Fort Weyr - Stone Barn

Fashioned from the same volcanic material that houses the caverns, these square-cut stones have been laid by a mastercrafter stonemason turns ago to house the implements necessary in caring for Fort Weyr's stock. Large enough to stable several runners, there are also stalls for ailing herdbeast, with straw-covered stone floors within the stalls, the aisle outside swept clean. Overhead is a loft full of hay, grain bins, and other supplies. Large double doors open wide on either end and smaller windows higher up along the walls allow for light and the free flow of fresh air.
At either end of the structure are two work stations, one for leatherwork and another for healing: the waist-high counter of stainless steel with shelving above contains gadgets and tools, jars, bottles and boxes of salve, potion and powders - some of it fairly scary-looking like saws, clippers, clamps and needles. Mingled with the scent of animals and hay is a pungent medicinal smell that marks this as the healer area. The other has a wooden workbench with a rack of snippers, blades, mallets, awls and an anvil beside which are pegs with strips of leather, half-finished harnesses, whips, aprons and wide-brimmed hats. Overhead, shelves with jars of finish - dyes and oils, boxes of coiled rawhide thread for stitching and handtools indicates this is the leatherwork station.

Autumn has arrived, and that means gloomy skies and persistent rain. Today's rain is a gentle one at least, that doesn't make it too uncomfortable to wander around outside. It also means Ezra can wear his Stonehaven jacket without the threat of overheating, so he's happy with that. The teen is wandering with purpose, moving around in search of his friend D'ani. Infirmary? No. Library, kitchens, living cavern? All nos. Bathing cavern? Storage? Nope and nope. So he's trudging through the mud to the barn, pushing open the door and stepping inside, holding it open long enough for Zoi to trot in before he pushes the door closed. Ducking back as the canine gives herself a mighty shake, Ezra makes a disgruntled noise and flicks bits of mud from his coat, before stepping deeper into the stone barn.

The barns appear empty. The animals in here all appear fed, stalls cleaned, so perhaps the herders are out on fieldwork today or researching in the library or at class or something now that their barn chores are finished. D'ani is here though. He's sitting in a spot that gives him a bird's eye view of anyone entering - the hayloft. He's got his legs poked through the safety rail feet dangling over the side, arms draped on the lower board and forehead leaning against the topmost one while his dark eyes drift over the space within the stone walls. He seems almost… pensive. He doesn't have to move a muscle to drop his eyes to the aisle below when that door opens and Ezra enters. He waits until Zoi finishes shaking her fur to speak up. Then it's, "Hey Ezra." That's all. Well, that and a half-smile.

Ezra visibly jumps, startled by the voice from above (are you there, God? It's me…) and he jerks his head up. "Shards and shells, you scared me," the boy mutters, pressing a hand briefly to his heart. Bounding forward happily, Zoi circles the ladder a few times before deciding she can't climb it and finding a warm spot to flop down in, patient for her boy to be done. Ezra begins to climb, careful that his slick boots don't slip on the rungs. "What're you doing up there?" he asks. "Never seen you just…sitting."

"Sorry about that," D'ani apologizes, but his grin widens a wee bit because he finds a bit of boyish humor in having startled his friend. "Hey Zoi-girl!" he calls to the canine below. He'll go down presently and give her a good scritch. For now though, he remains motionless and as Ezra climbs the ladder his eyes returning to drift lazily over the environs below. "Me? Can't do much one-handed," he says wryly with a gesture to his healing arrow-shot shoulder. Though why he's up here? "I'm sort of saying goodbye to the place," he explains quietly, seeming a touch melancholy.

Zoi's tail goes thump thump thump against the floor at the sound of her name, but she doesn't get up from her snug place near one of the stall doors. Sitting beside his friend, Ezra frowns at his shoulder and then his heart lurches, body twitching, "Goodbye?" he whispers, eyes widening and expression falling.

"Yeah," D'ani says drawing in a long breath through his nose, savoring the scent of hay and herdbeast. He turns his head on the board to better see his friend. That's when he sees his expression. "Oh! Not…goodbye goodbye. I'm not leaving the Weyr or anything like that. Just…" When the hand on his unhurt side waves in a general gesture to the stalls and workspaces below, his knot flutters. It'd different somehow than the one he's been wearing. "…it won't be in here that my work is done." Well, not much anyway. "I'm going to miss it," he says simply.

Ezra lets out his breath in a rush, shoulders sagging even as he glowers a bit. Scare number two! "Good," he murmurs, legs swinging and hands tucked between his knees. Turning his head, he finally notices the knot and blinks at it. "Wait. That's a…wait…" He was never good at his Harper lessons. "You're /Weyrleader/?"

There was no flailing with Th'ero and Kimmila over the offer of the knot D'ani now wears. But Ezra's comment elicits major flailing now. "Shells no!" he says vehemently with a grin and then pokes the boy in the shoulder. "Did you hear anything about a goldflight? I'm Weyrsecond," he explains. Which will leave little time for beastcrafting, but that's why he's here - he's working through that.

