Deals and Demands

Deals and Demands

Who: Jet, M’tan, O’rlen, Aerishani, Roreliuth, Amorenth
When: Month 1, 205 AT
Where: Council Room, Honshu Weyrhold
What: Jet and M’tan have proposals for Honshu.

M’tan’s request for an appointment with O’rlen was met with a muttered curse from Honshu’s Weyrlord. He put off answering the missive for long enough that Roreliuth inevitably got involved. Drowsy from basking in mid-morning sun, his bronze is amused when he shares with his rider, << Sirhyth is saying that you’d best stop dragging your feet before the Lady comes and flashes her steel. She has a new son and is ill-tempered of late >>. He’s already disclosed the same message to Amorenth, knowing that it might take the Weyrlady to knock O’rlen to attention. O’rlen’s hands end up tossed through his curls as he stares at the letter and crumples it up. “Tell them to come this afternoon. I’ll clear my schedule. If they’re hounding for an audience I’m sure they’ll //jump// at the chance to come.” He strides out of his office and towards the council chambers they keep. Roreliuth reaches out once more towards Amorenth with a wind hosting a flurry of brittle autumnal leaves. << Please send yours to the council chambers. >>

With a glow striking up along her hide, Amorenth deigns not to even acknowledge that she’s heard Roreliuth, nor that he or the rest of the dragon population exist, the perch that she’s adopted one that lies at the highest point of the Weyrhold, even the watchdragon and his rider abruptly dismissed for simply being irritating in their mere presence. She’ll keep an eye out for Sirhyth and his mate herself, thank you. Still, she must inform Aerishani that her presence is required, for the Weyrlady does indeed appear, the beginnings of a flush to her features as she regards her husband with more than a casual interest – one she keeps at bay by not allowing herself actually touch him as she sweeps the length of the table to claim her seat. “I will not be threatened with violence in my own home,” she states, smoothing her skirts over her knees.

O’rlen’s smile is brief as he considers Aerishani with a knowing gaze, her flushed cheeks giving rise to his own desires as he holds her gaze. “There will be no violence here,” he promises her, reaching for the tray that holds a kettle of tea and klah on it. “Tea or klah?” he queries. “I’ve already had three cups of klah. It probably won’t help my nerves nor irritation for holding this audience sooner than I had wanted.” He waits until she makes her request to pass her a mug. Roreliuth is on alert as well for the foreign visitors, choosing to take up residence on a distant perch opposite his mate. He knows better than to push his thoughts or physical nearness further on her as they both wait for the appearance of green and bronze. They don’t have long to wait before Roreliuth has O’rlen announcing to Aerishani, “They’re here.”

“Maybe klah will keep me better focused,” Aerishani hazards, for already she seems to be keeping her attention sharp by force of will. She accepts the mug with a murmur of thanks, though as she lifts it to her lips, she declares, “If Amorenth rises while they’re here, you had better make sure that that that bronze doesn’t win. If that’s their game with timing this meeting now…” The mere thought of //that// happening is enough to make her queen roar defiance over the Weyrhold, which only makes Jet smirk. “Rather obvious, as shows of power go, but I suppose there’s little else to be expected from a queen,” she remarks to M’tan as they move for the council chambers. “It doesn’t seem that any golds of this line are particularly subtle.”

O’rlen goes completely still at the mention of the timing. “I had not considered that sort of trickery,” he tells his wife as the Court’s leaders enter. He rises, indicating with a hand the two seats he has at the council table for M’tan and Jet to sit at. “We have tea and klah to quench your thirst,” he offers the two leaders. He seats himself once more, making no gesture as to pour them a drink as he makes eye contact with Aerishani. M’tan is at his leisure as he walks in, moving to first pull Jet’s seat out and get her settled before he busies himself with pouring each of them a cup of tea. He hands his over to Jet’s and places a hand gently on her shoulder as he tut-tuts. “Now, now, darling. We already know Honshu’s line has… unusual golds. That’s what started so much of the fuss in the North.” His eyes are dark and his smirk clear as he strides to take his own seat. “No formalities for us, I see? No ‘seconds to fuss over our attendance?” He shakes his head and looks to Aerishani. “I see that gold of yours is ready to rise again. Have you plans to send those eggs North once more?”

