Fort Weyr - Stonehaven Cothold
Ezra's room within Stonehaven…

Note: This occurs midway through the scene: He's Not Dead Yet!

The Journeyman Harper and even the Healer have left. The paperwork left by the Harper sits exactly where he had left it. Untouched and ignored. It is quiet again in the room. Ezra’s room now, here in the rebuilt walls of Stonehaven cothold. Home to both of them, though at the moment Rayathess feels more a stranger than a returning son. In this moment, Ezra lays unconscious and oblivious, lost in the fitful sleep the Healers allow for half-candlemark time and Rayathess is alone in the quiet. It is not the quiet that he minds, the almost oppressive silence that is broken only by the sound of Ezra’s breathing and the occasional crackle of the fire in the hearth. It’s the thoughts running, racing, roiling in his head that Rayathess fears. Silence is nothing when you fear yourself.

He’d barely enough time to come to terms with the events that led them here, with him huddled against the wall, in an exhausted vigil over his younger brother as he drifts in and out of sleep. The avalanche that trapped both Ezra and Lana in that cave and seriously injured both. Having to feel and share some of the emotions his brother felt through his gold firelizard Cala when she came to find him in Harper Hall did not help matters either. It only magnified the anxieties, concerns and fears that were already gripping at him. Rayathess can barely focus on the events that followed. How D’ani and Dremkoth came to fetch him, how they arrived on site and how he had to wait and wait, unable to do anything to help and not permitted to venture too close. How frustrated and angry he had become, on top of everything else.

Ezra… Why did you go in alone? Why didn’t you seek out help from a minecrafter first? Why put yourself in danger? Rayathess thinks to himself in a replay of all the questions he cannot yet voice to his younger brother. Why, why, why! Never any answers, just more questions to feed questions and Rayathess grits his teeth and struggles to keep himself from spiraling into that endless circle. He’s frustrated again, anger seething somewhere beneath the surface of all his worrying and concerns. To what? His brother? Did you even think for a moment of what your death would cause, Ezra! Of all that you risk every time you put yourself into danger! The thought comes so fast, so swift and so angry that Rayathess is surprised to find himself tensed and glaring, his features falling and his body slumping back to the wall as guilt hits and sinks in on the next wave. No. No, it’s not his brothers fault! He was trying to be a good holder and there is so much to be done yet for Stonehaven to be a functional and productive cothold again.

Rayathess scowls now as he stares to his side and to watch the flames of the fire in the hearth, helpless to keep the thoughts silent in his head. Have I put too much on Ezra’s shoulders too soon? Is he too young to hold, without guidance? He was supposed to be heir. As oldest and firstborn son, it was Rayathess’ right. In happier times, he was already being groomed by their father to take over and Rayathess accepted his role as heir. All that has changed now and Rayathess does not want to be heir, not in the slightest bit. He gave it to Ezra because he saw the drive and passion and pride in his brother that he was now lacking.

Now those papers sit, unsigned and untouched, brought by a Harper on the request of Fort Hold who seek to have their concerns regarding Stonehaven’s succession settled. Ezra, not even a day into his recovery and already they circle him like carrion seeking wherries. Rayathess can taste bitterness in his mouth as his anger surges again, followed by pain, old grief and new fears. Ezra’s injuries are severe. He saw the headwound, being stitched by the Healers and has witnessed enough of the damage done by the concussion. There’s the issue of his shoulder too and Faranth knows what else. Serious wounds and injuries, but deadly? Rayathess doesn’t believe so, thinking Ezra to be much stronger. Yet a small part, a dark part of his mind whispers incessantly of the what ifs. What if he dies? Rayathess will be heir. What then? What if he fails at restoring Stonehaven? What if he succeeds, but it brings just a taste of power? What then? Does he remain true or will he let it slowly corrupt him, until the taste becomes a craving and he starts to seek more and a gentle hand becomes cruel, just like others in the past? Laris, perhaps?

Rayathess visibly flinches at that last thought. No, no! He’d never be like that crazed madman. Never! And yet you started to believe some of the words he and his men preached and taught, didn’t you? A voice nags at him, sneering. Some of his logic wasn’t entirely cracked, was it? Rayathess inwardly cringes away from the truth of it. He had begun to take some of what was being spread in those camps to heart. How couldn’t he? When he figured that that was what his life would lead to, for both Anrila and himself, how could he not adopt some of it, if not just for their survival? Yet he holds such guilt and shame for it. Continues to do so and cannot bring himself to talk about it. To find out if he is, truthfully, corrupted. Too conflicted, too anxious to know what Ezra’s reaction would be. Would his brother turn on him? Would the Hall and the Holds, knowing how damaged he is?

There are days when he is so tired to keeping it all hidden and locked away. There is some comfort in routine and the mundane life of an Apprentice Harper. Rayathess knows, deep in his heart, that his choice to give Ezra heir was the right one. Even with the guilt and the doubts. It HAD to be that way. Now there’s a chance it will change again. Rayathess’ eyes drift to his unconscious brother and he grieves and worries himself into crippling anxiety. Be strong and pull through, little brother. Stonehaven’s future depends on it. Shame, so much shame in that simple thought. I am not strong enough to be holder and I never will be. “I’m sorry, Ezra.” Rayathess whispers, voice gruff and hoarse but loud to his ears as he breaks the silence in the room. You have to be heir, for Stonehaven to flourish and survive… There is no other way.

Now Rayathess’ energy wanes and his thoughts drift back to the paperwork and the decision that now rests heavily on his shoulders. Or is it a noose around his neck? It isn’t what he wants. He wrestles with himself and despite himself his hand picks up those papers…

Does Ezra sleep? Or will he see Rayathess sitting there, for what may seem like eons, at times reading the writing on those sheets and more often seeming far, far away in his distracted gaze. His features seem stuck in some sort of grim scowl, tense and making him look far more aged than he is. Sometimes he moves, to scrub at his jaw or run his hand through his hair but they’re agitated movements. Unsettled and uneasy. He begins to fidget more and there is one instance where he looks poised and ready to just toss the whole stack of papers into the fire in a fit of rage that subsides as swiftly as it comes and is replaced instead by grief and fear.

Reluctantly, Rayathess will settle long enough to grab that writing tool after a spell as he flips to the necessary page. His hand hesitates, hovering there. No one to witness the way it shakes, right? Good. Again, he resists the urge to rebel. He could put Anrila’s name in, in a move that not only would be so cruel to their sister but a rather stupid one on his part and only send Conclave into uproar. He’s not that much of a cold hearted bastard and so he scrawls his name, his eyes watching while the ink dries as he sets the paperwork aside again…