Fort's Forests - Fort Weyr - Camp Lake
A short distance from the community center a lake has been dug and was then filled by a stream which originated in the mountains leaving the water with a bit of a chill early in the day. Large enough to keep all the children from the camp happily swimming, but not so large that a dragon would be comfortable bathing in it. A newly constructed dock has several small boats tied up to it, surrounding the lake sand has been brought in, freshly raked to remove any stones or other debris that might injure small feet, a path leads off to a stage.
The trail is lined with rounded stones to make walking along it in bare feet easier. The stage itself is sturdily built to withstand most any wind and any tremors that might hit, a large awning is stretched over the stage offering protection to the actors/players in case of inclement weather. Split log benches are lined in front of the stage giving abundant seating for those who wish to watch the performances, there is also an area that has been cleared of debris, and layered with soft woodchips for those who might wish to lay down and just watch the clouds float by or spend an evening star gazing.

Now in the cusp of spring and summer, the weather around Fort's territory and the Weyr itself has been tumultuous at best. Temperamental may be a better word and this cool morning has predictably started off with much fanfare as an early thunderstorm rolled through. The storm is gone now, nothing more than a dark, looming monstrosity far in the distance to wreak havoc elsewhere, leaving much of the Weyr in another bought of mud and water. Those who venture outside mutter about it, some only to gripe and others in genuine concern. Needless to say it makes the forest trails quite the mire of thick mud and swampy water and while the main pathways are kept clear, the lesser ones are hazardous and so few travellers are found to be wandering the off roads.

Which makes for the perfect escape, if one is seeking it. Rayathess had weathered out the storm in the overlook, tracking the direction of the clouds and winds before making his way quietly down the steep stairs and out of the gate before anyone could notice. For a moment it amuses him how easy it is to bypass the entrance gates, if he makes himself insignificant enough not to be attention worthy, but then he remembers that there is no real cause anymore for anyone to be alarmed or suspicious. He had no set plans of where he was going, distractedly allowing his feet to pick the route and having to detour often around some of the deeper pools of water and mud. Finding himself at the Camp has him a touch surprised but not enough to make him turn back. Some traces of those held here before the winter remain and Rayathess carefully picks his way around it and eventually comes to sit cross legged on one of the split log benches not far from the lake. Dressed in a worn and rough looking leather jacket, he has lowered the hood on it despite the cool breeze and dampness still lingering in the air.

Ezra has been working in his room, ignoring the storm as he tidies up and cleans, sabotauged from time to time by his lack of focus and desire to be doing other things. So it's progress, but it's slow progress and once the storm has passed he's eagerly grabbing on his jacket and calling Zoi to him, heading outside. Eager to just be out, the boy and canine move with quick steps towards the camp, curious perhaps to explore the place where they were unable to come for so long. So, surprised to see another there, Ezra hesitates but Zoi does not. Catching Rayathess' scent, the canine bounds forward with a happy 'wuff!' while Ezra hangs back, waiting to see who it is before he reveals himself.

Rayathess may have thought to rethink his choice of clothing if he knew he was coming here. At first glance, one could mistaken him for holdless or at least one roughing it. Why he doesn't help himself to the better items is a mystery known only to himself. Figuring he is alone, he leans over to gather a few small round and smooth stones in his hands, testing their size and weight before sending one flying towards the lake. The first few only hit the water and sink, but eventually one skips. Another would have been good, if not for a brown firelizard's intervention and followed close on his wake is a nagging green. "Spoil sports," Rayathess mutters to himself as the pair wheel around him. Human and firelizard alike however react to the sound of Zoi's happy whuffed greeting. He turns just enough to spot the canine and smile as she bounds forwards, giving Ezra enough of a clear view that it is only his older brother sitting there. No scary boogeyman — though that is debatable. The two firelizards however dart for the canine, not maliciously but in exuberant curiosity, with the brown immediately going for poor Zoi's legs and the green flitting about her head. "Gren! Cervena! Quit harassing her before you get snapped at or stepped on, you stupid creatures." Rayathess calls sharply, yet concerned, to his pair, who cease to at least investigate so close and return to him, despite having just been called 'stupid'.

Zoi is familiar enough with firelizards to know not to bite them, but the canine could mistakenly step on them so it's good that Rayathess called them off. Pushing forward, she nudges the older man's leg, begging for scritches. Her coat is muddy and unbrushed, but she seems happy enough for the moment, as it hasn't yet begun to dry and pull at her skin. Seeing that its only his brother, Ezra moves forward though cautiously. "What're you doing here?"