“You mean that which nearly cost our daughter her dragon, her child and her life?” Jet drawls, tilting her head slightly as her gaze swings towards O’rlen. “How could I forget?” She lifts the tea M’tan has poured for her to her lips and lets her dark focus find Aerishani over the rim of the mug, though she says nothing more, for the moment. “’That gold’ has a name,” the Weyrlady insists, setting down her own mug. “Eosyth is soon to produce her first clutch. Fort has no need of further eggs from our queens; to suggest it would be an insult to the dragons of its new leaders. If they request our assistance in the future, perhaps it will be another case, but I wouldn’t seek to insult a queen’s maiden clutch with the idea.” Aerishani’s focus darts from M’tan to Jet and back again. “Why would you be interested in the fate of our queens’ offspring? You surely have at least one of your own, if Arlet is in your care.”

O’rlen’s brows lift at the reference to Fort’s previous Weyrleader and he sits back in his chair as the thoughts settle in for him. He looks to Aerishani as she speaks and nods his agreement. “C’aol has proven to be a stable and strong Weyrleader for Fort in the interim. I imagine he will continue to be a strong leader.” He waits for the answer to Aerishani’s to be delivered. It comes from M’tan’s drawling voice as the bronzerider examines a knot on the table with idle swirls of his forefinger. “If we had a queen of our own, would you not expect her to be known to Amorenth?” he asks, lifting his gaze and tilting his head sideways with a furrowed brow. “Or Eosyth, who I have heard is quite precocious when it comes to her mental reach?” He rubs at his jaw and looks to Jet, “Perhaps we were wrong on that one’s strength, dear. We can rest at ease that she will not come charging to take the deformed blue that also has ended up in our care.” He looks to Aerishani and O’rlen. “You remember? The one from Inaskashath’s clutch with the blue? Funny, darling,” he says to Jet as he focuses on her, “we seem to keep receiving Honshu’s throwaway riders. What shall the world think?”

“I was referring to Akanyth, being one of Amorenth’s children, but please do continue this arrogant, meaningless posturing,” Aerishani responds through a wearied sigh, a brow quirked in a manner that suggests she believes M’tan to be quite demented. “I suggest you get to the point and then get out, because this is growing more than tiresome. I’m sure those you wish to intimidate find it all very showy and dramatic, but, frankly, it’s quite boring.” She leans forward, propping her elbows on the table and resting her chin atop them. “It’s funny, really, except it isn’t. Amorenth’s strength, Eosyth’s, Malynth, Inaskashath, Akanyth… They’re exceptions to the norm. You pick and choose which of them you want to //feel// for… I hope your people don’t see this colour on you. It’s rather ugly.” Jet opens her mouth, only for Aerishani to get there first and continue regardless. “If you wanted a meeting so soon and so desperately, you want something. You can come in here and threaten steel all you like, but we are the law here, just as you expect to be in your home. So ditch the performance and get on with it.”

O’rlen’s smile is droll as he folds his arms in front of his chest and tips himself back in his chair. “My Weyrlady is quite something, isn’t she? Perhaps she should’ve accompanied me to our last meeting, M’tan. You’d have known what exactly you’d be up against. But please, do answer her.” He looks to Jet, “One of you?” M’tan shakes his head and claps his together twice. “Aerishani, I’ll get to the point. However, not allowing me my dramatics takes away all my //fun// and I do enjoy having it when I can.” He shakes his head and smirks. “I didn’t say I didn’t like your golds, Weyrlady. We accept all differences in our Court so long as they can prove themselves worthy of being with us.” He mirrors O’rlen’s posture. “We’d like to have eggs,” he announces, cutting right to the point, his smile sharpening as he levels his gaze on O’rlen. “For past services rendered.”

Aerishani’s gaze darkens on her husband as M’tan delivers those last words to O’rlen, Amorenth’s influence unsteadying her enough that, for a moment, she looks sick to her stomach. Masking it, she clenches her jaw and looks back to M’tan, stating, “If your intention is to have your bronze fly—“ Before she can finish, it’s Jet who proverbially steps in-front of her this time, to declare, “Kyramith is Sirhyth’s mate and no queen could hope to replace her merely by dint of being able to bear eggs.” She takes another sip of her tea. “Though she is more than capable of ensuring eggs are safe and properly tended to. We have the facilities to support them and make sure that they hatch.” A hand is lifted before anyone might interrupt her. “Don’t concern yourselves by thinking that we want a golden egg or another Eosyth. We have people who would make good riders. It would give them purpose. But Weyrs and Weyrholds are not for them; they’ve seen too much of the world. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their chance.” It sounds reasonable enough, if perhaps a little too much. “If you wish to work with Fort’s leaders to manipulate the Council for your own purposes… It would be wise to remember who gave you the opportunity to tip the balance in your favour.”

