How Many?

How Many?

Who: Jet, M’tan, Kyramith, Sirhyth
When: Month 6, 202 AT
Where: Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: Jet takes her first lives in a new time.

The first time that Jet returns home truly bruised and bloody in this new time, she brings with her several families, a ragged looking lot that she claims are willing to work and need somewhere safe to be as she hands their care over to what staff she and M’tan have managed to gather together in recent months. She might have lingered to assist them further, yet with blood even staining the ends of her hair and two children to potentially catch sight of her in such a state, she carries herself upstairs to and to the large bedroom she’s finally got around to hanging up those midnight and silver curtains in, shedding weapons as she crosses the threshold and moves towards the adjoining bathroom. She begins to fill the bath, her hands only now starting to shake, as Kyramith reaches for Sirhyth to explain, << They were being tormented and exploited by a group of brigands. Every few days. We were watching. >> Her judgement is unflinching, no trace of guilt shared when she states, << She slaughtered them. >>

Sirhyth and M’tan have been spending more of their time outside of the Hold of late, frequenting the seedy areas that the type of people he tends to employ for ‘special circumstances’ are often found lurking. The bronze’s mind sharpens on Kyramith’s words, his shadows surging into a tidal wave of darkness. << We would have helped >> he has to remind the green, nudging her to share that with Jet. << It is good those types are gone. >> M’tan wraps up his meeting with a potential client and heads out of the bar he’s been posting in the last few nights. It is only a short trip Between to return home for him and his bronze. Shorter still for M’tan to leave Sirhyth and head through the halls of their new home to the bedroom where Jet must be. He takes a moment to tidy her blades and tuck them away, picking up any discarded clothing as he goes to toss them in the laundry pile. He heads into the bath and moves to sit on the floor beside it. He angles his head against the wall and looks to her with slitted eyes. “How many?” Did she save? Did she kill? He doesn’t ask which.

For the moment, Jet has managed nothing but easing down into the water to sit there and let it lift blood from her skin, some of the latter still staining the ends of her hair. “Five,” she utters, her voice hollow and yet bearing no trace of remorse. “They’d taken out any who resisted weeks ago, before I even knew about them. There are a few boys who’re nearly men left with their mothers and siblings, but the grown men of the families are gone. I couldn’t leave them there. Targets.” She hunches forward, resting her head on her knees as she blinks wearily over at M’tan, uncaring of what shallow marks left by blades and darkening bruises mar her skin. “You have your work,” she murmurs. “I might enjoy playing Lady Holder, but it’s not enough. Not anymore. Maybe this is my work.” Still on high alert, Kyramith paces the short length of the shore that surrounds the island Hold, unable to quite settle yet. << It was something she had to do. To know. A purpose. >>

“No one said anything to me about these brigands,” M’tan offers, quietly seething at his lack of information gathering. “We need to find and employ more spies. All I’ve collected are those that prefer quick endings and money.” He heaves a sigh and begins to roll up his sleeves. He reaches for the lavender scented soap and begins to lather it in his hands. He eases himself over the tub and begins to lovingly wash her hair. “Saving people is going to be your work? We’d best build a refugee Hold or camp. We can’t take all the strays here.” He kisses her cheek, not caring if he gathers flecks of blood in the process. “Unless that’s your goal, of course.” He grows quiet as he continues to scrub the blood from her hair and then he gently eases her back in the water so he can pour water over the strands. Sirhyth watches his mate from his perch on the upper reaches of the Hold. << They need to figure out their purposes. It is done. You have her handled, I know. >> he comments to his mate, stretching his wings out and sending a bugle to the sky. << Let them begin to fear us. >>

When M’tan begins to run the soap through her hair, it seems to finally remind Jet that she ought to do more that just sit in the bath and hope the water works wonders on its own, and so she slowly begins to swipe at stains and idly inspect cuts that have closed enough to no longer seep blood. “…We have a Hold,” she says slowly. “We need people willing to work for us and with us. Saving them from worse fates may be a way to do that. Safiye and Khyrisan will need people around them.” She lets him ease her back and the water soak through her hair. “We always wanted to do better than what was done to us. Why not take them and train them and give them back their agency. Make them strong. Make that family.” Jet wrinkles her nose, just how aware of how idealistic she sounds for a blood-coated assassin in a bathtub. “The more that work, the more that are loyal, the more we have.”

“We never got the traction we wanted as far as loyalty went before,” M’tan muses, reaching for Jet’s hand after she’s inspected it to begin to soap it. He uses the lather of the soap to give him smoother purchase on her skin to massage at the tight muscles. “We came forward to remove ourselves from the taint of our past. Now, I think we //should// have a larger vision for what our future is. If our children are to inherit this Hold,” he’s already decided they will, whether or not they’ve ever discussed the legality of dragonrider’s as Lord and Lady Holders is not something he seems bothered about. “It’s good that you did what you did. I’m proud of you. Those families will need services and care, then we can move on to training.” That draws a thought forward as he moves to massaging her forearm. “We should employ a Healer.” He releases Jet’s hand and beckons for the other.

