Friendships and Family

The evening approaches with the setting of the sun, the sky streaked with deepening shades of turquoise arching across the clear Fortian sky. The weather is cool but not too cold, and despite the weyr being covered in mud, Kayeth is clean as she lounges on her ledge. She is clean, the ledge is clean, no doubt Nyalle and a small army of drudges worked to make it so the senior gold could rest in comfort and clenliness. And from the looks of things, Wiyaneth's ledge was given the same treatment, the pale gold's distaste for mud having never been forgotten even during her absence. Inside the weyr, Nyalle sits at her desk inside her lounge. What used to be Elara's lounge and tea room, the portion of rock beneath Tooth Crag. The Senior's private office.

Another comes to visit who shares the same distaste for mud — sometimes. Right this moment, however, Zhirazoth is clean. He's better than clean! He's freshly oiled and feeling rather pompous and if dragons could strut well… he'd be doing it. So it's with high, good spirits that he comes a'calling to Kayeth's ledge and landing, will puff himself up and arch his neck to display his better looks as he pose—err, perches to one side while he speaks to the fiery gold. « Evening, fair Kayeth! Would yours be willing to see mine? He comes up the stairs now to visit, but if the timing is poor we will return later. »

Kayeth lifts her head, chirrring a happy greeting to Zhirazoth, especially since he is clean. Oiled. And in high spirits. Oh what /fun/. « Good evening, Zhirazoth. Please, join me. Mine is within and I think she would welcome some company. A distraction from her thoughts, which are wandering and not staying focused anyway. » Might as well focus on something else then, right? Something far more pleasant than tithe paperwork.

Zhirazoth is fun! He's the best sort of fun! With careful steps he comes to join Kayeth and settles beside her, lightly touching his muzzle to hers in a fond and tender greeting. « I always do so enjoy your company. » he compliments. « And mine will be good company to yours. Maybe he can help her focus? » Yeah right. Mr'az is also clean, though not oiled (because that'd be just… weird.). He's changed out of his usual flight gear and training/work clothes to a more casual set of clothing and his hair is still damp and slicked back. He'll need to cut it again soon but at least he's shaved recently? Knocking at her door, he'll give Nyalle a moment before he slips inside. "Weyrwoman?" he calls, but his voice carries a humoured tone to it. He's teasing her (gently) by calling her by title.

Kayeth shifts a bit when he settles, returning that gentle muzzle touch before she arches his neck. Nibble away at those neck ridges, atta' boy. « He will help her focus on /him/, » comes Kayeth's amused teasing reply. Inside, Nyalle looks up with a smile blooming across her face, both at the distraction and /who/ is bringing it. She's dressed in one dress or another, they all are of similar shapes and styles, all muted colors from blacks to greys, to purples and blues and greens edged in gold. Simple, and similar. "Yes, wingrider?" she replies with a laugh in her voice, her face losing some of its stress and tension to look /young/ again. For the moment. "Please, come in, how can I help you?"

Zhirazoth will nibble away at Kayeth's ridges when she arches her neck for him and he will do a good job at it! No spot missed and certainly not leaving her unsatisfied. « He can do that too. » he boasts without pause, smug and pleased. Inside, Mr'az is standing by the door, which he has now closed and is in the process of slipping off his jacket and boots to set them aside neatly and properly. He's not about to soil Nyalle's nice, clean weyr either! His smile is faint but amused. "Thank you, ma'am." he continues, barely able to suppress his chuckling. "I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time and share a bit of company with you?"

Nyalle laughs, her voice carrying easily from her office as she moves to the doorway to look over at him. "Please do," she says, removing her knot and setting it aside on a little end table. "Can I get you something? Tea? Klah? I think I even have some ale now. How have you been?" she asks with a warm smile as she passes by him towards the kitchenette.

Mr'az already lacks his knot. It's pinned to his jacket, which now hangs on her wall by the door but he'll quirk a brow when she slips hers off. Oh my? "Klah, please, if you don't mind? No ale. Zhirazoth and I have dawn patrol." he smirks at this but for Nyalle he will return her smile. "I've been well. Settling in to routine here. Zhirazoth loves his new Wing too." he murmurs as he takes a seat in the corner of her couch, stretching his legs out and completely relaxed and at ease even though he's currently in the Weyrwoman's weyr.

Nyalle dips her head. "Certainly," she says, moving about in the kitchenette to get some klah steeping in a small pot of hot water - enough for three cups, if he wishes to have that much. Steeping, she sets the pot on a tray and also adds a few pastries. Then she adds her tea cup to the tray, pours tea, and carries it over to set it down on the klah table by the couch. Offering him an empty mug, she gestures to the klah pot. "Help yourself." There's cream and sweetner too, for his klah and for her tea. "Is he? And are you? Loving your wing I mean. This place, Fort…is so much more relaxed."

Mr'az better not drink three cups or he won't get any rest tonight. Neither will Nyalle! Unless that's her plan? Looking up at her when she offers him the empty mug, he'll smile again as he shuffles to the edge of the couch and leans forwards to help himself to the klah. Which he takes pretty much black. Eew? "Thank you, Nyalle." he murmurs and taking the first sip, he'll pat the spot beside him and with another look directed to her. Join him? "He is. And yes, so am I. Fort IS much more relaxed and yet not to the point of being indulgent and lazy. It… works here. We're happy." Another sip of his klah and then he adds softly. "And you, Nyalle? How've you been?"

Nyalle's smile grows and after she pours her tea and takes cream and sweetner, she settles beside him on the couch. "I am so glad you both are happy. I knew you would be." Fort. Yay, Fort. Such a refuge for the both of them. "I have been busy," she admits with a soft exhale that doubles to help cool her tea. "There is so much to do and so much to learn. But we have been traveling, Kayeth and I. Have visited Western and Ista most recently. I must get back to Western soon to speak with their new gold weyrling…"

"I don't think we ever should have worried about that," Mr'az admits with a small smile. Fort has been a refuge for both of them and now, slowly, is becoming home. At least for this bronzerider! Chuckling as Nyalle reflects on how busy she's been, he will nod his head knowingly. This may have been their first chance in awhile to actually sit down and enjoy each others company with no stress of time weighing on their shoulders! "But do you feel at least a little more comfortable in your position now?" he asks curiously, only to tilt his head. "Western and Ista? And a new gold for Western! I had heard the good news of their latest Hatching! So you've met the young woman?"

Nyalle sips her tea and shifts, kicking off her light shoes and tucking her legs beneath her skirts on the couch. "Slowly. I am learning a few things, and…I think I'm getting better at it each day. But it is so complicated, it will be many turns before I even begin to think I'm /good/ at it." There is a nod and a smile. "Yes, Rhysanna and Tavehtiath. She is…" Her eyes dart to the exit and then back to him. "This is just between us," duh, "but I worry for her. She…the Weyrleader was dating her. While she was a Candidate." And her confused expression says it all. Is that /actually/ bad? Or is that just her High Reaches brainwashing rearing its ugly head?

