Who A'ster Sygni Xhanfyr
What Syngi catches Xhanfyr emerging from the woods, and A'ster proves he has a keen eye.
When Summer, 2711
Where Sheltered Cavern, Fort Weyr

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Fort Weyr - Scenic Overlook * Sheltered Cavern
To get to this room first you must walk up a long and perilous staircase, and move through a sturdy wooden door. Once you do that, however…

Distinct bands of deep brown and black work their way across the low ceiling, and act almost like columns along the sides of this room. The stone has been polished to a high sheen, perfectly smooth as it follows the natural contours of this cavern. Thin gauzy panels of fabric have been hung from ceiling to floor in cascading complementary colors. The fabrics roll and flutter beneath the invisible air currents which occasionally push their way into the cavern. Nestled coves of curving benches and pillow piles can be found stashed in the semi-private coves between the waving fabrics. Light filters through the thin fabrics, creating a surreal if peaceful daytime scene while lit from a few spots unobtrusive along the ceiling at night. At the back of the cavern are two heavy wooden doors while farther forward it looks like there is a larger opening.

It long before dawn when Xhanfyr slipped out of the barracks while most of the candidates were still sleeping, grabbing himself a quick and portable amount of foodstuffs before vanishing off into the woods. It's hours later when he reemerges, looking a touch worn out and more than a little sweaty wearing a rather forlorn expression, heading for none other than the spire. Through the door, up the narrow stair and finally into his sanctuary. Once there, he seeks out the nook furthermost towards the back, and rummages around inside until he comes out with a change of clothing. He winces and swallows back a few groans of discomfort as he peels off his simple brown tunic, revealing quite a few bruises and abrasions along his torso. His, muscled, torso. Considering Xhan tended to keep himself fully covered, it seems like his clothing had been tailored to disguise the fact that he was quite a bit more toned than his slender build suggested. He draws in a sharp breath with a hiss, lifting his arm to look at the shallow and thin cut just over his ribs on the right, swearing softly under his breath.

Sygni is a stalker, or perhaps, more appropriately, a person that actually pays attention to their surroundings, especially whilst bored senseless by physical training. How many toe-touches can a person execute at butts-thirty in the morning and actually give a damn? Zero, apparently, for before she can even begin, blue eyes snag on her fellow candidate's vaguely familiar figure, and, well. Curiosity killed the cat. It might even one day kill her, though one hopes that day will not be this day. One supposes it will depend on how many knives Xhanfyr's hiding under all them clothes and just how much she'll surprise him with her appearance, though the woman treads the stairs with loud steps, announcing her presence well before she makes the top with a quietly-drawled, "Aren't you supposed to be sneaky?" Against the wall she leans, occupying the space closest to the door. "Or at least vaguely inconspicuous about your hiding places. Who even comes up here." Words are asked idly, almost boredly, but blue eyes are rapt, focused on bruises and scrapes. "So either you're the worst renegade I've ever heard of, or you're playing us for fools." And she's not quite sure which is worse, or so her tone implies.

You know who also exists and manages to be a functional human being at established pre- and shortly post-dawn hours: A'ster, who is an awful wretch of a creature and even manages to be CHEERFUL at said ungodly, heathen-kept hours. He's also, you know, a guard, with all the instincts and pings that implies, so the fact that not long after Sygni's wander, he makes his way up the stairs as well. He's announcing his presence as he does: deliberately, obnoxiously, but also with enough time that should this be some kind of liaison or assignation, the parties involved have the time to comport themselves in an orderly fashion so he doesn't HAVE to report them. He does so, in this instance, by whistling on his way up the stairs. It's something — oh, the Pernese equivalent of pop-y, new from the Harpers this turn and not exactly mainstream. Because of course A'ster's a pop-rock kid.

With Sygni making as much noise as possible on them there stairs, Xhanfyr stiffens the second he hears someone coming, quick to at least throw on the clean tunic he had pulled out of hiding and in so doing hiding away things and whatnot. The only weapons on him being two daggers which are sheathed into their hilts, one on either hip. He manages to get his vest on and partially latched with its leather fasonings before the female candidate makes it up to the top of the stairs and can make her entrance. His eyes dark from her to where she had come from, as if waiting to see who she might have brought with her. "Sygni…" he breathes, almost in relief but then he blinks and colors lightly across his cheeks for her visual appraisal of what little skin wasn't yet covered by clothing. He scoffs dismissively, hurrying to get his clothing in order post haste and all flesh possible hidden away from prying blue eyes. "Wait. What?" he laughs about being inconspicuous, but it's weak and distracted, stiffening at the 'R' word she uses there. He takes a breath, before his eyes find her again. "I'm not. I swear I'm not. My mother isn't. My sisters aren't. I-It's my da…" he starts but then he hears A'ster coming and his pleading expression shifts to one of accusation. One that clearly says he thinks she's gone and turned him in.

