Xanadu Weyr - Thea's Clearing

This clearing is sheltered by a thick canopy of trees, which seems supported at its centre by an immense, wild-growing fellis tree. Hanging from one of its high branches is a swing, made up of two ropes and a seat of softwood and leather. The grass is tall here and interrupted in places by clusters of white and blue alyssum. Alyssum covers the indentation of the wallow, remaining hardy despite being continually crushed. The constant sound of herdbeast in their pens can be heard close-by, though its source is invisible through the foliage.

The cottage itself is made of white softwood, like birch, though creeping vines cover all four of its walls from the outside and even encircle the brown-shuttered windows and matching door.

While higher up in the mountains above Xanadu the forest is still coming back to life, green shrubs, grass and seedling trees sprouting to replace the stark burned trunks that still stand sentinel above them, closer to the Weyr, the forest remains the same, thankfully untouched by the flames. The woods around this sunlit clearing are teeming with life today, insects hum and avians flit about undaunted by the gold dragon sleeping amongst the carpet of allysum. The vine-covered cottage appears untenanted with windows shuttered and door locked, save for the dragon, there's no one in sight, although there's a voice singing softly. It's hard to say where it's coming from though.

Osric is exploring, or at the very least looking for somewhere that he can be alone for a while. Over one shoulder he carries a small bag, and in his hand he has a small notebook, neither of which seem to be in very good condition. it is the trees that mostly bring him in this direction, glancing around to see if any would be easily climbed, but it's first the swing that causes him to pause, then the presence of the dragon. Slowly, he begins to back off, not wanting to disturb anyone.

Natishen must have taken a wrong turn at Albequerqueth's weyr, because this isn't exactly where he expected to end up. Of course, his distraction could easily be attributed to the tiny bronze and green firelizards perched on either shoulder, squabbling quite vocally with each other around the back of his head. The expression on his slightly bruised and abraded is one of weary annoyance as he stops at the entrance to the clearing and looks around, clearly uncertain of where he is or how he ended up there.

It's easy to miss the sound of footfalls in grass, especially when you're singing. But squabbling firelizards, while a common enough sound heard around and about Xanadu is enough to halt the voice, which the two might note after a few minutes is coming from overhead. Thea must surely have touched the queen's mind, for the gold cracks an eyelid, croons sweetly to the two and continues to watch them. "Hello?" Yes, the greeting comes from that fellis tree, the owner still not visible and it's likely she cannot see them either, but isn't she lucky to have another pair of eyes on the ground?

Osric turns a full circle trying to find the location of the voice and as he spots Natishen he pauses, trying to make the voice and the face match up in his head. The look on his face suggest absolute failure in that task. "Hi." His greeting is polite, and he quickly adds, "Didn't realise there was anyone here. Sorry."

Natishen's expression turns from confused to anxious, and the two firelizards on his shoulders abruptly stop their vocalizations at the queen's croon, turning as one to gape at her. "Er." He eyes Osric, but, fairly certain that the feminine voice doesn't belong to the other young man, instead directs his attention out into the clearing. "Hello. Sorry - must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Don't mean to intrude." His voice, while still pitched high from youth, is definately no match for Thea's.

Branches rustle just a bit overhead, twigs snap but there's no appearance of the clearing's owner just yet, only an amused voice that calls lightly, "No need to apologize." Seryth's tailtip twitches, an amused rumble coming from her chest. Thea calls lightly, "Do either of you climb trees? I could use some company." So not your average weyrwoman is she and if they're here long enough, they'll hear all about that.

Osric stares at Natishen for a moment and finally decides the voice was definitely someone else. The rustle from the leaves is another large hint. Glancing up this time he replies to Thea, "Depends if we'll get in trouble for climbing them. People can be a bit funny about trees sometimes." He glances over to Natishen for a second, giving him a quizical look before glancing back at the trees, then back to the other man with an expression that suggests 'any clue which tree?'

Natishen is familiar with Thea's reputation, if not the weyrwoman herself, but as he's unaware that this is her clearing, that information doesn't help much. Pursing his lips in a considering expression, he glances first at the green, then the bronze, then at Osric, then shrugs fatalistically. "Er, yeah. I can climb a tree pretty good. Well. Whatever." His gaze flickers among the branches, seeking out the owner of the voice. "Where are you?" The easiest way to get an answer, after all, is to ask the question.

