To Touch the Sky

Harper Hall – Courtyard

A simple courtyard, surrounded by the Harper Hall on three sides. On the fourth side, a small road winds down to the Rising Sun Tavern, and further down to the river.

Days have passed now since the fateful one where Mishkia and Matrin both had their first encounter with a dragon tongue and Xe'ter asked the latter to stand for Seryth's clutch. Days spent distracted and deep in thought, until watching another person get searched finally spurred Matrin to get on with making his decision. So the invitation was offered - a late morning departure atop a placid blue, with the idea that they may stay the night at the Hall. And so on this brisk and breezy spring morning, halfway between breakfast and lunch, the aforementioned dark teal dragon crouches, his rider F'par leaning against his haunch, while Matrin waits for Mishkia with watchful eyes.

What does one wear on the first-ever dragon-ride to visit the auspicious Harper Hall? Such huge moments, both of them, in the Mire holder's life! And not the least of things to occupy miah’s mind, there's Matrin's decision, which the girl somehow can relate to in her own obscure way. He's having to decide on possibly leaving the security of his own set course, even if for a little while, maybe changing it forever just as she did leaving her swamp-remote hold. So the man has claimed her thoughts in a new way these past few days, though she's given him quiet time to think, focusing - or trying to - on their lessons when together rather than pry him with busy questions. She emerges now from the woods dressed in that same body-hugging sweater of russet, leggings and hide boots he'd seen her wear that foggy day back when they'd hidden in it, jacket thrown over her shoulder, hair twisted up. Someone at least has given her some advice about the Northern continent's weather and cautioned against wearing a skirt.

Matrin has taken advantage of the quiet she has offered, but if his smiles are a bit distant at times he still has them ready for her. This morning there is no such distraction in his grin though - he catches sight of that familiar sweater and it breaks wide and warm across his face. For his part he is dressed as usual in slacks and a button down shirt, his familiar navy wool coat over top, though he has swapped his usual shiny shoes for sensible boots. He meets her halfway, crossing the distance as she does, so he can slip his arms around her waist and pull her into a hug. It's not his usual greeting by any means, and maybe his softly spoken words will explain it a bit as he drops his mouth to his ear and says, "Thank you so much for coming. And just so you know, Teralth is slow and steady, I had him take me around the weyr before you got here."

It might not be his usual way of greeting her, but Mishkia doesn't seem surprised by it. Perhaps all this… change looming on the horizon, even if the smaller part of riding a dragon and visiting the Hall are hers, leaving him with the greater uncertainty ahead has her thinking they could both use a hug. At least, that's what might come across in the way she so easily slips into that, arms wrapping around him, applying a gentle pressure. Meant to be comforting but he'll feel the tension in her frame despite those reassuring words while she peeks over his shoulder at the blue. "Thank you for letting me join you," she manages, breathless for more than one reason, grey eyes lifting to his. Sure there's a bit of trepidation there, quelled by determination and a tremulous smile on her lips as she lifts her chin fractionally in unconscious defiance of her own apprehension. "Lets do this!" Did the words wobble? Just a tiny bit.

Matrin relaxes into her light embrace and takes a nice steadying deep breath. Surely it's not nervousness about the trip itself, but rather about the situation that calls for it and what the outcome of his meetings with Harper leadership might be. Her determined chin-lift makes him smile and he gives her arms a quick, rough rub before snagging her hand and easily lacing their fingers together. "If you have questions just ask. I am going to go up first, then F'par will give you a boost so I can help you up. I'll sit behind you, ok?" He prepares her for the process as he leads her to their accommodating rider and his 'mate, and makes quick work of introductions. F'par seems as relaxed as his blue, barely rousing himself to upright before offering his hand.

That Mishkia sees Matrin as worldly-wise and well-traveled is evident in the trust she's placed in him to go off halfway across the world with him to a place of stories and legend so far removed from her own upbringing that it might as well be another planet. She follows easily enough though her fingers curling through his grip a bit more than they might normally. Her greeting to the blue takes place quietly, her manner is relaxed enough, the rider offered a respectful thanks and a smile when she gives him her hand but no questions really.

