With This Ring...

Xanadu Weyr – Beach

The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.

The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

It's a rare, clear evening, skies brushed with peach and the air crisp with the scent of Fall. Summer has waned and though the have rains tapered off somewhat, they have continued enough that crops, planted late because of them, have rotted in the overly-wet soil. This fact has resulted in the need to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables from other sources. Thus the docks at Xanadu have been busier than usual with trading ships coming and going. A solitary woman walks the beach as such a ship, having departed the docks and already out a ways into the sea of Azov. The Weyrwoman is half-watching the graceful sails rise and dip, half focused on other thoughts, dark brows wearing the pinch of worry. Rather than leathers, she's dressed for the office, in blouse and skirts of periwinkle blue, dark hair done up in a twist. So formal in appearance and yet, Thea's barefooted, her shoes dangling from her fingers.

The summer had given way to the second last of the Windy Waters survivors disappearing from Xanadu shorelines, likely never to return as the high season up north is due to begin. There remained only one sailor who refused to leave the Xanadu boundaries, attached to the Weyr by fear or some other reason which has become lost in the shuffle of new people coming and going. One man certainly didn't make an impact and his story had gotten old, pity had worn off with the other sailors having left to work on other ships. Despite this, the young man had managed to obtain a place on one of the fishing ships bound to Xanadu and the shoreline holds. Landers wasn't leaving, not any time soon. The haul of nets was hard work, harder than the work on a merchant ship. Yet, life goes on, as it always does.
At the present time, underneath the peach tinged sky, Landers has found himself a perch on one of the dock posts, giving him a view of the ocean and that of the beach. He's wearing a light sailors blouse as always, along with his leather trousers, along with a new item or two upon his person. Bound around his arm is a bandana that at one time curled around his brow, but now rested on the thick muscle of his upper arm. The other is of living matter, a firelizard that the seacraft was rumored to give to the survivors of the Windy Waters. Most if not all seacraft vessels were now required to have at least one firelizard aboard before they could set sail. The other change in him? His hair. It was chopped off from the mohawk look he had before, resting short and curly on his head now. All the while, his eyes trail Thea as she walks the beach, nose tweaking as his slight twitches indicate his contemplation on the notion of waving to her, of acknowledging her. Only, he doesn't. Back stiffens as he scratches the underside maw of his firelizard, murmuring to it, "We're a charity case remember…"

Having quite some time ago signed the paperwork approving Xanadu's newest fishing crews roster, Thea is aware that one is from the ill-fated Windy Waters. Though having only met him the once, she's got a fine memory for recognizing faces, likely has spotted him out of the periphery of her vision on that dock post but has chosen not to invade his solitude. And thus she's continuing to the point where waves lap shore, the sand flat, compact and the walking is easier. It's some time before her steps turn and she nears the dock once again, in which time the sky has deepened to a purplish hue. This time, she greets him with a side-tilt of her head and, "Landers. Your hair." It's gone, sadness. But instead of bewailing this as countless girls surely have she tsks and remarks lightly, "You look younger."

The sailor stayed where he was perched, for a time watching the woman's progress down the beach until her silhouette faded from his own peripheral vision. By the time the woman has come about, the young man has plopped off his perch, with his back now against it, arms crossed and a firelizard on the dock at his feet, chewing on a scrap of fish. Its the voice which stirs the sailors mind away from the display of sunset, his eyes widening in surprise for the fact that she came back to greet him. Initially the change of hair has him blink, a hand systematically run over the short tight curls. Rolling his weight in her direction his head cocks down, "Aye, ta keep it from tangling in the nets." A likely excuse. A short laugh hails at her secondary comment, rolling a shoulder, "Ya me ya can see my face." Despite the initial sense that he was ok, he was different. The laugh seemed harder and not so bubbly and his gaze had a maturity to them that failed to show before. "How be ya, m'lady?" at least, some things never change!

