Fort Weyr - Gold Hill Hold
Located south of Fort Hold and north of Peyton Hold, this minor hold is aptly named for the resources it exports: precious minerals, mostly some of the finer metals.
On the grander scale as far as minor holds go, Gold Hill could have once been a prosperous holding but the latest Turns have seen a gradual state of disrepair. A lot of the stone has been overtaken by greenery on the outer walls, though the inner courtyard seems to be faring a little better. It's not until one is actually inside the hold that they really notice the oddities — how /richly/ it seems to be decorated with unnecessary opulence. Fancy fixtures, fancy furnitures, elaborate tapestries and rugs… it all seems too much and awfully gaudy. And it does little to hide the imperfections the hold has. The dusts, the minor damages… and neither does it mask the fact that the whole atmosphere of the Hold is wrong. Tense, anxious and for such a well off hold, one would expect to see more holder folk about.
In brief, on the outside Gold Hill looks like any other minor hold. Orderly, perhaps a little worn from the harsh winter months but still functional. It's the inside that gives the first inklings of something worse and far more rotten than mere disorder. Courtyard, stables, great hall, kitchens or the annex wings… it makes no difference. Even the outposts and ramparts, if they can even be called that, look sad and in disrepair — if they were ever used. There appear to be no guards ever at those posts, despite claims that the minor Hold has complied with the orders given to them.
The forests have all been cleared away for some distance all around the hold, leaving ample open space between it's edge and the outer walls. Only the roadways leading to the mines have a small band of trees left on either side as if to offer meagre protection.

Continued from The Fall of Gold Hill

The young man has no answer for Inri, only to hold her gaze and then lower it in guilt. Of course he knew of the consequences. But he seems to be sickened by the results. Not at all what one would expect. "So long as I'm in a solitary cell. Leave me with men like him," And he jutts his head towards the trussed up man with a grim smirk, "And there won't be anything left of me by morning." Abigail's requests are met, though if he has any protests to her methods, he wisely bites his tongue. D'ani's threat though earns him a glare, "It was not by my hand that he was injured!" he replies hotly and immediately seems to regret his words. Inhaling deeply, he flinches as his ribs give a twinge but Abigail's chiming in with the bronze weyrling on him being hanged seems to be the final straw. That or it's the further orders given by D'ani. Gershel's advice is taken, though not purposely. "You want to know who I am then?" he says, voice taking on a strange sort of strength behind it. Pride? Why is there pride in his voice and sadness too? "My name," he stresses, gaze now leveling cold on each Weyrling and Harper alike as he takes another slow, shallow breath. "Is Rayathess Stonehaven." Uh. Maybe they shouldn't go forwards with the hanging or the trussing up and dangling from dragons…

Indeed, it's short work to be had. It's the Leader who will put up the worst of the fight. Clearly he's got some skill behind him and perhaps why he was hand picked for his position. He will push both Guards no doubt to their limits before finally sucumming, whether injured or dead remains to be seen. No more enemies come charging down or attempt any sneaky attacks. In fact, the air is noticeably quieter, save for the sounds of the aftermath of any skirmish.

The harper gasps and rushes to the man. "Say that again? You are Rayathess Stonehaven?" He quickly motions for the numbweed he had order for the man's breathing. "Get something for this man's…Rayathess' breathing! Now!" Making sure that the note taking weyrling is indeed taking notes he stares at everyone, awe in his eyes. Without really needing to tell anyone he says, "Can one of you bespeak the Weyrleader?"

D'ani waits while Abigail trusses up that second man, the only advice he offers is, "Tie his ankles too so Dremkoth has something secondary to hang onto." He doesn't seem to want to drop him either. The young captive is given a level look but no answer; he was part and parcel to this whole mess that resulted in the Weyrleader's injury but it's not for him to impart judgment. Dremkoth is back-winging to land nearby, ready and fiercely willing to cart the carca- prisoner to the Weyr. D'ani, meanwhile, has caught something of that numb calm coming from Inri and steps closer to her, snaking an arm about her shoulders, he pulls her close in a firm hug, whispering a few words into her ear. Words meant only for her before he presses a kiss to her brow. "Weyrwoman (okay yes, she's still a weyrling, but he uses the title purposely) there's time to reflect and adjust later. You did well." The captive speaks then and he is the one who goes numb, his arm all but frozen around Inri. "St-Stonehaven?" His dark eyes are riveted on the man. Sharply he asks, "Ezra's brother?" No wonder the man looked familiar!

