Kiyaszaeth's Taking Applications for First Mate at Monaco

Monaco Bay Weyr - Feeding Grounds
Jungle screens in this enormous pasture on all sides, protecting the resident herdbeasts from the daily activity of the Weyr. A likewise huge run-in shelter has been built out from another bubble cavern, large enough to shelter a decent-sized herd from inclement weather. It sits broodingly over the black-paved path that leads back towards the clearing, like a gaping maw from which extends a shoulder-high stone fence that encircles the pasture as far as the eye can see.

Log Credit to Monaco Bay Weyr

The last seven day has most definitely been a trial for some people *A'she*, but not for Wendyn, who has seemed to relish every last moment of it - caught up in the growing glow of her lifemate, and frustrating the majority of the Weyr's population as she does so. While Wendyn has drank and danced and flirted, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake, Kiyaszaeth has done at least some of the same - thankfully only the flirting, and has been found here and there settled with this or that bronze or brown. Today seems to be no different, for as Rukbat is edging towards the horizon, Kiyaszaeth has shuffled off her closest friends and disappeared towards the feeding grounds, Wendyn trailing along rather in a daze, dressed in an ensemble that doesn't seem to actually contain a single piece of her own clothing. Too large trousers rolled up at the ankles, an oversized men's shirt.. someone has a few trophies from the last sevenday. Either way, she has found her way to the fence, where she leans against it absently, watching Kiyaszaeth as she glides in lazy circles overhead.

He's kept his distance thus far, watching and waiting. Kiyaszaeth's flirtations never reached him - in large part because he divorced himself from her level. He had other things to do, see. But, today's the day; Elsvruth can feel it in his bones. It's a scent on the air and the way the herdbeasts stir; something has changed and, now, it's time to explore it. The shadow-clad bronze wings his way to the feeding grounds with the air of a beast that's only there to feed. Casual, shading to bland indifference. For his part, I'aija might be described as relieved - even if he's on edge. Something is definitely different and the former chef-turned-Wingleader (he has no clue, don't ask) is inclined to trail in the wake of the near-black bronze's passage. On some level, he's just glad that the bronze is feeling something different. Faranth knows how many visits he's made to dragonhealers and mindhealers about it at this point. (Too many. That's how many.) He spots Wendyn around the time that Elsvruth sets his sights on Kiyaszaeth. The former offers a salute and a smile; the latter, a sidelong look and a nonchalant lift of his chin.

RIP A'SHE. YOUR SACRIFICE WILL NOT BE IN VAIN. Nor will whoever-that-shirt-once-belonged-to's. Probably. Maybe. LOOK, WE ARE TRYING TO FIND THE POSITIVES. WORK WITH US HERE. Why? Because Ila'den's sacrifice might just be. He sacrificed HIS JACKET, Y'ALL (LAWD, THANKS HERYN) to be here in Monaco Bay, escorting the EVER-GIMP (okay, temporarily BROKEN) Xanadu Weyrleader (though it's clear that R'hyn, at some point, has fallen behind). Why? BECAUSE THERE WAS A PARTY OF COURSE. XANADU BRONZEFORCE, HOOOO!! IS THAT A F'YR? A K'VIR? A GAGGLE (MURDER) OF BRONZERS MAYBE LACKING KNOTS BUT DEFINITELY CRASHING MONACO BAY FOR REASONS SURE TO BE NEFARIOUS? …YES. Look. Half (or all) of them may be in varying states of sobriety, but the oldest of the quartet is suddenly breaking away with a low-pitched growl as he takes long strides away from them. Why? Because Ila'den is striding after his burnt-hide bronze, the very monstrocity-come-to-life that prowls his own way toward the feeding grounds hot on the trail of Kiyaszaeth while ALSO PLAYING IT COOL. INTERESTED? NOT HIM. HE'S JUST GOING TO SIDLE PAST WENDYN AND FIND A BEASTIE TO INNOCUOUSLY BLOOD. I mean, not blood right this second, but if a beast needs blooding, he's just finding the perfect one. COOL? Cool. Also listen, he's running away from Ila'den, who looks like he's having a whole lot of (silent) words with his lifemate that probably accumulate to, 'Teimyrth, don't you dare,' and, 'I will skin you and tan your hide and turn you into a rug don't-you-step-a-foot-in-that-pen,' if expressions are anything to go by. Sorry Wendyn, sorry I'aija. Ila'den is trying really hard to pretend that This Isn't Happening, so he isn't paying attention to his surroundings just yet. Teimyrth is though. That growl is probably just a super nice greeting for Elsvruth. NOT A CHALLENGE AT ALL. AHEHEHHEM. THAT'D BE PREPOSTEROUS. LOOK AT THIS FINE HERDBEAST.

