A Day of Climbing Trees

Hannista Hold - Forest
The Hannistan forests of skybroom trees seem to cover the entire world here, flowing even past the river to the west and the mountains to the east. Color lives here in shades of green and yellow, with the vast sky stretching flawless beyond the tall treetops. Small holdings of woodcrafters and workers alike dot the forests, small enclaves contained amongst themselves in the wealth of the trees. To the south-east is the Hold itself, though in this endless forest of tall trees and infinite sky, that destination might be difficult to find.

It doesn’t seem as cold here at Hannista Hold, but that could just be a falsehood. The skybroom trees likely provide some protection from the wind, given the massive size of them and their numbers. A woodland paradise, tucked away not far from Xanadu Weyr itself… at least not by dragonback.

Kiena spoke with her daughters at last and while at first they were apprehensive about being “split up”, once it was obvious that they’d both get time with her and Mur’dah (or whatever else they chose… and for five Turn olds, they have pretty impressive lists!), they were all for it. Eliana picked to go with Kiena first, choosing to stay within the Weyr. Being the quieter one, she was all too happy at the prospect of some low key activity with her mother.

Ezsrisa, on the other hand, is a rough and tough (no she isn’t, she’s a total pushover when called on it) tomboy who can’t wait to escape and go get her hands dirty. Literally. She’d be right at home tromping through marshes, climbing trees, digging holes, building forts… all of those things. So it’s no wonder that when she catches the word ‘skybroom tree’ from another child in her Harper lessons and learns that some of these behemoths exist nearby… well. Her mind is set! Good luck Mur’dah, convincing her otherwise to do something else!

Why would Mur’dah want to convince her of something else? The skybroom trees /are/ impressive, and he remembers very well a few of his own visits to the massive trees when he was a kid. So he bundles himself and Ezsrisa up, and off they go! Opting for a straight flight, they watch the trees growing in the distance. It’s quite a magnificent sight, getting bigger and bigger and bigger. “Excited?” Mur’dah asks, bending down to speak into her ear so his words aren’t carried away by the wind as Kalsuoth flies ever closer to the hold.

“YES!” Ezsrisa all but whoops out in a yell over the wind, not at all spooked or timid about riding a dragon, let alone a “strange” one. She’s familiar with Ujinath and maybe with Kalsuoth being larger, she feels more secure. That or she’s just too distracted about the trees and going somewhere NEW that it’s completely past her mind to even focus on that. Good thing she’s buckled in too, or she’d probably wiggle her way right off the brown’s neck her excitement is so great. The closer they get to the hold, the more Ezsrisa is moving and may, much to Mur’dah’s approval or not, start leaning as far as the straps allow to the side or forwards. Must. See. EVERYTHING.

Mur’dah doesn’t mind when she wiggles or moves. He knows his straps are good, and he’s got one arm looped around her besides. He’s not going to lose her! Kalsuoth takes a moment to circle one of the largest trees, taking his time and getting close - but not /too/ close - so both Ezsrisa and Mur’dah can appreciate the massive tree. Then he dips his wings, circling to land in the hold’s landing field. “Now, you’re going to stay with me, right?” Mur’dah asks the girl as he begins to unbuckle her straps.

Ezsrisa’s eyes widen as Kalsuoth takes the time to circle one of the largest trees and despite her excitement, the young girl does appreciate it in an awed and fascinated way. Which will only be repeated when they’re on the ground and she really gets to see just how BIG they are. She’s all but bouncing in the saddle and impatient to dismount, but stills for a moment at Mur’dah’s question. “Uh huh. I’ll be good!” For now. She beams at him. See? She’s a little angel. With horns. “Where we gonna go first? Can we see the forest? Can I climb one?” And she points vaguely to the skybrooms.

