Fort Weyr - Star Stones
The landing area for dragons here on the Stones has been warn smooth from Turns and Turns of watching - waiting for the Red Star to show itself in the position that would mean Thread was on the way. These days though, it's not uncommon to see the Stones dotted with flowers - a reminder that the threat no longer exists. The Finger Rock and Eye Rock stand as silent testaments to the success of Pern's people.

Night has fallen and the Weyr has just begun to settle into the routines that see most of the activity out in the bowls winding down. Though still in the grips of winter, the weather is unseasonably mild and has allowed for conditions to bring in much more snow than usual. Now the skies are laden with heavy clouds and a few flakes begin to fall, fat and slow, to the ground. Sounds are muffled but it only lends to the eerie beauty and silence that hands over the Weyr.

Velokraeth has stretched himself out on the ledge beneath the Star Stones, half on his side with his legs crossed in front of him and his tail tucked around himself. His oversized head with the warped and lopsided features is held high and his slow whirling eyes seem to focus on the ground below. Observant? Somewhat. The bronze is in more of a pensive mood this night and on a whim his thoughts begin to extend and reach out for a certain fiery gold. He had given Kayeth a lot of space since the flight, all too aware of Zhirazoth’s presence. It rankles him to have the foreign bronze hovering about the gold but Velokraeth has never truly been overly possessive. He shared Zuvaleyuth with Dremkoth, after all and would only stake his claim when it came time for the pale gold to rise. Perhaps it would be the same with Kayeth, though Velokraeth desires nothing more than to gain some of Kayeth’s affection. Just enough…

« Good evening, m’lady. » he greets in a voice that is low and rich, rolling in a soothing wave that is accompanied by a honeyed mead, sweetened and spiced with the subtle scent of ginger and herbs. A summery smell, clean and earthy. « May I be bold to ask for your company on the Star Stones? The weather is quite beautiful. » Surely he’s not requesting her presence merely to enjoy some snow fall? « I have some questions to ask and while I could do that now, I feel that as they concern your rider that it would be… appropriate if I were with you. »

Kayeth is resting on her ledge, alone as Zhirazoth and Mr’az can not be in Fort all the time. At her mate’s mental brush, the young queen brightens considerably - perhaps she was lonely? - and lifts her head, craning it to peer upwards. « I would be delighted, » she responds eagerly, a warm brush of wind sending her sea grasses waving. Rising, she takes a moment to stretch, wings spreading and tail lashing, spine extending until she is limber enough to surge powerfully into the sky. She takes her time flying to the Star Stones, a gentle arc upwards that lets him admire her form before she soars over the top of the weyr, taking a gentle turn before approaching from behind and settling beside him with a flick of her wings. « Velokraeth, » she greets warmly, offering a nuzzle if he’s accepting of some physical attention.

This is Velokraeth! Physical attention is always accepted and desired, especially if from a female as stunning as Kayeth. He may be a little taken aback by her offer but he welcomes it eagerly. Nuzzling her in return, he will shift his body and offer her the choice parts of the ledge for her to settle before he rearranges himself comfortably against her side. A little daring now by her opening offer, he will attempt to nuzzle along the curve of her neck and just at the base of her ridges. It’s a rather tender hearted gesture, meant to be soothing. « Kayeth, » he greets warmly in return, his tone pleased and delighted that she accepted his offer for company. « You are beautiful as always, m’lady and honor me by joining me. » Thank you, in Velokraeth-speak. « How are you? » he asks, ever polite with his formalities before cutting to the chase. « I hope it is not too brash of me to ask of your rider, but I am curious. What are some things she enjoys? Little things that make her happy? »

Kayeth loves the contact, and she is not a haughty, distant queen. Making up for her rider’s walls, perhaps, as she arches her neck and closes her eyes, rumbling happily at Velokraeth’s attentions once she’s settled. « Thank you, » she replies smoothly, happy and pleased at the compliments. She loves /attention/. « I am well! I fed this morning and mine is busy, so I am grateful for the company. » Thank you for inviting me, in Kayeth-speak. « Yourself? » And then she pauses, shifting a bit to turn her head and look at her ugly (sigh) mate. « Why do you wish to know? » she asks, slightly guarded.

