As one of the lowest on the weyr’s food-chain, former bandit bait Hazleon has no particular room to call his own. Rather, he shares with a pair of others, and only the small trunk at the edge of a neatly made bed can be called his own. At the moment he seems to be taking a break from industry and lays upon the bed staring upwards at the ceiling above, the other two beds in this room empty of their occupants. The allure of said stone walls is apparent when the eyes move upwards and notice a cheeky bronze firelizard at play in the air. Somewhere a bit of string has been found and the little one is dropping the string, darting downwards, grabbing it, and moving back upwards. Once in a while he’ll allow it to get daringly close to Hazelon who will reach up to grab it only to have it snatched away at the last possible second.

Unfortunately, play and leisure time is at an end. There is a knock at the door, if it is closed and if opened, then it’s placed upon the doorframe in an effort to warn the occupant within that he’s about to gain a visitor, whether he wants one or not. Rayathess awaits in the hall, dressed for traveling and possible hiking through the deep woods and marshes to the north and east of the Weyr and while his expression shows no hint of his eagerness to be off, his mannerisms do. He fidgets a bit in impatience but will wait, for now, until Hazelon acknowledges his arrival and interruption of a likely well earned break.

The knock at the door has Hazelon shooting upwards the play of his baby flitter above his head ignored for the distraction of whomever is at the door. Eyes narrow as Rayathess makes himself known from just outside. “Tis time aye?” He shoves his feet off the bed and bends down to pull on well worn boots, lacing them tightly. “Figured mayhap when the schedule had me down for no particular area today.” He doesn’t seem totally disheartened, nor does he do the typical ‘how are you’ greeting.

“It’s time.” Rayathess echoes back as he comes to stand just a little inside of the room, eyes glancing about briefly. Old habit and partial curiosity have him doing it, but otherwise he stands there, arms folded loosely over his chest. Have these two ever exchanged a regular, casual greeting? Seems like everytime they start, it’s barbed or tense. Today is no different and though the weather is clear and bright, edging towards a cooler late summer, early autumn day, Rayathess’ mood is… stormy at best though he’s doing his best to keep it contained. If they’re to travel, he needs to be somewhat civil with Hazelon or they’ll have a long road ahead of them. “Figured that would be sign enough for you. Nothing for today and likely not for tomorrow. It depends if we make good time or not.” Which is code for: hurry up already. “You said you have a bow?” he asks with a smirk.

Casual is for people who don’t share their unique past. Perhaps, without that hurt the pair might be friends, or at least civil. However… what is done is done. Hazelon ties off his boots and shoves to his feet. Perhaps it is because he actually can around Rayathess that Hazelon seems to be taking a bit too much time putting on those boots. Each knot in the leather ties is double checked before finally he rises. The comment with the smirk attached gets ignored as Hazelon moves to the trunk and opens it up. Inside lays a bow, the arrows neatly stacked beside, care taken that none of the fletching is bent. Other than the bow and a leather bag there is little else in the trunk that would stand out, assorted clothing alone. Hazelon fishes out the bag, slinging it over one shoulder before bending to gather up the arrows one-by-one. No words need spoken. It’s probably better that way.

Rayathess will bite his tongue and grit his teeth to keep his patience in check when Hazelon takes his sweet time in putting on his boots and lacing them. His interest does focus on that bow when the young teen takes it out and not so much for the contents of that chest. He could care less as to what is in that chest at the moment. There are bigger issues at hand right now. “Anything else you need? I’ve supplies, though I doubt we’ll need it.” Clearly he is not wanting to make this TOO long of a trip but they still have a lot of ground to cover. “… and you do know how to ride a runner, right?” A bit late to ask, but he does now as it will be important. If Hazelon does ride, he’ll get his own mount for this little venture. If he doesn’t, he gets the wonderful “pleasure” of riding tandem to Rayathess.

“Wouldn’t be much use if I didn’t, would I?” Hazelon allows a small drawl to pick itself into his voice as he settles the last of the arrows into their case. With one last check he stands, the bow held loosely in his hands, he stands and finally actually looks at Rayathess. “You did make sure to be gettin’ one for me?” There is a whole pile of doubt in his voice, and a sardonic eyebrow is cast skywards as if he seriously doubts that the apprentice would think that far ahead.