"This one's mine." Thea answers, "and you've been invited?" Which one? Oh, right. It's in the middle of the clearing, but that's surrounded by trees also. Quiet laughter floats down through the leaves. "I'm in the big one - the one with the swing? Do you see it?" There's a pause then she adds, "The one Seryth's lying half under." Ignore that huge tooth-filled head there by the trunk.

Osric shrugs a little, but can't argue with Thea's reasoning. Once the tree directions have been given he wanders over in that direction, pausing to put his notebook into his bag, and then secure the bag tightly so that it doesn't slip off. "This has to be a first, someone up a tree not throwing things." He grins, but then eyes Seryth for a moment before stepping slightly to one side of the tree and nodding to Natishen, "After you."

Natishen nods to Osric and pays no more mind to the queen then it takes for him to offer her a cordial "Hello!", before he's got his sandals kicked off and is up the tree like a monkey, fingers and toes finding holds in the trunk that couldn't possibly have existed before. The two firelizards on his shoulders take wing, crying shrilly and circling about his head as he grabs the lowest branch and swings himself up amongst the foliage, seeking out the hidden goldrider. "Lady?" he calls warily.

"Oh, I don't throw things. I shoot them. And it's Thea, please," comes the merry voice from above. Once they're nearer the trunk they can see her way up there. She's leaning out and peering down at them from what looks like a split log bench, the wide seat - made long ago with sturdy split logs is fastened by long wooden pegs that also anchor it to a three-branch y in the huge limbs. "There's room for three up here," she tells them with a cheerful smile of welcome, watching their ascent with a twinkle in her sea-green eyes.

Osric is far from graceful when he does climb up, feet scrabbling at the trunk to get some sort of support and another tear appearing in one knee of his trousers. It seems neither of these facts are of great embarassment, and his ascent may be slow but there's no falling back down. When he can finally see Thea properly he smiles, "Nice tree. Thank you for the invitation. I feel like I should ask if you come here often, but I don't want to go back down the quick way."

Natishen grins at Thea as he swings into a place, perching agilely on the branch. He has, after all, the advantage of youth on his side - and the fact that climbing trees is a great way to get away from someone intent on punching your face. As he settles on his seat of choice, his two firelizards wing in and land nearby, scolding him in stereo until he sticks his tongue out at them and waves a hand. "Oh hush, you have wings." Without a hint of embarassment at being caught talking to a pair of animals, he peers down through the branches. "Need a hand?" he asks Osric, smirking.

"You climb just like an old friend I used to have. He was the only other person I invited up here," Thea says to Osric with a briefly-sad smile pulling at the corner of her mouth, but then she brightly adds, "Except you're not grumbling all the way up." Sliding over on that bench to give them room to sit if they so choose, she eyes those raucous firelizards askance. "That clutch in the bathing caverns hatched, yes?" She's guessing so anyway. Maybe hoping is more like it.

"I'm fine." Osric replies to Natishen. "I just need to…." he pauses, trying to swing a leg up. It takes two attemps but he's soon up beside them and can grin at Thea. "I would grumble, but it just gets distracting after a while." For the first time he looks at Natishen's winged companions, "Newly hatched? How many were there?"

"Yes'm," Natishen replies politely to Thea. "Most of 'em, anyway. I think there were eight or nine gone by the time things quieted down and I was able to scoot out of there. This 'un, Chanteuse," and he jabs a thumb at the green, "she came to me while I was bathing. But Mikado," and this time he indicates the bronze, "his egg showed up in my stuff. I think Moria put it there, some of the others in the dorm said they'd seen her putting some eggs in peoples' things. She seemed eager to be rid of them." This is clearly baffling to the boy, given the dubious expression on his face.

"Not to mention annoying to others," Thea smirks back at Osric. "And likely to get you tossed as well." As if she could manage that! Her look of relief is short-lived, "Oh not all of them?" Dismay clearly evident here. "Please tell me they removed the ones that didn't?" Yes, because otherwise someone's going to sponge bathe in her own weyr until they are gone. "Moria did that?" The idea brings a shudder and a grimace, "So glad I left when I did. I'd never have thought to check my stuff."

Osric seems impressed by the numbers, "That's a lot of eggs. Hopefully none of them got smashed if they were just tucked into people's things. Can't remember seeing any the last time I was in there so maybe it's safe now." This last is directed at Thea, before he asks of Natishen, "Do they eat a lot?"

