Fort Weyr - Drake's Lake Area - High Plains

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

Continued from: Fort's Hunting Goes South

« Apparently, scaring beasts away before they squish people. » Zuvaleyuth chimes in answer, amused undertones present in her voice. « Unfortunately, I have had a meal and will not be joining you. » The gold rumbles her amusement, this time as Dtirae gives the gold's hide a gentle pat. Mr'az is given a slight nod in return, and then once more as he departs. Again, she doesn't say a word and instead shifts her riding helmet to rest under her arm. With Br'enn departing, she is left to turn grey eyes on D'ani. Her hand shifts, briefly, to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Black hair is in a messy braid, longer after a few more Turns going uncut. Her appearance is almost wild, and she approaches like a feline on the prowl but stops short of taking down her prey. "You're… Not hurt, are you?"

Unrepentant, Dremkoth chuffs back at that dark look his rider gives him. Zuvaleyuth may not be dining, but he is still hungry, having left his kill when the stampede threatened. With a polite croon to he now returns to it, flapping to catch the currents so he may glide back onto the plains where it lies. "We're fine," D'ani assures Mr'az after a glance towards where Thys went to reassure himself of that and then he's regarding Dtirae, brown eyes taking in her wild appearance, a somber concern squelched, but lurking in the set of his mouth regardless. "I'm not hurt." Despite his appearance. "The hunt got a little messy," he says gravely. "I hope we…didn't disturb you?" He's walking towards her as he speaks, now gesturing with a jerk of his chin in the direction of that makeshift camp. "Are you feeling sociable enough to come meet our Weyrwoman Nyalle?" If not, he'll linger for a few moments anyway; he doesn't appear in any huge rush, despite the dripping shirt-sling of crustaceans he's holding.

The polite croon is returned to Dremkoth before Zuvaleyuth extracts herself from her rider, but not before giving the woman a gentle nudge forward. The pale gold settles off, sunning and watching for any stray beast that might return for a second shot at the group — though unlikely. As D'ani approaches, her eyes are searching; his face, his appearance, and then the shirt is taken in before grey eyes lift and meet his. "Good." Her hand is lifting again to push the wild bangs from her face, then trailing to play with the stray hairs uncaught by the braid. "It happens. I wasn't disturbed, just… Curious. Zuvaleyuth asked that we stay put for awhile. I wanted to know why." And there they were. The mention of Nyalle causes the woman to tense, visibly before she's slowly forcing herself to relax again. "I'll… Meet her at the Weyr. Soon. Eventually. Later." Fingers twist and another knot is formed in her hair while her bottom lip is worried between her teeth for a brief moment. "Zuvaleyuth wants to go home." Her own desires, however, remain unspoken as she watches the bronzerider, grey eyes looking almost like a skittish animal, ready to flee while her pose speaks of predator, ready to strike.

Dtirae's searching will find the same old D'ani, older by a few turns, but his posture is relaxed, his expression is as open as ever. The brown eyes that readily meet and hold hers are faintly troubled by his own thoughts while he listens to her courteously. He nods, because curious at the melee is a given; she and Zuvaleyuth preside here. Of course they'd check it out. But the remainder has him tilting his head questioningly, brows rise fractionally. "You were asked to stay put? By whom?" At her sudden tension, nods slowly for her preference not to socialize. He doesn't press, but notes, "The meat-laden dragons won't be Betweening tonight, so we're staying overnight. Yo're welcome to join us for the evening meal if you'd-" He frowns faintly, "At…the Weyr?" He's puzzled until she mentions Zuvaleyuth, then ahs and nods. "That's understandable." He…does not ask whether Dtirae wishes it; she left, after all and without warning. So instead, his eyes drift out over that distant lake and the island in it. "The settlement looks great. Was it you that whipped it into shape, or have you been losing yourself in the wilds down here?" That's followed by a faint smile because he suspects the answer is C - Both of the above.

The sight of the familiar brings a slight smile to the woman's lips, the first since landing versus the rather neutral expression previously. A familiar face amongst the crowd of unknown. Of course, one hears things but it is an entirely different matter to see. The hand making knots in her hair drops, shifting to settle into the pocket of her riding jacket. Dtirae's head jerks to her lifemate in response to the question. "She said she wanted some guests over and I should stay for them. I… Assumed it was Th'ero at first." Her bottom lip is chewed on again for the moment, and as he doesn't press for her own wishes she doesn't state them. Instead, the lake and the island gain his attention and her gaze drifts to where his resides as well. A smile tugs at her lips, and then finally laughter. "Both. We don't live in the settlement, though. But, you knew that, didn't you?" Her tone is light, teasing before grey eyes search his face again. "D'ani." The name is weird, coming from her lips and there's a hesitation after she speaks it. "I want to go back."

