Who Inri, Th'ero
What Everything is fine!
When Month 5, Turn 2719
Where Council Chambers, Fort Weyr

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Fort Weyr - Council Chambers
A large table, spacious enough to seat all of the Weyrleaders of Pern simultaneously, takes up the majority of the space in this room. Comfortable chairs are placed at regular intervals around the highly polished table, and writing materials have been laid out at each place in preparation for the next meeting. Along the walls are a series of sideboard tables, meant to hold food and drink for longer conference sessions.


Nightfall and the Weyr is just winding down in activity. The season rests on the cusp of spring and summer, meaning the evenings are gradually longer and the weather ideal for lingering outdoors. Morale is good and nothing has befallen them or the surrounding region for Turns. Old gossip and fears have now become almost tales of amusement or regarded passively; no longer do they invoke as much anxiety and apprehension as they once did. No, something far more subtler and bordering on private is eating at the Weyrleader tonight, as he ventures from his office. Not unusual for Th’ero to be there at this hour, but it is odd for him to be so lost in his thoughts that he’s stopped, unknowingly, by the seat that Nyalle normally occupies at the Council room table. She’d not been present for the meetings earlier and likewise ‘unwell’ since the celebrations up in the Yokohama. So far, the Healers are pegging it to a seasonal illness. Th’ero, of course, has his doubts but has so far kept those largely to himself.

Guess who actually has a seasonal illness, though? That would be the de facto second-in-command of the goldriders, and the contrasts are easy to notice: while Nyalle has been tired and keeping to herself, Inr is very present and also very loud. She sneezes, she coughs, she carries flasks of hot tea around with her — and she isn't slacking on any of her duties, lest anyone try to pick them up and steal them from her. No one wants Jajen filling in for Nyalle, and in terms of seniority, well — Anyway! Inri is coming into the council room with an armload of files and a pen stuck behind her ear, looking mildly buzzed. "Oh," she says, having not expected the Weyrleader or anyone else for that matter, "I was going to take up the bigger table for math, but I can work in my office if you'd prefer?" He looks like he might want some privacy.

Do the Pernese have signs for warding off evil sickness? No? Maybe Th’ero’s expression says it all when Inri arrives and draws him out of his brooding thoughts. Blinking, he’ll soon focus sharply on her and after levelling her under one of his classic stoic looks, he’ll shake his head. “No,” he murmurs dryly, lifting a hand to gesture for her to help herself to the empty table. He’s just… going to move over there, preferably on the opposite side to whichever Inri claims. A chair won’t be immediately claimed, he’s been sitting long enough and, as much as he WON’T admit, he’s feeling pretty stiff in a few joints. “Shouldn’t you be resting? It’s late.” Brisk and to the point, but she’s likely used to his more prickly nature by now.

Inri has a usual spot and it's there where she sits, not encroaching on the Senior's space or on anyone else's; maybe it's in part not to infect them, but it's mostly because she's used to sitting there. "I just got up," she says somewhat cheerfully, with a little bit of a buzzed-on-cold-medicine kind of tone behind it. "I took a nap, and now I'm getting back to work. There's no hope keeping a steady schedule like this, plus I think it's easier for me to breathe at night, so I've been getting in daytime sleep where I can. Maiona even comes to check on me sometimes." Never very maternal, Inri stopped keeping her daughter in her weyr before she was even two, and so while they aren't the closest, her now-teenager does … sometimes care. "She messes up the tea, but it's good she's trying. Something," she presses, "is bothering you. It's not my cold."

Th'ero opens his mouth to protest, resting a hand firmly against the back of the nearest chair. Inri, however, does a sufficient job of explaining herself and so he lapses silent to listen. It doesn’t stop him from giving her a lingering look of doubt, but with a low sigh, it’s clear he won’t push it. “Don’t you go exhausting yourself too,” he mutters and it sounds both like concern and a proper tangent into the answer to her prompt. “Mhm.” He makes a guttural sound of acknowledgement first, turning his head to glance to Nyalle’s empty seat in another hint to the truth. In the glowlight of the room, he looks tired, though age has been relatively kind to him. Fifty Turns, half of which under the mantle he wears, has left much of his once black hair grey now along the temples, but peppering the rest. He keeps it smartly tied back, but it doesn’t hide it. It’s the lines by his eyes and mouth though that’ve become increasingly defined. “I’m not so certain I believe the Healers. Nyalle’s been sick before but never quite like this. Velokraeth tried to slyly work some truth from Kayeth, but she is either too keen and sharp and evades his game or she isn’t certain.” Neither of which bode well. Another sigh and a slight shrug, “But it could be just the unfounded wariness of an aging man. Nothing more.”

