Fort Weyr - Th'ero and Velokraeth's Weyr

This weyr is opulent, it almost looks like some of the ground weyrs. It is quite large, easily fitting two large dargons. The slight lip on the wallow allows for large blankets to be draped over it without sliding downward. The floor stone is smooth, having been wore down over the turns by many dragon and human feet. Towards the back of the dragon area there is a wall with a double door wide opening leading into the living area. On either side of the living area there are two smaller rooms. Towards the back there is an entrance to the washroom on the left and an open area for the kitchenette on the right.
The living area is quite large to match the dragon's area. There is plush carpeting covering most of the weyr, except for the dragon, kitchen and washroom areas which are tiled. The furniture left behind is in quite good condition. There is a sofa and a klah table in the center of the room, and couple of bookcases. Towards the back where the kitchenette is there is a rectangular dining table with four chairs. The spare room to the left has only a desk in it and a book shelf.
The kitchenette is well cared for. There are ample cabinets and counter space about made with good stone, though they are worn a bit by age. There is a stove and oven, ice box and a deep sink. The bedroom is of a slightly more modest size. The bed looks to be roughly a queen size, and there is a dresser with a mirror over it off to the right hand side of the entrance. Some of the area is consumed by a walk-in closet in the back right corner. The washroom is quite large and clearly designed for two people. There is a large basin tub with a small stand up shower next to it. The toilet has been partitioned off to the left corner, leaving space for a large vanity across most of the back wall of the washroom. It has a light colored stone countertop with two sinks carved out and a very large mirror on the wall behind. There is plenty of cabinet space underneath.

Th'ero savors the quiet moment between them as well, likely the same concerns running through his mind. So that may explain why he sneaks in a brief, but heated kiss after chuckling when she pats the dagger at her side. "Let's be off then, Wingmate." He tells her and while his expression is grim now, the Weyrleader is calm and steady. Velokraeth is waiting on the ledge and it won't take long to get the straps settled onto his pale hide and the rucksack safely strapped in. Grabbing his helmet and gloves, he shrugs into his jacket and pulls the furred collar close up under his chin to ward off the worst of the cold. "I'll have Velokraeth relay the coordinates to Varmiroth. We'll fly in low and quick. No sense for fanfare." Then he's mounting up and strapping in, while the bronze makes the mental link with the blue until satisfied the location has been shared clearly. They'll linger only long enough for the blueriding pair to be ready to fly before Velokraeth springs to the skies, rising up high before winking out Between.

Kimmila returns the kiss just as heatedly, leaning into it before they break apart. She looks at his face for a moment before she's nodding and walking to Varmiroth's side, mounting up and strapping in. Coordinates successfully relayed, the blue soars into the air after Velokraeth, and vanishes as well.

The air is colder here, when they'll emerge from Between and it's obvious they're nearing some of the mountain ranges Fort is known for. The forests here are thick and lush and the cothold below small but prosperous, tucked away in a low-lying valley caught between trees and stone. It's secluded, but not to the extremes that Stonehaven ever was and it's obvious they've enough exports to keep them comfortable in trades. As Th'ero signals to Kimmila for them to angle down to land, Velokraeth folds his wings and settles into a steep dive. The arrival of two dragons has an immediate effect, with some of the herders ushering their flocks away while others are seen rushing to either pass on word or to peer curiously at their unannounced guests. The Weyrleader is polite enough to at least land Velokraeth well enough away from the herds and out of the way. Dismounting, he turns to wait for Kimmila to join him as the cothold assembles a greeting party.

Varmiroth follows Velokraeth down, the blue landing nimbly beside the bronze. Crouching, he lets Kimmila dismount and the bluerider leaves her bow and quiver on the straps, but adjusts her jacket so her daggers are easily seen - and grabbed, if need be. She's not wearing her knot though, as is typical. Maybe she got tired of being asked what a Western rider was doing in Fortian affairs. Moving to Th'ero's side, she looks around and waits for the greeting party to arrive and, well…greet them.

Velokraeth rumbles low and deep in his throat, his oversized head swiveling to face the gravel path that winds it's way down to the cotholds main "square" of sorts. It's obvious why, because there's a pair now hurrying their way towards the two riders. Both look to be in the prime of their lives and just as sturdy and tough as the wilderness they've made their livelihoods in. While the pale bronze moves off just enough not to intimidate the cotholders, Th'ero remains where he is, standing at his full height with his shoulders squared and his head held up, eyes never wavering as the two approach. He does shift closer to Kimmila though and perhaps he secretly approves, for once, of her knotless shoulder. "Greetin' to Fort Weyr!" The man calls out first, his grey hair cropped short and a neatly trimmed beard accenting his narrow and hard features. But his eyes are gentle and kind, though right now they're edged with concern and wariness. The woman who follows behind him is short in stature and curvy, though just as strong as any other and tough to boot. Her black and grey streaked hair has been plaited into a braid and her look edges more on disapproving though she's careful to hold it back. "'M afraid you caught us rather unaware…" The man continues as he comes to a stop not far from Th'ero and Kimmila and his accent is distinctly northern. "I'm afraid it couldn't be helped. My apologies if we interrupted your work…" Th'ero interjects with just enough politeness to his tone to keep it from being entirely rude and there's an uncomfortable pause as neither side continues right away. Greetings, perhaps? But who to go first?

Kimmila watches the approach of the cotholders with a small frown, but she nods politely whey they approach, and even offers them both a faint smile. "Morning," she murmurs when they arrive, inclining her head slightly. Glancing at Th'ero, she then looks back to the cotholders and hooks one thumb into the pocket of her pants.

