He should be arriving soon. She had asked D'gan's audience here. After Artemis' prompts to tie Rainbow Mists tightly to their allies and supporters she had been planning this meeting. With the fires in Golden Flight now under control thanks to the capable skills of her Riders - she still glowed with pride over that - there was time to address the interWeyr relations. D'gan was from Fort. Fort was their best tie in the traditional North. It was a stroke of good luck one of their well liked Wingleaders would be from there. She hoped his good working reputation here helped matters there. She had no doubts he would agree to help. He was always helping.
And he was too nice. That would not be an issue today. They had professional matters to attend. It didn't matter Archith had put Ancalanath on the outs. Probably on her behalf. It didn't matter that she was making less snarky remarks about the nuisances that were Tigers.
D'gan would be here soon. Rilora closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. She felt the neutral mask of work take over her features. They had work to do.
A deep, shuddering cough momentarily froze the large Tiger in his tracks. [smear:ff7f24]What do you [/smear:ff6600][smear:ff6600]suppose Rilora is [/smear:292421][smear:292421]summoning you for? [/smear:000000]More fire control? He lowered his head down to look directly at his Rider.
D'gan gave the large dragon a sympathetic pat on the cheek. I'm not so sure...I hope not, if only for your sake. We should take a day trip up North, I think. Get clean air in those lungs of yours. What do you think? Should I bring it up with her?
Mosiliath snorted and took in a few deep breaths. His eyes spun yellow with anoyance. [smear:ff7f24]Don't be[/smear:ff6600][smear:ff6600] ridiculous, D'g[/smear:292421][smear:292421]an. I shall[/smear:000000] be fine.
I should think not. All that smoke inhalation? Even the Weyrling Master had expressed his concern over the hatchlings, and they weren't close to the fires at all. But you were. D'gan paused at the entrance to the lower caverns and turned around to face the Tiger. So what's it going to be? Sky Mountain? Ice Stone?
Mosiliath absently kneaded the ground with his front claws. [smear:ff7f24]Even if we were able to go, I do not[/smear:ff6600][smear:ff6600] think I would do well in that cold. But since we aren't goi[/smear:292421][smear:292421]ng, it isn't up for discussion. Just...go se[/smear:000000]e the Weyrwoman. Don't worry about me, Mine.
We'll discuss this later, alright? With a shake of his head - Mosiliath had ended the conversation then and there - D'gan rolled his eyes at the stubborn dragon and headed down toward the offices. Now set on his task once more, he couldn't help but wonder what Rilora had in mind. It had been a while since they had spoken privately -- and he remembered how their last talk had gone. It was a strange, quiet thing, and none too appropriate for their ranks, although he wasn't certain he wouldn't do it again. These were trying times, after all.
He reached the Headwoman's office within moments, but hesitated at the door. This was not going to be a simple visit -- if it was, they could have met sometime at breakfast, or even between Wing drills. But she hadn't. She had called him here. There was a job to be done.
And with Mosiliath more ill than he was...would it be too taxing a job? What if he needed to refuse? More fire work would certainly put the Tiger out of commission for a good while. But, seeing no real reason to worry just yet, D'gan took a deep breath, calmed what few nerves he had, and knocked thrice on the office door.
"Enter." Rilora replied to the knock. She felt the vibrations from the wood echoed in the little twitch that ran across her chest. She exhaled sharply. Business. Shard Archith. She wasn't due for months. She moved her chin up to a superior tilt and awaited the opening door.
At the sound of her beckon, D'gan twisted the handle and stepped over the threshold and into the late Headwoman's office. He offered Rilora a friendly smile as soon as their eyes met. Though her face was difficult to read, her gaze was nonetheless steely and hard, and she wore a sharpness about her that he couldn't quite place. Altogether, it made for an incredibly professional air.
He knew, then and there, that this would be no simple meeting.
Shutting the door behind him, D'gan walked up to the Weyrwoman, and stopped only when he stood a respectable distance from her person. He nodded politely.
She watched him walk in, smile. She felt the side of her lip tick up. She considered smiling back but could not without breaking her expression, so she kept on. The click of the door set off a pulse of her nerves. She beat them down and looked at the knot of wood on the door hovering above D'gan's shoulder.
"Wingleader, thank you for coming," she returned the greeting. With this air it would be best served getting to the point. "You can do a good service for me and for the Weyr. I wish you to lead a delegation to Fort. They are our best ally amongst the traditional North, though that's not saying much. Our relation with them has grown weak. I wish you to strengthen it. Move closer your prior Weyr to the one you serve now." She quietly wished the words didn't sound so pointed. But what else had she to do? It was plain she needed to move forward with her work. Her politics, her relations, they couldn't get in the way any more. There was too much work to do.