It's appraisal, alright, but calculating appraisal, perhaps debating what injuries Sygni missed in Xhan's hasty redressing rather than anything admiritive. There a sharp, dimply smirk for his breathing of her name, head tipping sideways as though to say 'that's my name, don't wear it out'. "You heard me," she returns, and since there are no more suspicious abraisions to gander at, she focuses her gaze on his face again, eyes laden with far too much amusement. Brows tilt up in a dubious fashion when he tells her he isn't a renegade, and she might even believe him, really, but there's no time to pepper him with questions. Sygni looks just as surprised by the whistling echoing up the stairs, ignoring Xhan's accusatory glance as borderline-calculatory thoughts whirl through her mind, the blonde already shoving off the wall and closing the space between herself and Xhanfyr with quick steps. Thumbs and forefingers pinch at both her cheeks, eliciting a reddened flush before she rises on toetips to dishevel his hair, whispering a low, smirked, "Look awkward. I know it will be difficult for you." Joking at a time like this, honestly. Still, just to be sure she kisses him smack on the cheek before giggling with borderline obnoxious loudness, hissing out a breathy, "Shhh, Xhan, someone's coming!," and drops herself into a seat on the bench, looking for all the world like a cat that's gotten the cream and is trying to play it cool. Cream? What cream? No cream here. Just us chickens.

The whistling stops for a moment — the kind of stutter that says someone's aware they're about to make an entrance and not entirely sure how casual they want to be about it; not-too, but just-a-bit is apparently the assumed answer, since it starts up again as A'ster makes his final approach. The hastily assumed clothing and — thank you Sygni — flushed cheeks and disordered hair ensure that the song ends in a cough, behind a fisted hand. Unfortunately for everyone, the accoustics of the place mean he caught at least enough dribs and drabs of conversation to have registered the word 'renegade' among them, but rather than authoritarian and doomsaying he simply looks — tired? Tired. "—did Leimna abduct you as a gift for Vossrik?" The look he gives Xhanfyr almost implores the answer to this to be a 'no,' but the one he gives Sygni is quelling. "Are you accosting him in the name of your," it's CLEAR he's bitten back an adjective here, "cousin? Or some … weird … something?"

It's still appraisal nonetheless and of his semi-nakedness. The meaning of it seems to matter little from Xhanfyr because that blush of his was increasing in depth and its spread across his face the longer she looks at him. That is until she opens her mouth again, causing his brows to furrow and knit, losing some of that healthy blush to a much paler pallor. Especially since the girl seems just as surprised as he is by the arrival of another person. He opens his mouth to say something, alarm settling in on his features well on it's way to panic by the time that Sygni begins to stage her little drama snippet. Almond-shaped eyes widen as she's just suddenly a whirlwind of action, flushing her own cheeks and not needing any help in that department as she then has fingers his in his hair, which also serves to bring on the awkward as he turns quite red and stammers something unintelligible. See, he doesn't even need to be told! He's already there as she steps back and kisses him on the cheek of all things, causing his entire person to go rigid. The rest that follows insures that by the time that A'ster arrives at the top of the stairs he's standing there absolutely beside himself with horror. His eyes very slowly tick towards where the brownrider now stands, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water with very little sound coming out other than a rather squeaked and strained, "I-I-I-I…" So well in fact, it's almost like he's forgotten to breathe. Help him out here Sygni.

Alas, accoustics! Traitors in the end. Still, Sygni doesn't know that, and so she plays on, dimples flashing in a broad grin when A'ster appears at the top of the stairs, of all people. "Oh, it's you. Do you always make a habit of following people up here, Blondie?," she asks, all smirks and humor. "One of these times you're gonna get an eyeful of something you don't wanna see." Like furiously blushing, fish-gaping candidates? Because they've got that in spades. Blue eyes swivel up to Xhanfyr when a question is asked of him, brows peaking as though to ask 'well?,' and when stuttering ensues and the question is turned to her instead she gently rolls her eyes and drawls a mock-offended, "Me?" Cue a chest-press of fingers and a delicate 'moi?!' expression that crumbles under a laugh. "I'd never. We hunt for ourselves." Her grin goes particularly sharky for that, pointedly not looking at Xhanfyr, though the implication that he's her prey is there for the taking, lie though it may be. "Besides. I think Lei is doing quite well with Vossrik on her own, don't you? She almost lost it for a second there - kept muttering something about 'peace' and 'sticking it to the renegades' - but he's come around nicely." Feet swing energetically, smile beatific as she lifts it up to Xhanfyr. "But you're his friend. Tell me, is he bewitched yet? Or should I tell her to try a little harder?" Because apparently there is room for improvement?! "Anyways. Xhan and I were just discussing morning PT. It's awful boring, just running the bowl and doing jumpingjacks. Maybe you guards could give us some hand-to-hand training, considering all the scary business going on with Baby George's family?"