In return the cotholders watch the two riders and while the man seems at ease, the woman is the opposite. Finally, the awkward silence is broken and not by Th'ero. "I'm Hallandor and I'm in charge here. Velni here," And he turns just enough to extend his arm around the woman's shoulder, who only turns her gaze up to regard him questioningly and perhaps a touch coolly. "Is my wife and also in charge. What can we do for you, Weyrleader and…" He falters now, since Kimmila has no not and his smile falters to an apologetic but confused look. Th'ero steps in then with a level and firm voice. He'll leave it to Kimmila to supply her name and rank if she wishes too. "We've come to ask a few questions, concerning a carvan that passed through here and the girl that was their charge." The moment the words leave his lips, there's a change in the cotholders, with Hallandor's shoulders sagging and Velni's expression growing closed and colder. "'Told you they'd come!" she hisses at her husband and then turns her suspicious and narrowed look towards them. "Come then, Weyrleader, Wingrider," Seems she's bold enough to make that assumption. "…to the common hall. It ain't much and we've already cleared breakfast, but I'll get mah girls to get some klah at least and perhaps some bread and cheese." Then she's gathering her skirts and turning away briskly, leaving a rather embarrassed Hallandor behind to apologize. "You'll have to forgive 'er. She ain't too warm to strangers, even if they happen to be riders." The holder sighs. "But she's right. Figured you'd be up here right quick once news caught wind. This way…" And he'll lead them down to the cothold proper and Th'ero will only shake his head, sticking close to Kimmila's side as he follows behind them. He keeps a respectable distance though, just in case they wish to whisper anything between themselves.

Kimmila meets the woman's cool gaze with one of her own, a brow arching questioningly at the attitude. "Kimmila," she supplies, "blue Varmiroth's." She does not give rank, either, preferring to be vague and perhaps a little vexing. And why not? Her brows lift all the more at the woman's outburst, and she just gives a small nod as they're lead off. Glancing around the courtyard, Kimmila keeps her eyes moving and her senses on high alert. After all, you never know. Falling in step beside Th'ero, she glances at him briefly and even goes so far as to reach out and briefly touch his hand. Then it's back to her thumb looped into her pocket.

Th'ero gives Kimmila the barest of questioning looks when she doesn't supply her rank to Velni or Hallandor, but he lets the matter slide and he'll play along by not filling it in, even if the cotholder were to ask. The Weyrleader is on alert as well, though tries to appear at ease (though not relaxed) as he follows Hallandor down the path. When she reaches for his hand, she'll find that he reacts to her touch, reaching for it no matter how brief before letting it drift away. "At least they're not shutting us out." He murmurs so low it's almost under his breath. Kimmila should be able to hear him well enough, but no one else. Eventually they'll approach a long, sturdy looking building built of stone and wood, showing skill and craftsmanship even in it's simplicity. Hallandor pauses to open the door and then steps inside, holding it and gesturing with his other hand for the Fortian riders to enter. Th'ero does with a subtle nod to the man before cautiously stepping inside. The common hall is as simple as the building itself, but it's cozy and clean. Everyone has been shooed out and all who remain are Velni and her daughters, who're hastily resetting the hearth and setting out some drink and food. "Please, sit." Hallandor offers and the Weyrleader moves off to find a seat that will put him by a wall and facing the exits and entrances. Basically, he can see all from the angle he chooses and he stands by his chair until Kimmila has settled herself before sitting. "Shall we start from the beginning?" The man asks and then grimaces when Th'ero only nods, face set in a neutral frown.

Kimmila runs her fingers thoughtfully over the door frame before she enters, noting the craftsmanship. She scans the interior and her thoughts are the same as Th'ero's as she chooses a seat that's just as well placed as the one he's chosen. Sitting down, she adjusts her dagger and then leans back in the chair, before she's on her feet a moment later and going to get something to eat and drink, and something for Th'ero as well.

Th'ero sits with his back straight against his chair and his arms folded loosely over his chest as he fixes his attentive gaze to Hallandor. Vaguely he's aware of Kimmila adjusting her dagger and it's likely not missed by the cotholder either and when she rises to help herself to the drink and food, he doesn't protest or question. Instead his focus is on the man's words as he begins to speak. The Weyrleader will say little, only nodding his head or asking, briskly, a question or seeking elaboration. "… so you see, the caravan arrived on time like it should. The girl was with 'em and she was to stay here as was agreed. But the folk who took her in, they have blood up at that other cothold and they figured it being so far 'n quiet it'd help the girl… Least that's what they told us. But they ain't been seen, along with her and some of their folk are gone too." Hallandor explains, his voice steady but nervousness lurks there and shows by the way the man begins to wring his hands. Th'ero growls something, which only has the cotholder looking more on edge and for a moment the Weyrleader's gaze darts towards Kimmila and where Velni and her daughters are finishing up. "What of this other visitor?" he asks, lips drawing into a thin line as he does.

Velni looks up from where she sets the last of the wooden platters down on the tables, hardly seeming to fuss over the setup. Noticing that her girls are hovering, she shoos them away with a stern hiss and a smack of her cloth to one when she lingers too long. They move away quickly, but once their mother has her back turned, they can be seen peeking back through one of the doors. This is probably the most excitement they've ever had all their lives. As for Velni, the woman is not one to welcome upset or change of any sorts and that much shows in her coolness. "Help yerself, rider." She says once Kimmila has approached, but there's no friendliness or welcoming tone in her voice. In fact, the woman leans forwards, ducking her head to whisper low and cold to the bluerider. "I know its tradition we answer to you, but know that with me you ain't welcome. And you keep that Weyrleader away from mah girls or any of the girls. Once your business is done, it's done. We're good folk here and we don't need the Weyr snoopin' into our affairs." The woman straightens then, chin jutted out and not at all ashamed for the words she just spoke, even if completely out of turn. Fear can do strange things to people.

It's a shame, really. If Velni had only insulted Kimmila, it would have been no problem. She'd have probably made some idle quip and brushed the whole thing off. But when the implication is made that Th'ero might get overly friendly with any of the girls here, Kimmila's entire demeanor shifts, and not in a positive way, with a plate in one hand and a piece of sliced vegetable half way to being put on it. Turning, she fixes Velni with a stare that's just as cool as the other woman's, and likely twice as angry. "I beg your pardon," she says, her voice low but clipped. "Firstly, we're just trying to find a missing child. We're not here to plunder your stock or feed our dragons or demand more of a tithe." Her eyes narrow. "And secondly, how /dare/ you imply that Fort's Weyrleader would do /anything/ inappropriate with any girls here." Her eyes flick up and down Velni and she glares. "With that sort of attitude I'm not surprised people are leaving."