Rayathess wouldn't know of Zoi's temperament towards firelizards and so erred on the side of caution. Now that they are being sensible and less of a nuisance, he ignores them and at the nudge from the canine, he happily obliges her with those scritches. He does not seem to mind the muddy and unbrushed state of her either, not that he's fairing much better. The wind has made a mess of his shaggy hair (which he really should cut) and his boots, along with most of his lower pant legs, are soaked and muddied. As Ezra moves forwards cautiously, Rayathess does not even so much as look up at him, keeping his eyes lowered on Zoi. Maybe he's trying to appear less threatening? Though the thought that his youngest brother would consider him threatening wounds him, not that it's noticeable. "I went for a walk and I ended up here," he states nonchalantly, which could be the truth and yet isn't. Not entirely. "And what're you doing here?" Now Rayathess looks up, but only to cast a curious glance to his sibling.

Ezra steps forward, dressed in warm clothes, though his Stonehaven jacket is getting too small for him again. Slowly, he takes a seat on the bench beside his brother. "Why?" he asks, looking around with a little frown. "I wanted to see what was left," he says honestly. "I only got to be here that one time, so…I wanted to see."

Rayathess does not seem to mind at all that Ezra joins him, even going as far as to politely shift so that his younger brother has ample room to sit himself comfortably. For a moment, there is only the breeze rustling through the leaves and across the lake to answer the teenager's questions, though Rayathess keeps his gaze on his brother. But his eyes have grown a touch distant, thoughtful, rather than spitting out some harsh, snarky remark as he's known to do with others who pry at him. "I just… came here. I didn't really plan it. Guess I was sort've curious, even if I didn't really know why." he mutters, only to snort. He almost says 'like the time you almost started a riot?' but he swiftly bites that retort back and says instead, "Not much left TO see. They've cleaned up most of it. By summer, I doubt there will be hardly a trace."

Ezra nods, looking around. Tucking his hands between his knees, he watches as Zoi pads around, sniffing and exploring. "Yeah," he murmurs. "Do you feel like it's over, now? Truly over?"

Rayathess blinks for a moment, turning his gaze away from the lake to peer down at Ezra and then dropping his gaze to where his hands lay folded against his crossed legs. "Depends." he says with a shrug, "If you mean Laris and his group, then yeah. It's over." Is it? His tone has a strange edge to it, not quite confident and just enough conflicted to be 'off'. "Rest of it though… not so sure. Not sure if it'll end. Not any time soon, anyways."

Ezra tilts his head, studying his brother's face for as long as he can before he has to look away. "What do you mean?" he asks, swinging his legs a bit and staring down at the ground.

Rayathess looks a touch uncomfortable by Ezra's close scrutiny, shifting awkwardly where he sits and relaxing again once his brother's attention drifts away. He quirks a half-smile then, but it looks sad rather than amused. "I mean us. Stonehaven. The future." he says, punctuating his answer with a flippant wave of his hand. Now he smirks again as his hand comes to rest with the other and his gaze stares out over the lake. Again for some span of time, silence falls save for the breeze through the trees and it is thick with tension and so much unspoken. At last Rayathess breaks it, but not before he has to take a shallow breath and swallow nervously. "I can't stay here like this, Ezra." he admits quietly. "Neither one thing or the other. Traitor, hold-heir, visitor or resident… I have to chose something. Or…" What? He'll go nuts? Scrubbing at his shaggy hair, he utters some frustrated curse.

Ezra looks over again when his brother says his name. He hears it so rarely these days, it almost surprises him. "But…" he says, shifting instinctively closer to his brother. "Where will you go? What will you choose? And you're not a traitor," he says firmly. "Not to anyone that matters anyway."

So few speak his name? Rayathess would find that odd, yet not so odd that it's rare that he ever utters it. It seems so few and far between that he has had a chance to speak to his brother and alone. He does not shift away when Ezra moves closer by instinct but there is no comforting hand to the shoulder or reassurance either. Only a half smirk and that strange cast to his eyes whenever he's battling some inner demon or troubling thought. Then it passes and his eyes clear, "Still something folks mutter about," he counters stubbornly, only to exhale heavily. "I don't know. That's the problem! I've no shardin' idea what to chose. Where to go… if there is even a where to go to. But I can't just sit here, idle half the time and then saddled with meaningless odd jobs the other. It's boring and…" Insulting? "… too easy."

