Xanadu Weyr - Archives
The walls and ceiling of this large, windowless room have been fitted with wooden paneling and flooring to cover cold stone. Kept polished, the dark finish gleams, and the thick tapestry on the floor muffles footsteps and further insulates from unwanted noise. Those wooden panels are set with tall shelves that contain ledgers and tomes, maps and diagrams from the first founding of Xanadu to the present. The shelves encroach and fill the room, and one can find - arranged by topic - the records of domestic Weyr management, wing statistics, weyrling management, diplomatic efforts, weather reports, events and vital statistics all dating back over one hundred and fifty turns.
Though kept scrupulously clean and in glass-fronted cabinets, it's impossible for the older tomes not to have gathered some dust and mold over time, so the scent upon entering is of antiquity - musty, earthy and rich. Electricity provides ample lighting with which to see, tuned by spectrum to minimize fading of the pages. A large wooden table sits in the center of the room with several seats arranged around it. Placed on the polished top is a stack of paper, a container of writing instruments, a large magnifying glass and basket of emergency glows.
In one shadowy corner, there's a service access - almost invisible behind the panel that forms the door but given away by the brass key hole set at waist high in the wood. As it is kept locked, one would need a very good reason for wanting admittance and seek the appropriate person having the key to unlock it - the steward, the headwoman or one of the weyrleaders.

Don't mind Risali, who absolutely is in the archives with a steaming mug of klah (because what could POSSIBLY GO WRONG, THARI? Don't answer that, it was totally rhetorical), staring really hard at one of those higher shelves as if she might convince it to come lower by sheer power of will or, barring the success of that, make the entire thing burst into flames. She looks tired, those tell-tale dark circles under her eyes helped very little by the drink she's taking another sip of now and it's probably because she's been tackling a lot of work - not simply hers and some of Bethari's, but D'lei's too. It's been meetings and politics and answering concerns from holders and various other authoritative figures about a lack of a Weyrleader even if Risali has turned to people with enough aptitude to help - Soriana, and Ka'el, and even Half Moon's Weyrleader. "Faranth," comes soft under her breath, issued like a curse instead of a pleading invocation. Risa takes a half step to the left, and then looks up again. Maybe she's trying to find a specific record…? Who knows. She's just staring somewhat angrily at innocuous bits of history.

Bethari has been doing her best to act the part of a ghost along the administrative corridor, putting in the hours that the Healers will allow and then going to spend time on the Sands for hours longer than those condoned by those aforementioned Healers. Paperwork gets done, letters get written, meetings get had, and all with little sight or sound of her, someone else always flagged down to get documents where they're supposed to go next. She has an armful of folders ready to be looked over by the next person up the chain when she lingers in the doorway leading to the archives, her intention likely having been to file them away and send notice of their relocation, yet she makes herself step forward anyway, ignoring Risali - or rather, ignoring her predicament. The table closest to the Weyrwoman is selected as the best option, the folders set down without a greeting or so much as the dart of her gaze towards her, simply, "They only need signing, if you find nothing at fault," given by way of explanation before she turns to retrace her steps.

Risali is so very intent on that shelf that she doesn't hear Bethari come in, she doesn't hear Bethari set folders down on that desk, but she does jump when the Weyrwoman speaks. Hot klah sloshes over the side of her mug onto her hand when she turns too quick, and there's a half-strangled sound of pain that she swallows down as she hurries to move. "Wait!" CORNERED, BETHARI. Or, well, Risali is trying anyway, spilling more klah in her haste to set down that mug, but thankfully on nothing more important than her own clothes. "Wait, wait, wait." And here the tiny woman is pulling at her shirt, looking for a moment like this day couldn't possibly be getting any better, and then she's putting herself in the doorway. Risali opens her mouth to say something, probably to ask why Bethari seems to be so… distant except that she chickens out at the very last possible second and issues a breathless, "Crawler." What? And now Risali is pointing towards that shelf, clearing her throat and clarifying with, "There's a crawler." … Right. And then she just stands there awkwardly, dripping a little bit of klah at Bethari because she's a coward and possibly the most awkward human alive.

