Harper... Influence

It's hour 23 in the fifth day, in week 1 of the third month of winter, in turn 2691.

The current time for zone 0 is: 2691.13.9 13:36:26

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.

Now that he knows the secret - that if you find an agile little green it is indeed possible to land at Mire Hold, that's exactly how Matrin gets there. This time at least. Unfortunately, Keziah is a bit laid up at the moment, and though Matrin doesn't know all the details, the briefest search for her put him on a different path. This means the dainty little sea-green beauty who flutters down onto the one area big enough to accommodate her is a strange one, and because of /that/ Matrin is quick to leap down and send her and her rider off. Keeping himself in their good graces is hard enough without the pretty little blond rider bemoaning the squelch and the swampy aroma. He gives her a little wave as she dwindles skyward, then hitches his satchel up to his shoulder and takes a look around the Hold with fresh eyes.

For once the hold appears completely deserted. No naked children screeching and running about, no pole-wielding Gabit to melt out of the forest with a squint-eyed, cryptic comment of ambiguous meaning. The barns are silent, doors shut and latched. Windows on the cots are shuttered with doors locked. It appears the people have all vanished, although the animals are inside the stables as the occasional lowing can be heard from there, the hollow sound of hoof meeting wood rings out just as the dragon winks *Between*. It's a sleepy, shimmery heat-wave aura that dances across the panorama that is Mire Hold, the air almost too thick to breathe. Welcome to high summer in the swamps!

It only takes that one quick moment for Matrin to start to sweat, even in the airy white linen button up and cargo pants he wears. Absently, with keen gaze flicking from latch to lock to shutter, he undoes a few more buttons and rolls his sleeves up over his elbows. The near silence is eerie, and he clears his throat into it, taking a few steps that alternately crunch and squish depending on whether he steps on muck or gravel. A sideways dart of eyes is almost hopeful, like a staff swinging Gabit might be welcome right about now, and when no one is forthcoming he attempts a weak little, "Ah, hello? Anyone about?" Speculatively he eyes the nearest building, but without a tour his first time around he's not sure which one would be the best to approach. So for a minute anyway, he'll wait.

One would say the swamps are never silent and this is true. Even on such a sleepy afternoon the insects hum, albeit sluggisly. Little burblings and bubbles popping from the nearby canals, the occasional splish of a creature diving as approached and passed by - all serve to fill what might seem a heavy and foreboding quiet. Off to the right, from the cot that he was served mudbugs last time he was here, a latch turns, the metallic sound grating, though not really loud, is unnatural enough by comparison to stand out. The heavy plank door, carved from a single board eases out slowly, creaking upon hinges in need of oil. Backing out is a slim figure, recognizable by the russet glinting in hair left to tumble about slim shoulders today. It's miah, dressed in trous and a loose-fitting shirt, the same homewoven nondescript moss-green Gabit was wearing last time he saw him, the material hugging thighs and the curve of hips, tucked into kneehigh hide boots. Her arms are full with something apparently as the door is nudged open inelegantly with her backside as she emerges.

The swamp's natural melody is perhaps even more eerie than true silence would have been, as to the uninitiated any one of those varied little sounds could be the herald of impending doom. Matrin holds up well enough under the combination of heat, oppressive humidity and chorus of goodness knows what, and when that heavy door starts inching outward he turns his boots (buffed to a low shine at least for the moment) that direction. If Gabit complete with stick was sounding welcome a moment ago, Mishkia must be a happy vision indeed, but he schools his smile to something appropriately nonchalant even while he hurries his steps. He's not quick enough to actually help her get the door closed, but when she straightens he will be there, offering his hands to take some of whatever her load is and casting a quick appreciative look over her, head to toe.

If it portends doom now, just wait; the chorus gets better at night if creakings, things slithering through the underbrush, growls and hoots are anything to go by. Mishkia' back is to Matrin as she emerges, having bumped the door open and stepping through backwards with her armload, she proceeds to knee it shut with a loud enough bang that it covers Matrin's approaching footfalls. So when she turns, with her arms around a stack of empty baskets to see him standing right there she yelps, the swamp swallowing whatever echo she might have caused. The baskets go flying willy nilly as she reacts reflexively first, thinks later. An arm flies out at what is aimed to be a chop at his neck and she's tensed for more where that came from, a sweeping kick to his legs if the chop doesn't bring him down. Her eyes wide and slow to clear, breathing rapid as she stares at Matrin.

