Zeyta, F'dan


After his failed apology with Mayte, F'dan goes to visit someone who isn't afraid to see his real self. A pact is made, political wills are set on a collision course, and two of Igen's darkest minds reign over a sandstorm from a throne.
(Takes place before Face-off.)

Lots of profanity


It is afternoon of the twenty-second day of the sixth month of the second turn of the 12th pass.

A strong, dry wind blows across the desert that raises and carries along a massive cloud of sand that obscures Rukbat and drowns Igen in darkness. Visibility is reduced to nothing as sand pelts the weyr. Torrents of sandy wind lashes exposed skin, and grits in the eyes and nose of anything that dares to brave the elements.


Zeyta's weyr, Igen

OOC Date


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Zeyta's weyr

Be it ledge or petrified evil, a slab of rock juts as some crude tongue of stone from the gaping, hollow mouth of this ruptured cliff-side. What cursed torments lie within preview in the slick purchase of obsidian talons must truly gouge to anchor without fear of a plummet to an untimely demise below. As if this were not ominous forewarning enough, the entrance itself teems with the suggestion of teeth in the sharp peaks of stalactites and stalagmites riddling the dark cave interior of some slumbering giant's innards turned weyr-home. For the brave, let these words of advice resonate in the hearts of daring trespassers: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter.

Sweltering with a dead, dry air gusting at such high altitudes, carrying columns of dirt and grit in clouds of dust upward: the desert summer in full force. Dilapidated stairs form a crumbling ascent to this particular ledge, jutting outward in a crude slab of stone narrowing to a jagged tip at the end where sit Zeyta. Somewhere far below, Kczyslawborth prowls the weyr proper, trapping her as a mountless damsel surveying the whole of the leadership weyrs and space below with her meticulous eye for detail. Despite the warring elements brewing on the horizon in sprays of sandy wind, she sits in majestic recline: somehow or another, she scavenged an actual throne from some long dead Lord Holder or some such figure, reupholstered in the black and gold of Igen. A matching sidetable stands next to her, a tray with pitchers and a glass balanced next to a sizable stack of books she reads at her leisure.

Somewhere in the whirling dust above Kadanth breaks from between, almost seventy feet of predator ripping open the air. For a long beat the air echoes with a screech, the sound eerie and disembodied in the dust cloud as if it comes from another world. The bronze is only visible when he's so close to the weyr that his paws are already extended for landing, great talons curved back as if to pluck Zeyta from her eyrie and carry her off. Huge eyes whirl a hot amber, flecks of red smouldering in the embers, and as Kadanth lands to grip the rock with his claws he lets out another crackling scream, tail slicing through the air behind him. F'dan might not be able to scream with lungs that big, but as he rips his helmet off he looks like he would if he possibly could. He's pale and strangely blue-tinged at the lips, and he brings with him a gust of unbelievable cold that even the desert summer can't immediately remove. "Is that alcohol?" A snarl, all pleasantries discarded.

Zeyta positions herself an irreverent woman of her time, one leg hooked over the curled, gilt arm of her metal chair while the other scrapes the rock of her ledge. Like a liquid, she pools in the center of the well-padded seat cushion, head rested against the opposite chair arm. A notebook rests against her belly, neatly manicured script scrawling straight lines across the page unaided. Interruption provokes the disgruntled scouring above, where bronze hide overshadows and the cool kiss of between brings the temperatures from some other region in refreshing reprieve from the heat. She's a daughter of the icy mountains, all right. Furniture too weighted to budge from the force of wings, she continues, disinterest prevailing with naught but a side-glance for F'dan. "Of course not. I don't drink," she fibs, retrieving her glass to tilt it against her mouth, sipping the water inside. Plain, tasteless — not unlike her tone. "…Were you in High Reaches?" Banned and bitter about it, she is.

Gloves and jacket are stripped off too, F'dan dropping each carelessly as he goes. At this point the leather is keeping the cold in rather than warming him. The mention of Zeyta's drinking habits receives only a snort. He doesn't feel he has to make any correction about that after the last time he saw her. The glass is eyed as if it might be liquor after all, but the sip that Zeyta's taking speaks against that, so F'dan is left alcohol-free and visibly alight with tension. "Higher than High Reaches. The Sleeper." One of the highest peaks in the frozen wasteland north of the Weyr, and also somewhere that there's no possible reason to be. F'dan isn't offering explanations however: he's eyeing the entrance to Zeyta's weyr. "I need a drink."

