The (Not So) Great Escape

Fort Weyr - Southern Boll Hold - Somewhere!


Follows on from Not As Planned.

Their escape from the tavern was thankfully uneventful - or as uneventful as it could be, given the circumstances. Russall kept his hold on Dtirae until they were clear of the doors, then steering her down a sidestreet to where there were two runners tethered - no doubt left there when he entered with Thys. It was only then that he actually properly introduced himself; "Guard Recruit Russall, weyrwoman Dtirae. I've got a pick-up on the outskirts. Mount up." Once aboard the runners he leads the way at a brisk trot through the streets, breaking into a quick canter - nearly a gallop, really - once they're free of inhabited areas and out on the open road, headed towards the forest. Conversation at such a pace is not easy, and so the only real opportunity for it comes when he finally slows their pace once they hit the treeline, dropping down to a walk and pulling up alongside the goldrider. "I'm sorry for in there, ma'am," he starts, looking stern and stiffly ahead of him. "But I couldn't think of another way to get you out.

The woman would not have been above punching a few people if needed, but, fortunately? It was not! Dtirae is, for the most part, willingly steered along. The two runners are eyed and then she tilts her head towards the man. "Oh. Well met." Is all she gets out before she is mounting and following along. She doesn't seem to mind the silence, following along behind him and making sure her runner keeps pace. Only when he slows, does the woman look to him as he joins her at the side. "I can handle myself, guardsman." The hem of her dress is lifted, and there a knife is settled. One can only assume the other is on her other leg. "I can also defend myself with my fists." Lashes lower slightly and the woman chuckles. "However, I do appreciate the concern. Also, don't be so rigid." Guards are so boring.

"I'm sure you can handle yourself, weyrwoman, but it didn't seem like you'd seen that Harper trying to signal at us," Russall does relax his shoulders, and though he still sits straight-backed he's less stiff, moving more freely with the runner beneath him. "Anyway, as a guard of Fort Weyr, or an almost-guard, whatever, it's my role to protect you, isn't it? So, there you go." Now he fixes her with a big, easy grin, as he gives the runner his head on a slack rein. "It's good to see you back, anyway."

"And, if everyone all responded at once, what do you think they would do? It would certainly make it harder for us to attempt again." Dtirae notes, "besides, I wanted to make sure he would have made it out as well." Once he does relax, her gaze focuses forward and she scans the scene. "It is, I suppose." Doesn't mean she's quite happy about it, but, she does not complain, either. Her head tilts to consider him again, and she returns his grin with a smile. But then? She's looking startled at his statement with her cheeks flushing. "Thank you?" Oh yes. She's confused! Quickly, she's facing forward again, thoughtful.

Russall seems to realise his comment wasn't fully understood - either that, or he's decided to keep talking to fill the silence. "I grew up in Fort's lower caverns, you know? So I was there when you were the Weyrwoman. I wasn't there when you left, but you're back now. Where you should be." He gives a stern nod of his head, watching the goldrider with a casual gaze. "This was meant to be my exit with Thys, but I saw her get dragged off by one of them others who Impressed along with her so I'm assuming she's safe. It might be a while until Annah turns up, though, unless you want to pass it on to Amidaeth that we're ready now."

"Oh." Then, she's peering at him as if trying to assess how old he is. His words, however, seem to have her looking distant again. Grey eyes are searching, still but her expression shifts into one a little more thankful. "Where I should be." Dtirae repeats softly, then considers the runners. "I doubt that she will come to harm in the presence of another rider. I can call Zuvaleyuth to come get us… Once we're further out. She'll draw attention yet." And, she likes riding runners, so she has an excuse to keep riding. "So, how old are you, Russall?"