“Unless you plan on me having a baby a year, the only way our current children will inherit a Hold with more than themselves to rattle around in it will be by bringing other families in,” Jet utters dryly, leaning over the edge of the bath to claim a kiss from her mate. “I shouldn’t be pleased that you’re proud of me for what I did,” she murmurs, taking a moment to rest her forehead against M’tan’s temple before surrendering her other hand to him. “You can patch me up, for now,” is soft and teasing. “If we can find a Healer with no need to report to the Hall, all the better. What do you think our chances are of finding some long-suffering Journeyman who got kicked out and bears a grudge?” Maybe hysteria is finally beginning to settle in. “Don’t worry. When I grow mad with delusions of power, you’ll be safe from my wrath as my handsome consort and husband.”

“Do you think we can’t entice legitimate Crafters here?” M’tan muses, releasing Jet’s hand and then gathering her face with both his palms. “You can grow as mad as you like. I’ll always be at your side.” He kisses her swiftly, knowing her well enough to sense the growing hysteria beginning to bubble up. He reaches around Jet and drains the tub, letting the pinkish water filter it’s way from the tub. He doesn’t encourage her out of the tub, teasing her with another kiss. “Stay put, love. We’ve got to tidy you up a bit more. This time we’ll dump all the bubbles and oils you like in.” He idly strokes her palm, watching the water gurgle out the drain. “Maybe we’ll draw some dragonriders to our Hold as well. They have that now, don’t they? Honshu Weyrhold. I heard rumors that their Weyrwoman and Weyrleader go by Weyrlady and Weyrlord,” he wipes the last of the red down the drain and then begins the process of refilling it with warmer water. “I want no ties to a ‘Weyr’ in my title, though.”

“Would they inform on us? To their Halls?” Jet huddles there in the growing chill as the water drains from the tub, making no move to do anything more than steal idle kisses rather than focus on the fact that her legs tremble from more than the cold. “Some of the Weyrs we knew are gone. What was Xanadu is in ruins.” It’s difficult to tell exactly how she feels about that, her voice kept to nothing but the practicality of delivering information. “If this is a Hold proper, then it ought to be Lord and Lady,” she quietly considers, easing her knees from her chest to lower her legs into the rising water. “But then, what do you call the leaders of would-be assassins and thieves? We’re not a prince and princess, even if those are the right terms for the first people of a place. I could live with being an empress.” She smirks; she must be joking. “Matriarch makes me sound about ninety. I could be a countess.”

“Countess and Earl?” M’tan teases, watching the warmth make it’s way back up along Jet’s body. He rises long enough to move to the cabinet where they store the fancier bath products. He returns with oils that he drops in, a handful of salts follow, and then he ends it with a dash of something that fizzes in the water before it bubbles out. “Xanadu in ruins? I wish Fort was the one to suffer so. I do like the technology of this time. It’s better than we had.” He settles back on the tub’s floor, easing his length out as he rests his head back against the wall. He’s got his hand offered for her t o hold if she wishes. “We don’t have to have titles,” he proposes, “but eventually… I’ll want to make our presence known. Not our //true// nature. But– we have a hand to play. We can have a mask to wear to the public, a mask for our assassins and thieves, and our real faces for home.” He lifts forward, eager with his ideas as he moves to kiss her temple. “We’re all of these things. We don’t have to claim them all – all the time, though.” He reaches for her hand to kiss her fingers. “What does my Countess say?” he asks of Jet, “Will she enjoy her Thief going as Earl?”

“This Fort has problems of its own, if rumours of its queenriders are anything to go by. Honshu too, if their Weyrlady is truly one of them.” With the water no longer scarlet stained and repellent, Jet slowly inches herself down into it until she’s up to her shoulders and can relax somewhat, one hand still kept at the edge of the tub as if she’s afraid of losing contact with her mate. “We need to make money and provide a home. I’d rather do that in manners that have most people afraid of us and knowing they shouldn’t dare touch us than through honest means that might invite someone to try and take advantage. The only souls in the world I want to be sweet for are you, our children and our dragons… I’m not… of a mind to be able to manage it for anyone else. I want to protect and defend… but I won’t be soft for the world to see.” Her lips twitch in a faint smirk as M’tan repeats their proposed titles, her fingers tightening against his. “My Thief and Earl is lucky his Countess is too exhausted, or she’d be on him in a heartbeat,” she drawls. It’s true – she seems to be on her way to sleep, the rush of all that she’s done surrendering her to the mercies of the inevitable low that follows. No matter that she might have done a good thing for a good number of people, she still finds herself unable to let go of his hand, even as she threatens to sleep right there in the tub.

M’tan won’t let Jet drowse in the tub. He encourages her up and out of the bath, toweling her off with gentle and sure strokes before he wraps her in one of their more elegant robes he’d stolen within the first month of their arrival to the future. He doesn’t care if Jet protests, once she’s cuddled into her robe, he pulls her against him and then angles his arms beneath her knees to lift her into his arms. He carries her towards their bed and waits until Blaze and Inferno have joined them before he tucks her into the many blankets their bed hosts. He holds her hand until sleep finds her, idly stroking fingers through her hair. He sits there and watches her sleep for some time before he eventually rises and moves out of the room. He has refugees to meet and orders of their staff to make. It’s a good start to the new month.

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