North East Sea - Eastern Ring Islands - In the skies over the barren exiles island…

Zuvaleyuth senses that Dremkoth's dusk eddies as fog will rise from the river with the fall of night, his voice gentle but urgent, « We are finished with our task. D'ani asks if your rider is alright? » He seems to understand it's a dumb question, if the ironic thread that weaves through the communication is anything to go by. Like, who WOULD be after all that? But he asks for D'ani's sake.

Dremkoth senses that Zuvaleyuth's mind takes grasp of the river, leading it down the winding trails that rivers so often travel. Down to the ocean of Zuvaleyuth's mind… But her leading does not end there. The sound of a massive downpour begins, but is droned out as the mind dives down, down, and deeper until there is only darkness. A dim, very dim light finally flickers on and sitting beneath all the water is a lone woman. Tiny, unlike the woman who tends to act big… She is alone, sitting in the water. She is lost. « No. » A simple word breaks the image, and the world falls completely apart while the gold begins to withdraw as well.

Fort Weyr - Zuvaleyuth's Ledge

Low on the bowl wall, this queen's ledge is huge and very visible. It is connected to the other ledges in the area with what seem to be tiny and treacherous stairs in comparison to the broad expanse of stone. The ledge is relatively flat, trending only very slightly downwards so that the train and snowmelt flow off into the bowl rather than the inner caverns of the weyr. There are plenty of scorings from past comings and goings, showing this ledge and weyr have been occupied more turns than not. Yet, it remains its own imposing presence, reflecting somehow the current occupant like no other. The view of the bowl beyond is like a fine portrait. It is not so unpleasantly high that one can easily make out the facial expressions of those moving around within site, and when it's golden occupant lay sunning, she will be as much a presence as the rest of the weyr, both seen and seeing. Deeper into the ledge is where various decorations are, suited for Zuvaleyuth's taste rather than Dtirae's. On the cavern walls are painted murals, various flowered patterns with dew sprinkled lightly on the petals. Poetry is also written on these walls, but no indication of where they are from or who wrote them can be found anywhere. Various pots and vases are settled onto little side tables, both of which have been bolted to one another in some shape or form to prevent permanent damage in case of accidents, though full on collisions will likely not save them.
A couch for the queen to sleep is settled neatly between both walls so that both murals may be seen along with her decorations. Reeds and colorful blankets line the couch in order to provide comfort to the queen's hide. Occasionally, scented candles are lit to provide the cavern with a certain atmosphere, depending on the queen's fancy.

There is a very brief and hasty, « We come, » the tone dual - the bronze's overlaid with that of his rider's. *Between* dims the link though the bronze seeks to hold onto it and prevent the queen from withdrawing totally, a desperate attempt to provide a lifeline for the Weyrwoman so she won't drown in those thoughts - or at least tie her world together for just a a few moments longer. They appear in Fort's skies, but do not linger there, dropping like a stone the moment they emerge from *Between*. The landing is rough, the bronze aiming for the bottom of those long stairs up to Zuvaleyuth's ledge, D'ani tumbling off Dremkoth and recklessly running up full tilt until skidding to a stop at the ledge, "May I pass?" he asks breathlessly of the golden queen, squelching the wish to simply rush blindly past in his alarm.

Zuvaleyuth acts as a guard, preventing those whom she does not wish to venture into the most vulnerable plane of Dtirae's world. However, D'ani is given a moment of consideration for his request before the queen inclines her head and allows the passage of the bronzerider.

