Starting a New Adventure

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow

A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of buildings, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves.

Stables and a smithy are settled on their own plots, while trees border the western edge of the meadow, and a faint outline of a fence can be seen to the north.

Late afternoon finds Esiae, a small sapling, and a shovel marching out of the weyr towards the meadow's nearest treeline, one looking just as out of place as the next when considered as a whole. Bedecked in trousers, rather than a dress, the girl is still clad in a bright blue shirt and a light off-white jacket, neither appropriate for the job she appears intent upon doing. The sapling itself may be indiginous, but it's a sad sight, wilty and drooping even as it bounces along on her shoulder, and don't even get me started on the shovel - it's seen far better days. The weather is fair, though, stringy white clouds scudding over a weak blue sky with no promise of rain, or worse, snow. Spring seems to have sprung at last.

The onset of Spring brings with it new life in more ways than one. With Seryth's eggs on the sand, a wing of search-riders had gone out earlier in the morning in search of candidates. R'owan and his dragon hadn't been among them. With afternoon having crept over the weyr, the bronze-rider is easy to pick out. Sitting beneath a leafless tree only just starting to show some early Spring buds, R'owan has has his arms raised, helping a tiny toddler make fledgling attempts at steps. The girl is small, curly-haired and somewhat chubby looking, making a babbling sound as she puts one muddy foot down.

It's Nyunath who first notices Esiae, his whirling eye swiveling from the child over to the arriving harper. His forked tail twitches once, and he lets out a puff of breath as he watches her progress. R'owan catches up on his dragon's thoughts a moment later and looks up, "Little early for planting, isn't it?" He asks, although there is a smile on his features.

Esiae isn't exactly aiming for Nyunath and his companions on her rather odd trek, but it's evident she's not walking the sapling any farther than she has to. They'll just have to bear witness to the transplant, and she'll just have to deal with that in turn. The dragon and his rider are eyed for a moment (especially when the bronze spies her and lets loose a puff of air), but it's the babbling little girl that Esi watches on the approach, a small smile playing around the corner of her lips. Esiae, have a soft spot for little kids? Never. Ahem. "Hmm?" Apparently not expecting to be talked to, brown eyes flick up to R'owan, a sheepish grin quickly replacing her previous expression. "Oh, uhm, yeah. Sort of. I mean, the gardeners said early spring is best for moving trees, so they have time to root between the frost and the summer heat, but…" The girl shrugs, bouncing both tree and shovel. "It's just a refugee from the back yard, and it was looking really pathetic in the shadeless little corner it chose. Thought it could do with some proper growing space." She swings the sapling off her shoulder as evidence, and it does rather sad, droopy and spindly in comparison to the budding tree they're under.

The little girl flops down onto her butt, not seeming to mind the somewhat muddy turrain as she picks up a handful of dirt and then puts it back down again. Nyunath draws his nose protectively closer to the toddler, and ends up with a grimey handprint right on his muzzle for his good deed. R'owan just chuckles to himself, and cocks his head towards Esiae, watching her with curious, stormy-gray eyes. "Never been much for gardening, myself. Always took to animals better than plants." He admits, even as his daughter decides to paint designs onto the bronze dragon's nose.

"Don't think I've had the chance to make your aquaintence." He pushes himself up, trusting that the child is well taken care of under the dragon's watchful eye. Extending a hand in a way that is more crafter than rider, he offers an introduction. "R'owan, bronze Nyunath's rider and the little mud-imp is my daughter, Riawni." The baby burbles happily, and Ro' just gives her a warm look before regarding the blonde girl again. "You're not a gardener, though. Got a fondness for taking care of plants?" He asks, raising one eyebrow.