"I can only imagine how much there is to being Weyrwoman. Even Weyrleader! But if you feel as though you're progressing, that's good, Nyalle! Very good." Mr'az tells her as he smiles over the rim of his mug, his eyes flickering with a supportive look. He's always had such faith in her as a goldrider. Even when they were weyrlings! "Pretty name." Does he mean Rhysanna or Tavehtiath? Brows lift in surprise when Nyalle becomes nervous and he can't help but smirk when she asks him to keep this knowledge secret. Duh! And she can trust him. Frowning, he leans back against the couch and mulls his answer over in his head. "I… huh. It's unusual for certain and I'm not sure if I find that acceptable but… so long as he did not break the rules, nor did she while she was Candidate there can be no fault? Why do you worry for her?" Clearly, Mr'az is not at all familiar with Zi'on or the Western Weyrleader's reputation. "Is the Weyrleader not a nice man?" Said in a slow and careful way, there's no way Nyalle can miss the hidden implication. Is this bronzerider a R'lor-wannabe?

Nyalle always has - always will - appreciate his faith in her, even when she had little faith in herself as a goldrider. She sighs with a little shrug. "He has a reputation of being a womanizer. I do not know him. I can't say…and I know I am approaching it with…my own notions of what is right and what is wrong. She is a sweet girl. I'm afraid she might feel rather lost. She and I have had two very good conversations, and I would like to have more. Though I worry it might be seen as…something not done. Another weyr's Senior getting close to their gold weyrling. I am not sure."

Mr'az grunts and his mouth twists slightly in distaste. "Isn't that the usual stereotype given to any bronzerider? We're all womanizers." he mutters, only to sober when he realizes Nyalle is being serious about this. Clearing his throat, he sighs. "There is nothing wrong with you having your own opinion. Truthfully, he should have waited until later or at least courted her… less obviously?" He shakes his head and lifts his mug to his lips again. "Why not? I think so long as you extend the usual courtesies to Western's Weyrleaders, they will not begrudge you visiting Rhysanna. It may be viewed as a positive thing and encouraged." he points out. Political relations, right?

Nyalle frowns at him. "You're not," she says firmly. "Th'ero is not. D'ani is not." Yes, she was being serious. She does not /do/ generalizations. "I am concerned the politics might look iffy. But." Be bold. "I will go until they tell me to stop. It has been a short while, I should make my first visit soon, and see how she is doing. She is only a turn or two younger than me." Young goldriders are hard to find, these days, and she longs for another of her own age.

Mr'az gives Nyalle a look and almost goes on to tease her, about to adopt a rather smug and suave attitude when he catches on that she is being serious about this. Instead, he only drops his chin a bit, sheepish. "Ah, well… You do have a point." No, he is not and he does not view Th'ero or D'ani as typical bronzeriders either. Bold is right! Mr'az's smile broadens into a grin. That'a girl! Go get 'em. "I wish you the best, Nyalle. I think it would be favourable if you struck up a good, solid friendship with this girl, even if just for a personal means." Forget politics!

Nyalle nods quickly. "It would only be for personal means." Politics? What politics? "She and I get along and I think…I see some of myself in her. I want to help. And maybe make a friend." There's a light blush for that. "I will go. Soon." As soon as she's able. "Have you made many friends?"

Mr’az tips his mug towards her in an acknowledging toast. To personal means and friendship! Forget politics. “I think it’s very kind of you to want to help her.” he tells her honestly, smiling at that light blush. As for his luck? “A few. I’d not say they’re close friends but I get along well with the other Thunderbird Wingriders. Some more than others.” Which is code for: he’s working on it.

Nyalle smiles. “You’ll make more. Lots. You’re a nice, easy going man. They’ll see that.” Exhaling, she closes her eyes for a moment, smile widening. “Sometimes,” she admits softly, “I wake up and I forget I’m here. I think I’m back in Reaches and all the old anxieties that come with it. And then I remember….and it’s such a marvelous feeling, letting that all go. Knowing I am /Fortian/ now, and…Senior. It’s…reassuring, in a way. Frightening, yes, but…to have power? I…am beginning to enjoy it. It has security.” No one can push her around.

Mr’az shrugs his shoulders. “I’m not concerned about it. But thanks, Nyalle. I’m sure they will.” In time, in time. Watching her, his smile remains even while she speaks, soft and gentle. “Reaches is your past now and Fort is your home. I understand what you mean though. It seems… surreal, at times.” Reaching forwards, he will gently take her hand in his and squeeze. “But I am happy to hear you say that you are beginning to enjoy it.” Finally!

Nyalle smiles, setting her tea cup aside and scooting over when he takes her hand, moving close to his side to nestle and snuggle there. “Surreal. Yes. Almost…as if it’s too good to be true.” She is wary. “I should visit Fairfield soon,” she murmurs, fingers tracing the skin on the back of his hand. “Would you go with me?”

Mr’az will slip his arm around her and snuggle back, keeping his one hand linked with hers until she traces along the back of it. “Don’t,” he says, looking up at her with a cautious look. “Don’t think like that, Nyalle. This is a good thing. Deserved and yours.” No dream. Or is he dreaming in thinking that nothing will come along to ruin it all? “Fairfield? Your home hold?” he murmurs softly and then with a quiet chuckle he will kiss the side of her head. “Of course I’d come with you.”

Nyalle dips her head in a slight nod, not arguing his words. He’s right, of course, but still. Her life has been so uncertain /this/ far, it’s hard to let go of those concerns. “Yes, my home cothold,” she says, glancing at him. “It’s not a very…happy place.” Last chance to bow out.

Mr’az still bears his personal concerns too but he has always been so supportive of Nyalle (and anyone he cares about, really). Zhirazoth keeps his confidence riding high enough, but one has to wonder if he ever confides enough in other humans. “Not… happy?” he says slowly. No, he’s not bowing out and he hugs her closer to him. “Tell me?” She probably already has, once, but never hurts to have a refresher?

Nyalle leans, content to feel his solid warmth beside her. “Just my mother, father, and my older brother there now. You know I lost my two younger siblings in the famine some turns back…before I Impressed.” She was there. She survived that winter while the two younger children did not. “It’s not a happy place but they push on. I feel…it’s difficult going home.”

Mr’az supports her eagerly and comforts her too — or tries too. “Ahh, yes. I remember.” How could he forget something like that? He does not press her for further details. Why open those old wounds? He’ll brush his lips against her hair and then leans back. “Is it guilt that you feel?” he asks as gently and softly as he can. Curious, at least, in that respect.

Nyalle winces, flushing darkly. “So much guilt,” she whispers. “I sent them marks when I could, but they lost…me. Another child, so soon after losing two others. Then I impressed gold. There’s this…perception that my life is wonderful and amazing, and it is, but I feel just…awful going home. It’s so hard. They’re happy to see me but it’s awkward. I think…I don’t know. It’s hard.”

“Nyalle…” Mr’az begins, only to hesitate and falter back into silence. Who is he to talk? After being wounded (in more ways than one), he had no desire to stay in his family home despite them needing him. He left, instead, to forge his own way. Does he even speak to them (or them to him)? “You did what you could. You do what you can even now.” he finishes lamely, his arm still around her now hugs her close again and his hand rubs gently against her shoulder. “Taking all this guilt… it isn’t good. But I understand why you do.” But what more can be done?