Still too accustomed to doing as she's told or doing what someone else requires of her, Bethari stops and begins to turn back before her brain has a chance to catch up with her body and make her reconsider. Only, no sooner has she turned than Risali is in the doorway and making her turn again, eyes blinked wide for a moment to try and focus on something that might stay still, even if that turns out to be Risali herself by this point. She tilts her head and casts a long look back over her shoulder, as though considering going to go and deal with this imaginary or very real crawler, but ultimately all she does is let her focus rest back on her fellow goldrider for moments that pass in stony silence. "I'm sure it's something you're capable of dealing with," she eventually declares. "Get a firelizard to eat it." Just in-case she isn't. Her weight shifts, heels almost literally dug in as she takes a deep breath and insists, "I need to get by."

Risali's face pulls into a grimace for logical counter-points made to her possibly real (but certainly not so dire) circumstances, choosing not to comment right until Bethari's attempting to leave. Again. Now Risali's hands come up between them as if she might ward off requests to be let by, or words, or to silently ask Bethari to wait while she gathers her thoughts. There's a kind of defeat that comes over her posture: a sinking of shoulders, a pull at the corner of her lips that's lacking in humor and brimming with self-deprecation. But Risali keeps her gaze focused on Bethari's regardless of whether or not Bethari's gaze meets with hers, because as lacking as Risali might be in most fields, there is most certainly a spark that refuses to diminish in the face of a challenge. "Please." It's softer this time, drawing in her brows as she delivers it, as her hands drop and cross over her chest instead without Risali moving. "I…" A beat, but Risali continues with, "feel like you are angry with me, and I don't understand why. I'm just… trying to understand, Bethari." And where those eyes went distant for just a second, looking into emptiness in an attempt to seek out the proper words for application, they come back to Bethari's again. But Risali does move to one side, she does make room for Bethari to pass. Risali is many things (and most of them probably not very good), but she's never been the type to force an issue. She will ask; if Bethari has no desire to clarify, the Weyrwoman won't stop her from leaving. "Did I hurt you?" It's a whisper now, tentative almost, with an undercurrent of another question. One she doesn't ask - not yet, anyway.

A half-step forward finds Bethari seemingly about to use that yielded space to get past and escape into the corridor (and away), but it's the phrasing of that last enquiry that makes her freeze and hyperfocus on Risali in a manner all but predatory. There's never really been any evidence that she's capable of fury - anger, yes, here and there before inevitable guilt and tears over the stress of it - though whether the added joy of hormones, Risabeth's being on the Sands or just constant worry about one thing or another, something makes her snap. She's not aggressive, nor loud or violent, yet every line of her screams that there is something either usually very well controlled or very not Bethari clawing to get free. "You lied to me," she enunciates with deliberate clarity, her pale gaze fixed on Risali. "You put yourself and your baby at risk and you lied to me. You didn't hurt me. You hurt you."

It might have been better if Risali were more meek a woman in temperament, but there's something about her that answers to that aggressiveness in Bethari inherently - that is more comfortable with it, that responds with a spark of her own anger and manifests it in the confines of a defiant uptick of her jaw, with a distinct lack of apology. Those shoulders draw up, the Weyrwoman holds her breath as if trying to hear every word, and then… she exhales. Those grey eyes close, hands come to her brows as if soothing away the beginnings of a headache, and there's a moment when it seems as if Risali is debating what angle is best for her to enter that field of landmines. "Neither of us were at risk," comes calmly, confident. And then softer, "Not at first." But the way Risali says it bears a different kind of blame, one that doesn't run parallel to stepping up and taking on more duties. "But I… didn't lie to you, Bethari. At least, I don't think I did." Because she is assuming they are talking about babies. "I did what it's my duty to do, to sacrifice for the people who depend on me. And for Kyzen." This admittance comes on a whisper. "Because I can't watch him hurt for you, Bethari. My duties to you, and my personal feelings aside, I need you to be okay, because I need him to be okay."

