"Well, that's lovely, isn't it?" Zathris sighed as he stood in front
of the mural that was covered with graffiti. At one time it had been a
lovely mural depicting holders in the field gleaning golden grain with
dragonmen overhead in the skies fighting Thread. The mural was suppose
to tell of how the Weyr and Hold worked together, each providing for
the other, even if it was in different ways.
Now several of the holders in the paintings wore mustaches and
goatees, and two of the men, a dragonrider and holder, were doing
things to each other that would probably cause the Hold women to
faint. Underneath one of the men Zathris recognized a crude attempt to
spell his own name (Z-U-H-T-R-I-S), and underneath the dragonrider
Weyrleader K'reyel's name had been hastily scrawled.
"I suppose they're now trying to insinuate that Amber Hills is the
Weyr's bitch?" he asked Yusanis.
The Steward's expression was studiously neutral when he first looked
over the graffiti. He wondered if the mural could ever be cleaned, or
if it would have to be covered over and replaced by something new.
**What a waste, modifying something pretty to look like _this_,** he
"Looks like it to me," he said with a frown.
"I suppose we should get something to cover it until one of the
harpers can tell us whether or not the mural is salvageable." Zathris
stood, hands on hips, head tilted back.
"I can get something," Yusanis said. "This seems like a surprising
escalation from just annoyed text."
"Agreed." Zathris looked at Yusanis, "This doesn't seem like the same
people that wrote about females having more rights. This is....
"One group seems concerned with women and accuses you of not giving
them rights and not protecting them. And one thinks you're ineffective
and the Weyr's...well. I wonder if that's the group that stole
Yusanis contemplated the matter for a moment. "What do you think they
hope to gain? Unsettling you? Forcing you to step down?"
"The latter I'm afraid," Zathris murmured, thinking aloud as he
continued, "which is why it all started while I was gone. It would
have forced Benani to take another Lord, or step aside."
"Which would leave Amber Hills with an inexperienced Lord. Who would want
"I don't know, and you would think something like this would have
happened during my first Turn as Lord but... why now?" He reached up
and shoved his hair back, something he did when he was trying to
"I haven't been here long enough to speculate in detail, but perhaps
it has something to do with your wife's kidnapping and your
disappearance?" Yusanis guessed, tying to be delicate in his phrasing.
"I wonder if it's made you seem weaker than you were in your first
Turn, when they weren't sure how you'd be as a Lord. Perhaps they
expected someone more towards..." He waved his hand. "Whatever they
expect. Given their mixed messaging, I'm not sure what they expect."
"I'm not sure if the people wanting women's rights are directing their
message at me, I'm far more relaxed about women crafting, taking jobs,
or making decisions than most Lords, but this..." he motioned to the
mural, "is definitely directed at me. Two different groups wanting
different things then?"
Yusanis tilted his head quizzically, wondering what Zathris had meant
by being more relaxed. "Well, the women's rights one probably wants
all the rights of a Weyr woman, whatever they see those as," he said.
"The ones attacking you must want to weaken you to put someone else
in. I guess they thought maybe your disappearance was going to work
out for them, and that's why they quieted. Now you're seen as
un-killable, so they work to imply that you're weaker?"
Zathris couldn't help the little grunt of mirth over the word
"un-killable" not after what he'd gone through on the island. "Until
we catch one of these... vandals," he gestured toward the mural, "and
question one of them, I suppose all we can do is get this cleaned up
and keep our ears open."
"Let's hope the guards get one soon, then," Yusanis said. "I can get
some men to do the cleanup, rather than trouble any of Zelanka's
girls." He didn't want them seeing this mess.
"Excellent," he sighed, "I'd better go tell Benani, I'd rather her
just hear it from me than through gossip." Gossip always made things
worse than they were.
"And I'll go get this handled." Yusanis shook his head. "We'll get to
the heart of this, sir. I promise."
Last updated on the May 17th 2017