Zeyta remains grounded, in all her unsophisticated indolence, continuing to write her performance review of one of her wingriders in oblivious silence to his seething temper. Her glass clinks against the gold tray, contents drained while her delusion of sober industry maintains itself. Unmoved by the disturbance her male counterpart experiences, she exudes her usual glacial calm, neither biting nor brutal until touched and stirred into an avalanche of prideful wrath — which seems unlikely, in present circumstance. "And you didn't invite me? I'm hurt. Kczyslawborth loves the mountain goats that live up there. They're much heartier than the scraggly flock here in Igen." Waving her hand in idle dismissal, "Open bottles only. Help yourself. Avoid the crystal." Standard bar rules.

"Weren't on the fucking mountain. We were up. We were —" but there's no way petty little human words can describe that they were doing, so F'dan turns on his heel and stalks into Zeyta's weyr. He's gone for some time: whatever he's drinking he downs one or two of it before he comes back out, a glass in his hand half-full of amber liquid. No seat for F'dan and he's too agitated to be still anyway, instead pacing in front of her like a canine locked inside a room with dinner on the other side of the door. "We fly. And we drop." And Kadanth flickers an image to Kczyslawborth at F'dan's request: the view from thousands and thousands of feet in the air, the feeling of tucking wings and angling down, the cut of the thin icy atmosphere so high, the thrill of how dangerous it is and the savage pleasure in always doing it perfectly. The vision ends with the heavy crack and blow of great wings spreading abruptly, halting the fall close to the snowline. The shared image brings a sharp and vicious joy to F'dan's face, anger cleared for a moment — though not for long. "What are you doing." Because what can he say? There aren't words, just this pulsing writhing urge inside of him to move and to break.

"I see." Except Zeyta declines to lift her her head, absorbed in her work as her stylus presses hard to form legible remarks in dark poignancy for those most scathing. By the time F'dan returns from a successful raid of her liquor stores, she exchanges her report for a different ledger, this one filled with pages of yellow vellum and more curlicued writing. "You're ruining my view," she complains, as he blocks the expanse of northern bowl life set out in a panorama below them. Kczyslawborth receives the memory, poring over the imagery as he plunges it down into his dungeonscape, imprisoned and gone over with a cerebral edge as sharp as a serrated surgeon's kinfe. He picks it apart, the primal headrush, the reckless endangerment and feeds it back to Zeyta for final parsing. "Work and personal correspondence. As I am wont to do. I think the real question is what are you doing, hm."

"That fucking woman. Faranth's fucking tits." Apparently all F'dan needed was to be asked about his own day: the floodgates seem to have been opened. For a moment he turns towards the Weyr proper, quivering as if he's filling up to the brim with something. It strains against his boundaries, brimming over, stretching — and then he lets out a shout, more animal than man, a roar of frustration that is stifled by the wind as if it never lived. "What the fuck is wrong with this Weyr? I shouldn't fucking be here!" No calm here, no icy chill or the composure of ice that has never melted: F'dan is a tightly wound ball of rage, struggling to hold back an anger that threatens to rip him apart.

The epitome of patience stretched out across her throne, Zeyta flips to a blank sheet to assemble a list per his recitation, playing mind healer in mocking simulation. "What woman. Are you upset with Linny." Far from sympathetic to his plight, she almost sounds gleeful at the prospect of this misery, piquing more than a passing look as she focuses on him, viciously intense. She gives him only time as a freedom, and drink, letting him process, collect all his anger and compact it into a pressurized canister of air he belts out in a roaring cry, dying on the whipping winds swirling around them. Blinking, calmly offering, "Well. You have an interesting way of expressing homesickness. Death drops from northernmost heights, lashing out at an entire population of people different than your own. Why don't you take another gulp, F'dan and then string together something informative for me if you're going to stalk my ledge like a rabid, barking canine."

