Black and White

Who: Aerishani and O’rlen
Where: Weyrlady’s Weyr, Honshu Weyrhold
What: The breakdown of leadership and a marriage.

As evening draws on, it reaches bedtime for the twins, who have stayed with Aerishani in the Weylady’s weyr for much of the afternoon, the slightly chaotic state of the place evidence as such, and so their designated nanny from the nursery arrives to collect them. They both protest, one clinging to their mother while the other sends the nanny chasing after him before they switch roles, but Aerishani is firm and makes sure that the matter ends with the nanny holding on to each of their hands and guiding them calmly from the weyr and towards the caverns. In the aftermath, she goes about cleaning up, picking up stray toys and straightening what furniture has ended up out of place, and Amorenth returns from her watch over the Weyr, settling down in her wallow to keep watch over her rider instead.

O’rlen strides into the weyr without pause, noting what remains of the toys with a detached glance before he shucks off his riding jacket and gear to settle at the front of Aerishani’s weyr. He smiles at Amorenth before he continues forward to seek out her rider. “Aerishani?” he calls out, waiting near the entrance for her to appear rather than striding in and making himself at home. “I’ve received word from Leesa,” he draws the folded piece of parchment from his back pocket and opens it to read again. He shakes his head and then waits to hand it over to Aerishani. “M’tan and Jet have successfully hatched the four dragons like we were told when M’tan came to request a dragonhealer to look over the bronze who struggled to get out of his egg. It would seem there were other reasons why Leesa went.” He folds his arms in front of his chest and tucks his chin down to await her reading of the news.

Amorenth regards O’rlen impassively, going so far as to not bother watching him even all that long, her head lowered to her paws as he passes her. Her rider pauses with stuffed animals in both hands, the lot of which she settles into a chair before accepting the piece of parchment and sitting herself down on the arm of the aforementioned chair. She’s quick to read through its contents, her response one that surfaces as bitter in the first instance. “Let them deal with it,” she states, offering the letter back. “They thought they were equipped and they plainly aren’t, to the tune of their own child Impressing far younger than any girl should. What I don’t understand is how it can be a queen the girl’s Impressed to – Amorenth has known every egg of hers to contain a gold and Jynth is blue. Even though he’s large, he surely can’t sire queens.” She glances down at her knees. “Honshu is too young a Weyrhold to contain any record of such things. Fort or Benden might, if they were ever to acknowledge it.” Looking back up, she lifts her gaze to O’rlen’s and questions, “Is there anything else?”

Whatever reaction O’rlen was anticipating from Aerishani, this clearly isn’t as his brows lift upwards. “Those are dragons of Honshu. You would rather leave them to struggle? I am not entirely sure when I inform Nala and Rori that it’s possible Jynth sired a small gold that they will feel the same way.” He watches Aerishani closely. Then he shakes his head, clenches his jaw, and looks towards the door. “I suppose this will continue to be the way of us?” He asks of her as he looks back to her. “Dismissive of problems because of the ties to the Court. Dismissive of me? I guess when Amorenth next rises you’ll be looking to make it a leadership flight?” He can’t hide the bitterness from his voice. “Because of what I did, a hard choice I made, that you can’t forgive me for.”

“Why would you inform Nala and Rori of anything?” Aerishani asks, a measure of fabricated surprise all she permits to be conveyed through her words. “Is it not bad enough for them that Inaskashath’s eggs were taken away? Why seek to unsettle and distress them with news of something we’ve no way of yet confirming absolutely, when there’s nothing that they can do about it?” She folds her hands in her lap, threading her fingers together. “The Court got what it wanted. If we continue to support them, they will be our problem, making demands, forevermore. We will never be free to make decisions without wondering when they are going to show up again and blackmail us into compliance. If they think they know better and are better, then let them handle it.” Her shoulder twitches again. “Every time Amorenth rises the leadership of Honshu is at stake. Her next will be no different; not for me. You made your feelings quite clear last we spoke on this. Keep Roreliuth out of it and you don’t have to worry about my being your Weyrlady. And then the Hall can handle the paperwork to free you of being anything else as well and prevent my having any control over anything in your life.”

