Take the Lead

Who: Isolwyn and Emily
Where: Council Room, Fort Weyr
What: Isolwyn asks Emily to oversee Priska’s training.

It cannot be said that Eosyth is a gossip, especially not where her rider’s private life is concerned, and while the early months of pregnancy hit some women hard, the worst of it that has manifested so far for Isolwyn is a need for more sleep, the hours for which are not always entirely under her control, but an easy enough thing to mask. And so, between Eosyth’s silence and the scheduling of meetings between the anticipated need to nap, nothing at all seems amiss. When the Weyrwoman calls for Emily, so does Eosyth for Hanath, meaning to settle down beside her daughter and talk of what their riders will on the level that only concerns dragons. On the council room table sits hot drinks and two varieties of cake, one with almost more icing than cake, while the other is a more plain, fruit affair. Isolwyn has parked herself in a chair almost halfway down the table, waiting patiently, though she eyes the cake with a fair degree of interest that politeness denies her from acting on.

Hanath does not delay her arrival to Eosyth’s side, eager as she is to be in the company of her dam. She’s bubbling with news to share – of Vesoviath, of the new weyrlings – of her general enthusiasm for all things small and young. Emily walks into the council room with a bright smile, awash in her dragon’s enthusiasm as she greets Isolwyn. “Hello Weyrwoman!” she chirps before she settles down at the table. “Cake! How thoughtful. Oh, and I love tea,” she declares as she reaches to inspect the hot drink before her. She resists the urge to immediately dive into the cakes offered, opting instead to take polite sips of her tea as she beams at Isolwyn. Whatever the meeting may be about, Emily seems prepared to be in a good mood about having been called to the meeting.

Isolwyn’s greeting comprises of her putting a slice of each of the cakes on a plate and sliding it towards Emily without asking which one she’d prefer, working on the assumption that all cake is good cake. She does the same for herself without a hint of shame, then pours a mug of tea and adds a very small amount of milk to it before picking up her fork to start nudging icing away from one slice of cake. “I imagine that Hanath has spent more time in our newest queen’s company than Eosyth has,” she utters a little dryly. “But while her journey is just beginning, it’s Vesoviath’s that I think is more pressing. You’ve had more direct dealings with her and her rider than I have.” She wrinkles her nose. “I think she finds me frightening,” is something she doesn’t sound thrilled by, but she sets it aside easily enough. “In any case… Vesoviath is nearly grown, if not already an adult, and I believe we must be in agreement before I say it that she cannot be permitted to rise.”

Emily murmurs her thanks as the plate of cake is slid her way. She takes a polite mouthful of each and washes it down with tea as Isolwyn brings forward the topic for the meeting. Her smile is quick over the rim of her mug as she asserts, “Yes, Hanath has been spending a lot of time with the youngest queen and any of the others who want to play. She’s even brought Vesoviath along. I think she’s determined to teach the littlest queen to be as enthusiastic over younger creatures as she is.” She furrows her brows briefly at the mention of preventing Vesoviath’s rising. “Safiye is far too young for that,” she agrees, nodding her head and leaning back as she adds, “I’m not sure… I don’t think it will be hard for Eosyth or even Hanath to enforce her not rising.” She grows thoughtful and then adds, “It likely won’t be long now for Hanath to rise herself. I’m beginning to think,” she takes a sip of tea and then cups her hands around the mug for warmth. “That Vesoviath may not have the same abilities as a normal gold. I have not once seen her use any power to compel others… though I have not forced the issue by asking Safiye to test it. We could.” She looks to Isolwyn. “I know Vesoviath is not ours to keep and Safiye has duties to her people. Will they allow her to stay here to keep Vesoviath from rising? Until Safiye is old enough to handle it?”

“…If she had the mental power a gold should be hatched with, even lying dormant… I would have expected her to manifest it if only to protect herself and her rider when those Benden queens came to play their twisted games with her,” Isolwyn murmurs, lodging a decent amount of icing into her mouth if only to stop her from any expletive laden commentary concerning the foreign queens. “She has a loud voice and a long mental reach, as has been witnessed in her dam and granddam, but the rest seems… either not there at all or so far from her being able to access it that it might as well be.” She lifts her mug to her lips, saying over its rim, “It’s agreed that, for now, Safiye will remain here.” A tentative sip taken, she sighs and sets it down. “Admittedly, I’m uncertain at what age my conscience can live with letting Vesoviath rise. If Hanath were to clutch some bronzes and browns who Impress boys in their mid-teens, the age gap might not be so horrendous by the time Safiye is old enough and their dragons are grown. I can’t think to let our older riders be involved in any manner.”

