Fort Weyr - Keystone Hold

Keystone Hold is far from a traditional hold in terms of layout; a scattering of structures — of wood, brick, or stone with steeply pitched metal roofs — have been arranged in a vaguely crescent-shaped pattern. It curves back toward the forest beyond, as if welcoming the ocean itself into its embrace. Most of the structures are designed for the storing of nets, smoking of fish, and other such production-related tasks. Toward the furthest point away from the ocean, the great hall can be seen; the domain of the Lord is not much better than that of the people, being a two-story affair with the hall, kitchen and so forth being downstairs and living quarters upstairs.
Family homes are ranged further out, with some herdbeasts and farming staked out closer to the forest — but only enough to provide some minor sustenance that isn't traded for or supplied by the ocean. Two large docks have been set up and well-kept. It's not much of a trading area, but many ships stop here to resupply or get a drink at the bar and a good night's rest in the reasonably-sized inn that's located a bit further down the coast.

It's been one of those trying visits, you know, the kind where diplomacy is stretched thin and clung to with fingernails in the face of rough language and exhortations to 'try the gills, the're not as tasty as the liver, granted but they're blood-rich and moist.' At least the pair chosen for the visit is an easy-going one? Things as yet never eaten beforehand have been tried, claimed fine (LIES) and the harsh brew imbibed judiciously, nevertheless the Weyrsecond is somewhat dizzy as he walks, sand, stones and tiny shells crunching underfoot, with their hosts back to the beach where Dremkoth and Kouzevelth await. Has it been a profitable visit? D'ani's comment as he offers his hand to the Lord is, "I'll speak to Th'ero about what we can reimburse the barrels of fish oil with." Oh joy?

"Well, it's fantastic for hair," Inri concludes, grinning brightly as she bows her head in that sort of graceful gesture that comes from departing from conversations with people who are at least equal in rank to her and not her friends. "So, everyone will be at the very least luxurious." They can put it in the bath water! She's about to say something else, but seems to think better of it; it is Kouzevelth who passes the message through Dremkoth, instead. « Inri says we can always offer them mud. »

D'ani shoots Inri a look, then a crooked little grin tugs at his mouth as he cocks his head and quips under his breath, "Is that the secret to yours?" The hair he's always told her looks best free and unfussy. Dremkoth, without missing a beat, shares his reply with the gold and her rider, « Please, yes! I tire of landing neck-deep in that! » Surely he exaggerates? No… wait. This is Fort Weyr we're talking about. « I'll gladly help clear the bowl. There must be stone underneath it somewhere! » The holder's hand is released after-which D'ani adds a shallow bow from the hips - a bow that jerks subtly mid-execution, a glance taking in Kouzevelth and Dremkoth as he coughs back a laugh. He hastily sobers, "It'll be something either tradeable or practical to your need." Does Keystone need to manufacture mortar, by any chance? He doesn't ask because his next task is to eye the leaden skies. "Wind's picking up. We should get back."

The wind is a challenge to Kouzevelth, who raises up and splays her wings to create a wall that — probably results in breeze uncomfortably hitting her thin, dry hide more than anything else. But it looks impressive, especially as her pose isn't threatening. Inri manages to keep her aplomb and eventually answer, "It's egg, actually," and smile before nodding agreement and giving her dragon a more dubious look. "Stop that, I can't check your straps at that angle." The dragon's response, an emotion shared amongst whoever's near enough in range: she's too paranoid, they never have anything wrong with them.

Egg. Now that prompts D'ani to eye Kouzevelth to assess whether the glow means- wait. They're talking hair, not hide. Dremkoth purrs smugly despite the glare D'ani shoots him - a 'get out of my head dude' sort of nonverbal message that does little good, really. The look morphs between rider and dragon to one of mutual fond exasperation. The holder, meanwhile is pulling his outer garments tighter, buttoning the top of his coat and hunching before gasping, "Safe back!" He turns and trots back to the shelter of his hold before they lift off. So much for manners! D'ani's check of Dremkoth's straps are thorough and efficient and then he's climbing aboard. Above the howl of the wind, he calls, "We'll find the lee of the peaks yonder-" a jerk of his chin indicates the low coastal range beyond the weyr, "-to go Between." He'll wait until the junior is ready, launching in her wake and flank her, the bronze flying on the windward side protectively.

