Girl Talk

Fort Weyr - Galleries
The galleries are carved right out of the rock face, the rows and rows of benches rising high up into the air on a slight slant. Stone and wood benches that used to be known for offering little in the way of comfort, are now padded with cushions in Fort Weyr's colors. Placed along the railing at regular intervals are antique looking baskets filled with cheery fabric flowers. The curving walls sport tapestries in warm vibrant colors that seem to add a dash of color to the otherwise dreary stone. Where the galleries curve slightly at the ends, affording those attending hatchings or clutchings a decent view of the sands, shaded laterns offer warm lighting along the rows of benches.

Being a goldrider is difficult, and being Senior even more so, especially when it comes to doing things like writing letters or visiting friends. Nyalle has been /sorely/ lacking in communication with Rhysanna, and when a quiet afternoon appeared in her schedule, she snatched it up and sent off a nicely written invitation for Rhysanna to come join her in the galleries for tea. A bit formal, perhaps, but Nyalle tends to shift into formalities when she's nervous. A summer thunderstorm is brewing but hasn't broken just yet, the clouds rolling in and cooling breezes making the galleries not unpleasant. There's a small cloth and a little picnic set out on a bench, while Nyalle sits and waits. On the sands the clutch of 9 is under the watchful care of both Kayeth and Varmiroth.

Rhysanna's reply was prompt and gracious: she would, of course, be absolutely delighted. And so it is that, at the appointed time, Tavehtiath appears above the Weyr, circling down to a landing to relinquish her rider. The queen, despite a general lack of interest in eggs, seeks out the ledges, while her rider hastily tidies her clothes in order to find the galleries, and Nyalle. "I've meant to seek you out for a visit," she says, as she approaches, hands clasped behind her back. "But I didn't want to intrude. It looks to be a lovely clutch."

Nyalle rises to her feet and smiles warmly, shaking her head as her hands smooth down her skirts. "No need to apologize, things /have/ been busy as of late." She extends a hand, not to shake, but to squeeze. Somewhere between a formal handshake and a hug, as far as greetings go. "Thank you, and welcome! Please, have a seat?" She looks down at the clutch with a fond smile, and then back to Rhysanna. "How have you been? How is Half Moon Bay?"

In answer to that squeeze, Rhysanna's free hand reaches to squeeze Nyalle's atop of hers for a moment, before releasing; visibly pleased, her smile is bright, and without hesitation. She sits, smoothing down her skirt, which has wrinkled slightly in transit, her own gaze seeking out the sands again with thoughtful interest. "I've come to understand that things are always busy," she says, with a low chuckle. "In one way or another, at least. I've been well. Half Moon Bay, too. How are things here? Aside, of course, from the excitement of the clutch, I suppose."

Nyalle pours the tea, gesturing for Rhysanna to take her cup and finish it as she will. There's sweetner and cream, if she likes it, as well as little sandwiches and some cookies, and fruit skewers. All light and refreshing, except the tea…which is hot. "Yes, that's a lesson I'm learning too," she admits with a soft laugh. "So I need to /make/ time for the things that are important to me." Like this! She exhales, making her own tea with some warmed cream and sweetener. "The eggs have been perfect though Kayeth grows more agitated with each passing day." On the sands, the autumn hued gold snorts, and gently nudges Velokraeth until he awakens and begins to preen her neckridges. "Then," Nyalle says, stirring her tea, "the Candidates were on a camping trip and were set upon by renegades. None seriously hurt, thank Faranth, but riders were hurt…" She exhales. "It was frightening."

Rhysanna adds cream to her tea, taking her cup into both hands, though she doesn't immediately seek to sip from it. Her attention returns to Nyalle, listening to what the other woman has to say first with that pleased smile, and then with increasing dismay. "Oh no," she murmurs, resting her cup upon one skirt-covered knee. "Oh, that sounds awful. Is it… the same renegades as before? I remember, when you wrote…?"