Those who say 'long distance is the next best thing to being there'? They lie. It's not even close. Surely both formal reports and news have passed back and forth between Drake's Lake and Fort Weyr over the past few turns. The dragons might gossip between themselves without including their riders at times, but other than one time following Dtirae here and trying in vain to see her, D'ani hasn't asked Dremkoth to pry on his behalf. The sneaky dragon might've divulged tidbits without his knowledge: that he's still weyrsecond, took a knife to the thigh about a turn ago in a skirmish with a band of renegades, of course she'd know about the recent bovine illness in the Fort Area. His eyes leave Drake's Lake and shoots the queen an appraising look, "Did she now." Visitors, most of whom her rider doesn't wish to…visit with. Hm. Back to Dtirae, his mouth tugs to one side at her living arrangements, "I hadn't heard; but I'm not surprised to hear it. The jungles offer…escape." His head turns to contemplate the distant vista to the northeast of Drake's Lake where the elevation dips and the tangle of dark green vegetation grows thickly. His attention is drawn back to her when she says his name and he waits for her to finish. The words smooth his face into neutrality, eyes somber as they meet hers and he remains silent for several ticks. Finally, he wants to know, "Why?"

Such blatant lies, too. Zuvaleyuth, of course, gossips with everyone that will chat with her. Things about the Weyr, and the Weyrsecond, of course, have been passed as needed to Dtirae as Dremkoth has shared. Dtirae is not completely unaware, not completely sheltered. But, it is never the same as being there. There's a shift and her eyes shift to look to her lifemate again. "She means well. I think she meant to surprise me. Though, I'm certain Dremkoth also had a hand in it." Because they are sneaky creatures, these dragons. The hand in her pocket lifts again to push the bangs covering her forehead up. "I'm certain no one talks about my living situation. I figured you'd've guessed." It's a wry little smile that settles on her lips, and her gaze is quickly darts away from his and avoids his neutral look, the somber look in his eyes perhaps something she cannot face. Such a coward. Her bottom lip, already abused many times in this conversation, is chewed again but with a little more force behind the action. Her voice finally comes, softly. "I missed—" The rest comes as a mumble and grey eyes attempt to catch his once again. "I also missed having somewhere I… I miss my home. I have many reasons. If you wish me to stay away, I will certainly oblige and remain out here."

D'ani's mouth tweaks into a faint grin at the mention of his lifemate. "I've no doubt he did," he says dryly. And so help him, Dremkoth, when he gets his hands on you…! He nods acknowledgement to her, "I guessed, yeah." His eyes drop to her mouth as she chews it and he sighs quietly on the heels of her mumble. He heard nothing much there, but it's not important. Fort was her home, it's a given that she'd miss it. If she wants to, can share what else she missed, she'll do it in her own time. His eyes lift to hers and he holds them somberly, silent perhaps an uncomfortable span of time after her last comment. "What I want, Rae," he finally says slowly, using his nickname for her, "is for you and Zuvaleyuth to be happy." He doesn't try to hide the concern and doubt as he says, "I never wanted you to leave in the first place. Moreover, if you feel you're ready for a noisy Weyr full of people…" A shrug expresses his own opinion of that, his expression, honest as always, is clouded with worry, but he finishes gently, "…then come home."

"They're devious." Dtirae offers lightly, though it is not entirely serious. After all, they mean well, in the end. Though, that surprise would have likely left both of them in a state of being completely unaware. Not that the situation currently is any different. Just on different terms. Zuvaleyuth stirs at the end of the mumble, as Dtirae chews her lips. The gold offers a quite, disapproving chuff and the woman shoots a glare right back. The nickname breaks all focus on her lifemate, breaks all barriers and the woman freezes in place. Her guard broken, though it was never firmly in place. "Right. I…" Fingers find part of her jacket and twist at the fabric anxiously. Grey eyes look uneasy now, searching for an exit, it seems. Panic is there. "I — Shit. Shit." As eloquent as always, it seems. Her fingers go from her jacket to her hair again, twisting the ends and tugging it apart again, both hands now occupied with this task. "I'm sorry, D'ani. I shouldn't have left. I should have been more honest. I'm trying to be more honest. Not… Keep everything quiet. Not like I did before. It only made problems. So, if I stop saying something you're… It's okay to ask me because I'll try to answer and… Shit." More twisting and pulling of her hair, the woman takes a half-step back as if afraid of her own words.

The dragons always mean well, don't they? At least that's the reason for half of D'ani's unexpected adventures at the paws of Dremkoth. His face softens at the nervous fluttering he witnesses and he shakes his head slowly at her apology, "You did what you had to do. I made no judgment on you for fleeing, Rae; I blamed myself." One hand lifts to rake through his hair, causing dust and bits of twigs drift towards the ground. He pulls his hand from his hair, grimaces at it and then drops it. There's a faint smirk at her choice of language. When words fail, cussing always suffices! "You're fine," he reassures her, his tone is one he might use to soothe a fractious calf. "You'll understand that I'm reluctant to press you for anything because…" His hand makes a slow, vague gesture - an up-down one that takes in, not only her wild appearance but her very obvious discomfort, nay, fear. He shakes his head, halting his own discourse. "I just want you to be…" Not terrified? At ease? Relaxed? Confident? "…happy," he finishes lamely. "If I've learned anything, it's that you'll find it on your own terms, not mine." He takes a few steps back, not that he'd been standing particularly close, but to give her more space. In fact, before she can flee altogether, he says, "I'm taking these back to camp." The shirt-sling of crawlers is hefted along with a somewhat sad smile, "Take care Rae."