Rayathess snorts and then grimaces, gesturing for Hazelon to follow him if he is, in fact, ready to go. As he turns to walk into the tunnels, he’s careful to keep his voice lowered so that only the young teen can overhear him. Should anyone approach to pass them, he will go silent and only resume when they’re “alone” again. “Of course I did. Why, did you think I’d let you ride with me?” he growls, leaving it to Hazelon to figure that he’s being serious, that he’d actually make the youth walk while he was mounted. He wouldn’t have. He thought ahead, mostly because he needs to move quickly and Hazelon needs a mount in order to keep up. “You’ll have a runner then. We’ll be travelling north of here, further eastward and out towards the coast. Best be on your good behavior,” he remarks dryly. “We travel with Journeymen, though Harper Garan will be leaving us as his business lies in the hold.” And they won’t be stopping there. He must have gained permission to ride beyond the borders. What tale did he spin? Or did he speak the truth?

Perhaps that is exactly what Hazelon is thinking. It would fit with his mind view of how the world works at least. He’ll follow on Rayathess shoes as they go through the tunnels. The mask he wears for the weyr is firmly in place, and a few ‘yes sirs’ manage to slip past his tongue as they pass others in the hallways. When Rayathess speaks the name of the harper though, Hazelon grinds to an abrupt stop. “Others comin’ along wasn’t in the deal.” Worry piles into his tone, genuine seeming at least, as his brows knit together to accentuate a frown. “I’ll not be travin’ with the journeyman. Erasin’ my past isn’t helped when we’re ridin’ with them what sent my parents into exile.”

Rayathess stops in his tracks as well, turning just enough to fix Hazelon with an impatient and frustrated look. What now? “It is only half way and unfortunately it’s not something to be argued. I’m only a Sr. Apprentice and to leave the Hall, I must be gone with a Journeyman. He happens to be going to where we need to go… or close enough.” Enough that he can continue on. A special agreement, then, most likely. Rayathess scowls, taking a step towards Hazelon though not meant to be taken in a threatening way. He just wants to close that gap, since he will be speaking in a low, hushed whisper. “You’ve no choice! You can trust the man, Hazelon. He’s a sympathizer, not against you. He wasn’t the one who sentenced your parents. Present, yes and he helped with the trials, but he did not have final say.” Garan did read the verdicts though and not with a light heart. Those trials were hard on many people and not just those from the camps.

“Then we’ll be goin’ separate. I ain’t gonna ride with him. I ain’t lookin’ for sympathy.” Even as Rayathess steps forward Hazelon holds his ground, not allowing himself to be back up to a wall Hazelon isn’t about to budge on this. Arms fold over his chest in utter definance of this. “I’ll be meetin’ you where the road forks and he’s gone.”

“He’s not going to give you sympathy! Shards ‘n shells, you’re being ridiculous,” Rayathess snaps but his voice never rises beyond a hissed whisper to Hazelon. “Harper Garan likely does not even remember you and he’s not the sort of man to pry your life story from your lips. He’s his own business to attend to.” So man up! Rayathess isn’t going to budge on this either, it seems, as he… can’t, really. And he’s not about to allow Hazelon to ride off on a different path or meet up with him elsewhere. “No, you won’t. Either you come with us the entire way or the deal is off and your name stays on those lists! I don’t care if you ride behind or beside us, but you are with us.”

Hazelon has good reason to not trust this. “The agreement was to be goin’ with you, not a journeyman.” His voice manages to remain even, if low enough that no one can hear his voice. Beyond Rayathess, a rider walks into the area and Hazelon’s posture shifts abruptly, shoulders hunching just slightly, and somehow he manages to look even smaller than his less-than-outstanding height already puts him. Utterly inoffensive does he look, even though the rider doesn’t cast a single glance in the pair’s direction. Only Rayathess might detect the slight heat in his passive agreement. “If you’re sayin’ so sir .”

Rayathess has to resist the urge to toss his hands up in frusration and roll his eyes while he’s at it. Instead he just keeps his gaze fixed on the youth. “You are with me still! For the part of the travelling that matters. I cannot bend the rules. There MUST be a Journeyman with me or I cannot leave the Hall.” So it’s not HIS choice either! If Rayathess could, he’d go alone with Hazelon for the whole route but this is the compromise. Such is the fate of a Sr. Apprentice. “Drop the sir.” he grumbles again, having drifted silent as the rider walked by. He’ll watch with a sort of detached curiosity at the change in Hazelon but they’re running short on time and he does not prod the youth over it. “Are we settled, then?”

Anger peeks out deep in Hazelon’s eyes, but cannot find any particular hole in Rayathess’ logic. Inwardly he swears, having almost started looking forward to not having to keep up the act. But, it was a day in-day-out act so… what was a few more hours. His shoulders do not uncurl, nor does the passiveness fade. “If he’s askin’ then, these’re yours. Say you’re wantin’ to hunt or some such, I don’t care.” The bow is hefted, as Hazelon steps past Rayathess to start walking outwards again, his inner thoughts well hidden.