This is why K'vir never goes anywhere (okay, that's a lie, he goes places but this is the first Not Duty or Work Related time)! Just when he was likely starting to unwind and enjoy himself, letting his guard down because — what could possibly go wrong? Dragons. That's what! His level of sobriety is unknown, though the middle-aged bronzerider is steady on his feet, if developing more and more of a FROWN and defeated edged look to his expressions. See that tight-lipped grimace? IT'S NOT YOU F'YR! Or Ila'den… who is hurrying off. "… damn it." Grunted, mostly under his breath because HE'S CATCHING ON, YO! Booze or not in his system, he can sense doom what's coming. Like a moth to the flame, he'll reluctantly tail after Ila'den but with considerable reluctance because what is the hurry? SERIOUSLY. He'll get there… eventually, and offering in-so much as a respectful nod to Wendyn and I'aija, as well as any others who're drifting in. Zekath has always kept to himself and continues to do so, even though he has definitely caught on to the undercurrent vibe here — and he definitely wants in on THIS PARTY! Only he's going to take the nonchalant route, soaring in at some distance to scope out Kiyaszaeth the situation. Size up the adversaries competitors and, of course, the herds below. Don't mind him, he's just… scouting! All routine and protocol, honest~

Y'ALL, HE LOOKS A LOT SMARTER THAN HE IS. Honestly, dumb-as-rocks or no, Glorioth is JUST smart enough to realize the tactical advantage he has in not sharing with his F'yrsomely tipsy lifemate that there is, as it happens, a proddy gold in the vicinity. He is on a winning streak where greens are concerned, but he has not been so fortunate with golds (OKAY, MAYBE JUST LEIRITH SO FAR, IT'S FINE), so to say that he is INTERESTED in this… OPPORTUNITY TO RUB HIS AWESOMENESS IN THE FACES OF EVERY OTHER "MALE" (YES, THOSE ARE HIS AIR-QUOTES) HERE, would be understating things. The gold (does she even have a name? Would it even matter to him if he did? Survey says… NO, sorrynotsorry) is just his window of opportunity to engage in EPIC SLAUGHTER OF SOMEONE ELSE'S HERDS. THEY HAVE NEVER KNOWN HERDSLAYER, BUT THEY WILL FEAR HIS NAME HENCEFORTH IF ONLY FOR THE TOLL ON THE WEYR'S COFFERS. And F'yr? Poor, sweet F'yr? F'yr, who would have F'yrlessly fled the scene of this impending debauchery of piratical proportions? He's trailing behind Ila'den, trailing behind K'vir, expression woefully resigned. He's not looking at anyone but his already blood smattered lifemate with his much, much, much too loud commentary of, « AHAHAHAHAHAAHAH HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHHA. YES, TEIMYRTH, DAINTILY SQUISH THEM WITH YOUR EFFEMINATE CLAWS. COME, ZEKATH, YOU HAVE ONLY TO STAND BESIDE ME, » even though Zekath is definitely bigger, y'all, « TO PROVE THE RADIANCE OF MY VALOR IS SUPERIOR. YOU NEED NOT SHAME YOURSELF WITH YOUR UNGAINLY FLIGHT. » At least, so far, he's only verbally attacking his fellow Xanadoans, but that's only because it hasn't yet occurred to him to take notice of all the rest. GIVE HIM TIME.

What are these invaders doing on Kiyaszaeth's (not-so) hidden feeding grounds? As first one, and then another, and then a right gaggle of bronzes appear - one even daring to HUNT BEFORE HER, there is a low rumble from the gold - so much any sort of friendly greeting to her clutchmate - and she is diving towards the ground, straight towards a gathered, nervous group of herdbeasts. With a trumpet, she plows into them, sending the majority running and making far more work for the males, and leaving her with a pair of beasts crumpled beneath her mass. Wings spread, and she stretches her neck towards the bronzes, hissing softly. Avast, foul intruders, you face the pirate queen! Wendyn is distracted as she catches I'aija's salute, a slow smile slipping over her face as she edges closer, but the young man is saved from certain doom by the arrival of the Xanadu contingent, as the junior Weyrwomans' attention is pulled along down the row, arching an eyebrow curiously - before they in turn are saved by Kiyaszaeth's antics. "Shards." She hisses, swiveling back to grab the fence and peer over it, caught in a battle of wills with her lifemate and holding her breath until that crucial moment passes, and the gold's muzzle drops not to the belly of her kill but to the neck.

The intrusion elicits a lingering look, but the plains of Elsvruth's mind are empty. The sun is setting on the grasslands of his psyche, splashing red and gold across the mesas and a smattering of twisted trees. A thin sound stretches across the silence of his mind; the warbling note from some long-warped string instrument. Fiddle, probably. His nostrils flare at Teimyrth's growl. Silent, steady, painfully stoic, the blackened bronze sweeps in to make an efficient kill, seizing one of the panic-stricken beasts that the gold scattered before her. The creature dies without knowing it truly lived - and while he bloods, his foreclaws strip the top of the beast's skull off. A surreptitious glance is spared for that find. What he sees remains a mystery. Still, the shadowy native maintains his distance, watching these casual visitors to his territory, his domain with a cool gleam in his red-purple gaze. He readies himself with a flex of wing and claw, but keeps the bulk of his attention on the reason why he's here: Kiyaszaeth. She represents so much more than just another glowing gold, a mystery that these loud, brash intruders could not possibly comprehend. I'aija is already losing himself in the moment; Elsvruth's takeover is both stealthy and swift, the dark smothering the light. Where his dragon doesn't react, I'aija does; with cold looks and a hard set to his jaw as he sizes up the other riders making their way along. Something primal and protective manifests and he dares to take a step, then two; not to encroach on Wendyn's space, but to serve as some kind of barrier between her and the Xanadu contingent. "Steady on," is murmured. For her? For him? For both?