“You always want everything so fucking black and white, Aerishani,” O’rlen’s face hardens. “They would know of the eggs were they to have hatched at any other Weyr. I will let them know about them this time. Next time Jynth catches Inaskashath they will need to know of the potential for a gold. It’s important. Maybe the Council will become involved,” that sobers him and dissipates some of his anger, resignation registering as he sighs. “And give them fuel to further weigh in on their displeasure with the untraditional relationship.” He looks to her, his gaze hardened with the strain of the last few months. “I would not seek to dissolve our marriage because we are going through hardship. What is the point in having done it in the first place? To throw a party? To be madly in love and foolish in its pursuit? We got married and we will stay married. I would //like// to find a way to work through our problems. You’ll tell me to shove it and handle it myself like you’re doing with this issue of the Court! I will involve Fort and see what can be done about it. You saw Isolwyn’s ties to them. Why don’t you help me foster relationships like that one with them?”

What brief triumph Aerishani claims from O’rlen’s realisation is no true comfort, for even that leaves her looking more wretched in an instant, yet no less closed off. “So C’aol can run Fort and Honshu?” she mutters bitterly. “That will be just what he’s always wanted. Reliance on him. By grace of being male, you’ll never know what it is to have someone like him inform you that you’ll enjoy how he plans on hurting you, and maybe that’s why you don’t see what I do. But before and after you, I’ve known full-well what he would have done to me if he had had the chance.” She huffs out a note of cold, despairing laughter. “The Court and C’aol. They’re everything I never wanted for Honshu and you want to work with them. When you’re not compliant or useful anymore, they’ll destroy you. And you think it’s seeing in black and white, not wanting to watch you walk into the embrace of people like that? You’ve made all your decisions anyway. ‘I will, I will’. Just don’t expect me to applaud and rejoice in what will inevitably see you hurt.”

“I remember when you first became Honshu’s Senior and this Weyrhold believed you were a traitor and a plant from the Harper Hall and the North,” O’rlen’s tone is sharp, his defensiveness unending in the face of Aerishani’s words. “C’aol very likely would have sought to torture you and run this Weyr with a heavy hand I don’t think he shows as much in Fort. He would have delighted in causing you pain, I know it as well as you do. It wasn’t Daeserath who caught Amorenth. It isn’t another bronze who patiently watches over her eggs, it’s //my// bronze. I //have// made hard choices for Honshu whether or not you agree with them they are made! Now we have to look to the future! What do you want? I will dissolve all ties with the North and we will refuse to take part in the Council or to have ties with any other Weyr. We can isolate Honshu. Would that work?” He shakes his head and folds his arms more firmly in front of him.

Aerishani gives a little shake of her head in some unconscious echo and gets to her feet, moving to begin gathering up the rest of the toys strewn around the weyr. “You can ally yourself with anyone you wish to. Your mind is already made up and my opinion isn’t one that you’re interested in. You’ve made the choices and you can continue to make them, as you’ve pointed out; you don’t need my consent or my blessing. You’re Weyrlord. And that’s how it is.” From the floor, she secures an armful of wooden blocks and tips them onto the chair she was perched on. “I don’t want anything. I don’t want any of this. To be perfectly honest, if Amorenth weren’t intent on holding Honshu, I’d suggest Rori as a successor, given she’s shown she can lead a Weyr.” The very notion is one that has Amorenth’s gaze swirling red, a chill and heavy pressure suddenly slamming down over the Weyrhold. “I’m tired. Contact Fort if you want, but I don’t see them supporting Jynth’s right to fly Inaskashath if it comes to that. And before you assume C’aol is a reformed character, note that his Weyrwoman didn’t bring him to Arlet’s wedding.”