Velokraeth loves to share affection, as most already know this. What other bronze can claim to lounge in the company of three (or was it four?) greens at one time? He is the master at it. Though on this night, his focus is solely on Kayeth. Even if a green chose to rise at that moment, he would remain on the ledge and continue to groom her and shower her in affection. Gold trumps green. « Then I am glad to entertain you this night, » he rumbles as he slowly picks his way along her neck. Affectionate and tender, as she is his mate and will soon clutch another generation of his progeny, though it does extend a little further than that too. « Good, I am pleased that you are well. I have been well too, though busy. Mine has had much work to do and I was needed to accompany him. » Velokraeth rumbles in a reassuring way when she becomes slightly guarded. The bronze favors truth and so he does not cryptically coat his words. « It is for my rider’s sake. He wishes to honor your rider and… apologize for any upset he may have caused. He is acknowledging that they perhaps did not start off well as Weyrleaders and he wishes to mend things so that when they work together there is perhaps not so much awkwardness between them. » Long winded explanation short: Th’ero is looking to apologize through the gesture of a gift. A small gesture but one that can be done quietly and not necessarily with the Weyrleader present.

Kayeth stretches and then settles, snuggling (yes, snuggling) against her mate. Her second, as she soaks in his affectionate and tender gestures. « Mine is very busy. » Is there a subtle hurt, a little pout in the gold’s tone? Surely Nyalle has not neglected her, but perhaps there is less time for attentions than there was at High Reaches. « Ahh, I see. No, they did not start off well though mine blames herself for everything, » she says with a long suffering sigh. Clearly she has been arguing with her rider over this. « Mine likes small things, » she admits. « Anything large brings with it too much… » She struggles with the concept. « She does not feel worthy of much, » she admits with a soft sigh.

Velokraeth will not protest any snuggling either! Not from her, not from greens and definitely not from Varmiroth (even if that brings a few odd and inquisitive looks). He is willing to overlook the lingering note of ‘second’ too. He croons softly, sensing that pouting note in Kayeth’s tone. « That is to be expected but it won’t be forever. When things have settled, she may not be so busy. » he reassures her and then he is thoughtfully silent over their link. « Why, if I may ask? She has done no wrong. Mine holds no ill thoughts of her. » Well, not really bad ones anyways. « Is her lingering upset over what happened the night before? » Velokraeth chuckles mentally. « Small things would be appropriate. » Larger and more elaborate and lavish gifts are reserved for another, but the bronze does not go into details. Now he sounds a touched confused and troubled. « Not worthy? A shame. She is a fine, young woman. » he says, truthfully so but does not linger long before going on to add. « So what would make her happy? What small things make her smile? » And to be helpful, Velokraeth will share some of his rider’s preferences. « Mine likes knives and daggers. However that is perhaps not appropriate for yours and could be considered extravagant. He also enjoys a good vintage. Ale, wine, whiskey… Does yours like the same? »

Kayeth is quiet for a moment, thoughtful and considering. « She is unsure of herself. She is realizing that her training at High Reaches was not…correct. That her ideas might be wrong ideas. She is awkward and uncertain and very lost and confused, » she admits with a soft sigh. « But I know she is good, I know she can /be/ good as Senior. Mine is stronger than she knows. » There is another moment of silence, the gold wordlessly requesting the bronze to tend to an itch on her shoulders as she thinks. « Mine likes fruits. Small beauties. Little flowers, autumn leaves, spring blooms. Small things from nature. Mine does not like knives and daggers, » she says with a soft laugh at the very thought. « Mine likes tea. She has been thinking she needs a nice tea set. The one Elara has she is envious of, and the one she found in the Senior’s office is not good. » There is a pause and the a spark of an idea, sunlight streaming through her mind. « She should have lots of different things in her set. It would be good for her to not have things perfect and matching. Maybe yours can find her a nice tea cup and saucer? Just one pair, and she can add to her set one piece at a time. » The gold likes this idea, especially because her thoughts flicker with the possibilities of flying off to gathers and trading caravans, searching for good pieces to add to the tea set.