"Go fuck yourself," F'dan bites, but he's not leaving either — and with Kadanth there he could if he wanted to. For some reason Zeyta seems to go as well with a bad mood as ice cream with apple pie. Where better to be than somewhere that F'dan doesn't have to hide or dissemble. At the eye of the storm is peace, when one step in any other direction would rip a man to pieces. F'dan looks back out over the Weyr, shoving his hands into his pockets and rolling back and forth on the balls of his feet as he tries to calm down. "My Weyr," he says finally, giving a nod out to the duststorm as if it's an old friend. It's not what he chose, and Igen was not what he wanted, but after half a turn it's his, loved and hated like a sibling. Zeyta's order is followed, a slow mouthful taken before F'dan turns back to her, body harsh and ungainly as twisted wire. "Not Linny. Mayte. She plays so fucking innocent…" his expression changes into a snarl, hands jangling in his pockets as he looks back to the sand. Another deep breath.

"Expresses hostility in the face of concern," Zeyta narrates her clinical observations, dedicated to her skit with envious theatrical flair. Take it as a sign of comfort: walls down, there's no need for the constant reminder of the barbed arrow waiting to sling at his heart if he crosses her. Instead, she can parade as self-possessed and bizarre, strange tastes culminating in her strange, tenuous bond with the man venting in front of her. Careful not to poke the irate beast lest he chomp at her rather than snarl, she sits up enough to prop an elbow on her throne, forming a pedestal out of her open palm where sinks her chin. "Ah, not this Weyr, his Weyr. Such clarity." She does listen, trained to his every slight shift in body and visible mood. "Ah, Mayte. She has you worked up?" A brow ticks upward, almost astonished. "She's young. Pliable. Just this past seven day we shopped together in the bazaar."

F'dan knows Zeyta too well now to be surprised that her estimation of Mayte is so close to his own — or at least his own at it used to be. The youngest weyrwoman had held so much promise, a blank slate to be crafted into what F'dan wanted. Now though that thought is thrown away on a vicious blade of laughter that rips up through his throat. "Not that pliable. 'I don't know what you're apologizing for, F'dan.'" His voice is a mockery of femininity, the sound rasped away by the wind. Another prowl, a wild feline trapped in a cage, until F'dan stands by the edge of the weyr and presses his fists to the gouged rock. It's not a punch, not with his still-bandaged fingers and his duty to fly Fall in a few days, but all the latent violence in him is pressed against the stone until his knuckles are screaming. "She wants to come with me to tell W'rin. To tell fucking W'rin. You know what he's not going to appreciate? Me having to say in front of a fucking weyrwoman that yes, Igen's wings are shit."

The scent of scandal attracts Zeyta as a hound to blooded prey, melting in her chair to reconstitute herself in an upright position, now a queen reigning over her court. Regal, the impassive monarch allows her subject to air his grievances with a keen, diplomatic presence as a neutral party. She was trained for this, Zeyta: to diffuse tense political situations as if skimming her hand over a calm body of water, sending ripples only where she skips a well-aimed stone. "Don't be an idiot, or I'll ground you from the next Fall for those fingers," she threatens, friction mounting between the pads of her thumb and index as she snaps, calling him off from self-mutilation. "You're useless hurt," she reminds him, soft and dull, no sweetness in her voice. "Igen's wings are shit. W'rin pulled a miracle with Sandblast, but the only wing that consistently performs well is Whirlwind. We survive our Falls, sure, but there is much room to improve." No solution divulged to his predicament, not yet. She'll watch him stew still.

F'dan is absolutely still for a moment, the possibility of obeying and not obeying hanging equally true in Shrodinger's weyr. When he finally steps back the movement is abrupt, knuckles raised for a cursory look. The flesh is puffy and marked with the stone but there's no blood, only the dull bone-deep ache of pain. The whiskey will take care of that: another large mouthful is knocked back before F'dan raises his eyes to Zeyta again. "Half our wings wouldn't graduate anywhere else," he grinds out. "And I'm going to tell him. I don't give a shit what he does to me. He pulled Sandblast and Whirlwind up. You're having a serious fucking go with Arroyo." From the tone of his voice he thinks her raw material is a major handicap, but he does respect her iron will. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. "Igen can change but not if we don't talk about all this crap. We have multiple fucking Reaches riders here. We all trained under Q'ila. We can do what he did." A snort, the rest of the whiskey downed. "W'rin'll rip me limb from limb if I say that in front of Mayte, and she knows it. She's not going to leave me alone with him if she can possibly help it." Is Mayte that conniving? F'dan wouldn't have believed it a sevenday ago, but now….

