Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours

Drake's Lake - High Plains
The high plains here rise to the Southern Barrier Range from the shores of Drake's Lake, which can be seen shimmering in the distance to the north. Wild and rough, somewhat arid, the rocks, scrub brush and waist-high grasses whispering dryly in the prevailing winds do little to obscure the untamed beauty of the shining snow-clad mountains rising to the south. Numerous beasts, those native to Pern an well as those brought by the colonists, flourish here. Bovine, both wild and feral graze the plentiful grasses along with feral runners, shaggy-haired porcine root the hard ground with deadly tusks, turning over the soil for new growth, which is inturn picked over by flocks of wherries. Overhead solitary raptors ride the wind while in hidden ravines, rocky streams, winding around boulders provide water and shelter for other creatures.


Kainaesyth and Ha'ze never had that weyrlinghood where the two played together. Not that baby Kainaesyth wouldn't have, but that 16-year-old-Ha'ze would not. But with their forced idleness? They're getting back to it a bit. To the untrained eye it looks like Kainaesyth is trying to hurt Ha'ze, but really, it's just a rough and tumble game of touch-the-dragon-tale-without-getting-knocked-off-feet. Score, Kainaesyth 1 billion, Ha'ze, zero.

At least there will be a break in the monotony? And probably in the last way possible Ha'ze would have ever imagined. Trouble arrives today on runner-back, though before they get too close the rider will rein the well-bred stallion aside and dismount, tying the beast in a shaded spot beneath some trees. Clearly he's not stupid enough to ride too close, despite knowing Kainaesyth is harmless. Rayathess keeps his approach slow and cautious and for a multitude of reasons. Biggest being he has zero sense on how Ha'ze is going to handle this intrusion. No hand is raised in greeting and he will stop several feet from Ha'ze.

Kainaesyth sweeps Ha'ze's feet out from under him before Ha'ze can reach the tip of his tail. Then, raising his head the bronze tracks Rayathess. Stepping away from Ha'ze he tucks his tail up under him. Game over. Ha'ze needs to play with a human for a little bit. Ha'ze rolls in the dust, then lifts himself up on one arm. That smile he'd gotten while playing with Kai? Gone. "Rayathess."

Rayathess would have been very intrigued over the play between dragon and human if this had been any other situation (or any other rider). Instead, he just meets Ha'ze's lack of a smile with a rather grim expression of his own. In fact, he looks rough. Like a man who has travelled long and hard and hasn't really been taking good care of himself. Not easy to see from a distance but up close? The signs are there. "Ha'ze," he mutters and after an awkward pause of silence, gets straight to the point. Even if it sounds like it pains him to even speak the words. "I need your help in something. Personal." That'll earn a laugh, right?

Ha'ze picks himself up from the dust and reaches upwards to knock some of the dirt taht tagged along. He looks like he's sheding dust. "Unless you want some wood chopped, there's not much I can do." It's a testament to how BORED Ha'ze is that he's not saying no outright to Rayathess. Just laying out his limitations.

Rayathess wasn't expecting quite an honest and straightforward response. It throws him off and he'll just stare suspiciously at the bronzerider until he realizes Ha'ze actually means it. "I need to know of the type of folks who pass through his region — or if there's been any unusual sorts about." he mutters again. Since clearly Ha'ze will be a direct source for that, right?

"Why?" Ha'ze is apparently all SORTS of frank today, as he brushes more dirt from his body. Arms cross on his chest and Kainaesyth turns into a backrest. "This isn't exactly on the beaten path."

Rayathess' brows knit and for a moment he doesn't look at all cooperative in giving Ha'ze a lick of truth or information. He wasn't kidding when he said it was 'personal' matters. As much as it grates on his pride, he relents. "Tyani was taken from me. Probably by her father. Holder. Corrupt bastard," he all but growls, lifting a hand up to scrub wearily at his face. "But I'll be damned if I can find anything to pin him down. He used men though to do it. Men can be traced — and I've traced as far as some ports north of Central and Roma. Only now…" He spreads his hands in a familiar gesture of frustration. Poof! Vanished. "I'm acting on my own. Hall drags their feet, Weyr is useless."

Ha'ze has been a LITTLE bit out of the loop. And when it comes to the Stonehavens? He's even more out of the loop. So there is only confusion all over his face. "Tyani?" An important detail before he can take in the rest of it. "Girl friend?"

Rayathess hasn't exactly been running around sharing the news at large. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal either to really spread as gossip. Not when there's other dark mutterings about Fort right now. "Fiance," he corrects. "We are…were to be wed this summer. She disappeared in the winter months. And I know who has her and where she is." But it's not as simple as charging in there, is it? "But I need proof. So I need to trace some folk down." Not pleasant ones.

"Congrats." It comes off with just… a little bit of sarcasm. Okay. Maybe more than a little. But Ha'ze isn't exactly known for stable relationships so that may be wehre it comes from. "Okay. You think she's somewhere around here?" A raised eyebrow. Because seriously. Ha'ze isn't going to be help elsewhere.

