The Woe Of Ghula - Part One

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow

A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered among the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large ridge that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.

Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

Day has settled into night, Rukbat's light bleeding out in a spill of orange and fire red that precede shadows and starlight, making room for Belior and Timor to percolate shades of grey into a once colorful world. It's summer, the soft hum of insects and wildlife a hush in the air, somehow adding to the taste of summer coating the air and the back of lungs. And there's Fioreyla, settled on a blanket in the meadow, a stack of books settled at her side and seemingly forgotten in favor of watching the moons accompany a sea of stars into the night. The healer is dressed in clothes befitting Summer: a light, long-sleeved shirt with an open back, a pair of pants that might as well be leggings for how thin they are, a pair of boots to tuck them away into and… a scarf? Yes, she's still sporting a scarf, one made of fabric spun from the skies: blue, white, yellow, grey. It's the only thing of note given how very out out of place it is. It's beautiful though, somehow fitting Fioreyla unexpectedly, making the red of her hair seem more vibrant for its contribution to her attire. Thankfully, she's safe from bombastic queens - for now. That might end in disaster.

"VALERIAN!" Pierces the relative calm of the night like an assassin's dagger. It was shrill, unmistakenly female, and immediately proceeded by the sound of rapidly and increasing closing footsteps through the long grass of the meadow and a soft devious chuckle. All this peace disturbing commotion had come from the direction of the observatory and not before too long someone literally leaps over the reading Fioreyla just clearing her head before booted feet once more find the ground, "Oopse! Sorry!" says a young male voice that matches that laughter perfectly, combined with a wicked flash of brilliantly white teeth, wolfish in their appearance, before their owner dashes onward towards a lone tree several yards away. Whoever he is, he scales that sucker like a sharding spider monkey. Up bark and branches, higher and higher until the figure disappears into the thick foliage and all falls back into blessed silence once again.

It's the piercing voice that catches Fioreyla's attention first - how could it not? The stargazing healer apprentice honest-to-Faranth jumps when Valerian's name is called out into the night, violet eyes wide and equally wild when she shifts her body - shoulders, head - in just enough time for a pair of boots to go over her head. She ducks into her own body instinctively, elbows bent and arms coming up over her head to protect from any wayward soles before a familiar voice shouts apologies and Fire's peeking out from between her arms to stare after the direction that Valerian's gone in. There's a blink, two, three, lips parted in startled surprise as the younger teenager disappears up and into a tree. SHE SEES YOU, VILLAIN. SHE SEES YOU AND YOUR VILLAIN MOUSTACHE. There's a beat, two of her looking in the direction of an anonymous voice, head swiveling back to Valerian, and finally the apprentice is moving to her feet, stumbling as she makes her way through the meadow to the tree where she stops just under, turning to make sure the owner of Anonymous Voices R Us is not in pursuit, and then she's bringing her hands together in front of her, wringing them as violet eyes try to pierce through leaves, and branches, and relative darkness to find an odd-shaped shadow. "I d-don't think you s-should be up there," Fire whispers, as if disapproving of his choices to give authority the proverbial bird while still trying to protect him from detection and the repercussions thereof. "It's d-dangerous, you k-know. J-just a sevenday ago, I was here b-because a child fell from one of these trees and f-fell on their head." A beat, a squint as Fioreyla tries to see past the limits of human eyesight. And then, even quieter, "Are you s-still up there?"

Rustle. Rustle. Rustle-rustle. SILENCE. Rustle, quieter, further up. Snap. Snap-snap. Rustle…and then silence from the tree but not behind, distinctly heavier footfalls to the soft grass and a great deal of huffing and puffing. "UGH! You little shit…" breathlessly delivered a ways off from where Fioreyla was watching the stars, the speed of approach slowing in measured increments until they cease entirely. "Oh ho ho…when I get my hands on you…" My, does she kiss her mother with that mouth? Whoever she is she's cursing up a storm as she paces, some perhaps familiar, other actually very creative but sound exceptionally painful for their intended. An profoundly frustrated growl and the heaviness of booted feet carries the bearer away in the opposite direction of that hidey tree, "…oh! I am going to…" Taking its promise of dismemberment with them. Lucky for Fire, she's out of harms away when she climbs to her feet and pitter patters her way to where Valerian skedaddled, her initial attempts to make contact unsuccessful. At least until the woman he can see from his vantage point returns to the observatory and slams the door behind her, only then does the rustling and snapping begin again but in the opposite direction. Around 'are you still up there?' Vale drops down to a lower branch from above and sits himself down upon it, "Sure am…" he grins down at her, grey eyes darting upwards and a moment later he's pulling a twig with a few leaves still attached out of his hair. That is tossed aside, the opposite direction of the girl below, and then hands are employed to the branch so he can lean over and peer down at the concerned young healer. "You know, you're going to give yourself an ulcer worrying about everyone all of the time." A single beat and he tilts his head, "What do you do for fun anyway? Other than see challenge where it isn't and use starcrafters as anchor points?" From wolfish to Cheshire his grin widens impossibly, swinging his dangling legs back and forth like opposing pendulums.

