Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
Where: Isolwyn’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: The aftermath of the inevitable Council meeting.
Isolwyn isn’t usually too badly affected by being away from Eosyth, but her lifemate being on the Sands only adds to the stress of pulling on enough threads to manipulate the desired outcomes from various Council members while trying not to cause such extensive damage that it puts Vesoviath at risk and or casts her own queen in the same light as the line they seek to claim and continue as well as damn. Exhausted though she may be, she’s sent her firelizards ahead to ensure there is food and drink awaiting them in her weyr by the time that they return to Fort, victorious, and it turns out that the kitchen staff haven’t exactly forsaken them, though they cannot have known the extent of the reasons why their leaders have been absent for the day. Whoever it was that brought the food has also made up the fire, leaving the various plates and dishes that someone has caught on to either C’aol or Isolwyn favouring on the circular table that sits before it, drinks kept warm at the edge of the hearth.
C’aol is silent as he enters Isolwyn’s weyr, focused on removing his flightgear and properly stowing it away before he removes his boots and leaves them tucked near the door. He stretches his neck and reaches his arm out to snap and pop his elbow with an audible crack before he settles his limbs at his side. He waits for Isolwyn to rid herself of her various flightgear before he escorts her, a hand to the small of her back, towards the welcome relief of her favorite foods and the warmth offered by the fire. He pulls out her chair and waits for her to sit, before he leave sher side to go and claim the one opposite her. It is not the food that he reaches for but the Fortian wine that he draws towards him to pour into her glass and his own. Once he has settled the drinks between them, he allows a small smile to play across his lips as he lifts his glass in a toast, “To Fort’s Weyrwoman,” he heralds, as if they were more than an audience of the cat that somehow has found a way to wind itself around his feet in greeting. “Who has orchestrated the Council to her will, placed our future goldrider at Honshu, and dismissed all concern centered around Vesoviath.”
Isolwyn sits down in the chair C’aol pulls out for her and smoothes her skirts over her knees into their proper lines as she surveys what the kitchen has brought for the two of them, her focus drawn by the wine and then his smile, which draws a tiny quirk of her lips that blossoms into a moment of soft laughter as he lifts his glass. “And to Fort’s Weyrleader, who had more than half of them looking to him for the right of the world before they even stepped foot through the door,” she answers, lifting her own glass to touch it to his. “At the heart of it, Vesoviath is a very small queen with no evident compulsion or command ability. She’s a threat to no-one. An oddity, yes, and who knows what people will think if her dam produces others like her, but her rider will never be in a position to unduly influence anything and nor will any riders of those potential offspring.” She takes a delicate sip from her glass and smirks over the rim. “Not that anyone other than ourselves is really in a position to influence anything anymore.”
C’aol’s smile remains through the wake of Isolwyn’s laughter before it finally dims into more serious lines as the wine glass is lifted to his lips for a sip. “I think that Honshu’s Weyrsecond, S’ven, was it?” He lifts a brow as he settles the wine glass back to the table. “Will have his eyes on winning that maidenflight. He seems to enjoy wearing the Weyrlord’s knot very well.” He still makes no move to grab at any of the food on the table, manners long ago drilled into him dictating he wait until Isolwyn serves herself first. “That we have settled Vesoviath’s fate and confirmed that she has no compulsion abilities will serve her people well and will keep them from being permitted as a formal addition to the Council. Should they seek it, that is. I don’t want their influence there.” He raps his knuckles on the table. “I’m still amazed they finally came to the conclusion that their bans on the goldflights have done nothing but cause unwarranted damage. That they will allow Weyrs to decide these matters is how it should have been from the beginning. What we need to discuss is whether or not we want to open the flights up to brownriders. I will not risk a blue catching a gold at Fort.” He looks to Isowlyn, gauging her reaction. “And I would also state that not all browns should be allowed to breed as well.”
