Who: Priska, B’lian, Zaivar’s Lord and Lady
Where: Honshu Weyrhold
What: A meeting goes swiftly awry.

Whatever sort of Weyrwoman Priska is, she’s evidently not quite what some of Honshu was expecting, or what they were used to in Aerishani and Rori, for it’s not only some of the Weyrhold’s children who have gathered at a distance to watch her spin kicks and glance daggers along the wooden training dummy that she’s planted at a distance from caverns. Nearby, Yedrith sits and watches all with a faint air of smugness, her tail twitching slightly every so often her rider lands a hit.

B’lian strides across the area where the crowd has gathered and heads closer to note it’s Priska’s practicing that has drawn a crowd. The presence of the Weyrleader sends a few of the adults scattering back to their tasks, though the children seem unphased by his presence. He hails Priska as he nears and settles an easy grin on his face. “You’re determined to prove you are far from an ornament, aren’t you? You’ve gotten better,” he adds, jerking his chin towards the dummy. “What’re you going to pick-up training with next? A bow?”

“If people know what they’re dealing with, maybe they’ll be less likely to think about trying anything like S’ven and Benden,” Priska replies, glancing from B’lian and back to one of her blades, the serrated edge of which she studies through narrowed eyes as she catches her breath. Inhaling sharply, she lifts her voice to call, “Show’s over, everyone!” to the children who linger, without so much as turning to make sure that they return to their lessons or chores, her expectation set out in not repeating herself or checking on them. “Besides,” she continues to her Weyrleader, “I like wearing pretty things far too much to try dressing in a threatening manner consistently.” She shrugs. “Bow doesn’t look like it’d be satisfying. Hitting things up close is better.”

“You aren’t sneaking off late at night to go brawl in one of those underground fighting rings everyone always eludes to that exist here in the South, are you?” B’lian’s smile and eyes are dancing with humor, though there’s the //slightest// bit of concern hinted at in his lifted brow. He turns to look and ensures that the children have scampered off. “I haven’t found any other bad actors here at Honshu.” He shakes his head and shucks a hand through his hair with a shrug. “Doesn’t mean they don’t need reminding. People seem to be thriving with the new drills I’ve brought in,” he smirks at her, knowing full well that more than a few have complained to her about it taking away from their crafting time.

Priska tilts her head a little, her gaze going distant as she must consider what she’s asked about fighting rings in more depth. A moment later, however, she sheaths both her blades and declares, “I think that would be beneath my dignity.” What isn’t beneath her dignity turns out to be looping her arms about B’lian’s neck and pressing a kiss to his cheek while anyone passing by might see. “We’re not here to fund a Craft Hall. Dragons aren’t toys that you get on the Sands and can pick up when you choose. You work hard and so do I – people need to see that example. Not that I wouldn’t mind having a junior, but I can get by without.”

“With Rori at Benden a lot more does fall on your plate. It might be worth seeing if any of the Headwoman’s staff might be suitable to help you. Or, we could start looking to actively seek someone who may be suitable for a future gold egg,” B’lian comments after Priska’s stepped back from giving him a kiss. He puts his arm about her shoulders companionably and starts to steer her towards their home. “I’m going to assume you want to freshen up before we have our meetings today?” he queries, grinning at her. “I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that Zaivar’s Lord and Lady have requested a meeting with us this afternoon?” he teases gently and then adds, “Or were you quite hoping they’d stumble upon you throwing daggers?”

“I’m not sure I’d like to bet on a gold egg, even if the last clutch was a large one,” Priska replies, casting a quick look back to Yedrith, who only flicks her tail again and launches skywards to go and find a higher perch. “And I don’t want anyone suggesting that I can’t handle anything right now. There are plenty of Weyrwoman who have got by without juniors for a time, and I have no excuse to look to unburden myself.” She rolls her eyes at mention of Zaivar, muttering, “I’d rather they’d seen me with the daggers. As far as I know, they didn’t ever visit to meet Isolwyn’s baby. Doesn’t say much about them if that’s how they treat their family.”

“I imagine C’aol may not enjoy his brother’s company. From what some people have suggested, he was bitter his younger brother inherited the Hold back when they were younger and he was a young rider.” B’lian shrugs, trying to find a way to understand the situation without placing blame solely on one party. He opens the door into their weyr for her to proceed him. “I don’t know what they have in mind to talk to us about today. They probably want to negotiate a smaller tithe. I’d heard they had a failed crop this turn.” He moves to settle himself in a chair and kicks his legs up on the table in front of him. “Do you have any idea what they may want?” he queries, looking to her.

