Who: Isolwyn, J’kson, Eosyth, Malynth
Where: J’kson and Arlet’s Cothold, Bitra Territory
What: With Vesoviath discovered, J’kson tells Isolwyn the truth.

Enough time has passed, and enough anger J’kson hopes as abated, when Malynth reaches out towards Eosyth. His is a playful nudge at Fort’s queens mind. << Come and visit? >> he asks. The image he shares is not of a luxurious location, but a rather stark looking rocky-outcropping that feels of Bitra. Malynth is lounging amongst the gravel path outside of a large, run-down looking cothold. He’s got his face angled towards the sky as he awaits his friend. J’kson is on the porch, leaning against the awning as he too angles his face towards the sky. No one else is around, though from the sky another building is within a short walk from the one where Malynth lays.

It takes a little while for Eosyth to extract Isolwyn from a meeting, her excuses given with a determined steadiness that suggests she’s needed for no mere social call, yet neither dragon nor rider let on to another soul exactly where it is they’re going when they vanish from Fort. Upon arrival, Eosyth immediately heads off to investigate with Malynth, leaving Isolwyn to heft her straps up onto her shoulder and set her sights on J’kson. She’s blunt and to the point when she reaches him, stopping almost in his own space to look up at him and insist, “You need to tell me exactly what’s going on in as much detail as you know, because otherwise this is going to go poorly for a good many people.” Easing back onto her heels, she adds, “There are too many threads here for me to know which ones I can pull on without causing harm, and, as much as I love you, I have to put my Weyr first. What happened with Honshu’s dragonhealer?”

Malynth delights in Eosyth’s company, so much so that he twists and turns himself in circles around her before he nudges at her shoulder and ambles off in the direction of the other building. << This is not for me and Akanyth! This is where J’kson will make the money. >> he crows to Eosyth, << And did you know? I’ve been raising babies! I’m pretty good at it. They like me a lot. >> He continues without words, flipping rapidly through images of each of the four baby dragons at the Hold. Since Eosyth has come and visited, Malynth sees no issue in sharing details with her now. J’kson’s smile drifts downwards at Isolwyn’s words and he nods. “Come inside,” he tells her, stepping down the porch steps to gather the straps before he settles them on a hook outside of the main door. He opens the door and waits for her to enter before he follows her. “Sit,” he gestures towards a well-worn couch. “The dragonhealer shared information with Honshu after she was warned to keep what she found at the Hold to herself,” J’kson tells Isolwyn bluntly, “and because she told her Weyrlord, my Lady taught her the lesson that they teach. She killed her.” He says all this without inflection, his face focused on Isolwyn’s. “You don’t cross my Lord or Lady,” he tells Isolwyn, “not when it comes to their family.”

While Eosyth instigates a game of chase //around// the building that Malynth has led her to, she isn’t remiss in letting Isolwyn experience all that Malynth shares with her, which leaves her rider staring off into a distance only she can see for a while as the enormity of what she’s piecing together hits her. “She isn’t dead,” Isolwyn utters, blinking her focus back to J’kson as she laces her fingers together in her lap. “The dragonhealer. Eosyth says that the gold whose presence she’s been sensing is a queen and somehow not one at the same time, and that she’s Impressed to a child. Is that what Honshu wasn’t to know? Are they putting children – their children – to eggs?” She sighs and shakes her head. “That queen has been bothering Eosyth for months now. If she’s //not// one, she certainly has the reach of a gold. What are these people doing, J’kson? You’re lucky it was Eosyth who found her and not another queen.” Her brow furrows. “…Maybe Eosyth’s the only one sensitive enough to hear her from such a distance…”

J’kson doesn’t immediately sit as Isolwyn’s questions come peppering at him. He perches on the arm of the couch and considers the window that gives him a view of Malynth and Eosyth playing around the building that will hold his future business. “They aren’t putting children to eggs on purpose,” J’kson discloses, mindful of his words even when Malynth isn’t. “That the little queen did on her own. She picked Arlet’s sister,” he looks to Isolwyn then, leveling his sharp blue gaze on her. “That is why, when the dragonhealer disclosed what hatched on our Sands, Jet reacted the way she did. Though had it not been her child, she might have reacted the same anyway. Jet is quick to solve problems with steel.” He rubs at the back of his neck and glances away again. “Honshu gave them four eggs to hatch. In exchange for services,” he doesn’t elaborate, “and of the four… the little queen hatched. She’s small. Too small for her color. And the blue is too large. Arlet told me they took eggs from both queens of Honshu.” He lets his gaze move back to where the dragons are playing. “At least none are as deformed as Malynth is.”

“Given the… unique features of the dragons you’ve hatched, I’d suggest that Honshu made you think you had eggs from both, but in reality you only had eggs sired by the blue,” Isolwyn hazards, easing her shoulders back. “This whole situation needs some legitimacy before another Weyr or a Hold less inclined to ask and more inclined to //tell// you what to do or the Council wades in. The matter of //why// your Lord and Lady want more dragons is a matter for another day, but that queen is causing trouble and she’s not even half-grown yet. If she even is a queen. She needs training, and no offense to your efforts, but there are some things that queens have to learn from other golds.” She glances down at her hands for a moment, then gestures with them, palms out. “As it stands, anything that I can do to assist you is bound by the better nature of your Lady. I cannot and will not offer Fort’s help or protection for any of those dragons while there’s the prospect of her handling anything she doesn’t like in ‘her way’.”

