Fort Weyr - Fort's Forests ~~ Lover's Tree Hill
Like a strange island in the middle of an alien sea, this hill arises from the tide of blueberry bushes to provide yet another vantage from which wayward wanderers might survey the lands around. The lone tree must have been a transplant from somewhere, having no others of its kind around to compare it to. Glossy green leaves of a roughly tear-drop shape might not make the tree especially distinctive, but the lurid, fire-bright blossoms it produces in spring most definitely make up for it. Its age is telling in its size, with its branches sprawled out to create both deep shade and the illusion of a canopy of fire when it's fully in bloom.

As if to make up for the fact that it simply isn't a climbing tree, people have been carving in the soft wood of this strange entity for generations upon generations. The soft wood is durable enough to endure such attentions and hewn upon its surface are names that have long-since been lost to time. Lovers and the lovers of lovers, those who simply wish to make their mark and more have laid their hands on this tree … and, perhaps, there will be generations more to be had.

Fort's summers are glorious things, especially as the sun begins its downwards journey after passing its zenith. This particular afternoon is wearing on towards evening, the light cast over Lover's Tree Hill a rich golden colour that bathes the tree at its apex in a warm glow. Near the tree is Russall, on his own, a bow held up with the string pulled taut, the notched arrow ready to fly towards a target somewhere beneath the lush canopy of the tree, where there's a heavy-looking pack resting beneath a makeshift target of a log swinging on a rope.

Thankfully, R'yal is not coming from that direction. The greenrider wanders up the hill only to pause at noticing the guard with the bow pulled. R'yal is quiet as he makes his way around the tree, leaning on the trunk a bit to watch instead of interrupting Russall's work.

"You're best standing behind me, little greenie," Russall says when he notices R'yal, though not until after he's shot another arrow, which misses its target; he's not a great shot, it would seem. The arrow ends up embedded in the trunk, and Russ pulls another out from the quiver strapped to his back to notch up again. He holds the bow with the arrow facing the ground, watching to see if R'yal will come stand near him or not. "Did Fl'n tell you I was up here?"

The thwack of the arrow into the trunk of the tree has R'yal squeaking and hurriedly scrambling /away/ from it. Target or not, it seems Russall's aim is in fact…less than perfect. He gives the guard a rather wide-eyed look for a moment, then makes his way around /behind/ him…and promptly gives him a bit of a push in the back. "You need a whole lot more practice at this! He did mention you were out here though, yeah.."

Russ looks back over his shoulder and smirks in response to the push - he's grown considerably in the bulk department and isn't easily swayed! "I'd hoped he might say something…" The guard - no longer a recruit, woe! - raises the bow, letting the arrow fly once more. It skims the target, setting the log spinning and making Russall curse. "And I'd hoped you might come if he did, so…" He nods his head towards the pack beneath the tree, before letting the bow hang loose from his hand as he turns around to look at R'yal. "You hungry?"

"So you're out here pretending to be good with that thing, hoping I'll show up?" R'yal sighs faintly at that, and shakes his head. "You really could have just asked. What if I hadn't even seen Fl'n today?" The greenrider moves away again though and shuffles back toward the tree again, this time crouching down beside the mysterious pack.

Russall goes to retrieve his arrows - there's a lot of them - before joining R'yal by the pack. "Nah, I'm not just out here waiting for you… I'm practicing. It's a good place to do it without risking anyone's life." Because he has bad aim. The bow and quiver are set down, then he drops to the ground to land heavily on his butt, legs stretched in front of him and back to the tree. "I figured you'd see Fl'n, so I figured I'd better bring lunch for two. And a blanket, if you don't want to sit on the ground."

R'yal settles down on his knees in the grass, tilting his head. "It does look like you need the practice." He eyes the trunk of the tree even, before making a face. "Maybe you should do it even further away from the Weyr, I'd rather not be skewered myself." His tongue is stuck out briefly, before the greenrider does offer a slight smile. "Still, you really could have just asked."

"Would you have come, if I had?" Russall's uncertain for a moment, before he smiles, reaches forward for the pack, and flips open the top to reach a hand inside. "I'll ask you next time. If… if you're up for a lunch date, some other time. Maybe. No pressure. I might even leave the bow behind." He's more likely seen with a sword around the Weyr, anyway. "I figured if I could maybe get better at two weapons, instead of one, then maybe I could be up for promotion again."