Mur’dah unbuckles her and and then slides down first, offering her a hand to help her dismount from his largerthanUjinath dragon. Kalsuoth rumbles, soft and pleased as they both dismount and Mur’dah stores their riding jackets. “Let’s go see what there is to do,” he suggests, reaching to offer her his hand. “I see a little building there that has Skybroom Trees written on it. Nice place to start? They might have one to climb, I’m not sure…”

Ezsrisa will wriggle out of her riding jacket and when Kalsuoth rumbles, she’ll reach out to touch the brown only to hesitate and peer sidelong to Mur’dah. Kiena’s taught her not to just go touching any rider’s dragon, no matter if they know her or not and so her eyes are asking him for permission. This okay? If it is, she’ll pat Kalsuoth affectionately and thank him. Also something Kiena’s instilled in her daughters. “Okay!” Ezsrisa latches on to Mur’dah’s hand and all but races ahead, unless he keeps her from doing so. “Why’s the building say Skybroom Trees? Do they have some inside?” she asks, squinting to make out the words. She’s still learning to read herself! There’s a beaming smile when he agrees about climbing. ‘Might’ may as well be ‘Yeah, sure, let’s do that!’ in her head.

Mur’dah nods, “Go ahead,” he says, pleased that she asked and pleased that she wants to. Kalsuoth rumbles in quiet delight, and once they’re clear the brown will lift off to find a high perch upon which to rest. Mur’dah grips Ezsrisa’s hand and moves forward with long strides, and he’ll even run with her if she wants to. He’s not above running in public. “I don’t think so,” he says, pushing the door open. “I think it’ sinformation about them.” A tourist place! Inside the small room there are posters, pamphlets, paintings, tapestries - all things skybroom covering the walls. In the corner is even a massive cut slab of skybroom tree, a cross section of an ancient beast. “Go look at that!” Mur’dah encourages, letting her hand go while he turns to greet the Woodcrafter on duty. “Hello, we’re here to look at the trees,” duh, “and I was wondering what we can and can’t do.” He tips his head towards the girl. Right. Give him the rules so they don’t break them.

Ezsrisa won’t run, but she’ll definitely jog and then slow to a brisk walk and slower still as they approach the building. Shy maybe? Not likely. Could be she’s just a little unsure. It’s a strange building! Until Mur’dah opens the door and then she’s not hesitant at all. Her eyes roam about the room and she doesn’t have to be told twice! “This is part of the tree!” she exclaims as she takes off to go peer (and maybe touch, if it’s permitted) at the cross section of that ancient beast of a tree. Anything written is ignored. Ezsrisa can make out a few of the words but her focus isn’t there. She likes to SEE things and TOUCH things. Reading is her sister’s passion. The woodcrafter on duty blinks as he looks up and spotting the girl, his eyes dart back to Mur’dah and he smiles a friendly but reserved smile. Right! “You’re welcome to explore the forests. Plenty of marked paths. Just don’t get in the way of any of the woodcrafters or foresters and there are mines deeper within. Best to mind those. As for the trees themselves, they’re sturdy. Not much you can do to harm ‘em, but if ah… she’s inclinde to explore, the roots are scalable but with risks.” Obvious ones! Such as falling. “And no cutting or purposely damaging the skybrooms. Not that you could very easily. Setting camp is fine, if you need a fire. There are some old sites scattered about. Feel free to use those.” Anything else?

Mur’dah watches her go over to the section of tree before he looks back at the crafter, nodding as he listens. “Excellent. Thanks for your help. Ezsrisa? Shall we go explore the forest?” he asks the girl, extending his hand towards her. “How old do you think that tree was?” he asks, as he squints at the sign hung just above it. Muahaha, he’s cheating. Reading is important!

Ezsrisa turns away from the skybroom cross section and instantly latches back onto Mur’dah’s hand. Cheater, cheater! Not that she notices, since she’s “thinking hard” from the overdone frown that crosses her features. “Ummmmm….” she drags out and then grins, letting his hand go to skip ahead and turn around to walk backwards, arms swinging a bit. “Lots and lots of Turns? Hundreds. Thousands!” she exclaims, giggling. “Are we going to see more now?” They’re outside and Ezsrisa’s impatience to be off is returning.

Mur’dah takes her hand and smiles, giving it a squeeze. “According to the sign it’s over 500 turns old. Survived many passes of thread, that tree did.” Before someone cut it down or it fell. The sign didn’t specify the tree’s method of demise. “Yes! Let’s go on the paths and explore. He said you can climb on the roots, but you have to be careful and not fall. I also have a lunch for us packed,” he pats his satchel - the one Kiena gave him - and smiles.