Ezra tucks his hands between his knees again. "Well yeah but you can't listen to what they talk about," he says, just as stubborn and a bit heated. "You're better than their gossip." Reigning his temper back, he sighs. "Well…Stonehaven has turns of work to do to get it livable again…" So he can't go there. Neither of them can. "You'd leave?" he asks, looking sharply at his brother. The 'me' is implied. "I know what you mean though," he says a moment later, forcing himself to look away, with or without Raya's reassurances. "I'm almost done with my lessons, and then what?"

"I try not too!" Rayathess confesses, both frustrated and defensive on it as he reacts to Ezra's stubbornness on the matter. "But it's not so easy to shrug it off and ignore. It nags.. like the echo of a gold flight." Okay, maybe not the best example and he flushes a bit, clearing his throat. Yeah, on to other topics. Namely: "You've been back to Stonehaven?" he exclaims, sounding both surprised and perhaps impressed. Or is it envy? Then his mood darkens, brows knitting in a heavy frown. "It's… that bad, is it?" Gazing at his brother, for a moment he looks hopeful that it's only youth that is over exagerrating things. Rayathess will see that sharp look and form his own opinions to the cause of it and leaning almost casually to the side, he reaches over to give Ezra a playful nudge-bump to the shoulder with a curled hand. "I can't leave," he tells him honestly. "Not easily." Not you, is implied. "As much as I find I don't fit in here in the Weyr, it's the only home I got. I lost Stonehaven," he has to pause, as his voice falters and thickens for a moment, causing him to swallow shallowly before he can continue. "So I'll be damned if I lose this one too." He snorts softly then and tries to reach up to ruffle Ezra's hair in a big brotherly way. Even if his brother is now technically a young adult by Pernese standards. "Looks like you're in the same frustrating spot that I am, brother. Weyr, Hold or Craft… next choice." he says, trying to sound joking but there is just too much of a sarcastic tinge to his voice for it to be effective.

Ezra blushes too, clearing his throat and looking away. "I had my first kiss," he mutters, swiftly and totally mortified. "Yeah. I…D'ani took me back," he says, glancing at Rayathess. "Before…I think it was before you got here. I think." The months run together and it's hard for him to remember with that much clarity. "It's bad. And since the good working season is so short…" Turns of work. Leaning into the nudge bump, he is quiet while Rayathess talks of home, and then he snorts and pushes his hand away from his hair - but it takes a few seconds, so maybe he didn't mind it all /that/ much. "Yeah. Next choice. What…are you thinking?"

Rayathess can't help but laugh at his brother's swift mortification admitting his first ever kiss, which helps shed some of the awkwardness. Until he begins to wonder if he'll have to have 'that talk' and quickly shies from it. Nah, leave that to D'ani. What does Rayathess know, anyhow? He's not giving details of his reaction to the gold flight. "She was that bad, huh?" he teases gently and then sobers his mood again. "Ahh, right. That… that would explain things." he mutters and now he does look sheepish and embarrassed. Had he thought he had been left out? Perhaps and the guilt is written clear as day. "It will be a lot of work and time to put it right again." Rayathess finishes and does not bother to mask his disappointment. Shaking his head, he rests his elbows against his knees as he shrugs. "I've considered some options. Say… if I don't claim Stonehaven, I've thought of maybe joining the Guards. But I'm not sure if I have the stomach for it. It'd mean I can travel but…" Not in the way he really intends. He pauses for a moment, eyeing Ezra now with a serious look. "Don't laugh, alright?" he warns and then goes on. "But I've mind to maybe go to Harper Hall. And if that fails well… I'm not half bad with wood and stone. Enough that I could survive off that work." Yet he makes it sound as though he'd be miserable doing it.

Ezra blushes, shaking his head. "It…wasn't right," he whispers. "Not how I wanted it to be…" Glancing at his brother, he clears his throat. "I would've asked you, if you were here…" He thinks he would have anyway. "It will be, yeah. You…don't want to work on it?" he asks, brows furrowed and looking a bit confused. "The guards? But…that's…dangerous." And the teen shifts, looking away again, trying very hard not to let his dislike of that idea show. But it probably does anyway. He looks back when his brother says 'don't laugh', because those are words that always proceed something interesting. And he blinks, brows lifting, but he doesn't laugh. "The Harpers? Why? I mean…you're not that into music…and you're great with wood and stone. You were always great with it." And there's jealousy there. Just a tad, but there, that Rayathess has the Stonehaven skills that Ezra lacks. Though likely just because his teachers died before they could truly teach him the craft.

