Splashing Through the Mud and the Muck

Xanadu Weyr - Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a this and sharp border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.

The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the mountain where, high above, Xanadu's Star Stones and the ever present watchdragon sit on a lonely peak. Directly south is a massive tunnel, fully wide enough for even the largest dragon to fly down. Southeast are wide steps leading up to the Caverns and eastwards is the large entrance to the Infirmary. Somewhat north of the Infirmary is a human sized archway that has a frequent quantity of traffic — it leads to the Tavern. Southwest lies the low ledges currently belonging to Xanadu's queens while north and west a broad path cut by the side of the cliff leads to the Feeding Grounds and due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr.

It's a wonderful summer morning for a trip to the swamps, hazy and hot and the sun just glaring without a hint of wind. The clouds tower above, gradually building up as the day goes on. Keziah is leaning against Alosynth as she watches the sky. Alosynth too looks up a bit. "Hmm, it's going to be a scorcher today. Might get some rain though." she looks wistful "That'll help things. Keep the bugs down."

Matrin ambles out into the clearing, lifting a hand to shade his eyes instinctively from the glaring sun. He has forgone his usual dapper duds in favor of sturdy khaki colored cargo pants and a more casual button-up in pale blue, light enough to allow some air flow but long sleeved in deference to the sun and the high probability of bugs. Still, it's a lot more casual than his usual wardrobe, and for the moment at least his knot is nowhere to be seen. A flick of his quick blue eyes spots the little greenrider near her equally little green, and he lifts a hand in a wave as he hastens his steps toward her. "Morning," he greets with a wide smile, shifting the weight of a sturdy pack slung over one shoulder.

At the sight of Matrin, Kezi stands up off of Alo and gives him a nod "All ready to go? We'll be going only partway on Alosynth. There really isn't a lot of good space to land a dragon, and it'll be good for you to know much of the path there. There also more receptive of people who are willing to traverse the swamps as opposed to taking the easy way in." she notes as she climbs up onto Alosynth and then holds out a hand to help up the harper

There is only the briefest pause as Keziah mentions trekking through the swamp instead of just dropping in via dragonback. Matrin takes a peek down at his boots, which will hopefully suffice, and drags that ready grin back on to his lips. Good thing expressions can't kick or scream or his might be. "Right! I have my knot but I wasn't sure if they'd respond better with or without it." Hence the fact that it's not visible. He gives his pack another little shift, then makes use of a strap to clamber up to Keziah. He's done this a time or two, at least on greens. "You're gorgeous, Alosynth. Thank you for the ride." He gives her neck a little stroke as he settles himself atop it.

Alosynth whuffles softly as she looks back at the Harper, she's close enough to going proddy that she certainly doesn't mind compliments. "They're a people that believe in the actions of others than any pretty words." she warns as she buckles Matrin and herself in. Checking the secureness she looks over her shoulder at Matrin "Hold on." she cautions and then Alosynth leaps into the air, going high above Xanadu and heading towards the forests.

Matrin doesn't, can't know the details of Alosynth's proddy cycle of course, but he takes the whuffling as a good sign and gets himself all comfortable. Or at least more secure. "She's got remarkable coloring," he offers to Keziah, but that's all he has time to say before she cautions him to hold on. He does so, with one hand on the straps around his waist and the other on her shoulder. She might notice a little delay there as his hand reached for her waist first, but it's a tiny little blip of hesitation before he takes the safer route. If his breath catches when the green leaps upward, it's covered pretty smoothly by him leaning forward to say, "No pretty words huh? I'll try to remember that."

"That she does, it's almost as if she was prepared from the get go to get her feet muddy." she remarks as they angle towards an opening in the forest. "They're good folk, keep much to themselves. Though Pacha lets his son Chalm do some trading with the Weyr and other places. Not many get the wanderlust, but it happens. It would have been best of Chalm was there, but he's laid up at Rubicon with a broke ankle. Stepped wrong." she notes.