The stammering really doesn't make this better for anyone. A'ster's resigned expression grows more resigned, with just a touch of concern — he's got the face for it, all big blue eyes and square jaw and the ghost of youthful freckles across his nose and cheeks. "If you don't feel safe saying so, we've got paperwork that you can file," he offers Xhanfyr, as un-intimiating a figure as he can manage to cut while still in full uniform. At least it's not the dress one. "There's diagrams. You can point. Or circle," he mimes circling with a pen. "I think harder is about the last thing she needs to try," he informs Sygni after trying to hold Xhanfyr's eyes for a moment, then frowns. "The PT got signed off on," he says after some consideration, "I had suggestions. They got implemented — you're all on basic trainee regimens, but hand-to-hand wouldn't be amiss."

Xhanfyr is still standing there immobile and presumably stuck to the same spot he'd occupied when Sygni showed up, unlikely aware of much, especially the betrayal of acoustics. For now. Instead he'll turn all the colors of the rainbow as A'ster and Sygni have an exchange of pleasantries, his eyes moving rather sluggishly between blond candidate and rider. Maybe somewhere in there the wheels are actually turning and he's putting together that Sygni and A'ster know each other and Leimna and apparently Vossrik too. Though all the talk of Leimna AND Vossrik and something ELSE gets his eyebrows flying upwards to his hairline. "I-Uh…he…w-w-wait…what?" His eyes are thankfully moving with a bit more speed, though from that look on his face it'd be a decent bet he had no idea. After a few quick and shallow exchanges of breath, he takes a single long deep one and then purposely lets it out much more slow and a bit unsteadily, "Voss…he…" It takes some times for all of that to sink in before he looks down and way from both pairs of eyes bearing down upon him, the flush from Sygni's hands and lips cooled with surprising speed. "He…he didn't say anything to me about it…" he says, quieter.

There's a brief flicker of something that might be offense that flashes across Sygni's features, eyes narrowing, smile brittling for the mention of charts and paperwork and all of the things that implies, but this was her tactic of choice, and so she'll grin and bear it, leaning back against her seat with elbows hooking casually over the back, one foot crossing over her knee to bounce merrily. "More pages for my file, Blondie?" Oh, she'll never let that go, not in a million turns. Still, she focuses on Xhanfyr with interest when finally the candidate finds words, giggling quietly for their content or askance gazes or both. "Well, if he isn't talking about it to his pals, maybe she's not leaving nearly enough of an impression," she argues with A'ster, though clearly it's argument for argument's sake - hands lift, patting the air gently, reassuring. "She knows where to draw the line." Granted, Leimna's line and everyone else's lines are disparate at best, but Sygni seems cognizant of the fact and confident nonetheless, even as eyes flick from brownrider to fellow candidate and back before she nods once, sharply, for what she interprets as agreement on hand-to-hand training. "Good. Because some of us need to learn to better defend ourselves." A dig at Xhanfyr and his now-hidden booboos? Probably, but A'ster can also take it as more threats to interrogate the candidate about as, feeling secure in the convolution of her lie, she finally rises, brushing invisible dust off her person before heading for the stairs. "Anyways, I just know you're dying to ask him just how much I mauled his poor, innocent person and it's only a matter of time before they tattle on me for skipping exercises, so I'll leave you to it. If you see Boss, tell her I miss George more than I miss some of my own family. I'd be happy to take her off her hands if she needs another break." Or maybe she just likes torturing everyone else with lack of sleep. And lest Xhanfyr think he's finally off the hook, she favors him with a wink over her shoulder and a waggle of fingers. "And I'll see you later." For sure. She'll saunter off then, picking up speed once she hits the stairs and quickly disappears out of sight.

A'ster's espression in the wake of Syngi's brittle offense is the kind of deliberately patient-mild that says he is clearly aware that she, herself, is unlikely to be the one who provided offense, however — however. "Everything's more pages for your file, Sygnet Ring," is paired with a thumb-and-forefinger spaced gesture to indicate thickness. "I've been compiling dossiers on all of you. But - I'll be sure to pass on the message." He waits for her to have entirely disappeared, then turns back to Xhanfyr. "In all honesty, though — heard her mention renegade, have been focusing on backgrounds on candidates Stumpy was insistent on, don't really know when you showed up in the pool — Leimna didn't abduct you to the weyr as a gift for Vossrik or anything?"