"Annah's Amidaeth's only a small green, and there's a clearing in here she fits into… it's where we're meant to leave the runners, actually, so their owner can come get them back." Russall rubs at the back of his neck, then tugs at the rough-woven tunic he's wearing as if the fabric's uncomfortable against his skin. "I'm 18 turns, ma'am. If you'd like, we can keep going until we get to somewhere your Zuvaleyuth can land, then I'll bring the runners back once you're safely off. Could be a long way for us to walk all that way, otherwise…" And he really looks like he can't be bothered with that much exercise. "What were you doing in the tavern, anyway? Didn't you go with anyone?"

"If there's a plan, then, we can stick with it." Dtirae won't press further on that, if only to make things simpler for the young man. "Oh. Good." She says of his age then shakes her head to dismiss the suggestion. "We'll stick with your plan. That's fine." A tilt of her head and her brows lift in question. "I was there to assist. And no, I didn't go with anyone." A wave of her hand, in another sort of dismissal. "Oh." A hand comes free of the reins and she reaches into her top, pulling out the marks and then offering them back across the distance between them. "You'll probably want these."

Russall squints over to watch Dtirae reaching into her top… and his eyes go wide. He's staring, and not even really trying to hide it. His hand reaches out, palm-up, to receive them, and he can't help but ogle them a little before he shifts his weight to slip them into his pocket. "You've got it sorted, huh, weyrwoman." It's a compliment as much as a musing comment. "Is this what you expected when you came back? Going undercover in dodgy bars, with guards trying to buy your way out of there?"

Dtirae drops the marks easily into his palm, snorting softly for his compliment. "I do well, 'nough." She retorts without even batting an eyelash. His question earns laughter and she shakes her head. "Not entirely, but… It's also Fort, I shouldn't have been surprised. As for guards trying to buy me?" Her lashes do bat this time. "I'm far more expensive than what I walked out with."

"Waaaay out of my afforable range, I'm sure." Russ laughs, setting down the reins so he can rest his hands on his thighs as the runners plod on steadily. "There's never really a dull moment at Fort, is there? That's why I joined the guards. I was a Weaver for a bit, but it bored the shi—youknowwhat outta me, dying cloth and stitching and pffft. Yeah. Fun." And that's sarcasm there, as he rolls his eyes. "So I came home, became a recruit, and sorta stuck as a recruit for, I dunno. A turn, maybe? Forever, anyway."

"None can afford it." Dtirae grins in response. "I'm simply not for sale." The woman shifts, just a little and then shakes her head. "Not really. I felt like it started…" She trails off and then simply leaves it at that to listen. "I swear often, guardsman. You're free to do so. I don't have delicate ears." A glance in his direction, curious. "A Turn? I'm sure you'd be due for a promotion. Plus, I'll give a recommendation for your your performance today."

"Shit, then." Russ says it with a shrug and a grin. "I try and rein my tongue in when I'm around ladies, especially those whose dragons have sharp teeth and might take offence." He winks cheerily over at the goldrider, teasing her gently. "I'm sure I'm due for a promotion too, ma'am, but I'm not all that bothered by it. Promotions mean extra work and longer hours… and besides, I'm trying to set a record. Fort's longest-running recruit."

Dtirae laughs, "well, my lifemate has heard far worse from my mouth, so you will be safe. She'll not take offense." This, she promises, with a teasing smile. A single brow lifts, however, breaking the teasing appearance into something more thoughtful. Or, maybe more bewildered. "Really, now? Then I'll leave it be and keep my comments to yourself. You do know the pay is better? And your off hours tend to be better, too. You won't be the bottom of the chain… Or, do you hold no ambition as well?"

Russall shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly. "I'm happy coasting through where I am, ma'am." In other words, no, he has no ambition at all. "If they're going to promote me, whatever. Let them. I'll do it if it's given to me, but I'm not going to work for it. I don't know if it's worth it." He shrugs again, turning his head to look at the goldrider. "Don't you think life's more enjoyable when you're just living it, putting one foot in front of the other instead of trying to get a step ahead?"