Priska gives an unladylike snort. “Suppose I can’t say much, really. It’s not like I’m ever going to fall all over myself for my little brother or my parents. Never again.” As she heads through into the weyr, she pulls her shirt over her head and discards it on the back of a chair she walks past, quite at ease with wandering about in her undergarments. “I’ve chosen my family and it’s not them.” She shrugs and heads through to the bedroom, soon to emerge with her hair down and a brush in one hand. “Maybe Zaivar don’t want us to Search there. Or maybe they do, like it’d be an insult to C’aol. If they want to offer us a smaller tithe, then what we do for them has to be reduced too.”

“For all we know they’re coming to request dragons so they can have them at their Hold like Silverfield and that Hold that Safiye hails from,” B’lian answers blandly, steepling his fingers over his stomach as he slouches further in the chair. “Or they’ve received complaints from some of our dragonriders who prefer to craft. If Aerishani and O’rlen can choose craft over Weyr, we’d best be prepared for a few others to do the same.” He sighs and shakes his head. “I know that there is purpose to both without the threat of Thread, but it entirely invalidates a dragon’s purpose to serve your craft first.”

“They can’t just turn up here and say they want dragons,” Priska replies, dragging the brush through blonde waves that have begun to grow past her shoulders. “For one, Lady Silverfield had to have permission from the Conclave to keep her birthright. Aerishani and O’rlen must have had Council permission to move to Silverfield, especially as Amorenth will have to use our Sands whenever she decides to clutch again. I don’t see Yedrith letting anyone take her eggs. If Zaivar’s to have dragons one way or another, they’ll have to be Amorenth’s.” She throws the brush towards the same chair as her shirt and heads back towards the bedroom, this time returning with a fresh shirt and a corset to lace over it. “Or we could see if they’ll beg C’aol. That might please him.”

“As we are encouraging our riders to remember the purpose behind being a dragonrider, I do not favor passing more dragons to a Hold to use as another form of a runner,” B’lian’s voice has a slight edge to it as he adds, “People keep trying to monopolize on the position afforded by being a dragonrider. Look at how well the last Holder fared when he attempted to be all things.” He shakes his head and lifts his gaze to look at Priska, “You’ve let your hair go longer,” he notes absently with a smile. “I like it longer, I think.” He shifts himself to sit more firmly in the chair as he shakes his head and considers Priska. “Are there any things you’d like to leverage from Honshu?”

“I can’t see the Council or Conclave approving it. Silverfield Impressed from the Stands and Faranth knows how Safiye’s family manages to operate off the radar enough that the rules don’t seem to apply to them.” Priska shrugs into her shirt and starts to button it up, absently catching at some strands of her hair as she brushes them free of her collar. “If you like it this way, I’ll keep it,” she says, looking back up at B’lian with a small smile. “Help me out?” She loosens the plum coloured corset enough that she can pull it over her head and down into place, then turns to show him its laces. “It depends what they want. If they want to tithe less, they either make up the shortfall another way or we restrict what we’re willing to do for them. If we can expect Yedrith and Imahdth to have another large clutch, we’ll need specific materials and herd animals that they should be able to provide by that time.”

B’lian pushes himself up from the chair and walks over to settle himself near enough to Priska he can tie up the laces she’s asked him to. He does not pull it as snug as some might, opting for enough room for Priska to breathe rather than squeeze her form into place. “Maybe they are trying to form an alliance of some kind with us. I can’t say I’ve had many meetings with either of them since we took leadership here. A more… friendly call, than political? They are closer in age to me,” he muses, “than some of the other Lords I’ve known.” He ties the final bow on her corset and steps back. His hand brushes through the ends of her hair. “Let’s see what they want and we can always opt to tell them we will consider whatever it is they are asking before we give them an answer.”

“I don’t know that I can imagine Holders of their status wanting to meet with us with intentions that go beyond their own gains,” Priska admits, straightening her collar as B’lian helps her with the corset. “There are only records of standard communication from Aerishani’s time as Weyrlady. Nothing out of the ordinary. But then there’s your earning respect and intent to turn the wings around, the latest clutch being a strong one, and, I don’t know, my Blood, that maybe makes us more interesting prospects as allies than they’ve previously thought of Honshu.” She takes an experimental breath in and turns to face him, murmuring her thanks. “You’re right. There’s no need to give them an answer straight away.”