Nyalle nods with a soft sigh. “I just wish…I wish they’d move. I wish they’d come here. I don’t even like seeing High Reaches Weyr right now. But that’s home. That’s our family’s cothold, small though it is. It’s our history, it’s where I’m from.” Shifting, she looks up at him, then towards the exit. “Now?” Now…what?

Mr’az lifts his hands and gently cups her sides of her face, thumbs tracing her cheekbones in a reassuring and featherlight touch. “You can’t force them, Nyalle. No matter how good of a decision it seems. And I wish it were so easy. If to just give you peace of mind.” he murmurs and he will look down at her and smile, only to glance towards the exit. Now? “What is it?”

Nyalle closes her eyes and flushes slightly when he touches her. “You are so supportive of me…” Sometimes she worries he’s /too/ supportive. “Now…do you want to go now?” It’s evening here, it’ll be a bit earlier in High Reaches. Dinner time, or just past. For a farming cothold, now’s the time to visit.

Mr’az supports her because of his love for her and their friendship prior to that. He is not blinded by it, however and if he feels Nyalle is in the wrong… he will speak up. Has done so, in the past. Just as he tried to warn her about her mindset involving the Weyrleader and her “duty” as Weyrwoman or to the rider(s) whose dragon caught Kayeth. “Now? To Fairfield?” It takes him a moment to calculate to change in time and when he does, his small smile says all. “Why not. If now is when you want to go… I am free to join you.” So it’s settled!

Nyalle smiles, relieved. “Right. Okay.” Sitting up, she slides off the couch and sets her tea cup down. “Just let me change and we’ll be on our way…” And off she goes with swift, light steps into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.

Mr’az will sit up as well and slowly lets her go as she steps away. He almost gets to his feet then too, but she closes the door behind her and he’ll… try not to pout. Waiting on the couch, he will stretch out a bit and let his eyes drift closed for a moment. Maybe he should have had that second mug of klah?

It’s a habit, the closing of the door. She’s not gone long, emerging a few minutes later in a long, heavy gown warm enough for between and her home cothold. Dark colors of black and blue, the gown is a very, very simple one. No jewelry either. Nor does she wear the white cloak he got her. Instead, she’s chosen an itchy black wool one. Nothing flashy except her knot, pinned beneath her cloak. Hair is braided and pulled back into a bun. “Okay.” Fidget. “I’m ready.”

“Hello, beautiful.” Mr’az murmurs in an almost lazy voice as his eyes drift open when Nyalle steps back out and… begins to fidget? Stretching, he will push to his feet and step to her side. Carefully he will gather her into his arms, into a brief embrace as he kisses the top of her head. “Let’s go, Nyalle. It’ll be alright.” he reassures her again and offering her his arm, he will lead her out towards the wallows.

Nyalle flushes gently at his comments, leaning into his hug. He might be able to feel her heart pounding with her nervousness as she returns it and then takes his arm. “Thank you,” she murmurs. Out in the wallow, Kayeth shifts away from Zhirazoth and stretches, holding still while her rider pulls on her straps. While Nyalle is nervous, Kayeth is calm and poised, a perfect counterpoint to her rider’s fidgeting. They are a well matched pair. The gold reaches outto the bronze and share the image of the cothold on a bluff overlooking the sea. Rocky fields, uneven fences, and a darkening sky.

Mr’az probably does, which may explain why his hands linger to caress and pat her back gently. Confidence! Yet he won’t nag her on it and as they walk out to the wallow and ledges, he will join Zhirazoth and check on the bronze’s straps and swiftly adjusting several of the buckles. While his rider tends to that, the young bronze will take the image from Kayeth and absorb it, in every minute detail. « I know where we must go. » he says confidently, rustling his wings. With a parting look and perhaps a few low spoken words to Nyalle, Mr’az will then turn and mount up, buckling himself in after grabbing his helmet from one of the side pouches. He’ll wait on Kayeth and Nyalle to take to the skies first, before guiding Zhirazoth to following them and their cues, to go Between.

Kayeth lets her rider get settled before the fiery queen surges into the evening sky with a sweep of her powerful, slender wings. Up they soar, and once she’s circled one time she vanishes between…

Appearing again above the desolate, lonely Fairfield cothold. The sky is lighter here, but still after sunset with the sea shifting gently with dark waves, ships tied in at the dock at the base of the bluffs. The winding path leads to the cothold at the top of the bluff, and the crooked fences are stone and wood, cobbled together and hastily maintained against the harsh winds that often blow. There are no trees here, nothing to break the wind except for those stone walls that line the gardens and fields and paddocks. It is a lonely, windswept place, and Kayeth begins to circle down. Reaching her thoughts to Zhirazoth’s, she directs his attention to a small rise a short distance from the bluff, with many stones set into the weathered ground. « Where her siblings are buried. We will stop there first. » So Nyalle can pay her respects, and also to give those in the house a moment to compose themselves when they realize Nyalle is here. The queen settles neatly a short distance from the cemetery, crouching with a soft rumble to let Nyalle dismount into the soft earth.

« We will follow. » Zhirazoth confirms to Kayeth and respectfully he will follow the fiery gold down to that windswept ground, over to that small rise. For once, the bronze seems almost subdued. Perhaps by Mr’az’s request? Or he’s picking up on a similar behavior in his rider. Settling next to Kayeth, Zhirazoth will crouch down to allow Mr’az to dismount and the bronzerider will step without pause or question to join Nyalle and take her arm in his if she wishes to.

Nyalle moves with slow steps into the small graveyard, to a little corner where two little headstones rest, carved with the names of her siblings, and their dates of birth and death. So close together - far, far too close together. She crouches down, resting a hand on each of them, her head bowed on this wild and windswept piece of earth, spending a moment with them both, in her own memories. Behind, Kayeth rumbles softly and gently leans against Zhirazoth. « We usually bring something. » But this time they didn’t.

« Perhaps they can come back before we return and leave a small token then? Something from the hold… » Zhirazoth suggests as he leans back against Kayeth, his whirling eyes focused on their riders. Mr’az will walk alongside Nyalle, his eyes scanning the headstones and his mouth set in a grim, saddened line. He will stand by her as she crouches down, head bowed respectfully for the first few moments before he too crouches next to her and rests his hand flat against her back. He’ll take note of those dates and it saddens his heart further. Such a cruel twist of fate, to take those lives so young. Yet it seems to happen and they are powerless to stop it.

« Perhaps, » Kayeth rumbles softly. « If mine wishes to visit once more. She usually just leaves. » This is a complicated place, and Kayeth shifts a bit uneasily for it. Nyalle shifts a bit, leaning back against Mr’az’s hand with a soft breath. “I miss them,” she whispers. “They had so much /life/ in them.” and then…they didn’t. Another breath and she pushes to her feet, reaching for his hand and giving it a squeeze. “My family doesn’t mean to offend,” she says quietly, “if they do. Let’s go.” She lets his hand go then, moving towards the cothold while Kayeth stays where she is, hunkered down by the cemetery. As Nyalle walks, the door to the cothold opens, and a young man steps out with his arms open. “Nyalle.”