"Oh, a shame." Her tone doesn't match her words! Dtirae considers him with a soft chuckle. And she shakes her head, yet again before watching their path with an idle sort of focus. "Hm. I can say it is, thinking from when I was younger. Fortunately, or, unfortunately… I don't need to strive to 'get ahead' as it were. I simply need to be a Junior, and support my Weyr in a different manner."

"So there's nothing you do that you'd want to be the best at? Nothing at all?" Russall scratches at his jaw, which is lightly stubbled. "Cos I can totally get that, weyrwoman. I mean yeah, sure, it's nice to be good at things, but if you're the best, people will always come and ask you to do that thing for them. And that's when it becomes hard work, or annoying at best."

Dtirae considers the question in silence. "I don't think there's anything I've wanted to be the best at. I know I'm an amazing hunter, I don't need to be the best. How do you prove that, anyway?" The woman sighs softly, again shifting on the runner for a little more comfort. "There's nothing wrong with assisting others when they need help. Especially if it's not something they can safely do on their own."

Russall holds up a hand, palm-out to Dtirae. "I've got nothing against helping people who need it, but it's when they're all like 'but Ruuuss, you're so good at tying knots' or 'Ruuuss, you can play this part best' that it starts to irk me a bit. Helping people I like. That's why I'm a guard. But helping people with stupid things that they can do themselves isn't so great. How will they ever get better at it if they keep asking someone to do it for them?"

Dtirae peeks over at him, snorting softly. "How selfish. What if they hurt themselves tying the knot?" She teases again with a laugh. "More seriously, though. I do understand that. Simple tasks should be figured out." With one hand to steady her, the woman lifts the other and begins to undo the ties in her hair, pulling it from the braids and weaving twists as much as she can with a single hand. "You're certainly jaded for being so young."

"Jaded?" Russall looks over at Dtirae, watching her release her hair. "What do you mean by jaded?" He leans back with one hand resting lightly on the runner's rump, so he can look properly at her.

"Jaded. Jaded by Turns of those who have asked you to complete simple tasks for them. Jaded and bitter." Dtirae laughs and allow the black locks to drop free when the final bit holding it up is released. Fingers attempt to straighten out curls left from being twisted and tied up. She doens't meet his gaze, however. "Only eighteen Turns and he is jaded."

Russall frowns as he mulls that over. "Oh." His tongue comes out to moisten his lips, and he shrugs. "I didn't think I was that bad. Just irritated. My dad's like that; he hates being asked to do anything someone can do for themself. Jaded is a good word, though. I like it." He smirks, shrugging his shoulders. "Don't you have people who ask you to do stupid things? You've got to have loads of people coming to you all day."

"I'm teasing." Dtirae offers softly once she finishes with her hair, glancing back at the guard with a shake of her head. "Not really, no. I believe most people are avoiding me." A shrug, nonchalant and not entirely caring. "But you have people coming to you all day?"

"Oh." Clearly the teasing went over Russ's head. "Normally I'm the one doing the teasing." He snorts, rubbing the back of his hand under his nose. "Some of the kids from the caverns come to me, cos I knew them when they were small. Smaller. They're the ones who need to learn though, right? I had to learn. They can sharding well work it out for themselves, too." He harrumphs, then picks up the reins loosely in one hand when his runner starts to veer off. "You grew up in the caverns too, right? Didn't you end up doing all sorts of crap for the littler kids?"

"Really? I tease a lot." Dtirae chuckles softly, only quieting to listen to him speak of the caverns children and their requests. "Some learn better by watching." She states simply before she nods to his question. "I did grow up in the caverns… But, I was too busy being wild, a menace, and away from the littler ones to have them bother me for things. My sister was really gullible, too… Think most of them were put off by what they saw her doing…"

Russall snorts. "The caverns would be full of creepy creepers if everyone liked to watch everyone doing everything they do. Anyway, there's some things I wouldn't want them watching… you can't learn everything by gluing your eyes to something. But that's what weyrs are for, right?" He winks at Dtirae, clicking his tongue in his cheek. "I dunno if I know your sister. Can't seem to remember her."

