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.


D'ani is looking for Ezra. He's checked the harpers rooms. No Ezra. The lessons are going on, but his friend was not to be found amongst the studying. He's checked the caverns but the late afternoon finds the fare mostly juice and cookies - things easily pocketed and taken elsewhere. If he knows the boy, those pockets are probably full, wherever he's gone off to. He's checked the bathing cavern. Y'know, just in case he's decided to bathe Zoi. And um, if he hasn't? He should. Becaaaause the fall weather has turned cold and rainy with an occasional spitting slow flakes, the bowls are a muddy mess. Zoi could probably use a lathering. So. Anyway! Searching…searching…the Weyrsecond braves the icy weather, turns his jacket collar up and slogs his way out to the barn, entering the dimly-lit structure, takes a moment to breathe familiar (and missed ) scents before calling out quietly, "Ezra?"

Ezra is here, running a brush through Zoi's matted fur. Brushing before a bath? It looks like it as the teen tugs at the patient canine's coat, trying to work out the snarls and failing with each tug of that brush. He looks up at D'ani's entrance, and then promptly looks guilty for the state of Zoi's coat. "She's dirty!" he says, the first thing that comes to his mind even though it's such a 'duh' statement.

Ahh, there he is! Over by the goat milking stand. D'ani pulls the wide barn door shut behind him, his eyes adjusting slowly as he heads further in and strides towards the pair. "Is she now?" It's said with the sort of chuckle and could almost mean, 'yeah, dogs will do that'. He lowers himself to sit beside Zoi on the platform, one hand stroking her fur. "Brushing might be ah…" he coughs, "easier after a bath?"

Zoi wiggles her whole body and tries to lick D'ani's hand, the massive canine happy to see him as always. "Oh," Ezra says with a little frown. "Well…how do I do that? The lake is too cold and I don't think they allow canines in the baths. People wouldn't like it. But maybe I could wash her late at night when no one else was in there…"

D'ani grins at Zoi. How can he not? Her monstrous size is belied by her affectionate nature. He allows the hand-licking, playfully trying to snag that large pink tongue in his fingers as it flap-flop-slops her greeting. Then he commences giving her a good ear rubbing while contemplating Ezra's question. "If you do that," the bathing cavern, "Don't tell me. It's better I remain ignorant." There's a downside to being Weyrsecond, darnit. He may regret this, but, "You could use my weyr's bathing pool. Of course, we'd have to get Zoi up there…" And strip the bathing room of everything. And scrub-mop the floors, walls and ceiling afterwards.

Ahhhh, you've got my toooongue. She tilts her head and tries to lick him with the tongue he holds, and fails. Let it gooooo. Ahhh. Ear rubs. Much better. Ezra looks at his friend for a minute and then laughs, remembering the whole Weyrsecond thing. "Oh yeah. No. I won't do that." He won't tell him if he did. And then he brightens, but then frowns a bit. "Wouldn't she make a mess? Almost…almost be easier to take her somewhere warm, wash her, and bring her back."

D'ani grins when his little finger-grabs, the fleeting, brief attempts that they are, finally succeed. He relents instantly, focusing on those ears. "Hmm, yeah, she would," he agrees. "We'd have to clean the whole bathing room top to bottom afterwards. But taking her somewhere warm would certainly work. I just happen to know of one." Igen doesn't count - no water. Or not much. "Now that I'm no longer bogged down in Weyrling classes, we could pop over to Maiona now and then." The longing in his voice to do just that is obvious. It's been nearly two turns since they all went. "She'd have to dry completely before we *Between* back home."

Ezra perks up, grinning widely at his friend. "You know I'd love to do that," he is swift to say, eager and hopeful. "Can we go now?" Asking before he even thinks about it, eager to go somewhere with his best friend. "Yeah, she would, but that's okay. We'd have time to fish or swim or whatever."

Now? D'ani's intake of breath is swift, his face lighting in a pleased grin. "Why not? Today is my rest day. But ahh… We'll have to keep Zoi dry on the way up. Going *Between* after all." How to keep the canine dry is perhaps more of a challenge than getting her to ride a-dragonback? His eyes fall on a stack of folded oilcloth on the shelf and he rises to take one of the sheets, shaking it out. His brown eyes flick from Zoi to the cloth, cloth to Zoi. He's… got nothing.

