Fort Weyr - Fort Sea Hold

A beautiful summer day at Fort Sea Hold and what could be less than perfect for a Gather? The Hold is teeming with activity, crowds of all ranks, positions and ages mingling about. The atmosphere is light and festive and it is no surprise that there is a large Harper Hall presence on this day. Mostly to provide entertainment, but as the dancing and festivities won't be until sunset, for now most are wandering about. Some have been slated to oversee the races, likely to act as 'referees' or officials of some type in case any disputes or in the event of a tie they will be there to help mediate.

Rayathess has been in the shadow of a Journeyman for a good portion of the day so far, dressed in a well tailored outfit of Harper blue and for once well groomed. Yet the crowds make him antsy despite his training and when he is given the orders to take a break, he is all too pleased to slip away. He's found himself among the picket lines now, where most of the runners are housed. No one entirely questions his presence there, only a few swift glances and that suits him just fine.

Ezra has been here since dawn, wandering around and helping out wherever he was needed. Literally stepping off a dragon and saying, 'I'm Ezra Stonehaven, how can I help?' has gained him some work to do, lots of knowledge on how to run a gather, as well as some food and drink. The drink he carries now as he wanders thoughtfully among the runners, studying them as if trying to learn all their secrets at once. The teen is starting to get impatient, and he pulls at his ale as he stops to regard a sleek, fine boned mare. Whistling softly, he studies the fiery flaxen chestnut for a long time.

Gathers can be both fun and educational, if balanced properly! Rayathess has learned a few things himself but more from a legal side of things. There are no secrets among the racer pickets, save to see what sort of beasts have been shipped from Fort, Ista and Xanadu and if the areas all prefer a certain type or build. Having perched on a round bale of hay, the elder Stonehaven brother had his eyes closed as he leaned forwards with his arms on his legs and hands clasped together. The whistling draws him from his thoughts though and a sidelong look confirms that Ezra is standing a runner or two away from where he sits. "You're a bit off key, you know." he informs his brother with a teasing smirk.

Ezra startles a bit, turning his head sharply and beaming when he sees his brother. Long strides take him over to the bale of hay and he tries to wrestle Rayathess into a tight hug. "Knew you'd be here," he says, pleased, before he lets Raya go. "Shards if I know my key, just /look/ at that filly, have you ever seen anything so magnificent?" So very, very impractical for a Stonehaven runner. And yet…

Rayathess is wrestled into that tight hug. Gone are the days when he out stripped his younger brother both in height and strength. Now they're more on even keel. Laughing, he hugs his brother back, relieved to see him and no longer feeling as overwhelmed. Only he would get so twitchy at a Gather! "Of course I'm here! A Gather in Fort territory? Hall all but hustled us out here the moment it was set and confirmed." he drawls, though it's hard to say if he's exaggerating. "Which filly? The pretty little flaxen one there?" Rayathess takes a few steps forwards and tilts his head this way and that as he casts an appraising eye over the animal. "Certainly well conformed and built. You're… not considering her, are you, Ezra?" Now he turns his attention away to level a look at his younger brother.

Ezra nods, "Makes sense," he says as they turn to walk back towards the filly. Rayathess' look is met at first with a slightly guilty, younger brother glance from Ezra. Avoidance. "Well, no, I mean." Then he straightens his shoulders and shrugs. "Yeah, I was, so what? You've got that flashy stallion, wouldn't I look amazing riding around on that filly?"

Rayathess smirks at that guilty look! Aha, he knew it! Rather then get defensive or angry when Ezra straightens his shoulders, he only smiles and clasps his younger brother on the shoulder. "Yeah, so I do. So this fiery filly isn't a racer then?" he drawls, still giving Ezra that look. "If she's a ride runner or worker, I see no harm in seeing if you can't purchase her."

Ezra coughs softly. "Well, yeah, she's a bit of a racer…" She's /totally/ a racer. A high strung, skittish, racing runner that would not do well at all in the harsh climate of Stonehaven.

Rayathess sighs and shakes his head, "Ezra. Maybe once Stonehaven is rebuilt and secure again. Can't hurt to take down her papers and pedigree. Maybe she'll still be available or at the very least some of her foals. Or maybe we'll look in the other pickets for a suitable runner for a lord holder?" he muses.

Ezra huffs softly, hands in his pockets as he continues to stare hungrily at the runner. He's mature enough not to argue, not to say 'but I'll feed and walk her every day!' but he's still pouting a bit.

