Finding Bethari for Calisi

Xanadu Weyr - Sea and Sky Haven

‘Go find Bethari,’ Calisi said. ‘It’ll be easy,’ Calisi never said. ‘She’s a goldrider,’ Calisi said. It wasn’t that finding Bethari had been particularly challenging (it required asking the right people the right questions to get to the right place), but rather what happened as she found her that made Risali’s entire first attempt a failure. It’s not easy to approach somebody when, just hours before, you found their house but so much more than that, and were involuntarily turned into a voyeur for those one, two, three seconds that it takes your brain to catch up with your eyes and say, ‘Yes, that man is L’or, and yes that woman is probably Bethari, and yes you should probably go because watching two people have at it on the side of their house is decidedly impolite in most circles.’ Risali gave herself a good two hours of, ‘You can do this,’ and, ‘They can’t still be at it, can they?’ pep talks before finally, finally she made her way back to that house with all the hesitant posturing of a frightened doe wary of wolves in the brush — or in this case, Risali wary of unanticipated coitus. Regardless, there’s a soft knock on Bethari’s and L’or’s door as Risa’s arms come around her middle and she waits. For the record, she looks horrible: there’s darkened bruising on her neck and face, one eye still slightly puffy with a cut above it and a split lip. The knuckles of the hand she did not use to knock because ow is a mess of scabs and dead skin and we don’t want to talk about it. Just like she doesn’t want to talk about what she witnessed. Ever.

When an oblivious Bethari arrives at the door, at least she’s dressed, even if ‘dressed’ only involves an overly-large shirt, loose linen trousers and bare feet. She’s yet to do anything about the state of her hair, which is mussed and then some, and she evidently doesn’t believe that she needs to be particularly presentable, given her lack of effort. She might as well be wearing pyjamas. Maybe she is. However, any sign of sleepiness vanishes from her face the moment that she sets eyes on Risali. More accurately: when she takes in the damage that’s been done. Regardless of the fact that she’s never set eyes on her before, she reaches out, meaning to secure a grip on one of her wrists and haul her inside without asking whether it’s okay or not. As she closes the door, she demands, “Who did this? What happened to you? Where are they now? What are you—“ No. Wait. One question at a time. “What do you need?” She even forgets to ask her name.

Risali’s only has long enough to feel the tingling beginnings of envy at Bethari’s state of dress (or is that undress) when her wrist is captured in a hand she wasn’t expecting to be that quick (don’t ask her why; she’s not so sure herself), and Risa’s feet follow through the threshold if only to keep herself from falling over at the sudden pull of her momentum forward. “Wait – I – what?” A breath and then, through effort she emits a series of breathy syllables that sometimes fail to produce any sound at all: “No – I’m. I’m okay. Please, just.” Wait. She can’t manage the last word, but it doesn’t matter; Bethari seems to be reaching the same conclusion before Risali can even finish vocalizing it, and there’s a moment’s hesitation as Risa remembers how to breathe before, “Calisi. She asked me to come and get you. She’s on the floor and… she says she won’t get off of it until you come.” A pause, because maybe that’s not pathetic enough, and then, “She’s crying. And… and her back is… she needs help.” One, two, three seconds of more hesitance and then, “Please tell me you’re Bethari.” Because she never asked, and Faranth, but she hopes she’s not just relaying the queenrider’s questionable physical and emotional state to strangers.

“I’m Bethari.” It’s all she seems willing to confirm, her expression darkening at mention of Xanadu’s other junior weyrwoman. She pauses, biting down on her lip as she backs off a step or two to regard Risali more as intruder than someone in trouble, though it could very well be that the accusatory gaze she levels on her isn’t truly for her at all. “Why is she sending you to get someone for her when you’re clearly hurting yourself, without anyone else’s burdens added?” Not very good at looking at all displeased or maintaining an air of disapproval or authority, she still attempts the latter, though it sends tension coursing through her that makes her every gesture a little mechanical. “I’m not a healer. You need to get a healer. I can’t do anything for her if she’s hurt, and asking me to do anything about that is wasting time that could be used to fetch someone better suited to it than me. If it was a bad flight…” Clenching her jaw, she gives a shake of her head, her pale eyes a touch glazed. “I’m not the person. I can’t deal with that. Not right now. Get Soriana or a healer. She must’ve meant Soriana.”