Ezra beams, eager and happy to be getting out of the weyr. He still goes out to distribute the pictures of D'ani's missing family, but it's not nearly as often as he'd like. But…oh. There's a problem. "Uh. Can…we could…dry her now? And then…wrap her in something?"

Oops. Zoi's wet, isn't she? "Uh… yeah we definitely should do that first," D'ani says sheepishly. He's somewhat distracted today. "Hang on," he says and strides over towards the animal healing area, removes several thick cloths, returns with them and offers Ezra half. He keeps half - he'll help rub her wet fur dry. Dremkoth, having already been (slowly and awkwardly) harnessed for the day meanwhile is dropping off his ledge to glide though the icy rain towards the feeding grounds and the barn beyond. He passes low over the huddled beasts, sniffing the delectable aroma rising from their steamy hides wistfully. Today is their lucky day (at least as far as he is concerned) for he passes over and lands in the space outside the barn doors.

Ezra takes the cloths and begins to rub her down vigorously. Too hard in fact, and the canine gives his hand a nudge. Ease up there, buddy. A bit abashed, Ezra adjusts and rubs her more gently. Faranth help his first lover. "Then yeah, maybe we just wrap her and Dremkoth can hold her or something? Or…aren't there crates for animals that go on their straps? Maybe that'd be better. Or he could just hold the crate…" Eager to be off, is he? "I can't wait to /swim/."

His first- Oh my. Thankfully D'ani is not in Ezra's brainspace! The crate idea actually is the best one. Because wriggling canine in oilcloth held by dragon claws… shudder! Yeaaahno. "Good thinking, man," says D'ani. Now to see if they have any here. He's off again - sorry Ezra, you'll have to dry Zoi by yourself. A circuit of the ground floor produces nothing. But he's off up the ladder into the loft his step overhead thunking hollowly on the loft deck. A creaking sound heralds success - the arrival of a Zoi-sized crate arriving from above attached to rope and pulley. It clunks onto the stone aisle and a few seconds later, D'ani returns via the ladder.

Ezra continues to dry off the canine, but his eyes lift when he hears the sounds from above. "Need help?" he hollers. And apparently not, because the crate is delivered a moment later and he grins. "That's perfect! We're going for a /ride/, Zoi! You're going to love it. You'll come back so clean and tired. Full of sand but that's better than mud, right?"

Hopefully she will love it. It's risky *Betweening* with any animal and D'ani warns Ezra now with, "Sometimes animals don't take to shipping. So… we'll see how she does eh?" He takes the few steps to the healer station, unlocks the medicine cabinet, draws up a small syringe of fellis with the appropriate dose for Zoi's weight - enough to just make her groggy-calm, caps it and slips it into his shirt pocket. That'll be only used if she panics. Then he signs the ledger and returns to Ezra's side to kneel and run his fingers though the canine's fur, judging the moisture of it. Is she dry enough to risk the frigid temperatures of *Between*? Apparently so, because he says, "Can you load her into the crate?"

Ezra isn't worried. He's clueless, having never done it before, and isn't his canine awesome? She'll love it, surely. Finishing with her rub down, he doesn't notice the syringe of fellis going into D'ani's pocket. "Sure! Zoi, go on." And he points. The canine looks up at him and wags her tail. Huh? "Go on, in. Go in." Wag. So Ezra gives her a little push and another point. "In." Maybe they should do this outside.

It's raining outside. Zoi will get re-soaked. They sure don't want that. D'ani watches the first few attempts, restraining the chuckle that so badly wants to bubble up his throat. He steps away and returns with a handful of canine-treats. "Try this: Zoi!" he says in a briskly commanding tone to get her attention. He keeps the treat mostly concealed in his fingers, but allows her to sniff it so she knows what he's got for her. "Kennel up!" he says and he tosses the doggie biscuit inside the crate where it lands in the back.

See, Ezra? Are you paying attention? That is how you do it. Happily, Zoi bounds into the crate after that biscuit, and with a little abashed grin Ezra closes the door behind her, making sure it's locked. "She'll be okay?" he asks, looking up at his friend with the first sign of concern.

