Stonehaven Cothold - Courtyard
The courtyard is a central hub of activity, protected on all sides by the towering cliffs or sturdy stone walls. Once passing through the iron gate, a brick pathway leads to the main hold entrance at a slight curve, while flat paver stones cover most of the rest of the space. However, much of this area has been given to gardens and a large greenhouse, so more of Stonehaven's food and medicinals can be grown within the shelter of its walls, offering the plants some protection from the harsh winters.
To the left, in the front corner of the courtyard where both walls meet, is a tree whose branches are just beginning to arch over the wall it grows alongside. The tree is now a memorial for those who were piled beneath it on the night of the Laris attack, with some flowers planted at its base and a few benches. There is no plaque or marker, but it doesn't take long for any newcomers to hear the story of that particular spot.
Stonehaven's front door is a sturdy wooden structure, reinforced with iron bands and very strong. To the right of it, at about shoulder height, is a stone that is well worn with time and touch, as the Stonehavens have traditionally touched that spot whenever leaving or returning, for luck.

For all his bravado in early days, Ha'ze hasn't actually ever been within the doors of Stonehaven. But he's here now, a particular bronze dragon nowhere in sight. Perhaps Kainaesyth refuses to leave the weyr until Rhenesath delivers her eggs, or maybe this is just a walk that Ha'ze needed to take alone. He's even forgone his typical rider clothing and is wearing the nondescript pieces more typical of his forays out by the sea-side of Fort's providence. He hasn't been challenge yet, perhaps because he lets out an aura of 'leave me alone' as he stands by the tree off in the left, one hand reached out to touch it.

It'd be quite the walk to make up to Stonehaven, where it's nestled in the northern most ranges of Fort's mountainous territory but it's not unusual for the remote cothold to see a few visitors and travellers. There will be no challenge given to Ha'ze but word will no doubt be passed on that there's a newcomer outside by the tree. Rather than Ezra himself or his lady Laurali, it's Rayathess who ventures outside to take a look at this so called traveller. What he wasn't expecting is to find Ha'ze there and in non-rider clothing and sans Kainaesyth about. So can it be blamed that the Harper is instantly suspicious and guarded? "You've come a long way for business here," he choses as a greeting, his tone not exactly welcoming but neither is it openly hostile. "Is it Ezra you're seeking? Because if you are, you'll have to wait until evening. He's out in the fields overseeing matters and Laurali is tending to some ill…" The rest is simply left unsaid.

Ha'ze doesn't answer right away when Rayathess challenges him there. Those at the weyr are slowly getting use to Ha'ze's tendency to just disappear but to outsiders it looks more than a little strange. His hand stays against the tree before it falls and he turns to look at Rayathess. "No. I came lookin' for you. Heard that maybe you'd be here." A long way for a maybe. Ha'ze's words are rather curt.

Rayathess is somewhat familiar with Ha'ze's behaviours and so the curt reply doesn't upset him or deter him as it would others. Is he pleased about it? Hardly. His deepening frown says as much and he's clearly in disbelief that the bronzerider travelled this far to find him. "Guess you're in luck then," he mutters back and is instantly wondering who would so easily give away his location back at the Hall. There will be words with this individual! Crossing his arms over his chest, there's no offer to go inside or the usual canned hospitality song and dance. Just a wary look and a grim set to his mouth. "What do you need me for? You do something that you can't dig yourself out of?"

Chalk it up to the fact that Ha'ze can be pretty convincing when he wants? Or maybe he got someone less suspicious to ask. "Need you for?" Ha'ze's gaze turns back to the tree and he reaches out to touch it again, and just…. stands there. His eyes are for the tree. "I don't need you. But… maybe it's time." Now Ha'ze is just being mysterious, with that half far-away look riders get when they're connected to their dragons.

He's hardly being convincing right now and more towards unsettling — at least to Rayathess. The Harper has been around riders long enough to know that look but it's the choice of words from Ha'ze that has his back up and the fine hairs at the nap of his neck bristling. "If you don't need me then why are you here and looking for me? Speak coherently Ha'ze and get to the point or don't waste my time," he says, his voice lowering and carrying an edge to it when he's certain others cannot overhear. His expression darkens, "And you've better not have brought any trouble here." Or else.

"I'm not convinced it isn't trouble. But… maybe it's time. Kainaesyth thinks it's time." Ha'ze's hand rubs against the bark before he finally turns around and puts his back firmly to that tree. He leans against it and looks upwards into the autumn foliage. "Are you still workin' on your thing about Laris' and his band?"

