You Alright with This?

Xanadu Weyr - Rustic Treetop Cafe
Perched on the cliff overlooking Xanadu's beach is a gnarled and massive skybroom tree. The bark and outer layers are sturdy enough to support the thriving, brushy top, but the interior, which is hollow, contains a spiral staircase that leads to a cafe built on a high platform amongst the branches. With a panoramic view of lake, sky, Weyr and the mountains beyond, the treetop eatery offers both sheltered seating just inside the trunk and tables on the wide deck that encircles the old tree.
The cafe's decor is comfortable and rustic, but closer inspection shows the smallest embellishments to be artfully combined into one detailed masterpiece. The wood of the doors, floor and walls of the trunk have been stained a dark mahogany that lends the space a sense of intimacy. Tables in various sizes have been carved to mimic driftwood, the chairs and benches padded with oiled sailcloth cushions to provide weather-proof comfort. Each table has an aged brass lantern filled with shells and agates gathered from Xanadu's shores, the sparkling natural mosaics holding tapered candles upright in their embrace. Lamps hang from the ceiling on silver poles, the thick frosted glass carved into intricate pastel shells or swirling white-capped waves. At night the colored glass softens the glowlight to enhance the ambience.
During the day, the retractable doors allow leaf-spattered sunlight to fill both the outer deck and the smaller interior with green and gold light, as well as allowing pleasant breezes to cool the interior. On clear nights, farviewers perch on the elaborately carved railing are free for use to enhance the gorgeous view of the stars over the Caspian Lake, the Sea of Azov beyond and the rock formations of the Weyr.

Summer is finally upon Xanadu and even with the sun now lowering on the horizon towards an early evening, it is still considerably warm out and the breeze coming in off of the sea is cooling and refreshing. Maybe that’s the reason why Th’ero chose the Rustic Treetop Cafe, with it’s comfortable and rustic decor and the panoramic view of the lake and sky and the mountains beyond or he was drawn to the fact that such a structure exists within a Skybroom tree. Or he wanted the privacy of the sheltered seating on the wide deck, because that is where he is seated now, reclined comfortably in the padded chair as he slowly nurses a pint glass of ale. Velokraeth has settled himself somewhere in the heart of the Weyr, having already announced his presence to the watchdragon and then sweetly to Seryth and Luraoth and the other Xanadian queens, not to mention Kanekith, so that none are surprised by his non-duty related visit. This is personal, somewhat private and he wisely informed Kiena long before his arrival too, though he does not expect the Weyrsecond and his sister to join them. A note was sent to another individual too, as well as Velokraeth gently bespeaking their dragon and he is the sole reason why Th’ero is here to begin with and is waiting, patiently, on his arrival.

Mur’dah is nervous, understandably so, as he pulls off his knot (off duty now) and walks up the stairs to the cafe. Going to meet his girlfriend’s brother. At least he’s not going to meet her father? That’d be worse. And terrifying, since he’s dead. Regardless, Th’ero /is/ intimidating, and Mur’dah isn’t entirely convinced that he’s as harmless as Kiena claims. He’s dressed in loose and casual clothes, right down to his sandals as he orders an ale from a waitress and makes his way to Th’ero’s table. “Sir,” he says respectfully, tipping off a salute. “Xanadu’s duties to Fort and her queens.” And he’ll wait to be invited to sit.

No, meeting Ilentho would be a terrifying ordeal, even if the man wasn’t dead. At least he’s not meeting Ilenki, the eldest brother? THAT would be bad. Th’ero is intimidating and he can be difficult and temperamental, along with stubborn and all his usual traits but Kiena wasn’t (entirely) lying when she said he’s a good man. Once you get past the masks. He’s wearing casual clothing as well and though he’s off duty, his knot is still pinned to his shoulder. No sandals for him though, it’s still boots and his usual dark clothing, all save for his tunic which at least shows some color… even if it’s a dark burgundy. Th’ero looks up as Mur’dah approaches, setting his pint glass down and dipping his head respectfully to his salute. “And Fort’s duties to Xanadu and her queens.” he replies in a voice that is welcoming but a touch reserved. At least it’s not flat and cold? That’s a good start, right? “Please, sit.” He’ll gesture towards the empty chairs across from him. There’s a moment where he pauses, perhaps allowing Mur’dah to settle himself before conversation begins again or Th’ero too is awkward in this situation. How to begin? “Things have been well?” That’s neutral enough, isn’t it?

Mur’dah settles himself into the chair, paying the waitress a quarter mark when she brings him his ale. “Thank you,” he says to her, settling back a bit and taking a long sip. Calm his nerves, maybe? He hopes so. “Ah, yes, they have, sir, thank you. And with Fort?” See? He can be diplomatic. For the moment at least.