Dtirae laughs loudly at this, "I meant learning from an example. You show 'em, undo it, let 'em do it again. And you tell them when they're wrong." There's more laughter, though and the woman shakes her head after a moment. A breath is drawn, to stifle the laughter before she shrugs. "Chy… Is a bit special. Didn't like to bathe. I convinced her to do some… Really stupid shit. Shells, got her hurt pretty bad before she was standing for one of Zuvaleyuth's clutches. Felt so guilty. I didn't think she'd still do it…"

"Eh, then it wasn't fully your fault if she did something dumb just because you asked her too - that's partially her fault too, isn't it? She should have known better." Russall shrugs gently. "I don't have any siblings, so I don't know what that's like. Though I think maybe R'yal would be gullible enough to do some dumb things if I asked him… not that I would. I wouldn't want to see him hurt." He lets his runner plod on a few steps in silence, before adding: "Is Chy still around the Weyr?"

"Well, I said something. About… Tunnelsnakes? Shells, I can't remember. Just know she was hurt and.." A wave of her hand to end the story. "Probably best not to. The guilt ain't worth it." She'll leave it at that, allowing the silence to settle between then. The question of her sister has her shrugging. "Don't know. Haven't seen her since I got back. I didn't say anything to her. Can only assume she ran off somewhere else as well."

"Yeah, maybe she did. Maybe she'll be back though, too. People like to come and go as they please, don't they?" As the example beside him proves. Russ clicks his tongue to stop his runner from pausing too long to snatch a mouthful of whatever edible greens there are beside their pathway that look so deliciously tempting. "So anyway, did you learn anything in that bar? I didn't even have time to overhear anything properly before that Harper," whose name he obviously doesn't know, "started giving the get-gone signal."

Dtirae shrugs as if her sister is some big mystery. As Russall clicks his tongue, Dtirae peeks over to consider his runner. Hers, seems to be determined on their path, at least. "Nothing interesting. I didn't hear anything… I noticed someone. I think I did? It could have been nothing. I can't help but feel we accomplished nothing. Though, I guess this situation is about patience. Which was never my strong point."

Russall nods in agreement. "Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with you on the accomplishing nothing thing. I personally didn't get anything, but with the way it was all going before whatever it was caused that distraction, I don't think we would have acheived much anyway. Too many people, trying at once, and not all of them very good at it. And, I can't help but think that maybe we've blown our chances there now."

Dtirae laughs softly, "you're right. Too many, all at once… Trying to hear something. Anything. It was too suspicious." A sigh is heaved and the goldrider slumps just a little bit. "You're right. Hopefully the Harpers can find us something more."

"If I thought I was smart enough to be a Harper, that's what I would have wanted to do, all that covert undercover stuff." Totally relaxed in the saddle now, Russ drops his feet from his stirrups and stretches. "But I don't like the rest of the Harpering nonsense; it's too much like hard work. Plus, I can't read music or anything. I play guitar, but only because I can either make it up, or follow by ear." He looks over at Dtirae, smiling. "Someone'll find something more. Did Thys and that other guy sneak into the back? Maybe they'll hear something back there?"

"You know, not all Harpers study music." She says, wisely. As if she knows. And she does. She asked. "I think they may have managed. Or they were blocked. We turned to leave too quickly. They're safe, at least." Dtirae states with confidence, whether or not they'll manage to hear something from where they got to, however. "Are we almost to the spot? Your runner seemed anxious to get something to eat."

"Yeah, some study paper and law and art and whatever, but I'm not a frou-frou Harper type." Is his runner hungry? Sure is, as the he tries to grab another mouthful of greenery. "Yeah, I guess he is. We're not far now, anyway, it's just taking a little longer since we're going so slowly. Do you want to pick up the pace? Maybe you could ask Zuvaleyuth to ask Amidaeth to be ready to come soon?"