"Away from the ledge, please." Zeyta beckons him to her side with a curl of her finger, too stoic to implicate herself of worrying by any tangible means. Not when everything skates across the surface of her, fleeting and unable to seek purchase before falling into a void absent emotion. Risen altogether, she abdicates to venture into the heart of her weyr, seeking out a roll of gauze and a salve, a better aged, more expensive whiskey under her arm. "You're not going to compare Igen to High Reaches. Let that scar fade; our history with them is not a bright memory," she dropping down into her seat without ceremony, throne made mundane as a plain, unembellished chair. The bottle gets set on the metal tray, the bandages and medicine held in her lap. "Arroyo will be held accountable to standards of excellence set by myself. But Q'ila was an absolute moron, unable to cultivate talent unless you had the right parts and the right color between your legs." She shakes her hand, schooled, holding out an open hand in expectation for him to supply her with bruised knuckles. "The best way to frame such a discussion is to neutralize your enemies. Why don't you invite me."

"Reaches weyrlings are the best on Pern," F'dan corrects, an icy defensiveness in his voice over Q'ila. Though even he can admit the man's weaknesses, and it's a sign of how far F'dan has come that he allows Zeyta's point: "you put Reaches expertise in a weyrlingmaster who knew how the fuck to deal with women and we'd knock any other Weyr out of the sky." Zeyta implying that she'd prefer he didn't fall off a ledge, Zeyta with gauze and salve, Zeyta reaching out for him: if F'dan weren't in such a state he might notice how extremely weird this is, but as things stand he's numb to almost everything. His glass is laid down, the ghost of a wince tugging at his forehead as his fingers straighten, and then he settles himself between Zeyta's legs, back sliding down over the throne until he lands on the floor. His arms are raised back over his head, hands resting on Zeyta's lap. The fingertips about his nailbeds are bloody, skin torn to rags with his teeth, and he trembles with slow-unspooling tension. His face stays fixed on the sandstorm before them, the Weyr obliterated by the desert. "Invite you to see W'rin? How exactly are you going to neutralize Mayte? Some sort of bitch fight in the council chambers?" But for all his flippant words he's listening.

"Yes, well." Zeyta concedes to this implausible fact, even if the most recent Weyr Games unseated High Reaches from its championship. She finds herself aligned with F'dan in views, a realization of progress enough to elicit a genuine smirk, cut across her mouth in private as it fades quickly, lost as the feel of the wind against exposed skin. "I almost became Igen's Weyrlingmaster, before Sienna snatched it from me. I was trained in High Reaches." Bygones let be bygones: no dark resentment inks into her tone as she merely relates a issued opportunity. Call it equivalent exchange from the night he endured her manic ramblings, now repaid in the silent, efficient administration of care. Grabbing a cloth napkin, she douses it with water from her pitcher, scrubbing over splayed fingers in her lap to clean his hand before she dresses it. Soft skin and perfectly trimmed nails bely the harsh methods, grooming not missed for callous palms and gnarled fingers of riders content to let their labors show, working in contrast to the bitten scraps of his nails. "I can endorse the sentiment we should foster more open discussion about improving the strength and efficiency of our fighting wings. I can reason with Mayte if she tries to interject. I do not have to, ah, get into a cat fight with her just to quell a potential uproar."

