Free Rein

Who: Isolwyn, C’aol, Eosyth, Daeserath, Vesoviath
Where: Weyrleader’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: Isolwyn finally lets Eosyth go and find what’s been bothering her.

Though rumors from the Southern continent does not often make it’s way up to the North, one particular one about Honshu has made its rounds within Fort Weyr the last few days. C’aol has been mindful of the chatter, though he dismisses any personal knowledge of the incident. When asked if he would inquire after Honshu, he’s been firm in his refusal to find out about his former Weyrhold. Daeserath returns from a trip Between and reaches out to Eosyth as he lands in the bowl. << He believes it is time that we let you find the one who keeps tickling at your mind. Can Isolwyn join him at his office? >> Within the weyrleader’s weyr, C’aol has positioned himself within his office behind closed doors. He’s mulling over a report on his desk.

<< Their location is still beyond my reach, >> Eosyth claims, the irritability of recent weeks shrouding her mind in darkness. << Though I may not need an image to find them if I can trap them here. >> //That// may well be what Isolwyn has been trying to prevent her from doing, given the Weyrwoman’s progressive haggard state, her features now beginning to take on an angular edge. Bringing a mug of klah with her, Isolwyn crosses Fort’s bowl from the way of the caverns and makes her way up the stairs to the complex containing the Weyrleaders’ weyrs, her progress through to C’aol’s interrupted only by sips from said mug. She either deliberately doesn’t or fails to think of knocking when she reaches his office, slipping through the door and shutting it firmly behind her. “I don’t know what she’ll do if I give her free rein,” she confesses almost immediately. “…And I don’t know if I have it in me right to get her back if I let her go.”

C’aol looks up from his papers and considers Isolwyn’s state with a frown. “Sit down,” he tells her, waiting until she does so. “You might have to let her free. You’re making yourself sick trying to contain her. If she has Daeserath to tether her and maybe Emily’s Hanath, would it be enough to let her reach?” He pushes the papers he was reading towards her. “The rumors that I’ve been hearing have been confirmed. Honshu’s dragonhealer was brutally attacked and nearly died from her wounds. //Blades// hurt her. I know the one that likes to punish with a blade,” his gaze is hard as he unconsciously moves his hand to rest against his thigh. “Though I don’t know where she calls home. No Weyr would ever claim //that// one.” He sighs and tips himself back in his chair as his arms move to fold in front of him. “She’s hard to forget, that one. Dark eyes. I think dark hair. A very cruel mouth. A fondness for theatrics with her swords… who even uses those?” He shakes his head and looks to Isolwyn. “I’m not sending word to O’rlen that we know or care to know who might’ve hurt the dragonhealer. Something is brewing. I want to get ahead of it.”

Isolwyn sinks down into a chair, giving a little shake of her head. “Not Hanath,” she murmurs. “It wouldn’t be fair to her or Emily. Whatever happens… they’ll probably feel it anyway. I don’t want Hanath being at the epicentre of something that stands to teach the two of them that queens are destructive.” She reaches for the papers and gathers them into her lap, leafing through them while she continues to cling to her mug with her other hand. “…If her targets have been you and a dragonhealer, I’m not sure I understand what the two of you could have in common to invite her wrath.” Her eyes narrow slightly. “But if… The woman who warned me off you to begin with… I know who she is. If it’s the same woman. I don’t know where she lives, but I know a good deal of the rest.” She sets the papers back down on the desk and slouches in her chair. “It’s not her dragon who is agitating Eosyth.” Closing her eyes, she passes a hand over her face and admits, “I don’t know what will happen to //me// if I let Eosyth complete her search. Or what she might do to Daeserath if he tries to contain her.” When she finally puts her mug down and offers her hands to C’aol, there’s nothing inviting about it beyond a practical, “If we’re going to do this, bind my wrists. You can at least stop //me// from lashing out.”

