This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Xanadu Weyr - Shore of Lake Caspian
The cliffs that run along the shore come and go, various weyrs nestled along the tops of them or dug into the walls, but eventually they recede enough to expose a beach. The white sand echoes the rise and fall of the cliffs with a multitude of sandy dunes, endlessly creating tiny valleys that are constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of dragons. The dunes smooth out as the gentle slope approaches the edge of the deep blue water. The sand darkens, and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect.
The beach narrows to the southwest, leaving a path barely wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to a smaller, more sheltered cove. The sands are the same white, the waters the same blue, but they're calmer and more tranquil, more protected from the winds that ruffle Lake Caspian and the currents that tug beneath the surface.
Rough, wide stairs lead up to the meadow above and the road that runs along the top of the cliffs, passing through the fields and heading for the river mouth that can be just barely seen from here. The largest of the staircases up the cliff is located near the docks that jut out onto the peaceful blue waters.

It's cold. /Why/ is it always cold when Taeski visits Xanadu? At least this particular time he did so voluntarily. And prepared. He has a /jacket/. Though he still doesn't look very comfortable about it all. No, this particular teen is not a big fan of cold places. But he does at least walk along, having been a recent drop-off of the dragon sort. Where is he going? Well…that's a good question indeed. His forward walking hits a pause. /Maybe/ he doesn't even know. But at least for the moment, instead he looks out at the lake, trying to burrow into his jacket just a little more.

The blue has been on the beach most of the morning nestled comfortably on the sands with his head bowed. It looks like he could be asleep, though his breathing pattern wouldn't indicate so. A dragon mind would certainly recognize that he is awake, if internally occupied by his own thoughts or communication with others, or even both! His tail sways ever so slightly from side to side causing a swish sound as the grains of sand rub against each other.

And then there is Risali, who is laboring under the EXTREMELY CRUEL practice of weyrling torture that involves weighted vests, sans her usual company: D'lei, Zaria, Cara, K'vir. She's got one arm extended out, resting on the hide of her mini-queen as the blind dragon keeps a clumsy pace beside her, doing her best to keep her footing despite Risali's bouncing vision until - she breaks away! Risali? She's too busy being startled by Taeski to visualize the path Leirith clearly wants to take: right over to Jaicoureth. And then on him. And then possible over him while she wuffles out and, even falling is all upbeat tones that will-not-be-defeated as that throbbing bass of her mindvoice booms, shaking at the walls of Jaicoureth's mind to be let in. « I absolutely saw you there! Haha! Okay, I didn't. But my minion did! » Risali winces, grey eyes back on her lifemate with an apologetic, "I'm so sorry, Leirith." But it's what the gold needs to right herself, pushing her muzzle into Jaicoureth's neck and COMMENCING THE DRAGON CUDDLES (though he is considerably smaller than her usual partner) with a much-too-loud, « Much better! My seeing-eye minion doesn't always see, but I like her too much to replace her. She's also scary! » Because that's a bonus, right? Leirith situated, Risali is hesitating in the distance she has left, separating her from her renegade-turned-not cousin and - "Taeski? What are you doing here?" And while she approaches, the going is slow; she's unsure, after all, but there are plenty of dragons around should things go South.

Taeski looks more tired than anything. And he's still burrowed in his jacket. Maybe a scarf would've been a good idea. His attention is drawn from the water by all that /moving/ and dragony cuddle-time, semi-gawking for just a moment or two. The teen spends a rather..small amount of time near dragons, mostly. Certainly not around the tiny versions at all. His attention turns to Risali though, shoulders lifting in a small shrug when his cousin hesitates at that distance. A rather unavoidable gap, really, and the teen stares at it as if it is a tangible /thing/. "I can't visit? Not like I don't hear about..things." There's a vague wave in the direction of said 'things'. Dragon-like things. Though he relents a bit again, hands dug deep into pockets. "J'en and I, we… I wanted to get away from the Weyr a bit, kay?"

Jaicoureth is suddenly jolted by the pounding base of the young golds mind. That is a voice that he knows. The blue lifts his head just in time to see the collision is imminent. There is nothing to be done but for it to be survived. He will drop the walls of his mind to reveal a surreal cityscape, with its lights and vivid bright colors, and overhead a field of stars. It seems that his meditation time will be interrupted, « Hello Leirith. It's alright. » he says gently giving her the dragon equivalent of a warm friendly hug, « We can't see everything that we would like all the time. » Now that he has a chance he more closely examines her eyes. He'd been able to gather the last time he met her that there were problems, « Have you ever seen with your own eyes? »

Ah, sleep deprivation: Risali's old friend. A NEMESIS SHE KNOWS ONLY TOO WELL, that's noted as grey eyes delineated Taeski until she relents on her own caution and closes that offending distance between them without so much as a backward glance. She's pulling her own jacket free from where it's tied off around her waist as she moves, slipping her arms into it to deflect the cold, and then holding it closed over her chest with crossed arms. "Are you here to visit me?" Risa asks, incredulous as she catches her breath. But it's the last part that has her easing up, stepping into her slightly-taller cousin's space so that she can pull him in for a hug against her WEIGHTED, SWEATY BODY. TAKE IT AND LIKE IT. "Are you okay?" she asks, because that is most important right now. Unless you're Leirith. Leirith's priorities are centered on Jaicoureth and the landscape he allows her access to, that bass in her mind reaching a crescendo that leaves the glass windows of his cityscape vibrating, pulsating the stars as her mind drinks his in. « Jaicoureth! » it's jubilant, utter joy, undiminished even when the blue asks after her eyes. « Of course I have! » Though her eyes are covered by patches now, an effort to keep her infection and hindered vision clean and hopefully mending. The images Leirith gives to Jaicoureth then are her sight at the hatching: a smear of colors that make no sense, disorienting and confusing even as they gave rise to excitement. « But my seeing-eye minion and the dragonhealers say that I can't use them now! Have you always seen with your own eyes? » And there she is, at the precipice of his vision, waiting for him to show her the world as he sees it - giddy, eager.

There may be a slightly undignified squawk of sound that comes out of Taeski as he's hugged. Maybe it's due to how lumpy and sweaty Risali is. Because really…ew. Nevermind that slightly hesitant arms curl around a little bit and give her a squeeze. Obviously, everyone's just hallucinating /that/ bit. "No." But then he's pulling free again with a bit of a sniff, fingers giving a quick swipe through the side of his hair that still has /some/ length to it. There's absolutely /no/ watery eyes happening, or any sort of frantic blinking occurring. "Yes I came to visit you. Geez, what's so weird about that? I didn't..get you anything though. Is that a thing..people do?" How's he supposed to know? Taeski isn't all up on all the customary dragon-impression /presents/.