"You are barely middle aged," Inri challenges, because hey: dragonriders live longer. Many his age are still flying around doing daredevil feats on their smaller dragons. "It's experience that makes you feel like you're aging. Take more vacations," advises someone who rarely does that, though she does take day trips. And naps. Overall, Inri is impressively well-balanced for someone thrust into goldriding in her teenage turns and watching multiple others wear the Weyrwoman's knot — though she also has not been Weyrleader all that time. "But I'm not. Exhausted. I'm fine, in the no-really kind of way and not in the denial kind of way." He can likely read the difference; she has pulled the not-actually-fine before, such as in the dark turn after D'ani left her. "Is it that you think the Healers are wrong," she queries, sounding innocent about it, "Or that you suspect they're lying to you to hide something Nyalle doesn't want us to know? I can have Kouzevelth push, but if they're keeping something close to the chest it's not likely me who will find out first."

That challenge draws a chuckle from him at least and Th’ero just dips his head in defeat to Inri’s obvious truth and logic. “It was mostly a joke at my expense, Inri.” he assures her. “I don’t feel a day over my true age.” Minus the stiffness from time to time but who doesn’t get sore from sitting or standing all day? “And given the trouble that tends to find us all eventually, I’d more that proven I am tough to kill. Won’t let this sedentary moment do me in either.” Bemused, he smirks wryly. No death by boredom for him! Honest. He does scoff for the suggestion of vacations… he’s HEARD that plenty in his lifetime! “Maybe.” Which means ‘no’. He understands what Inri is getting at too and gives her a neutral look of understanding. “Not sure.” The answer is maddeningly vague but Th’ero wasn’t intentional in delivering it quite that way. Finally, he slips into the chair, rather than using it as a prop to lean against and as he settles in a creak of leather and wood, his arms fold loosely across his chest. “We’ve the best Healers and I would think that, if there was a large concern, they’d either hint at something or encourage Nyalle to speak with us. It could be that Nyalle herself believes them and is not overly concerned…”

Inri squints, as if she's very seriously contemplating the issue, and then takes a sip of her tea. "Mirinda wouldn't allow lies, but she also doesn't usually make mistakes. And she keeps secrets for her patients, but they all will — she's probably not handling it directly, though, since she's stuck in an overseer's role more than anything." Which Mirinda doesn't always like, but the Weyrwoman needs a healer dedicated specifically to her care and not the entire Weyr's. "She'll let us know if it's important, I'm sure, or if she'll be out much longer. Or Kayeth will. Because they wouldn't let it influence productivity and Fort's well-being." It isn't that Inri can't handle it, it's that she feels out of place and some people do not take orders from her the way they might from the Senior. "Not long term, anyway. Did you know vacations are actually really nice, and you can take them for just a couple of days without it putting a dent in your work?" Now she's teasing, playful, because really: they need some playfulness in here and delivering lightheartedness even in the darkest moments is kind of Inri's role.

“I do value Mirinda’s insight,” Th’ero admits and that’s very high praise given his known distrust for most Healers. He’ll work with them, of course and is largely respective, but he’s never hidden his dislike of anything healer-related OR being a patient of theirs. Grudgingly, he gives Inri a nod of agreement to her reflections. “Also very true,” he murmurs low and gruffly, one hand lifting to scrub thoughtfully at his jaw. Her teasing ears her a mock glare from the Weyrleader, but he soon huffs in amusement. “I’m well aware,” he drawls, only to frown in thought. “I wonder, however? Do you think that once Nyalle recovers, we ought to extend that knowledge to her?” Translation: let’s try to convince her to take a vacation. Later, Th’ero will realize just how darkly humorous this will twist into am ominous premonition. For now though, his words hang as nothing more that a vague attempt at joking.

There are so many people like that, and Fort's healers are at least used to them. Inri's never been as difficult, especially since she tends to attract colds and strange fevers more than average. She almost HAD to be the normal one who let people treat her for a while, amongst the leadership's tendency to do things like get stabbed and not care about it. "Hm. Yes. Possibly with suggestions for where to go. I could probably leave her weyrmate a brochure or something." Yes, let's bring poor Mr'az into this, because he just loves Th'ero and Inri so much after his ten-turns-ago disastrous Weyrleader tenure. "She could really use one too, but that doesn't mean you can't. I'll stay here, since I'm the only one who regularly knows how to rest. Sometimes I think I'm too sane for this place."

