Let Them Eat Cake!

Xanadu Weyr - Main Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.
The cliff looms imposingly on two sides. Toward the southwest, a spire stretches up to high above where the everpresent watchdragon sits on a lonely peak with Xanadu's Starstones. A massive rocky spur extends to the north, curved slightly to hold the clearing and pocked with doors and windows.
The hatching arena and Dragonhealers' Annex sit to the southeast, built together into a single complex that takes up a large portion of the perimeter beneath its domed roof. To the southwest, wide steps lead up to the caverns, and almost directly south is the entrance to the Infirmary. Nestled between the infirmary and the main caverns there's a human-sized archway with frequent traffic - it leads to the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern.
Tucked near the arch, just off to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Wildflower Boutique'. Windows have been cut along the cliff in various places along the cliff. Those of the administrative offices are placed to have the best view of Xanadu's airspace - to the southwest, over the entrance to the caverns and the infirmary. Others mark the dormitories and those of lucky residents, while toward the northern edge of that spur cluster the windows and entrances to the crafters' complex.
The rest of the Weyr lies to the north and east - a broad road that leads through the meadow and the trees of the forest beyond. At the far northern edge of the clearing, just inside the perimeter kept clear of trees, a clocktower sits and proudly displays the hour.

Today is a clear, cold day, the sort where you can see for miles and not find a single cloud. Dragons? Yeah, those you can find in these skies, the sun gleaming off polished scales as if to compete with the sparkle of the seas. Garouth himself is just touching down to land in the clearing after a jaunt through the even-colder no-actual-air of between, D'lei on his back along with an assortment of bundles, crates and carrysacks tied on amid the straps.

It IS a clear day, which is to say that it is a boring day. Why boring, you ask? Because there is no mud to roll in, no snow to throw, no natural disasters (except for the one making her way down to greet him) in which one can wrestle those incoming D'lei's into submission in (HA). There is only the sun, intent on her rule, one too-bright beam shy of ATTEMPTED MURDER and there is also LEIRITH. She doesn't so much appear from between as she does just… appear, that scrubbed-to-shine-(until-she-rolled-in-the-beach-sand-and-ruined-it-anyway)-hide MANIFESTING ITSELF in gloriously wonky knobs and even less graciously-taloned paws. « DID YOU BRING US GIFTS? » beats at D'lei and Garouth both, an influx of percussive excitement thrumming, drumming, begging to be let in even as she lets herself in ANYWAY because permission is for… FOR BETTER DRAGONS. And yes, she is winding her way around the general public to press her snoot right in against Dash and WUFFLE against him. WHAT? SHE IS TOLL. SHE CAN SQUISH HIM FROM ALL THE WAY UP THERE, WATCH HER. Risali, however, has yet to make an appearance and Leirith is being mum about it (honestly, probably because she wasn't asked and ALSO probably because she is squishing D'lei (gently, okay, ONLY PEQUENA MURDER) and alsoalso because there are BUNDLES AND CRATES AND CARRYSTACKS and that's all a lot more interesting than where her disappointing as hell lifemate is right now). (she'sonherway)

WHAT DO YOU MEAN ALSO LEIRITH? SHE IS A GOLDEN SUN. SHE RULES SUPREME. SHE IS ONE TOO-BRIGHT BEAM SHY OF … A LOT OF THINGS. SO REALLY, WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS SHE'S DEFINITELY GOT A STELLAR BODY (BOW-CHICKA) AND SHE SHOULD ABSOLUTELY HOLD IT AGAINST US. IN A COURT OF LAW, BECAUSE P. SURE THIS BRONZE AND RIDER ARE ILLEGAL. SO. Garouth (exhibit A) lowers himself to a crouch-lounge for more expeditious unloading, while D'lei (exhibit B) unfastens his straps and stands on on the dragon's neck. And then? He laughs, because Leirith is here, and she bumps her head right in against him and he hooks his arm around it like she's somehow his own dragon despite the fact that he's literally standing on his dragon. Doesn't matter, he gets them both. He's just like that. "We have apple cake soaked in rum," he informs her as he snuggles that massive head (and maybe the reason Leirith isn't saying anything about Risali is because Dash is cheating on the rider with her dragon), "and an entire two crates of what I am assured is the finest of sand that our glassworkers will absolutely love because it is, somehow, much better than what we have here." How is this possible? It's okay, he doesn't know either, but it's not enough to stop him from grinning. « It is slightly blue. » The sand, that is, and Garouth is convenient enough to image it to Leirith lest she demand to see the crates cracked open here and now. « There is also cider. » "Indeed! And some of it has been frozen and frozen again until they couldn't freeze it any further!" There's that grin again (still), and then D'lei is literally hooking hands around Leirith's knobs and climbing up onto her head as Garouth rumbles his amusement, scrambling about until he (hopefully) manages to straddle her neck just behind the head and steers her (probably badly) like a massive mustard pony to try and direct that forklift-hued head toward the packages waiting to be unloaded. SHE CAN "HELP"!