Fort Weyr - Dtirae's Weyr

The curtain that blocks the outside ledge from the rest of the weyr is no simple curtain: it is made from animal pelts, carefully woven together to create a door that is not quite a door, but it battles the heat and cold in the various seasons to provide the weyr with a certain warmth. And, that is only the beginning. The weyr can most simply be described as: tribal or wild. Pelts of various animals, likely all kills from the Weyrwoman, line the walls. Amongst the many kinds is one particularly large feline, male to be exact, and largest among all of the other pelts with the color being a bright golden. It rest beside the large wooden desk settled off in the corner. The desk is lined almost constantly with paperwork, likely the place the Weyrwoman retreats to when things are far from quiet in the offices. The rest of the living area is quite cozy: a hearth is settled on the opposite side with a pelt on the floor before it. A small table and two chairs are a little towards the center of the room, both quite quaint and dainty looking: out of place for this very tribal setting.
Another curtain blocks the way into another section of the weyr. This section is the sleeping area and, bathing cavern combined. The bath that occupies the weyr is large, roomy enough for two but, from the looks of it: it has barely been touched in Turns. Across from the bathing area is where the bed is settled. Pelts also cover the bedding, providing blankets as they have been specially tailored to cater to that purpose. Of course, there are more pelts lining the wall of the whole area. However, the other details are softer and a little more welcoming. Shelves beside the bathtub provide various goods, such as soapsand and towels. Bookshelves are near the bed, and soft non-animal rugs, line the floor to provide a warmer surface to place one's feet on in the mornings. A wardrobe is also settled in the room, placed in the middle between both the sleeping area and the bathing area.

The Weyrwoman's weyr is, of course, darkened. The lighting of the glows entirely dimmed, except for the bare minimum in which the outline of the Weyrwoman can be seen, settled on the bed. She is, for once, completely out of character. She is in a fetal position, arms hugging her legs close, her chin upon her knees as she stares blankly at the opposite side of the room. Hair is down, a black curtain that hides her from the world or so she would hope. The fact that Zuvaleyuth has allowed another to tread into her sanctum is unknown, the admittance of the bronzerider goes unheard though it is likely Zuvaleyuth would have told her rider such important information. Yet, the woman does not stir, nor does she move and attempt to welcome D'ani with a smile that would be far from sincere.

D'ani breathes a heartfelt, "Thankyou," executes a hasty bow and pushes past the pelt curtain hanging there, blinking in the dimness, sees nothing. He reaches back to hold the curtain aside, allowing some of the late afternoon light, what little the heavy cloud and rainy skies provide to filter in past his body. He knows already the Weyrwoman is not well, from what Dremkoth passed back to him and her body language confirms it. Swift steps bring him to her side, but he speaks as he closes the distance to her bed, "Dtirae." He speaks her name firmly, gentleness mingled with urgency, seeking to recall her from the dark place her mind has gone. He doesn't wait for an invitation, but settling before her on that furry bed, hands reaching to her shoulders as he seeks to peer into her lovely grey eyes. "Talk to me," he coaxes.

The calling of her name draws her in, there's a blink as her eyes again adjust to the darkness and then the feeling of his hands upon her shoulders has the woman tensing up just a fraction. Grey eyes seek his for a moment, lost and confused before she gives a slight shake of her head, leaning downwards. "D'ani." A soft plea, her hand lifts to gently grasp onto him, like an anchor so she will not be swept away. "I'm afraid… I… There was so much blood. They were all dead. It was right to exile them, but then we've…" A shake of her head again, finger curl tighter, gripping as if she'll simply float away.

There's a deep rumble of a chuckle from D'ani. Not making light of her fears, no. But perhaps relief that she's not totally catatonic and knows who he is. Gentle hands seek to sweep back that cloak of dark silk, cup her face, warming chilled and pale cheeks. His thumbs move rhythmically on her cheeks, perhaps seeking to wipe away nonexistent tears, possibly finding dampness. "I'm here," he murmurs and then the plea causes something to tighten in his chest and he enfolds her in comforting arms. "Shh…shh…shh," he croons. His breath is warm on the hair at the top of her head as he says simply, "Rae, it's okay to be afraid." He's not condemning her or trying to talk her out of anything, instead he tucks her head under his chin and rocks her like a baby. "We've what now?" he asks prompting her to verbalize her distress.

