Xanadu Weyr - Forest
The trees grow thickly here, avians nesting in their branches and flitting about after insects. Flowers sprout up and speckle the ground between, the green of small plants and their blooms of bright saffron and cheeky rose that creep all the way up to the bases of the trees and adorn the fallen leaves and mulch of the forest floor. Those trees rise upward in their aged magnificence, gargantuan limbs casting often welcome shade, the general atmosphere and scent of the path is one of freshness and wild abandon.
A path winds its leisurely way through the trees, wide enough for wagons to pass. As it goes through into the forest, a number of other trails branch away, both more and less traveled. Many of them lead to private weyrs, but there's a few more trodden paths - notable among them a road to the feeding grounds, set against the western slopes.
The forest grows wilder the further north one goes, deep growth and ancient places, and the road does not extend far in that direction, instead turning toward the meadow. Just before it emerges, a trail veers off to the Firelizard Theatre.
It's a little dim down in the forest, an overcast and dreary-cold morning that's truly depressing if you're hoping for sun and sand. A little cold (really, it's not *that* bad, there isn't even any frost) isn't going to stop Azchel, though. With Ochellia busy catching up with a friend prior to the girl's official introduction to her new foster-family, Azchel is *exploring*. She's bundled in two layers of coats, soft leather gloves and thick boots more suited for mining than…climbing trees, as it were. Muffled muttering is all that can be heard from below; she's found a relatively ancient specimen, and is trying her damnedest to find her way all the way up it. The wild firelizards and avians, needless to say, are *not* amused, but Chel doesn't seem to notice anything but the climb until a trick branch — brittle and rotted inside, healthy outside — gives way. A loud, undignified squawk is the only warning to any poor weyrperson below; the kid's too busy clinging with all four limbs to the healthier portion of the branch. She's got this. Clearly.
It's hard to tell what brings one of Xanadu's junior weyrwomen out to the forest, but it seems that they've arrived in the nick of time. Sonyxaeth, to the rescue! Hopefully, Azchel isn't particularly scared by dragons, because there's suddenly a great golden pair of nostrils right under her. WHUFFLE. "Let her stand on your nose, dummy," comes a fondly gruff voice from below, the be-coated, be-scarfed form of Esiae standing on the ground next to that fallen branch. Hands on her hips, the blonde peers up towards Azchel and her lifemate, who obediently slides her head forwards so the girl can drop onto her head if she so desires. You know. In case she don't 'got this' after all. Questions she'll save until the girl is settled somewhere a little more… secure.
Azchel HAS THIS. She HAS this. "Whatchoo want?" She's got somebody's mouth on her that ain't her momma's smooth charm; screwing her face up and turning to squint at the dragon, the girl blanches a little — BIG dragon, gold one, Weyrwoman knows she's done hecked up — but keeps her cool. Relatively. "Don't need no help! I got this. Meant this to happen!" The girl hollers down, squirming around the branch like that might help her cause. Evidently, that's not the solution, though. The rest of the branch evidently isn't exactly in the best of conditions either, and the shaking results in a loud *CRACK* and a curse no not-quite-ten-turn-old should know. Survival instincts are evidently something Chel *does* have, though; she flops down onto poor Sony's face and clings wildly with her legs in front of the gold's nostrils. And stares. Wide-eyed. Into the giant pair of eyes hovering right above her own. "Oh. Hi."
Sonyxaeth hardly seems bothered by that flop onto her face. If anything, the gold seems downright pleased, expression brightening with a croon. Azchel can probably feel the gold opening her mouth in a draconic smile. Why hello there, human! "Put her dooown," comes that voice again, but Esi can't quite seem to keep the laughter out of it. It might be the girl's swearing, or how ridiculous they look, but she's obviously amused even though she's trying her darndest to be stern. Sony doesn't seem to want to listen to that little voice, regardless. The gold likely senses a kindred spirit in this one, raising her head up and up and up in between the trees, crooning curiously as though asking, 'Is this what you wanted?' Far below, Esi sighs a longsuffering sigh. "Sorry. She's… excitable." Which is an understatement, for sure, but you know.
