Continued from Summoned to Cold Stone Hold


Cold Stone Hold Main Courtyard

The bones of Pern herself have been pulled from the bosom of the planet and now rest against her spine, stacked by man and beast to defend against an era not long enough gone. Built into the side of one of the many mountains in the region, Cold Stone Hold stands as both a grim reminder and as a place of hope, proof of humanity's costly victory over the Thread menace.

High stone barriers serve as walls around the main hold, owing wood for a single gate alone at its main entrance. What buildings there are rise up out of the ground like the tips of great, stony fingers, structures built entirely of rock. Yet, despite the seemingly rough-hewn appearance, a more subtle artistry exists within the hold proper. Walls are arrow-straight in places and artfully curved in others. Cottages and small villas might all be mounds of boulder and pebble, yet each has its own distinct similarities. Over fifteen families live within the sheltering walls of Cold Stone, their houses and other structures gathered around a larger, central keep that bears the standards of the Lord and Lady holders themselves.

Around you, the quiet hustle of a hold's daily life can be heard, and while the hold lacks some of the more modern touches seen in the south, its inhabitants do not seem to have noticed at all. The air is thick and crisp, laden with the smells of stone and earth, freshly baked bread and the sweat of beasts. Cold stone with a warm, beating heart.

Evening is near at Cold Stone Hold as Xanadu's Weyrsecond and Junior Weyrwoman approach the Lord's dwelling. Thea is silent as they draw near, her feet slow, showing her reluctance for the confrontation at hand. "He's… probably in his office," she murmurs as she steps closer to the man's side. Drawing strength from his nearness.

D'had gives her hand a squeeze of reassurance. "I can talk to him myself if you'd rather," he offers, turning dark eyes to her. "You don't have to be there.."

Thea shakes her head, squeezing D'had's hand back as she lifts her head to meet his gaze with eyes that have the green turned shadowed, "No, no… I- He needs to hear it from me too. Or he'll never believe you." She leans into him for a moment before turning down the correct corridor. "I'm a little more worried about what he can do to my brother." She stops before a massive wooden door, lifts a hand that hesitates to knock upon it.

"Lets worry about you first," D'had replies. "We'll figure it out. Might let up on your brother after this?" Its a thought, though he doesn't even sound so sure bout it himself. "Deep breath," he notes giving a nudge as she reaches to knock.

Thea nods, flashing him a quick, tremulous smile and she does take that deep breath before her knuckles contact that door in a quiet rap. "I haven't any ideas and he's within his rights to keep him here, isn't he? Unless… his position at Xanadu's beasthold can trump that.." See, she doesn't know. Her hand is on the knob and pushing the door open as the voice within speaks.

"Come in!" Thadan's voice rings with confidence from inside that closed door. He's sitting behind a huge desk, imposing in its own right, the large unsmiling man behind it might appear so as well as he stares at the pair eyes wavering between the two with a silent question before his eyes take in the Weyrsecond's knot. He grunts. "Another dragonrider to my hold? And to what do I owe this the honor?" His words are barely short of a sneer.

D'had's expression hardens from that reassurance he was sending Thea once the door begins to open. All seriousness, perhaps surprisingly enough he can pull that off rather well. "Good evening Holder Thadan," he greets with a bow of his head, stepping forward to reach out a hand towards him. "Weyrsecond D'had of Xanadu," clear enough by his knot. "We've heard much about your endeavors here at .. Cold Stone." A touch of hesitance as he draws the name, likely from Thea through Seryth and Siebith, but not too much to draw the question hopefully.

Thea steps in beside D'had, the fingers of the hand he's holding tighten just a bit as he speaks, her eyes moving from her father to D'had as he speaks momentarily go distant as information is relayed to Seryth, then they are back on the man behind the desk with the look of a trapped creature in them as her lips clamp shut and her spine stiffens at the tone he uses to address the Weyrsecond.

Thadan remains seated, not willing, apparently to honor the visit by rising. He eyes that hand, but his own remain folded on his desk. "Cold Stone has the best wool on the planet," his reply is neither thankful for the compliment nor welcoming as he adds coldly, "Why exactly are you here /Weyrsecond/?"

"It has come to my attention Sir," D'had begins giving no further comment to the hold itself, and since he's not being honored with a return handshake he's inviting himself to have a seat. "That you may still be requiring certain holder expectations of your daughter. Expectations that should no longer hold since her impression to gold Seryth."