Nobody says you have to get along with your neighbours! It’s probably a point of amusement shared between Hall, Hold and Weyr that Healer Hall is notoriously not favored among many of the Weyr’s riders. Th’ero hasn’t gained any serious injuries, though he was the bane of the Healers during Laris’ rise and the later Turns of unrest among the lingering fractured Renegade camps and groups. Now that this quiet spell has extended for so long, he’s be “good” about not drawing illness or other health ailments to himself. He grimaces about Mr’az and then chuckles to himself, “Good luck with that. He’s likely to tear it up in front of our faces and call it an accident.” True, Mr’az has long since ceased in being a visible thorn in their sides, but the bronzerider at least keeps his distance… and out of trouble. “You deserve time away just as much as the rest of us, Inri.” he chides. “And I wouldn’t leave Fort entirely in your hands. There’s no immediate need for me to go.” Another smirk. “Besides, do you really want to be left to handle Jajen on your own?” More teasing, the infamous trouble-maker goldrider HAS been maturing a bit. A bit. “I’d say leave her to Kassala, but that would almost be cruel.”

It's been too long, hasn't it. The normalcy. Deep down it probably scares Inri, who is always waiting for The Next Thing — hence her only brief interlude of being comfortable and settled with anything — but she's not bringing that up. She's also not connecting Fort's typical luck to Nyalle's condition. "I sure do," she agrees, in terms of what she deserves: "I deserve it just as much but I'm the only one who ever actually does go anywhere. I think Jajen's more likely to listen to me than Kassala." Though she's also probaby more likely to push gently and see how far she can push, Jajen has likely learned that pushing Inri isn't that easy, and also that Inri tolerates her more than Nyalle or Dtirae ever did, so — maybe be nice to her. "Technically, she ranks Kassala anyway." With Iaverulth older than Kouzevelth, there may have been some idea that she ranks Inri as well, but the turns of competency vs. frivolity have faded that potentiality. "But we're glad to have her. Kassala. Considering Kouzevelth seems entirely uninterested in ever clutching a queen, which I am fine with because it's so much less potential mess for me."

Th’ero was restless under that Normalcy once and likely still is; he’s just got better at hiding it. “Perhaps,” he mutters vaguely again on much of the subject matter. Technically, Jajen being exiled once puts her pretty low on the totem pole, age aside. “Fort has a bounty of healthy, fertile queens. Kouzevelth and the others likely sense this… Rhenesath was our last Fort-born queen.” And even that was some time ago. Lifting his hand again, he’ll scrub more at his face this time, as if warding off some thought or another. “So your thoughts, then?” he asks quietly. “You saw how Nyalle was at the event in the Yokohama. That wasn’t like her.” He’ll gain Inri’s opinion on the matter, before the night is out.

Inri always wears her emotions on her sleeve and isn't in such a good position to hide her tension; it's just that right now it comes out in sneezes, instead, which punctuate every frew sentences. "We're certainly comfortable, and without Thread, we don't really need that many more dragons." The Weyr is functional and that's all that matters. "She's never even cared that she's never had a gold, so I doubt she feels as if she's falling behind in some draconic duty. She's had plenty of healthy eggs." Another sneeze, and then Inri is dabbing a handkerchief to her nose while thinking. "She seemed very tired, yes. Much more than normal. I wish she were more social, and I could just needle her by being boisterous and cheerful and get an answer — it could have been a personal upset, or just being overworked? But things aren't too bad." And Nyalle won't crack under pressure. "So — I have no idea. I hope it's not tumors. People with tumors act like that sometimes." Let's just catastrophize and make everything worse, that is such a fantastic plan, Inri. Sneeze.

Whether it’s Inri’s sneezing or the mixed answer she gives, Th’ero is quietly on his feet and already half way to dismissing himself. “I think we’d know if it were that serious,” he murmurs but even he sounds doubtful in his usually level tone. “The truth will come out eventually.” It always does! “And we’ll be prepared for it, whatever it may be. I’ll leave you to your work, Inri…” And to her germs! Dipping his head respectfully, he’ll see himself out of the council rooms and back to the privacy of his own weyr. He’ll no doubt catch whatever Inri had a few days later, much to his annoyance but such is the way of the world… and cold season.

"And I'll go back to bed in an hour," Inri promises as the Weyrleader makes his departure — and is saved from the worst of the cold, since she doesn't let out any racking coughs until she's by herself. Which doesn't mean that he gets to dodge the illness, but hopefully his constitution is a little thicker than hers and it doesn't knock him over quite as hard. It's Fort. It's winter. They cope. And Inri spends all her free time ice skating. "I promise. Have a good night," she says, and manages to steel herself long enough that he's far enough away to not be able to hear her before the coughs begin.


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