There's significantly more glow to Inri's hair than Inri's dragon, it's true; especially with the fact that the icy winds are leaving some of her hide … not cracked (though it always looks just as dry as ever) but a bit darker than usual. Inri's wave is polite, and then D'ani gets a nod before she swings up onto Zel's neck, the gold actually struggling a little with the takeoff. Her mental admonishment of the weather is as usual wordless, but very displeased. The thermals should've realigned because she wanted them to.

Yes, well. Dremkoth keeps a close eye on all of Fort's queens hidecolor. He's perked at the word 'egg' picked from D'ani's mind and ignored the context - of course! The bronze miiight have a bit more incentive to nudge his rider regarding Inri's lifemate than others, but he is competitive with all of them. His trajectory towards the established point matches Kouzevelth's, shielding her - or attempting to while agreeably disparaging the rebellious winds in response to her ire. « What are they thinking anyway? » A mental snort punctuates his commiseration with the thought that the winds are insane to be contrary with Kouzevelth's wishes. Someday he's going to make a fool of himself over his clutchmate, isn't he? In the short span of time it takes them to launch and beat aloft, the winds have intensified exponentially. And snow, whipped by the wind along with cruel ice crystals driven into eyes makes navigation impossible. Reaching the shelter of those peaks to go Between… isn't going to happen. « I know a place we might be able to find a calm spot. » Dremkoth 's picture is of a mountain valley overshadowed by a towering cliff. The coordinates are shared.

It's possible the affectionate banter between the dragons is due to the relationship between lifemates — but then again it's just as possible that it isn't, because after all, they technically hooked up first. Not that Kouzevelth is inclined toward repeat mates, or else she hasn't been so far, something that usually plagues Inri when she gets the chance to think about it. At least they aren't the Senior pair. « This is rotten, » is actually put to words; her agreement, acquiescence, and consent to follow his lead to wherever they're going now, along with Inri's, is merely implied.

Fort Weyr - Cliffside Hold

Sharp claws of stone, fingers that would rake the skies, have in ages past, been clipped by forces that helped shape Pern before mankind arrived on the planet, sheared off to form a formidable cliff in the rugged and uninhabited ranges above Fort. The place is remote, wild, desolate and yet… there is a dwelling clinging where it should not. Whoever built this aerie here was either crazy, loved the sky, the birds that soar in them or the far-reaching vistas to be had, for it is perched, not at the edge of the cliff, but ON the cliff. A hold long abandoned clings to the vertical walls on cleverly-constructed stone buttresses that uphold stone buildings cleverly fitted together without mortar. There may have, in times past, been a wooden staircase precariously grasping the stone to provide foot access, but it has long ago rotted and fallen into the abyss. The interior rooms, carved from the living stone, has been left undiscovered and unexplored, empty and mute, hearing nothing but the solitary cry of raptors and the moan of the wind.

D'ani, on the other hand, tries not to think about those flights - but of course he fails, even though acceptance of what being a dragonrider means, his own feelings will assert themselves when he'd rather they did not. Between is at least calmer and quieter, even if it is as bone-chillingly frozen as it always is. The time hanging in the nothingness is brief and as they emerge in the lee of the cliff the howling wind over the crags resumes the din. At least they're in a pocket of air shielded from the gale-force winds and blinding snow. D'ani points to the cliff face rather than try to shout above the din and Dremkoth's clear tenor reaches out to Kouzevelth, « D'ani feels that the winds will be stronger up near the bowl and doesn't wish to risk them. There are ledges here where we may land until things calm down. » The bronze banks and drifts carefully towards what is a curious cliffside hold and a precarious-looking landing on a narrow ledge. It's not an easy landing and he misses, instead clinging monkey-like to the rough cliff face where he'll wait until the queen lands. Then he pushes off to flap-leap-scrabble to a perch. Real graceful, that. D'ani grabs the survival pack they've been trained carry, shoulders it, then edges cautiously to where the other pair are, reaching a hand to assist. "Careful, it's slippery."