Rayathess just gives Ha'ze a glared look that says volumes: he can go shove it. Only he doesn't say it out loud because for whatever reason he is honestly seeking help. Maybe the sun has addled his mind? Or the Harper is becoming desperate. "I know exactly where she is. It's not the first time her father has held her against her will." Long story and one he's not about to explain. He shakes his head, "He's corrupt in ways I didn't see before. I just can't storm in there and demand he let her go… and I'm not asking that you go either. I need to trace folks. I need evidence."

"I'm bored enough that I would actually help you." Ha'ze lifts his hands and gestures in the general direction of everywhere in Drake's lake. "But I can't leave this island." Then Ha'ze's expression changes abruptly and he pivots to look up at Kainaesyth. Slowly… "Well. Kainaesyth can't leave." Ha'ze PROBABLY COULD.

Rayathess snorts, "I'm not sure if I should thank you." he grumbles before quirking a brow and glancing towards Kainaesyth as well. Perhaps some small thought runs through his mind then, making him hesitate. Just a brief moment and then anger overrules all. He wants this holder, Tyani's father, to burn for what he's done — and as the days go on, Rayathess isn't so certain if he means figuratively anymore. "It could be dangerous. The men I'm tracking down are no more than the same sort of scum Laris recruited. One's who will do anything if the marks are good." Remember the last time he teamed up with him on something like this? It didn't end well for either of them!

"So someone dies." Ha'ze shrugs at that. "It would break up the monotony. What is Th'ero going to do - exile me?" A hint of bitter sarcasm THERE. "Find me a rider willing to get me off this island and bring me back if Kainaesyth needs me and I'll help you track them down."

"I'd rather no one dies. I've questions to ask," Rayathess tone hints that any such interrogations will be anything but "standard" or "by the book". There's another snort and while Ha'ze is bitter, the Harper is just going for brutal honesty. "Half the reason why I came to you." He's nothing to lose, right? "… another rider?" Damn it! He scowls, "You just going to trust any rider?"

"Dealing with dangerous people has the tendency for someone to end up dead. I don't hold back if they attack me. The world thinks I intend to get myself and Kainaesyth Killed." Which is NOT THE TRUTH GUYS. Ha'ze fights better if he's got something worth fighting for. :( Ha'ze snorts. "A boat would take too long. And I have to be able to get back to Kaianesyth if something happens since he couldn't come to me." Stupid Jajen.

Rayathess smirks and doesn't argue with Ha'ze. He learned that lesson the hard way by becoming a human pincushion. He mutters a curse or two. "I can't use Fortian riders," he scrubs again at his face and runs his hand up and over his hair. "Fine. I'll find someone." But he better not complain over who he sends! His brows knit again and he gives Ha'ze a level look. "So what do you want in return?" Seriously, there's a catch to this, right? Rayathess is asking a lot.

Ha'ze is… bored. VERY BORED. And there's only so much wood he can chop before the Lorax is going to show up. But…. a price. A contemplative look enters his eye. "There's a guy. Sleeping with Jajen. I want to know who he's connected to off this island."

Rayathess was expecting a sum of marks to be demanded or whatever else riders covet. This? Is both surprising but a welcome relief. "Do you know his name?" he asks with a grimace. "Position? Rank?"

"Vikary," and Ha'ze lays out what he knows about the man's business on the island. (Why would he ask for money? Kainaesyth'd just give everything away.) Only once he's done with the sketchy bio does Ha'ze add, "He's around my kid and I have a bad feeling about him."

Rayathess commits it all to memory and then holds his hand out for Ha'ze to take. Shake, obviously? "I'll see what I can find on him." This has become a 'you scratch my back, I scratch yours' sort of deal, hasn't it?

Ha'ze nods once when it's clear Rayathess has it. The hand gets a look but…. Ha'ze reaches out and grabs it. His hand is calloused, hard. It's tight, almost a test. "Get me off this island and I'll hunt down what you want." Just wait for Th'ero to show up and be like 'Ha'ze? Ha'ze? Where is Ha'ze?' and Jajen go 'Uh, I don't know, Kainaesyth is right there….'

Unless Ha'ze finishes his work before Th'ero comes hunting him! Rayathess won't flinch from the handshake, returning it just as tight though his hands won't be as calloused as the bronzerider's. "Deal." he gruffly confirms before letting go and stepping back. If he's to find another rider… he best start hunting now! "I've a ferry to catch." No kidding. "I'll be in touch. Firelizard." He doesn't say what color but he figures Ha'ze is smart enough to recognize the banding colors painted on the hide.

Ha'ze lets go of Rayathess' hand and nods his head once. Agreement made. Anndd he should probably go talk to Kainaesyth about this. Make sure he does't blab something to the gold who he spends so much time gossiping with. But he won't move first, Raythess gets taht.

Rayathess doesn't give anything more in a farewell. Just a stiff nod and then the Harper is turning his back and walking briskly to his tethered runner. In a handful of minutes, he's mounted up into the stallion's saddle and wheels the beast around, nudging him to a full canter. Just like that, he's gone.


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