AND IF YOU BELIEVE THAT, WE HAVE A BRIDGE IN NERAT TO SELL YOU. SHE IS PROBABLY BIG ENOUGH TO QUANTIFY AS HER OWN CONSTELLATION THOUGH – HER OWN GALAXY, EVEN. AND SHE IS DEFINITELY HOLDING ALL OF THAT STELLAR-NESS IN CONTEMPT. IN THE ILLEGAL COURT OF HOT. OVER WHICH SHE CURRENTLY PRESIDES. SHE'S HOLDING IT RIGHT AGAINST D'LEI. AND GAROUTH. BUT RIGHT NOW, MOSTLY D'LEI. (OBJECTION!! is probably not inaccurate when one stops to think about how unfair and glorious all those cheater-spawned D'leirith babies would be; it's probably a kindness that the world will NEVER KNOW such ETHEREAL BEAUTY). And while exhibit A does exhibition(ist, EYOOO!) A things, Leirith gladly takes those snuggle-hugs from exhibit B. It's kind of like watching an overly large cat bunt and nuzzle and almost eat their human caretakers, only this is D'lei and he is being less eated and more… tucked into, Leirith pressing her muzzle to his tummy as she partakes of that hug and listens. For what it's worth, Leirith kind of is D'lei's dragon in a by-proxy-she-would-totally-betray-him-if-there-was-a-death-match-between-him-and-Risali sort of way, AND IT SHOWS. She clangs laughter as D'lei's hands find purchase and she holds still with UNCHARACTERISTIC PATIENCE as he climbs up and settles himself in and attempts to steer her. « I WANT TO BE DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU DIDN'T BRING ANYTHING THAT I CAN EAT, EXCEPT THAT IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU BROUGHT A PARTY. » And who can be disappointed in a PARTY? Certainly not Leirith, who, AS ANY GOOD STEED MIGHT, steers herself in the EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF WHERE D'LEI DIRECTS HER. This is now a DASHNAPPING. … Just kidding. Leirith is ONLY SLIGHTLY TURNED AROUND, but she MAKES IT OVER THERE EVENTUALLY. SHE IS A GOOD HELP. TREATS PLS. "Well if you are commandeering her," comes with a hitch of amusement, a catch of her breath as if Risali is holding laughter at bay, "that means that I get Garouth, right?" SHE IS STEALING HIM ANYWAY, or at least attempting to steal his affections, taking not-nearly-long-enough strides over to the brindled bronze and reaching up with a whispered, "Show me where the apple cake is, Garouth. We're running away with it." IT'S A HEIST NOW.

Risali also betrays D'lei at regular intervals, especially when there's only one piece of cake left. (Or only two, which could become only one.) Also in matters regarding the blankets, and at which number in the countdown one actually begins a race, and… look, the point here is that he understands and accepts that Leirith will definitely betray him should the circumstance arise, but he's made his peace with that and the chaos that she brings. So. HE RIDIN' HER. "Who said you can't eat cider?" he replies, offended on Leirith's behalf. "Okay, technically I guess you drink it, but the point is that we have barrels of the stuff, we can fill your mug -" does she have a mug? no? he'll have to make one "- and you can quaff your cares away."

