Not One of Us

Who: Safiye, Emily, Isolwyn, C’aol, Vesoviath, Eosyth, Hanath, Daeserath
Where: Bowl/Hatching Cavern, Fort Weyr
What: Foreign queens attack Vesoviath and force Fort’s hand.

Though Vesoviath has spent some time with Eosyth, even being permitted to view the new clutch from one of the high ledges within the hatching cavern, it’s Hanath that she’s taken a shine to and Hanath that she looks to when the uncertainty of what she is or isn’t overwhelms her. Nearly fully grown now, she still has yet to grow any larger than a mid-sized green, the shadowy emerald of her claws still present, though the undersides of her wings have lightened and brightened to a shade closer to bronze than the green they were. Over the past couple of days, she’s seemed distracted, almost like Eosyth behaved when she was unknowingly reaching to her, only, later one afternoon, it becomes very apparent that whatever is going on is no accident when she shrieks for the whole Weyr to hear, her soft voice coloured by the stressed and strung out of Safiye’s own. << GET OUT OF MY HEAD! >> Silence, then, from where she lies at the edge of the lake, a plaintive, << Hanath! >> It’s enough that Eosyth rouses from her slumber around her clutch, immediately alert and close to murderous, her eyes whirling blood red.

Hanath has enjoyed the company of the younger queen-not-queen as some of the dragon’s have come to call Vesoviath. She’s sun-bathing near the little gold when her mental shout rings out. Hanath’s head lifts and she pushes herself into the air, circling the Weyr as she looks for the source of Vesoviath’s upset. Daeserath’s warning is a ripple of cold heat as he launches himself from his ledge to go and follow Hanath into the skies. << Who dares? >> he bellows as he bugles a warning. C’aol finds Isolwyn as Daeserath’s anger continues to pound through the Weyr. “What is it?” he asks of his Weyrwoman, eyes sharp and face severe as he prepares himself for the answer. Emily leaves her morning tasks to go and find Safiye, offering her a hug as she asks, “What has happened to Vesoviath? Hanath cannot make sense of who is in her head.”

Isolwyn has barely reached the mouth of the Weyrwoman’s weyr when she all but collides with C’aol, her hands planting down against his chest to steady herself. “I don’t know,” she confesses, her voice dark with the taint of Eosyth’s rage. In those few seconds, Vesoviath presses herself flat to the sand beneath her in a manner that cannot be of her own volition, her shoulders buckling beneath some unseen pressure as her paws scrabble to find enough purchase to try and push herself back up. << GET OUT! >> she cries again, louder now, yet with not even the faintest hint of force that a queen of her age should by now be able to wield, however inelegantly. Safiye buries her head against Emily’s shoulder, trembling, her voice unsteady. “…Voices… They’re female. It’s like they’re controlling her. Playing with her.” Across the Weyr, Isolwyn’s eyes widen and she grabs a hold on C’aol’s arm to pull him after her as she breaks into a run, too panicked to do anything else. “We have to watch the eggs! She’s going to—“ Eosyth only ensures that she clears the ground and the clutch before she vanishes to join her mate in the skies just as a sly, amused voice not of Fort remarks, << A fake. //That// is not one of us. >>

C’aol has no time between finding Isolwyn and responding to the panic the Weyr has fallen to in the wake of Vesoviath’s cries. He runs after Isolwyn, allowing her to take lead as he frees Daeserath to his own devices. Without his rider’s mind to contain his unending rage, Daeserath’s mind is a boom of sound that flattens any who dare to fly back to the ground. He calls to Eosyth and then latches on to that not-of-Fort voice. << A gold >> he tells Eosyth through a tight mental channel, gathering himself for a fight should he need to gain control of his own mind from a foreign queen. Emily holds tight to Safiye, eyes wide, as she looks at the chaos that has taken over the Weyr. People flee from Daeserath’s screams of rage, hiding behind closed doors. Those dragons that were in the skies of Fort have fallen to the ground, trembling at the unknown, and yet prepared to launch themselves back should their queen call them. Hanath’s reach has never been as strong as her dam’s, nor has she pushed her limits, until today when she gathers all the fire that slowly burns in her mind to throw out around Vesoviath. << I come >> she calls to the little queen, moving to shield her with her wings as her red-eyed gaze looks skyward. << You are not one of us! >> she shouts to the unknown voice, << Leave her! >>

