Different Views

Date: 2683.10.17
D'son shares a little bit of his past and his views on various things with Aludra of an evening.

Xanadu Weyr - Beach


The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.

The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

It's a very peaceful, tranquil scene. Aludra sits on a blanket in the sand, the skirt of her black gown glittering with grins of sand that sparkle like diamonds as the sun paints the afternoon sky gold. She appears to be playing some kind of stringed instrument, plucking chords and singing softly to herself. It's not perfect; she misses a note here and there, but her voice is pleasant to hear. The song was popular about a decade ago, played by Harpers everywhere until it fell out of favor. Beside her on the blanket is a glowbasket a wineskin, some cheese, fruit, meat and bread. Perhaps she's having a picnic dinner.

It's up from the lake that D'son arrives, dripping wet to pad across darkened sand towards the spot where he dropped his clothes and towel earlier. Since then, Aludra's arrived and the sound of that instrument draws a curious look. Inimeth is not visible, but perhaps he's out there, flying in the shadows, or playing in the water. "Heya," D'son says in friendly fashion, stepping over towards the stablehand as he rubs his hair dry. "Nice tune."

Startled for an instant, Aludra's fingers falter on the strings, but she recovers and finishes the final chorus. Smiling at the bronzerider, she stills her hands on the gittern and nods a greeting. "Hello. Nice to see you, D'son," she says, remembering his name. "How's Inimeth?" She looks around, but doesn't see the big bronze. "It's an old tune my mother used to play. I like it, but I'm not that good at the bridge. Still learning." She leans both arms on the small, guitar-like instrument, then rests her chin on her hands. "So, what're you up to?" And then she realizes, "Dumb question. Sorry, I had a 'duh' moment, there."

"He's good, out there," D'son says with a gesture of his hand towards the water. "Oh yeah? Nice to have a memory like that," the bronzerider says and stops rubbing the towel through his hair, leaving it standing up somewhat in funny spikes here and there. The towel itself is draped over his shoulders and he shrugs. "Took a quick swim, probably going to hang out with some friends in a little bit."

"Ah. That sounds nice," Aludra says, but whether she means the swim or hanging out with friends is unclear. "It's been a long day, so I thought I'd come down here and have a bit of practice. No one to hear all my mistakes," she tells him with a grin. "I'm not Harper trained, though we had a Harper or three at the Hold. Journeyman Kaddo was an excellent singer and played the flute." She seems to be babbling a little, and pauses a moment before saying, "Should I offer my condolences on your having lost the gold flight? I'm not sure if that's proper or not." Another pause. "I was rooting for you to win when I heard who was in the flight."

"Heh, probably a good idea that, though that didn't sound bad at all," D'son says encouragingly about her playing. "Uh —" he blinks a couple of times. "Oh, Seryth's? Nah, not a big deal." Up go his shoulders and down they come again. "He promptly turned around and won a greenflight two days later so you know, so it goes."

"Well, I don't know from experience, but I'll take your word for it," Aludra says with a soft chuckle. "Oh, I met your friend—-K'ael. He's quite an interesting person." Her cheeks turn a faint pink in the sunset. "He was quite charming." Her eyes sparkle a little when she says this, as if she's somehow amused. "He told me I was supposed to see /you/ about the Search & Rescue wing, though." She sets the gittern aside, careful to not let it get into the sand. Picking up a slice of melon, she takes a bite, then offers, "Would you care for something to eat or drink?"

"Oh yeah? Charming huh," D'son looks vastly amused by this. "Well good. Hopefully he behaved himself," Dels says with a sweep of fingers through his hair to smooth it out, then blinks. "Me? Uh … I'm not in that wing …" then he shakes his head at the offer of food. "No thanks, we're supposed to have a big dinner, so I should keep some room."

Accepting his decline with a nod of her head, Aludra plucks a ripe grape off the plate and pops it into her mouth. When it's eaten, she goes on with, "Yes, quite charming. I met him the first time when he nearly stepped on me in the meadow. I was just lying on my back looking up at the stars when this black shape blocked the sky and next thing I know, I'm rolling away from a pair of boots landing on my stomach." She laughs. "He apologized and actually kissed my hand. Thea came up and introduced us." She chuckles, choosing a piece of redfruit next. "He found me in the garden a couple of days later and-" There's a pause, then, "-was very … charming. That's when he told me that you'd know more about S&R than he would. I suspect he was having me on a bit."

"Well that's a memorable way to meet someone," D'son says with a laugh and pulls the towel from around his shoulders, spreads it on the sand and sits down on it not too far away. "Kissed your hand?" The bronzerider laughs merrily. "Well he's upping the flirting a few notches then," D'son states about K'ael. "And well, I do know a lot about S&R because I used to be a wingleader for that wing at Ista, but for actually joining up here, he's the wingleader."

