Light and Shadow

Light and Shadow

Who: Jet and M’tan
When: Month 8, 202 AT
Where: Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: A queen and a plan.

It might have shocked the rest of the residents of the growing Hold the first time that they saw Jet take her young daughter into the courtyard and put a wooden sword in her hand. The dancing lessons must have seemed pretty standard compared to that, but that swordplay now follows dancing twice a week has become routine, the reasons for which becoming quite evident in the child’s growing grace applied to both disciplines. With the sun now starting to set, mother and daughter have come in from the cold, the latter sent off in the care of one of the nannies to take a bath before dinner. Jet herself heads upstairs to stash the wooden versions of the weapons they use in one of the storage rooms, locking them safely away, before heading up another flight of stairs to her and M’tan’s bedroom. There, she strips out of weather and combat appropriate clothing and slides a soft black dress over her head instead, looking up from smoothing down her skirts when Blaze and Inferno appear and vie for her attention.

M’tan has spent much of his days outside of the Hold, gathering information and making his presence at the various locations that he’s slowly begun to infiltrate and make known to be //his//. He returns later in the evening, likely after Jet has fed herself and their children, but not so late as to miss an opportunity to read to Safiye and Khyrsian before tucking them into bed. He grabs Jet’s hand once the children are put to sleep and draws her down to their main living area. On the hearth is a familiar type of sand-laden basket. He grins at her, unable to resist the surprise, as he shoos her closer. “Someone wanted to make a payment with a firelizard egg. The poor thing was already cold to the touch when he was handing it over so I took it. Couldn’t have the idiot kill it before it had a chance to even hatch.” He draws closer, amusement dancing in his eyes as his smile turns crookedly towards her. “He said it may be a gold.”

Jet makes a faintly startled sound low in her throat when M’tan grabs her hand and draws her in the opposite direction to where she was headed, neatly twisting about on herself to follow after, bare feet padding along until she’s shooed towards the hearth to examine the basket and the egg nestled safely in the sand contained within. She draws to a halt only a foot or so from the basket, hands clasped behind her back as she bends a little to get a better look at the egg, which answers her inspection with the slightest of shivers. “A gold?” she repeats, shooting a funny little smile of her own back towards M’tan. “If it is, wouldn’t she be better helping to contain your beloved greens?” she teases, shading thoughtful as she considers, “Though I suppose a queen would consider herself the senior of all firelizards in an area, if there’s no other gold.” Which the Hold doesn’t currently have. “Are you sure?” is a softer thing. “You did the work.”

“I think my lovely greens would be beside themselves if they had to deal with a gold’s focus on me,” M’tan answers with a laugh, “I could see Fickle’s fury over the entire thing. Besides,” he draws closer, wrapping an arm around her middle to tug Jet against his side. “I work for //you// to have nice things. You’ve always done better training your firelizards. You should have the gold to help you keep everyone else in line.” He looks to the mottled green and grey egg with a smile as another shiver dances along it’s shell. “Looks like we’ve timed it right. I always hate waiting for them to hatch for a few days after you’ve bought the eggs. Makes you worry you’ve got a dud.” Once, twice, three more shivers hit the egg in a row. In answer to the approaching hatchling’s arrival, M’tan’s three greens, his bronze and brown pop from Between and perch around the room to thrum their encouragement. “Looks like nature is overpowering even Fickle’s bad attitude,” he teases, stepping away from the hearth to go and fetch meat from the kitchens. “I’ll be right back,” he calls as he moves out the door, leaving Jet in the company of his firelizards.

Jet lets out a low huff of laughter as M’tan draws her against him, murmuring, “I hate that there is some part of me that would happily be your kept Lady for the rest of my days.” Only his, and she can’t truly hate it that much, for she winds a hand into the front of his shirt to tug him to her and steal a kiss before he departs, her firelizards filling the air hot on the heels of his. Perhaps the most maternal of the bunch, Prism hops herself forward as Jet settles herself on the floor beside the basket, both green and greenrider observing as striations run across the egg’s shell and fragments begin to flake away. “No, sweet one, we don’t want you getting nipped,” Jet has to admonish, drawing Prism away as she steps onto the sand to nose at the egg, careful hands lifting her from the basket just in time. Just as Prism’s tail clears the basket, a dark gold nose pokes through the shell, accompanied by the flare of a shadow-edged wing, hatchling queen shaking off the rest of her once-prison as it crumbles around her.

None of M’tan’s fire lizards are as maternal or considerate of the egg, each of them lending their voice to the thrums around them and silencing once a golden nose and shadowed wings are thrown out for display. Fickle, true to her nature, hisses at the gold and is silenced by M’tan as he enters once more with a sharp ‘uh-uh!’ noise coming from his throat. He hands Jet the platter of raw meat he’s chopped for the hatchling, kissing his mate’s cheek before he settles to the side to watch her form the impression. Fickle flits to M’tan’s shoulders to chirrup in complaint until he pops her nose and she grumpily falls silent with her head draped over his shoulder, eyes swirling unhappy hues as she watches the young gold. Sugar and Fluffy keep to their perches, each watching quietly, as Pray and Fleet make their way out of the room to return to the tasks they find more interesting. “Well, she’s a beauty,” he mentions, looking to Jet, “and at least the fellow wasn’t wrong about her being gold. I’d have had to go back and force payment,” his smile is sly and a little dark as he clasps his hands in front of him. “Might still do that for fun. He was a worm.”