The chuckle does not cause insult, nor does it cause concern. Her normal retorts with laughter do not come, she is staring at him as he cups her cheeks in his warm hands and brushes away the tears she did not know she had shed at some point. Dtirae's falling to pieces in his hands, especially as he draws her into him and a soft sob finally breaks forth in which she curls into him, and wraps her arms around him, seeking the comfort he offers. It's the nickname that brings a pause to the tears, a breath that attempts to calm herself enough to hear him speak. "We've only brought more revenge. We've separated children from their fathers, their mothers will weep and tell of what we've done… They looked so broken, but… They did so much worse. The sight of those bodies… I still dream of it. And I wonder why I couldn't do anything. Why didn't I stop this? Why did I let it get so far…?" She's clinging again. "I can't let this happen again. I can't… I can't keep failing to protect what is mine to protect."

That nickname came so naturally to D'ani's lips, more instinctively than anything else. He lets her cry, knows she needs to. He listens when she speaks, arms still holding her gently. There is no rush of logical words to try and talk her out of her worries. Instead, "Aye," he says quietly. "They did." They both know how devastated the holdless looked when the judgment was decreed and carried out. Outside the evening sky darkens further, a slowly rising wind moans across the peak eerily announcing an approaching storm front. "They might try to take revenge, but I doubt it," he finally says into the silence. "They know we won't take this sort of hold-gutting lying down and the consequences are severe." He does wonder though, pulling back just enough to peer down at her in some puzzlement, "How is hold protection your responsibility? Surely Stonehaven's holder bore some?" At least to maintain vigilance and assigning his own guards. He could chide her, tell her she can't be everywhere. Instead he says firmly, warmly, "You won't. We learn. We grow."

Another question lingers on her lips, but, insstead of speaking, she presses her face lightly against him, hiding. A breath is drawn as she attempts to rein herself in, regain control but the struggle proves to be harder than that. Fingers are curling into his clothing, gripping tightly. "No… I don't think they'll do it again. Was it enough?" She leaves the question at that. As he pulls away and peers at her, she's lifting her eyes to search his. "There must have been something we could have done… That image still haunts me. I remember carrying Ezra from the cothold." Her head tilts downwards slightly, again seeking to hide behind her hair. "It wasn't right that they had to endure this for us to learn…"

"For these people? I think so," D'ani says, convinced that it was indeed enough. His arms tighten again as she struggles with her self control, as if he could help with that when all he can do is be there for her so she isn't alone throughout her ordeal. He meets her eyes steadily. Could they have done something to prevent Stonehaven? It all happened before he arrived at Fort Weyr, so he doesn't know. "Maybe," he says with a slight shrug, "if you had warning, but…" He doubts they did. She hides and he allows her the retreat, one hand sliding up her back, under her hair to cup the back of her neck, his thumb slowly and rhythmically stoking the side of her neck, meant to be comforting, soothe her distress. He hmms about her carrying the younger Ezra from the destroyed hold, past the pile of his frozen, slain kin and his eyes clench shut, pained at the picture she evokes. Opening them, seeing not the furred walls of her weyr, but lives snuffed out far too soon, futures changed forever, a desolate grey wasteland of barren stone, an empty courtyard where mercy died and iron gates left swaying in eddying snowflakes, lacking a ritual-touch in its special spot as the boy passed through them. His throat is tight as he says, "Ezra told me about Stonehaven. I wasn't even there and it haunts me. But I know this: It wasn't right they had to endure this for any reason, let alone for us to learn." His voice hardens, "But Laris bears the guilt for this. We make sure it never happens again."