The herdbeasts scatter and the one that Teimyrth's eyes were set upon is crushed beneath Kiyaszaeth's weight or lost in the sudden rush of beasts — all of which is momentarily pulled from thought to make room for a personality AS BIG AS GLORIOTH'S. Teimyrth's answer comes with a flick of tail, an insidious roll of bulky shoulder and the snap of a wing tip as his head drops to the ground and a snarl pulls its way free from him. He doesn't need words to challenge Glorioth's claim, but his attention is ripped back to the bleating beasts in their panic as Elsvruth down one. Now it's Teimyrth's turn, the nightmare bronze moving with a finesse honed by turns of practice, goring one unlucky creature as it attempts to flee and finds its neck caught and torn open by Teimyrth instead. And for a moment, just a moment, nothing else matters. Herdslayer and a blackened bronze matter as little as that brilliantly fringed bronze in the wings; all of Teimyrth's attention is now on Kiyaszaeth as he bloods his beast, as every muscle in that massive body coils in anticipation for what comes next. Now it's Ila'den's turn, the too-big bronzerider finally drawing that lone grey eye from I'aija (with a tick of his jaw, a flex of his hands as if Teimyrth's bloodlust is rising in him), to Wendyn where it settles for one, two, five beats. "She's yours?" There's something in that husky, raspy burr that takes the coarse, rough quality of his tone and turns it into almost a plea, as if he's trying to distract himself away from the chaos, as if he might yet still will Teimyrth away from a primal need to chase. Of course, he could be asking I'aija if Wendyn is his, but that's PROBABLY UNLIKELY.

« We'll see whose ungainly yet! » Zekath crows back, highly bemused already by Glorioth's ANTICS (he's totally going to use the inexperienced bronze as cover, just you watch — DISTRACTION, GO!) There's the illusion that the bronze would've added 'kid' (or would it be whelp?) but he bites his 'tongue' so to speak. Plus his focus is shifting because oh-look! The lady pirate-queen of the hour is making her move and, being the PROPER (polite, sometimes) bronze he is and respecting the unspoken code, only dives in for the kill once she has made hers. So what if it's more work? IT JUST PROVES HIS PROWESS. Rawr, look at him and his cunning, on the fly tactics! That's uh — that's sexy, right? No? Oh well! He'll snag his kill and promptly set to blooding it, wings flared and tented predatory-avian style. THIS IS HIS! GO AWAY. But it also serves as cover for him to make covert spying glances towards Kiyaszaeth. Okay, so he's covertly sizing up Elsvruth (and likely he, the most, for being the native threat and an UNKNOWN), along with Glorioth and Teimyrth too. The latter two are still his BROS going into this —battle- flight, but if it comes to it, he'll kick everyone's asses because he's in it to win it or… something. K'vir just utters a long suffering sigh, which means he's not even going to try and stop this train wreck. He knows better that, by this point, it's a LOST CAUSE. He'll give Wendyn another curious glance (okay, way more than just curious here), but it's I'aija that has him straightening his posture a bit. It's not full on hackles raised, but he's cautious with what ever is left of his mind that is his own. Also? There's a reason his hands lift up slightly, palms out, in a warding gesture. Easy, there! No need for things to get ugly… at least on the rider's end — yet. There's a side eye to Ila'den for that raspy burred question and K'vir ALMOST quips a 'Isn't it obvious?' but he settles instead for a snort of withheld humor. F'yr may also get a look, but more of a 'check in' sort of way, while his wits are still in place (though that's debatable).

Was this Kiyaszaeth's party treasure hunt? WELL, LISTEN, X MARKS THE SPOT AND HIS NAME IS GLORIOTH. If he wasn't already so sure he has this completely tied up by sheer dint of his crescendoing (off-key, MUCH TOO LOUD) HEROIC THEME MUSIC, and his OVERPOWERING MANL- ER, DRAGONLY MUSK AND SMELLS OF LEATHER AND BLOOD AND SMOKE, then the very idea of currying favor with the pirate queen might occur to him. It's a nice thought. Unfortunately, it's not the least realistic. While other dragons might be obvious in their attentions, only the smallest part of Glorioth's vision is keeping tabs on the gold who's… just the golden cup to claim at the end of the hunt. But he doesn't mean that metaphor to imply her worthiness as a prize or a feather in his cap, he means that as important as a gold cup, only important because it shows all of these UNWORTHY OPPONANTS what a HOPELESS ENDEAVOR IT WAS FROM THE START. SEE ALL THAT (TINY) FLEXING BRONZE MALE-MEAT? IT'S PERFECTION. THEY CAN'T POSSIBLY WIN. NOTHING COULD BE BETTER. (#LifeAccordingToGlorioth) Is it really any wonder as he's making a literal hot, sticky mess of blood all over the ground, with his kills, that F'yr is looking like he's distinctly pained. And yet, the big blonde does not apologize for the PROOF OF HONOR (aka murder) that Glorioth is committing over there. He just moves closer to the fence. He glances Wendyn's way, but really he's just looking like a miserable puppy drug in for a bath. It's not Wendyn's fault though, never let it be said. He does not, pointedly does not, meet any other rider's eyes - he's learning fast that this helps him avoid fistfights of ENCOURAGEMENT courtesy of his dragon's remarks.