Natishen's brow furrows and he stares incredulously at Thea, but whatever questions are trembling on the tip of his tongue, he's not brash enough to give voice to them. Instead, he merely shakes his head at her, a bit disappointedly, and turns towards Osric. "A fair amount," he replies, lips tugging up in a grin. "Miss Moyra was helping me feed them this mornin', and she says they eat as much as I do, which must be a lot, 'cause she says I can pack it away as much as three other boys." Only an adolescent boy would be proud of that fact - and Nash seems quite tickled by it, indeed.

On a branch nearby there's a brown firelizard reclining quietly, watching the younger pair, but making not a sound. So well-behaved. Thea doesn't bat an eye at the thought of eggs being smashed by accident, merely shrugs indifferently. "My two did when they were just-hatched." She tells them both with a fond eyeroll at the lounging brown. Natishen's look of surprise is noted as her eyes move, "What?" She hasn't a clue really what's on his mind, so she smiles encouragement for him to speak, grinning at his bragging.

Osric grins back at Natishen, "Has she offered you a shovel instead of a fork yet?" There's a moment's pause while he moves a little on the seat, loosening the bag so that it rests beside him. "Who else impressed one, can you remember?"

"Nothing, ma'am," Nash replies quickly, eyes widening in a look of innocent surprise. It doesn't look good on him. He just doesn't have an innocent-type face. No cherubs here. "Daily," he smirks at Osric. "But I'm a growing boy." He lifts one foot and wiggles his toes. "I've gotta grow into these, after all." Yeah. He'll be a tall one once the spurt starts. "At least," he adds pensively, "I hope I do, 'cause I'm all sorts of tired of tripping over myself." That could be why he's all bruised and scraped up - probably not, though. "Uh. Well, I didn't really recognize anyone else there. I think they were all really new t' the Weyr, or visiting."

Thea swings her legs idly while listening, but that eyeroll at the brown draws him over her way. She needs her stole! He rises with a stretch and a yawn, walks along the branch until he can reach the back of that bench. From there it's an easy step to curl around her shoulders where he can accept her chin-scritches and accept her quietly murmured welcome of, "Hey Shep." She slants a curious look at Osric's bag. "So what's that you're carting around with you?" She shakes her head with a baffled half-smile at Natishen, "Thea, please, not Ma'am. And you can speak your mind around me. I promise I don't bite." Encouraging, coaxing even before she snickers and adds, "Ruin now, he bites. Might not want to try touching him."

Osric grins at Natishen, resisting the urge to add a chuckle as well. "Ask for a number six if she offers again, it confuses them." He blinks at the sudden, or sudden to him at least, arrival of the older brown. "What?" The blink is turned on Thea, "Sorry. It's just… stuff. Redfruit, sandwich, waterskin… diary." He slows down as he lists what's in the bag, fading off completely halfway through the word diary.

Natishen snorts softly. "Diary! That's for girls," he says, with all the good-natured contempt of the teenaged boy he is. Smirking once again at Osric, he glances at Thea out of the corner of his eye. "And you're ma'am, because if Miss Moyra ever heard me call a goldrider just by her name, she'd skin me. She's such a stickler for prop- propr- manners." He snorts again, then flushes slightly and goes back to attempting, and failing, to look innocent. "But I'm just confused why anyone wouldn't want firelizards. They're so… firelizards!" That says it all - in so many ways.

Thea is busy giving Shep some loving - /he/ deserves it! "Might ask for a spade instead?" She suggests sweetly to the teen before raising a brow at Osric's bag. "Diary. Hah. I thought only girls kept those." It's said pretty much at the same time Natishen speaks. Her eyes lift dancing with merriment, "Care to read to us?" Yeah, fat chance of that, right? She snorts at Natishen, "Do you work for her or something? I outrank her anyway." She dismisses it with an airy flip of her hand, "I go by Thea." And if he's grown up here, he knows that already. His comment about firelizards though. She's got to clarify. "I have two and only one could really be called a firelizard. Ruin is a monster. /He/ only comes around when I'm unhappy, which is rare these days." And then she smiles radiantly.

Osric doesn't have the courage to glare at Thea, but the look he gives Natishen is one of annoyance. "Yeah. Well. Not all." He sits grumpily for a moment, glaring at the leaves because they won't fight back. "I should get going." He doesn't move immediately, the comment comign from sulking rather than an desire to move.