It could almost be taken as a pantomime of surprise to find it gone, that eye-widening and hair-swiping he does, rather than to find himself greeted by the Weyrwoman, and perhaps Thea takes it so, for her lips twitch keeping in check a smile of amusement. "Wise choice. I'm sure our men prefer to have fish in them rather than sailors." Shoulders lift and drop in response to the subtle correction; she often sees what others do not and it could well be her imagination that she sees a little bit of the lost in the young man as he'd watched that sun set. "I am well, and yourself?" Her answer, while formally-worded, is given easily. Asked sincerely immediately afterward, her own cares set aside for the time being, "Are things… easing for you a little? A hand reaches out towards the firelizard, forefinger offering it a scritch, genuine friendliness in the gesture offered to the creature as well as to shift her gaze elsewhere lest she make Landers uncomfortable with the question.

The absence of his mohawkish hair is almost a symbolism to what he really did lose out there that one fatal night, many moons ago. It was a physical change that was as clear as any personality change that would come with it. At least his sense of humor, remains, since his lips twist in a ghost of a smile for her initial comment. It's her continued presence there at the dockside that causes him to leap off the wooden planks, landing easily and sure footedly upon the beach sand, with only a minor squat having to absorb his shock from the pounce down. It gives him an excuse to dust off his hands and set them on his hips afterward. An answer is forthcoming once he appears settled, his seafaring tone seemingly flat, "I be fine." A short answer that does not give any insight into the real condition of the young man. The further prodding for his well-being has him stretch his eyes back toward the horizon, a breath taken in, and upon an exhale his eyes round back on Thea, "Tis hard, ta be true. Can't ferget whar happened out thar. Dun think I ever will." A good sign would be that he's speaking of it, even if his tone trails off to a disheartened lilt. The firelizard, who had lept down from the dock and glided down toward them provides the distraction as Thea gets the opportunity to scritch it as desired, since Landers tilts his head in a reflective manner until he murmurs, "Just hatched, none too long ago."

Thea isn't one to be insensitive, though to be aware of a personality change, one would have to have known the previous one that came before. Her eyes are on that tiny firelizard while she scritches, making soft throat-noises at it that sound like approval for it being so brave as to approach her, though a through-the-lashes glance sharpens at the flatness of Lander's tone. A gentle nod of understanding follows after she absorbs his comment. "No, you probably won't. Perhaps it's better that not to try." There's a brief flicker of pain on her face, deliberately smoothed, whatever thought that caused it unremarked upon. Instead, she murmurs, "There's a custom the mountain folk that I come from have-" She hesitates then reaches into her pocket, drawing her hand back out, bends her head to peer at the object while she continues, "-when travelers stopped by our remote hold, we hosted them and when they left, we'd give them something we valued. A token that guaranteed they'd return it - and come back to us safe someday." She holds out her hand which is curled into a fist around something, offering it to him. "I gave the Captain something and he gave me this. I'd like you to have it, for you knew him better than I." Her fingers open slowly and on her palm is a heavy metallic ring, obviously not jewelry, brass by the looks of it. "I don't even know what it is, really."

The anguish that he had shown the days following had receeded, through the months blooming into a state of acceptance, a numbness that lined his frown at her comment that he best not try to forget what had happened. Here, his eyes travel down toward the firelizard, a creature that absorbs their attention in the awkward silences between conversations, the painful pauses of understanding. Once the firelizard has been scritched for a time, the young thing slithers back over toward Landers, spiraling up his leg like one would expect a snake would do, hitching claws into belt and leather to hang for some time there, like a pouch. Landers only bites down on his jaws the whole time, attention reverting back upon the Weyrwoman when she begins to explain a custom of the mountain folk she came from. There, not even the biting pain of the talons digging into his flesh could distract him once she had revealed the brass ring. The man straightened, compelled to gawk at the object held so casually in the palm of her hand, and offered him. To anyone else, it would be rubbish. But to see his expression, it was as she held out riches beyond his comprehension. The distance between them is closed, the firelizard dislodged absently from his leg and stuffed in a pouch designed for it, much to its sudden mewling. All said and done, the creature hangs its head out from the pouch, watching as intently as Landers when he reaches out for the metallic brass ring. An immediate rush of emotion swells in the eyes of the youth as he plucks it gently from her palm, turning it over in his own, eyebrows scrunched as fingers completely curl around it. A press of a minute goes by, eyes drawn up toward her face, "Tis from his first farviewer…" that was real pain in his voice then, as if a lump had clogged his throat, "He collected 'em… One fer each ship he evar sailed." Those fingers clench it hard to his palm, a tight grimace of a smile shows as he tries to show his gratitude, "Tis… tis a great thing fer me ta have it. Thank you…"

