Fort Weyr - Entrance Square

The massive rock face that makes up the outer walls of Fort Weyr dominate your view amongst the small cotholds that dot the landscape. The path is well-worn and well tended, bushes and tall pine trees running right up against the road, keeping it well shaded in summer, and protected in winter.
Next to the tunnel entrance is a small Tavern, sounds of merriment facilitated by alcohol pouring out the doorway each time some one opens it.

Somewhere back there, up the slope and in the forest is the temporary camp for the holdless folk taken when Laris was subdued. D'ani's been with them all day - well, with whatever harpers have been cleared and freed to work with those interviews Th'ero wants done. It's been a long, long day as evidenced by the Weyrsecond's face, etched with fatigue and maybe a little frustration. His clipboard is under one arm, clamped to his side, hands stuffed in pockets as he trudges back to the Weyr. Dremkoth? Having deemed it not such a great idea to arrive on the bronze that roared red-eyed at those folk and breathed fire to intimidate them, he's been left at the Weyr today.

Ezra has hauled his brother out into the woods for a bit of a walk. 'You need to get /out/' the stubborn teen had demanded, hands on hips and stubborn frown on his face until Rayathess relented. Not that they've gone far or done much, and Faranth only knows if they've even /talked/, but the pair are meandering along the path, heading away from the weyr while Zoi bounds on ahead, loping around and getting a good sniff. So it's she that notices D'ani first, giving a happy bark and running towards him. Good thing he's used to animals, because the sight of the massive canine running towards him would be enough to send anyone up a tree.

Hauled would be an apt description, as Rayathess has been reluctant and irritable the whole way through the Weyr. "I don't need anything," he can be heard grumbling under his breath. "I can walk around the Weyr just as fine." The hold heir knows his sibling's mood though and with a heavy sigh he'd relent and so is tagging along. But so dragging his feet. Big time. He will follow Ezra though, even if just for the sole sake to be sure his younger brother won't get into mischief… or go there. There being the camps that Rayathess has so far refused to venture too and even discuss. He will glance up as Zoi takes off and a frown knits his brows as he spots the canine's source of excitement. Rather than pick up the pace though, the older brother only slows all the more.

Good thing there's no one with him from the camps, not that they're allowed to leave the perimeter the guards have set up. A gibbering, flailing holdless person might bolt at the sight of Zoi bounding for them. D'ani's alone though, chin tucked, every now and then he kicks a fallen leaf for lack of something more substantial to vent his frustration on. He hears Zoi before he spots her, doggie feet running hither and yon through the tall grasses alongside the trail. So he's not terribly surprised to see a canine as he comes 'round the bend in the trail. He is, however, surprised to see it is Zoi out here, though it's a happy sort of surprised. "Hey Zoi-girl!" Yes, he's finally remembered Zoi is a she. He squats, pulls hands from pockets and greets her with his standard two-handed ear scritching. He gives good ones! Meanwhile his brown eyes scan the trail ahead for- ahhh! There he- they? are! He's not expecting to see Rayathess too, but schools his face to nonchalance. "Hello Ezra, Rayathess. Out for a walk, eh?" Duh, that was brilliant, D'ani.

Zoi closes her eyes and leeeeeans into those ear scritches. Ahhhh. So good. When they're done she steps back and gives herself a good shake before loping back to her boy. "D'ani!" Ezra says, grinning widely. "Hi! What're you doing out here?" He glances briefly at his brother, but doesn't say anything more. Not yet, he just keeps walking.

Now it's Rayathess' turns to stuff his hands into his jacket pockets and his shoulders are hunched, but not against any chill in the cool air. The older brother is growing increasingly uncomfortable the further the Weyr wall is put behind them. Only Ezra's continued walking keeps Rayathess following in tow and perhaps it is for the best that it is only D'ani who greets them. Even if he was flanked by guards or other riders, the hold heir would likely find some excuse to venture back. "Hello, D'ani." he replies with a faint lopsided smirk as he snorts, "Yeah, a walk. Ezra's idea." Clearly. At his younger brother's question, Rayathess quirks a brow and then his eyes focus sharply on D'ani, curious and yet… part of him is already assuming he knows where the Weyrsecond has gone or has been.