Azchel doesn't seem too keen on letting up any time soon, although she clings more with her bony knees than be-booted feets. She's polite, y'see. "I just *got* up *here* though!" Azchel doesn't-quite-wail, face scrunching up as the dragon's face shifts in an approximation of a grin. Woah. Weird. Definitely weird. Still; the shifting upwards is definitely better than down, and Chel lifts up a hand to absently grab for one or other of the branches. "Thank'ye, ma'am." She's polite for the dragon's help, even, smiling broadly now that she's breathing a little bit more evenly. Really, she never *didn't* have it, jeez. Just a little misstep. "Why you apologizin'? I think she's swell!" The girl beams, flattening a little against the snout when she glances down at the ground. "Woah." Long way down. Loooong way down.
Esiae huffs for that stubborn wail, but it's entirely possible she's come out here in order to avoid arguing with youngsters. She isn't terribly keen to start it up again. "If you say so," the woman drawls instead, reaching up to haul herself up onto the tree's lowest branch. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. "And I wouldn't go sayin' that out loud. She's likely to take off with you on her nose," Esiae laughs, but surely she doesn't mean it… Sensing her rider's reluctant acceptance, the gold blurbles happily, lifting her nose juuuust a tad to help Azchel reach that branch. And then- whoa? Stilling when the little girl flattens to her nose again, the dragon's eyes whirl with slightly worried tinges. Croon? "Y'alright? I can make her put you down, if you want." Esi's blonde head pokes out of the twigs several branches up, feet planted with practiced carefulness so she can lean out through the lighter branches. Apparently she's done this at least once before…
Azchel doesn't have a whole lot of thought for poor Esiae's lack of desire to argue with chilluns, but thankfully, she also seems too distracted to be too terribly cheeky. "Take off?" After a couple of steadying breaths through her nose, Chel blinks, squinting down throug the trees and squirming a little bit on the gold's face. "Where would we go? Can we run away? My ma might not mind much if I run away with *you*." Look! Wholesome! Shiny and proper, totally not at all a bad influence on Azchel. And she's not looking down at the ground any more, but the tree, so her voice is stable when she answers Esiae's concern and Sony's worry. "No, no! I got all the way up here! I'm fine! I'm not gonna hurl, I *promise*." No…nobody said anything about hurling, Chel, but alright. Surely that's comforting. "You can climb a tree?"
"Take off," Esiae confirms solemnly as Sonyxaeth wiggles a bit and ruffles her wings in demonstration, fanning them out as wide as she can without taking out a tree, or her rider. I can show you the wooooorl- "Run away?" 'Not a bad influence' miiight be a bit of a stretch, as it's amusement rather than concern or condemnation in the woman's voice. Brown eyes flash up at the girl, considering her for a moment before deciding to play along. She's seen her fair share of stubborn weyrbrats, after all. "I think she might mind a bit, but I could vouch for ya, I suppose. Who could say no to a weyrwoman." Sparkle! Sonyxaeth doesn't exactly put Azchel down, but she lowers her snout to right about Esiae's branch level so the girl can hop off instead of having to cling to her face, if she wants. Mostly to avoid that puking… "'Course I can climb a tree. What self-respecting girl can't," is said with a 'pfft.' "And I can do it without hurling, too." Since Chel brought it up…
Azchel makes an adorable 'eep!'ing noise at the idea of Sony taking off, eyes widening comically. "I bet I could stay on ya. Go ahead." She challenges, flattening herself a little further into the dragon's nasal ridge. There's a nice little channel there, and that's her new home, where she's gonna stay. Yep. The girl grins, wild and bright, up at Sony again. Come on! but…yeah, no, not yet apparently. "Well, *yeah*. She's being *boring* and I'm sure there's better stuff somewhere else. Who cares where my da is?" She loosens an arm enough to shrug, and a-rolling go her eyes, grin rakish and probably a little familiar as she peers down at the rapidly-approaching Esiae. "Nobody could. Right? You bein' so fancy and all." And then they're level, and Chel straightens a little, easing the grip of her knees on the poor gold's snout. "I can do it without hurlin', too!" That's stubborn and maybe a little bit of a whiny assertion, but she's smiling as she continues to cling to Sony. Trees or running away? Hard choices, y'all. "I'm Azchel."
