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Closing In

Writers: Devin, Estelle
Date Posted: 5th July 2023

Characters: M'gan, N'vanik, Iskara
Description: Iskara brings news that Gil has been seen at a cothold
Location: Dolphin Cove Weyr
Date: month 9, day 10 of Turn 11
Notes: Mentioned: Jayala, J'ackt


M'gan had been scrubbing Isarth clean after his afternoon's meal when
the bronze received the message from Hylith. The younger green's
excitement was infectious, even at a distance, and the bronze rose out
of the water even before M'gan had understood the importance of her
words. His eyes whirled rapidly and he bugled and shook out his wings,
sending a fine spray of water droplets flying around him.

The Wingleader felt his heart begin to race at the thought of finally -
_finally_ getting a lead on the people who'd been behind the poisoning
at the Hatching. He waded out of the water and started back towards the
Weyr at a jog, trying to calculate time differences in his head. How
long had it been since the man had been seen? **Tell Loseth - and have
the rest of Hylith's nine get ready to fly.** He didn't know what the
Weyrleader's orders would be, but it would do no harm to be prepared.

When N'vanik heard that M'gan had news of Gil, he was immediately on
alert. Not wanting to wait, he hurried out of the office and met M'gan
outside. "Someone recognized him?"

Loseth had flown down from the heights and perched on his ledge,
rumbling with agitation.

"Yes. A man approached Hylith's rider while she was dropping off a new
crafter at one of the holds in Emerald Falls." M'gan's eyes unfocused as
he concentrated on what Isarth was relaying. Some details inevitably got
lost when passing a message via two dragons. "He said he'd seen this Gil
at a cothold, one of those isolated places that doesn't get many
visitors. She wasn't sure if she believed him - thought he might be
after a reward, or stirring up trouble - but she went to check it out

He frowned. He'd have a word with Iskara about that later. She shouldn't
have gone alone, even if she hadn't thought there was anything in the
sighting. "She says the cotholders knew him. He's not there now. Gone
out hunting, they said. But he might be back."

N'vanik frowned, considering what to do. If a wing of dragons appeared
at the cothold, as soon as Gil saw them he'd run. But if the man got
back and anyone mentioned a dragonrider had been asking about him --
he'd run then, too. Considering it was an isolated cothold, there was
no way they weren't going to talk about a visit from a dragonrider.
"Are Hylith and her rider still there?"

"Yes, they're with the cotholders now. An elderly couple." M'gan's
thoughts ran along the same lines as the Weyrleader's. "I could have her
ask them to keep quiet about the reason for her visit, say that it was a
routine check for signs of Thread burrows. Then once she's left, we
could set a watch on the place."

The Weyrleader nodded, still thinking. "Is there somewhere a
dragonpair could post up without being seen? Or do we send someone
with a firelizard?"

M'gan closed his eyes and received from Isarth an image of the land
surrounding the cothold from the air, as seen by Hylith. "It's
surrounded by dense forest. There are hills an hour or so's flight away.
They'll be too far for a dragon to watch from, but a firelizard could
hide in the trees easily enough."

"We'll get a few firelizard owners on a rotation in case it's a long
wait. Have them dropped off and picked up out of sight," N'vanik said.
"FIrelizards can be clever creatures, but I don't expect them to sit
and wait too long far away from their person."

"Hylith's nine are ready to fly, if we can find some trusted folk to
watch. I could ask the Headwoman." His eyes unfocused again for a
moment. "Shall I tell Iskara to come back and report to you? She might
have got more information out of the cotholders."

The Weyrleader nodded. "Once we have someone in place to watch, have
her come report to me." Anticipation made his stomach tight.

"I'll see to it." M'gan's expression turned grim. Though months had
passed, none of the dragonriders had forgotten the near-tragedy at the
Hatching. "He won't get away this time."

He saluted and headed off towards the Lower Caverns. Not long after, a
figure emerged with a brown firelizard fluttering overhead and jogged
over to a waiting blue dragon. The pair took off, hardly clearing the
cliffs before vanishing/between/ with the firelizard following. Another
half-candlemark passed before the blue returned, this time accompanied
by a green.

}:My rider says we must report,:{ Hylith spoke to Loseth as she circled
down towards the weyrbowl.

**Have her come to my office,** N'vanik told his bronze as he paced the

Iskara arrived shortly after, still in riding gear and carrying her
helmet under one arm, and saluted smartly. Although she hadn't been at
Dolphin Cove for the fateful Hatching, she shared the outrage of all
dragonriders over what had taken place - and she couldn't deny it would
be pleasing to get the credit for tracking down one of the perpetrators.

"M'gan relayed your information to me, but I'd like to get the details
straight from you." N'vanik made himself sit down.

"Yes, sir." Iskara briefly recounted what she'd told M'gan, about how
she'd come across the man who'd claimed to have seen Gil. "He seemed a
bit shifty to me, like he wanted to make trouble for his neighbors, so
I didn't think much of it. But when I checked at the cothold, the
couple there recognized the man in the sketch straight away. They
found him in a old storage shed a few months back, in a bad way -
half-starved and feverish, with fresh scars all over his back. They
told me they assumed he was holdless and would have turned him out,
only they honestly thought he was dying and it would be cruel. But he
didn't die. When he'd recovered a little, he started helping out
around the cot to repay them, and so they ended up letting him stay."

That fit with Jayala's report about Gil being beaten and escaping. "Do
you think they'll try to warn him?"

Iskara considered the question. "I'm not sure. They were respectful to
Hylith and me, and shocked to hear he was involved in an attack on the
Weyr. But it seemed like they'd grown fond of him. Even if they don't
say anything, I think he'll be able to tell something's up." She
thought back to the manner of the two elderly holders, the way they'd
talked about their guest. "If you want to catch him, sir, I wouldn't
wait too long after he returns."

"We're putting together a rotation of people with firelizards to keep
a close watch and they'll alert us as soon as Gil shows up. We'll be
able to have a nine there within minutes." N'vanik hated the thought
of Gil slipping through their fingers when they were so close.

"I'd like to be there, if I may, Weyrleader." Iskara knew it was bold
of her to ask, but she didn't want to miss this chance. She thought
for a moment. "The cotholders know me. I can make sure they're safe."
They'd not want Gil taking one of them hostage.

He eyed her for a moment, then gave a brief nod.

"Thank you, sir." Iskara remained calm, but inwardly she felt a thrill
at the thought of being in on the capture of one of the conspirators,
and getting the attention of the Weyrleader. She didn't want to remain
a mere wingrider forever... Now, she'd have to stay out of M'gan's way
until the call came, since she got the feeling from Hylith that he
wasn't best pleased. Hiding out in the archives, perhaps? "I can go
and draw up a plan of the cothold, if it would help."

"Yeah, good idea. And make sure your nine has the visualization so
they're ready as soon as Gil shows up." N'vanik would bring a few
other riders as well, including J'ackt.

"Yes, Weyrleader." She saluted and hurried out, already speaking
silently to Hylith to share the image of the small cothold with the
other wingriders. She sensed that they were as excited as she was, and
ready to finally start to bring down the conspiracy that had
threatened the Weyr.

Last updated on the August 6th 2023

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