But the accusatory glance, instead of being met with timid withdrawal, is met with Risali lifting her chin with just the right amount of height and bristled arrogance to communicate what she breathes, anyway: “I am fine, but Calisi is not.” And Risali endures; she endures the lecture of healer and wasted time and wrong goldrider, it couldn’t have been me with anger, then resignation, and finally defeat. Grey eyes drop to her hands, lingering on her ruined knuckles before she pushes her hand behind her back and she nods, expression a look that says she understands but you are the one not getting it. “I know, Bethari, but she doesn’t want a healer. She wants you.” The harper makes a helpless gesture in the air, towards the door, towards Calisi, towards help me please, but I am just the messenger — and then once more she bristles, “And Faranth, but if one of you tells me to ‘get’ another person — no. Calisi sent me to get you. Here I am; if you think she needs somebody else, you get them. But she is on the floor, and she needs a whole sharding lot more than just a healer and that’s you.” And despite the heat behind her words, her tone stays level, ruined only by the fact that speaking is clearly straining her until a helpless whisper of, “Please, Bethari.” Because believe me you, this woman’s ire is borne of concern, and she does not want to fight.

“And telling you to say that she is going to lie on the floor until I go to her is blackmail!” Bethari exclaims incredulously. “Of you and me! Can’t you see that? This is what goldriders do. They get to terrify the life out of people and give orders and manipulate and expect what they want to be done. And then everyone thinks we’re all the same. That we enjoy it. And she certainly looked like she was enjoying herself creating terror across the Weyr.” She’s red in the face by the time all those thoughts have come tumbling out, the pink tint to her scarlet flush clashing horribly with the brighter, orange tones in her hair. “It’s not right. You’re on my doorstep looking like that and you’re not here for you, but because she made you, and I don’t get to look after you or take you to the infirmary, or make sure you’re okay, but I have to go to her to make it better for you, because it’s all I can do. It’s not right.” Her voice doesn’t lift in the slightest, but blue eyes shimmer with the unshed tears she’s worked herself up into, solely owing to frustration. Striking out with a gesture towards the door, she tells her, “I’ll go. And you’ll go wherever you want to, for now. But you’re going to come back sometime and sit down and tell me what happened. Okay?”

What a sweet woman. It’s a thought that goes fleetingly through Risali’s mind as the goldrider makes it clear that she wishes to help her and is concerned about her and — “Kyzenviro…” Risali gestures towards herself helplessly, but never finishes the thought. What she means to say is that Kyzenviro already helped her tend the worst of her hurts when she refused to see a healer; what is likely (and unintentionally) conveyed is that Kyzenviro did this to her. He didn’t, but Risali’s need to explain when confronted with a stranger who cares is overruled by more pressing matters: Calisi. So instead, she terminates the selfish train of thought abruptly because she is okay and exhales. “Okay. Okay, Bethari. We can – I – can do that. But please go to her. She needs somebody that can do more for her than I can, and I don’t mean physically.” A pause, and then a hesitant step backwards towards the door, hand coming out behind her with every intention of seeing herself out. “Kiena. Do you… Do you know where I can find somebody named Kiena?” Because Kiena is Two of Two on Risali’s list of Calisi Needs You, and she’s clinging to a hope that Bethari might spare her the trouble of harassing a multitude of strangers again.

Bethari pales, plainly reaching conclusions that are incorrect, blush leeched away almost instantly, to leave her on the greener end of the spectrum instead. For a moment, she looks positively sick, her eyes wide and staring, but she runs through that, to a flicker of something closer to fear, until she settles into anger, an unnatural and unusual sharpness edging her gaze. What’s worse is that she can’t speak about it – and so can’t confirm or deny, or ask for clarification. “I’m going to the caverns first,” she replies, her voice low and deadly even. “Then to her. Kiena is K’vir’s aunt – a bluerider. Ujinath. Her weyr is in the cliffs.” At least she isn’t rambling and babbling now, unable to keep one thought from another, yet she’s reached the other end of that scale, her response stilted and to the point only. “If she’s not home, try the workshops.” Backing away from the door, she retreats further into the main living space of her home, either intent on getting into some fresh clothes… or just trying not to panic.

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