Who Sephany, Z'ki
What Z'ki has learned Between and pops in to visit Sephany at Fort Weyr.
When Winter - Month 13 of Turn 2714
Where Living Caverns, Fort Weyr

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Fort Weyr - Living Caverns

This cavern, having been created by bubbles in the volcanic flow of this extinct volcano, has a breathtaking ceiling — a vast dome that arches high above the heads of the weyrfolk that scurry around beneath it. A hollow echo can be heard from loud enough noises, and the chatterings of various firelizards are consequently multiplied into a chaotic babble. All in all, the living cavern is a loud place.

Tables are scattered around the room, apparently in no particular order. Over to one side near the kitchens, two medium sized serving tables are constantly spread with snacks, klah, and other goodies. The tables look worn, yet perfectly fitted to the atmosphere of the caverns. In the 'corners' of the cavern, smaller two and four place tables are set up for more private talks or just a less chaotic atmosphere in which to eat.


Winter is in full swing at Fort Weyr, snow thick upon the ground, ice thick upon the Lake, with no promise of respite for many more months. But the Living Caverns, at least, are toasty and warm from a combination of the fire in the hearth and the press of warm bodies moving to and fro. It is morning; not an impossibly early hour, but early enough that the Weyr is serving breakfast and the real crowd has not yet shown up. But, Sephany is a morning person and so here she is, sipping at a mug of something warm, picking absently at a plate of breakfast-food items, and reading a book. She is bundled up against the chill, including a heavy cloak that does absolutely nothing for her figure but, given her current state, perhaps that is the point? To hide things she does not want the world to know just yet. Thimble is curled up on her neck, little green body snuggled up as best she can.

Out above the skies of Fort, a pair of arriving Igen dragons greet the watch dragon, circling neatly down into the bowl. The pair are dressed for between, certainly warm enough for even the Fortian winter, only shedding helmet, gloves and goggles as they enter the warmer living caverns. The elder — if shorter — of the pair of riders claps Z'ki on the back, then strides off to greet some friends at a table away from the hearth. Meanwhile, the bronze weyrling — neatly pausing to stamp snow off his boots, casts a glance around, hunting for familiar faces — and it doesn't take him long to sight Sephany, making a beeline towards her, stepping to where she can see him approach rather than creeping up.

The approaching figure catches the weaver's attention, grey eyes flickering up from her book briefly as it becomes apparent that he is making for her and not just passing by. But it is another half-second before recognition dawns and a smile breaks out across her face. "Z'ki!" Quickly, a ribbon is placed in her book, hands moving automatically through the process of marking her place as she turns her attention toward the Igen weyrling. "You're… in Fort!" How very astute. "You and Jizunoth have learned to Between?" The realization seems to surprise her, and for a moment she falls silent at the knowledge. "Are you hungry? There's food… and Klah. And cocoa." And an empty chair, which she motions toward with her now-free hand.

While Z'ki is by no means a morning person — and it being even earlier in Igen is notable — but clearly some of the enthusiasm that is mostly Jizunoth's at being out and about in a different locale has rubbed off onto the guard to at least some degree, to judge by the energy that carries him over and leaves him standing before the Fortian. A grin even curves his lips as he says, "Been dragged all over," he agrees, "Not that Jizunoth minds. I do, given how early it is, but, he's so insistent," and the noise the guard makes suggests he's given up any pretense of winning that particular battle with his lifemate. "I'll grab some klah… sit, sit. I'm good. Did you want anything?" he asks, even as he takes a step towards the hearth.

That enthusiasm is catching, and Sephany answers his grin with one of her own. "I can imagine, after being so Weyr-bound and only hearing about all the wonders of the world." A soft bob of her head follows his acknowledgement of Klah, though it's quickly transformed into a little shake to dispel the notion that she needs anything. "No, I have what I need," and slender fingers reach out to draw her plate a little closer, as though just now remembering that she has actual food items available to her. Something flakey and pastry-like is selected, the weaver nibbling at it quickly while Z'ki goes for his Klah.

There's even a brief laugh from the normally taciturn guard. "You've no idea," he says, wryly, as he steps off towards the hearth. He might pause longer than necessary to warm his fingers over the hearth first, before he locates a mug and fills it with a splash of klah, no other additions. And then soon enough he's walking back, sipping on the way, before he settles into the chair she indicated earlier, resting helmet — with gloves and goggles tucked neatly in — beside it. "You're looking well," he observes, after studying her a moment.