Matrin has yet to really experience the swamp in all its glory - at night. Though to be completely fair, this greeting might land pretty high on the list of terrifying swamp things, even taking slithering and growling night creatures into account. At least the Harper might be vaguely prepared for those things, however poorly prepared. While this - well, if the shower of baskets didn't have him ducking and lifting a shielding arm he might be choking on a Mishkia forearm right about now. As it is he gets the corner of a basket right where the bruise on his temple is slowly starting to fade, and with speed and habitual grace that doesn't quite fit his Harper persona, a hand darts out to try and snag her wrist on its way past. Unfortunately, he'll either miss and go sprawling when her foot sweeps him, or he'll succeed and they will both go down in a heap. Either way a shocked and very uncouth curse will accompany the tumble.

Really it all happens too fast for the familiar face to register on Mishkia's mind; so her leg follows through, if one could call the instantaneous sweeping motion her foot makes following. His fingers manage to close on her wrist and thus she's going down too, landing possibly on him with a thump that knocks the breath out of her. Lucky for Matrin or maybe both of them, she's hit her solar plexis just just right on his hip or ribcage or wherever she landed, winding herself in the process and thus he doesn't get her elbow ramming his nose into his brains. She's too busy trying and failing to draw a long shuddering breath while it dawns on her who has come, unexpectedly and unannounced to her door. When she can speak, "Ya idiot-" And she needs to breathe before she can go on, lips open to tell him just how dangerous creeping quietly into their hold could have been.

Matrin hits the ground awkwardly but tucks into a protective curl and tries to roll a split second later. That makes his hip a nice blunt object for her to slam into. At this moment being less wiry than he is might be good, but as it is she's got little more than a hipbone to cushion her fall. The impact knocks most of the breath out of him as well, leaving them both on the ground and trying to drag thin whistling breaths into offended lungs for a moment. His first word is a more muffled variation on that shouted curse, and he groans softly as he pushes himself up to sitting, with an outward palm ready to fend her off. "No argument there," he croaks, dragging his other hand through his hair. "I /said/ hello."

Mishkia remains semi-prone whilst catching her breath - she doesn't have enough for a tirade at the moment. Palms of both her hands are needed to push herself up, a shaky move at best as she regains her equilibrium, slowly pulling her knees under her before settling back to a crouch. His claim has her peering at him with some confusion through the bright strands tumbled across her face, grey eyes flicking over the clearing as if in search of someone or something. She rakes it back with an impatient sweep as she returns her gaze to him, perplexity writ all over her face. Not quite accusing, but sharp nonetheless, "Ya did? I… I didn't hear Alo call. Or the signal from the woods." Her accent is a touch thicker than when he was here on his last visit as her questions tumble over her lips in a rush of concern, "Why're ya here alone? Where's Kezi then? Is she lyin' hurt back there in the swamp? An' what happened here?" She noticed his fading bruises, reaching a tentative, light-fingered touch towards it.

Matrin starts out all proper and straight backed, but it's too much effort to maintain it, so he drops his hands behind him and leans his weight into them. When she starts to get up he flinches like he might offer her a hand, but since that went oh so well last time, he just keeps his distance. Well, all of a foot or so between them. Her rapid fire questions make him blink, and his bright eyes track hers out toward the clearing and back. Finally he just lets her fingers trace the ugly yellow green at his temple and the matching shades that spread over a dissolving lump on his jaw. "Kezi is fine but apparently grounded so I came on another dragon, and didn't think you'd appreciate her hanging around. I didn't know about any signal, and the bruises are from an… altercation in the tavern." That said, amusement starts to reclaim his mouth and he leans to tuck a tumbled bit of auburn hair behind her ear. "You alright? You've sure got some moves."

"I'm alright, but…" Although she's visibly relieved that Kezi isn't lying mortally wounded back on the trails somewhere, she stares at Matrin in some disbelief while he's doing that hair-tucking. He came on his own. Now Mishkia's more concerned about what might've happened. "I coulda killed ya." It's said without a hint of boast whatsoever, wide-eyed disquiet lurking in the gaze that flashes from his jawline bruise to meet his eyes. "This didn't happen in the swamps then." Humor creeps into her quizzical, "Are tavern's such dangerous places then? An' if you're gonna come out, you'd better learn how to properly hail the hold. Are ya pinin' for more mattress surfing or cravin' our mudbugs?" Laughter-laced, her last question.

