Meeting on the Ridge

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow Ridge

The meadow continues its gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes. Each hill seems to grow a bit higher, a bit steeper, as eventually, the meadow works up to a large ridge, the top flattening out at its new elevation.

From the top of the ridge, the view is certainly something to be admired - higher than the majority of the trees, one can look out over the rest of Xanadu Weyr proper. The houses in the lower meadow - each roof a different color - and the clock tower peeking upwards from the its forest surroundings are all visible, as is the cliff that houses the Weyr Caverns themselves. And yet, the ridge also holds an amazing view of the night sky - horizon to horizon - unaffected by the light pollution of the more heavily traveled regions.

Ice clings valiantly to the hillside, but it doesn't seem to bother the candidate who treks up the ridge, though she weaves in a sleep-deprived half-stupor. She's muttering darkly to herself as she goes, making her way around a boulder, hands stuffed deep into hide jacket's pockets. It's about an hour after she passed out on her cot in the barracks, but apparently Tali has awakened, and decided to seek fresh air rather than sleep. Can you blame her? The barracks kind of smell, most of the time. She makes it up to the top of the ridge and stands there, eyeing the Weyr below with a sour expression for a moment. Gradually, though, it softens into a little smile — any place can be pretty when covered in ice and the moons are out. Snow clings to the lee sides of hills and buildings, though everything is iced on top of that. "Sharding cold." She mutters; a pale bronze gleam on her shoulder sparks as a little bright-eyed head peeks out from beneath curly hair. There is a faint chirp of agreement before the eyes dissapear again, and she snickers, meandering down the ridge, peering closely down at the Weyr.

After having gone for a bit of a walk himself, Rogawani was absent for Tali's waking in the barracks. Wherever he'd been between then and now, his face is flushed from exposure to the cold. His breath hangs in the air, lingering with each step as he walks with crunching footsteps through the snow covered meadow, not really paying that much attention to just where his path is leading. That is, not until his own footprints begin to mingle with another's. Looking down at the smaller marks in the icy snow, Rogawani lifts his head and looks forward, eyebrows drawing in. He lifts gloved hands to his face and blows on them, trying to get some feeling back into his nose. He's not stealthy, it's all too easy to hear him crunching through the hard-packed grasses. "Guess I wasn't the only one who needed to get out for a bit." He muses, his voice light and carrying through the chill cold of the evening. As the boy steps closer, nearly to Tali's side, he glances over at her, his expression hard to read. "Anything bothering you?" He asks, probably because something is bothering him to bring him out here in the cold, so perhaps he isn't alone in that.

Riyontali's alert enough to notice footsteps, at least, though her steps still hitch a little as she fends off sleep with a nice brisk cold. The girl tenses a little and turns, hand moving to her belt, which is woefully lacking a beltknife. It is not, however, one that would require the use of the beltknife — her expression goes from irritated and wary to warm in blink. "Ro!" Muted happiness as she stands a bit off for a moment before stepping closer, chuckling. "The barracks smells like bad cheese and sweat." Her tone strains to remain light as she tentatively leans on the other candidate, seeming to cite the reason of chill — at least, she 'brrr's and grins, taking her hands out of her pockets only long enough to realize that it's /cold/ and stuff them back in. "What's got you?" She ignores the question and cants her head, frowning. "I didn't catch the last of what everybody was talking about earlier," Cough. "But it didn't seem like it was going anywhere good. You okay?"

Rogawani's expression shifts a little, his eyebrows raising as he looks first down at the girl's hand on her belt, and then back up to her face. "Going to fight me off, Tali?" He asks, seeming nearly amused by the prospect. Still, his face manages to form into a smile, laughing just once at the comment about the barracks smell. "You're right, I do need a shower." He tries to joke, hoping to lift both her mood, and his. Finding himself leaned on, the boy's smile widens just a little, and he lightly shifts his arms, trying to place them around her in a warm, affectionate half-hug. "Mmm. Just the conversation, I guess. Thread, renegades, all that stuff." He looks past her head for a moment, out towards the weyr before sighing. "You asked me once about dragons dying in the shell… remember?" He pauses, and seems reluctant to speak, finally just murmuring in a low voice. "I helped Thea and 'Kav collect the remains of three dragon eggs. Three lives that those renegades ruined on the sands. It just -bugs- me. To treat dragons, to treat any life that way."