Emily takes a bite or two of the cake as she listens to Isolwyn speak. Mention of the Benden queens darkens Emily’s features as she lowers her fork towards the plate. “That such cruelty could be encouraged in a gold is disgusting,” she tells Isolwyn without mincing her words. “That child’s terror and Vesoviath’s cries…,” she shakes her head and flattens her lips into a thin line to prevent herself from divulging into replaying that scenario. “I had thought our Weyrleader and you preferred to consider older people to place on the Sands,” she notes with a tiny release of her anger, the thoughts of Hanath’s impending maidenflight drawing more light back into her features. “It would diversify our ranks to consider mid-teens and perhaps we will be able to have more impact in their lives. We got Priska only because her situation had changed. We would not have likely been able to Search her a few years ago.” She taps her forefinger against her lips in thought. “I also wonder… if we should consider Hanath’s maidenflight to be open to all Weyrs.” She seems calm in the delivery, “To encourage them to do the same with their junior flights.”

“Vesoviath herself is so small… she likely could be caught as easily as a green. Are we going to restrict her flights to browns and bronzes? She may find… it more agreeable to have a blue,” Emily speaks plainly, sipping the last of her tea before she sets the mug down on the table. “Restricting Vesoviath’s flights shouldn’t be up to us in terms of who they may ultimately allow to chase her when she is of age to return to her home.” She offers a shrug and then leans back in her chair, shoulders shifting back as she focuses on Isolwyn’s words. “Hanath will not be flown by a blue,” she agrees firmly, “I do not want to see… her clutch be abnormal. The only way I know to guarantee that is to limit her flights to bronzes and an occasional brown.” She folds her hands together on the table as she listens to Isolwyn and offers her a shrug with a small, genuine, smile. “I don’t particularly… have any specific interest one way or the other, Weyrwoman. I will be content with whomever Hanath chooses to fly her.” She certainly has never been seen to have formed any lasting relationships at Fort to suggest she has a preference of any kind that would be noticed. “I don’t feel compelled on the decision. I think it’s the right thing to do and it’ll help Fort in the long run. There are plenty of bronzeriders who would like to see their dragon’s win a gold. That may not always be possible were they limited to our flights alone.”

Isolwyn takes a breath, considering her words for a few moments that she fills with taking another sip from her mug. “…The decision may not be ours to make, but while we’re in a position to give advice… I think it would be dangerous to suggest that Vesoviath be flown by a blue, working on the assumption that she can clutch. We know now that at least one blue can sire offspring and so ought to work on the assumption that others can as well.” She presses her lips together before continuing. “We are quite safe in the knowledge that her sire is blue,” she confesses through a sigh. “To be caught by one as well… I don’t know what it would to do those potential offspring and I’m not sure that it would be fair to risk finding out.” Quickly, she takes another couple of bites before setting her fork down. “Hanath’s offspring will be strong,” she declares without a trace of doubt. “With the notable exception of Inaskashath’s choice of mate, the other queens of her line have turned out to be prolific mothers of healthy dragons. When you believe she’s preparing to fly, only remember to inform me and Safiye, and Eosyth and I will take her and Vesoviath away with us when we leave.”

Emily nods her head in acceptance of Isolwyn’s guidance as she moves to pour herself more hot water into her mug. She tilts the kettle towards Isolwyn in silent inquiry of filling her mug as well. “Hanath will love being a mother,” Emily adds, “And I’m certain she will have her fair share of mates to pick only the strongest to guarantee them the best chance of success.” She nods her head again and tells her, “As yet she hasn’t stirred much in that direction. That isn’t to say it won’t happen in the near future though. I will make sure to communicate with you both as soon as possible.” She considers Isolwyn then and asks her in an unusually blunt manner, “Do you… did you fall in love with C’aol because of Eosyth’s choice in Daeserath? Or was it separate from it?”

Shaking her head, Isolwyn politely refuses the offer of more tea, choosing instead to start in on the fruit cake. Only then she pauses, her cheeks taking on a pink tinge as she hesitates in how best to answer Emily’s enquiry. “…Eosyth chose Daeserath long before I even knew he existed,” she says eventually. “Her wanting him was inevitable, meaning something physical between C’aol and I would be, so I sought to take control of that before it simply happened. I’d had no intention of falling in love with whatever man I was made to marry and I can’t say that I had any belief that I would ever let myself be in love with anyone.” And yet, she offers a wry half-smile. “I can’t tell you why or when or how, but I know it wasn’t Eosyth.” After another mouthful of cake, she suggests, “I wouldn’t be surprised or… worried… if you find yourself infatuated with the rider Hanath’s flight draws you to. It happens. Whether it becomes something else is down to you, but you’ve no obligation to anyone.”

“I never really considered what life would be like if I were to be married,” Emily supposes as she pokes at the remains of cake on her plate. “And I suppose I don’t really know if I will like being tied to anyone now that I’m a Weyrwoman.” She looks up at Isolwyn and smiles. “I will see where the road takes me, so to speak, on that subject. If I feel concerned about any of it, I know I can ask you questions. You’ve always made yourself available to me and I thank you for that. After witnessing Benden’s juniors… I’m glad that Hanath came from Fort and I am settled here. I wouldn’t want to be at any other Weyr,” she announces and then sets her fork down on the plate. “Is there anything else you’d like to discuss? I don’t want to take up too much of your time.”