“Nstran,” she, whispers, moving with swift steps through the small garden gate and up the path to move into his arms and give him a tight hug. So far, the reception is good? She hugs him tightly and then steps away a bit, lit by the light from the doorway. “This is Bronzerider Mr’az,” she says, gesturing back towards her companion. “He’s escorting me this evening.” As is proper.

Nstran eyes Mr’az, an arm slung around his younger sister’s shoulders while he extends his other. “Bronzerider, well met,” he says, voice a little stiff and formal. cautious. “Welcome to Fairfield. Please, both of you, do come in.”

« We will leave it to her to decide. » Zhirazoth whuffles towards Kayeth and will lean in against her, lending her strength and comfort for her unease. By Nyalle’s side, Mr’az glances sidelong from the headstones to her, meeting her eyes and not bothering to hide his sadness and understanding. Now it is all the more real how hard it must’ve been, IS for the goldrider. “And they are remembered.” he says softly while rising to his feet beside her. A brow quirks and he nods. “I’ll keep that in mind.” he tells her as he takes her hand and squeezes back in return, following her onward towards the cothold. Through the small garden gate and up the path, hanging back while Nyalle greets her older brother. Mr’az will dip his head in a respectful manner, as well as a half-bow to follow. “Well met, Nstran.” he says, his voice level and even, despite the other man forgoing using his name, noting the stiff and formal voice. He’ll tread carefully. “Thank you.”

Nstran eyes Mr’az a moment longer, and then gives Nyalle’s shoulders a squeeze, his expression fond as he looks at her. “Come on in, we just finished up dinner.” Which, his gaze says, she did on purpose. Which she did. Turning, he escorts her into the house, his hand shifting from her shoulders to her back, polite, maintaining contact. He holds the door for Mr’az once they’re inside.

The cothold is small but clean, a quaint three bedroom stone house, built low to the ground because of the wind. It needs repair, certainly, there are things to be done to it, but all in all it’s a cozy home. Sitting on couches by the fireplace are Nyalle’s parents. Nyshton rises, brushing his calloused hands on his pants and opening his arms for his daughter. “Nyalle,” he says, and there is love in his voice as he greets her. Likewise, her mother does the same. There is love there, but…there is strain. Stress. An uncomfortable lingering sadness and awkwardness.

“Father, this is Bronzerider Mr’az, one of my clutchmates from High Reaches and now a Fortian rider,” Nyalle says, leaning against her father as he keeps his arm slung ‘round his little girl. The man eyes Mr’az up and down, then extends a hand. “You’re her escort tonight, then?”

Her mother dips in a curtsey and murmurs ‘bronzerider’ before she moves into the little kitchen to make them all some tea, clinking and clanking in there.

Mr’az will step inside the cozy home, his eyes roaming over the room, taking in the larger details and the subtler ones. Careful too, to keep his observations as low key as possible, not wishing to cause offence should any of Nyalle’s family think he is staring or, worse yet, judging them. More introductions now and he will give a curious but welcoming look and small, reserved smile to Nyshton and his wife. Nothing the difference in the greetings, Mr’az will half-bow to Nyalle’s mother and then extend his hand to take Nyshton’s in a firm grip. “Well met.” he says and then smiles, his eyes shifting briefly to Nyalle. “I am her escort tonight, yes.”

Nyalle smiles, about to speak up before her mother’s voice comes from the kitchen. “Nyalle? Help with the tea?” Giving Mr’az an apologetic look, the young Senior detangles from her father’s embrace to step into the kitchen, skirts swishing.

“Let me take your coat,” Nstran says, reaching out a hand for Mr’az’s jacket. “How’re things in Fort?” The question is polite, the tone strained. Meanwhile, Nyalle’s father shakes Mr’az’s hand firmly and then sits in his chair once more, feet towards the fire, and sinks into a thoughtful and brooding silence.

Mr’az is quick to give Nyalle a brief and reassuring smile. It’ll be alright! Right? So far the bronzerider feels pretty confident. Sure, there’s awkwardness but he’s dealt with such situations before. How bad can it be? Unfastening his jacket, he’ll murmur his thanks to Nstran while offering it to the young man. He’ll leave Nyalle’s father to return to his chair, his eyes lingering for only a heartbeat before drifting back to Nstran. Again, the strained tones! Mr’az tries not to let his smile slip, keeping his voice neutral but pleasant. “Things are well in Fort. We are just coming out of the winter seasons and activity is beginning to pick up. Nyalle would know the complete details, as I’ve not long since transferred to Fort Weyr.” he murmurs. A half truth, but… how much is he permitted to say?

Nstran neatly hangs Mr’az’s coat and gestures for him to have a seat in the other chair, while he sits on one end of the couch. He glances at his father briefly, and then back to Mr’az with another smile. “Wonderful. Glad to hear it. Ah. Would she? I will ask.” To which his father snorts softly, shifts in his chair, and regains his silence. Nstran glances at him, then back to Mr’az, his smile a bit more strained. “Why did you transfer from High Reaches?”

Mr’az will also glance towards Nyalle’s father when the man snorts, but he makes no remark on it. Instead, he offers another neutral smile to Nstran and steps forwards to politely settle himself into the other chair. As for the question that follows, the bronzerider sits a little straighter for it. So much for coming off as neutral and relaxed? What does he tell him? How much does Nyalle’s family know? “Zhirazoth and I felt that it was time that we try a new home. A new challenge, as he puts it. New Wing, new people. A fresh start.”

Nyshton snorts at that answer, turning a hard, work-worn face to look at Mr’az. “Not because you’re sleeping with my daughter?” Oh dear.
“Dad,” Nstran says, his voice low but warning.
“Don’t,” Nyshton says sharply, holding up a hand and then getting to his feet. “This is /your/ fault,” he says, pointing at his eldest - his only - son. “You’re the one that sent her to the weyr to impress. Now she’s nothing but a common whore.”
That’s when Nyalle steps out of the kitchen, tea tray in hand, smile on her face. Tea is…served? Her expression shifts, blanching, going pale as she hears her father’s words. Her smile does not falter, but it becomes fixed. And she just stands there, frozen, staring at her dad.
Outside, Kayeth rumbles in anger, her thoughts whirling with a harsh, desert wind. « He hurts mine every time we come, » she hisses, tail lashing.

Starting a bit, Mr’az won’t drop his eyes or blush, stammer or behave in any way that appears “weak”. He wants to but he clamps down on that, knowing it’d be the easy way to avoid confrontation. What he WON’T do either is just sit there and let the man, who is (supposedly) Nyalle’s loving father to call her a whore. So his jaw firms, working silently as he takes a slow breath, eyes narrowing and growing hard and guarded. She warned him and he wasn’t cautious enough. “No, not because I am sleeping with your daughter, sir. However, I did, in part, transfer because she is a good friend of mine.” So why not? “She is the Weyrwoman of Fort.” he corrects firmly, some heat in his voice but not overly dripping in anger. His eyes shift from Nyshton to Nstran, then to Nyalle when she returns… right at the wrong time. His features soften, almost apologetic. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

Outside, Zhirazoth bristles, his tail twitching and wings rustling in agitation. A storm brews on the horizon of his thoughts, a pressure beginning to build along with salt-scented winds to match those of Kayeth’s deserts. « Why? Is he blind to her strength or intimidated by it? » the bronze rumbles low.