Th’ero will reach for his ale as well, but doesn’t take a sip right away. He’ll just hold the glass, leaning back in his chair and for all appearances he looks relaxed and calm but he very well could be holding that glass too to keep his hands from fidgeting. He’ll watch while Mur’dah pays the waitress, eyes settling briefly on his drink and likely in silent approval — because that obviously has some importance. Men. “Good! You’re an Assistant Weyrlingmaster, if I recall correctly, right?” he asks, his gaze just lingering in a way that the rest of his sentence, though unspoken, is implied: young, aren’t you, for that position? “All is well with the Weyrlings?” Not too strange of a question, given S’ol’s bronze Sharuth sired that clutch and Sharuth is of Velokraeth’s bloodline. Th’ero chuckles dryly and nods his head. So far, so good! Mur’dah’s doing just fine with the diplomatic scene and conversation. “Fort is doing well, thank you. We’ve had a relatively easy summer, which is a welcomed change. The Weyr Games have provided quite the event too. Distraction, I guess you could call it? At the least, a change in the usual routines.”

Mur’dah favors the amber ales - not the light ones, but not the dark, dark ones either. The middle of the road ones. “Yes, sir, I am. But only until they graduate. Then I’ll be returning to Comet.” No need to lie about it, right? “It’s been enjoyable but it’s not the position for me, I have discovered. All is well, yes. They’re hopping about Pern fairly regularly now. Just about time for them to join the wings.” He smiles. Almost time for him to get back to his beloved Comet. “The Weyr Games have been fun,” he agrees, “have you participated in any other events?” Other than mud wrestling.

Ale is ale and only Th’ero seems to favor the dark, dark ones but so long as it’s not some frilly fruit drink, he won’t question it. Or rum. He doesn’t even want to look at rum, let alone think of it. Ugh. “Is that so?” he asks, sounding curious and yet he is impressed with Mur’dah’s open honesty. Now that he likes! No masks, no crypticness? No tension either and the Fortian Weyrleader’s posture will relax a little further. “Comet is… forgive me if I’m wrong, but Comet is your Transportation Wing, correct? Good work in that.” Unless one messes up like the Roc Wingriders did and resulted in an entire Wing restructuring. He smiles, “Ahh. Wing shadowing then, are they? Always an interesting time. And the Weyr Games have been fun! Other events?” Th’ero exhales slowly as he thinks that over. “I believe I am signed up for Sparring. Do you spar, Mur’dah?” No, that is NOT a threat! Honest. The grin that Th’ero pulls is innocent and simply out of amused curiosity! “Let’s see… and I believe the Mock Threadfall. Wasn’t sure if I would have time for anything more and so far that’s proven to be correct. My weyrmate, Kimmila, is in a few events though. I heard Kiena bested her at archery?” Oh, did he ever hear about it. “And you? Have you already participated in a few events?” Other then mud wrestling!

Mur’dah nods. “Yes, sir. Transportation. I enjoy the travel, and getting out and meeting people. It’s honest work.” And AWLM isn’t? It’s just not for him, really. “Spar?” Forgive him if he tenses, searching for any underlying threat. When he doesn’t find one, he relaxes again and takes another sip of his ale to soothe his suddenly parched throat. “No, sir. Had no reason to learn. Rode runners instead, growing up.” There’s a grin then, which he quickly schools back to something less gloating. “Yes, Kiena did take first in archery, with Fort a close second.” Not close. Not /even/ close. But it’s nice to say. “I might enter the sand sculpting contest, but with the Weyrlings in this last phase of training, there hasn’t been that much time, I’m afraid. I hear Fort will host them this winter though? Perhaps there will be more chance for me to do things then.”

Assistant Weyrlingmaster would not be a position Th’ero would ever consider for himself and so there’s no judgement there for Mur’dah admitting that his skill and talents are better used for Comet. It takes strength to admit to it and maybe a certain sort of courage to acknowledge it. “It is. Good, honest and often difficult work.” Since so much can go wrong, in different ways. Maybe not as catastrophic as S&R or Diplomacy, but as the whole Breakwater Hold fiasco taught the Fortian Weyrleader… anything is possible. “Spar.” Th’ero confirms and his grin broadens by just a little when Mur’dah seems to tense. Tilting his head, he’ll lift his pint glass up and take a slow sip as he chuckles again. “Not a bad skill to have, you know. Never know when it’ll be needed.” That’s NOT a threat either! “Runners, though? You’ve an interest in them?” Who doesn’t. He doesn’t notice the gloating either. “So Kimmila told me,” In probably a far more colorful way, to judge by the way Th’ero grimaces first before smiling. “Good for her. Didn’t think she’d pick up the skill but… Kimm’s a good teacher.” When not dumping her students off in jungles? Cough. “Sand sculpting?” Interesting. Not Th’ero’s top pick of events, but he’ll refrain from teasing Mur’dah about it and only nods in understanding about the lack of time. “Fort will host for Winter and hopefully time will allow it! We’ve only just begun to plan… and we’ll see if there is a clutch to come in the near future. Our queens are due…” Just a matter of time.