B’lian smiles at Priska as she turns to face him. “Well, sounds like we are prepared then. Apparently they have arrived and been escorted to my office.” He crooks his elbow and holds it out for her. “Shall we go and meet them?” He leans in to kiss her cheek once she’s tucked near his side and then heads from their rooms and out to the Weyrleader’s office. He opens the door and bows to allow Priska ahead of him with a twinkle to his gaze. Lord Zaivar rises, looking not at all like C’aol’s younger brother, save for the blue eyes. His Lady rises after him and offers her smile. “Greetings,” Zaivar hails the pair. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with us.”

Priska steps into the office with a polite bob of her head to Zaivar and his Lady, offering nothing so submissive as a curtsey. She answers the Lady’s smile with one of her own, though, if likewise on the more careful side of polite than outright warm or friendly. “Good afternoon,” she replies, striding to stand beside a chair on the same side of the room as the one belonging to B’lian. “Yedrith sends her own greetings. I believe she observed your arrival from her current perch. You’re welcome to meet some of our new weyrlings later, if you wish. I imagine you’ll see them when they’re older and learn local destinations for Between.”

B’lian moves after Priska and pulls his chair out for himself but waits until she’s seated for him to claim his seat. He lets Priska speak first, watching the two before his desk with a curious gaze. Terse nods her head at Priska and gives a side glance to Holden before she answers the Weyrwoman. “I’d love to see the weyrlings when we are done with our meeting. One of our Steward’s sons was one to Impress. It would be good if we looked in on him and shared back with his parents how he is fairing at Honshu.” Holden clears his throat and looks to Terse for a moment before he turns his attention specifically to B’lian. “We don’t want to take up too much of your time. We never met much with Aerishani or O’rlen when they were here. I had thought,” he looks to Priska, “since your Weyrwoman is of Blood; it would be easier to talk about… finer matters between us.”

Priska settles herself in her seat, saying, “If you mean that I know the steps of the song and dance and what’s important to someone in your role, I suppose that’s right.” She folds her hands in her lap and sits up straight. “But really, what Blood I have into is less significant now than the fact that Yedrith is mine and we,” she looks to B’lian, “lead Honshu together. My history may have equipped me with better understanding of the relationship between Holds and Weyrs than another Weyrwoman might have had, but my loyalty is with Honshu. I hope you can understand that.”

Terse seems more preared for Priska’s rebuttal than her husband is, as Holden’s features sharpen into hard lines that make him look more like C’aol than before. “I had considered finding a way to have an alliance between our Blood. To tie our future children to yours, to unite the south with the north. Telgar and Zaivar have a lot to gain from such an alliance. It would benefit this Weyrhold as well. I have heard rumors that a few of your crafters are petitioning their Halls due to their not being allowed to craft properly here any longer….,” he lets that dangle between them as he looks to B’lian. “You are not Blooded, but your offspring would have a wider control of this world were you to align yourself with Blood.”

Priska just about manages to stop her jaw from dropping open, though the shock she experiences is quite plain to be read across her features, especially as she darts a look to B’lian. A somewhat raspy, “Er…” escapes her before she tries better to compose herself. “That isn’t something that we’ve… I mean to say that we…” She shakes her head, her cheeks stained scarlet, and opts to ask Holden, “You do know that I was disinherited? The boy my mother bore was confirmed as heir. I’ve no standing at Telgar. I haven’t even spoken to my father since I was chosen on Search.” She swallows hard. “Even if we… There would be no guarantee of anything other than my children being direct descendants of the ruling line.”

B’lian’s face turns red and he remains silent and allows Priska to handle the initial response before he sits himself up higher in his chair and leans over the desk to slam a hand on the surface. Terse jumps and recoils at the abruptness of the action, gasping as she places a scandalized hand over her mouth. Holden stares down B’lian, tensing in preparation for a fight. “//Enough//,” B’lian’s voice is sharp as he glares at Holden. “We are your Weyrleader and Weyrwoman,” he stresses that point as he straightens and looks to Priska and then back to the Zaivar leadership. “That you could fathom coming here without facing //our// outrage for the audacity of your question means you do not value what we bring to //you//.” He shakes his head and leans back in his chair, glaring at Holden. “I will give you the opportunity to retract your statement and apologize to us for your short-sightedness.” He looks to Priska and then back to Holden, “Specifically, speak wisely when you address my Weyrwoman.”