Nstran steps between his father and Mr’az, a simple, short step meant to forestall anything getting worse. “Dad,” he says firmly.
But Nyshton will not be silenced. Not yet. “Oh!” he crows, with a harsh laugh, “so you’re sleeping with her and you’re just friends? Is that how it’s going these days? You just proved my point, bronzerider. The weyr took a /good/ girl from us.” And then he looks up to see Nyalle, and to his credit there is a small flicker of regret in his eyes. But he pushes it down. “She is Fort’s Weyrwoman. No longer a daughter of mine.” With that, he grabs his hat and stomps outside, slamming the door behind him.
Nyalle just stares, watching him go. She flinches when her mother steps up behind her, touching a hand to her shoulder. “The tea, Nyalle,” she says softly, as if immune to what just occured. With a slight nod, Nyalle steps forward and gently sets the tray down on the low klah table, kneeling beside it and beginning to pour for the men, her head down as she does so, hair falling forward to shield her face.
Outside, Kayeth hisses, tail twitching. « She does not /show/ it, » she says. Her eyes gleam red as Nyshton emerges, the fiery gold hissing at him. He looks up sharply at both dragons, and then turns to retreat into the barn and his workshop.

Mr’az’s eyes drift closed as he clenches his jaw tightly to keep from snapping something at Nyalle’s father. How stupidly he walked right into the man’s trap! His eyes will open again when Nstran steps between them, lifting his hand to wave off the brother’s interference. It’s fine, it’s fine! But it’s too late. Nyshton has said his piece and stormed out and Mr’az is almost half out of his seat by then, only to settle back heavily as Nyalle moves forwards to continue with the tea. Watching her carefully, he may want nothing more than to gather her in his arms right now but he can’t. Or can he? How much does he wish to shock her family in one night? “My apologies.” he says instead, eyes drifting to Nstran and Nyalle’s mother. “I did not mean to cause… any upset.” Not that HE is in the wrong but… there it is? And his voice holds a subtle note of his displeasure. He’s angry but he is struggling to keep it down.

Outside, Zhirazoth rumbles and leans heavily against Kayeth, trying to sooth her even as his body trembles and tenses with his rider’s anger and insult. « She should defend herself to this man! He is cruel. » When Nyshton appears, the bronze will growl low as well, eyes whirling in yellow and orange to warn the man off. Yeah, that’s right! Go cower in your stupid barn. He snorts, unimpressed.

Nyalle pours and prepares their tea, before she makes her mother a cup and then one for herself. Her mother sits, and things drift into a long, uncomfortable silence. A minute passes, then two, and no one speaks. And it’s clear no one /should/ be speaking. Tea time is a time for silence, not socializing. Five minutes go by, and then Nyalle’s mother rises. “Excuse me, sir,” she says with a slight dip to Mr’az, “evening chores.” She nods to her son, ignores her daughter, and then follows her husband out to the barn for the night’s milking and mucking.
As soon as she’s gone, Nstran exhales a heavy sigh and a muttered, “Fuck,” and sets his tea cup down, leaning back heavily against the couch. “Nyalle, get up off the floor,” he murmurs, gesturing for her to come sit beside him.
The young weyrwoman lifts her eyes and slowly pushes herself to her feet, barely darting a glance at Mr’az before she settles down beside her brother. He reaches out briefly to touch her knee, give it a squeeze, and then he sighs. “Listen,” he murmurs to her, “I never should have let you go to the weyr…”

Mr’az will take his cup and share of the tea and if Nyalle is the one to pass it, he will try to subtly and in a hidden way, let his fingers graze hers. A fleeting moment of support and comfort. Something to keep him from just getting to his feet, grabbing Nyalle by the arm and storming out of the cothold. Her family cothold. If this had been any other cothold, he’d have done that long ago. He holds his peace only because he does not wish to damage what is already strained any further. So he mulls over his thoughts and struggles to quell his anger while sipping on tea he barely tastes and the silence draws on and on. He nods to acknowledge Nyalle’s mother’s leave, but Nstran is given a sharp look for his swearing and followed by a narrowed stare for what he begins to say to his sister. He can’t stay silent forever and he will clear his throat before stepping in again. “I don’t think there should be any blame or guilt laid here.” he says, shifting to set his cup aside, the tea within barely touched.

Nstran snorts softly, shaking his head as he looks across the table to Mr’az. “Well I do. I was the one who encouraged her to stand. She didn’t even want to. I pushed it.”
Nyalle just sits there quietly, hands folded neatly in her lap, head down, eyes staring at the tea service in the middle of the table. Then she pushes to her feet. “I’m going to get more hot water,” she murmurs. “If you’ll both excuse me.” Gathering the kettle, she’s gone quickly, leaving Nstran nodding and then rubbing his hands over his face in silent frustration.

Kayeth hisses, her mind rolling with distant storms. « She has shut off. »

Mr’az is about to answer Nstran, only to drift silent as Nyalle pushes to her feet and excuses herself now too. “Of course.” he says, but from his tone and the look he gives her, he’s worried. He knows her well enough by now to know there is more and he has to struggle again with that desire to just call off this visit. Instead he stays, seated in his seat and awkward, while Nyalle leaves and he is left alone with Nstran. “It was meant to be.” Mr’az states low and flatly. “You should be proud of her. She has stepped into her role as Weyrwoman.” Hesitantly, he adds after a moment in an even quieter tone. “And she holds her own guilt.” Which he feels is warranted to a degree but shouldn’t be enforced as it is by her own family.

Nyalle vanishes into the kitchen, pulling the curtain closed behind her. In the main room, Nstran reaches for a cookie and breaks it in half before eating it. “Has she?” he asks, sounding genuinely surprised at that. “I can’t see…” There’s a pause. “Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister. But I just can’t understand how a gold picked her. Or how she could be, well…any good at being Weyrwoman. I was quite shocked when she won Senior. Thought she’d be better suited as a Junior forever.” There’s another pause, staring at the fire. “I know she does. She feels she abandoned us. And she did. It’s been hard, these last few turns. Very hard.”

“She has.” Mr’az states without hesitation, his eyes now levelling on Nstran. He smirks, “No one can guess as to how or why a dragon chooses. Kayeth found Nyalle suitable and there is no changing it. She has had to overcome many hurdles and difficulties but she has managed.” With some major blunders concerning the Weyrleader and R’lor’s brainwashing and the damage done by High Reaches but he brings no mention of that. “Some goldriders are Junior forever. Not so for her, but she has grown and shown strength. Fort welcomed her.” Accepted her. Mr’az’s eyes narrow as he just stares at Nyalle’s brother. “How did she? You said so yourself that you encouraged her to Search. It was out of her hands what happened come Hatching day. Nor should she feel guilty for what fate dealt her!”

Nstran opens his mouth and then closes it, sighing. “I’m glad to hear she’s doing well. Hard to imagine her being /Senior/…” What with her being so submissive and silent when she’s here, which is most of what he knows of his sister, save for a few glimpses of deeper parts of her when they were younger, in happier times. “And you?” he asks then, looking up at the bronzerider. “More than her escort, yes?”