Nyalle nods. "Yes…" She exhales, taking a slow sip of her tea. "We've been searching, and they were nowhere to be found…and then this camping trip…" She sighs. "We captured some of them but the leader has escaped. This is…" she looks at her friend, expression mixed, "not something I thought I'd have to deal with."

"No, of course it isn't," says Rhysanna, her tone immediately more fervent. "Why would it be? I know, logically, that renegades exist, and that… that they can do things like this, but surely… I just don't understand, logically. Why people do things like that. Why it still happens, today, when surely there's no need." She pauses, swallowing back any emotions that haven't already escaped, willy-nilly. Then, more carefully, "I wish there were an easy solution. Those poor candidates. And… everyone."

Nyalle shakes her head with a firm exhale. "I was told that Laris was just…mad. His mind was not all there. But this one, this man…he knows exactly what he is doing. I don't know if that makes him more dangerous or less. Probably more." She licks her lips and picks up a sandwich to nibble on. "It must have been terrifying for the Candidates. We have some young ones too, but…they seem to be doing okay?" It's questionable, since she's the Senior and she doubts anyone is going to come cry on her shoulder. "There never seems to be enough riders to be everywhere at once."

None of this information pleases Rhysanna, whose face has gone pale beneath her tan, her eyes wide and unhappy. It's as Nyalle reaches for a sandwich that the younger goldrider seems to remember her tea, lifting her cup in order to take a quick sip; the time it takes to swallow gives her time to compose her thoughts, perhaps, because she's more sure when she speaks again. "I imagine there are dangers to both. Mad is unpredictable, but… sane and sure is more deliberate. Oh, Nyalle." She sucks in a breath, exhales, and then says, "I wish I knew what to say. Or how to help. If there were anything. I don't know what I would do, in your position."

Nyalle smiles at her friend, though it's a sad little smile. "Thank you. I appreciate it, even though…there's really nothing anyone can do right now, except continue to hunt him. But if he was hidden for that long…" She shakes her head. "We do what we can. Take precautions. At least he didn't show up at the Games." She shivers at the very thought of how badly that could have gone. She takes a deep breath. "It will be okay. Th'ero is a good Weyrleader, and he and Captain Breshir will find him."

Rhysanna, too, shivers at the idea, despite the relative warmth of the galleries. "I can't even imagine," she admits, a statement that could be in answer to several things Nyalle has said, now and earlier. "But yes. I'm sure it will be okay. Your Weyrleader knows what he's doing, and I'm sure your riders do, too. And your guards. And with the eggs so close to hatching," she assumes, "your candidates can easily stay safely in the Weyr. At least riders are a little better trained to deal with such things."

Nyalle nods. "Yes, they will be staying in the weyr." That was her first (second) response when they returned that midnight. "Well, they're going out to shadow the wings now, but they will only be doing arial sweeps, and not landing." Can't get much safer than dragonback. "So. Tell me of Half Moon Bay! Of you, of Zi'on, what has been happening in your life?"

"Good," says Rhysanna, managing to smile again, albeit in a more rueful way. She attends to her tea again, sipping once, and then a second time, before she answers - though the pink flush of her cheeks is telling, in and of itself. One finger reaches to adjust, likely without even being conscious of it, the ring she's wearing, silver set with precious stones. "I turned twenty, a few months ago," she says, a little shyly. "And Zi'on and I agreed to weyrmate. Tavehtiath still isn't happy with it, as a concept, but… I'm not letting her win. She's still showing no signs of rising, which… I'm trying to not let that bother me."

Nyalle smiles warmly. "Happy turnday, though belated." Her eyes can't help but notice that gleam, and she grins. "Oooh, Rhysanna, that is beautiful! Congratulations! Do you love it? Is it wonderful?" She sounds eager to know, and a touch wistful perhaps. "Oh, I hope you don't let it worry you. Our golds…they are silly creatures sometimes. I'm sure all is well, she's just a late bloomer. I believe Inri's queen didn't rise until she was three or four turns old."