Garouth simply rumbles in amusement, not helping in the slightest as he watches Leirith abscond… well, not really, but she definitely considers a-scone-ing or something… with his former rider. Former, in this case, because Risali is here to steal a bronze away on a lifetime of adventure or five minutes of a good time, and the bronze rumbles a greeting to her before he arches the far wing and tips it back to point the curved claw of it at a carry-sack, placed midway on his back over the curve of one of those barrels. Not that D'lei is wholly oblivious to this! Sure, he may not hear the subtler of whispers (they're positively un-Leirith-y!) but he definitely turned his head to see Risali and beamed to her from his terrible-idea position on the terrible-idea queen herself. "You can't argue with what a dragon decides on the sands," he informs her. "And we brought sands with us, so it definitely counts." That's just logic! And, while mostly/ he's being ridiculous, he does - eventually - manage to get Leirith aimed close enough to where she was intended that he can loosen some of the ropes and let out the pulleys to lower the heavier of those crates more-or-less-safely to the ground. (Though it's probably a good thing that they're just sand and not yet the glass they'll become!)

TOUCHE, DASH. « I DO NOT HAVE MUGS OR CARES, MINE'S MINE, » comes ebullient and too loud, a wubwubwub of laughter that, DESPITE PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS AND IMPRACTICALITIES (that have now been acknowledged, thank you), MEANS SHE IS UNDAUNTED BY THOSE THINGS SHE LACKS. « YOU CAN JUST GIVE ME ALL OF THE BARRELS. » And then she will do what a dragon do – or maybe more apropos, a Leirith do – and DESTROY THEM. CIDER EVERYWHERE!!!!! MORE MESS FOR RISALI TO SPEND AN AGONIZING AMOUNT OF A FREE DAY SCRUBBING AWAY. « I WILL LEAVE THE QUAFFING UP TO YOU AND MY DISAPPOINTMENT. » Because it's a funny word she DOESN'T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS (WE know it means drink, but LEIRITH doesn't know that). And anyway, the important part is that Leirith allows D'lei to execute his terrible ideas from on atop her, and even manages NOT to sabotage him by staying very still while he works. Risali, on the other hand, is scrunching her nose and baring her teeth and smiling too wide and too fierce up at the once-bronze-now-queenrider man she spends an INORDINATE AMOUNT OF TIME smiling at (and about). "Shut up, Dash," comes on a hitch of laughter, followed by a, "no take-backsies." Because she knows the every-minute nightmare (read: joy) of having Leirith in her mind, crowding all of her thoughts and filling all her darkest spaces with all her… LEIRITHNESS. ALL BASS AND NO TREBLE. TOO MUCH POSITIVITY. NOT ENOUGH GAROUTH. WHICH IS WHY SHE CONSPIRES WITH HIM, and turns that grin up and onto bronze, hands coming down on his hide, fingers curling inward so that she can scratch at those generally itch-prone patches as she breathes out, "This is why you're the best. I think I'll keep you, too. May I?" By which she means climb him because WHY BE USEFUL AND HELP D'LEI WHEN SHE COULD STEAL APPLE-CAKE SOAKED IN RUM and admire HOW DASH LOOKS WHEN HE WORKS while she reclines on her newly-acquired bronze and ENJOYS THE SHOW. She will SUN and DRINK and EAT and catcall Dash from on high. She will also turn her attention back onto Dash and ask an inquisitive, "What is all of this for, anyway?" Not that she is complaining. SHE JUST WANTS TO KNOW.

And this mess would even attract flies! Which uh. Is … a bonus? Maybe? Okay, MAYBE NOT. "We will quaff it with great vigor," D'lei assures Leirith, which does nothing at all to actually explain what the word means but definitely lets it continues to sound funny. Which it does. « We can hunt those beasts drunk on cider, » Garouth helpfully proposes, with a mental image of an old apple-orchard he knows where windfall apples ferment on the ground and are snapped up by swine and herdbeasts who become definitely very drunk and stumble like the lushes they are. "Yes! There we go. It's all good." D'lei is definitely a helper. And so - and here's the part that may surprise you, like number seven in a listicle - is Leirith! She's helpful in moving her head, in staying still for once, in not actually smashing boxes or barrels as they're removed from Garouth's back and lowered to the ground in a set of actions both practiced and practical despite the ambient ridiculousness. D'lei may never have been a transport rider, but he's carried enough emergency supplies to circumstances far less stable than these to be competent at the task before him.