Matrin's hand tightens the slightest bit on Keziah's shoulder as the green's angle changes, but his comment is for the swamp folks instead. "So before we get there, give me some names and what their positions are? And obviously swamp people is not a good way to refer to them." There's a sheepish sort of grin evident in his tone even if she can't see it as he's behind her. "Is Chalm the only one with regular interaction with outsiders other than you?"

As the get closer to the clearing, a waterfall and a nearby wall of sheer rock can be seen. "Merin and Pacha are brothers who hold jointly. Their wives are Aski and Talmia, respectively. Tarmin, a cousin of theirs, he'll come to the Weyr from time to time. He's their healer. Of sorts. No formal training but he does well enough. I believe it was his mother's father's sister that had formal training. And they just passed the techiniques down. He's got a healthy curiosity, though he's not so good with people." Keziah looks thoughful. "Most of the others really have no wish to leave, though they did allow us to build some new buildings for them. Some storage areas and a place of study, though they don't tend to use it as much, many teaching their kids themselves."

Matrin leans to look down as they near the clearing, but not too far. It's enough to show he's not particularly afraid of heights, but he does still have that tight grip with both hands - one on Kezi's shoulder and the other on the leather around him. "Have any harpers been through, do you know? This is close enough that someone posted to the Weyr should have come through on rounds to at least attempt to teach the children a little. Or maybe they wouldn't have been welcome?"


Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest Clearing
Between stepping over tree roots and pushing your way through ambitiously high bushes, you almost stumble into the clearing before you. Some bizarre force of nature has pushed the trees outwards to form a rough circle that is nearly one hundred feet across at its center. Low grass covers its interior, and curious looking bushes appear to have been transplanted from elsewhere, forming an aisle down it's middle. Their blooms are vibrantly colored and each bush has a strong, pungent aroma that suggests something beyond the ordinary about the fauna in this area.

A large patch of earth off to one side is home to a circle of stones, ash in the center, and a sturdy log has been dragged before it, possibly as a makeshift bench. The earth has been freshly turned in several locations, suggesting that something was buried within the last month. All in all, it appears to be a delightful camping spot. It would be almost idyllic, except for the subtle presence of animal tracks found near the circle's edge and around the makeshift fire pit. The tracks have clearly not been made by man or dragon kin making it foolish to wander too far off the beaten path.

There's no answer right away, but then they are making their descent as Alosynth angles down towards the clearing and then backwings to gently set down. Undoing to the safety staps Kezi remarks "Oh, there's been a few harper's, but most get chased back out. Tis a shame too, I though one for sure would have done well. She got along great with the people, couldn't stand the swamp though." She shrugs a bit as she holds out a hand to help Matrin dismount if he needs it.

Matrin does a decent job of clambering down, but he does make use of that offered hand. It is only when he gets his feet on the ground and has his pack situated that he nods. "The swamp can't be that much worse than the frozen 'Reaches though. I am not the sort that really looks forward to this type of foray myself, but it's our duty." He shrugs, then scrubs a hand through his hair. "If I start to say the wrong thing, just give me a pointed look or something. I really do want them to accept me, for more than just Thea's fact finding mission."

After helping Matrin down she pulls a pack out of her saddle bags and some various other items that she sticks into the pockets of her vest and then she slides down and jumps off herself. "Oh, it's got different problems. You don't have to worry about avalanches so much as you have to worry about getting stuck. There are spots of quicksand, but in general they are easy enough to spot, and the main thing to remember is to not panic and to move slowly. The muck though likes to hold onto you. Create's a vacuum that's hard to break. You can easily lose a boot, but dig it out. You don't want to walk barefoot through the place. Wounds can go septic real easily." She looks around the clearing a moment "The path isn't that easy to find, and I don't keep it cleared on this end so much, so we'll have to do some climbing."