Nyalle's excitement clearly pleases Rhysanna, whose blush deepens even as her smile broadens and brightens. "Thank you," she says, genuinely. "I'm - very happy, yes. And pleased. It was… in the end, it mattered to have that title, if that makes sense? To be able to say weyrmate, and not just boyfriend." Her gaze drops towards the ring, examining it in the light, that smile undaunted despite the way she continues, saying, "Enka said something similar, that Shadhavarth was a late bloomer, too. I'm sure you're both right. It's just nerve-wracking, I suppose. Waiting."

Nyalle nods, "It can be, yes. I understand. Kayeth didn't wait too long but I can imagine." She smiles, watching the ring as she takes another sip, and she nods. "Yes…it's a big step, to go from boyfriend to weyrmate. Did you move in with him? Or do you still keep your own weyr?" There's a pause and a small laugh. "I won't lie that I'm a bit happy that if Mr'az and I weyrmate he would be moving in with /me/."

"Tavehtiath's not bothered, so…" Rhysanna allows herself an easy shrug. "I just need to be patient." Now, finally, she reaches for a cookie, dipping it in to her remaining tea. "We've both kept our weyrs, though he tends to stay with me," she explains, with a sly little grin of satisfaction that suggests she understands Nyalle's opinion on things entirely. "Tavehtiath won't share, and… well, it's easier. Especially when he has his children to stay, for example. I wouldn't want to leave my weyr, now; I was so frightened of all that space, at first, and now… it's home."

Nyalle smiles, her grin a touch sly as well. Understanding. "I'm glad. It's important for a girl to have her space. Both you /and/ Tavehtiath. He has lots of children doesn't he? Are…you thinking of having any yourself?" She glances at the sands then, thoughtfully, down at the eggs. "It is home and that's important."

Nibbling at her cookie, Rhysanna takes a few seconds longer to answer than she might otherwise, though her nods, several of them in quick succession, certainly provide some clue. "Both of us," she agrees. "It's the emotional intimacy that bothers her, most, and I can't do anything about that. But making sure she has physical space? That I can do. He has… six. The eldest is nearly ten." She chews at her lip before saying, "We've talked about it. For… sometime in the future. Mother believes I should be hurrying along, but I'm not ready, not yet. I'm still adjusting to everything else in my life."

Nyalle nods slightly. "I think…maybe that will ease as she grows? As her connection with you deepens, she might be less intimidated by the…less deep connections you have with others? Because no human connection could ever be as deep as the ones we have with our dragons." She smiles adoringly down at the sands. Even though Kayeth is grumpy, Nyalle is still smitten. She looks back and nods. "Six is a lot," she murmurs. "Don't rush it." Duh. She is quiet for a moment. "I think I'm ready…at least I /want/ to be ready. I want a baby." She blushes as she admits this. Possibly admitting it out loud for the first time.

Rhysanna's expression is somewhat dubious, though she acknowledges the possibility that Nyalle is correct with a nod. "I hope so," she agrees. "It's not that she doesn't come first. For always. But… they're just different needs." Certainly, the way her gaze lifts in the direction of her own dragon, however invisible from this vantage point, suggests enormous affection in and of itself. Gaze returning to the other woman, her smile widens abruptly, delight filling her expression. "I think that's wonderful," she says, firmly. "I think you'll be a wonderful mother."

Nyalle nods again, slightly, sipping her tea. "Hopefully she comes around." Then she blushes again, looking down. "Thank you. I'd have to foster of course and I…I struggle with that. I'm holdbred. Very traditionally raised so the idea of not raising my own child…it…seems wrong to me."