“Fine,” Rayathess agrees to the terms, though from his heavy frown and piercing look, he’s trying to fathom or puzzle out why Hazelon is looking to hide the fact that HE is the owner of the bow. Who cares? He does not seem to make the connection, his mind focusing on other matters. Namely on how much time has passed and the urgency starting to stir in him to get them moving and to the stables. Ironically, it’ll be the very stables they crossed paths the first time that they became aware of each others existence again. “Come on then. We’ve wasted enough time as it is already. He’s likely been waiting and we don’t keep Journeymen waiting…” Rayathess turns then and begins to walk at a brisk pace, but he’ll make sure Hazelon is following without stopping.

Hazelon will follow, this time in udder silence. Anyone who passes the pair as they move quickly towards the stables will barely even notice the silent drudge, and most likely will assume the bundles upon his back are those for Raya, not himself. It might even be a bit creepy, how closely he follows on those heels…

The back of Rayathess’ neck is certainly crawling when Hazelon follows so close and it takes every ounce of his strength and control not to whirl on the youth and demand why he insists on doing it. It’s setting off every instinct in him and making him nervous and fidgety that by the time they’ve reached the stables, he’s almost visibly relieved to have an excuse to put a bit of distance between himself and Hazelon. Three runners await, with one already carrying a rider and none other than Journeyman Harper Garan. He’s an older man, with broad facial features and at first glance he seems a stern man but he’s far from it. Most of his hair has begun to grey and though he’s edging past his prime, he’s still quite fit and sharp of mind. There is simply a nod given to their arrival and a bemused smirk. Rayathess mutters his apologies, formal and proper and no introductions are given as he steps towards a blue roan stallion. HIS runner and one whose breeding looks… fit more for a Lord and not a Sr. Apprentice. Hazelon’s gelding is waiting to the side as well, a good sturdy beast that looks whole and healthy. Certainly no nag! At least he’ll be assured some comfort for the long ride ahead?

“Sir,” Hazelon will properly greet the journeyman, his headbob perfectly drudge like. Rather than pull himself astride as he is perfectly comfortable doing though, Hazelon makes a bit of a show of it, exaggerating that he isn’t all that familiar with the broad side of the runner’s back. Throughout he’ll mutter the occasional ‘sorry,’ as if his actions are somehow infringing upon their own readiness to ride. He’ll settle himself, and tie the bow onto the saddle then put his eyes firmly away from either Raya or Garan. Just a lowly drudge here yo, comin’ along for the ride.

Journeyman Garan will dip his head politely to Hazelon, his keen eyes following his movements as he plays his act as “drudge”. Could be the older man can see right through the ruse and already knows who (or what) the young teen is. He was a part of those trials and perhaps Rayathess told the man the honest truth or enough of it to keep the Journeyman from being too suspicious as to why they’ll be continuing on, while he remains at the hold. Meanwhile, Rayathess will adjust the girth on his stallion, double check his packs and then swing up into the saddle with ease, glancing sidelong to Hazelon as he does so. He doesn’t glare, but his eyes hold enough of a simmering darkness that if he could, he would be. “Are we ready then?” Asks Garan, his mouth twitching up at one corner. Oh yes, the Harper is very keen and can sense something but says nothing of it. “Yes, sir.” Rayathess answers as he takes the reins in hand.

If Hazelon picks up on the knowing looks, he doesn’t acknowledge them. Rather, he focuses on the runner before him and working to make sure that he’ll be taking this very awkward ride in relative comfort. A worry crawls into the back of his mind; for all his bluster, he hasn’t ridden upon runner back all that much, and if the journey is too long… Throughout his face remains impassive. “Sir.” He’ll intone quietly to the Harper’s question, and keep his eyes fixed on his runner. Silence will be the watchword of this ride… at least until the journeyman and the younger men split ways.

Hazelon has nothing to worry about. The gelding assigned to him is an older runner and rather mellow of temper, content to follow the others (so long as he doesn’t spook). Journeyman Garan nods his head again and murmurs a few low spoken instructions to Rayathess, to which the Sr. Apprentice nods his head. “… understood.” he can be heard saying in reply, leaving the older man to smile in a sort of satisfied way. “If we need to stop at any time, just speak up! It’s a bit of a stretch, but at least the weather is favoring us!” Garan says in an amiable tone as he nudges his runner forwards and onto the roadway leading out to the forests and away from Fort Weyr. Rayathess will move his stallion behind the Journeyman, though he’ll turn his head to make sure Hazelon is following. Silence certainly is the word of the day and Rayathess says little, save to answer Garan if the Journeyman speaks to him. Sometimes the older man hums a snippet of some song or another, but aside from that there is little conversation. Neither Rayathess or Garan were kidding when they said the ride was long. Candlemarks pass, with breaks now and again to stretch their legs, rest their mounts and refresh themselves. Again, conversation is sparse and Rayathess makes no attempts to spur Hazelon to any. Garan may, though his questions are carefully neutral and easily answered.