Rayathess rolls his eyes skyward and then promptly punches Ezra light and brotherly-like in the shoulder. "You're pouting. Stop it." he mutters. "Can't always get what you want, you know? She's a fine filly, but just think of how she'd do in Stonehaven? Is it really a place to hold a racer?"

Ezra weathers the punch with a huff and then returns it. "I'm tired of /waiting/," he mutters, giving the filly one last look before he turns away and moves down the pickets, assuming Rayathess will join him. Clearly there's more going on here than just a runner.

Rayathess grunts and weather the return punch but what catches him off guard is Ezra's remark. Frowning heavily, he will follow and then gripping his brother's arm tight he will pull him aside and behind a lean-to holding feed. "There's more to it than just you coveting a filly," he asks, peering at his brother. Spill it!

Ezra is pulled but he bristles a bit. He wanted to /move/, and now he's stuck behind a shed. "I'm just…things are going to /slow/. It's already summer. The cothold isn't done, no crops planted, we'll have to buy feed for another winter, the fields are useless right now, it's just…it's not working."

Only stuck for a short bit until Rayathess gets the answers he seeks. Which is surprisingly fast! "Ezra… You do know that a project like Stonehaven is going to take time right? And you've already made leaps and bounds. You have to be patient," he tells his brother and sincerely at that. Then he takes both his shoulders in his hands and grips hard, lowering his eyes until they're level. "It WILL work, Ezra! It will. Believe in that!"

Ezra exhales heavily. "I just…it was supposed to be /this/ turn," he says, standing firmly beneath Rayathess' grasp. "I'm tired of being patient. Everything is moving so /slow/."

"Why this Turn?" Rayathess asks as he lets Ezra's shoulders go and steps back a bit, just to give the other teen some space. "Of course it's slow, you're rebuilding from nothing! And doing a damn better job than half the men out there." He starts a bit as the signal goes off for the first race and there is the sound of thundering hooves as the racers go by, followed by a shocked gasp from the crowds when the two runners go down with only one getting back up in a feeble attempt at continuing.

Ezra crosses his arms and hunches his shoulders, staring at the ground. He glances up at the sounds of the race, but stays put. "That was the plan. That was my /goal/." And he failed.

Rayathess sighs and understands in that instant and grimaces only because of the helplessness he feels in being unable to help his brother more with the arduous task of taking on Stonehaven. "Goals change, Ezra. There's no guilt or shame in that. Take what you've done so far with pride and set new goals."

Ezra sighs. "I feel…like…" He grits his teeth and spits it out, "like I've failed." There. He said it. And he kicks at the dirt with a hard, vicious strike. GRR.

Rayathess lifts his brows up in surprise but he doesn't laugh. "Failed? Shards, Ezra! You're hard on yourself. No one would think you've failed," he says. Which is the truth! Some of the other holders may think he's insane though for trying but they know better than to say it out loud. "Come on. Lets get you a drink, you need one. Maybe two, since you'll have to enjoy one for me." he drawls and claps his brother on his back. "This way."

Ezra just exhales heavily, a touch grumpy still and unconvinced. Still, he follows his brother after casting a longing look at that fiesty filly. /want/.

Rayathess catches Ezra's longing look and shakes his head but he's not about to open up that argument again. Finding one of the smaller drink stalls, he'll order and pay for a large mug of ale or whatever Ezra prefers before handing it to him. Rayathess can't have any for himself, thanks to the knot pinned to his shoulder. Then he motions for Ezra to follow him to the stands but rather than go up he slips into the shadows. Good place to watch under the stands and have their conversation muffled. "So that's all that's bugging you then?"

Ezra takes the ale and pulls at it for a good moment before he stops and wanders after Rayathess, still in a funk. "Well yeah," he says, glancing at his brother with a 'what else would there be?' expression on his face. "It's all going so slow and I'm so tired of waiting. Been waiting…" How long now? "Turns."

"Mhm. And you know that saying? 'All good things come to those who wait?'" Rayathess fires right back at his brother as he leans against a support beam, hands stuffed into his pockets. Picture of laid back and yet he isn't in the slightest bit. "What else are you going to do, Ezra? Give up? Prove everyone wrong?"

Ezra huffs. "I'm /tired/ of waiting, Raya!" he protests with a brief flash of anger, his temper riled and not eased by the ale. "I'm not going to give up I'm just frustrated."

