Who: Isolwyn, C’aol, Eosyth, Daeserath
When: Month 12, 204 AT
Where: Isolwyn’s Weyr/C’aol’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: Isolwyn is attacked. Eosyth exacts vengeance. C’aol and Daeserath protect them both.

Just as she has been with nearly everything else, Eosyth is quick to begin to glow almost to the day that she reaches adulthood, her claim to Fort made before any might take her Weyr from her. While she has become more reclusive, Isolwyn has grown more temperamental and outwardly aggressive, yet this behaviour does not seem to have deterred at least one determined suitor. There’s little indication of anything amiss until the strength of Eosyth’s will lashes out across Fort, midnight and lightning dragging every draconic mind spiralling down until there are none that can escape. << You will not touch her. She is mine. >> Her voice is deceptively gentle, but the action taken is not, for a bronze down at the shore of the lake finds himself at the mercy of her teeth and claws, a shoulder joint shattered to ensure that he will not flee and will inevitably not pursue her when she chooses to mate. Just inside Isolwyn’s weyr, a similar scene finds echoes in the dagger embedded in an unconscious bronzerider’s shoulder, the blade one that must have been used to tear through the ruins of her skirts, Isolwyn herself slumped against the wall with bloodied hands and vacant expression, a clotting nick at her throat suggesting more than one use of the weapon.

Daeserath has been anticipating Eosyth’s maiden flight since he first met her a continent away and they conversed over everything and nothing. He has been as contained as he can be since her hide began to hint at a glow. It’s worn on C’aol to keep Daeserath from outright attacking every bronze – or brown – foreign or otherwise that try and circle around the young gold. He happened to be asleep (which he has not been allowing himself to do since Eosyth’s hide began to tell her imminent flight) when the young gold’s control locked down the Weyr. Daeserath woke with a start and pushed at Eosyth to let him in. To be calm. He was there, he was here. << He is going >> he promised Eosyth, << he is going he is there she will be safe. >> He is not the sort of bronze to wince against bloodshed and a quiet part of him radiates pride at her actions. << You are wise >> he tells her, flying down to be beside her on the lake and hold watch over the foreign bronze. C’aol’s out of breath when he erupts inside Isolwyn’s weyr, his face white, wearing nothing but his pants and boots without socks, he stands with a knife in his hand. Once he can see the man on the floor he walks over, kneels down, and feels for a pulse. “Alive,” he snarls, looking from his hunkered position to where Isolwyn is slumped. He tucks the knife into a sheath at his side and carefully makes his way towards Isolwyn on his knees. “I’m here,” he tells her, voice surprisingly soft and gentle as he reaches to touch her. “You’re safe.”

Isolwyn’s dark gaze fixes on C’aol, something feral edging the bitter fury that surfaces, whether entirely her own or owing to Eosyth – or what they both feel to their very cores. “I’ll never be safe,” she rasps out. “That’s what you all think I’m good for. And that’s what will happen when she—“ She swallows hard, flinching at her own thought as her hands form fists in her ragged and ruined skirts, only for them to uncurl as the state of them reminds her of what so recently occurred. Her focus finds the knife still embedded in her assailant’s shoulder. “Next time, I won’t miss,” she swears, even as tears slip free and she folds in on herself, pressing her cheek to the wall as though she’d keep C’aol from seeing her cry. Eosyth gives a long look towards her ledge, yet finds herself unable to let her enemy from her sight or relinquish her hold on the minds of Fort, the horrified stares and whispers of those who saw her attack the bronze ignored, as is the ichor streaming to the sand and his pained cries. << I will destroy any who harm her, >> she declares. << This is my Weyr. My home. No-one hurts any of mine. If that is not understood, you will STAY OUT. >> Far from quiet, her last demand is a shriek not far from physical pain, a gale howling through any mind that happens to be in the vicinity of Fort. And yet she doesn’t attack again. << You will watch him, >> is half-question, half not, meant only for Daeserath, her voice as soft as she can possibly manage.