Jaicoureth has his own loudness that he keeps tucked away deep inside of himself so that others aren't bothered, so he isn't bothered by the young queen in the least and while the windows may shake nothing breaks or falls down. « That is me. » he says agreeing with her. « And you are little Leirith. » Yes he knows who she is! And at this point likely every dragon in the weyr does as well. The blue will take these images and from the visuals and her words he's able to piece together what is going on. His rider is a healer and he has some experience with these things. « I have. » Jai says in answer to her question, « But not everyone does. I'm sure that the healers will make you well. » he says optimistically. He will allow her to see through his eyes, and what does she see except an image of herself, since that is where he blue's eyes are pointed at the moment. « See. There you are. »

And Risali stays for as long as she's needed, until Taeski's letting her go so that grey eyes can narrow on the shortness of his hair. Fingers reach out, brushing at the tips of ends before she withdraws and pulls her jacket closed over her chest once more, arms crossed. Crying? PEOPLE IN THIS FAMILY DON'T CRY (they totally do), that is why Risali is pretending not to see any suspicious wetness in his eyes, despite the fact that her jaw tightens and her lips press thin in defiance. There's a hiss of an exhale, and then, "He isn't worth your hair." It's a dry observation, spoken with conviction, preceding the way she leans to the side and gives him a gentle, companionable shoulder bump. "I don't know; I've never impressed before. Usually gifts are a graduation thing, I think, but it doesn't matter. I don't want anything, Taeski." EXCEPT TO KNOW WHY HE'S HERE. A beat, and then those grey eyes narrow. "We didn't exactly grow up together," is all that Risali says in regards to why this is weird, but the subtext is there: my Father doesn't like you, we aren't close, this is definitely weird. AND SUSPICIOUS. "Do you want to talk about it?" she asks then, because much like Ila'den, Risali isn't one to pry - but she will open the gates for conversation. Kind of like Leirith, who is pure kinetic energy and sound, UNRELENTING. « When they do, I'm going to go and see all the others! The Fort, and the Monaco Bay, and the Ierne. My seeing-eye minion has another place to! Half Moon Bay - I bet we can catch a lot of moons there. Or maybe only a half moon. Still, a moon. Garouth will probably be happy. I bet he doesn't know about this Half Moon. Do you think he does? » A pause, a beat, and then there's amusement as Jaicoureth allows the gold to see herself, humor at her own wonky head-knobs, and too-small legs, and eye patches. « I look like a badass, » she tells him. « So do you! Though Garouth is much more badass-looking. » It's not meant to be mean, it simply is. She's much too cheerful for it to be anything else.

The hair-touching is given a side-eye, and Taeski holds very still for it with a snort. "Got that backward, I think. That's not the point. I needed..I dunno. A change? Why? It looks terrible?" Let's not go insulting the poor teenager's hair of all things. There's a chance he might be /sensitive/. Fingers pluck a bit at some of the longer strands of hair before he relents, letting it go again. Mainly so he can tuck his hands back into the warmth of his pockets. Risa though is given another look, brows raising just a tad. "You talk to me, at least." That's better than /some/ of Taeski's family. Slender shoulders lift in a shrug, before he manages to shake his head. "No, I don't wanna talk about it." Yes he does. "You're doing okay with..this stuff?" Yep, those dragons get a bit of a nod-toward. See? He can totally /change the subject/.

Jaicoureth can't help but smile internally at the sheer energy of this young one. Ahh to be young! « You will also have to grow and learn to fly and to between. All these things you will do in good time. » he says with a gentle baritone. When it comes to the bronze Jaicoureth is still very much in the dark about what the moons he is referring too actually are. The stars will gently glint overhead as he responds, « Garouth must work on finding his own happiness. But we can certainly help him all we can. I'm not sure if he does, but he can learn. We can all learn. It's fun. » Jaicoureth wuffs lightly at being called a 'badass' « I don't believe that I am. » he isn't sure he would want to be, « But I thank you for the compliment. » He is sure it is meant as one.

"It doesn't look terrible, don't be dramatic," Risali says on a sigh, because this is who she is. A fighter. If Taeski was looking for gentle hands and kind words, he's certainly come to visit the wrong member in his family for it. Kielric would probably be more sympathetic. Or Veliren. Or one of his own siblings. Still, a smile comes, muted, devious: "Kind of," she concedes - though rest assured it's about their state of bonding and not at all about the state of his (unfortunate JK, GEEZ) hair. Taeski did come to the right place if he didn't want to answer any questions, however. His decline of her offer to open up only has Risali rolling her shoulders in a shrug and breathing out, "He's an idiot anyway," before she jerks her chin down the beach. "Run with me." And off she goes, starting a jog, hindered by the weights in her vest that somebody thought was a good idea because their mother probably hated them. « I didn't say that you were a badass; I said that you look like one. » But does she mean it? Is she teasing him? There's draconic laughter in the WUB WUB of Leirith's mind, almost as if she is, once more, baiting him for a response, to gauge his cleverness, to see if he can give as good as he gets. And her mind is still upbeat, no hint of malice as her mind pulses out to play among the stars. « Garouth will take me! He told me so. And we will catch many moons! Have you chased the moon, Jaicoureth? » Risali? She's huffing and puffing but, if Taeski's joined her, she's huffing out, "Absolutely. I love…" wheeze, "… running with a thousand extra pounds and having somebody in my head all day projecting my thoughts. Who doesn't? We're having fun, Taeski!" She's not. At all (she is). "How long are you going to stay?"

What's that in the sky? It's a bird, it's a plane, it's… Garouth! The bronze has taken to the air today - because while he may be assigned as a weyrling, he's not going to let his wing muscles atrophy just because theirs aren't ready yet. Nor is D'lei going to lose his rider's seat! Which is why, instead of running on the shore (so sorry to miss it… NOT) he's on his bronze's back as the two of them soar. First a sweep from the weyrling yard out over the water, then gradually moving into more complicated maneuvers once they've found some open airspace. If they had a wing to fly with, this would be how they braked on the inner edge! This would be how they swept on the outer! This is a rapid turn-around… and so on, each maneuver done with focused attention and - if it isn't perfect the first time - repeated until it is.

What /is/ Taeski looking for? Hard to tell. He probably doesn't even know, anyway. But at least the slight, totally brief worry about his hair is dissipated by the brusqueness of his cousin. He seems comfortable enough to stand there though in the relative awkwardness of talking to Risali. Though…apparently the girl has /other/ place. "Wait, /run/ with you?" The teen looks like he might be offended. Or just plain appalled. Granted, he /had/ been letting himself go a little bit, all cooped up and painting all day. He gives a little growl of noise before hurrying after the weyrling, working himself into a somewhat acceptable jog. No, he's not trying too hard. At least /he/ doesn't have weights all hanging off him though. "Just the afternoon. I've appointment later."

