Fort Weyr – Wiyaneth and Nemmenth’s Ledge

The lowest ledge reached along the ascending steps is now the roosting place for Wiyaneth and Nemmenth. Smaller than the Senior’s ledge, this area has a feeling of being slightly cramped. Two worn couches are placed on opposite sides of the vast cavern, and Wiyaneth has claimed the one closest to the exit. A huge curtain can be pulled across the narrow entrance to keep out the winter drafts, and it’s made of heavy brown fabric. This vast cavern looks out across the bowl towards the lake and the rockslide, and the setting sun often bathes this ledge in amber and rose hues.

A curved couch has been set up out here, forming a small quiet reading nook with a view of both dragon couches and the weyr. A bookcase behind it is now empty, except for several carvings that hold positions of honor. Pillows are piled everywhere in neat stacks, lining the walls and filling the space with garish colors and patterns. Elara’s desk has been pushed up against one of the walls, and is piled high with random things that have yet to be properly put away. Beside the stone hearth is an old wood china cabinet filled with a few pieces of precious china decorated with spinning blue dragons. This is also where Elara keeps her tea and herbs. There is also a copper tea kettle belonging to A’rtomus.

The far back corner of the ledge, around a small outcrop is Elara and A’rtomus’ bed, and there is a standing screen to give them some privacy. At the other corner of the cavern are three beds – those belonging to their children. At the moment they’re placed tightly side-by-side, as none of the children are currently living with their mother and father. The items from Elara’s lounge are pushed up against the wall near Wiyaneth’s couch, callously abandoned there to their fate.

Spring is here! Which means…nothing, except another page on the calendar. It’s still cold, it’s still snowy, but there is a touch of warmth to the air on occasion. Inside Elara’s weyr it is nice and warm, kept so by the bronze and gold dragons that are currently napping in their respective couches. A fire burns low in the hearth, keeping Elara’s tea kettle warm, while the goldrider sits on the couch and works on some needlework. By the fire, Ezra sits, feeding his new and tiny brown firelizard bits of meat. “Slow,” the boy commands, frowning when Stone flaps his wings and squawks impatiently. A low rumble from Wiyaneth has the firelizard settling down. Somewhat.

Spring is here and Th’ero has spent much of the first day of the new Turn hidden away from the world and not entirely alone. But all that was disrupted when Cranky came and scolded him, which really did nothing to improve the Weyrleader’s now dull headache. Once the note was read though, he promptly freshened up and left the peace and quiet of his weyr to make the short trip to Wiyaneth’s ledge. Dressed in his usual riding gear, Th’ero looks unchanged, save for the tired look to his eyes and the fact that his hair is still damp. Pausing by the entrance leading into the weyr, he knocks first before announcing his arrival, though Velokraeth has most likely warned Wiyaneth and Nemmenth of his rider’s approach.

Elara turns her head and smiles, rising to her feet and setting the needlework aside. “Come on in, Th’ero,” she says, using his first name rather than his title. Over by the fire, Ezra looks up too, and stiffens. Despite the warmth of the room, the boy wears his jacket. Black wherhide, copper detailing in a zig-zag pattern that looks like little mountains along the hems and button holes, and turquoise fleece inside.

Th’erois likely very grateful for not having his title used. It’s something that even now the Weyrleader is still trying to get used to. As he steps inside the weyr, he gives respective nods to both the resting gold and bronze, before turning his attention to Elara. There is a small smile given to her, polite but reserved. “Thank you.” Th’ero begins, “And how are you?” He doesn’t dare mention Turnover it seems, as he’s also noticed Ezra by the fire and how the boy has obviously tensed by his arrival. The new jacket is noticed though and so is the brown firelizard. That earns a surprised look. “Afternoon, Ezra.” He says, deciding to start slow with the young boy.

Elara smiles, motioning him over. “I’m doing well, thank you. Please, come have a seat. Can I get you anything? Klah?” she asks, her keen eyes perhaps noticing the signs of a hangover even if he doesn’t bring it up. Ezra rests a hand on Stone’s back, the brown firelizard having gone still and watching Th’ero with slowly spinning eyes. “M’got a firelizard,” Ezra says with a little boyish grin. “He’s brown. Name’s Stone.”