Rayathess looks perplexed when Ha'ze keeps repeating himself and then mentions Kainaesyth but this time he keeps his mouth shut and words withheld. Finally an answer seems to form and something to which he can grasp. His reply, however, is delayed by the way the bronzerider so casually leans against the tree. For some reason, it rubs the Harper the wrong way. "Can you not lean against it? That's… Forget it. Come with me." And he'll turn and begin to stride to the cothold itself and if Ha'ze wants his answer he'll have to follow (or hold his ground and make Rayathess come crawling back). "Mostly. Why?"

Except… Ha'ze isn't quite as ready as he thought he was to enter the actual doorway of the cothold. He does push up from the tree and follow, only to stop at the doorway. He doesn't step across the threshold, but instead turns to look backwards, like he might just bolt. A deep breath is pulled in and he steps back. "Can we talk out here?"

Rayathess is oblivious to the bronzerider's issue until they're at the threshold of the door and he turns just in time to see him step back. His brows knit, thoughtful and his hand rests on a particular stone that looks worn from many fingers over generations touching it. Tradition? Probably. Family tradition. If Ha'ze did it, he'd probably get glared down by the Harper. "Fine." he agrees and brushes by and walks around the side of the cothold and towards the back. Opening a little wooden gate, he'll motion Ha'ze through and into what appears to be a private garden filled with a variety of herbs and other medicinal plants. It's quiet here, somewhat secluded and walled off from the rest of the hold. "Laurali's garden." he explains as he shuts the gate. "She won't mind, so long as you don't go touching her plants."

"I know how to not hurt plants." Ha'ze's tone manages to be as dry as Kainaesyth's desert. "Laurali can come visit Kainaesyth's ledge and talk plants with her someday." It sounds like an invitation, but it really isn't one. Instead Ha'ze steps into the garden as his eyes sweep around. There's a couple of benches there and Ha'ze settles himself on one with his hands clasped before him, eyes on the plant across the way. "It's different. Bein' a rider. I was always alone before, and now I'm never alone. Even when Kainaesyth pulls away, he's still there, you know?"

Rayathess quirks a brow at the not-quite invitation. "She'd not be able to. Not with her son. Kainaesyth can come here but it'll be winter soon." He'll allow Ha'ze to find one of those benches and sit himself down but he'll opt to stay standing himself. No way is he getting that cozy with the bronzerider. At least he hasn't just up and turfed him out? "No, I wouldn't know. I'm not a rider." he replies dryly and curt, only to exhale and smirk. "But I've heard it's a pretty strong bond and complex. What's this got to do with me and Laris?"

Does everyone know about Kainaesyth's winter lethargy? Ha'ze's gaze flicks up for a half second at the allusion Rayathess makes to it. But only a second before they hit the ground again. "I means I've been spendin' a lot of time thinkin'. Dreamin'. See, Kainaesyth likes stories. And he's been askin' me for one story I've never been able to tell him."

Rayathess doesn't know but his logical thinking is that this garden will be dead and buried under deep drifts. Kind of a buzzkill to talk about it if it's gone, right? He'll not try to catch Ha'ze's gaze but he will be looking at the bronzerider with a continued frown. Now he's starting to piece it all together. "So… you're wanting me to tell him the story of Laris… for you?" Does he got that right?

Amazing how different thinking goes. Kainaesyth's little garden is made up of things that stay green through the winter, and ledge = no snow. Before him he curls his hands around one another, squeezing and releasing as if he is pumping himself up for something. "No. This all started when you asked me to be goin' with you. So." A deep breath. "This is where it has got to end."

"I'm not sure if I'm following?" Rayathess admits, giving Ha'ze a lingering look now that is bordering on uncertain but oh-so curious. Wait, and it's his fault? "And you could have said no to all of that Ha'ze," he mutters and grimaces. "So I'm not sure why you're here?" Is he really that dense? Or is his head mostly full of a certain lady of late? Probably… both.

"I could have. Lookin' back, there's a lot I could have said no to." Ha'ze is finally owning up. "But I didn't. I was too busy tryin' to be everythin' but what I was that a whole lot happened without me takin' ownership. So. I'm… takin' it back." Not able to sit any more Ha'ze pushes himself to his feet and moves away from Rayathess, the movement more of a fidget than anything else. "I want to tell you what I remember. Let it go into your study."