C’aol is not practiced at offering comfort and the awkwardness of his attempt with Isolwyn shows. Still, he moves to gently tug her from the wall, wrapping his arms around her as he moves to hug her to his chest. “You are worth more than this,” he tells her, voice firm and strong. “You are more than your body,” he reminds her, “and that man will be punished for his actions. You cannot come to our Weyr and seek to have your way with our weyrwomen. I’ll make an example of him,” he grinds out as he glares at the man, unbothered by the knife, “I don’t care if he bleeds out.” He smoothes her hair back with his fingers, then rubs at her back briefly. Daeserath’s wings flare out as he rears up in the face of Eosyth’s shriek. He gives an answering roar, his eyes laced with red, as he settles back to the ground. << He will be watched >> Daeserath promises Eosyth, << He will not be allowed to move. >>

Isowyn doesn’t resist, yet the motion of being pulled away from the wall makes her freeze until she’s hugged to C’aol’s chest, where she starts to slump in on herself again, making herself as small as she possibly can. “…I don’t want to stay here,” she murmurs, the words slow and deliberately while she tries to navigate her tears and resist the need to make any pleas, sticking firmly to statement of fact as she ducks her head down against his chest. Content with Daeserath’s promise, Eosyth turns and bounds across the bowl, fully expecting that anyone in her way will very quickly get out of it, until she can leap up onto her ledge and slip through into the weyr, where she takes in the sight of the man on the floor with a low snarl, softened only when she swings her head to nose against her rider – and, by extension, C’aol. “I’m okay,” Isolwyn attempts to reassure her, albeit not terribly convincingly, hands reaching to soothe along her queen’s jaw. “Your choice is still yours. I won’t let them take that from you.”

C’aol does not flinch away from holding Isolwyn when Eosyth’s nose makes contact with him. He continues to hold on to Isolwyn as her queen assesses her. “I’ll take her to my weyr,” he tells Eosyth as he gathers Isolwyn’s legs in his arms. He grunts as he stands, holding Isolwyn still against his chest. “That way I can send someone in here to clean up the garbage,” he looks to the man and shakes his head. He doesn’t wait for Eosyth’s permission, assuming it’ll be granted as he makes his way around the golden body and out of the weyr. It takes him longer to navigate the stairs towards his own weyr with Isolwyn in his arms. No one stops them as they move, though those who witness the two will likely have some form of gossip to share tomorrow. C’aol makes his way inside his weyr and heads directly towards the bathing area. He settles Isolwyn on a small chair within the room before he goes and begins to start a warm bath. << Go to my weyr >> Daeserath advises Eosyth, << My wallow has blankets and pillows. Settle yourself and try to find calm. He will tend to her. >> While C’aol and Isolwyn are out of her weyr, a team of healers have been dispatched to take the man to the infirmary where he’ll be guarded by two of C’aol’s most trusted brownriders.

Trusting that no harm will come to her rider, Eosyth lingers long enough in her own weyr to stare down at the unconscious bronzerider and snarl again, watching him for long enough that perhaps she tries to commit the sight to a memory that will inevitably fail her, which is likely all the better for Fort. Out on the ledge, she hesitates, the progress of dragonhealers towards the male she’s injured one that makes her eyes swirl red, but she doesn’t move to intervene and instead follows C’aol to his weyr, where she slips into Daeserath’s wallow and curls up tight, turning her paws up so that she won’t inadvertently shred any pillows. Her, << Thank you, >> is a whisper, her hold on the Weyr not quite relaxed enough for comfort, though no anger lashes through her touch. Isolwyn makes not a sound for the duration of the journey, even as C’aol sets her down, which is when she knots her arms around her middle and stares down at the floor after making a futile attempt to make her skirts look something like decent. She tilts her head slightly at the sound of water, gaze focusing and unfocusing, then drags her gaze up to C’aol. “…Thank you,” echoes her lifemate, her voice rough from the tears that still fall and she won’t acknowledge.

Daeserath does not allow the dragonhealer’s immediate access to the bronze, his wings once more unfurling as he hovers near the body. It’s only after C’aol intervenes that the bronze moves out of the way to allow the healers to tend to the bronze. << He will be healed >> he tells Eosyth, unbothered by her strength and the hold she has over him. << I tried to stop them, C’aol would not allow it. >> His anger is a lash of ice across the Weyr, << I will come to your side when you want it >> he reminds her before he grows silent once more. C’aol has no words of comfort to offer Isolwyn as he readies the bath. He’s too much of a bachelor to have much by the way of bath salts or oils, the heat from the tub will be all he can offer. He rises to walk towards Isolwyn once the bath is full, his hand offered to draw her up. “You are ours to protect,” he answers her thank you with a shrug. “Can you undress yourself?” he asks, ignoring her tears, “Or shall I help you?”