Mr’az slowly makes himself relax when Nstran does not argue with him. “The same thought crosses her mind and I was surprised to see her into the position so soon.” So soon. So he figured it was in Nyalle’s cards all along, just a matter of when. Smirking, he nods his head. No sense lying, when he all but made it clear in front of Nyalle’s father. “More than her escort.” he confirms and now his gaze will leave Nstran and settle instead on that curtain. Where is Nyalle? His worry for her may show in a brief flicker before Mr’az guards himself. “Far more.” he says quietly.

Nstran nods, a wry grin tugging at his lips. “You and me both.” So soon…and at all. His eyes flick to the curtain, and back to Mr’az. “Don’t worry, she’s fine. Just taking herself out of it for a bit.” Or so he thinks. “How much more?” he presses, eying the bronzerider again.

Mr’az smirks and lets the matter drop for now. He does not seem convinced or reassured by Nstran’s quick dismissal of Nyalle’s well being, but he’s distracted in trying to find a polite way to excuse himself by his pressing and prying. Again, he tenses in his seat and his eyes narrow and he will lick at his lips as he considers stonewalling Nstran, only to scrap that. Fine. Fine! He wants to know so damn bad? He’ll get the truth. “We were Candidates together and then clutchmates together. So a good, strong friendship.” Familiarity and shared experiences. Not even half of it. “Which progressed to… something more and even before Zhirazoth won Kayeth’s maiden flight. I have done my best to be at her side for all she’s had to go through, as a friend, as a lover.” There, he said it. Happy now? “And more than that.” What more does he want him to say?

Nstran nods his head slightly, glancing at the curtain, and then back to Mr’az. “And what my father called her. That’s not…” Is his little sister a whore?

“No.” Mr’az’s voice has gone cold and yet he cannot fault Nstran and Nyalle’s father entirely. He was holderbred once. Held the same views, believed the same rumors and gossiped myths about dragonriders and Weyr life. He exhales heavily. “She is not a whore, Nstran. A lot of what is gossiped about the ah… relaxed ways of a Weyr are wrong or incorrectly expanded on. It is true that a rider has no choice in a mating flight, but it does not mean one just goes freely and wantonly with anyone outside of it.” Well… SOME do, but he won’t go into details. Clearing his throat, Mr’az adds in a very low, quiet voice. “Aside from myself, I believe Nyalle only shared Weyrleader Th’ero’s company but that was by Kayeth’s flight, as Velokraeth was the winner.” Sorry, Nyalle. He had too. How else would they see?

Nstran frowns a bit, his mind working to comprehend these differences to what he’s heard, what he’s been taught. “Two partners, but neither of them her husband.” Define ‘whore’, then. He’s about to ask another question but then Nyalle is there in the doorway again, shoulders back, chin up. “I’m ready to depart, Mr’az.” There’s a brief hesitation. “If you are.” Nstran is quick to rise, emotions flickering swiftly through his gaze. “Nyalle…”

Mr’az has to grit his teeth to keep from just tossing his hands and muttering some long string of frustrated half-curses for Nstran’s closeminded views. “Riders cannot marry, Nstran. We’re bonded too strong to our dragons and it has… just been the way for Turns and generations. We can ‘weyrmate’, which is as close as we can get to a wife and husband and some of us DO choose to have one constant partner… outside of flights!” he mutters, only to abruptly go silent as Nyalle returns. “Of course. I’ll just get my jacket.” Mr’az says without hesitation and glad to finally have reason to stand from his chair.

Nyalle nods to Mr’az, her expression impossible to read as he moves off. She moves forward towards her brother, chin up and shoulders back. “Nstran,” she says quietly, lifting a hand to cut him off when he speaks. Which he is quite surprised at, but he is quiet. “I will not visit again. If you wish to see me, and I hope you do, please find passage to Fort Weyr.”
Nstran’s mouth opens and closes, pain in his eyes. It’s echoed in his sister’s. “I can not be here any longer,” she whispers, her tone begging for him to understand as she reaches out to touch his arm. “It hurts too much, I’m sorry. Think me weak if you will, but I can not.”
Nstran just nods, and then they gather each other up into a tight hug. When she lets go, her cheeks are wet as she turns and waits for Mr’az to hold out her cloak for her to step into and fasten around her shoulders.

Mr’az freezes midway to fastening his jacket when Nyalle delivers her terms, his eyes widened in surprise. That… he did not expect that from her! He looks ready to protest, only to bite his tongue. No, he’ll talk to her later. Part of him is also pleased to see her standing up for herself, only to feel so rotten and guilty that he does given how much this must hurt her to do it. Isn’t that a sign of strength? He will let Nyalle and Nstran hug (for the last time) and his expression is sombre and subdued when she is ready he will have her cloak ready. Fastening it around her shoulders, he will reach for the door to open it… only to linger for a moment to glance over his shoulder to Nstran. Somehow thanking him for his hospitality seems… wrong, given the note they’re leaving on. Instead, he tries to give the man a look that silently conveys a simple thing: Mr’az will talk to Nyalle. Not that any promise is given of what the outcome will be. Slipping his arm around her, not caring how it looks, he will guide her through that door and out into the nighttime air.

Nyalle glances back once at her brother, pain clear in her eyes, and then she turns to walk out, stiff beneath Mr’az’s arm. From the barn, her mother watches, but the woman says nothing. Her father is nowhere to be seen. Nyalle’s steps are soft but swift as she moves, quicker and quicker, until she finally breaks away from Mr’az to bolt for a waiting Kayeth, hiccuping on a soft sob as she wraps her arms tightly around that golden muzzle, clinging firmly as she cries.

Mr’az will match her stride until she breaks away and bolts for Kayeth, letting her go and having to grit his teeth against the anger and frustration that wells up in him. Not towards her, but her family. Zhirazoth utters a low, sad croon and lowers his head to whuffle towards Nyalle and Kayeth when the goldrider comes to cling to her gold’s muzzle and cry. Mr’az will approach slowly, his expression now swept clear of that anger and frustration and replaced instead by sympathy for Nyalle. He will not interfere, however, for the moment, allowing her to have her moment with her dragon.

Nyalle clings tightly to Kayeth’s muzzle, listening to the gold’s rumbling, and listening mentally too. Finally, she straightens and wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. “Come,” she murmurs to Mr’az, gesturing. Though she doesn’t walk away. She moves to Kayeth’s side and mounts up, waiting for him to mount on Zhirazoth. With a soft croon, Kayeth springs aloft. « We fly straight. » To…where? The young queen doesn’t specify.

Mr’az will heed her gesture and nod in understanding. He does not hesitate long in Zhirazoth, lingering only once to watch her with a curious and concerned look. He knows she isn’t alright and he wants to comfort her but not leap into it (which must be grating on Zhirazoth’s nerves). Buckling in, he’ll have his bronze spring up after Kayeth and effortlessly join her up into the night sky. « We understand. Lead on and we will follow. » To wherever they feel they must go! No questions asked.

Kayeth soars over the cothold, flying low so they hear her passing. Perhaps one sees Nstran’s face briefly in the window as they pass overhead. Perhaps he knows where they’re going. Over the bluff Kayeth flies, letting the sea breezes lift her before she drops, flying low as she drops down over the cliff and soars along the beach, half her body over the sea and the other half over the sand.