With a final pat before Zoi runs back to Ezra, D'ani rises and continues towards the pair of brothers. "On my way back from the camps," he says laconically and shrugs as it to say it was no big deal, all in a day's work when really he'd like to bang his head against a tree about now. Leaves are simply too frail to disperse eight hours of non-progress. A glance is flickered towards Rayathess, speculative and picking up unease, if he read that right. "I'm glad I ran into you guys, actually," he says forthrightly, hoping his casual attitude will put Rayathess at ease somewhat. "I need some insight that I simply don't have." His attention is divided between the two as he asks, "Are you in a hurry to head back?"

Ezra stops a short distance away from D'ani, the boy's pale eyes flicking between his friend and his brother. Then he frowns, eyes peering into the forest as if he could see the camps from here. "Oh yeah?" he asks, voice lowering a tad. Before it cracks. Ahh, puberty. "No, not a hurry," he's swift to say, shaking his head quickly. "What do you need?"

Rayathess snorts again, softer and in a 'I knew it' manner when D'ani replies so casually about where he had been and is returning from. Little does he know how wearing it was on the bronzerider or perhaps he'd be a touch more sympathetic. But he guesses right on the on the unease, as the older brother is tense. Not to the point of fidgeting, but he's getting there. Too much casual will only put him further on edge and Rayathess gives D'ani another long, narrowed look. Here it comes… "No—" He's not in a hurry? Somehow that may not have been the true answer, but he catches himself was Ezra is swift to speak up, leaving him to bite his tongue and try not to grimace. "What sort of insight?" he asks, stressing a few of the words. Might as well cut to the chase?

It wasn't really supposed to be a secret, his work with the camp, so that's also part of D'ani's casual air. The bronzer levels Rayathess with a perplexed sort of look at that snort and comment, unaware of the other young man's reluctance with the whole situation regarding the holdless. Oh, he knows Rayathess is on edge - has always been. D'ani's approach is one he's adopted with his beastcrafting - be calm when approaching wild stock. Return tension rarely helps. It's become second nature to him, really. The pair get another thoughtful look, Ezra a barely-there grin at that voice-cracking, before D'ani heads for a fallen log beside the trail and sits, hands still in pockets. "Well, I don't understand them," he says frankly. The bare bones facts: "We're interviewing them to see which were honestly coerced and which are criminals. I'd expected some surly non-cooperation, maybe some evasions, but a lot of them are outright fearful to say anything." He looks at Rayathess, adding, "At all. Like even their names and where they came from. How they were approached and why they joined Laris." A sigh. "You've been with them. I was hoping you could tell me what makes them so… withdrawn now that the man and his core group have been taken care of."

Ezra shifts his weight a bit, listening closely to D'ani, and when the bronzerider asks his question the young teen flicks his gaze to his brother, staring. Uneasily, he shifts again and bites down on his lower lip. Talk of Raya's life in the camps has not been something Ezra's ever approached. Afraid, perhaps, it'd send their tentatively re-forged relationship plummeting again.

Rayathess will settle eventually, so long as D'ani continues that tactic and Ezra remains where he is. There is a lot going on inside the older brother's head and his standoffish nature and edgy behavior is a coping mechanism. Once he realizes there is no true threat save for the one's he's making for himself, he'll calm. Not all the way, but enough to be reasonably functional. "I'm not surprised at all to hear that," he replies flatly, almost snarky and flippant before he sighs, reaching up to press the palm of his hand against his forehead, fingers sweeping back through his hair. "They're withdrawn because they don't trust you. Do you blame them? Laris had a… a way with words. He's poisoned Faranth knows how many of their minds against you dragonriders. No offence," he adds, his tone now more level and losing most of the edge. There is a glance given to Ezra then and Rayathess manages a small but reassuring smile to his youngest brother only to then frown, aware of how much the teenager is going to overhear. Conflicted, the hold heir begins to pace a bit, falling silent for a few heartbeats before speaking again, "So you got to gain their trust. Start with the younger ones. Any that you'd figure weren't in the working camps or the raiders." So women and children. He smirks then, "And even if Laris is dead, it may not be enough. He rarely doled much of the… bad stuff," Another glance to Ezra then and the remark is clearly censored. "Did you kill his Five? His top men?"

