Who Sephany, Z'ki
What Sephany visits Z'ki and ends up spilling a secret.
When Winter - Month 12 of Turn 2714.
Where South Bowl, Igen Weyr

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Igen Weyr - South Bowl

The orange hued sandstone layers comprising the bowl walls curve gently, but ever presently in your view. Fine sand shifts underfoot, a slightly paler version of what is found upon the walls. It gives way along the eastern edge to a section of contrasting green grass where a series of cleverly engineered pipes provide water to the fenced off area of the feeding grounds, and keeps the shimmer of the shallow lake beyond from dissapearing during the dryest periods of the turn. A distinctly squared entrance farther south is the tunnel leading out to the lands beyond. Traders and tithes arrive here at regular intervals and it is not uncommon for part of the bowl to be set up with a series of tents and wagons as wares are displayed and sold. To the west, the bowl wall has been eroded by the desert winds into strange shapes. At their base are found the weyrling barracks and training fields.


Winter, for Igen, means the cessation of dust storms, and a slight — though not complete — removal of the heat. It's still warm, but it's far from unbearable, and perhaps even a nice relief from more freezing climes. Igen's weyrling dragons are full-grown, now, Jizunoth on the larger size for a bronze, enough that he could rival the smallest of golds given a few inches. Z'ki is dressed in plain, dark pants — loose still, as is the Igen style — and a light-weight, if long-sleeved shirt, leaning on the feeding grounds fence. There are two dragons feeding there — one his bronze, as well as a blue. Jizunoth's just made his kill, wings folded neatly at his side as he crunches down over dinner.

The landing of a green dragon would not be much cause for concern, and the depositing of a passenger even less of one. The slight figure that descends moves with careful but purposeful steps; Sephany knows where she is going and is determined to get there quickly enough. Swathed in her characteristically "Igen" attire, she would be recognizable upon closer inspection. Her blonde hair is coiled up and out of the way, hidden beneath the scarf that is once more draped over her head to protect her skin and her eyes from the harsh sun. The bronze at his meal gives her pause, steps hesitant as she briefly startles to realize that the fully grown beast is the weyrling-dragon she met not so very long ago. "He's huge," she offers by way of greeting, sliding into a spot on the rail near Z'ki. "I forgot how fast they grow."

For once, the normally observant guard is unaware of the Fortian's approach, so fixed on his dragon as he is. That realization makes Z'ki straighten, abruptly, a vague discomfort registering briefly, before he exhales and offers a genuine smile as he sees who it is. "A thing I lament after giving Kass grief about how much work she had ahead of her," he says, with a laugh to suggest the 'grief' was probably nothing more than a polite observation. He keeps one hand on the railing, but drops the other to his side to better half-turn to regard Sephany. "It hasn't seemed that fast to me," he admits. "But that might've been part of the sleep deprivation — which thankfully, we're past now."

Sephany offers a quick smile his direction, relaxing into the space on the rail with a soft sort of sigh. Grey eyes turn to regard the dragon at his meal, not at all minding what blood or viscera may be present. "Xerosaeth will still grow bigger," she offers, as though to console him, "But he sure is large. At least daily baths and oiling should be near an end?" She shifts ever so slightly, settling her weight on one leg. "Last time I saw him… he was the size of a large Runner. Now he's…" and she gestures to the fully grown beast in the corrals. "I'm sorry I haven't visited more often," she apologizes, as though just now realizing how much time has past. "Things have been… " but she just shakes her head, words failing her. "How are you?"

"She is," Z'ki confirms of the queen dragon, with a smile. "Ji did try to convince her for a while he was bigger… but I think he's definitively lost that argument." There's some crunching from the feeding grounds — and a squeal as the blue circles around and descends to make his next kill. The ex-guard, however, doesn't watch the dragons, so much as he watches Sephany watch the dragons. "They are," he adds. "Weyrlingmaster says they're settled into their final growth, which is good." When she apologizes, he hesitates for a moment, then: "It's fine. It can be difficult to get away," is finally said, carefully. He notes that her sentence goes unfinished, pausing himself as his weight — if not his expression — shifts. "I'm okay, Seph. And you?"

