Slow is Best

Slow is Best

Who: Nala, Rori, Aislara, Jynth, Inaskashath, Ryerith
When: Month 12, 204 AT
Where: Meadow/Honshu Weyrhold
What: Nala and Rori flee Fort in the wake of Eosyth’s meltdown and learn how things have changed at Honshu.

Whatever it is that aggravates Eosyth so, it’s enough that Jynth begins to feel the effect of her fury and that the compulsion that she casts far and wide that would have others pinned to the ground, that he could be dragged so easily under another’s command something that has never sat well with him or his rider. Perhaps it’s distance that helps him to fight it, or maybe it’s Inaskashath, but his instinct is to run, the idea enforced by Nala, who scrambles up from paying court to Rori, pausing only to haul her to her feet before she dashes for him, shoving at him the first image she can think of for Between. Apologies will have to come later, for the autumn picnic she’s brought Rori on some distance from the Weyr is forgotten, the need to flee before Eosyth can fully control him one heightened by the attempt on their lives of months before. Jynth passes the image to Inaskashath before he vanishes, but, for them, there is no other option: he and Nala have to go.

Inaskashath has acquiesced to Eosyth’s mind – letting the queen who would rule Fort to have her power over her dragons. She’s not the sort to interfere, nor is Rori the sort to push her to do so. Inaskashath’s own mental strength has shielded her from Daeserath and Eosyth’s combined fury, the roar of their minds blocked with a hint of adamant like her dam’s mental barriers. She’s extended her shield as best as she can to Jynth but her strength waivers. Rori doesn’t know what to make of Nala’s dash, but she is quick to follow. Her focus on Nala leads her away from the fact that Isolwyn’s been hurt – Inaskashath has a vague understanding of Eosyth’s fury. << The bronze is hurt >> she tells Rori as skirts are gathered and flight gear is pushed on in her hurry to follow Nala. “C’aol will handle it. Something is wrong with Jynth and Nala,” she tells her gold, not bothering with the responsibilities she is expected to put first. It is not long before Inaskashath is breaking from Between – seconds after Jynth’s arrival. They would have had to time it to be so quick behind him.

The beach that Nala and Jynth have arrived at is devoid of any presence but theirs until Rori and Inaskashath appear, yet the bluerider’s world has narrowed so much to some imperative to keep Jynth from harm that she barely notices them. She slides down from his neck and scrambles to reach for his head, placing her palms on either side of his jaw as she presses her face into cornflower blue hide, her eyes closed. For a minute and more, they don’t move, oblivious to the world around them, until Nala lifts her head again and seeks out Rori’s gaze. “I cannot have them contain and keep us,” she says slowly. “Not when they think us to be abominations. Even if it is not we who have angered Eosyth, I cannot risk being at her mercy. If they can cage us, they can kill us.”

Rori slides off of Inaskashath as quickly as she can unstrap herself, her flight jacket undone and her goggles pushed up on her head as she moves to Nala’s side. Concern drawns her arm to the lower part of Nala’s back, her brows puckered as she listens to Nala’s words. “Eosyth would not have caged nor killed you,” she tells Nala, her answer followed by a displeased rumble from Inaskashath. “She is too young and too strong. Daeserath delights in the chaos that Eosyth brings when she throws her tantrums. Today was no exception.” She shakes her head and blows out a long breath, looking to Jynth and then to Nala. “I should have taught Isolwyn better than this. I failed her and Fort. If Eosyth can exert such control…,” she shakes her head, moving to wrap her arms around Nala’s side. “Aerishani should’ve sent someone else to guide her.”

“A Weyrleader should not have tried to kill me, but he did,” Nala states, no heat in her voice, the words uttered solely for what they are. She listens as Rori speaks and wraps her arms around her, yet one hand remains pressed to Jynth’s jaw, her eyes falling closed again for a matter of moments. “…He claims this is no tantrum,” she says slowly. “Eosyth is angry because someone has tried to hurt Isolwyn.” Jynth hunkers down where he stands, folding up to make himself as compact as possible, which isn’t very, given his build and size. “She is not who she is because of you and you are not who you are because of Aerishani,” Nala states, turning so that she might beter wrap her arms around Rori. “Just as she is not who she is because of the Weyrwoman who trained her. By your logic, if you have failed her, then I have failed you, because it is I who trained you as a rider, if not as a Weyrwoman.”