From off on the horizon, a different sort of black sails rise. Another dragon of Xanadu origin skirts the vast waters where sea meets sky. Given the distance from shore the of Black Pearl'd wreckage that should have stayed at the bottom of some rotten sea, his heading was somewhere well beyond this place. Unfortunately, that would change, abruptly detoured to where terrors and trouble must be welcome, given this lot. Tattered canvas wing turns, the draconic(ish) shape shifting to port until the ghastly figment's new direction of the foreign Weyr is difficult to question. The figure vanishes Between, reappearing over the feeding grounds in all of Zyddagath's nightmarish being. Faceted eyes whirl, a wicked creel-growled mix of a noise drawn from the very depths of a corrupted, corroded coppered throat. Amusement. That mind that next greets Kiyaszaeth's is less intensely invasive and more simply… permeating, a chill creeping up the spine. Fear, terror. The unknown advances, just as dark, damp fog roils and rolls across the fringe of that touch where everything too-close withers and decays except the black waters of a fathomless sea that lies too-still. Skeletal paw and wicked talon meet the grounds just beyond the feeding pens, and a man slips away from between those shattered neck-ridges. Oily-dark lines heave as the bronze reclaims land in a territory not (yet) his own, an indication of just how long he's been out there over that ocean. He's not long before he's also downed something with a heart beat that is neither human nor dragon, embodying a ravenousness that would never be satisfied in gaunt, hideous frame. Ki'lian steps away from the beast, his black-wrapped hand rubbing roughly over his face as too-light, kohl-rimmed eyes look over those… collected here. He's not close enough to say anything yet. Let's count that as a positive.

As the bronzes eventually join her on the ground, Kiyaszaeth lifts her head to growl warningly at one who dares to venture too close, turning to lash out with her tail in an attempt to regain some of her own personal space. She is the captain of this shipwreck - or at least she likes to think she is. And then, there is yet another invader, a ship that not even this pirate queen dares to step foot upon the deck of, and for the briefest moment there is a recoiling motion made by the young gold, before she quickly recovers. A warning look to the others, and she returns to her second beast, draining it with no hesitation this time, knowing she will need the energy. Why? Because it is time to raise the flag and hoist the sails, as oversized wings spread and take that first all important downward sweep, catapulting Kiyaszaeth skywards, her glowing golden hide catching Rukbat's rays and turning her into a beacon for the males to follow. Up, up, up, she quickly rises, reveling in the freedom of the air, wrapping its welcome around her and forgetting about the bronzes that may pursue. There is enough of Wendyn left to narrow her gaze at Ila'den, though there is a long sweeping glance taken too, "I'm hers, and she is mine. And -I- am mine." She adds, even as I'aija is stepping forward, and she watches him, mouth opening and closing a few times, perhaps contemplating protesting - and then she is tilting her chin upwards to follow Kiyaszaeth skywards.

The fiddle falls silent, replaced with a solemn plinking of piano keys. Some alien melody is carved out, spare and strange and haunting. Elsvruth's nostrils flare again, chin lifted as he surveys the other males and their somehow loud presence. It offends the old soul trapped in such a comparatively young dragon, though the only sign of it is the sun bleeding dry in his mind. Everything is red, limned in gold - the very gold of Kiyaszaeth's hide. A sea of blood that he rides; a pirate on land, rather than sea. He finishes blooding just in time - no sooner than the pirate queen takes flight than he finds his own wings, launching with refined efficiency on sails of stars and smog. The narrative demands it - and how can he pry back the layers of that story without first playing the role? Forgive him, though, if he lacks sealegs; he's a landlubber, but he learns quick. The other males, visitors all, are no longer interesting to him - nor will they be, unless they get in his way. Let them have their fun; he's only after her, Kiyaszaeth, and the raw potential that she offers. She is not the prize at the end of this labyrinth - but she knows the way. I'aija is square-shouldered and grim-faced, at utter odds with the chaos and excitement that the Xanaduans bring with them. He holds his ground, eyes flicking to Ila'den, then to K'vir, though he's silent. He doesn't answer for Wendyn; she speaks for herself and he's not a player in this game. The latest arrival is spotted in his periphery. Noted, yes, but not acknowledged.

HEY K'VIR, HERE'S AN IDEA: MIND YA BUSINESS. ILA GETS ENOUGH SASS FROM R'HYN, GEEZ. Also, he just has to make sure he tackles (no, you didn't misread that) the correct human if Teimyrth decides to do something ridiculous and WIN. I'AIJA COULD JUST BE A BEAUTIFUL MAN-WOMAN. YOU DON'T KNOW HIS LIFE. Ila'den's attention, however, stays on Wendyn — not K'vir, not I'aija, not even F'yr-who-is-trying-to-avoid-fists-full-of-encouragement, not even on R'hyn, who is making slow progress down to join the amalgamation of Xanadu bronzeriders (though Ila'den is unerringly aware of his weyrmate regardless). Just. Wendyn. There's intent in his predatory regard, something as primal, as hungry, as furious as the beast driving his mind even if Ila'den shows considerably more restraint in pursuing what is not yet and may-not-ever-be his to (for just this one time) claim. But Ila'den doesn't answer her. He doesn't have time, because there's a howl of furious sound from his own lifemate, an angry herald of incoming violence that draws his attention seconds before the bronze, unprovoked in the strictest sense, takes a lunge at Glorioth, swipes at him with one of those massive paws and then leaps. MAYBE it's just his way of trying to get all that MAN — ERR — DRAGONLY MASCULINE THREAT TO DELAY HIS RISE, but his focus on anything outside of Kiyaszaeth falls as he ascends. There is only one thing that can earn his attention now: her. Just her. Not Elsvruth's refined launch, not Zyd's delayed appearance — her. « Mine. » FAMOUS LAST WORDS, TEIMYRTH. FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS.