Matrin manages to catch that disbelief and clears his throat, quickly dropping his hand safely back to his own side and leaving that wayward strand still dangling at Mishkia's cheek. His grin takes on a sheepish cast for the brief time it lingers before fading in the face of the hold girl's unease. "Well. It's a good thing you didn't then, isn't it. And now you'll teach me how to hail the hold and next time we won't have this problem. Keziah didn't seem to do anything…" he trails off, shaking his head at all the things Keziah didn't show or tell or explain when they were here last, but the latter questions bring his humor rushing back. "I would not have thought so, but apparently a certain combination of greenflights can cause some emotions to ride high." He arches a brow with lingering incredulity about the whole thing, but just has to chuckle in the end. "I wouldn't decline another mattress ride with you, m'lady," is said lower, almost a purr, and there's rogue's glint in his eye. Before it can grow too dire though, he feels around for his bag. "But I am here to ask you a few questions, actually."

Mishkia's eyes follow his aborted gesture with a brief puzzlement. "Aye, it's a good thing I didn't. It would have made me very unhappy." She will agree with him there! "She didn't," she tells him simply. "Gabit was shadowin' ya. He made the signal. He ain't watchin' the trails today." She retracts her hand without actually making contact with his bruises, a lingering concern about her mouth and eyes as she unfolds from that crouch with a fluid move to gather the scattered baskets. Her head tips, birdlike curiosity in her bent at the mention of greenflights, apparently this is so much out of her ken that she merely tucks that away for later thought. Her lips curl secretively at the mention of mattress surfing, murmuring coyly, "Perhaps I would oblige." She turns towards him then, suddenly alert, half suspicious, "Questions?" Her eyes flick up, noting the position of the sun in the sky then return to him, "Can ya walk?" Her head tilts towards the swampland.

The quizzical flash through those grey eyes makes Matrin's dark brows quirk upward, and a smile slowly takes hold of his mouth, even though he doesn't try to finish the abandoned gesture. Some softness leaks from the curve of his mouth into the rest of his expression, gentling his keen blue eyes and the set of his jaw. "And of course Keziah knew he was watching the trails that day, while I wasn't even paying attention. Well then." He pushes himself up, dusting off the back of his pants and tossing her a grin and a wink for that coy little rejoinder. He ignores her quick suspicion pointedly, bending to sweep up the last basket and then offering her the bend of his elbow. "You didn't injure me badly enough to preclude walking, I don't think."

A faint, preoccupied amusement laces Mishkia's words, though her sudden wariness has not abated one whit; she'll allow him to make things clear in his own time. "She knew, yeah. Gabit's always out there, watching." As Matrin speaks, Mishkia's fingers play along the handles of those baskets she's holding, causing them to sway restlessly, although that movement is stilled when he offers her his elbow and she takes it with a dip of her head and a fleeting lash-veiled glance that hopefully hides disquiet before tilting her head towards what surely must be an impossible-to-breech thicket behind the cot she's just exited. "This way." Though there's no marked path, she pushes aside a large shrub, cleverly trained to grow over the opening that is there. "Everyone is off harvesting the grain in the higher meadows," she explains as to why Mire Hold is so deserted."

Matrin can not possibly be oblivious to that disquiet, long lashes and graceful fingers or not. But he effects ignorance, nodding along to her explanations and stepping onto the revealed path before gesturing grandly for her to take the first steps, basket in hand. Not just manners that, though he surely makes it seem that way. No, letting her take the first steps is an extra measure of safety and since she knows all the little tricksy Mire Hold traps and he knows none of them, he's not too much of a man to let her lead the way. "I am surprised they all go at once, to be honest. I was worried there was a sickness or that one of Keziah's paranoias had come to pass when I found the Hold so quiet." He swings the one basket he ended up with aimlessly as they walk, tipping his head down to try to catch her eyes. "I don't think my questions are anything to worry about, by the way. I hoped to get a bit of your expertise on the records I took with me last time."

