Fruitless Search

Drawing Room - Cold Stone Hold High Reaches

While the high, wide windows have, since this hold has been constructed, admitted Rukbat’s rays into this room, the dark stone walls have tended to absorb that light and cast a shadowed pall in the interior. Since Thadan’s death, this has all been changed. Dark stone has been smoothly plastered over and painted eggshell white. The furniture, several stuffed couches and chairs, upholstered with floral prints of mauve and bue are grouped around low-set tables for intimacy. A fireplace of creamy pale rock provides warmth and a thick carpet of pastel hues softens the hard stone floors. Muted lamps and soft pillows on the couches provide this room with a comfortable, lived-in feeling while through those large windows both light - and the stunning panorama of towering mountain peaks is seen..

It’s been a long, weary day at Cold Stone Hold that began with an unexpected arrival of dragonriders - many of them arriving in the skies in formation. Landing first, a bronze and gold pair bearing, to Tharen’s surprise, the Weyrleader of Xanadu Weyr and one of its junior weyrwomen, introducing themselves as Ka’el and Soriana. He’d not heretofore met them, but he’d known of them, for he’d seen Kale and Soriana impress when he’d been there to see Muir and Marel stand for the hatching where they’d impressed their browns and he’d read their names in letters written by his Weyrwoman sister, Thea. They came asking for her - wanting to know whether she’d arrived safely the day before or had she tried to leave in the midst of a blizzard? The holder of Cold Stone had been stunned, then alarmed. No, she wasn’t expected here, they didn’t know she was coming, they hadn’t seen her. The news of Seryth’s death hit him hard, the possibility that his sister was yet alive prompted him to push aside his own feelings and they’d all adjourned to his office where his maps were - the peaks above Cold Stone pointed out where she always entered from Between and then - of course he’d given them permission to sweep the area to search for her. How could he not? In fact, he’d accompanied Ka’el on Kanekith to point out a few places, knowing the wind currents of these mountains in storm, where she could have possibly been blown off course.

Not much later, after being dropped back off in the courtyard, he’d organized ground crews - the snow in the lee side of those crags being deep - he’d wanted to search thoroughly in tandem with the aerial search the dragonriders provided. Though Tharen had known Mur’dah and Marel were to come, he’d had to go before they’d arrived, may have just missed them, in fact. Rensea has been to her quarters for the most part, leaving things with steward Besk and headwoman Mair’s capable hands, with her grandchildren when they needed to be alone, though she’d certainly not been averse to giving Marel free rein to help prepare the hold for their coming guests if she prefers to keep busy.

Night has now fallen, the dragons and riders have gone home, though some have been offered quarters and hospitality here at Cold Stone. A hearty, hot meal has been provided and most of those riders have since retired. Tharen now enters the hall wearily, having removed boots and cold, sodden outer clothing, heads slowly through the main rooms to the kitchen where Mair points him to the drawing room. Ah yes, and he hears the soft murmurs of voices there, so he enters, green eyes so like his sister’s seeking his niece and nephew.

Marel is silent, her voice not one of those engaged in conversation, her head tipped against the back of the comfortable chair that she’s curled up in, the tips of her toes just visible peeking out from beneath the folds of the blanket that she’s wrapped herself up in. Rather than involve herself, as she has tried to do for most of the day, in discussion and plans and so forth, now exhaustion has begun to win out and leaves her staring blankly at some distant point on the far wall. However, she’s not slow to catch the sound of footsteps, and so she focuses and swings her gaze towards the door just as her uncle moves through into the room, then makes to sit up properly in her chair. “Uncle Tharen…” she says softly.

Mur'dah and Kiena have spent the day searching, taking shifts with the others and looking for any sign of Thea. Now, with night fallen, they return to the hold. Mur'dah enters after his uncle, clearing his throat gently and echoing his twin. "Uncle." Looking past him to Marel, he studies her for a moment, a silent question. You okay?

Kiena has spent the day searching, following Mur’dah and at times leading, depending on how orders were given or sent. She could have returned to Xanadu by the end of the rotation, but since she is, more or less, Mur’dah’s “guide”, she can’t. At least, not unless she’s certain he won’t be Betweening anywhere, anytime soon. For now she’ll slip inside quietly behind him, expression neutral even as her eyes travel over the inside rooms of the Hold and coming to rest at last on Tharen. She says nothing for now, hanging back, unless introductions are made.