Kouzevelth's size is rarely an advantage, at just how substantial it is; she's got all of that extra wing and long tail that makes her outsize the rest of Fort's golds if not most of Pern's — and it is no assist in trying to make a good landing in a relatively small space. The one thing the long wings are doing for her is enabling her to fight back against the gale, and she's able to mostly land safely … where Dremkoth has to scrabble up the face, she's basically coming in for a parasail-style landing, and very nearly slides off again, aggressively digging claws into rock not to lose balance. That certainly got her nails a nice filing, and the cliff is going to have a long-lasting indentation. too. Inri wipes her brow as she removes her helmet again and lets D'ani help her down, nearly toppling them both over. But only nearly. "Well, that was," she says, and tries to find the right word, and fails.

While D'ani has no objection to toppling over with Inri, he manages to avoid it for the time being by pulling her towards him and bracing them both. He ends up with an arm firmly around her, keeping it there until he's sure they've both got their footing and only then does he reluctantly release her, keeping her hand. Someday they'll have to do this on purpose - slide-landings that end by going off of a cliff. Today, however, D'ani merely finishes Inri's sentence with a dry-sounding, "Special," and a slight lean to cast a wary look over the edge. That could have ended badly! "Spotted this place on sweeps," he notes. "I've always meant to explore it." He tilts his head towards the carved steps leading to a landing above. "We can at least get out of the weather." Sadly, there's no place for the dragons to go - they'll have to hunker down on the ledge.

"Definitely not 'fun' but better than 'terrible,' so that works," Inri can cocnur with 'special,' giving the cliff a funny look and Kouzevelth one, too. At least her dragon is now secured on the ledge, sprawling only in a lengthwise way and letting her wings and tail tip over the edge as much as possible without risking further hide damage. "We'll have to go cliff diving some other time," she suggests with a more daring smile, "like, intentionally, but I think not in this weather. At least you'll get a chance to explore inside?"

"Yes, because terrible comes with a sudden stop at the end," quips D'ani with a smirk as he navigates those icy stairs. At least there's a stone rail, bless the insane soul that designed this place. Only mountain goats would attempt traipsing up and down stairs a thousand feet in the air without one! (speaking of, the skitter of hooves can be heard as they ascend but nothing is seen of the elusive creatures) There's a nod for cliff-diving. "Into a lake, preferably." As they step inside the entrance, the rest of the words spoken resound hollowly, but the odd way they bounce around in the empty room isn't what has D'ani blinking down at Inri. He opens his mouth. No best not say- He closes it with a grin and gestures towards the black interior. "So we'll need some light and I'm fresh out of glows." Though there is shattered furniture along with goat droppings littering the dusty carpets and tattered tapestries hanging on the walls.

Fantastic. They can find their way by whether they've stepped in those particular droppings before. Inri wrinkles her nose, but it's not at the scent of goat — if that's registered, her brain hasn't processed exactly what it is. She doesn't spend a huge amount of time around animals, though she does spend a lot of time around a variety of animal lovers and may have mostly become inured. "I have," she proclaims, fussing around that bag she's always got strapped to her, ever since Th'ero gave it to her nearly a decade ago, "a candle. One. And, like, four matches." It's going to be dark.

They're scattered. That's a plus, right? Perhaps they can step between them. One thing D'ani's not going to do is collect them to use as kindling or as a Hansel and Gretel crumb trail later should they lose their way in the deeper halls of the hold. Thankfully the temperature is hovering near freezing. Were it summer those animal smells would be more pronounced. As it is, the dust is predominant. He watches her rummage around in her bag with a fond smile, nods amiably to her candle. "That'll do, for now. If this storm keeps up, we'll need to find a suitable spot and build a fire." Some inner room with a hearth, preferably. The view here is spectacular, but they could do without the snow blowing in through the open windows. Outside Dremkoth curls in as small a space as he can manage, though he offers a wing to help keep the eddying snow off of Kouzevelth.

Kouzevelth appreciates it, and certainly doesn't stop him if he's willing to be so polite; her response is all contented mental rains — warm ones — and affectionate croons. Inri's nose is wrinkling at the dust permeating the air, but she manages to light the candle without actually sneezing it right back out again or managing to drop or otherwise destroy three of the four matches. "At least I think they're managing to find comfortable space out there," she says of the dragons, though 'comfortable' is … perhaps a stretch. Feasible, certainly. "It's kind of pretty."