Velni doesn't quail or submit from Kimmila's clipped and cold reply, meeting the bluerider's gaze with steeled control and likely the same anger lurking beneath. This is a woman who won't back down and won't apologize easily, even if it's obvious she had been in the wrong from the start. Prideful to a fault, she's also from a sheltered life and it shows. "A missing child the Weyr had no right to keep. She ain't stock to be traded off and the like." To Kimmila's reassurances, the woman's mouth only draws into a disbelieving smirk but she holds her tongue. "He's a bronzerider, ain't he?" she remarks with a sardonic smile, flipping the cloth she had up and over one shoulder and leveling Kimmila with a narrowed look for the bluerider's glare. At the barb, Velni only stands a fraction taller, though Kimmila can easily loom over her. "Folk are free to come and go as they please. If they dun like how we run things and can't handle a good day of hard work, then good riddance." The sound of a young girl giggling has the woman turning sharply towards the door, which of course sends the daughters fleeing. "G'day to you, rider." She says briskly and without any warmth before turning on her heel and striding off in the same direction the two girls had fled.

"He seemed of a good sort. A little worse for wear from travelin', but he told us he had met with some misfortune on the road. Can't remember the full details, but now that I think back on it hard, it seems a touch… off." Hallandor is still deep in discussion with Th'ero; completely unaware of his wife's unfavorable behavior towards Kimmila and likewise the Weyrleader is completely oblivious. "Do you remember what he looked like, at least?" he asks patiently, his frown settling heavier on his features now while the cotholder glances towards the ceiling in thought. Then he shrugs, a slightly helpless gesture. "Short man, with a stocky build on him. Built like a barrel almost but for all his strength and gruffness he was a friendly sort. Not much else I can say…" Hallandor shakes his head then and the Weyrleader tries not to look disappointed. Suddenly, the man perks up and snaps his fingers. "Wait! Now I remember. His hand… one of 'em seemed off. Never saw it clearly and he often wore gloves, which was not odd considerin' it was winter and all. But some of the fingers seemed stiff. Unatural and - Sir? Everytin' alright?" Th'ero has gone tense and rigid in his seat, not knowing his expression had changed to one of shocked disbelief. By the time he recovers, the damage is done. "No, nothing. My thanks, Hallandor and now if you don't mind, I'd like to have some words alone with my companion." He says, politely dismissing the cotholder.

Kimmila's eyes narrow at Velni, "You'd rather have her go join her exiled father on some Faranth-forsaken island?" Was that confidential information? Whoops. Then Velni turns to storm off and Kimmila stiffens. "Bronzeriders aren't rapists!" she shouts after her, before firmly slamming the plate down and turning, arms crossed as she stares at Th'ero and Hallandor. What? Bring it.

An awkward silence between cotholder and Weyrleader makes for poor timing for Kimmila's outburts and her words ring loud and clear over the near to deserted common hall. Hallandor jumps a bit and Th'ero only turns to level such a shocked look at her, which soon shifts to something close to a disapproving glare. The man knows, or suspects anyhow, what may have happened when he sees Velni is no longer there. "Ah, for Faranth's sake, that woman and her tongue. My apologizes, Weyrleader. And to you too, Kimmila." Poor Hallandor. The man looks almost distraught to what troubles his wife may have cause. Th'ero only lifts one of his hands in a calming and dismissive manner. "No offence taken. I know our arrival here, as sudden as it is, could be a bit jarring. Especially considering the recent events." The Weyrleader's words do the trick and the man seems reassured, though his scowl is likely meant more for Velni then the bronzerider. "I'll leave you to your privacy then and make sure none of the other folk come and harass you. Make yourselves welcome for as long as you wish." Then Hallandor is pushing back his chair and with a nod to both riders, is making his exit. Th'ero remains where he is, silent as he locks his gaze with Kimmila's. He doesn't have to say anything, his look says it all: get over here and sit, now.

Kimmila doesn't look one bit apologetic for her outburst, though she does give Hallandor a small nod of thanks as he departs. Green eyes flick to Th'ero and she scowls, pushing away from the table and stalking over to him to throw herself into the chair. "Bitch," she mutters under her breath.

"Easy, Wingmate." Th'ero warns once she's thrown herself back into her chair, not phased in the slightest by her scowl or her temper. The Weyrleader is agitated, but for various reasons and not just Kimmila's ill-timed outburst. "I take it Velni has a rather jaded and stereotypical opinion of riders?" he drawls lowly and with a grimace. "Not sure what she told you, but you need to let it go. Leave her to her sheltered existence if that's what she chooses." Th'ero snorts then and glances away, looking out across the empty common hall. Despite their "privacy", he's choosing to speak in a low murmur and his voice hardly carries. "Hallandor had little in the way of new information. Just the same conflicting reports, though he claims the family went back to their home cothold. Which makes no sense." He tells her, frowning heavily as he tries to distract Kimmila from the insults Velni gave her. That and the growing suspicion gnawing at him has his temper rising.

Kimmila frowns at Th'ero, about to launch into what Velni said - then she realizes it doesn't matter one bit and her anger begins to ebb, especially when she notices Th'ero's reaction to Hallandor's information. She just grunts and glances sidelong at him, a brow lifting. "So now what?"

It's not that it doesn't matter and Th'ero knows it does, if what Velni said earned such a heated response from Kimmila. But his mind is distracted, pulled in so many ways that he likely unintentionally made it seem like it was unimportant. Noticing his mistake, the Weyrleader reaches out to lightly touch her arm, then her shoulder. Platonic, for them, but he's being cautious. Just because they don't see anyone doesn't mean there are no eyes. He wants to ask her, but instead he only sighs heavily. "We need to find that cothold and question the folk there. I want to know if they saw the same visitor that came through here. Kimmila…" He falters, frowning and uncertain. "The description Hallandor gave me, of their visitor. I can't prove it and I'm hesitant to even bring it up. Because if it's true, shards… it's worse then I had thought."