Right. Reeaalll encouraging, Keziah. Matrin sobers, losing his trademark charming grin as he nods through all of her warnings. "Well," he ends up with, rubbing at the back of his neck. "I guess that's why I have you right? Not only are you an expert, but you have a quick way to communicate with Search and Rescue too." He tips his head at Alosynth and tries for a hearty grin. "Keep boots on, don't panic, follow close." Though she didn't say that last he seems determined that it should be part of the mantra. "Lead on, brave Wingleader."


Xanadu Wilds - Wild Forest Path
A narrow path wanders through the heavily wooded forest that is thick with vegetation that continually threatens to overtake what little walking space there is. In some spots it almost entirely disappears, as it does to the west. Large trees loom over the pathway, moss dripping down from their branches and covering the trunks in thick layers. Several old trees lay fallen, some across the path and others off the sides, making it hard to traverse the forest. The sounds of life are rampant through the forest, the avians lay claim to the tree tops and who knows for sure what else lurks through the underbrush. Off the trail itself are numerous pitfalls and large moss covered boulders that make leaving the path a hazardous expedition. Rotting stumps and logs, give way to pernicious bushes and long scraggly broken limbs.

During the day it is fairly dim as the light filters through the green canopy, casting things in constant shadow, while at night it's nearly pitch black. On the up side, most weather is kept at bay as it slowly filters through the verdant plant life. Thus, making it very easy to lose sight of the trail and for the ill informed to easily become lost in the wilderness. Or hurt.

Keziah does lead on "Sure, quick way to communicate, not so quick to get help. Much of the area is too dense to get a dragon into, and they don't really hover very well." she remarks. She relaxes though as they slip deeper into the forest, seeming to be in her element "I got stuck in the swamps once, not here, but firther away, was running some important craft related messages and I wasn't a rider yet either, and I missed my footing and tore up my ankle. Least I didn't break anything. Made it hard to travel." she shakes her head a bit "I wasn't in danger at all, but I was late getting back, by a few days or so and they came looking for me. Talk about embarrasing, though not as much as when I had to be rescued out of a sinkhole by my own wing." she hehs. "Least I wasn't alone, but it was raining, and I was pregnant so I was miserable. Stuck in there with Lan no less. Zafi was there too, so I didn't kill him."

"You know, this is a good time to give you some Harper training, while you give me swamp training." Matrin tosses it out as casually as he can as his longer legs match Keziah's strides. At least for now he's not having any trouble keeping up. "There's this thing called encouragement. I know you're just being realistic, but since I'm already here you might as well let me look at the bright side. Just a little?" He holds up a finger and thumb spaced close - a teeeeeny bit? But there's a grin lurking until she finishes her stories, and then there's a wince. "Pregnant when the ankle thing happened, or the sinkhole? Presumably the former if you mean one of the recent sinkholes." A beat, and he arches a brow. "Lan being Ers'lan I assume. Who's Zafi?"

Keziah stops and looks at Matrin a moment and then says blandly "You're alive right? Isn't that encouragment enough?" After all, she hasn't killed him or gotten killed. "Pregnant with the sinkhole, the ankle was before I was a rider. Mirai was just a little thing at the time. Maybe about as old as Micaela is now. And yeah Lan is Ers'lan. Zafi is Zafirah, she's an apprentice now in the minecraft. One of L'ton's offspring out of K'nan." she notes. She then continues on. "Careful though, easy enough to lose your footing. Watch out especially for fallen logs, sometimes they look solid enough." And here she pauses near one just off the trail. It's covered in moss and looks whole enough except for the ends. She pushes on it in a few spots until her hand goes through. "By soemtimes it's rotted through and can do you some damage. She pulls her hand out and shakes off some grubs. "Sometimes it's just the insides rotted out, leaving the bark, it can make for a decent shelter from wind and rain." she smiles "And if you have trouble dealing with me, how ya gonna make it through with Merin and Pacha?"