"I suspected as much," Aludra says regarding the flirting. "He was flirting with me quite a bit when he found me in the gardens," she admits. "It was rather nice, actually. No one's ever really done that with me before, so I enjoyed it." She laughs, picking up the wineskin and taking a drink. "He's promised to take me to Ista someday," she adds. "That should be lots of fun. I've always wanted to see the jungles. We talked about that, as I recall." She sets the skin down. "I'm sure it's only another way of flirting, but it's nice to pretend he really will take me."

"He's a good guy," D'son says about K'ael and settles with his weight resting on his hands, leaning back so his legs can cross at the ankles and looks up at the stars. "No, if he said he would, he probably will unless he gets busy and forgets. Like I said, he's a good guy."

"He seems so," Aludra agrees. "He's certainly clever." The last is said in a rather amused tone, as if she's remembering something that strikes her funny. "Anyway, I thought I'd let you know I met your friend. You spoke highly of him, so I was looking forward to it." Aludra watches the last vestiges of sunlight disappear below the horizon. "Such a beautiful sunset. Different than at home. Much more colorful here." She assumes a similar position as D'son, leaning back on her hands. "Do you like looking at the stars?"

"You know, clever isn't usually a word used for Mikey," D'son says thoughfully, "but I think he'd be happy to know that," the bronzerider muses further, then tilts a look over at her. "Yeah? I haven't noticed much difference between here and Ista for the sunsets." About the stars: "Sometimes, sure. I mean it's not a hobby or anything."

"He was clever enough to get a kiss from me," Aludra says softly, "when I'd no intention to do anything of the kind." She gazes up at the stars, not turning to look at D'son when she's talking. "I call that being very clever. Of course, I realized there was some underlying intent, but figured there was no harm in a kiss." She then stops, abruptly shifting gears. "I think they're beautiful, too. Sparkling like diamonds in the black sky. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to travel amongst them, but that's impossible." A soft sigh, and she lies back on her blanket, arms behind her head.

"That's just Mike being Mike," D'son says with a laugh. "And there isn't any harm in most kisses, no. Or anything else along those lines either really. Especially not with someone like him," the bronzerider says quite candidly though he's a little pink around the ears. "Yeah, it's pretty. And well, you could you know. Dragons can Between up to the station," he points out.

"True, but I don't have a dragon at my disposal." There's a soft chuckle, and Aludra nods. "Yes, I suspect that cleverness is just a part of him. He's so good at it, and so smooth. A perfect gentleman, even when he's convincing a girl to give him a kiss." She seems to muse on this a moment. "It was my first /real/ kiss. The only other ones who ever tried were clumsy boys and old men." A sour note touches her voice at the mention of old men. "Lecherous old me who only want a young wife for two purposes—-to bed and get babies from." Very bitter those words. "I'm glad 'riders don't marry."

"Easy enough to get one to take you," D'son says, shooting Aludra a little look and a grin. They talked about this the other day. "Oh … well. Good for you then," Dels notes about the kiss. "Can't say that Mike's a bad person to get a good first kiss from." And then with some amusement: "Or to have drink beer off your stomach." Her last remark earns a brief sidelong look, but no questions.

"Drink beer off your stomach?" Aludra echoes, more than a little curiosity in her voice. "You must explain that one," she says, turning her head to look at D'son. At the same time, she reaches a hand to open the glow basket just slightly, enough to where she can actually see the bronzerider's face. "Easy enough to get one to take me, hm? Well, I'll have to see if I can persuade a rider to haul me up there sometime, won't I?" A chuckle and a grin. "It was a good first kiss, yes, but I want to hear more about this beer drinking off your stomach."

"Game of truth and dare when we were back at Ista," D'son explains with a grin. "He was all grossed out by it … at the time, but he did do the dare." There's an air of reminiscence to Dels as he describes the incident.

"Did he have to drink the beer off your stomach, then?" Aludra asks, grinning at D'son's story. "Or, was there another person present, one of the female persuasion?" Somehow she just can't picture K'ael drinking beer from off the other bronzerider's stomach—-albeit there were likely a few women who might enjoy the dare. "I don't think I've ever played that game, Truth or Dare. Is it fun?"

"Yep," D'son answers simply, "he did. And there were a couple of girls. One of them dared him." He tilts another look over at Aludra, shrugs. "I guess so, if you've had a few and are feeling really silly."

"Ah… so it's a drinking game," Aludra says, nodding. "Well, that kind of explains why he'd drink beer from your stomach." She chuckles. "It sounds fun, but I don't drink much. Just one or two now and then, and never until I get tipsy. Grandmother says that robs you of your brains, and you lose control. So, since I don't want to lose control of myself, I don't drink."

"Well, back then yeah, he'd need that for a reason," D'son says slowly, carefully and drops another look Aludra's way. "I don't drink much either, so it's pretty easy for me to get drunk. And you do kind of lose some control, depends on how drunk you get."