<< He will heal and he will pay the price. >> Eosyth is certain of that, though she resists the urge to pin that bronze in such a way as he cannot possibly co-operate with the dragonhealers, choosing only to keep a thread of power at the periphery of his senses to keep him from attempting to flee on foot. << Come, >> she invites Daeserath, uncaring of what any might comment about their staying so close, let alone their combined show of strength. Isolwyn accepts C’aol’s hand, glancing down at her dress before she guides his hand to the small of her back, where its laces have been secured in a tight bow. The rest, she’s able to manage herself, though it reveals a shallow slice along her ribs to match the nick at her neck, other red marks promising to darken and bruise in time. Her shoes must have slipped from her feet in her weyr or somewhere along the way, for there are none to step out of when she moves for the bath, modesty deemed as not required with only C’aol to see – who has already seen. She slips into the water and folds back down, stating, “The standard punishment for what he attempted is castration,” in a low murmur.

Daeserath gives a parting snarl to the injured bronze and those who are tending to his wounds before he launches himself into the sky. It is a short distance for him to cover. He enters his weyr with a rumbled growl of warning before he moves to join Eosyth in his wallow. He curls himself tightly around her, wanting to secure her beside him. C’aol helps Isolwyn with the laces and then he watches her finish the process. He waits until she’s fully in the bath before he gathers her clothes up and moves to dispose of them. He returns to the bathing chamber and settles himself on the stool he had so recently had Isolwyn in. He folds his arms in front of him, still having made no time or effort to grab himself a shirt. “I’ll do it myself,” he tells Isolwyn, “and I’ll dump him Between.” He shakes his head and clenches his jaw, looking away from Isolwyn and towards the door.

Though she doesn’t protest that the man be dumped between, Isolwyn closes her eyes her silence as much agreement and condemnation of her own choice as any words might be. “…Wait for Harper judgement,” she says quietly instead. “It needs to be done on firm legal ground and not in vengeance if you’re to lead.” She props her chin on her knees and huddles there for a moment before blinking up and over at C’aol. “Come here?” is a quiet request and yet one she cannot make with an entirely steady voice. “…I can’t freeze up when she flies. I can’t let… what he tried to do be the last contact I have with someone before it happens, or I’ll…” Perhaps Eosyth’s nearness to Daeserath makes it a little easier, but she can’t keep her hand from trembling as she reaches towards him in her efforts to be practical. “Come and sit with me?” In the water, she must mean.

“I don’t even know what Weyr he comes from. Harper judgement can be served – but if I am not satisfied I //will// find him and dump him Between,” C’aol states, moving his gaze from the door to look at her. “You won’t freeze up. And you won’t be alone. I’ll be in there,” he reminds her, “and I will keep you safe.” He blinks at her request and doesn’t immediately move as he considers it. He rises without comment, kicks off his boots, shucks off his pants and moves to join her within the tub. It’s not an overly large tub, so the fit is snug as he settles behind her in the warm water. He settles his legs carefully and then moves to wrap his arms around her once more, drawing her to rest against his chest. “Eosyth’s demonstrated her strength now,” he comments, resting his chin briefly on top of her head. “Inaskashath should’ve stopped her tantrum but she didn’t. Is it possible Eosyth was strong enough to overpower her as well?” he wonders aloud.

That, Isolwyn finds no argument for, unable to summon the will to even try and further consider the bronzerider’s case, even for the sake of his dragon. She watches C’aol shed his clothes with a distant sort of focus, absently reminded of the mark at her neck as she shuffles forward a little and abruptly scrubs a hand across the blood that lingers around the wound. When he lifts his arms around her, //that// she observes more closely now than she did before, but she takes a breath and settles herself against him, resting her arms over his, her fingers securing a hold that she fails to notice is a little too strong. “I… suppose I don’t know. I’m not sure that I remember feeling any resistance, but it’s all… something of a blur.” She bites down on the inside of her lip. “I think resistance would have angered her further, yet she stopped soon enough when she knew I was safe and no-one was to escape.” Wincing, she utters a pained, “What if she and I have made a fool of Rori? I just wanted him to stop. I had to get him to stop.”

