Be wary of the unseen and the unknown.
Those were the last words uttered to Inez after a maddening sparring session with Mul'rec. The femme brownrider spat vicious words at the man after he hurled her brutally to the ground for the fifth and the last time, yet he stood there, resolute, as she brushed the dirt off her thigh and tunic. After her recovery, he pressed her to continue. She refused.
You must, Inez. You need to learn to defend yourself, the man emphasised the urgency of the situation.
Several pants of recovery answered him before she managed enough breath to vociferate her disbelief and impatience. Why? Cador has already won! We live in the south now where he can't touch us! Nevermind the pungent stench that infiltrated her nares, or the smouldering sensation that swarmed in her lungs.
He stepped back to let her recover to her feet. You can't afford to make that assumption.
Inez did not want to hear it. Deep down, a part of her recognised the truth, but she could not bring herself to accept it. Instead, the femme brownrider limped back to the edge of the circle and snatched a skin from the table to drench her crisp tongue. Even if the water that sluiced between parted lips felt nearly as warm as the summer air that attempted to suffocate her, it still eased her throat and took the sharp edge off her respirations. Once she recuperated, she spoke. I've had enough. Cador is not kill me today, nor will he make the attempt tomorrow. She disregarded his reproving glare. We'll try again in two days, Mul'rec. She made a point to address him by his moniker to remind the man where they stood with one another. Even if he begot her, she did not consider the man her father.
Mul'rec conceded to her wishes, though not willingly as she escorted him back to his dragon. Each look he gave her, Inez felt, though she refused to return the acknowledgement. Silence dominated the conversation as he tacked up his beast. She suspected the man meant to distress her with uncertainty, but she did not succumb to his wordless intimidations. Inez would not yield.
Do not ever think you're safe here, Inez. Even in departure, he refused to yield in turn. Never forget that so long as you breathe, you are a threat to Cador. Even when you're alone, he will be watching.
The pace of her heart quickened at the thought.
Keep your blade close, and remember, beware of the unseen and the unknown. Galuth lunged into the sky, leaving the femme brownrider to watch her father and guard slip into the nothingness of between.
In the hour to follow, Inez did her best to forget about Mul'rec and his paranoia, yet every set of eyes that spared a glance to her raised the finest hairs along her neck. Her own eyes chased after every stranger who passed her, feeding into the tumult of suspicion. The doubt overwhelmed her, souring every bite of food for the brownrider until she abandoned the attempt to satiate her hunger. With only a quarter of her meal gone, and her tea long gone cold, Inez abandoned her meal with the Dining Hall. She retreated back into open Weyr Yard and noted every dragon that fell within her wandering line of sight. The very possibility that each one she saw could be a spy of Cador's caused her heart to drum within her chest.
Iorveth, she reached out to her dragon, desperate for his protective embrace.
When her mind connected with the beast, she felt the warmth upon his back and shoulders, as well as upon the delicate membranes of his wings. He remained calm for all she began to drown in distress; he reached back out to her in an attempt to ease the worries that dominated her mind. All the dragons you see reside here, he assured her. Know I will never let any harm come to you. Even Gwen watches you from above, so you are safe, my sky.
Eyes closed in relief, and slowly her heart settled. I'm becoming as much of a fool as him.
No, the balm of his voice replied. You are right to be cautious.
What do I do?
Perhaps it is time to listen to him. Fromthe vantage of his position, the dragon passed an image to her of the caravan that had just arrived in the Weyr Yard just beyond her. And perhaps, for once, it is time to arm yourself with more than just words.
I... the paranoia prickled along her neck once again. What if...?
Then I will stay by your side. Without request, the brown slide off his perch on the cliffs and dove for the Weyr Yards. He caught himself several dragon lengths above Inez, and back-winged close enough for her to feel the gust from his wings.
As he landed, she reached to Gwen, who was quick to retrieve her purse from her apartment. The amethyst offered the sack to her upon her return. Once plucked from her grasps, the firelizard proudly claimed her mistress' shoulder.
While others might have found it difficult, Inez mounted her massive brown with ease. She thought about the brown, and the protection he had to offer. By size alone, even the bravest of souls might cower, for the brown, who surpassed all but a handful of golds and bronzes, could easily cage a man within his talons. He made her feel safe, fueling her with the courage she needed to overcome her paranoia and seek that which she required. With a skip and a glide, Iorveth carried Inez to the train not far beyond them. The shadow of his wings engulfed the caravan, warning them of his arrival before the ground shook with his landing. The quake startled the draybeasts who did not already low and bellow in fear at the very sight of him so close. Yet where a man might look to Inez, demanding an apology for her dragon's close proximity, Inez gave none. Instead, she slipped from her dragon's shoulders, landing with grace upon the soft summer sward, unwavering in her decision to keep Iorveth close.
To any who might threaten his lifemate, the might brown warbled a warning. The ember of his eyes made a distinct promise rather than a lifeless threat, which was affirmed by the curl of his talons.
Gwen seized Inez's shoulder during the woman's approach to the caravan. All the while, she firelizard eyed each and every one of the traders as Inez passed them.
These men know nothing of weapons, Inez thought in disappointment as she eyed them.
Traders carry many things. Press them.
Iorveth was right, though what Inez sought, she knew not... until she found the woman who sat at the back of the caravan, flicking stones with flippant disregard. She dressed herself with the demeanour of a fighter, boosting Inez's confidence that this woman would know what it was Inez sought. "You," Inez summoned her with a distinct sharpness in her voice. She only managed the tone after turns of instruction under Lord Cador, for though she no longer held the rank of a holder, she still knew how to sound as commanding as one. "What is your name?"