"I doubt there is a bronze alive that could outgrow a queen," she decides conversationally, gaze flitting to the blue as he descends upon his kill. Sephany is silent, but nods in acknowledgement of the weyrlingmaster's assertion that the young dragons were finished growing. It is the question of her wellbeing that has her shift again. It is so minute, the tension that finds her, the roll of her shoulders forward into what could be a protective sort of hunch. A clench of her jaw and a flash of grey eyes toward Z'ki as she looks to briefly consider lying only to give it up and admit, "No," in a voice that tries to be firm and completely fails. "I've… things… I don't know." Back to the dragon, as though she can't bear to look at him when she admits, "I did something really, really stupid. And now… I'm not sure what to do." She bites her lip, hard, an effort to contain whatever emotion wants to bubble forth and completely wreck her. "If I tell you… just promise you won't freak out?"

The sharp look suggests the perceptive guard might've caught that expression — might've let it pass, too, to judge by even expression — except she continues. Z'ki's silent while she speaks, brow drawing down into the faintest of frowns, though his gaze doesn't waver from her. "I don't freak out easily," he says slowly, after a moment, "But if you've done something…" clearly, his mind — as ever — is on his former occupation, no matter how little dues he's paid it the last Turn or so since Impression. Finally, "What did you do? It can't be all as bad as that," he says, with the faintest attempt at a reassuring smile.

"I didn't break any laws, if that's what you mean," Sephany replies, having caught that subtle change in tone as to suggest an interrogation. A closing of grey eyes, a deep breath taken and held as she considers how to proceed. "I didn't come here to unload all of my problems on you, honest. I just need… someone to know that isn't going to yell at me, or look at me…" but again words seem to fail her. It is the dragon in the corral that she focuses on, though whether she actually sees him or he is just a clever excuse to avert her gaze is debatable. "I… there was a goldflight. And alcohol," with a roll of her eyes that is more self-deprecating than dismissive. Another scrunching of her nose, as though she's not exactly sure how to ease into this subject and so she'll just blurt it out instead. "I'm pregnant."

With the assurance of non-criminal endeavor out of the way, Z'ki relaxes his habitual guard a little. "I'm sure it's fine, then—" he begins, before she mentions problems, and then he falls silent, frowning as he regards her while she regards the dragon. And then she blurts it out, and he… goes still, not saying anything. His expression, if she looks at him, is fixed, a familiar old neutrality that she was perhaps more used to seeing when they first met, not so much these days. Whatever he's thinking, Jizunoth seems unbothered, contentedly crunching away at his meal.

Sephany doesn't need to look over at him; the curl of her shoulders and the tightening of her hands on her arms says well enough that she's likely guessed his expression. "I told you it was stupid. I told you…" she murmurs, perhaps more to herself than to him. There's a fierce bite to her cheek, a willful resistance of whatever it is that threatens to spill forth and a conscious move to adopt the same sort of neutral and guarded expression. But she still won't look at him, and the mask cracks enough that a flash of guilt may be seen before she's fighting it back once more. "I shouldn't have said anything. I'm sorry. I'll go…"

"I'm told," Z'ki finally says, voice markedly neutral as he continues to stand still, stiff, beside her, "That such things happen." He's still for a moment, and neither does he try and reach for her, but perhaps his voice serves to stop her all the same: "Do you know who…?" A beat, as his hand on the railing tightens briefly. "Do they know?"

Color washes over her cheeks, bright pink and glaringly obvious. "It does," happen. A low murmur of agreement that is weak and feeble. That flush of blood in her cheeks only deepens at the following questions, creeping down her neck and up into her hairline. Her jaw tightens. "Do I know who the father is? Yes," and Sephany is only mildly defensive about it. "But no. He doesn't know. And I wasn't going to tell him," she admits. "He's not a Fortian; he was a bronzerider whose dragon lost the flight." A slow, deep breath is drawn in before she chances a glance his direction; a quick and fleeting flash of grey eyes before she's staring back in the vague direction of the bronze at his meal.

Clearly, Z'ki is well out of his depth, even for one used to dealing with a variety of strange circumstances. Personal relationships clearly aren't a specialty for him. He takes a slow, deep breath, in an audible way, posture still stiff. "I'd want to know, if it were mine," he says, finally, with a glance at Jizunoth; sooner or later, he may very well be in the same situation.

A range of conflicting emotions range across Sephany's face, none of them settling long enough to be discernable. Inner turmoil, displayed so evidently and yet without clear reflection on where her mind is at. There are no more words from the weaver, just a quiet acknowledgement of his opinion, a shallow nod of her head as she casts her gaze to the ground and just… stands. Against the fence, fingers digging into her arms, shoulders tight and hunched. Silent.