Mur’dah nods. “It is, but I enjoy it. Mostly the travel. When would sparing be needed?” Who would attack a rider? Mur’dah is clueless. A nod of his head, and another sip of his ale, and he smiles. “Yes. Pretty big interest, actually. I’ve got some land…working on turning it into a working stable.” Work has stalled for a bit, but he did buy the land! So that’s something. He grins. “Yeah, sand sculpting. Something to do with my time when I was a kid. Not great at it, but maybe good enough to win something.” Maybe. If he ever enters. “All of them?” Mur’dah asks, a bit alarmed at the prospect of having /all/ the queens rise at or close to the same time.

“That is a considerably good perk about it, eh?” Th’ero agrees and for a moment he smiles, only to have it fade a bit as he gives Mur’dah a lingering look that looks almost… saddened for the brownrider’s naive question. “More than you’d imagine. There are some out there who are not against fighting a rider or… have a momentary lack of sense. Regretfully too… there are fights and brawls between riders.” Surely he knows that much, at least, right? Brows lift at the mention of land, “Do you now? A stable. Good investment, though I’ll take it you’d be hiring staff?” Obviously. For the sandsculpting, he only chuckles and nods his head again, lifting his glass to take another sip. “Best of luck then, if you do.” he murmurs and then frowns when Mur’dah seems alarmed. It clicks a second later and Th’ero laughs, “Shards, no! Not all of them. At least… shells, Faranth help us all if they do. Velokraeth will probably burst his heart trying to chase them all.” And he would chase. Every. Last. One. ALL the clutches belong to HIM! He grimaces, “No, it’s been awhile since Kayeth or Kouzevelth flew, Iaverulth went just this winter or the winter last. If I had to put any wagering in, it’d be Kayeth next.” Leadership flight. Just what Th’ero wants, prior to hosting a huge event!

Mur’dah looks thoughtful. “Perhaps I should take up sparing then,” he muses, though he grimaces a bit. Not his favorite thing, clearly. “Yeah, I’ll be looking to hire staff.” Briefly his expression clouds as he gazes into his mug, and then he shakes it off. “Thanks.” A grin, then a wince. “He’d really chase all of them?” Randy bronze! “Kalsuoth doesn’t chase golds…I’m kind of grateful for that.” There’s a nod. “Best of luck to you then, if it’s Kayeth,” he adds. Leadership flight indeed.

Th’ero too is thoughtful and he chuckles again when Mur’dah considers taking up sparing. “If I’d the time, I’d try to teach you sparring with a sword or long dagger, but…” Time. Always time. Not to mention it’d stir up some rather prickly gossip as to why the Fortian Weyrleader is teaching Xanadu’s Weyrwoman’s son combat skills. “… there’s hand to hand as well. Self defence, mostly. Kiena would know a bit of it.” At Zi’on’s insistence, oddly enough, but also by her own choice. Th’ero notices that brief but clouded look and he frowns faintly. “Is finding staff difficult?” he asks, his voice almost cautious when he does. Is this a touchy subject? There’s a long suffering sigh then and Th’ero spreads his hands in a helpless gesture. “He’d chase all of them and a few greens on the side. He’s…” Randy. “… got a considerable appetite. If it’s female and glowing or even close to it, he’ll be there. Green or gold, it matters not.” Velokraeth could be sniffing out greens right now! Th’ero’s grim expression says it all. Luckily, none seem close to proddy. “Mhm, consider yourself lucky!” Or suffer his fate. “Thank you. We’ll see what the end of the Turn will bring for Fort.”

Mur’dah looks a bit surprised when the Fortian Weyrleader suggests (kind of) teaching him himself. “Right, I understand,” he’s quick to say. “Kiena knows?” He seems surprised. And yet…after a moment’s thought, it’s not at all surprising. Does raise some questions though, of moves she might know. “I’ll ask her.” As for staff, he just smiles a bit and waves a hand. “It can be, but no, I haven’t started looking yet. The buildings aren’t even done.” He’s just thinking of a friend, perhaps a lost one, and it gave him a momentary twinge of sadness. “Shards,” he swears softly, before wincing. “Sorry. Kalsuoth’s appetites are not that strong.” And now he’s very grateful for it. “Hopefully a good winter games, a strong clutch, and no change in leadership.” He’ll drink to that, lifting his mug in a toast before he clears his throat. “So…” Why did Th’ero ask to meet him? “Are you okay with me dating Kiena?”

