A Matter of Capability

Who: Isolwyn and Emily
Where: Records Room, Fort Weyr
What: Emily’s weyrwoman training begins.

The months wear on and Isolwyn does little to interfere with what the weyrlingmasters teach Emily and Hanath, checking in on them only now and then so as to avoid as much as she can from marking them as ‘other’, while depending on Eosyth’s senses and long reach to keep her informed if anything should be amiss. Whether the day she always intended or one she decided as the sun rose, she has a summons delivered to Emily to meet her in the records room after lunch, the instructions accompanied by alterations to her lesson schedule for three separate occasions per week. With Eosyth still distant much of the time, the Weyrwoman’s eyes are somewhat shadowed, yet she seems perfectly alert as she awaits Emily at one of the larger writing desks sat towards the centre of the records.

Emily and Hanath are dutiful, if quiet, participants in the weyrlingmaster program at Fort. Neither has given any reason for them to be in trouble or behind in their studies. The biggest issues that Hanath has posed is when out in public, she insists on plopping herself in the middle of children activities. Fort’s nannies and Harper’s have grown used to the gold’s presence and the children have incorporated her as well – using her body as play equipment as she grows, and places to tuck in for hide and seek, or to find a soft spot for an impromptu nap. Emily watches as Hanath has once more settled in amongst Fort’s weyrbrats as they play by the lake before she goes and finds Isolwyn in the records room. She’s dressed neatly in a white blouse and brown pants, her boots shined to gleaming and her short hair held back from her face with a hairband. “Hello, Weyrwoman,” she hails Isolwyn as she enters and gives her a bow.

“Please, take a seat,” Isolwyn invites, gesturing to the chair across from her. “How is Hanath?” If she has inside knowledge from the weyrlingmasters, she still waits for Emily to provide her own response. “As you should have been informed, you will now attend lessons with me and the Headwoman’s staff while the rest of your classmates are going through standard drills. The queens wing still performs air drills and practises rescue procedures, but not as frequently as what would have been the fighting wings, if we still had Thread to worry about.” She slides a sheet of paper across the desk, the topics of the following month’s lessons printed neatly on it. “You’ll also learn how to operate a flamethrower and how to work with the dragonhealers to use Hanath’s gifts as a queen to ease the pain of other dragons. There will be additional instruction about Between too, but we’ll discuss that further when we get to it.”

“She’s entertaining toddlers at the moment, ma’am,” Emily says as she slides into the seat. She seems sincere with the ‘ma’am’, despite their nearness in age. “At least she’s content to watch them play for now rather than trying to participate again.” She grows quiet as Isolwyn fills her in on the changes to her studies and nods attentively. She takes the paper as it’s offered and remains quiet as she reviews the schedule and lessons presented for her. “Can I ask a question?” she lifts her gaze to wait for Isolwyn’s prompting her to continue before she asks, “Why would I learn a different sort of Between?” she considers the rest of the tasks presented to her. “We will apply ourselves diligently, of course. Does the Headwoman staff know that I’ve some formal training in the running of a Hold? Hopefully, they don’t need to teach me too much.”

“There are… certain elements of the matter of Between that only queenriders and select bronzeriders are ever instructed in,” Isolwyn says slowly, watchful of Emily as she does so. “Firstly because they can have serious consequences and secondly because they can make it that much more dangerous.” Her lips twist in a wry grimace. “In my case, Eosyth figured it out before I was informed of the mechanics of it, but Hanath seems… How shall we say…? Much more placid than her dam. Once the weyrlingmasters have instructed you and are confident that the two of you can travel Between unaided wherever you wish, we’ll get to work.” She reaches for a clipboard that has a small range of documents attached to it, from a stores ledger to the menu for the upcoming week, then another with the details of several women intending to interview to be one of the Headwoman’s assistants. “As for the rest, that’s yours to complete this afternoon. You’ll work with the Headwoman for most of it – she’s expecting you – and she’ll have a better idea of how to move forward depending on how much input you require.”

Emily nods her head at the information that there may be more that she should get instructed in. “While I understand that practice, ma’am, I can’t help but think some of the other colors’ riders would be as trustworthy, if not sometimes more so, than queenriders and bronzeriders alone,” she looks up as she takes the ledger and gives Isolwyn a small smile. “Sorry if my opinion oversteps.” She takes a moment to review the contents on the clipboard and then glances back at Isolwyn. “I’ll make sure to complete this as soon as possible.” She holds the items to her chest and waits for Isolwyn to dismiss her. “Is there anything else you need today, ma’am?” she asks, looking as obedient as she can with her calm gaze and pleasant smile.

“It’s less a matter of trust and more a matter of capability,” Isolwyn replies, matter of fact. “You’ll understand more when we begin, but it is an easy thing for a queen and less so for some of the other colours. Some of the finer points are easier for queens to grasp and that has nothing to do with anything that we can change about the nature of dragons.” She regards Emily for a little longer than is typically polite or comfortable in the face of her smile, something calculating in her gaze that she blinks away when she shakes her head. “No,” she murmurs, her voice a touch darker than she must mean it to be. “Not yet, anyway. We’ll review your performance at our next meeting.”

In the face of Isolwyn’s calculating gaze, Emily’s smile doesn’t waver though uncertainty enters her gaze. She stands and offers a bow to Isolwyn. “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll work towards a good performance review.” She turns and leaves, heading directly to the Headwoman. The tasks that she is assigned she handles with confidence and little direction. The Headwoman will report to Isolwyn that Emily appears to have been properly trained in the management of a Hold, despite her being the youngest daughter of her own Hold. She has a notable mind for calculations and can do sums quickly in her head without making much of it. As to the other tasks that she will be assigned, it will remain to be seen how well she can take those in stride.

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