"Mean firelizard? For real?" Nash's eyes narrow slightly as he studies Thea, then he perks up. "Hey, you just had babies, didn't you?" he asks, voice piping as he bounces slightly on his branch. "I think I heard about that, didn't I? Hey, you should let Miss Moyra help you. She's really good with kids - I mean, she says I turned out okay, even if sometimes I seem to be lacking that little voice that says when maybe I should just calm down and shut my trap." Case in point, nein? "An' I work for her, but that's 'cause she's all but raised me, so now it's my turn to help her like she helped me all those years, y'know?" In a mecurial shift, he makes big, sorry eyes at Osric. "Oh hey, don't be upset. I'm sure lots of guys keep diaries. I bet lots of the greenriders do! Just shows you're, uhm… what is it they say? Sensitive. Yeah. Girls like that, I hear." Coming from a thirteen turn old boy, that may not be much of a compliment, or a help.

"Suit yourself," Thea says to Osric with a smirky grin for his sulking, which only grows as Natishen goes on about greenriders and sensitivity. "My brother wouldn't be caught dead keeping a diary. But then, that would involve writing, so…" Either he's lazy or illiterate? She nods with a slight laugh at the younger teen's enthusiasm, "Yeah? And does Miss Moyra know you're out and about volunteering her for nanny duty?" There's a pause as she switches mental gears, "Ruin isn't mean. He's evil." There is a difference, apparently!

Osric opens his mouth to make a comment back to Thea, but thinks better of it. He and his grump do finally take their leave, though his descent is almost as graceless as his earlier attempt at climbing, and in fact he slips and tries to cover the drop to the ground as having been intended. He does at least call a farewell as he grumps off on the way back to the beach, pausing for a second before he vanishes from view to look back at the tree. For a second there's a smirk tugging at the edges of his mouth, but he turns quickly and heads off.

"Gee, I didn't mean to upset him," Nash murmurs to Thea, watching Osric grump off with a hangdog expression on his young face. His green eyes raise, zip to the goldrider, and he gazes pleadingly at her. "I didn't say anything mean, did I? I mean, I try not to do stuff like that, and not only 'cause I don't like the taste of soapsand. Miss Moyra says its not nice, and I don't like it when the others tease me." Clearly out of sorts from the other young man's reaction, he grips his branch and stares down at the ground, frowning. "Oh. And I'm sure Miss Moyra wouldn't mind. She likes kids, even if we're all surely the reason she's got all that white hair. Or so she says. I think it's just 'cause she's old."

Thea leans over to watch Osric's descent with a bemused grin, giving the young man a finger waggle of farewell should he look up. Her eyes are still dancing with amusement when she looks back to Natishen. "Him? Nah, I wouldn't worry about it." She shakes her head causing her dark hair to sway. "He looks close to my age, so you know, he ought to be able to take a little teasing now and then." She considers Natishen's so generous offer of his nanny, "Well, if Miss Moyra wants the work, I could use help sometimes with two of them, yes. In the evening around dinnertime, and I'd pay her for her time." She's smirking for some reason, "Can she train adults too?"

"I've seen older riders jump when Miss Moyra speaks up," Nash replies solemnly. "She's been around for ever and ever. She's raised /everyone/. I'm sure she can help if you just ask her." And Natishen will probably get an interesting lesson himself after she has. But it's clear the young boy dotes on his foster mother. "So, Miss Thea, why you up in this tree, anyway? Not that I blame you, trees are fun, but aren't you a little…" he trails off, brow furrowing in concentration, "uh, adult to be climbing trees?" That was a clear editing job - but at least he managed to stop himself from going with his first impulse.

For some reason Thea finds this vastly amusing, "If she can teach him to jump, all the more reason to hire her. But I need her to convince him they're not made of glass first." She chuckles to herself, casting a look askance at Natishen's question, "There's an age-limit on climbing trees is there? Huh. No one sent me the memo." She sounds exaggeratedly aggrieved, but her shrug says otherwise. "I guess you could say old habits (not -that- old though) die hard? And it's one place I can get away from… things?" She looks left, then right and leans to whisper impishly, "Shh, no telling, but the office staff would never look for me here."