"Good girl!" praises D'ani, slipping another biscuit into a slot in the crate. "Well," D'ani hedges, meeting Ezra's eyes for a moment before sliding back to the crated canine. Truth be told they should be doing this training in steps. Gradual conditioning and all that. "She's got a remarkable trust for you, Ezra. And she knows Dremkoth. We'll place the crate between us so she knows where you are and I can intervene if she gets upset. Let's see how she does just going up? Then we'll take it from there." The crate isn't solid so he can slip his hand between the slats if that injection is needed. Hopefully it won't be? The oilcloth is draped over the top and the grommets are guided to the hooks and fastened down. "If she gets too upset, we should probably just land and train her slowly."

Ezra nods, reaching into the crate to rub her ears, earning a few happy licks in return. She's up for anything, and after circling the crate twice she just flops down and exhales, content (or resigned). "Okay," Ezra says, putting his hands onto the crate and looking towards the door. "Just push her out, then?"

D'ani is keeping a critical eye on Zoi, pleased with that flopping. Good. "Yeah. No way we could lift this." And D'ani shouldn't even try. But he can help push it because that uses the long muscles in his legs. And he has nice leg- his legs are fiiiiii- Uhm, his legs are sound and not wounded. His good shoulder is placed to the crate and he helps Ezra push it to the doors, opening those sliding doors where Dremkoth awaits. The bronze whuffles at the crate, crooning a greeting to his canine-friend. At D'ani's unspoken request, Dremkoth rolls onto his side and in a matter of moments that crate is clipped to the space between which D'ani and Ezra will sit. "Okay. This is the tricky part," says D'ani. "We sideways mount while he's on the ground and 'ride him' as he rolls upright. The crate will also do a slow roll and Zoi should adjust with it. Hopefully.

Ezra helps D'ani push Zoi's crate outside, flashing a grateful smile to Dremkoth when the bronze helps by rolling. At their unusual mount, Ezra just giggles after rubbing Zoi's ears. The canine is now looking a bit nervous, those ears back and her tail tucked. "Hopefully," Ezra says as he tries to settle himself properly in the straps, one foot still on the ground. "This is awkward."

D'ani has gotten plenty of practice with the sideways mounting since he got shot. Soon he won't have to do it anymore. "Aye, it is," he laughs, standing likewise as he clips his own straps. He peers over his shoulder - and around the crate - to check on his friend and eye Zoi. He frowns slightly at what he sees, speaks soothingly to her, then asks, "Ready? Here goes!" Dremkoth rolls from his side, easing sloooowllllly to his belly then waits. D'ani watches Zoi the entire time.

Zoi scrambles in her crate, with that sudden 'the world is MOVING' fear that all canines have. Whining, she huddles in a corner and watches, looking at Ezra with wide eyes as the boy speaks softly to her too. With another whimper, she goes still when the movement is complete, head down and looking scared and miserable. But not panicking.

While D'ani gives Zoi some time to acclimate, Dremkoth curves his neck around to rumble-purr at Zoi and send a whuff of warm breath under that tarp and between the slats. At the unspoken signal from his rider, Dremkoth gathers his feet under him so he can crouch, all the while D'ani keeps an eye on the canine. There's some gentle rocking, but no real rough jostling to speak of. Again they pause, the bronze wings lift and while giving the animal time, the bronzerider reaches back between the slates to stroke Zoi's back. "We'll go up, Ezra, and see how she does. Hang on!" He withdraws his hand to grip his own lines and Dremkoth kicks off. There's no real way to prepare an animal for this; it's bound to be unsettling. After the first few, strong downbeats they're aloft enough to glide and so they do, again giving the canine time.

Zoi yelps and scrambles about the crate, but one look down has her huddling in the back again, soothed a little bit by Ezra's touch and his soft words. She whimpers again, tongue gently licking at his hand. "She's scared but she's okay. Maybe we should just do it?" Ezra asks, sounding nervous. "Between won't hurt her, will it?"

"Between won't hurt her," D'ani says while looking a touch relived that Zoi responds to Ezra's voice and touch. "She might actually calm somewhat when it goes black. Unlike people, some animals do when they loose all the sensory input." The fellis syringe remains in his pocket, unused and hopefully unneeded for the trip back. "Transferring," he warns and the black cold descends upon their senses.


Emerald Isle - Maiona cothold

Pristine sugar white sands are lapped by turquoise waters in the quiet cove that forms the lower end of this hold. The ruins of what was once a dock, lies bleaching in the sun. Lush tropical growth shades the beach, while the waters, clear-shot with sunbeams, shimmers beyond with an array of rainbow-hued fish. Just at the center of the curve of the cove a stone wall made with blocks of grey lavastone opens in an arched gateway to a crushed coral path that winds through yellowfruit and palm until it tops a windswept, lonely hill, thigh-high grasses rippling in the tradewinds. There is nothing there to show people once lived in this spot save a foundation in blocks cut from the same lavastone.


