Bang Those Rocks!
PASTE


Xanadu Weyr - Firelizard Theatre
A natural clearing in the forest has grown a different sort of tree. The Courtyard of the Firelizard holds grass trampled into dirt around the wooden play structures.
In the northern part of this field lies a jungle-gym like fort, with two towers that soar to fifteen feet of height. One of them adjoins a large open deck with spiral staircase up and a metal slide down. That aside, the structure's made almost entirely of wood, the boards locked together either by being interlocked or by huge wooden bolts hammered into the boards. The towers are studded with uneven boards and rough spots, various climbing challenges on each of their faces. A swaying rope bridge with wooden slats connects the towers, and beneath it there's a sealed tunnel to run through or play minecraft.
Just past the fort, there are wooden sit-toys carved and painted into the likeness of dragons. They're about two feet high and four feet long, though the green is smaller than the blue. There's a place for a child to sit on the dragon's back, with their feet resting on the dragon's paws and hands on the bars bars attached to the neck of the dragon. Pushing with hands or feet will make the dragon rock and writhe.
In the middle of the field are two sets of swings, suspended by rope from from a wooden beam that's held up by crossbraces on either side. There's a set of monkey bars, made entirely out of wood but carefully polished until the dark bars glow, and a set of seesaws. The sandbox is set back a little from the rest, filled with sand from Xanadu's beach and scattered with buckets and shovels.
//Trees border the area, including a massive Lemosian ironwood that has beneath its branches wooden benches with a view of the playground.


There are so many fun things for children to play with, here at the firelizard theatre! Swings. Bouncy dragons. Slides! So many fun things to do! Carefully designed with children from tiny to less tiny in mind! Which… does not explain why, on this bright summery morning, one little tot in a green jumper is sitting in the dirt banging two rocks against each other. Bang, bang! Smash! The girl giggles happily, and D'lei - who is sitting cross-legged next to her - gives a bemused smile and a little shake of his head. "…you want to swing?" he asks, which gets… another giggle, followed by another bang of rocks. She's… good, apparently?

There is probably a correlation, between the expense of an item and the amount of joy children find in it. Like felines. The more you spend, the less they like it. Fancy Firelizard Playground that took time, and effort, and MONEY to build? Meh. But free rocks on the ground? BEST TOYS EVER! Sounds legit. At least she's not trying to kill D'lei with the rocks? Small victories. Sephany is also not going to attempt murder of the bronzerider, by rocks or any other means. At least at present. She's contenting herself with sitting on one of those aforementioned singing devices, the tips of her toes touching the ground to allow a gentle sway back and forth without putting too much effort into the motion. Casual. Absent-minded. Following along as children run hither and thither and caretakers either chase, or don't chase, in various stages of excitability. The weaver? Sans child. And sans mending. Which is new, really. Work-life balance. Maybe it's a thing she's trying. So grey eyes find tot-and-rider, watch that rock-banging with mild interest, and then crinkle up in a bit of a grin as she laughs in amusement. "How old is she?" Because clearly they are close enough to talk without yelling across the playground.

…yet. She's not trying to kill D'lei yet. Give her time! And… maybe some bigger rocks. She'll get there eventually! Even without the lessons that Sephany could presumably (but does not) provide. D'lei looks up from that amused shake of his head to Sephany, and grins to her as he leans back a bit with hands on knees. "A turn and a bit," he answers. Which the toddler - of course - takes as her cue to join the conversation. Her father talking to her can be ignored, but talking to someone else? That must be joined! "Roh!" she declares, holding it up to him for sage noddings and- then she presents it to Sephany, proving her knowledge by repeating that this is, in fact, a "Roh!"

A push of toes, a gentle swing back and forth, and a grin. "She's adorable," because all babies are adorable, until they are in the throes of an epic meltdown. "Hi cutie," is offered from Sephany to child, along with wrinkled nose and twinkling eyes and a wide, teeth-flashing smile. A lift of fingers from the rope they've wound around, and she offers a little wiggle-wiggle of a wave. "Does she live… here?" wondered curious before knowledge is being demonstrated in the offering of rocks and their names. "Yes! That is most definitely a rock." A drop of feet to ground, and Sephany stands from her swing and takes the requisite steps needed to come closer for a better look. "And a good looking one, at that."