“So I was close!” Ezsrisa exclaims in a delighted and boastful tone, even though her answer was vague. Of course she got it!! Her eyes go wide and round then. They’ve been learning about Thread in their Ballads. “Really?” she says, awed and amazed. “But how? Thread ate everything.” Everything! She spreads her hands out to emphasis this. Cheering at the prospect of climbing, she skips ahead only to double back and start circling Mur’dah. “Maybe we can have lunch up IN the roots?” Every girl’s dream? She beams at him and then is hurrying off a few steps down the path. Hope there isn’t sugar in that packed lunch?

Mur’dah chuckles. “Yes, you were right.” Much easier to agree with her. “Not when dragons flamed it, and it didn’t even get to the trees.” He lets her hand go and adjusts his satchel, smiling as she moves and then doubles back to circle. “Sure! Let’s look for a good spot as we go, and we can always go back to eat.”

Ezsrisa tilts her head up to look at the canopy of the skybrooms, way way up there! She’ll even spin a bit before looking ahead again. “But what if the dragons weren’t there? What then, if the tree doesn’t die?” she inquires and when Mur’dah offers to look for a spot, she’s back to grabbing his hand and tugging him along. “Can’t we have lunch on the roots?” she asks. “See? Some of them go up high but we can sit on them!” Her hand points to a few of the massive, gnarled roots. True, some of them do twist to form makeshift “seats” but they’d be narrow and probably not very comfortable. And probably full of bugs. BUGS.

Mur’dah shakes his head. “But they /were/ there. Because the tree survived.” Logic. With a toddler. Good luck? He’s tugged along, and he laughs, nodding. “Yes. I want to eat lunch on the roots. I was saying let’s find the perfect spot while we walk. Let’s look at each one. How about that one?” he asks, pointing. “Too small?” Relatively speaking. Bugs? He’s not even thinking about bugs…

Ezsrisa frowns and mulls that over. She doesn’t get it but Mur’dah is ‘A Grown Up’ and thus his word must be true. So she shrugs. She’s no toddler! She’s five. Or so she’d protest. Grinning, she laughs as well. “Oh! I get it.” Now she does. “Okay! Um.” Her eyes scan the many, many roots but the one pointed out by the brownrider earns her approval. Beaming up at him, Ezsrisa nods. “That one! Not too small, nope!” Considering she’s small herself! Letting his hand go, she races over to “their” root and instantly begins to climb. Good thing Kiena dressed her in tougher, sturdier clothes, including pants with reinforced knees!

Mur’dah swiftly follows, setting his satchel down before he climbs up after her. Ready to catch and grab if he needs to, if she slips or tumbles or…anything. Their tree! “Wonder how old this one is?” he asks as he climbs.

Ezsrisa scrabbles and wriggles and climbs her way up those roots, pausing at times to glance around and see how Mur’dah is fairing. For some reason, she finds it amusing that the brownrider is climbing. “Dunno!” she chimes, sing-song like. “Catch me if you can!” she calls out, grinning wryly as she “hurries” up. Being smaller, Ezsrisa can go places Mur’dah cannot and in a flash she is above him and then disappears for a heartstopping second or two. “Hey, Mur’dah! There’s a hollow hole in this one! It’s reaaaly cool and there’s stuff up here!” Stuff. Stuff? “Kinda nest like! Comfy. Hey, there’s rings in the wood!” So what would nest in a tree. Does it start with W and rhyme kind of with Berry?

Of course he’s climbing! This is a day off for him too. When she vanishes his heart skips, only to reappear. “Ezsrisa?” He climbs up swiftly, glancing around to see what she’s found. “Is it like a hiding place that people have made? Or like an animal?”

Ezsrisa startles when Mur’dah manages to climb up as well and she looks impressed! “You’re good!” she compliments because getting up there was narrow and tight for her! “Dunno. Do people make nests out of twigs and odd things?” she calls at him over his shoulder. “Looks like dried leaves and… eew. I think there’s bones?” Animal. It’s definitely animal. There’s the sound of her rummaging and crawling about in there as she slips deeper, hidden by the curve in the thick trunk. “…Mur’dah?” Ezsrisa’s voice drifts back but it sounds quieter and scared. There’s a dry rattling sound that follows and it takes a moment to realize that it isn’t the wind or movement. It’s a low hissing. Someone’s gone and woke up the resident of said hole! The woodcrafter guide probably figured the brownrider would know that wild wherry prefer to roost in the skybrooms. He knew that, right?

