Out in the Cold

Xanadu Wilds - Bowl Falls
The soft music of water dancing upon rock greets you as the narrow declivity gradually opens to a bowl with gently-curved, sides carpeted in emerald-colored moss. Here you may ascend to the rim and access the untamed forest on the surface of the Island.
In one spot a wide section of water pours over the bowl's lip, forming a single sheet that tinkles pleasantly upon rocks at the bottom, a narrow groove providing the runoff to drain out of the bowl and into a crack. Mist rises, but the moisture dissipates, leaving this place a dry and comfortable spot to rest or camp in, the soft carpet providing a natural cushion. Though there are no trees growing down here in the bowl, the trees overhead from the forest on the topside shelter from the sun and rain.

(Warning, some strong language.)

Despite a bad mood he's refused to explain to others, ka-el can tolerate Soriana's presence as Soriana isn't prodding him for answers. He's thankful for that, even though such words of thanks aren't forthcoming. He shifts his tarp and pulls up the hood of his hoodie, which provides a bit more protection from the cold, though not by much. He looks at the fire again, brooding for a moment. Aware that there's at least one person still near him, he turns his head a bit to peer at Soriana. "I'm not much company. You don' have to stay here."

Soriana stretches, rubbing at one calf for a moment before glancing over to the grumpy, huddled under a tarp Kale as he speaks. "Nah, it's okay," she says. "I'm done running around for today." And grouchy not-much-company is better than none? Maybe. She takes a moment to just watch the fire, then glances back to Kale. "You got your notebook? Can I borrow it?"

Kale nods once in reply. She wants to stay, she can stay, though talking he seems not inclined to do, as much as talking seems to come so naturally to him. And so silence prevails, interrupted by the crackling of the fire and the jibber jabber of other candidates who mill through and about the campsite. They're hardly alone, though from the stoic way he ignores everyone, he might as well be. At least there's no sign of Jennabelle. He's brought from his thoughts some moments later, and Soriana's request is regarded with a look of question. Wordlessly, he moves, standing to leave her and approach his spot, crouching to rummage through his pack. Of course he has his notebook, and the heaily worn-looking thing is retrieved, a pen stuck within it. His pack is zipped and he returns to her, handing it over. "Need to make a note?" he assumes as he reseats himself, sounding skeptical.

"Yeah," Soriana says as she accepts the notebook. "Thanks." She starts flipping through it, not paying much attention to the content of pages except insofar as whether or not they're blank. She's looking for one of the blank variety. "I was talking with Muir and Mikal about the play," she explains. In case Kale was curious. "We had some ideas. I wanted to write them down before I forgot." Because, well, rain and wind and cold will do that to a person. She starts writing, slow and careful by the light of the fire.

The content would be boring anyway, if she did pay any attention. Labeled diagrams of machinery. Parts and bits. Notes of different isotopes and metals. Page numbers to study from. All written in Kale's hurried scribbled print, as if afraid the thoughts in his head would leave him before he got them down. He watches her now as she explains, and when she does so, he looks back to the fire. "Oh. Right." The play that he hasn't thought about since the day that ideas were being tossed about at random. His brows lower. "Is something like that done every time?"

Yeah. That play. The one for which a script is being cobbled together out of all those random ideas. Soriana nods, continuing to write a note to her future self. "Like what?" she asks him, turning her head to look at Kale. "A play? I don't think so. I don't remember being invited to one, anyhow. I mean… they always try to keep the candidates busy somehow." Like, say, abandoning them on a rock and letting them go semi-feral?

"Yeah, well it's stupid," is Kale's thoughts on that, a far cry from his optimistic willingness to play whatever role that's needed, singing or not. "I mean, what's the point? We weren't busy enough before? Half of us are crafters anyway. What moe do they expect us to do? It's not as if we sit around all day an scratch our asses." His teeth clench, jaw tensing enough that grinding teeth begin to hurt. He shifts against the rock hard ground, the discomfort from that another source of irritation. Quick, someone slip him a Zoloft! A hand is lifted to scratch at his forehead, keeping still suddenly a chore that he's finding difficult to accomplish.