« That is a very difficult concept to accept. » Velokraeth agrees and understands. He understands that all too well, since the bronze had to help his rider through so much as well and still does from time to time. « Mine thinks the same. He thinks she is a strong and capable woman and rider and that she will grow into her role as Senior well. » Heeding her wordless request, he will find that itch on her shoulders and tend to it, lingering a little longer that he ought to but perhaps he is only being thorough? All the while he listens and when Kayeth’s mind brightens, his mind ripples with amused pleasure. « That sounds like a wonderful idea, m’lady and one that we could arrange easily. A tea cup and saucer would not be difficult at all to find. I will tell him this. » And it will be done.

Kayeth croons softly at his tending to her itch, and when it’s satisfied she settles once more, her muzzle across one of the pale bronze’s forelegs. « It is, » she agrees, the young queen troubled. « She doubts, she questions, she is unsure what is truth and what is lies. She will be pleased with the cup and saucer. » Baffled, until it’s explained to her, but pleased just the same. « Thank you. It is very kind of your rider to think for mine in that way. She does not receive many gifts, so she will be very surprised. » It’ll be awkward, no doubt. But when is it not? There is quiet for a moment before the queen brings up another topic. « Why did you foul Zhirazoth? » There’s no anger in her tone, but there is curiosity. As if she missed something and she wants to figure out what it is.

Velokraeth rumbles contentedly as Kayeth settles and rests her muzzle across one of his forelegs. He will carefully lower his head and rest it by hers in return and his tail will curl around her. He ignores the snow that begins to fall in heavier drifts now. The winds are down, so with their bodies pressed close they will share enough warmth to be comfortable. His thoughts change from summery and honeyed meads to cooling, refreshing red wines. A touch tart and yet smooth enough to be warming and comforting and accented with just enough spice to be pleasant. « Discovering the difference between truth and lies can be a very tricky thing. It will take time but with support and guidance, she will succeed. » he reassures her and then his mind ripples again with amusement for the praise given from her to his rider. « He is a good man and means well, even though he is prone to making many mistakes. He never meant to scare or hurt yours. » Honest. « Ahh, yes. » Is that guilt in Velokraeth’s tone? Maybe. He exhales softly, breath streaming white in the cold, cold air. « I fouled him because I could see no other way of claiming you as my mate. I would have prefered to win you honorably and by strength and wit, but it was not to be. He is a strong and formidable bronze and I am not proud of my underhanded tactics, even if it led to my victory in catching you. I do not regret it. » After all, it means his rider holds Weyrleader which is something he knew they all desired. Himself, Th’ero, Kimmila, the Weyr as a whole. It had to be done. « Truthfully, Kayeth, he also drew it upon himself. He fouled me back in the feeding grounds. It is how flights are… and he is lucky he did not try that tactic with a bronze who would take it far more personally. »

Kayeth leans against her pale bronze mate, enjoying his company and the snow falling around them. « She will, I just hope she is guided well. I can not be with her all the time. » Nor would the queen want to, honestly. Meetings are so boring. She’d rather be /doing/. « Then ours will have to learn together. I know he didn’t mean to, it was the /other/ one who scared her. She was thinking of him, not of yours. » And she growls, her body shifting slightly before she settles to focus on his answer. « He is very strong and formidable, » she agrees, repeating the words Velokraeth chose. « And he was my mate too. Our clutch was strong. His and mine are close. » There’s a pause and a slight, subtle shift to the breezes of her mind. « He did? » She did not see that. « I am glad he was not hurt. Or you, » she adds. Then she shifts to study the ugly bronze beside her. « The weyr wanted you. I could feel it, that pull. Yours must be a very good Weyrleader. »