J’kson’s brows knit into a frown as he considers the reality of Isolwyn’s words. “It would feel more accurate to say that some were from the blue and gold,” he reasons, “and yet– we have a bronze. I’m not sure, but honestly? It’s irrelevant who sired them. They are born and have riders.” He takes his left hand across his body to rub at his right shoulder, trying to ease the tension as he considers the weight of Isolwyn’s words. “I cannot make the decision on whether or not Fort gets involved. I’ve discussed with Arlet in telling you the full truth. Now that you know it, and wish to involve Fort, I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to do as far as the negotiations go. I would seek to involve M’tan first… only because I don’t talk to Jet much at all.” He puffs out a breath and slaps his thighs before he turns to Isolwyn. “We’ve no intention of living there much longer, Arlet and me. We’re going to settle here and open up a gambling house. Loose ties to the Court. As loose as I can make the noose that’s been hung over my head now and then with my involvement. They’re Arlet’s family.” A shrug. “I don’t think Jet would threaten to knife you or your Weyrleader… you’d be better versed at the politics in all of this than me.”

“…I’ve felt that woman’s work beneath my hands and she will not be given the opportunity to use her particular skill set on a single person who resides at Fort and looks to me and to Eosyth for protection,” Isolwyn swears, curving her hands around her knees. “The fact is, we know what they’re doing. What they choose to make of it is their own decision, but, in their position, I wouldn’t let stubbornness or a stupid idea put my family further at risk.” She shuffles over just enough to lean against J’kson as she murmurs a weary, “What have you gone and got yourself into?” with the barest hint of a smile. “I’m assuming you knew the extent of this when you married Arlet? I dread to think how many more things that happened while she was at Fort now make better sense knowing the extremes her family are going to.” Though a moment’s pause brings her, “At least it sounds like you’ll be free of the worst of it. Not directly involved, in any case. Though I can’t say that a gambling house sounds entirely //safe// either…”

J’kson moves his hand to rest on Isolwyn’s shoulder as she moves closer against him. “I’ve had myself ‘into’ this when I was a barely functioning drunk,” he drawls, tone wry, “I can’t untangle myself now that I’ve gone and fallen in love with my bosses daughter. I’ve made the outlaws my in-laws,” he chuckles at his own joke as he gives Isolwyn’s shoulder a squeeze. “I know what I’ve thrown in with, Isolwyn. I promise you, if you’re in with them, so long as you do what is asked of you–, no, there’s no real way to explain it without sounding like I’m batshit crazy,” he drawls and shakes his head. “A gambling house run by two dragonrider’s will be far safer than the ones I’ve been asked to gamble and spy in for the last year,” he adds to her with a wink.
“Things have worked themselves out between you and your Weyrleader?” he asks before the thought leaves him and further talk about the Court intercedes.

Isolwyn nudges at J’kson’s knee as she give a reluctant chuckle and tells him, “That’s awful,” for his joke. “And you’re right, it does sound crazy. But you seem happy, despite that, so I’m not going to question your life choices too much. It’s what’s going to happen to that gold that I’m most concerned about right now. You’re a grown-up; you can make your own stupid choices.” That earns him another nudge just because she can. She hesitates before she speaks of C’aol, but ultimately gives a slow, single nod and says, “Yes, they have.” Her hands curve round her knees again as she tells him, “We’re not going to see eye to eye about everything and that’s just how it is, especially when half those things are what we think is right for ourselves or each other. I don’t want different or easier, I want him. And he did what no-one else has managed and elegantly removed my uncle from my immediate life so I no longer have to worry about him. At no gain to himself, I might add.”

J’kson’s grin widens at her nudge. “I’ve always been an idiot. At least I’m a sober one now.” He nods his head in agreement about the gold. “I know your offer to train Vesoviath is important. And it’s needed. //How// we go about instructing on it I’m not sure. Jet and M’tan are adamant that no gold controls their dragons,” he shrugs at that, looking sidelong at her. “Don’t really know why they’re so opposed to it. So it’d mean Vesoviath and her rider going to Fort? Which certainly wouldn’t work as her rider is too young. So how do you offer Fort’s aid to train her then?” He tugs at a lock of Isolwyn’s hair. “I imagine no partner’s see eye-to-eye,” he teases her and then lets her continue speaking uninterrupted. His brows move upwards in surprise at her mentioning her uncle’s removal from her life. “What’d he do, pull one like my Lady? Off your Uncle? I haven’t heard of his death at all.”