At the bluerider's direction, Matrin makes his way up to the blue's neck. It's lacking in the grace born of habit, but he's obviously done it a time or two because he doesn't fumble. Swinging a leg over Teralth's neck, he leans down a hand. "You ready?" F'par's question is causal, and he drops down with hands laced together to offer Mishkia a boost up. He's also got Teralth's passenger straps on, complete with extra hand and foot holds for that upward climb. As soon as she's settled he'll swing up in front of her, and it will be a Mishkia sandwich, with Matrin helping get her settled and buckled in.

Is she ready? Mishkia may not be, but she takes a big breath anyway and nods, placing her foot into the interlaced hands while turning to eye the ascent ahead of her a bit warily. Having watched Matrin climb up, observing how the blue took it with the eyes of one accustomed to studying the habits of a creature new to her (though by now they aren't as foreign as they once were, they're by no means familiar yet), she's not as hesitant as she might ordinarily have been. She's heaved, half scampering, a hand reaching for Matrin's. She's comfortable with climbing it seems, for she manages it nimbly, though the look on her face is comical as she settles, peering down and to the side of the great beast she's now astride. "It's almost like… riding a runner but… not," is her so-intelligent comment while the rider mounts and buckles are fastened.

Once everyone is in place, buckles fastened, everything ready, Matrin chuckles. "It is sort of like riding a runner except really not at all," he… kind of agrees. And though he is behind her, she can probably hear the smirk in his voice as he slides his arms around her and settles her back against him. F'par glances over his shoulder and that'll have to do for a warning, because right after that Teralth crouches and then launches himself into the sky. The downward sweeps of his wings stir the air and Matrin tightens his grip on her, leaning down to speak into her ear as he says, "That's the worst part. You alright?"

Mishkia's probably been lurking under the treeline watching takeoffs and landings for the past few days calculating just how the leap skyward will feel and though she might think she knows what's coming the actual ripple of muscle under her legs as the blue opens his wings then lifts them, the bunching of his frame as he crouches then springs upwards is enough to take any breath she might have has away, her head rocking back with the force it takes to get airborne. Thankfully being already leaning back against Matrin, her head is a little to one side so he doesn't get the back of her skull smacking him in the face. Slow wingbeats on either side of them, the sails snapping with each upsweep and downbeat draws a wondering glance from the blue skies ahead before her wide grey eyes turn sidelong to him with a wordless nod. Then she looks down, as she knew she must eventually. Her hands had been gripping the straps crossing her thighs, but now they let go of that as her arms wrap over the ones Matrin has around her. Her eyes? Are screwed shut.

So she can't see the bluerider look back over his shoulder, checking on his passengers, but she will both hear Matrin's words and feel the vibration of his voice against her head as he says, "We're good." Whether or not that is strictly true, he offers it lightly enough. A squeeze of his arms gathers Mishkia in his arms until along with the whip of wind she has his warmth and the smell of his soap and the faint hint of spice from his aftershave. "He's almost high enough to go between but he won't do it until you're ready. Or at least until you give me the signal. So just tap my arm and then remember I'm here with you and it only lasts a few seconds." Meanwhile the Weyr is sprawling out beneath them and the puffy clouds that dot the blue sky drift ever closer. Matrin was right when he said Teralth is steady - it's a smooth upward spiral and though they can certainly feel each beat of his transluscent wings, none are jarring. He's docile, leisurely in his ascent, giving Matrin time to take in the sights even if Mishkia is only seeing the back of her eyelids.

It dosen't last all that long, that shut-eyed cringe of Mishkia's. At the easy tone in Matrin's answer, the way he's holding her, the smooth movements of the blue all serve to help her decide to crack her eyes open and take a second look below. This time she leaves them open, although she's no less tense than she was with them shut. She takes a deep breath, and with it the scents of him as well as the remnants of raw winter departing before the advance of warm spring churned by those blue wings, the oil F'par has used on Teralth and her own unique faint woodsmoke mingled with those sweet herbs that dry around that fireplace she so enjoys in her cottage flow back to him. "It's a…long way down th-" And his comment about Between leaves her breathless once more. Of course she should have known they wouldn't fly there straight but… who is ever ready for that? All she says is a sort of squeaked-voice, "We can do it as soon as he's ready." Which she anticipates will be within a few wingbeats from the way her arms tighten on his. At least her eyes remain open and she's slowly finding the experience exhilarating as she watches the ground slide past below if the expression on her face is anything to go by.