C’aol looks to Isolwyn and her wrists with a furrowed brow and a severe frown. “If it is that much of a risk, I won’t have it. I will not be binding my Weyrwoman,” he tells her simply, moving to reach not for her wrists but for the papers. He slowly begins to shred them as he remains quiet and contemplative of possible next moves. “I don’t know what to do,” he admits, looking to her and holding her gaze. “I have to change something. It’s not even about the information Eosyth could gather. I would not risk you nor her for information. It has it’s advantages — certainly. None of them outweigh you.” He finishes shredding the document and then sweeps it into his palm. He rises then, making his way to the small hearth tucked near his desk where the remains of a fire still glow in red embers. He sprinkles it all over the embers, hunkers down, and blows carefully until the heat from the embers ignites the paper.

Isolwyn doesn’t move from her seat, nor does she speak, waiting C’aol out until she tells him, “I’m making myself ill trying to stop her; you said it yourself,” with nothing but a calm, matter of fact slant to her words to colour them. “This needs to be done and I don’t want to inadvertently hurt you if she finds something she doesn’t like. The chances of her finding something or someone stronger than her?” She arches a brow. “They’re rather negligible. I’m more… concerned for whatever she finds than for her safety, at this point. If they know of her and they’ve not overpowered her yet, they’re not going to.” She presents her wrists again, her gaze fixed on his. “This needs to be done. If not now, it will be another day, when I’m too exhausted to stop her. You know it and I know it. Let me do this in my way while it’s under my control. You’re protecting me and yourself, not harming me.”

C’aol rises from the hearth and turns to stare at Isolwyn with a familiar hard-edge to his face. He appears prepared to argue with her further and then he abruptly turns and walks out of the office. He returns not too long after he’s made his way to his own weyr, having a small loop of leather in his hand. He does not make any comments as he moves to stand in front of Isolwyn, waiting for her to present her wrists to him again. He quickly ties them up, leaving the loops snug but tight enough to hold were she to struggle. A flash of something enters his gaze as he looks at her so bound, the faintest hint of a smirk tugging at his lips. “I had imagined you bound many times, Isolwyn. Never in quite such a… formal position.” He perches on the edge of the desk, within reach of her if he needs to physically restrain her. “Daeserath is ready,” he tells her, folding his arms in front of him as he levels his gaze on her face. “When you both are.”

Isolwyn lifts her hands to bare her wrists without hesitation, flexing her fingers as the leather is looped around them. She looks up from inspection of that which binds her and to C’aol when he speaks, his smirk answered with a small, wry version of her own. “Maybe when this is finished with and I’m in a better mind to enjoy it, I’ll let you do exactly what you’ve imagined,” she tells him, unable to entirely eliminate the nervousness for what she’s about to do from tainting her voice. She drops her hands into her lap and stays focused on him for a moment longer before nodding and bowing her head to close her eyes. The change in the atmosphere over the Weyr is almost immediate, the punch of Eosyth’s pent up frustration rippling outward with no particular target in mind. Fort’s senior queen doesn’t remain on her ledge, but launches up into the skies to perch on the rim of the bowl, not quite settling, but hovering, as though about to blink Between. “Not yet,” Isolwyn murmurs, met with a roar of defiance as she unconsciously reaches her bound hands towards C’aol as though to grab and pull. << I see you… >> drifts across the Weyr in a velvet purr. << You-- >> Eosyth’s shock is palpable, a flash of lightning bearing down and her broadcast abruptly cut off. << A child, >> she shares only with Daeserath and her rider. << Bound to a child. A queen… and not. Walls of stone. A Hold. It is no Weyr and she is no-- >> Isolwyn lunges from her chair physically and mentally too late to keep Eosyth from vanishing, suspended mid-step, not seeming to breathe until her queen reappears… somewhere else. She’s only there for moments until a younger, softer voice firm with resolve informs Eosyth in no uncertain terms that, << THEY ARE MINE. >> Eosyth takes no steps to modulate it for her rider or for Daeserath, leading Isolwyn to press her bound wrists to her forehead with a low moan. High in the skies above the Hold she’s found, Eosyth rages not, but permits, << You are Vesoviath and I am Eosyth. And that is quite enough of that for now. >> A blink Between carries her back home, Isolwyn’s legs giving out beneath her.

