Fort Weyr - Fort's Forests - Traveler's Forest North
Deep in the Fortian woods the air takes on a pure, unspoiled scent. Majestic, evergreen pines tower above you, nearly cutting off the view of the skies, and from the high canopy, a constant gentle rain of petals, leaves and pine needles falls no matter the time of day or season. The silence is broken only by an occasional rustling of foliage, an indefinable call or the distant flutter of wings. The ruins of an ancient building remain in the twisted growth of the forest that has long since taken it over, so passers by could only catch rare glimpses of rock sticking out of the growth that has consumed it. It's so easy to get lost here. To lose track of time, lose yourself or even lose your way.


The afternoon is clear and warm. A perfect day for being outside and not cooped up in one's office. Truly, the weather commands it rather than requests it, and most of Fort is outside, enjoying the all too brief summer season. Even Nyalle has chosen to leave the business of the weyr's walls and is out for a ride on a small bay runner, traveling through the well marked forest paths. At the moment she has the mare stopped outside of the ruins, peering with curiosity between the crumbling stones but not approaching any closer.

Ashwin is not a rider. But he is a runner. It's been some time since he's been able to engage himself in it, too. What with all sorts of responsibilities and places he had to be. Not to mention the often hostile weather. Fort is fort! But, spring came and now he finds himself enjoying summer where the weather at least somewhat reminds him of his two previous homes. Running has always been cathartic for him as well, something he does when there is a lot on his mind and right now? There's a lot there. So, he's been at it awhile. Enough to work a sweat on as he comes around the corner behind Nyalle and her mare. It's a good enough spot to slow down to a stop and catch his breath and have a drink from the water canteen that he brought. "Hi." He says, informally. "What *is* this place?"

Nyalle doesn't do informal. Even out here, she's wearing her knot. Still, since he's not a Fortian rider, she won't make him salute. Instead, she smiles. "Hello, Brownrider Ashwin." Then she turns, shifting her weight in the saddle to look over the ruins again. "No one is really sure," she admits. "Some think it was a holding, but. If it was, no one made note of it. Others think it was a Fortian outpost. Something the Weyr manned. But, again, no records. So. Speculation is the best we can do. How are you?"

Different styles for different people. Ashwin almost always has an air of informality around him. It's probably what people find relaxing about him. "Hello." He repeats again, then feels compelled to add: "Weyrwoman." He takes a moment in silence to look over the ruins, pondering what could have once been there. "I always find places like this a little sad, but curious at the same time. You wonder who was here? Who put so much effort into it? Why did they end up leaving it?" He smiles just a touch. Reserved, but still smiling. "I'm actually doing rather well. Thank you for asking, I genuinely appreciate it. Yourself?"

Nyalle nods, looking to the ruins for a long moment, and then back to Ashwin. "So much work, abandoned, and for what? Perhaps it was during one of the sicknesses. Or Threadfall. Or there was a famine and they had to move to more fertile ground." She shrugs. "No one knows, but it's ripe for mystery. A nice meeting point in the middle of the wilds." The mare shifts her weight and Nyalle moves easily with the change. "Good! I'm glad to hear it. How much longer will you be staying with us, now that the eggs have hatched?" As for herself, she just smiles. "I'm well."

Is that /conflict/ that Nyalle reads on the face of the brownrider? It looks remarkably close to it. The first bit of what she said doesn't require any personal searching so that hurdle is taken first. "I wonder how many places there are like that across Pern? Buried in rock, soil and time. Has Fort ever considered a full and proper excavation? Things that belonged to the people inside would be interesting. And yes … yes it is. It's comforting somehow that it still serves a purpose even in ruin?" The conflicted look is back and he decides to give her an honest answer instead of brushing it off. "I'm glad you are well. I was… actually thinking of asking your Weyrleader to keep me on the police duties that I've been working. I've found some joy in it. Seems like someone who's seen rock bottom can talk to others that are there."

Nyalle chuckles. "Countless, I'd imagine. I haven't traveled much but the riders who have are always telling me about secret, hidden, abandoned spaces they've found. Some are no more than hunting shacks long forgotten but at the same time, they all have an air of mystery about them." She looks thoughtfully at the ruins again. "Not during my time, we haven't. I'm…not sure I'd want to, honestly," she finally admits. "I would hate to disturb it." As if it were a living thing. Then she looks back down at the brownrider, her brows lifting in curiosity. "I certianly hope your time at Fort wasn't rock bottom."

Ashwin has to tilt his head at that. "Haven't travelled much?" He wonders. "Are you originally Fortian?" He says it, despite trying not to, like someone who can't possibly imagine not travelling. He's been all over Pern. "Mm. You do have a point. It'd lose some of it's sancity if it were? It's hard to believe no records though. All of that stonework." He shrugs, then smile reservedly. "No, Weyrwoman. Not even close to it. Fort's given me something that I haven't had in a long time. Belonging and purpose. I plan to stay here if it's allowed."