Zhirazoth follows, flying as low as Kayeth and having to be restrained from doing anything foolish by Mr’az’s control. When they drop over the cliff and soar along the beach, the bronze rumbles in satisfaction, glad to be rid of the cothold behind them and now to be flying along the coast.

Kayeth flies for about five minutes, swift along the coastline, which continues to be rocky and bleak. Not a prime beach visitation spot, but it has a certain rugged beauty to it. The cliffs back up then as they round a small headland, and form a shallow, narrow bay. Here the sea washes in with more gentle waves, lapping against the stony shore before a narrow strip of sand separates it from the cliffs that tower overhead. A few trees cling stubbornly to the base of the cliffs, Faranth knows how, gnarled and weather-worn for turns upon turns. Kayeth lands, the queen having to land in the shallows and let her rider dismount, though she moves as close to the beach as possible to help Nyalle avoid getting wet as much as she can. It is chilly here, with sea spray heavy in the air, the scents of the ocean and wet stone clinging to everything. Nyalle dismounts and heads straight for one of the trees.

Zhirazoth follows Kayeth, his curiosity brimming at the unfamiliar lands. To him the ruggedness is beautiful beyond beautiful for the challenges and difficulties it could possess. So when they come to land on that narrow strip where a few stubborn, weather-worn trees cling, the bronze is swift to settle in the shallows in mimicry of the same efforts Kayeth goes through for her rider. Mr’az dismounts hurriedly and pulling his jacket up closer under his chin he will briskly follow Nyalle as she heads straight for one of the trees.

Nyalle climbs. Swift. Nimble. Eager. She shows a side of herself that she has never shown at the weyr - the wild girl, the climbing girl, the one who can scale trees and even these cliffs if given the reason to. This tree isn’t very tall but she scales it effortlessly, up to the highest branch large enough to support both of them. It runs right along the cliff face, giving a perfect perch to sit and rest with your back against the chilly stone. While Kayeth moves up onto the beach to curl herself tightly out of the water, Nyalle waits for Mr’az to join her.

Mr’az hurries a little in his steps when he realizes Nyalle is intent to climb the tree! Surprised is an understatement and he’s watching her with a puzzled look as she moves so effortlessly. How? When? And in skirts! He will follow but at a slower pace. Climbing isn’t unfamiliar to him, but the tree is and he’d rather not fall and break himself. There’s been enough hardship for one night. “Didn’t think you’d be the type to climb a tree,” he murmurs softly as he joins her on that large branch.

Nyalle scoots, letting him take the bit of the branch closest to the trunk. She smiles, though it’s strained. “Climbed a lot as a kid. Mostly with my brother. The others were too young.” Then they died. Her feet swing gently, heels bumping against the cliff as she stares at the sea. Then she sighs. “Did I do the right thing?”

Mr’az will make himself as comfortable as possible on the branch though it’s not the trunk of the tree he’s looking to for support. He smiles back, despite hers being so strained and will reach for her hand or to place his hand on her thigh. “I think you did.” he says after a moment, his frown heavy as he looks down to the ground below and then out over the water. “You love them, they’re your family but… they cannot accept what you’ve become. You’d only bring yourself more pain by visiting.”

Nyalle takes his hand gently, curling her fingers through his. “Kayeth was angry with me,” she murmurs. “She always gets angry when I visit. Because I am…how I’ve always been.” Submissive and serving. As she’s always learned and been taught. “I do love them. They’re all I have. I’m all they have…and yet…” Her father called her a whore. She sighs, head tilting forward slightly. “It’s so hard to visit.”

Mr’az holds firm to her hand and will try to shuffle a little closer to her on that branch. “Kayeth loves you and is only looking out for you and for what is best for you. They are you’re family and of course you love them. But they shouldn’t be allowed to just… walk over you like that. If your father had said… what he said… anywhere else he’d have been in deep waters for such insults against a Weyrwoman.” Shaking his head, he will turn to look at her and smile faintly. “And I can understand why it is so hard for you to visit. You did what you had to do, Nyalle. Maybe… maybe you could still write to your brother? He seemed… a little more open.” And loving.

Nyalle sighs, squeezing his hand gently. “He doesn’t know any better. Not that that’s an excuse. But he doesn’t. My brother is a good man. He just…no one knows how to react. They still grieve. They still hold so much anger towards the weyr. They feel my loss…like I abandoned them. They still grieve, even now…” She sighs, pushing hair away from her face with her free hand.

“Why is it the Weyr’s fault though, Nyalle? I know they grieve, but that is no excuse to use it against you when you too grieve and feel that guilt.” The guilt that Mr’az doesn’t believe she should HAVE to start with. He squeezes her hand back and leans against her gently. “Maybe your lack of visitation doesn’t have to be permanent, Nyalle. Write to your brother. Keep some small connection… but give time for things to settle.” But don’t sever herself out completely. It may work or it may backfire. But at least she tried?

Nyalle shrugs. “Because I left. I Impressed. I..am no longer Fairfield. I’m Kayeth’s.” Shifting, she leans against him with a soft sigh. “I will write. I hope he visits. He could see me elsewhere. In another environment. Then maybe he’ll see me as I am now instead of only remembering me as how I was.”

Mr’az frowns. “No longer Fairfield? Of course you’re still Fairfield! You are Kayeth’s, but by blood you are still Fairfield.” he points out, letting her hand go so he can slip his arm around her instead. Holding her to him, even as he braces himself against the branch. “Maybe he will? Nstran seemed like a good man.” Minus his views. Mr’az can’t hold that entirely against him though. He remembers what it was like to be holderbred.

Nyalle leans against him, slumping a bit. “He is,” she murmurs. “He is a good man and he’s got…he has a lot on his shoulders right now.” She sighs. “I’m sorry. I’d hoped that…that would have gone better. I should’ve known you being there…they’d see things the wrong way.”

Mr’az nods his head in understanding. A lone son? He can only imagine what may rest on Nyalle’s brother’s shoulders. Exhaling heavily, he glances sidelong to Nyalle. “Don’t. It’s not your fault.” He smirks. “Suppose they’d see me in a different light too. And I wasn’t the best at settling their worries. If anyone should apologize it should be me…” For what? Defending Nyalle?

Nyalle sighs, closing her eyes as she begins to relax. “What for?” she asks softly. “What happened anyway? How….things aren’t usually that bad. He’s never…Father has never said those things before.”

“Nothing I said seemed to help the situation, only make it worse. You warned me and I should have guarded myself with more caution.” Mr’az explains softly, only to grimace. His opinion of Nyalle’s father is not very high at the current moment but then… he only met the man once and has only SEEN that side of him. “He hasn’t?” he says, sounding doubtful as he looks down at Nyalle, holding her close against his side.

Exhaling softly, Nyalle opens her eyes to look out at the darkening sea. “No, he never has. Not to my face anyway. It’s always been tense but I always thought it was because of my siblings, or because I wasn’t there to help work. I didn’t know…I didn’t know he was also upset because of what I was now. Of who I’d become…” It’s hard when everything you are is criticized by a man you love.