Kimmila leans ever so subtly into his touch and her eyes seek his, frown deepening and brows furrowing at his words. "What? Who?"

Th'ero touch tightens, his hand firmly clasping her shoulder now as he tenses again and his jaw sets, obviously trying to control the surge of anger that his thoughts and assumptions are stirring up. "Laris." He whispers the name harshly, almost like a curse. "But I cannot confirm it, as I said and I could be jumping at shadows."

Kimmila stiffens beneath his hand and it's only that hold that keeps her from flying to her feet and swearing up a storm. As it is she bristles and hisses angrily through her teeth. "Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. We have to go," she says, and then she /does/ try to rise.

Th'ero can sense that Kimmila wants to fly to her feet and he's having the same inward battle himself. Instead he only gets up from his seat so he can grasp both her shoulders, drawing her up if she complies but keeping her close. "Go where?" he asks her, as he frowns down at her. "Fort? With the shakey description from one cotholder? No, Wingmate." The Weyrleader grimaces then, mouth drawn into a thin line as he shakes his head. "I want to find that other cothold and that caravan. Question them about this… traveler. If their descriptions match…" And Th'ero falters with a rough, frustrated noise.

Kimmila shakes her head when he mentions Fort. "Of course not Fort," she says, her voice low. "The other cothold, obviously." Since she's all about jumping into things without first considering the possible consequences. "We need to confirm if it's Laris or not. That's task number one."

Th'ero's posture relaxes by a fraction when Kimmila's thoughts seem to sync with his and the Weyrleader exhales heavily. This won't be the first time he's jumped into things first either. "Then we go. Now." Letting his hands drop from her shoulders, he turns then and strides briskly from the common hall. It won't take him long to hunt down Hallandor, who he then grills (as politely as his temper will allow) for details on the remote cothold's location. By the time it's done and they're heading back up the narrow path to where their dragon's wait, Th'ero is only more frustrated then before. "Can't shardin' Between with the details he gave us. Not even sure we won't waste half the damn day trying to find it straight flying." He growls, while Velokraeth slowly rises to his stunted limbs and begins to stretch out the stiffness that has settled in. There's a low, almost rumbled growl from the pale bronze too that has his rider snorting.

Kimmila waits impatiently for Th'ero to finish interrogating Hallandor, and then she's walking with him back to the dragons with a deep frown. "Hopefully we find it soon," she mutters. "Varmiroth's strong for a blue but he can't fly forever."

Th'ero isn't exactly patient himself, though he's trying to keep control on it. "Neither can Velokraeth. Varmiroth is likely to outlast him at this rate." There's a snort from the bronze and a ruffle of his wings, as if stung by his rider's remark. But it's all in jest, as he soon chuffs in his strange way to show amusement. The Weyrleader only shakes his head and begins to check the supplies he has strapped to his straps. "Let's be done with this, then." He tells Kimmila, turning his head just enough to catch a glimpse of the bluerider before he takes a deep, steadying breath and mounts up. "Care to lead?" Th'ero calls down as he buckles himself in and Velokraeth moves back enough to extend his wings in preparation to take off the second the blueriding pair are ready.

Kimmila nods, "I can, sure," she says, climbing up into the straps and settling in. "Where are we going, then? Which direction?" Buckled in, she pulls down her goggles and waits before Varmiroth launches into the sky.

"We will start north, since Hallandor's description was clear enough for that part. The rest I leave to you. We're going by instinct, it seems. If I think we're off, I'll let you know." Th'ero replies, before similarly pulling on his helmet and goggles, though he grimaces with having to wear them. The moment he has his hands back and gripping the straps, Velokraeth is off, springing up powerfully with a downwards sweep of his wings. The cothold dwindles beneath them and then the pale bronze levels out, wheeling sharply north before slowing his speed to allow Varmiroth to take the lead. Below, a few heads crane upwards to see the riders leave, most in curious awe, more with relief and one who quietly sneaks away, unnoticed and unseen, to deliver this bit of news to other less favorable ears.

Kimmila steers Varmiroth northwards, the blue rising higher to catch the easier air currents, saving his wings for when he has to use them and otherwise gliding. Over the forests and towards the mountains he soars, until they reach the foothills. Here he turns to the west, soaring along the range and gliding into valleys to search for signs of life in each one before moving on to the next.

Velokraeth uses the same techniques and tricks as Varmiroth, using his wings sparingly as best he can. The forests and valleys they cover seem to stretch on forever and with each one yielding nothing, it only serves to fuel Th'ero's growing impatience and frustration. As time edges on, the pale bronze begins to tire and lag further and further behind. The Weyrleader knows he's pushing his lifemate's limits on endurance, but his stubbornness to find the answers - and the truth - gives them a bit more strength. Finally, a break comes when there's a subtle gap the thick forests just off the edge of one of the valleys nestled at the foot of another mountainous range. By land it's all but invisible, the small trail weaving in an out of the trees and by sky it's almost the same. Th'ero has spotted it though and he's signalling to Kimmila, pointing it out and then gesturing again. Land in the valley? It'll be a tight fit for the bronze and blue, but manageable.

Kimmila follows Th'ero's gesture and she nods, angling the tired blue down towards the ground. He lands and shuffles further beneath the trees, leaving as much space as he can for his larger companion. Not wanting to risk anything just yet, Kimmila stays mounted and loosens her dagger, waiting for Th'ero to arrive before she points towards the trail and gives him a questioning look.

Velokraeth has to pull an awkward landing at best and even then his wings come dangerously close to clipping some of the trees. But he makes it, breathing heavily in his barely concealed exhaustion. Th'ero has barely anytime to dismount before the bronze is slipping down to rest on his belly, wings tucked tightly to his sides and head lowered. The Weyrleader lingers, concerned, until the bronze growls and then he's turning to glance over and up to Kimmila. Following to where she points, he nods his head grimly. Yes, that's where they're going. Adjusting his sword, he waits while she dismounts, eyes scanning the area and on keen alert. Everything seems muffled here, the sound and the light. There are a few calls of the avian persuasion but aside from that the forests are still and quiet. In any other instance, it may be serene. Instead, on this day, it has Th'ero uneasy.