SHE PROBABLY DOES KISS HER MAMA WITH THAT MOUTH, but it's really none of Fioreyla's business who is kissing who with whose mouths - not unless they're spreading communicable diseases, of course. Because then it becomes her business in a hurry. Fire waits out the silence, waits out the cursing, waits out the rustling of branches and leaves as Valerian descends from the tops of trees to their bottom-most branches, settling himself to stare at her and ask her ridiculous questions. There's a flush that comes to Fioreyla's cheeks, for mention of her getting an ulcer from worrying too much, and she's opening her mouth to say, "I'm a h-healer -" when Valerian asks her just what it is that she does for fun anyway. The mention of seeing challenges where there are none, of using starcrafters as anchors as if it was more than one time (effectively bringing back memories of a day when she sprouted wings and courage both and learned how to fly) turns Fioreyla's face the color of her hair, the apprentice struggling for words in the face of wolfish smiles and Cheshire grins that communicate amusement — at her expense. "I'm…" Those violet eyes fall away from Vale's face to her hands, fingers twisting, finding the hem of her shirt as she tries to think about all of the fun stuff she (doesn't) do and finally motions towards her stack of books in a helpless gesture. On a blanket. In the middle of a meadow. Alone. "I r-read," she tells him, somehow going more red. THOSE ARE BOOKS FOR STUDY, BUT SHUT UP. HE DOESN'T NEED TO KNOW THAT. "A-And I p-practice s-stitching on -" She has no life. Woe, but it's true. "A-are you going to come down from there or not?" she asks instead, aiming for stern (and changing the subject) only to fall painfully short.

There certainly was a great deal of amusement dancing around those grey eyes and it would be impossible to disguise that grin which threatens to split his head in half as it manages to widen with the healer below changing colors like the trees in fall, "Faranth, you fluster easily," he chuckles, still swinging those legs back and forth and leaning over, making it appear as if he might fall at any moment. Valerian does glance the way of blanket and medical textbooks, but that holds no interest for him and so returns his full attention to Fioreyla again. He reads plenty of things, covering a plethora of topics, because even the starcraft believes in a well rounded education. Presently, however, he was not in a classroom and there wasn't any one standing over him expecting chapter four be memorized and factoids to be recited like sort of trained circus animal. "No, no, no…fun. You do know what FUN is right?" Vale answers her final question by pushing himself up and off that branch and dropping to the ground a few feet away, knees bent and then standing upright at his full height. Unimpressive as it is. He's dressed for the warmth of a summer night, some cotton trousers of soft cloud gray and a sleeveless deep blue tunic belted at the waist in brown leather. On his feet, decent boots with plenty of tread, the same shade of brown as that belt. There were scratches and abrasions on his naked parts of skin, new and old, as well as a bit of bruising in varying degrees of healing, some smudges of soot or dirt here and there. A bit of useless dusting of his clothing and he shrugs when it persists, turning his gaze back upon Fire. "Fun is the stuff you do between all that reading and stitching…" Squint. Oh, you can't pull the wool over those eyes Fioreyla, he knows them there books is studying books. HE KNOWS. "You know how to swim? Ever climbed a tree to see how high you could get? Ever run through this field just to feel the wind on your face? Played hide and seek?" Blink. Blink. EXPECTATION! "Anything like that?" Two long strides and he gets all up in her personal space, close enough that she can definitely see the minute color variation in those grey eyes of his. Subtle, beautiful, the lashes surrounding them thick and long in that unfair way that males tended to have. "Ever laughed so hard you thought you were going to die?" Palm to the bark of that there tree, leaning in. Slowly, oh so slowly, he lifts a hand upwards and it curls until his pointer finger is the only digit still extended. "Don't make me use this…" Because he will Fire, he will totally use it. He smelled of earth and wild growing things, clean sweat, and something sweet and fruity lingered on his breath which was consumed recently.