Silence is not an unwelcome thing for the guard — indeed, it could be said it's his forte. Z'ki's other hand comes to rest on the railing, too, so that's he's fully facing the feeding grounds, giving the Fortian some semblance of a private moment. Jizunoth, having finished his meal, crouches and lazily wings his way upwards, expending little effort, but relying on the winter currents for most of his lift, his rider's head lifting to watch, too.

There are certainly worse things than silence, and Sephany seems not to mind as the duration of it increases, settling around the pair on the fence and leaving each to their own thoughts. Eventually, there is a sort of break in the tension, a drop of her shoulders, and a deep and steadying breath taken. Grey eyes follow the path of the young bronze, watching with idle curiosity as he leaves the corrals and lifts into the sky. "I am planning on moving back to Igen… at least for a few months," she mentions. "I want to be near my mother, for the birth."

Jizunoth circles once, twice, before winging up to the rim to join some of the other dragons lounging there. From here, it's difficult to make out individual dragons, and so — perhaps for lack of anything else to focus on — Z'ki's gaze finally comes back to Sephany. "That's… good," he says, cautiously, like he's carefully picking every word so as not to misstep. "You'll continue your apprenticeship?" he guesses.

"It is," good, Sephany agrees. "There are eggs on the Sands at Fort. And my friends…" a brief hesitation before she continues, "most of them have been Searched. They're busy, and it would be better if I was away, for a while." The progress of the young dragon is tracked, until he's moved into obscurity and watching him is no longer feasible. But it takes a bit longer for Sephany to shift her gaze to the weyrling on the rail, though her attention never really left him. "I am," for her craft, determination in her tone. "As long as they will allow it. I can study under the journeyman here, until I go back to Fort. It may… slow my progress a bit. But it won't stop me."

"I'd heard. You don't want to stay for that?" Z'ki asks, at least until she elaborates, and then he's nodding, slowly, hands dropping from the railing. Even if there's a flicker of sympathy in his gaze, he schools it soon after, and doesn't linger on the topic of search — well aware it's a sore point. "That's… something." It's a lame thing to say, and even the once-guard knows it. "Jizunoth is curious about other places. He's insisting we start exploring. If you can… maybe you'd like to come travel with us for a bit. Though… no ice-skating," he says, with a brief smile.

A shallow nod of her head, little more than a dip of her chin, in silent acknowledgement of things unspoken. Search. Dragons. Friends who leave with white-knots upon their shoulder. Certainly not a subject Sephany needs to dwell on. "If I can manage to make it for the actual Hatching, I will. If just to show support for them," she explains. "But the timing…" a shake of her head. "It will depend on the dragons, I suppose." There is a flicker of a smile, something that suggests amusement but doesn't quite reach her eyes, at his 'something' comment. No further reflection on her craft. Instead, it is the traveling that she seizes upon, a much more characteristic expression gracing her face as she smiles more openly. "That would be… really nice actually. It should be safe enough. I'm past the point where Between is a danger," as evidenced by her arrival at Igen; Between was the means of arrival. And then a playful sort of smile for his comment on ice skating. "Fine. No ice skating. Though I've already been on the ice a few times at Fort," she mentions. "And I owe you a report on Telgar."

"You do," Z'ki agrees, with some surprise — no so much that he'd forgotten, that perhaps he thought such challenges put aside, perhaps. "I'd ask you to put in a preference for location — but Jizunoth has, it seems, been talking with other dragons, so I imagine he'll dictate our destinations." Coughing briefly, he gestures towards the caverns, "I'm due a drink, and then I need to report to one of the Weyrlingmasters. Maybe we can discuss it over dinner, if you're staying?" he asks.

A woman of her word, Sephany seems determined enough to follow through on old challenges, even if they were made more in jest at the time. There's a grin now, a true expression of amusement that chases away the lingering angst and tension. "Has he now?" for speaking to other dragons. "I am certain wherever he wishes to go will be fine… though if I may make a request," she continues, playful tone back to serious as she asks, "Can we not visit Half Moon Bay? Anywhere but there, should be fine." As for reports and dinner, she bobs her head in agreement. "Well… I will be here the rest of the day, though I will not move officially for another month. There are arrangements to be made," she explains. "But I can meet you for dinner, if you want. That would be nice."

Z'ki is a former guard, and despite where he's head's been lately, such a thing is obvious for him: "Your brother doesn't know?" he guesses, covering whatever expression he might have for that as he turns towards the caverns. "Well, I'm sure we can manage it." Her agreement to dinner earns a genuine enough smile. "I'd like that. It was… good to see you again," he says, with only the slightest of hesitations, before he's striding off towards the living caverns.


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