Nyalle shakes her head slightly. "No. I'm originally from the High Reaches area." And…that's all she'll say about that. At least for the moment. Then she chuckles. "You're more than welcome to look through the records. Perhaps there's something that the Harpers have missed." Then there's an easy smile. "I'm glad to hear that Fort could give you all of that. Those things are very important for a person. And I can't speak for Th'ero, but I hope you will talk with him soon about a more permanent arrangement."

Lost in thought a moment, Ashwin considers if he's ever been to High Reaches Weyr. It might be one of the few places that he /hasn't/ been? "Would you be insulted if I said I'll pass?" He asks with a wry grin. "Looking through records isn't exactly something that holds my interest. It's enough to have to do it for the policing work. I prefer action to desk things." Her easy smile is returned, blending into that wry grin. "Thank you. That's… actually a good part of why I'm wanting to stay. Everyone at Fort for the most part has made me feel welcome. I've lived and travelled far but this place? Even in the few months I've been here? Just feels like home."

Nyalle nimbly dismounts and flips the mare's reins over a low branch. Adjusting her skirts, she begins to move closer to the ruins. "Perhaps I'll ask Rayathess to look at them again," she muses. There's a low chuckle as she moves behind a stone wall. "Fort is home for many. And I hope we always maintain that feeling. It certainly was the for me when I transferred here."

Ashwin finds a rock to sit on. Wiggling a little until he's content in place. Comfortable rock. "Mm." He agrees with a murmur. "I really apologize if the rock bottom comment came across as being directed at Fort. I was in a bad spot when I came here. Now? Not so much. There is a saying that says to the effect that duty is it's own rewards and I think for the first time in my life I finally understand it?" The way he smiles, reserved and yet prideful at the same time says there is more coming and indeed there is. "I'd like to watch Rinxyth weyrlings grow up too. I don't know if every bronzerider feels the same way but it's a special thing to watch. I'll probably not have another goldflight in my life and it's… a rare and special thing to watch them. Still hard to believe."

"Why?" Nyalle's voice drifts from the ruins. "I mean, what happened before you won?" She peeks through a crack in a wall and then vanishes again. "Duty, pride, honor…all good words but difficult things to actualize in your lifetime. Easy in Harper's stories." There's a pause. "I think some bronzeriders feel the same. Others don't. Brown wins are exceedingly rare so I think you should see it as special. Because it is. Your dragon has children. That's something I know I never get over."

Ashwin can't help but smile a little bit. Is that pride? Yes, yes it is. "I know. The chances of it ever happening again are next to nothing. It's a gift, really? A privilege. Chances are at least one of his children at some point in his life will go on to have more. He's started a little legacy of his own and I get to be a part of it." There's deep affection in his voice. "Without … getting into too much detail? But giving you a truthful answer anyway? I've had problems my entire life with finding myself; with liking whom I am. No real purpose, no reason to be. It's easy to tread bad places when you are like that?"

Nyalle appears again, leaning through what used to be an opening for a window. "Is it?" she asks curiously. "I felt like that much of my younger life and never tread in bad places…"

Ashwin frowns. Nyalle is making him think, and thinking isn't always a pleasant thing. At least? Thinking about some of the places that he's been. "Everyone copes with things different ways? Some people are better built to handle it than others. I wasn't." He looks up, finding her in that window. "Why? Why did you feel like that?"

Nyalle chuckles, moving away from the window and deeper into the ruins. "Because I was told who I was supposed to be, and it didn't match with who I thought I was. And when you fail at being what someone tells you you are, it's difficult to remember that that's not really who you are. I had purpose, but it wasn't my purpose."

The 'heh' that comes out of Ashwin's mouth is surprisingly bitter. And yet? It's an open one. "Sometimes when you play a role for long enough? That role becomes the person and you lose the person that you were before you started because the role is now who you are. Some people never manage to entirely shake that. It's pretty cruel of someone to impose a role on a person like that, though." He looks up, waiting for her next appearance so he can meet her eyes with his. "I'm glad you've found a place. Quite a good one as far as I can tell."

Nyalle nods. "And has that happened to you? Played a role for so long you no longer remember who you really are?" There's a fleeting glimpse of her navigating a broken down wall, and then she vanishes again. "It is not what I would have chosen for myself," she admits honestly, "but it is the path that has been given to us and I think we navigate it well. Kayeth is happy. I am learning."

Ashwin has to think again. He's not someone who answers questions quickly, that's for sure but what she seems to be putting to him causes him to hesitate even more. "In a manner of speaking." He doesn't elaborate, not yet anyway. "And isn't that part of being who we are? Of caring for a dragon? The idea that our path has found us, rather than us finding the path?"