Ezra squints at the knot and then throws up his hands. "How'm I supposed to know?" he asks. "No gold flight but I've heard all /sorts/ of things about Th'ero's health." Then he smiles. "Weyrsecond? That's…you'll be good at that!" He looks at his friend, beaming, and looks very proud.

"Wouldn't you have felt a little like-" Nevermind, he's probably been too young thus far to be hit by the goldlust broadcasted during those rare flights. Subject chaaaaaange! "Oh have you?" he asks curiously of the Weyrleader's health. He's heard nothing! "He looked a little tired when I saw him, but otherwise alright. And thanks, I'll try to be? Oh! Hey Th'ero got his sword back," D'ani tacks on there at the end, watching his friend closely.
Inri is the rider of Gold Kouzevelth.

Ezra shakes his head, "I heard all /sorts/ of things. You know how people gossip. Heard he died, he was dying, Kimmila was dying, he was mourning her…" The boy shakes his head again and snorts. "Don't like the gossip," he mutters. "You know /facts/. He got his sword back?" This interests him. "Laris is dead then? For sure? Have you seen his body?" A dark glint touches the boy's pale eyes.

Yeah, D'ani's pretty sure the Weyrleader was wounded and is hiding that, he wouldn't put it past the man. "I know some facts," he says without going into the ones he knows. He'd probably choke up telling him of the poignant scene on the beach he'd witnessed through his own pain-filled haze. "Yeah, he got it out of the corpse, but I didn't see it." He would ask that! "Ezra, I wouldn't know Laris if I met him. I've never seen him. Th'ero saw it though, and identified it as Laris. He's definitely dead - gone forever. He'll never bother you again." He peers closely at the boy to see whether this will sink in, relieve him somewhat.

Ezra shifts a bit, squirming almost until he holds him still. "Tell me what happened," he says, and though his voice is soft it's more of a statement than a question. He frowns down at the floor, peering past his swinging shoes. "I want to see his body," he says firmly, eyes narrowing. Nope, no relief yet. It has not sunk in and he's carried this hatred for far too long.

What happened. SO much happened. D'ani sighs. How to start? "There was a mess of people on a little island with rickety-built wooden platforms and walkways all over the place. The people panicked when we arrived and started running everywhere. Dremkoth and I were to help keep them from escaping with intimidation tactics. Inri was organizing the people who surrendered. Th'ero, Kimmila, Abigail and a few others figured out where Laris and his core group were likely to be and went for them. They got into swordfights at the top of the peak on a platform built over a cliff. I couldn't see if our guys took any hits - too much happened too fast. Just as the platform collapsed I saw Th'ero sink his sword into Laris' chest. Then he and Abbey - along with Laris and his men all fell with it. Kimmila screamed-" His throat closes and it's while he's swallowing that he hears what Ezra wants. "What?!" The boy gets a bug-eyed stare. "You should have asked Th'ero the day after. That body was fish-bait for a time and it's been long enough that the carcass is turned all black and blown up like a-" He stops, a harsh laugh, not meant for Ezra but for having to even say it, "Just… no! You don't want that, Ezra. You think you do, but you do not want that image in your head. Th'ero will never let you. Besides, I'm sure he's buried or been cremated by now." A sigh. "You want the rest of the story?"

Ezra looks down, a little guilty. "I just…" he murmurs, before he sighs. Shoulders slump and his elbows rest against his thighs, face in his hands. The teen is quiet for a long moment before he looks up at D'ani, gaze intense. "You're /sure/ he's dead," he whispers. If he can't see with his own eyes, he is going to have to trust. And the only person he trusts that much is D'ani. "You're sure," he whispers again. After that, he nods. "Yeah." He wants the rest of the story. "They fell?"

D'ani gentles his tone as Ezra slumps, "It's an image that will haunt you, trust me on that, Ezra. And you've got enough of those in your head already." He grimaces in pain, the muscle near his healing wound protesting as he as he lifts an arm placing a hand on his friend's shoulder and gives it a reassuring squeeze. When the boy looks up, he answers, eyes never leaving Ezra's, "I believe Th'ero. I trust what he's told me. Laris is dead." Maybe the harpers drew a picture? That'd be drawn a lot kinder than what Ezra would actually see, but the facial features would be unmistakable. With the prompt D'ani continues, "So they fell into the water - all but Abbey and one of Laris' men. Velokraeth - and Varmiroth went crazy. They… didn't come back up. Dremkoth raked the water trying to fish Th'ero out. We, uh, couldn't find him. While we circled around for another pass I saw Abbey clinging to the cliff and Laris' man trying to kick her fingers off the rock. While we were getting Abbey, the man fell." He doesn't sound sorry about that one bit. When I took Abbey to the island beach I saw… I saw…" He stops there.

Ezra leans into his friend's touch, nodding his head and exhaling softly. "It's just so…" Anti-climactic is the word the teen is looking for, but he doesn't know that word. "Like. It's over. You guys leave, and come back, and it's over, and I didn't do or see any of it." But then he quiets to listen, eyes staring at the floor but his attention riveted on his friend. "What?" he whispers, darting a glance over at him.

