After the Attack

After the Attack

Who: Nala, Jynth, Rori, Inaskashath, Aislara, Ryerith, Amorenth
When: Month 5, 204 AT
Where: Fort Weyr, Bowl and Infirmary
What: After High Reaches’ Weyrleader attempts to kill Nala, she eventually flees to Fort.

It takes four days after the Council meeting for action to be taken by one particular attendee, so it cannot be said that it is done in the heat of anger, but thought out, planned: premeditated. Whatever it is that unfolds, Pern’s dragon population keens for the death of one of their own, soon revealed to be the bronze of High Reaches’ Weyrleader, yet not a soul can explain what happened. Hours tick by and darkness falls, and then there’s a large blue in Fort’s bowl that wasn’t there before, someone slowly and painfully descending straps before he reaches for Inaskashath. << Help. >> He’s a soul of few words, so little needed between he and his rider, Jynth observing Nala’s progress as she stumbles towards the ground weyr she has discerned must be Rori’s. By now, the blood is everywhere, hands and socks and strips of anything that she can tear off her own clothing used to stem the flow from a slice barely deflected by her ribs, and while blood no longer actively slips from the wound, between the mess it’s left behind and the bruises beneath, Nala looks a nightmare of a state.

The transition for Rori and Inaskashath to Fort has not gone as smoothly for the pair as their outward selves show.  It is not lost on either of them that they have come to the very Weyr that led to the rift between Rori and Arlet, nor does Inaskashath believe her taking over as Fort’s interim queen will not be lost on Akanyth and further fuel his anger with her.  Homesick and lonely for for another, Rori’s lounging in Inaskashath’s arms and looking at a new starscape when Jynth’s body registers and his call is sent. Rori is halfway down her steps towards Nala when her smile dies on her face and she beholds all the blood.  Inaskashath is beside Jynth in a flash, her bugle of fury sending firelizards launching into the night sky in panic. “Wh-what happened?” Rori asks of Nala as she moves to grab hold of her, offering her a strong shoulder to lean on as she looks around in a panic. “We’ve got to get you to the Infirmary…,” she’s shaking as the blood wipes down her own dress and she tries to assess the severity of Nala’s wounds.  She’s in too much shock to register it when other hands are there, called for by Inaskashath, and Nala is settled on a gurney by practiced, competent hands. “Weyrwoman,” the voice is firm, “We will take her there. Come with us.” It’s a blur of action – shouts of orders, and then Rori finds herself standing inside the Infirmary as she watches the healers gather to begin to assess Nala’s damage. “Who did this?” the healer’s voice is sharp as she takes in the blood all over Nala.

Nala doesn’t manage to answer Rori, too overwhelmed by what happens in the minutes that follow to thread together words in the right order and offer an explanation. By the time she’s looking up at the healer, she’s flinching away from light and trying not to fall asleep, just as she has been in the hours that have elapsed since she was hurt. “…An impartial queen has to command Jynth to tell her,” she rasps out. “Before he starts to forget. It is the only way people will believe it.” She shudders, whether from pain or ongoing shock. “High Reaches. He tried to… Said it was my fault, I was to blame, and I had to die. Said I did not know my place. That what I had done was revolting. With me gone, it would stop. All go away.” Letting her head drop back against the pillow, she murmurs, “I tried to inca… incapacitate him, but it was not enough. He would have killed me. I could not let Jynth…”

“Enough talking,” the healer tells Nala, nodding to her assistant as they reach to dose Nala with fellis.  “It’s time that we get to work,” she tells Rori with a passing glance, “And it seems like you’re needed outside of these quarters.”  Rori hesitates, not yet ready to trust those of Fort’s blood, not with her loved one in their care. “I’ll conduct my business out of your way,” she tells the healer, her eyes flashing with Inaskashath’s weight behind her words, “So that we can keep watch of ours.”  She settles herself just outside of the draped area where the healers set to work repairing the damage done to Nala, her attention on their mutters and curses, even as she works through Inaskashath to find them aide.