Fluster easily?! …Yeah, okay. YOU RIGHT, VALERIAN. YOU RIGHT AS HELL. That doesn't stop Fioreyla from flushing more (as if that were even possible), the tips of her ears going red in an unprecedented attempt to make her one with her hair. NO FIRE TO SEE HERE, JUST A FLOATING RED WIG OF QUESTIONABLE ORIGIN. But you have to give it to her. Fioreyla, despite all her meek timidness, somehow manages to endure Valerian's (RUDE) questions without dissolving into tears, or lashing out in anger, or running away. Those violet eyes raise to find grey when Valerian jumps from the tree, lips parted as if she means to say something and was startled mid-thought to find him suddenly there, on the ground, crouched like a predator on the scent of easy prey. And Valerian doesn't stop there, no; Valerian gets closer. The moment the starcrafter corrects his posture, Fire's hands are reaching for the out-of-place scarf around her neck, pulling at the fabric and twisting it in her hands as if it might provide some semblance of a barrier between them or conjure up the man who gave it to her. No such luck. Sohzen doesn't appear on the scene to save her, and two steps eat the distance separating healer from younger astronomer, leaving Fire shrugging her shoulders forward and drawing her head back, chin tucking in toward her shoulder. He's too close, much too close and she can - "I-I'm n-not…" JOKE'S ON YOU, wolf in training. Sometimes cornered prey kicks, and Fire's shoving out one hand, open palmed, towards Valerian's face, pushing it away as she ducks her head a little lower and stammers, "Y-You s-should l-look at the m-moons. They're r-really b-big tonight. A-Also if you j-jump t-too much from h-high places, you'll r-ruin your knees. You s-shouldn't do that." FLEE. Okay, so she's totally running away, but for what it's worth, she's just trying to make her way out of his space with a backwards stumble and then a quick turn so that she can head back towards her blanket, willing herself to breathe while tucking stray hair behind her ears.

It was like Fioreyla was some sort of malfunctioning chameleon, trying to blend all of herself into the color of her hair and this was both hilarious and fascinating at the same time for Valerian. He just stares, enraptured, as if he expected her to simply go up in flame. Alas, no spontaneous combustion to bear witness to, but neither is there a single reply to any of his questions either. Okay, sure, maybe he had a leetle bit of an issue sometimes remembering that not everyone liked to have him all up in their business…but that endless field of grey darts towards the motion caused by her hand as it comes up and he simply steps back and out of its range. Sorry Fire, no face mushing or pushing for you. Denied, hands sliding into the pocket off his trousers and rocking on his heels, shoulders shaking and Cheshire grin back in its rightful place. Right smack dab on his too handsome face, ugh, frustrating isn't he? There is no pursuit of her, letting her return to her precious books and stitches unmolested further…at least for the next few minutes. Here's a shocker for you healer girl, twirling on those rocking heels he moves away only as much as necessary so that he can drop his back to the trunk of that tree. This puts him in profile as he tilts his chin upwards so that he can do exactly as she has bidden. Grin ever in place, he takes in the beauty of Pern's twin moons, drawing in a slow and deep breath just to let it out gently. He does this for an extended amount of time, gaze full of wonder, even as he breaths a soft, "Never close enough…"

No, no spontaneous combustion for Valerian. NOT TODAY, SATAN. Fioreyla's nickname is Fire for other reasons - reasons that, contrary to what might seem blatantly obvious, has nothing to do with her hair, or her name, or her inability to burst into flames. Valerian's backwards step doesn't faze Fire at all (she's a healer, not a fighter), but she does keep her hand extended into the space just in case the slightly younger teenager has any ideas about getting back into her personal bubble. He doesn't, and it wouldn't matter anyway because THERE SHE GOES, a chipmunk retreating through meadow grass to waiting blankets and a mountain of books. (How the heck did she even get that here?) Give her a moment, maybe two, maybe three, and the healer turns, to bear witness to Valerian's moonlit silhouette nestled beneath the tree he'd just scaled moments before in an attempt to escape mystery women in observatories. One. Two. Three. Four. Fire leans down, pushing books aside until her fingers close around one and she moves towards the starcrafter again, risking proximity and ruining his professional stargazing so that she can open up that book to a specific chapter, and hold it RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS FACE. "T-This chapter has an e-entire s-section regarding the i-injuries and s-severity o-of those injuries when you fall." LOOK AT HER, TRYING TO SOUND ALL STERN AND HEALER-Y, and only managing to sound like a particularly pitiful kitten. A turn of page, and a tap on a sentence. "T-this one is a-about your h-head specifically." And she's putting it down beside him, whether he wants it or not, before she retreats again. ABORT ABORT ABORT.