Xhanfyr looks to be mulling over the concept of Vossrik and Leimna, together, and maybe even that he hadn't known about it. Working his bottom lip between his teeth, his brows do all the talking as they pinch and smooth if only to curling up again upon his forehead. That was some serious thinking he was doing over there, perhaps entirely unaware of lingering conversation or even the presence of anyone else just then. However, Xhan snaps back to reality soon enough around the time that Sygni takes her little dig, for which his head suddenly lifts and glances between the two of them with a measure of confusion traipsing across his face. "What?" he asks, distracted, before his head tips back a degree. A frown and long look is given to her, one that asks all the questions that his mouth won't form in mixed company. Eyes flick to A'ster when the female candidate mentions questions and maulings, shifting his expression from annoyance, to surprise and then to panic. It's a beautiful transformation, one that leaves him much the same way that A'ster found him so really, it was like she wasn't even there right? Wide-eyed and fish gapping, he takes a single step forward in some very feeble and sad attempt to stop her from abandoning him but everyone present knows exactly how probable that was, including Sygni herself because look at that. She's gone, and Xhanfyr is left to track his gaze in the robotic way to the brownrider, all big blue eyes, squarejawedness of unintimidating. Not working out too well on the seventeen turn old though, no. He's already beginning to press his lips into the thinnest of lines that turns the edges pure white. Oh, he'd so get her later. Eyes dart towards possible escape before flicking back to A'ster, "Ha ha, she's a kidder that one." he replies awkwardly, all toothily and lopsided smiles now.

"I'm not sure which one of us she was trying to wind us up more," A'ster says, taking in wide eyes and fish-mouth and subsequent thin-lining with a tip-tilt of his head. "Hey," softens, and he delivers a message he's going to be delivering a lot of through the day, "if any of that hit too close to home, I'm not — here to get anyone in trouble. I mean, I am, that's my job, but once you're a candidate — it's all about what you do here, now, not who you were, or your parents were, or where that falls on the scale of legality. You're a candidate. That means that someone, somewhere, had a good feeling about you and your prospects here. So relax, kid. I'm not going to turn you in." THAT'S A LITLE JOKE. But he's really not going to.

The second that the words are out of his mouth, Xhanfyr goes tight-lipped again, swallowing thickly. Give him a couple more minutes and he might go full out cold sweats from the looks of him. Did he honestly think the brownrider was going to buy what he was selling? Eh, that's debatable. He sure was trying real hard though, so perhaps he wasn't aware of just how much of a terrible liar he was. With Sygni gone, the blush on his cheeks gradually fades to nothing at all, and the boy continues to stand where all of this had begun, but his arm does eventually drift back down to hang loosely by his side. He hadn't once made for those daggers he wears, so that's something. What he does do, is give A'ster respect enough not to keep denying things, because as the brownrider begins to talk to him in that soft tone he once more looks down and away. "I'm not…one." he offers in peace, a flash of shame passing over his features. "But…" Eyes are further averted, finding some point along the floor to which they afix. "…he wants me to be."

"Breathe," A'ster says, "or sit down before you fall down — you're a terrible liar and you look about ready to pass out from it." He's in the business of watching people, so he doesn't miss the flash of shame, the averted eyes; if anything they ease some of the tension out of him. "Dad? Older brother?" he guesses, then offers his own, "Mine wanted me to be a fisherman — both of them. Which isn't the same as a life of criminality and lawlessness, but it sure felt like it. Look," he pats himself down, finds what he needs in a pocket; pulls out both pad and stubby pencil-end, sketches something on the former with the latter, then tears off the page and holds it out to Xhanfyr. "Even if you don't Impress, you're one of ours now, and we protect our own. That's literally my job," he flashes a grin, the one that makes him the goodiest good-cop in the whole good-cop/bad routine. "You're whatever you want to be, and if you need help making that clear to anyone — that's where to find me."

