aerishani shares that bit of rumor with him. His brows pucker downwards. “What good is there for them to vandalize and damage? They are bitter conservatives. Never going to allow change to take part around them unless it suits them directly.” He huffs a ‘hmph’ and folds his arms in front of him. “I’ll make sure to post those that are itching for a fight of some kind at the wind turbines. It’ll serve as a punishment and protection, both.” He can’t hide the twitch of his lips and the twinkle in his gaze as he tells her, “C’aol, perhaps?” He tips his head back to chuckle at his own joke. He doesn’t carry on long as Aerishani’s question draws a thoughtful sobering of his humor. “I don’t know. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. We’ll likely get another gold, some bronzes… in the past, the clutches reflect our wing needs. Why would it be any different now?”

“I wouldn’t put it past C’aol to take out the turbines himself if he’s put to such ‘menial’ work,” Aerishani drawls, scrubbing both hands over her face not a moment later as she stretches and continues to struggle to find an appropriate outlet for her concerns. “…Just… it was our first time and I want to know that we did it right. There was so much blood and she’s never shown any interest in males before… And we need enough weyrlings to replace a decent number of those we’ve lost. A gold, bronzes… even more greens for the males to chase.” She straightens, insisting, “Not that I’m saying that a green’s only purpose is to keep males satisfied.” Hands scrub over her face again. “I just don’t want to let everyone down.”

“Rather than put the pressure on Amorenth and our first clutching, we should seek out a few transfers?” O’rlen offers, taking her concers seriously enough, and not having any guarantees that everything will be fine. “Those Weyrs that offered goldriders certainly have to have a number of greens, blues, and browns that are ready for a change. We could offer some growth to those who are more focused on their craft or interested in supporting our businesses for personal wealth.” He plucks at his lower lip a few times, clearly speaking as he’s thinking, “It’d serve, I think. What do you think?” he asks, dropping his hand to his lap as he turns his gaze to Aerishani.

“I suppose we could offer the celebration after her clutching as an opportunity for potential transfers to have a look around Honshu…” Aerishani says slowly. “If we put the proposition to those Weyrs we invite, their leaders could bring an approved list of those interested with them? If I was considering moving somewhere, I’d certainly like to get a better look around it before I agreed to it or not. It’d seem less… abrupt.” She watches O’rlen a little too closely, perhaps a bit too keen for approval – or just to know she’s suggesting the right thing. “Lower the tithe of profits that businesses owe by ten percent for the first year after transfer?”

“That’d be the easiest way of it. Then if they aren’t interested they didn’t have to make a fuss of coming to assess whether or not they’d want to join us,” O’rlen agrees, nodding his head in clear agreement. He notices how closely Aerishani is looking at him, offers her a small smile, and reaches for her hand to hold. “If you think we’ve got room to reduce the tithe, then use it as incentive. I was never one for marks and figures, my dear. I’m a herdsman first.” He laughs, moving to take that hand he’s holding to pull her up from her seat and tuck her against him. “You’re full of worries today,” he tells her, tipping her chin up so he might offer her a soft kiss. “Should I distract you from them?”

In that moment, Aerishani doesn’t have the willpower to deny O’rlen his kiss, nor to do anything but seek another, then another, her arms winding around his waist to press herself close, yet before she might get too carried away she steps back, planting her hands down on his chest to keep some distance between them. “If I let you distract me now, I’ll still be full of worries when it’s over, unless you want to try going for hours and hours…” Though she keeps her hands in place, she leans in to nuzzle against his neck, further softening her teasing words. “I need to get all of this correspondence sorted, at least. Then I’ll take you to dinner and you can take me to bed. Deal?”

O’rlen’s not so easily steered away from Aerishani, though he does allow the goldrider to put distance between them with a cheeky smile. “You know you like having me around as a welcome distraction.” He grabs hold of her hips and tugs her close for a hug before he presses his lips to her cheek. “I won’t keep you from what needs to be done. I’ll see you tonight. I’ll make sure to dress for dinner and not be in my crafter clothes,” which usually leave him smelling of a barn, “or in these riding leathers.” He doesn’t delay his departure, letting Aerishani get back to the tasks that keep her from him. Later, he’ll make sure to ply her with enough drink and jokes to have her laughing, and much later than that, he’ll have her making entirely //other// noises well into the night.

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