Zekath lifts his angular head, now spattered with the blood of his kills like some form of war-paint or tribal markings. clan Xanadu represent! He is quiet, save for a few low rumbled breaths and his mindscape is no different. His mind is the vast, empty (OR IS IT?) and unending ocean of… deep space. There is nothing and yet the presence of everything, under the low thrum of something just off the peripheral of being pinpointed. Mechanical, perhaps? Little of this is projected, however. Zekath does not woo with flattery (because he can't, don't ask him to try ladies it's not pretty) or with intricate displays. Unless those displays are physical and that — that the bronze can grasp. Once Kiyaszaeth takes to the skies, Zekath is hot in pursuit, with little hesitation in the way he flares his wings to full and launches up, up, UP without so much as a glance back. Zyddagath's arrival being likely the last detail noted, before his mind is consumed with a ONE FOCUS goal — to follow that golden hide, even to the ends of earth and perhaps beyond if need be! LISTEN, ILA! K'vir's gonna sass if K'vir WANTS TO (and clearly he's flirting with death here and not the intended target(s))! This wouldn't be the FIRST TIME, okay? Though he seems not to pursue, as the exodus commences and his attention refocuses sharply not on the dragons themselves but on Wendyn. That yet another Xanadu bronzerider has entered the fray doesn't quite register, as his mind tips ever so slowly more and more to Zekath's battle flight plans.

« AHAHSHAHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHAH— » OUCH (NOT THAT ANYONE HERE ACTUALLY THINKS THAT). THANK YOU, TEIMYRTH. The ichor-drawing slash down one flank looks shallow enough it doesn't stop Glorioth's launch after the gold. « WHAT A HEARTY DOSE OF ENCOURAGEMENT, MY FEEBLE ADVERSARY. MY HEARTFELT THANKS!! » FOR REAL, HIS HEARTFELT THANKS. Does it get any dumber? Powerful strokes draw him up and up after Kiyaszaeth, ready to bestow upon her the RADIANCE OF HIS VALOR (YOU'RE WELCOME). And yet, from the start as that green slides down bronze hide, the youngest Xanadoan bronze is lagging behind the pack of chasers. HE REALLY DOES HIS BEST, Y'ALL, BUT IT'S NOT LONG BEFORE A WOOSY PROJECTION OF, « HUH. YOU ARE SLIGHTLY LESS DEFEATED THAN I EXPECTED, » and a shout of, "Glorioth!" from a F'yrfully concerned lifemate below is heralding his need to sail down to the ground and find his way to the Monocoan dragonhealers for a check and some numbweed before he can head home, NONE THE SADDER, HONESTLY, THE LOSS IS ALREADY FORGOTTEN AS SOON AS F'YR SHROUDS HIS PERVERSIONS, to get some much needed rest for a wound that will surely heal in short order. Hopefully.

There isn't enough time for him to fully finish even the first herdbeast, coming late to this pillaging party. Blood spills uninterrupted in a thick and slowly spreading puddle on the ground as Zyddagath lifts his haunted figurehead towards she who raises her own flag. A rumbling is irritated, his gnarled fang ripping back into rough flesh once more to steal away what little more he may get. Ghostly billows spread, letting ragged aileron drag the ground as the bronze pulls his keel from this port, drags his rusted and eroded anchor from this place. Seaspray is mixed with the dampness of previous exertion, pooling in the angular, ravaged, splintered edges of him, glinting like poured pitch as muscles collect and release, vaulting him back into the sea of blue after the golden beacon, this pirate queen. The others are ignored, for now, 'less a tail or wing or other touch limb is in his way. That is free game for his own talon, maybe even a snag of fang. If there is some code of the brethren, he is delightfully unawares. Where those waters Kiyaszaeth has conquered ends, that is where he begins. Fog, ethereal and dense, crawls and writhes and threatens as if something (or so many things) within will overtake her before the Black Pearl'd vessel himself might. Hundreds of thousands of voices are muted, indistinct, and distant, a forelorn song of lost souls that suggests peril and strife risen from where all those who no longer sail are lost. What is beyond that fog? What might just be beyond World's End where Stygian waters begin and treasures thought forever lost may just still exist? Battered wraith rises quickly, rapidly gaining altitude for the one of Power here- a power he must have. Ki'lian's attention is just as strictly on Wendyn, because he didn't just undergo a bit of mutiny for the sake of just banter. Crooked grin curls slightly on scruff-lined face, coming to pause and lean against a railing not all so far from any of them. Serpentine, this predator, settled in the grass in his impatient patience with that curiousity, that desire deriving a quiet that is quite uncharacteristic.