Exhaling, Rhysanna's breath whistles through her teeth. "I understand," she says, simply. "I'm not holdbred, but I always… expected to raise my own children, too. I know it's the only way it can possibly work, for us, but… that doesn't make it an easy thing. Palatable. It feels like… what is the point of doing it, if you're not going to do it properly? Except that…" It's not quite so simple.

Nyalle nods. "Right. It feels like…like I'm being selfish. I want a child for /me/. But why should I have one when I can't even raise it myself? Is that fair to the child? I don't want my child growing up thinking poorly of me because I wasn't around."

Rhysanna runs her tongue over her lips, carefully, hesitating over her words. "I don't, either," she says. "That's what I said to Zi'on: that I'd want to be as involved as I could possibly be, in the lives of any children we had. Because… I don't want to be that absent parent. I don't know if it's selfish, though. If you have good foster parents, isn't it like the child getting two sets of parents? Maybe?"

Nyalle exhales softly, sipping her tea. "That's what I keep trying to convince myself of. That it'd be better for the child to have a good set of foster parents and then Mr'az and I, but…I don't know. It's hard to change my way of thinking especially when it feels like I'm just doing it for my benifit and to be selfish."

"I understand," says Rhysanna, quietly and simply. "It's always hard to change, especially when it comes to the way we think. But if you don't have that child… that child never gets to live. It doesn't seem, to me, to be so very selfish to want that."

Nyalle nods. "And I /want/ a child," she whispers, staring down at the eggs. "Maybe it's just…Kayeth influencing me but I /want/ one."

That, at least, makes Rhysanna smile. "I think it's just part of our biological function, just as it is for them," she says, turning her gaze back towards Nyalle. "It makes sense, doesn't it? You can feel her happiness, and of course you want that for yourself." Now she's beginning to sound wistful.

Nyalle nods a little bit, exhaling. Then she giggles. "Don't let mine and Kayeth's baby mania influence you any!"

Abruptly, Rhysanna begins to laugh - she even has to set down the remains of her cookie on her knee in order to lift her hand to cover her mouth as she does so. "I won't," she promises, once she's recovered herself. "I do want a baby, I just know it's not time, yet. I can be patient."

Nyalle giggles along with her friend, her smile wide and warm. "Okay good." She grins, exhaling happily and looking out onto the sands again. "When these eggs hatch I think Kayeth and I might take a few days off."

Rhysanna reclaims her cookie, grinning broadly back at Nyalle. "I think that's an excellent idea," she says, approvingly. "Especially given all the other dramas. Some time away is exactly what you'll both need."

Nyalle nods. "Yes. I think we'll go to that beach where we went. And just…let ourselves be pampered for a little bit." She blushes. "Maybe I'll take Mr'az with me. Surely Th'ero could spare him for a few days…"

Rhysanna's grin turns into something a little more sly, and certainly very approving, as Nyalle blushes. "I think that's exactly what you should do. Keeping you happy is important, and if that requires Mr'az…" Th'ero will just need to deal with it, clearly. "Besides, you'll be perfectly safe, so far from the Weyr. Which is important."

Nyalle continues to blush, dipping her head down. "Right," she murmurs, giggling softly. Girlishly. For a moment not a Senior but a /woman/.

The giggling makes Rhysanna giggle, too - once again, covering her mouth with one hand, as her eyes gleam. "Isn't it lovely," she murmurs, "Escaping the knot and just being you?" Clearly, this is important. "Especially if you want to make a baby."

Nyalle exhales softly and nods. "It is. It's…easier. It's easier now that I've had some time to adjust. But it's still hard and it's necessary to get away." She laughs. "I don't wear my knot to bed." Did she /say/ that? She giggles, blushing again.

Rhysanna's eyes go wide: did Nyalle really say that? But it's wide-with-delight rather than wide-with-horror; again, she giggles, merrily, even if her own cheeks have darkened ever so slightly. "No knots in bed," she agrees, grinning. "As it should be."