That murmur of voices, two High Reaches Weyr wingriders taking their leave of Marel, perhaps reluctant to leave her sitting alone despite her weary silence. They pass Tharen with a respectful bob of heads, then further down the corridor, another dip of their heads as they pass the weyrsecond and Mur’dah. Tharen’s eyes find Marel’s and his mouth pulls in what will have to pass for a smile tonight albeit a poor excuse for one. He’s taken one step towards Marel when Mur’dah speaks behind him. He half-turns, reaches a hand for his nephew’s shoulder, gives it a firm squeeze, gaze shifting past him to the young woman he’s with, who is given a grave nod of acknowledgement and then strides for Marel. Introductions can wait, for presently family needs come first. Grief-shadowed, his green eyes, nevertheless crinkle at the corners in what would be a broadening of his absent smile, if only his face would allow it, but it remains stiff and weary, as he crouches before her chair and opens his arms. Mur’dah will get one too, but ladies before gentlemen!
Marel’s focus drifts to her twin, then briefly to Kiena, but back to Mur’dah for long enough to communicate that she’s not in any obvious and immediate distress, but that look ends up being burrowed in against her uncle’s shoulder, as she moves, blanket and all, to wrap her arms tightly around him. As she ducks her head down, there’s a noise that sounds like a muffled sob, and maybe that’s why she doesn’t immediately look up again, but instead stays clinging to Tharen, suddenly very much a child and not the calm and controlled young woman she’s been all day, grief and weariness finally getting the better of her. Until she can look up without fear of nothing more than the presence of tears betraying her, she tries to hold him as much as he holds her, and, when she eventually does draw back, she’s schooled her features into something that is composed, if not blank.

Mur’dah glances over his shoulder when Kiena enters behind him, reaching out to gently touch her arm before he’s moving forward to lean into his uncle’s touch, his hand reaching up to return that clasp. Then his hand slides free, dropping limply to his side. Watching as his uncle moves to embrace his twin, Mur’dah approaches as well, standing beside his sister and resting a hand against her back if she allows him to. Family first, yes, as he dips his head down and closes his eyes in a moment of silent grief and weariness. His hand trembles gently against his twin’s back, brief, before he takes a slow breath and steadies himself, jaw clenching firmly against the wetness that pricks his eyes.

Kiena dips her head in return to the passing Wingriders and a more respectful gesture is given to Tharen as well before her attention turns back to Mur’dah. A brief moment, where her hand reaches out and across to cover his when it touches her arm and then she is stepping back as he moves forwards to be with Marel and his uncle. She will wait as unobtrusively as possible, giving them as much time as needed to be with each other. Family first and she is not about to step between that.

Tharen’s arms envelope Marel firmly, both comforting and expressing his own grief and while he doesn’t give in to tears, his throat works at that muffled sound his niece makes. His arms tighten but the murmurs of comfort he’d like to make are missing. There is no comfort, really, to be given - not in this situation and not with words, anyway. The only thing he can offer is his presence, what strength he has and to share in the bitter loss both Marel and Mur’dah are experiencing. His hold on her loosens as she eases back and he rises, reaching a hand to ever-so-gently chuck Marel under the chin as he used to do when she was much younger. There’s neither teasing glimmer nor entreaty to smile in his green eyes as there used to be back when, simply grave understanding. Mur’dah’s next, the embrace expressive of the profound sorrow they’re all feeling, is as tight and long as Marel’s was though it’s ended with a clap to the young man’s back as all good manhugs are. “If she’s out there, we will find her,” he promises to them both. Oh, yes, they know Seryth is gone; the dragons have ended that uncertainty. It’s Thea he speaks of when he says, “She’s tough, she grew up here. She knows what to do when caught out.” At last he turns to Kiena, a glance flicked to Mur’dah, subtly questioning, introductions?