For being alive, Matrin dramatically pats down his shirt as if ensuring he is indeed all in one piece, and flashes Keziah a grin. "You got a point there, darlin. And I deal with you just fine. I am just educating you on the finer points of people motivating. It's the least I can do since you are so kindly being my guide." And if there's a dry undertone there, well, gentle words like 'kind' don't generally go along with grub covered hands. "I'm just going to do my best to put my hands and feet where you put yours, and I should be safe. Right?"

"Safe enough, that is unless I make a mistake and step wrong. It's happened before, and I'd advise you to not repeat the error." Keziah suggests. "Still, you should be keeping an eye out as well. Pathways can change though. Let me know though when you need a break, we should be there by evening or so." Course, the day gets older as they head deeper into the forest, at least the canopy keeps much of the suns glaring heat off of them, though it keeps the humidity pretty high as well.

Matrin's not the sort to be flippant about the dangers of either path or eventual swamp, at least not /actually/ flippant. He might joke and tease, but his blue eyes are as keen as they ever get, and he nudges with a toe before putting his weight down fully for most steps. "If you step wrong, I'll catch you. But I'll also know before I put my foot down, since in theory you will already be up to your shins in rotten log. Or whatever." Which is just as encouraging as Keziah has been. After that he's more quiet, carefully picking his way along and taking little sips of water. His stamina isn't totally lacking but he does request the occasional brief break, and otherwise he seems to be able to keep up even if his usual chatter is mostly missing.

There's a snort "Catch me will you? So sure of yourself?" Okay, so flight humour doesn't always translate to non-riding people really well. Still, with the occasional need to climb over or go around deadfall, and avoid some of the nastier bits of vegetation, the way isn't too bad. The path does start to rise as they head up into the hills and mountains and the trees begin to thin a little. It's getting on near the high point of the day. Keziah does stop every now and again to glance around the area and to watch the path behind them before going on.

It takes a moment for Matrin to get it, but he's been at the Weyr a few months now and eventually quirks a grin. "That or I am sure of you and don't think you're too likely to fall." Which could hold a double meaning of its own. When the sun finally reaches its zenith, the harper leans a hand gingerly against a trunk and when he finds it sturdy, releases more of his weight into the rough bark. "I think lunch might be called for, Keziah. Just a quick break?" His eyes slide away from her and back down the path behind him, where she's been peeking at every brief stop. "If you think it's safe."

Keziah snorts a bit and then nods as she looks for a good place to take lunch. "This'll do. Better to have it on fairly dry land, it'll get wetter once we top that rise over there." she notes "And it's safe enough. You don't typically get too many felines back here, though they've been running differently this turn. Wherries are always a concern, but there's enough game they shouldn't bother us. Course, you always have to watch out for renegades. Sneaky bastards." she grumbles as she sits on a sturdy log. "You brought food for yourself, right? And fresh water?"

The first bit sounds good, so Matrin crouches to feel the grass beneath the tree he is leaned up against, and ends up taking a seat on a wide root that breaks through the dirt. Of course after she says it will do she goes on about all the things that might make the area (or any area up here) unsafe at any moment, and his brows go up. "Right. Well, this spot's as good as any then, huh? I thought the swamp would be down from us, not up." He lifts a hand to indicate elevation, but it's quick because the hand moves to his pack next. "I did bring both, yep." And has been taking sips out of one of the two canteens he brought as they've gone. His lunch is light, fruit and a few meatrolls. Satisfying but nothing heavy.

Keziah chuckles "You'll find that not all swamps are located in the lowlands, though it is a great deal likelier. And in a sense it is located in lowlands. The area dips into bowl and the water table is fairly near the surface in spots since drainage is fairly poor it sits and stagnates. The groundwater itself isn't much suitable for drinking in several spots. But there are areas you can draw fresh water. Mainly near streams. Though in Mire, they've dug some channels which keeps things flowing fairly freely. I'd be careful though about drinking the water, it can do you in." she smirks a bit "Cook it though and it's fine, they've built up a tolerance for it, so it doesn't bother them. " She pulls out some food herself and nibbles on it.