<< No, >> might sound like agreement, this second voice softer than the first, something sickly insipid about it, but it seems she only means to refute Hanath. << You deceive yourself. Protecting that which is not what it seems. A lie. A mistake. >> Still, there’s no further push to battle past Hanath’s fire, the nudges given plainly meant to continue to mock and tease. Beneath Hanath’s wing, Vesoviath manages to struggle up enough that she can curl in against her with the power set between her presence and the foreign queens’, the faint sparkles of her mental touch primed with the glimmer of shadowy arrows. As her feet meet the Sands, Isolwyn doubles over, planting her hands down on her knees to brace herself, gasping for breath but still finding it necessary to warn, “I can’t stop her,” between gulps of air. “It’s too much. They’ve gone too far.” Eosyth’s flight path takes her up to loop over Daeserath, doing little more than letting her mental strength trickle into his to amplify the reach of his rage. << Two, >> she tells him, oh so quietly. << They betray their station. Betray all of us. >> The absolute perfect silence of her mind mean anything good, not when she gathers midnight around her and whispers to those foreign queens, << You will regret the day you tormented a child and threatened our clutch. >> It’s the only warning they get before she unleashes the depth of her fury, the pull into her gravity one that unbalances both from their lazy circles above Fort in the mere seconds before she dives for the one nearest her, only for the outsider queen to vanish Between and prevent her from reaching her.

Daeserath has never had much patience for golds — his equal has been found and matched by Eosyth before she ever could have controlled the minds of others. His mind now is a steel trap, a crippling sonic boom to the queens who dare invade Fort’s space. His control over their own will be limited – he knows it – as he circles Eosyth and makes his anger clear to all draconic ears, even those at Benden bend to his anger. << You do not belong in our skies >> he snarls, as his wings splay and he circles around Eosyth, as he broadcasts, << BE GONE! >> That Vesoviath is not theirs is not of import to him, though many will be surprised by his claim in the coming days. He blasts the other queens again, adding, << Bring your riders! Or else we will come to your Weyr! >> That is C’aol’s will behind the bronzes’ voice. C’aol grabs Isolwyn’s forearms to shake, “This will not end well. If the Court hears that they have come to hurt Vesoviath, there is no telling what they will do. We must wrench control from the Council to our own. Benden must be silenced.”

“But they //didn’t// hurt Vesoviath,” is more Eosyth than Isolwyn, her voice full of the midnight of her queen’s simmering anger. “We protected her. She is our blood.” Before she can try to bring her own thoughts to the fore, her lifemate abruptly plunges down through the skies to dive after the remaining Benden gold, who swiftly follows after the other in the wake of Daeserath’s threats. Eosyth levels out, lingering for long enough to reach for Fort’s males, making no distinction between dragon and rider. << If you court such creatures, you have no home here, >> is a darkly even and precise warning in the seconds that elapse until she blinks back to the hatching cavern and descends to meet the clutch safely within the Weyrleaders’ sights. Isolwyn manages to blink away the savage edge to her gaze as she wobbles on her feet and has to clutch at C’aol’s shirt again. “If the Court knows what’s good for them, they’ll keep out of this and let us pin it on Honshu,” she utters roughly. “Their ways led us here. To Vesoviath. We put it right. We guarded the results of their mistakes. Honshu may be a haven for the different, but it needs guidance. Strength. //Ours//.” Behind her, Eosyth shivers, the chill of her actions all but literally catching up with her. “Demand the Council meets. Tomorrow. It’s your right, as Weyrleader.”

Daeserath’s ripple of anger chases after Eosyth’s warning, his mental push added to her stronger control. << If they are seen in our skies again their wings will be shredded. >> He does not return to the caverns, leaving Eosyth to tend to their clutch as he continues to circle the skies. He must allow others back into Fort’s skies as a handful of dragons rise up into the skies to blink Between or head in various directions of Fort to check on their territory. Some with riders, some with not. C’aol’s gaze is hard as he looks to Isolwyn, “They may not have physically hurt her, but their actions may have harmed her very young rider. It is the rider’s harm that will bring the wrath of the Court. I hope Emily and Hanath are capable to soothe both Safiye and Vesoviath from the encounter.” He reaches to steady Isolwyn against his chest, hands firm against her elbows as he keeps her standing. “I will have Daeserath call them to meet once I am certain the Weyr is settled back in to some state of calmness.” He looks towards their clutch. “We will propose Eosyth’s egg to be Honshu’s replacement. Inaskashath’s breeding led to Vesoviath… we will have to disclose that as leverage. What recourse do we demand from Benden for their queens interfering in our Weyr?” he asks, looking to Isolwyn. “I will leave that comment up to you when we meet.”