« No, we cannot always be with our riders. But that is for the best too, so that they can grow and thrive on their own too without us always holding their hands. » Figuratively speaking, of course! Velokraeth settles himself into a light dozing like state. Still very much alert and linked in to their conversation but to any who would glimpse up to the Star Stones would think the bronze is sleeping with his mate cuddled up beside him. A reassuring sight, to see the gold and bronze on such familiar and close terms! « That one, » he says, his tone taking on a sharp edge as well even as he sooths Kayeth. His opinion of R’lor and his bronze is very, very low. « Cannot harm her anymore. If he steps foot here in Fort, Th’ero will take it as offence and threat. » Wait, what? Surely Fort still deals with High Reaches. They must work through “neutral” diplomats then. « He is not welcome and he knows this. Stepping foot here could mean his death. » Harsh. It could also spell Th’ero’s death too, if the two Weyrleader’s dueled each other but the bronze is swift to brush all those grim and dark thoughts aside with an apologetic ripple of wine, spice and smoke. « My apologies, m’lady. My thoughts wandered and we should not speak of such ill and dark things on such a beautiful and peaceful night. » Back to the discussion of Zhirazoth and the Weyr’s choice and Velokraeth exhales soft and low. « I know you two were mates and had had sired a clutch. I learned as much from my rider and I have seen Zhirazoth’s rider with yours. » And he does not seem troubled by this. It was the same with Zuvaleyuth and so Velokraeth feels no immediate threat. « I do not intentionally injure my competition. I do not need to cripple them and I prefer to win on skill or cunning alone. » he explains to her, only to chuckle mentally. « It would seem we have done our duties well to have earned the loyalty of the Weyr. We are proud of it. Proud of Fort. This is our home. » In a softer voice he adds. « And it is your home now too, Kayeth. » All hers.

It is a very good thing that people can look up and see the Senior’s gold and the Weyrleader’s bronze so comfortable with each other. Soothing, even though everyone knows their riders aren’t mated. She nuzzles his foreleg briefly and then stops, remembering (or sensing) the difference between their limbs and uncertain if that is acceptable. She is curious about his malformed body, but not sure if she has the license to explore. She growls softly at the thought of R’lor coming /here/, hissing. « I would force them out of our skies, » she says, and for a moment there is the barest hint of the power this young queen commands. Her thoughts shift subtly, a rumble beneath the surface of her sea giving the impression of immense power, like a volcano beneath the waves that no one knows is there. A hiss of steam rises from the waters, a slight boiling of their surface, and then it subsides. But the threat is there, and easy to identify. If R’lor were to come here, they would not be here long. As for R’lor’s death, Kayeth is momentarily surprised. « Yours would fight him? » She does not mind the turn to dark thoughts - this is something she should know, as queen. Her thoughts shift again, calming as the sun shifts to the moon, light for dark. « I am glad you are not a vicious mate, » she admits. « It is very short-sighted of bronzes who seek to injure and cripple their competition. Pern needs /all/ of its bronzes. And you are very cunning, Velokraeth. I sense it in you, even if I have not seen much of it yet. I am glad to have you as my mate, and as Fort’s Weyrleader. I have gotten the sense that you are a bronze well respected, and one that does not allow slights to our weyr. You will defend those in our care, as will I. » And she /respects/ that. Power is sexy, as is confidence and the pale bronze has that in spades. So does Zhirazoth, but her previous mate is more impulsive, more hot-headed. Velokraeth and Th’ero as Weyrledaer was the best decision for the weyr. Neither Kayeth nor Nyalle doubt the intelligence of that choice. With a soft rumble, the fire-gold lifts her head to gaze across the weyr, lifting her muzzle to yawn, and then to let out a gentle roar. It’s soft but it echoes, rolling through the snow filled skies. « Ours, » she agrees, a fierce pride adding heat to her thoughts. She has Fortian blood running through her veins, and as others lift their heads to return the call, Wiyaneth’s voice is prominent. Kayeth roars again, louder and more confident. The leaders calling to their weyr from the Star Stones.