Soriana looks up from her writing at Kale's words, and frowns. She doesn't immediately speak up, letting him continue with his objections, and when he's done, she takes a moment to write down another couple of words before closing the notebook carefully and setting the pen against it. "Of course we don't," she says, her tone quiet. They're not alone, after all, and she doesn't mean this to be a conversation for the whole camp. "I think… it's supposed to make us work together. Otherwise… someone like Idrissa, you think she'd get to know, well… anyone?"

"Yeah, I do," Kale answers in regards to her last inquirery, his voice not loud, but what it lacks in volume it makes up for with intensity. It isn't exactly a tone of anger, though the hint of that is definitely there, roughening the edges of his words, but moreso it's an impassioned sound. He turns to look at her fully now, disregarding the dancing flames that so entranced him. "I do think she'd get to know someone. Everyone, really. We all would've gotten to know each other without bein' forced to wit a shardin' play or this," a gesture to their feral surroundings is made with a hand that is dropped soon after with a discouraged grunt. "Not everything about a person needs to be known."

"Okay," Soriana says. She meets Kale's gaze, her own steady. "Maybe she would." Her own voice remains quiet, though the words are slower than usual. More… deliberate. "I still think that's what it's for. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I'm sure there's some reason why… why the play, and why we've been sent here." One corner of her mouth quirks up. "So. What's it say about a person that they tell the candidates to put on a play?"

Why they've been sent here. That's what he's worried about. The play? In a few days time, likely it'll be deemed fun again. A chance to show off and kick back. But now? Now he needs some tangible known reason to be negative and feel negative and say negative words. It's an excuse, but not the core of his problems. Kale, with problems? Ha! Not he with the ever-present grin. But even clowns sometimes lose their masks, and the jolly paint fades and smears and the smile is eventually lost, revealing something more honest beneath. Not that honesty has ever come easy for him. Today is no exception. "It says that the person has too much time on their hands," is his reply as he glances to his notebook. Assuming she's done with it, he reaches for it and moves to stand. "Or that old traditions need to be rethought." If this is a sort of tradition, that is. "I need to walk or something."

Yeah, Soriana's done with the notebook, so she hands it back to Kale. The first of his answers, she doesn't reply to, but… the second. "Now that," she says, "-is always true. Traditions need to be rethought." As he rises… she does the same. "Sometimes you end up at the same place. But tradition is a pretty bad reason to do something." She nods at his mention of a walk. She does not, however, show any signs of leaving his side. He could always ask her to stay behind. If he doesn't, though… she'll likely follow along.

Was walking alone implied? Perhaps, but perhaps it is better that he doesn't spend much more time alone in his own head, and as Soriana stands with him … Kale doesn't object, though a small part of him tells him to. He does move to replace his notebook and pen within his pack though. Losing it would be a tragedy worth a stage performance. "As advanced as Xanadu is an' claims to be, it's a very traditional weyr." Does he have issue with tradition? Some, perhaps, although rarely do they ever present themselves in real situations. Such as the gold flight and A'dmar's rise as weyrleader. And now this. Few and far inbetween, but no less troublesome to his mind. Along with that other nagging thing that remains the thick root of his lingering sour mood. He looks at her a moment then continues to walk, steps heading away from the fire he so carefully tended and away from the campsite, towards the narrow end leading to the cleft.

Walking alone was most certainly implied. Soriana noticed the implication. However, as it was not stated aloud, she considers herself free to ignore the implications, and walk along with him until he makes a stronger argument that she isn't welcome here. No such argument has yet been forthcoming. So. Xanadu. Tradition. She listens to his complaint, and after a moment, she asks, "Is it?" It seems to be an actual question, not a rhetorical one - at least, to judge from her tone and the considering expression on her face afterward. "Sometimes, I suppose." And on they go toward the cleft.

"When it comes to certain things." Kale will relent that at least, though the entirety of his statement is not withdrawn. His tap has been left behind, unfolded though near enough to his things that hopefully no one will claim it as their own. As such, his hands are slipped into his pockets and his hood remains in place upon his head. The sound of the crackling fire grows softer the further they get from it, as does the chatter of their fellow candidates. The cleft itself is a little quieter, though it funnels the sound of the ocean which grows louder the closer one nears the exit on that end. Kale looks up the walls when they finally enter the passageway, taking note of the sky, glad to be moving, if not still not talking. But walking is helping him feel less cooped up within himself, at least.