"Maybe I will be." R'yal smiles a little more at that, and leans on one hand in the grass. "Less danger for everyone if the bow is elsewhere, I think." The greenrider does make a slight face though, sighing. "I'm satisfied with just knowing how to use my dagger. I'd prefer not having to, but.." He's well aware of why they need to know how to use weapons around Fort. He shakes his head just a little then, brows lifting. "So you're looking for a promotion?"

Russall shrugs, finally finding what he's been rooting for in his bag and pulling it out. A blanket… wrapped around bottle, which is tumbled out gently onto the ground. It's followed by a box that he nudges towards R'yal. "Do you mind sharing the bottle?" He starts unscrewing it, taking a little sniff. "I figured it was about time I tried to get promoted, since I'm now reporting to a sharding 16 year old." His blue eyes are rolled, and he hands the bottle over to R'yal, too. "It's just peach wine. Nothing fancy."

"Is that how old he is?" R'yal does look surprised, brows arching upward before giving a small sniff. "It does seem a bit…young to have such a rank, but I guess I don't know him well or anything." The greenrider does take the bottle though, peeking at it before sniffing the contents curiously. "Haven't had that before… Smells good though." There's a sip taken from the bottle then, before the greenrider manages a tiny smile and a nod. "It is. And it'll be nice to see you promoted. You've been a guard for..what? How many turns now? It's certainly about time."

"I've been a PFC for about a turn, and a trainee forever." Russall huffs, reaching down to open the box since R'yal is drinking. Out come wrapped sandwiches, a hunk of cake, some dried fruit, and a small handful of plums. "I would've eaten all of this if you hadn't come," he admits, filching a plum and rubbing it on his uniform to buff it up before taking a bite. The juice escapes his mouth, and he rubs it with the back of his hand. "Do you think I'd look good with a Lieutenant's knot?" Big ambitions.

"Well then be doubly glad that I showed up. Keep eating this much food and you'll be too big to worry about chasing down criminals." R'yal hands the bottle back then before quite happily reaching for a sandwich, starting in on it with a few nibbles to check the contents. He watches Russall though, considering the other man before giving a slow nod. "I'm not going to lie, it's the uniform for me. But the knot would go a long way toward sweetening the image. Just work hard and show them you're interested, yeah?"

"It's just cheese and tomato," Russall says when he sees R'yal checking what's between the bread. "I made them myself." After taking a bite of his own, he can't help but grin - and even blush a little - at the greenrider's little confession about the uniforms. "Yeah? You like them?" He dusts crumbs off the chest of his, then puffs up his chest a little. "Perhaps it would look better if you were asked to dance by a Lieutenant instead of by a private… there'll be another Hatching feast coming up soon enough, after yesterday… unless you'd like to go dancing somewhere before that, of course. I mean… like a date. A proper me asking you and not asking someone else to ask you date."

R'yal takes a proper bite once he's confirmed the contents of the sandwich, and sighs out a happy little breath. Who /doesn't/ enjoy eating when hungry? There's a slight giggle which he covers with the back of his hand before he manages a straight face again. "Who doesn't? It's not just the laundry girls that sit around watching you guys. I mean, it's not just /me/ anyway. Others…do that too. So..yeah." His head tilts though, before offering a faint smile at Russall finally. "I'll dance with you, if you're asking."

Not only do Russall's cheeks flush a little when R'yal accepts, but he can't quite hide his smile, either. "I'm asking," he confirms, laughing softly. "Perhaps Livanyth might oblige to take us to the next gather that's happening?" Somewhere outside of Fort, then, meaning he doesn't want to wait until Kouzevelth's unlaid eggs hatch. So far away! "And I could wear my dress uniform, if… y'know. That's better than this one." His fingers pluck at the black shirt, fiddling with a button.