Thea steps behind D'had's chair, choosing to remain standing rather than sit with her father. Her hands rest lightly on the Weyrsecond's shoulders. He cannot see her eyes, but they are full of pride for him. She lifts her chin, staring at the man behind the desk, managing to keep her tongue and her temper in check, although the sneered title has her fingers tightening on D'had's shoulders as her eyes flash.

Thadan's brow raises at this and cold eyes slide towards Thea. "How did you-" He interrupts himself to spit out, "Your /mother/!" This doesn't bode well for the woman… His eyes travel down his daughter to pause as he notes where her hands are, an unpleasant smile forms upon his lips. "Tell me dragonman, do we still have Thread falling upon Pern?" A causal question as he all but ignores the Weyrsecond's commentary on expectations.

D'had's gaze hardens towards the man as he determines where things were heard. "At present, no," he replies. Note is made of those hands on his shoulders though he doesn't give them any acknowledgement at present. "However, whether or not you like it sir, your daughter is a weyrwoman of Xanadu. Her hand is no longer available for you to give."

Thea's hands are just starting to relax. As Thadan's eyes fall upon them, her fingers begin to tremble. Behind D'had, her eyes are locked with her father's, her face without expression until the man's flat gaze returns to the Weyrsecond, awaiting his answer. Outside there is the faint sound of thunder as a dragon rumbles in irritation.

Thadan has a triumphant look at the reply. This, says his face, is just what he was expecting the Weyrsecond to say. "I've heard it claimed that Thread was finished for good. Will never return. If this is true, then…" His eyes lift to Thea's, "We no longer need dragons and dragons no longer need the Weyrs." He shrugs, those emotionless eyes of his return to D'had's, "I've already made the arrangements." His voice is unhurried and unheated as he flicks a hand in dismissal. "You may go now." A finger points at the woman. "She stays."

"At present," D'had repeats himself. "There is no Thread, I've heard that claim too, but there have been times without it before. Dragons continue to be born…" A subtle hint which might not be what's needed for this man. "But would you really risk your grandchildren on the off chance that rumor might be true?" Beat. "And do those you've made your so called 'arrangements'," a hint of anger sweeping in with that single word, "with know that she is a rider?" he continues, ignoring his dismissal.

Thea's hands clench into fists where they rest upon D'had's shoulders, her fury only evident in the small choked sound coming from her throat as Thadan says dragons are no longer needed. She can keep silent no longer, her voice is low, even but spoken through her teeth, "You've never believed the antimatter engines were taken to explode on the red star, Da!"

Thadan's smile turns smug as he answers the Weyrsecond, "They do and feel a gold dragon residing at their hold would be a… profitable thing." He doesn't seem to have any fear about thread returning, merely shrugs at the hint. Thea's outburst is completely ignored. Thadan's eyes remain locked with the man sitting across from him, his lip curls, "What is it to you, dragonman, if she does?" His insinuation is not pleasant.

D'had smolders, but manages to keep his voice calm and level in reply. "Seryth is not yours to make deals with. She belongs to the weyr, as does her rider. I assure you that whatever 'arrangements' you may have made will not be seen through. The weyr will not allow it. I'm sure it would break your wife's heart if she never saw her daughter again, though I can't say the same for you. I suggest you rethink this whole thing."

Something has clicked onto place with Thea suddenly as she watches her father. "No!" The whisper comes through lips that have gone white. She's shaking her head, "Don't…" The pleas are ignored by the man behind that desk, however.

Thadan's hands lift to casually lock behind his head, relaxed, confident. His head nods towards his daughter, although those eyes of slate remain upon the Weyrsecond. "How many queens does Xanadu have?" The question is rhetorical. He knows the answer. "Seven. You will miss the lack of one not at all. And I know that there are independent riders." His eyes slide towards his daughter. "You will request independence. And I will allow your brother his freedom." He's assured of her answer, by the expression on his face.

"Independent riders, not independent queens." D'had snaps, trying and failing to keep his tone perfectly calm. "You will NOT blackmail one of our queens. This hold may not be in Xanadu territory, but I will make sure that you will have no assistance from the Reaches. None."