With the wind in her wing sails, Kiyaszaeth races for the distant horizon, ignoring the dark shapes that pursue her upon the airy waves, letting herself be caught up completely with the feel of the air as it rushes past her, slipping into a thermal like a dragon half her size and letting it launch her even faster, even farther. As the first of the bronzes wrecks and falls, forgotten, to the ground below, there is nary a glance - the weak will fall and the strong shall prevail. Banking to skirt the cliffs and race out over the southern oceans, Kiyaszaeth trumpets a challenge to those remaining - She is not merely a prize to be won, nor booty to be plundered - she is looking for a first mate, who will rise to the occasion? Fleeing from the safety of port, she flies far, she flies fast into the unknown. Wendyn? Wendyn pays no attention to F'yr as he vanishes, or the other bronzeriders as they mill and move, instead caught up with her lifemate far above, even as the bond stretches.

The course is set. Sails are spread. Into the skies they go, bronze shapes crowding gold like so many enemy vessels seeking to plunder - which is what they are, really. There's no escaping the truth and masking it would be a foolish errand. But if she's seeking a partner? He'll throw his hat in the ring for that - and that black hat of his is never thrown. Elsvruth carves through the air with devilish ease and splits from the pack, angling for higher ground - seeking a crow's nest, to presumably use the proper parlance. What he might lack in experience he might make up for in sheer observation; he's spent years just watching, seeing how the game is played. This is a level he's never touched before, but preparation is everything - and there's plenty yet for him to see and to learn from. He rises higher to look ahead, to see what waves this pirate queen Kiyaszaeth is going to make - and which ones she intends to sail. He moderates his endurance, adjusts his angle; time to maintain here and look for another potential path. A way to cut those encroaching others off at the pass - or whatver the nautical equivalent is. I'aija has all but ceased to exist, save as a shell; a host of sorts, the embodiment of the grim, hard beast in the sky. All eyes are on Wendyn, but stripped of lust; there's only a strange sense of protectiveness there and a wariness that's extended to those males that lurk in the periphery. Not that she needs his protecting, no, but it's part of the story - and a necessary one, to hear Elsvruth tell it.

Teimyrth throws his power into his wings at the last possible second, rising higher and higher still until Elsvruth breaks from the pack and Teimyrth banks only seconds later to veer in the opposite direction. He's carving his own path, looking for signs of weakness — not within Kiyaszaeth's defence, not with the golden hide who commands the bulk of his attention, but within those suitors who remain and pursue the pirate queen. When she moves, he moves: a realignment, a recalculation, an adjustment made of reasoning, lucid and cool. Where only seconds before bloodlust and violence drove him, now there is sheer will, a determination made of blizzard winds howling through the pines of his mental forest. Now Ila'den's attention is back on Wendyn as well, a low, rumbling growl pulling from somewhere deep in his chest, the precursor to that first step forward he takes, that second step backward. Perhaps restraint is fraying beneath the rising desire of his lifemate to be Kiyaszaeth's companion in this pursuit, this dance, this war because Ila'den's arms are coming across his chest, presenting an air of deceptive ease belied by the way every muscle in that too-big body goes taut with rising anticipation.

Zekath is as like-minded as many of the suitors when it comes to flight paths and methods — which presents both a challenge and a problem, as he makes his own tactical moves and evasions. It's Kiyaszaeth he desires and not necessarily conflict, though should any veer too close into his path will learn that this bronze is not as passive as he lets on. Talons and teeth will flash only as a last resort, but he does not back down — all the more for his desires to avoid confrontation when it would lead to nothing but the utter waste and fall of yet another among the pack (or, if fate is so cruel, himself). There is no courting here or fanciful words, empty promises — he merely pursues, true grit and determination fuelling much of his forward drive in this pursuit. Far down below and more likely feeling like a world away, K'vir's gaze has settled firmly upon Wendyn, barely shifting beyond the immediate area surrounding them all. His brows have furrowed, his mouth set in a grim and tight line, but the bronzerider does not move or encroach on anyone's space. It has not even truly registered yet that they are one man short, at least from the Xanadu contigent. There is nothing else but the flight and the lure of that space-filled void of infinite pinpoint stars to drift upon. He's not the commander here, that role has shifted entirely to Zekath now.

Vast scourged sails ruined by smoke and ash still manage, impossibly, to collect those winds and thermals each in turn. Dark power surges Zyddagath upwards and forwards, finding the tides above as if he is some haunted kraken, and this pirate queen was granted the Black Mark in a Deal not even yet struck. Unlike Elsvruth, he takes no thoughtful path changes except for the one directly forward- and through- her other suitors who trail the pack. Unlike when he was much younger, the violence isn't entirely distracting. It is brief, it is planned, it is all intended to find both advantage and, perhaps, favor. There was just no time to play his own game before this all began, coming from some long excursion of his own. And it shows. Skeletal hull heaves heavily in strain that hardly matches with the surreal fiendish spectacle of him. When she teases the cliffs to turn out into the ocean, he varies slightly, sinking higher into the grasp of the sky to keep the straightest line between him, and her. He's lagged behind a 'length already, though time would tell if it is just another plan concocted on the rotten planks of this final vessel steadied by gnarled ore. The howls of the damned dim, replaced with the quiet whistle of metal. Of a token of treasure. A medallion falling through air towards that water. Either a payment for something, or a promise gestured. Ki'lian heaves a sigh. His black hair is painted to his brow, dampened from wherever he'd come. But there's strain in him, too. Shadows are worn heavily in his features, shared too thoroughly with His. His tongue runs over his teeth as dark gaze studies Wendyn despite all that goes on above. He straightens, one hand searching for his flask in default self-distraction, the other letting thumb stroke the back of silver'd rings.