"Wasn't… right?" Rayathess blinks for a moment, only to give Ezra a very shrewd look. "Well, no. I'd imagine that's not how you'd plan for it. But how as it wrong? Was…" he falters, grimacing. Shards, why must be so odd and awkward? "…she not willing or, uh… you?" Is he clever enough to pick up what his brother is implying? Rayathess is hoping so! "It's not that I don't want to, Ezra. Just… I don't know. It's hard to think of home just being… gone. I don't know if I could handle living there. Even if I rebuilt it and we took over it." Bad memories with the good and ones that would dim and heal, but Rayathess doesn't KNOW that and is only focusing on the negative — and shying from it. "Yeah, it would be dangerous. And I don't think I could…could take arms up against another person. I've had my fill of that." he admits quietly, only to chuckle dryly. "No, I'm not that into music and my singing voice is… passable. But that's not what I'd be going for. I'd be going more for law. I guess I'd need the other skills though too, huh?" Now it's his turn to look a little surprised by Ezra's tiny shred of jealousy and compliment of his learned skills from their home hold. "It's… complicated." he mutters, evading a direct answer. "So what about you? You put any thought at all to what you may want to do?"

Ezra blinks, and then he bristles. "I'd never do that!" he protests. "She was willing. I just…I didn't know her. It was…it wasn't how it was supposed to be," he mutters with a heavy sigh. He looks over at his grother for a long moment and nods. "I know," he says. "But…it's home." He, at least, is stubborn enough to cling to Stonehaven even though the memories he has there frighten him. And arguably, his memories might be more haunting than Raya's. "You shouldn't be a Guard," he says firmly, as if he has some say. "Oh. Law? That sounds hard…" His nose wrinkles at the very thought of all that reading. "I don't know if law Harpers have to be singing Harpers too…but…you'd be good at that." "What's complicated?" Then it's his turn and he looks out at the water. "I was gonna take back Stonehaven. That was my plan, till you got back. Now I don't know…"

Rayathess bristles in response as well, habit and instinctual rather than purposely done. "Sorry! I didn't mean to put it that way…" he shoots back, only to smirk and then sigh, his expression softening to one of reassurance and perhaps close enough to sympathy without actually being upfront about it. He gives Ezra another nudge to the shoulder, "Doesn't count, you know." he tells him. "It's flight stuff. Don't count for the 'real' thing. So. Yeah." Awkward. He just isn't making that up either, is he? Rayathess doesn't protest Ezra's stubborn claim to Stonehaven being 'home'. "I know." he agrees, though it's clear there's far more to it than that. Ezra's memories WOULD be more haunting than Raya's. All he has are some haunting memories of chaos and fear, but he has to live with a lot of guilt and regret for running as he did. And leaving his brother to his fate. Rayathess laughs at Ezra's firm decision, "Alright, alright. I won't be a Guard. Jays. I didn't really want to be anyways. It was only a last ditch choice anyhow. And I doubt they'd take me. A Guard that won't fight? Some Guard, eh?" He shakes his head. "It doesn't matter." Rayathess mumbles about the complicated matters, instead trying to wrestle the conversation back to discussing his younger sibling rather than himself. "Oh." Well, doesn't that just sting a bit? "It… could still be yours, you know?"

Ezra turns to stare at his older brother, blinking in confusion. "How could it not count? It…happened. We kissed. I…kind of remember it." Kind of? He blushes again, shaking his head. Then he grins, a bit amused and pleased that Rayathess took his advice (as if that's the only reason) and decided not to be a Guard. Then he blinks, and shifts. "You were dead," he reminds his sibling. "I was…the only one left. The only male Stonehaven. So. That was…" His destiny! "That was my plan. But you're back now. It's yours first. So I don't know. I was thinking maybe the Smiths. Maybe I could learn our family craft. I'd do Minecraft but…tunnels…scare me now." Then he shrugs. "It's yours first," he repeats, glancing at his brother and then away.