Thea is speechless, her eyes dark in her pale face as she remains frozen in place. A barely audible "Run Tharen," escapes her lips. Maybe he already has, but she cannot take the chance. She's gripping D'had's shoulders now, the only thing keeping her standing. Her mouth opens to allow the agreement to be wrested from her, but no sound comes out.

Thadan's brow lifts in unconcern, "I don't /need/ help from the reaches. I never have." His eyes glint at the whisper from his daughter. He heard that and will not forget she said it. "You seem to be quite concerned with one very junior I might add, queenrider, dragonman. A personal interest maybe?" Again with the insinuation.

If he wants to play hardball, Donn can do that too. Thea will just have to forgive him for anything he might say. "I am concerned because she is the queenrider we are discussing." Nothing more, nothing less. Said rather flatly. "On another note, I am curious as to the terms of this .. agreement." he adds, placing fingertip to fingertip while elbows rest on his knees.

Thea's chin lifts at the last question and the tone in which it is said. She opens her mouth, stung to reply to this, but the Weyrsecond's flat denial checks her. With a blink of uncertainty down at the top of his head, she clamps her lips shut.

Thadan chuckles rather unpleasantly at the answer, "I thought so, dragonman. So the stories of weyrlife are true." His daughter gets a withering look of pained disappointment. He returns his attention to the man sitting across from him. "She will wed the holder over across the valley. They will have the prestige of having a queen there. Our lands will be one with the title going to Cold Stone." His eyes sweep down his daughter's form, gloating in his voice. "He's seen her. He's agreeable."

"I see," D'had replies with a nod. "I can't say I wouldn't be agreeable myself," he adds though he refrains from turning a glance back to the woman in question. "And they are agreeable to an expectant bride?" he inquires sincerely. No as long as Thea plays along just right. Maybe it will work.

Thea shudders at the mention of the holder having been here, observing her. The Weyrsecond's question has her confused for a moment. Her mouth nearly drops open, but she manages to keep her face in control and her mouth shut. She lifts her head to curiously to eye her father's response.

"Of course you wouldn't!" Thadan rejoins, words are rich with suggestive meaning. His eyes narrow just a bit as he hears the question. His voice ripples with loathing, "She's been living with dragonmen." He shrugs, "They're expecting somewhat used goods." He shrugs unconcern once more. "They'll be here soon."

D'had narrows his gaze towards the man. "You didn't answer the question," he replies. "Are they agreeable to an expectant bride? I may not be a holder, but I've known a few and that's usually not part of the deal. Beside, and I mean no offence sir, I have a hard time understanding how a father can brush aside his children's happiness simply to make a handful of marks."

At Thadan's words, Thea makes a small noise of frustration in her throat. "You can't win an argument with him, Donn." She takes a step away, restless, distraught.

Thadan's lips quirk at the repetition to the question, "We talked about the possibility." He waves away any concern about his children's happiness. "I know what's best for them. They'll see it too, some day." He rises, finished talking.

"Sometimes," D'had picks up where Thadan left off, rising as he does to keep himself between holder and door. "we're wrong." But clearly talking isn't working as well as he thought it might. "She," he swings a hand in Thea's direction, "is NOT available."

Thea isn't listening anymore. Her lips are moving soundlessly with words that look like 'find Tharen' and she's brought up short as D'had steps pasts her to the door that she's turned towards. His emphatic comment has her eye widening. Uh oh. Direct opposition. Thadan doesn't do well with this.

Thadan steps 'round his desk, unhurried, unconcerned. "Yes, yes, so you've said. I recall the arguments." He shrugs, then barks at Thea, "Where do you think you're going?"

D'had doesn't do well with stuck up holders either. "Find your brother," he notes quietly to Thea, taking a step around her so that she might leave him and her father. "They aren't arguments. They're facts. She is not available to make deals with holder. She is MY wife." Or as close as dragonriders come to marriage at any rate.

Thea's hand reaches for that doorknob without hesitation at the Weyrsecond's directive. Her hand is turning the knob as he speaks his next words, words that have her pausing and lifting her head to look her father straight in the eye with pride for D'had shining in hers.

Thadan's lips curl, "That means nothing!" His voice is finally raised and he is stepping to reach past the Weyrsecond for Thea's shoulder.

Nothing? "It means everything!" D'had snaps back, reaching out to grab for the holder's wrist as he reaches for her. "Just like the fact that she is a weyrwoman of Xanadu. She is no longer yours to make deals with. She is your daughter, not a beast you can trade."