Three beats later, when they emerge into tropical warmth and golden sunlight, they're skimming in over shallow aqua seas, the emerald green Isle of Maiona ahead of them, the sugar-white sand beach of the cove rushes towards them as Dremkoth glides in on a shallow descent. His touchdown is as gentle as a bronze can do, his rollover painstakingly slow to ease his cargo down until the crate rests on beach sand. D'ani unclips his lines, hopping awkwardly-one legged to dismount, then releases the crate. Leaving Ezra to open the crate door, he undoes Dremkoth's harness and hauls it up the beach above the tide line and turns to see how the canine is doing.

Ezra holds his breath and closes his eyes tight when they transfer, feeling for Zoi beneath his fingertips. The canine seems resigned more than anything, and when Ezra opens the door she steps slowly out onto the sand, panting. "Do we have water for her?" Ezra asks, sheepishly realizing he didn't bring anything. Though he does take a moment, his hand on her head, to look around and smile widely. "It's so good to be back. Are you okay? Need help?" he's quick to offer.

"I got 'em," D'ani grunts as the straps are tugged where the water won't reach them. Pleased that the canine doesn't refuse to leave the crate and though she's panting, her cheeks aren't puffing in and out and she's not squinting or staring glassy-eyed. "This way," he says of the water and he leads them towards the center of the cove where a small tickle of water crosses the sand to empty into the cove. He follows it to where it forms a rocky course, disappearing into the lush jungle growth. A few small shallow pools formed between boulders will allow them all to drink if need be. "We can bathe her in the cove or we can follow this inland and use the waterfall pool," he says, his concerned attention still on Zoi.

Ezra coaxes Zoi to follow him, and, though she's hesitant, she does trustingly follow her human. And when they reach the pool she eagerly begins drinking. Apparently flying makes you thirsty, who know? Drink, drink, drink, as Ezra grins and then laughs. "Whatever you think is best," he says, reaching out to try and squeeze his friend's arm. "Feeling good to be back?"

D'ani is relieved when Zoi follows and drinks, his posture and attention to the canine relaxes. Eyeing the stream, then the cove over his shoulder he hmms to himself not, for the moment, making a decision. Maybe they'll let Zoi lead them where she will? Instead he breathes deep through his nose taking in the familiar scents of his childhood home, laying a hand atop the one Ezra has squeezed his arm with and patpats it. "Yeaaaah," he says, a big fat grin on his face that is shared with his friend. It's been FAR too long! "Want to swim first?" he asks. They might as well. It's early morning here at Maiona being so far to the West. They have plenty of time.

Ezra grins widely back at him, giving his arm a little shake before he lets it go. "Yeah, let's swim and then see if Zoi joins us," he suggests.

"Sounds like a plan," D'ani says and turns back to the cove. The tide is still coming in, it's got an hour or two until beginning to turn. A perfect time for swimming, actually. The limpid waters, clear-shot with sunbeams, shimmers beyond with an array of rainbow-hued fish languidly ghosting in lazy schools above the waving corals. The late afternoon back at Fort Weyr, grey and cold as it is, gives them several hours before the midnight watch when he officially has to be back. He's already feeling the tropical heat, having come here straight *Between* in flight leathers. So he's intent on removing boots, jacket and welp, his leather pants. The shirt follows. There he stands in his undershorts and a crooked grin, "Last one in is a rotten egg?"

Ezra flashes his friend a grin, stripping out of his clothes like it's prom night. "Go!" he shouts, bolting for the water when he's down to his underwear as well, his body still lanky, still scrawny, still thin despite all the food he shoves into it. Stupid teenage boy metabolism. I hate it.

CHOKE. Like it's prom night?!! Fathers everywhere must cringe at the idea of their daughters attending prom then. D'ani may have the wider shoulders and chest-hair of a 26 turn old but he's certainly lacking the nimbleness of a lightweight teen. Ezra beats him by several steps, the Maoinian executing a shallow dive into the water several splashed steps later (one hand gripping the wasteband of his undershorts to keep from losing them). Not that he'd be anything other than rueful about that happening, but it saves him time from having to retrieve them. He surfaces in the center of the cove, turns back treading water to see how Ezra and Zoi have fared.