“Kiena knows a little, yes.” Th’ero elaborates, seeming amused by Mur’dah’s surprise to start and then nods his head when the brownrider mentions bringing it up. “Ahh, I see. First things first, hmm? Well. Best of luck in that venture. If you need runners, my weyrmate and I know of some decent stock in Keroon and we’ve plenty of Holds in the Fortian regions who’re breeding all types. Racers, workers, draft, ride…” He waves his hand in a dismissive way. So on and so forth? Th’ero is unaware of the memories of friendships that he’s brought to the brownrider, but he does laugh for the swearing. “No need. I often curse about it and it’s refreshing for once to have someone agree that it’s not a grand thing at all…” Oh the jokes! He’s likely heard them all by now. Lifting his pint glass, he’ll toast to Mur’dah’s words with a crooked smile and take a dip pull of his ale and just as he settles himself again, they get right to the heart of the matter. Why, indeed. Th’ero frowns and is silent for a moment, weighing his words carefully before he speaks and a few awkward seconds may pass. “I am,” he said simply, only to clear his throat. “Alright with it, that is. Not that I’ve much of a say and she’s made it clear enough to me that she doesn’t wish me to meddle.” He just can’t help it, sometimes! It’s the big brother thing. Mur’dah would understand, wouldn’t he? “Kiena’s her own woman, she can choose whom she wishes and you’ve given me no reason to dislike you. So far, I see an honest and hard working young man and rider.” So far? Regardless, that’s high compliment coming from the bronzerider! “I asked to meet with you because I wanted to get to know you. Without so much of this,” And he points to his knot and then to Mur’dah’s bare shoulder. “Getting in the way.” Now he grins. “Or right after I’ve bested you at mud wrestling.”

Mur’dah looks a bit surprised when Th’ero is offering information about runners. “Thank you. I’ll…contact you if I have a need.” When Th’ero goes quiet, Mur’dah forces himself /not/ to fidget, but it’s a near thing. He’ll drink his ale instead. “Well yes, but…” But? Mur’dah certainly doesn’t want Th’ero to disapprove. “Thank you, sir,” he says, smiling a bit at the praise. It feels good, to hear that. Especially since so often he’s coming off as…not so great. “Ah. Well that makes sense.” He leans back in his chair, sipping his ale and letting his shoulders fully relax, until he flushes a bit at the mention of mud wrestling. Cough. “I had you for a second…”

“Please do. My weyrmate and I have a breeding pair in Keroon.” Th’ero murmurs. Surely by now there’s a few offspring for trade! He’d not be surprised either if Mur’dah begain to fidget. He’s well used to that being a reaction from most who meet him. Is he really honestly that intimidating? Maybe once. Now… he still is in some cases but he didn’t come here to try and spook the brownrider away. “But?” Oh, of course he wants to know now and he’ll give Mur’dah a curious and expectant look. Do go on? Back to his ale, he’ll sip another good portion of it before chuckling again and smirking. “Oh, you did. Clever trick too and unexpected.” In many ways. Which brings them back to the topic of a certain bluerider. “So…” His turn to ask a question! “How long? You and my sister, I mean. I’d ask if you met her girls, but I already know that answer.” That was obvious, when they all took that trip to the hold festival and took Kyzen with them too. Maybe that should have been Th’ero’s hint. Did he start to suspect then?

Mur’dah, once again, looks impressed. “Ah.” And there should be at least one new baby by now! And it’s not so much Th’ero, but his reputation that is intimidating. He’s something of a legend these days. Mur’dah coughs. “I know you don’t have much say, but it still makes things easier if you…approve.” Is that the right word? Th’ero doesn’t own her. Still, Mur’dah can’t think of another word to use. Then it’s his turn to answer a question. “Not…long. A few months?” How long /has/ it been? “We’ve been friends for a while though. Since I graduated, about?” Then he grins. “I love her girls.”

Don’t let Th’ero know he’s something of a legend! Not that it’d go to his head, but he’d be… embarrassed to know it. Him, a legend? Pfft. Blinking, he regards Mur’dah silently for a moment and then his mouth quirks in a slow, amused smile. “… are you asking for my blessing?” Now he’s teasing the brownrider a little bit, but he sobers quick enough. “No, no… I see what you mean. And I was honest when I say I approve. I do. You’re certainly no Zi’on.” OUCH. To Zi’on! To Mur’dah, that’s another compliment? For a moment, Th’ero’s eyes flickers with a shadowed look. Regret, perhaps? Or is it guilt? It clears though when Mur’dah elabroates and Th’ero nods, satisfied with the answer. A few months. “Often those are some of the better relationships. Ones that have time to start as friendship.” he explains and nods his head again. He smiles crookedly, “They’re good girls, though I’ve not had the chance to visit with them much. I take it… you have?”

Mur’dah startles, shaking his head quickly. “No! No. I mean…no. We’re not…I’m not asking for your blessing so I can weyrmate her or anything. I’m…we’re…” Don’t panic. “We’re just dating.” He’s no Zi’on? He just nods, eyes narrowing slightly with a narrowed look into his ale as he takes another sip. “That’s not hard,” he mutters. Ouch indeed. “Is that how you and your weyrmate started? Friends?” he asks curiously. Then he smiles warmly. “They are good girls. I’ve spent some time with them, yes. When I can, but it’s not that often.” He wishes it was more often. Maybe when he’s back in Comet.