And Mishkia takes it as such, those manners bringing a hint of pink to her cheeks as she precedes him into the tangled undergrowth. Once inside the canopy the stillness of the air is at once heavy and humid, if indeed it could be moreso than it already was, the scent of fermenting algae fading as they move further in, replaced by the redolent moss and plantlife growing in the forest floor. Her feet step carefully over fallen branches, leading him unerringly on a course that, for all appearances is undistinguished from the rest of the ground under the towering trees. "It takes all of them to get the crop in before the rains," she explains. "Gabit's usually here watchin- watching," she corrects herself with a nose-wrinkle of self-critique. "But with Chalm's foot mending he's needed there." Her accent is as thick as ever, but she's obviously making an effort to enunciate. As she steps around a huge oak, pausing to navigate the snaking roots, she meets his eye, blinking away a fleeting chargin at being read so easily, though her subtle tension leaks away with the reassurance that is replaced by keen interest mingled with the flare of hope. "My expertise? Were ya- you able to restore them then?"

Matrin tries to do it only when Mishkia is occupied with talking or stepping around this obstacle or that one, but it's likely that she'll catch him peering quizzically at the ground underfoot just the same. It's not hard to figure out that he's trying to see how in the world she knows where she's going, but it doesn't mean he puts any less faith in her guidance. "So self sufficient," he murmurs distantly, almost in the tone a person would use when making physical notes, though one hand is for Mishkia's grip on his elbow and the other is full of basket. Louder, more focused and with a flicker of a smile he adds, "How is Chalm then? Do you know if there's something I can bring for him, or anything else you need? I feel like I owe you something to be sure." Her efforts deepen the curve of his lips, but he doesn't comment otherwise until she asks that hopeful question. "Some bits were too far gone but others, yes. I plan to bring you a manuscript as well as returning the originals soon. Until then, can you tell me anything about Letola?"

There's a little nod of matter-of-fact agreement from Mishkia. They are self-sufficient, something she's so used to it almost goes without saying. Her own reply is spoken quietly while her eyes move continually, raking the gloom ahead, to the side, and above, "Chalm's foot is mending. He's soaking it, keepin' it wrapped and we're trying to keep him offa it." The last part added with a bit of a dry laugh that indicates what a challenge that is. Every now and then her tongue slips, but she's watching the forest now, pausing to listen. There is a hush-bubble that surrounds them, although afar off birdcalls echo through the trees, insects hum overhead, but that is all. While her focus seems to be intently attuned to their environment, she answers readily enough, "Letola? Oh she was Alinmar's wife." She moves forward again, adding, "He was Jamark's oldest son."

She might be matter of fact about their lack of reliance on anyone else, their adaptability to any circumstance, but there's a definite glint of appreciation in Matrin's eyes as they make their way through the forest. He tries to be as observant as she is, but the simple fact is that his skills lie in watching and reading people and politics, not birds and trees and goodness knows what else she's gleaning from their environment. "Well, if I had an herb for hard headedness I'd be rich, but if you think of anything else let me know. Spices, medications, nails, pottery?" His grim re-emerges as he glances sidelong at her. "You probably take care of all that yourself too." Her readiness about Letola makes him blink with slightly widened eyes, and his soft chuckle expands their hushed bubble as the critters around go quiet. "Well that was easy. Do you have anything else that might have been by her? Much of the diary seems to be hers/"

Mishkia's easy evaporates instantly the moment the harper elaborates that list of items. The wall of reserve is palpable as it goes up her answer aloof in the extreme. "We trade for what we need," she answers bluntly with a sidelong look that clearly questions where he's going with that offer. Apparently genealogy is one thing; her clan's needs quite another. She seems more suspicious than offended however, rattling off statistics offhandedly, but with a pride for her family ringing in her factual recitation, "Letola was seven generations back, she came to us in 2563, twenty-seven turns after Mire Hold was founded." So the woman was an outsider, the clue given without specifically singled out, just added into the facts. "And aye, we have. She took over the hold's record-keeping." Their course is taking them into drier ground, the upland taking more of a normal forest's appearance. More sunlight is beginning to pierce the shadow and rambling brambles beginning to take over the forest floor. She seems to be looking for or at something, eyes scanning the undergrowth ahead as she asides curiously, "What did ya find of her then, in those records?"

"Well," Matrin drawls, taking the excuse of skirting a tree root for a brief pause. "You gave me, us, the opportunity to look at the records. You did it freely and I appreciate that, but what I'm talking about is a sort of trade. Something to pay you back for allowing me to look at the records at all, let alone take them with me." Casual, easy and without levelling his usual assessing gaze on her. He does listen attentively as she gives out all of those facts, brows gradually climbing up. "And now you've taken her place? Or does everyone in Mire Hold know so much?" Approval or even admiration softens his features again, even as he ducks his head and peers up into the branches, like he might see something she's missing. "Mmm, a few things. Details of her journey here and some mention of a vault though that bit's awfully vague. Probably some of the ruins you've already explored." He offers it easily - they're Mire's records and she's getting a transcript after all.