O’rlen is caught offguard by the request and it shows by the lifting of his brows and the opening and closing of his mouth. He doesn’t seem to notice Aerishani’s reaction to what she may assume – likely for the best as he considers Jet. “You’re proposing we try and allow a green to hatch eggs?” he asks, looking prepared to laugh though he holds it in. M’tan’s more aware of the impact of words and he’s kept an eye on Aerishani’s reaction. The smile he has is not forced as he looks to Jet and then to O’rlen. “Is it so far-fetched? Your own gold does not tend to her eggs. You do. And some say your bronze does. Kyramith and Sirhyth will not be compelled by a queen – //ever// again. All we would like to see is our people who are Searchable gain a dragon to enhance our growth. Shall we send them off to foreign Weyrs and hope they’ll do well? One would argue that doesn’t work out well.”

“Precisely,” Jet agrees in echo of her mate. “Everyone knows that Amorenth and Roreliuth have hatched three queens without the presence of their dam to consider tending them. If anything, that proves that a queen isn’t required to care for them, only to produce them. A green turning eggs instead of a gold doing the same is surely no greater a transgression than allowing a blue to fly a queen and goad the Council into running scared enough to restrict female advancement.” That, she levels at Aerishani before shifting her gaze to O’rlen. “I hardly think either of you are in a position to argue that it shouldn’t happen because it hasn’t been done. You were the first Weyrleaders to marry. Your queen eschews motherhood. Your junior is flown by a blue. Two of your browns have flown queens. You want to be seen as progressive and liberal and a place of opportunity… While you let people like us bloody their hands for you. I say such an arrangement would suit us both. You get to keep to your ways and we to ours, by way of you assisting us to ensure you can. Everybody wins.” She smirks. “Except your souls are a bit darker than you pretend.” At that, Aerishani inches back her chair as if she’d get up and leave, yet she sets her jaw and stares Jet down. “Inaskashath will likely rise after Amorenth,” she directs to M’tan. “If you claim to value diversity, surely you will not refuse any of her eggs?”

O’rlen looks to Aerishani at Jet’s mention of bloodied hands and it’s the first time in the entire meeting that he’s looked decidedly uncomfortable. “If Rori agrees to any of Inaskashath’s eggs leaving Honshu,” he clarifies, looking to Jet and M’tan. “She may not be agreeable to it.” M’tan tilts his head as he considers O’rlen, a playful smirk resting on his face. “Why wouldn’t she be? We have already taken in one of Inaskashath’s offspring. And we’ve one of Amorenth’s. Does it not stand to reason that future offspring would come our way to be cared for as well?” O’rlen shakes his head and looks to Aerishani, “We should talk about it,” he concedes. M’tan lifts a hand, “You //should// talk about it but we see how much you drag your feet to come to these meetings. I will only leave here with an agreement settled between us.” He straightens his posture and offers a fuller smile towards Jet. “How do you feel, my darling? How many do we require?”

“No,” Aerishani says flatly, before Jet can announce what figure they might require. “I will not be dictated to. This is our Weyrhold. Our home. Afford us the same respect you would want in your own. Political ambush is not the way that business should be conducted, especially not if you desire a positive outcome. We will have the time to consider your proposal and you will leave Honshu and not return until Amorenth has flown if you have any interest in continuing down this path. Whether or not you //want// your lifemates to be commanded by a queen ever again, I promise you that they //will// be if you don’t depart.” Jet only smirks and rises to her feet in a leisurely manner, taking the time to straighten her jacket and the tail of her half-skirts. “I don’t like threats, Weyrlady,” she says lowly. “But you must already see that you will have to acquiesce, or you wouldn’t be scrabbling so for time to consider what doing so will mean for you.” She glances to M’tan as she declares, “This is already over. Four will do. From which queen, it matters little. But we will have them and your support, and you will have ours. It’s as simple as that.” She doesn’t bother granting either O’rlen or Aerishani the manners of bow or curtsey or further acknowledgement as she turns on her heel and sweeps from the room.