"Kind of remembered it?" Rayathess mimics back in a slightly teasing tone, but his smile is a bit smug. See? Just his point, right there. "It just doesn't count, Ezra. Flight stuff is flight stuff. You don't really have control. You CAN control it but still…" he shrugs. "It's how it was explained to me. Don't count unless it's YOU that's wanting it and not some weird mental feedback from mating lust." He wrinkles his nose a bit then and clears his throat, pretending not to notice his brother's blushing. Flinching slightly, Rayathess rubs at his arms as if suddenly chilled despite his jacket. Dead. He keeps forgetting that that is what everyone had assumed all those Turns he and Anrila were missing. Dead, not lost. "Yeah, well…" he begins to mumble, stumbling as he tries to find the right words and lowering his eyes. "… Something is telling me you'd be better for taking Stonehaven. You've far more drive for it than I do. I'm all… mixed up still. But you've been planning for it already for sometime. Me being oldest be damned!" The last is said with a bit more force than intended as Rayathess finally looks up and over to his brother, regardless if Ezra is looking at him or not. "If you want it so bad, why can't you take it? All I have to do is officially swear that I concede my right and it's yours."

Ezra ohs softly, frowning in thought. He'll have to mull that over. Then he glances at his brother and sighs, then flinches at Raya's forceful statement. "Yeah, but…it's yours. I…I don't want to just take it from you. If you don't /know/. I don't want you to regret it. Or…or…or be mad at me later."

Rayathess is a touch regretful for making his brother flinch, but he doesn't know how else to put it without being forceful. That or he doesn't have the patience, as his thoughts begin to race and jumble in the way that makes him fidgety and panicked. "Mad?" he scoffs, hating the tone of his voice and yet feeling utterly powerless to stop it. He should be handling this with tact and gentleness! Instead he's blundering ahead without thinking, hot headed and impatient. Not the Rayathess Ezra may (or may not) remember. "If I'm going to be mad and pissed off it'll be at myself, not you. You're not taking anything from me! I'm all but giving Stonehaven to you." he says, his voice beginning to rise now that his troubled mood has been piqued. "I never planned to return to Stonehaven, alright? I'm not… not ready to and I'm not sure if I ever will be. There's no point that it should just sit there and rot while I make up my mind. So if you want it so bad, just SAY so!" And he will stare at Ezra then from beneath his scowl, expectant, while he fidgets with the cuffs of his jacket.

Ezra scoots away from his brother a bit, wary. Not afraid, no, but cautious to be sure. "I…" he says, stammering a bit before he pushes to his feet. "I don't know," he whispers, taking a step back.

Rayathess's sudden mood shift changes again and this time his temper dissolves, rather than escalating. Could be that Ezra scooting away from him and getting to this feet snaps him out of it, but as he blinks his eyes and gives his head a sharp shake, he looks instantly regretful and concerned. "Ezra…" he says and with enough apology in his tone to make it clear enough without having to say it. But he does anyways. "I'm sorry. I didn't — shouldn't have been so harsh. It's your choice too. Just, understand that you don't really have to worry about my choice, alright? I've all but made my mind up."

Ezra watches his brother, shifting his weight a bit from foot to foot. "But I do," he says quietly. "I…when you came back, I thought we'd do it together. But…I don't want to force anything on you. I want you to be /happy/." And he's not. And it frustrates Ezra so much.

Rayathess is no longer agitated, but still carries a troubled look to his eyes as he keeps them focused on his younger brother. Disappointed too, perhaps, that he doesn't sit back down. He winces a bit, when it is mentioned that 'they' would do it together. Had he not thought of that? "I'd be happy if you were happy," he mutters. A lame response to some but for Rayathess it's the truth. Maybe not completely happy but there are some wounds to the young man that will take more time to heal that the decision of which of them is to take Stonehaven. "It's not like I'd leave either if you took charge of it. I'd be AT Stonehaven. Just… not the one in charge."

Ezra moves forward again to sit slowly back on the bench. "I am happy," he replies, looking a bit confused. Has he not seemed happy? Clasping his hands again, he once more tucks them between his knees. "Do…do you think I could?" he asks quietly, nervously, darting a glance at his brother. "Be Holder?"

To everyone, Ezra no doubt looks FAR happier than he was. Rayathess has just been to self absorbed and while he has noticed, in the moment he has forgotten as he scrabbles at trying to undo the damage done by his momentary fit of agitation and not send his brother fleeing back to the Weyr. "Yeah, I can tell you're happy here." he admits, "But I meant more about taking Stonehaven. If it'd make you happy then too." That… makes sense, right? He frowns a bit, looking just as confused as his brother. He then snorts and shoulder-bumps him for the third time. "I think so." he says and there is no lack of confidence in his tone. "You're a bit young but you've got the drive for it, I think. Just gotta fine tune what's in here first!" And with a crooked smirk, he lifts a hand up to try and tap Ezra on the head. Lightly, of course.