Esi can't help but laugh as well, eyeing that small handprint on the bronze's nose for a long moment before switching her gaze over to R'owan. "Ah, see, I'm rather the opposite. Animals are none too fond of me, even if I might like them. Apparently, I move in a way that makes them nervous," Esiae drawls with an expression that reads as 'whatever'. She doesn't understand it yet, but she is rather awkward, skinny and all elbows. "Anyways, I think you are correct. Well met, R'owan, Nyunath," she says in a polite tone, setting her shovel aside and returning the handshake in ready fashion. "And you, Riawni." The girl stoops a moment, giving his daughter a bright grin and a waving waggle of fingers before standing straight again. "You're right though, I'm not a gardener myself. I'm Esiae, quasi-Harper, quasi-resident. Not quite sure which it is yet." She coughs under her breath and goes on. "And I guess it's a fondness that developed out of a habit. Certainly interesting, if nothing else, that so much life comes from one tiny little seed." Eyes lift to skim the nearby trees appreciatively with a small shake of her head. "But anyways, what brings you out? Mud tarts?" Riawni is nodded at with a questioning tilt of her head, even as she retrieves the shovel and starts making a space for her sapling.

R'owan shakes the offered hand warmly, offering a charming sort of smile. In appearances, he's your typical bronzer, all lean muscle and attractive features, even if the presence of the little girl and some of his mannerisms make him anything but that. "A pleasure." He releases her hand, and it's the dragon who reacts next, raising his head and turning to look towards Esiae, his tail swishing once as he settles his twilight-toned wings against his back. "And Nyunath extends his greeting as well." The dragon ruffles his wings and then settles them again.

Riawni looks up, with her canvas having moved, and then finally seems to notice Esi. The girl beams a smile and waggles a muddy hand, muttering some nonsense sounds. It's R'owan who settles back down near her and ruffles the girl's curly hair, looking up at Esiae. "Not sure which?" He asks, giving another of those curious looks. "Still trying to figure out where you belong?" It's a guess, based on what she's said so far. "As for me…" He chuckles wryly, "Well, with her mother on sweeps today, I figure I might as well let her get messy while there's no one to take offense to it." And it's just then that the girl picks up another bit of mud and starts to rub it against her own leg, entranced with the effect. "Won't have as much time for stuff like this once the eggs hatch."

Esiae's no stranger to charming smiles - they're practically a trademark of some Harpers - but it still elicits a bright grin from her in response. "A pleasure indeed. Ah! Thank you, Nyunath," is uttered with a laugh, the girl taking a moment to admire the dragon from mud-painted amber muzzle to those twilight wings before dipping into a prim little curtsey for him. "Such a polite bronze. My brother's could take a lesson or two." There's wry amusement in her eyes for that statement, but before she can say more, Riawni captures her attention. Cue Esi-puddling and more waving, even though she answers R'owan in a normal voice. "Mmhmm, that's about it. I was… out of the craft for a while, and it sort of changed how I thought about things. I'm trying to reestablish myself here, but it just… isn't quite working. I don't know." She shakes her head as though to dispel the cloud of doubts, expression lightening when the bronzerider explains his day. "Ooh! While the feline's away, the flits shall play? Makes sense. Making a mess of onesself is half the fun of being a kid," she says with all the sagely wisdom of a teenager carefully scooping dirt out of the ground and setting it aside as neatly as possible. How times change. A snicker sneaks out for Riawni's leg painting, but her eyes quickly switch over to R'owan, considering his knot. "Ah, I see. That's at least a while off yet, considering they were just clutched, right? I'm not too familiar with the whole… dragon hatching time frame… thing." Ah, eloquence.

The big bronze seems to rumble something that is perhaps a draconic equivalent to a laugh, raising his head and giving a look that exhibits pride, even in dragon terms. "He's an absolute gentleman." R'owan smirks, looking up at his dragon, who seems quite pleased with the compliment. Nyunath croons softly and then lowers his head again, nudging his muddy nose into R'owan's shoulder, but the rider dismisses it and just scratches absentmindedly at an eyeridge.