"I don't know what else to do, Ezra." Rayathess exclaims, a bit of frustration creeping into his voice. He doesn't like seeing Ezra like this and doesn't like being helpless even more. It does help to hear that Ezra won't back down. That's more like it! Rayathess open his mouth to say more, only what comes out of it is: "I know herbs for that." In a girls voice. The elder brother jumps and then exhales with a shaky scoff. "Laurali." he says flatly. "Rayathess." she replies back with just as much "happiness". Haskel's daughter has grown, no longer the meek little nine Turn old girl. Now she's a meek, quiet fourteen or so old — maybe sixteen or more Ezra's age. Plain featured, her more striking features are her hair and her eyes but she has a habit of keeping them downturned or darted away. She ignores Rayathess' look and fixes her attention on Ezra. Her clothes are simple, second hand at best. She wears an Apprentice knot for Healer Hall. "Not a sedative, but it'll calm you if you need more than just ale." Hello Pernese equivalent of a drug deal? Not really.

Ezra jumps as well, clutching his ale mug like a weapon for a moment until he recognizes the girl. "Laurali," he says with a slight nod of his head, looking down at his mug and then back at her. "Uh. I'm good, thanks." Being offered relaxing herbs by a kid - Healer or not - has a sobering affect on his temper. Magic. "What're you doing here?"

Laurali doesn't seem disappointed by the refusal. She just shrugs her shoulders. So be it! "Dunno. Same reason you both are? It's a Gather. They said we had the day off, so… I'm here." she says, never quite looking Ezra or Rayathess right in the eye and her hair drifts forwards to frame her face. She keeps her hands folded together in front of her and her voice is always level and quiet. Monotone, almost. "Why are you here, skulking in the shadows of the stands? Brotherly chat?" "Laurali." Rayathess calls her, his voice firm and chiding. That's enough. The girl subsides and bobs her head. "Sorry."

Ezra nods a bit, and then he glances at his brother in surprise when he chides her for asking. "Yeah, we're just talking under here," he answers with a shrug, sipping at his ale and watching her. "Healer, huh?"

Rayathess just gives Ezra a look back. He'll explain later — if the girl leaves anytime soon. It doesn't seem that way, as Laurali just stands there in a quiet and awkward way. Her eyes dart up to Ezra at his question, hold for a second and then dart away to the track. "Uh huh. I went to Healer with Lyreh. I like it there and I've always liked working with herbs. S'what my mother did, or so my da told me." There was once when speaking of her father brought anger and hurt, now there's only quiet acceptance and sadness. "And you're rebuilding Stonehaven?"

Ezra shifts his weight a bit, blinking at Laurali. Yeah, this is awkward, but he feels he needs to endure it for some reason. Her question takes him by surprise though. "Oh. Uh. Yeah." Why does she care? He tries very hard not to sound defensive, and he manages it - barely.

Rayathess keeps his mouth shut, though he watches with a keen eye. It's not his place to intervene and he will let this play out as it needs to. Laurali just peers at Ezra sidelong and her mouth compresses into a thin line, downturned and somewhat grim. Must it be so awkward? "That's a brave thing," she tells him, straightforwards. Okay, now it's even more awkward. Could it get worse? Oh yes it can. "Will Stonehaven need Healers?" Her tone is that same gentle, almost monotone thing. Not betraying any hope or much emotion at all, guarded so, so carefully.

Ezra looks startled. "Brave? Why? It's…" Then he stops, /staring/ at her. "Um. W…you…uh." Wait, give him a second. "Why would you want to be a Stonehaven Healer?" He doesn't sound angry, just….well. Incredulous.

Rayathess really has to bite his tongue, now from either laughing or speaking up. Just ignore him! Laurali blinks, confused when Ezra doesn't grasp what is so obvious to her. "Because it was laid to ruin," she says bluntly and so much so that whatever attachment Rayathess has to Laurali or understanding of the peculiar girl, that still has him flinching. Laurali continues on without so much of a twitch of her features. "And you and yours went through so much. To rebuild and start over and for such good purposes… It's brave. And noble." Laurali waits patiently while he stammers and her hands grip each other a little more firmly. "Why not? I don't want to stay at the Hall. Don't want the Weyrs… I stood for the eggs and I don't want to do it anymore but they ask out of pity I guess." She shrugs. "Stonehaven is secluded. I like that. Any of the bigger Holds… I don't think they'll take me when they learn of who my da was."

"But you think Stonehaven would take you?" It's out of his mouth before Ezra can snatch it back, but once it's out…the young heir looks mortified. "I, uh." This is why he shouldn't drink. "I'm sorry, that was cruel of me to say. Wasn't your fault…" He shakes his head firmly. "Look. Get to Journeyman first. Then we'll talk about it okay? I'm not saying no. It's just…a long ways off.