Jaicoureth turns his head to look up in the sky. He spots the bronze from the other evening and shares what he is seeing with his little gold friend, « Do you see? There is your friend. » Though likely she would have already sensed his mind, but its nice to see too. As the little gold plays among the stars he will recline back to relax, « No I have not. » he says to explain, « I don't think that I could. The moon is far away out beyond the atmosphere. It is a thing to be admired. Inspire songs, but not be touched. »

Do you want to die, D'lei? THIS IS HOW WE GET DEATH. Risali glaring at the sky? Never. She just got sun in her eye, that's all. Or really intense bouts of envy, but let's not get into the semantics of the thing. It may not be the best idea in the world, but Leirith is booming her way into Garouth's thoughts with a demand to be let in, to fly, even as she delivers (to everybody, really) Messages From Her Rider: « My minion says that you and your minion look hideous. Well, mostly your minion. Honestly, I think she's just upset that she can't fly. » A beat. « I kind of am too! But I still think you look badass! » Risali gives Taeski a look from over her shoulder at his protests, the kind that says, 'What are you complaining about?' before she faces her eyes forward again. COUSINS. She doesn't comment on appointments, she doesn't comment on the length of his stay; in fact, Risali is too quiet for a time as she jogs, making Taeski keep pace, and finally she breathes a tentative. "Is this," huff, "about Vauril?" Notice she won't meet Taeski's eyes. Speaking of eyes, Leirith is definitely watching Garouth and D'lei through Jaicoureth's, delighting in the display as she AWAITS TO BE ACQUIESCED. Still, she doesn't comment on Garouth, except maybe for the impression of hero-worship that blossoms. « If the moon is too far away, then how could Garouth chase it? » Uh oh. Here comes the confusion, projected for both males (and Risali wincing on the beach as she tries to BUILD A WALL BUILD A WALL). A beat, and then, « Oh well! I guess people will really think we're badass when we do catch it. » Ah, to be young and innocent.

Look, if he's going to die, he's at least going to enjoy himself along the way! D'lei has priorities. Sure, not being dead is one of them, but… there's a whole list! Garouth spreads his wings, cupping the air as he comes into a hang. Lookit him, framed against the sky! There's the gleam of Rukbat, the gleam along his edges as the shadows lurk in his span. SO HIDEOUS. …at least, if you want to be up there like him and can't be! The thrum of the wind against his wings is joined by the throb of Leirith's boom against him mind, and he lets those thrums pass through him like the wind does through the tattered edges of his wings. Is she louder than most? Yes. Is she louder than a full storm at sea with his wingmates struggling toward a foundering ship? …okay no that isn't a challenge, Leirith, don't try to compete with that. Or fly, yet. Though… « You will. » Garouth flicks his wings, one and then the other to rotate himself around, then picks up speed in a dive with them folded nearly to his back and Leirith's mind driving behind like an ion engine giving him speed… even if it's really the gravity and aerodynamics doing the job. Down, down he dives, toward the water that reflects his bronze hide… and on the heels of that image he sends another, the moons of Pern - as seen from the opened bay doors of the space station overhead - and their reflection, a graceful green whose coloration goes from deep emerald to palest milky jade. There! And his wings snap open, a lowered talon trailing the surface of the water before he begins to climb once more.

It takes a minute for Taeski to find a good rhythm with the whole..running business. It's /been/ a while, he can't help it! At least he doesn't look like he's actually having too much trouble with it though. He's not /that/ out of shape yet. His jaw tenses however when that /boom/ comes invading into his own brain. No, he's /never/ been very keen on that invasion. Or just how loud some can be in his own head. Which is why he doesn't truly hear Risali's question for another moment or two, although he very nearly trips and falls flat on his face when he does. There's a stumble and correction at least, shooting a /look/ sideways at the weyrling before focusing /intently/ ahead of himself. "Started there. Did something stupid, okay?"

Are you sure that wasn't a challenge? That sounded an AWFUL LOT like an AWFUL BIG challenge. …CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. No, really. Just wait for the day Leirith rises. So. Many. Babies. Xanadu's population will be booming with babies (thanks, Meirath). Leirith is riveted, exhilarated, the bass of her mind picking up the tempo of a hammering heart compounded by her need to be in the air as well, to be free, to have her eyes and her wings and go where she will go. And then - the images: the moon, the green, and Leirith's departure is so abrupt that it leaves even Risali stumbling in the sand of the beach. There is a frantic look in grey eyes at the punctual, actual silence that follows, her concern for Taeski secondary to the way her heart jumps into her throat and threatens to strangle her - boom. Boom. BOOM. BOOM. Leirith is back, and it's with evident amusement as she seems to grasp something for the first time. « You tricked me, » she tells Garouth, sounding not at all displeased, but humored. « Though I don't understand why you would chase another dragon. Or fight over one! You are badass enough! » A moment of thought from the young dragon, less 'silent' than a flickering of images that come fast: K'vir, Risali, faces of people she's never met but knows because they belong to her minion. « Is this called the moon? » Risali's catching her breath for more than one reason now, and then finally it clicks what Taeski said. "Stupid how?" Her words might be a little harsher than intended, but Risali does not handle fear very well. "Is he still alive?"

Water drips from Garouth's talons as he climbs again, their wind disrupting the water even more than his claw. The beat of his wings, keeping the rhythm even as Leirith is silent. Nothing. Nada. Quiet like the forest when the eagle's shadow falls… and then her mind again, throbbing like the wingbeats that draw nearer and nearer until they strike and all the forest creatures (except that unfortunate prey) breathe a sigh of relief and return to their business as Garouth does to a level glide. « It pleases her. » is his answer, simple enough and forthright. He sends back an image of Leirith herself, nipping at his muzzle in fearsome play. « Only the most badass will do. » His wings beat, carrying him with a veer from one upswell of air to the next as Leirith's images drive through him and paint on the clouds of his HUD… and he answers. K'vir. Risali. Her minion's tribe, and Garouth paints to visibility the intangible cords of iridescent light that bind them together in various ways. Here's D'lei; with him, a pale-haired one who is called Quinn… and others besides, unfamiliar to her and yet clearly bound with that same glow of connection. And the moon - Kith - whose aura of silver moonlight twines with Garouth's shadows to form one of those cords, an attachment between them even as they both also have oh-so-many others. « It is love. »

There is just far too much of that dragon stuff happening. It's enough to give Taeski a headache. The booming is going on for more reason than Leirith at this point. But at least all that /running/ business seems to be coming to a stop, and he can finally raise hands to his own temples to rub at them in an attempt to soothe the headache that's already begun. He'll quite happily let Risali deal with all of her business. Though all too soon she's back on him with /words/ and the teen jerks his head up again, hands still paused in the motion of the headrubs. "What the hell, really?" /Offended!/ Despite the fact that he actually /did/ do something he's not proud of at all. "Didn't I say I didn't want to talk about this? Of course he's alive!" There's a faint wince at the tone of his own voice however, and Taeski shakes his head, making a visible effort to reel himself back in again.