D'ani assists Inri, shielding the candle from drafts as best he can - by standing where his body can block the eddy of air causing the flame to wobble and then by cupping both hands about it. "If they need to," he notes upon reflection of that narrow ledge out there, "they can drop down to the canyon floor and find shelter." As for pretty, he agrees, "It is. Can't imagine why anyone would abandon this place." Perhaps they'll find out? He steps towards the door that leads to the inner corridors of the hold, eyeing the floor and then the ceiling carefully in the flickering light. His voice echoes hollowly, "So far, it looks stable. No cracks or signs of collapse." The stonework has been done by master craftsmen, somewhat embellished for a small, remote hold such as this, even if the main room is on the small side. The hall is narrow, but perfectly straight. A wistful smile tugs at his mouth. "It looks fairly small. Perhaps it was a family dwelling." A family that is here no longer.

"If it wasn't abandoned for any actual good reason," Inri seems to half-expect they're going to find out, though whether she's apprehensive or excited is anyone's guess and isn't at all clear from her mannerisms, "maybe we could annex it and keep it. I like it. I think." She likes it until she finds out why people left, anyway. Until then it can be her imaginary private personal hold away from home. After making sure there aren't winds coming in the exact direction she wants to step in — at least yet — Inri extends the candle to try to get a better look around the inside.

"It's nearer to Fort Weyr than Fort Hold," D'ani muses as they head down the corridor while Eyeing the thick dust they're stirring up. "And looks to have been empty for some time. Perhaps there's a statute of limitations on the claim for the descendants… if there are any left. Shame not to seek incorporating it for the Weyr's use. It's certainly situated strategically." He steps into the first room off of the corridor. It's a good-sized room with the remnants of crumbling wooden tables and a large hearth. Too small to be called a hall, it might more correctly be labeled a dining room. Beyond is an entrance - likely to the kitchen - that used to hold a double door, now decaying on the lintel. He's silent as they look the room over and his expression is bleak . Shared with both Kouzevelth and her rider but withheld from his own, is Dremkoth's quiet, « Maiona is never far from his thoughts. »

That, of course, means that Inri might have some right to claim it; a ghost of a smile crosses her face briefly before she forcibly pushes it away with a very soft sigh. "If we don't find any corpses I might bring it up," is what she says, because it would be weird if she hadn't. She's also offering a gentle touch to his arm, because she noticed that distress almost simultaneously to its draconic explanation. « She does not forget, » Kouzevelth tries to explain Inri's thought process, possibly very badly, but explaining isn't exactly her strong point, « but she often does not remember. »

"Once in a lifetime is enough for that," the words escape D'ani's lips before he thinks and he coughs. Hearing Inri's sigh, he flashes her a look of apology, his expression morphing into more of a tender warmth as the hand she's touched his arm with is covered by one of his own. A hint of a smile eases the line of his mouth. "It's not an igloo," his expression twinkles subtle humor, "but it won't burn down." He moves into the empty dining room, toeing the rotted bits of wood here and there. As he heads towards that kitchen door, his hands are shoved in his pockets, but his knotted fists are visible, even if his tone is deliberately light, "We can search the records at harper hall and Fort Weyr for information of it when we get back." When the howling winter storm raging out there quits. Out on the ledge, Dremkoth doesn't remember either, save for when his rider does, about the pall of sadness that hangs over the island. He just knows that, « I like the beach there. That is what I tell him when he is sad about it. »

« Inri was fond, » Kouzevelth hasn't seen it, except for prying through memories, though she doesn't allow herself to line her words with disappointment. Not in that, anyway; just in the weather. Her lifemate, meanwhile, continues her following routine; she's got the light but he's got the relative sense of direction, so everyone has a job. "And maybe it's cold year round and I could sleep here in the summer. And, you know, escape the sands periodically, though someone else would have to give me rides." That's not a hint, it's just an observation! No, it's both. "But I think that might be nice, to have a little — place. Not that it'd really be ours, it'd be the Weyr's, but."

« We will go sometime, together, » Dremkoth promises Kouzevelth blithely, as if he has any say about his rider's schedule. D'ani, meanwhile, waits for Inri at the door and then pokes his head inside to peer into the semi-darkness. "What the-!" He's more startled than alarmed, for he strides right on in without telling Inri to stay back. "Inri…" his voice sounds oddly strained in the empty room, "I… think I may have found those bodies…" There is a large hearth, cold and empty, even the ashes of long-ago fires windswept away from turns of downdrafts and it's there he directs his steps. A shadowed shape lies before it, unmoving and unresponsive to their sudden arrival. As he kneels and the glowlight casts wavering shadows on the form that give the impression of breathing, one thing is clear: the thing is not human. It is a mountain goat. And it is heavily pregnant.