As if because he is bidden to, Xhanfyr does take a breath and then he sits down rather hard onto the same bench that Sygni had poured herself onto. "My da." he replies, shoulders tensing and giving a guilty glance around the space as if there may be someone, somewhere listening an just waiting for him to slip up somehow. Paranoid or no, there was underlying fear there but as to what it might be directed to is not clear. As A'ster talks, Xhan's elbows find purchase on his thighs, letting his hands hang between as he leans over his lower half with the upper. Where there might of been a sardonic snort or ironic laughter, there is none, the boy stubbornly refusing to find the consolation that his candidacy should have brought him. "Mine wants me to kill people, so…" he mutters, now focused on his own bluntly kept fingernails and picking at them absently. Oh the scale of criminality and lawlessness, one might have to say that Xhanfyr wins out on that one. "I didn't remember him that well. I was three when my mother took me and my sisters away from camp. I just remember big hands and the smell of blood." There's a shrug, "Then this nice man shows up at Keroon when I was seven and started showing me all these really fun things, you know? How to climb, how to jump, how to keep my balance, how to be quiet, how to ride a runner…" Moistening his lips, he shakes his head. "He was a father to me, having all those kinds of long talks about life and everything you dream about when your a boy without a father and he saved me from being smothered by my mother and sisters. That's how I felt anyway." Another shake of his head, as he glances up at the tearing of paper and takes what is offered to him, looking over what was penciled there. "Couple days ago…he tells me he's my real honest to Faranth da, and he wants his son where he belongs, because he's been training me for the last ten turns…and I didn't have a clue. About any of it." Brown eyes lift in earnest, finding their way upon A'ster's blue, but then falling away with a flush renewed upon his cheeks. "I don't want to be a renegade." All he can do beyond this, is nod.

A'ster looks — well, like he's just had something heavy laid on him, too. "Well, shit," he says, then asks, "mind if I sit?"

Xhanfyr can't even look at A'ster now that he's taken the burden off his own shoulders and temporarily rested it on the poor brownrider's head. Free of charge and everything. "I guess." he says in that teenagery way that teenagers tend to do, completely with a nonchallant bob up and down of his shoulders. More picking at fingernails too, because what would internalizing be without refusal of eye contact.

A'ster takes the seat when he's granted permission, and once down his whole aspect changes - it's the shift from on-duty body language to off, a looseness to the limbs and joints and the way he echoes Xhanfyr's position. He jostles an elbow into the teenager's, shoots him a sideways, sidelong smile if Xhanfyr looks over. Lets it fade, if he doesn't. Looks at his own hands while he says, "That's a fucked-up kind of thing to lay on a kid," then, "to lay on anyone. Those are all useful, incredible skills to have, and you — you're not obligated. Just 'cause he taught you, just 'cause he comes out and says he's your real dad after playing all the fun parts of the job for turns. You don't ever have to be a renegade, kid. Sorry. I don't actually know your name." He seems a little bit chagrined at that, and scrubs a hand over the back of his neck. "Mine's Alister. A'ster."

The boy does glance, albiet briefly, at A'ster when he bumps his elbow against his own but doesn't seem much in the mood in participating in the exchange of smiling faces, even if those cheeks of his flush a deeper shade of crimson before he looks back down to his own hands again. "He taught me everything I know of everything, except how to…talk to girls…and…boys for that matter." He clears his throat and locks his attention in on the still open pathway to freedom, where perhaps his youth might allow him to get a head start before the brownrider can switch gears back to duty mode. "Kind of fumbling around in the dark on that one, and doing horribly I might add." There is a soft laugh for this, genuine and lacking that forced aspect from earlier, flashing that lopsided grin of his in such a way to indicate he probably wouldn't be doing as badly as he thinks he is if he can just get past being so awkward. "Anyway, if you ever want to spar or need any help training the weyrlings in combat, let me know hmm?" Turning his head, he lets that smile linger for a little while longer, even if it was only there for show. "Xhanfyr."

"I'm pretty sure it's impossible to teach that," A'ster admits, "and that doesn't get easier — I'm still figuring it out," all of his grand and lofty eleven turns Xhanfyr's elder. He holds out his hand, still sitting side to side, an offer to shake or arm-clasp; he says, "Good to actually meet you, Xhanfyr. Don't make that offer unless you're actually willing to keep it, 'cause I'm definitely going to take you up on it. You need anything, you let me know."

Xhanfyr laughs, "Great. Good to know." The jovial sound gives way to a sigh and the candidate rubs at his face with both hands, because obviously this meant that he was doomed. Hands fall away, one used to take the offered limb in a clasp, nodding his head at the rider. "Wouldn't have made it, if I wasn't willing to do it. Don't let my size fool you, I'm about as good as I am at hiding it from the other candidates." So was it all an act? Considering the way he lingers for a moment, blushing furiously, and lets go all at once just to stand up abruptly and deeply inhale. One would have to say no. He really was having a hard time of it. "I'll keep that in mind." he says, tossing that out there before he takes steps towards the door with a pause just within the entryway. "Those girls spend most of their time naked and taunting us, you know." That said, he's down the stairs and gone.

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