"Hmm." Unlike some others, he can't claim to have gone through anything similar, so the rider just considers the prospect for a time, biting on the inside of his cheek, thoughtfully. There are other things to catch the thread of his mind, though. He chuckles to himself, "Kind of. It's the whole reason I stepped down from Wingleader. Wanted to make sure I don't miss these months. We only got Riawni, and I don't know if Tali will ever put up with another kid." His voice is warm as he speaks of his weyrmate. "Guess I could have a few out there, but I doubt it. Nyunath hasn't had as much taste for greens after he caught his first gold. And those fights are so competative that he doesn't win too often." Not the right thing to say, and Nyunath puffs air into R'owan's face as a result.

The rider shoves at his dragon's nose. "It'll be a while, though." He admits, nodding his head. "But it'll go faster than you think." The bronze pushes himself to his feet, moving around towards Esiae and settling again, this time putting his muddied nose right in front of her so he can watch what she's doing. "So, what isn't quite working about Xanadu?" He asks, his voice losing some of its mirth, only to have it replaced with genuine concern.

Esiae is around her fosters' dragons enough to recognize that prideful look, Nyunath's laugh provoking a chuckle of her own. "That's wonderful to hear. Too many of the kind think they have manners, but don't show any at all," she says in a dramatic tone, sighing as though this was a crime against society. Taking advantage of R'owan's thoughtful moment, Esi turns another shovelful of dirt, considers the hole-to-root ratio, and seems to decide it's good enough. In goes the plant, and down she crouches, scooping the dirt back in and giving it several firm pats. Brown eyes then flick over between Riawni and R'owan. "Aww, really? But you make such cute little ones," she says as though citing an excuse, but under the mirth, there is a touch of actual understanding. "Makes sense, though. Enjoy the times while you have them. Coupla turns and they become crazy. Family I live with has twins that are seven. They're half-wild sometimes." Her head shakes, but she's fond of them, if the slight smile at the corners of her mouth is anything to judge by. "At any rate, that's probably for the best, right? I'd hate to find out I had a kid somewhere out there and didn't know it until after the fact," she says, tactfully avoiding the dragon end of the flight conversation - she saw that indignant huff! Hee. Shrugging to the idea of time moving fast, Esi contemplates for a moment, and then says, "It's not Xanadu, it's just me." Nyunath's move is watched with a crooked smile, hand extending to awkwardly pat that muddy nose, if he'll allow. "I used to be very sure of what I was. Dread Pirate Princess Esiae, Feared of Hold and Hall, Conqueror of Land, Sky, and Sea. But now I feel as though I'm lost at sea or something. Like looking back, what I was doing was grand, but it didn't have a /purpose/. Problem is, I still can't figure out what that purpose is." As though realizing she's rambling, she stops talking all at once, a sheepish look creeping back onto her face. "Sorry, I didn't mean to blather."

R'owan's attention ends up split for a moment as he reaches odwn with a towel, trying to wipe off his daughter's hands as seems to decide that now is a good time to suck her thumb - muddy hands and all. "Come 'ere you little mud monster." He murmurs, scooping her up into his lap and trying to clean some of the smudges from her face. "We're going to scare the daylights out of mommy, aren't we?" The bronzerider leans in and noze nuzzles the toddler, who just giggles and makes muddy handprints on him now, as well.

"Well, to be honest, I figured flight-babies wer probably my only shot at it. Tali's never really been the type, ya know? Surprised the heck out of me, let me tell you." His smile is genuine as he lightly bounces the girl on his knee, watching Esiae out of the corner of his eye. He's quiet for a time even as Nyunath rumbles appreciatively, settling his big head down right in front of Esiae, seeming to keep the girl locked in his whirling gaze.

"Sounds like quite a life." He admits, "Once, I was the roving wanderer of the far places. A brave soul who treked distant lands to bring back foreign treasures." He offers her a wry grin and a wink, chuckling to himself. "I miss being a runner sometimes, but I found out where I really belonged." Motioning towards the bronze, Ro' shrugs his shoulders. "Speaking of that…" He pushes himself to his feet, holding his daughter in his arms. "What if I gave you a chance at a different kind of adventure?"

