Eye of the Storm

Who: Zinovia, Mersia, Yukijiath, Ilelyath
When: Backdated
Where: Weyrling Barracks, Honshu Weyrhold
What: What was, what is and what could be.

The day has come for the fate of Zinovia and Yukijiath to be decided, and while the higher ups hold their final meetings and put together the documents that the new greenrider must either sign or reject, she’s spending the lull between lessons that have served as a decent enough distraction settled on her cot in the weyrling barracks, Yukijiath cuddled up to her on one side (now too big to fit on the cot with her) and the grey whippet that was her companion before her green found her snuggled against her at the other. Hands are busy with smoothing at hide and silky fur, trying to provide in turn the comfort that she’s being offered, though she doesn’t outwardly seem particularly downcast, but calm, as if settled into the very eye of the storm that surrounds her.

Ilelyath is supposed to be somewhere else doing something else, given that she slinks into the barracks alone and unsupervised — as much as her size no longer permits her much in the way of sneakiness any more. A girl can try. The grey whippet has caught her eye for some time, but now, without anyone to grasp at her proverbial reins, she crawls in for a closer look. Ilelyath stops short of encroaching too close, hands curling in under her in an attempt to contain the eagerness that is betrayed by the errant flick of her tail. A vast expanse of black space reaches towards Yukijiath, a yawning cave of curiosity, a sense of wonder drawing the thrumming beat of Ilelyath’s inner voice. << Is it yours? >> And more importantly: << Can I touch it? >> Mersia isn’t too far behind, an exasperated edge in her eyes as she wipes blood from her hands. “I’m sorry, Lady Zinovia. Is she bothering you? She was sleeping… I thought.”

Zinovia has reacted much the same to all of the dragons in the class that she now finds herself in, accepting them with much greater ease than the actual people – or as if they are the people worth her time. She lifts a hand away from the whippet to offer it towards Ilelyath, inviting without touching, while the other continues to roam along her lifemate’s neck in an idle, soothing rhythm. << He is ours, >> Yukijiath confirms in drawled, sultry tones, smoky tendrils drifting out from her words and to Ilelyath’s darkness. << Nova says I must not turn him inside out because he won’t turn the right way in again, but I suppose he’s pleasing enough as he is. >> It’s Zinovia who interrupts that train of thought and tells Ilelyath, “Yes, you can,” outright. “Just be gentle.” She lifts her dark gaze to Mersia, voice heavy with dry variety of humour that does little to mask her frustration. “I’m not a Lady anything anymore, unless they decide so, so you needn’t worry about the title.” A shake of her head follows. “No, she’s not. And you’re not. No matter what happens, Yukijiath insists I’m Nova within these walls, so I should be saluting you one day.”

Ilelyath makes a strangled sound at the idea that the whippet could be turned inside out, and her darkness grows infinitely deep and wide, a pit of despair. << You would turn such a beautiful thing inside out? >> Mersia’s eyes grow wide and she starts forward, cradling Ilelyath’s angular head against her chest with a distressed weight sinking into her eyes and welling up in her throat. She tries to choke down that rising unease, not quite able to smile at her fellow weyrling. “I… heard a rumour that you’re trying to remain Lady of Silverfield,” she admits. “I know I shouldn’t believe rumours, but… is it true? Do you want to remain a Lady now that you’re a dragonrider?”

<< Sometimes, there is beauty on the inside that no-one ever gets to see, >> Yukijiath replies, giving a curious tilt of her head as Mersia starts for Ilelyath. << Did I say something wrong? >> is a question she doesn’t manage to keep to only her gold sibling, her enquiry finding the minds of any nearby, though there’s notably a lack of alarm that conveys she hasn’t quite grasped how what she’s said could unsettle or upset. “I’m sorry,” Zinovia says first, watching as the whippet and Yukijiath bump noses. “She has an… interesting way of looking at the world.” If that’s the word. “But yes,” she confirms. “There’s no-one else to do it. I only became Lady in the past few months – and only because a sickness wiped out my family. Any distant relative who might inherit… they won’t know how to look after the people or the land. I can’t have some tyrant take my place.” How she tilts her head is not unlike how her green did only moments ago. “Do you think that it’s wrong? That I should give it up?”

A whimper of heartbreak is emitted from within Ilelyath, her dark pit of despair stretching out wider and wider, touching the minds of those nearby on the heels of her sister’s question. Mersia’s ineffectual hands pet down Ilelyath’s face but it does nothing to soften the awful sound or the intensity of her broadcasted sorrow. Thankfully, at this age, Ilelyath doesn’t have the effect on the Weyrhold as she will when she is full grown but her distress is still upsetting to some — notably Mersia. The slender young woman offers Yukijiath and then Zinovia a small smile that trembles with nerves in the corner of her lips while she tries to soothe her lifemate. “Don’t be sorry. It’s not your fault — either of you.” Her hands pause their petting at the other weyrling’s admittance. “I’m sorry about your family,” she murmurs, solemn weight conveying her earnesty. “I don’t think I know enough about being a dragonrider /or/ a Lady Holder to give you an educated opinion. What does Yukijiath feel about it?”