When he feels her shift to look down, a bit of the remaining tension in Matrin's frame leaks out. "It is," he agrees - no sense mincing words - but then he adds, "That's why you are strapped in and I'm not letting go." Though really that last is as much for his enjoyment as her pleasure. He takes a slow inhalation of those scents mixed with her own now familiar fragrance, and nestles closer until his head is on her shoulder. "OK then, here we go. And remember, I'm right here." His voice carries enough that the bluerider looks back and Matrin nods. The shift from sun and breeze to nothingness is swift and abrupt, but as Matrin promised it is also brief. Dark absence of sensation draws on for the span of just three breaths, and then the trio atop the blue breaks back out into sunshine. It's the beginning of fall here at Fort so it's still cool but rather than having that warm moisture that hints at growing things to come, it's dry and there are hints of smoke and dry leaves riding the air. Beneath them Fort Hold claims the view, and Teralth angles gradually toward the stone edifice of Harper Hall.

Mishkia turns her head from the awed study of the Weyr far below them at that assurance and from the corner of her grey eyes there's a definite gleam. "So that's the secret," she says with a cryptic smile playing on her mouth, but there's no doubt as to her meaning as she relaxes further into his arms. With his chin on her shoulder, she presses her cool cheek against his, feeling the rise and fall of his breathing, the beat of his heart where she leans back against him. With the wind rushing in her ears and every nuance of air current that the blue sails upon felt, she's preoccupied enough that she barely has tome to shift her eyes to his in a sidelong acknowledgement when he warns that they're about to Between. She's not afraid of the dark, yet she's heard the ballad of Moreta's Ride so dimly knows this is not a move that riders take lightly. What she isn't prepared for is the complete loss of sensation. They're in too quickly for her to react but as they emerge, her hands, still on those arms around him grip spasmodically and she gasps. They're fine however, and she's far too enthralled by the descent towards the Hall below to dwell on morbid thoughts. Instead, she laughs - it's almost too much, the heady rush of this flying, such a new sensation for her!

Matrin confirms her mischievous quip with a wry smirk and a nod against her shoulder. And then they are between. It is hard to adequately prepare someone for the sensory deprivation, and tends to frighten rather than reassure for most. Still, the frantic grip on his arms is not surprising, and he murmurs low, indecipherable comfort in her ear. He is not such a frequent passenger that he can approach the situation cavalierly, but he tries his best to at least seem calm. A soft catch of his breath does slip through though - awe at the sight of his home for so many Turns spread out beneath them as the blue smoothly descends. "You did it," he finally remarks. "And now there's just the landing which can be a bit jarring but not bad with a dragon as seasoned as Teralth. And then you have survived your first flight. Was it so bad?" He can grin with sparkling eyes as he asks at the tail end of her exhilarated laughter.

However sedately and smoothly the blue flies, for someone who has never flown, the ground seems to rush up at Mishkia. Other than a fleeting glance at those wide blue wings outstretched in a glide-approach, she gives no verbal indication of fear although she hasn't exactly relaxed her grip on his arms either. When she turns her eyes from the expanse below to him, they are brilliant and she reflects his grin. "The sky is big," she says a little breathlessly, which might make no sense at all if one didn't know the Mire holder well. One hand releases the grip on his arm, her arm outstretched to the fullest as her open fingertips feel the sky slip though them as they approach the ground. Biiiiiiig space, vulnerable in it, but she dares to be here. And it's done something wonderful to her!