Inaskashath reaches, and reaches, towards Amorenth.  Flashes of Nala and her wounds are offered, her anger and frustration ripples of fire-laced butterfly wings.  << Reaches Weyrleader tried to kill Nala! Jynth has the memory of it, Nala does not trust me to be the one to broadcast it for fear they will say it is fabricated.  So says Rori. Who can aid us? What do we do?>>

It cannot be Amorenth who comes up with the idea, for there’s enough fury sparking behind her usual wall of silver that it colours it here and there, staining it copper and a gold in a manner that would suggest that she is far from capable of objective thought upon hearing such news. << Request the presence of High Reaches and Southern’s Senior Queens in the morning, >> she proposes, more in Aerishani’s tones than her own. << One northern, one southern. ‘Reaches will demand to be involved, if only for the truth. Jynth cannot lie under the command of one of us, and so what each learns should be identical. Facts are facts and any honourable queen will stand by them. >>

There’s not enough fight left in Nala for her to resist the fellis, though she initially tries to deny the draught with a weak push of a hand and a haunted look in her eyes before minds thinking more clearly take the decision for her and force her to drink. Once she’s out, she has to be cleaned up to get a better picture of the extent of her injuries, and when it’s established what is and isn’t bleeding, it’s stitches that are required to hold together the slice that has narrowly missed a lung, the ribs on the same side suggesting fractures. Both eyes have been blackened, her lip cut, the majority of the damage from the waist upwards, though one ankle is swollen and her knees bear bruises. For such a small dose, the fellis keeps her out for a good while, body and mind thankful for the reprieve after being forced to continue to function. By the time that she wakes, the sheets are clean, she’s bandaged up, and she’s been dressed in a plain shift, light blankets tucked over and around her. “…Aislara needs to know,” she murmurs to the ceiling. “I did not want to scare her.”

Rori is at her side, dark circles under her eyes and a puffiness that might give away her tears that no longer linger in the steady gaze so gives to Nala.  She reaches for Nala’s hand, holding it tight. “I wasn’t sure when you’d want her to know. Inaskashath will reach for Ryerith now.” She moves to brush fingers along Nala’s cheek.  “How’s your pain?” she asks, looking around the quiet infirmary. “I’ll fetch a healer.” She moves to rise and then hesitates, her hand in Nala’s trembling. “We almost lost you today,” she says, looking to Nala’s bruised face.  “And it’s our fault that someone tried… tried…,” she inhales deeply, “We will protect you,” she promises Nala, moving to set on the side of the cot gently. “I swear it. Live with us, and no harm will come to you. Inaskashath and I…, we can’t lose you.  We love you both so much.” She tips her forehead closer to Nala’s and leaves it pressed there.

The grip that Nala has on Rori’s hand tightens almost a little too fiercely when she announces that she’ll find a Healer, the motion a reflex that manifests before she can think to control it. “No Healer,” she insists. “No more fellis. No.” Despite that wish expressed, she otherwise stays still enough that the pain must be compelling her to move as little as possible. “How is any of this your fault?” she puts to her as gently as she can manage, doing her best not to slur her words while keeping her jaw steady. “Queens rise. It cannot be prevented. Who chases is another matter.” Mindful not to pull at muscles so recently cut into, she lifts the arm of her least damaged side to thread her fingers through Rori’s hair. “It is not your fault,” she states. “I love you and it is not your fault. You have a Weyr to pull together and I believe you will be stuck with me until the Healers decide otherwise.”

With Between allowing for moments to pass before one can transfer themselves across vast distances, Ryerith’s presence firm and strong as she seeks out Jynth’s side.  She doesn’t impose upon Inaskashath, knowing the queen controls the Weyr she’s visiting. She keeps herself tucked to the other side of Jynth, both females finding the need to comfort the blue they adore so much.  Jealousy may not be a trait often had by dragons, but it is one that humans can fall victim too. Aislara strides into the Infirmary, face white, and then the rush of her steps pauses as she bears direct witness to Rori’s forehead pressed to Nala’s and the words that travel in the otherwise quiet place too easily heard.  She takes a breath, pushing down anything that she may feel, that isn’t important in the moment. She moves to Nala and Rori’s side, moving to the opposite of the bed much like her green did with Jynth, and moving to reach for Nala’s hand. She could ask why Fort – why not Honshu – why Rori, instead of her? But all she does is tuck her head down and hide her tears before the fall of her hair.  