Th’ero begins to laugh again. Maybe start panicking? “Relax,” he drawls, his tone mildly accented as he does. “I know you’re not asking for that. I’d be… a bit wary if you were. If you two have only been dating for so short a time.” There’s a frown for that narrowed look and then a dry snort. “No, it’s not that hard, is it? You’ve met him, then.” Duh? But then, why would the Western Weyrleader be mingling with random Xanadian Wingriders? He’s no idea of any of the interactions or how much Kiena has discussed with Mur’dah. Th’ero leans back in his chair, settling comfortably and his brows knit in thought. “Yes, we did. I crossed paths with her in Western, before I became Weyrleader of Fort. She continued to be my friend throughout that time, even when she remained a Western Wingrider and… I think it was even sometime after we chose to weyrmate that she transferred to Fort.” he murmurs, looking a touch sheepish when he hesitates on some of the details. It clear though, without him going too much into it, that he is very fond of Kimmila. The devotion is there, without being so glaring as to be painful. “Kiena must trust you then, to leave you with her girls. I’ve been meaning to ask her when she could spare time to visit. With the girls perhaps. To see her new nephew and niece.” he murmurs and then pauses, awkwardly, as he weighs his next decision. “… you’d be welcomed too, if she decides to come.”

Mur’dah flushes a bit for his panic, clearing his throat and taking another pull of his ale. He nods. “I have,” he answers, voice soft. And then on to other topics, as he listens with interest as Th’ero speaks of Kimmila. “What…was your first impression of her? Did you…/know/, that she was the one for you? And you think you’ll be together forever?” Then there’s a blink of surprise and confusion. “You weyrmated when you were in different weyrs?” Cross-weyrmating? How does that work? He smiles a bit, clearing his throat. “I’d be honored to come and see your new children,” he says. “I’ll ask her about it, maybe we can find a day we’re all free.” Scheduling is hard.

Th’ero will finish the last of his ale and after a moment of decision, he’ll flag a server for another one. Setting the empty glass to the side of the table, he’ll exhale softly. “He’s not been… a source of trouble, has he? Does he know, about you and Kiena?” Oh, how out of the loop he is! Apparently Kiena does not talk to her brother often and when she does, not about everything. Except for… “She mentioned something about him not coming here.” Nutshell and glossed over and left open for Mur’dah to answer as little or as much as he figures is best. No pressure… and no risk that he’d get in trouble for saying too much to a foreign Weyrleader. “My first impression of her?” he says, exhaling again as he scrubs at his lower jaw in thought. Shells, Mur’dah asks tough questions! Tough… for Th’ero, at least. “She was intriguing and interesting. Rough, a bit wild, not like most women I knew… and a bit broken. Like I was. Did I know? Not right away and even when I did, I was almost a fool and lingered too long in telling her how much I cared for her.” For that last question, Th’ero smiles and it’s slightly sad. “I think so.” he says with confidence. “Our bond is strong. Strong enough that I still have her by my side, even after all I’ve put her through. All the trying and stressful times, especially when we had Laris to deal with. And she stuck by me even after… After I’ve almost died.” How many times now, has it been? Twice? He makes a thoughtful sound then, “… in fact it may have been in one of the instances that she was grievously injured that I was aware then that I couldn’t be without her.” Aww. Isn’t that sweet? “Mhm. Well… we made it work? It was difficult at times. She was worth it though.” He clears his throat a bit at that. Whoops, getting a bit sappy there. Ahem. “Thank you! It’d be nice if we could all meet. For however long…” Scheduling IS hard.

Mur’dah is still working on his first ale, but seeing Th’ero order a second has him relaxing more. Must not be going too badly if the Weyrleader is indulging in a second. “Zi’on? Eh. He’s Zi’on.” He shrugs. “I don’t think he knows? Not like we’re keeping it a secret, but not like we’re publicizing it either. So he might, but I haven’t told him.” Then, a nod. “He doesn’t come here anymore.” No elaboration. Then he’s drinking his ale and listening. “Did you almost lose her? Was there someone else?” That is one of his fears - Kiena finding someone else before Mur’dah figures out how he feels. “You almost died? Wait, and then /she/ got injured too?” Fort must be /tough/.