Sonyxaeth makes a rolling rumbly noise that sounds an awful lot like a chuckle, as though she would love to, if it weren't trouble waiting to happen. Perhaps she's tried. "Maybe when you're bigger, she says." Esiae drawls the words, biting her lip to keep from laughing, lest it make the girl puff up indignantly. As for Chel's mother… "Ah, yes. Boring mothers. The worst sort," she drawls, high and mighty since she isn't a mom herself yet. "There's plenty of cool stuff in Xanadu, though. We've got secret caves and waterfalls and ancient ruins." Her head tilts curiously. "Your da's Xanadian, then?" There might be something familiar about her grin, but alas, it comes from the source Esiae would literally least expect, so it goes right over her head except to grin right back. "I am pretty fancy. I'll pull some strings." There's a steady nod for the whining assertion, the junior totally understanding as she waggles her fingers over at the wibbly-wobbling weyrbrat. "And I'm Esiae. Nice to meet'cha."
Azchel, apparently deciding that this vantage point of dragon-back (or…snout) isn't so bad, sits up just a little. If it occurs to her that it might be impolite, well, Sony hasn't said anything except what Chel's pretty sure is a laugh! Plausible deniability. "Aaaawwwwww. Why's everything when I'm bigger? I'm plenny big now!" And the girl waves both be-coated arms wildly. Really, she's…not. She doesn't even look close to her own age. "Right?" She does agree as to boring mothers, though, rolling her eyes widely. "I like you lots better than my ma's Bolth. He's so *dull*. What's your name?" She smiles, and it's sweet rather than shifty for a whole three seconds. "Secret caves and ruins? Woah. Ista ain't got those that I saw." Her eyes go very big, before narrowing to roll. "Dunno. Ma says she dropped 'im off here on the beach. Az-summat. You think he's a renegade?" Sure, she doesn't *share* any reasoning she might have for that, but whatever. The idea is obviously intriguing to the tiny brat. Intriguing, and maybe a little frightening, if the delighted glint is anything to go by. "Nice to meet'cha too, Esiae. You sure are nice. I'm gonna be your friend. Yours too." She beams, bright and chipper, at Sony. Hoo boy.
Sony, well, she has no complaints. She's the patience of a saint, and the good humor of, well, Miguel. If anything, she thinks it's funny, wearing a human as a living pince nez. "Nah, you've gotta get me-sized and then we'll think about it. Might still make you ride on her back proper-like besides," Esiae laughs, head shaking for that tiny coat-armed waving. "Ah, Bolth, so you're the Istan transfer," the goldrider hums when Azchel reveals her mother's dragon's name and her origin, finally piecing the puzzle together a bit. She likely at least put eyes on the paperwork to get the girl fostered. "I came from Ista, too. The hold, though, rather'n the weyr. My brother still lives there. As for her, her name is Sonyxaeth," she says as the gold in question rumble-growls her own sort of greeting. There might've been more to say, boasts about Xanadu's superiority or something of the sort, but before she can continue the girl rolls her eyes and Esi SQUINTS, for the mention of a man whose name begins with 'Az.' She squints so damn hard, it'll make Zan'ri's ANCESTORS dizzy. He can probably feel the squint through the Force or his Spidey-senses, or whatever it is that has connected the friends' destinies so far. "If we're thinkin' about the same Az, he's a damn renegade alright," Esiae says, but Chel being an astute little lady, she'll probably pick up on the sarcasm. Suddenly, it all makes sense. Suddenly, she's eyeing the girl as though she can't quite decide between being elated or horrified, and so she half-smiles and half-grimaces and it probably looks terrifying, but there you go. Esi tries to recover, really she does, head shaking with a mild shudder before trying that smile again. It almost works. "Thank you, Azchel. We'd be happy to be your friend." That, at least, she can say in earnest.