Dtirae snorts softly, "you've got to do studying to do covert properly, I imagine. Else one would mess up." That's her theory, at least. "Let's pick it up, then. I'll have her ask." There's no waiting for his response as she's urging the runner to pick up the speed. Eat her dust? No, she does not leave him behind. She doesn't know where she's going.

Russall gathers up his reins and nudges his runner to match pace with Dtirae's. "It's maybe only a few minutes from here, but do you see now how much further we would have had to go to find space enough for a gold to land?" He presses on into a trot, which he handles with an easy rise. "This is partly why Thys and I took so long. We had to get the runners, then get to the docks… all for nothing more than a minute of action." Dtirae's not likely to see him rolling his eyes, but he does it anyway. And, up ahead, there's a little bit of lightness between the trees - not light, per se, since it's pretty darned dark, but the darkness isn't quite as heavy, suggesting an open space not far beyond.

"I do. So, thank you for talking me out of that idea." Zuvaleyuth will have to bear Dtirae catching a ride from yet another dragon that is not her. "I can see that. You two took a lot of time planning. Shame that we didn't see much more than whatever it was we witnessed. At least if there had been a fight, there'd've been more action for you to handle, guardsman."

"Russ," he corrects gently. "Or Russall. Guardsman is stuffy, and anyway, since I bought you and I've got marks that have been down your top, I think maybe it's ok for you to call me Russ, weyrwoman." He grins over at her, before angling his runner slightly to the side to squeeze through a gap in the trees. And once they're through… "Here we are." It's a clearly just big enough for a small dragon, and even then it's tight enough to need some clever maneuvering."Is Annah on her way?"

Dtirae laughs yet again, grinning widely at the guard. "Fine, then, Russ." Though, she quiets to angle her runner through the trees after him. A soft whistle is released. "Shells." For the small size, and the thought of a dragon fitting in the space. "She is. She should be here shortly. Let's get them tied up so they're not spooked away?" The goldrider dismounts easily and leads the runner to a rather sturdy tree where it can be bound without scaring over the appearance of the dragon.

Russall follows, tethering his own mount and leaving him with a fond stroke down his nose. "Annah will have Amidaeth fly over the cothold on the way out, so they can see the runners need picking up." Then back into the clearing he goes, leaning against a trunk just on the edge. "It's been kind of an adventurous evening, hasn't it?" And they don't have long to wait, either; the sound of dragonwings announces the arrival of Amidaeth, who very slowly makes her landing in the limited space available to her. Her very young rider, Annah, waves enthusiastically from atop her, clearly chuffed at the way her lifemate handled the tight landing.

"Good, they won't be forgotten, then." The runner is given a gentle pat before she is following after Russall. "It has been, indeed. I can't say I expected this when I decided to volunteer." She lingers near the tree he leans against, eyes going skyward at the arrival of Amidaeth. She will wait, just a moment before approaching. Russall can take the lead as he is familiar with the greenrider.

And take the lead he does. Russall climbs up Amidaeth's straps without a problem, leaving space for Dtirae to sit in front of him, behind Annah. "Weyrwoman Dtirae, this is Annah, Amidaeth's. Annah, this is weyrwoman Dtirae." Do they need more introductions than that? Annah salutes the goldrider, giving her a big, toothy grin. She waits until her passengers are all aboard, before turning back to look at them. "Are you all strapped in so we can go?" She's already got her hand raised, ready from habit to give the signal for take-off once she's got her affirmation from both Dtirae and Russ. The latter gives her a nod; yep, he's ready.

"Well met." Dtirae greets, inclining her head to both rider and dragon before she's moving to mount. Once she situates the straps, and making sure everything is settled properly for their trip. "Ready."

"Ok!" Annah drops her hand, which is Amidaeth's cue to drop low, power building in her haunches before she springs skywards, barely clearly the trees before sweeping her wings downwards. Russall unabashedly wraps his arms around Dtirae's waist for the take-off, possibly to steady himself against the leap he knew was coming. Whatever the reason, they're up, up and away, with Amidaeth coasting a little before they wink into between to go back to the Weyr.


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