A sudden bank and Kiyaszaeth is moving back towards land, towards the safety of the port she so recently fled. The sunlight on her hide turns her into a beacon of light in the fading evening, but unlike a lighthouse meant to protect and warn the weary traveler of hidden rocks, she seems to be headed straight for the cliffs that stretch along the shore. Flying low, perhaps her inexperience is beginning to show, for there is a slight falter, a slightly midjudged angling of her wingsails, and it is then that it seems she realizes the end may be near. Slipping into a thermal, she fights for height, fights for distance, even as she shoots upwards past her pursuers into the open sky, but even a weyrling could notice her balance is off, her endurance fading, and know it is time to make a move. Wendyn's eyes flick from I'aija to Ila'den, to K'vir before they even more faintly register Ki'llian against the fence, the goldrider taking half a step back, away from the gathered crowd, away from the fence, wiry body tense as her hands curl to fists at her sides.

And there it is. The moment. Smog- and star-hazed wings tilt and the angle changes again. The stars align and offer themselves up as arcane navigation, while Elsvruth swings into position with a flex of claws and a twitch of tail. All sound ceases in his mind; the winds grow still. All is red and gold, the mesa and plains flooded in a reflection of some obscene sea ill-suited for sailing. He can't do that. He needs her. Kiyaszaeth is not some prize - but she knows the way to it. She has always known - she just doesn't know she knows. Or does she? But he knows. And she won't be any good to lead the way if her endurance fails and her wings give way. Champagne and shadows rise and fall, a shallow wave in its own right; Elsvruth ultimately dives, neck outstretched and tail seeking. The moment has come, the heart of the labyrinth exposed in all of her lucid glory, and he makes his move to hopefully take his place - and move to the next level of this maddening narrative with Kiyaszaeth as his guide. I'aija is rattled, deep down; Elsvruth has his hooks in him but good and only bare flashes of the man within might be sighted. His eyes haze, clear, and haze again, as his tongue wets his lips. He tries to draw a breath and nearly chokes; how long has he been holding his breath? He has to let it out with a hiss. Wendyn's movement registers, but dimly; one foot shifts, but no step follows, as if he's anchored in place until a resolution is found.

Now. It's a taste of a rush so divine that Ila'den shivers in answer to Teimyrth's anticipation. Kiyaszaeth's faltering is a call sublime, the reason that nightmare monstrosity tilts into an upward curve that brings him high above before he sinks, plummets, reaches. His descent may be too fast, perhaps, but Teimyrth is no less focused, no less intent, no less confident in his aim to take this breath of life for himself, to steal this touch of heavenly light and shield her from the rest beneath a shelter of blackened wings and straining talons. Ila'den can hear it, feel it: the rush of wind, the power in so many sails as they seek victory for reasons varying at best but rooted to the same thing: her. Kiyaszaeth. Golden sunlight fading to twilight. And Ila'den is already moving, pushing away from where he came to rest, a slow stalking gait that has no place, no room to be so confident when the outcome is still so very unsure. But he is moving, predatory and full of a languid grace ruined only by the ruination of one knee affecting his gait. Still, the world is narrowing down to this moment, and he's somehow too far away even though he's too damn close.

At last, the moment has arrived! Zekath catches those tell-tale signs and begins adjusting his calculations, calibrating the last of his meticulous designs and tactical plans before setting it all forth in motion. With the last of his energy and strength, he gathers it and disperses it through the strokes of his wings. He propels himself forth, slicing through the sky like a well-honed (and fired) beam, arrowing in on Kiyaszaeth as she turns back land-wards and up, in one last attempt to foil them. His course adjusts, sights still locked on as he uses what thermals are available to lend him a boost — if there are none, he will just make do with what's available. Beggars cannot be choosers and sometimes there is no winning without sacrifice. As distance closes in, in his reckless headlong plunge, Zekath will crane his neck and extend his talons. The rest is up to fate, but he's feeling those odds might not be wholly against him! Oh, but just that glimmer of a chance is enough to keep him on track! K'vir, does not move at all like his bronze above or with the confidence and predatory manners of Ila'den. Nor is he rooted to the spot as others may be — oh no, he shifts but his steps are measured and tense. He's preparing, but whether that be forwards towards Wendyn in the end or rapidly backwards — that is unknown, until the very end.