D'lei grins, with a glance to his daughter and a light ruffle for her back before he looks back to Sephany. "Her name's Selene," he offers on the little girl's behalf, because, well, she's more interested in showing off her rock to an appreciative audience. Such a beaming face! Okay, yes, she needs a bath, but that's what happens when toddlers get to play outside. They get dirt on them, the better to go with the rock that grubby fingers extend toward Sephany. "She's… well." A wry smile with a faint edge of grimace. "She lives here half the time." D'lei pulls his expression back toward a genuine smile for Selene as he looks back to her. "The rest of the time, you live at Half Moon, don't you?"

One hand is extended. Delicate fingers and pale palm offered up, far cleaner than the rock-baring one, for the acquisition of said item should the child wish to bestow it upon the weaver. "Hello Selene," is also offered. "I'm Sephany." Not that the blonde at all expects her to pronounce, remember, or even care about such things as her names. It's courtesy. A glance, grey eyes from beaming child-face to grimacing bronzerider; an 'ah' expression of understanding for the half-time habitation. "It is not such a bad way to grow up," she decides, sweeping her free hand back to gather her skirt and allow her to drop into the sand. It washes out, right? Sure. "I grew up… mostly in Igen, and about a quarter of the Turn in Ista," is the explanation. "Logistics are more challenging when your parents aren't dragonriders but… it worked out."

Selene pauses a moment as the opportunity comes to actually give her rock to Sephany. She wants it to be appreciated, certainly, but it's hers… but… ooh, introductions. Selene beams to Sephany, and declares, "Se!" Is that her name, or the name she's just been told? Who knows! But, whichever it is, this is clearly friendship enough that the rock can be delivered into that palm - followed by the toddler taking hold of those fingers to help herself pull up to her feet. D'lei tilts his head a bit, half watching her while still paying attention to Sephany in that way that parents learn. "Yeah?" is an encouragement to keep going, and he follows it with a nod. "Her mother and I are both riders, so… that part's simple enough." He exhales, and the crooked smile returns. "It makes her sleep schedule a mess sometimes, but… so's mine, I suppose. So that works out." A grin, glanced up to Sephany, and then it fades a bit toward curiosity. "Does it make it hard to… have friends, though? I mean, right now it's fine -" cue the glance to Selene, patting at Sephany's hand and giggling "- but… when she's older."

Sephany will certainly not keep that rock indefinitely, though when it's offered over there's an amused laugh and a bright, "Thank you!" of appreciation. Her arm stiffens, muscles taut as strength is given to aid the climb of toddlers to feet, and then that rock moves from one hand to the other; the better to allow the weaver to be leaned upon if necessary. She's a small thing, but Selene is smaller-still and easily balanced. "What should we do with our rocks?" she poses to Selene, speaking in that cheerfully curious voice one often adopts when conversing to those under the age of five. It's back to normal for the answering of questions and the continuation of "adult" conversations. "It was nice enough that Igen and Ista are not that far. A few hours difference, but certainly nothing as drastic as Half Moon and here, where even the seasons disagree." A glance and a thoughtful, "Mm," before she's back to child and rock conundrums. "I didn't find it hard… but I also had six older sisters and an older brother, so I was never left on my own for long. The challenge was… I had my Igen friends, and I had my Ista friends, and sometimes those friends… didn't get along?" in a tone of 'does that make sense'. "But seeing as it was the Weyr… a lot of those friends were in similar situations; parents in various locations and various stages of involvement. At least you are involved in her life." Did that last part sound bitter? Surely not.