D'ani just lets the snark roll off of his shoulders, shrugging at the comment. "Not really I guess, especially after the way we had to subdue the lot. I didn't think they'd see me as their best buddy or anything." Is that a tiny side-long glance out of the corner of his eye at Rayathess as he says it? "We've hardly abused them since they've been at the camp." They've been fed, clothed, housed, no one's been rough-treated or threatened that he knows of. Rayathess' further elaboration draws a thoughtful nod. Well, that makes sense, psychological manipulation. Women and children are the ones they interviewed today, but he nods all the same. "This could take turns," he says with a near-groan. He watches Rayathess pace, sending a glance towards Ezra as the last question is posed. "They are all dead," he says calmly and with certainty, leaving out the gory details. He draws a breath, hesitates then says quietly, “You seemed very concerned for some of them that day in the infirmary, Rayathess. Would you consider helping the harpers with them?" He flicks an uncertain glance back to Ezra, silently asking if he's gone too far too fast with his brother. "They might trust you since you understand them," he adds persuasively.

Ezra's eyes narrow in sharply on his brother. "What bad stuff?" he demands, insulted that Rayathess would censor things around him. He's not a canine. He can spell V-E-T.

"Won't matter if you offered all of them that. They're likely thinking it's all a ruse, a game. Some trick you're concocting to make them think you're friends and then you will strike," Rayathess replies dryly, only to pause long enough in his pacing to tap the side of his forehead with his fingertips meaningfully. Definitely psychological manipulation and Faranth knows how severe or deep. How long have some of those folks been under Laris' convincing sway? The older brother then blinks, looking truly surprised for the first time over the whole affair. "You're certain you killed the Five?" he asks in a lowered voice, his head turning then to glance down the path as if half expecting those men to come charging down on them. His expression twists, difficult to read but clearly conflicted again and he resumes his pacing. "Then you should tell them that too. Some might be keeping silent thinking one of them is still lurking. If they know they're gone, some might crack." At Ezra's sudden demand, Rayathess only fixes his brother with a level and firm look, mouth drawn into a grim and tight line. "There are some things you just don't need to know, alright? You'll only give yourself nightmares." he says and for a moment he looks truly sorry he has to keep it from the teenager. Maybe another time… but not here, not now. D'ani's request earns the bronzerider a fixed look, narrowed and emotionally difficult to pinpoint. It may have been too much, but it does not send Rayathess into a fit or fleeing. Instead he only laughs, harsh and edged with some bitterness. "Trust me?" he says, chuckling dryly. "Yeah, maybe I was concerned for some of them. The kids… But the rest? They're more likely to tear me apart as a traitor than trust me."

Gre-aaaaaaat. This is looking not just complicated, but impossible. D'ani sighs as he listens. Yeaaaah he's not devious enough to get inside the mind of Laris and know how to begin to crack the shell of reserve - and fear these people bear towards dragonriders. He is certain about the five though, his firm nod confirms that. "It was in Th'ero's report," he says evenly. He watches Rayathess' behavior, understanding something for the first time, fervently wishing he hadn't been out of commission after that battle. "Would you like to read it? The description of each of them was in it." After Rayathess speaks, he nods gravely. Sharing this with the holdless will be done. "I'll bring any pictures the harpers may have thought to sketch too," he says. Somehow Ezra's outburst doesn't surprise him, a faint chuckle escapes his lips despite the conversation that is fraught with angst. He maintains eye contact with Rayathess during his fixed look, nodding as if the young man has confirmed something. His own past, growing up in the easy-going free-style life in the isles, hasn't prepared him for this sort of thing - getting inside the mind of a cunning, abusive killer. "I see," he says quietly. He's learning some unfortunate facts. "Forget that idea; it was stupid," he says with a frustrated shrug. A long breath is exhaled and his own responsibilities are set on the back burner. He allows the silence to stretch, then tilts his head to look first at Ezra and then at Rayathess. "What about you two? Have you thought about the future? What you'd like to do… about Stonehaven?"