“Klah would be wonderful.” Th’ero takes the offered seat, trying to settle himself as normal as possible and not look too ungraceful about it. Even if Elara knows, the Weyrleader is doing his best to mask his hangover symptoms and his lingering headache. He turns his head then from the goldrider to Ezra, his eyes settling on the now calm brown firelizard. “So I see. Well done and a good name.” He says gently, unable to resist smiling a little to the boy’s grin. So far, the awkwardness seems to be quite low. With the firelizard to focus on, Th’ero is using it to stall for time. “And you appear to be taking good care of him, too.”

Elara slips off to prepare the Weyrleader some klah, but she remains in sight. Which is good, since Ezra’s eyes dart to her from time to time, marking her progress through the weyr. “Eizra gave me the egg. His name’s close to mine,” the boy continues, putting another piece of meat into Stone’s waiting maw. “Elara taught me how to take care of him. I’m doing a good job an’ he’s going to be big and strong. Like me,” the boy boasts, his chest sticking out with pride. “Got a jacket too,” he says, looking at the Weyrleader’s coat with an intense, pale green stare.

Th’ero only glances to Elara once, before his attention focuses entirely on Ezra. At the mention of another having a similar name, his brows arc up in surprise. “Is that so?” he says, sounding genuinely amused. “It was nice of Eizra to give you an egg. And you are doing a good job. I’ve no doubt that Stone will grow to be a big and strong.” The Weyrleader agrees with another smile that isn’t as reserved, though he’s still being cautious. He let’s Ezra’ lead the conversation for now to it seems. Th’ero doesn’t fidget or flinch from the boy’s intense stare, keeping his eyes fixed on him in turn though not as intensely obviously. “I can see. And it’s a fine jacket too. You’ll make many young folk here envious.” He says carefully, not mentioning the colors or the way it ties in to Stonehaven. Not yet, anyways.

Ezra shrugs, darting another look Elara’s way. “Dunno any other kids,” the boy murmurs before his eyes move back to Th’ero’s face. With the last bit of meat given to Stone, the boy grabs him and /plants/ him into his lap, picking up the bowl of oil to start sloppily spreading it on the firelizard. Stone wiggles and cheeps in protest, but Ezra’s eyes just narrow and he clamps down harder on the thing.

Th’ero straightens up a little when Ezra replies, trying to mask the sympathetic look that threatens to come to surface. “In time, you will, if that’s what you want.” He says, before frowning in concern as the boy grabs at his firelizard. “Gentle, Ezra.” He tries to sooth, keeping his voice gentle but firm. “You have to be gentle with him. He’s just a baby by firelizard standards.” And you can’t take your frustration out on them, but Th’ero doesn’t say that out loud. He makes no move to approach Ezra yet either, though he does give a darting glance to see where Elara may be within the weyr as things take a slightly awkward twist.

Ezra frowns at Stone as the brown wiggles and squirms, and – since he’s oiled – manages to get out of Ezra’s grasp with a squawk and a flap of his broad wings. Soaring up to perch on Wiyaneth’s tail, he chitters angrily at the boy. Ezra scrambles to his feet and plants his hands on his hips, lower lip trembling. “Stone,” the boy whimpers, blinking rapidly. Then Elara’s returning with the klah, glancing around and making a soft, soothing noise. “Just give him a minute, Ezra,” she murmurs, offering Th’ero his klah – and a sympathetic look. “Just give him a minute to get calmed down and he’ll come back.” She’s talking to Ezra, but she might as well be talking to Th’ero too, as the boy flops down onto the rug in a huff, staring at his errant firelizard.

Th’ero follows the path of the fleeing brown firelizard and looks relieved when it only goes to land on Wiyaneth’s tail to chitter angrily at the boy and not vanish somewhere between. He’s watching Ezra’s reaction carefully then, a little on edge and awkward around the boy and not just because of the Stonehaven incident. It’s like the Weyrleader doesn’t quite know what to do. “Elara is right, he’ll settle and come back in time.” He says in agreement as he reaches to accept the klah, nodding his head in thanks. There’s an awkward pause then of silence, as Th’ero then tries to fumble for something /anything/ to say to Ezra that may help the boy take his mind off his errant firelizard. In the end he only fails and sips at his drink, darting a quick side-glance to Elara as he does.