“Perhaps we ought to do something about him before that becomes a potential problem,” Isolwyn considers, reaching first to uncover the slices of spiced roast wherry that are joined by a myriad of vegetable dishes and a red wine sauce, the tarts and pastries for dessert stacked neatly at the hearth’s edge. “If he wishes to advance and proves to be competent and useful, maybe he could be convinced that he could do more and better here, working with you, than staking a claim on Honshu’s knot. Depending on whether he is worth working with and a tolerable presence.” She settles a couple of slices on her plate and turns the fork towards C’aol. “I think it highly unlikely that the average blue will pursue a queen,” she muses. “The one that catches at Honshu is built more like a brown. Given he is likely Vesoviath’s sire, perhaps he was meant to be a brown, with her quirks. In any case, I wouldn’t have Hanath or any other juniors here chased by blues. If we were to permit browns to join goldflights, a way to limit it would be only those holding wingsecond or wingleader positions, their already having proved themselves that way.”
“He transferred from Igen when I was ah–, injured,” C’aol responds with a shrug, “so I don’t know much of his competence or working ability. I can see his potential to stay on at Honshu. I don’t want him here. We have our Weyrsecond here who is more than capable were I need him to step up into my role for a time. I won’t displace him with someone who most likely has been tainted by… Honshu’s far too liberal ideals.” He waits until Isolwyn has served herself before he goes about settling more meat than vegetables on his plate. He nods his head in agreement as he listens to Isolwyn’s thoughts. “Inaskashath is small and scarred, perhaps it aids in her catching by the blue. I don’t want to think on it too much. I’m glad we both agree we wouldn’t tolerate it here. As to your thoughts on the browns,” he cuts his meat while he pauses his statement, “I think that it would be the best way to indicate //what// we place value on here. Of the three brownriding wingleaders we have, I’d say all of them and their dragons’ are worthy enough of siring a clutch.”
“When word gets out that the Council has decided to lift the ban, even at cost to a queenrider who permits a blue in her flight, it could stand to be demoralising if we were to be seen to ignore it completely.” Isolwyn finishes arranging her plate and neatly starts to cut into some roasted vegetables, though it is perhaps a little more dutifully than she would approach what awaits for their second course. “If we tie the right of it to skill and leadership qualities, maybe we will find more brownriders who could be providing their talents to Fort more plainly willing to play their parts considerably better.” Her lips quirk. “If not an active desire, I’m sure there’s more than one brown who would push their rider for the opportunity to mate with a queen.” Setting her cutlery down, she reaches for her wine glass. “Especially as neither they, nor our bronzes, will be allowed into the skies to pursue Eosyth.”
“That the Council had no comment on the fact that our leadership flights will be closed is a decided gain for us. It proves that our decisions are taken as those to be replicated by others. Not that I would enjoy seeing many of the current leadership remaining… they are far better than it once was. I think the Weyrleaders’ deaths went a long way to ensure that those who hold their knots take it into consideration with their actions.” He takes a few mouthfuls of vegetables, prompted in a way by Isolwyn’s own eating of them. “Few trust Vesoviath… I assume even those who do, do not wish to have it be their dragons’ producing such… oddities. That Honshu has now created so many unusual breedings will serve as a warning itself. I don’t believe we should worry about it further.” He reaches to take a sip of his wine. “I don’t know Emily well, so you will have to speak on her taste in things. When Hanath takes to the skies, my only hope is that Hanath is able to produce as strong of clutches as her dam.” His smile is more smirk as he adds, “And to do so, I would think it would require a bronze.”
“Before many more months, there may well be the question of whether Vesoviath can breed or not.” That gives Isolwyn pause and encourages another mouthful from her glass. “Will she rise as queen does? Is she fertile? The worst outcome for her and for Safiye would be for her to rise as a green does and still clutch. If she begins to glow before her rider is of age, it will take someone like Eosyth to suppress it.” She shudders and sets her glass down. “I won’t have Vesoviath rise before Safiye is good and ready and the Court may well just have to accept assistance in that whether they like it or not.” For a moment, she sits back to simply breathe her way through what anger still taints, “I would have that woman grovel for securing her daughter’s safety and freedom in the eyes of the Council. She undeniably owes you more than she could ever repay now.”