Rayathess frowns, "You can't take back regret…" he points out, giving the bronzerider a sidelong look. Is that what this is? Because he's still confused and not entirely certain he wants to help Ha'ze. Given they usually end up fighting each other in the end. "Why now?" he asks, letting him fidget or move. He's going to stand right there, arms still folded across his chest and not looking at all convinced. "Or more importantly… why should I help you, Ha'ze? Last time I offered, you made it damn well clear you'd want anything but…"

"No. I can't." Ha'ze's reply is abrupt as he comes to the fence that blocks off the garden from the rest of the hold. His back is to the Harper and he leans down to put his hands along the top of it. "Two winters with Kainaesyth. But if you don't want it, then it's fine."

"Two winters… Shards, Ha'ze, do you ever speak plainly?" Rayathess swears and exhales, slightly exasperated. Lifting a hand, he scrubs at his face and along his jaw as he seems to consider the options in a lengthening stretch of silence. "Fine." he says at last. "I'll do it." Not that he sounds too enthusiastic about it — not yet. Maybe he's still expecting Ha'ze to change his mind or something to turn and they end up at each others throats.

"I don't like this part of myself." Ha'ze's tone is low, almost inaudible. "I've spent years knowin' that nothin' good comes out of this. But Kainaesyth says that if I keep it in, eventually it's gonna rot. Stories are meant to be told. Maybe…" He stops and shakes his head, leaving the thought half done. "Maybe."

Rayathess isn't about to pick Ha'ze's brain further or push him to say anything more. He tried that once too and got a fist to the face (or was it the gut?) for his troubles. "It might help. Might sting, to revisit things." he admits hesitatingly, still giving him a skeptical look. Eventually he sighs, "If we're going to do this proper, it should be inside. I've writing tools and hides in my room."

Ha'ze takes a deep breath and straightens up. He turns towards the Harper as he looks towards the cothold. "I'm not sure I can go inside there. Not… yet. Could I buy you a drink? Maybe come this winter. Kainaesyth caught Rhenesath and will be spendin' some time with the eggs."

Rayathess watches Ha'ze closely when he moves, defensive at first but slow to relax. His arms drop to his sides and he'll look over his shoulder to where Stonehaven hovers over them. "Why not? You had nothing to do with what happened here, you were just a child…" Younger, perhaps, than Raya was at the time. He snorts and looks genuinely surprised at the offer. "Drinks, huh? Odd to be hearing that from you. And I heard of Rhenesath's rising." Obviously. Harper Hall isn't far and it's probably part of his duty as a Harper to know these things. He doesn't, however, offer Ha'ze any congratulations.

There's quite a few things Ha'ze could say in reply to that- most of them things that would go right over Rayathess' head, so Ha'ze doesn't bother. Instead he shrugs slightly. "Maybe I'll hire a room so people don't see us together." THAT dryness could almost be enough to overtake an entire ocean.

"Why bother? You wanting this to be a secret?" Rayathess doesn't seem ruffled by that dryness at all, just giving Ha'ze another look. "If you're wanting drinks, there's a tavern just outside of Harper Hall. Generally quiet enough if it's privacy you're seeking. Or there's my room in the Hall."

"No. Whole point is to stop all the secrets. The big ones at least. Stop lettin' them poison everythin'." Ha'ze reaches upwards and brushes a hand through his hair, a slight shrug running through his muscled shoulders. "The tavern by the hall works. Say, after the first snowfall? I can be sendin' Scrap with a message."

At last, it begins to sink in and something clicks in Rayathess' head, causing his eyes to widen slightly and brows lift. "You're actually serious about this, aren't you?" He hadn't made that clear? Tilting his head, he does some quick calculating and nods. "I can make sure I am not sent out around that time."

"I didn't walk out here just for s*ts and giggles Rayathess." It's a subtle reminder of the lack of bronze dragon around. Ha'ze straightens himself up and looks the harper clear in the eye for the first time, dark gaze holding all those secrets, but with a gentlenss that wasn't there before. "I need to tell this. For Kai, for Jaze 'n Aleoa," Ha'ze might love his daughters more, shhh, "and Galeon."

Rayathess's eyes narrow and he's just about to counter Ha'ze with something snarky but some little voice tells him to just bite his tongue for once. Even if he's itching to just barb the bronzerider. He'll stand his ground though as Ha'ze straightens and meets his eyes, staring him right back unflinching. "And I told you I'd do it. So we've a deal then? You'll tell me what you know… for Kainaesyth and your children." And what does the Harper get out of this? Rayathess names no terms, just a repetition of the when and where. "First snowfall. Tavern outside the Hall."