Rayathess stiffens at the words that slip out of Ezra's mouth, tensing but Laurali just tucks her head down a little more and… smiles to herself? It's a sad little smile and she licks at her lower lip before speaking again. "No, I don't think Stonehaven would take me. That's assuming. But it does not hurt to ask? So I asked." She bobs her head again in agreement and showing she understands. There's a tense silence and then she's taking the tiniest step back. "Sorry I snuck up on you both. Didn't mean to eavesdrop. Just…" For the first time she falters and she stares at her folded hands. She takes a shaky breath, rolls her shoulders back and gives Ezra a faint smile. "Maybe we'll cross paths at the dances again." Another step back and then she's turning to walk away. Rayathess says nothing, but he's watching her go with a heavy frown.

Ezra shakes his head, "It…rarely hurts to ask," he half agrees. "We'll talk, Laurali, okay? I promise. And yes, I'll…we'll…yeah. Dances…" Then she's gone and the heir is sighing, before he begins to swear, soft but passionate, under his breath.

Laurali stops to turn and glance over her shoulder at Ezra. Her smile is soft and sad. "Yeah, we'll talk." And for the first time she sounds so doubtful. About the talking, not so much the dances. She's a smart young girl and she knows he'd behave in public if she asked him for a dance. So would she. Her eyes dart to Rayathess and she nods stiffly before disappearing for good. Rayathess returns to the nod, but is otherwise quiet even as Ezra swears under his breath.

Ezra curses again and shakes his head. "I can't believe I said that," he mutters. "I was such an asshole. Did you know she was a Healer now? Did you know she..wanted to come to /Stonehaven/?"

"You were an asshole," Rayathess agrees with a smirk. "But you owned up to it. Not many would. So… you apologized. She seemed to take it okay." As in, she didn't start crying! He looks a touch guilty. "I knew she was in Healer. Her and Lyreh. I did NOT know she had plans to come to Stonehaven. I can only assume why. However, she knows you're within your right to refuse her. Any holder can… for valid reason."

Ezra shakes his head a bit, draining his ale and then scrubbing his face with his free hand. "Ugh. Do…" Then he shakes his head firmly. "It's too early. I'm not making this decision today."

Rayathess stands with his back to the support beam, glancing up as there is another round of cheering and the sounds of boots scraping and thumping on wood as yet another race wraps up. Then the sound of people leaving and the Harper frowns. Time is almost up! "Who ever said you had to?" he says, giving Ezra a look of surprise. "If you want my advice? Don't make a decision until the right time or as you told her. When she claims Journeyman. Maybe her mind will have changed. Maybe she'll be happy finally where she is. I don't know. For all I know, she and Lyreh will disappear. Wouldn't be the first time for either."

Ezra shakes his head, "No, no one, I just started trying to decide…but I don't have to. So I won't." Ugh. That whole meeting left him feeling so weird.

Got to love to hate those awkward meetings! Rayathess pushes away from the support beam and snorts, only to eye his brother with a level look. "Another bit of advice? Tread lightly with Laurali. You got away this time with your flub up but next time… You might actually hurt her. Maybe you did." Isn't that a nice image? Thank you, Rayathess? "I feel sorry for her." he admits as he brushes off some dirt and dust from his pants and tunic.

Ezra sighs, shaking his head. "I'm sure I did. Who wouldn't be hurt by that? I feel /horrible/ for her. She's such a sad girl. Through no fault of her own either. Ugh. Maybe I should have just told her she could come…"

It's Rayathess' turn to shake his head this time. "No, Ezra. That' be dishonest and I think you would… You'd hurt her worse that way. She's sad and broken," Like him. Like both of them. "But she's tough. She can handle the truth. You just have to be cautious on how you lay it out. That's all." Clasping his brother's shoulder, he jerks his head out towards the sunlight and Gather. "Come on. Let's actually enjoy the festivities? Before I get sucked into duties as a Harper. We've missed the stake races, but we're not too late for the other ones. Wonder who won…"

Ezra just grunts softly, shaking his head again. "Broken," he mutters. "Is the rest of my life going to be nothing but mending what's broken?" And on that rhetorical question he briefly takes his brother's hand and gives it a squeeze before he's walking out into the sun with Rayathess, seeking some light hearted joy among the rebuilding that is both of their lives.