Who: Aerishani and Rori
Where: Council Room, Honshu Weyrhold
What: In which Aerishani (temporarily?) steps down as Weyrlady.
It has been over two weeks since Leesa had been delivered back to Honshu, tortured and left for dead by the Court. Her critical condition continues to improve every day, giving much of Honshu relief and positive hope that their dragonhealer will return to full health. Rori has been attentive to her duties, mindful of picking up anything additional that needs to get done without adding to Aerishani’s load. She and Inaskashath have been gone most of the day, attending to personal matters. When they return, Inaskashath reaches out a tendril of light towards Amorenth. << When yours has time, can she please meet Rori in the council room? >> Within the council room, Rori has set up for a meeting – having brought homemade baked goods and fresh tea to share with Aerishani. Another of papers reside on the table and Rori seems content as she sips from her own mug.
Aerishani has not looked much better over the time that has passed since Leesa was dumped on O’rlen’s ledge, and though she’s yet to start looking outright ill, the shadows beneath her eyes speak of a long wanting of a decent night’s sleep. As ever, Amorenth chooses not to waste words on what she must deem a needless response, yet Aerishani shows up all the same, a heavy satchel slung across her body. “Sorry, Amorenth’s in one of her moods,” is the only greeting she provides before sinking down into a chair and letting the satchel slip to the floor. “Thank you for… just carrying on. I know it isn’t fair to you for this continue and I’ll make sure everything you’ve been handling is adjusted more equally between us from now on. If you’ve any need to divert anything in the time being, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the bronzeriders seem inordinately willing to be helpful, of late. They want to be noticed.”
“They want to earn favor they can’t earn another way,” Rori’s comment is by far the most biting she has ever shared in the company of Aerishani. She takes a sip of her tea and lowers it, letting the silence settle as she considers the state of Aerishani. “I think the opposite is necessary, Aerishani,” she tells her Senior, “I believe I need to take on the full extent of this Weyrhold until you are whole again. She holds up a hand to stop Aerishani from speaking if she were going to. Her posture adjusts as she sits up straighter in her chair. “I ran Fort immediately after a crisis,” she tells her, “and doing so for Honshu is my honor. When such things happen…,” she cannot outright speak on the subject of Leesa, “the only thing I have learned that heals it is time. I am offering you time. With O’rlen and your sons.” She flips the papers in front of her, watching as they flick up by her thumb and then release in a gentle thwap-thwap back to the bottom of the table. She considers Aerishani, waiting for her to push back at the idea presented.
Aerishani regards Rori with a hollow stare that is no front to conceal any anger at what she’s been presented with, but only the plain depths of a weary bitterness. “…And what if I don’t want the knot back?” she puts to her, her tone lacking the edge of a direct challenge. “What then?” She waits, whether expecting an answer or otherwise, before forging ahead. “I don’t know if I can repair my marriage, and the truth of it is that I don’t know whether I’d be trying to save it for my sake or because I feel it shouldn’t be that O’rlen’s knot gets sacrificed along with it if it means Amorenth makes another choice when she next rises. I didn’t want to be a queenrider any more than I imagine you had designs on power before Inaskashath chose you.” She twitches a shoulder. “If I had managed to maintain what I thought was good and right in the world in this Weyrhold, Leesa wouldn’t be in the infirmary. We wouldn’t be where we are now. My voice wasn’t enough to keep this from happening. So, perhaps that means it shouldn’t be my voice leading anymore.”
Rori blinks in the face of Aerishani’s words, taken aback by a turn she had not quite prepared for. “I was offering it not to replace you, Aerishani,” she tells her softly, her features edging towards pity. “I only know that you deserve it offered to you. After everything, Nala and I went through… I needed the time I got when we moved back here to help us find balance.” Her gaze flickers as the weight of Aerishani’s offer settles on her shoulders. “Inaskashath will likely choose Jynth again and again. Her bond to him grows stronger every day,” she tells Aerishani. “Is a Senior Weyrwoman and a blueriding Weyrleader any better than what Fort had with Arlet as their brownriding Weyrleader? If I were to take the knot from you permanently,” she continues frankly, giving Aerishani the respect of entertaining this proposition. “The Council may take it into their mind to make another attempt on Nala’s life. I do not think Nala would also want the burden of leadership.” She draws her lower lip between her teeth to chew, looking over Aerishani’s shoulder. “I didn’t stop O’rlen either,” she reminds Aerishani as she turns bleak features to Aerishani. “You are not the only one to blame.”