M’tan rises more leisurely, letting Jet speak for them. He watches her head towards the door and he moves to follow. He deliberately walks past O’rlen to settle a hand on his shoulder and smile down at him, his eyes cold and hard despite the false niceties that follow. “Let us not forget what we’ve been working towards, O’rlen. This will impact you little. Keep that in mind.” He looks after Jet and then to Aerishani before he gazes once more down at Honshu’s Weyrlord. “Our Ladies are strong. Let’s not let them have a battle of wills, yeah? It’s much easier when we work together.” His parting grasp on O’rlen’s shoulder may be a //tiny// too firm before he follows after his wife. O’rlen doesn’t move from his seat as he looks after the two. He doesn’t look at Aerishani either. He’s silent as he leans back in his chair and slouches down.

Once she’s certain that M’tan and Jet cannot be lingering on the ledge, Aerishani pushes her chair back and gets to her feet, only to spend a needless amount of time smoothing creases from the front of her skirts. She takes a breath and holds it, her lips parting to speak, only it turns out that she needs to take another before she can. “…For you to be free of this… You could take Roreliuth away. Before Amorenth rises. If you want to be free of it… I’d not think any less of you.” However, she can’t quite look at O’rlen as she says so, and gives a single nod that seems more for herself than for him. “One of us has a choice and it’s not my place to think to deny the freedom to make it.” For a moment, she closes her eyes, her jaw clenched, then she starts to move off and away.

“Don’t go,” O’rlen rises half-out of his chair as she moves off. “You know my answer isn’t to make you free of it. You know I’m by your side.” He sucks in a breath through his teeth, moving back into his chair as he places his head in his hands. “I made a foolish bargain, Aerishani,” he confesses, voice quiet. “You don’t need to know what… but it was done. I made the choice. It was the right choice,” he defends, lifting his gaze to meet hers. “Though it is not the sort you would have made. I understand that. You don’t have to make all the burdened decisions.” He looks towards the door and his face is heavy. “But I’ve brought them to our door and there is nothing to be done about it now.” He looks to her. “Forgive me?”

Aerishani halts, though she doesn’t turn to face O’rlen, listening with her back to him and her head held artificially high. “…I’ll always forgive you,” she murmurs. “I married you for //you//, not because your dragon caught mine or because you were the one I would lead this Weyrhold with.” She finally turns back to him, her arms knotted at her middle. “I don’t like who I have to be when they’re here. I don’t sound like me. I don’t //feel// like me. And I don’t like what they’d push me to do if they threatened us further. Eggs are a relatively small thing, when you think about it… But what will it be next? What else are they going to want from us?” Shaking her head, she glances down at her feet. “…Maybe it’s a sign that everything I’ve tried to do has been wrong.”

O’rlen’s face is ashen and he does not dare rise from his chair again. Aerishani’s words hit him true and Roreliuth roars somewhere within Honshu against the wounds of his rider’s heart. “I do not know them well,” he cautions, striving to push Roreliuth away as he focuses on Aerishani. “The hurt was deep for them for their daughter. A daughter? In Arlet? I do not understand it. Perhaps it is some… claiming we do not understand. When the Council caused all of Fort’s breakdown and Arlet was in the middle of it… they had reason to get involved. We were a likely ally, as Arlet was of our Sands.” He takes a breath and lets it out in a loud whoosh. “You will think me a fool, Aerishani. There is something about their bluster I can look past. They are //capable// of it – the murder. Yet… I can see heart in them.” He closes his eyes and tips his head back. “Honshu has fallen victim to political maneuvers that cost us too much. For once, Aerishani, I wanted to be in control.”

“I don’t think you’re a fool.” Yet it’s plain that whatever O’rlen sees, Aerishani cannot, at present, or will not. Her arms knot more tightly, hugged around the base of her ribs. “I was never a Harper of law. I sang, I danced, I performed. What if they catch me out one day and I bring the walls of this Weyrhold down around us by accident?” Outside, Amorenth abruptly drops from her chosen perch and sweeps down to her ledge, to slip through to the weyr beyond and out of sight. “…Maybe we pushed too far. Marriage. Browns, blues catching queens. There was bound to be a bigger price somewhere down the line than becoming a target for liberal thinking.” Slowly, she moves to close the distance between herself and O’rlen, unlooping her arms to thread her fingers through his hair. “I’m not fit to do this right now. There’s too much of Amorenth and too much of me. Come home tonight and come to bed and maybe we can forget about it all for a while.” She touches her lips to his forehead, then turns and strides from the room, to meet her queen and seek sanctuary at her side for what time may afford her.

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