Ezra bristles, crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm almost /fifteen/. I'm not a /kid/ anymore Rayathess!" he says, heated and upset. He bites it back though, struggling as he wrestles it all back down and turns around to stare down the path. Zoi nudges his hip and he loosens an arm to reach down and rub her ears. He does perks up a little bit when Stonehaven is mentioned, glancing briefly over his shoulder at his brother.

Rayathess blinks, pausing again in his restless pacing to peer at D'ani and there is an obvious desire there for the offer the Weyrsecond gives him and perhaps too it is only now dawning on the young man that he could have actually requested it. Is he not aware of his own 'power' of sorts in this whole affair? "Yes. Ezra can read it too," And the younger Stonehaven is given a darted glare for his bristled response. "If you're so insistent on it. Fifteen or not," Admitting that has him smirking. So much time lost. "There are things you don't want to know. But I'm not going to hold you back, if it's what you really want." He's been warned. Glancing back to D'ani, Rayathess looks regretful for a moment for his harshness and with a sigh, the older brother seems to reconsider the request. "Not stupid. You just need to be a bit more cautious. If you're getting nowhere, even after telling them about the Five and bribing them with other things… Maybe I will step in. I'll at least know which are likely to believe me or… listen." Rather than try to tear at him. He gives the bronzerider a long look then, one brow raised in a silent question: doable? At the mention of Stonehaven, Rayathess straightens, chin lifting slightly as he takes a long, shallow breath. Another sensitive topic. His eyes dart to Ezra, then back to D'ani and his once blank look twists back into that conflicted but closed mask. "I've thought about it," he replies quietly and with a slow breath, he speaks tensely, "And I will likely rescind my rights as heir to Stonehaven. Ezra can claim the hold as his, if he so chooses." And thankfully, though his words will weigh heavily even now to those there to hear them, they aren't at least heard and witnessed by a Harper. So they are, in a sense, harmless despite everything implied.

"I'm not sure I'd want to know, Ezra," D'ani admits honestly. And he's passed fifteen turns ago! He won't step between the brothers on this though. Asked his opinion, perhaps later he'll give it, but now is not the time. It isn't lost on him that Ezra hasn't answered his question, so he says lowly, "You too, Ezra. I want to know what you want too." He turns to regard Rayathess, nods. Do-able. "Thank you. We'll see. I don't want to put you in danger, either, Rayathess." Or anymore verbal abuse, but he doesn't say that out of deference for the other's male pride. Likely the hold-heir doesn't need him to say it. D'ani hears Rayathess' answer about Stonehaven out without jumping in or tensing. His breathing remains slow, his posture sitting on that log relaxed. A bird calls afar off, another answers close by. A few beats tick by before he says quietly, "May I ask why?"

Ezra turns fully to look at his brother, and his tense posture slumps a bit. Embarrassed a little at his outburst, perhaps. "I want to read it," he says, stubborn and firm. And when his brother - the true heir - says that he'll likely give up Stonehaven, Ezra gasps. "Why?" he asks, a split second before D'ani asks the same question.

Rayathess doesn't need D'ani to say it and is aware, only choosing to let the issue slide in favor for the new ones now cropping up. The young man fidgets where he stands, jaw working slightly through that awkward silence and his eyes will drift away, pointedly looking neither to the Weyrsecond or Ezra. Is that a sign of shame in the man? Or just continued conflict? The words may have been spoken of haste, but it's hard to say. When he speaks again, his voice carries a certain firmness but there is so much hidden beneath that with just the right hits his resolve will crack and crumble away. Swallowing, Rayathess takes a deeper breath this time and sighs, "Do you think any would follow me? Given how the rumors and gossip already go." he points out but the excuse is weak at best. He lifts his hands as well, as if to spread them in a helpless gesture but one subtly turns as if to point at his head, perhaps only to be caught by one truly watching his movements. At Ezra's gasped and similar question, Rayathess' hands only drop and for his younger brother he can only shrug and drop his gaze. "I have my reasons." he mumbles. Which are …? Not going to be elaborated on.