Ezra ohs softly, and then he looks down. "I miss it," he says quietly. "When…when I first got here, that's what I focused on. Getting it back. That…it was a goal. Something to do, something I thought about, to keep me…sane." And getting out of bed each morning. "But now I just…I want to be good at something. Good at it." Shoulder bumped, he rocks and bumps back with a little smile. "Yeah. I…Harper lessons are so hard." Hello, ADD.

Rayathess's expression drops a little and looking out over the lake, he adds in a quiet tone. "I miss home too. I know I don't show it and it may not sound like I do… But I do." He takes a slow and steadying breath then, shoving aside the thoughts and memories that threaten to bubble up and overwhelm him again. Now is not the time to confront it. "Noble goal to have. Still one you can keep too. You want to be good at something? Start learnin' to be the best holder the Fort region has ever seen." he says with a crooked and faint smile. He then laughs. Hello, ADD indeed. "Uh huh. Hard because you just won't want to focus on it? Never mind." With a wave of his hand he dismisses that teasing remark. "You're almost done them anyhow, right?"

Ezra shifts, wiggling a little bit on the bench. Fidgeting. "It's hard to focus on it. And sometimes I get confused…" He shrugs. "Yeah, I'm almost done but I missed a lot. And no one really made me go…" This is where the sympathy of others has worked against him.

Rayathess frowns as Ezra begins to fidget, curious and wary. "What is it?" he asks bluntly and his concern only grows. "Confused how? Just that you don't get some of the stuff? Cause not everyone is good at every subject. I hated numbers. But I liked history…" No real surprise there? He blinks, "Wait. You were allowed to skip out? But… why?"

Ezra shrugs. "Yeah, I don't get some of it. And I don't know…sometimes I just wouldn't go and they never came to find me or make me…"

Rayathess snorts, "Out of pity?" he grumbles and then smirks. No sense getting upset about it now or all the more baffled by it, the young man only shifts so he can stretch out his legs. Looking away again, he decides to change the subject once more. "How've you been, anyhow?" he asks. Since he never did to start with.

Ezra nods, "I guess," he says with a shrug. Blinking at the subject change, (and wasn't that what they've been talking about?) he stares at his brother for a moment. "Good I guess. The Weyrwoman doesn't like me. I made her cry," he mutters.

Rayathess can be very oblivious at times, especially if his thoughts have been given a good jumble or too many shocks. Could be that he is still trying to shake off that feeling caused when he lost his temper discussing the future of their former home. His brows lift in surprise and while he should be horrified that Ezra made the Weyrwoman cry, when he speaks he only sounds impressed, baffled and amused. "Shards! Cry? You made her cry? How?" This he HAS to hear!

Ezra exhales heavily, tugging fingers through his hair. "I didn't mean to!" he protests. "So…it was something to do with flights. Jajen's gold went up, but Dtirae's gold was still in the weyr, so she had to go before the queens fought, and she couldn't control her gold. So D'ani and Dremkoth stole Dtirae and her queen away. To Maiona," glower, "and when they got there she punched him and broke his nose. When I saw him he was drugged on fellis and totally out of it. All bruised…" the boy shudders then, shaking his head and going quiet for a moment. "So I sent her a note. Just said, like, you said you wouldn't hurt him. Because she did. She promised me she wouldn't hurt him. So I went to deliver another note from the Harpers and she started telling me all this stuff..and we got into an argument." Now he turns sheepish. "And in the end she cried and I let. I don't know. She's weird. I don't get why he's with her. He can do better." Ouch.

'Didn't mean to' are famous words and Rayathess's eyes narrow in suspicion, but he remains silent, interrupting only once. "Yeah, I knew about the flight." Who didn't? His cheeks color a bit but otherwise he's focused on the tale that his brother spins. Eyes widen a little in surprise and there is a scoff and choked back laugh at the point that D'ani gets punched. Hilarious to him but sensing Ezra's upset over it, he wisely bites his tongue. "Shards and shells," he breathes at the end. "Quite the complex mess you've woven yourself into. So… what was the Weyrwoman telling you that got you all upset enough to argue with her?" he pries, curious now. Rayathess then snorts and shakes his head, "That's your opinion. But you're meddling. Weyrwoman is a grown adult. So is D'ani and he seems smart enough not to stick around with a woman who's going to beat him out of cruelty." Right?

