Fort Weyr - Lake Shore
This lake shares many features common to mountain lakes — a brilliant blue jewel nestled amongst the rocks. The waters are crystal clear, and the north shore slopes gently before abruptly falling away into the depths. This lake does have one significant differentiating feature, however. The south shore of the lake is a tumbled mass of rubble, rock and earth of an ancient rockslide smoothed only by the elements in the intervening years. This rubble, as well as the rather sheer east and west faces, makes for the north shore to be the only one easily accessible.
Springs arrival is noted by the disappearing lake ice. As it melts it breaks up into smaller icy bergs. These bob randomly throughout the choppy waters, slowly disappearing as the temperatures rise. They also frequently provide sport and entertainment for the bathing dragons. The emerging shoreline is inviting, though the water remains chilly for their human counterparts. As spring draws nearer to summer, the waters begin to feel quite invigorating with Rukbat's growing shine.

The lake is an ideal place for the pair likely to be one of the longest running weyrlings, S'ai and his bronze Zeruth. Healed of their injuries, they've been working frantically to catch up and is enjoying a rare moment of downtime. Well, more or less. The bronze is laid out in the shallows, head all but submerged save his nostrils, while his rider busily scrubs his hide. Sand is added and old, dry skin exfoliated and cleared of dirt. "…this was way easier before you got huge, you know that."

Kiard quickly focuses in on the dragon, and next, the young man next to him. "Hoy!" he calls over, like it's some sort of greeting. The rabbit remains cradled to his chest, a bit more protectively now that he's spotted the dragon. "If I set this rabbit free, your dragon won't eat him, will he? There's a bunch of rabbits in the tunnels. Too many."

S'ai raises up a brow as he looks towards the boy. "Pretty sure a rabbit's not worth his effort." There's a puff of air from the bronze that sends up water like a breeching whale. "He says he's too comfortable to get up, you're good." He puts a bit more elbow grease into the elbow of the dragon, the skin rougher than the rest. "I've seen the rabbits running around. Hopefully they don't outeat everything for the herds.”

Kiard crouches down and sets the rabbit on the ground, back from the lake as rabbits are not much for swimming. After a bit of nose twitching the rabbit hops off. One rabbit down: 139 more to go! Unless this one goes right back into the caves he (or she?) was evicted from, or worse yet, brings friends. "Dragons don't wash themselves?" he asks curiously, as he walks a little closer. And then, on a completely unrelated note, he adds, "I think I need a belt knife.”

"Sure someone got one they'd sell or trade." S'ai remarks as he talks while he works. "And they can swim and rinse off, sure, but their hide needs a good scrub and oiling, especially when they're still growing. Zeruth here seems to have finally stopped, thank Faranth. It's a long process but you got the hang of it." As the boy comes close, Zeruth lifts his head from the water and looks down his scarred muzzle consideringly, as if taking the measure of the youngster.

Kiard contemplates a moment. "I don't have much to trade," he finally says. "I guess I could do some work for someone, maybe, for a trade. I don't have many marks, though. Any, really." He stands up a little straighter as the dragon starts staring, squaring his shoulders. Kiard still isn't entirely comfortable about dragons. They're a lot bigger, after all. "What's his name? And how come you didn't graduate like all the other weyrlings?" he asks, a bit nosy but kids are like that, direct. "Did you get in trouble for something?”

S'ai hitches back a corner of his mouth, an expression that seems to be shared by a faint flick of red at the edge of the dragon's eyes. "Yah, kinda. Zeruth and I decided to try and fly before we should have. Didn't go so well. We got hurt pretty bad in the wall." He says with a gesture towards the dragon's muzzle, though there are other scars seen on shoulder, leg, and a smudge of off color in his wing. S'ai's own forearm shows a deep slice, far cleaner at one end than the other, as if it were caused by two different things. "So we ended up way behind. We should be graduating soon though.”

"Can I see?" Kiard asks, suddenly eager. He points at the relatively fresh scar on S'ai's forearm, but doesn't step closer unless invited. "I'm studying to be a healer, so I'll be able to treat cuts and broken bones and fevers and everything. "What cut you? Did the healers clean it with just water? Or did they use herbs? What did they smell like? Did you get stitches? Did that hurt?" Suddenly, he is all full of questions.

Dragon and rider look to one another and then back to Kiard, the motions eerily synchronized as if there was a mirror between them and one was just a reflection of the other. "Sure, kid." He holds out his arm dutifully. "Got broke pretty bad, still hurts sometimes. They had to open it up just to get things back into place. 'Fraid I don't have too many more details, we were pretty out of it."