« After the eggs. » That's helpful, Kozuevelth; that gives a definitive timeline, since she is not in any way obviously proddy. And is only due in a very vague sense that implies she'll rise sometime in the next … give or take five months. Inri is ignoring that, because she really doesn't want to think about it, and exploring this place is a lot more interesting. At least until she nearly walks into D'ani, which is also interesting but by a different definition. "You wh—" she starts, and then she squints and actually looks and lets out a, "Okay, I guess it's not the Weyr's, it's hers." He gets an expectant look because he's going to do something beasthealery now, right?

Eggs. There goes Dremkoth, perking again (he'd all but forgotten Kozuevelth's prior allusion to rising). He rumbles encouragingly, his night skies implying that he wouldn't mind if she did that right this moment. There may be plenty of goats hunkered down in the cracks and crevasses of that cliff face, but he's not considering how much that howling blizzard might interfere in such an activity. D'ani ignores his lifemate's preoccupation (okay, it's an obsession, really) and starts forward. Uhhhh… beasthealery. Not really his intent because one, wild goat and two, wild goat horns. "I think she'll vacate the hearth," he says as he skirts the room, leaving the door free so she might wake up and exit. He edges towards her, but there is no movement whatsoever from the goat. It's only when three tiny heads pop up from behind that bulge in the nanny goat's abdomen, their eyes glittering at the newcomers in the glowlight and bleat questioningly that he murmurs concern and strides forward. "Oh, she's…" He kneels, one hand gingerly touches the belly that had looked pregnant (it's actually bloated) and he confirms it with a quiet, "…died." And left three wee orphan kids behind.

“Does that make us parents?” Inri is not commenting on the eggs thing, because of the fact that Kouzevelth having children has never made her a parent before, but now they seem to have kids. That are actually called kids. “I know the Weyr has some caprines already, or was talking about it, but there are only a few —” She heard about the trio Anrila had been dealing with, and those had been newborns with parents. Not that Inri knew that. “Maybe they can adopt them. Can they even be carried on dragonback?”

The tiny kids, curled into tiny balls and huddled together for warmth don't seem alarmed by the appearance of the first-ever-to-be-seen humans. They're mostly curious and since their mother is dead, cannot pick up cues to flee from her, so they stay put. D'ani vaguely notes this while snickering quietly at Inri's quip. He nods the affirmative, that the Weyr does indeed have a few baby goats; he's seen them in the stone barn. Cute things that'll be- His own mindtrack skids to a halt at the word 'adopt' and he lifts his gaze from goatling to girlfriend. "Take…them…with us?" She could have suggested they'd be good roasted over a fire while they wait out the storm, but noooooo. So he patiently beckons her and her glowlight over while considering, "They'd die here; they're also likely to be trouble. And… I doubt the nanny has enough milk for six, buuuut…" But he'd do anything for Inri, even ignore the rumble in his stomach, so. "How about you keep them from following while I dispose of their mother?" Awww. She gets a lapful of baby goat cuteness while he gets a stinky ol' carcass.

“The alternatives aren’t very appealing,” Inri murmurs, thoughtful. She doesn’t want to eat them and they’ll just end up dying if they get left behind. Neither of those sound like good options at all. “And it isn’t as if we, personally, would be keeping them, though Thys has caprines in her weyr.” Inri’s has more steps up than Thys’, but do caprines mind climbing? No. On the other hand, she’s not suggesting it. “I’m sure there can be another wet nurse found for them, one that didn’t have triplets.” Baby distraction game: go. Not that Inri’s entirely sure what to do, but she tries … petting them, first, because it seems like they’d like to be petted, and she is not going to think about what poor D’ani has to do instead.

So D’ani’ll make his way through that bitterly cold barren outer room to the cliff’s edge and hurl the hapless goat into the abyss with a growled, “No this isn’t a snack, nor am I room service,” to Dremkoth’s perk of interest. “This isn’t fresh and you’d be sick.” Then back he goes to the ancient kitchen where his gloves are removed (those now need washing), a fire is built in that hearth from broken furniture and they’ll hunker down to wait out the blizzard. He’ll curl around Inri who’ll curl around baby goatlings, one small ‘family’ in a big, cold world.

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