The bass of her mind dulls, a testament to Leirith's confusion as she tries to decipher just why this might please anybody, to be prey. They should be fierce! They should be the ones doing the chasing! Her own pleasure at the compliment comes down the line, along with her examination of the bonds that Garouth makes visible, and the way they tie others together. Suddenly the bass of her mindvoice is gone, her dancers spilling out to make themselves clothes from the threads that bind, costumes iridescent and beautiful in Garouth's moonlight. The little queen is less words and more impressions, the flickering of images again, of her clutchmates, of her Risali, and finally of Garouth himself. « I understand, » she says. « I love you! » But it's the innocent adoration of a child too young to understand the differences, too inexperienced to separate the way she feels for Risali, from the way Risali feels for K'vir, from the way that she feels for Garouth. « But don't chase me, » she says, all amusement. « I'm just happy to have you around. We will chase your moon together. » Risali, on the other hand, is on the opposite spectrum of love right now. Is there sympathy for Taeski's headache? PROBABLY. But nowhere to be found when he comes at her all offended like and she bristles. "Yes, really." She hisses back at him, and then makes a face. J'en is still alive? "Then you weren't stupid enough, were you?" And again, grey eyes narrow, but Risali starts off in her slow jog again. "Then what do you want to talk about, Taeski? I seriously doubt you came to see me now just to admire my dragon!" Who he CLEARLY DOESN'T LIKE. FOR SHAME. That middle finger in the sky? For D'lei. HOW DARE HE FLY AND LEAVE HER TO THE TORTURE OF WEIGHTED VESTS AND RENEGADE COUSINS.

Garouth doesn't have an answer for Leirith's confusion. Not that's age appropriate and comprehensible to her right now, anyhow! So he doesn't try to offer one, just letting it remain a mystery. Someday, she will understand. Someday. And nine months later, ALL THE BABIES. He's much more willing to pain those connections for her, his best understandings of the ties that bind - so beautiful, so strong despite how subtle. Or perhaps because of! Her dancers swirl in the moonlight, clad in the garments of pure love - in so many kinds, familial and romantic alike. All these ways to love another, and while she may be oblivious to the distinctions, his winds are gentle as they stir the glimmering garments of the dancers. « I love you too. » As a child, an eager maelstrom of innocence and enthusiasm who holds… so much potential, and for whom he holds the affection of one who wants to see that potential realized. Someday, maybe, she might change her mind about that chasing… but for now, he is entirely in agreement. « Together. Unless I am it, » the flicker of the human-game, adapted to them. « But even then, you would be a hard one to catch. » Never mind that she'd walk right into things because she couldn't see them. Leirith would walk into safety, not danger! OBVIOUSLY. On he flies, another sweep back and forth. Just to taunt Risali, of course, and not at all because he wants to keep up his stamina!

"Not..enough?" Oh No, Taeski isn't about to start jogging with Risali again after that. Would his cousin be throwing him a party if he /had/ killed his former weyrmate? That looks to be the case! And there's something infinitely wrong about that. Aside from the whole..murder aspect. "I don't know anymore. Seemed like a good idea at the time." Not that he ever really /did/ know. It /seemed/ like a good idea at the time? Risali giving hand-gestures to the air is simply ignored at this point. Well why /not/ flail wildly at the sky and the people in it? Seems normal! The headache that is there however isn't about to back down, and after rubbing at the bridge of his nose as well the teenager shakes his head. "I'm full of great ideas lately." Is he going to say goodbye to his cousin? Oh, no. Hell no. He simply starts down the beach while she's doing her jogging. Perfectly acceptable!!

Jaicoureth must have just spaced off for a second to wander through his thoughts, songs and dreams. This happens regularly, especially during the winter. He was never a fan of the cold weather. If he has been aware of the convesation it's been sort of peripherally. It seems good things come to those who wait. When he rouses from his daydreams he has the answer to the riddle of the moon. This talk of love is what spurs him to re-enter the conversation, « Love is the most important thing in the whole of existance. Everything turns on love. It is all around us, all the time. It holds everything in its hands and makes life worth living. » The dragons touched on his favorite topic! The gentle tones of an oboe will play in the background as he looks to Garouth. This will be a topic for when young ears aren't near, though for her he will add with a twinkle of starlight, « For you it is important to love your friends. » Good everyday love.

All of them. ALL OF THE BABIES! And indeed the dancers move, weaving through trees and foliage, extending their hands to the breeze that slips between their fingers and sends them spinning. Leirith observes the game, wonders at it, as dancers reach for the spackled stars and, instead of retreating at Jaicoureth's awakening, simply hide behind trees, ducking into the foliage, a mere whisper of cloth against nature and the hint of feathered masks full of color at the edges - a trick of the moonlight, to be sure. « Why would anybody want to catch me? Is this a game? » Leirith conjures up Garouth again, her 'attack' on his maw, even as the tiny gold wiggles and bumps Jaicoureth with her head, blind. Hopefully by the time she's rising, her eyes will be able to see, and she will no longer rely on the dull colors of her lifemate's, or those dragons willing to share their vision with her. « Well, that's just fine then! Me and my minion will do a lot of running! Nobody will catch us! » Which… yeah… Risali huffs at that. And then gives up. Nope. She's just nopeing right onto the ground, laying flat on her back, arms and legs spread wide as she gets sand and snow in her hair and just doesn't care that it's making mud. "Well of course it was a good idea," Risali tells Taeski, but he's retreating, and she's too winded to do anything other than wave. She won't stop him. SHE IS HOARDING HER OXYGEN RIGHT NOW, OKAY. And then there is Leirith again, examining what Jaicoureth shares with her, examining this on both Risali, and Garouth, and even Jaicoureth before there's a flicker of movement in Garouth's forest - but still again, before the dancers emerge. « There is a difference? » she asks.

Jaicoureth considers where this conversation is going and does his best to pivot to a different topic, « Young gold. There are many things you will learn in time, but for now you need to focus on developing your bond with your clutchsiblings and with your lifemate. » Innocence is something that should be maintained as long as possible. The blue looks down to the young one bumping him, « Speaking of games. What games do you already enjoy playing? » He may not be easy to get a rise out of, but he is clever enough to redirect young ones. His attention flickers like a candle flame to Garouth. His mind is met with a wave of gentle sound from a piano, « You are much older and I'm sure you understand. » Not a rebuke at all but a gentle reminder of young ones present. « I bet you'd be willing to play one of her games with her. »

Garouth's attention is divided, for while he does maintain the conversation, he's also busy with his flight as he practices maneuvers out over the water. Those turns aren't simple, even if he makes them look that way. Still, his forest is there, deep and twisty in its shadows and rich with the flicker of… leaves, surely, the brilliant colors of autumn and the shifty patterns of moonlight. Perhaps a stray bird, flying along! « There are many kinds of games. » he answers Leirith, a rumble of amusement in the branches set to motion by his wind. « You can play whichever you choose, when you choose them. » Tag or hide and seek! Yep. Definitely what they're talking about. « Even the trainers-tasks are a game, of sort. » He shows the AWLMs, the drills. « You compete with your own self, to be better than you were yesterday. » That's what he's doing now, as he flies the skies with D'lei on his back!

