A Promising Future

Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
Where: Isolwyn’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: Weyrleaders continue planning the manipulation of the world around them.

Isolwyn doesn’t often abuse her rank to get her way, but there are some mornings, especially all too early ones, that warrant the sending of firelizards to the kitchen with requests for breakfast to be brought to her weyr instead of making the journey to the caverns. And with her sleep having been fitful in the wake of the dealings with the Court, it’s almost inhumanly early when she puts in the request and rises from where she’s been lying with her head pillowed on C’aol’s chest to collect the tray from the ledge and bring the breakfast of fruit, pastries and hot drinks right back to bed. She sets the tray down on her side and scrambles back beneath the covers, sitting back against the headboard to pour a cup of tea.

C’aol is a light enough sleeper that Isolwyn’s vacating of the bed rouses him. He’s sat up against the headboard as she enters with the tray. He doesn’t say anything as he waits to gather his own cup of klah from the tray and takes a few sips of the hot beverage. He moves to rest a hand against her knee and glances at her as he balances the mug on his lap. “You couldn’t sleep,” he tells her, not bothering with questions for something he was very much aware of. “What is weighing so heavily on your mind that it disrupts you like that?” he asks, sipping again from his klah while he leaves the warmth of his hand on her knee.

Isolwyn takes a tentative sip from her cup before leaning to set it back on the tray to cool and settling to look up at C’aol with a steady, if weary, gaze. “…I think Eosyth’s going to rise,” she says slowly. “I thought it would be a good deal after we’d settled in the visitors from J’kson’s extended family, but it’s been a year and… something’s different about her. Not like when she was being visited by Vesoviath. It’s a different kind of agitation…” She presses her lips together more firmly, contemplating her words, and ultimately she has to look away when she confesses, “It feels like how I felt after… I was attacked,” more quietly. “I don’t know whether that’s because she’s was proddy when it happened or it’s just her. But it might be good for Emily to take a leading role in welcoming Vesoviath and her siblings, for her and for us.”

C’aol doesn’t focus on the reminder of the attack, choosing not to play into drawing those memories out for a prolonged conversation. “Eosyth’s set to rise? Daeserath will be on high alert now, knowing that.” He smiles briefly at that and then tucks his smile behind his mug as he takes another sip of the warm liquid. “Emily should be a peer for Vesoviath’s rider, it would make sense that she’d be involved in welcoming her and the others in. I’ve already let our Weyrlingmaster know that he will have a small transfer class joining us. I told him questions would not be answered regarding it, unless you see fit to give some sort of explanation. I reminded him he doesn’t need to be informed of anything more than he is in charge of training them.” He rubs lightly at Isolwyn’s knee, a gentle kneading meant to soothe her without speaking aloud to do so.

Isolwyn closes her eyes and does little more than steadily breathe in and out as she leans more heavily against the headboard, her drink held in her lap while she tries, for a few moments, to tune out everything but the presence of C’aol’s hand on her knee. When she opens her eyes again, she leans over a little to reach for a slice of fruit, which she nibbles at the edge of in silence for a fraction longer before she quietly asks, “You won’t… go too far away from me while she’s getting ready to rise… Will you?” She can’t quite look at him as she asks, her colour rising as if to suggest that //that// request, after all that’s passed between them, is one she finds embarrassing. “You won’t mind if I… want you…” Frustrated, she gives a short sigh. “I don’t remember much of what it’s like, before.” Her head tilts. “Hannath and Vesoviath should both be too young to be affected by a flight. We should make sure their riders have company suitable to assist if they have questions.”

“I enjoy you wanting me,” C’aol reminds her without a smile, his hand remaining on her knee. He looks at her with an openness he rarely shows, “I will not leave your side, especially when she is glowing. No one but me will touch you. If others dare to chase after Eosyth, even then, I will let no one else touch you. You’re mine, Isolwyn. Until the day you want another.” He squeezes her knee for emphasis. He shifts into the business conversation with a shrug as he finishes his klah and sets the empty mug on the tray. “I’m sure Hannath’s rider will be able to comprehend what she is feeling. The child rider? That one I’m not sure about at all. Should we discuss such matters with her? It feels… unnecessary for us to do that.” He reaches for a pastry to eat. “I’ll leave that up to you.”

“I don’t want another. Ever.” Isolwyn’s response is so swift that she cannot have had the time to actually think about it or censor herself before speaking, and though she takes in a sharp breath an instant after she hears herself, she refuses to make any amendments to what she’s said and instead reaches with one hand to tuck her fingers beneath his chin and lean in to claim a kiss. She lingers for a moment with her forehead pressed to his temple before she retreats and tries to settle herself back to a more objective and analytical mindset. “…Vesoviath may already be older mentally than the girl,” she supposes, “which could mean greater understanding of things than someone of her rider’s age would normally have. We’ll have to wait until we meet her, I would think. If the girl is mentally more mature, maybe that’s why she Impressed.”

C’aol’s lips flicker with the promise of a smile he restrains himself from showing. He brushes his fingers through her hair as she claims that kiss. He watches as Isolwyn retreats and once she’s settled back to her side of the bed he allows that smile to show. “It is nice to be so well suited for each other,” he tells her, “that neither of us is in need of another. //Ever//.” He might be teasing or serious as he repeats that word to her, his face gives no indication of which direction he might have intended to go with it. He shrugs on the subject of Vesoviath. “If she is of that woman’s blood, it is likely she would have had to grow up rather fast for survival. That they are sending all of them to us to train is pushing the limits of our hospitality. Knowing what we know of how they handle interactions with other Weyrs… they had better not think their use of knives will go over so well here when they have a fit about something. We will have to find a way to hold sway over them while they are here. I won’t have them running around doing whatever J’kson used to do for M’tan here.”