“I should have stopped him. A Weyr or a Weyrhold belongs to its queens. The fault lies with me,” Aerishani says firmly. “No-one will permit a blueriding Weyrleader, Council decree or otherwise. It would end, one way or another, and inevitably with a loss. If not that, with a queen grounding Jynth to keep him from pursuing Inaskashath, and it might be forward of me to say it, but I don’t think you’d accept any Seniorship with that condition placed upon you.” She shakes her head and looks down into her lap. “I’m telling you this because there is the possibility, if I accept your offer, that I will find another queenrider to lead Honshu. To name you as a successor in this situation would be the right course of action, but there’s no right course here that would allow you to live as you choose. And while I’m your Senior, I’ll take that decision to keep you safe if I have to. That call will still be mine.” Keeping her head ducked, she questions, “With this in mind, do your intentions remain the same?”
“That color of a dragon can dictate the quality of a leader is absolutely absurd,” Rori does not hide her bitterness. “When an heir can succeed a Hold simply by being born and with no other qualifications.” She shakes her head and waves her hand as if she could wipe it all away. “Inaskashath is a queen and I know I should accept that I may lead a Weyr or Weyrhold to her color. That doing so would cost her the mate she has chosen and me the love I choose? It is simply too high a cost. After everything, we have already been through. It will not end,” she grows quiet and then adds, an undercurrent of frustration in her tone. “I have to face the Council and tell them they have no more involvement in our choice of Jynth. If they force my hand, I cannot say I will ever be able to live in a Weyr again. So, Aerishani, all I am able to offer you now is temporary. If you want to step down because our world is the way it is? I cannot step up. I hope you understand.”
“Queens lead because they have the power to command other dragons. That they are sometimes guided to do so more than they should or less than they should is down to their riders.” Already, Aerishani gets to her feet, rescuing her satchel from the floor. “The system by which we live in Holds and Weyrs is open to corruption, incompetency and weakness, but no-one can remember another way. And if we were to choose our leaders, who’s to say we’d ever, always, without a doubt, select the right ones? Some of us are simply forced into our roles.” And, on that note, she tells Rori, “Honshu is yours. All I can tell you is that you might well not be handing the knot back to me, but on to another. In any case, it will be in writing that it is not to be yours forever. You should know that Amorenth won’t bow to Inaskashath’s rule. Until she loses Honshu to another queen, it’s hers by right.” Though she starts to walk away, she pauses, looking back only to say, “You’ll have to face the Council one day, yes. But don’t do it alone or without full understanding of the undercurrents you could be wading into.”
Rori rushes to rise as Aerishani does, caught off-guard by the abruptness of the meeting she had anticipated lasting longer instead ending. She turns, catching the back of her chair as she watches Aerishani go. Her expression is pained and uncertain. “Aerishani,” she tells her, shaking her head. “Inaskashath would never think to have Amorenth bow. We don’t want Honshu from you. We want to help Honshu //for// you.” She doesn’t push her point, feeling as she often does, that her words have failed her. She sighs and nods her agreement on the Council. “I will wait until they force my hand before I go before them. They don’t deserve me to be preemptive.” She hesitates, looking back to the now cold tea and the cookies before she returns her gaze to Aerishani. “You understand why I offered, at least? It’s not because I don’t — I never –, it wasn’t about–,” she shakes her head and offers a feeble shrug. “I was only looking to help you. So you could focus on your family. Because you deserve to, and that’s why I’m here.” She sighs and follows, “If you think O’rlen needs the same, tell him I can work with his Weyrsecond. You both can take a holiday– you’ve yet to take an extended one before.” Her smile twists on her face, “Though the timing of it wouldn’t help rumors, would it?”
“I know what you’re trying to do, Rori. I’m only telling you so that there’s no conflict between Amorenth and Inaskashath. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt.” Aerishani gives another, helpless, shrug. “What you think I’ll gain… You have the right of it to be more optimistic than I am. But when O’rlen gets over the shock of Leesa and all that the incident entails and finds he doesn’t need me anymore… things will return to as they have been. I will have to accept that the man I married no longer exists. That I gambled my heart and my home on what I thought was love and may just have been flight-driven infatuation. No-one needs a Weyrlady that //ridiculous//.” That last word is more bitter than the others, some wound reopened all over again. “If you wish to put the same proposal to him, it’ll have to be from you. From me, it may be perceived as a slight.” Before she can explain anything further, she turns and redoubles her step away and out, Amorenth’s displeasure a tangible thing before Aerishani silences her and any feelings whatsoever. For the both of them.