Pale eyebrows lift at that laugh, amusement evident though there's no vocal expression of such. Z'ki's pause to warm fingers allows Sephany to get a decent way through her little pastry, small bites furiously taken, before he's back and settling into a chair. "Mm," accompanies a small nod of her head, though her grey eyes glance off sideways briefly. "I am… well. All things considered," she decides, an honest answer even if it may not speak the whole truth. "Busy." But enough about her. The pastry is placed back on her plate, the plate gently pushed to the side as she goes for her mug instead, fingers curling around the clay as elbows find the table and she leans forward. "How are you? You look…" and her eyebrows drift down into a light furrow, curious, "Good. Happy. Almost relaxed." Is that a tease? Maybe.

The shift of the weyrling-guard's gaze to the pastry might suggest the observant man's noted the sudden disappearance of a good chunk of the pastry. Fortunately he's far too polite to draw attention. He's lifting his mug to his lips as she answers his query, brow furrowing briefly. "All things considered?" he can't but help to echo, head tipping. "I…" her latter comment catches him off guard enough that he looks briefly surprised, then grins, if briefly. "Well, by comparison to earlier, I suppose. I'm actually getting a decent night's sleep in a proper bed. That counts for a great deal."

"It's… complicated." Complicated enough to be accompanied by a long exhale of breath and a glance of grey eyes toward the ceiling as though seeking the right word and 'complicated' is the best she can find. But soon enough, Sephany is focused on the conversation once again, a smile in place that is genuine enough even if it does not quite meet her eyes. "Maybe…" she allows, drawing her mug to her mouth for a quick sip. "I think it goes deeper than that, though. But regardless; you look happy, and I'm glad. I am also glad to hear that you are sleeping soundly once again; baby dragons," and she 'tsks' as if she knows something about them (she doesn't).

Z'ki is silent for a moment — falling into a perhaps familiar silence as he regards Sephany with a quirk of eyebrow that more expressively requests for further information than anything he could say aloud. It's enough of a pause to allow her to choose to elaborate, or not. Either way, he'll sip his klah, resting it on the armrest as he grins at the latter. He leans closer, voice dropping by measures: "I'd imagine they're just as bad as babies, so you'll soon have your own experience of the same." After a moment, "I suppose I am… happy," he acknowledges, after a moment of distance that might be a distraction of a dragon.

Sephany will take that pause, and fill it with words. Even if those words are low and slow in coming. "I had a… falling out of sorts," she begins, pausing to think upon and select the proper words to use. "A disagreement. Or maybe it was a misunderstanding… I am not sure. It has made things difficult…" again, that pause, as she seeks out how best to express what it is that has her so 'complicated' lately. "Telling everyone that I am going to be leaving, if just temporarily, has caused some emotional reactions I was not expecting," is her final summary. "My friends have been Searched." And perhaps that explains it the best, really, as no more words come from the weaver. Instead, it is a lift of her mug and another, albeit much longer, sip of whatever warm brew she has chosen this morning. But there is a wrinkle of her nose and a roll of her eyes for the comment on babies, a much more 'Sephany-like' gesture as she grins behind the rim of her cup. "Don't I know it. I do have many sisters; with many babies of their own, even if I was the baby of the family. Though I imagine it will be somewhat different when I cannot simply hand this one back when it starts to wail." It is a mark of her acceptance of the situation that she can so casually joke about it, even if there's a flicker of something else across her expression; there and gone. "Have you given thought to what you will do, after you graduate?"

While she speaks, she has Z'ki's complete attention, green gaze settling on her. "People are upset that their friend is leaving. It's not hard to blame them for feeling that way," he says, after she's finished speaking, "Especially if they've been searched and can't visit. But that's a good thing, isn't it? That they're upset enough about you leaving to want you to stay?" His fingers tap briefly against the arm rest, a light smile appearing. "There's that. So — you're not planning to foster?" he asks, carefully. "Me? Oh — I figure settling into one of the Wings that'll let me continue guarding, or a variation thereof. Jizunoth has grander plans, I think, but… we'll see."

There is, very briefly, a tightening of her eyes and her mouth; a subtle gesture that may speak back to that 'complicated' Sephany mentioned. "It is more than that, but… that is the gist of it." A small shake of her head as she admits, "I can't explain, because I am not sure I understand myself." As for friends who will miss her? A softer sort of smile, and a nod of her head. "It is. It is nice to have people who care for me. And I have assured them that it will not be forever. I am not moving permanently to Igen. Fort has become… home over this past Turn." Her mug is more or less used as a decorative item, held as though she may take a sip that never comes. As for fostering? "I will," she clarifies. "It isn't really an option if I wish to continue in my craft. I can't be an apprentice weaver and raise a baby. So my mother is going to raise it for me. She has always wanted another," and there's a brief roll of her eyes, "as thought eight is not enough. And I trust her to take care of the child when I cannot. But not until it is weaned." Clearly, she has given this some thought. A little, thoughtful sort of hum for his plans. "And what sort of plans does Jizunoth have? Other than to explore the world suddenly available to him? Does he still want you to be Weyrlingmaster?"

