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A Promise

Writers: Aaron, Estelle
Date Posted: 2nd September 2023

Characters: K'don, R'fal
Description: K'don talks to R'fal about the promise he made to Enali
Location: Dolphin Cove Weyr
Date: month 10, day 8 of Turn 11
Notes: Mentioned: L'saz, Enali, R'ayl, Y'gel, Cyradis, K'sedel

Once the apprentice dragonhealer class was over, R'fal gathered up his
notes slowly, waiting until the last of his classmates was almost out
the door before he got up to go. No one had said anything, but he knew
the rumors that had been going around about his father since the
Hatching. He knew his friends didn't blame him and he'd made the right
decision to go to the Weyrleader, but still, he wasn't sure what they
thought of him.

K'don was extremely grateful for his dragonhealing classes, as they were
one of the few times he could get his mind off of what he had promised
to Enali and how in the world he could possibly expect to follow through
on it. He would, after all, have to admit that he had sneaked in to talk
to her to even begin.

But he had to do it. He had promised.

And as he turned to go, he nearly bumped into R'fal.

"Oh. I'm sorry, R'fal." He sighed and rubbed his face.

"That's all right." R'fal was about to leave and return to his weyr, but
something about his fellow apprentice's manner stopped him. Maybe he had
been too wrapped up in his own troubles to notice how others were coping
with recent events - he knew K'don was sensitive enough that the idea of
poisoning the hatchlings had to have troubled him even more deeply than
most - so he stopped, and turned back. "Hey, is everything okay?"

"Oh, I... I mean, I guess technically?" K'don might have been a better
liar if he ever took the time to consider that he did not always have to
try to find words that were true but misleading to do it. He could
hardly burden R'fal with something like this.

"How are you?" he asked. Misdirection worked. Sometimes.

"Not too bad. I managed to understand most of today's class, which was a
relief, after last week," R'fal said, smiling. That lesson had been on
wing structure, a tricky exercise in memorising the names of tiny bones
and how they fit together, but today had been on diet and digestion,
which had more in common with what he'd learned growing up on a farm.
The word "technically" concerned him, though. "Want to go and get some
lunch? After all that talk about food, I'm starving. Even if it was
dragon food."

K'don could not help but smile. Spending time with friends was likely
the only thing that _could_ make him feel better, apart from hiding away
from the world forever with Maciath.

His stomach growled in agreement.

"That sounds good. If there's anything you need help with for classes, I
think I can."

"Thanks! Maybe we can test each other on some of those bone names
sometime," R'fal suggested as they walked together towards the dining
cavern. "Not now, though. My brain needs a rest."

They both picked up some food and sat down together at a table near some
of the other more junior weyr crafters. R'fal took a bite out of a
meatroll, thinking over the past few months and all that had happened.
"Hey, do you know how that little blue is doing, the one who ate the bad
meat at the Hatching?" he asked. "I think I've seen him and his rider
training with the other weyrlings. They looked well enough."

"Oh, um. I think he's doing well," said K'don. He should not have been
surprised that the attack and its aftermath were in R'fal's thoughts as
well, but it felt a little like he was reading his mind.

"I've been spending a lot of my time with the weyrling students trying
to help this one in particular. I really like him and his dragon, so...
I want him to be alright."

Helping L'saz could distract K'don from worrying about what he had done
sneaking in to see Enali, too.

"It's good that you're there to help. It must have been hard for them,
after the start they had." R'fal wondered if K'don might be worried
about his weyrling friend, or uncertain how to handle his problems.
Besides the Hatching, there were many reasons why weyrlinghood could be
a difficult adjustment to make. "Is it anything you can talk about?"

"Oh, um... I guess I really shouldn't say much," said K'don. "At least.
Well, you know how Hold parents can be when their sons Impress greens.
It's that sort of thing. I don't want him to think I went blabbing about
him behind his back, though..."

"I... I guess I felt like I've needed to keep my distance from R'ayl.
That whole thing was just so... much."