At least it's not silent. Varmiroth crouches so Kimmila can dismount, and the bluerider walks to Th'ero's side, holding her bow with her quiver on her back. "Carefully," she murmurs, reaching out to briefly touch his shoulder. At least it starts as brief, but then lingers and she seems unable to pull her hand away as she stares at the trail.

Th'ero doesn't pull away from her touch either and for a moment the two of them are frozen in place it seems, with Kimmila's hand on his shoulder and he standing close to her side as he too stares at the trail. Then he slips an arm around her, drawing strength from the simple embrace and trying very hard not to remember how the last time they were like this, things almost ended in disaster. "Carefully," he murmurs back and then his hold on her slips away as he walks on ahead, alert and ready as he steps onto the path and into the trees.

Kimmila takes comfort in his nearness and the realization that his thoughts are the same as hers. Then she's moving forward along with him, down the trail with her bow ready, an arrow already notched and partly drawn back.

And their fears are for nothing. The path is nothing but a path and the forest holds no ambushes or other horrors. Eventually, after weaving back and forth and almost seeming to turn back on itself, it finally clears out into a wider version of itself and then into an obviously man-made clearing of sorts. The cothold is very remote, that much is true. Unlike the previous one, this one is poorer and shabbier by comparison. It's hard to tell what they do for import or for export, but the folk milling about don't pause in their work as neither Th'ero or Kimmila are quite visible yet. For that reason, the Weyrleader holds back his arm, stilling the bluerider as he comes to a stop. "Stand down." He whispers, "But keep an open eye." Which means he'll do the talking, it seems.

Kimmila stops when he puts his hand up, and then she reaches up to tug on his knot. "Are we going in as ourselves?" Or will they pretend to be other folks in the hope of finding answers?

Th'ero hesitates, staring down at the knot on his shoulder and then over to Kimmila, frowning heavily. "Even without my knot, do you think I could pull off another rank?" he murmurs. His riding leathers will still tip off those smart enough to look closely enough. "Lying may also upset them further if we're caught or they become suspicious."

Kimmila shrugs, "I don't know what the right answer is, Wingmate," she murmurs. "Just offering all suggestions is all."

Th'ero only makes a low sound in his throat, mouth drawn down as he frowns heavily. Never do his eyes leave the movements of the cotholders. Finally, he makes his choice and the knot stays on his shoulder. "Let's go. Keep an eye open. If they prove to be uncooperative, we'll back down." And return in force. That is left unsaid but is easy to pick up from his tone and the look in his eyes. Straightening his posture then, he drops his hand from the hilt of his sword, trying to take on a normal stance as he walks forwards and off the path. The moment they're spotted, there is an instant reaction from the cotholders - they stop, some frozen in the middle of their work and they stare, wary and completely uncertain and completely harmless. It makes for some incredibly awkward tension, made worse when Th'ero has to fumble and remember to smile, which he does subtly.

Kimmila doesn't improve things either. She never had her mother's tact or ability to put people at ease. She just walks in with her bow and arrow notched, until she remembers to remove it and stick it back in the quiver. Nodding her head, she doesn't even attempt to smile. It'd be false and she senses that these folks would prefer honesty over forced politeness.

Most of the cotholder's attention shift from Th'ero to Kimmila and there's a barely muffled exclamation, a woman's voice by the sound of it, when they spot the bluerider's bow and the fact she has an arrow notched. "No need for weapons here, riders." A voice calls out and a man steps out from behind a woodpile, wiping his hands on a rather grimey looking cloth. "We're a simple, peaceful folk and we ain't got the strength nor the numbers to fight you." Th'ero finally seems to shake himself out of his silence then, as the older man approaches them. Older then Hallandor, he's built just as thin and tough. This is a man who's seen many a rough Turn and survived it all. "You'll have to excuse our behavior. We had no idea you had settled here or who you were. We're not here to cause trouble, just ask a few questions and be on our way." The Weyrleader doesn't step forwards, stopping where he had come to rest since stepping out off the path. His words seem to reassure the old man, but the others shift nervously, glancing among themselves and there's the sound of whispered voices. Kimmila's tactic seems to be working, as most are watching the bronzerider over the bluerider.

Kimmila shoulders her bow with her left hand, resting her weight casually on her right leg, just enough to give the appearance of calm nonchalance. But her right hand remains free of encumberment, just incase. Green eyes flick briefly over the holder man, and then her head turns to scan the area, picking out each person's location. She's not very good at putting people at ease, but at least she's not outright threatening. Gaze focuses briefly on a man just a few turns younger than her, and the two of them stare unblinking at each other until the man snorts and stalks off, shouldering his axe. Amused, Kimmila's lips quirk into a wry grin.

Th'ero knows Kimmila is near to him, trusting the bluerider to take care of herself and keep an eye on the situation, as well as the other cotholders. It leaves the Weyrleader free to focus solely on the older man, knowing that their backs are covered. "What could Fort Weyr want with us?" the cotholder asks, eyes narrowing as suspicion sets in. "We've kept ourselves secluded by choice and we've managed just fine. If it's tithes you're after… we ain't got the means…" Th'ero lifts his hand then, gesturing and cutting the man off mid-sentence. The Weyrleader isn't smiling and while his tone is level and calm, it's edged and not entirely warm or friendly. "We're not here for tithes." He explains. "We're here to ask if a caravan came through here, with a girl and her family. There may have been another man with them too. Short, stocky, bearded… left hand short a few fingers?" Like their arrival, Th'ero's questions have a similar effect. No one moves, or speaks until the old man clears his throat. Some of the other cotholders are drifting away, casting suspicious, nervous glances to the two riders before vanishing.