Esiae winces when the purpose R'owan's towel-fetching becomes clear, making a face for the idea of muddy thumb-sucking. "Okay, so not all the mess is fun," she says, amending her earlier statement. A snicker is stifled behind one hand when, inevitably, Riawni plants handprints on the bronzerider too. "Oops," is added, throat clearing to rid the lingering temptation to bust out laughing. Instead, she nods, understanding dawning on her features. "Oh, okay. I do see what you mean now, about flight-babies." She smirks. "Did you faint when she told you?" Obviously, she knows somebody that did upon receiving the news. The amusement behind the question lingers in her eyes, but the girl's expression eventually morphs to something quieter, meeting Nyunath's gaze for a long moment before tearing away to peer at the bronzerider. "Really? You were a treasure-hunter, too?" This seems hopeful to her, perking as a puppy may. Being young, she probably considers her experience singular, so the discovery of someone with a similar past is something of a thrill. The wink elicits an impish smile of understanding, but it fades slowly as Ro' continues speaking. Esi's mouth opens, then shuts, gaze switching from bronze to rider and back as though trying to work out his connection between 'finding where he belonged,' Nyunath, and 'a different kind of adventure.' It's her turn to be the quiet one, standing still and awkward for a moment before tilting her head at a curious angle. "I'd probably take you up on it, so long as it doesn't involve getting lost in the middle of nowhere."

"Not quite. Tali's got more spirit than that. She was scared out of her wits, though." R'owan admits, shrugging his shoulders slightly. "Don't know if I'll ever convince her to go through /that/ again. But I'm happy." He does seem the dopey-dad sort of person, even if it doesn't fit the bronzerider stereotype. Still holding onto his daughter, he shifts her into one arm, keeping an eye on his dragon and the girl in the same glance.

"Not a treasure hunter. I used to be a runner for the Weyr. Thea's kind of like my not-really-big sister, so she always dragged me along on these expeditions. Dangerous places. Abandoned renegade camps, that sort of thing." He casts another of those looks at his dragon, raising an eyebrow but not saying a word. There is so much that moves between rider and dragon, and it's clear these two are having some sort questioning conversation. "You're sure?" He asks the bronze, who whuffles once in reply and shifts his wings again.

R'owan's stormy gray eyes focus on Esiae again, more seriously this time. He reaches into his pocket, finding something there and pulling it out. There is a hint of white thread, visible just for a second. "Well, it probably involves at least a night or two out in the middle of nowhere." That wry smile shows on his face again, "But I'd think a Pirate Princess should be able to handle that, don't you think?" Balancing his daughter, he extends his hand, revealing a white knot curled around his fingers. "It's yours if you want it. Nyunath thinks you'd be a good bet for Seryth's clutch, and he's got a pretty decent nose for that kind of thing."

Esiae grins, eyes scrunching up with a nod that can only be described as approving. "Good. I know a person or two that didn't take the news quite so well, and that's an understatement." Her shrug mirrors his, though, perhaps appreciating the fact that under the blatant bronzer facade, R'owan is still happy. "I'm glad that you have the both of them, then. Especially Riawni - if she's to be the one and only, at least she's adorable." Ah Esi, ever outspoken even when her judgment isn't asked for. "Well, I didn't mean a literal treasure hunter, but that still sounds like it was an incredible amount of fun," the girl admits, eyes widening somewhat at the idea of visiting a renegade camp, abandoned or no. "After the renegade fiasco at Ista when I was little, that became a sort of… forbidden thing. I'm jealous." Okay, so even underneath her doubts, there's a fair bit of adventurer left behind. It just gets buried under those pesky deep thoughts that seem to enter one's consciousness at a certain age. Inquisitive gold-brown eyes watch the exchange between dragon and rider, mouth open to perhaps say more or ask questions, but she wisely chooses against it. Instead, she catches that flash of white, however brief. Eyebrows shoot for her hairline, but R'owan's wry smile is matched, some mixture of curiosity and mischievousness flashing across her face. "One or two nights is a piece of cake when you're a pirate," she does admit, cautiously, but with interest, willing to hear more. Or… see more, as it were, gaze immediately fixing on R'owan's outstretched hand and the knot curled around it. Of all the conclusions her brain came to a minute ago, this apparently wasn't one of them, because she stares for a long moment before realizing she's probably supposed to, yanno, say or do something. "Oh. Oh! Faranth, that's not what I th— I mean…" She flusters to a stop, breathes, and looks from the man to his dragon very slowly, putting together the pieces before giving a firm, decisive nod. "I do want it, and thank you. Both of you," is aimed at the bronze, a brief smile quirking the corner of her mouth at the idea of being a good bet. "I certainly will try to be."