Th’ero snorts, “Aptly put.” he mutters and he nods. “I’m not saying you two should keep it a secret just… well, you know the man.” Expect the unexpected? Or at least, joking remarks that may be barbed. “Mhm. I see.” And he doesn’t press anything more from Mur’dah. If he really wants to know, he’ll ask Kiena directly or perhaps Ka’el. For now though, he is unbothered by it and more interested in continuing the conversation with Mur’dah. “I don’t think there was someone else, no. Not with her. I had to chose… and I chose Kimmila but even then I hesitated. We were dancing around each other for sometime before I gathered the courage. And that was… hmm. I had almost lost her before that, but to injuries.” His expression turns grim and he looks out over the water, only to shiver at the sight of the waves. Ugh. “You know of Laris?” If he does, good. If he doesn’t… Th’ero will get back to it, but he continues on. “We had confronted him, in one of his camps with his men. Tried to talk him down, into surrendering. Wasn’t supposed to involve us riders. A hold and guard thing, y’know? But someone let loose with an arrow and chaos erupted before I could pull folks back. Kimmila was shot in the back and I saw her fall. And in a fit of furious anger,” More like rage. “I challenged Laris and got stabbed through for my stupidity.” He’ll tap his fingers to his right side, just by his chest where it meets the shoulder and drags them around in the path of the unseen scar beneath. “One of my Wingriders charged Laris before he could deal another blow.” The death blow. Th’ero just shrugs. “When we confronted Laris again Turns later, I faced him once more and though this time he fell to my sword… I was dragged with him when he and the platform we were on collapsed into the water below. I almost drowned…” He clears his throat. “So there you have it. In a nutshell.” More or less. Fort IS tough, but Irondell’s are just stubborn.

Mur’dah listens closely, finishing his ale and ordering another. “You had to choose? Why did you hesitate?” Of Laris, Mur’dah nods. He knows enough. He winces, shaking his head, eyes narrowing and brows furrowing as he tries to imagine how that’d feel. “So that’s when you realized you loved her? When she was shot and…dying?” he guesses. “You got stabbed?” He looks rather incredulous. “That’s…I mean…I’d heard stories but I didn’t believe all of them.” Believe it. “Did she return your feelings? Right away? Did Laris bring you closer together?”

Now this is getting awkward. Th’ero grimaces and shifts a bit in his chair, a touch uncomfortable and ready to just brush Mur’dah’s question aside. “Yes, I had to choose…” he begins, prepared to leave it at that and with a small sigh, decides against it. Past is past, right? “… there was another woman, though things between her and I had come to a — hmm. Stalemate? She’d disappeared on me, refused to return most of my letters. She’d been a Candidate with me. I thought I cared about her but it was nothing compared to what I felt for Kimmila. It wasn’t… very honorable of me not to tell the other woman but when I finally did cross paths I — told her the truth.” And he hasn’t seen her since, which doesn’t seem to bother him. It is what it is. “I hesitated because…” Th’ero hesistates right then too, grimacing. Why is he telling Mur’dah this? Because of his ties to Kiena? He’s not sure, but he’s in too deep now. He exhales, “Because I was afraid?” And stubborn. “Worried that when I told Kimmila, she’d either not feel the same or it would have chased her off. Luckily for me, neither was the case.” Glancing up, he looks relieved when the server arrives with both their ales and Th’ero will take a moment to sip his and wait for the server to leave and ensuring they’re on their own again. “Yes,” he confirms to Mur’dah’s guess. “That was the real start of it all. Guess… in a morbid sort of sense, Laris did bring us closer together.” Stories? That startles Th’ero a bit. “What’re these stories?” he asks, curious and perhaps a bit alarmed. Gossip is one thing!

Mur’dah listens, looking out to the sea for a moment. “Ahh.” He doesn’t have that problem. Stories! “Well, you know. Heard from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from a Harper. That you’d been stabbed four times and carried Kimmila back to Fort, that you killed Laris and his right hand man. That you /had/ drowned. I’ve even heard nannies telling naughty kids to shape up or Laris will come after them.” Oh. “And one time I saw two kids playing with fake swords, and one was Laris and one was you.” Th’ero needs an action figure!

Th’ero scoffs and eyes Mur’dah. Heard it from someone who heard it from someone? “That sounds like gossip…” he mutters, before silencing himself to listen. He’ll sip his ale and then just stare at the brownrider. What? It almost seems like the Fortian Weyrleader is trying to melt into his seat then, shifting uncomfortably. Oh, Faranth that’s just all so ridiculous! “Not at all true,” he grumbles. “Well… I did kill Laris.” THAT at least is right. “And I did drown. I was dead or dying when they got my body pulled out of the water. Velokraeth was only… Zuvaleyuth held him down from flying.” His expression is very difficult to read then, but though his voice is quiet there is a lot to that simple explanation. He chooses not to linger on it though and shakes off the darkness that threatened to seep in. No. He won’t think about it. He clears his throat about the children though and looks… embarrassed. Yet what can he say to that? So he says nothing and sips at his ale. Awkward? You bet it is!

Mur’dah shrugs with a grin. “But it’s interesting.” As for dying, Mur’dah sobers and sips his second ale. “Well I’m glad you didn’t.” For a lot of reasons. THen he too is quiet, looking out at the waves. Awkward.