"I've seen guests get very drunk at the Hold," Aludra ventures. "They didn't make much sense, and some of them passed out at the table. Others got sick." She makes a face at that. "I don't think I'd enjoy drinking until I got sick. Nasty, and horrible to clean up." She shudders at the thought. "With those examples, I don't believe I'll be drinking to excess. Besides, that's one of the rules for candidates and weyrlings: no drinking. I may not be either, but someday I hope to be both."

"You have to drink a lot to get sick," is D'son's take on it. "Give me four beers, I'm pretty buzzed and mellow and silly without being sick or too off-kilter," the bronzerider says. "Well you know, better to know your limits. That rule is really stupid anyway."

"Really? You think it's stupid?" This interests Aludra, and she rolls fully onto her side to get a better look at D'son as he's speaking. "Why so? I thought it was reasonable, myself. I mean, Candidates are supposed to keep their wits about themselves, and not fight or get drunk or have sex." It made sense to her, apparently. "I understand why they don't want Weyrlings doing that stuff, either. It would confuse the baby dragon."

"There's a difference between not getting drunk and having a little bit to drink, that's all," D'son says with a shrug. "And the other rules don't make any sense either. I mean, it's not like the old days where we didn't know how to keep girls from getting knocked up and stuff," the bronzerider continues. "So … you know, what's the point of keeping /candidates/ from getting it on? Fights, sure. Never a good idea to get into a fight. And for weyrlings, well it's only confusing and a problem for what … half a turn?"

"About that, I guess," Aludra replies, doing some mental calculating. "I guess I can see your point," she ventures uncertainly. "I never really looked at it that way, considering I never do any of that. Well, I've gotten into a couple of fights with my cousins, but no one else." She looks serious, now, as she contemplates D'son's explanation. "But nothing is one-hundred percent certain when it comes to getting pregnant," she insists, sounding much like she's echoing someone else's thoughts. "So, that should be a concern during Weyrlinghood. Candidacy—-well, a dragon won't Impress a girl if she's pregnant, so that's that."

"No, it isn't, but there's two choices then: don't stand that time, or get rid of it," D'son says and shifts position, knees drawing upwards and his arms folding atop his knees.

"True." Aludra seems to be having some difficulty accepting D'son's much freer thoughts on this subject, but she'll listen and try to fathom his reasons. "So, you feel Candidates should be allowed to have sex while waiting for the hatching? All things considered, shouldn't the Weyrlingmasters know what's best—-especially after the eggs hatch?" She stops. "Wait, we're talking about Candidates, not Weyrlings. My mistake. It's been a long day, and I should've just gone to my room instead of coming out here. But, I did want to practice."

"Why not?" is D'son's counter. "Throw a bunch of teenagers together into a barracks and make them stew around for weeks? Not really you know, the smartest thing ever. Especially if they impress and have to wait for their dragons to grow up. That's a lot of frustration to build up," he points out.

Aludra thinks about this for several minutes. "But, not every teenager is a raging sea of hormones," she counters. "Some are able to control themselves." It's totally possible to hear the "like me" at the end of that sentence. "I suppose you might be right about some of them, but not all. I never had a problem during my Candidacy. The work was hard, and I was so tired at night the only thing I wanted to do was sleep."

"You don't have to be a raging sea of hormones to have that frustration build up," D'son says with a shake of his head. "It's not about control, it's about feeling like crap going into it and not being able to do anything about it for a really, really, unreasonably long time. It's just dumb," he reiterates and then eyes her again. "You were working /that/ much as a /candidate/?" He looks flummoxed.

Aludra's face turns red. "Yes. I kind of … helped out others who seemed a little less able to do the work," she confesses. "I didn't mind the extra work, and they really needed the help, so—-" She shrugs. "That and I wasn't used to hard work like some. I had to put extra effort into my own work." She looks abashed. "I came from a wealthy Hold, after all, and we had servants to do most of the real work." Now her voice is softer, shamed. "I think that's why I didn't Impress. I wasn't used to hard work, so …" Another shrug. "The ones I helped with their chores actually did Impress."

"Oh … well I guess for me it was just like regular chores, being weyrbred and all," D'son says, chin ducking to his chest and he looks away. "That's probably not why," he disagrees, head shaking. "Your dragon just wasn't shelled."

"My dragon may never be shelled," Aludra says practically, so I don't get my hopes up too high. She sits up, carefully putting all the left over food and plates into a basket sitting on the other side of her from him. The gittern is placed carefully in a hard case with a handle for easy carrying. "I should be getting inside. Morning comes early when you're dealing with children." Once everything is packed, she gets to her feet, carefully shaking sand off herself so it won't bother D'son. "As always, it's been enlightening. I look forward to discussing this again sometime." A step or two, and she's nodding her good-bye to the rider. "And my best to Inimeth." She hesitates a moment longer, as if she'd say something else, but apparently decides against it. "Rest well, D'son." And then she's walking back toward the weyr.

"I'll keep my fingers crossed that it does," D'son says sincerely and looks up as Inimeth wings in, lands a little ways away and trots forward towards the glowlight. "He says thanks and wishes you the same. Good night, Aludra."

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