Fickle earns herself a hiss in return, the effort maybe more instinctive than planned, for the little gold still focuses on shaking shards away from sticky hide and getting free of the remnants of her egg, revealing herself to be a creature of light and darkness, her hide a pale spring sunshine where darker and more shadowy hues don’t encroach, tendrils of deeper, charred gold curling along her at every edge, twisting along limbs, tail and neck to leave only the heart of her that lighter shade. Jet offers the young queen one of the pieces of meat, watching as it’s snapped up before she proffers a second, drawing her closer and closer each time until the gold has hooked wet claws into the front of her dress and holds on, expecting more. In between bites, Jet leans over to M’tan and nuzzles at his jaw, telling him, “Thank you,” in near purring tones. Blaze and Inferno seem as fixated as one might expect of bronzes witnesses the hatching of a potential mate, their eyes whirling through excited hues. “Tell him your mate was furious when the egg didn’t hatch and we know where he lives.”

“After I’ve punched him once in the jaw to leave a lasting bruise,” M’tan agrees, delighted at the prospect of punishing someone he barely knows over a made up issue. He watches the little gold hook in to Jet and continue to eat, smiling in satisfaction as he watches his mate’s face more than the gold to gauge her pleasure at the gift. “Some of the people in this time are short sighted. I was told a bluerider came looking to hire someone to beat up or seriously injure a bronzerider,” he oh-so-casually delivers. “Punish him, I suppose, for what wrong doing the person delivering the message to me was unclear on. I haven’t decided the impact of such a thing. We know how hard it is to harm other dragonriders. The dragons themselves can get involved. And then we’d surely be getting focus we don’t want from the Weyr he’s from.” M’tan sighs and shakes his head. “Doesn’t make much sense to me. What do you think?”

As the gold’s demands begin to lessen, Jet goes about gently detaching her claws from her dress to transfer her to the crook of her arm, keeping her close and making sure she has the same skin to skin contact a human child might. Whether it does any good remains to be seen. “…If I knew who the target was, I could probably get a few good shots at him without him knowing anything about who was responsible,” she thinks aloud, using the hem of her dress to draw any lingering wetness away from the queen’s hide. “If I had some time to track him and get an idea of when might be a good time to strike. It would have to be arrows… but I can make some nasty pieces of work that leave damage without killing him. He’d need a healer to extract them without destroying tissue and muscle.” Jet lets out a quiet hum as the shadowy gold refuses another bite of meat and instead tucks her face into her elbow to sleep. “…Three arrows, maybe, before his dragon loses it. Shoulder, knee, ankle. Away from anything major, though… shoulder is a risk if I miss by a few inches.” She presses a kiss to M’tan’s cheek. “She //is// beautiful.”

M’tan seems to take Jet’s assessment of the ‘how’ and not the ‘why’ into consideration as he grows more thoughtful the further she details a plan. “I’ll have the contact arrange a meeting place for you and the bluerider,” he decides, smiling as the kiss lands on his cheek. “I’m glad you like her. You think of a name yet? Sleepy? Shadow?” He never was very imaginative when it came to naming any of their pets or fire lizards. He scratches at his jaw briefly and then drops his hand to his side. “If we agree to take on business contracts from the Weyrs, I wonder how lucrative that could be for us in the long run. At least, strategically, we will have more to hold over them were any to attempt to force us into one of their established residences. I don’t want to go through the boredom and monotony of getting our Court officially recognized as a Weyr, Hold, Hall or Weyrhall, Weyrhold… whatever they call these places these days. We don’t follow Pern rules. We follow //ours//.” He shakes his head and grins at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I get so excited realizing that we have no one to be held accountable to but ourselves.” He leans in to kiss her, a short and sweet peck. “All thanks to your grand plan.”

“She better understand what she’s getting herself into if she wants to go this far,” Jet says quietly. “If he’s some ex-weyrmate who’s abandoned her, it’s not worth our time – and I’ll still want payment for wasting our time.” Inferno inches a little closer, lifting up onto his hind legs to boop his nose against that of the sleeping queen. “Maybe Shadow,” the greenrider muses, watching Blaze a touch more closely as he nears the newest addition to the fair. “I’ll have to think about it. Give her a few days to grow into a name. It would be easier if they hatched knowing their own, like dragons.” Though the bronzes are working creatures and the queen will have to be too, Jet continues to cradle her like a baby, smoothing gentle fingers against her neck. “I don’t think any of the Weyrs will want it to be known that they have need of what we can offer them – or are willing to be employ someone to do those things. It should give us more time to learn how to play them against each other. We don’t need them to legitimise us… We’d be no good to anyone in the light.” She smirks as M’tan kisses her, her free hand reaching for his collar. “Why don’t I go and get her settled and cleaned up, then you can show me just how excited you are?” she murmurs.

M’tan huffs a laugh against her cheek as he presses a kiss there, “As you wish, my love.” He rises then, moving to offer a hand to Jet to help her to her feet. He shoos her on the way to care for the firelizard, taking the time to clean up the eggshells and the meat platter. He offers the remaining scraps to Fickle, soothing her onto a perch above the hearth meant for the firelizards comfort. If he sneaks a kiss to the top of her head, hopefully none will be there to watch him. He takes Jet to the baths, wanting to relax and enjoy her company as he teases at her long enough for her to make demands of him. Soon enough they will find their bed and the comfort of fluffy pillows and too many blankets, too many firelizards sprawling around the bed and surrounding perches, and four dogs sleeping at the foot of the bed. When Safiye eventually sneaks into the room, she curls up with Sister in her arms and falls fast asleep. How the bluerider and the future of such exploits will unfold will be dependent upon Jet. His person arranges for the meeting place – with dragons to employ, it’s easy to give them a space far removed from public eye.

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