Shutting up, though? He's never been competent at that (lies, he's perfectly capable he just doesn't do it) and so he just laughs at Risali. "We shall party on the beaches and on the shores, we shall party round the bonfires that leap to the skies! We shall fly and chase and it will be badass as all fuck!" He goes from poetic to sing-song to triumphant fist-in-air through the course of that, and then he unfurls another crate of supply from the dragon formerly known as his. Garouth is amused, in his brindled expanses and shadowscapes, at this carnival-inversion of the everyday, and he graciously tips his head to welcome and invite the scritch of fingers at just exactly where they can be most effective. Right there. No, a little to the left. Yes. Exactly. You have it, says the partial sink of heavy lids, and then the stretch of a foreleg to a ramp (near enough to that neck for it to be a railing) offers acceptance of this tribute and invitation to embark upon the magical adventure of mystery that is Garouth, his skin brushed with the coolness of between yet still warmed from within by his bulk. Like the absolute best hot water bottle, if one that's a bit inconveniently sized for most beds. But then, he's kind of a bed himself, or at least eminently loungeable on, so it works out. And he comes with snacks! Which Risali can definitely get to before Dash steals them, because he's unloading the other things first. So she will, and then - when she asks him what this is even about - he grins. "Selene wanted some cider for that dance she and her friends are planning," and so, yes, of course D'lei went to get a special delivery, have you met him? "and then when I arrived at the Hold, they thought I was there to pick up the sand, so I figured I might as well be." He grins. "The cake just looked tasty."

« IS QUAFFING ONE OF YOUR WEIRD HUMAN RITUALS? LIKE THIS ONE? » Leirith inquires, COMPLETELY IGNORING THE WAY THAT RISALI BLUSHES when her rude and shameless queen directs the question with a flicker of MUCH MORE INTIMATE IMAGININGS. For once, at least, she doesn't ask the ENTIRE WEYR if that's what quaffing is, but if Risali trips a little and stumbles on her way up Garouth, WE ALL KNOW WHY. Also, listen, she had to stop to add her own fist in the air, and part with a breathy laugh for D'lei's words and enthusiasm. "So you're going to dance with me, Dash?" She doesn't wait for an answer, she just continues with a, "Good. Make sure you take my breath away." And if Risali stays flush and Leirith's laughter is all the louder for it, WHO CAN BLAME HER? DOESN'T MATTER. Because her attention is on Garouth's drunken prey. There's an eagerness about the way she focuses, as if she's trying to snap them into existence from his mind (or at least snap them up into her mind, prowling after the drunken lushes through stolen bits of mindscape and leaving behind winking carnival-horror lights in her wake). And while Leirith stays focused on Garouth (and not killing D'lei), Risali FINISHES HER ASCENT (after paying proper tribute, of course), carefully making her way towards that apple-cake rum deliciousness while D'lei does actually important things and she listens. "Ahhh," comes half distracted as Risali works the box free, because of course D'lei went on a special trip to get cider for the planned dance. BECAUSE OF COURSE HE WOULD; HE IS THE BEST. And Risali's brows furrow as she looks up from her work to find D'lei and adds, "We should take her out and let her pick a new outfit for their dance – if she wants one." Because it might be fun, and who doesn't like to feel… well… exciting when they are doing exciting things? EITHER WAY, Risali's lips pull at one corner, amusement not so much guttering out as shifting to form words of, "And you look delicious. I would offer to help, Dash, but – Faranth – this view makes a girl feel a little breathless." IS SHE LOOKING AT THE CAKE NOW? … yes. BUT IT'S OKAY DASH, SHE TOTALLY MEANS YOU. Which is why grey eyes flicker back up to him, teasing mischief in that expression as she closes the top again and starts to calculate a way back down.