Ezra sighs, "It is a mess," he agrees readily. "I…was just saying that she hurt him and she broke her promise. Then she said something about how seeing me makes her feel like a failure. Because of Stonehaven and she couldn't do more or something…" And he winces, because that stung. "I don't really remember it. I've stayed away from her."

Ouch. That does sting a bit and even Rayathess has to wince a bit. "Jays. She really said that?" he mutters and frowns heavily, mulling over his thoughts. He begins to fidget soon afterwards, picking at his jacket sleeves and brushing at imaginary (or not) dirt. "Harsh of her to say but… odd that she takes so much of the guilt on herself. Not her fault." It seems to unsettle him that she takes such active interest. That her and others may. Awkwardly, he allows the silence to fall again and abruptly he reaches for Ezra. Tentative, just as awkward and fumbling as some of his attempts at talking but he'll try to loop his arm around his brother's shoulders in a lose hug.

Ezra nods, "Yeah, she did. How do you handle someone saying that just seeing you makes them feel like a failure?" He shrugs, and then blinks in surprise at Raya's hug. But he scoots over just the same, slipping a tentative arm around his brother's waist and leaning against his side. "I could do it if you were there helping me," he says quietly. "Stonehaven. We could do it together. You could be a Harper if you wanted but it can't just be me up there."

Rayathess snorts, "Not much you can do to handle it." Which means that he sympathizes a bit with his brother: he likely would have reacted similarly if thrown into that situation. Relief flickers over his features when Ezra tentatively returns his hug, glad at least that it wasn't rejected and they would have to deal with that sort of awkward. "I never said I'd never return to Stonehaven. I just don't think I'm fit to run it, that's all. If you return, I'll follow. It won't just be you and you may find that others will want to help too." he says, trying to sound confident but some of his uncertainty creeps through.

Ezra nods a bit. "I'm sure I can get other people to come with. But we need to stick together, you and me. And 'rila, when we find her. She'll come too." He's stubbornly holding on to the hope they'll find their sister. "You want to do it then?"

"I've no doubts on that," Rayathess admits, stretching out his legs once more and then arching his back a bit, having to shift away from Ezra in order to roll his shoulders. He pauses for a moment when Anrila's name comes up and his expression twists to one of worry and guilt. "Yeah, when we find her. Of course she'll come too." he murmurs, flashing his brother a hesitant but reassuring smile. Pushing stiffly to his feet, he stands and turns to face Ezra but his gaze is turned towards the lake one last time. "Have you take back Stonehaven and I go on to Harper Hall?" he asks. That is what he meant, right?

Ezra nods, pulling his arm back when Rayathess shifts, tucking his hands between his knees again. "Yeah. If that's what you want. Then you can be our Harper," he says with a slightly sad little smile.

"IF I'm even admitted to be an apprentice. I can say I'll be a Harper but Faranth knows if I'll ever succeed. I could really suck at it," Rayathess admits and tries to keep his tone casual and teasing but doesn't quite make it. Not when he see's Ezra's sad little smile. "You don't like that idea, do you." he murmurs, before offering his hand to his brother. Looks like he's thinking on heading out, but he's not about to leave him here.

Ezra slips his hand into his big brother's and gets to his feet. "No," he admits honestly. "It just doesn't feel like…you."

Rayathess quirks a brow as he helps Ezra to his feet, only to smirk and give him a curious and lingering look. "Alright, I'll bite." he murmurs as he turns to begin walking slowly up the lined path to the heart of the camp. "What do you see me as then? What I should do?"

Is it cool to hold your brother's hand at this age? Ezra glances around but since no one is watching, he hangs on. "Be with me," he answers, soft spoken and guilty, glancing apologetically at his brother.

Probably not and Rayathess starts a little when he realizes Ezra is not letting go of his hand. But rather than scold him and pull away, he allows it even if it raises several questions in his mind. He only shakes his head at the unspoken apology and offers a reassuring smile back. It's alright. "Why do you think I've stuck around here for so long?" he drawls. "I can't promise I'll be with you all the time. There will be times I'll have to go… maybe. And I don't have to stay at the Hall. Right?"

Ezra missed out on a lot of hand holding time. He's making up for it. "I…don't know. I don't think so? Harpers are everywhere…"

"You make it sound like they're spying in the shadows and nooks and crannies of the rock," Rayathess muses and even though they've left the path now and are wandering back through the camp, he does not let Ezra's hand go. "So… let's say I could apprentice here then. Would that be better? Even if I went to the Hall, it's not like it's far."

