Vignette: Damage Done

Vignette: Damage Done

Who: Jet, Arlet, Kyramith
When: Month 5, 204 AT
Where: Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: Arlet’s not the same anymore.

“Are you sure you should be doing that?”

Jet looked up from the heat of the fire and then straight back down at her work, unwilling to risk letting the metal cool for longer than she wished it to, manipulating it into shape while it was pliable enough to take on new forms. “Once upon a time, in a distant world… Well, our old time, I suppose, I was a Smith,” she murmured, setting the device she was working on aside, next to a growing row of other, identical devices.

“I mean because… Well, the ladies say that you’re…”

“Because I’m pregnant?” Jet arched a brow and angled a long look over at the waif of a woman her daughter had become. “I’ve done worse.” Selecting one of the finished, star-shaped pieces, she stepped out from the heat of the forge and took aim at the bags of straw set up across the way, throwing it directly at it. Upon impact, there was a visible spark and a lick of flame, but not sustained enough to do any additional damage beyond the wound of the blade itself.

She sighed.

“Not what you were hoping for?” Arlet enquired, keeping herself at a distance as Kyramith moved to claim the metal for herself and hunker back down with those she had already captured and decided were hers now.

“On impact, the mechanism should create a spark – enough to light a vial of agenothree and either set something alight or cause burns across skin. It’s still in the testing stages.”

Arlet knotted her arms around herself. “Are you going to send me away before I can meet my new brother or sister?”

Brushing off her hands, Jet replied, “You can stay here for as long as you wish. Your son—“

The brownrider flinched, arms securing themselves around her more tightly.

“You haven’t seen him today?”

“He’s fine with the Healers and the other children.”

There was no denying that Arlet hadn’t bonded with her child. Jet continued to attribute it to the traumatic circumstances of his birth and news of the death of the boy’s father, yet no matter that she was in no position to judge, having given up both Safiye and Arlet herself, that she had little interest in her son made her worry nonetheless. Perhaps it was some quirk of their blood, she supposed. Her mother hadn’t exactly been maternal, nor truly cared for her, and Jet in turn had been so adamant about not becoming a mother that she hadn’t even been willing to look at her daughters after they were born. That Arlet might not be comfortable with motherhood, nor willing to attempt it, might not be so surprising.

“…No-one’s asked after me, have they?” Arlet chose to address instead, glancing down at her feet.

“Honshu’s leaders are likely aware that you’re here, but we’ve not advertised your whereabouts to anyone further. Akanyth is the first dragon we’ve allowed to visit, let alone remain What you choose to do and where you choose to go is down to you. The details of the incident…”

“The flight. When those people died because of me.”

“No,” Jet insisted. “They died because of the narrow-minded beliefs of Weyrleaders out of touch with a changing world. Akanyth didn’t chase and they had no right to keep you from him. That’s the worst of it – that they thought they were right in separating you from your dragon. If they can no longer honour the bond between rider and dragon, then there’s no telling to the lengths that they’ll go to achieve their aims.”

“It’s still my—“

“No. It isn’t. And they will pay for what they’ve done to you, to Akanyth and to your son.”

“You can’t know that.”

Jet bared her teeth without thinking as she uttered a low, “I can and do.”

Whether she agreed or not, Arlet gave a shallow nod and looked up to meet her mother’s gaze, her features gaunt and eyes bearing heavy shadows. “…No-one’s asked after me?” she enquired again.

“Anyone you’re expecting to?”

“I… My… She—“ Arlet swallowed hard and shook her head. “No, my Lady.”

Frowning, Jet headed back to the forge, to idly examine the other devices she’d been working on. “I know you had another mother, Arlet. I made sure of that. But I’m still your mother too, if you… Well, whatever you want to call me. You’re ours. You stood on your own as Weyrleader because it wasn’t my right to interfere with your decisions and make you seem weaker to the public gaze. But you’re ours. Our daughter. A daughter of this Hold. And if anyone tries to hurt you ever again…”

“I don’t want people getting hurt because of me.”

“If those who have harmed and taken advantage of you are hurt, it’s because of their decisions and who they are, not because of you.”

Arlet bowed her head, the motion more one of defeat and resignation than agreement.

“You should rest,” Jet murmured. “The Healers say you’re not fully recovered yet.”

“…Yes, ma’am.”

She couldn’t watch as Arlet walked away with her shoulders hunched and eyes downcast.

Not because it made her angry, but because she couldn’t bear to see the living ghost of the girl she now might never get to know.

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