"I trust you'll chose a suitable team for this and began talks with the Weyrleaders. Assess their state, find favorable agreements to convince them of. If a moderate gesture of help or kindness can help to secure their voice it is a small price. You will be but one group. I plan to send others. Our world is becoming less stable, not more. When, not if, trouble arises, I want the world at our backs, not our throats."
Lead a delegation of riders to Fort? Even with the poor hearing in his ear, he knew he had heard her correctly.
He contained his surprise well - this was a proper meeting, after all - but he knew that Mosiliath had picked up on his emotions and was waiting for an explanation. In truth, however, he wasn't entirely sure what to say in reply, to Rilora and his dragon both. He listened patiently and waited for the Weyrwoman to finish her response.
It still threw him for a loop. Lead a delegation to Fort? Back to Fort? The thought had never crossed his mind before, not entirely. He recalled their conversation a while back, where he had suggested her reaching out to the other Weyrs, but he had no idea she would have picked him to do it. It was flattering, as well as a bit nerve-wracking. He knew why she had selected him, of course. His obvious ties to the northern Weyr, as well as leaving in good standing, made him a good candidate for such a task.
He knew Mosiliath would never believe it until they started preparations, the stubborn creature. Leaving as an ambassador for Rainbow Mists to return to his old Weyr and delegate support for his new Weyr?
It was a sudden move, but at least it would be familiar ground he was working with. It had been a turn or two since he had ceased contact with the north, but that didn't mean he still didn't have friends. Rilora had finished her explanation already, but D'gan took a moment more to consider everything again. Once he had his questions, he spoke.
"I accept this task and position, my Weyrwoman, and I'll follow through to the best of my abilities. I do have a few questions, however, just to get a better handle on what you want me to do. Now, for starters, how long an assignment will this be? Unless you have a time limit, I was assuming that Mosiliath and I, as well as the other Riders we select, would be remaining in Fort until assessments have been made and the delegation has ceased. Am I wrong to assume that?"
He continued. "Second of all, how large a group were you thinking about sending? Two, three other Riders? Also, will I personally be the only one delegating, or were you thinking about having the entire group work together? I just need to know if I should be looking for someone with delegation skills...or just the muscle behind the delegation."
He accepted. Good. And had questions, as he ought. He was a capable Rider. She hated taking his time away from his Wing, but he was the best person she knew for the job. Or at least to start relations there.
Rilora inhaled as she considered her reply. She wanted it out right the first time. No stutters, no slip ups. It was easier this way. Business. "I am glad you accept and am ready to answer your questions."
"In the long term, I would like you to retain your rank as Wingleader. To start this task, I would have you leave a Wingsecond in charge for a time, and then, once your party is established in a month perhaps, that you split your time between the two. It will give your Second a chance to hone their skills and you time to concentrate on the task at hand."
"Seeing as then you would not be there full time, I would encourage you to select at least one other Rider who is agreeable to being a full time ambassador, with the opportunity for the occasional vacation in which case you or another you find suitable would rotate in for that time. A part from that, take loyal, levelheaded Riders with the reputations to back up your claims."
"You may speak openly. As you are representing our Weyr's interests I want your whole support. Do you find these arrangements satisfactory?"
Rilora had a vague thought that she looked somewhat like Isodae in that moment. The cool tone she had settled into did not hardly react, but underneath her every day self squirmed. She did not want to end up like her stoney faced mentor.
She had given him a lot to consider, he thought to himself as he listened to her explanation. After all, this wasn't just an assignment to keep him busy. But it was of importance to the Weyr and he had already accepted the task, for the Weyr's sake as well as his dragon's. But it was still a lot to process, let alone think of follow-up questions; the amount of preparation and scheduling work that had to be done was on the forefront of his mind.
"You may speak openly. As you are representing our Weyr's interests I want your whole support. Do you find these arrangements satisfactory?"
He nodded quietly a few moments later.
"I do," he agreed, his smile more confident than he felt. "Those arrangements sound more than satisfactory, Rilora. I've already a couple Riders in mind who I feel would be good to take along as well, though if you have any recommendations, those would be welcome as well."
As he considered it all, his gaze and attentions both fell back on the Weyrwoman standing before him. His smile turned into something more genuine and less filled with bravado as he looked at her.
"You're not the same Weyrwoman I spoke to a while ago, you know," he added with undisguised marvel in his voice, having decided to take advantage of his ability to speak freely after all. "Decisiveness suits you much more. I just...I wanted to let you know that I think, under the circumstances, you're doing a fine job with it all, Rilora."
He hesitated at the end, uncertain if he had spoken too freely, but smoothed it over with professionalism a moment later. "Just in case no one's told you lately, my Weyrwoman."