Dtirae nods once for D'ani's assessment that it was enough. He was one of the riders who transported them to their destination, she trusts his judgment. That alone releases some of the tension and allows her a little more calm. His reasoning on Stonehaven as well allows her shoulders to relax just a little more, the thought that they had done what they could. His hand does soothe, and slowly, she begins to wind down, calming as she draws in very slow breaths. Then, her head lifts as he speaks and she meets his gaze. "They didn't… I'm glad he's dead. He'll never hurt anyone again… And we can prevent anything like this from happening again." Her hand lifts, fingers gently brushing along D'ani's jaw line in an attempt to convey unspoken words, grey eyes intent on his. "Thank you."

Actually it was too much for one of his passengers, but D’ani refrains from saying what happened to her, though no doubt she'll eventually hear about it, if not from him then the Weyrleader. For now though, he spares her that; she's distressed enough already and he's pushed the shock and horror down deep in his concern for her. He meets her lovely grey eyes, "As am I," he says grimly of Laris. Indeed he won't hurt anyone ever again - if they can all heal from what he's done to them. He chuckles then, more out of relief that she's calm than any sort of levity. He presses a kiss to her forehead, "You're welcome," he breathes into her hair. "It's… going to take time for things to be… better, I know, so…" He says it so she knows he doesn't expect her to just lightly dismiss all this anguish, "…if you need to talk anytime, just know that I will come listen." And hold her and absorb her tears. He can do that. He shifts, tipping his chin to look down at her, "You should rest. Would you like me to stay and keep you company?" The offer is made without hidden meanings or anything like that; it is what it sounds like: he will watch so those ghosts won't bother her tonight.

Dtirae's eyes close for the moment in which his lips are against her forehead, content and calm. It is unlikely that later, when she hears the news, that she will fall apart once again. More than likely, she will seek to console the man in return. "I… Really appreciate it, D'ani. That you would listen. I didn't share with anyone after Stonehaven and…" She pauses, "it changed me." But that's all she says. His offer is also met with a sort of hesitation, clearly torn before she's reaching for him again, seeking his hand. "You can stay. I…" More hesitation, a brief moment where begins to pull away. "I have nightmares, just as a warning…"

Dryly, "I can imagine Stonehaven would," D'ani says. When he feels her hand seeking his, he laces his fingers with hers, quiet while she begins to speak, not trying to stop her from pulling away; assuming she's going to say she'll be fine or something like that. In which case he'll go, but have Dremkoth try to keep checking with Zuvaleyuth from time to time to ask how she is. Her words causes him to blink down at her in the dark, then chuckle and draw her close once more. "Who wouldn't?" is all he says to that, leaning back and pulling her with him, settling her head in the hollow of his shoulder. "Sleep wild woods woman," he commands, fondly gruff.

Dtirae's fingers tighten around his once her admission is out, until he's drawing her in, and she shifts her position accordingly. The statement earns a very slight nod, as they go down, and she's slipping an arm around him. His final statement earns a soft laugh before she shifts, just once more, to brush a kiss across his lips. A smile is finally in place, small and not all that visible but it is certainly still there before resettles against him and finally closes her eyes. It is not long after that she drifts into a somewhat peaceful sleep. Nightmares do come, tears and terror following upon waking.

D'ani returns Dtirae's kiss, helps her settle, reaching to pull one of her furs to cover her, tucking it tenderly in. She sleeps; he does not. Eyes wide open, he stares into the darkness while troubling thoughts chase themselves across the landscape of his mind. He's awake when those nightmares come, aware of them probably before she is by the restlessness, quickened breathing and sounds she makes. Undaunted by the nightmares, he's there to soothe her, assure her she isn't alone, tell her everything in okay now, stroke back the damp, tumbled locks from her face and gently kiss tear-soaked lashes and hopefully get her to go back to sleep. He'll remain until the morning, listening to the growing strength of the storm outside, a full-blown blizzard by the time grey light filters into the weyr. When she's awake, and he knows she's alright, he'll slip away to go find Ezra and make sure he's alight. Teasing her about those furs all over the place will have to wait until later, but he'll be sure to remember to do that.

'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.