Isolwyn tilts her head the tiniest bit as she observes C’aol’s reaction and repetition, her focus all too intense for a moment before she blinks and her gaze goes distant instead as she looks away and absently lifts her cup to her lips, off-kilter enough that she lacks the courage to investigate whether he’s teasing her or not. “I think J’kson felt that he was increasingly out of options, especially when Malynth hatched as he did,” she quietly considers. “The ones they put to those eggs might be young and malleable enough that time here is all that’s needed for them to see a world beyond whatever they’ve got themselves into. That their Masters cannot handle them and are sending them away could be all that’s needed to make them doubt them. If nothing else… they must be familiar with how fear works…”

C’aol is quiet and thoughtful as he takes his time eating another pastry before he forms a reply. “They kill without hesitation,” he finally shares, “I do not see them hesitating to kill these ones if they were to step out of line.” He shakes his head and looks at Isolwyn. “I do not mind having blood on my hands. However, doing so in this case, would not suit us enough to risk it. We do not need them. So long as they obey our rules here and do no wrong by Fort, I will not push them to choose their Masters over us. For all we know, the woman may go so far as to kill J’kson as punishment. Would you want to risk your supposed brother?” he asks with a lifted brow. “I won’t,” he shrugs and brushes his fingers off over the tray. “We would do better to continue to put pressure on Honshu. O’rlen has allowed his Weyrsecond and Rori to lead Honshu in the aftermath of their dragonhealer’s death. It would appear Aerishani is prepared to walk away from being Senior. That is a weak point we could use. If only we had a queenrider to send…,” he trails off.

“I suppose it depends whether or not J’kson is considered to be family, being married to her daughter,” Isolwyn thinks aloud, putting her cup down on the tray to select some more fruit instead. “I can’t say that she seemed overjoyed at their wedding. I wouldn’t want him harmed for that which he’s actually tried to assist with when it has little enough to do with him directly.” She pauses, delicately licking stray drops of fruit juice from her fingertips before admitting, “In harming you, she proved that any respect for dragon life is not something to hold them back, whether the intention was to kill you or otherwise. The fact is, I can’t get over the fact these dragons we’re taking in have done nothing wrong. I have Eosyth to thank for taking me from a life that had made me a political weapon and nothing more. I have no objection to threatening them, if need be, as it might be necessary to further our own needs, but if they do nothing objectionable…” She lets her head drop back against the headboard. “Emily is, as yet, not fully trained. If Eosyth were to clutch another queen, we could play the long game, but that would require Aerishani and O’rlen holding on to power for long enough.”

“I once wanted Honshu for myself,” C’aol admits to her, sitting further up against the headboard so he can more comfortably fold his arms in front of him. “And then I wanted to destroy it,” he continues, “when it was clear it wouldn’t be mine. The Council wants to see Honshu brought back in line. They’d want to start with Rori and her bluerider lover. Northern priorities are to keep the Weyrs functioning as they have been for hundreds of years. Southerners like the blending of crafters and Holders and dragonriders. Do we want our hands in that?” he wonders aloud as he looks to her. “Do we want to have to deal with people who think the world is a fanciful, accepting, paradise? I don’t know if I have the desire to do it. We’ve yet to ally ourselves strongly with any Weyr. Sending one of ours to take over Honshu… could serve a purpose. It was not so long ago that Honshu believed Aerishani was a Fortian plant.” His smile is sharp-edged. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we finally accomplished that goal?”

While C’aol sits up, Isolwyn slips down to rest her head on her pillow and look up at him, her legs cast half over the side of the bed to avoid kicking the tray to the floor. “…We could still do it…” she murmurs. “Destroy it. We have enough evidence to bring to the Council for them to vote to remove its leadership and bar Rori from inheriting. Her dragon’s choice of partner aside, I’ve no particular issue with the woman, but if it would be a useful thing to do… That said, it still wouldn’t necessarily grant us anything by default.” She idly trails her fingers along his leg. “Whether we believe in the same paradise or not, there could be financial profit in having a hand in it. In the end, Eosyth was gifted to Fort. It wouldn’t be… out of place, if we were to wish to return the favour by sending a Fortian junior there.” Her hand falls away as she considers, “I don’t want to lose Emily. She’s competent and her queen is the sort of maternal that some of the dragons here need and Eosyth isn’t. And we’d need a queenrider who would understand her purpose from the outset, as directed…” She looks up at him again. “I know no way to guarantee a queen egg, but it was suggested to me that the longer the fall and the stronger the bond…”

C’aol’s smile is all too predatory as he looks down at Isolwyn. “A queen egg. A junior hand-picked and trained by you,” his fingers play in Isolwyn’s hair. “I am not without some influence at Honshu. Most who looked to me to succeed have since moved to other Weyrs. That is not to say that one or two could be called back to Honshu with the promise of a Weyrleader’s knot. Or,” his smile shifts into a smirk, “‘Weyrlord’ as it were.” He leans down and claims her lips with a kiss. “Plans are in motion, my dear Weyrwoman,” he murmurs to her as he presses his cheek briefly to hers. “And the more we plan,” he adds as he rises up from the bed. “The more we find our way to dominating. Let the Council bar Rori from holding a Senior knot. Let us begin to shift who we want on the Council. The Council should look to us,” he muses, “to decide the larger decisions for Pern. A very promising future indeed.” He gestures towards their breakfast. “I’ll leave you to finish and rest as you will, Isolwyn. I’ve got to bathe and go meet the Wingleaders. Tonight… we will continue to form how best we’ll position ourselves in the coming year.” He turns then and leaves towards the bathing chamber, leaving Isolwyn to decide when to start her morning without his interference on her choices.

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