Th'ero only scowls for Kimmila's glowering and snorts. "Isn't it obvious?" he drawls at her, flippant despite the fact that she's trying to help. Really, she should just drop him to the ground for that. At least he semi-apologizes next by adding in a lower tone and minus the sarcasm? "Left leg." Not hard to miss, considering the arrow is still lodged there, angled in a way that it looks like it hadn't gone too deep. But he cannot bend the leg and so their progress will be slow going and awkward indeed. And filled with the Weyrleader trying to stifle his cursing. When will he learn?

"Perhaps we should strip him down to his underthings so he can really feel how cold it is when going between?" Abigail questions, she may be joking or she may be telling the truth, perhaps mostly to see the sort of reaction from the young man at the idea. There is a pause and she just peers at the man once he goes about speaking. "Who in the what now?" She was not expecting that answer at all. A faint groan escapes her and she lifts her pale gaze up to the sky before she hears the Harper and sends him a glance. "Inri, can ye try again?" While doing this she at least unties the heir's wrists and takes a few steps back. Now she'll just be quiet. Niumdreoth comes over and gives his rider a slight nosing.

Inri is resting her head against D'ani ever-so-slightly when that news drops, and her mouth falls open. "I," she starts, and then stops. And then starts again with: "Will do that right away, Lord Stonehaven. My sincerest apologies on behalf of myself and Fort Weyr as a whole. We will, of course, keep you safe." Does she even want to /know/ why Ezra's thought-dead brother was at Gold Hill in the first place? No. But she's also not about to make him freeze to death and throw him in an uncomfortable prison cell. Kouzevelth is hesitant, gentle, as she broaches Velokraeth's mindscape again. « He calls himself Stonehaven, » she relays. « Rayathess. Inri names him a Lord. »

Kimmila glances down at the arrow and she grits her teeth. "That'll have to come out." But later, apparently, as she's not about to do it here, in this Faranth-forsaken hold. Helping him hobble outside, she starts to lead them towards Inri and the others - towards the gold and safety.

"No!" This is sharply-said by D'ani. "I don't care who he says he is - and if he's really Stonehaven, then why was he involved in the raid to Gold Hill? Let the Weyrleader and the harpers determine the issue before he's untied. And you have nothing to apologize for, Inri." The so-called Stonehaven gets another level look, "Does she?"

Oannis and Kazulen have finished the job inside the hold. A pile of dead and dying around their feet. Those that surrendered were spared, all others have been…dealt with. With a weary look around, the sergeant motions to Kazulen to head out into the entry way. "Check for any of our or allies wounded, lad." Oannis will check upstairs…He fears for the two privates lost early on.

As Kimmila and the hobbling Th'ero head out the hold a body across from them moves. The pale corpse looking man gives a weak salute, but does not stand. It is Yurolt, a large gash running down his right leg, a pool of blood around the young guard. Next to him lies an unconscious Iarohana, her head wrapped with a piece of what appears to be Yurolt's jacket. "Sir…Kimmi…" His voice trails off as he passes out.

The young man — now known as Rayathess — simply waits, bound and likely still kneeling as the news of his name sinks in. There is a smug glint in his eye but otherwise his expression remains cautiously guarded. Gershel's approach has him shifting away a bit, even though the Harper's intentions are good. "It's just some bruising. More of an annoyance than life threatening." he tells the man, though his attention is drawn back to the Weyrlings. Inri's sudden turn around on him has him grimacing a bit, the formality clearly grating. Maybe a bit too much? "I am no Lord, just a cotholder — or was. I can assure you that. A man, and one I'm beginning to think you know of, made sure of that." he remarks bitterly and as Abigail unties him, he nods to her gratefully and begins to massage his wrists. D'ani's outbursts are ignored, Rayathess looking absolutely floored and stunned as he simply stares at the bronze weyrling. "Ezra is alive?" he says, almost gasping it as if truly winded as though D'ani did in fact bruise his ribs with a good solid punch. "My little brother is alive?" he echoes again, eyes losing their cold glare and instead glistening wetly before he drops his head and composes himself. Next move he does is not very smart, but emotions can do funny things. Gershel may find himself reached for as Rayathess abruptly gets to his feet, knees stiff from remaining so still for so long. Lurching forwards, he awkwardly steps towards D'ani. "Where is he? Is he safe?"