Elara gives Th’ero an encouraging look and walks across the weyr to work on one thing or another, keeping herself busy (and still within sight) while giving the Weyrleader time and space to speak with Ezra. The little boy starts picking at the rug between his bent knees, focused on the task of absently snatching loose threads between pinched fingers and giving them a tug. Destructive, even if he doesn’t exactly realize it. “I want a knife,” the boy says then, looking up to focus on Th’ero with an unblinking gaze. Just starting at him, his expression determined and set, with a little frown on his round face.

Th’ero only takes a slow, deep breath when Elara gives him the encouraging look, trying to take it to heart but seeming doubtful. As she walks away, his gaze settles back on Ezra as he takes another sip of his drink, watching as the boy unknowingly begins to pluck the goldrider’s rug apart. The request is met with subdued surprise, the Weyrleader only letting his brows rise as he lowers his mug and leans forwards enough to prop his elbows on his legs, arms crossing in front of him. “And why,” he says gently and carefully, matching Ezra’s unending and unwavering gaze, despite his growing awkwardness. “Would you like a knife?” Th’ero asks, suddenly finding himself on the edge of being in a very tough spot to maneuver out of.

Ezra continues to stare at the man, pale green eyes narrowing slightly. “So no one hurts me,” he says, his voice flat and hollow, yet with a determined edge to it as he gives another hard *pluck* of the rug. “If I’da had a knife I coulda’ d-done something.”

If Th’ero is unsettled by Ezra’s tone (and he is, oh is he ever), he’s masking it well for now. The Weyrleader keeps his gaze fixed on the boy though, mouth drawn into a thin line as a frown begins to settle itself on his features. Sighing softly, he replies now in a firmer tone then before, “It’s not the weapon that makes the man, Ezra. It’s training and strength of a different sort. One could have the best sword or knife and still fall to one completely unarmed.” It’s an elaborate way of Th’ero telling him no, but he suspects the boy is smart enough to catch on. “Have you ever used a knife before?”

Ezra frowns sharply at Th’ero’s denial, his chin jerking upwards as he gathers himself for a fit. “A/course/ I have,” he says. “I h-helped my m-mother in the kitchens. A-and sparred w-with the o-others.” His stutter returns, the combination of high emotions and speaking of his past life too much for his mouth to keep up with his brain.

Th’ero isn’t oblivious enough around young children not to see the signs of an oncoming fit when they present themselves, so the Weyrleader tries again to sooth Ezra by holding up his free hand in a slightly warding, but calming gesture. “I didn’t mean to offend you, Ezra. I’m simply curious. There’s a lot I don’t know.” He explains gently, his expression serious but toned back so as not to further upset the boy. “Sparred with who?” Th’ero asks next, not commenting on the stutter and patient if it does continue. That matter he’ll speak private with Elara about, if it becomes a concern.

Ezra keeps his frown fixed on his face, and takes a deep breath. “A-all them,” he says, pale green eyes suddenly darting around the weyr, shifting a bit as he scoots back towards the fire. Stone croons softly and at a rumble from Wiyaneth and a twitch of her tail, the brown awkwardly flaps his way to Ezra, landing heavily in his lap. Ezra’s hand begins to reflexively pet the brown, coincidentally rubbing in the oil at the same time.

Th’erois openly confused and perplexed by Ezra’s reply, leaving him frowning heavily in thought as he struggles to consider his next move. He does not want to give the boy a knife and yet doesn’t wish to send him into a fit. Unsure now, he can only watch distractedly as Stone returns to Ezra under Wiyaneth’s insistence and as the young boy begins to find some comfort in the firelizard. The Weyrleader finishes the rest of his klah then, leaning back into his chair as he sets the mug aside and settles to fold his hands loosely in his lap and his gaze still lingering on Ezra, despite the growing awkwardness. “All of them?” he echoes back, gently pressing as he tilts his head a bit to the side, curious now and cautiously watching his reaction.

Ezra’s eyes dart up to Th’ero, and Stone squawks softly when the boy’s hand clenches for a moment against the brown hide. “Anrila and Rayathess and Cheale and Tyraz and Ranold and Tyrkin and…and t-them.”

Again, Th’ero lifts his hand to both sooth and calm, nodding his head in understanding as Ezra begins to list the names and the Weyrleader has to fight not to let the grimness and sadness show in his expression, knowing full well that all of them could have been in that pile. Taking a steadying breath, he lets it out slowly and does his best to give Ezra a small smile. “I see now,” he tells him, meaning Ezra need not explain further. “Even so, I don’t know if I can give you a knife. You’re protected here and do not need a weapon to defend yourself. Tools, perhaps, for work.” In other words, he does not trust him. Th’ero’s smile fades then as he takes on a serious, but thoughtful look.