Rori sucks in a sharp breath at the mention of someone trying to hurt Isolwyn. “I should go back–,” she hazards as she glances towards Inaskashath and her gaze grows distant. She’s quiet as her queen reaches back towards Fort. “It has been handled,” she murmurs, keeping her grip on Nala’s side. Inaskashath moves to Jynth’s side, mirroring her rider, as she noses along his side. << You are safe. I would have protected you and her. Let her know that. >> She lowers her mouth, her face close enough to Nala’s that the spiced heat of her breath washes over Rori and Nala both. “You did not fail me,” she murmurs, pressing her forehead against Nala’s. “Daeserath is angry — too angry. I am not sure it will be safe for us to return to Fort. I do not want to expose you to that… we can take you home, to Honshu.”

Jynth’s, << She… >> is a quiet thing and then nothing at all, silence falling in so abrupt a manner that it must have been enforced by his rider, whatever he might have said locked down and shut away before he can share it. Nala betrays herself with nothing more than the flexing of her shoulders, answered in the rustle of her blue’s wings, the motion all but hidden in her reaching to offer a hand to Inaskashath. “If it is right and better for you to return to Fort, then you should,” the bluerider insists. “If you return now, you have the opportunity to set things right and finish what you must before the Weyr becomes Eosyth’s. You have done nothing wrong. You restored order to a Weyr in chaos and safeguarded it from harm. Not many would have done the same, knowing they were not to be Weyrwoman in the end.” Gently, she strokes a hand through Rori’s hair. “Fort will feel your loss.” She doesn’t quite smile as she asks, “I will go to Honshu, but if I could make one request? If Inaskashath would bring me Cinder?”

Inaskashath brushes her mind against Jynth’s, leaning in where she normally would give him space. Her rider’s worry is //her// worry. << Tell me what needs to be done. More than getting the fluffy one. >> She moves herself against Jynth, offering the closeness of her scarred hide as she settles her head over his neck. Rori shakes her head, hands still on Nala, worry etched across her features. “They do not need me. This is a matter for C’aol. With Eosyth as upset as she is and proddy – it is dangerous for us. I am not sure we should stay when I do go back to fetch our things. I–,” she shakes her head, “I’m not worried about Fort, Nala. I did my duty. I am done doing my duty. It is clear who will be Weyrwoman and it will not be me.” She moves to grasp Nala’s hand to give it a comforting squeeze. “You come before any Weyr,” there’s hurt in her gaze, a memory surfacing that she closes her eyes against. “You’ll always come before the Weyr.”

Nala wraps both arms back around Rori’s waist and holds her close, tucking her face into the crook of her neck in a manner that allows her to keep Inaskashath and Jynth just about in her line of sight. The reason for doing so only becomes apparently when her lifemate maintains his silence, only leaning and nuzzling against Inaskashath in response to her closeness. “There is nothing to be done,” she promises, answering for herself and Jynth to both Rori and her queen. “Nothing that can be done. Let us keep it to ourselves, for it will do you no good.” Nala’s hands lift and find the ends of Rori’s hair, finding a grip so that she can tug and tip her head back to press her lips to hers in a certain and possessive embrace. “You have done your duty,” she agrees in a murmur. “And now you can come home. With us. Where you belong.” Sighing, she takes a step back before she’s tempted just to hold onto her, the steps that follow taking her that short distance to Jynth, where she clambers back up and prepares to depart.

No matter how fast Rori believed she would be able to settle her affairs at Fort, she was not anticipating the reaction that she would receive once she returned to Honshu. She’s managed to deliver Cinder to Nala, having to abandon all of her belongings along with the canine before she went into a meeting with Aerishani and O’rlen. Ryerith sensed the arrival of Inaskashath and Jynth, her sleepy-thoughts drifting towards Jynth in a warm summer breeze of affection. Too much time has passed between them for Ryerith to do more than touch his awareness and retreat, her delight in the patch of sun she’s found to nap in holding her interest more. Aislara is not so readily able to ignore Nala’s and Rori’s return. She’s hidden herself away (as she always does) in her office. There she sits behind her desk, focusing on the reports of the day.

Upon returning to Honshu, Nala’s request for a ground weyr was fulfilled without question, for Aerishani and the Headwoman could come up with few reasons to deny her, given concerns about her safety and the likelihood of Cinder not coping well with the matter of a ledge and threat of a steep drop. The furniture that has been found to serve at least overnight is quite basic, but serviceable, yet what possessions she accrued at Fort remain with Rori’s, and all that she owned was left… with Aislara, in their weyr. If nothing else, manners dictate that she aught not to simply wander back into the weyr she has been gone for seven months from, and so she heads to the Weyrlingmaster’s office to make her intentions known, Cinder keeping close to her side. She doesn’t knock, simply presents herself in the doorway and states, “If it would not be inconvenient for you, I will collect my things before you return home this evening.”