Kimmila's eyes narrow as the others drift off, and she watches each one, noting what they look like and where they go. Seeing if any hurry off or duck into homes or seem to be moving towards weapons. She keeps her eyes moving, turning her body slightly to watch. Indeed, she is watching their backs and everything she can while Th'ero handles the questions.

No hidden weapons or sudden ambushes, though soon Kimmila is going to run out of things to watch for. The cothold has turned into a literal ghost town as everyone vanished but the old man, who sighs gustily and runs his hand through his thinning hair. "Ah. The caravan was here." He offers, but reluctantly. Under a level stare from Th'ero, the man swallows and continues. "They bring us our only method of trade usually of supplies from the yonder cotholds. We're completely independent otherwise and proud of it. But yes, they had the girl. Wee little thing, thin and scared out of her wits but her parents seemed normal enough. That man… shells if I can remember his name now. Odd name but the gent was odd himself. Helped out though readily enough to pay for his stay here and brought us news. Pity about Stonehaven." As the man shakes his head, he's likely to miss how tense the Weyrleader has become but he doesn't miss the colder look in Th'ero's expression. Nervous now, the man hastens on. "I can't tell you much else, Weyrleader. One day they're here and the next they're gone. We had some bad storms and at first we worried that they had gone and wandered or got caught… But then we realized they were gone and so was some of our folk. Good folk." And the man spreads his hands then, "And that's all there is to it. The caravan left then, to deliver the news. I suspect that they warned the cothold the girl came from? Ah. Yes. And they'd pass word on…"

Kimmila keeps her eyes moving just the same. When there doesn't look like there's anything to worry about, that's when she gets the most worried. Suspicious person that she is. Her eyes flick back to the man at the mention of Stonehaven though, eyes narrowing and lips curling into a small snarl. "Well fuck," she says at the end, turning to stare at Th'ero. "Which direction did they go?" she says then, asking her first question of this outing. "The girl and her family, that is."

The older man starts a little when Kimmila speaks, frowning heavily. Inhaling sharply, he then turns his head a spits, grimacing a little. "Not the most eloquent one, are ya? So it's true then? Stonehaven all butchered? Tsk. This is exactly why we've distanced ourselves. Worlds gone mad, it seems, since Thread was put to an end." Th'ero gives the cotholder such a narrowed, cold look that the man promptly clears his throat and promptly drops his eyes only to look up at Kimmila again. "Shards if I know, Wingrider." He says, eyes narrowing a little. "As I said, there was a storm. Out here you don't linger outside in storms. We hadn't notice they were gone till it had blown. By then their tracks were well gone." For what it's worth, the man's eyes never leave hers and maybe he is telling the truth. The same look is given to Th'ero, who returns it silently. But as it was Kimmila who asked him, he leaves it for her to handle for now. The Weyrleader has what he wants.

Kimmila snorts, giving her head a shake. "Eloquence is an art form best reserved for more idle times," she responds. Then she turns to look at Th'ero, frowning at him. "Think we're done here?"

"Well said, Wingrider." The old man remarks with an almost bitter smirk and he nods then, briskly and answers before Th'ero can. "I think we are, aren't we Weyrleader? I've answered your question. Now we honest folk have a lot of work to resume before the light fades. Clear skies." And then they're dismissed as the cotholder turns away and begins to shuffle back towards the woodpile he had emerged from. A few folk have returned now, still eyeing the two Fortian riders. The Weyrleader knows better to linger, though he's irked from the briskness in which they were handled. For that reason, Th'ero says nothing in return, save to gently take Kimmila by the arm and begin to walk away. He's no fool though, he won't fully turn his back to the cotholders until they're well gone and down the path. Even then he's still on alert and his grip on the bluerider only tightens. "Your thoughts, Wingmate?" he asks in a low and terse whisper. His temper is flaring, riled by the events and from exhaustion. It's been a long day already and is only proving to go on longer still.

Kimmila is lead away, though she matches her strides to Th'ero's. "I think we need to sleep," she admits, noticing the exhaustion in him, and their dragons, and even in her. "We can between back to this place as a starting point tomorrow. Try to find the caravan. Or send out other searchriders to look. Use more dragons to find them faster."

Th'ero growls something low in his throat, likely a curse or some favorite oath of his. Clearly, he's being stubborn on the idea of sleep but even he isn't oblivious to the signs of exhaution in all of them. Velokraeth lifts his head up when they return, rumbling low and then warily getting to his stunted limbs with a groan. The bronze is normally paled, but now he seems to carry a faint ashen hue in places. "I'll have Nishka and L'da informed. Let Thunderbird hunt and Roc can update the Holds and they can send their guards." He agrees to her suggestion of using more dragons for once rather then tackle the problem himself. "Velokraeth needs to hunt." Th'ero mutters and the bronze utters what sounds like an apologetic, but sarcastic rumble.

Kimmila eyes Velokraeth's ashen hue with a deep frown, and then she turns to study Varmiroth's color as well. "Okay. Where? Easy hunting or hard?" Pens or wild, is what she means. She doesn't question the bronze's ability and strength to hunt. Not out loud anyway, as she rubs Varmiroth's muzzle absently, soothing the slightly agitated blue.

Velokraeth rumbles again and it drifts into a growl, his oversized head tilting a bit to the side as his lips draw back in as near a grin a dragon can get. Th'ero eyes him and then chuckles deeply, "He says it's a pity these cowards don't have their pens nearby or he'd gladly take our share of "tithes". Seeing as they're Turns overdue." He explains and then the amusement is gone as he sighs, scrubbing at his face. "If we were all stronger, I'd say wild. Pens it'll have to be." He mutters and then begins to check the straps on Velokraeth's side.

Kimmila snorts, grinning crookedly at Velokraeth. "I like your style," she murmurs, breaking protocol to talk directly to the dragon rather than through Varmiroth or through Th'ero. Turning, she slowly climbs up into the blue's straps. "Varmiroth needs to hunt too," she says, to which the blue responds with a low 'I don't wanna' snort. Which Kimmila ignores. "Back to your weyr, then?"