“You refuse to acknowledge that sometimes when you’re leading you have to make hard choices. You have to work with one enemy to accomplish goals. I did what was necessary to protect our Weyrhold,” O’rlen answers her and then bursts out with bitter laughter at her proposition. “You’d walk away from all that you have accomplished because you can’t let this one item go? Rori could not safely lead this Weyrhold or a Weyr if she wanted to! If she had tried to hold on to Fort the Council would’ve surely done something. Look at what happened to Nala! And for that matter what happened to Arlet! I had to decide to try something to change their futures. Have Rori lead?” He scoffs, shaking his head. “I never said C’aol was reformed. I have not sought to align myself with him again and likely won’t either. That’s not even the point of this entire argument. You want our life to be perfect and it isn’t going to happen. If you don’t want to make hard choices then you should let me continue to do so without burdening yourself.” He shakes his head again and moves towards the door. “You’re tired? Of course you are.”

“According to you, I’ve accomplished nothing and shouldn’t even be attempting to lead Honshu in the first place,” Aerishani replies, retrieving another stuffed animal peeking out from beneath the couch. “Apparently, we owe everything to you, because you know everything and a refusal to compromise morals is something only a fool would insist on. You’ve turned into an arrogant, nasty piece of work who looks down on me for refusing to vindicate the actions of murderers, thieves and rapists because it doesn’t get you what you want.” All too casually, she strides towards O’rlen until she’s right in his path, her gaze steady on his. “Because that’s what they are, you know. Murderers. Thieves. Rapists. You want to talk about what I won’t acknowledge? How about you think on that. It’s easy to ignore when you don’t see it, but it doesn’t make it any less true.” She tips her chin up as she tells him, “If I’m so incompetent, start looking for another goldrider to lead. And look for another wife while you’re at it. It’s not as if you’ve touched me in months, so I imagine you have a candidate in mind already. Give her my regards.”

O’rlen looks down at Aerishani in complete flabbergasted shock. “You are absolutely ridiculous,” he tells her once he manages to get control of himself. “You’ll walk away from everything. Murderers and thieves, yes. I asked them to kill and they did it. I have the blood on my hands. Rapists? You’re being dramatic. There is no proof of that.” He looks towards the ceiling and exhales loudly. “You’re too proud to admit when you need to concede a point. You’d wreck us over this? Another candidate? I won’t marry another,” He looks down at her. “And how could I touch you when we can’t even have a civil conversation when we are around each other? Unlike some of my male peers, I do not get off on having angry sex!” He throws his hands up in the air. “I’ll have sex again with you when you stop threatening me to find another woman and to forever blame me for my choices! I won’t hire them again. Do you understand? We repaid them with the dragons YOU want to abandon in their care! I’ll call Leesa home and let the rest go to fate!” he’s shouting at the end but doesn’t seem to realize it until he quiets and glares at her.

“How did you think that was going to go? That we would have visitation rights? You need to face reality and understand that those dragons were lost to us the moment they were taken from our Sands. They aren’t going to pop home to see their parents every few weeks!” Aerishani looks O’rlen up and down and all too politely steps out of his way. “You might not marry another, but, to you, I am ridiculous and incompetent and I don’t deserve to be Weyrlady. How can I possibly remain married to you when that is what you really think of me? It isn’t a threat, O’rlen, it’s another bit of the picture that you don’t want to see. You don’t like who I am. You certainly don’t respect me. It doesn’t take the idiot that I am much to extrapolate that you can’t possibly still be in love with me.” She shrugs and starts to head back to her work of fixing up the living area. “You can get out of my weyr while it’s still mine, if that’s quite all right with you.”

“You are absolutely impossible, Aerishani. Is this your Harpers training? You always find reason to take my words and twist them to suit your own narrative. Decide whether or not you want to tell Rori and Nala,” O’rlen throws his hands up and turns to close the short distance to rip his gear off of where he’d settle them. “I suppose I talk to you tomorrow when we go over Honshu’s budget.” There are no satisfying doors to slam shut as he leaves her weyr. Only Amorenth will bare witness to his fist to stone before he leaves to his own weyr. The rumors that continue to drift around Honshu in the coming days speaks of low-murmured confirmation that the Weyrlord and Weyrlady are still sleeping in seperate quarters.

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