A faint crease appears in Z'ki's forehead as she reiterates that it's complicated. "It sounds simple enough to me," the once-guard says. But then he probably hasn't heard the whole story — not that he presses for it. Instead, he says, "Six months — a Turn — is a long time, though. Hard to believe Jizunoth's already that old and then some." He gives a nod to her mention of fostering with her mother. "That's good — he… she? will be well looked after." As for Jizunoth, there's a wry smile: "Depends what day you talk to him about it. He seems keen to press me to bigger and better things — in his mind. I suppose it can't hurt to want to learn more, be more — now that there's more opportunities available. Still," he pauses, just briefly. "I really was content as a guard."

At the 'he/she' conundrum, there is a shake of Sephany's head and a quick "Not sure yet." No sonograms for her. "Rather just… not know yet." And now, at least, there is a briefly uncomfortable shift of her posture and a quick seizing of the topic of Jizunoth and his ambitions. "Certainly nothing wrong with ambition, though I suppose it would depend on his reasons for such; power for the sake or power, or because he feels you could make a difference?" And then a small laugh as she wonders, "or do dragons even think such grandiose thoughts? Regardless, perhaps you ought to take note of the Senior's cycle so that you can remove him before she goes up; it sounds as though he may try to make you Weyrleader." She is definitely teasing, the corner of her mouth curled up and her grey eyes dancing with amusement. "Content, perhaps. Though you still accepted the white knot when it was offered. And you can still practice at your skill; Fort has guards who are dragonriders, as a matter of fact. Igen should, as well. Perhaps making Captain would satisfy Jizunoth's ambition?"

Z'ki seems well aware of the topic shift — and amenable enough to let it pass without comment. After all, it's not hard to get even a taciturn man to talk about his dragon. "I'd like to think it's the latter," the Igenite says, running a hand over hair that's kept just as short as he ever wore it as a guard. "He's always pushing me to try new things — go new places — learn new things. It was positively exhausting when he was little." Perhaps less so now, to judge by brief grin — though that fades pretty quickly at her suggestion of Weyrleadership. "Faranth, no," is his particular thought on the matter, flicking a glance towards the exit before he adds, "Worth noting, though," he adds, with the air of someone only beginning to find his balance with his new partner. "I'd hope so," the bronze weyrling grins, "Or we're in all sorts of trouble."

"Weyrleader Z'ki," drawls Sephany, unable to resist teasing just a little bit. "Imagine; everyone calling you 'sir' and saluting you!" She does not go through the motions of feigning such a salute, content to just grin with far more amusement than is polite, reining in the laughter that may be threatening to spill forth. "Though in all honesty," she continues once that expression is under control, "There are far worse men than you that could take the knot. At least you would be honorable." Her mug is finally set down, ignored as her chin drifts to a palm, resting easily as she adopts a thoughtful expression. "What sort of new things has he had you try?" she wonders curiously.

"Ehh," Z'ki's quick to lift a finger to his lips. "Not too loud, lest Jizunoth overhear and get ideas. He's bad enough," the bronze weyrling says with a low chuckle. Sephany's praise earn a rise of brows and, after a moment to take it in, a smile. "Thanks. Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that." As for Sephany's latter question, he clears his throat. "A bit of everything. New food, new places — we went down south with a couple of other riders, and while the weather was lovely, I'm pretty sure I was bitten to the quick — new people, though he seems especially interested in who our new wingmates could be."

A quick slide of pinched fingers across her mouth, a 'my lips are sealed' gesture even as Sephany's grin widen and grey eyes glance toward the exit to the Bowl. "Oh?" for new places. "Already hopping around Pern without me? Should I be offended?" She's clearly not even the slightest bit. "They do have salves and creams, to ward off the insects," she notes with a practical tone of voice. "It is the humidity that I do not agree with. Cloying and thick, as though I could swim through the very air." A wrinkle of her nose, a very clear 'not a fan' expression. "Suppose he would be interested in them, given he will spend a significant amount of time flying with them. It is still so… strange to think of how quickly things have changed; I can't keep up."

"Part of training," Z'ki explains, quickly, like maybe she's genuinely upset and he's trying to soothe her. "They won't let us go alone yet, either. Soon, though and," with a bigger smile, "By the time you come to Igen you can help me pick out some nice things for my weyr. I uh, haven't ever had space of my own to decorate before, let alone put furniture in. I've got a bed and my trunk and that's about it. Cass says it looks pitiful," he admits, with a wry grimace. Her latter words turns his gaze and attention fully to her again, shaking his head. "Same goes for you and yours; after all, you're having a child." He exhales for a moment, and then, perhaps trying to keep it light, adds, "How's Riohra doing?"