Rori lifts her head to consider Aislara, her own face paling in the presence of Nala’s weyrmate.  She gathers herself up and looks towards the door, debating, “I should probably leave you two alone,” she murmurs, yet hesitates on the bed.  She keeps her hand in Nala’s, not wanting to go, as she looks to Aislara and her tears and Nala. “I’ll go and get us something warm to drink,” she decides, knowing she should give Nala and Aislara privacy.  She leans to kiss the top of Nala’s head once more before she rises and heads out of the Infirmary in search of food, drinks, and accommodations for Aislara and Ryerith should they wish to stay.

Huddled between Ryerith and Inaskashath, Jynth finally drops his head to his paws and lets the need for sleep overtake him, the day long battle to keep enough distance between himself and his rider for her to stay awake and functioning creeping up on him in the exhaustion it’s caused. In the morning, it will be more obvious that he is more grey than blue, but, for now, sleep will go some way to setting him right. Nala nods in answer to Rori, her pain not allowing her to grasp the full extent of how awkward the situation before her is, letting one hand slide from her grip as she grasps for the other. Looking up at Aislara, she tells her, “I did not want to frighten you,” in a murmur. “And you were safe. ‘Reaches Weyrleader wanted me gone because Jynth has flown Inaskashath. If she is the next target…” //That// is what she declined from pointing out to Rori. “He said what I had done was unnatural and revolting. That I had to die. That it would stop if I were dead. But until a queen exonerates me with the truth of Jynth’s memories, I am a murder suspect.”

It takes some time for Aislara to be able to form words through her tears, her shoulders shaking with the quiet sobs as she falls to the ground to press her head against Nala’s hand as she holds on tight.  She doesn’t register Rori’s words nor the goldrider’s absence until her tears have calmed enough she can lift her blotchy face to Nala’s. “You’re always putting others before yourself, Nala,” she tells her, “Scared? How could I not be frightened? Your face is so bruised and..,” she shakes her head, “I can only imagine the wounds underneath these sheets.”  She squeezes Nala’s hands. “How can you be blamed for a murder? You were nearly killed! If he were injured, it’s obviously in self-defense!” She pauses, considering something, “Will it be safe for you to stay with Rori now… now that they’re intent on killing you for it? I love you too. I don’t want to lose you to this.” The goldrider, to death, or to what she doesn’t elaborate on.

“Because he is dead and I am alive; because he was a Weyrleader and I am a bluerider. That is what will make it seem that I was in the wrong until the truth comes to light.” Nala slowly makes to free her hand, if only so that she can touch it to Aislara’s cheek. “Please don’t cry,” is a rare contraction, whispered so softly that only the greenrider can hear and not any of the Healers that linger. “I love you and none of this is what I want for you. I wanted to let Jynth win flights so I could give you a baby. I wanted to make you happy… and all I have done is cause you pain and put you and Rori in danger and lead Jynth to nearly kill a man.” She closes her eyes. “That is why I had to kill him. Because if I did not, Jynth would have, to save me. I could not let him do that. He is not like that. That is not who he is.” Though her voice hitches, she keeps back the threat of tears. “Maybe nowhere is safe now, but I cannot go Between again like this. You have a life at Honshu. Perhaps my being here and not there will draw focus from the Weyrhold and //you// will be safe.”