D'lei tilts his head, as Leirith asks A CERTAIN QUESTION, and then that flicker makes him grin, with a bright sharpness to the expression that wholeheartedly conveys a certain enthusiasm for the prospect even though what he says is, "No. Quaffing is messier," with entirely too much equilibrium to be allowed. (He needs it, though! Otherwise he'd fall down from lack of balance, and that - as we've established already in this story - could be tragic.) Another barrel lowered (how many are there? as many as we need for there to be, that's how) and then he grins at Risali's questio-demand before he lifts his hand and just straight-up blows her a kiss. TAKE THAT. (AND LIKE IT.)

Another crate, and we really are getting near the end of them now, and D'lei nods without looking up to Risali's words, because he doesn't want to break it and send sand everywhere. "We should," he says. "Is Ierne where the fancy outfits are these days, or is it South Boll?" Not that either of them is the true expert on this. They are adults, and their opinions on teen fashion are thus outdated at best and comical at worst! He can, however, muse on the possibilities before actually asking his daughter where she'd want to go (assuming she even wants to go) to look for new clothes. D'lei does, however, glance up in time to see Risali looking at the cake, and then going to meet his just in time to see his grin. "When you find someone worth sweeping off their feet and carrying away, well… by Faranth, you take that chance." His grin widens, and then he ever-so-deliberately (and still grinningly) looks away to the next - AND VERY LAST - of the assorted crates and barrels he has to unload. NOW'S YOUR CHANCE, RISA. TAKE THAT CAKE.

A beat, and then more giddy, percussive laughter. That sunbright cheer permeates the smile Risali answers D'lei's blown kiss with, the flush of her cheeks both pleased and still, despite turns of history and intimacies in varying degrees, shy (and awed) to be on the receiving end of his affection. So she stumbles again, and then she laughs breathless as she mimes a half-dive to catch his kiss from the air (don't worry, she only slightly throws her balance on Garouth) and holds it up with a victory wave before nuzzling it against her cheek. ARE THEY NERDS? Yes. And now nobody can doubt it. WHICH IS ALL GREAT AND IMPORTANT, but not the point. Still, that expression lingers even as Risali answers with a half-laughed, "Ierne is probably more fashion conscious with the latest trends. I think South Boll tends to be a little more… formal." But fashion has never really been Risali's thing, and that dismissive half-shoulder-shrug implies that she has doubts about the accuracy of their answer. BUT LISTEN, THEY BOTH WORK, THEY BOTH TALK, and then D'lei… cheats. Risali catches sight of D'lei's grin, hears those damning words, and normally she would run except that… she's temporarily incapable of anything. DASH BROKE HER. Give her a moment, five, then watch as that flush deepens and Risali's eyes drop away and every movement of her body is suddenly flustered. It's probably why there's a hushed, "Shut up, Dash," that's a little too breathless before Risali LAUNCHES HERSELF INTO ACTION. She does take that cake. She cradles it very carefully as she makes her way back down Garouth (a little too quick, a little too reckless) BUT LOOK, her feet find solid ground and there's one reaching hand towards Garouth, fingers gliding as she whispers, "Thank you, Garouth," before grey eyes dart back to D'lei. A beat, two, three in which she just watches before she takes that first backward step, and then a second. DID SHE JUST SALUTE HIM? She did, and then she blew him a kiss. "Thanks for the cake, Dash!" AND THERE SHE GOES. CHEATING. Because she's STEALING HIS CAKE AND LITERALLY RUNNING AWAY WITH IT. It's fine though. At least she had the decency to, at some interval, summon hands to the clearing to start helping move barrels and sand to their more appropriate locations. SHE WILL BE AT HOME, sitting on the table (criss-cross applesauce) with an elbow to one thigh and her chin in her hand, waiting. See? She only kind of cheats! They can share the cake together! And if she smashes a little bit in Dash's face first, well… he probably deserved it for making her heart do something ridiculous.

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