C’aol’s arm flexes against the strength of Isolwyn’s grasp but he does not stop her. He’s made silent note of all the evidence of her injuries. Rather than explode with words, he remains quiet behind her. He dislodges his arm from her gently so he can reach for the bar of soap he keeps on the corner of the tub. He lathers it in his hand by rolling it between his fingers. He sets the soap back down and then reaches steady fingers out to gently scrub the blood from her neck. “I’ll have words with Rori later. //You// did nothing wrong. She was absent. It’s hard to blame her for that though – with Eosyth glowing, it’s safer for her to keep Inaskashath away.” A sigh escapes him and a low curse, “Fucking bastard,” is all he can say before he manages to tighten his lips and focuses on gently massaging her neck and shoulder.

“I don’t blame her,” Isolwyn hastens to say, letting out a quiet hiss as the soap does its work over the slice at her neck that will surely close soon enough and leave only bruising behind. “What could she have done? With Eosyth a turn old, Inaskashath can’t be that far from rising herself. If a fight had provoked something else…” She gives a tiny shake of her head, prioritising staying still so as not to dissuade C’aol from what he’s doing. “I blame him and his poor choices and they will cost him. If the Harpers don’t deliver fair judgement… the price will still be paid.” There’s a dark flicker from Eosyth for those words, yet she doesn’t stray from Daeserath’s side, curling close. Isolwyn twists at the waist just enough that she can turn and look up at C’aol, something hollow and haunted in her gaze that she blinks away as she lifts a hand to catch at the nape of his neck and draw him down to touch her lips to his. “You protected us. Looked after us.”

C’aol shifts in the tub, rearranging his legs around her as he reaches once more for the soap. He lets both his arms free of her waist this time so he can get a good lather in his hands. He then begins to apply the soap along both her shoulders and down her arms in a firm massage. “They weren’t poor choices, Isolwyn. What he attempted to do was wrong. When I find out which Weyr he is from… our relationship will end up strained because of //him//. To come to //my// Weyr and lay hands on //my// Weyrwoman,” his thumb pauses as it digs in to her shoulder blade before he can release a breath and return to the gentler massage. He lowers his ice-cold gaze to meet hers, surprise twitching his brow up as she claims a kiss from him. “We will always protect you,” he tells her with a roughened voice, “Not because it’s the right thing to do, or to claim you as ours, but because that’s what you deserve. You deserve to be treasured and protected.” His arms move around her once more, hugging her close against his chest. “The idea that some man thought he could… force himself…,” his throat closes around the words as anger engulfs him. Daeserath’s angry rumble reaches the bathing chamber.

“…Perhaps he’s someone ambitious and overlooked from the South… but my guess is still someone from closer to home.” The thought makes Isolwyn tense up again, her shoulder flexing back as C’aol’s thumb digs into the blade, though she makes no comment if it’s caused her any pain at all. She leans back against him when his arms move around her once more, closing her eyes as she tips her head back to nose at the underside of his chin in a manner vaguely reminiscent of her queen. “Maybe we’re yours anyway,” she says quietly, her arms lifting to secure his around her. Letting her head rest against his shoulder, she murmurs, “Don’t think about it,” in a manner that strays closer to pleading than she’d like. “If I think on it for too long, I’m going to be afraid when she rises and I need to be in control. I know he won’t be there; I know what Eosyth did to his bronze. But it doesn’t mean… that others like him won’t be. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t the chance of…” She swallows hard. “I can’t think about it.”