Ezra’s expression falls briefly to the crushed look of a child denied the /one/ thing he really wanted. But then it hardens in determination and he lifts his chin. “I want carvin’ tools then,” he demands. “For wood carvin’. I’m gonna sell ‘em. All Stonehavens know h-how to c’carve. I wanna keep goin’.”

Th’ero holds his ground even when Ezra looks completely crushed when denied the knife. His next offer though earns a ghost of a grin from the Weyrleader and perhaps a bemused edge to his voice. “That I can accept and grant you, Ezra.” He replies, agreeing to the demands without much hesitation. “You can be supplied with all the materials you need as well. You need only to ask.”

Ezra’s head tips down as he eyes the man, his gaze narrowing. “You’re n-not my d-dad,” the boy says, Th’ero’s words having no doubt triggered some sort of memory for the child. Pushing to his feet, he holds Stone close against his chest and storms for his (Kimmila’s) room, slamming the door behind him.

Th’ero can only blink dumfounded for a moment as Ezra storms off and slams the door behind him. He then lifts a hand up so his fingers can pinch at the bridge of his nose as he gives an exasperated sigh. Children. Why must it always be so awkward? Not waiting to see if Elara is about or if the goldrider has any advice, the Weyrleader is rising to his feet and hesitating only for a breadth of a second, he takes the few short strides over to the door. “Ezra?” he says, loud enough only to be heard and his tone gentle, perhaps edging towards sympathetic. A pause, perhaps to wait for a sign of response but regardless if one comes or not, Th’ero continues on. “I apologize if what I said upset you. It wasn’t my intention.” And it’s the truth, though he’s being rather painfully formal about it.

From inside, there comes the hollered voice, “You can’t m-make me a-ask! You c-can’t tell me what to d-d-do! I…I…I….” Well and truly worked up, emotion chokes the boy’s voice before he stops talking, only the sound of stomping boots coming from the room.

Th’ero almost recoils from the door from Ezra’s reaction, having not expected such a fit from the boy for what the Weyrleader is assuming were harmless words. It’s throwing him for quite the loop and the bronzerider is struggling to grasp with the sudden mood swing in the boy. So he can only stare at the door, frowning heavily and leaving Ezra to stomp around and vent. When there is enough of a lull, Th’ero speaks up once more, “I wasn’t implying that you were going to be forced. It was just a way for me to say that what is ours is yours. But only,” And he really stresses the next words, to make a point. “If that is what you wish to do. I can get you the carving knives and you can carve, like you said. But if you find that that grows tiresome and wish to pursue something else, then you can. You have that freedom.” It’s a long-winded explanation, but Th’ero can think of no other way as he moves to lean up against the door frame, arms crossed over his chest but alert and ready to move well back if there are any signs of the door about to be opened.

There is silence from inside the door, except for some soft squeaking and crooning from Stone, as the young firelizard no doubt tries to comfort himself and his perch in his fumbling, ‘I just hatched omg what do I do?!’ sort of way. The soft sound of a bed being sat on, and then sniffles. “I wanna go home,” Ezra whispers, voice breaking.

Those four simple words effortlessly break through Th’ero’s masks and shields and luckily there is a door separating Ezra and him, as his face twists into a pained look, full of sympathy and regret. The boy might as well just have kicked him or slapped him. “I’m sorry, Ezra.” He says, his voice still steady at least. “But you can’t go home.” Because there is nothing left but a shell of a hold. “Not… yet, at least. Maybe in time, if that is what you still desire.” The Weyrleader takes his time in uttering that promise, uncertain if he should say it at all in the thin hope that it may bring some comfort to the boy.

Quiet stretches out for a long time. A soft silence except the sound of shifting on the bed, and the quiet thump of a head dropping onto a pillow. If the boy is crying, it’s muffled enough by the fabric and the doorway to not be audible on the other side.

Th’ero lets the silence drift on uninterrupted for as long as he can manage before concern begins to creep in. Lifting his hand up, he raps his knuckles softly against the door. “Ezra?” he calls again, then hesitates under a sudden flare of awkwardness. Should he just leave? Or just continue to dig a hole and push the boy further? “Are you alright?” The Weyrleader asks after a lengthy pause, settling to at least ask that question, though he fully knows what the answer could very well be.