Leirith's unwinding the thread of her dancer's dresses, casting spiderwebs that cling and expand from where they hide, silent companions to Garouth's monsters, sentinels to the knowledge bronze and blue present, glimmering in the stars of Jaicoureth's mind. « Boring, » she emphasizes, though her mindvoice is still ridiculously upbeat. « We've won an important victory here today, minion: they let us know some of their secrets! Hahaha! They're getting more comfortable yet! And just you wait. One day we will know everything, and they will be the ones we get to say, 'In time,' to! » Which has Risali dancing, even as the gold teases bronze and blue alike, and then for Jairouth? Amusement. « How can I play when I cannot see? » And for Garouth, « You say that, but my eyes say otherwise. » A draconic sigh, though she doesn't lose her good temper or her cheer. « I guess I'll just have to make everything flat and eat what I can't flatten. Then I can go everywhere. » Goodluck with that, little gold. And then what is she doing? Hobbling to her feet and taking off, wings up, because she is (not really) FLYING! Somewhere. Into a rock. And possible - oh, that hurt. "Leirith, you cannot just do that!" Hence Risali rolling with effort onto her stomach so that she can see her gold, and the beach. Her gold who is making her way out into the water but thankfully stopping before she's gone too far. « Ahahaha! I ASCEND! »

The young gold brings up an interesting issue about not being able to see. How does one play games without sight? It must be possible in some way if they are creative enough. More information must be had, « What sort of things do you find to be the most fun? » Jaicoureth asks Leirith with his mindscape city shimmering in a rain of glitter. If they can find out what is most fun they can come up with something that accomodates her blindness, « No secrets to had. » Jai adds to Lei. He looks back up toward the bronze in the sky, « Perhaps you would be willing to come down after she decides which game she would like to play so you can play as well. »

Garouth flicks his wings again, circling around over the water with another dive to the surface. This time, he catches… a piece of driftwood, bobbing on the waves! Such a prize, carried in his talons as his wings bear him aloft once more. It'd be more impressive if it were a shipwrecked survivor, but hey. There aren't any of those conveniently present, at the moment, so he makes do. « Of course you can. » he retorts to Leirith, though it's with good humour. « You have your minion. » Even if she sometimes FAILS in her duties. « You will find a way. » As Jaicoureth tries to tease out, but while the blue may problem-solve, the bronze is merely confident in her capabilities. A spiky-faced creature with antlers peers around a tree, making a face that's somewhere between terrifying and ridiculous… then vanishes! Nope, just a shadow of illusory being, nothing to see here. Or is there? It hides, and the seeking… may come. Sometime. First? The flying! His reply to Jaicoureth is straightforward about that. « When I am done with my exercises. » Garouth's wings carry him back toward shore, hauling that driftwood with him before… he tosses it forward to an empty patch of sand. Well, empty as of when he tosses it. Who knows what might happen in the intervening seconds?

« That was delicious, Bryn'jan. I don't think I'll be able to eat for a week. … Is it meal-time yet? » Bryn'jan gives his brown charge a sidelong glance as they make their way onto the shore of Lake Caspian. "You /just/ ate. I'd rather not see you get fat, Sanarth." Bryn'jan grins at the brown dragon. "A couple of laps around the lake, and we'll see what we can rustle up. Sound good?" « /Fine/. … How many is 'a couple'? » "Two. Three, maybe." Bryn finds a nice starting spot, and readies himself. "Ready, stea-" « Go. » The brown is off before Bryn can blink, leaving him rather literally in the dust; he blinks a moment before breaking into a sprint after the dragon.

What sort of things does she find the most fun? Leirith considers this for a moment, while Garouth's monsters and peek out in ways that leave the foliage her dancers have hidden in shaking with their mirth. They're rapid movement then, finally breaking away from the places that they hide to run further into the forest, dancing as they go, beating back at the forest with a carnival as they find new places to disappear. They will hide. He will seek. « Garouth, » she tells Jaicoureth, « and Risali. » And two of her dancers appear among the landscape of Jai's mind, to hide in his buildings despite the enormity of their reflections on the glass - the way she sees the bronze, perhaps? Enormous, when seen through the eyes of her own lifemate. « And talking! I love talking. And dancing. » The bass of her mind throbs somewhere in the distance, a beat that sends her two dancers spinning. « And PARTIES! » And there it is, the explosion of her mind: the dancers all jump out whether or not they are sought, trampling buildings and forests alike as their bring forth a carnival and revel, welcoming monsters and stars to hide among them. But she can sense her brother suddenly, and she's seeking him with her mind in lieu of her eyes. Risali? Watching FALLING DEBRIS (to make sure that her little gold doesn't go walking into it - which she TRIES, TRUST ME, and stops just SHY of thanks to a lot of mental and verbal, 'LEIRITH STOP!'s), and then watching Bryn start a race with his dragon. "Dust him, Sanarth!" Because this is clearly how you make friends. On the ground. In weighted vests. Hating life. And D'lei. Mostly D'lei. « Haha, Garouth! Missed me! » Not that he was aiming for her.

Jaicoureth hadn't moved from the spot he's been sitting so he is safe from the barrage of driftwood from the sky. Though he does watch in alarm as Lei does what Lei's do best, but all is well in the end. He rises to his claws and stretches, « What is the driftwood for? » he asks with a shimmer of starlight and a musical scale played on a recorder. The images from the other dragons minds are taken in passively, even though his city has been invaded, « It sounds as if we could probably find something that might work. » Takling doesn't require sight, nor does parties, though perhaps dancing might. Out of the corner of his eye he catches movement and finds a brown and his rider. New weyrlings he hasn't met! « Hello. » he offers to them with a twinkle of staright.

Festival lights, strung between the trees! Carnival tents, there in the clearings! The hiding dancers leave behind the trail of their passage for monsters who gobble up candied apples and frolic around the carousel before riding those ceramic horses (with eyes of fire and fetlocks of shadow) deeper into the forest as they seek after those dancers. Gonna get you, gonna get you, gonna… be got! For the dancers leap out at the monsters, and those wild-haired creatures with spikes and fangs twirl them with joy before… they run! Now they are the chased, gamboling through carnival streets to bound over parade-floats and guzzle party punch as they flee the pursuing dancers with joyous growls of laughter. Garouth's wings spread, slowing him again to come down to a landing on the shore - the final part of his practice, the careful touchdown with a minimal stir of wings. « Practice, » he answers Jaicoureth about the driftwood. « For working with salvage. » It was there and so he grabbed it! Because hey, why not, it's good practice. Even if he did miss Leirith. « This time. » It's a tease, a playful rumble even as his deeper shadows make a mental note to throw things Even Farther next time. There's her, and then there's Sanarth, another young dragon at high speed, and Garouth reaches out with a curious swirl of winds even as D'lei slides off his back to bask in the hatred, er, wave to Risali.