"And you're doing us-" Mishkia self-corrects swiftly, "-me — the favor of restoring and deciphering them, so I'd say it's an even trade. I've always wanted to know what they said. Besides, Chalm's techy when it comes to offers like that, Matrin." She's back to easy after a long breath out, flickers a rueful smile his way then points towards a thicket. "There's where I'm bound." As she leads him that way, she shakes her head, demurring, "Oh no. I am stepping where my mother, granny and hers and so on did. We've been the keepers down the line." She stops beside a tangle of thorny canes, heavy with clumps of berries, the color of most a rich deep claret. "The womenfolk usually gather these, but with the dry summer, the grain's early," she notes, returning to the subject at hand with a very thoughtful, "Gabit never mentioned a vault."

The quick correction makes Matrin arch a dark brow, but he just nods his acceptance of her offered terms. A favor for a favor, and with a soft smile even. "So, does that mean that Letola is your ancestor then? On down the line?" He drops into an easy crouch as they reach the thicket, letting an arm sprawl across one bent knee as the other lifts a branch for closer inspection. "So they left you to pick berries while everyone else gathers grain? Did you get off lucky?" Never having harvested either he doesn't have a way to compare the two, but he plucks off a handful of berries and drops them into the basket looped over his elbow. "Would he have called it something else? I am not even sure what Letola meant, honestly."

Mishkia, meanwhile has set down the baskets she's carrying save one, unhooking the handle at one side, looping it around her waist before reattaching it. "Not exactly on down the line, no. She was my ancestor's sister in law, from what the records say. Our founder Jamark's brother Jardi brought her from a holding near Xanadu Weyr. My ancestor was their sister, Niamara. Our line-" her words falter for a beat as she tosses him a quick unreadable glance, wades a step or two into the canes, fingers touch the berries, gently squeezing them to test for ripeness. Apparently satisfied, she begins plucking them with quick, deft movements, tossing them into the basket , "-had harper, ah… influence enough that it fell to us to be the archivists." The sound of berries raining into her basket fills the short pause before his next question and she smirks, eyes merry as they turn on him from her task, "Grain makes bread, but even fresh bread gets mighty plain without jam. Besides, I'm tending the Hold today. I'll join them this evenin'." As for the vault, she merely shakes her head, unsure. "You'll have to ask Gabit that one."

Matrin pauses in his less deft berry plucking, dropping a knee into the dirt for balance as he tips his head to cast his eyes up at her. She relays the details of her lineage so effortlessly it can't help but spark some admiration in his eyes, and those too-long lashes drop as he mulls over her words. Well, that is until she hesitates over the word influence, and that makes him let out a bark of laughter. "Harper influence is it? Well you know us charming Harpers, always out to spread our… influence." He flashes her a smirk, then blinks at the way she's got the basket arranged, pushes to his feet, and secures his the same way. "I know it's not the most mannerly thing for a gentleman to ask, but how old are you, Mishkia?" His tone takes on a professional tone for a beat, but his long fingers keep gathering the berries up a few at a time and gently dropping them into the basket. "Hmm, some guard you are," he teases to take that cooler edge off his words, nudging at her elbow with his and then just nodding about asking Gabit.

That bark of laughter, the comment set Mishkia's cheeks glowing and with a toss of her head she blurts out, "Ain't what ye be thinkin!" Totally slipping back into her backwoods accent she's been working to lose. She ducks her head, searching for berries with an intensity they likely don't warrant while he's readjusting his basket. Her hands flicking aside leaves twitching at canes while her eyes squint underneath them. She's no longer listening to the sounds of the forest, nor keeping that careful check of the area so that his words, and that elbow-nudge recall her with a quick intake of dismayed breath, eyes sweeping the area. That is until he asks her her age. That gets a blink of confusion that borders on wary and she counters with, "Who wants to know?"

Matrin's hands are usually graceful, long slender fingers that are dextrous naturally and schooled to be moreso. This activity is simply not one he's used to though, and while he's not slow and bumbling he can't even come close to Mishkia's swiftly deft stripping of berries from the canes. His pile grows slower because of this, and his attention is on their conversation, but he's still pitching in. "Not what I'm thinking, hmm? You record keeping vixens don't lure us in with promises of mattress surfing?" Light, teasingly suggestive until she blinks and that suspicion goes glinting in her grey eyes. "Me, obviously. You have skills, that's all. I thought I might be able to offer you something, but what depends on how old you are."