Velokraeth tilts his head a little when she begins nuzzling his foreleg and when she hesitates he croons softly. « It’s alright. I do not mind and you do not need to be uncertain or seek permission in that regard. Varmiroth does the same and you may do so too. » He extends the foreleg a little, allowing her easier access for her curiosity. At that bare hint of power, Velokraeth hums in a pleased and approving manner. Ahh, yes! There is the power in her! Never would he wish to have that turned against him, but sensing it in her makes him aware of just how power she can (and possibly will) be. « And he would have no choice but to turn tail and flee like the coward he is from your will. » Velokraeth soothes her in his rolling and honeyed voice and then his tone sobers. « Mine would fight him, yes. If it meant to protect the Weyr, he would. He has done it before and has nearly died. » Too many times to count now. He is silent then and her words seem to leave him tongue tied for a moment, his thoughts rippling and bubbling before settling again in a wash of cool and sparkling white wine. « You are too kind, Kayeth. No, I am not vicious. I do not see the need, not when I feel I have the intelligence instead to seek out what I desire. Perhaps you will see more of my cunning as the days progress. » Now his tone seem to imply that yes, he does wish to spend more time with her. Provided she’s willing! « We will defend Fort! » Together. The Weyr made their decision and Velokraeth will not let them down or Kayeth for that matter. He adds his voice to that of hers as she roars, loud and confident and his own calls strengthening and expanding it.

Kayeth lets one more roar echo through the weyr before she settles down and nuzzles Velokraeth’s foreleg, exploring it with an idle curiosity. « You are close to Varmiroth? » she asks, softs and curious. « He would run, » she says with another bubble of power lifting from the depths of her ocean. She has it, but so far she has not had to use it. But it is there. She is a powerful gold, that much is certain. « Yours has fought before and nearly died? » Do tell. She is curious, lifting her head to look at him for a moment. Then she dips her head with a low rumble. « I will, I am certain. We will be mates for a while. »

Velokraeth will watch Kayeth for a moment as she nuzzles him and then he lifts his head up to turn it towards his ledge. The one he shares with the blue they’re currently discussing. « I am. Very close. He is like a brother to me, as our riders would say. He has been my ledge mate for Turns and we have shared much. I owe him a fair deal, I do. He is a very loyal and brave blue and I am indebted to him. » he tells her and his mental tone holds a certain fondness to it as he talks of his best (and perhaps only) close companion and friend. « Many times. » Velokraeth will strengthen their link then and Kayeth will glimpse his memories, a touch faded and distorted as they are plucked and pulled from the deeper depths of Th’ero’s mind. The first is the oldest and it is set in the chaos of the skirmish of the first confrontation between Laris and Fort’s Weyrleader. A flash of metal, Th’ero raising his sword to meet Laris’ sword, but knowing in his mind that he is vastly outmatched in strength and that Laris is fueled by the beginning of his descent into madness. Then the searing, sharp and fiery pain as Laris blade buries itself into his shoulder and he’s brought to his knees by the pain, struggling to stand again as Laris steps back, sword lifting to the killing blow… It flashes forwards then to that same time, with the battle done and Kimmila laying injured in a stretcher with a wound to her back and he dutifully following along behind her even as he bleeds and bleeds… Flash again, to another skirmish in Xanadu’s territory that saw him stabbed and gashed badly to the side, tended later by Xanadu’s Weyrwoman. Again, at Gold Hill Hold as he is shot through the knee with an arrow. Again and worse of all, with the last fight between Laris and Th’ero, high up on that rickety and rotten platform at Drake’s Lake on the highest peak of the largest island. Th’ero’s sword spearing Laris through his chest, the two locked together in the madman’s dying moments, only the wood gives way to pitch them forwards. Falling… falling and down into the depths of the water below. Dark and cold and choking, awareness that he cannot breath, is drowning as the light fades further and further away and of Velokraeth’s lingering whispers of emotions of dread and anguish knowing his rider is dying and he cannot reach him. The memories end there, rather abrupt and swift and Velokraeth washes over Kayeth’s mind with a strong, sweetened amber liquid much like the warming kick of whiskey. « He did it all in his service of protecting the Weyr. » he tells her and in a lighter tone he replies. « I would be very happy if we were to be mates for some time. »

Kayeth is focused as she listens and watches, her thoughts rippling with muted emotions, her full attention on what the bronze shows her. « Yours is often injured, » she says softly. « Is Fort often under attack? Who is this? » she asks, bringing the image of Laris more to the forefront, focused and frozen mid-attack, like hitting pause on a video tape. « He is gone now? » No longer a threat? Of Velokraeth, Kayeth says nothing. He is a blue. He has his place but that place is not with her.