Hmm, no, it doesn't seem as if the starcrafter had further plan for bubble invasion. There he was against the base of his tree sanctuary with his face pointed towards the sky. Though regardless of appearances, Valerian had Fioreyla in his peripheral, aware of her glancing back at him and then all that rummaging through her stack of reading material before she bravely returns to her eventual doom. The little wolf, awaits, turning his head as she grows closer and peers over at the book that she presents. Brows, lifting ever so slowly upwards in absolute disbelief, and he can't help himself. He laughs, but it's not meant to be mocking in the least, even if she intends to take it that way. Can't help how people react to things that came as natural to Vale as breathing, so it's not especially something he worries too much about. "It's like…you're seeing the runner is dead…yet tip toe up to it to examine it real close…y'know just to make sure…and ultimately decide to beat it anyway…" Grey eyes slide from book to healer and back again, "Apparently, with this very book…" Other than this, there is no other movement, not until Fioreyla is well on her way back to her blanket. At that point, he's dropping into a crouch and picking the text up off the ground, then standing again so he can take a stroll that direction. Unhurried, book resting upon his shoulder as it dangles from long slim fingers, with long looks tipped towards the sky. All of that ceases to be as he plunks himself down among all of the healer's possessions and returns that which she deposited at his feet, scanning bindings quickly and then shooting a particularly toothy smirk her direction. "I knew it…" Yep, all of dems be the books for study. CAUGHT! EXPOSED! "…healer girl…you need to learn to relax. You can't honestly tell me that in all this…" A hand extended to the scholarly stacks, "You've never once come across anything about what stress and this…" Now he gestures to all of her, "…constant worry does to a person?" Up goes the eyebrows, uniformly. "One of these days someone is going to stub their toe and you're stomach's going to eat right through itself."

SHE IS THE ONE BEATING THE RUNNER TO DEATH? Fioreyla's lips draw together, but she can't blush anymore than she already is, so the healer just stays in a perpetual state of myfaceistoohotmyfaceistoohotmyfaceistoohot. She doesn't say anything to refute, dispute, or disagree with Valerian's assessment on her intentions (IE: beating dead horses with medical texts until they realize why it's important to be alive); no, Fioreyla simply RETREATS, because if this were a war and they were standing each other down, Fire'd be General Charles Lee (I'M A GENERAL, WHEE!) and things would not be her speed. OR WOULD SHE BE? Fire hasn't sat down yet, but there Valerian is, book in hand (which those violet eyes are trained on, in case you were wondering) as he makes his way over to her and calls her out on her lies. If Fire could blush anymore, she would do it, but she can't so she keeps her attention on Valerian with a protest on parted lips that will never see the light of day. Her brows draw in, her lips come together, and then Fire is leaning down to pick up the book that Valerian just set back down. See, she could argue with him, or she could just do what she's actually good at and focus on healer-related topics. "N-nobody reads that fast," she tells him instead, as if she HADN'T AT ALL HEARD DISCUSSION OF HER CHOICE IN BOOKS OR THE REALITIES OF WHAT STRESS DOES TO A PERSON. Or that she needs to relax. She opens that book right back up to that same chapter, flips the pages, and then turns the text back to face Valerian. "S-See here, it's talking about h-head traumas. The l-least of which c-could be a mild concussion, b-but you can also develop an d-diffuse axonal injury - b-both of which p-probably seem a l-lot better when you c-consider that o-one of the possibilities is b-brain death and death." LOOK AT HER EYES. SHE SEES YOU VILLAIN. "D-Do you want me to h-highlight other points of interest for you?"