The medallion hits the water. The glint of gold can be seen for an inch, maybe two, before it's swallowed by abyssmal blackness. Vanished back into the grasp of He who claims it. That animated mist obscures whatever possible view could remain, rising up and up- Fractured figments, faceless faces, demons in the fog reach to touch. Reach to take. There is no question as to the End that would befall the pirate queen if she were caught by this numbing, withering grasp. It would take her down, down- impossibly more down beneath the waves. And even there it would not end, for the accursed voyage he would grant holds secrets none have yet to return with. Might she be the first? The cacophony of the voices of the lost increases as Kiyaszaeth shoots upwards, the battered and bestial bronze sweeping those black tattered sails down to make one final curve, one last change to dally in the game with gravity. Wretched, gnarl-boned lengths are worn and weary, and they don't give him as much as they should. Blasted limits of the living that he's forced to abide by. Verdigiris sheen catches the fading light of Rukbat as he dives for Kiyaszaeth with wicked silver'd talons outstretched, though he is not nearly as close as he was. Ki'lian attempts to drink from that flask, but Faranth be damned, the rum is in fact gone. Jaw tenses, and it takes more than a bit of restraint to not throw it. He's moved away from that fence now, a couple of steps taken towards Wendyn but not yet enough to invade that bubble, in the pull of need, want, desire that, as always, assaults him unfiltered- not that he minds.

Perhaps it was the turn spent together in the barracks, perhaps it was a subconscious wish on Wendyn's part that her first flight not end up completely awkward - though, in that case, maybe a stranger would be better - or perhaps it was just luck. Whatever the case, another wobble, and a frantic shift by Kiyaszaeth to change the wind in her sails comes too late. However, her wobble is suddenly stabilized, another hand on the wheel, as Elsvruth's neck and tail and body find hers, and she resists only a moment, before giving in to his strength, and his guidance, letting her new first mate guide them safely into port. Whatever held Wendyn frozen, transfixed, suddenly breaks, and she sags a little, even as her hand is reaching towards I'aija, no longer bothered by his defensive position, before moving to drag him, stumbling, to the privacy of the ground weyr. Hopefully he isn't overly fond of any of his personal items - this *definitely* will require a trophy.

Luck? Elsvruth doesn't believe in luck. He'll file this away as yet another successful plan come to fruition; another step in the right direction. And, of course, he'll note the gold's particular wisdom and guidance in her own way. Kiyaszaeth need not steer the ship now; he's there and he's seen well enough how to keep the vessel going - and he will, until it reaches the safe harbor she sought. On the ground, the anchor is released and I'aija moves - slow at first, as if under water, but moving quicker once Wendyn reaches for him. She doesn't need to drag, fortunately; he's a quick study and, well, whatever he has? It's hers.

Miss. Teimyrth misses, a roar ripped from the bronze as he veers to avoid a collision with the mating pair. Sails snap, bringing him 'round in an arc until he straightens, fury and rage keeping him airborne long, long past his rider, long past where he can be seen, a blot of dark vehemence against the horizon. And maybe that's why Ila'den was moving — maybe it didn't matter if Teimyrth won or loss because Ila'den keeps stalking forward, keeps making as though he might collide with I'aija and Wendyn and collude to press his body in the mix of theirs, except that he keeps going, keeps taking those stalking, hungry strides forward until he's catching up his injured weyrmate in his arms and hauling him up against his body. The rest doesn't matter. There are arms around his shoulders and frantic somethings whispered seconds before lips are claimed and Ila'den's only goal, only intention, only drive is to carry R'hyn from this place to somewhere more private. Assuming, of course, they can make it that far.

Foiled, yet again! Zekath growls his frustrations but nothing more. Today was not his day, but perhaps the next will be! He veers sharply, wings sweeping at the open sky as he uses the last of his dwindling stamina to carry himself far away. Back to land, some sanctuary to be sought while he recuperates and mulls over where his precious calculations went so wrong. He'll just have to do better, BE better! K'vir, in the meantime, has been thrust back into reality with a jarring shove and he staggers a few steps, head shaking, until enough of his jumbled thoughts and senses reorient enough. Then it's with more certain, if hurried, strides that he makes his 'escape'. Where? Uncertain. Maybe somewhere along his uncharted path he'll realize that they were a MAN DOWN and likely go in pursuit of said bronzerider — if the pair haven't already fled home to Xanadu (it will only delay the check in, to be honest). Regardless of the details, K'vir is GONE~

Shipwrecked bronze snarls his displeasure, not quite rising past the low shuddering of blackened, fire-eaten planks and age-worn brass. Wraith's war-ravaged wings catch him only part way, those silver'd talons and boney paws catching the edge of that cliff they'd nearly run a'ground upon previously. The rocky edge is gripped and re-gripped, stones and dust waterfalling down to the white-capped ocean below. Zyddagath's wicked facade tilts to observe this foreign Weyr. There is.. planning to be done. Bribes- er- information to gather. They were ill-prepared. This is Ki'lian's fault, afterall. NOT THAT IT WAS ZYDDAGATH WHO TOOK THEM OFF COURSE OR ANYTHING. The Black Pearl'd dragon leaps back into the sky, and blinks Between. Aye, that does mean the man is left on the ground there to mutter "Bloody hell" to himself with an caught, frustrated exhale, and a roll of his eyes as he comes back to himself and the realization of his current situation. Stranded, and not in a good way. Gaze follows Wendyn and the winning bronzerider first, then Ila'den. He drags ring'd fingers through his drying hair, messing it further, before turning in the opposite direction. Despite his lack of ship, draconic or otherwise, he'd head far away from here to amend his current needs in short order, be it alcohol or companionship or both.

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