A Renegade's Promise

Xanadu Weyr - Thea's Clearing

This clearing is sheltered by a thick canopy of trees, which seems supported at its centre by an immense, wild-growing fellis tree. Hanging from one of its high branches is a swing, made up of two ropes and a seat of softwood and leather. The grass is tall here and interrupted in places by clusters of white and blue alyssum. Alyssum covers the indentation of the wallow, remaining hardy despite being continually crushed. The constant sound of herdbeast in their pens can be heard close-by, though its source is invisible through the foliage.

Sahazyth senses that Seryth's touch is gentle, a warm rain scented with ferns and new growth as it reaches out to Sahazyth, « Would you and yours be so kind as to join mine when you are finished with your lessons? She wishes to speak to yours. » The impression is that there is no great urgency, but that they will wait, the picture shared of the meadow, changing to the path leading into the forest, moving past the clock tower there and of a clearing with a huge fellis tree just beginning to show buds. The sun is weak, but it fills the clearing where the queen reclines on a mat of dead grasses, new growth just beginning to pierce through, fuzzing the clearing with a faint green tinge. The picture is clear enough to include the Weywoman sitting on the stone steps leading into the cottage.

The young gold is easily distracted by the request from the Queen. A certain pleasure at the touch, «We are only eating our evening meals. We will be to you very shortly.» She promises, her own mindvoice hints of spices and warm winds, though weaker in its strength then the queens. There is a hint of blood tinged scents upon the mindvoice, hunger being sated. It is within half a candlemark that the pair are heading up the path to the cottage. The weyrling looking curiously and almost cautiously at the woods about them until they are finally to the yard of the cottage. There is a salute given to the Weyrwoman, "We just wanted to clean up before we came out." She explains of their 'tardiness'. Even if their is still a certain uncertainness evident about her, she does at least stand a bit taller no doubt the effect of her lifemate. Sahazyth for her part gives a warble of greeting to the queen and extends her head to the older gold's direction. «We are here.»

The trees are leafless and thus movement through them is easily spotted, especially when one of those forms is a young dragon. Seryth doesn't move, her great head resting on the ground is facing the path as the pair step into the clearing, so her welcome is a sleepy blink from green-hued eyes. She rumbles a greeting, the chuckle of water over rocks, the scent of damp moss accompanies her amused, « So I see, Little One. You are welcome to lie in this, my old wallow. The earth is soft now that it has thawed. » The Weyrwoman rises, her movements leisurely, the nod given to Briana is grave, but a hint of mischief lurks in her eyes. "Even in winter the forest is lovely, is it not?" She bends, lifting a backpack from the stoop and steps towards Briana, leaving the boarded up cottage behind her.

Sahazyth looks down to Briana for a moment as the invitation is given and lowers her head to waffle the hair on the girl's head, which has been cut to shoulder length. «I will be right here if you need me.» She intones comfortingly to the young woman who nods as she places a hand upon the muzzle of her gold. Her eyes unfocus for a moment and in that time she looks like she did when she touched the dragon's shell. Love and contentment suffusing her face. As her eyes open she nods to Sahazyth and drops her hand to head up to the Weyrwoman, "Yes Ma'am. The time you can see the sky through the trees. I always liked winter save for the cold." She responds to the woman and glances to the cottage behind her. "Golds can live this far from the Weyr?" She asks with a touch of interest in her voice. Perhaps almost wishing for a place she could hide, though no doubt Sahazyth will deny her such solitary weyrs.

Thea makes her way across the clearing with several easy strides in those few moments, a soft smile touching her lips for the sight of the bonded pair's interaction before she turns her eyes towards the huge fellis tree. When Briana opens her eyes Thea is standing at its base studying its bare limbs thoughtfully with a faraway expression a touch of sadness about her mouth. The question draws a blink, her dark head turns over her shoulder, pale green eyes clearing as they sweep the area, "Certainly they can. We did once." One hand pats the trunk of the tree, "Why anyone would want to live encased in stone when you can have the forest is beyond me." She shrugs into the backpack, a faint grin pulls at her lips. "Can you climb trees, Briana?"

Briana looks over to the tree the woman is at and with another nudge from her lifemate Briana walks on over as well. The gold watches her even as she settles next to her 'Mother'. There is an ever protective look the gold gives her lifemate. It was no doubt seen at the earlier lesson. So protective that sometimes she takes control. "Its not so bad Ma'am, especially if there are lots of tunnels to explore." She says with a hint of thinking about the past in her voice,"Though sometimes it is nice to see the sky." The question about the trees catches her by surprise but she gives a little nod, "Um, Yes Ma'am…Sometimes needed…" She started before she just nods, "Yes Ma'am." She just repeats again and follows the woman to the trees, a curious tilt to her voice.