Maciath nudged the back of K'don's mind, hoping to prod him to spill
more of what he had meant to keep back.

"I don't know what he knows about what happened that day. He's so young."

"It would have been hard, even for a grown dragonpair." R'fal remembered
the anguish in the boy's eyes as his hatchling choked on the tainted
meat. "He was brave, for his age. If he'd completely panicked, then
maybe Master Y'gel wouldn't have been able to treat his little blue at
all. But I agree, it's hard to comprehend how . Why would anyone do
such a thing?" He couldn't understand why Enali had named his father,
either, unless as a cowardly attempt to shift the blame onto others.

"I wish I knew. Maybe..." K'don sighed. "Maybe then I'd know how to stop
it from happening again. She thought... that we killed someone she
loved. And I guess... when you're that hurt, maybe some people think the
best way to feel better is to make someone else hurt the same way."

Or worse. She could never fathom what agony she would have inflicted on
R'ayl had the hatchling blue died.

"I suppose, but a weyrling pair? The boy was hardly old enough to Stand,
let alone kill someone, and the hatchling only just out of the shell."
There were plenty of rumors about what had happened that day, but it
sounded as though K'don had seen more than most and it wasn't easy for him.

R'fal did his best to suppress his anger for now. "Anyway, you shouldn't
feel responsible for understanding her, or trying to stop these things
from happening," he said, trying to reassure his friend. "I'm sure the
Weyrleaders have that in hand."

"They do." And even knowing that there was no way he could go back to
Cyradis after he had already spoken to her and been reminded that this
was all beyond his responsibility, he had still made his unkeepable
promise to the woman.

"Cyradis already told me it's not for me to worry about. But I couldn't
stop worrying about it anyway." He was not sure whether he wished he
could have. Even if he had learned little, there had been something
cathartic about confronting her face to face.

Maciath would never have left him alone about it as long as he still had
that question in the back of his mind, anyway.

"Did you know her?" R'fal had been wondering why that might be, and the
thought suddenly occurred to him. She'd been working in the lower
caverns, after all, it wouldn't have been that surprising if they'd met.
"I mean, before all of this happened."

"I'd never seen her before, not that I remembered," said K'don. He
sighed. "There was just something... I caught sight of her, and
something seemed off. And then when I went to talk to her, she ran. So I
chased her."

"You were the one who caught her?" R'fal's eyes widened. He hadn't known
that, although he'd been avoiding any talk about the Hatching, afraid
that he'd hear something about his father. "I thought that was the
Weyrlingmaster... I can see how you might feel concerned about what
happened to her."

"Mash called Nikornath for K'sedel to help as soon as I started after
her." K'don's face paled a shade. "I didn't realize she was pregnant at
first. I... Like I said, I talked to Cyradis about it. I should have
just listened to her, but..."

"You did the right thing," R'fal said quickly. He had thought, for a
brief moment, that if Enali had got away then she would never have made
her accusation against his father, and he'd still be safe in the Weyr.
But if they hadn't caught the poisoner then she might have struck again,
and that would have been far worse. "What did the Weyrwoman say?"

"She said I shouldn't carry it around on my shoulders if I don't have
any right or ability to do anything about it. She said it's not about
me." And it was not.

"But I couldn't shake it."

"I can see that it would be hard, not to think about someone and worry
about how they're doing. You can't just decide not to, even if it's out
of your hands." R'fal knew that all too well. He thought back to his own
troubles, and remembered something. "If it's really bothering you, maybe
you should talk to Master Y'gel. He'd know what to do. Or one of the
healers. They can help."

"I don't think I want to talk to anyone about it." It would require that
he admit he sneaked in to talk to her, and maybe even that Maciath had
convinced the watch dragon to turn a blind eye for just a little while.


He had promised he would try to get them to give the baby the name she
had chosen.

"I think maybe I might have to."