Selene keeps one hand there on Sephany's, the better to keep herself in place. A blink up at the weaver for the question, and then… ohhh right, she had another rock, didn't she? "Two!" she proclaims, and D'lei chuckles. "Two rocks, yep," he assures her. "One and one make two." Already doing math! …kinda. Selene keeps that one-hand grip on Sephany as she leans down into a crouch to pick up her other rock. She's got this, she's got this, she's probably got thi- hey! She's got this! Where by this we mean a rock, and thus the toddler is once more armed. Which might mean everyone around should flee, but instead D'lei nods to Sephany as she speaks. "Heh. Yeah, she's… well, an only child in that sense. She'll have half-sibs here, but not there." He shrugs, just a bit, then nods for the part about different friends. "I had some of that with here and Monaco. I mean, just recently, not back when I was a kid, but… same sort of thing." A wry smile, and then… "I am involved. I'd take her here all the time, if Serena was willing, but…" A shrug. "She wants to be involved too." Can he blame her? …from the tone of his voice, maybe he does.

"Yes!" for two rocks, glee and delight for the declaration and the acquisition of that second rock as Sephany turns a bright smile on Selene, reaches over and 'tap-taps' her rock to the toddlers own. Back to banging rocks together, but at least one of them is within the control of a (reasonably) sane adult. "When I was younger, I used to day dream about what being an only child would be like; not that such a thing is really possible with a lower cavern full of children. I love my brother," she qualifies before continuing with, "But sometimes, it would have been nice to… breathe without scrutiny," which gets a nose-wrinkle that is, this time, not directed at tiny tots. Sympathy, though, is to be found in the fleeting glance and softer smile aimed his direction. "It sounds as though… you don't necessarily get along with her." The mother. And then, somewhat hesitant and with eyes on child rather than bronzerider, Seph offers, "I have a son. He's in Igen. It's… really, really complicated," which is the understatement of the Turn, really. "He's not involved in his life. And I'm not sure if I'm glad, or mad, about that." Briefly puffed cheeks, half silly-face for Selene and half because she's looking to lighten the mood. "Are you settled in here at Xanadu? Is it weird not being a Wingleader anymore?"

Yessss! This game is so much better when there are two people involved. One plus one equals FUN! Selene giggles happily, banging her rock with Sephany's and bouncing in place as she does. D'lei just… grins, watching this, because excitement is infectious, okay? And also she's his daughter, so. Extra infectious, just like those bugs she brings home from the nursery! D'lei hehs at Sephany's talk of her siblings or imagined lack of it, and… "I was one. An only child, I mean. When I apprenticed and went to an entire dormitory of people… that was an adjustment, for sure." A grin of memory, and then… his expression shifts toward a more somber one, with a grimace and nod to agree with Sephany's assessment of Selene's mother - and then for the rest of it… "Sometimes people have reasons," he says quietly. "I used to think it was simpler, when I was a kid, but… it's not always. But for me, well… I want to be there, if I can." He looks back to Selene, and for her, his smile returns. That, and because the mood is being lightened and he is willing to go along with it! "That's right, now we've got one less Weyr to go traveling between, don't we?" he says to Selene in that tone of someone who does not expect an answer but is still talking to their toddler. Maybe that giggle is an answer, or maybe it's just a reaction to Sephany's face. D'lei, though, he actually answers! With words, even. "Got the other half of my stuff moved over, so that part's good." As for the rest.. he grins. "It's… yeah. It's a good thing the wingleader doesn't mind suggestions, or I'd probably be on latrine duty for the next month." He's probably exaggerating, but not that much. "And then there's all the little things they- we - do differently. Like which side the med kit goes on."