Luckily, R'owan doesn't seem to bothered by Esiae's straight-forward comment. When he was younger, he had his fair share of harassment about his choice of weyrmate, but he's never doubted the decision for a moment. "We'll see. I'm still young enough, and charming enough that I might manage more." The grin lingers on his features, and he watches the display of emotions on the girl's face as he offers out the knot, raising one eyebrow and seeming to put some effort into containing a laugh.

He's not quite sure what she thought, but there is amusement there as the pieces fall into place. "My apologies." He fails keeping his self control and chuckles slightly, the toddler in his arms playing with the long braided ponytail that dangles over his shoulder. It's getting muddy now, too. "Didn't mean to confuse you too much." He pauses, and smirks, "Well, maybe a little." With that, he gives the white knot a toss in her direction. "Catch." He's not too worried about the official hand-off, but the dragon gives a short bugle of triumph as he fans his wings, sending a gust of air at the two of them.

"You'll want to head over to the barracks, talk to the candidate coordiantors, get things settled." It's one tiny moment of playing the official role that he's selected for as an impromptu search-rider, but it doesn't last long. "If it works out, maybe you'll find where you belong, too." He reaches out and pats his dragon with one hand. Riawni pats his face in the same way, adding another muddy smear across his nose. With a small sigh, he shrugs again, and offers a smile. "I should go get this litttle terror cleaned up." He moves to walk past her, and in that moment stops only briefly to try laying a hand on her shoulder. "You'll do fine, Esiae. Trust me." Nyunath rumbles his agreement.

Esiae does have to laugh for that comment, chin bouncing in a nod. "Aye, that you are. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if you did manage it." And, well… flustered she may be, but it doesn't quite damage her perceptions - she sees his attempt to keep from laughing, and it causes her to crack as well, issuing a quick giggle in despite of herself. "No no, don't apologize, I was just… If someone had told me this morning that this was going to happen, I would have called 'em a dimglow," she says, trying to explain. Her nose scrunches up in a mock-sarcastic expression for Ro's smirk, but she's clearly too pleased to keep it up. The catch is successful, and if she laughs with Nyunath's triumphant response, well… who can blame her. "Barracks and candidate coordinators, right. I'll be sure to do that," she says with a nod, careful to remember the information. Then, exhaling aloud, she looks at R'owan with a mingled mix of excitement and anticipation, "I hope so, one way or another. I really do." But before she has the chance to wax philosophical or fly off into dreamworld, the bronzerider's face has suddenly become his little girl's latest casualty. Making a very sympathetic 'ew' face, Esi nods fervently, "Yeah, that, uh, sounds like a good idea, all things considered. I think she got some in your hair, too." This is noticed as he starts past her, finger halting mid-ponytail-point when his hand lays on her shoulder. For the first time in the whole conversation, Esiae's expression actually softens, revealing one of those rare glimpses of how young she actually is. "Thank you. That… really does mean a lot." A real smile crosses her features before, suddenly bashful, her head ducks and she bends to pick up her deserted shovel lest she run off without it.

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