So much awkward. Th’ero nurses a little more of his drink after dipping his head to acknowledge the last thing Mur’dah said. Thanks. Just when the silence seems to stretch on forever, Th’ero clears his throat. “… there’s a saying that us Irondells are even too stubborn to die.” he points out, with a crooked half-grin, half-smirk. It’s an attempt at a joke, though it remains to be seen if it falls flat or not. At least it’s a start and he tries to gently nudge the conversation a little further on track. “Kiena seems happy here.” he murmurs. Okay, so maybe that’s awkward too? He’s trying!

Mur'dah seems kind of okay with the silence, though his brain scrambles for something to add. He smirks at his attempt at a joke. "Well you've proven that," he murmurs. "Can't say I've seen her be that stubborn though…" Yet. "I think she is. Happier than she was in Western, that's for sure, though it took her a while to get settled."

Th'ero quirks a brow, "She came back from her accident with Between?" he points out softly, in a lowered voice. Not that anyone is out here to overhear them. He nods his head a little in agreement and then frowns, "It did? How so?" Do tell, do tell. Big brother here would love some of the missing pieces.

Mur'dah looks a bit startled, and then he swiftly nods. "Of course she did, yes, of course, but…you know. I don't see her being stubborn in her everyday life so much." He finds her pretty flexible, actually. "Well, like any new place. It takes time to figure out the routines, to meet people…" Meeting people seemed to be her largest challenge.

Th'ero looks a little confused when Mur'dah startles like that. Does he not remember that Kalsuoth informed Velokraeth of the incident? "Huh. Really…? She's not stubborn?" This is new to him or perhaps he hasn't been with his sister long enough to see the difference. Which is a little sad, when one thinks about it. He chuckles dryly, "Good point. She's… never been good with change." And he's the guilty party for that!

He remembers, he just hasn't thought about it in a long time. "Well, I'm sure she /could/ be," Mur'dah says with a little grin. "I just haven't seen it." She usually does what he asks! The young brownrider shrugs. "Is anyone?" he muses thoughtfully.

"Oh, just you wait and see… Try getting her to do something she really doesn't want to do." Th'ero remarks dryly, smirking at Mur'dah from over the rim of his pint glass as he lifts it up for another long sip. "In fact, watch out if she's ever really angry." He's SO not helping, right now, is he? Or is this a test? "Some seem to handle change like it's nothing…" he admits with a shrug and another grimace, before his eyes linger for a longer moment on the young brownrider. Perhaps, for the first time, studying him closely. "How much… of her past has she told you?" he asks, curiously.

Mur'dah looks a bit puzzled. "Why would I want to get her to do something she doesn't want to do?" Pause. "Or make her really angry?" This doesn't apply to him! Sipping his ale, he then gently sets the mug down. "A bit. I know it wasn't pleasant. And Kalsuoth has seen a few things, through Ujinath."

Th'ero snorts, "I didn't say actually go out and do it. It was… rhetorical?" he mutters. No, it doesn't apply and he's certainly not trying to convince Mur'dah to try! Clearing his throat again, he'll have a little more of his ale and then set the glass aside too. The next look he gives the brownrider though is close to… shocked. "Ujinath has actually… shown Kalsuoth things? Aside from the fence?" Does he look a little disappointed that Kalsuoth got further with Kiena's blue than Velokraeth ever has? Maybe. "No, it wasn't pleasant, unfortunately. I'm glad though that she seems… to be finding happiness here."

Mur'dah nods, his smile a touch wry and a touch proud. "Yeah, he…flew over it." Reckless brown. "No, it certainly doesn't seem like it was. But she's happier now. Far happier, I think…"

Reckless is right, but Th'ero seems impressed all the same. "Clever. Could have backfired, if I know Ujinath well enough." Which he probably doesn't. The blue is likely as much of an enigma to him as his sister is on most days. He reaches for his ale again, "I'd say she's happier. No doubt about it. I could see it in her, at Ista. She's even been warming up to Kimmila." It only took how many Turns? "And me." Kind of.

Mur'dah nods, "It could have, but…it didn't." For whatever reason. Then he grins. "Warming up to Kimmila? She speaks highly of her, did they not get along?" His smile gentles. "She thinks highly of you too. Respects you."

Luck, perhaps? That's what Th'ero is assuming, anyways. What he didn't expect is Mur'dah's next reply and his brows lift. "No, for awhile they were quite at each others throats. Kimmila even… left her behind in Southern's jungles to teach her a lesson. I mean — she didn't actually abandon her, it was made to seem like that…" he explains hastily and smirks. "It worked?" Kind of. "After that they were kind of at some stand off or another. She's only just started coming around…" As for him, Th'ero's brows only lift higher, his expression blank for a heartbeat before he breaks into soft laughter. "Thinks… highly of me? Oh, come on now, Mur'dah. Now you're pulling my leg…" he drawls, lifting his pint as if to toast him for the good joke.

Mur'dah laughs, shaking his head. "Huh. Well. Remind me to never get on Kimmila's bad side?" When Th'ero thinks he's making a joke, Mur'dah chuckles but shakes his head. "She does, Th'ero. I kept thinking you were going to bite my head off for dating her, but she kept telling me how reasonable you are, and all that stuff."