Though Matrin is a cartographer and these things can't possibly be new information to him, he nods thoughtfully at Keziah's words. "I will keep that in mind about the water. Will asking to boil water there be seen as rude though? I would hate to decline something they offer." Which might also be part of why his sips are small and his bites just as careful as he eats about half of his food and carefully tucks the rest away, just in case.

Keziah headshakes "Nah, they don't tend to serve water at meals. Course their ale is bit strong. I don't typically drink during meals, so I don't even worry about it much, and I've got a small little cottage that they've given me to use and so I'll heat water there." she murmurs. "Still, it works to heal what ails ya." she adds with a bit of dry humour. After finishing a small amount she puts the rest away and waits for Matrin to finish and then will lead the way up the path and higher into the mountains.

Matrin doesn't take long, neatly packing up and standing with a stretch. "How long do you think we're going to be there, this trip?" Because his pack isn't big enough to have a bunch of changes of clothes in it or anything, and this trek is already taking a little longer than he really anticipated. Add the mention of a cottage to the mix and the question is really a reasonable one. It doesn't keep him from following in her footsteps though, even before she has a chance to answer.


Xanadu Wilds - Murky Stream
In higher ground than the forests to the north, the trees begin to thin out and give way to wider open spaces. A trail leads down a slope to the heavier wooded area, while towards the west the trail follows alongside a rather sluggish and murky stream. Though shallow in most places it is rather wide is if there was no integrity to shallow banks. Dead trees stick out from the muddy water, or lay like forgotten matchsticks along the shore or in the water. The trees lean precariously along the trail, almost as if the ground has shifted under their roots, leaving them ready to fall. In some areas, the stream all but changes into a shallow lake before narrowing again. The ground itself becomes more treacherous as half buried rocks become slick with moss and dampness. As the ground dips lower into bowl like depression in hills, the ground becomes soggier still and large boulders are more in the water than out of it.

"I suppose that would depend on you." Keziah notes. "How quickly you can get out of them the answers or the lack of answers that Thea is seeking." she hmms a little "Considering it'll be close to evening likely, I'd hazard tomorrow night at the earliest. Though, we may be there a few days." she smiles "No worries though, we can put together more food there before the trip back. They've got some good gardons, and I'm sure some of the earlier vegetables will be ready. Late summer or fall's a better time, then there's fresh fruit and berries." As they top the rise, they're more open to the sun and it's certainly is brighter. "This is the worse area I think. Ground can be pretty slick, but it's easier near the stream than away from it."

Matrin arches a brow, though his eyes are on the path and the expression might be lost as they hike along. "As much as arrogance comes easily to me, I'm not going to claim to be totally confident about this endeavor. I'm optimistic but I don't think a day or two is totally out of the range of possibility." The admission's not a terribly easy one, and he heaves a sigh at the end of it. "I'm not too worried about starving to death. There are edible amphibians if nothing else, right?" He quips and shoots her a sidelong grin. "I've got a survival expert at my side, too. Made it out of the swamp on a bum ankle, /pregnant/. You'll get us through even if it goes wrong." But he doesn't seem worried that it will, all things considered, and just nods at her warning that this is the worst area.

Keziah head shakes "No, no, no. I was rescued out of the swamps with a bum ankle, though I did get a fair distance. The sinkhole was in the forest, that's when I was pregnant. Turns between the two events. " She shakes her head a bit and mutters something about forgetful harpers. Was that a touch of wistfulness in her voice? Nah. There's a splash in the water which distracts Kezi and she laughs "Plenty of food, fish as well, and no worries, we won't starve. They'll feed me at the very least and in turn I can share with you." See, she can be nice. Really.

