Promise Me...

Xanadu Weyr - Nature Gone Wild Weyrbarn

The victim of one of the major storms to pass through the Weyr this past turn or so, this weyrbarn stands amidst the majestic trees of the forest like a sore tooth. Although still structurally sound - the underpinnings intact and the foundation unmarred - there is little doubt it will take a great deal of hard work and time to make this once elegant structure livable once more. The roof has been stripped to little more than crossbeams, the walls gaping with holes where boards had been stripped by the wind. The inside of the barn is little more than rotting floorboards and plant life tentatively exploring its new home. The bulk of the interior seems to be given over to dragon living space - stone gives in less to the demands of nature than wood, and most of the wallow seems yet in good repair.

Such cannot be said for the human side, however, where storm and nature have combined to create a verdant ruin where once was a two-level dwelling area, complete with vine-encrusted kitchenette, an entertainment room for mushrooms and fungi of all sorts, and two well-sized - and well-stocked with wildlife - bedrooms up what was once a spiral staircase. Choked with plants, overrun by forest furries, there is little of what was once a well-loved, well-tended weyrbarn in this decaying structure. Yet, with such a sound foundation, there is little doubt that it can be repaired, with a little hard work, a little ingenuity, and a lot of friends and family.

Just the kind of fixer-upper Thea would recommend for her sons, if indeed she had anything to do with assigning the dwelling. It builds character, right?

It's a warm spring morning, drifting clouds providing periodic shade to the ruin of Mur'dah's weyrbarn. While Kalsuoth rests nearby, the brown ready to hop up and help if need be, Mur'dah is working - again - on clearing out all the vegetation that has encroached upon the weyr assigned to him. No smoke this time, and the weryling has on heavy gloves as he pulls and cuts away the vines and branches and fungus, piling it all in the open space at the front of the structure.

Thea's calendar is marked 'Restday'. It's not her handwriting - again she's forgotten to mark or take them - until they've mysteriously (or nor so mysteriously) re-appeared on the calendar. She actually hasn't even checked into the office today - they know where she lives, after all. And so with breakfast fixin's taken to her cottage the evening before, she's slept late and then made a meal Cold Stone Hold-style over the coals in her hearth. She knows where Mur'dah is, thanks to Seryth seeking Kalsuoth and checking, so presently she arrives, dressed in old work-type clothes - a sleeveless grey and blue plaid flannel shirt worn untucked over her slim frame, leather capri-type trous and short, sturdy laced ankle boots one might use for hiking. Her dark hair done in a single braid that's wrapped around her head coronet-style and she's carrying a covered basket in one hand, a pot of klah in the other. She's here to work - after making sure her son is fed a hearty breakfast. She enters his clearing singing a song she'd sung many a time right after bedtime stories all his toddler turns, so he ought to know exactly who's paying him an impromptu visit.

Kalsuoth rumbles softly, dipping his head in a polite greeting, and Mur'dah pauses where he is working, tilting his head slightly. Is he hearing things? No, and when he turns Kalsuoth rumbles in amusement and Mur'dah rolls his eyes for the lack of a heads up. Brushing off his gloved hands he heads towards the entrance, stepping over broken boards and bits of things he's yet to clear. "Morning, Mom," he says with a smile, the song giving him a clue that she is Mom right now, and not Senior Weyrwoman Thea. So he doesn't salute either. "Did you bring food?"

Thea's seagreen eyes are dancing and she's smiling. These restdays do her a world of good. "I did," she affirms and then since her hands are occupied, she foregoes the hug she'd normally give him because that would result in hot klah down his neck or something and leans in to give him a motherly smooch on the cheek. She's definitely here as Mom and not the senior Weyrwoman. Her eyes rove the clearing - and what she can see though the open gaps in his wreck of a weyr. "I don't suppose you have a table in there?" Do they even want to eat in there with the mushrooms? "Or do you have a rock handy?"

Mur'dah blushes at the kiss, eyes darting around (is anyone watching??!) but he doesn't flinch back, and even tries to kiss her cheek in return. "Great, thanks!" he says happily, eying the basket like a starved canine. "A table?" He actually laughs at that. "There's a rock, c'mon in," he says. Though 'in' is a relative term, since there's hardly anything standing other than the supports. Just 'inside', there is a largeish rock that's been serving as a table, and he clears off some tools to make the slightly rounded surface clear.