Good. He accepted. Rilora trusted him to see to the arrangements. And if this went well, as it had, then surely other events to follow would go accordingly well. She had put one of her best men on this. She could trust him.
His personal words, though-- she had just decided to trust his judgement. And so his evaluation of her struck a particularly resonate chord with her. She felt the motions of embarrassment twitch her muscles but she tried to resist them. Her head moved down and back up with sudden speed. "Thank you," the reply came out unsteady as she tried to decipher the flattery. He sounded like he really meant that. He did really mean that.
She coughed once and repeated with more assurance, "Thank you." Even still she felt the slight warming of her face. It was embarrassment, right? Simply not used to- to- And then genuinely, "Thanks, D'gan."
"Would you-" her mind kept on aloud before she clamped her mouth shut. This was business. It was a stupid idea anyway. Their business was concluded. She should just dismiss him. "Ah, uhm, that will be all." She squared her shoulders back up again. She had accomplished her main goal. Any other missteps were forgivable.
His lips curved into a warm smile as Rilora thanked him, profusely. It was not necessary on her part, but her reaction to his compliment - her stuttered response, the slight blush on her face - was nevertheless endearing. And when she began another train of thought, a question by the sound of it, he leaned in closer to better hear her. Whatever she had to say or ask of him, he knew it would be worthwhile. She hardly ever spoke without purpose.
But as soon as she started, she stopped just as quickly -- and when she dismissed him, D'gan was unable to disguise his confusion.
"I...yea-- yes, alright then. I'll leave you be...I need to prepare, anyway. Thank you for the offer to represent Rainbow Mists, my Weyrwoman."
With a slight nod, D'gan decided to let matters lie and moved to exit the office, and his hand rested on the door handle. But what had she wanted to say? His thoughts stopped him from turning it and leaving. What if it was important? Relevant to the task at hand? What was she not saying? If it would help, why not say it?
After another moment's hesitation, he removed his hand from the handle and turned back to the Weyrwoman.
"Are - are you sure that's all? I'm sorry, I don't want to pry. I know it's not my place, but since we were talking and I had asked for your opinion and you had started to say something, I just...I was just wondering what you were going to say. You must have placed some importance on it, since you had started it."
He took a few steps toward her and hoped that, by being closer, everything would seem more inviting for conversation.
"If there's something that needs to be said, please, say it. I'd rather go on with this task knowing all I need to know, instead of wondering if there was something else I needed to know. Does that make sense?"
So close. But he had turned around. He was going to-and then he did ask. He had the notion it was an important request. That made her question feel all the more frivolous. Rilora took in a slow, deep breath and held her resolve to determination and confidence. What she had to say was important, even if it was little.
"Would you like to have dinner? Before you go?" she finished the question. There. There it was. It gave him some time yet to get matters underway, and then maybe, since he believed in her so, they could spend some time as people. She was sending one of her confidants and friends away for a time. A request for a meal before he left didn't seem so out of place now.
D'gan's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "Dinner?" he repeated, as if he had not heard her correctly (he had). Hers wasn't the question he had been expecting -- he had thought for sure that it would have been related to his choice of Riders, or Wingsecond, or even concerns about the entire Fort expedition. But dinner? Her topic change had caught him off-guard.
Head tilted slightly to the side, he hummed thoughtfully. Rilora looked very certain and in-charge, as was befitting her rank as Weyrwoman...but it was the way she phrased her question, in a way that didn't feel as certain as she looked, that made him consider the idea more carefully. It didn't feel like a simple request, not one usually between a Weyrwoman and Wingleader. There was a certain openness, a vulnerability, to her words. If she had just wanted to eat with him and talk strategies, he would have assumed it would have been all too easy to request. That sort of thing was normal.
It hadn't been, though. She had hesitated, and took in a deep breath before she finished her question, as if she was working herself up to even speaking the idea.
But he knew what his answer would be. What it was always going to be.
"You know," he said finally, conviction in his voice, "I would like that, Rilora. I'd like that a lot. Having dinner with you would be very nice."
Even as he said it, an unfamiliar warmth settled in his stomach, like he had just finished off a mug of klah. And when he considered how closely they were standing together, he thought the room began to feel inexplicably cozy.
It reminded him a lot of their last meeting, with its' strange, hesitant, informal air. He let that moment rest in his mind before speaking again, trying to return to the formality of the situation. Truth be told, he wasn't quite sure how he felt -- if he was simply imagining things where there were not.
It was something he wanted to discuss with Mosiliath.
So he shrugged and took a couple of polite steps backward, giving Rilora her space and himself his own space. "You'll just have to let me know exactly when, so I can plan everything accordingly." He smiled, as if what she had asked wasn't a big deal -- and it wasn't. There was no need to turn a firelizard into a dragon. "I'd imagine me and that big Tiger of mine shouldn't be too difficult to find."