Nyalle is relieved Rhysanna didn't react negatively to that little off-color joke. "As it should be," she agrees with a flush and a grin. Then she settles again, taking up a cookie and smiling. Relaxing.

Flushes aside, Rhysanna, too, is relaxed: all her formal hesitations have been set aside, at least temporarily, as she finishes her cookie, and then reaches for a sandwich. "How soon do you think the eggs will hatch?" she wonders. "It seems like it must be quite soon."

Nyalle shakes her head. "Not tomorrow, but…maybe a sevenday? Not much longer now, really. It's been a good group of Candidates."

Rhysanna's nod comes accompanied with a more thoughtful expression. "I'll have to try and make it," she says. "There's something so different about watching hatchings after you've Impressed. Remembering, perhaps. Tavehtiath finds them more interesting than eggs, in any case. Besides, I'd like to see Kayeth's babies."

Nyalle nods, "Yes. I always remember my own impression when I see them impressing. It's…a beautiful and glorious moment. I always cry, much to Th'ero's dismay." She smiles. "I hope you can make it! There is always a wonderful feast, and dancing."

Briefly, Rhysanna's expression turns distant; perhaps in recollection, perhaps in anticipation. "It's beautiful," she agrees, fervently. "Knowing that people's lives are changing, right there in front of your eyes. For always. I can't believe I spent so many turns of my life not fully grasping it." But how could she? "I'll certainly do my best. Enka… well, it's not like I'm being overworked, as yet, or anything. So I should be able to."

Nyalle nods, smiling. "I'm glad you're not overworked. Forgive me for not knowing, but how many juniors does Enka have? Three?"

"Three," confirms Rhysanna. "Iris, Angharad and myself. They're all… well, I'm the youngest by a decade or so, so I suppose it's not surprising that they're all used to doing things, and comfortable with how things work. And it's not that they don't want me around or that I'm not useful, it's more…"

Nyalle nods a little bit. "You're not really part of the group?" she guesses quietly.

Rhysanna hesitates, before giving a little nod. "And… well, Angharad is a new transfer, so I suppose she isn't, either. It's just that she's closer in age and experience, and so I feel… it's probably as much in my head as anything. I don't know."

Nyalle nods again. "I know how you feel. Isolated, perhaps? I don't think it's bad to feel that way. It's such a small group. I started meeting with my juniors every morning. That has helped, plus Inri is very sweet. It takes a long time to figure out how to work with people though. There are so many things that were just /known/, and I feel silly asking about them."

"Isolated," repeats Rhysanna, which isn't quite confirmation or denial; it just hangs there, leaving her looking thoughtful. "I feel like I need to work extra hard to prove myself: to prove that I'm capable of being useful in more than superficial ways. Enka and Iris have worked together for a long time, and so they're just used to everything, so… exactly. I hate asking. I feel like they'll think it's easier to just do everything themselves."

Nyalle nods. "Yes. Well…" She sighs. "It's difficult, but you kind of /have/ to ask. Otherwise how can you prove yourself? It'll happen. Most of what we do is routine anyway, so once you learn something, you know for next time."

Rhysanna chew at her lip, nodding. "I know," she says, finally. "And I do. And I am. It's… been more than half a turn, after all. Closer to a full turn. So it's not so bad. I just… I want to be good at this, and I want to feel like I'm actually making a difference. I half envy my clutchmates, who are part of bigger wings, and aren't… separate, I suppose. I don't know."

Nyalle nods with a small, understanding smile. "I know you hate hearing it but give it time. It'll get better and I'm sure you /are/ good at it. And you are making a difference. I'm sure of that. I know what you mean though. So many girls long to ride gold and yet…they don't understand how difficult it can be."

Rhysanna allows the corners of her mouth to turn up into a small smile of her own, though her gaze quickly slides out to those eggs on the sands, perhaps thinking about the hopes Fort's candidates have placed upon them. "No," she agrees. "They don't. I know I didn't, not that I longed to ride gold, even remotely. I will give it time, though. I mean… I have to give myself time, too. To not be intimidated by Enka. To… just get my head around everything, I suppose." She sighs. "I suppose that's just the way it is."