Daeserath’s roar adds to the ripple of power unleashed by Eosyth, his own mental weight bearing down on Fort’s dragons to hold them in place as their queen searches. He follows after the gold to the sky, circling over Fort as he waits her next move. He does not follow her when she goes Between. He turns his attention back to the rim which she has vacated and lands, wings outspread, and red eyes blazing. All of Fort’s dragons remain grounded during the surge of power from their queen and bronze. C’aol holds steady as he watches Isolwyn. He’s prepared to offer the physical aid of his arms as she lurches and reaches for him. He holds her upright, hands gripping her arms as he watches her. He remains steady and calm, Daeserath’s rage a silent mask on his face as he helps Isolwyn in what way he can. His hands tighten as Daeserath shares with him what Eosyth has found out. Daeserath launches back into the sky when Eosyth reappears and circles her until she lands and he can claim her body by twining it closely with his own. He tucks her beneath his wings and snarls a warning out to Fort. No dragon has yet to even leave the safety of the ground. C’aol catches hold of Isolwyn and pulls her up into his arms with ease. He kicks her chair over and marches out of the office towards his weyr and through various doors before he can lay her upon his bed. He is not gentle as he rips the bounds off of her hands. “It is done,” he tells her, some form of kindness surfacing as he brushes her hair from her face and tucks a pillow beneath her head.

Eosyth does not fight Daeserath, but remains awake and alert beneath the shelter of his wing, peering out across the Weyr as she curls closer and lets the warmth of his hide combat the cold of Between still lingering across hers. Though she seems not to be adversely affected by her travels and discoveries, Isolwyn is not so lucky, her features pale and her focus still rather distant as she blinks up at C’aol. Unable to immediately put words together in the right order, she reaches to gently curl her fingers around his wrist to convey that she’s aware enough of where she is and who she is. She closes her eyes and relaxes back against the pillow for a minute or so of silence and slowly breathing in and out, until she murmurs, “…I don’t understand what a queen… or whatever she is… is doing at a Hold.” Opening her eyes, she manages to fix her attention on C’aol and relinquishes her hold on his wrist to brush her fingers against his cheek instead. “Thank you.”

“If Eosyth has been there – then Daeserath and myself can travel there with the images she provides. We will go and make a formal inquiry,” C’aol tells Isolwyn, moving back once her fingers have finished tracing his cheek. He tucks some furs about her and sits rigidly on their bed. “A queen at a Hold,” he murmurs, brows knitted. “Not a Weyrhold. Not a formally acknowledged location. So… we have renegades on our hands,” he decides. He looks to Isolwyn after he lets his thoughts capture his attention. “Let me go and fetch you something to drink and eat,” he tells her and rises. He leaves her in the comfort of his bed as he goes to collect a tray of tea with a dash of something stronger in it to fortify her. He returns and sets it on the table beside his bed. “Here,” he tells her, helping her to sit up by adding more pillows behind her head. “Will she be content to stop reaching now?” he asks of Isolwyn. “She has met what was drawing her. And Daeserath says the queen is bonded to a child. How young? I have only ever known of a twelve year old… Impressing.”