Aislara looks to have gained some weight since months have passed without seeing Nala. Her face is fuller and there’s a hint of pink at her cheeks. Her hair has been braided around her head, wisps of her hair framing her face. She looks up as she hears movement near her door and her focus strays to the canine, who earns a smile, before she lifts her eyes to Nala’s and the smile freezes on her face. She holds it an awkward moment before she lets it drop. She eases back in her chair. The light jacket she has pulled on hides most of her lower body, though the slight swell below her rib cage would be hard to rule out as fat alone. She doesn’t not think about the baby showing – she’s grown used to hiding it but the time for that has passed as she nears six months and her slight frame is already full of the baby growing inside her. “You’re back,” she tells Nala, a hand moving to her stomach in an unconscious seeking of comfort. “And you’ll be moving in with Rori?” she asks, her tone neutral.

Cinder’s ears flick, yet she stays sat at Nala’s side and soon tilts her head back, angular nose pressing into Nala’s palm as the bluerider blinks passively at Aislara and begins to thread various thoughts together. “I will be moving into my own weyr,” she clarifies, her features schooled to a neutral disinterest. “Especially since I imagine there is no longer a place for me in yours.” While Cinder noses more insistently, Nala runs that hand over the canine’s head and across her ears enough to pacify her into believing she’s doing her job. “I hope you are happy,” is as even as she can make it, the sentiment not cold or sarcastic, but not much of anything at all either. “I will ensure Jynth does not pursue Ryerith when next she rises and not intrude on you and your partner’s lives beyond today. My things will be gone within the hour.”

Aislara’s features flicker through hurt and a touch of anger before she simply tilts her head back to look up at the ceiling with a sigh heavy with exhaustion. “Your things are where you left them, Nala.” She lowers her gaze once more. “What you have imagined is not something that has happened. No one has taken your place in our weyr,” she chews at her lower lip for a moment and shifts again in her seat. “It’s true that I have a partner in some way,” she eases herself up from her chair, shifting her jacket and turning so Nala can see the baby bump. “A flight baby,” she tells Nala, “nothing more. He’s not interested in being a father and I’m not concerned about having his help.” She rests her hand along the side of her belly. “It’s a wonder that I’ve kept the baby this long. The healer’s are hopeful I may go full term but they are cautious.” She lowers her hand and looks to Nala and the canine. “Does this… change you leaving?” she asks, daring to hope. “We could try again.”

“I do not know that you should be working or that we should be having this conversation if it is apt to have any variety of adverse effect on your wellbeing.” Nala keeps a hand atop Cinder’s head, unwilling to let the slightest indication of her feelings about what she’s learned show. “I will always love you. That never changed.” She takes a slow breath in and exhales it at an equally measured pace. “But I cannot be with you if you truly believe me to be the failure you have insisted that I am, especially when there is a child involved. I am who I am. If it is not enough, then there is little point in us being together. I cannot live with the threat of being a continuous disappointment hanging over my head.” Glancing down at Cinder, she adds, “And Jynth will chase Inaskashath. I will not turn my back on Rori.” She swallows hard and lifts her gaze again. “I cannot comprehend why you want us to be together if what believe what you said of me.”

Aislara moves away from her desk, closing the distance between them but remaining far enough away to be mindful of the canine. “I said things out of hurt, Nala. I’m sorry, I was sorry then, I’m sorry now. Maybe… maybe we needed that fight, I don’t know. It brought such a hopeful thing for us,” she offers a hand out to Nala, “You want to feel?” she asks, wanting so desperately to ignore the hurt between them. “You can feel the baby move, if you hold your hand here,” she indicates the side of her abdomen, “that’s where the baby likes to kick most.” She bites at her lip and looks at Cinder again, avoiding eye contact with Nala. “Ryerith… will not fight for Jynth’s attention. She is content. Does… does it surprise you I still want to fight for yours?”