It was the only thing I could think of! It was either that or being on fire, but everyone knows you stop, drop and roll for that. Or maybe that's prom too… Ezra, having been raised in the mountains, does not execute anything close to a nice dive. He wades in, splashing until it's deep enough for him to just tip forward and doggie paddle around. Zoi stands on the edge for a moment, eying this odd looking and odd smelling water, and then she slowly follows. But it's slow, taking her time. She's had a lot of surprises today, and she doesn't want any more.

No wonder shotgun sales peak in May! As for Ezra, he was actually in the water before D'ani, so the bronzerider is the rotten egg this time. Zoi's entrance to the water doesn't go unnoticed by D'ani. He's low-key about it, however, giving the canine time to regain her equilibrium. Dremkoth, free of his straps, moves further down the beach before wading into the warm waters with wings held high, sinking in with a whistle of appreciation. Ahhhhhh!

Ezra paddles around with a wide grin, closing his eyes as he floats around happily. "Happy?" he calls to his friend, briefly ducking beneath the water before quickly paddling to the surface again.

While Ezra dives, D'ani eases onto his back to float and Closes his eyes. "Mmhm," he answers lazily to that question, cracking an eyelid a breath later to ask, "You?" Hopefully Zoi is happy too! He peeks in her direction, then Dremkoth's. The bronze is floating lazily several dragon lengths off, wings outspread limply upon the water's surface.

Ezra nods, "Yeah," he says, flashing his friend a grin. "Good to get out of the weyr and somewhere warm for a bit, and, you know. Hang out." Daww. Zoi is digging in the wet sand, watching the hole fill almost as fast as she can dig it out. She's having fun at least, even though she's still muddy. And now sandy.

D'ani relaxes further seeing that Zoi is none the worse for her little trip. Perhaps somewhere along the way they'll coax her into the water. He returns Ezra's grin and then sighs. Hanging out has been a rare thing of late. But things are looking up with the demise of Laris! Hopefully they will remain that way for awhile. He casts another look at Dremkoth all sprawled out and float-y. "Hey Ezra," he tosses the idea almost nonchalantly out there, "Do you have any food in those pants pockets you left on the beach?" He tactfully leaves the word 'stale' out of the question, adding casually, "If you do, grab a small handful, bring back into the water with you and I'll show you something cool."

Ezra turns his head at D'ani's question, and his grin is crooked. "I always have food," he says nonchalantly. It's not something he tries to hide any more. Climbing out of the water, he goes to his clothes and pulls out a small cloth wrapped bundle. Opening it, he extracts a slightly dry biscuit, which soaks up the water from his palm while he walks back into the water and awkwardly paddles towards D'ani, the biscuit held up high. "What?"

D'ani has, meanwhile ducked under the water to check something. He pops up close to one of Dremkoth's wings. The bronze is floating further out in the cove where the water is deeper. Though it's a good fifteen to twenty feet deep, the bottom is clearly visible where golden webs of sunlight, distorted by the depth, waver and dance across both sandy bottom and undulating corals. Noting the awkward paddling, he asks curiously, "Do… you know how to swim? Grab onto Dremkoth's wingbone if you need to." And then he answers the question with, "Hold the biscuit in your closed fist but leave a tiny bit of space between each finger. Take a deep breath and dive under Dremkoth with me."

Ezra paddles to Dremkoth's side and reaches out to grab his wing. "A little," he admits. "I learned when I first got to Fort, so…" In the lake. And whatever he could do in the bathing pools. "Like…all the way under?" This idea seems to frighten him a bit as he peers down into the depths.

D'ani watches Ezra's facial expression, "Nah just part- well wait, we could do this instead." There's a bit of mental communication going on between rider and dragon. A few moments later the wing joints to the tip Ezra is holding begins to fold, probably towing the boy a teeny bit closer to the bronze's side as the sails lift out of the water a few feet, creating a sheltered cupped 'roof'. The tip of Dremkoth's wingbone is within arm's reach of the shade it casts, so he doesn't need to release it if he doesn't want to. D'ani ducks under the canopy of wing, beckoning Ezra to follow. "You can keep your head above water this way," he tells his friend. Then he adds, "Hold your fist with the food under the water and keep as still as you can.