« Unforunately. » Velokraeth admits with dry humor. He’s not thrilled with how often his rider has been injured, but he accepts it as a necessary evil of the rank they hold. « No, Fort is not often under attack. That man, » He shows several images of Laris for Kayeth’s benefit. « He gave us grief for a few Turns. He is gone now. He fell to my rider’s sword and died in that lake. » No longer a threat. « And his men, along with their women and some of the older youths were exiled. »

Kayeth croons softly. « That must not be easy for you, » she says after a moment’s thought and consideration. « I am glad that man is gone, and no longer giving grief to Fort. » The fiery queen stretches then, letting hide slide against hide as she shifts with a low rumble of contentment. « We will make a good pair, Velokraeth, you and I. We will lead this weyr. »

Velokraeth rumbles and stretches out alongside her in turn as he makes himself comfortable. Nuzzling at her neck again, he is calm and content. « We are all glad that his time has passed. » he agrees and then his mind warms considerably. « That we will, m’lady. That we will! Fort will prosper. » And in a tenderer tone. « As will the offspring of our union and those of any gold daughters you may clutch or through the bronze and brown. »

Kayeth arches her neck into his nuzzling. Let the weyr see. Let the people of the weyr settle, and calm, and speak of what a good omen it is that the dragons like each other. She rumbles softly, a pleased, soft, maternal sound as she shifts her belly. « Yes, » she says softly. Then there’s a brief pause. « Have any of your offspring inherited your build? » Your ugly, ugly build?

Let them see! Velokraeth is feeling a bit smug now with how receptive Kayeth is to his attentions and he continues to nuzzle her until both of them are satisfied from the comforting gesture. « Of all the eggs I have sired, only one came out a bit ah… unique. » Ugly. « Crosenturath. A blue, from the same clutch that Kouzevelth and Dremkoth and Niumdreoth also Hatched from. » he explains. « Zuvaleyuth was mine from Zuhth. Iaverulth is also of my blood and has clutched a strong clutch for her maiden. Kouzevelth comes from Zuvaleyuth and I and she has clutched our recent younglings. I’m certain you’ve met Sharuth? Zeltenith? » Those behemoths of bronzes! Largest ones, perhaps, in the Weyr.

Kayeth rumbles softly, nuzzling her mate back. « I meant no offense, » she soothes with gentle sea breezes. « I just wanted to know. All fine dragons, that you have listed, from what I can see so far. »

« I was not offended. » Velokraeth is honest and truthful then too. He has long learned to accept the comments of others concerning his ugly physique. Well intentioned or out of taunting and teasing. « Do not fret, m’lady. You are a very beautiful gold and I am sure you shall pass on such strength and traits to our offspring. »

Kayeth shifts a bit to look at him through the dim light, the snow filtering down between them. « I am not fretting, » she assures him with a soft, amused snort. « And thank you. It was a good flight. I feel them strong within me. » She doesn’t, but she imagines she does. « My first clutch was strong and beautiful. So shall ours be. » Zhirazoth was insufferable with the perfect little mini-hims that they created together.

Velokraeth has settled his head down against his other foreleg, his eyes lidded against the falling snow. « Good, » he muses in return to Kayeth, pleased once more that the gold is not concerned about the eggs she will soon carry and clutch. « Already? » He inquires, curiously and then rumbles low and deep. Satisfied. « So they shall be. » Velokraeth will be insufferable in his own ways too! He makes one smug clutch father! Complete with pompous strutting and puffing up.

Kayeth shifts again and confirms, « Already. » It’s a queen thing, he wouldn’t understand. The young queen then drifts into silence, content to rest against her mate here on the Star Stones, for all to see and admire - as they should!