There's a rock inside his weyr?? "How'd you get- Oh. Kalsuoth, huh?" If it's a rock big enough to serve as a table it's bound to be a heavy one, right? But dragons are wonderful things! Thea follows him inside, eyeing the exposed beams framing the Weyr, dropping down to the floor while he's clearing off that rock-table. "At least the beams and foundation look sturdy," she says approvingly. Of his needing to rebuild before he can take up residence when all the others have already moved into theirs? She seems to think nothing is untoward with that. When she does set the basket and klahpot onto his 'table', she lifts the cover, crockery rattling as she removes two of the mugs and two of the plates. "I have eggs some of Cold Stone's fried camilid sausage and your grandmother's dried fruit and nut breakfast bread," she chatters, removing various crocks, basket of rolls, and silver wear. "How was the survival camp this time?" Yes, see right here is why she's brought him (probably his second) breakfast - he must have starved. Or so she thinks.

Mur'dah shakes his head. "I don't know how it got in here," he says somewhat ruefully. "It was here when I got it. So…who knows." Glancing around, he takes a deep breath and nods. "Yeah, the…foundation is sound. I just have to, you know. Build the rest of it." He sits down awkwardly next to the rock-table and grins widely when she removes their breakfast. "Oooh, that looks great, Mom, thanks," he says, waiting until she's seated before he starts filling up a plate with all of it. At her question, he gives her a teenager's blank /look/. "Other than getting grounded and demoted you mean? It was fine. Easy, really, with Kalsuoth doing most of the hunting. Kind of nice to get a break from everything…"

Thea's eyes drop back to that rock. It was? Huh. Well, stranger things have been found in untenanted weyrs. She nudges a small crock of butter across the rock to him and then pours the klah, offering him one of the mugs. She stirs sweetner and cream into hers, lifts it and her eyes meet his blank look over the rim as she sips. What? He speaks and then she nearly sputters. Lowering her mug she regards him for a few ticks. "You got demoted?" she asks evenly, only now do her eyes seek his shoulder knot and note that it is that of weyrling and not senior weyrling. This apparently is news to her. She's kept herself from interfering - especially this turn with two of her own in the barracks - and V'dim's general reports every sevenday are her only way of knowing what's going on with the weyrlings. Unless something needs to be brought to the Weyrleader's attention or required their signature, that is. They're not due to get another report for three more days. Her eyes remain steady, locked on her son's face. "What did you do, Mur'dah?"

Mur'dah blink blinks. Oh shit. "Oh. I…uh. Figured you knew." This is awkward. The teen sighs. "Well, you know Sheersha in the kitchens? Well I planned a, uh, I asked her on a date. We were going to go down to the beach for a picnic after our between lesson. Kind of to celebrate it. Only, you know, V'dim dumped us in that swamp and said we had to stay for a sevenday. He never really /said/ we couldn't leave at /all/. And I couldn't have Sheersha thinking I'd stood her up. That'd just be so…so mean of me. So I jumped back here, told her, and went back to the swamp. I didn't even take any supplies or anything. It was just a trip to tell her I couldn't make it." Fidget.

Thea doesn't know Sheersa, nope. But there's bound to be kitchen girls in her son's life - like father, like son - so she merely nods. She smirks at the dumping in the swamp comment. So like the wily V'dim to do that unannounced! He could have dumped them off on an uninhabited tropical island, but noooo. It had to be a swamp! She blinks at him though, at his admission. "You took an unsupervised jump *Between* right after your first lesson?" There goes her voice, not louder by any means, but rising into the screech of needle-on-record stop, the 'you could have gotten yourself killed' sort of mom-panic. She might even be hyperventilating just a bit.

Mur'dah blinks a few times, his own panic rising when she goes into mom-panic mode. "No! I mean, yes, but, I mean. We'd done a whole days worth of jumps by that point, and Kalsuoth got the image from the watchdragon here. It was safe!"