Matrin's toe hooks on a root that sticks up out of the dirt and he stumbles, but it's the sort of thing he can recover from easily enough with a little shuffle of his feet. A quick clearing of his throat covers it, and he tugs at his shirt like straightening out the sweat-damp wrinkles is going to help anything. "Right. Sorry. I guess I'm not as focused on your storytelling as I should be." Maybe because of thoughts of felines and wherries and quicksand and Renegades! His dry smirk retracts from the apology just a bit, but he winks at the end. "So Micaela's how old now?" See, shows he was listening at least that much. He just arches a brow at them at least feeding her, and shakes his head. "You think they would not /feed/ me? Can you think of anything that might get me on their good side?"

Keziah purses her lips a bit "Didn't mean ta be borin' ya." she remarks on his comment about not paying attention and doesn't finish speaking for several moments outside of. "Careful there." As the path twists around with the stream it stays fairly quiet. Then Kezi speaks "She's near a Turn and a half." Quiet again for some moments "It's possible. And I suggest not getting on their bad side." and with that she's quiet again, though she still watches the path and the woods. The insects are heavier through these parts and she brushes away at them.

This makes Matrin blink and he speeds up his steps so he can walk beside her instead of behind her, at least for a minute. "Hey," he says gently, reaching out in an attempt to touch her elbow. "Not boring me at all. I am just easily distracted by the possibility of my imminent doom, that's all." He walks along at her side for a moment or two, then tries again. "Tell me about her? Micaela I mean. You told me a little about Mirai and how you found her before."

"Well, she's little, she's walking." she says simply. Yes, she doesn't easily let things go. "And well, if yer distracted that easily, how'd you even get enough knowledge to walk the tables?" She asks. She then relents a little and hads a few more tidbits "Micaela's mine by blood. From a flight that K'ael one. I was down with an injury so well, Micaela came about."

Keziah isn't the least bit apologetic, but she does let the matter of his training drop. "Romance?" she snorts a bit "No, no romance on his part. NOt that I would expect it. He's quite involved with Zip, and I doubt he even remembered I was pregnant." she notes "So, no. He's not involved and I again I don't expect it. She's mine just like Mirai's mine." Possesive much? Then she looks at Matrin "And since when did something being private stop a Harper? They weedle and needle until they got the information they need. I mean, isn't this why Thea sent you?"

Her easy dismissal of romance brings a faint frown to Matrin's brow, just a vague wrinkle that she might miss entirely as he slows his pace a bit to allow her to take the lead a bit. "Well, I'm a firm believer that one great parent is enough for any child. And of course you have the support the weyr and the nursery behind you here as well." He isn't going to protest her possessiveness at all, though her final harsh words make him blink a little. "Well, I don't /need/ information about your private life, Keziah. And I respect you enough to give you space if you'd prefer it."

"And Mirai helps out quite a bit, as does Cora. She watched Mirai when she was little." she continues on and the ground starts to get marshier, the steps squishy below their feet "Just be careful and stay to the path. This is where a wrong step can be lethal. Easy to step into a 'snakes nest." she comments. She goes on for several moments "Don't suppose I expect you to need or likely even want information on my private life." she remarks "But not much to say about Micaela, though she is lookin' like K'ael. I expect she may get tall, she's a bit taller than Mirai was at that age."

There's some effort made to keep up with names of yet more people Matrin has never met while still keeping his footing. He's a harper though, this is what they do, and so he manages admirably well nodding along. That is until she mentions 'snakes and his brows go up. "Like… lethally poisonous 'snakes?" Oh this whole thing just keeps getting better and better. He clears his throat and trudges on though, shaking his head. "If I didn't want to know more about you, I wouldn't have asked," he interjects lightly. "Is Mirai tall?" There's no comment about Keziah's own slight stature other than a quick little restating of the question as, "Or rather, how tall is Mirai?" Because the little greenrider's perception of height might be a wee bit skewed.

"Some of them are, some aren't. All hurt." Keziah remarks "And Mirai's a bit shorter than I am." she notes. "She's very much like those we are about to meet. Most of them are fairly short, some are taller due to outside blood coming in." she notes and looks thoughful "Are you asking as a Harper or as yourself?" she does ask after a moment.