Mur’dah flashes her a grin. “Yes I am.” Climbing his entire life! Peering in after her, he frowns. She went in? He didn’t know she went in! “Ezsrisa, back out. Slowly. Calm. Come on, crawl backwards towards me.” He’s outside, she’s inside, yes?

That’s right! Ezsrisa went in. Of course she went in! She’s curious and he asked her if it was animal or human. So she went to see! Mur’dah wouldn’t fit in there very easily. He could, if he’d try but it’d be cramped. The hissing continues, but he’ll hear Ezsrisa as she crawls out, backwards and quiet like he asked her. Following her is… a baby wherry. Fledgling. Not entirely dangerous yet but on the defensive. So if there’s baby, where’s mom? Ezsrisa will immediately slip her arms around Mur’dah’s neck and cling to him, her eyes still staring at that thing. Ugly wherries are ugly. He can climb down with her, right?

Mur’dah looks relieved to see Ezsrisa, wrapping his arm around her. “If the baby is hissing, Mom will probably ome back soon. So let’s choose another tree okay? Can you climb down on your own?” She can, right? She’s a big girl, yes? And it’d be faster than if he carried her.

Ezsrisa leans her head back enough to peer at Mur’dah with wide and frightened eyes and then her jaw sets and she nods. “I can.” she says firmly, just a little shaky as she unwraps her grip on him and grips the tree instead. Down she goes and then jumps the last few inches, only to begin to brush at her clothes with a wrinkled nose. There’s bits of this and that clinging to her and her hair has a few dried leaves and twigs. “That was a baby?” she remarks once Mur’dah joins her again, her eyes looking up back to the spot where the nest remains hidden.

Mur’dah follows her down, keeping an ear out for angry mother wherry screeches. Once down, he reaches for her hand (or to pick her up if she wants) and their satchel. “Let’s find another tree. And yes, that was a baby wherry!”

Ezsrisa will take his hand and let him lead them away from that particular Skybroom tree. “Maybe we’ll find a spot on the ground?” she asks instead, trying to make it sound like she just changed her mind rather than it being because she’s a bit scared now of what else may be up in the trees. Her nose wrinkles. “Don’t we eat wherry? Why’d we want to eat something so gross looking? It was all wrinkly and gangly.” Gross!
Mur’dah nods, “I think that’s a good idea.” He won’t call her on being scared. Nope. Because he’s secretly glad they’re on the ground again. “We do eat wherry. And…why not? It tastes good, right? What does it matter what it looks like? It’s delicious. And Kalsuoth loves it.”

Ezsrisa’s good mood returns and she brushes the whole close-call with the wherry nest aside like it was nothing. “Yeeeah, I do like wherry. Especially with sweet sauce.” Duh. Of course she’d like anything with sugar! “Kalsuoth loves wherry?” Suddenly, that sparks an idea in her child-like mind and she excitedly tugs on Mur’dah’s tunic. “Can we get him some then? Cause we’re eating. He can have lunch too! But later. A gift!” That’s it! HA! She’s so smart and clever, isn’t she? Abruptly, she’ll begin tugging him again towards a sidepath that is fairly narrow but still visible though the trees and vegetation grows closer here. That’s when they come upon THE tree. It may not be Skybroom, but it’s just as impressive in size and it’s branches are gnarled, low and twisted. Some curve so low as to create the perfect seat. No chance of nests here! “THAT one!” she exclaims.

Ref: http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/albums/coast-sc/angel-oak/angel-oak-bw.jpg

Mur’dah darts a glance at the tree and then back to the girl, possibly misunderstanding her. “I don’t think we should take the baby to feed him… He’s not hungry right now anyway, he ate early.” When they reach that tree though, he grins widely and nods. “That one. Yes. Let’s go!”

Ezsrisa blinks and then looks both horrified and amused. “Noooo, not the baby wherry that’d be mean!” And cruel. “I meant a BIG wherry!” Adult wherry. She tried to demonstrate how big too but her hands fall when Mur’dah claims Kalsuoth already ate. Well, darn! “What else does he like?” she asks curiously and when he approves of her tree, she laughs and takes off at ‘let’s go!’ “Race you!” she yells over her shoulder!