"Ezra," Inri says, a smile slowly forming on her face — for that reaction of love is one she knows well, and trusts, "is fine." Relatively speaking, anyway: he's a lot more fine than when Inri met him, too. "He's back at the Weyr. We're good friends." Are those tears welling up behind her eyes? Maybe.

Gershel does not mind assisting Rayathess in the least. Although at D'ani's out burst he does eye the supposed holder cautiously. Nonetheless he helps him to his feet, and urgently rubs some of the numbweed brought him on the man's chest.

D'ani grimaces as well, but more for the untying of what certainly looks to him as a traitor and criminal. He motions sharply with a hand to still Rayathess' questions regarding Ezra, sighing as Inri answers before he can stop her. He's still got his arm around the goldrider, almost forgotten in the ensuing drama. He gives her shoulders another bracing squeeze and drops it, stepping forward to meet the hold-heir and fix him with a long look. "He needed you," the bronze weyrling breathes out through grated teeth. "And he is NOT fine." Sorry Inri but D'ani knows a few things others don't. "Where were you while he faced a frozen pile of bodies stacked in Stonehaven's courtyard, huh? Where were you while he scavenged food and hid in dark corridors fearing for his life? Where were you while he buried all of his past in the recesses of his mind and lost his childhood? Where?" D'ani is now shaking, fists clenched while his own eyes brim.

Th'ero only grunts at Kimmila's diagnosis. Later. His grip on her tightens and midway back he will awkwardly and abruptly stop, which sends fresh pain up his leg and he grits his teeth. "Oh shards, this just gets better and better…" he mutters darkly, though there is concern. Hey, they found Yurolt! "Kimm, they need immediate attention." More so than him? Seems so. Velokraeth finally dives down to land though, his entrance far less graceful and almost careless as the pale bronze responds to Kouzevelth's information. « That is the one then? » He asks, his oversized and misshapen head lowering down and cocking a bit to the side so his mismatched eyes can observe him fully. « This dirty looking man is a Lord? I will pass it to mine. But they best be certain to be //right about this. »// Not an empty threat either, as Th'ero visibly stiffens as Velokraeth relays Kouzevelth's message and his expression twists into one of disbelief. "Call some of the Wingriders to get these two moved. Now! Then we best get over there…" Wasn't that what Kimmila was trying to do?

Inri definitely wouldn't have called Ezra stable or the picture of sanity, but — well, D'ani has a point regardless. It may be a bit too much of a point, though — she steps up behind the bronzerider again and opens her mouth to mitigate, to say it's probable that Rayathess was kidnapped or tortured or something that wasn't his fault, but she doesn't know. She just wants to. She wants it to be that he's done nothing wrong for Ezra's sake, and realizing that's not the case, she doesn't say anything at all, just stands behind D'ani. They've got each other's backs even if they don't agree. « Lord of a small place? A cothold, » Kouzevelth agrees. « He looks like the little one he claims is his brother. »

"I can see that," Kimmila says darkly and dryly. Bellowing to a few nearby guards, she motions to Yurolt and Iarohana. "Move them, now. Careful. To the trees, the Healers." Duh? She hesitates a moment longer as the guards gather up their comrades and start to move them. "If he dies, so help me," she hisses with clenched teeth, before she's helping Th'ero onward.

Abigail doesn't really know Ezra, the name has came up a few times but that is about it for her and actually knowing him. She watches now looking like the odd person save for the large brown dragon that is settling in upon the ground behind her.

Gershel steps back from Rayathess and watches the exchange between holder and riders. He does not know Ezra either, but has heard the name and knows the story. Well as much as a spy can be expected to know. He decides to let the others work this out, but takes up the pad from the weyrling and quickly jots down everything said.