C’aol is quiet as he holds her against him, letting Isolwyn speak aloud about her fears. He shifts in the tub, gently disentangling his arms from her body. “The water’s growing cold. Let’s get you out of it and dressed,” he replies, avoiding the other topic. He pulls himself out of the tub and collects a towel to wrap around himself. He reaches for a large robe that’s kept on a hook near the doorway. He walks back to the tub and holds it out for Isowlyn, waiting for her to step into it. Once she’s bundled, he places his arm around her waist and walks her out of the bathing room and towards his bedroom. His bed is made neatly, with two decorative pillows he takes off and sets on the tiny chest at the foot of the bed. “I’ll get you a shirt and some pants,” he tells her, disappearing towards his dresser to rummage for the items. He brings a crisp button-up shirt for her and a pair of his trousers. “Make yourself comfortable. You’re staying with us tonight,” he informs her, giving her space to get dressed as he himself goes and dresses. He settles on the foot of his bed once he’s got a shirt and pants on, watching her closely. “We can prevent other riders from having you, even if their dragon is the one to catch them. Especially… after this incident.”

Nodding her acquiescence, Isolwyn accepts the shirt and trousers that she’s given and swiftly pulls the shirt over her head, letting it drown her somewhat, then steps into the trousers and uses one of the strands of ribbon that she pulled from her hair earlier to tie them at her middle to keep them from slipping back down over her hips. She settles herself on the bed, her knees drawn to her chest, and watches C’aol with her chin propped upon them. “Doing that would undermine the validity of your leadership, if I were to be with you and Daeserath caught,” she says slowly. “It would look like a fix. …Then, I suppose if anyone has seen us together, it will look like a fix anyway.” She looks down at her feet and gives a tiny shake of her head. “And I can’t avoid it for the rest of my life. It isn’t anything that a husband wouldn’t have done. I was prepared for that.” Ashamed, she murmurs, “…Or maybe I wasn’t.” Her arms tighten around her knees. “After this flight, maybe I’ll lock my door like Aerishani’s rumoured to. But this one… there’s too much at stake.”

“A husband would not have tried to force you to have sex with him, Isolwyn,” C’aol’s words are cold and his gaze is sharp. “A husband would not have taken a knife to your neck or your skirts.” His shoulders tense and he balls his hands into fists. He stands suddenly and leaves the room, slamming the bedroom door behind him as he goes. Noises drift back towards his bedroom of slamming drawers, clattering glasses, and more stomping. He returns with a steaming mug of tea for her. “It’s got brandy in it,” he tells her as he passes it towards her. He exhales slowly and struggles to stop himself from pacing the floor. “I may have… been violent sometimes,” he growls out, “but I never took what wasn’t offered to me.” He shakes his head and moves towards a wall, his fist moving out to slam into it without consideration for the damage to his knuckles. “That //bastard//. That, stupid, fucking //bastard//.” He punches the wall once more. “It won’t be this way, Isolwyn,” he looks to her, eyes ablaze with anger fueled by Daeserath’s. “Daeserath will win. You will not be taken as… as a trophy. I won’t allow it.”

“If it was no husband I had chosen of my own volition, what would have been the difference?” are the only words Isolwyn can summon in argument to cast after C’aol as he departs the room, offered up as matter of fact and nothing more, for the slam of the door makes her flinch and further huddle in on herself, though she makes no move to remove herself from his bed. The noises from outside the room largely drift over her, but her gaze remains sharp enough that she must hear them and understand them for what they are, and none of them encourage her to flee. Instead, she shuffles towards the head of the bed and sits with a pillow propped behind her, her gaze lifting to C’aol’s as he returns. “Thank you,” she says quietly, accepting the tea and curling in on that too as she takes a cautious sip. No sooner has she done that than she sets the mug down and launches herself across the room to thread her arms through his elbow and hold on before he can strike the wall again, leaning back in her effort to put her weight behind how hard she pulls. “Stop!” is a demand that she shouts, unwilling to relinquish her hold. “Stop it now or you’ll break something!” She maintains her grip with one arm, while she reaches up to hook fingers at his collar and tug. “You’re mine and you need to stop!” she insists, meaning to force him to focus on her.

C’aol doesn’t immediately stop his actions, taking Isolwyn’s weight as leverage as he slams his hand once more into the wall. It buckles under his aim, wood and plaster splintering as the partition that separates his room from the bathing room takes the brunt of his anger. Luckily for his hand, all he’ll earn is cuts and scrapes for his outburst. Had he been punching one of the rock walls… the injury Isolwyn feared would surely have been achieved. He takes in a breath and closes his eyes, steadying his mind, pushing Daeserath out before he looks to Isolwyn. “I’d be a kinder man to tell you to choose another,” he tells her, moving to cup her face with his bruised hand. “You don’t see what others see in me. I know you… think I’ll be better than I am. I’m not entirely sure I’ll wait for the Harpers, Isolwyn. The more I think about it, the more I see you huddled in my shirt, on my bed… with injuries caused by another. I can’t //think// for wanting to hurt him the way he hurt you.” He drops his hand from her face and uses it to tuck her in close against him. “Had he done…,” he shakes his head and takes another breath as he presses his lips against her hair.