Mur’dah runs after her, and while he doesn’t let her win, she still wins because he has to deal with the bouncing satchel that contains their lunch. “He likes you! But I don’t think he wants to eat you.” Wink. “Find us a good spot?” One wihtout baby wherries, thanks!

Ezsrisa wins! She’ll leap up onto the lowest branch and proudly declare her victory by sing-songing ‘I win, I win!’ over and over until she squeals. “He wouldn’t NEVER eat me!” Plunking down on the broad, wide branch, she giggles. “This spot!” No baby wherries here and the wood is flat and dry in the centre where she’s settled herself.

Mur’dah hops up next to her and begins to lay out their picnic. Sandwiches, some fruit, some cookies. Some juice too! Delicious! “Are you enjoying yourself?”

Ezsrisa may be eyeing those cookies more than the rest of the food. Mur’dah might have to watch those closely. Crossing her legs, she beams up at him. “I am! This has been FUN!” Then she frowns and glances sidelong and adds in a hushed whisper. “Just don’t tell my mom about the baby wherry?” Please?

Mur’dah lifts his brows, looking at her. But rather than promise - or not - he just asks, “WHy not?”

Ezsrisa begins to sneakily reach for some of those cookies, satisfied that she has Mur’dah distracted enough. “Umm, I dunno…?” she drawls, stalling as though trying to figure out the reason. “Cause she’ll get mad? Probably think I was gettin’ into trouble again.”

Mur’dah doesn’t care when she reaches for a cookie - in fact he offers her one - and smiles. “I don’t think she’ll get mad. And you learned your lesson, right?”

Ezsrisa’s eyes widen when he hands her a cookie instead of making her eat the sandwich and fruit first and then they narrow suspiciously. Is this a grown up trap? She’s hungry though and she promptly gobbles down the cookie before Mur’dah has a chance to say not to otherwise. “Yeah, I did!” she mumbles around a mouth full of food, scattering a few crumbs.

Mur’dah doesn’t care. He eats a cookie too - there are only four of them, two for each - and then he returns to his sandwich. “Well there you go then.” He smiles at her, leaning over to give her shoulder a squeeze. “What would you like to do after this?”

Ezsrisa will devour the second cookie as well before finally touching the sandwich, only to get three bites in before she’s peeling back the bread and picking it apart. Someone’s a fussy eater? Looking up midway through flicking off a piece of lettuce, she’ll peer up at Mur’dah sheepishly, thinking his shoulder squeeze is to get her attention and tell her to stop. Instead, he’s asking what else they can do? “Dunno! What’s more here in the Hold. Here in Hann…ista?” she stumbles over the name a bit.

Mur’dah doesn’t comment when she flicks off the lettuce, smiling as he looks around. “Well, I think I saw a play area that’s made all out of felled skybroom trees.” A big playground! “You can walk through one of the trees on the edge of the playground too. Right through the /whole/ tree. And it’s still alive, too.”

“No… really?” Ezsrisa mumbles through a mouth filled with sandwhich. Apparently they’re working on teaching her better manners in that respect. Swallowing, she stares at Mur’dah, trying to gauge whether or not he’s pulling her leg. But the temptation of walking through a big skybroom tree is too much and she promptly stuffs the rest of her sandwhich in her mouth and gestures wildly with her hands for them to GO! Go go go!

Mur’dah laughs. “So I just have to eat while we walk, then?” he teases her, taking a minute, /tiny/ bite of his sandwich and chewing it FOREVER…

Ezsrisa groans and finishes swallowing her mouthful of food. She waits… for about thirty seconds before she’s scowling and pushing firmly at Mur’dah’s arms and if that doesn’t work she goes behind him and tries shoving that way. Come ooooon! “Why do you eat so slow!” she complains in an exasperated voice but there’s an undercurrent of amusement there. Stop teasing!

Mur’dah laughs, nudging her back. “Fine, fine. I’ll eat on the way.” Hopping down, he grabs his satchel (yay, satchel!) and slings it over his shoulder. “M’lady,” he says, sweeping a formal bow to her and extending his hand. “To the playground?”

Ezsrisa whoops in victory when Mur’dah finally yields and hops down after him. At his use of ‘m’lady’ and the formal bow, she giggles and drops a quick, if not sloppy curtsy. Hey, she’s young! “Yeah! To the playground!” she says happily, taking his hand in a firm grip.