Sanarth slows down, allowing Bryn'jan to cross the finish line first. « I win. » Sanarth announces, his voice dripping with pride. "How do you figure that?" Bryn'jan inquires. "You slowed, and I crossed the line first." « Actually, no. It only LOOKED like I slowed down. By the time you crossed the finish line, I'd already completed a circuit and come back around for a second, but.. I'm hungry, so I decided to stop. Can we eat now? » The look on Bryn'jan's face just screams 'oh no you didn't just do that'. "Yes, yes, let's get you fed, washed, and oiled, and all of that good stuff." « Ooh, yay! I've got this one spot that's just BEGGING for attention.. » The pair begin making their way off the shore, and out of sight.

Indeed, the carnival and the chase persists, her dancers splashing through spilled punch and taking carousel horses on rides of their own, catching monsters and pulling them up to ride behind them as they give chase. Even masks and costumes change in tandem with the beat of a drum, so that they, once again, are caricatures of the monsters in Garouth's mind that they seek, while the ones in Jairouth's city dance through the streets, leaving behind the remnants of evident revelry in bright confetti and feathers fallen from masks. But they catch up, they always do, and then once more, her dancers are chased, howling to the moon, daring and bold as their lithe forms dance away. « Is it a party? I loooove parties! Just promise me that if we party and I start to dance with the coatrack again, one of you will pretend not to see it and the other will pretend it was you all along. » Ha. Speaking of hate? Risali huffs some of her hair out of her face, grey eyes narrowed on the bronzerider, and then she's rolling again, onto her back, holding up her arms. "Make yourself useful, bronzerider!" Come and help her up is the subtext, in case you were wondering. Leirith? Blind (well, except that she can see the sky because THANK YOU RISALI, GOOD JOB) stumbles for Garouth. THE GIVER OF HEAT. KEEPER OF SECRETS. KNOWER OF THINGS. « Why are you not flying? » She asks Jai as she seeks by bumping into everything. "Is Bryn leaving already?" Because it sounds like it, but she's not sure.

It's an interesting thing to have dancers in the surreal city. As much as he enjoys friendship and things parties are something he doesn't really have experience with, « I'm not sure if its a party, but it could be I suppose. » This is how he pictures parties being from what he's been able to put together from the humans. He looks over to see Bryn and the brown already leaving, « It seems that they might be. Their race looks to be over. » he answers the gold. The bronze is met with another scale on the recorder, « You enjoy working with wood? » he asks.

Someone's going to have to clean up this forest. And this carnival. And this city. The foxes and crows will at least make a start of that, stealing away anything edible (or shiny) once the wild hunt and chase has passed (at least for the moment), but the rest? That may just have to be someone else's problem! D'lei waves to Bryn'jan, then… dodges Leirith as she goes swinging by past Garouth. Before she can make another pass, he hustles his way to where Risali is once more pretending to be a turtle. "…but I'm not, you know that." He leans down, offering her hands even as he disclaims the possibility. "That's why they sent me here, in the hopes of making something at least slightly useful." He grins, helping to pull her up to her feet. If he can't be useful himself, he can at least uplift others! …or something. Garouth rumbles, a low series of wuffs that reveal his location… if you're a BAT. Or otherwise figure out how to tune in on that sound, the fleeing monsters in their minds echoing the sounds to make it clear what to do about suspicious Garouth-based noises. A shadow dapples to Sanarth, the equivalent of a wave, then curls in question to Jaicoureth before settling back. « I work in rescue. Sometimes things must be gathered from the sea. »

SHE. HAS. SO GOT THIS. Right? Right (wrong). The gold wuffles back, deciphering cryptic monster-translations until - WUMP. There she goes, right into the bronze. She's bumping her head into whatever part of his massive body she's found, and then pouncing his side once, twice, three times, before she thunks her entire side against him - much like a cat, who's found a particularly favorite leg to twine against. « It's always a party! » But Leirith's voice sounds distance, as if soaking up Garouth's heat conjures up the very real desire to just… sleep. SHE IS A BABY, OKAY. NAPS HAPPEN. Risali? Well, she's catching D'lei by the wrists instead of his hands, focused on getting up until he just… talks. "Shut. Up. D'lei." But she's laughing - and then her demeanor shifts; indeed, the tiny woman is sweeping one leg out to FOIL HIS UPRIGHTNESS. And if she is successful in her attempt to down him? Why, she will use his momentum to roll with him and WUMP! Land beside him, shoulder to shoulder, laughing. If she's not? Well, then she'll just keep trying, amid MUCH CUSSES. « What is this rescue? » TELL HER YOUR SECRETS.

Jaicoureth will settle himself once more on the sands, it seems that the party is coming to an end. Besides it might be time to rest, the weather is cold and it means there is more sleep to be had. He will lower his head to the sands and close his eyes. His mind will become more distant, though not entirely absent as he slips away into his dreams once more. Leaving the humans and the dragons to continue their conversation.

It's hard to miss a bronze. Unless you can't see. And your minion is distracted. In which case it's hard to find a bronze! But Leirith does, because she's just that good, and her thunk against Garouth is so mighty, it knocks him over! Yes. That is definitely what happens, and it is not at all related to him just deciding to sprawl over on his side so that he can reach a paw to bump at her back with a playful nudge as he gets sand all over his straps. Guess what D'lei gets to clean later? « Rescue is when people are lost, or hurt, and we help them. » Saviour of the universe! …or at least shipwrecked sailors. That driftwood he plucked out of the waves? It could have been someone drowning! And that toss? It could have been a life preserver he was flinging instead of just a gnarled stick. It wasn't - this time - but it could be. D'lei grins all the wider to Risali, and then… TREACHERY. But he has learned from his mistakes, and… also he's not entirely incompetent when it comes to brawling. So yes, he does go over, but it's with one of his hands twisting to catch her wrist in turn and his body curving in a liquid roll before bouncing back so he's propped on elbow beside Risali, one wrist still caught for each of them. "Jerkface," he says fondly.

« What happens when you get lost or hurt? Who comes to save you? » A beat, and then the dancers are there, pulling shadows from pools of forgotten punch as if to answer the question in thought or examine what it means to save somebody. Only to be distracted by the nudge of paw to her little body, hop-swinging and pouncing in the completely wrong direction as if sure it definitely came from there. « Aha! I bet you think you are clever using my problem with my eyes against me, but I have my minion! » A beat. « Minion? » Nope. « Well, just you wait! One day you won't be able to trick me anymore! » And it doesn't stop her from continuing her game of chase. Risali? Definitely treacherous, pulling at the wrist he's caught in his hand experimentally to see if he will let her go. "What did you just call me?" she asks then, grey eyes narrowing as she shifts (as best she can) and awkwardly reaches out with her other hand to SQUISH HIS CHEEKS, making his lips do that ODD SQUISH THING that they do when they are squished. Fish out of water! But she's scrunching her nose, giving him a little shakeshakeshake to breathe, "Useless bronzerider," with equal fondness right back. And then she's letting go to flop her head into snow and sand and MORE MUD. "Have you heard from Quinn yet?" she asks, eyes up on the sky as she waits.