Riyontali chuckles quietly, scrunching up her nose and making a face. "Thought it might be one of those shardin' renegades. Shouldn't've gone out without a beltknife, I suppose." The girl laughs ruefully, letting it quickly shift to a faint snicker as she sniffs. "Don't smell nothin' but ice." Never mind that it's hard to smell ice. She thinks she can? Cold is endured once more as she returns the half-hug, smiling happily. The smile dampens a little at the next, though, as she nods slowly. "Yeah. S'not much for happy talkin', that, is it?" Agreed with a sigh, though she seems content to stay quiet while he is. When he finally speaks again, though, the girl tenses and makes a growl-noise low in her throat. It takes her, too, a moment to speak, but eventually she does. "That's — that's…" Teeth grind. "I've been learnin' a lot about dragons, and that's just wrong. Why would anybody let that happen? Those…the eggs. We touched. They were…like us. They were thinking and…" She's quiet for another long moment. "D'you reckon that that gold they have will fly again even when she did that to her babies before?"

With a rueful sort of expression, Rogawani shakes his head. "If I was a renegade, I think I'd be a little more stealthy than clomping about in boots in the snow." His voice is still light, keeping that somewhat teasing expression as he leans his head down against hers slightly, trying not to let the foul mood take him too much. "Maybe it's because I grew up in the weyr, but dragons are people, just the same as you or I. Letting those eggs die… that's murder in my eyes." He stiffens a little, and then lets out another sigh. "Not that Kefai and his kind ever cared about life. Got a bunch of his follows to off themselves." His voice trails a little bit, his face scrunching as he tries, very… very hard not to let the anger that's been welling up over the past hour or so get lose in front of this girl. So, he just takes a deep breath. "She'll fly. They don't have much of a choice in that. To be honest though… I'd rather see renegades impressing dragons than stumble the remains of eggs like that again." It's a hard reality to face. He tries to force a smile onto his face, "At least we take care of the dragons here, right? I bet every last hatchling finds a rider, even the nasty ones."

"Pffft." Tali giggles mutedly. "You'd think. They can't be half as smart as us though." She answers with fond amusement, snuggling happily against the taller candidate. "I think they are." Murmured quietly after a moment. "I didn't understand, and I…dunno if I still do, really, but…they're like us." Agreement is faintly tinged with sorrow. "S'not just murder, they killed babies what didn't even have a chance to defend 'emself and all." The growl comes back, tone bordering on fierce — she doesn't seem to care to censor herself, or perhaps she can't. "Far's I'm concerned, he can find the business end've a sharp knife. Soon. I'd settle for a good rock if they couldn't find a knife." The last is with fierce amusement, as she glances up at the boy with a little frown. "I…yeah. At least maybe the dragons will fly back here when they see that their riders're complete and total herdbeasts." The fierce grin is back after a moment though, accompanied by a stout nod. "Aye. And they'll be shiny and fat and healthy and then strong and fast and smart. And we'll hunt those slinking herdbeasts down an' —" Pause. Blink. "Ro," Her voice is quieter now, wary. "What're we gonna do if their dragons don't wanna stay here?"

For a moment, Rogawani just listens, the smirk on his face showing until he can get a word in edge-wise. "You know, you're awefully cute when you're angry." He raises one arm from around her and reaches out to stroke his fingers through her hair. "But you're right. I don't like it any more than you do. I just keep hoping… that they might find the renegades before things get too much further." His hand drops again, and his eyes look off towards the weyr, thoughtfully drawing his eyebrows together again. "Right now, there's maybe a handful including Kate. Give them a few turns though, a few more clutches, and we could have trouble." A flash of that anger lingers on the boy's face, but he shakes his head quickly to try and clear it. "My guess is that even if we do capture the renegades, the best they could do is exile them to some island, like they did the old-timers in the harper songs. Send them somewhere isolated and hope they don't cause trouble. How to do that when they have a young, quite viable gold though…" His face falls a little, perhaps already understanding that if Kate continued to prove troublesome, the only option may end up being the death of not only the rider, but one of Pern's queen dragons as well. "Bah. I don't want to think about this." He looks down at her, trying to bring that smile back. "Come on, let's talk about something happy."

Riyontali's eyes narrow playfully at the taller lad and she sticks out her tongue. "Cute 'til I deck you, laddiebuck." The girl teases with a wolfish grin, reaching a hand around to poke him in the side with a chuckle. "They will." Her answer is quieter now, but stout, sure. The poking hand's arm gives a tight hug. "Dragons don't disobey queens, right? If…" But she trails after a moment, shaking her head. "That's really complicated. Shells." The girl sighs, then nods in quiet agreement to the sentiment of 'not talking about it'. "We can't do anything. Yet." A serene smile creeps in. "If we Impress, though. We can do anything." Lips quirk into a faint, cheerful smirk. "Happy? Well," It takes the girl a moment, but eventually she giggles…nervously? "Um. You'll be happy to know that the shardin' girl you're taking to the stupid shardin' dance class learned one dance. And has forgotten what it was called and most've how to do it." Cheerful smile. "No take-backs!"