Mur’dah grins at her, reaching for her hand again. “I think it’s this way,” he says, leading her down another path. Then the playground opens up before them - a wide expanse of grass and wood chips, with many solid wood structures built for playing. For running, climbing, swinging, balancing…an energetic child’s dream! And there at the edge is a massive tree with the hole in the middle that people can walk through. There are other children present as well, running and laughing and playing with each other.

Ezsrisa’s eyes widen again and her mouth drops open. Child’s dream is right! This is heaven. Clinging to Mur’dah’s hand, she tilts her head up. “Can I?” she says eagerly. And the moment she’s given the okay, she’s off like a rocket and first to the tree and calling to him to come SEE! The other children present are given a curious look and if any greet her she greets back enthusiastically but does not actively seek them to play. Not yet. “Do you think we could plant a skybroom in Xanadu, Mur’dah?” she asks him.

Mur’dah grins, “Of course, I’ll be here.” He follows her to the tree, but now he walks, glancing around to nod at all the moms here with their children. Only guy. Not even his kid. Hmm. “This is something, huh?” he says, running his hand over the inside of the trunk. “Doesn’t seem hurt by it at all.” Then he smiles. “We could try, but I don’t think it’d grow.”

Of course the other mothers will give Mur’dah a curious look. The only guy and a dragonrider at that! Some look indifferent, others impressed and pleased, others scoff. Mixed reactions, but a typical mix for any social situation. They don’t know Ezsrisa isn’t his. “How come?” The young girl queries him, also running her hand along the bark. “Does anything hurt them?” Immortal tree! She seems disappointed in the end. “Oh. Could we try?” Yeah, no?
Mur’dah nods. “Sure, lots of things hurt them. Cutting them down, strong storms, floods…uh. Anything that hurts any other tree. Only these are more tough.” More tougherist! “Could we try? To grow a tree? Ah. Sure.” Why not? It’ll die and he’ll prove a point. “But I really don’t think it’ll grow in Xanadu…”

Ezsrisa knocks her fingers against the stout tree and grins. “It’d take forever to cut one!” she says matter-of-factly but the rest of Mur’dah’s answer satisfies her. She is stubborn about trying though. “But maybe OURS will!” So there. Glancing past the brownrider, she spies that the swings are finally free and she takes his hand again. Who’s going to be more exhausted by the end of this? Him or the child? “Swing with me!” she calls. Please, please, pretty please?

Mur’dah’s hand is taken and he will be. Oh yes. He will be /out/. But it’s good, to exhaust yourself doing something you enjoy, is it not? Better than the alternatives. “Do you want me to swing? Or push?” He’ll do either!

It is and Ezsrisa’s foster family will likely be happy to take an exhausted version of her back for the night. “Swing! I can do it myself.” she boasts and promptly grabs a swing and begins to push off and set herself into a good clip. “See?” Laughing, she’ll wait to see if he will join in too.

Mur’dah grins, grabbing a swing and flopping onto it - thank Faranth they build them strong enough for grown ups - and he begins to swing. Kicking his legs hard, he is quickly swinging very high…until he realizes just who he’s with, and who just ight try to immitate him, and he drops it down to a more reasonable level. Swinging with a 5 turn old? This is awesome.

And Ezsrisa is enjoying every minute of it! Enough that she hasn’t even had the time to think of what her sister is up to or whether or not she’s missing her and her mother. This is FUN and it’s all HERS! Of course she’ll try to match Mur’dah, laughing and giggling the whole time. Eventually though she’ll tire and let her self come to a slow stop. There is another reason too. “I gotta go.” Which sounds like: right now.

Mur’dah slows and then hops off the swing, looking around before he points. “There,” there are the bathrooms! “Hurry!”

Ezsrisa doesn’t need to be told to hurry! “Be right back!” she calls and rushes off and disappears into those bathrooms. Moments later she returns, refreshed and is back to her former self now that that is out of the way! Crisis averted. As she skips her way back to Mur’dah’s side and comes to a stop, she suddenly yawns though she’s tugging at his sleeve at the same time. “Where to, now?” Does she ever stop? Or does she keep going until she falls down exhausted?