"If..what? If that works better for me?" R'yal sticks his tongue out before laughing, and goes for some of that dried fruit. "I'd love to go, it's fine. Wear whatever you want to." The greenrider nibbles on a little bit of the fruit then, chewing slowly. "Livanyth..well. She minds, but she'll take us. You know her…"

Russall laughs. "If it works better for you." He's still eating his sandwich, and washes it down with a mouthful of peach wine. "If there's something coming up in one of the warmer places, then we could stay overnight, perhaps? Sleep on a beach or something, if you wanted to. I could build a fire, we could camp out under the stars… it'd be nice, I think."

R'yal winces slightly at that, and sniffs. "I'm not…overly fond of sleeping outside. I mean…we could sit out I suppose, but.." Camping really isn't the greenrider's…thing. He prefers pillows and blankets to grass and dirt.

"Oh, ok - no worries, ah… I can sort something else out. Somewhere else. Uh… let me find out what's happening where, and I'll arrange something you'll like. Cos we don't have to stay the night there, if you don't want to - it's up to you, R'yal." Teeth sink into his lip to chew it briefly, then Russ picks up another plum to start polishing it on his shirt. "I don't mind doing whatever makes you happy. I just… I still like you. I want to spend more time with you."

Isn't R'yal supposed to be the nervous one? Maybe he's just grown more out of it over the past few turns as a dragonrider. He does lean over though, stealing the plum from Russall with a bit of a grin before biting into it. "We could just sit here and have a nice lunch and not think too much about all of that, you know?" He wipes a little bit at the juices for a moment then, nodding. "I don't mind staying, of course. I just..don't really like sleeping outside."

Russall puts up a bit of resistance before relinquishing the plum to R'yal, then he picks another one for himself, polishing it up just like the last one. "Ok," is all he replies, sinking back against the tree to relax more, and letting a comfortable, for him, anyway, silence fall between them for the moment. The only noise he makes is suck a little juice from the plum before it can dribble down his chin.

R'yal tilts his head a bit, then finally does move, picking himself up to gather the blanket and drop it down on the ground beside Russall. He settles on it then, simply leaning right into the guard's side while going for the cake, breaking off a bit of it to eat. "Anyway, you look like you've been working pretty hard lately."

"Yeah?" Russ looks down at R'yal, waiting for a long moment before he tentatively drapes his arm, ever so lightly, over the greenrider's shoulders. Once he's done it, he looks pleased as punch. "I guess I have. It's a pain in the arse, but I guess I got bored. And there's a lot more excitement when you're higher ranked, so…" He shrugs, leaving the rest for Rav to figure out. "How many daring rescues were you involved in over winter?"

"It's not exactly daring to pull people out of the snow." R'yal laughs faintly, but shrugs. "We had to do it a few times, but there weren't any terrible avalanches or anything like that to worry about." The greenrider nods though, glancing up. "More excitement, more responsibility.."

"More knot decorating my shoulder…" Grinning, Russall takes a final bite from his plum, then spits the pit out as far as he can. "I'm gonna be 21 in a few months, little greenie. Maybe it's time I started acting more grown up." He shrugs again, leaning a little of his weight back against R'yal. "Get a job, get promoted, get 'fasted… or not." His lips purse, and he exhales softly. "You know what I mean though, right?"

"Get fasted?" R'yal sits up a little to /eye/ Russall for that one, and rolls his eyes. "Growing up a bit though..I get that. I'm glad." Growing up is good! There's a bit of a hum when he reaches for the wine again, taking a sip of it to wash down the cake.

Russall's nose wrinkles. "Not really - you know what I mean. Those things're expected, right? Not that I wanna get handfasted, but someone might be nice." He clears his throat awkwardly, looking up at the leaves above them. "We used to come here when we were kids, and carve our names in the trunk. Did you ever play that game where you found out the initials of the person you'd get 'fasted to?"

"Game? No, I never played any games like that." R'yal sat up again, this time to carefully fold up a few things and toss them back into Russall's pack again. "I wasn't really interested much in those kinds of things."

"No? The girls at the Weyr played it all the time. We got roped in too, if we were out here with them…" Russall straightens when R'yal sits up, taking the peach wine for a hearty swig. "Do you need to head back to the Weyr already?" he asks in response to the packing up, looking a little disappointed. "I'd thought about staying up here to watch the sunset, but I'll walk you back." He shifts about to start helping R'yal pack things up, and then does exactly what he said he would in escorting the greenrider back to the Weyr.

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