His teasing question dispels her wariness, and Mishkia laughs, a clear-pitched sound that rings out in the quiet forest, causing a few avians in the branches overhead to squawk and take flight. "Usually we have them at mudbugs," she quips. "But you were looking rather squeamish. That, my friend, was a homeopathic remedy." The glimmering merriment in her eyes slides back to wary though at the mention of offering her something, then into deeper suspicion, teeters on the brink of sharp distrust as she mutters to herself,"I am gonna kill her!" Tilting her chin almost defiantly, she says, "I'm just turned twenty-four turns." Coppery brows lift questioningly though there's a hint of a cornered wild animal lurking in the grey eyes waiting to know what he's getting at.

Her laughter makes Matrin's smile deepen and solidify, and he rolls his eyes good naturedly. "I did not look squeamish. I sucked its head for Faranth's sake! What more do you want from me?" There's a chuckle underlying the richness of his tone, and the mischief in his eyes isn't quite quelled, even after her muttering defiance. His dark brows just arch and he reaches a hand to lay a steadying touch on her elbow. "This comes from me alone, so please don't go murdering anyone, alright?" He pauses, then nods when she tells her age. "I thought you were a bit younger, but regardless too old for anything too official. If you'd ever like to expand your studies though, you've only to say the word. I could bring some information here, or you could visit the Weyr from time to time." He speaks cautiously, slowly like she might spook and rear like some nervous runner, and his smile slowly creeps back. "I'm not going to hogtie you and carry you off to the Hall, Mishkia. Do you think so poorly of me?"

Mishkia's expression is frankly skeptical, her lips quirk into an 'oh really?' sort of little grin and while he's protesting there's a bit of gotcha devilment dancing in her eyes. His reassurance has her reluctantly nodding, although she's not looking completely convinced, flickering a dubious glance down at those long fingers touching her elbow and back to his face. Listening to perhaps more than his words, living in the wilds has trained her to catch nuances others may not pick up, she does relax, but not completely. Rather than look relieved, she says in a vaguely stunned echo, "The Hall… wouldn't… do… then." His last question recalls her from wherever her thoughts have gone, her cheeks flush once again and she shakes her head in denial. "No no, not at all I just…oh…" She trails off and for a few beats it might seem as though she isn't going to finish. Finally, as if admitting a crime she says, "I have to go walkabout, should have gone sooner. Does that offer, um, include coming to study at the Weyr?"

Matrin's blue eyes follow hers down to his hand, and he gives her arm a gentle squeeze before reaching for some more berries. "You could go the Hall to study as well if you like, as a student. I would write you a recommendation. I just thought it might be a little far from home for you." Lest that sound condescending, he glances at her out of the corner of his eye and adds, "You have people who rely on you, I know." He gives her whatever minutes she needs, quietly picking berries at her side and stealing those sidelong glances until she finishes. It was not quite what he was expecting, and he's caught off guard enough to show it in a straightening of shoulders and a quick turn to face her. "Walkabout?" But no, he waves a hand, that will keep for another time. Instead he nods with a smile and agrees, "Certainly. Though I am the only Journeyman posted just now so you'll be stuck with me." He manages a straight face though there is a gleam of something pleased in his bright eyes.

"I should… eventually," is Mishkia's reluctant observation about the Hall. She flashes him a quick, uncertain smile and resumes picking those berries though at a slower pace. "I've never been out," she admits lowly, one hand lifting to flutter in the general direction of Xanadu, a graceful gesture including the larger Out There. Perhaps that's the reason for her so palpable unease; she doesn't say. She merely nods evasively to the singular question of walkabout, her cheeks once again turning rosy. She's not looking altogether displeased at him being her teacher either, but there's something on her mind that she pushes to simmer on a back burner. If he's skilled at reading facial expressions he will catch it. She spends the rest of the time those baskets are being filled with deliberately light comments, oddly asking few questions about the Weyr but filling him in on some of the swamp lore, including a story of a large, elusive creature that no one has managed to get but a partial glimpse of. Eventually they'll have to head back to the deserted Hold as the light wanes but he can at least tell Keziah he survived yet another day out in those swamps.

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