“I do not want to ever think of a situation where a young girl, how old is Safiye anyway? Twelve?” C’aol asks as he frowns, “being put into a position to handle themselves in a flight. That goes for the boys as well. It’s why you and I have decided the older the candidates – the better. Not only for handling their dragon’s lust, but also to handle all of the changes and responsibilities that come with being a dragonrider.” He takes another bite of meat before he washes it down with a decent mouthful of wine. Little tells start to show of the wine and the meal’s influence on him as his body slowly relaxes from any residual tension that took him during their meeting with the council. “I do not need her to grovel, my darling,” he tells Isolwyn with a drawl and a lifted brow. “Improved relations will be enough. We have something they do not have — Eosyth, Hanath, you and Emily. Fort is the best place to train the girl, especially now that we have proven we are capable of facing down potential attackers on Vesoviath and Safiye. It strengthens us past the Court’s influence. I suppose we are lucky that O’rlen was never capable of understanding how to manipulate the world around him with any sense. He never could believe that those who he trusts may double-cross him.” He finishes off his wine to that thought before he pours himself more. He tips the bottle towards her to offer her a refill as well.
“She claims she’s nearly fourteen now, but she still seems to be in the gangly phase that makes her look significantly younger. Vesoviath will certainly be an adult long before she is, though I imagine the youth of her rider will make her less predictable than any other mature dragon.” Isolwyn nods as C’aol tips the bottle towards her, supposing, “I would think we’ll be thankful that she has no command ability and merely has a long mental reach when the tribulations of Safiye’s teenage years kick in.” She huffs out a sigh and mutters an unladylike curse under her breath. “You may not need to see her mother grovel, but I would find it awfully satisfying. Truth be told, I’d accept some acknowledgement and appreciation for what you’ve done to ensure her daughter stands to have a decent future, but the grovelling would be preferable.”
“And any future golds that happen to find themselves a young rider,” drawls C’aol as he tips his glass towards Isolwyn’s newly filled one in a mock toast, “should be so lucky to not have the impact of their… growth impact each other.” He downs a decent mouthful of the red, more for the relaxation offered than to enjoy the (admittedly, by the staff) not so great vintage of Fort Hold’s latest vintage release. “It is more thanks to Eosyth, Daeserath and Hanath that Safiye and her Vesoviath are not harmed,” he tells Isolwyn blandly, “than my own judgements. Do not, my dear, give me credit where credit simply is not due.” He shakes his head and finishes off the last bite from his plate before he pushes it away from him to take that wine glass closer to his chest and relax against his chair. “We have done well, Isolwyn. //You// have done well. All we have to do now is ensure that Fort finds it’s next goldrider to be competent… and malleable… to fulfill our needs at Honshu.” He laughs suddenly as he sits up and slaps his hand against the table, delight shining in his gaze as his smile is true. “Finally, Honshu’s rumor of Fort’s hand in their operations will ring true.”
“I am Fort and //you// are Fort, so what this Weyr did and does for anyone and everything is also what //we// have done,” Isolwyn declares, drawing her cutlery together neatly on her plate. “So I think it’s hardly credit where none is due. I would make my peace with an understanding that Fort has done what they couldn’t. I don’t require such from Safiye, for I find I do actually like the girl, and her circumstances aren’t of her own making, but, as for those who brought her to them…” She shrugs and leaves her seat for long enough to clear plates from the table and bring dessert up from the hearth, an amused smirk claiming her lips as she glances over her shoulder to see C’aol smile. “For that hand to be effective, we’re going to need a woman of will who is just different enough to tolerate what Honshu houses of the different, while seeing the clear need to maintain order. Understanding, without too much sympathy.” From amidst the sweeter offerings, she draws a small bottle, peering at as she declares it to be, “Citrus liqueur. I’m not sure if they intended that as a palate cleanser or expected things to have gone so badly that we’d need more than the wine to numb ourselves.”
“I am certain you will find the appropriate woman to handle such… delicate matters. You did well in your choice of Emily. I admit I was surprised that Hanath chose her over the other two — and now I know that she chose well. Emily is the perfect example of what we will receive if we screen properly in our candidates,” C’aol comments as he watches Isowlyn remove their dishes and bring forward the dessert and the liqueur. “That,” he drawls as he leans back in his chair and looks indulgently at Isolwyn, “or they knew we’d enjoy getting absolutely tossed in celebration. He stands to go and retrieve smaller glasses to put the liqueur in. He returns and settles a glass before Isolwyn’s plate and then moves to seat himself once more. “It might be beneficial for us to look for candidates on the Southern continent. They all tend to be raised with more… liberal ideals down there. Not all of them are as..,” he smirks as he pauses and then says, “//spirited// about it as Honshu’s people tend to be. My brother’s Hold may be a good place to start. There’s Zaimika’s Silverfield,” he puts his daughter’s claim to the Hold, “where we may see as well.” He draws his forefinger and thumb along his jaw, “Or it’ll be a bust. I’m not sure.”