Mur’dah is relieved she doesn’t have an accident. He didn’t bring extra clothes unless Kiena snuck something into his riding straps for him, clueless man that he is. “Do you have anything else you’d like to do? I kind of want to sit beneath one of those trees maybe read a bit.”

No extra clothes hidden away! Kiena must have faith that her girls are not bound to have accidents… or she’s just as clueless. Oops? “I wanna climb some more!” she says, jerking her head to the climbing structures.” Her nose wrinkles at reading. “You can watch!” Which means, he can go sit under those trees while she has real fun! Bah. Reading? Off she goes to play and Mur’dah may have a moment of peace. Ezsrisa has attracted attention of some other kids, mostly boys and they’re playing amongst themselves.

Mur’dah was going to read /to/ her, but he’s happy to settle down and watch her play. He is watching too. Not dozing off. Nope. Not…nope! He’s totally awake.

He has to be more specific! Ezsrisa is young and her mind not as developed to catch on to things. That and she’s just easily distracted. She won’t be gone long and soon Mur’dah will have company again. Grumpy company. Stomping her way over, she FLOPS down beside him, all dramatically. WOE. “Those boys are stupid,” she mutters glumly as she sulks. Someone got booted from the group, it seems and she has no interest to play with the girls… which in this case are younger.

Mur’dah watches her, offering a smile when she stomps over. “What did they do?” he asks, peering curiously at the boys and then back at her. Yeah, boys are stupid. That they can agree on.

Ezsrisa scowls, arms folded over her chest as she continues to sulk. "They said I couldn't play cause I was a girl and girls don't do stuff like that and that I'd just make it no fun." She grumbles, more hurt because she doesn't understand. "I play with boys at the Weyr and they don't care. Why's it different?"

Mur’dah sighs, shaking his head. “Things might be different here at the Hold. In holds, sometimes, girls and boys play separate. It’s not you, Ezzie. It’s them.” He looks around, scanning the area until he spots the boys - and their mothers. “Let me go talk to them, okay?” Flashing her a warm and encouraging smile, he gets to his feet and meanders over towards the parents sitting near the boys. “Afternoon,” he greets, smile easy, aware of the AWLM knot on his shoulder. Hopefully it helps rather than hurts him. “I was wondering if Ezsrisa could play with your boys?”

Ezsrisa’s brows knit together and it’s clear she can’t grasp the concept. “They look just like any other kids,” she mumbles. Her eyes widen a bit when Mur’dah suggests going to talk to them but before she can protest, he’s on his feet and she follows with him. “But…!” And while he talks to the mothers, Ezsrisa will hang behind Mur’dah just a bit, shy and uncertain. It wasn’t THAT big a deal? The parents look up and they greet Mur’dah amiably enough. “Afternoon,” they chime and then glance between themselves at his query. “Well, of course she can.” One of the women says, smiling easily and a touch warmly to Ezsrisa. As for the group of boys, they’re looking a bit annoyed but they don’t openly protest.

Mur’dah puts his hand on Ezsrisa’s back to gently steer her towards his side as he smiles at the mothers. “Wonderful, thank you so much. Go on, Ezzie. Maybe you can show them how good you can do a hand-stand!” Assuming she goes, he sits down on the end of the bench and tosses a little wave and smile towards the boys. Hi, kids, I’m a bronzerider so be nice to my girl.

Ezsrisa peers up at Mur’dah when he steers her and her hands clutch at him for a moment. The boys are looking at her, but not with entirely friendly eyes. “Okay.” she says quietly and squaring her shoulders, she’ll walk slowly forwards and the boys, now aware that they’re being watched, grudgingly accept her. The woman who spoke up is giving Mur’dah another curious look, possibly taking note of his age and the knot he wears. Whatever her opinion may be, she smiles. “She seems like a sweet girl.” she compliments.

Mur’dah takes his eyes off the boys for a moment to smile at the mother, nodding his head. “Thank you, she really is.” Then, “I’m just watching her for the day, she’s the daughter of our Weyrsecond. I’m Mur’dah.” And he offers his hand before he’s looking again. “Didn’t mean to invite myself over, but she wanted to play with them.”