Nyalle nods, smiling warmly at her friend. "At least you're not Senior?" she teases gently. Nyalle was hardly at Fort a month before Kayeth rose. "I know things will settle and work out for you."

That makes Rhysanna laugh, even if the look on her face is a horrified one. "I take your point," she says, grinning. "It could be much worse. I really shouldn't complain. It's… not so bad, really. I'm happy. In retrospect, I'm not sure what work I would have enjoyed, had I impressed the green I wanted."

Nyalle giggles quietly, nodding and taking another cookie. "I'm glad you're happy. And it'll only get better, the more you learn and the more they trust you." She smiles. "Really? I didn't think I'd impress. I felt so guilty for even being there…I was just wanting it over so I could go back home."

"It must be difficult," Rhysanna opines, "Having your systems all worked out, and then having someone new thrown into them." Clearly, this is for her own benefit; it eases the line of her shoulders, ever so slightly. "I wasn't sure if I would, but I knew what I wanted. By the end, I wasn't sure if I could stand doing it again, al that waiting, but I knew… I hoped, so much, when Kaiath approached for Nae. But now…"

Nyalle nods, "It is, but it's something goldriders are always dealing with. There might not be a gold every clutch but there's always someone new coming along. So you'd think Seniors would be used to it by now, welcoming their new juniors and showing them the ropes. I've started a notebook of all of our procedures, so everyone - including me! - can look things up. It'll be good if there's a queen in this clutch." She looks thoughtfully at the eggs again. Then she smiles. "Wouldn't trade her for anything."

"Not for anything," confirms Rhysanna, with a note of affectionate doting caught in her voice. More curious, however, is her, "Do you think there might be a gold in this clutch? I suppose we didn't know that there was, in the clutch Tavehtiath hatched from. I truly believed there wasn't, and that Mother was just… wishfully thinking, or something."

Nyalle shakes her head slightly. "I…honestly don't /think/ so, but…Kayeth never favors one egg over another so…it's possible. She's never had a queen though, so. For all I know her gold eggs come out /gold/."

Rhysanna studies the eggs, as if she might be able to see something that no one else has, thus far; then she laughs, giving up and turning her attention back towards Nyalle. "Gold or no, I'm sure they'll hatch into wonderful dragons," she says, firmly.

Nyalle smiles. "Thank you. We're very proud of them. Nine is a good clutch size…" She finishes her tea and sets the cup down with a smile.

"Good," says Rhysanna, firmly. Her own cup is also empty; she glances at it, and then sets it down, gaze lifting back up towards the distant sky. "We should get back," she says, with obvious reluctance. "I try not to leave for too long, even if I know it's fine, and we're allowed. But… hopefully we'll be here to congratulate you, after the hatching."

Nyalle smiles, getting to her feet and nodding. "I understand. Thank you so much for accepting my invitation. I do hope you can make it for the hatching as well."

Rhysanna rises, awkwardly sweeping crumbs off of her skirts as she does. "Thank you," she says. "For the invitation. I'm so glad we got to talk again. I always… I enjoy our conversations so much." It's genuinely heartfelt, if quiet.

Nyalle dips her head and smiles warmly, nodding. "I am as well. Hopefully we can do this again soon." She leans forward, a bit awkwardly, ofering a hug.

This, at least, is something Rhysanna can do without awkwardness: she wraps her arms around Nyalle, squeezing for a few moments before she releases her again. "Soon," she confirms, with a smile. "I look forward to it." And with that, still smiling, she takes her leave.

Nyalle returns the hug, happy it was accepted, and then steps back. "Clear skies, Rhysanna!" she calls as the other leaves, and then…she'll go back to the sands. Sigh.

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