In C’aol’s absence, it may be that Isolwyn drifts off to sleep for a minute or two, yet she stirs when he returns and lets him settle the pillows as he likes, for once providing no argument or protest against his choosing to take care of her. “If that little queen has any control over what she’s been doing and it all stops, I don’t think Eosyth will pursue her,” she says slowly. “She’s not… doing it now. She’s dwelling, primarily on the age of the gold’s… Vesoviath’s… rider. The girl can’t be far into her teens, if at all, based on what Eosyth could see of her, unless she’s a grown woman with the appearance of a child. If she’s really so young, it would make sense that she can’t stop Vesoviath from roaming as she has been. She might not know how. Or even that she’s doing it.” Twisting a little at the waist, she collects up her teacup from the tray. “No Weyr has reported the theft of a gold egg. I could understand someone unhappy with the Weyrs taking one and hatching it for themselves, but no egg to account for and Eosyth claiming she’s both a queen and //not//…”

C’aol is silent as he watches Isolwyn sit up and take the tea to sip and fortify herself with. “I don’t know what to make of this whole ‘queen and not’, business. The dragon is obviously a gold. She reached her mind out enough to attract Eosyth. Eosyth is not often bothered by other young, is she?” He shakes his head and rubs his jawline with his thumb and forefinger. “We will have to go and inspect the situation ourselves. There’s been no theft of a gold egg..,” he agrees, looking at Isolwyn with a frown. “So that would mean someone would have had to willingly have given eggs from a clutch to this Hold. The only Weyrs that I know of that have had eggs so recently on the Sands are Honshu, Telgar, and High Reaches.” He lifts a brow and glances sidelong at her with a smirk. “Of the three, who would be more likely to share?” He doesn’t wait for her answer as he sighs and shakes his head. “If this queen who isn’t a queen is tied to the reason why Honshu’s dragonhealer has been injured…,” he trails off and looks to Isolwyn. “I suppose the real question becomes – how much do we benefit by involving ourselves further?”

“As far as I’m aware, Honshu had no gold egg to give. They had clutches from Eosyth’s dam and sister, but I’ve heard nothing of a gold, and I’d have thought that there would have been commentary about the strength of their Weyrleader pair to produce a fourth queen, if so.” Isolwyn keeps her cup hovering just below her lips as she pauses again to consider, “Then, maybe what discord has been rumoured between Weyrlord and Lady is why there was no gold egg. Or //this// not-gold egg.” She wrinkles her nose. “A damaged queen? It would be an embarrassment to have it suggested by anyone that marital strife had created a little monster. Embarrassing enough to want them silenced and feign innocence.” She takes a few sips of her tea, then settles the cup in her lap. “If this woman who hurt you is part of this, getting involved stands to put you face to face with her. It… may not be that that is a benefit for you.” For an instant, she looks down at her tea, but otherwise keeps her gaze on C’aol. “Then, if Eosyth can keep this queen from alerting others to her presence, that would put them in our debt. Whether it would be worth it is another matter.”

C’aol considers Isolwyn, “This woman you’ve met her,” he prompts, his eyes flashing as his mind churns with ideas. “Where exactly did you meet her? If she is tied to this not-queen, I assume you would have to go and negotiate with them. As my presence may solicit undue bias,” his smirk is quick on his face as he shakes his head and redirects his thoughts. “Would it benefit Eosyth to know more of this not-queen? If she is content to leave it alone now and not weigh so heavily on your need to control her, I’d be willing to leave it all alone. I’m sure Aerishani has finally realized O’rlen is nothing but a weak leader. He is quick to be bent to others wills. I suppose she’s disappointed if he isn’t bending to her own desires.” He taps his fingers along his thigh and looks away from Isolwyn towards the door. “What is our best move here, Weyrwoman?” he asks her as he stares off into the distance. “What will serve Fort?”