Some of them aren't, and as that is as close to optimistic as Keziah has gotten all day, Matrin is going to cling to that with a sunny smile. "Alright then, not all that bad." His cheer might be just the slightest bit forced, but the smile does reach his eyes all the same. "Y'know…" he drawls, taking a few quick steps so he can nudge at her arm with his elbow. "Being taller than someone shorter than you is really not that hard. Figuring the little one might be talker than Mirai is probably not much of a stretch." It's a gentle tease and his eyes sparkle with the mischief of it, though he also sneaks a sideways glance to make sure the path's wide enough for him to dodge her reprisal. The grin and glimmer both last through her question and he's quick to answer, "As myself of course. No official business needing to know the details of your children's parentage this week.:

"Would hope not." she notes "Though why you would want to know, I have no idea." she states "And well, once reason I figure Micaela will be taller is that K'ael is almost six feet, so I wouldn't be surprised if she gets taller than I am. Though Mirai still has some growing to do, so she could end up taller than me too." she notes and shrugs. "Well the bridge is coming up so if you want to enjoy the muck for a little bit longer, feel free to me my guest.""

Matrin's steps slow to a halt, and if that doesn't stop Keziah he'll be left in the middle of the path, hands dangling at his sides. "OK, I realize this journey has a purpose and it is not for us to get to know each other better. But we've been hiking for hours and I figured some friendly chit chat wouldn't be totally unreasonable." He folds his arms over his chest and tips his head to the side, eyeing her. "I am not the guy who hurt you, whoever he is. I haven't, to my knowledge, done anything to deserve this whole defensive irritation thing. I'm a nice guy, trying to be a nice guy. I like you, I thought we could be friends." But he shrugs, and stirs his feet to movement again. "But it doesn't matter. Let's just get there already."

Keziah lets out a sigh as Matrin slows "I was being facetious about taking a break. I'd rather be there by dark before more nasties come out." Kezi notes "And who said anything about anyone hurting me? And if you want to chit chat. fine. Talk about yourself. Talk about what you've done. But the interest in my life? What do you have to gain by it?" Okay, so she's being grumpy. "Fine, you wanna no about me? I was born in Lost Hold. I liked animals. I apprenticed to the Beast Craft. I was up at High Reaches. Stood for some Turns. Ended up staying here in Xanadu. Worked in the stables. Ran across Mire Hold, helped pull out some critters. Spent Turns with them and the've finally gotten fairly used to me. Became the stablemasters assistant. Found Mirai. Kept Mirai. Raised Mirai. Impressed Alosynth. Joined Search and Rescue. Trained some weyrlings, got pregnant, went back into Search and Rescue. Had Micaela. Watched a wing member get beat down, went to the Weyrleaders. Action happened, no I'm looking after the wing and taking you into the swamp. It's not a very interesting life now is it?"

Matrin wasn't really taking a /break/ so much as helplessly faltering to a halt, and by the time she's going on about her life in the shortest, least detailed sentences possible he's walking again anyway. He withstands the deluge with a series of rapid blinks then just dips his head. "Even the short version is pretty interesting actually, yeah." But the words are a little flat, even if they aren't accompanied by a frown or any other grim expression. "Since you asked, I hoped I might gain a friend, that's what I hoped to gain. You're smart and tough and funny when you aren't trying to verbally shove me away, and I apparently mistakenly thought that you'd see I'm not trying to gain anything else. But." He shrugs and waves at the bridge. "Seems like you'd better just lead on instead. Believe it or not, I can walk in silence."


Xanadu Wilds - Swamp Bridge
Across the murky and nearly impassible ground is a narrow bridge that is more a walkway that is raised a little ways off the ground. All around, plant life grows rampant through the dank and damp earth that gives the impression of solid ground. A hidden hazard that takes many unawares. Quicksand like places are hard to see until one is on top of them. In some areas, the bridge has fallen into disrepair, while other places show signs of recent fixing. Occasionally, a fallen tree or branch will lie across the path. Life is rampant through the swamp, from insects to avians much of them are easy to see or hear. But also, there can be heard the rustle of tunnelsnakes and the cries of nesting wherries. As the path turns towards the south, the ground becomes wetter and the plants less prolific until there is only the narrow strip of land that holds the bridge up.