Thea's eyes widen, any thought of eating breakfast forgotten as she stares back at her son in stunned silence. She can't find the words. The only sound is the sigh of newly-furled leaves in the breeze and the occasional chirp of birds. Except for that growly-rumble of displeasure from the direction of Seryth's clearing, which isn't all that far from Mur'dah's place. Finally, after the silence has stretched an uncomfortable eon of a full minute, her voice still in panic-tone, "And you'd been cleared to jump *Between* solo?" Thea's pretty sure V'dim would have told them to stay there after dropping them off, even if he didn't yanno, spell it out to the letter. As for taking an image from the watchdragon, here it comes! Her hand lowers the mug to the table where crockery meets stone with a clack, freeing her palm to meet her face. Behind her hand, she says, "Didn't V'dim instruct and drill you to use the sky above the weyrling grounds as your home reference point?" She had him for a Weyrlingmaster too once upon a time, she knows how he operates. Oh and, "The watchdragons're mostly senile. What if…" She can't finish. She can't lift her hand and eyeball her son either.

Mur'dah hears that growly-rumble, and he flinches. So does Kalsuoth, the brown lowering himself as much as he can. "I, well. I…I guess not? And yeah! Yeah, he did, and we did, but we checked too…we double checked to make sure we had the right image… Mom…please. It's…it's okay, we're fine." And he tries to reach for her hand, her wrist, something.

Feeling his fingers curl around her wrist, Thea allows her hand to slide down at least enough to expose her eyes, but her mouth remains behind it. Her face is pale, eyes wide and stark as they meet his. Mingled therein, disappointment, reproach and fear. "It's not okay," she whispers behind her fingers. Would she be reacting this way were it any other weyrling? Only if it were Marel. But Marel, so careful and proper, probably would not do what Mur'dah has done. "I can't lose you," she says lowly.

Mur'dah blanches a bit, not withdrawing his hand. "You're not going to lose me, Mom. We're fine," he reassures. "We're okay…"

Ah youth! Always so sure that taking risks is no big deal. Finally Thea's hand drops limply to the tabletop, or as limply as it can with him still holding it. Her lips bear the whited marks where her fingers had pressed. With a flash of still-panicked anger, borne of her need to get through to her son, she busts out with, "You're lucky you are! *Betweening is the single most dangerous thing you'll ever learn as a weyrling. If that old watchdragon had been daydreaming when you'd checked the reference with him, you could have ended turns away! No one would have heard your query for a reference from then." Timing is not a secret; it is forbidden, however. It does happen by accident. She ought to know.

Mur'dah lets his hand fall with hers, strong fingers covering her hand and giving it a squeeze. "Mom," he says softly, almost pleadingly. "We were safe, we were careful. V'dim trained us well, we can always get back to the weyrling grounds…" Compliment V'dim, that might help, right?

The more her son makes light of the incident the more distressed Thea becomes. She just stares at him. Does he not get it? "You were lucky," she repeats, "not careful. If you had been careful, you would not have made the jump. That was a reckless, stupid thing to do!" It's probably just as well that his father spends more time drunk than sober. The bluerider would either be teaching his son a few new cuss-words while driving home the point he was rash, or laughing it off as tame compared to what he's done on Siebith and saying boys will be boys. She motions with her head to his knot. "V'dim doesn't bust someone back down to weyrling for trivial things," she says insistently (Ah yes - this is where they get their stubbornness from). She's still waiting for it to dawn on him that this could have had an entirely different outcome. Waiting to hear two very important words.

Mur'dah is getting there. Slowly. Stubbornly. "But…" he protests, before a low rumble from outside has him turning away. "I…I know…" he mutters, looking down. Chastised. Cowed. He too glances at his knot and sighs. "Everyone else thought it was a good idea…" he mutters. "I'm sorry, Mom. I didn't think it was a big deal…"

Thea's eyes narrow. "Everyone else?" Surely not the AWLMs. Oh his PEERS, riiiiiight! There's a pause before she says sarcastically, "I suppose if they said to jump off a cliff, you'd think that was a great idea too." You know she just has to say what moms everywhere say. Not that is ever does anything to instill wisdom in errant youth, but… it's inborn in mother-type people to say such outlandish things. His apology brings the first hint of tension leaking from her shoulders and her lips part to say something - until his last comment. And then she stares at him again, open-mouthed. Not… a big deal? Finally she speaks. "Did V'dim show you that… weyrling and dragon in the cave?"