Marel looks up at Mur’dah and Tharen both, then tilts her head to briefly rest her head against the arm belonging to the hand that her brother has rested supportively at her back, acknowledgement made by gesture when she cannot manage words. There is an obvious attempt to quite literally keep her chin up and not curl back in on herself as their uncle moves for Mur’dah, but it’s an effort not managed for long, as she settles back in her chair and rearranges her blanket, just to occupy herself for a seconds more. She swallows hard and turns her face to the back of the chair to hide it, considering, then begins to murmur, “Does anyone know what to do without their dragon…?” only to belatedly try to swallow the words back down.

Mur’dah keeps his hand against Marel’s back as he one-arm-hugs his uncle back, firm and tight and long, ending with that man-hug clap to the back. Straightening again, he wipes his eyes against his arm and nods, glancing at Marel, nodding again in silent agreement to her question. “We’ll find her if she’s there.” That he’s confident about. He has to be. Then he looks over to Kiena. “Ah.” He gestures for her to come closer. “Uncle Tharen, this is Kiena. Weyrsecond. And, uh, my girlfriend.” Most awkward family introduction EVER. “Kiena, our uncle, Tharen, holder of Cold Stone. Mom’s brother…” Obviously, but he says it anyway.

Kiena tries not to wince at the words Marel speaks, overhearing enough to understand and her eyes lift briefly to glance towards her. She’ll break her silence then to gently murmur in return. “Riders have survived before.” It’s not the most long winded of reassurances, but it’s the best she can offer for now. Now it is time for introductions, a touch awkward for certain and when Mur’dah gestures for her to come closer, the Weyrsecond will do so, her eyes now meeting Tharen’s as she dips her head in another polite nod and a beat later she’s darting a look to Mur’dah. Maybe she was expecting only to be introduced as Weyrsecond? Too late now and she only clears her throat softly and smiles faintly and fleetingly. “Well met, Holder Tharen…” If only they were here under better circumstances. Kiena carefully schools her expression to a respectful sort of neutrality then.

Tharen’s gaze is divided between his nephew and the young woman, though he’s heard Marel’s question. He’s politely inclining his head in acknowledging Kiena’s rank but this changes as Mur’dah qualifies their relationship. The day… has been a rough one and thus rather than the ribbing his nephew might’ve received, Mur’dah gets off lightly with a keen look and a tug to his mouth, which is at best a weary smile as he reaches a hand, palm up towards Kiena. He’s likely the least awkward one in the room even though the greeting for the young woman is formal of gesture - he’ll bow over her hand rather than shaking it - his words are first, “‘Bout time!” for Mur’dah and then a “Likewise, and it’s Tharen, please Kiena.” Tacit opening of that family circle to include her - at least for now unless his nephew decides later otherwise. He steps to pull an ottoman close to Marel’s chair and sits; he’s been on his feet all day. The fire on the hearth crackles, filling his thoughtful silence and when he speaks it’s with firm assurance, “She would.”

The redness that rings Marel’s eyes likely makes the look that she gives Kiena seem darker than it is or is meant, but, almost as soon as she looks up, she’s looking down into her lap again and keeps her gaze there as what brief conversation there is unfolds around her. She darts a quick look up to her uncle, then makes herself nod, the motion rather robotic, her lips pressed tightly together so that nothing else escapes. As it is, she attempts to smother a yawn with the back of one hand and the folds of the blanket, and, it being a mostly unsuccessful effort, uncurls again and pushes to her feet, re-wrapping and rearranging that blanket around her so that it drapes her pretty much from shoulders to knees. “It’s been… a long day, and I’m afraid I’m not much use to anyone at the moment. I should… get some sleep.” The same move that has her stepping away from her chair has her reaching to try and catch Mur’dah’s arm and gently replace her presence in said chair with his.

Mur’dah, despite the gravity of the situation, bushes at his uncle’s words, clearing his throat softly and darting a quick look to Kiena, and then to Marel. So…yeah. When his twin rises, Mur’dah is quick to offer a hand to her elbow in support, helping her up. “Want me to walk you there?” he offers quietly, resisting when she tries to sit him down.

Kiena will take Tharen’s outstretched hand and try not to look too surprised at the welcome she receives. A small and faint smile does tug at the corners of her mouth and she nods her head again while letting her hand drift back to her side. Tharen it is then and she’ll try to remember not to use titles, which may or may not work given her rank. “Alright. Tharen it is then.” she murmurs in a low voice and perhaps at one time she’d have been amused by all this. But it’s been a long day and the bluerider is fighting off the exhaustion nibbling away at her. As Marel stands and Mur’dah goes to her side, Kiena will give her a lingering look, one of concern though she’s cautious not to overdo it. “Sleep well, Marel. Ujinath and the others will keep in touch with Isyriath.” Unless she prefers they don’t, but for now the Weyrsecond assumes that that contact will remain, incase any new development occurs.