Seryth lifts her head as Sahazyth settles, offering her a gentle touch with her nose, sharing pictures of the clearing in it's many seasons: adrift in snow, the trees surrounding it so thickly covered in snow, the branches form a lace-like seclusion, the grasses belly-deep and sweetly scented with blue alyssum, deeply-shaded by the giant tree, the golden leaves fluttering down upon dying grasses. Thea merely shudders for the idea of tunnels, "I've been trapped below ground in the past - and so I prefer the sky to stone." While she's saying this, she's reaching for the first branch, a curious glint in the ice-green for that abrupt change in the Weyrling's answer. She makes no comment regarding it though, instead she points to a log bench way up near the top of the tree, built into a three-limbed fork of branches. "Come on up?" And she assumes Briana will follow as she pulls herself up and begins climbing, thankfully dressed in trous rather than her normal office garb. He question voiced casually between breaths, while her attention is on finding her next handhold, "Was it Ista's tunnels you explored?"

Briana waits for the Weyrwoman to get a few branches above her before she starts to climb. There is a certainty to how she climbs the tree. Sorta in contrast to the sundressed wearing girly girl that first arrived at Xanadu. This seems rather comfortable to her. Her slim fingers grip around the branches as she pulls herself up. Her lifemate watches below with a curious look. «I saw such in her memories, but she was younger in those.» She confides to the gold beside her. "Yes Ma'am…and where I was raised." She responds as she continues to follow the woman up the tree. "My family are holdless ma'am…we often lived in caves and outside in the trees. Never really on the ground."

"I've never seen Ista's tunnels, only her prison," The Weyrwoman comments with a wry smirk at the bark in front of her face. She pauses to peer down under her arm at Briana, not even trying to hide the interest the girl's admission sparks in her. "Holdless? That's… quite interesting. Where was this? I assumed you were from Ista." She reaches the wide seat - made long ago with sturdy split logs fastened by long wooden pegs that also anchor it to the three-branch y in the huge limbs. She pulls herself into it and slides across the smoothed and finished surface to give the Weyrling room. The backpack straps are shrugged off of her shoulder, the thing settled in her lap before she leans over to offer Briana a hand up the last bit.

Briana continues to climb up behind the weyrwoman, finger fingers reaching for sturdy handholds on the tree to pull her up. The mention of the prison causes her to pause and she glances up to the woman curiously. "Not a good place…" She says for a moment before taking the hand and coming up over the wooden seat. Briana does not answer the latter question until she is settled. Then she cants her head up to the woman, "That was what the fuss was about with the lesson ma'am. They found out I come from Renegades and …" Her face grows troubled and even Sahazyth looks up from her drowsiness as Briana looks down to her. Then she looks up to the Weyrwoman, "I promise I won't do what Kate did Ma'am. They all promised to leave me alone. I just…well its not a good place for…and I remembered the weyrs from when I was younger and I .." Her hands move expressively as she tries to get out the words in a rush.

Dryly in agreement, "Indeed. I spent nearly a month in it." Thea releases Briana's hand once the girl is up, needing both of hers for unfastening the backpack and digging around inside of it before pulling out a leather-bound journal. Her gaze is on the tooled leather design, fingers tracing the stitching along the edges for a moment while the Weyrling speaks. Below, Seryth croons comfortingly and the Weyrwoman reaches a hand to give Briana's near shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Relax, hmm? Breathe." Her face expression is grave when she nods, "I read Keziah's report." She pauses briefly, then asks, "Did the others tell you that Kefai not only lured his queen-riding daughter away, but kidnapped one of our junior weyrwomen and was responsible for the deaths of his followers, many who he lured from the area surrounding Ressac Hold?"

At the admission, Briana looks up curiously to Thea, "Only a few days myself, mostly set us youngins out with a guard once they realized Ma wasn't a fighter." She admits in a low voice. Her golden eyes flicker down to the journal the woman brings out of the pack, uncertain perhaps if this is where she will get told to give up her dragon and leave. Yes that is a real fear in her, though Sahazyth works at reasuring her. The words do remind her to take a breath. At the continued story, Briana shakes her head, "I didn't know about it…there are different groups Ma'am. Wasn't till after that Keziah told me the story…well a little bit of it. My Da promised me he would never come back if I impressed and my uncle promised to make noone would come for me." From the look upon her face, it seems she trusts more in the latter happening than the first. "I just…it ain't a good place for girls there and after…" She pauses for a moment , "Well Ma got me out and told me never to look back. So I promise not to turn on the weyr, I really do."