« My wingmates. » His pack, the dragons of Deluge… and those others who, despite not sharing an assignment with him, have still formed those bonds that connect them together as a group. The invisible ties that bind! And the invisible paw that… okay, it's not actually invisible, but it might as well be. Garouth snorts, amused as he lowers that paw again. Into POUNCE RANGE! …assuming she finds the correct direction to pounce. And assuming he isn't the sort of meanie who moves his paw when she gets close (and gives her another nudge along the way), which… he just might be! « If I am to challenge you, I must take every advantage I can get. » Yes. Because this battle between a blind hatchling gold and a rescue-trained adult bronze is definitely unfair in that direction. Of course it is. Yes. And the battle between minions? Well, D'lei's got a wrist that he… okay, fine, he supposes she can have it back. "Jerkface the turtlmph." Which is what he called her, and is very like a turtle except for the squishy face thing that turns words into fish sounds. Not that fish make sounds, so you SEE the PROBLEM here. Hear the problem. WHATEVER. He snorts at his own uselessness, a shake of his head and then… meh. He sprawls back himself, getting the back of his own jacket covered with snow and other assorted bits as he stares up at the sky. "Not yet." Hi, mud. You're in his hair now. Nice to meet you. "She's probably enjoying her vacation."

The invisible ties that bind indeed; Leirith is inspecting them again, but drawn away from dancers leaning close to scrutinize the ties she re-imagines by his paw - again. « I will also come and save you, » she tells him then, upbeat and matter of fact, « because you are my moon! » Alas, if only she understood the implications of those words. Maybe she will realize when she is older, and maybe the dragon she becomes will be simply amused by the dragon she once was. Maybe she will simply change in ways even she can't comprehend, as her bonds develop, and strengthen, and grow. POUNCE! « Well, you know what they say. The first problem to blahblahblah is blahblahblah. They were never right anyway. Kind of like you. And my eyes. » But she's laughing in her mind, the dancers making sounds of delight as she AIMS AND MISSES. Or possibly just HAS A PAW PULLED AWAY FROM HER BECAUSE SOMEBODY HERE IS A JERKFACE (hint: it's not Risali). Risali is, however, making another face at D'lei and then rolling onto her side so that she can face him when he speaks (with minimal effort, and okay so maybe she has to grab his tunic to roll but IT'S INNOCENT ENOUGH OKAY). Is she looking down on him? ABSOLUTELY. But literally, you know… not… metaphorically. "Did you call me a turtle?" she asks him, and there's amusement laced somewhere in all of that feigned fury before the topic turns to Quinn and the goldling's eyes go stormy dark, but she presses her lips and tightens her jaws because that's his business. "I see," she says then, perhaps a little clipped. But what is this? Fingers curling in his tunic over his chest, the tiny woman leaning forward so that mud-mucked hair that's escaped it's confines can shroud him as much as it's shrouding her. "Then we'll just have to make sure you enjoy your 'vacation' too, won't we?" And yeah, she's looking at his mouth, and leaning forward with impossible slow - CUE THE KISSING! JK. That's against the rules YOU SILLY. Of both love AND weyrlinghood. For her, anyway. Maybe D'lei can make with the kissing but Risa? Risa's just using the deliberate deceptiveness of posturing to SMEAR MUD ALL OVER HIS PRECIOUS FACE. HAHA! TREACHERY! And oh, how she laughs as she does it.

That paw, held by ties like puppet-strings! And oh, how they dance. Dance, puppet-paw! Dance away from the pounces of a little Leirith who… makes big claims. Garouth rumbles, his shadows complex with response. There's affection, that's clear enough, and a pleasure for the cub who's so eager to grapple with bigger things… along with bemusement at the ramifications that he sees but she… is still too blind, even in their minds, to understand. « You can save me, » he answers her. It's indulgence, for now, though someday… well, who knows? Humour sneaks in, like his paw does to bomp lightly against her tail. « I am what I am. » Her moon? Maaaybe nooot. Or maybe! Metaphors, seriously. What do they even mean? « And that, » What, him? « is the second problem. » A rumbled-laugh, and another wiggle of paw as he plays with pouncing gold. D'lei? Is also being pounced. But it's okay, it's ALL LITERAL. NO METAPHOR HERE. NOPE! …well, except for turtle-based ones, unless Risali has been hiding her secret chelonian ways all this time! "Sure did." Because she? IS A TURTLE. Aww yeah. He is superior in his knowledge of reptiles and their manifestations in humanoid form. Look at his knowledges! Or… his facial expressions, as his mouth tugs to the side and his eyes slip off to avoid the storm. Not because it's stormy, exactly, but because he doesn't want to think about it! So, lucky him, he gets a distraction! A getting lucky based distraction? His gaze returns to Risali as she continues, and looms in with that slow-motion zoom that… makes him laugh. Because Risali's presumed affections are JUST THAT FUNNY-LOOKING. …or, well, because he does remember that she has a K'vir that she clings to like the snapping turtle with clenched jaws she is, and so he does not believe this ALLEGED KISS. BUT! Joke's on him, because that means that in addition to getting mud smeared on his face, he EATS IT with that mud-eating grin of his, laugh turning to splutter and then… revenge! It will be his, for he reaches up to grapple with Risali and… try to roll her over! The mud, they will writhe through it. She will be covered in ALL THE MUD if he has anything to say about it. Of course… so will he… but… NOT THE POINT. MUD. MUD IS THE POINT. THE SQUISHY GLOPPY NOT POINTY AT ALL … … … IT'S MUD, OKAY???