To that, Soriana will nod without argument. When it comes to certain things… yes, Xanadu is traditional. For a time, she seems content enough to walk in silence. She's got multiple sweaters on under that jacket of hers, and besides… it's not frigid. Not yet. Cold enough that the rock is an unpleasant place to sleep, sure… but now, walking along to enter the cleft that's shadowy even at midday, it's not so bad. Not at long as they're moving. So they walk along, moving from the sociability and crackle of the fire to the uncaring roar of the ocean.

Maybe it's because they're leaving behind a bulk of the rock's population that Kale is beginning to feel vaguely less … trapped. Less bombarded by words and questions and the pressure he alone has put upon himself these past days. He's beginning to ease out of his shell. Gradually. Just a peek to see if all is well or if he needs to retreat and hole himself up in his own world and let everyone pass without him. Eyes are kept ahead, looking towards the slither of an exit some many yards ahead that opens up to the narrow beach of pristine sands. It's taken him a long while. From Mikal's wet entrance to the soup to Idrissa's insistent questions to Hotaru's kill .. til now. It took that much time til now before he truly begins to talk. "I don't think I belong here with you all, Sori."

There's certainly no bombard of questions from Soriana. She lets the silence stretch on, save for the sound of feet against the rocks and the occasional rustle of a fern… and the roar of the ocean, carried up from beyond that narrow, tide-swept beach. So. It's not much like silence at all, but it isn't talking, either… at least, not until Kale breaks the lack of silence with words. Strange words, too - at least, to Soriana. She turns her head, looking as if perhaps she'll see an answer there; a reason for his statement. She doesn't. There's a slight frown, a thoughtful wrinkle of her brow, but she still doesn't understand, and so… she asks. "Why not?"

Yeah, he has some explaining to do, but it won't be difficult for once. It's all perfectly clear in Kale's mind. Painfully clear, at that. He meets her eyes, his own filled with an unusual and vague look of unease, as if having found a conclusion he's reluctantly accepting, though he looks ahead again soon after. He continues to walk, his movements unhurried. "When we left Xanadu, we were the same. All've us. At home, we did whatever chore we were assigned. If we had a craft, we did those duties. At night, we slept in the barracks. We touched the same eggs. Had the same expectations an' rules. When we got here, we still were all the same. Didn't know what the fuckin' shards we were doing here. But we were here, and we were together, and we figured things out together. But now," he pauses just briefly, frown tugging. "I think we were brought here to see how we were different from one another. To see who can do what, an' who can't. You all have skills," he says, looking at her now. "Useful skills. Hunting, fishing, findin' things that can be eaten and knowing what's bad. Preparing meat. Cooking. I can't do any've that shit," she says, laughing, though it's a mirthless sound. "I'm like, the most useless waste of space on this rock. I can't help any of you."

As Kale continues to walk, Soriana continues to walk with him, matching her pace to his and listening to him talk. In the beginning, she nods. When they left Xanadu… okay, it's not like they were identical, but she gets what he means. They had more or less the same lives, the same… pattern to them. The same opportunities to have things they were good or bad at. It's when Kale gets to the 'but now' that Soriana stops nodding and starts simply listening to him. There's a little bit of a frown that starts in, but she lets him finish talking… or maybe it's just that the frown doesn't grow quite quickly enough to make her interrupt him. Quite. "S'shit, you know," she says, and her tone is conversational. "I mean, you're right. You're no good at this survival stuff. If we were relying on you to eat… we'd probably starve." She turns to fully face him. "But… we're not. What's it matter if we can make soup with nothing but our bare hands?" Yeah, Muir. "If that's what V'dim's been taking notes about… then he's pretty stupid for even caring." A pause. "But I don't think V'dim's stupid."

Kale stops walking now as she faces him, just some feet away from the exit of the cleft. Yes, tell him what he needs to know, Sori. Every guy wishes to hear his girlfriend confirm that he's inept! He isn't mad at her, though. It's the truth. He's not the outdoorsy, woodsy, hunter/gatherer type. He's never had reason to be. Regardless of this truth, it still does sting to hear it, and his jaw tenses again as his eyes focus on something other than hers. Her shoulder. That's a good place to settle his gaze. He can't explain to her why it matters, but it does, to him and possibly every other male who has ever lived. It's his job. That engraved primordial instinct that he has two things to do. Provide and protect. If he cannot do these two things, then what kind of man is he? And, equally important.. "Maybe it's not just the food. What if he's watching to see who'd make a good Weyrling? Who's a leader, who contributes and how? And the egg touches. The ones I touched saw me. Felt me. Whatever it was. … What dragon would want to be paired up with someone who's lacking? If I don't Impress, that's fine and all, but I'd like to think it'd be because the dragon that's meant for me wasn't there. Not because.. they didn't want me." Ugh. This is stupid. He sounds like whiny pansy. Sitting with his big mouth shut was probably the better idea.