"I could come with you, if you want," R'fal offered. "I don't have to
stay while you talk, but if it would help to have someone there for

"You can stay," said K'don. "You might be disappointed in me, but... You
can hear."

Why had he ever made that promise? It eat impossible to keep.

"I doubt that - that I'd be disappointed," R'fal reassured him. He
couldn't imagine K'don doing anything that bad, but he was aware of the
tensions at the Weyr since the attempted poisoning, and how difficult it
was to talk about. "We could go to the infirmary after we've eaten, if
you want - or the Weyrlingmaster."

"I..." K'don could not decide which would be easier, or which would be
more effective. He doubted either one of them would be able to convince
whoever was going to make the decision, and he doubted either of them
would want to. But he only had a familial connection to one of them.

"Maybe I _should_ talk to K'sedel. Look, I'm just going to come out and
say it now. Maybe it'll be good practice, but I want to start treating
this like it wasn't bad that I did it. It wasn't. And I made a promise."

"I went to talk to the woman I caught. I couldn't shake wanting to hear
it from her why she did it, and... well, Maciath goaded me into it, but
that's obviously no excuse. It was wrong what she did, and I don't care
what happens to her..." Or did he?

"But the baby didn't do anything wrong, and... After I talked to her, I
can't say I understand why she would think it was right, but I think
someone was lying to her, and she's a person just like anyone else, and
I told her I would ask that they give the baby the name she wants. That
maybe they would listen to me, even if they wouldn't to her."

K'don looked up and finally made eye contact with a hesitant wince, sure
that R'fal would be appalled.

The other brownrider's expression was only startled. He wouldn't have
wanted to go anywhere near that woman, and not only because he was under
enough suspicion himself because of his father's disappearance. The
thought of what she'd nearly done chilled him to the bone. He was
surprised K'don had got away with it, but couldn't blame him for his

"I can't see how that would do any harm - to let her name her baby," he
said, slowly. "And if not - perhaps you could keep the name, and let the
child choose when they're older... You think she was lied to?"

"I don't know," K'don breathed and put his face in his hands. "I..." He
was such an idiot. "She probably thought I was just some stupid kid who
was going to believe whatever she said, and she would say anything if
she thought... I told her... I asked her why she tried to k—"

A sob caught in K'don's throat, and he paused to breathe.

"I asked her why she tried to kill my mom, I... I keep losing my mom, I
can't lose another one, and she knows... She knows who she tried to
kill, so maybe she heard me say that and she thought she could trick me
into saving her life, I don't know. Cyradis wouldn't spare her for me
even I asked. But if she had no other hope, why wouldn't she try?"

"But she was so... She didn't think I would ask something like what she
wants to name the baby. She just seemed so... Like she was just a person
doing her best, and... It was the first thing that popped into my head—
why would I say that!?"

Concerned, R'fal reached across the table and touched his friend's
shoulder. "Hey, K'don, it's okay. The Weyrwoman is going to be okay,
too. No one will hurt her. And that woman..." He thought for a moment.
"You treated her like a person, a human being. Maybe it's been a while
since anyone did that to her. You shouldn't feel bad about that."

"I want to keep my word," said K'don. He appreciated R'fal's comfort.
"Even if she doesn't deserve it. But it's not my decision. I shouldn't
have said I'd do something I couldn't do, but..." He sighed and rubbed
his face.

"You can always ask," R'fal said. "That's all you promised, right - to
ask? Then you'll have done your best for her. That's all that anyone
could expect of you."

"I think my family probably expected me to keep away from her..." K'don
sighed. R'fal was right— he had already resolved to tell them. Asking
for what he had told the woman he would ask for could not make things
any worse.

"Thanks for talking through it with me, R'fal. I'm glad you're my friend."

"No problem. I'm glad to help." R'fal smiled. "Let's eat up, and then if
you don't have to get back to the weyrlings we can go over what we
learned in class today? I guarantee that'll take your mind off all your

K'don's stomach growled audibly.

"That is the best idea I've heard all day."

Last updated on the September 4th 2023

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