Azchel, an excellent decoration, if she does say so herself. "*YOU* sized? C'mon, you're so…tall!" The tiny girl looks devastated, and might even have teared up if it hadn't been for indignation. "Even *Bolth* let me ride him." Oh, it's low, being compared to stick-in-the-mud Bolth, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And this one came by it honestly. She droops a little, scooting down to perch just above the curl of the gold's nostrils and peering inside one curiously. "The hold? I like it. S'got lots of boats. Ma-Juny doesn't like boats, but I like 'em. Why're you here then? 'cause of the caves?" It's a good guess as far as *Chel* is concerned, anyways. She's too busy staring into Sony's nose-holes to notice the squinting, and Sony's probably the only one that could know of Rymrth's sudden concern from miles and miles away. Chel's head does snap up when the weyrwoman speaks again, though, brown eyes big and round. "You *know* 'im? He's a…oh." Right. Sarcasm. There's a little bit of disappointment, but the look on the goldrider's face is weird enough to give the girl pause. "Y'look like you swallowed something bad. Didn't eat the fruit offa the tree did ya? You'll poo for *days*." She's sincere, here, anyways. Of course she is. "I'll take care of ya, though, since you're my friend. Sonyxaeth and Esiae. Ma's friend might give ya something for your belly."
"I ain't tall, you're just short," Esiae shoots back, simply for argument's sake. "An' I suppose I won't make you get this tall to ride Sonyxaeth ever, but it's definitely trouble waiting to happen if you fly on her nose," the goldrider admits, taking that devastation and comparison to *Bolth* for what it is. Sonyxaeth, meanwhile, snorty-snorts when Chel leans over to peer into one nostril, attempting to puff the girl's hair about to cheer her up. If distant screaming thundering is going on in her mind, the gold doesn't show it outwardsly, but Esi looks… smug. Satisfied. It's almost as scary as the nauseated look from before. "I do. I mean, I might. I'm sure there's plenty of menfolk around here with A's and Z's in their names," she says in that false tone adults use when they're trying to convince themselves as well as everyone else. "But if I do, he's-" The girl's disappointment gives her pause, sarcasm and acidic jokes about poor Zan'ri's person wilting in favor of keeping up the girl's spirits. "Well, he might not be a renegade, but he's very brave. Saved me from a feline once." So there is that! When she asks after her health, Esiae snorts and shakes her head, actually smiling this time. "Nah, don't worry. I'm alright. I ought to be getting back to the weyr though," she says with a look at the youngster crouched on her gold's nose. "If you promise to hang on, you can ride back with us. Otherwise." She makes a motion with her chin to indicate she ought to hop off. "I know who to call, though, if I ever have a bellyache."
Azchel's indignation is a flash of puffed-chest bruised ego. "Am not!" She huffs loudly, all but standing up on the poor gold's schnoz to look bigger than she already does all wrapped up in too many layers. Thankfully, the compromise presented seems to distract her, and she watches Esi with narrowed eyes for a minute. "Deal." And…she spits in one hand and offers it for a shake, eyebrows raised as her hair goes flying and she giggles delightedly. "Oh, eugh, your breath smells weird, Sonyxaeth. Cool." Cool. That's definitely the right word for it. And the smugness isn't really noted, beyond a slight frown. She's thoughtful for a moment, glancing off into the trees and using her free hand to shove her hair up and out of her eyes. "I don't care." She isn't quite a preteen, but Chel's trying on the tone anyhow, and failing miserably. She's curious, obviously. "…a feline? Woah." That's quieter than the rest, and she nods for the dismissal of her diagnosing. Most likely, she knows a little something about dismissing pesky healers and their opinions, and also — "ARE YOU SERIOUS? YOU ARE THE BEST. SONYXAETH, CAN I RIDE ON YOUR NOSE PLEASE? PLEASE?" Yeah, that's not going to stop any time soon.
It's a good thing Esiae is who she is, because she doesn't hesitate. She, too, spits on her glove and matches that shake. Sonyxaeth seems pleased that her breath is 'cool,' because suddenly the goldrider laughs, head shaking. "She says thanks. As for your da, well, we'll just have to see, won't we." There's a shrug for that pre-pre-teen tone, as well as the curiosity, the woman clearly bent on neutrality until the rest can be confirmed. Besides, there's a great big gold nose to ride into the weyr! "Yes, you can ride on her nose. Just hold on. If you break a bone, I'm telling 'em you fell out of that tree after all," Esiae laughs, taking a flying leap onto her gold's back before the dragon carefully extracts her head from the tree branches and ambles back to the weyr proper, perhaps moving a little more slowly and carefully than usual, but shh. Don't tell Azchel.