Oh, Sori will. She'll tell Kale what he needs to know… the truth. Even the bits of the truth that sting. So her expression is serious… until one of his comments startles a quick laugh out of her. V'dim deciding who'd be a good Weyrling? "He can't. It doesn't matter what he thinks. He'll have to train whoever the dragons pick." Because, oh yeah, "It's the dragons that choose." She's said it before. She's saying it again. "They saw you, yeah." Felt. Experienced. Whatever it was. "So… any of them that were looking for a fisherman? You failed. If they wanted a cook? Nope. But maybe one of them was looking for the sort of guy that storms into infirmaries to rescue his girlfriend." Soriana tilts her head to the side, looking at Kale. Expectant.

She's right, and there's no doubt in Kale's mind that she is. The dragons decide. He doesn't reply to that, knowing it to be the truth no matter where the eggs may be. It's the hatchlings' decisions, and that's what worries him. His hands are pulled out of his pockets and set to rest at his sides as she continues to speak. His mouth twists a little, but then .. his eyes flit to her at the familiarity of her last statement. "Anyone would've done that,.." he answers knowingly, dismissively almost, though his words come slower than his last as he considers them. Maybe she has a point. Maybe. "I know there isn't anything left to do now but wait. No one's gonna know for sure til the hatching day, but… eh, I dunno. This place had me thinkin' of things I never really thought of before." Thinking and feeling things. Insufficiencies. Belated worries. Everyone has had them. He's heard their stories and insecurities about this experience. Kale himself? Not so much. Til now.

Soriana snorts at Kale's dismissal. "Anyone would not," she informs him, and her tone is brisk now. Argumentative. "Anyone wouldn't have run after a guy who just stabbed someone with an arrow, either. More like run away." She's staring at him. Possibly glaring at him? No. Not quite. It's getting there, though… at least, until the anger seems to drain out of her at the talk of waiting. "Yeah. I know." She sighs. "It's hard, not knowing. But this? It doesn't matter. Even if V'dim is testing us. What's he going to do, make us study this if we Impress? So what?" It's just more lessons. "What matters is you." Soriana reaches out her hand for one of those dangling at Kale's side. Her tone is firm, her gaze seeking his. "And there is nothing wrong with you."

How could she possibly be right on this? How could it be true that not everyone would act as he does? Facing what could've been a murderer because it felt like the right thing to do? Ready face whatever gore and heartache lie beyond an infirmary door, just to help? It's been instinctual to him. Putting others before himself. And so while initially her argumentative tone is met with a stubborn face, Kale too begins to relent after allowing what she says to marinate. As his hand is taken, he can't help but think that the roles here should be reversed. But as his fingers curl around hers, he realizes he cares not who took whose hand first as she lifts hers to his lips to kiss the back of her palm before pulling her in for a hug. There's nothing sensual about his touch. No underlying passion. Just … a hug because sometimes hugs are needed. "Thank you." It's so softly spoken, that it could almost go unheard. He holds her against his chest, arms wrapped about her, content to hold her for long seconds. Then, he releases her. "Let's keep walking." A definite invitation this time.

Whoever started it, hand in hand is still a good thing. The kiss to Sori's makes her smile; the hug makes her smile more. Arms go around. It's a good thing. A gesture of comfort. Affection. That's what a hug is for - at least, this hug. There are other hugs with other purposes. This one… is a hug. Because a hug is needed. As for the soft-spoken words, her arms squeeze closer for a moment, and her voice in reply is just as soft. "Always." After that, she simply enjoys the hug, until it's over and arms release. There are once more two figures in the shadows of the cleft instead of one. …if, that is, anyone is watching. Who knows what weyrlingmasters may lurk in the darkness? Soriana doesn't, nor does she care. She smiles to the invitation, explicit this time. "Yeah. Let's."

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