Sitting back on his palms, Valerian blinks a few times as the healer leans in and picks that book he's returned right back up, brows lifting in unison slightly. She doesn't just pick up that book, no, she opens it back up and is flipping through pages. And what does Fioreyla do to that poor dead runner after beating it with her precious text? Why she starts to bash at it again, and she does it with style because all of her definitely matched her hair. It was the sort of color coordination that could only be described as the highest caliber. Drawing in a soft breath, Vale exhales in a heavy sigh, grey eyes not on the words she was repeatedly suggesting he read (I mean, why should he at this point, because she was practically reading them to him) but on her redfruit colored face. Was it embarrassment or frustration that had made her that way? Perhaps a combination of both? His gaze moves on as she speaks towards her hair, admiring the texture that he could only imagine at this point as well as style in which she kept it before moving on to appreciate the depth and variation of color. Were both her parents redheads, just one, a grandparent, or was it a genetic throwback from a generation long since past? Suffice to say, he wasn't listening to a single thing she was saying. His lips curl back into that grin, shoulders shaking as a wandering thought suggests to him that any children born of them in an alternate dimension would probably be completely deaf. Oh, right, not listening. Tuning back in, he clear his throat and tries (and fails) to put on as serious as an expression as he can manage (it is not effective), "I'll tell you what," he begins to say, patting the blanket space in the spot right there in front of his folded legs. "Sit, back to me, and you read me everything that you're trying to say." That way, Fire doesn't have to look at his ugly mug (he was damned handsome, that devil)? "While you do that, I'm going to take some of these…" A hand spread gestures to the gorgeous fragrant flowers that surrounded them, growing between the high blades of grass, "…and weave them into that pretty red hair of yours." Dropping back to his palms, his head tilts to the side, brows aloft. "That way, we can both stop pretending that we're having an actual conversation where we're both listening to the other, and actually listen to one another." Wolfish grin spreading, hopeful, and silent.

Fioreyla looks… startled. It's the best conclusion to her expression, when brows rise over violet hues and lips part in a surprised 'o' without sound. Her gaze falls away, from wolfish grins to the flowers his hands indicate with that open-palmed gesture, and then jumps back to find grey eyes with violet. She catches her bottom lip between her teeth, worries it as arms holding heavy tomes sink until she's hugging the open book against her body and then she tries for words. "I'm -" There must be something moving in the distance, because Fire's gaze jumps there immediately. Every ounce of tension leaves her body, and for just a moment, the healer looks… exhausted. It's gone by the time violet eyes are shifting back to grey again, and Fioreyla's offering a timid smile that quirks at the corners of her lips but diminishes nearly as quick as it's come - the kind of expression you might expect to find on the face of somebody unsure of what to do or say. "Y-you don't h-have to be…" Nice to her? There's a soft sound that escapes her, a shift of her body as she shifts gears and looks from her books, to her blankets, to Valerian. "I have to go." It's a whisper, soft, tentative, delivered as if worried he might misinterpret her intention. She's placing the book in her arms back onto her stack, and then hauling the stack up with some difficulty against her body. She balances it against her stomach, peering out at Valerian from around the stack with another of those smiles before she breathes out, "I m-mean it about the f-falling." And there she goes, leaving her blanket to Valerian as she stumbles towards whatever - or whoever - it is that's appeared in the distance, waiting immobile at the edges of vision like a silent wraith.

Startled was…good? The change in expression certainly widens the split of Valerian's mouth, the firmness of his shoulders lessening to indicate a measure of relief? What was that about? There is a blink however as she jumps, remaining perfectly still, as an ornithologist might while observing a particularly skittish breed of rare avian. Maybe if he made no sudden movements, she would settle and relax at last. Grey eyes move to that worried lip, to the book she hugs against herself, and then back to her mouth with the emergence of speech. Waiting, patient. Vale was learning, you see, through trial and error what was the best was to approach someone so inherently timid. It wasn't in his nature to remain still for too long, even in sleep twitching and turning throughout the day, driving those apprentices on the cots on either side of him absolutely mad. His gaze follows hers as it sees something in the distance he can not, but quickly darts back to her face in time to see the change in demeanor. Interesting. Violet to grey and now it was his turn to look startled, albeit it fractionally so, for that smile. Blink. Blink-blink. That happened right? He wanted to rub as eyes and stare to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing but on one hand he didn't want any progress to be lost by moving a muscle, and on the other it was gone just as quickly as it had shown up. Shoulders are lifted and dropped in a shrug, anticipating the rest of her unfinished statement. "Eh, you make it pretty easy actually…" To be nice. Damn it, moved AND spoke. Bad Valerian. And true to his suspicions of what would happen, Fioreyla indeed was taking here leave. Blink. Then, he is the epitome of relaxed, breathing out a soft sigh as she hefts her stack of knowledge and returning her smile with one of his own. Gentle this time, and resigned. You win this round, healer girl. "Hmm hmm, I know you do…" he says, nodding, remaining where he is on her blanket like he's claimed the thing and lets her get a few steps away before his voice follows, "…and I meant it about the relaxing…" Off she goes, a wince or two for all that stumbling before he gathers himself up to his feet and collects that there blanket. Oh, he'd return it. The perfect opportunity to try a different tactic. Chuckling, he heads off, away from the observatory because there was no way in hell Ghula had forgotten he'd pilfered her bubbly stash yet.

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