"Oh, undoubtedly," for his Pern-hopping being training. "Between is dangerous. I may not know much about being a dragonrider, but that I do know. And I would prefer you to get a lot more practice before I dare climb up that bronze neck and let you and Jizunoth take me Between." She's only half teasing, and softens it with a smile and a quickly stated, "but I trust you," before the opposite thought can take root. The prospect of decorating certainly perks her up. "Oh! Well… I can certainly help you in that regard, though I get the distinct impression your tastes are somewhat different from my own. Hmm," but already the wheels are turning, and her fingers drum a little pattern against her cheek as she drifts into the realm of design, if just for a moment. The baby… that gets a brief face, a childish expression involving her tongue being stuck out at him as her eyes roll. So very mature. "He is doing well, from what I can see. He was also Searched," she adds if he wasn't aware, "though I was not at all surprised; he had Stood at Half Moon Bay. Though I have not had a chance to talk to him about how it may have affected… things." With Kassala, is what she means. "Though with graduation looming, I suppose it will be her turn to come and visit him."

"The visualization is easy for me," Z'ki admits, "But my heart still goes into my throat every time we between. Something some riders say you never lose." The grimace is fleeting, gone faster for her offer to help. "My tastes are… honestly, I've never had to decorate anything before. I prefer it plain, but Cass says that's 'beneath' a dragonrider." The shift of eyes ceiling-wards is an abortive roll of eyes. Her news about Riohra has him straightening, and grinning broadly. "Oh, that's great. I was hoping to catch him as well. Maybe I can swing back by in a few days, congratulate him in person. I'm sure Kass will be by soon enough, and for the hatching, no doubt. I haven't heard — is it long away?"

"S'van says it was the most sobering moment of his life; the first time his Weyrlingmaster let him go Between on his own visualization. Even though he had been practicing for so long, and Aede was more than confident," offers the weaver, perhaps meant as reassurance. "I think he still feels that nervous anticipation, as well. Even if he won't admit it." As for his decorating tastes? "Minimalistic," decides Sephany. "Clean and practical, without too much embellishment. Though there should be a few decorations, at least. To soften the space and make it look lived in. A rug, obviously. Perhaps some maps or something on the wall? Practical decor?" She is mostly rambling at this point, a stream of consciousness given voice as she works through the ideas in her head, perhaps speaking aloud for his benefit even if she's more or less talking to herself. "How do you feel about potted plants?" Maybe it is a rhetorical question; she certainly doesn't want for a response before moving right along. "I'm sure he would like that. If the timing works out, perhaps I can join you on the return to Igen." Of eggs she simply shakes her head and gives a little shrug. "The dragonhealers estimate that we've a few months more, at least. Though I had heard that the candidates have already been out for a touching…" Her tone is carefully neutral, conversational, as she discusses the facts around an experience she cannot partake. "I have not had a chance to ask him how it was compared to Half Moon's eggs."

To judge by Z'ki's squinting, wary glance, even her 'minimalistic' approach is stretching the edges of his usual comfort zone. "Uhh…" is about all his useful response is to the idea of potted plants before she continues. "I'd be thrilled for you to join us," he latches onto that part of the conversation instead, genuinely pleased, and for once showing it through an easy smile. "Well," his gaze shifts, going to the rider he came in with, "Since it seems I won't get a chance to see him today, you'll send my regards, let him know I'll be back soon enough?" The rider's nodding in Z'ki's direction, as the weyrling sighs and bends to collect his helmet. "It'll be good when I'm not borrowing time from another person," he admits, with a slight twist of lips, reaching over to rest his hand on top of Sephany's forearm for a moment. "It was good to see you."

Too late; Sephany has a vision and by Faranth she is going to be carrying it out. She has that look about her; so just try and argue. But she does quickly nix the plants idea, a murmured, "no plants, then. Perhaps rocks?" Rocks. Because Igen needs more of those. "Alright then," for accompanying him back to Igen. "I will be prepared to leave when next you are in Fort. I am not taking much," she explains. "Mostly just myself…" she trails off as she follows his gaze to the approaching rider. A small nod of her head is given in acknowledgement, a quick and earnest, "of course! He'll be sorry to have missed you, but he will be glad to know you are well." The touch to her forearm is met with brief surprise, then a smile as he retreats. "It was good to see you, as well. Have a safe trip back. And please tell Jizunoth hello for me!" She declines standing, but does offer a parting smile and a lift of her fingers in a small semblance of a wave to see him off.

Z'ki opens his mouth, hesitates, and closes it. Apparently he decides a worse fate than a rock garden would be protesting a rock garden. "I will. See you soon, Sephany," he says, as he pushing to his feet, tucking his helmet under one arm. His stride lengthens once he's stepped past the chairs, moving on out to join his fellow Igenite, falling into step with the other rider as they pull on gloves as they head for the cold of outside.


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