Natishen's eyes widen slightly, and he nods earnestly. "Don't worry, Miss Thea, your secret is safe with me, I promise. And I don't know about no age limit, but I never seen another adult climbing trees. I think it's cool," he adds hastily, offering her a reassuring smile. "Kinda like when D'son played kickball with me in the gardens. Nice to know not all adults think spending time with kids is bad."

Thea, well she sort of blinks at being taken seriously. She pats the bench seat she's sitting on. "I found this when I first moved into that cottage down there. Came up to sit a lot and think while I lived there." The mention of D'son draws a genuine smile, "Oh he's really nice! He was a fine Weyrleader. And y'know a lot of grownups like kids." The way she says it, she's not really including D'son or herself in that category. "I like to do a lot of fun things, though. Sitting around is for old people."

"Not all adults though," Nash replies, somewhat sourly, before he fits a slightly lopsided smile on his face. "But they just don't know what they're missing, right? 'Cause kids are all kinds of fun, especially the little ones." Thus stated from his lofty turns. "What kind of fun things do you do?" he asks curiously. "I mean, besides climb trees and tease silly boys."

Thea laughs, agreeing. "True enough. But there's some of them you'd be glad don't want to spend time with you. Master Fraille, for example." Surely all the weyrbrats know she eats children routinely. She's snicker-coughing after saying that and it's a moment before she can get it under control, "Uh, well. I like flying on Siebith with D'had." He ought to be well familiar with the blue's reputation for rollercoaster-style flying. "And playing tag, mudfights and swinging out over the swimming hole on a rope when I go back home." As if that weren't enough she adds brightly, "And I'm going to learn to sail the boat I bought and learn how to fish too." She pretends to pout, "If I can ever get someone to teach me."

Natishen's eyes get round with shock. "Are you really a girl?" he demands, staring hard at her. Fortunately, his gaze is on her face, and not on those attributes certain to prove that she is, indeed, of the female variety. "I don't know any girls as like all that. Most of them just wanna play with their dolls or primp themselves up and make google-eyes at the riders. You're like… a boy! Only not. That's so cool."

A rich peal of laughter rings from Thea. Her eyes are still brimming with mirth as she nods. "Yes, I'm a girl, but don't tell my brother, hey? He'll never believe you. He doesn't think I'm even human." She grimaces at dolls, "My friend Phylicia climbs trees too. Next time you're in the Infirmary, ask for her. She's one of the healers." Note that ''next time'. Because she's so sure with all those scrapes and bumps he's sporting that he's there regularly. As for cool, she smiles, "Well thanks! I'm glad you think so. When you're older, though, I'd wager you'll be mighty glad there's girls who make google-eyes."

"I try to stay away from the healers," Nash mumbles, rubbing self-conciously at a particularly large bruise on his right arm. "They just poke and prod and make things hurt worse." Dropping that line of conversation, he wrinkles his nose instead. "Girls are silly," he replies stoutly, but with a slightly uncomfortable note in his voice, and he shifts slightly on his tree branch, adjusting the way he's sitting. "I don't got time for them. I got chores to do, and I gotta keep up with my lessons. Miss Moyra says the dragons prefer smart kids, so I gotta stay smart so that I'll Impress." Miss Moyra certainly knows how to handle her charges.

"And they give you awful-tasting medicine and boring lectures too." Thea fills in with a grimace. She just smiles at his claim, "They say the same thing about boys you know." She stretches and Shep chirps questioningly, rising to drop from her shoulder and glide away through the branches. Miss Moyra knows her motivational skills too! Speaking of studying… Thea stretches and begins to lower herself to the branch below with a grin, "I need to head out and get ready to practice burning stuff." Yay flamethrower drills! "Now -that's- some fun!" As she climbs down she adds, "Feel free to stay as long as you like, Natishen."

Natishen looks a little crestfallen as she prepares to leave, but far be it for him to stand in the way of duty. "Well. Have fun playing with fire." Is that a bit of jealousy in his tone? No doubt - like any boy, burning things would probably be the height of entertainment. "I hope to see you again sometime. I like talking to you," he adds, a bit shyly.

And if Thea's gaze wanders guiltily out towards those burned-out forests in the mountains when he says that? It's totally by coincidence - honest! As she swings down to the ground, she smiles up at the teen. "Same here, Natishen. Stay out of trouble, okay? Or at least, include me in on the plans?" She -might- be serious? But before he can ask her, she's off down the trail with a casual wave over her shoulder, followed by a sleepy Seryth to attend afternoon drills.

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