Rayathess' forward progress is luckily stalled by Gershel's insistence for first aid, though the man's attention is on Inri as the gold weyrling gives him all the information he needs. Relief floods his features and the first hints of a smile, both of which are gone in a flash as D'ani approaches. Instantly, he is wary of the bronze weyrling, his eyes watching him like a dog kicked one too many times not to learn to be careful. Cheeks flare with color though at the accusations, old wounds barely healed suddenly torn at by someone who is a stranger to him. Along with the hurt comes the anger, Rayathess' hands clenching into fists at his sides though he holds his ground against D'ani, lifting his chin defiantly. "I do not have to answer to you," he says, voice flat though trembling soon with withheld anger. "Go ahead, blame me for abandoning him when you know NOTHING of what occurred in that night or the nights following. IF I could have, I would have returned." Rayathess has to bite his tongue then, though it takes a great effort from him to do so. Instead he only fixes D'ani with a look of contempt. "None of this is for you to know, seeing as you've clearly publicly condemned me for a monster." He takes a breath. "Now, anyone else wish to take cheap shots at me? Or can I have some peace while I wait for the Weyrleader to recover?"

Th'ero only leans against Kimmila, turning his head slightly to give her a look for her hissed comment. "He won't. Neither of them will." he mutters, his words broken slightly by his shallower breaths. Clearly, trying to reassure her and yet he doesn't seem so certain himself. His eyes will cast brief darting glances more than once as the Guards come in to help their injured comrades. Then the news comes in, through Velokraeth and his swearing isn't all for the pain in his leg. "Kimmila," he says in a tight voice, grimacing. "There is trouble back where they have the wounded. With Kouzevelth and the others. One is…" He pauses to wait for a fresh jolt of pain to finish passing. "Claiming to be Rayathess." At least he's warning her before they all but hobble in on the whole mess?

Maybe it's his weyrling training that restrains him. Maybe it's Inri at his back. Maybe it's the knowledge that Ezra will know and eventually reconcile with the snot standing before him, or maybe it is the fact that Rayathess' story has not been told and there's a sense of fair play in the recesses of his mind that keeps D'ani from cocking a fist and socking the new-found hold-heir into next week. "I haven't done any such thing. He needed you," says D'ani in a near-whisper, eyes burning into Rayathess', chest heaving. Cheap-shots be damnned! "Ezra is my best friend," he notes through tight lips, "I've seen what… Stonehaven's… " He's at a loss for words, "did to him." He's disgusted at the self-preservation of the hold-heir and turns away, flashing Inri a look that speaks of his inner turmoil. Ezra will be rent inside out by this. Again.

Kimmila's steps falter and she shoots Th'ero a disbelieving look. In the end she just grimaces and nods. "Let's get you to a Healer." That first. Jerry Springer Family Drama can wait.

"Enough." Abigail suddenly states as she watches Rayathess and D'ani, watching the pair quietly for a few moments and she shakes her head. "As for the cheap shots. Ye was the one running towards us with a man that was holding a weapon. Ye get what ye make." She states with a thin tone as she watches the young man a few moments. "Everyone's nerves are shot after a thing like this." She is trying to take charge of this little bit of crazyness before it gets to out of control it seems. "Ye will wait just like everyone else will to see the Weyrleader. Which means ye will sit down quietly or I will tie ye up again."

Sergeant Oannis comes hastily into the yard where Kimmila is helping Th'ero. "I haven't found been able to find…" His voice drops off as he sees the other guardsmen taking his wounded men out. With a grave nod to the dragonriders he gently pats Yurolt and Iarohana, muttering a prayer. Then he turns to Th'ero, "It's done, sir. Where do you need me now?" He gestures vaguely to include the entire Hold.

The harper is rather taken aback that he wasn't quick enough to step in, but grateful to Abigail for taking that role. He quickly jots down this last bit, before he droops for a moment. He rubs his own wound and applies fresh numbweed. Now back to the scene before him, wouldn't want to miss a bit, now would he?

But, but — wait! Th'ero would have put the breaks on then to protest and almost does, until his left leg buckles and he has to stop to double over for a moment as pain passes. Ow. Swearing a streak of curses to make a Seacrafter blush under his breath, he straightens carefully and regains his hold on Kimmila. "Fine." he says simply, though clearly not pleased at all. "But I refuse to be transported by a litter." So there. As Oannis returns, the Weyrleader gives him a brisk nod once the Sergeant has checked on the two injured guards. "Report to Captain Breshir. He and Nishka will likely have new orders. Many have surrendered, so there is that issue to be sorted." Many, many issues.

Kimmila rolls her eyes. "You're a f-ing (only she says it outright) idiot, Th'ero. If your leg buckles again so help me I'll throw you over my shoulder and carry your ass to the Healers. How manly would /that/ look, huh?" Walk, walk, hobble…to the Healers! "He took an arrow to the knee." Calf. Whatever.