“Well, if we don’t emerge from here until close to midday tomorrow morning because we can’t stand to venture from a dark room, I’m absolutely informing everyone that it was your suggestion,” Isolwyn answers dryly, setting a cheese plate down with a heavy thunk before she fetches up the bottle of citrus once more and fills their glasses. She has the decency to look momentarily chagrined as she nudges a dish of fruit tarts from the edge of the table, letting a sight escape. “I’m not certain Lady Silverfield would welcome my presence… given I visited her not so long ago,” she confesses, gaze averted. “What you said about believing she was the root of your… injuries… got me thinking. For all I know, she could well be an incredible actress, but since she was rather plain in saying how she led you on in her efforts to conceive, it seems unlikely that she would have tried to get rid of you.” She bites down on the inside of her lip for a moment. “I was supposedly there to receive confirmation that she wouldn’t aim to politically hamper any of our children in an effort to protect her own.”
C’aol reaches for the liqueur to sip at and then grimaces over the thick sweetness of it. “I never quite understood these dessert liqueurs.” He reaches towards the cheese plate to sample from to cut the sweetness out of his mouth with a bit of sharp cheddar. His brow lifts as he considers Isolwyn with a stillness that hides his immediate flash of anger. “Zinovia is no actress,” he manages to say stiffly as he bypasses the liqueur in favor of another glass of wine. “Involving yourself in this way was not wise, Isolwyn,” he informs her, all traces of good humor gone as his icy gaze returns to Isolwyn’s. He sips from his glass and settles back against his chair to allow silence to fall between them for some time. He sighs and shakes his head, allowing – perhaps for the first time – his anger to leave him. “We will avoid Silverfield in our Search. It will be harder to justify us seeking candidates outside of our area as it is.”
Isolwyn makes no efforts to break the silence, but she bypasses polite sipping of the liqueur to knock back her glass in one smooth motion. “I didn’t do it for no good reason,” she says eventually, measured and not defensive in her response. “I know you still have nightmares about what happened. You freed me from my uncle’s machinations and removed him and his influence from my life. Left me free to marry as I choose. If I could free you of this, then I not only would, but I should.” She pours from the bottle again and drains this glass too. “And besides, even the excuse I provided had some truth to it. There’s no telling what lengths a woman who would call that down on you might go to should she perceive any threat to her child. If it had been her.” Settling her empty glass in her lap, she looks down into it, quiet and sincere when she murmurs, “Your daughter is beautiful. She has your eyes.”
C’aol’s jaw tightens at the mention of his nightmares, not welcoming the reminder of his uncontrolled reaction to replaying the events of the attack all those years ago. He finishes what remains of the wine and hovers his hand towards reaching for more of some form of alcohol before he decides against it. “It wasn’t Zinovia,” he tells Isolwyn, “there’s no way she would have orchestrated that. I did spend enough time with her to know that.” He rises from his chair and sets his napkin down on top of his plate. “I grow weary of talking about politics and plots,” he announces, reaching out a hand to encourage her to leave her seat as well. The comment on Zaimika earns Isolwyn a thoughtful glance and no other comment. He never discusses Zaimika and rarely visits her these days. “Shall we retire to bed?”
Silently, Isolwyn rises from her seat and sets her hand in C’aol’s, following after with every seeming intention of saying not a thing further. She utters not a word until she’s woven her hair into a braid and dressed for bed, which is when she clambers beneath the sheets and blankets to manhandle him without any question of his liking it, tucking herself as close as she can while folding his arms around her and her own around him, her face pressed into his chest to cocoon herself in a combination of blankets and Weyrleader. “You have nothing to be ashamed of, you know,” is her only comment, spoken quietly over his heart, any response lost to sleep and exhaustion of the day.