There's nothing Dtirae says at first, but her expression reads well enough. Confusion, distress and then falling into a sort of sadness as she watches him in return. The reassurance does little to settle her, does little to calm the worry but her anxious twisting of her hair comes to stop. The gesture is given a frown and her hands shift to stuff into her pockets instead while she attempts to straighten out and look more put together than she can manage. She hasn't spoken, in all of what he's said. There's a brief moment before she takes a step forward. "D'ani. Wait. Please."

D'ani's taken just a few steps and though those have been unhurried ones, he's reluctant to linger. It shows in his posture and in the fact that he takes two more before stopping. And though he halts, he doesn't turn fully around, but regards her over his shoulder. Although neutral, his face is far from remote. There's polite attention, a waiting to hear what she wants, concern, doubt and not a little empathy. He doesn't speak but he does wait. Out on the plains, Dremkoth finishes his kill with relish, sharing his pleasure with the other feeding dragons - and Zuvaleyuth as well. He appears unconcerned of any tension or unhappiness in the two. They clearly worry too much! They forget that everything is an adventure - including unexpected conversations. Silly humans!

Dtirae's not prepared for that look over his shoulder, she is not prepared for the neutral look and cannot hide the hurt that she feels. It's broken, quiet and subdued. There's doubt there, now. The desire to send him away with a 'never mind', but she doesn't. "It wasn't your fault. It was never your fault. I'm sorry I left the way I did. I'm sorry I didn't say anything to you. I didn't want you to blame yourself, and you have." Her gaze falls and Zuvaleyuth is rising from her resting position. Dremkoth receives a quiet rumble, but the feelings of pleasure are not returned. Instead, discontent and discomfort. She waits, however, with her gaze on her rider. "I was always messing things up. I couldn't do what I needed to as Senior. Or… As what you needed. I asked too much of you but never gave you any of me. I was closed off. I ruined a lot of things." She partially shifts, as if to move towards the bronzerider but stops and instead looks to her lifemate. "I still have these feelings for you. But, I'll stay away from you. As much as I can. I'll… Return to the Weyr. I forgot about the people. The noise. I'll prepare for it before I return. And I'll stay away from you when I get back. I can't apologize enough for hurting you." A smile is given to the man, and she turns to leave, to let him be on his way. « My apologies, Dremkoth. » Comes the soft voice of Zuvaleyuth. « Perhaps I will join you for a meal soon, however. »

Yeaaah, D'ani can see her distress. He's not heartless or that oblivious, but there's not a whole lot he can do about it. Her apology brings a slight frown, self-directed, not aimed at her. Rather it is a thoughtful sort of thing as he says, "You don't need to apologize, Rae. I've never held it against you." He doesn't have an opinion on her performance as Senior, so doesn't remark on that. Neither does he comment on her feelings. He does nod about her being closed off. "That was my main concern before, remember? Not closed to me, but to everyone. You avoided people." He shifts as she says the rest, his frown returning, "You didn't hurt me and I'm not angry with you; you did puzzle me. I was worried for your emotional health; I'm still worried, frankly." He lets a breath out as she moves to leave. "You're welcome at Fort Weyr and you don't have to stay away from me; I'd never ask that of a friend." The word is stressed because he's never stopped considering her one of his. "I just don't want you to push yourself into social situations because of what I might think. If you really want to come back, I'm glad." He is, really. But right now his worry overshadows his return smile, so it doesn't show quite as much as it otherwise would.

"Why, D'ani?" A frown settles on her brow, "why didn't you hold it against me?" Dtirae shifts, looking at him fully once again. "I know it was your concern. I did avoid people." She still avoids people, or, residing around them, at least. One can't direct development by avoiding people. "Don't be worried." She finally states, considering with a quiet look. "We're friends, so, I won't avoid you if you don't want." Her head tilts in consideration, frowning a bit. "I'm not forcing myself into situations because of what you would think, D'ani." There is the stubbornness the woman is known for. "My decision to return doesn't take into consideration your thoughts. It's what I really want." She flees to her lifemate then, running, not walking. Her mount isn't fully complete as the pair depart, but, from the looks of it? They don't fly far.

"Because you were fragile," answers D'ani immediately, honestly and the words pain him to say them aloud. Not because it hurts him, but because he doesn't want to hurt her. As for worrying, he snorts a mirthless laugh in a puff of air from his nostrils. "Worry can't just be turned off, now can it?" His smile is rueful, crooked, but at least it is one. "You'd better not," he warns her with mock sternness, eyes lighting up to see a touch of her old spirit returning. There's the girl he's missed! The fleeing though, that drains the joy from his expression, but he doesn't try to call her back. He watches her go, then with a small, regretful shake of his head, he turns to head back to camp. And yes, he's still as worried as ever.