"You lied." Again, this evidently one of those things that Bethari has latched onto that has no grey area. "And so did he." Since K'vir has been brought into the matter. "Don't you dare talk to me about duty and sacrifice," is undeniably louder now, her voice somehow pitched lower at the same time. "Who was it who took that knot you wear to protect you? Who-" But that shorts out into such a haze of red that words fail her completely. Silence, then, as if trying to be more practical: "You had a better chance of carrying a child to term than I ever will. Why risk yours for mine? Do you think I would've been able to live with myself if anything had happened? Do you think I would have wanted that from you? Are you so busy making a scene of yourself around the planet that you don't know the people you're claiming to sacrifice for?" Again, she stops, perhaps sense catching up with her or something trying to tell her that she's gone too far, but the brink won't have her step back now. "You can tell K'vir that he needn't hurt for me," is a near growled thing. "I always worry about your feelings ahead of my own. Always. It's exhausting. You can tell him he has no obligations towards me any more. It's done." And so is she, to the extent that she actually sways on her feet, only so determined is she not to appear weak that she uses that momentum to start striding off.

There it is, that spark of anger igniting into something much more reckless. "Kyzen did what I asked of him as his Weyrwoman." Because relationships are fragile things, a fine balance of respect and intimacy with too many grey areas. But duties. Duties are their own beasts. "If you are going to be angry with anybody, you can be angry with me for putting him in that position." And oh, but those duties. Those duties and those admissions that have Risali's spine going straighter, her lips pulling in and the corner of her jaw ticking. "Then you should understand, Bethari. You aren't the only one who gets to care about people. You aren't the only one who gets to put themselves last, and you aren't the only one who gets to have secrets." Whatever that means. But Risali closes her eyes against more verbal onslaught, draws in a breath as she tries to temper her temper and… perhaps fails, in so much as she grits out, "Protect me from what, Bethari? Myself?" And perhaps there's something wounded, for just a fraction of a second in Risali's expression, something that she buries by clenching her jaw again to listen. To take the brunt of words like, 'making a scene of yourself around the planet,' that have Risali flinch visibly even if she does not answer those accusations. "BECAUSE HE WASN'T K'VIR'S. He wasn't… he isn't D'lei's." There. The truth of it. "Because I was ashamed and because I am helpless in every other faucet of your life but I could help like this. Why is that so wrong?" And there's genuine confusion there, a moment when Risali's lips quiver, as if that suspicious brightness of her eyes might transform into tears except that Risali forces her lips together again, refuses to let emotion manifest beyond its already evident betrayal because — no. No. No. Risali inserts herself again, impedes Bethari's path because this time it's important. "It was always you," Risali issues through gritted teeth. "He loves me, Bethari, but he has always loved you." And now she's moving aside again, though there's a chill in her voice when she finally responds to that last: "And if you want to hurt him, then you can do it yourself." Because no, Risali won't tell him. But she will let Bethari go if she wants now, no closer to a resolution, failed in her attempts to make things right.

A few steps, a few paces, and maybe Bethari is going to walk all the way down that corridor and out of sight, but then she stops, her back to Risali, and her head tilts again. "I am angry with you," she utters, all but devoid of emotion now. "And you do need protecting from yourself, Weyrwoman. You can never resist being the centre of attention and that is dangerous. Even in this. I don't want your secrets." She shakes her head and moves off again, lifting her voice only enough to carry as she states, "In-fact, I don't want anything to do with you or your jealousy. You can keep it. And him." It's all she has left, her anger spent, her footsteps all that remain to punctuate silence.

More accusations, more words that certainly leave Risali reeling, grasping at denial even if she stops herself just shy of deigning to deny. What would be the point in offering correction to assumptions? Bethari will think what she wants — is entitled to draw those opinions. Risali does, however, swallow down pride long enough to gather folders and klah, to hesitate only a moment before taking long strides to catch up with Bethari before she can lose which direction the goldrider intends to disappear to. And when she does catch up, Risali's reaching out to put a hand on her shoulder - a brief contact, one she ends by jerking her hand back as if she's been burned. But there is hurt in Risali's expression as much as there is fury. "Don't judge me based on your perceptions, or your jealousy, or what you would do, Bethari." And then she's drawing back, lips twisting wry as she wars with herself a moment and then offers a bitter-tasting half laugh lacking humor of, "The people who know the least about you always have the most to say. I'll be in my office if you need me." And there she goes, moving to escape, leaving behind the potential for more conversation, abandoning the clutches of drama to sort through her own thoughts. And to, perhaps, reflect on every wrong turn she took, and how next time she might make it right.

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