“This is your chance,” Isolwyn murmurs with a dawning realisation, reclaiming more and more of herself from Eosyth. “Your want the mother to cease believing that you’re the worst being alive, then take care of her daughter,” she states, her hold tightening on C’aol’s shirt. “Don’t leave it all to Emily and Hanath. Tell her she has a home here, if she wants it. Tell her we’ll keep her safe. Make her //feel// safe. Even if you don’t feel any of it, it’s a means to an end. She might expect it of Emily and of me, if only by dint of being female, but this is an opportunity I don’t think you will get again to keep that woman’s blades from you for good.” Her gaze hardens at the thought of those queens, her stare taking on a murderous chill that she ducks her head to try and conceal. “I want them stripped of rank for at least a year and transferred to separate Weyrs. If they refuse and won’t punish the juniors, then I want their Weyrwoman removed from her post. Perhaps both.” For just a moment, she bares her teeth. “Another chance to position someone we favour into power.”

“She is under our protection at Fort,” C’aol’s answer has the weight of Daeserath’s words behind it, his eyes dilating and returning to normal as the bronze pushes against his rider. “We will not leave it to Hanath alone. I will meet with her later today, to confirm this. I will make sure she knows that we do not take this level of meddling lightly.” His teeth bare in a mirthless smile. “The juniors of Benden seem to believe they are free to do as they wish. I will call into question their leadership. They should be sent to the South, to become a problem of Southern or Ista. I do not want their influence near the North.” He brushes his fingers through Isolwyn’s hair as she grows closer to him, the hardness leaving his body as Daeserath pulls back from C’aol’s awareness to focus on the sweeps around the Weyr’s perimeter and rallying those dragons he has called to aid in the activity. “We have one gold egg to leverage. We can try and shift change through bronzeriders’ as well. It will take time for us to produce enough golds to take over…,” he huffs a laugh, “until then, we will make it clear that //we// drive the decisions of the Council. That //we// do not tolerate the breaking of Weyr autonomy.” He stills his fingers in her hair. “If Safiye’s mother respects that… then perhaps I can let the feel of her sword in my body leave my mind.”

Isolwyn tucks her face into the crook of C’aol’s neck and does her best to keep her breathing steady and even, though tension still keeps her frame rigid. She remains silent for perhaps half a minute before she says, “If they had found Vesoviath at the Court, there is no possible way they could have protected her,” in tones little better than a growl. “If Safiye’s mother cannot recognise that we stand to give her daughter what she cannot – if she disparages you in any way for this – I won’t need a sword to run her through.” Try as she might, whatever it is of Eosyth that has settled in the heart of her as the pale queen looks over her clutch is not something she can entirely rid herself of, despite tucking herself closer in some desperate effort to have proximity to her mate draw it from her. There’s the ghost of the idea of the press of her teeth to his neck before she steps back and blinks her eyes wide. “I should go and restore order to the caverns, then I’ll go see Safiye and Emily. If I keep in your company, you’ll be meeting the Council with bruises that speak too much of us behind closed doors.” Before she can change her mind, she starts to stride away, her focus set.

C’aol follows after Isolwyn, moving to grab her elbow to stall her momentum out the door. “Have Safiye tell her mother what has happened. We can meet with her and the father later today. I’ll arrange a place.” He opens the door for Isolwyn, prepared to let her out before he follows her. “First, I’m going to High Reaches to inform T’var of what Benden has done to one of ours. I’ll get ahead of the story there. He will readily side with us. To that end, I’ll have to visit Honshu.” He shakes his head and moves to hug Isolwyn to his chest. “I will have Daeserath stay in contact with Eosyth.” He walks with Isolwyn a few steps before their ways part. Daeserath and he are gone the majority of the day, time spent visiting those Weyrs’ leaders who they already know will require little weight to get them to their side of the issue. He leaves Fort in Isolwyn’s more than capable hands, knowing that he would do little to soothe their people.

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