Priska jumps in almost perfect unison with Terse, only to grit her teeth and stare down into her lap as shame and embarrassment for having done so only compound her existing agitation. She swallows again and throws her shoulders back, forcing herself to look up and level a distant stare first at Terse, then on Holden. “What you claim to be looking for already exists at Fort. Plenty of Blooded children are still betrothed to their cousins. What you ought to concern yourselves with here is how you’re going to pay the appropriate tithe this half of the turn, When you’re prepared to discuss that, we can speak again.” She gestures towards the door. “I suggest you return home and study your books, rather than concern yourselves with the heirs neither of us have.”

Holden stares down B’lian, not blinking as he tightens his jaw and a muscle tics along a cheek. He clears his throat and looks to Priska next before he rises, signaling Terse to join him. “If we cared about aligning ourselves with Fort, we would have went to Fort. We came to you because we thought you were more open-minded about the future. Clearly,” he looks pointedly at B’lian, “you have decided to bring hidebound Northern notions to the south.” Terse moves to put a placating hand on her husband’s arm, squeezing gently as she smiles at Priska and B’lian. “Our tithe will be delivered on time.” The pair of them leave without a single apology being offered. B’lian looks at Priska. “That was the furthest thing from what I was expecting. Do you believe him? That our riders’ are complaining to the Holders?”

Priska watches Holden and Terse depart with that same distant gaze, not truly seeing them at all, and even when B’lian speaks she doesn’t look over at him, but lowers her head to fix her focus on her hands instead. “I think they’ve heard that there are riders complaining and suggesting that it’s directly to them to make us think they have us at a disadvantage. If there are riders here complaining to the Holders, then they ought to be encouraged to find somewhere else to live.” She exhales slowly and gets to her feet. “It would’ve been better for them to see me with the daggers. Being propositioned about my reproductive ability makes me look weak.”

“Terse has been Lady of Zaivar for a long time. That she has not had an heir yet, and Holden’s brother has two, would make me think they came calling to the wrong Weyrleaders,” B’lian answers with a sigh as he takes both his hands and shucks them through his hair before looking pointedly at Priska. “We are Weyrleaders,” he stresses, “Not Holders. We don’t barter our children for Blood gain.” He doesn’t seem to notice that he’s mentioned ‘our children’ in that statement as he rises with a sigh. He reaches out for a piece of paper that he balls up and tosses towards the nearest trash receptacle. “I knew we’d have issues with our leadership approach. But Honshu will put dragons first. That means those who are dragonriders need to do the same. Tell me //one// Weyr that allows their dragonriders to craft ahead of the Weyr?”

“…I don’t like that they tried to lay claim to what we don’t even have,” Priska utters, knotting her arms around herself, still visibly discomforted. “Or that they believed it was okay to assume anything about us having children and when. I know there was gossip after we went to the Gather, but I thought it was just… chatter.” She bites down on the inside of her lip. “Fort was known for being cruel and intensely xenophobic, and Honshu just the opposite. They’ve each needed fixing. We’re just… not as far along in the process. This is the hard bit, where people aren’t going to like it until it’s normal.”

B’lian tips his head back against the tall chair he favors for his desk chair, eyes closing as he pinches at the bridge of his nose briefly. Not being one for theatrics, he’s clearly troubled by the Zaivar Holders’ meeting. He heaves another sigh and tilts his head back to level a look at Priska. “I will give them one pass for this behavior. If they do anything else that oversteps their rights as Holders beholden to us, we will have to find clear paths to punishment. If we let one Holder overstep, more will follow. I’ve seen it in the North. It can easily happen in the South now that some of these Holders are getting established enough to continue to join the Conclave.” He taps his fingers briefly on his desk and shakes his head. “We’ll have to watch our crafters,” he looks to Priska, “and see who is truly the most disgruntled.”

“To them, it was likely a perfectly logical suggestion, however misguided. Holders’ children are for forging alliances. If nothing else, they’ve let on that they want or need our support and favour.” It’s all the kindness Priska seems willing to afford Zaivar’s Lord and Lady, for then she mutters, “One of us should inform C’aol of his brother’s… suggestion.” She lets her eyes for closed for a moment, only to fix them on the door when she opens them again. “I… need to be somewhere… not here…” she says quietly, offering no further explanation before she strides for said door and excuses herself without anything more than the click of the catch in her wake. Wherever ‘not here’ is, Yedrith is soon gone too.

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