Questions Asked and Answered

Xanadu Weyr - Vine-Entwined Forest Cottage

The interior floor, ceiling and walls are raw wood that has been sanded and lacquered to make them smooth. Overhead, the cathedral ceiling gives the inside a spacious feel to it, the pale wood enlarging the space to the eye even though the cottage is fairly small. To the left, set under a large window, the bedroom area is plain, consisting of a wide bed and nightstands on either side. An ornately carved wardrobe, standing in a niche to the right of the door provides the only real decoration.

Past the wardrobe is a simple fireplace, the pearly stones rough-cut square, which provides both warmth and cooking since this cottage has no electricity. A simple leather couch has been placed in front of this and there are several hand-tufted rugs of lavender, moss green and white scattered about the glossy floors - Thea's handiwork. At the rear of the cottage is a simple kitchenette, countertop providing the division from the main area, while the back wall forms a breakfast nook with floor to ceiling windows that invites the forest in. A small, sturdy round oak table and chairs is set within the alcove, set simply with a few pale green placemats and an alabaster bowl for floating flowers in. On one counter, a circle has been cut out and fixed with a clay-fired bowl with a nearby matching pitcher.

It's early, the sun barely peeking over the horizon is already warm and at work evaporating the dew sparkling on leaf and blade - the day promises to be a hot one. Thea would normally be up before the dawn but a troubled sleep that left her restless has seen her drift into a fitful slumber about the time she should have been rising. The cottage is tiny and has but two rooms, so those sleeping in the extra trundle cots might also have had their sleep disturbed. When they rose, Thea slept on, awakening with gritty, salty lashes to peer at rumpled beds with a slow-brained awareness that she's later than she'd like to be. "Shards," she mutters, making a quick thing of washing and dressing for the office in a simple loose-fitting shift. The kettle of water on the small bed of coals in the hearth is hot and so she steeps a hasty pot of tea, intending to have a quick bite here and avoid the dining area when she rushes to the caverns.

Hopefully she's not in too big of a rush, as Muir is walking back to the cottage negotiating a tray. Upon the tray is a bundled bouquet of flowers (cut/stolen from the gardens) - a wide variety of blooms and fully bloomed flowers, some sprigs of green, and even a few tiny white flowers are sprinkled in, the bouquet tied with twine. It's laid across the tray and what's on the rest of it are some of Thea's favorite breakfast foods. Muir would know, right? "Mom?" the boy calls as he approaches. His hair is messy and uncombed, but his clothes are at least unrumpled - tan pants, sandals, and a deep violet tunic.

Seryth, sprawled on her carpet of crushed greenery-wallow rumbles a greeting to Muir as he passes through the clearing. Thea's head is turned towards the door as it opens, so likely the queen has notified her of his arrival. "In here," she says needlessly, for he can see the kitchenette from the front doorway, a fond smile for him chasing away some of her fatigue. Spotting the tray, she opens the cupboard and removes a second mug, hooking both through the forefinger of one hand and takes the pot with the other before heading towards the breakfast nook at the back of the dwelling. "Those are lovely," she says of the flowers, a hint of questioning in the compliment. What's the occasion?

Muir's steps carry him to the breakfast nook, carefully setting down the tray. "They're for you," he says, probably unnecessarily. Hesitating, the boy then reaches over to pull out her chair for her, before he sprawls into his own, sitting a bit sideways with his fingers drumming on the table top. And he just stares at her for a moment, before his brain kicks into gear. Nervous much? "Sleep good?"

Thea's smile is approving for his manners even while she eyes her son closely. What have they done to him at Stone Cold Hold? Not that she and D'had didn't try to teach both twins manners, but Muir… has oft needed reminders. "Thank you," she says of the chair and sinks gracefully into it after she sets the mugs and teapot on the table. "For me?" She's considering the flowers, pleased but slightly suspicious and noting his nervousness at the same time. "Alright, what did you do?" It's half-teasing, half-serious, that question. "You're not in trouble are you?"

Muir bobs his head and then shakes it to get hair out of his eyes, and then he's blinking in surprise. "Trouble? No! Least, I mean…I don't think so. Did someone say something?" And he gets a distant look in his eyes, clearly trying to remember everything he's done in the last few days, and if any of those things were punishment-worthy. He doesn't think so! "You know Marel got a job in that flower shop?"