"It means -everything- to me!" For the first time in her life, Thea contradicts her father and emphatically at that. "Everything." She's echoing the Weyrsecond's words as she backs up against the door. She lifts her chin continuing quietly, but clearly, "I'd follow him anywhere because he loves me. And I love him. That means more to me than a fine hold and wealth." Her breath comes quickly as she adds, "I want to make him happy.. and he's always saying the same to me. And -that- is what love is. Not that you'd know."

Thadan attempts to jerk his wrist away from the Weyrsecond, ignoring the man for the most part. His other hand lashes out, reaching for Thea, a set look on his face. He makes contact with the side of her head, causing it to bounce backwards against the door. "You're not going anywhere!"

D'had is caught off guard by Thea's speaking up considering her silence through the rest of the conversation. Its likely that that allows the man's hand to reach her, but the weyrsecond's grip tightens seconds after he does, jerking him back holder or not. "Don't touch her," he all but growls. He flashes a glance towards Thea then, "Go." before turning his glare back on her father.

Thea nods wordlessly, opens the door a crack and slips out. She knows he can handle himself. She's off to find Tharen. If she can…

Thadan is also caught off guard, but he's not easily quelled. He's not a fighting man, knows none of the tricks. He merely tries to push his way past the Weyrsecond to follow his daughter. Stubborn man. Nothing like his children?

No, nothing at all like his children. D'had holds tight. Fighting isn't his first choice, but he's not above it, and being a former trader and a current dragonrider he has the know-how. Not that he wants to get into a fight with the holder anyway. "You," he starts, punctuating each word carefully, "Will leave her alone. You will call off your 'arrangement'," the word spit out with a level of anger likely no one has seen for quite a while. "And you will not contact her."

Thadan appears rather stunned. No one has ever withstood his will before, apparently. He slowly relaxes, nodding to each point. Saying nothing and when able he'll just go sit at his desk. And maybe think. Maybe.

D'had glares a bit longer and when he finally lets go its with a shove towards the desk. He then turns to leave without so much as a glance over his shoulder, the door shut hard behind him and then he's stalking down the hall in search of the weyrwoman.

Thea is just coming down from the upper levels as D'had comes down the hall. She strides to meet him, her voice distracted, "I can't find him!" She is moving blindly past him towards that office. "Holder Thadan will know." Not even thinking about not calling him Da. "I- I -have- to find him. I cant'-"

"Hey, hey," D'had gently catching her as she brushes past, a hand reaching out to touch her shoulder. "We'll find him. But you aren't going back in there." Not if he has anything to do with it, or at lest without him.

Thea jumps at the hand on her shoulder however gentle, she is overwrought at the moment. She halts immediately, turning to him. Her eyes are fathomless. "I can't leave Tharen-" her voice cracks as she says his name. "I can't leave him here." But she is reluctant to go back into that office. "I think he went out with the glasscrafter to help guide their search. He knows the terrain." A pale smirk has her adding, "He was late getting out there." Though it should be time for them to be coming in. Darkness is gathering at the edge of the sky.

"Sorry," D'had apologizes for making her jump even as he steps in to wrap arms around her waist protectively. "See, he's probably on his way in. We won't leave him, but you should head home. I'll wait."

"Not leaving without you." Thea shakes her head even he pulls her in, her arms slide 'round him. "I know which direction they'll be coming from. We could walk to meet them?" From the way she is hanging onto him, Tharen is going to have to ride Seryth all alone, too.

D'had nods, "Fine, we'll walk," he agrees. As long as they're leaving that office alone he seems fine, though a glare is sent towards the door. He keeps a hold of her even as he turns them to head outside. Once there he picks up conversation. "Sorry… about what I said in there."

Thea is easily turned, her arm looped about D'had's waist as they walk, her head leans against his shoulder. Perhaps he won't mind - she's just needing to keep close right now. "Hmm? What you said in there?" Normally she'd be lifting her head and peering at him, but, no her head is staying put. "You mean about me being your wife? I liked that. No need to apologize for saying that." From where she's leaning, he can't see her smiling. Might hear it in her voice though.

D'had does the same, an arm looped around her waist to hold her there lest something take her away. "That and the other part… just, you know holders." He's not that much experience with the type unless you count things being thrown and screams of 'stay away from my daughter', but that was quite some time ago.