"A Renegade's promise," Thea comments quietly while still looking at that leather cover. "You are asking everyone to trust in the promises of a lawless people who don't treat their women well." She tilts Briana a long look, taking the girl's measure, perhaps picking up some of her fears through Seryth's communication with Sahazyth. Her reassurance is grave, maybe even a touch grim, "You and Sahazyth will never be parted, it isn't possible." There's still no indication of her own opinion, yet as she continues soberly, "Briana, You need to know how serious this is. We gave Kate a chance; we still don't know why she left. People have not forgotten." She waves her hand in the general direction of the Weyrling area. "Some of them were children when Kefai terrorized the area. To them this is… history repeating itself. Can you understand that?"

There is a slight nod to the first. An understanding of just how tenous that is. There is a shake of her head, "I am hoping people will trust me based on mine. That I would never do that." She glances down to Sahazyth, "That we would never do that." She sighs softly and leans her head back against a branch, "I didn't know about Kefia and Kate…I..when he said that about Renegades up at the Yokahama.. I should have stayed quiet, but…not all of them are bad Ma'am. Some just don't fit in for whatever reason." She gives a another little sigh, "I understand now…since Keziah told me the story afterward. I wish I knew what I could do to…prove myself to them." She makes a gesture down below, "Some of my first memories were living here with Delenn and Ryski..I ..they were good memories. In some ways this feels as much like home as the caves do."

Softly, regretfully, the Weyrwoman murmurs, "No, I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. Unfortunately, for many, you will have to prove yourself before they trust you. Sadly, even so, some may never trust you." She swings her feet gently, studying them in thought while Briana speaks. "Not all bad? That's a claim that I wouldn't voice to anyone, honestly." She glances up at Weyrling, compassion and reserve both in her eyes. "You're in a tough spot, I won't argue that. However, getting people to be open-minded about renegades around here is unwise at this time." She lets out a long breath. "I'm sorry, but…" Her lips form a sad sort of smile. "…do you realize just how much a breeding gold dragon could tempt a renegade to break his promise not to come for you?"

Briana turns her gaze down to her gold dragon on the ground, eyes unfocusing even as the weyrwoman speaks. Sahazyth rises from the wallow she is sharing with the senior gold. «I will protect her from the dark man!» She pledges to the senior, both rider and dragon. There are definately conflicting emotions upon her face. Will she be forced to betray her family for the weyr, will she be forced to betray the weyr for her family. "I never intended this…I asked M'nol if he were sure when he searched me.

Briana turns her gaze down to her gold dragon on the ground, eyes unfocusing even as the weyrwoman speaks. Sahazyth rises from the wallow she is sharing with the senior gold. «I will protect her from the dark man!» She pledges to the senior, both rider and dragon. There are definately conflicting emotions upon her face. Will she be forced to betray her family for the weyr, will she be forced to betray the weyr for her family. "I never intended this…I asked M'nol if he were sure when he searched me." She draws her knees up under her chin, her features drawn in thought. "I know not all are good either. There are bad men there, scary men who do bad things. My Ma…is just a woodworker though." She takes a slow deep breath and looks up to Thea, "Yeah. Do I trusts the promise of a father or distrust the nature of the man. I have been facing that since he made the promise. What should I do?"

Seryth croons once again to the young dragon queen beside her. « Be easy Little One. We all will do what we can to help protect the both of you. » Thea is aware of the conflict so clearly writ upon the Weyrling's face. Her own expression grows faintly troubled at the mention of Search. "Did M'nol know about your ties with the Renegades?" Her slight frown at this thought does not bode well for the brownrider. "Kefai was-" the sharp tone is modulated, but it does nothing to soften the harsh reality of her words, "the father of Kate and yet he lured her away. Her queen now lives in isolation from her own kind. How cruel." She lapses into silence on the heels of that question, her green eyes drifting over the Weyr proper, easily seen through the tops of the bare trees between them and it. Firmly, "For now you focus on her," the Weyrwoman points down at Sahazyth with her toe, "not the opinions of others." Her hand lifts and flicks the prejudice she'll be facing away as it is were a troublesome insect and not the very real and grave problem it potentially is. "You are weyrfolk now; this is her home and yours. We are your family now. You will likely have to prove that loyalties lie with the Weyr above all else. It's not fair, but that's how it is."