With his answer in the negative, Thea can smile and relax. "No one said anything, no. Tea?" If he nods, she'll pour for him, then for herself, lifting her mug and inhaling the steam while braced on the tabletop by her elbows. She nods about Marel, obviously her daughter's interest pleases her then regards him for a long moment, head tilted to one side. "Don't feel you have to rush into anything, though," she says cautiously. After the response her casual question brought the other day, she's treading lightly.

Muir nods, "Sure," he says, though he developed a taste for klah at Coldstone. Running his fingers through his hair, Muir then helps himself to some of the goodies on the tray, and glances at her. "Gotta do /something/," he mumbles. "Didn't hardly get any time to do anything at Coldstone and now I'm just bored. Was…was thinking of the Smiths," he admits, darting a glance at his mother, watching to see how she responds to that.

That gesture - so like his father's after he'd been flying without a helmet - brings an ache to Thea's throat. "Faranth, I missed you!" she breathes, blinking rapidly and hiding her emotion behind lowered lashes and a hasty sip of her tea. His comment has her lifting pale green eyes to his. Wisely she merely nods wordless agreement about him needing to do something, lofting a dark brow curiously at his choice. She doesn't seem to disapprove but it's clear that she is surprised. "Are you sure it will be… active enough for you?" He's always been so…busy and energetic, never still for a moment. Could it be? Her little boy is growing up! Eyes grow misty again and she clears her throat. "If it's what you're sure you want, you have my blessing," she assures him.

Muir blinks at his mother in surprise, and then squirms a bit at the emotion he sees in her. Still, he mumbles back, "Missed you too, Mom," through a mouthful of food. "Why didn't you tell us why we were going to Coldstone?" The question's out before he can snatch it back, but before he can regret it, his stubbornness kicks in and he lifts his chin to look at her. Yeah, part of his brain is saying, 'why /didn't/ she?' While the other is going, 'shut up!' "Active enough? S'more active than lessons all the time," he says, a frown pulling at his lips.

"Okay," Thea says easily of the smithcrafting idea. He ought to know. She… doesn't really. She told them they were going to Cold Stone Hold, just not why they were going. And she's already told the pair she feels they would have balked if she had. But she knows the question is going to need to be fully answered for him to forgive her and move on. Sighing, she sips her tea while choosing her words. "A long time ago, before you were born, Thadan tried to use me to bargain for an expanded holding. Your father had to use force to get him to give up the idea. Thadan's revenge was to cut your uncle Tharen and I off from our own mother." She sets the mug down on the table with a clonk of crockery on wood, reaches absently for a roll from the tray and focuses on it while she continues, "Your father went to convince him to allow us to visit her." The roll is slowly shredded into pieces as she talks, "He came back with finger-marked bruises on his throat." Her smile is a touch grim and a lot proud, "Thadan fared worse."

Muir is glad she's telling him the full answer, and so he takes a small sip of his tea and listens. But then he grimaces, sitting up a bit, anger flashing in his eyes. "Dad fought Thadan?" The boy will never again call Thadan 'grandpa'. "Why doesn't grandma just come here?"

There is no answer regarding their grandmother remaining in Cold Stone Hold that is going to make sense to him, Thea knows this. And yet she tries, "Do you know why you and Marel were born at Cold Stone Hold?" She looks at him and the conflict so long ago darkens her eyes, "Thadan was angry that I'd come to visit my mother and in a blind rage he grabbed hold of my neck; I went into labor." Then she smirks, adding, "Your father coldcocked him with one punch." Yes, that definitely is pride as she speaks of D'had, regardless it was her own father he decked. "When we returned to Xanadu with our two precious bundles, we wanted to bring her back with us. She said her place was there, with him and that sometimes when you love someone, a person has to give one hundred and ten percent." Well, Rensea gives much more than that, says the headshake right after. "Anyway, your grandfather isn't the type to accept defeat." She meets his eyes with a significant expression; the conclave suit is evidence of that. "And your father isn't the type to let a man like Thadan get away with it. He would have killed Thadan or worse…"
"…if he thought he had the chance to stop him."

Muir is bristling with anger now, even though these were events that occurred (just) before he was born. "I was nice to him," the boy growls, before he bangs his hand on the table and pushes out of his chair, restlessly stalking across the room and back. Pacing. "How can he be so mean to his own kin?" Might be a rhetorical question. "So we had to go because…if we didn't, Thadan would've hurt grandma?"