Ezra looks relieved that he doesn't have to go all the way underneath, though he does follow the rest of the instructions. Holding the soggy biscuit beneath the water, he parts his fingers a bit and holds as still as he's able to, peering into the clear water and waiting for…whatever it is he's waiting for.

It doesn't take long. The shadow cast by Dremkoth has already attracted several schools of tiny fish. Instinct, being what it is, tells them they are safe from skyborne predators and since they feel safe, the scent of food in the water draws them closer. Within seconds Ezra's fist is surrounded by a rainbow assortment of fish, most no bigger than the length of his own fingers. Their shapes are different, however, some stick-thin, some palm-shaped but skinny, others oval, one is even snake-like. The hues are as varied as their shapes. Some are sunny lemon yellow, others vibrantly blue, a few are orange, black and white striped, some spotted with red, black, orange and green with rippling fins, fan-like fins, or spinning blade-like fins . A fascinating array, no two are alike and they all seem fearless as they nibble at the biscuit held between Ezra's fingers.

Ezra squeaks, but then he inhales deeply and visibly holds his breath, cheeks poofed out as he watches in awe at the fish that swarm around his hand, nibbling at the food he holds. He stares, wide eyed, holding perfectly still and not even breathing - hardly blinking! Just in awe at being so close and not wanting to do a thing to ruin it.

D'ani grins, enjoying Ezra's reaction, pleased to be able to introduce him to yet another of Maoina's wonders. "They're even better when you can see them underwater with goggles on," he says quietly. Then he adds ruefully, "If I'd planned this better I'd have bought some gear to do that. My old snorkel set got lost in the flood." He's treading water but his slow, languid movements don't seem to bother the fish at all. Another fish drifts in - this one is elongated, has buggy-eyes and is covered with short, stubby quills held close against its body. The bronzerider spots it. "Oooh, hey Ezra. Watch this!" His finger makes a quick, sharp jabbing motion towards the odd-looking fish. The colorful fish dart away in all directions, fleeing the commotion. The weird fish - explodes instantly into a round ball-shape, the quills now pointing out straight from its body. It tries to swim, but sort of… twirls in place. The other fish begin drifting back, curious.

Ezra's eyes only widen all the more, and he audibly gasps when the fish blows up. "Shards and shells," he whispers. "This…is so amazing…"

D'ani quietly watches his best friend with the fish for awhile longer until finally, with a glance at the position of Rukbat over Maiona's cove, murmurs reluctantly, "If we're going to bathe Zoi, we should probably get to it so she has time to dry. It's after dinner back at Fort Weyr." Midmorning in the emerald Islands, time can be deceiving, but the bronzerider is keeping an eye on it. Though he didn't bring any sort of shampoo or sweetsand…

Ezra sighs regretfully, shifting his body beneath the water to scare off the fish. "Oh yeah." Had he forgotten their purpose for being there? Likely, given the amazing things he's just witnessed. "Yeah, let's do that," he says, his energy returning to him as he flashes D'ani a grin. Letting go of Dremkoth's wing, the boy paddles back toward shore, going slow but steadily.

D'ani follows, keeping pace with Ezra with a lazy sidestroke to favor his still-healing shoulder, surreptitiously keeping an eye on the boy until he is no longer over his head. "I'll teach you some stronger strokes if you'd like, Ezra. Maybe next time we come here." His feet touch sand and he rises to splash closer in towards the beach, glancing around for Zoi. Behind them, Dremkoth heaves himself out of the water and onto the rocks of the jetty to sun himself.

Ezra blushes faintly, but he's quick to nod. "I'd like that. Never learned to swim 'till I came to Fort…and I can't stay in the lake too long." Too cold! Zoi is off digging at something, but a short whistle from Ezra has the massive canine bounding back over. With a laugh he takes her by the collar and lures her into the water. The canine is skittish of the waves at first, jumping back and forth, barking and biting, but soon she's used to them and stands calmly.