The roughness of Zeyta's care draws a hiss from F'dan, his shoulders tensing against her legs. No movement to draw his hands away though, instead left to Zeyta's less than tender ministrations. If it's care, it's certainly a brutally practical kind. For a long moment F'dan doesn't speak, the only sound from him a faint thunk as he lets his head drop back against the wood and his eyes close. The wildness that was there before remains, but the harshest bite of it is gone and it seems less likely that the man will tear himself to pieces in the immediate future. "Fine," he says finally, eyes opening again for a strange upside-down view of the backs of his own hands and Zeyta behind them. "You can try. Rhiscorath's going to call Kadanth, I don't know how much warning I can give you." He straightens his head again, looking back out to the storm. At some point Kadanth left them, though F'dan couldn't have been less aware. "He's going to kill me for lying to him. I mean — not at first. I didn't sharding remember what it was about at first. But when I did remember and I didn't confess to him." A shrug. "Worst bit is that I'm about to tell him to have harsher discipline in the same conversation." F'dan is a big believer that the sharper the shock the shorter it can be: no time to pussyfoot around with obedience in a Pass. "I am so fucked." He's evidently not happy with the idea, but there's no sense of railing against the fault in his stars. Punishments he can accept.

Solemn dispassion from Zeyta, none of the bedside manner of a true, tried healer, she's got the brutal pragmatism of a trauma surgeon, allowed to be ruthless in her efficiency. After the cold water cleanse, she unscrews the lid of her small vat, slathering her fingers liberally with thick, viscous goop she spreads across the tops of his knuckles and works into the back of his hand. It stings, at first, then numbs. "Trader concoction." Adding to the list of strange curations found in her weyr, and hinting at her myriad dabbling in learned arts once upon an Oldtime interval. Greeting his weary, inverted gaze with her own, flashing as solid topaz around the dark pupils of her eyes, she smirks. "I'll speak to Mayte first. In fact, I'll arrange it. I'll pick a time of day when W'rin's least likely to flare out of control. I'll reach some accord with Mayte beforehand. Everyone will get what they want." She grabs her cloth to wipe her hands free, preparing to move onto the gauze. Their loneliness on the ledge, so oddly juxtaposed in their abandoned glory before the desert against an immaculate throne … always a strange, inexplicable encounter with these two. "You'll not come out of it punished, if it goes according to plan." Because all her machinations are already in place. Someone is very, very pleased with herself.

"What she wants is my head." F'dan doesn't look back, his jaw bumping Zeyta's calf as he shakes his head. He doesn't seem up for arguing about Mayte; Zeyta's calm assurance is far more inexplicable, catching his attention like a hook. "You know I want that knot, Zeyta. As much as you do." Though there's no hint that he's fighting for it now, just a quiet observation. It's hardly shocking; they wouldn't be themselves if they weren't each equally aware of the vacant weyrsecond position. F'dan wants it, and he would hurt to get it, but for once he can respect someone else's wanting. There's a long silence, his hands held still and steady, before he speaks again out to the fury of dust before them. "Come to bed with me, Zeyta." No look at her, no lean or touch, just a steady request. There are others he could have, it isn't disastrous if she refuses him. He's learnt to temper his own wants for her.

"There are prettier heads," Zeyta remarks in her trademark blunt honesty, staring into the back of his crown where he rests at her feet. In keeping with that trend, she quips, "Yes, and know I'm not jumping to your aid out of the goodness of my heart. There's opportunity there, F'dan." It's not a threat, veiled or otherwise; it's upfront: a transparency shared only when she looks into the mirror. She will do as she does, and no amount of dutiful binding of his fingers (tied now, with a clean tear of the bandaging from the main roll) detracts from the cutthroat social darwinist she is at her core. While they both remind themselves of their stark imperfections, she lets the sandstorm rage, gathering momentum as it approaches. But entropy assumes many forms. "Mmm. I guess." Simple acquiescence, as she gingerly returns his hand to him, extricating himself so he falls against her unmanned throne while she leaps to her feet, fetching her tray of drinks and supplies — books and all. "I'll meet you inside." Which is where she heads, her own, personal storm thundering off toward the dark recesses of her boudoir.

F'dan isn't shocked by the strings on Zeyta's kindness. She's never done anything that would lead him to expect anything else. Running as equals with a predator draws its excitement from the latent threat after all, the unspoken promise that one day they will be in each other's way and learn what teeth and claws are really for. F'dan gets to his feet in silence, gathering his discarded flight gear to pile it neatly before he follows the she-wolf inside.

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