"I know," D'ani says simply, understandingly in the pause after he says those final words abut Laris. "Endings are weird like that. Abrupt, without warning and irrevocable." Both of them already know this from personal experience. "It will take some time for the reality to sink in, Ezra." So when he tells the story and gets to the part his throat closes up, he is looking towards the barn wall opposite the loft but he's seeing the beach. "They'd pulled Th'ero from the water. He wasn't moving. I thought he was dead. Kimmila was crying on him…" A muscle jerks as his jaw is clenched, but what D'ani is trying to contain escapes anyway and traces the five o'clock shadow on his rough cheek. The silence that follows is only broken by the runner below munching on hay and the occasional swish of its tail.

Ezra turns his head to stare at his friend, head tilting a little bit. "What is it?" he asks quietly, concerned for the bronzerider. The teen even goes so far as to reach out for the other man's arm, to rest his hand.

Stories he can tell fairly easily. Stuff from the heart is much more difficult. It is longer yet before D'ani can find his voice and the words that are forced from his lips are brief and spoken only because of the bronzerider's high regard for his friend, "It brought the flood back." In an unexpectedly violent, emotional impact that left him shaken. It's something he can't voice, "I looked for my family, but…" Yeah, he never found those soaked, still forms to shake, breathe air into and beg not to die. He swallows, but is honest enough to admit that is not the whole of what is troubling him. "I knew what Kimmila felt - and yet I don't." His dark eyes turn then to meet Ezra's. "Bad enough to lose family. To lose…the one. If you'd heard the sound she made as Th'ero fell…" The rest of what and why it has hit him so hard is crammed deep down inside and behind firmly closed lips.

Ezra waits. The teen has patience to spare in situations like these. Born of his own knowledge and his own needs. "Oh," he says softly, brows furrowing as he tries to put the scene together, to imagine what it was like and how D'ani must have felt. He searches for something to say, giving D'ani's arm a squeeze. "Some people say they don't even really like each other," he murmurs, frowning at the floor. "That they're too cold to have any warmth between them." His legs swing a little bit. "It must have been horrible," he whispers. There's a part of him - a part he does not like - that is glad he was not allowed to go. A tiny part of him that appreciates the protection the adults gave him. Protection from danger but also haunting memories like these. And the teen shifts to lean against D'ani's good side with a sigh. "You'll be okay though?" he asks quietly. "Do you want to talk or go somewhere?" For once, Ezra is trying to be the supportive one, instead of the other way around.

D'ani snorts. "Some people are blind idiots," he says of those who say such about the pair. "They've got something special." It's spoken with a touch of envy mingled with unease, the dissonance of sentiment perhaps lost when he forces a laugh, "I'll be fine, Ezra," he insists, though he leans back when Ezra’s shoulder touches his, taking comfort in the contact. Talk? He's done way too much of that already. Go somewhere - he could do that! "I can't Between or harness Dremkoth, but we could go down to the lake and… throw rocks?"

Ezra tilts his head, hearing the envy in D'ani's voice. Squirming a bit, the boy clears his throat. "I'm…sure you'll find someone," he says awkwardly. Love. Yuck. But companionship? That has him a bit envious too. Giving his friend's arm a squeeze, he nods with a little grin. "If you'd like, yeah. Does Dremkoth need anything? A…a bath or something?" the teen offers even as he's scooting towards the ladder to begin climbing down. But before he goes, he hesitates. "You sure you're okay?" he asks quietly, his concern for his friend's well being clear on his face.

D'ani shrugs uncomfortably at that voiced sentiment, but doesn't reply. Things… happen that can't be controlled. "I had help with it a couple of days ago but he could use a bath and oiling, I guess," he says, gratitude leaking in the admission there. One-armed it would take him a very long time to do, and he'd need help with the bits he has to climb to reach. He shuffles to his feet, uses his good arm to hold the ladder going down. "I'm okay, Ezra," he assures his friend honestly. He's better if he doesn't, you know, think too much. And being busy is the great healer of All Things. He got arrow-shot and forgot allll about that already, see? He totally forgot to mention that in the recounting of events!

It was implied. Ezra just nods and hops down from the ladder, rubbing Zoi's ears as the canine gets to her feet to meet them, tail fanning the air. "I'd like to do that," Ezra admits of helping with Dremkoth. "If it's okay with him, a'course." Serious topics he will leave be for now. He's a teenager. He can only handle the awkward for so long. But he tried!

It's complicated. D'ani probably couldn't explain it if he tried. Talk about awkward. Though he does appreciate Ezra's attempt and says so with a low-voiced and heartfelt, "Thanks, man." As for Dremkoth, "Are you kidding? He never turns down attention. C'mon, I'll help too." But first there's a promise to keep and that is the scritching he'd promised Zoi, which he gives her as soon as his feet are on solid ground. Then he'll accompany Ezra to the lake where the bronze is lounging, bored and wishing D'ani would heal so they can go off on more adventures. Stuff, indeed, happens. Except too slowly for the bronze.

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