"Yeah, I… heh, haven't swum in it at all," D'ani admits somewhat sheepishly. Too cold indeed! The wavelets in the cove are at least very gentle ones. They'll save the large billows out on the other side of the island for another time when Zoi is more used to crate-traveling. When she is finally still, D'ani thumps Zoi affectionately, scritching her ears for a few seconds, then cups his hands, scooping the warm salt water and pouring it over her back, working to drench the canine, finger-scrubbing to at least loosen the caked, dried mud (and now sand), while keeping up a casual conversation, "We can bring supplies to keep here, shampoo and grooming supplies for Zoi and hide brushes and oil for Dremkoth. He tells me he'd rather bathe in the warm waters this winter." At some point he eases in the suggestion, "Rayathess might like to come along some time…"

Ezra giggles before he can stop himself, giving his best friend a crooked grin. "That'd be great! And could we camp here sometime? It's so /nice/ here." Then he falters a bit, frowning as he works on Zoi's tail, rubbing it as the canine tries to lick D'ani's ears. In the end though the teen just shrugs. "Yeah, maybe. Dunno."

"We can camp out again, sure," D'ani agrees easily, ducking his head and grinning at Zoi's licking. He doesn't mind in the slightest though, telling her laughingly, "That tickles!" He hmms to himself at the lack of enthusiasm Ezra shows for bringing his brother to Maiona, unsure what to make of it. "We don't… have to," he amends, giving his friend a sidelong look as he works on washing the canine. When she looks more or less clean, at least as clean as she's going to get without soap, he wades ashore and flops onto the sand to dry.

Ezra shrugs a bit, working his fingers through her fur until he gets all the dirt out - fur comes with it, too, as she sheds. Better here than in his room! "I dunno," he finally says, after working on his canine for a bit. "Kind of like when it's just us. Don't get to do that much. But he'd probably like it, maybe. I think. I can offer at least. It'd be nice to offer."

D'ani chuckles. Maybe it's partly in relief, maybe partly amusement at the last bit Ezra tacks on there. "I'll leave that up to you, yeah?" And somewhere in there he flops back, closes his eyes and his mind drifts as Maiona works its relaxing magic on him. Several minutes later he stirs, cracks an eyelid and considers the boy. How to broach the question he's about to ask? He shifts to sit, tilts Ezra a crooked grin and says, "Hey, Ezra? I have a favor to ask. It's a task only a best friend can do."

Ezra glances up from where he works, brows lifting as an eager smile overtakes his features. It's swift and almost sadly optimistic in its eagerness to help. "Anything!"

D'ani's grin widens as his brown eyes twinkle. He lifts a cautionary finger, "You should always wait to hear what a person wants before agreeing." Though he gets the huge trust the boy puts in him and it means a great deal. "I, uhm, need you to take a note to the Weyrwoman for her and ask her a question for me." He's far from somber bringing the request to Ezra, but there's a subtle seriousness laced in there too.

Ezra blinks a few times, and if he looks disappointed, well…he thought it'd be something a bit more glamorous than message running? "Uh…why can't you do it? You see her a lot more than I do…"

"It… wouldn't be the same if I did it myself." D'ani pushes himself to his feet and strides to where he'd tossed his jacket, pulls out a pre-written note, the paper is wrinkled as if he's been carrying it around for a sevenday. He opens it, holding it up so Ezra can read it:

note.png

"Soooo…" D'ani continues, "what I need to you to do is take this to Dtirae, ask her this question: 'Do you like D'ani?' and then hand her the note and wait until she circles one and bring the note back to me." He coughs, trying not to look sheepish, succeeding for the most part, except maybe around the edges.

Ezra blinks again as he reads the note, his fingers tangled up in Zoi's fur. They clench convulsively and the canine whines, and with a ducked glance, Ezra relaxes his grip. "You…and Dtirae?" he asks, smoothing out Zoi's coat with gentle, steady, slow strokes.

D'ani hmms. 'You and Dtirae' can mean… well - anything! "Sort of?" He's either not quite sure how to define things at this point or unwilling to go into details. "We have fun together." He slowly refolds the note, tucks it back into his jacket pocket, giving himself time to phrase his words, "This is sort of a… ritual. An important one…to me." Of course he doesn't add in there it's more important when a person is ten turns old. He's thought this through though and adds quietly, almost to himself, "It's one I think she missed growing up." Firmly adding, "And she should have it."

Ezra has missed it too. The boy has all sorts of thoughts and emotions rolling through him right now, but he struggles to fight them all back, rubbing his fingers through Zoi's fur until the last of the dirt and loose fur is gone, and he can send her onto the beach to flop down, wiggle, and then dry. "Sure," he finally says, glancing at his friend. "I…yeah. Sure, I can do that." Even though it stings.

