Of Questions

Who: Aerishani, Riel, Amorenth
When: Month 11, 200 AT
Where: Galleries, Honshu Weyrhold
What: Of questions.

For two days now, Amorenth has made Honshu’s hatching sands her home, without showing any further signs of imminent clutching other than to nose about the very same place that she was shelled and find a satisfactory spot in which to lounge – and presumably to eventually lay her clutch. To start with, Aerishani simply let her get on with it, going about her daily routine and checking in on her only periodically, but as the evening of the second day threatens to tip it over into a third, she’s brought almost everything she might need to see out the next few hours (potentially the night) with her to a seat in the row of carved stone seating closest to the sands themselves. The queen herself sleeps on, oblivious to the study of her rider; oblivious too to the fact that Aerishani inks out the long lines of her form on the heavy sketch paper across her lap.

The last time they may have been in each other’s company, Riel’s brown Mikketh was among those chasing after Amorenth, and Riel stood amongst all others vying for the leadership position. Back then, Riel was the interim leader’s Weyrsecond. Now, she’s returned to being a wingrider under O’rlen’s leadership without an ounce of argument or attitude accompanying her swift change of rank. Tonight she comes armed with two mugs of something steaming, winding her way along the stone seating in pursuit of the goldrider. A smile spreads as Riel comes across the younger woman’s make-shift camp, a tip of her head unofficially-officially showing the respect deserving of Aerishani’s new title. “Nothing yet, Weyrwoman?” One of the mugs is offered out — it’s tea, not klah. Herbal tea intended to provide comfort and soothe stress rather than feed nerves.

Aerishani looks up, luckily drawing the nib of her pen away from the surface of her paper in the same gesture, meeting Riel’s gaze for as long as it takes her focus to adjust and for her to register that a mug is being offered her, which is accepted one-handed and with a murmur of thanks. “No,” is a sighed out confirmation that bears more than a hint of frustration, sketch and pen set aside so that she can cradle the mug between her palms. “I’m almost certain that she’s doing it on purpose, but it isn’t worth the risk. Amorenth may have no better idea of the whole process than I do and the last thing we all need is a panic over it.” Out on the Sands, the queen in question shifts slightly, prompting Aerishani to reluctantly add, “And it’s Weyrlady now, apparently. Not that I expect… She just reminds me every time, is all.” Her small smile is wry and too coloured by embarrassment, soon hidden as she takes a sip from the mug. “Did you want it?” she asks out of nowhere. “The leadership. Or was it Mikketh…?”

Riel’s laughter is a quiet, gentle, jingling sound that comes as naturally and warming as her easy smile. “If she /is/ doing it on purpose, maybe it’s because she is as excited as the rest of us,” she offers kindly and folds herself down to claim a nearby seat. A sound of amused surprise is emitted. “That’s quite the question! You don’t mince your words, do you?” So close to the sands, it’s warmer than the melting outdoors and Riel undoes some of the top buttons of her riding jacket. It also gives her something to do while she considers her answer. “Of course I wanted it,” she admits. “Who doesn’t dream of growing up to be a weyrleader?” She tips her head to the side, her smile subtly flashing with nostalgia of younger days. “I’m never worried when a better person for the role wins, though. I value good leadership over my own pride.” Riel takes a tentative sip of her tea to test its temperature. “What do you suppose, Weyrlady?” No question as to the title, yet. “Is he the right person for the job, your weyrleader?”

“There’s little point in deception. I don’t see much purpose in not speaking honestly, especially as the truth has a tendency to surface whatever anyone wishes.” Aerishani gives a tiny little shrug, taking another sip from her mug, though she’s careful not to jostle it at the same time. “Or maybe that’s why I’m not a law Harper,” she concedes, easily poking fun at herself, her voice light enough that it cannot conceal any regrets on that front. “I figure people ought to ask questions when they have them. If we can’t answer them, maybe we should think about why we can’t.” And that must be why she settles herself a touch more comfortably in her seat, flexing her shoulders to ease the tension there from being hunched over her work, and gets to supplying her own answers. “I will always honour the outcome of Amorenth’s flights, unless the man I find myself working with threatens to harm the people he should serve,” she says first, words imbued with the force of conviction and not delivered as some stock response. “We’re young, he and I, and I don’t expect people to rejoice in that, but maybe that’s what we need. A new start; a break from the complacency of our elders. He understands that. And he won. So he is the right person.”

“Is that something you and your Weyrleader have agreed upon — are you both open to your residents coming forward to question your decisions or give you their honest opinion?” They are gentle questions rather than demanding ones, inquiring out of a genuine curiosity for the answer. Her tea is cradled between both hands, blowing softly on its surface. O’rlen won, and in that defense, Riel inclines her head to yield to one of the laws that has not become blurred with time. “Being young doesn’t mean you’re stupid, and you appear to want to do good by the people in your care. So long as that is what determines your decisions, I don’t think anyone has anything to worry about no matter your age.” She smiles. “I shouldn’t stay long, my Weyrlady. Can I get you anything else?”

“He is his own man. What he chooses to listen to by way of questioning is his decision, not mine.” Aerishani lets her eyes drift closed for a moment as she declares, “I’m not going to be one of those Weyrwomen who makes a puppet of their Weyrleader,” with quiet conviction. “Being open to questions still means there’s a place and time for them. We all need to work together and being confrontational in a manner designed to invite dissent is only damaging to everyone. I hope to be approachable and I hope people will push me to be better, but there’s no way of universally pleasing every soul. My answers will never be ones that satisfy everyone.” Opening her eyes, she lifts her gaze to Riel and tells her, “But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying.” She gives a little shake of her head to deny that she needs anything more, still carefully clasping her mug with both hands. “No, thank you. This was very kind of you.”

“Weyrlady,” Riel reminds quietly, and not without her smile glowing softly, warming blue eyes as they turn upon Aerishani. “It’s a nice thing to aspire to, pleasing as many people as possible. We’re fortunate to have a Weyrlady who genuinely cares.” The brownrider unfolds from her seat with innate dignity and feminine grace. “I hope you like tea, otherwise you’re being quite nice about accepting it,” she mentions with amusement in her velvety voice. “You enjoy the rest of your evening. Hopefully she doesn’t keep you waiting too much longer.”

The soft huff of a noise that Aerishani makes could be faint laughter or a note of self-deprecation, her tone making it almost impossible to tell. “I’m the only Weyrlady, aren’t I? I’ll never be like other Weyrwomen.” Wistful is perhaps the best description of how she sounds, yet there remains something decisive about her words – or maybe she’s just resigned to her fate. After she takes another drink, she remarks, “No-one wants me hyped up on klah right now,” and quirks a tiny, tiny smile. It seems she’s going to let her company depart without further comment, only she waits for the span of a few moments before uttering, “Sometimes it’s okay to ask for things, Riel.” The mug, she takes with her down to the sands just as Amorenth lifts her head and commands her attention with her steely gaze, though not, as yet, for any purpose such as producing eggs.

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