Matrin takes a moment to lift his head and look - really look around at the great arching span of blue that surrounds them and he slowly nods. "It is. And you are amazing." He tightens his grip a bit as pale claws dig into the dirt just outside of the Harper Hall gates, a smooth enough landing but still not like silk, with great blue sails back peddling and a thump as he connects with the earth. Matrin lets out a held breath, then calls, "Thank you both for a very smooth ride. I think I can get us down if you don't plan to stay." F'par just gives Matrin a little sloppy salute, and the Harper pauses to lean and try to catch Mishkia's eye. "I had considered staying the night. I am sure I can get lodging for both of us. Would you like that, or would you rather head back tonight? F'par will pick us up at either time."

Is she? Mishkia has never thought so, but seems pleased to hear he thinks she is. Still breathless, and only partly because of the descent and landing, she echoes the thanks in a voice barely above a whisper to the rider in front of her, turning then to meet Matrin's look. She's out of her depth, still dazed by the flight and she's here in Fort of all places in front of Harper Hall! "Let's… see how your meeting goes? There's nothing I have to rush back for." Speaking of his meeting, her face sobers and her eyes turn to the auspicious hall. "The harpers at our hold mentioned a library where the archives were… I can wait for you there?"

Bright blue eyes search wide gray ones, then Matrin simply nods. "Can you check in with us this evening?" F'par nods, then Matrin is busy unbuckling the straps before swinging a leg over. He pauses there, clinging to the leather to reply. "Yes of course. I will show you to the library before I go. I am sure the meeting will be just fine. It's more information gathering than anything." He gives her a wink which he hopes is encouraging, then nods toward the bluerider. "He'll give you a hand and I'll be waiting at the bottom." And with that he goes clambering down.

Mishkia has little to say other than to nod, her thoughts plainly on something as her eyes linger on that building. It's not dread, really, but something that might be troubling to her. Mingled with that is an awe to be here, of course, but at the moment whether they'll stay and where isn't something she's focused on. Perhaps thinking she might get tangled in the swinging leather straps, she slides down rather than attempt using them, helped halfway by F'par's hand, she then just lets go, trusting Matrin to catch since it's a little too far to simply jump and land on her feet.

Matrin is watching carefully, not only to make sure she doesn't fall but to try and read the expression on her face. So when she lets go he's there with arms outstretched and knees bent to cushion the impact as he catches her. "Beautiful women falling out of the sky, must be my lucky day," he teases. But his smile and the glint in his eyes is too warm for it to be simply jest, and he dips his head to brush a kiss across her cheek before settling her on her feet. He takes a moment then to unstrap a duffle bag from Teralth's side, then offers Mishkia a bent arm. "Before we go in, do you want to talk about whatever is making your eyes look like storm clouds?" Gently asked with dark brows lifted, but not insistent enough to press if she would rather not.

Thankfully Mishkia doesn't think about the words 'falling out of the sky' as much as she does 'beautiful women'. Rose blooms in her cheeks and her smile is for him alone as she leans into that kiss brushed warm on her cheek still chilled from Between. Still starry-eyed from the whole thing despite the thoughts that darken them, she seems dismayed that he's noticed. Too honest to deny that she's weighed by some inner thoughts, she just shakes her head, not even trying to make light of it as she once might have. "Later maybe. Something my family wants me to do while I'm here," she explains. "I shouldn't make you late to your meeting."

The flush in her cheeks and the stars in her eyes broaden Matrin's grin and he soaks it in for a moment. Then it is on to heavier things and his smile slips a bit. "If I can help you, you know I will. It's my job to chase away your stormclouds you know." Regardless of whether or not he has some darkness of his own weaving flickering shadows through the bright of his blue eyes as he looks at the Hall. "Here we go, then." Tipping his chin up, slinging his bag over his shoulder, he guides her into the Hall. He doesn't seem to be in a rush for all her worry about him being late. He plays the host, showing her around in an abbreviated tour on the way to the great library. There he introduces her to a working Journeyman that he knows, encouraging her to ask for anything she needs while he is off at his meeting. "And I shouldn't be too long."

And having acknowledged he'll help her, but without the lighthearted assurance of one who hopes there will be a solution, Mishkia takes the arm offered and is wide-eyed throughout the tour of the famous hall she's heard about all her life. She will wait there at the library, lost in those books and records - so MANY of them! Steeling her resolve to do her family’s bidding until he returns for her.

See the vignette that follows: Legacy

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