D'ani would be the last one to analyze Rayathess after what little bit he's come to understand about the young man today. Nor does he judge. D'ani is watching him closely, sees the gesture. His lips part, but not to argue or to press for a reason. Instead, he says firmly, "Aye. I do. I would." He looks Rayathess straight in the eye. "If." There is a qualifying of the affirmation: "If the holder believes he has the right to hold, they will or they will foment and repeat things they do not understand maliciously; every leader faces such." He doesn't rush in the saying of it. He waits to add something else, "Maiona was destroyed. It… wasn't my fault." A deep, deep breath taken and his voice is rough as he says, "But I felt I should have been able to save the ones who died; I still do." He swallows, "I almost left it for another to purchase." His eyes never leave Rayathess. "But Maiona is MY home. Mine. No one esle's. No damn flood will steal that from me! I will rebuild her… some day." He draws another breath, exhales. "You will have to decide and then live with it." He… almost sounds like he thinks the hold-heir hasn't made a decision set in stone.

Ezra's eyes widen a bit as he looks between the two men, leaning forward and balanced on the balls of his feet, as if he can hardly hold himself to the ground. He is quiet for a long few moments, and then takes a low breath. "Don't…you don't have to decide right now, Raya," the teen says quietly, though it takes a lot for him to say it and not say 'Haha Stonehaven is mine you said it! You saaaaaid it!' No, even though it is /hard/, he will not let himself believe that until it's official. If it ever is. "We can do it together," he adds, almost too softly to hear, as if he's afraid either boy will mock him for the suggestion. Taking a few steps forward, Ezra reaches for his brother's hand, and then a moment later, for D'ani's. "It's not easy being a holder," he says, staring at the ground by his feet.

Rayathess does judge and often it cannot be helped. He had judged D'ani prior to this, perhaps unfairly and wrongly, given how little he knew of the bronzerider and most of it fueled by assumption and emotions. Regardless, all of his previous conceptions are snapped and broken by the Weyrsecond's firm reply. The older brother does not break eye contact with D'ani and at first he returns it with a narrowed look, disbelieving. That swiftly drops though as Rayathess receives far more than he bargained for in the reply. He did not expect such a passionate response nor to learn an emotion piece of the bronzerider's past. For a moment, his entire demeanor shifts and he can only speak a low and quiet, "I'm sorry. I didn't know," Which is the truth, though the words fall a touch awkwardly, as if backing down from a challenge. The young man sighs heavily then, frustrated as he glances sharply towards the trees, conflicted all over again but for so many new reasons. "Stonehaven is still mine — ours," he amends with a quick look to Ezra. "I'm not… not tossing it away if that's what it seems. This decision doesn't come easily to me! And it's one I wish I didn't have to make." he admits with a grimace. So it's true, Rayathess is not wholly firm on his claim. Sorry, Ezra! When the teenager speaks up, he will turn his head to gaze down at his younger brother and he can only shake his head, "It will have to be decided soon. And… it's true, we could do it together, regardless of which one of us is the heir." he points out, only to snort but he does not pull away from Ezra as he reaches for his hand. "When is anything easy?" Rayathess will mutter, but his brows furrow and his eyes slide away again, distant and distracted.

D'ani remains stoic under the gaze Rayathess directs at him. If he's disappointed that the young hold-heir doesn't seem to rise to the challenge, she doesn't show it. His voice is grave, but back to easy, when he says, "It's alright; you couldn't have known." He won't argue with the man, simply nods. He understands self-conflict of this sort. A touch to his hand turns his attention to Ezra and he curls his fingers around his young friend's hand, giving it warm squeeze. "It isn't easy," he agrees wholeheartedly, affirming, "but you can do it together," And then, because he's already spoken with the Weyrleader about it, he says to the both of them, "The Weyr won't pressure you to rush it, Rayathess and whatever you decide Fort's leadership will stand with you both, helping however you require at your Stonehaven."

Ezra looks at his brother, his expression conflicted and mixed. "Why do you have to make this decision?" he asks quietly. "You're the heir. It's…decided for you." Turning his head, he looks up at D'ani and looks a little relieved, nodding his head slightly. "I want to get Stonehaven running again," he says quietly. "Maybe…maybe not right now but…but some day," he's quick to add, not wanting to stress his brother out any more than he already is.