Mr’az is at a loss of what to say to Nyalle in order to comfort her and his saddened expression shows this. His arm will hug her against him and he will lean his head down to kiss the top of her head. What else can he do or say, when the man involved for Nyalle’s upset is her own father? “It’s not your fault that he’s upset for that. There is no shame in all of what you have become.” There should be pride, at least! How many can say they are a Weyrwoman or even a goldrider! So few, so few.

Nyalle shakes her head. “I know it’s not something I should be ashamed of. Or him. He…it’s just…” Sigh. “It’s hard. Fairfield is so…not happy for me. It hurts to come here. I don’t know why I come. I should just send my brother marks and letters. Maybe that would be better for all of us. I just like visiting my siblings’ graves.”

“It is hard.” Mr’az agrees, unable to deny THAT fact and nor would he want too. Grimacing, he looks out over the waters below and can only shake his head. “You should be able to visit your sibling’s graves. It’s far enough from the cothold? As for the rest… I agree with the letters. Keep some contact but the visits…” May have to stop.

Nyalle considers that, staring out at the washing waves. “I will still visit,” she says softly. “Maybe…maybe my father will realize that he’s now lost three of his children. Maybe he will apologize.” Her eyes close once more and she leans heavily against his shoulder. “I’m sorry this was so hard…”

Mr’az nods his head again and gently rubs his hand along her arm, with his still looped around her. It’s a comforting and supportive gesture. “Sometimes that is the only way to make someone see that they’re wrong… as hard and difficult as it is.” he murmurs and leans back against her. He chuckles dryly. “Please don’t be sorry on my account, Nyalle! I’m not offended.” Anymore. “None of this is your fault. My frustration is directed more to your father and your brother.”

Nyalle nods, taking a few slow, deep breaths. “We used to all come here, my brother and I. He taught me to climb. Taught me…all sorts of things. Maybe someday…maybe someday I can repair that relationship.” She turns her head a bit. “You go home ever? What does your family think?”

“So it was your brother who taught you how to climb!” Mr’az muses and for the first time since they came here to her home cothold, he sounds amused. He figured she had had someone show her how to climb and be a little more than a ‘proper’ young girl. “Someday. Sometimes all it needs is time, Nyalle.” Blinking, he’s caught by surprise for her question and with a slight shake of his head, his mouth draws into a lopsided smirk. “No. I don’t go home, Nyalle. My family and I… We went separate ways before I chose to go to the Weyr. They have not written to me in some time.” He shrugs at this, as if it’s of no consequence to him. His wounds, though still sore, have long since begun to scab and heal over. “I’ve a new family now. In Zhirazoth, in you and Kayeth and those back at Fort Weyr. They are my family.”

The young Senior blushes slightly at his words, squeezing his hands tightly. “We’re making our own family,” she murmurs softly. “Do you think you’ll ever go back? Is there…do you miss it?” Is there any need to?

Mr’az squeezes her hand back and smiles for her soft spoken words. Shaking his head, he looks down at the hand he has currently twined with Nyalle. “No, I don’t think I will.” he says after considerable pause. “Part of me does, but part of me is aware that that was the past. A lot changed and… I don’t think they’d be the same people as I remembered them. I know I’ve changed. I’ve long since ceased to be Mrovazny.” he admits with a small smile.

Nyalle nods slightly, with a gentle smile. “Yes, you have. We’ve both changed. So, so much.” Her legs swing a bit, heels thunking gently against the cliff. “Well. Maybe I shouldn’t have come and I wish things had gone differently, but…thank you for coming. I’m glad you’re here now.” SHifting, she wraps both arms tightly around his waist, closing her eyes and nestling against his chest and shoulder.

Mr’az smiles back. “So we have.” he agrees and then shakes his head. “There’s a reason for everything. This visit was… necessary. It’ll perhaps allow you to begin to heal now.” Slowly. Maybe never quite completely, like he is. Chuckling dryly, he shifts against the branch, leaning against her but using the trunk of the tree to support them both as he wraps his arms around her in return, hands gently caressing as he holds her. “Of course I’d come. And I’m glad to be here with you.”

Nyalle sighs, nestling in close and giving him a gentle squeeze. “Thank you,” she murmurs. “I still…I still don’t know what you see in me, Mr’az,” she murmurs. “It’s like…I still won’t let myself believe that you care about me as much as you do.”

“And I won’t force you to believe me when I do say that I care about you,” Mr’az murmurs in return, lifting one of his hands to gently stroke it over her hair and down to caress over her shoulders and back in a soothing and comforting way. “But I do. And I hope someday you will see it and believe it too.” Smiling, he places another kiss against her forehead and then with a shiver when the wind picks up again, even here up in the tree, he gives her a quiet, lingering look. Time to return?

Nyalle shifts, leaning into his touches. She isn’t bothered by the wind. Rather, she turns her face towards it and breathes in deeply, letting it soothe and cleanse her. Then she notices his shiver. “Are you cold?”

“Maybe a little?” Mr’az admits without hesitation or shame, smiling as he draws her close to him again. He’ll inhale deeply too but only to exhale again and sag a bit beneath her as he relaxes, still supporting her easily and himself against that tree and branch.

Nyalle smiles, leaning her face up to gently kiss his cheek. “Then let’s head back home.” Because Fort is nice and warm, right? Ha. Moving away from him, she flexes her hands and then nimbly climbs down, hopping from branch to branch with easy familiarity. Down to the rocky shore, she turns to look up at him, smiling gently.

Mr’az tilts his cheek into her kiss and then chuckles. “I’m right behind you.” he murmurs. Fort could be warmer than High Reaches? He’ll wait until she’s climbed and hopped her way down before following. He’s not quite as nimble or graceful, having never really been a climber or practiced much in the last few Turns. Already Zhirazoth is likely thinking of ways to fix that. Slipping a bit on the last jump, Mr’az will recover and then sheepishly adjust and smooth down his jacket. Ahem. “Shall we?” he asks, offer her his hand.

Nyalle smiles, reaching out to briefly touch his arm, dipping her head in a small nod. “Yes,” she murmurs, slipping her hand into his and beginning to walk towards the dragons, where Kayeth at least is shifting and stretching languidly.

Mr’az takes a hold of her hand and walks alongside her in comfortable silence as they return to where their dragons are lounging. Zhirazoth is shaking himself out and stretching as well, pausing to give Kayeth a fond and adoring nuzzle to her neck.

Kayeth arches her neck with a soft and thankful rumble to Zhirazoth in response, before she’s nuzzling her rider gently. Nyalle pauses, turning to Mr’az, and then leaning in to kiss him. “My weyr?” she says softly, a touch of sheepishness and a touch of hope in her eyes.

Zhirazoth rumbles, pleased for Kayeth’s response and he will go about stretching his wings and (purposely) stretch his body out again as well. Slowly this time. Isn’t he a handsome and perfect bronze? Wiggle. Mr’az kisses Nyalle back, his arms slipping around her in a brief embrace. “I’d love to.” he murmurs, his head still bent in towards hers and smiling at her sheepishness.

Kayeth snorts, flicking a stone at the perfect bronze. Trying to knock him off his pedistal a bit? No, just teasing and playing, her mood lifting now that her rider’s is. Smiling, Nyalle is quick to mount up and buckle herself in, before sending Kayeth aloft and back to Fort with a blink between.


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