The woman looks confused, her eyes darting to Ezsrisa and then back to Mur’dah. “Oh…” she begins slowly. “… she is not yours?” Her tone is apologetic, knowing that she is naive of Weyr customs. Faranth only knows what this woman has heard or been told, aside from the truth. “Well met, Mur’dah. I’m Delphi and my son is the dark haired one there.” She gestures vaguely, but to make it easier, he’s the one that is actively interacting with Ezsrisa and doesn’t seem too bothered by it. Maybe he’s not like the others? “Oh, don’t worry about it! We don’t mind.” Not that the other women are paying much attention, though they do smile and nod before returning to their conversation. “So you said you are watching her for the Weyrsecond? She is weyrbred, then, the girl?”

Mur’dah shakes his head, “No, she’s not mine. I watch her sometimes though.” He looks to the group, smiling with a nod, and then back. “Well met, Delphi. Ah, yes. She is…” He says it slowly, thoughtfully, as if considering his reply. Not quite sure why it matters. It’s as if Delphi asked him if Ezsrisa had two hands.

“I did not know that riders watched the children of other riders,” Delphi states in innocent curiosity, though realizing just how that sounds, she promptly adds in a slightly flustered tone. “Ah, not that I meant insult, sir! It’s just we see a few riders this way but not many who bring their children… or a child, for a visit.” Maybe that’s what’s puzzling her? What does Hannista Hold have, aside from trees?

Mur’dah gives Delphi a curious look and a smile. “Friends watch the children of friends. She wished to see the trees. It’s been a lovely visit. Your hold is remarkable. Quiet and peaceful, a nice break from the bustle of the weyr to be sure.”

Delphi seems satisfied with that answer and she dips her head in polite agreement. “If she has a love for trees, this would be the place. And thank you, Hannista Hold has it’s hidden qualities. Quiet and peacefulness being one. Hopefully the rest of your day will be just as pleasant.” The woman goes silent then, but Ezsrisa is returning and looking up at Mur’dah as she reaches to place her hands on his knee. “I’m tired.” she mumbles and then yawns to emphasize that.

Mur’dah nods, “She’s convinced we can grow one back home. And thank you.” His attention is drawn away by Ezsrisa returning, brushing some hair out of her face. “Time to go back home?” he suggests.

Delphi is about to tell Mur’dah that that is next to impossible or unwise, but the woman promptly bites her tongue and just gives the brownrider a knowing look. Oh children and their imaginations! Ezsrisa doesn’t protest when Mur’dah brushes the hair from her face and, in fact, is almost trying to crawl up onto the bench beside him. That’d be a yes!

Mur’dah smiles, reaching down to lift the girl as he stands, resting her against his hip. “It was nice talking to you, Delphi. I’d better get her home. Thank you for your hold’s hospitality.” Above, Kalsuoth circles before moving on, his shadow casting a brief…shadow over the playground before he’s landing in the field. “Take care,” Mur’dah says to all before he’s hefting his satchel onto his other shoulder and walking down the path.

“Clear skies, rider Mur’dah. You’re welcome here anytime.” Delphi replies, smiling warmly and returning her attention to her son. “Take care!” she calls, just as Kalsuoth lands and most of the children still on the playground give awed gasps and a few amazed murmurs. DRAGON! They may have to hurry, before the brown is overwhelmed by curious holder children. Ezsrisa has wrapped her arms around Mur’dah’s neck and is already beginning to doze by the time they’re heading to Kalsuoth. Getting her dressed and up those straps will be a fun challenge!

Mur’dah sets her down onto her feet, assuming she stays standing, and yes…it is quite the thing to get her into her gear. Lots of, “Okay, your arm…c’mon, Ezzie, let’s go,” and the like. The straps aren’t as hard, he just carries her up, pluks her down, buckles her in. “Want one more look at the trees?” he asks as Kalsuoth kicks into the sky.

Ezsrisa is limp and easily manipulated and though her eyes droop heavily, she’ll lift her arms and somehow get into her jacket and gear. Up she goes, not protesting when Mur’dah plunks her down and buckles her in and she will lean right back against the brownrider. “Mhm. Yeah!” she agrees and seems to perk up a bit as Kalsuoth kicks off into the sky.

Mur’dah smiles, patting Kalsuoth’s hide as the brown rises. He takes his time, circling around the massive tree again before he vanishes between to take them home, where Mur’dah will drop Ezsrisa off with her foster family. Tired kid, check!

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