“Stop!” Isolwyn shouts again, either the pressure she’s applying or the rapid beat of her heart causing the cut at her neck to flood red again. She only listens as C’aol cups her face, still in the process of convincing her fingers to let go when he tucks her in against him, that grip re-established at the tail of his shirt. “…I don’t need you to be better than you are,” she murmurs against his chest. “I don’t expect it and I don’t need it. I need you to be who you are so that I can be who I am and Eosyth can be who she is. You and Daeserath both. I don’t need to see what others have seen or think they’ve seen.” Her grip loosens enough that she can wind her arms around his middle and hold on tight. “I’m not interested in kinder or anyone else. I won’t settle for softer because it might be easier.” She presses her forehead over his heart, taking a breath before she admits, “…And I don’t have it in me to tell you how to deal with him again,” and in doing so proverbially or literally looks the other way.

C’aol’s arms tighten around Isolwyn, his face remaining tucked against her head so he can steadily inhale and exhale to settle the anger that’s his and Daeserath’s both back into separate compartments. “Then it is as it should be,” he tells her, looking down and noticing her cut. “I’ll take you to a healer,” he decides, moving to lift her up into his arms and carry her there again. “But, no, that fuckin’–,” he shakes his head, hefts her into his arms and walks with her back to the bed. He settles her down once more, handing her that discarded mug of brandy and tea, before he disappears back into his bathroom. He returns and silently addresses her bleeding neck, eyes flashing as he dabs at the steady flow. It’s only after the blood has been stemmed and she’s drank all of the “draught” he made that he’ll find his words again. “I swear,” he tells her, gaze steady, “I will always protect you. You will…,” he struggles for the words, but manages to get them out, “be my partner in running this Weyr. My equal.” Hard words for the proud man to state and yet his hands cup her face and tips it to meet his gaze. “No other will ever touch you.” He seals that promise with a gentle kiss.

Isolwyn threads her arms around C’aol’s neck as he lifts her up, only then noticing that she’s marked his shirt with blood, the sight one that draws a murmured apology from her as he sets her down on his bed and she obediently curls her hands around the abandoned mug, lifting it to her lips again when he moves for the bathing room. She does her best to not be obstructive while she drinks and he tends to the wound at her neck, watching him through a gaze that becomes not quite so full of tension as the brandy does its work and takes enough of the edge off the world for her to start to relax. The mug is set down as he begins to speak, her attention entirely his, and though she looks a little worse for wear, the hand that lifts to cover one of his is warm and steady. “My partner and my equal,” she quietly confirms, a promise of her own as she touches her lips to his again and lands another gentle kiss along his jaw. “And I will take care of you as you have of me.” To that mind, she softly runs the pad of her thumb across his knuckles, watching for any sign of pain. “Even if you must punch a wall every now and then.” It’s a faint, dry attempt at humour, one corner of her mouth curved in a tiny smile.

“The wall is better than a face,” C’aol grumbles as he watches her look over the self-inflicted damage he’s caused. “Come,” he announces, drawing her away and towards his bed. “Let’s stop talking and find sleep.” He settles her back on his bed and disappears to refill her tea, which he’s dosed with a tiny bit of fellis. He hands it to her with no comment, waiting until she’s taken a few sips before he pulls himself up in the bed. His chest is a firm pillow, but it’s offered to her as he draws her against him. He’ll stay awake the majority of the night, repeating the days instances, wondering where he could’ve prevented it, and controlling Daeserath’s rage when the bronze wakes now and then to check on the gold in his charge. The next day, neither will be out of view of rider or bronze. And that’s how it will be until Eosyth flies. “Fuck politics,” C’aol mutters at an early hour, “it’s not worth the risk.” Eventually sleep finds him and he’ll wake with his entire body curled about Isolwyn’s.

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