They have plenty of time to snark at one another. Maybe they'll get really drunk, have a brawl, and just get it out of their systems. Sometime in there Ha'ze'll tell his story. "Aye. I'll tell you everything. And you… use it however you want to." Apparently Ha'ze thinks that just telling the story is the payment he gives?

That will most likely happen and hopefully after Rayathess has most of Ha'ze's story. "It'll be used as I told you my work was intended to be… to educate folks on what Laris did so madmen like him can't get their claws in too deep ever again." Will it work> Probably not but he's not about to let their hardships fade to a distant memory. It seems payment enough and Rayathess will be true to his words. Anything Ha'ze tells him will either go into his work or… be conveniently "forgotten". He's not one to use this against the bronzerider… unless he's given a VERY good reason to.

This was a lot easier then Ha'ze thought it would be, and he's a bit at a loss. A firm nod and Ha'ze moves to open up the gate. "I'll see you then. First snow." Like Rayathess might have forgotten in the thirty seconds since he agreed. "I have to be gettin' back to the weyr." So he really did walk all the way here to ask that question, and now he's going to walk all the way back without a break. He's weird.

Very weird. Rayathess could have made this a lot more difficult but maybe he's just saving up for when Ha'ze has to tell his story. Then the real fun begins. Right now, he's just a bit stunned by the change in the bronzerider. Not enough to stop him from following though and calling out. "Ha'ze, wait! Don't you… want to rest or something first? Laurali will probably skin me alive if she catches wind you were here and then just… left. Healer, you know?" Sure, that's why. "I get you don't want to go inside but the stables are warm at least. Stablehands won't mind."

Impression. Abrupt fatherhood. Kainaesyth. (yes, that's Kai twice, it was kind of a big thing.) A few steps from the gate the bronzerider pauses, looking upwards at the sky to gauge the amount of sunlight left. There's clearly not enough time for the bronzerider to get far before it sets. "I.. aye. Probably better to not be headin' out." Kainaesyth could come get him, but they've come to an agreement that this is something Ha'ze needs to take care of himself. "Stable's would work."

Of course Impression is a big thing! Huge life changing event there. Rayathess exhales softly and has to resist the urge to ask why Kainaesyth isn't coming to fetch him. If there's one thing he's learned is not to pry too much into the inner workings of a rider and their bond with their dragon. "You're certain you're not wanting a guest room in the hold? I can't promise that Laurali or Ezra will be out to check on you… They're bound to hear that you're here."

Ha’ze’s eyes flick back to the stone of the hold, consideration there, but no. He shakes his head and turns away from the hold itself. “No, the stable is fine. A few hours earlier in the day and I’d not take you up on it.” He’d start the long walk home and not chance seeing either the holder nor his wife. “I doubt they have much to say to me.” For all that their histories twine, the last turn has sent Ha’ze’s life on a vastly different path.

Rayathess smirks, not at all surprised by that answer and yet surprised the bronzerider is staying at all. “No, maybe not but they’d check in on you all the same. Proper manners and all,” he points out. “But I can let them know and mention you don’t want to be bothered?” Seems the least he could do, right?

“If they want to climb into a loft it is their business.” Ha’ze does not know how clean that loft is, so he cannot comment on if that would be a deciding factor. “Say what you will to them.” Ha’ze has turned his feet and glances around. He doesn’t actually know where the stable is.

“They would, you know.” Rayathess mutters with a smirk and Ha’ze may be in for another surprise. The stable’s loft will be rather well kept. It’s still a loft but it’s not filthy and will actually be quite comfortable if one is used to roughing it. “Come on. I’ll show you where to go.” Maybe he’s thawing a bit and choosing to be slightly more helpful. He’ll walk around the side of the hold again and towards the courtyard, before pointing on down a path. “Follow this and it’ll lead right to the stables. You want food sent down or something?”

Ha’ze chooses not to reply to muttering. If Ezra and company want to climb up into a dirty stable loft to talk to their visitor, it’s their business. Ha’ze might even reply back. “No. I have supplies in my pack.” He takes his steps towards the stables, no goodbye issued to Rayathess, and a frown etched between his eyebrows.

Rayathess shrugs his shoulders, “Fair enough. If you change your mind though… just call or knock.” Or whatever. Seems his generosity towards Ha’ze is ending here and he’s had enough of the bronzerider’s company. At least it didn’t end in a fist fight or a scuffle? Not this time anyways. Turning, he’ll leave Ha’ze to figure out the rest as he steps inside Stonehaven and back to whatever it was he was doing before being interrupted by the bronzerider’s arrival.