“How did you kill him?” Aislara’s voice is hot and fierce, “From the look of you – it was no such thing!  You’re strong and resilient, I know you’d never harm anyone. And nor would Jynth. You were forced to defend yourselves,” her voice remains inflamed though she manages to lower it when she notices some of the healers on their rounds throwing glances their way.  “Do you want me to be there and you here?” she asks, brows knitting, her eyes going towards the entrance that will host Rori once more before she’ll be ready to face the newest Weyrwoman of Fort. “I can stay,” she tells her, “Ryerith and I can ask the Weyrleaders if we can stay while you heal.  And once you’re healed… you’ll come home to //us//.” The mention of a baby has something shift in Aislara, the loss of her own miscarriages on her face, as she inhales sharply. “I want a child for us, but I don’t need it to be at your sacrifice. Jynth deserved to catch Inaskashath. Ryerith knows that she shares his love but it doesn’t bother her.  So long as he knows who he comes home //too//.”

What Nala wants is not what she speaks, so says the brief hesitation before she supplies her answer. “You are not safe here,” she says quietly. “And you have weyrlings to train. You are a leader of Honshu and I am a bluerider – by my choice. You will be safe with Aerishani and O’rlen keeping watch. Everything is yet to settle here and I cannot in good conscience expect you to put aside your life and risk your safety because what I have done offends the Weyr Council.” Her hand drifts down to tug gently at the front of Aislara’s jacket to bring her closer. “Go home,” she softly implores. “Please. Once I can go Between safely, I will come back to Honshu. If I loved you less, I could ask you to stay and abandon your duty and watch me lie  here until I am remotely capable again, but I will not do it. You and Ryerith are our home. If you are not safe and well, what home is there to return to?”

“You are my //weyrmate//, Nala,” Aislara’s hurt and anger laces her tone, “You //are// my life.  My duty is seperate. Yes, I enjoy teaching weyrlings, and shaping young. But that does not come //first//.”  Her lips move into a firm line as Nala grabs her jacket and draws her closer, angry tears in her gaze. “I sometimes wonder if you love to protect me more than you love //me//,” is an unfair thing to say and the guilt of saying it flashes across Aislara’s face before she rises.  “I know I drove you into her arms, Nala, not wanting– not wanting you enough in the ways that you needed. But you gave me reason to live, to deal with,” her hands drift to the puckered and exposed skin of her scars, “and know I was beautiful and wanted.” She lowers her face towards Nala, placing the lightest of kisses to her bruised lips.  “Don’t forget that I could do the same for you. I’m stronger than I was when I was young.” She hugs her arms about herself as she steps away from the bed. “I’ll wait for you to deem it safe for me to call,” she tells Nala, bitterness edging her tone as she turns to leave. Her shoulder bumps into Rori’s on her way out, Ryerith stirred and drawn from the safety of Jynth’s side to take them back to Honshu.

Rori stands there, tray jostled, tea spilled, as Aislara bumps into her.  She looks after the fleeing greenrider, then to Nala in her bed. She’s too young to truly understand the intricacies of relationships, the signs that she sees is one of a potential break-up.  She strides forward with the tray to set beside Nala’s bedside. “I had spoken with C’aol and we were going to have Aislara and Ryerith stay in one of the junior goldrider’s weyrs.” She pauses, drawing in her lower lip as she looks to her lap.  “I understand if we’ve created too much hardship for you,” she murmurs, lifting her chin to look once more towards the door. “But she was welcome here,” she looks to Nala, “You must know that. I…,” she shakes her head and doesn’t want to have anymore words as she reaches for Nala’s hand.  “You should sleep, my love. We can work everything out in the morning. Maybe I can convince Aislara to come back.”

Nala does her best to try and listen to what Rori tells her, yet her voice does little more than murmur through the ringing in her head and the thoughts scattered by Aislara’s words. The stress of the day, her injuries and her present situation abruptly become too much for her to cope with, other traumas in other beds and other unkind words spoken to a younger self, usually so well repressed, catch up with her, the sobbing that strikes up completely at odds with her normal composure. That Rori is the one to witness it will no doubt cause her embarrassment later, the tears and cries more akin to a wounded animal than human deemed to be hysteria by the Healers, who bring another dose of the hated fellis. This time, she truly fights them, though the battle is theirs and they get the sedative into her system, leaving her to sleep a drugged and nightmarish sleep through the night.

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