Kiard moves up to S'ai and peers at the scar which, to his apprentice healer eyes, looks like… a scar. He's only been an apprentice for two days. "It looks like it had stitches," he says, trying to sound knowledgeable. Stitch marks aren't too hard to make out. Other than that, he can't say a lot about the wound. "I broke my arm once, when I was eight. I fell out of a tree and landed wrong. It was a greenstick fracture so the bone stayed inside my skin, but the healer splinted it for a few weeks. And I wasn't allowed to climb trees again until the splint came off." A glance flits over toward the dragon. "Can he understand me, when I talk?"
"Yah.. this one was pretty messy." S'ai remarks as he looks to his own arm. "My head was worse, cracked it pretty good on the ground when we crash landed." Before he can speak further, the bronze lowers his head until his nose is quiet close to the boy. « Of course I can. I am right here. » He says right to Kiard without hesitation, his voice sounding almost identical to S'ai's save for a faint, almost metallic edge. It almost sounds a bit surly for not being addressed directly. "That would be a yes.”

Kiard visibly startles, and takes two quick steps backward, nearly tripping in the process. That dragon head was suddenly way too close. "He talks!" Kiard sounds surprised, though obviously he's not telling S'ai anything new here. "I've seen dragons before, we don't get many at Breakwater but sometimes, when someone important comes. I never heard them talk before, though." Likely they didn't have anything to say to Kiard, not like this one. The boy takes another few steps backwards, more careful steps, and then addresses the dragon directly. "Hi. I'm Kiard. Nice to meet you… Zeruth?" He has to think hard to come up with the name.

As the dragon speaks, there's an image of his mind. It's a vast black world with a gleaming city of light on the horizon, though the lands between are cold and barren and inhospitable - like he was warding his deepest self in the gap of distance. « I do. » Rumbles the bronze. « I am. I see no reason not to speak. I have no reason to hide. » S'ai steps forward to scratch at he jaw of the bronze along the faintly paler stripe that marks his hide in several places, bringing a pleased glow of teal to the dragon's eyes.

Kiard folds his hands behind himself. "Can I scratch him?" Kiard asks S'ai. There he goes, speaking like the dragon wasn't right there, provably able to hear and understand him. But, he seems to catch that quickly. "Um, can I scratch you?" he asks Zeruth, directly. It's followed by more curious questions. "Do you like being scratched? I like having my back scratched, it feels good, is it the same for dragons?"

"Eh, I dunno…" S'ai begins, sounding a bit uncertain as he glances aside to the bronze. The dragon tips his head ever so slightly towards his rider as the same time, a low sound rolling up from his chest that's not quite a growl. The weyrling gives a lopsided grin to Zeruth and raises up a brow which brings a flare of the bronze's nose and a more sullen, defeated sound from Zeruth. "Okay, Kiard, he's" « Fine. » The two say almost in unison, the strange synchronicity continuing as the dragon lays down his head next to the boy. "See those lighter marks along his jaw and neck? He « I like to be scratched there. It feels pleasant. »

Kiard steps forward, hands sliding back to his side. "It's weird how you two do that," he says, to the shared conversation. Kiard pauses a moment, then reaches out tentatively to scratch the dragon, very light, along the indicated marks. He's ready to leap back if there are any sudden dragon movement in response, though. It's not that he doesn't trust Zeruth, it's just that the dragon is much bigger than himself. "Before, it seemed like he was talking to you, but I didn't even hear anything." Scratch, scratch, scratch.

"Huh?" S'ai blinks briefly at the boy before it seems to dawn on him. "Oh! The talking thing. Yah, been like that since he hatched. Seems like our…heads," He says with a gesture towards his own cranium. "Are closer wired than a lot of others. We can talk to one another in our heads and we know what the other is thinking, so we just kinda tend to finish each other's sentences when we get going." Meanwhile, Zeruth is quiet but tips his head to indulge the scratching and his eyes gleam the satisfied blue-green of a happy dragon.

Kiard scratches a bit longer, but very light, so if Zeruth likes a good firm scratching he'll just have to be a bit disappointed. "I knew two girls in Breakwater, they were older than me, and twins. They were like that too. Sometimes they'd finish each other's sentences, or talk at the same time. It's like you have a dragon twin." A final bit of scratching and he steps back, surreptitiously rubbing his hand off on his trousers. "Okay, I have to get back to chores," he announces, with the requisite wrinkling of his nose. Chores are no fun, but he's come to learn that being an apprentice means chores, so that's all there is to it. "I think the rabbit's gone. Hope he didn't go back into the caves, there's a bunch of them in there.”

"Huh, I guess it is kinda the same principle." S'ai says with a tip of his head and then a nod of accepting the theory. "We are a lot alike." As the scratching ends Zeruth withdraws his head and lifts it so he can open his jaws in a wide and gaping yawn. "Ick, sorry, kiddo. I know that feeling. Just keep at it and good luck with the healer bit. You'll probably see the rabbit there, or one that looks like it.”

"Or ten that look like it," Kiard says, but cheerfully, as he gives a wave. And then he heads off, quickly breaking into a fast jog so he can back to chores before anyone complains that he's being tardy about it.