Kiena's agreement to names elicits a grave nod from Tharen, but approval flashes in his pale eyes. Under different circumstances he'd offer her gentle teasing for her stiff formality; perhaps those days will return. "She'll be welcome here," he says quietly continuing regarding their mother, "if this is where she wants to be." He's the one in the room who knows his sister best and though he's not a rider, he's spent several turns living at Xanadu Weyr. While he knows what can happen to a rider whose dragon dies, he's not going to assume anything until they find Thea. Though he's not giving in to despair, it's understandable that others may feel it. Oh, he's seen the set of Marel's face, understands she doesn't agree and the expression on his face is kind. He doesn't argue with her now. Instead, he rises when Marel does; holder manners have long been instilled in him. "We should all get some rest; tomorrow's going to be a long day." And the night will be a short one, so he won't linger either, but will take his leave after Marel does, waiting on her response to her brother.

Marel shakes her head a little and murmurs, “I’ll be fine,” to Mur’dah. “I think I know the way by now,” is a poor, dry attempt at humour, and comes out hoarse rather than imbued with any of the lightness that might have been intended. “Thank you, though,” she adds, leaning in with the intent of delivering a kiss to his cheek. She turns just a little, so that she can look over at the Weyrsecond without twisting. “I appreciate that,” she tells Kiena, giving her a little nod. “Thank you. I know he’s listening, but then he’s always listening.” Tharen’s words only tighten the clench of her jaw when she stops speaking, and she has to swallow again and force her shoulders down so that she can try and relax enough to bid anyone goodnight. She manages it, after an awkward few seconds when it looks like she might just cry instead, and utters a quiet, “Goodnight, Uncle. Kiena.” She’s said as much to Mur’dah already, without saying it. Her exit from the room is measured and not rushed, though whether any sleep will actually be had remains to be seen.

Mur’dah smiles faintly at his twin’s attempt at humor, and when she kisses his cheek he leans to kiss hers in return, whispering something softly to her. Then he’ll let her go, though his worried eyes follow her progress out. Then he looks back to the other two with a nod. “Thank you, Uncle,” he says softly. He can’t imagine his mother would want to stay in Xanadu, if they find her out there. “See you in the morning.” After his uncle has gone, Mur’dah’s shoulders sag and he looks around the room before reaching a hand to Kiena. “I think I should stay here for the night,” he says quietly. “Do you want to stay? Or do you need to go back?”

“Sleep would be best,” Kiena agrees along with Tharen. “Thank you,” she adds to him, another ghost of a smile curving her lips. Perhaps in a later time, she will shed that stiffness and the formality with it around the man, but for now she is guarded. Not entirely on purpose, but her mind is so preoccupied and mixed with exhaustion and a slew of other emotions gnawing away at her, it doesn’t leave her much room for thought of how she may be appearing or acting. Granted, she’s always been awkward when facing new people and doubly so if they’re ranking in some way, Weyrsecond or not. “Be well.” It’s a farewell that is extended to Marel as well, though Kiena goes on to add for her, “You’re welcome and goodnight to you too, Marel.” Goodnight to all. Alone now with Mur’dah, Kiena will take his hand and lace her fingers with his to squeeze gently and hold. “It’s probably for the best,” she agrees, only to lapse into thoughtful silence and likely confirming through Ujinath. Is she needed back in Xanadu? Not yet, but possible. “If it’s not too much to ask of your uncle, I can stay.” And probably should, if she’s tiring. Last time she Betweened on a less than focused mind… it didn’t go very well. “But it’s difficult to say if I will be called back or not. I can rest for a bit, at least.” For however long it may be.

Mur’dah nods, giving her hand a squeeze. “This way then,” he says softly. “You can stay in my room until you have to go…” Like Marel, he too knows the way, and he’ll lead Kiena there so they both can get some rest and prepare as best they can for whatever tomorrow may bring.

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