Keziah goes silent as she listens, and she does listen but she doesn't say much else for a long time, though this time her silence is different. She's not so much perturbed as thoughful. "Careful." she murmurs softly as she make there way onto the bridge. There is no railing, just a raised footpath. "Some of the boards need replacing again." She takes a breath and acts as if to say something and then she stops and goes forth silently. Murmuring sometimes as she clears branches and limbs off the path way. If anything, she seems at a loss. Not sure what to say.

Matrin keeps his word and walks quietly behind Keziah. Even his firm nod at her caution is unaccompanied by words. He picks his way carefully as she warned, but he is lucky to have a certain amount of natural grace and balance. A bit of tension shows in the line of his jaw but that could be as much felines, renegades, swamp people who'd as soon kill or starve him as look at him, poisonous snakes, quicksand or Keziah herself as worry about the uncertain bridge under his feet. He gives her some mental space, even while he stays close physically, wordlessly helping her with a heavy branch now and then, or holding out a hand to steady her as she straightens with debris in her arms.


Xanadu Weyr - Mire Hold
//Surrounded by mountains on three sides and an expansive swamp on the other, Mire Hold is a combination of wet and dry land. Channels have been built to guide the water from the swamp in slow moving streams, while land space has been built up to support people, crops and animals alike. Bridges and pathways criss-cross across the area, giving solid ground upon which to walk. In larger open areas gray trees stand like sentinels in the water with long moss hanging from their limbs. In other areas, tall pines or deciduous trees stand in small copses. Fruit trees have been planted in many areas and terraced gardens have been built. A wall surrounds many of the residences, though several stone cottages can be found on the outskirts as well. Wooden fences breakup pasture land for herdbeasts and runners as well as other small livestock. Very few places are sturdy enough to support a dragon.

In the midst of the great wall can be found a rather thick bodied tree with thick branches and odd aerial roots that hang vertically down to the ground around the trunk and off of branches in spots. Stone pavers surround the tree and around the areas that have grown back into the ground, creating an almost park like atmosphere. Benches have been placed for seating and the shaded cover provided by the thick and broad oval leaves keeps things cool. Surrounding the tree are three one story buildings. These seem to be fairly new and look a little out of place in comparison to the other buildings. Two have no windows at all, while the third has plenty of windows but is only about half the size. The two windowless ones are storage and the third small one has been built as a place of learning. There are no desks, but there are several pillows that are stacked neatly along the sides, though in general they look unused. Maps and anatomical drawings of cattle and runners and even dragons line the walls, along with charts of the stars and the seas.

"Look. I'm sorry." Keziah finally does say and she runs her fingers through her hair. "Guess I'm not used to people asking so many questions about my life." She clears her throat a bit and then falls silent. They get closer to the end of the bridge, and a open space can be seen ahead of them after the path twists and turns. "I don't mean to take your head off." A pause "Okay, so maybe I do. But I'm sorry. I'll try to be friends. No guarantess that I'll be nice though, but I'll try." ANd with that the bridge comes to an end and there's Mire Hold.

Before they get well and truly into Mire Hold territory, Matrin stops and turns to give Keziah a slow and thoughtful smile. "No need to be sorry, or to be nice for no reason. I like you the way you are, Wingleader. Just try not to assume I am at my worst, or that I always have some villainous ulterior motive and I think we'll just just fine." He takes a moment to slide his fingers through his sweat-damp, messy hair, pushing it into something a bit more neat, and gives his shirt a totally unsuccessful smoothing gesture, then he steps off the bridge and into what may well be enemy territory.

Continues in Mattress Surfing in Mire Hold

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