Who's caring about protocol by this point? Th'ero has already broken several and he doesn't seem to mind at all that Kimmila has spoken directly to Velokraeth. And neither does the bronze, who only tips his head in a slight nod to the bluerider and chuffs in his usual way to show amusement. Turning to face Kimmila, he gives her a tired smile. "Yes, Wingmate. My weyr. I'll inform the Wings from there and then we can sleep." As he mounts up, Velokraeth gives Varmiroth a reassuring and calming croon before he's extending his wings. They'll have to leave one by one due to the tight fit and ever the gentleman, the bronze tucks his wings and almost bows, while Th'ero gestures for Kimmila to once again take the lead.

Kimmila inclines her head to Velokraeth before she climbs up into Varmiroth's straps. The blue croons and pushes himself tiredly into the air, and then vanishes between back to Fort without a second glance at the remote cothold.

Velokraeth follows suit, though it takes the bronze longer to gain altitude. Thankfully, Varmiroth is up and gone between before they'll witness how much he flounders and struggles. Wasting no time and cutting it close, the bronze winks out just as he clears the tree tops. When they reemerge in Fort Weyr, it's far lower then one should do and enough to earn a startled warble from the watch dragon on duty. The Weyrleader only urges Velokraeth onwards and the bronze makes for a graceless landing to his ledge. He'll wait until Th'ero has dismounted and slipped the straps from him before with the last of his strength, he makes for the feeding grounds where he'll feast and then retire to a sun warm spot to recover.

Varmiroth is already doing the same, dropping Kimmila off and having straps removed before he soars to the pens as well to join Velokraeth. Walking inside, Kimmila kicks off her boots and collapses on the couch, rubbing a hand over her face tiredly. "Does he always struggle with long flying like that?" she asks, green eyes following Th'ero wherever he might be.

Th'ero isn't far behind Kimmila, pausing only to place the straps on their respective pegs before wandering into his weyr. He's kicking off his boots then as well and then unbuckling his sword and his dagger, setting them safely aside. "Yes. Endurance is not his forte. And take offs are hard on him too. Stunted limbs…" he shrugs then, slipping out of his jacket and tossing it aside, along with his gloves, helmet and goggles. All of it goes and then he's joining Kimmila on the couch, settling down heavily next to her. "Why do you ask?"

Kimmila shrugs, "Just curious," she says, taking his lead and unbuckling her own belt, sliding off daggers and pouches, and setting them all aside. "Does it bother him?"

"I think it unsettled me more then it ever did him. When he was young, he didn't seem to notice. It wasn't until he was mature and I kept reminding him that he became bitter. Now though, I think we've both just accepted it. He is who he is." Th'ero murmurs as he leans back against the couch, grimacing a little at those memories and lifting his hand to scrub warily at his face. "How is Varmiroth? Even for a blue, it was a lot of flying."

Kimmila nods her head as she listens, and when he finishes she shifts her body to rest against him, even going so far as to put her head down on his shoulder. "He's sore, and he'll be even more sore tomorrow, but he's strong and sturdy, and he knows how to ride the air currents. He doesn't have as much weight to haul around."

Th'ero doesn't refuse her closeness or push Kimmila away when she shifts to rest against him, lowering one of his arms to slip it behind her and draw her closer, almost fiercely tight with how abrupt the movement is. He turns his head a bit, just enough that he can kiss her forehead and then rest against her as he murmurs, "He is strong and sturdy. Flies well." And his eyes drift close, savoring the calmness already settling between them. Here in his weyr, he can forget the world outside for a time.

Kimmila presses firmly against him, leaning against his fierce hold. "Thanks," she murmurs. "You okay? Do you think it's Laris?" Ahh, yes. To the heart of the matter.

Ah yes, the heart of the matter indeed. Th'ero lifts his head up then, tilting down to look at Kimmila with a heavy frown. So much for peace? "No, I'm not okay." he tells her, blunt but truthfully. Unconsciously, his free hand reaches up to where the scar will forever remain on his chest. A few more inches over and Laris would have stabbed him through the heart. He shudders faintly at the thought and with a grunt, buries it all. "Yes. I do think it's him. And now he has Laurali and those other folk with him, for whatever twisted reason. How… I don't know. The man is crafty. Far more dangerous then we assumed." And Th'ero is itching for revenge, it creeps into his tone before he can quell it and his hold on Kimmila tightens further, pinning her to his side.

Kimmila reaches up with her hand to touch his chest as well, fingers gently rubbing against the scar. She frowns, not burying her emotions at all as she hisses softly. "I want him dead," she says, her voice low and flat. "For what he did to you. Us. Fort. Stonehaven."

Th'ero makes a low sound in his throat, close to a growl when Kimmila reaches up to touch his scar and his hand comes to grip her wrist gently before releasing it and his fingers trail up to hers. His eyes seek hers and when he sees that she's serious and not holding back, neither does he. With a voice just as low and flat, he whispers to her. "As do I. I want him dead and I want him to suffer for all that he's done. I'll kill him with my bare hands if need be."

Kimmila shivers a little bit at that, and she shakes her head. "I don't want you to kill him."

Th'ero blinks, looking perplexed as Kimmila shivers and then shakes her head. Frowning, he drawls heavily. "Why not? Why should I let someone else the pleasure? I could have killed him that day." Never mind Laris just about killed him.

Kimmila shakes her head slowly. "I just…don't want that weighing on you. If it would. Would it?" Awkward. Just a little bit, as she tries to vocalize her concerns for his emotional well being.

She's touched a nerve, it would seem, because Th'ero's gaze fixes on her sharply and his eyes narrow slightly as he considers what she's implying and how to respond. If it were anyone else, they'd be met with nothing but coldness and cryptic remarks. Kimmila gets the truth. And of course the awkwardness that comes with it. "It would." he admits slowly and in a low voice, a bit ashamed to be uttering the words outloud. "But it has to be done. The man is dangerous, far dangerous then the other holdless we delt with. It's the… honorable thing to do. Exile won't be enough. And if it's not by my hand, then who's? Someone of the Holds?" He snorts and grimaces, his opinion obvious enough on that.

