Who: Nova, Akio, Yukijiath, Veruth
Where: Silverfield Hold, Honshu Territory
What: The beginning of the end.
When Nova and Yukijiath finally return from Honshu, having been gone for four days, all told, Silverfield’s Lady spends a good hour simply curled up in the building that serves as Yukijiath’s weyr, huddled close to her green as she takes a little more time away from the world before facing what she must. When she finally emerges, she heads up to her quarters and slings her bag down on her bed, dismissing concerned enquiries from staff as to what she may need or want, requesting only a meeting with the Hold’s steward for the following morning. She sits down on the edge of her bed and scrubs her hands over her face, then lets a palm press to the bump of her stomach while she utters an irritated, “Not now,” to the child within.
Veruth reaches out to Yukijiath the moment the green enters the skies above Silverfield. << Days you are gone and emptiness is here. What is so exciting about Honshu? >>. His irritation must carry over from his riders as Akio enters the bedroom he has not shared for some weeks now with Nova. He leans against the doorway and stares at her, his face sharp angles and irritation. “So, you have returned. I see no bruising. Did you get injured during the flight?” he prompts, his eyes shifting to focus on her stomach. “Is the baby safe? How you participate in these things pregnant…,” he trails off.
Yukijiath is as gentle as she has ever been with Veruth when she points out, << I must fly and I must find a mate. One day, when you are a little older, you will want to find a mate, or lots of them, and spend time away from here, with them and pursuing them. >> Nova’s face only falls further when she catches sight of Akio, which urges her back to her feet and to start unpacking her bag. “It isn’t as if I have a choice. I can’t tell Yukijiath to wait or to consider a time more convenient for me.” She pulls rumpled clothes free and casts them towards the linen basket. “And it isn’t as though Veruth has been of an age to allow you to touch me, nor can he chase her yet. Not that it seems you would anyway, given how you’ve treated me these past months.” Glancing over her shoulder at him, she states, “The baby is fine. Your obligation is complete and you can go now.”
Veruth takes in the points from the older green and gives a long winded sigh. << He believes the only purpose I serve is to fly you. How would I get him to let me fly others? Soon enough he will ruin what is between him and yours. He will not listen to me though. >>. Akio watches Nova unpack and makes no steps inside to help her. “Again you throw Veruth at me like a punishment. I could touch you if you let me. He will not be impacted. Instead you run to Honshu so you can let others touch you instead.” His lips twitch at her dismissal. “What would you have me do? Go back to pretending? Or are you stating you are dismissing me as your husband?”
<< You are your own being and what paths you choose to take are your own decision. >> Yukijiath’s mind sinks further into its own darkness. << Your existence is not solely to serve anyone. Certainly not me. He could not keep you from choosing another. >> Only then, with resignation, the snapping of bone, and a twinge of her rider’s pain, does she admit, << I think it is already ruined. >> Nova hangs her head and curls her fingers into the shirt she pulls from the bag. “You choose to interpret my doing what is best to keep Veruth alive and well and part of you as a punishment. The fact //is// that he is too young to fly her – it was not a detraction, but a truth! What was I to do? There is no-one to fly her here. To risk her life instead of letting her mate is an abhorrent thought I would never entertain.” She takes a deep breath. “Maybe I am dismissing you as my husband, as you dismissed me as your wife when I prioritised what you cannot. Your behaviour… I kept this child because I thought it was one we made in love, not because I had to. But this whole time – this whole time, Akio! – I’ve been a means to an end for you. And I’m tired of hurting because you are selfish.” Her lips draw back in a bitter snarl. “So yes, I let anyone who wanted to touch me, because it was better than sitting there sobbing like the fool I’ve been taken for.”
Veruth’s mind has always been quick – and his need for company outside of productive conversations – has left little consideration to his feelings for Yukijiath. He closes in on that darkness, those broken bones are assessed and then he weaves them back together in the form of some creature engulfed quietly by flames until it turns to ash. << I am young and small. You may have been caught by another this time. When next you fly, I will have you because it is I who wants you. Akio will ruin yours. He will not ruin us as well. >>. Akio’s answer is a sneer. “Selfish? Selfish to have guarded technology for this Hold. Selfish for giving you the children my twin could not. Selfish in loving you? And wanting you? And when I finally have you, and all that is needed for me to truly be the man I //know// I deserved to be, you side with your dragons health and my own bronzes health. So if you need to let some untried, unskilled, //rider// have you? Instead of your Lord, your Mastersmith, bronzeriding husband? I will be angry about it.”
