Ista didn't really have specific meals, but it did have times where the dining area was more crowded then usual. The messenger chose to burst in at one of these times, during the evening rush, panting and looking clearly terrified. He didn't bother to tether his runner: just jumped off of it and ran into the caverns, as wide-eyed as the animal he'd arrived on.
"NEWS. NEWS. Horrible news from Benden!"
"Slow down, man. Slow down- what's wrong? Have something to eat."
"No, no, there is no time." He pushes forward, further into the crowd. More people are listening now.
"What can be more pressing then rest right now? you look as if you haven't had any rest for days."
"I've been riding as fast and as hard as I could. It's news from Benden." Hush is beginning to fall as a massive wave, because any news this serious has to be dire, and everyone knows that Benden has been suffering.
"Another death? Aren't they down to 140 dragons now, with the transfers.."
"No other death- not yet, but there will be more transfers-"
"What is it? Out with it, man!"
"Benden has fallen."
The hush explodes in a barrage of whispers, and only subsides after a moment when someone steps forward and asks authoritatively, "What do you mean, Benden has fallen? Have they closed it due to starvation?"
"Worse- it's fallen to Fax!"
Another explosion of whispers, quelled by the same voice as before. "Fallen to fax? But how? Not even he is mad enough to march on dragons-- even in their weakened state, they have firestone."
The messenger groans and moans, "no, no, it's wooorse. So much worse. Fax.. offered them a full tithe, in exchange for.." he shrugs, "Subservience?"
Silence. Pure, dumbfounded silence. "How- why- How could they accept that?" The whispers are back, turning to shouts, that fall silent only when the messenger again speaks. Hundreds of eyes watch him expectantly.
"Desperation? He speaks.." the messenger groans, "He's charismatic; the man is surprisingly compelling when he talks. And they were desperate. Those that disagree with the move are transferring out but-" he looks around helplessly, "All weyrs are at half tithe. None can handle the overflow from Benden, not even Ista. Some will transfer out- but most seemed as if they would stay. Many even spoke highly of the man- I only heard of 10 that were transferring for sure, and a score more who were considering it..."