D'ani already has his back to Rayathess when Abigail speaks - he's done. She and Inri are quite capable of handling him. There are other people to watch the captured, other people to stomach the excus- (ahem! Reasons!) Rayathess will no doubt expound. D'ani isn't in the sort of mood to listen to them right now. To Inri, his eyes say what his voice cannot, his undertoned comment is, "Ezra. I need to go let him know-" The words are choked off. He fears for the boy and that is his prime concern. The bronze weyrling strides rapidly to Dremkoth's side, climbs up and swings astride. His jacket is on, but open, the helmet and gloves forgotten as the bronze springs aloft and goes *Between* but a few beats above the ground. Someone else will have to transport the hold-heir to Fort Weyr because D'ani has something more important to do.

It's a very good thing D'ani did not give in to his desires to punch Rayathess. Weyrling or not, the man would likely punch right back and then injured or not, Th'ero /would/ come over and knock sense into both of them — or send Kimmila to do it. There are no further words Rayathess has for D'ani, though his narrowed eyes and the heated glare that he pins him with speak otherwise. Somehow though, he knows the "fight" is won and the other's mind is set. That, and there's a darting glance to Gershel. Perhaps he's felt he's said enough already to fill the Harper's ears? He gaze slides to Abigail then, lingering long on the brown weyrling but not with so much heat or anger. Instead he simply turns to take a few strides to a clear spot and promptly sits. Well, she asked him, right? It tries to ignore too how some of the other refugees sort of lean or shuffle away as if he's cursed or some dangerous, wild animal. Fantastic.

Th'ero only gives Kimmila an incredulous look for her outburst, followed swiftly by a frown. "I'd like to see you try," he remarks dryly and with more sarcasm lacing his tone. But he falls silent when they approach the Healers, well away from the drama unfolding and where one prisoner waits who he wants to question… but already the preparations are being made to transport him back to Fort Weyr. Instead, he is stuck here. His mood drops and darkens and the look he gives one Healer approaching him is enough to make the Journeyman balk. "No fellis." he tells them, shooting Kimmila a look as well. Don't argue with him!

Abigail is now quiet while she watches the ones here, her gaze follows after D'ani. "Have a safe trip back." She lets her attention rift over the area a few moments before she looks to Rayathess, now she is watching him. Yay for watching! A soft breath escapes her and she coils the rope up before moving towards him. "I'll take ye to Fort, promise no dangling off ropes and the like as well." She did catch how the refugees all skittered away from the young man, which is perhaps why she is feeling this way now.

"You could always just hit him in the head and knock him unconscious as a form of pain relief," Kazulen says very, VERY dryly, where he's sitting nearby getting his head-wounds — plural — stitched up. He's a fine one to accuse others of being stoic, since he seems to be ignoring the process entirely. That, or he's drugged to the gills. One or the other.

Gershel notes D'ani's heated exit and also Abigail's offer to Rayathess. "Seeing as I've no longer got a hold to play for…DO you have room enough to take me to the weyr as well?" He'd like to wait on Th'ero, but could easily do his waiting in the weyr.

Kimmila just rolls her eyes at Th'ero as she flops down onto the ground to wait for him to be stitched up. If he wants to be in pain, fine. She might even close her eyes and take a nap, so there, as hostages are rounded up, wounded tended, and Breshir takes command of the Hold along with Peyton's Captain, the two of them starting to put things back to rights until the Lord and Heir of Gold Hill can be found.

Someone will undoubtedly take the Harper back to Fort Weyr or even the Harper Hall if Gershel preferred. It will likely be the next day before Th'ero returns and even if he does come back before nightfall, he'll be in no shape to hold audience with anyone. Not that anyone would (except one), given he's bound to be a miserable bastard. The Weyrleader will ignore Kazulen's remarks again, though he remains firm on the no fellis order. Even when the Healer's set to removing the arrow and going about the work. They'll at least try some numbweed, which takes some but not all of it away, to judge by his muffled cursing and the bitten back exclamations. It does exhaust the bronzerider (finally) so that his last orders are obvious ones: a lot of wine and if someone could wake Kimmila up.

Continued in Part III - Returning to Fort Weyr

'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.