Ezra darts a look around. "Maybe they are," he whispers, but there's a mischievous grin that betrays his honest opinion. "That'd be nice. If you could apprentice here. Then we could work on Stonehaven stuff together. The hall isn't that far but I don't have a way to get there unless I walk."

Rayathess grins and then laughs for Ezra's mischievous grin, tapering off to a low snicker. "Might explain a lot! And if there are any skulking about and spyin' on us now… hope they enjoy this tidbit." he drawls and then promptly makes a rather rude hand gesture. How's that for news? "More stuff to consider, but I'm sure there's a Journeyman Harper posted here who could take on an apprentice. And walk? Why not by dragon?" Pausing for a moment, Rayathess realizes too late that he's accidentally brought them through the section that was once used to house the holdless. As he turns to lead them away though, his boot crunches against something half buried in the ground and mud. Frowning, he lets go of Ezra's hand so he can crouch down and investigate, not caring for a moment that he has to dig in half-frozen dirt.

Ezra laughs and gasps at the same time, hissing, "Rayathess!" in a scandalized and yet totally thrilled voice. But then he also sees where they are and stops, looking around. Letting go of his brother's hand, he crouches down too but keeps his eyes roaming, looking around.

Rayathess feigns innocence, though his grin is utterly devilish and one long since missing. In fact, he may not even recall the last time he quite smiled like that or was in a good enough mood to be so daring. Short lived though it may be, as they both crouch down his amusement seems to fade as his fingers pry out the object that he had stepped on. It looks to be part of a necklace or some decorative item, carved of wood or bone that has yellowed in age (or just poor care) and inlaid with polished shell. Some of the pieces have broken off and a lot of it is caked with dirt and weather worn. Holding it in his hands, Rayathess sighs and begins to lower them as if to put it back.

Ezra peers at the object Rayathess has found, and then looks closely at his brother. "Do you recognize it?" he asks quietly. Since, clearly, Raya knew everyone and all of their jewelry.

Rayathess changes his mind at the last moment and closes his fist around the largest carved square, letting the rest fall back to the mud as he breaks them off. Pocketing it without explanation, he then wipes his hands clean on his pants and pushes to his feet again. "Maybe." he mutters. "A lot of the women wore a lot of the same jewelry… if it can even be called that. Most of it was just bits and pieces of… of scrap whatever pieced together. Or stolen."

Ezra watches his brother stand, and only after a few breaths does the teen push to his feet as well. "Did you fall in love?" he asks, suddenly, and perhaps he doesn't even realize what he's said until a few seconds after, because that's how long it takes the blush and stricken look to cross his face.

Rayathess freezes midstep at Ezra's sudden question and that should be his answer right there. The young man's posture stiffens and the silence is long and weighs so heavily it can literally be felt despite the breeze that continues to rise and fall. Having lowered his head, he lifts it just enough to peer over his shoulder to his blushing and stricken looking sibling and his expression is unreadable. "Yes… but no," he admits in a low, flat tone. "My first concern was Anrila and I did not socialize much with the others. Not at first." But eventually he had too, to survive. So of course relationships would form, platonic mostly. "Some of them were not bad folk. It was easy enough to figure out the real bad ones over the ones who just… pretended. To survive." Like himself.

Ezra holds himself perfectly still, perhaps respecting the silence. Or maybe he's scared. "Who was she?" he asks quietly, looking around. "Do you know where she went?"

Ezra has nothing to be scared of, really. Despite his stiff posture and flat tone, Rayathess' temper is under control. The subject is just a very difficult one and complex and he's struggling to explain so that his brother can understand. It's HE who is scared too, mostly of his sibling's judgement and reaction. When no outrage comes pouring out, Rayathess begins to relax a little. "Another young woman around my age. Her family had been lured by Laris' lies but they were swiftly realizing their error. Her parents had some skill… I don't remember what… that was sought heavily. Escape was not an option. THEY would be tracked down. I wouldn't say I loved her, but we spent time together. She'd keep an eye on Anrila for me when I couldn't be there. Only one I trusted to." He then shakes his head and resumes walking with no warning given. "No. I've no idea where she went." His tone says it all: he never checked.

Ezra shifts his weight again, fidgeting with restless energy. "Want to know where she went?" he asks quietly. "What was her name? D'ani kept the records, he was in charge, I'm sure he'll know where she went." Oh, the confidence he has in his friend…

(Continued in Talk of Past and Present)

'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.