Thea isn't surprised by Muir's anger towards Thadan. She turns in her chair to watch him pace. "You were not sent there to protect your grandmother," she says firmly. "She knows how to handle Thadan. You were sent there because the Conclave made a decision that none of us could fight," she explains. Why then was he sent before they tried to fight it? Her next words explain, "You've no idea what your father is like in a rage, but Thadan was very good at eliciting the sort of emotion from him. And Thadan is cunning and calculating. They hate each other, Muir." She takes a deep breath, "I made the decision to send you there before D'had could decide to do something about it. Before he could go to Cold Stone Hold and confront Thadan. I had to take the choice away from you and from D'had to save your father's life. Because I am convinced that was Thadan's goal all along. To enrage D'had and get him to attack him so he could kill him." It's ugly, it's hurtful to say and it worked. But she lost. "I'm sorry, Muir," she says softly, "It was the only thing I could and still can think of having done."

Muir stops his pacing, turning to look at his mother. Agitated, his hand runs through his hair again, gripping the back of his neck briefly, and then he strides back to the table to sit down again, leaning forward, brown eyes earnest as he stares at his mother. "But you could'a just /said/ that and I would've gone. I would've gone to protect Dad. I would!""

Thea is distressed, "I know you would have!" She leans across the table, reaching with both hands palm up for his. "Muireadhach, do you really think I could tell my children all this, then send them away bearing that kind of burden? How do you think knowing beforehand would have helped you to get on up there, really? Would it have helped do you think or made things worse?" Because really, knowing why doesn't seem to be helping him much now.

Muir clenches his hands into fists but then relaxes them to rest over the top of his mother's. And he struggles with her question. "Couldn't have been worse than not knowing," he finally says firmly, but then he balks a bit. "But…I probably wouldn't have done a good job, knowing…what I know about Thadan." It stings, but the boy has just enough self knowledge to know he probably would have been utterly destructive and angry, rather than actually trying - which is what he did do. Most of the time.

"You don't know that, Muir," Thea disagrees quietly about knowing beforehand being better than not. Her fingers curl around her son's hands and she jiggles them gently, waiting for him to meet her eyes. When he seems to gain insight on himself, she nods. He saw her own reaction to Thadan when he'd come into the kitchen. "When you love someone more than yourself, you'll do anything to protect them," she asserts. "Even if it turns out to be the wrong thing, your heart will be in the right place. And someday, you'll understand better when you have your very own love or children." Then she adds with a half laugh, half groan, "Shards I sound like my mother!"

Muir exhales softly, and then the boy asks another difficult question. "So if you did all this for Dad, why'd he leave?" Gently tugging his hands free from his mother's, he fidgets, fingers through his hair again, and the way he sits, and the way he glances around the room is all his father.

Thea allows Muir's hands to slip from hers after a gentle squeeze. "He didn't leave. I did," she says simply, with a defeated shrug of her shoulders. "He's still very angry. He can't believe I did that without telling him regardless of why. And I just can't… be there. Because it…" She's fighting for control, manages, just barely, to keep from letting the tears start. "It makes him worse and I can't watch him… be that way. When he looks at me-" She stops, swallowing hard.

Muir slumps a bit in his chair, fingers drumming gently on the table top. When he looks up at his mother his eyes are pained, shadowed, and conflicted. He loves both his parents dearly, and life was so perfect. Seeing them broken is beyond him, right now, so he just nods.

"I'm sorry," Thea manages to say after a few more swallows. "I miss him so much and I'll always love him. And I know he loves you both. Who knows what will happen? You can't fix this, nor should you. Just… give him time, Love." She drains her tea slowly, giving him time to absorb her words. "Your visit with him went alright?" She'd assumed it did, having full confidence D'had would have been more than pleased to see them. Even if he is a man of gruff few words, his actions towards his children has always been kind.