D'ani has guessed that, but does he say that's precisely why he's pulled Ezra into this? Not on your life! Ezra will get to do the best friend half of it, which is part of the ritual. "Thanks man. It's an honor to be asked," he says, adding, "If you ever…you know…want me to, I'll do the same for you." He'd be blind not to notice Ezra's tone and expression. "Hey, having a girlfriend won't change anything. You'll always be my best friend."

Ezra looks a bit startled, and then he laughs. "Me? I…uh. Sure." Though from his tone it's pretty clear he doesn't ever think it'll happen to him. What girl would be interested in him? But then he looks up at D'ani, the movement quick enough to betray that was one of his worries, as he looks away just as fast. "I know…." Does he?

D'ani reaches a hand over to grip Ezra's shoulder, squeezing it in a hopefully reassuring gesture. "Friends are not throwaway relationships," he says firmly. And words are meaningless without actions, so he also knows time will be the best way to prove that. He follows the gesture up with a playful poke to his friend's shoulder before withdrawing his hand, promising with mock severity, "And if I find you are avoiding me to keep from 'bugging' me, I will hunt you down and haunt you!" He might sound like he's kidding? But he means it!

Ezra reaches up to grip D'ani's wrist in a return 'man embrace', and then he laughs, soft and hesitant. "Yeah, okay…" But yes, time will tell for that one. "But…Dtirae? Really? I mean, she's so…" Scary? Intimidating? Aloof?

D'ani allows the subject to move on, his mouth tilting into a grin. "Dtirae is so… what?" he asks lightly, curious how his friend sees her. While waiting he leans to fluff his fingers experimentally though Zoi's fur to gauge how dry it is. "She's great," he says easily of the Weyrwoman, without elaborating, because really. Somehow what he does not say is best left unsaid for now. It wouldn't make sense.

Ezra shifts his weight a bit. "Intimidating," he mutters. And then he beams. "She's /so/ great! I'm really happy how she handled between and all that…" Of course he assumes the 'she' in that was Zoi. Right?

For a moment D'ani looks confused, blinking at Ezra. Oh he- Ha! He thought D'ani meant Zoi… "She is," he says quickly, "But I meant Dtirae." Oh, he gets how the fancy knot would make a person seem intimidating. But really, "Is she?" he asks, curiously. "In what way?" Because he's never seen her that way, for some reason. "We just… have fun. I'm comfortable with her." Well, he's comfortable with Inri too, but the chemistry isn't the same at all and there's been no note sent to Inri via Ezra.

Ezra shrugs. "I dunno. She just is. We don't talk." Not that he expects her to. She's the Senior Weyrwoman of Fort and he's…what? Not even an heir at the moment. Just a kid. "She seems really uptight."

D'ani shrugs, "Lots ridin' on her I guess?" He says it casually, which may or may not mean that he understands what she had to deal with and adjust to. "I guess I see her as a person first, a woman next and the Weyrwoman… somewhere in there." It's… complicated. He nudges Ezra with an elbow, "Depending on how she answers that note, we should try double-dating sometime. You and Inri with Dtirae and I." It's a recipe for all kinds of awkward!

Ezra blinks. Blinks again, and then his eyes widen. "Did Inri /say/ something about me?" he asks, teenage hormones and eagerness surging to the forefront. Uh oh?

"Nope." Of that D'ani is sure, firmly shaking his head. “But you once told me in no uncertain terms that I should find someone else besides Zapallie to go on dates with but not Inri, remember?" He's pretty sure things haven't changed as far as his best friend is concerned, but asks anyway, "Or is there someone else you fancy?"

Ezra's blush is swift to rise. "No," he mutters with a little shrug. "No one pays attention to me. None of the girls anyway."

"Maybe they do when you're not looking," D'ani suggests and the way he says it is without guile, totally sincere there. "At least, that's how it usually works with girls your age." Casually he shrugs, "Could be fun," he adds of Inri and Ezra joining them for something. Just what he doesn't say. Instead he fluffs Zoi's fur again, then rises. "She's dry. Time we got back; it's getting late. Help me get Dremkoth harnessed?" Hopefully Zoi is cooperative about the crating and that small syringe of fellis will go unused. And hopefully the rains at Fort have ended, but regardless, he'll drop the pair off at the entrance to the caverns so Zoi won't have to splash through the mud to get home. And, of course, entrust the ‘note’ to Ezra before they part.


'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.