Ezra doesn’t answer that question. There’s no need to. But he does shuffle to the door and open it, looking up at Th’ero with red eyes and messy hair, oil against his neck and cheek where Stone has nuzzled as the brown rests across his shoulders. “I want carving tools,” Ezra says quietly. Then, with a slight wince, as if someone were whispering in his ear, the boy adds, “please.”

Th’ero straightens himself as the first sounds of the door opening reach his ears. Glancing down at Ezra, he tries not to frown as his suspicions are confirmed. Instead, he only gives the boy a small smile and a nod of his head. “Shouldn’t be a problem,” he reassures him as his eyes take in the current state Ezra is in. “I’ll leave you to tend after Stone and to rest.” The Weyrleader awkwardly adds in next as he senses that enough has been said for one day and the boy pushed enough. Best to slowly escape while one can and on reasonably good terms. “I’ll have the carving tools for you as soon as I can.”

Ezra nods his head slightly, sniffling and wiping at his nose with the back of his hand. “Thank you,” he whispers politely, blinking a few times before he turns back into the room and shuts the door behind him once more. Once that’s happened, Elara moves across the weyr back towards Th’ero. “You did a good job,” she says softly.

Th’ero only nods his head in response to Ezra’s thanks, stepping back as the boy turns and closes the door once more. It’s only then that the Weyrleader lets himself relax enough to let his shoulders drop and exhales shakily. As Elara approaches, he turns his head a little to regard her curiously, almost as if he doesn’t quite believe her. “It was awkward,” he murmurs lowly, so that his voice cannot carry into the closed off room. “I didn’t want to upset him and yet I did anyhow.”

Ezra shakes her head, reaching out to rest a light hand on his arm. “He’s easily upsettable,” she assures. “There’s a lot he’s dealing with right now. You did a fine job.”

Th’ero doesn’t pull away from the light touch on his arm, though he does lift and turn his head to look more directly at Elara. Her words bring a faint smile to his lips and then his brown eyes drift back to the door. “He is mending, though?” he asks with obvious concern.

Elara nods, “Slowly,” she admits, glancing at the door and then stepping away from it, letting her hand drop from Th’ero’s arm. “But surely,” she continues, away from Ezra’s door. “He has his moments, both good and bad, and he’s seemed to have found a friend – sort of – in Eizra. The teen who gave him the firelizard egg. Stone is good for him, too, even if he is a little…impatient sometimes. But it’s good for him to have something to care for.”

Th’ero turns to follow along beside Elara as she moves away from Ezra’s door, clasping his hands behind his back now as he listens carefully to her. “I suppose that is expected, given how all of this is still so fresh,” The Weyrleader murmurs thoughtfully, before nodding his head in agreement. “Funny that his one possible friend shares a likeness to his name. As for Stone… I agree, having the firelizard will help. Something to care for and someone to turn to when he doesn’t wish to turn to us.” There is a pause then, as Th’ero stops to stand by the seat he had previously occupied while meeting with Ezra. Glancing towards the rug that the boy had been plucking at moments before, he adds, “I’ll see about the carving tools too. Should I have them delivered here?” he asks. Perhaps more would have been said, but then the Weyrleader is suddenly straightening again and his eyes take on a distracted look. Th’ero then visibly tenses; jaw tightening at whatever news was just passed along. “Seems like word has spread and now people are growing concerned. My apologies, Elara, but I must go.”

Elara nods, “Yes, I think that’d be best. A’rtomus is a fair hand at carving. He can help the boy if he needs it.” And if he wants it. But that remains unsaid. The goldrider then frowns, glancing towards the exit. “You’d best go then,” she says quietly, stepping towards the exit. “Let me know if I can help,” she adds.

Th’ero nods his head again, also aware that Ezra can’t be forced into anything. The Weyrleader learned that much today at least. As he too glances towards the exit, there’s a brief moment where he looks tired and exhausted, weary of what he’s about to face and with the effects of a hangover and an unsettling encounter with Ezra still lingering. But it disappears quickly enough as Th’ero steels himself and squares his shoulders. “Of course. I’ll let you know. My thanks for the klah and your time, Elara and take care.” And with a polite dip of his head, he makes his exit, striding purposely towards the ledge even though he does not eagerly await the chaos that waits for him.

'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.