Even if all Sephany is doing is holding that rock stationary, the better to allow Selene to bang and drum and crack her own against it without adding two moving objects to the equation. Even so, the weaver is keeping an eye on her fingers and making sure they don't end up between the pair of solid objects. And children are infectious; whether it's grins and giggles or stomach bugs and runny noses. So there's amusement and bright smiles all around; the relaxation that is allowed because Selene is tiny, and it's acceptable to be more free around tiny human creatures when it may not be acceptable around the adult ones. "It felt like freedom to me, going to the Hall to apprentice. A room full of strangers felt more liberating than a room full of siblings. Probably because no one at the Hall knew me when I was her age," and there's a nod of her head to the child, "and so there were no embarrassing stories to follow me there." She'll just casually skip right on over the subject of reasons, and challenges, and absent or not-absent fathers in the lives of their children, and seize that subject of relocations with both hands. Metaphorically at least. "Oh, I'm sure he just loves it," for Wingleader suggestions, full of amusement and teasing tones. "I know what you mean, though. The process of tailoring clothes is the same… more or less. But I keep getting turned around in the store rooms; or what order we do things here; or where the little things are kept… Nevermind that this entire Weyr is laid out so entirely differently… so open. No walls." Unlike aforementioned Igen, Ista, and Fort. "It almost feels… like the opposite of claustrophobic."

D'lei laughs for the idea of strangers meaning freedom, with a nod and a, "or what you put up your nose," to give just one example of the bad ideas that small children think are wonderful ones - or just don't know enough to avoid. The rest of the potentially bad - or at least unpleasant - topics are skipped past, with D'lei making no effort to keep the conversation there. All done! …Selene is done too, apparently, because she's taking back her second rock and toddling around in place to look at her opportunities. Soon D'lei may need to scramble after her! But for now, the adult conversation can continue on to… wingleaders, who are not D'lei. D'lei, well, he just grins. "I give it six months. By then, he'll either make me a wingsecond, or dig a shallow grave for me." Which will it be? Ha, like he knows! But he nods for Sephany, following it with a grin. "I don't know how people live in those tight tunnels, I'll be honest. I've lived on the southern continent all my life, and when I go visit up there… it's just weird." To him, because of what he's used to. "Though, having been to Fort… I'm pretty sure K'vir moved down here just so he'd stop hitting his head on those tunnels."

"I'll keep my fingers crossed for option one," and woe to that Wingleader if he chooses option two; Risali might actually burn down the Weyr then. Tunnels, though? That gets a wider grin from Sephany. "Sev is tall, too," she notes with a particular bit of glee at memories remembered. "He was always knocking into the walls; doorframes, tunnel openings, particularly low ceilings. Not as much of a problem for us normal folk," meaning herself, who is of a height that ducking is less of a necessity in her life. "Suppose it's all what you grow up with. Tunnels are familiar and comforting. This wide open space is… overwhelming." But maybe also awesome, if the tone of voice is to be believed. And then her rock is stolen, whisked away by tiny not-yet-terrors, leaving Sephany's hand once more empty and soon rubbed briskly against her other free one to allow for the dissemination of dirt when what is really desired is the elimination of it. Alas. A handwashing will be required for that. Palms to sand, and she pushes herself up from the ground. Preparation for leaving, even as grey eyes seek out toddling kiddos and then still-sitting bronzeriders. "I have to go," offered with a mildly apologetic tone. "Enjoy the rest of the afternoon with your daughter," and then "Bye-bye Selene," offered regardless of whether or not said tot is paying a lick of attention to her.

D'lei grins. "Thanks," he says for the luck that he'll probably need (not really, everyone's afraid of the threat of Ris- er, that is, he's competent and will surely be well liked!), and then he chuckles and nods for the sibling head-cracking that Sephany recalls before he nods just a bit more seriously. "Yeah. You don't realize that there even were other options until you meet the people that had them… and then you still don't really understand them for… a good long time." Maybe not ever! But he shrugs for that, his eyes flicking from toddling tot to rising weaver with a curious arch of brows followed by a nod. "Don't let us keep you!" he assures cheerfully. "It was nice getting to talk." A grin, a hand lifted to wave, and then - to his daughter - "You want to say bye, Selene? Say bye bye to- uh oh." That was not Selene saying farewell. That was Selene seeing a firelizard - actual, not toy - across the grass, and launching into an eager toddle to go say hello… which means D'lei is - "Seeyoulater!" - quickly getting to his feet to go catch her and stop her before she gets clawed. Oh, children. Is there anything they can't make into adorable trouble?


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