Nala glances between Aislara and Cinder and back again, until all she can do is focus on the hand that the woman who is or was her weyrmate reaches towards her and surrender her own trembling hand to be guided where she wills. “I don’t want some man in your bed again,” she blurts out, the words more heated than she means them to be, her usual syntax abandoned. “I don’t want it. If you want it to happen, then I will obey, but I don’t—“ She presses her eyes tightly shut as her knees buckle and she moves to press her face in against Aislara’s side. Cinder only moves to sit within reach, lying down at Nala’s feet with her head dropped down on her paws, prompting Nala to murmur, “She will not hurt you. She is trained to… look after me.” Closing her eyes one more, she presses her head against Aislara again, though now it’s to try and conceal the threat of tears. “And I will look after you. Both of you.”

The movement inside her may not translate to Nala’s hand, the size of the baby still so small that Aislara’s interpretation of the flutters within her may not always press to the outside world. Still, her baby bump is a solid newness to her abdomen that cannot deny the life growing inside of her. “I don’t want a man,” she tells Nala, her hand drifting to rest on the top of her head. “I never have and I never will. It happened — I didn’t seek it out. And this time… I just didn’t think about going Between and didn’t care and then the weeks went on and… this beautiful thing happened.” She’s smiling, her tenderness for the child growing within her warming her words. “You have to let me look after you too, Nala. We’re better when we are there for each other.” She moves to tilt Nala’s face up to look at her. “Come home,” she tells her, looking to Cinder, “or we both can move if she needs different accommodations. I’m not entirely sure our weyr will be best for a baby anyway.”

At first, Nala resists, pressing herself more securely against Aislara’s side so that she keep her tears a better secret for a few moments more, but still she lets her encourage her to look up and eventually lifts her dark eyes to hers. “…The weyr they have assigned me is meant for a queen,” she says slowly. “It is unlikely that Honshu will have need of it, even if both of its queens were to produce new golds when they rise.” She closes her eyes again and Cinder lifts up from the floor to press her head beneath her hand once more. “It has three chambers that could be bedrooms. A ledge with stairs. It might have been for a mated pair, since there are two wallows. If Ryerith would rather keep to her own space… it might be useful.” Practical things are easier, and so she sticks to them until she realises that it’s what she’s doing. “If that is what you want…”

Aislara’s fingers are gentle as they brush the tears from Nala’s face. “I like the idea of you in a space meant for a queen,” she murmurs, smiling as she presses her pal against Nala’s cheek. “Three chambers? That is more than enough space for us.” She hesitates, drawing in her lower lip to nibble at before she asks, “Did Rori intend on living there with you, Nala? I do not want to..,” she shakes her head and moves her hand from Nala’s cheek to tuck some of her hair behind her ear. “Ryerith has mellowed more in my pregnancy than I have,” she laughs softly, “she will not mind having Jynth near her. She does not resent Inaskashath.” She pauses, looking from Nala towards the doorway of her office. “I want you back,” she assures Nala, “but this baby is a gift. I don’t want you to think it’s a trap.” She looks to Nala, “maybe we should move slow?”

“I do not know what she intended,” Nala has to confess, her voice wavering. “I had thought… that Jynth and I should live alone and that would be the best course of action. Assuming that you did not want to see me, I still did not want it to appear as if I had… swapped you for her.” She looks down again and sits back, both hands setting to smoothing over Cinder’s fur. “…I do not say this to upset you, but if I cannot be without either of you and want you both in my life as my weyrmates… I do not know what you both want from me. If there is… anger and animosity, is going through our lives in such a manner the right thing for anyone? Will I be constantly explaining myself? Saying where I am? Is it not selfish of me to think that I should even hope to have you both?” She takes another deep breath. “Maybe I should collect my things and… visit you, for now.”

Aislara is quiet in the wake of Nala’s well-pointed questions. “Slow is probably best,” she manages to agree, her smile dimmed but still offered as she holds a hand out to Nala. “Let us go home and I’ll help you pack. The rest of my paperwork can wait. I know you probably don’t want to, but were you up for it, you could always come back to work with me too.” She waits until her hand is held before she walks out of her office. Ryerith is more than willing to lift both of them up to their old weyr. Aislara makes sure to steer the conversation away from ultimatums and eventualities – she may be willing to share Nala in the future, but it’s far safer for her not to discuss Rori’s place amongst their world. In the coming months, Aislara finds herself able to acquiesce to the eventuality of her sharing Nala with Rori. She organizes her own space in Nala’s new weyr, and a place for the baby, though the rumors flit around Honshu that Aislara never formally moves in with Nala. Honshu’s gossip is generally respectful and the conversation about Nala and Aislara’s relationship does not last long – not when Inaskashath continues to make it clear she favors blue Jynth. The political nature of //that// is far more interesting than a romantic threesome.

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