"No, he didn't know…" Briana says with a shrug of her shoulders, "Perhaps I should have said something, at that point…well I was living at Ista and was just trying to fit in and belong there. I was trying to put it all behind me." She explains and looks up to the Weyrwoman apologetically, "I didn't know it would cause so much trouble…I mean D'len and Y'ki are riders and they seem to be …ok here. I certainly didn't think I would impress, nor gold." She gives a little shrug and looks down to her dragon, "Though when I touched her egg…" Briana closes her eyes at the memory, one that at least sets to calm her features in that moment. "I hoped…so many of the eggs were so…I nearly left until I touched her." She looks up to the Weyrwoman as she speaks of Kate and Kefai, "Why did her dragon not stop her? Why did she not protect her?" She shakes her head a bit, "My father scares me, I would never follow him. I told him if he came back for me I would report him. I promise you I would. If one of the bad men come I will tell you." There is an urgency to her voice, wanting to be believed. To the last words she does nod, "I understand…I didn't understand before Keziah talked to me, but I understand now. If I knew before , what I know now…" She starts and looks back down to her dragon and now an altogether new conflict touches her face. Could she have walked away. "If I had not touched her, if she had not touched me…"

The Weyrwoman relaxes visibly at the answer. Lucky, lucky M'nol! says her expression. "Don't worry about it, Briana," she says kindly. "I believe you weren't being deceptive. There are many things I haven't discussed about myself either, after all." She nods agreement about D'len and Y'ki. "Talk to them sometime; they may have faced a little of what you are facing, although they came along just before Kefai. His memory is still too fresh, I'm afraid. With the disappearance of Lord Leonidas' ship and crew, many are still quite wary." She tilts her head while Briana's eyes close, a faint smile curving her lips for the expression of peace on the Weyrling's face. "Why? Because Kate wanted to go, that's why!" Thea snorts, ironic humor twists her lips. "Her dragon wanted what her lifemate wanted, maybe thought she was protecting her by taking her away, who knows?" She hears out the urgent promises, then gives a little shake of her head. "What would you do to keep Sahazyth from being hurt or killed, Briana, hmm?" She allows a little space of time before she prompts, "Anything, yes?" She matches the girl's intensity, "If threats could gain them a gold dragon…" She allows the thought to hang, heavy and foreboding. "Others will be wondering, despite your fervent promises what you would do were you faced with such a choice." She shakes her head, "You'll have to show a great strength and it may be turns before people see your character is unwavering."

At the suggestion of speaking to her 'uncles' Briana nods, "I will." She says simply and takes a slow deep breath. The explanation of Kate makes Briana shake her head fervently, "But I don't want to go back Thea…" She says even as she starts to unbutton her coat. "I have so many reasons not to go back." She lets her coat fall behind her and she pulls off a sweater. Ok the girl is used to warmer climates and there is not much meat on her. The sweater drops to her lap and she holds out her arm to the Weyrwoman. "This was my parting gift before I left the caverns." She says and shows a long scar from shoulder to elbow, a bit ragged. Less than a year old. "I don't want to go back. She knows she protects me by keeping me here." Then that question is asked and Briana looks down to her lifemate. "Surely the same question can be asked of anyone? I will not let anyone hurt her. Forcing her to leave and serve bad men…would hurt her…Us." Without her coat and sweater on she starts to shiver a bit. She takes a slow shaky breath, "Then I will do my best to prove it to them. At least I have Sahazyth and Ers'lan until then. He knows and he has more right to hate me than anyone and he does not hold it against me."

Thea lifts a hand to stay the girl from taking off her outer garments, then simply allows it to drop back into her lap atop that journal. Her lips form a flat line at the sight of the scar. "You sound convincing, Briana. I'm fairly sure I believe you, for Seryth does not sense duplicity in you, but!" She lifts her forefinger warningly, "Others may be skeptical and you'll have to be willing to let them be so. Not easy to do, I know. But you cannot possibly convince everyone with them alone; it just isn't possible." At the shivering she says tartly, "Put those back on before you freeze, Weyrling." Then she smiles to take the bite out of the command. She hmms a little at the question. "Perhaps anyone could be asked the question, but /you/ are more at risk and they know it." Her foot again wavers towards the baby gold below. "A blue, a brown, even a bronze would be nice, but a gold. A gold would be a rich prize." She waits for the girl to understand before she offers the journal to her wordlessly.