… time passes again and not long after their last break, the hold to which Garan is visiting lays before them at the bottom of the hill they just finished riding up and at the top, the older Journeyman will rein his mount to a stop. “Well lads, this is where I leave you. You’ve a few candlemarks of light left, though the land here is good even at dusk to ride. My work here won’t keep me long, so I suggest being quick about yours.” They’ll have to travel home through the night, which doesn’t seem to bother Garan overly much but he likely does not wish to be gone too late. Rayathess nods his head again, “No sir. We’ll be back before sundown.” he says, which earns a return nod from the Journeyman. “Good. If anything changes, send a firelizard.” Garan adds, but there’s a look flashed to Rayathess. There are other ways, no doubt, but they’re left unsaid. Garan will turn his mount away and ride down the hill and Rayathess will wait until he’s gone before he’s nudging his runner forwards. “This way.” he says curtly to Hazelon, as they wend their way down the hill further northward, leaving the hold behind them and where the land gradually grows wilder.

As the candlemarks wear on Hazelon slowly relaxes into the routine. His grip on the bow loosens, till finally he ties it onto the saddle, and out of his grip. Guarded he remains however, and Garan’s careful questions are met with almost whispered answers, and each ends in sir. He rides slightly behind the pair, as would make sense seeing that he does not know the way, and spends most of the journey deep within his own thoughts. The promised blisters do begin to develop upon his backside, but rather than complain, the young man simply remains even more silent, only gradual shifting showing his discomfort. When Garan pulls his runner up Hazelon does the same, keeping his eyes on the ground as he speaks. He’ll nod also when the instructions are given, and he misses the flashed look as his eyes remain firmly fixed downwards. When the older Journeyman leaves conversation does not begin. If anything the temperature between the two cools to an even frigid. Hazelon sits up however, his posture losing the rounded drudge look. The sharpness comes back into his eyes and he begins to take a keen interest in all surrounding them.

Rayathess is unbothered by the frigid temperature between himself and Hazelon, his mind and concentration on other matters and focused on the land around them. Later he will have to think of how to bridge the gap between him and the youth, especially if Hazelon is accepted to Stonehaven by Ezra. It is one thing to occasionally cross paths in a Weyr, but to be in more frequent contact in a cothold… they will be unable to keep this feud between them forever. For now though, he’s silent and the land around them stretches on in endless fields that soon give way to the wilderness. Old forests and the hills that gradually build to distant mountains. No signs of human habitation, save for the hold behind them. Perhaps there are cotholds nestled somewhere, likely closer to the coastline but for now only Rayathess and Hazelon remain the only human souls upon the weathered trail. A trail that Rayathess follows and then slows his mount to a stop, pulling aside and letting the stallion have his head so that he can graze upon the dried grasses. “We’ve got to get closer to the trees. I doubt they’ve camped close to the trail here. My sources to where Lyreh is were… vague at best. But if I had to wager a guess, they’d be somewhere in that area…” And he points his finger to where, in the distance, a small creek wends its way across the flatland between the trail and the forests, gradually twisting until it vanishes among the trees and likely continues onwards through them, deeper and deeper. Rayathess will turn his head to regard Hazelon with a neutral expression though it’s obvious he’s seeking the youth’s opinion on this. He’s as experienced in these matters as he is, both of them having spent enough time in the camps to know the signs of one but also think like them.

Wariness weighs heavy upon Hazelon as he eyes the forest distrustfully around them. Hidden cot-holds or not, they are away from familiar territory, and this is not to be trusted one iota. The bow is taken up again in hand, and his other stays close to his arrows. “She wouldn’t be much of a holdless monster,” harsh words shoe Hazelon’s opinion of the girl gone rogue, “if she was easy to find.” Sarcasm tips his words. As Rayathess slows to a stop Hazelon slides off of his runner, wincing as the pain in his buttocks from sitting too long astride twinges through his abused legs. Leading the runner now he’ll walk along the trail, his eyes focusing for marks of people passing. “Water is good, upwards into the trees.” The words are muttered in agreement has for once, he takes the lead upwards into the trees.

Continued in The Trap...