“If you find you do want to marry and your partner fully understands what Hanath’s flights mean, I wouldn’t let your rank stop you,” Isolwyn replies, sitting back in her seat. “I know there are goldriders who don’t attend the flight weyr, though I’m not certain if there is clear approval or disapproval for that across the Weyrs. For me to say that you ought not to do that would be more than hypocritical, given the present state of Eosyth’s flights.” She folds her hands in her lap. “Before you go, there’s the matter of Priska and Yedrith and their training to consider. If you’ve no objections, I’d like you to take the lead with her. I’ll still meet with her once a week, of course, but you’ve done well with Safiye and it might do her some good if you were to let her be involved as well. She won’t ever be a weyrwoman of official rank, yet it will likely help for her to feel productive and it will inevitably mean she continues to learn as well. Hanath seems more naturally inclined to than Eosyth, though she does care. In her own way.”

Emily clearly brightens at the suggestion she take on Priska’s training. “Oh, I would love to do that. I’m glad you can trust me to train them both. Safiye must be feeling a little lonely since the rest of her clutchsiblings went back to their,” she pauses, searching for the word before she settles upon, “home.” She’s never asked for any specific details about the dragons and the riders who came from the Court and doesn’t appear to ask for more clarification on where they went now. “Hanath takes a very active interest in the young. I appreciate Eosyth letting her do so. We know Eosyth cares,” she adds quickly. “I’ve been watching how our Weyrlingmasters worked with Safiye… and they worked fine with me. I hope they will continue to do so. I did hear a rumor that V’lar is tired of training ‘Holder spawn’. He must’ve had a very hard day to speak in such a manner. If he seems to have a poor attitude, I will immediately address it and bring it to your attention. Priska, I imagine, is under enough pressure right now.”

“If V’lar speaks so again, especially in-front of the weyrlings, you have my full permission to flatten the man,” Isolwyn says darkly, clenching her jaw for a fraction of a moment. “You would have thought that training older weyrlings, Holder or not, would make life easier for him. I’m sure he hasn’t stopped to consider that we need Holders and outsiders in the Weyr to keep bloodlines in the caverns from mixing too closely.” Before she can hyper-focus on what displeasure towards the Weyrlingmaster she wishes to air, she takes a breath and lowers her head for a few seconds to draw herself back. “Priska knows what’s expected of her,” she says more gently. “From what I understand, she was fully trained and prepared to inherit Telgar Hold, so I envisage matters with Yedrith and specific to dragons will be what need working on the most. They’ll need time together above anything, first, and I’d suggest starting her formal training when Yedrith is five months old.”

Emily immediately looks distressed at the suggestion she ‘flatten the man’. “I’m not sure I can flatten him, Weyrwoman. I was tempted to tell him that he needs to watch who he speaks to when he shares his displeasure but then I got completely flustered by the idea of telling my old Weyrlingmaster to be quiet.” She presses her hands together briefly and then lowers them as she returns to the subject of Priska’s training. “I think 5 months old is the perfect time to focus on training. Until then, I’ll keep an eye on V’lar’s interactions with all the weyrlings. Hanath almost always is somewhere near them so she can keep an ‘ear’ out for any unnecessary comments or actions on his part. If I feel he is a problem, I will tell you and C’aol immediately.”

“V’lar may have been your teacher, but he answers to you now. I’m sure he understands full well that there are those among the weyrlings he trains that will go on to outrank him. If his conduct is improper, you have my support and that of the Weyrleader, and if he believes himself too important to answer for what he speaks, there are ways of reminding him that he need not be important at all.” Whether she means to or not, Isolwyn doesn’t quite manage to keep that thinly veiled threat from sounding sinister. “In any case, I appreciate that you’re willing to take responsibility for Priska. That it affords the opportunity to test what Safiye has learned can only be a positive thing as well. I’ll meet with Priska tomorrow to set out the timeframe for her so that there are no surprises she need be worried about.”

Emily still looks uncomfortable about the prospect of reprimanding V’lar. She doesn’t continue the discussion, knowing that the task is set for her to complete should she need to. “That would be good,” she agrees about informing Priska. “I’m sure she’ll be a pleasure to work with. I look forward to the time spent with her.” She rises and collects their plates, placing one on top of the other and then settling the fork on top. She sets them to the side with the cakes. “I’ll ask someone to come in and clean all this up,” she announces and then smiles at Isolwyn before a blush creeps up her cheeks. “That is, if we’re done talking,” she moves to sit back down, “is there anything else you need me to do, Weyrwoman?” she queries.

Isolwyn shakes her head and gives a vague flap of her hands to wordlessly assure Emily that there’s no need to take her seat again. “No, I think that’s everything,” she agrees. “Otherwise… I suppose I only ask that if there’s ever anything that you want me to address, to not be afraid to say so. Even if you believe it’s only something that’s slipped my mind.” She only offers a flicker of a smile to suggest that there’s nothing further that should keep her, waiting until Emily has departed to prop her arms on the table and stare at what’s left of the cakes. And by the time the caverns staff arrive to clean up, one of the cakes is missing.

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