“She turned up in my weyr not long after… I was attacked,” Isolwyn replies, lifting her cup to her lips again to conceal any response beyond her control that the thought might elicit. “And she was at the wedding of J’kson to Arlet. I can’t say that we spoke much, especially since I’d told her quite frankly what I thought of her opinion when first we met.” She hesitates once more, drinking needlessly only to buy herself the time to get everything in order to say, “…I’m no more willing to risk you than you are willing to put me in the line of something that might harm me,” and keep it from sounding softer than she’d like. “If Vesoviath cannot control herself on her own, it’s likely Eosyth will run into her again, regardless. I know she can go there herself and won’t be leaping to her death, so I’ve no need to control her in that respect. To keep her from interfering… might be another matter. In any case, the strain is not the same and not an active one of averting disaster at any moment.” Setting her cup down, she seeks to draw C’aol’s fingers from his thigh and hold on to them herself. “…To have them in our debt, or to at least eliminate the threat hanging over you, is what’s best for Fort. For me. You. To be able to tell the Council what this queen is, if necessary, gives us a louder voice to sway them and potentially bring Honshu into our debt by lifting the ban on anything but bronzes chasing a queen.” She tightens her hold on his hand. “And while we’re doing this, or sometime after, Eosyth will likely rise. And then we’ll show everyone what’s best for Fort.”

C’aol’s face hardens as he listens to the involvement of the woman in Isolwyn’s general circle. “I know you are friends with J’kson, Isolwyn. If he is anyway in that woman’s control, I hope you are mindful of what you tell him.” It’s the only time he has ever focused on the bluerider’s friendship with her – and, depending, will likely be the last. He lets her take his hand and allows the hardness to thaw as he looks at her face. “I can already see the strain has left you,” he tells her, moving his free hand to brush fingertips at her forehead. “Eosyth and Daeserath both can handle what the little ‘non-queen’ throws at them. We need not push our involvement yet.” He thinks further on her other strategies. “You’re right that it gives us leverage to know about her before the others. The state of the Council has improved of late, since we’ve had some changes in leadership. However, I would not put it past some of them to demand the creature’s death if they are opposed to it. Not that,” he hastens to say, “I would agree with such measures. Honshu is //already// in my debt,” he drawls, “though I imagine my agreement with the measures O’rlen chose to take to protect Rori’s blueriding lover are the reason for his breakdown with Aerishani. She was never strong enough to make the hard choices.” He sighs and then smiles at her, a softness in his gaze. “It will be wonderful to see us rise to power, Isolwyn. Soon, we will be what Benden was to the Weyr’s all those years ago. The ones people look too first.” He lifts her hand to his lips. “Thanks to your strength.”

“J’kson only ever hears how the woman feels, not what the Weyrwoman thinks or knows,” Isolwyn replies, easy as anything. She runs her thumb over C’aol’s knuckles, watching the motion with her head tilted and gaze a little distant. “And only one other person gets anything like the full of it,” she murmurs. “And he’s the one who kept Fort together and in order in the first place and until I was ready to make any claim on it.” Her lips curve the faintest bit at one corner. “We’re best together, you and me. Which I’m sure anyone in our way will be very sorry for one day, one way or another.” Leaning forward, she gently brushes her lips against his and then sinks back down into the furs and pillows. “For the moment, I quite like this nest you’ve made of your bed and I’d like to stay in it until I’m rested enough to be any proper use to anyone. It would be made immeasurably better, however, if you joined me in it for a time.”

C’aol’s face is schooled into that ever-present unreadable mask as he listens to Isolwyn’s description of J’kson. He lets it inch slowly away with each word that Isolwyn shares, the barest flash of truth to his inner feelings there in the softness of his gaze as he considers her request. “I’m not one to recline during the day,” he tells her as he eases off of the bed and moves to the small bench in front of his bed. He unlaces his boots and takes them off. “Though I have a feeling if I do not lay with you, you may get up sooner than you should.” He unbuttons his shirt at the top three buttons, easing the constriction around his throat. He turns then and rises once more to move to the side of the bed unclaimed by Isolwyn. He adjusts his pillows and himself a little higher than her before he reaches for her with his arm. He tucks her in against him, letting her face rest on his chest for a pillow. “Rest now, my fierce Weyrwoman,” he tells her, “we’ve plenty to scheme about our bright futures later.” He idly strokes her hair and her back until sleep claims her. He stays awake throughout her nap, keeping watch on his bedroom door, and letting his mind mull over all the plans they can enact for the future of Fort’s success. A smile, unseen by anyone, is bright on his face throughout.

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