"Still cute." Rogawani replies, even as he gives a little 'oof' for being poked in the side. He sticks his tongue out at her in a playful motion, and then tries to touch the end of her nose with a fingertip. "You're going to have to get used to that, you know." He chuckles, his lighter mood returning as he offers her a warm smile. "Otherwise you'll just have to keep hearing it until it sinks in to that thick skull of yours." He teases, beaming with a bit of laughter in his voice. "Mmm. You're right though. If we impress, there's a big world opening up for us." That thoughtful look returns, but it's still a mild-tempered one. "Still not so big in my britches to think there's ay guarantees, but I hope if we impress, that we at least do it together." He can hope, right? Her news about the 'sharding girl' he invited just gets a small laugh in response. "Tell you what. I'll dress up nice and try not to step on your toes. If we're both miserable at it, we can call it even."

Riyontali's teeth click in an amused snap at the nose-poking finger (since apparently she's part canine now?). "Yeah right." She giggles, but at this point seems to be disagreeing more to be disagreeable than with any real conviction. "My skull's not half as thick as yours, you wherry. In fact, it might not be but a quarter as thick. What'cha think?" Teased with a toothy grin for the taller lad, then affectionate shoulder-thump before she's leaning once more, yawning. "I've been thinkin' a lot about that." The girl's voice tones down a little, wonder creeping in. "If we do. Shells." The hand that isn't currently around Ro waves vaguely in the cold air, as she stares off across the meadow. "Shells!" Murmured brightly. Next, though, she's nodding, expression growing slightly wary. "I hope we do, too, if we do." Her voice and expression are quiet. "Though, I'll still be pretty happy if you do. Havin' a dragonrider friend's gotta be good for something." A glance up and a wink for him, then a faint giggle. "I suppose I'm probably gonna at least have to wear a skirt, eh? Well, I got some new clothes in from ma, she sent me one anyways." Snort, sigh. "Even. Yeah. That's good!" Beam!

Rogawani's eyebrows lift, and he draws his finger away, waggling it slightly back and forth with a 'tsk tsk' sound in the back of his throat. "Mmhmm. I suppose I would have to be hard-headed to deal with all of you girls." He rumbles a bit of a laugh, and gives himself one good rap on the side of the head before shrugging his shoulder up once. "Besides, I think Keziah has us all beat on the thick-skulled thing. She's got the weyr award for it, she just hides it under her cot." He's being facetious at this point, but it lets the smile creep back on his face as he listens to her wondering voice. "I've been trying not to think about it too much. Guess… I just don't want to get my hopes up too high, and then end up back on a runner feeling disappointed. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised." Still, it's clear that her words are having some effect, as his own gaze gets a bit of that same wonderlust in it as well. "Just remember, you promised that if you impress and I don't, that you'll give me a ride. No forgetting on me now." He blows a puff of air out of his mouth, watching it hang there before looking back at her. "Really, it doesn't matter to me what you wear. I'd rather you be comfortable. Still, Thea's intent on getting me dolled up for it, so I guess the others should be tortured rightfully as well."

Riyontali's smile is positively radiant. The look of innocence she tries to pull on, however, falls somewhere around Tibet. Can you blame her? "But we're just hard-headed so we can deal with you boys!" The girl insists in her best innocent voice — which, again, is somewhere around Tibet. Or maybe 'vaguely evil' would suffice. The next gets a hearty laugh, though, and quick nod. "Dunno why she hides it!" A snicker. "'S something to be proud of!" Her grin is entirely un-innocent, at this point, though, impish and amused. It goes soft after a moment, though, with a wistful sigh. "I tried for a while, then they went and let us touch all've the eggs." The girl murmurs, eyes distant as they turn once more to the cloud-strewn, starry sky. "I…don't think I'd be too sad to go back to the stables. But. It…wouldn't be the same now, I don't think." She then grins up at the boy, shaking her head. "I won't. Doubt I'd Impress if you didn't, though, silly. Still. I've been thinkin'." Her wistful grin goes wolfish once more as she peers up at him. "Places we could go. Lots've places on Pern." The next gets a delicate nosewrinkle and a laugh. "Skirt's not too uncomfortable, I suppose. Just not used to 'em. Not practical and all. I suppose I should; wouldn't want you to look prettier'n me, now would I?" The girl teases, giggling.

(Incomplete - To be Continued)

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