Nyalle is quiet for a full minute or so, exploring before she begins to return to where Ashwin sits, not going to forego some exploration just because he doesn't want to follow. "Do you think you'll ever get back to who you were?" she asks curiously, moving to pull a small parcel from her mare's saddlebags and finding a stone to sit that's near to Ashwin, but not too close. "I would have been very happy being a Junior my entire life," she admits, opening the parcel to reveal a small sandwich and some tubers. She holds it out to Ashwin in a silent offer to share her meal. "Part of it is caring for our dragons, yes, but the other colors have so much more freedom than the queens. So many more paths to choose."

She shouldn't be too too hard on him in that regard. He's pretty sweat soaked and he's probably been running for quite awhile before she found him. Maybe the next time? "No." He says, offering a reserved smile when she comes nearby. "Time has made the two people too different. I'm not sure that I want to, either. I'm gradually becoming happy with who I am. It's taken a few people's acceptance before I realized that they might be on to something and perhaps I'm not as bad as I think." He accepts the shared meal with a grateful "Thank you. And true, there is there. But there are options there too. I knew a queenrider who loved to travel and so she became heavily involved in ambassadorial work."

Nyalle chuckles softly. "We are always harder on ourselves than anyone else is, no?" She takes the rest of the meal back to enjoy herself, eating slow and neat. "So you have no regrets about letting go of who you once were? Is this new person someone you have chosen? Or just the person that seems most acceptable to others?" Then another soft chuckle, pushing hair away from her face. "That is all well and good, but not for a Senior."

Ashwin munches away on what he'd chose of her offer. "Maybe, but I think as seinor you get to define your own role. If you imprison yourself with duties you are going to burn out on it like so many do. You could be doing this a very, very long time after all. I don't know really what I'm talking about but it seems to me like you need to find joy in what you do or you'll turn into what I was." He takes a moment, chewing while he thinks. "That is true, by the way. And … once and awhile, I have regrets. I used to have more. But it's hard to argue with your friends. Somehow, I've been fortunate enough to surround myself with a group of people that like me anyway and on the days where I'd otherwise be down on myself I try to just accept that they are right and I trust them?"

Nyalle looks startled. "When did I give you any indication that I didn't find joy in my work, or was burning out?" She gestures around. "We are not in the Weyr." She pauses. "Perhaps I do need to travel more." She will give him that. "What did you used to have?"

Ashwin munches on his sandwich. "Assumptions are bad, I know." He admits. "But you've basically said a couple of times to the effect of 'this isn't something a seinor should do'. Made me wonder if you wanted to do other things. Sometimes our paths take us to places that we have to make the best of. Good sandwich, by the way." He eats a little more and then ends up elaborating a little more. "It's not that you gave any indication that you didn't find joy in your work, you just made me wonder if you wished there was something else?"

Nyalle shakes her head. "Not at all. I never said that any of those things were things I wanted to do. But for many, Senior is a path that is too restrictive. I was simply saying you have more choice than most. More chances to create yourself and what makes you happy."

Ashwin eats a little bit more of the sandwich, it's close to being done. "I don't mind being wrong." He says, honestly. "It's one of those things it's probably better to not be right about. Once again though? Quite right, but sometimes a person doesn't let themselves see choices. I think options always were open to me and I chose to ignore htem?"

Nyalle nods. "Also true. And now it seems as if you've found a place you'd like to stay, and that makes me very pleased."

Ashwin finishes up the sandwich and looks over, studying Nyalle for a moment or two. "Thank you. I feel like I belong here, which is more than to be said for anywhere else. Though, to be perfectly fair? I'm not sure if it's Fort, or that I've changed. The whole hatching experience may well have done it. Or maybe I just like snow?" There's a halfhearted grin on his face. "Do travel more, though? It's like the idea of getting more education. If you ever ask yourself should I travel and see somewhere new, or should I learn something new? The answer should always be yes."

Nyalle smiles. "It's probably both. You might have changed but most people aren't truly comfortable anywhere. I'd like to think Fort has something to do with it." Rising to her feet, she brushes off her skirt and moves towards her runner. "Of course."

Ashwin smiles. It's actually a genuine smile too. "For what it's worth? I'm liking what I see of the leadership as well." He'll walk with her as far as her runner, too. "I appreciate the talk and the welcome. I'll do my best not to let Fort down."

Nyalle chuckles. "Th'ero is an excellent Weyrleader. And Fort thrives under our leadership." It did not do well when Th'ero was temporarily replaced. Nyalle knows who the real leadership strength is in the Weyr. "I know you won't, Ashwin. Hopefully next time we meet," she says as she mounts, "you will be a full Fortian rider." She pauses, and then decides to take the chance on a little humor. Not like her at all, but she'll try a bit awkwardly. "And maybe then I'll get my salute." With a little grin, she turns the mare and moves off quickly, not waiting to see if her attempt at humor was successful or not.


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