“…If I chose to, I could have Eosyth command all sorts of dragons to do all sorts of things, which gives me power over the lives of their riders too. They might never //hurt// their riders, but there’s a fine line… All it would take was a Weyrwoman so inclined and her riders’ lives wouldn’t be their own.” Isolwyn shakes her head a little. “I would never hurt someone’s child,” she murmurs. “And it would never be my wish to out Vesoviath’s existence to those who would have less than the best of intentions for her, but I’m not sure your Lord and Lady would think in the same manner when it comes to causing hurt to Fort. If only with Eosyth’s strength, I can protect her better than they can. The decision is theirs: either we work together and agree not to make any move for the other’s detriment, or they can let this spiral out of control and inadvertently force our hand one day.” As for her uncle, she drawls, “Lord Fort isn’t dead,” with mock regret. “C’aol gave him the land that would have been his, until one of my children can inherit it. Now it’s not in my uncle’s interest for me to marry or have children.” Her lips curve upward in a small smirk. “Not that I’m sure C’aol will ever ask me to marry him again, since I refused him once already.”

J’kson’s face grows serious at Isolwyn’s mention of Eosyth’s mental strength. “Please,” he reaches to squeeze her shoulder, “Do //not// say that in the company of Jet and M’tan.” Concern etches worry lines across his forehead. “They would not take the threat of that well. Whether or not they know her strength is irrelevant. Do not //tell// them of it.” He sighs and rubs at his forehead for a moment. “I’ll help arrange a meeting between you, C’aol and them. The four of you may strike whatever bargain works in your favor. All I can say,” he drops his hand from his forehead. “Is have extreme caution. They are not above killing dragonriders. Or Weyrleaders.” He rises then, moving to take her hand and help her up. “I’m glad that C’aol found a way to relieve your uncle of his constant… hunger for more. That it came of such an expense is surprising. I didn’t imagine him to be one to leverage things on the behalf of others that doesn’t directly serve his gain. From what I’ve been told, anyway.” He smiles at her. “Don’t tack ‘ever’ on your sentences. Time will tell.” He moves his arm about her shoulders and hugs her against his side. “Want to see the inside of my business?”

“They already know that those kinds of thoughts enter the heads of every queenrider or they wouldn’t be so wary,” Isolwyn states, twitching one shoulder. “Hearing exactly what I just said to you would be no great surprise to them, I’m sure, or they’d have been content to live in a Weyr and near queens who could regulate the lives of their dragons.” She looks up at J’kson, her tone perfectly free of threat and fear both as she declares, “The moment they raise a hand to C’aol or to me is the moment their little endeavour and their Hold ends. If they don’t realise it, the more fool them.” She loops her arms around his middle for a instant and hugs him back, then gets to her feet, reaching for one of his hands to tug him after her. “Show me what you’ve got planned, then. Being out here’s got to be better than getting mixed up with whatever storm is coming, in any eventuality.”

“I can’t say I’ll be able to free myself from them or the storm,” J’kson muses as he guides her through the door once more and out onto the porch. Malynth has since grown tired enough to bask in the sun, laying on his side with his good wing stretched out to receive additional sun rays. “You’d think being in charge of young he’d have //matured//,” J’kson pretends to grumble as they walk past his blue and up the short steps to the double door entrance. “It still needs work,” he tells her as he opens the doors and escorts her inside where a modest bar and a smattering of card tables and dining tables scatter the main floor. He gestures towards upstairs, where a number of doors face out. “Not what our customers may //think// resides behind those doors, but a place for private meetings and storage. I think this place used to be a boarding house of sorts.” He stands near the main entrance, glancing around the dust strewn furniture. “I’m hoping Arlet and me can make a decent run of this place.” He glances at her with a smile, “Think you’d come and play cards?”

“If you even think of letting what some would think goes on behind those doors //actually// go on, I will arrive on your doorstep and smack you round the head,” Isolwyn threatens, reaching to deliver a small preview just in-case. “It’s a nice place,” she murmurs. “I’m glad you have this. Not just this, you know… I mean all of it. Whatever’s lurking in the shadows aside: that you’re happy.” And yet she smiles wryly. “I don’t think the sort of people you’re attempting to attract are the kind of people that it would be deemed appropriate for me to be seen with,” she says dryly. “And not only that, but if they thought a Weyrwoman was among them, I highly doubt they’d chance as much with their words and money, so I think it’s best if I do the right thing for us both and keep any playing of cards here firmly out of hours and with only you.” Lifting up onto tiptoe, she sighs, “I should be getting back,” and presses a kiss to J’kson’s cheek. “Don’t get murdered. Certainly not on my account.”

“I won’t get murdered,” J’kson replies with a laugh as he lifts a hand to ruffle at the top of her head, not caring if in doing so he musses up her curls. “I’ll have Arlet help me navigate her mother. We’ll be reaching out to you for a meeting. No matter how we look at it, it’s what we need help with. To deny Safiye and Vesoviath the training is stupid and unfair.” He waves her off, “Go home to your Weyrleader. We’ll be in touch.” He remains at the front of the building, watching until Eosyth blinks Between. He hops down the steps and turns to Malynth. “Come, old friend. Let’s get you strapped up and dive off of a cliff. We’ve news to bring home.” And that is what they do, the rush of the wind and the thrill of nearly being wiped out on rocks something that wipes most of J’kson’s lingering thoughts into nothing before they too blink Between.

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