Muir just nods his head a bit. "Yeah, it was fine. But we didn't want to stay there with him. Felt…weird…without you." This feels weird too, but the boy is realizing that everything is going to feel weird for a while. Then he sighs. "So you don't think the Smiths is good for me? I went in there with sandals on. That was stupid…"

It feels weird to Thea too. So much so that she's not sleeping well nights and hasn't in months. They probably all lie awake at night listening to each other breathe until exhaustion claims them. "Smiths? I have no idea," she admits to Muir with a helpless shrug. She has yet to spend much time in there. "I guess only time will tell about that." She leans to give his feet a quick survey. What has he got on right now? Sandals or was that the other day? "Was it stupid? And what do you need me to get for you to wear? I'll admit, the only time I went in there was to Search Karona." Her nose wrinkles as she adds, "It smelled strongly of melting things."

Muir wiggles his toes in his sandals, and then the boy sighs. "I don't know, Mom. Maybe I should just…I don't know. Marel got that job at the flower shop…she /knew/ what she wanted." And he's both admiring of his sister and a little jealous. "But I'm just…I don't know anything, really." Kid's got no skills. "Harper lessons, yeah, but then holding lessons and those don't do me any good here. Least I wouldn't have to go anywhere to be a Smith…"

"Sometimes that happens," says Thea of Marel. "Have you met Kale? He's a smithcrafter. Maybe he could show you what he does besides dance on tables." Her lips curve teasingly, a remnant of her former sense of humor while a 'dare ya' gleam of devilment prompts him to repeat that to the smithcrafter. "But you should do something you like, not just settle for something to keep from leaving here." She's troubled, but for him, not herself. "Have you asked your father if you could ride along on sweeps a time or two, or have you lost interest in being a bluerider altogether?"

Kale again. The boy comes up in almost every conversation! Muir nods. "Yeah, he talked to me about it a bit, he was there when I went in to see what it was about. He…dances on tables?" Then he shrugs. "I told Darsce I'd model for her…" Wait. What? Then he huffs, eying his mother. "Being a rider doesn't just…you can't just work hard and earn a dragon. Sitting around hoping for a dragon is stupid. I need to do something else." So, he's apparently grown up and let go of that dream. He had to, while in Coldstone. "Maybe I'll just be a messenger or something…"

"He shovels coal a lot too, but beyond that I have no idea what else," grins Thea. She looks pleased that Muir has met the smithcrafter. "I like Kale," she says equably, only to give him a puzzled look at his response to her question. "That's true, you can't," she calmly agrees of working hard to get a dragon. "But if you ride with D'had you'll be spending time with him in his element and know whether to make an educated decision if you are ever searched?" Weyrwoman's logic, that last bit! The mention of modeling for Darsce has her shooting him an incredulous look. Seriously? "That ought to be an education," she drawls with a slight sarcasm before she considers his last comment. "You're a good runner rider," she allows quelling the wince of apprehension as she says that. Her son – a-runnerback on a daily basis! Scary, that!

Muir shrugs, "If I were asked to stand, I'd say yes, but I can't…count on that." He looks down a bit and maybe even blushes a little. "Well, yeah, I'd get to go places and wear nice things, and…" mumble mumble mumble. Something about girls. "Messenger might work. I'd be doing stuff, and…I know I can do it. I am good at riding." He seems a bit more excited about this prospect than that of Smithcrafting. For the moment, but who knows how he'll feel tomorrow.

Thea nods slowly. Yes, he's definitely growing up! "That's true, you can't count on Impressing," she says evenly. At least he's not completely rejecting the idea. As for modeling, go places, Muir says, when a moment ago he'd wanted to be a smithcrafter so he wouldn't have to. Wisely she says nothing about that though and instead eyes him for a few beats after that mumbling. Yes, she can imagine there would be girls involved. Faranth help her through these growing up turns! "Talk to R'owan about being a messenger then? He used to do that on old Rider." The ancient grey they had their very first ride on. The only runner she's close to liking – or trusting.

Muir nods, fidgeting and drumming his fingers on the table again. "R'owan, okay, yeah." He has no clue what he's doing, like most teens. But, like most teens, he's fumbling his way through it. Then he gets to his feet, too restless to stay sitting. "I'm gonna go find Marel." Maybe his sister will tell him what to do with his life.

Thea rises from the table as well, "And I need to get to the office." She doesn't mention that she's late. She was right where she needed to be when she needed to be in order to listen to her son. "Walk with you to the clearing?" And if he is agreeable, she'll walk the forest path with him making suggestions of whatever other crafts pop into her head until they part ways at the clearing, she heading for her office, and him towards the flower shop - at least that's what she'll assume.

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