"Probably a wise decision," Th'ero muses concerning his weyrmate, only to sober and just stare blankly at Mur'dah for a moment. In the end he frowns. Bite his head off? "Why would you think I would?" he asks, curious but also sounding a bit disgruntled. Does he still intimidate people like that? "I'd never… I mean, I got upset with Zi'on and may have almost punched him but that was Turns ago and circumstances were different!" Right? He sighs, "I'm not going to 'bite your head off' as you put it." Really!

Mur'dah squirms a bit. "Because…you're Th'ero? You're…this…you're a /legend/ and I'm dating your /sister/."

"I am not a legend," Th'ero scoffs, looking a touch annoyed but it's more because he's feeling way too awkward and embarrassed in hearing it from Mur'dah. "I am like any other man or bronzerider." he mutters. Humble, is he? He just levels Mur'dah with a look. "Yes, you're dating my sister." Congratulations? "Which I've already said I was fine with! Unless… is it a problem that I am her brother?" Frown.

Mur'dah shakes his head. "No…most men wouldn't have done what you did," he says quietly. Would he have? He doubts it. "No! It's not…I thought this /before/. We're good now." Right? Drink ale, quick.

Th'ero smirks, "You'd be surprised what you can do under certain circumstances. If it came to it, Mur'dah, would you not do all you could to protect those you loved?" he murmurs, quirking one brow up quizzically. Well? "But…" How does that make it any better? "Why would you think so before? We're good now, yes. There never was an issue." Maybe just a little one. He IS protective over Kiena, but he's just better at hiding it. Drink ale is right! Th'ero will almost drain the last of his glass.

Mur'dah considers, fingers running along his ale mug. "Maybe?" he says with a thoughtful frown. "Never been put to that test…not to that extent." Most he's done is break into his sister's cottage to steal her clothes. For a good cause. "Your reputation has you being a very tough - fair - but stern man."

"Hopefully you never will be put to that test but I think you'd surprise yourself, if some crisis ever came to pass. Which I hope it doesn't," Th'ero murmurs. He's not trying to jinx the poor brownrider! "You came to Kiena's aid swift enough, didn't you?" he asks gently, having no knowledge of what he experienced with Darsce. He shrugs his shoulders, trying not to look too awkward or uncomfortable. "Ah, well…" Yeah, that sounds more like it! "…I am but only in some cases. I'm not about to be a total ass to my sister's boyfriend before I even know him and ruin her happiness." he mutters, leaning forwards to finish his ale in a few last sips and sets the empty glass aside. He does not order a third one… likely because he doesn't want to get drunk. Not here in Xanadu, anyways.

Mur'dah nods. "Of course I did." But he didn't have to kill anyone or track down a madman across Pern for turns. That's different. Glancing at the older man, Mur'dah nods and finishes his ale too. Then there's his usual smirk. "But you'd be an ass if you didn't like what you saw?"

Details! Th'ero seems to consider any crisis to be the same, any moment that requires split second decisions and possible sacrifice. At the smirk, he echoes it and then chuckles dryly. "I'd not be sitting here, enjoying two ales and laughing, no. So, so far? You're doing well. And I haven't tried to punch you yet…" Deadpan look and then his mouth quirks into a crooked smile. "… not that I would. Ever." Please don't take that too seriously! "I was serious, Mur'dah, when I said I see only a good and honest rider in you. If Kiena's happy to have you as a friend and partner then who am I to step between that? So I'm not going to and you certainly have nothing to fear from me and I mean beyond rank."
Mur'dah chuckles, eying Th'ero's hands briefly before his grin widens. "Well thank you. That means a lot, coming from you."

Th'ero's hands aren't curled into fists! Mur'dah is safe. What they do next is only to lay flat against the table top as he pushes to his feet and straightens out his clothes. "I'm glad." It's rare that he so openly compliments! Then he'll step around the table and towards the brownrider, reaching to clasp his shoulder in a friendly sort of way. Regardless if Mur'dah has stood up as well or remained seated, he'll try and if successful, his grip will be firm and he'll lean in a little. He's smiling, trying not to look too threatening. "Well met and pleasure meeting you, Mur'dah. Give Kiena my regards, will you? I've got to be returning to Fort and won't have the time…" Sure, that's the reason why.

Mur'dah gets to his feet when Th'ero does, standing steady beneath that hand. He smiles. "Well met, Th'ero, it was a pleasure. I will, sir, have a safe trip back to Fort."

Th'ero will grip a little firmer for a half second longer before letting go, dipping his head in a respectful nod to Mur'dah. "No need for the Sir, in cases like these." he tells him with a chuckle and while he slowly steps away. "Thank you. Clear skies to you as well." And then he's turning, his back now to the brownrider as he heads back inside the cafe and down the stairs. Time to return to Velokraeth and head home and share his opinion with weyrmate. Story time!

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