Kimmila rubs his chest gently as he speaks, watching him. She nods. Honestly, if it wouldn't bother him she would be a bit disturbed. "It does have to be done. But…I don't know. Who usually handles that sort of thing?"

Th'ero calms a little under Kimmila's touch, just enough that he's no longer staring at her so intently and doesn't seem so on edge. It helps too that she takes his truthfulness so calmly, accepting it without judgement that he can sense at least. "I'm not sure, Wingmate. I'm… not sure. But it's not the first time rider's have killed, let alone a Weyrleader." he murmurs softly. "Everyone knows those stories." Even a backwater cotholder like himself. "There's even history of a Weyrleader killing a Lord who became too corrupt and greedy. He massacred an entire Hold too. Laris is no different. So if he doesn't die by another's hand, doesn't it fall to me as Fort's Weyrleader? Rider's are suppose to protect the people." There's a pause then, as he frowns heavily, his words and thoughts weighing heavily on his already exhausted mind. "It won't make it any easier though. I take no pleasure in it and I'm not trying to find excuses… or maybe I am. I'm not sure."

Kimmila nods her head a little bit. "I just…want to watch out for you," she admits, her voice shifting a bit awkwardly. "Your…emotional well being and stuff. And your physical, too…you know." Awwwkward.

Th'ero blinks and then frowns, facial expression neutral though his eyes flicker with surprise and understanding. But there is awkwardness there and he shifts a bit against Kimmila, turning his head away to face the hearth, which holds no fire. "I do know, Wingmate." He tries to reassure her, though he doesn't sound quite certain on what he's agreeing to. "It's…" he fumbles, grimacing. "It's comforting to know." Awkward.

Kimmila huffs in irritation, but at their inability to share their feelings more than his response. She is quiet, resting her head on his shoulder and continuing to rub his chest

Th'ero can sense her irritation but not quite where it's directed to, so in his exhausted state he grows a little concerned. He leans into her touch, but turns a bit on the couch to face Kimmila now, which will unfortunately ruin the chance for her to rest her head on his shoulder. But he's tucking his fingers under her chin, trying to coax her to tilt her head up as he gazes down. "What is it?" he asks gently.

Kimmila leans instead against the back of the couch and looks up at him, shaking her head slightly against his chin. "I just…we suck at words so bad. And it's frustrating. I just hope you know that I just want what's best for you."

Th'ero's hold on her chin eases once she leans back against the couch and his fingers trail down along her neck and then up to her hair, bound or unbound. "I know," he chuckles, even if the discussion is hardly anything but humorous. The bronzerider is simply trying to ease the awkwardness back, some how. "We show it in different ways, Wingmate. That's all." And maybe someday, they won't be so awkward with each other or at least with talking openly.

Kimmila closes her eyes and leans into his touch with a low sigh. "I guess," she murmurs. "Still…" She shifts a bit and then moves to lean against his chest once again. "Just know that I love you, I guess, is all I'm saying."

Th'ero smiles faintly when Kimmila closes her eyes and leans to his touch, which in turn has him only continuing. His fingers stroke up and over her hair, then brush again to her neck and down to her shoulder and lower still to cross her chest and over to her side. It's slow, almost idle and his eyes with drop to follow the movement of his hand. "I know," he says softly and his tone is honest. When she moves to lean against his chest once again, he shifts too to meet her, his hand now reaching around to her back as he all but lifts her up to his lap or at least closer and tighter to him. "And know that I love you too, Wingmate." Far deeper then the words will ever hint at, but Th'ero doesn't delve into that.

Kimmila scoots closer without protest, settling into his lap and curling up so she fits better. "I know," she says quietly, stifling a yawn. "I never doubt that, Wingmate," she agrees quietly, giving her head a shake. "I never doubt that." Tilting her head up, she kisses the underside of his chin softly.

Th'ero shuffles and moves only to ease Kimmila into settling comfortably and himself in turn. When she yawns, he chuckles and at her words he smiles faintly. "I don't doubt it." He murmurs to her and then quiets when she kisses him. His arms slip around her then and he leans down to seek her lips and if she welcomes it, it's slow and lingering, but full of the love and admiration he holds for her that he can't put into words.

Kimmila closes her eyes and leans up into the kiss, seeking and gaining comfort and security from the touch of his lips to hers. When the kiss breaks she settles back against his chest with a sigh, and a soft smile. "We should sleep, Wingmate," she murmurs quietly, stifling another yawn. "Then we can hunt more in the morning."

Th'ero leans back against the couch with Kimmila resting against his chest and makes a low sound in his throat, half way to a growl but not quite. "Then we'll sleep, Wingmate." He agrees, but there's wariness to his tone and a tired sigh follows. "I have to quickly brief the Wings though. Velokraeth is asleep." He lifts a hand up to scrub tiredly at his face before running it up through his hair. "And there will be meetings tomorrow, if not later tonight. Then we can hunt." And oh, how he wants to hunt. That at least he can handle.

Kimmila opens her eyes and tilts her head up to glance at him. "How can I help?" she asks, voice drowsy but eyes focusing in on his features.

"You already are helping," Th'ero muses, turning it to an almost teasing comment to shift it from being too mushy and emotional. Then he's giving her an almost playful nudge, to shift her from his lap. "It won't take long. I'm exhausted and I may just have my Weyrsecond do it. Faranth knows if we'll be left alone to sleep after all." The bronzerider snorts a little, recalling their rather early awakening at the start of the whole disaster.

Kimmila snorts quietly, shaking her head. "I'll be here," she says. And despite trying to stay awake for him, by the time he returns she's sprawled across his bed, sound asleep. Whoops.

There won't be any hurt feelings that Kimmila is asleep, since by the time Th'ero returns, he's bone weary and exhausted to his limits. So he'll just crawl onto the bed with her, doing his best not to disturb her too much before falling into a sound, deep sleep and still fully clothed to boot.

'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.