Maybe the awful thing is that Yukijiath actually seems to like all that darkness and despair, not revelling in it or enjoying it, but accepting it for what it is – and whatever it is, it suits her just fine. It’s not that she’s stoic about her sister’s behaviour, for she offers a slightly befuddled, << I’m sorry, >> her way, taking the lead from her rider, yet she gives no more than that, lifting her head to rest it atop Zinovia’s right shoulder. “So am I,” the would-be Lady murmurs, just as the whippet tries to shuffle himself right into her lap. “Yukijiath knows we’ll be together in a Weyr or if I’m granted my Hold to keep. That’s all the matters. The names and ranks and all of it… that’s the messy part. If any of them actually realise it, I could be useful. Hold bred, Craft trained and a rider. But they won’t see it that way.” She shrugs. “What were you before a goldrider? Or, what //are// you, I suppose?”

Mersia offers a self-deprecating smile, eyes drifting across the room to fixate on something in her mind’s eye. “You sound much better suited to be a goldrider than I am,” she admits softly, a quiet sound of amusement that might be more pitiful than anything else. “I was a Smith.” Was. There’s no attachment to it now. “I’m not sure I should have become one in the first place, or if I just did it because my mother was one. I considered leaving the craft, and then the fire killed my mother and brother…” She swallows down that still-fresh pain and Ilelyath lets out another quiet whimper, prompting Mersia to resume petting her golden head. “I thought I’d stay to look after my mother’s wind turbines.” Her slender shoulders lift in a resigned sort of way. “I might not have a say, though. Someone told me I could get traded to another Weyr for a proven gold pair that tends to her clutch.” She smiles again, eyes sliding over to the young green dragon. “I guess like you and Yukijiath, as long as Ilelyath and I are together, that’s all that matters.”

“If I had been a goldrider, can you image the chaos I would’ve caused by now? I think Yukijiath was very clever in being green.” Zinovia’s own smile holds some of that same self-deprecation, if only for an instant, all soft humour drained away when she learns of Mersia’s mother and brother. “I’m sorry about your family,” is a deliberate choice of the same words for what she must perceive to be the same pain, though no less genuine for their being echoed. “I think, since you are a goldrider, you should get a say in what else or where else you want to be. Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if someone part of the leadership here knew about the turbines and not just how to listen to those that do? There’s more to queens than clutching, anyhow.” Her huff of a snort is not terribly ladylike. “I think Akemi would call me a hypocrite for that, but I suppose queens do have to clutch and I do have to produce heirs. At any rate, you get to define what you are. I had to learn that pretty quickly. If I can have a go, so can you.”

Mersia shrugs her slender shoulders and smirks. “I don’t think anyone will particularly like a goldrider up in the wind turbines.” Her eyes drift downcast to the floor at Zinovia’s feet. “If they won’t give you your Hold back, and you become Nova and not Lady Silverfield ever again, would you feel the same way?” Or will she resent being just another greenrider and not a goldrider? It isn’t meant as a cutting remark. Perhaps with her own future rumoured to be in the hands of other people, it gives her reason to wonder if others have explored the less-than-ideal outcome of someone else’s decisions. Still, she seems to put thought towards Zinovia’s suggestion that she ought to define what she is — though Ilelyath interrupts her thoughts with a nudge of her angular head. “I should take Ilelyath out to find some bugs or something. That sometimes gets her mind off… things.” She considers Yukijiath. “You’re welcome to join, if you both like?” Welcome to join, with one caveat from the little golden queen: << You must promise to leave everything right-side-out, first. >>

“Maybe by that point you’ll be in a position where it doesn’t matter whether they like it or not.” Gently, Zinovia attempts to dissuade her whippet friend from licking the underside of her chin, her head tipped up awkwardly as she says, “I was taught to work for my keep and not expect anything from anyone. To look after people. If I’m to be a greenrider, then a greenrider I’ll be, and I’ll throw myself on the Healer Hall’s mercy and ask them to forgive my buying out my Journeying status. But I won’t just assimilate into a wing and look for a quiet, easy life.” Yukijiath glances between her sister, her sister’s rider and back again, no resistance in her, for all she heaves a heavy draconic sigh. << I promise, >> she solemnly tells Ilelyath, lifting herself up and stretching. << Though, if I find some flowers I like, I can’t promise not to dig them up. >> In this case, Zinovia lets her green speak for her and gets to her feet to follow after Mersia. It’s less than hour before she’s summoned away to hear of her fate and Yukijiath must go to Amorenth’s side to be monitored (not mothered, as the senior queen would insist), but at least nothing ends up the wrong way out in the meantime.

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