Briana pulls back her sweater and jacket at the command, rubbing her arms to warm up again. The words are met with a nod, "I know…No matter way I say, I will be seen as a renegade and not to be trusted." Briana says, but without anger in her voice, just acceptance. "I suppose…I want you to know at least. All I can do for the others is keep being myself and hope one day they accept me. I understand they have every reason not too." She says with a note of acceptance in her voice. "I honestly never thought about that before I impressed, before Keziah explained. That I might be used against the weyr…so it really did hurt until I found out. I suppose I can't blame them at all." As the Journal is offered to her, Briana looks to Thea curiously before taking it. Her fingers trace over the cover. "What is this?"

Gently, "And you may let them know you understand their concerns and accept where they are at. I think in the long run it will help." The look the Weyrwoman gives the Weyrling is a compassionate one. "Until you are tested, some - not everyone - will prefer to remain wary and it is their right to do so." She smiles, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she adds, "You'll also have Seryth and I. We believe you /want/ to do the right thing…" A subtle concern lurk in her eyes, but it has nothing to do with mistrust. Her expression shifts at the question, the green in her eyes darkens with a hint of past grief, buried rather than healed. "This is- was my first weyrmate's journal. I found it amongst his things after he disappeared." Her eyes drift down to that boarded up cottage and remain there while she continues, "He came seeking Kefai… and answers to questions he had about the stars that the renegade claimed he knew." Her words halt and she seems unaware that she has stopped.

Briana nods to the first words, "I do…If I am honest I suppose I fear it myself. I thought though that impressing would protect me from those that would take me back from camp. I just never imagined a pair wanting to leave until I heard the story." She takes a slow deep breath, "I don't hate them…and I will give them time." She promises the Weyrwoman, "Can't say how I would feel if I was in their shoes." She admits and fingers the journal. As it is explained her eyes widen and she looks up to the woman, "Are you sure you want to give this to me?" She asks swiftly and holds the book as if to return it."

Thea twitches slightly at the question, blinking back to the here and now. Turning her head back to the girl beside her, she reaches to press the book back gently. "I want you to have it. I've never let anyone read it. But I think you should. He- he came distrusting dragonfolk, unsure there were any good reasons to having dragons now that Thread is gone. He was Searched, unsure he wanted to Impress, really." A sad smile tugs at her mouth. "I was sure he'd Impress a bronze, but he didn't Impress at all. He walked out of the hatching arena and… disappeared." Her eyes drift over the now-darkening Weyr, out towards the far edges as she finishes, "He never returned; he may have gone looking for Kefai, I don't know. But in there-" she nods to the journal, "-are his thoughts and fears, his longings and questions. He was a deep-thinker, my Kav." Her eyes lift to hers and she adds, "I think he wrestled with the some of the same things you do: ‘Where do I fit? Who do I trust? What is my purpose?’" She leans back, releasing the journal mentally, for it is still in Briana's possession. "I hope it will help you through the days to come."

Briana watches Thea's face as she tries to return the journal, taking it back slowly as it is pressed into her hands again. A quizzical look upon her face until the story of her first mate was explained. There is a glance down to the book, fingers tracing over the leather covering and she nods, "Thank you for entrusting it to me, I will read it and if I can talk to you about it?" She asks as she slips inside her coat, so her hands are free for the climb down. "I fit with Sahazyth, and that I was chosen at the same weyr I once lived as a child…well it means something to me. The rest…I guess I need to figure out and I want to figure out with you if I can." She says with a hope lilt to her voice. "Thank you Thea." She says in a soft voice, one hand pressing upon the journal hidden in her jacket.

“You’re welcome to it,” Thea assures the girl sincerely, nodding approval for her willingness to even consider something so personal from a stranger she’s never met nor is ever likely to. “You’ll figure it out with her and, I’m sure along the way, you’ll make some true friends. Even if it takes time.” As for the question, she smiles warmly. “You may come and talk to me anytime, certainly. But now I should let you get back to the Barracks and get Sahazyth settled in for the night.” She herself makes no move to go, lingering up in that tree-seat long after Briana and her lifemate have taken the path back to the Weyr. Bittersweet is the expression on her features as her mind returns to the past, her almost inaudible query caught by the night breeze and whisked away, “Did you ever see? I wonder.”

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