Leirith goes for another pounce when Garouth bops her tail, scrambling to catch his paw only to lose her footing and take a tiny slide right into - thump - Garouth. Don't mind her, she definitely meant to do that. « Well, » she amends, for the both of them, « so long as there are no stairs. » She can definitely save him if there are no stairs. Until she earns her proverbial wings anyway, because then she's making those stairs her bit- "HA!" Risali can hardly speak she's laughing so hard. "It," hahaha, "got," hahaha, "in your," hahaha, "mouth." Ohp. There goes her smile. "D'lei, don't you - !" TOO LATE. There's an indignant shriek, Risali doing her best to fend him off and failing. Her father may have made sure that she knew how to fight dirty, but D'LEI'S STRENGTH LEAVES HER AT A DISADVANTAGE. Well, that and surprise. And… okay, there are a lot of reasons, but suffice to say: he's winning. FOR NOW. Though she doesn't give up, grappling with him, throwing her body into it to try and pin him back down and shoving globs of mud back in his face and down his arms whenever she's successful - if she is. Either way, there's a lot of shrieking, and laughing, and sputtered, "D'LEI, NO!" thrown in there just for flavor. IT IS A GOOD THING THAT THE QUINN AND THE K'VIR DO NOT CHOOSE THIS EXACT MOMENT TO APPEAR FROM STAGE LEFT, because Faranth, but the outside view probably looks awful. Like, you know, a scuffle (GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER, D'LEI. GEEZ). Or a murder. By mud. Whatever. « You will be with me always? » comes Leirith's question, on the heels of what the second problem might be. But she's not getting up from her fallen spot - likely because she's about to take one of those really inconvenient naps. « Or you will leave to find your moon? » There's no sadness, no despair; just her upbeat voice and the flickering of her never-ending curiosity. What if she finds stairs and he's gone? Who is going to take her to the Fort, and the Monaco Bay, and the Ierne? What if her seeing-eye minion meets and even bad-assier badass and Garouth is not there to chase them away with his shadows?

Of course Leirith meant to do that. She was pouncing Garouth, wasn't she? Paw, side, it makes no real difference! She's just showing her capability to get that pouncing done. Such a grand scale. Wow. « If there are stairs, you can send a minion. » Delegation! That amazing power of making someone else do the work. It's great! Unlike mud in your mouth, but OH WELL. D'lei grins as he takes the advantage - for now - as they most assuredly fight dirty, because MUD. They're fighting dirtier all the time! Globs of mud in hair. On faces! On clothes. Dripping from one of them down onto the other as they roll back - and forth - and back. He's laughing, because he is a TERRIBLE JERK and also covered in mud, and fortunately for his not also being DEAD there is no K'vir. Or Quinn. Or weyrlingmaster, because this probably is not anywhere on the list of acceptable weyrling behaviors despite there not technically being any actual rules against it, which is to say it is a LOOP. HOLE. Which they are using vigorou- hey now just because they're in the mud, that's no reason for gutter minds, this is a CLEAN wrassle in the mud that's been trampled by hundreds of feet both human and dragon out of snow that's been sitting here collecting layers of grime all winter long. Which is to say, wow, SO DIRTY. At least their dragons are clean, which… may actually be a first for the weyrlingmasters. So see, they're helpful! Just like Garouth, who tucks his wing over Leirith as she settles down, a blanket for her to trap the warmth as she rests. « Not always. » It's truth, gentle but with no attempt to soften that reality. She is young, but she is not weak… at least, not in Garouth's estimation. « But you can always find me. Your mind can reach to mine, and mine to yours. We will not always be together, but we can become so. »

TOO RIGHT! She definitely was just showing off all that… butt-waggling, pouncing skill. BE JEALOUS, GAROUTH. HA! YOU WILL NEVER LOOK THIS… FIERCE (read: adorable) DOING IT. EVER!! Well, maybe cuter than Risali, who is seriously starting to look a lot more like a bog monster, and a lot less like a human being beneath an unfathomable amount of mud. It's in her nose, it's in her hair, it's probably in her eyes, and it's definitely going places that she DOESN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT because this is DEFINITELY a CLEAN wrassle and not a I-Said-Get-Your-Mind-Out-That-Gutter-D'lei WRASSLE. GEEZ. LEAVE ROOM FOR FARANTH, YA'LL. Unlike Leirith and Garouth, who are definitely not leaving room for Faranth, but at least Leirith is too young to heed what that could mean when she gets older. You know, that MAGICAL THING ALL THE ADULT DRAGONS KEEP TELLING HER TO WAIT FOR. Ruiners of fun. Killers of joy. Bringers of ghoulish shadows and nightmarish parades, giving off heat and making it that much easier to choose sleep. « Are you going to where you will only see your moon? » comes the sleepy question, upbeat despite (and possibly because of her strength), preceding Risali's shriek of, "D'LEI STOP!" amid more laughter. And then? And then the harper is managing, SOMEHOW to break away, tucking into herself and holding out both feet and one arm to ward him off if he COMES AT HER. "TRUCE! Truce, you stupid sharding bronzerider. TRUCE!" SHRIEK. Give her a moment, to catch her breath, and then she's pointing at him in warning as she slips to her feet and then - yep, you guessed it - TREACHERY! She's flinging mud from her person onto D'lei, taking a moment more to laugh at him, and then hop-dance-taking off in a run as Leirith, regardless of Garouth's answer, is projecting flickers of masquerades and fantastic lands that will never be in her sleep. "I need to bathe! DON'T YOU DARE FOLLOW ME!" Because it will probably turn quasi-violent. Again.

Faranth can't touch this! Literally, what with… having been dead for centuries. And also because if she were alive and here for some unfathomable reason, she would probably take one look at this mess and leave again. She spawned the race of dragons to impress humans, not filthy bog creatures! Though maybe when Leirith IS old enough, she will spawn a new race of baby dragons that DO want bog creatures. The better to match her own rider, who has TRANSFORMED into the mud creature that is apparently the (un)natural evolution of a turtle. Garouth is a refuge of safety from these antics (ha! Take that, naysayers who think he's irresponsible and dangerous) as he cuddles Leirith against him, his shadows tucking in around her mind as she drifts toward sleep… but first, one more question. Just one more! …for now, anyhow. « Someday… yes. » He rumbles, a low sound. « I do not yet know when… but when the moment comes, I will go. » But for now? Leirith goes to sleep, through fantastic lands of light… and shadow, as Garouth remains to guard her dreams and keep her warm. Though… he can't guard her from everything. Not even the bog-turtle-mud-creature who's escaped his rider's grasp! On account of that being - under all the muck - secretly her rider! A Risali! …to whom D'lei grins, curled in his own crouch and dripping mud. Blorp. Plop. Glarp! "Is that your prize for the race?" he asks of that truce, and his grin widens as he does not give her any chance to actually answer before he sing-songs out, "Gran~ted!" Oh yes, that grin. That broad grin that, really, deserves the treachery of mud flung at his face… which sends him to plop back to a seat in the mud. Not that his butt wasn't already soaked. BY MUD, RISALI. MUD. He shakes his head as Risali runs off, flinging bits of mud about like a long-haired dog who has really enjoyed that romp in the bog and now desperately needs a hose, and then… levers himself to his feet as the mud glorps disconsolately at losing him. At least mud loves him. UNLIKE RISALI. Who is, as further insult to… well, insults… demanding that he not follow her to the baths. Well FINE. This is fine. Entirely fine. He'll just… … …clean off in the lake. Right. How cold can it be? Anyhow, it'll build character! …and afterward, he too will have the warm bulk of Garouth to cuddle with in order to avoid hypothermia. There's room for him and Leirith both under that wing!

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