Gentleness gone, Yukijiath descends further into her baser instincts, fuelled further by her other half and perceived threats towards her. << I will rend and tear and bleed the both of you before you ruin her, >> she promises through a wall of smoke and the tang of carrion. “You don’t //love// me, Akio,” Nova utters lowly, her voice grave. “You’ve illustrated that very well, and no more so than with your own words. I’ve tried to protect you and Veruth from mistakes that could cost you his life, because you may not care for him now, but you would be broken if he were gone. If you understood what love is, you wouldn’t scorn me for putting Yukijiath ahead of everything and everyone, including me.” She tosses the last of her clothes from the bag to the linen basket and begins drawing out the other articles she brought with her. “You don’t want //me//. You want a Lady and a title; any would do. You don’t care if you break me, Veruth, Yukijiath, this Hold, just as long as you get to claim rank.” Usually a cool, calm thing, when her hurt and fury flares now, it only signals how close she is to the edge. “When Veruth is grown, you can leave. And you can take this //thing// inside me with you. That ought to be a good enough claim to Blooded society for you!”
“You would choose to abandon our child, wouldn’t you? I see how you only choose your //dragon// and have no concern for what your rank has given you! Do you think you would be happy without your title, //Lady// Silverfield? I think you wouldn’t. But you don’t know what it is like to live with nothing. Born to privilege. How lucky. I had to fight to get out of poverty! If I had no ambition, my children would be born in the bed of a wagon in the woods! Is that the life you’d want for them? For me?” Akio’s voice has risen to shouting level and he seems entirely unbothered by the fact their residents may hear his words. “You have everything without trying. And you belittle me! For reaching your level! How kind of you! I will take //both// my children when I leave, and you will have a weaker claim to that title you own!”
Bitter laughter precedes, “Oh, I would be //delighted// to be without my title. You really never have learnt a thing about me, have you? I suppose it didn’t matter, as long as you could make me believe you loved me.” Nova straightens, her hands pressing at the base of her spine and hips. “I would have been happy to spend the rest of my days as a Journeyman. But I gave up my craft, my body and anything I’ve ever wanted, to protect the people my family’s deaths threatened to leave under the hand of a cruel master. Someone like you. You haven’t //reached my level//. You married into what you think is an easy life of getting whatever you want, whenever you want.” She waves a dismissive hand. “Take Zio and this one. My people will stand with me against whatever the Conclave demands, in the face of the evidence you’ve provided them with with your little scenes. And I think you had better contact Honshu now, or whatever Weyr will take you, because you won’t remain here and threaten me and mine.”
“What a cruel mother you are, to throw away your own children in a fit of rage,” Akio counters as his brow lifts as he mockingly adds, “You only have them to appease the Conclave. I knew you’d have no other reason for children if it wasn’t for them forcing you to have them. Some mother.” He snorts as he pushes away from the door. “I will not leave this Hold, Nova. Find a way to get me out if you can. I won’t make it easy for you.” He turns then and walks off down the hall. When he catches the Headwoman staring at him as he passes he shouts, “Go! Gossip as you will! But know your Lady is unfit to lead you!” As Akio leaves, the Headwoman strides towards Nova’s rooms, anger writ across her brow. “Is this what happens when some bond with a dragon? The truth comes out? I will not let him treat you this way, my Lady. You do not deserve it.”
Nova abruptly clasps her trembling hands behind her as her Headwoman enters, but it does nothing to hide that her complexion has lost its warmth, or the sheen of sweat across her brow. “Ask the nanny to pack Zaimika and Zio’s things, then get Aerishani up here, please. I need her to take them from here; no dragon will be able to draw information from Amorenth.” She closes her eyes tightly for a moment, trying to focus. “And I need a Harper from the Hall. Any of ours could be in his power.” Pain colours her expression and she abruptly turns, running for the bathroom. “I’m going to be sick,” is the garbled explanation that she manages to give, but not an hour goes by before the news that Silverfield’s Lady is too ill to leave her bed ripples through the Hold, and that a violently fearful Yukijiath has driven Veruth to the edge of her territory.