It takes a few moments for that to sink in. When it does, Thea makes an 'ahhh!' sound and says, "Oh, THAT!!!" She laughs quietly, "Expectant? Well, now, that part was true!" There's more quiet laughter from her, but she says nothing more to explain.

D'had blinks. In fact at that response he stops, giving her a double take. "You…" Blink. "What?" he ask, squinting in surprise. He must have heard wrong. Or she's trying to give him a heart attack. He was fairly certain he was making that part up when he said it.

Thea lifts her head and turns to him, blinking back innocence, "You heard me." She leans in, touching her forehead to his, the tip of her nose touches his as she looks deeply into his eyes, serious and somber. She can't keep a straight face, however and she's doing what he's always asking her to - she's smiling, a wide mischievous grin spread upon her lips. Very softly, "Gotcha." Tharen would be so proud.

"Not upset," D'had tries to recover, "Just sur.." Surprised by that, very much so. And then she's breaking into that grin and he's shaking his head. "Don't do that to me," he returns, tilting his head to give a kiss. But yes, Tharen would be.

Thea's laughter is cut off by lips upon hers and she's just melting into it, her arms curving 'round D'had as she returns his kiss warmly. She's not caring if they're standing there in the courtyard for all to see. Hopefully the Holder Thadan is watching. Maybe he'll believe them now?

Maybe? D'had isn't exactly worried about the man anymore. Next time, if there is a next time, he likely won't hold back as much as he managed to today. "You okay?" the question that follows that kiss.

Thea's eyes open as he pulls away, "I think so. Shaken, but I'll be alright as long as I have you." She looks about them in the gathering dusk, muttering, "I would be better if Tharen would show up on time for once." Her eyes pause in her search, she grows thoughtful. "And he'd better hurry up. I want to go home."

D'had nods sneaking one last kiss, quick this time, and pulls back to turn one of those smirks on her. "It'll be alright. We'll find him, we'll go home, and I'll make it all better." Wink.

Speak of the devil. There's Tharen making his way down the path right on time, on time for him that is, and just in time to catch his sister mid-makeout. "Right out here in the open hey Thee?" teasing as always.

Well, now. Maybe Tharen can see for himself just what his sister sees in 'that weyrmate of hers'. She nudges D'had with her shoulder after that second kiss, murmuring, "Twice in one day, hmm? I'll have to take a look at just what you've been writing in that calendar of yours." Tharen question earns nothing more than a smirk and a casual, "Hey Pest. Mount up, we're leaving."

D'had chuckles, "You sayin' no?" he teases as Siebith circles down to land nearby. He turns a nod of greeting towards the boy. One last light squeeze for Thea has him releasing her so that she can mount up herself. "See ya back home."

Tharen rolls his eyes. Sisters. "Already? Thought you wanted me to come see Ma and Da?" And now she's ready to leave so quickly. He's not complaining apparently being as he's headed for where Seryth waits.

Thea shakes her head with a quick grin at D'had, "Absolutely not!" His release of her has her mock-pouting. "Much rather ride back with you." But alas, Tharen probably wouldn't want to be hugging the back of her weyrmate. "Yeah already. You wanna make good on this chance, trust me." She's pulling up onto Seryth, waiting impatiently for him to get himself up and buckled in. "Those holders're gonna be showing up soon to find their sweet deal went sour."

"I would too, but she's here and your brother.." D'had notes with a nod towards the both of them. "Not like its that long a trip," he adds with a wink. "See ya there." And then he's mounting up.

Tharen eyes his sister for a second before climbing up onto the gold along with her. "Deal?" He's not sure if he should given the sound of the question. "What'd I miss?"

"I'll try to endure," Thea winks right back at D'had as she checks the buckles, chuckling over that question of Tharen's. "Holder Thadan trying to dangle your freedom over my head to get me to go along with his insane plan." Her grin widens as she nods her head towards the Weyrsecond, "He took 'im down." Seryth launches and by the time she lifts to the sky above Cold Stone Hold, Siebith is certain to be already aloft. The gold circles once and Thea takes one last long, look. "May be a long time until I get back here, if ever," she comments to her brother. She gestures with her chin towards the rider on that blue above them in the sky likely doing backflips or something equally as wild in the sky, "Home for me is with him now."

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