Rayathess can only stare at Ezra, expression just as mixed as his as he struggles to put it to words. "I just… do. Maybe it was decided once," he admits, "But things have changed." Have they? Or is it something the young man is forming in his head or perhaps it has already long fermented in his mind from his time in the camps and for the time he spent idle in the Weyr. His mouth quirks into a vague smile then and he snorts again and with his free hand (as the other still gently holds Ezra's) he points at his younger brother. "You have the initiative and the drive. I… am still undecided. Conflicted. Haven't had the time to really think about it. It was all about Laris and stopping him. About Gold Hill. Now the holdless." Rayathess is stressed but for many reasons but Ezra's comments do not push him and his attention turns back to D'ani. The Weyrsecond's stoic response no doubt helps in keeping the young man level headed in turn. It's certainly an improvement since the first few times the two crossed paths. "No pressure?" he says slowly and hesitantly. Can he trust him? The Weyrleaders? Rayathess doesn't seem so sure. "Why? What do they have to gain from helping us?" he asks and is careful to school his tone to a curious when it is far more complex than that.

D’ani nods to Ezra, understanding both the longing and the wish not to push his brother. This is something the two of them will have to work out. As for the Weyr helping, he doesn't act as if Rayathess should know they would. His expression is thoughtful as he considers the subject from the hold-heir's point of view. "They specifically said no pressure," he says firmly. So he was asked to speak to the Stonehaves, then. "Fort has nothing to gain in rushing you to take hold before you are ready." But what would Fort Weyr gain? He is silent, until at length he says, "I know Fort Weyr would prefer not to have another situation like Gold Hill or Stonehaven occur. What better way than being in good standing with the holders of such? Also - you'll remember the Weyrs no longer receive tithes. Amicable trade would be beneficial to both of us." Details? That'll be up to the Weyrleaders.

Ezra gives both of their hands a squeeze before he lets them go and crosses his arms over his chest, rocking a bit on his heels. "Well now's the time to think," Ezra murmurs softly as he stares at the ground. Glancing at D'ani, he nods, and then straightens a bit with pride. "Stonehaven can provide Fort with many things."

Time to think. Rayathess' lips curl into a slightly bitter smirk though wisely keeps the snarky comment withheld. He's had plenty of time to think, he wants to tell them, and all it's done is muddled his head and made a far more twisted web of a mess. His expression softens a bit then at Ezra's pride and for a moment he looks almost amused and then his gaze shifts to D'ani, "No pressure." Rayathess echoes thoughtfully as he keeps his gaze firm on the Weyrsecond, considering. "And I remember," he snorts, "So truly it all boils down to holder-Weyr politics and trade agreements. So long as they force nothing," His eyes will dart to Ezra as well, followed by a subtle nod to the younger brother before looking back to D'ani again. "Then I will take my time to… think," Oh joy of joys. "And talk about it." Cue another pointed look to Ezra and Rayathess is suddenly straightening, weight already beginning to shift as he takes a small backwards step. Not now, it seems. He's growing restless again and usually that is not a good sign in him. "So, is that all then? If you can't get the holdless to talk, then I'll be called upon to help?"

D'ani shrugs at Rayathess. "Probably for the most part it does?" he says about holder-weyr politics. "But it’s the right thing to do too,” ha adds firmly. “If Th'ero and Dtirae have other ideas, they'll have to share those with you both." He doesn't know everything! His gaze is divided between the two equally as he says this. Such a contrast in the pair, one restless, wary, almost feral, the other eager, bright and wanting to move forward. "I'm sure it's complicated," he says wryly to Rayathess about hashing out his decision with his brother. "I wish you both luck with that." The signs of retreat from Rayathess bring him slowly to his feet, rolling his shoulders and neck to ease the healing one. "Aye, if you can help I’ll let you know," he answers Rayathess before nodding to them both in a 'seeya later' gesture. "I've got to get back and get my report to the Weyrleaders." First he'll need to write out another about this little talk, copy both so Dtirae has one, deliver both to their desks, and check in at the infirmary, oh joy! Then dinner, see to Dremkoth… fall into bed half-dressed… His, "Take care guys," is casually vague, but laced with fatigue - it's been a long day - as he heads on up the path towards the Weyr.

'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.