Mur'dah presses his lips together. "Not /everyone/," he mutters, staring at his lap though his hand still lightly covers hers. "No, Mooom," he drawls in that teenage tone of 'omg I can't believe you just said that'. "Yeah, he did…when we first got to the swamp."

Yep, Thea eye-rolled when her mother tried to use that line on her also. Though letting all of Thadan's prized camilids out of the paddock was nothing close to jumping off a cliff… After his answer, her hand turns under his, her fingers curl 'round his hand and she leans forward earnestly and asks, "What did you think when you saw them?"

Mur'dah glances at her, and then away. He can't stand to see her in pain. You'd think he'd stop doing stuff to cause it, but…he hasn't made that connection yet. "It was creepy. Scary. So we were /careful/. Super, super careful…

Thea's pain is nothing compared to what she'd be going through if that jump had gone awry. Her eyes close at the word 'careful'. "We… don't know how they wound up there. All we know is from time to time Weyrlings go missing during *Between* lessons or shortly after in part because they don't visualize properly. *Betweening* is always a big deal. Remember your lessons about Moreta." They've probably all heard it reiterated recently even, with the emphasis on the fact that she was an experienced rider and how fatigue made her last jump so fateful. The going theory is that she fell asleep before she visualized. "It's why V'dim doesn't clear you for *Between* until he thinks you are ready." She's usually the patient sort, but right now she wants to shake him until his teeth rattle.

Mur'dah nods, "I know, Mom," he murmurs. "I know. But…I can't go back and not do it, so…and we're here and we /are/ fine. So…what can I do?"

The answer is prompt, "Promise me you will never leap ahead of the weyrling manager. Or disobey an order from your wingleader. Or the Weyrleader. Or do anything reckless or… or…" Can she please just put him in a glass case now so she never has to worry about him ever again? She rises swiftly and steps around the rock table, holds out her arms. If he rises and allows her to hug him, it will be that fierce mother-cling akin to choking while she admits, muffled from somewhere in his shoulder, "You scared me." Oh, he's scared her many times before, her impulsive, fearless son, but she's never let on. Until now.

Mur'dah blinks a bit, surprised at the swiftness of her reply. Before he can even answer she's standing and asking for a hug, and what son will ever deny his mother that? Rising, he slips into her embrace even though he (almost) regrets it a moment later. "Mom," he coughs softly, though he hugs her back and gives her a gentle squeeze. "I'm sorry."

Thea will relent and allow him to breathe. Her arms loosen after that cough and she draws back enough to look somberly up at her son, her smile a pale thing compared to her usual and patpats his cheek gently. "I forgive you." Her expression then morphs to severity, a dark glower that would be intimidating if the threat to come were even possible for her to carry out. As it is, her words are laughable. Shaking a finger right under his nose she says, "But if you ever die in a risky accident, I will kill you." Beat. "Twice." She means it!

Mur'dah takes a deep breath when she lets him, and blinks down at her. Then he laughs, but it's short lived as he wrestles it back. "Yes, Mom," he says quietly, giving her another hug and trying to kiss her cheek. "I'm sorry I scared you."

Oh he'd better be! Someday she'll be pinch-picking up grey strands of her still-dark hair to show his kids while telling them exactly what their father did to earn her all those. The stories are many! The kiss falls where intended and she hugs him again before setting him free with a smile and a slow return of her normal manner. "Eat your breakfast. Faranth knows those swamp bugs don't have enough vitamins, I don't care what V'dim says about protein. Bug ka-bobs indeed!" She snorts under her breath. She'll eat her sweetbread, drink her tepid klah and then don the gloves she brought with her and help him clear brush - at least until lunchtime. And she can exchange light-hearted conversation, maybe even sneak in a question or two about Sheersha.

Mur'dah will eat just about everything, though he's careful to leave enough for her. And then he throws himself into the work, appreciating her help and chatting easily with her. And she'll also hear a rant about how Sheersha told him she wasn't going to go on a date with him after all - after all that! - because she only dated Senior Weyrlings and above, so he's got a little bit of a heartbreak there to deal with, even though Marel will say 'I told you she wasn't good enough for you'. It irks him when his twin is right.

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