About not forgetting such a horrific event, the Weyrwoman seems to realize her comment needs clarification. She doesn't say they were good men, that pat comment so many may have murmured; she didn't know them and thus, "They were your 'mates, someone’s brothers, lovers and sons. To try to forget them… " A breath in and she controls the next few words carefully, "I knew a man who nearly ruined himself with drink to forget just such an… event." If a ship sinking could be called such. Knew. Past tense. But she doesn't explain further for she is taken completely by surprise at his reaction to that brass ring. "Is that what it is. Then I'm glad for you to have it, for it reminds me our custom, and my necklace failed him; I liked the man and hoped to see him again."

The young man looks up at the clarification, eyes welled with emotion that he attempted to fight back, push back down, and surpress. For the mention of boozing, there is a guilty look which passes over his features, no doubt the young man spent many a moon underneath the roof of the wandering wherry tavern. He merely nods as the bite of the metal reminds him of the man that was at the bottom of the Azov. He can only shake his head at the mention of her necklace failing the Captain, "T'wasn't that…" insinuating that he had some speculations on what had designed the end of the Windy Waters, yet he doesn't produce the answers yet. Instead, he abruptly steps forward and puts an arm around Thea if she doesn't back away from him, giving her a gentle embrace for the thoughtfulness of the gift. Stepping back afterward, he regards her, squint his eyes at her, "Maybe one day, ya will."

There's compassion in the sea green eyes watching that struggle on Lander's face, no surprise for that guilty flash, but no further mention as to its source, no attempt to preach the vices of drink nor virtues of abstaining. Instead, it's as Thea that the woman permits his gesture, the shoulders under his arm remain relaxed And though she doesn't return the hug, she does reach with one hand after he has stepped back to stay that retreat for a moment. With a gentle press of fingers to the hand that holds the Captain's brass ring, "Perhaps. For the fine qualities I saw in him, might be reflected in the man you grow to be." Weyrwoman once again, she offers him a faint smile, "You're welcome to do that growing at Xanadu, if you so choose to reside here." She turns, then to head off into the gathering night, "Think about it, if you'd like, but there is work that pays well here, should Trading pall."

Only after the press of fingers on top of his hand does it seem as if he steels himself, gathering back up a courage that had been momentarily lost in the sight of the captain's lucky charm. It was a determined righting of his shoulders, a straightening of back filled with resolve, eyes an encouragement of purpose. Weyrwoman she may be, but it was the woman's feminine prowess to usher comforting words of promise that hit home. He was still young enough that he could decide who he wanted to be and how. "T'will stay fer now, I reckon," he regards the woman's retreating form, nodding sharply, "Thank ya m'lady. T'will ponder it, ta be sure." Subsenquently, his eyes fall back toward his hand, fingers spreading away from the brass ring, evidently drawing some memory of the man who once owned it. Mourning was a long process. Some never get over the loss, some never see the hope after their lost, many lose themselves to it; it did not appear that Landers would be that type of man. He would move on, but now he would always carry a piece of what he lost with him. One last look is afforded Thea, likely when she was already walking back to the Weyr. A soft presence of adoration was rightly founded upon his face as he watches her fade from his view.

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