I Like Biting

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow
A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large rige that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.
Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

It's dark - dark enough that most have fallen back to the barracks to begin sleep, or already are asleep. Yet M'tan and Sirhyth are not to be found within any company of their clutchmates. Even in the darkness, the pair are working. Sirhtyh's attempts to get airborne and stay there continue to be a struggle for the growing bronze. His wingsails are too heavy, too much of a burden, to give 'ooumph' to his ground takeoffs. So M'tan's settled into the grasses of the meadow, a curl of grass tucked between his lips as he watches his bronze attempt yet another launch into the sky. This time, the bronzes muscled legs propel him forward enough that he glides some distance before his wingbeats drag him down rather than up.

And why is Risali out here? Because M'tan is not the only weyrling in the world that has business when (and probably where) they probably shouldn't be having business. But what does it matter? The woman is here now, Leirith announcing their arrival with the persistent beat of an over-excited drum, the bass of her mind pulsating out, and throbbing, shaking the minds of any who are unfortunate enough to be within range (IE: M'tan, and Sirhyth) long before Risali can be seen. And while Sirhyth may be having difficulty with flight, he is not the only one having trouble; Leirith's eyes are still sealed from the world by those sharding eye patches, and so it is with a careful, quiet patience that Risali navigates her way to where M'tan rests in the field. The once-harper doesn't wait for invitation, she simply settles herself beside him, eyes forward, as she brings her knees to her chest and wraps her arms around her legs. There's a sideways lean that has the younger woman's shoulder bumping his in a companionable, quiet greeting, and then, "Going to chase me away again, bronzerider?" Leirith? Well… She is reaching out to her brother because… « You look like a badass! » All upbeat enthusiasm, just waiting to be unleashed as she settles in behind the riders and lowers her maw to the ground. « I bet you're gonna have this down in no time, Sirhyth. »

"I swear, I've finally found out what it's like to have a younger sister in you," M'tan drawls out as Risali settles beside him, keepng his eyes forward as Sirhyth stumbles into a landing. He can tell the bronze is hurting, though Sirhyth masks his pain from Leirith with a humorous ripple of thought towards her. Pink and orange hues flicker in and out of his tangle of shadows. « You cannot see me » he tells his clutchmate with a chuffed noise of pleasure as he makes his way towards her. He bumps his nose playfully against her shoulder before he settles down, careful of the strain of his wings as he angles them into a slouch. « I will do as I do. You will do as you do. The others will be themselves. It is not fair to compare. Are you well? » He seems more prepared for the gold's enthusiasm today, perhaps from the fatigue of physical work settling over his body. M'tan lifts a brow and looks sidelong at Risali. "Are you going to start escaping those barracks too? I swear, if I have to smell someone's nighttime farts, or hear the snoring, I'll begin to unleash my temper." He flexes his hands once or twice into fists. Risali's Harper-trained; does she notice the scars on his knuckles and the prominence of joints that've been broken before? "But then, you know I don't really sleep there anymore. So- it's you who suffers those things." He tips his head back to glance over his shoulder at their growing dragons. "They're happy."

Risali? Yeah, she punches M'tan in the shoulder for his comment about finding a sister, because she can read the subtext (which is OBVIOUSLY: YOU'RE ANNOYING). "You're as charming as ever," comes on dry tones, but it seems good natured enough, because grey eyes are rolling as she watches Sirhyth land, and then turning to M'tan while he speaks. Leirith? If she is at all bothered by the fact that her brother is RUDELY BRINGING UP HER HANDICAPS, it doesn't show; in fact, the little queen laughs, the bass and the drums finding a tempo that keeps time with her amusement. « I can see you, Sirhyth! I always see you. That is what my seeing-eye minion is for. » And while the bronze comes to join her, the slightly larger gold shifts, instinctively bringing her head up to bunt beneath his as he settles, and then curling into his heat WITHOUT HEED OF HIS PAINFUL WINGS. She can't know if he doesn't share. « They can be badass too, of course! I mean, we all kind of are, but you are particularly badass in this moment. And that is always in need of appreciation. » A beat, and then. « Why, are you saying I look unwell? » But she's teasingly amused, testing his wit, perhaps, against her own. Risali? She's choking on laughter and then shoving M'tan's shoulder with a hushed, "Gross, M'tan." But her attention does escape to his hands, brows and smile drawing in without ever fully leaving as she notes the tell-tale signs of once-damage and then… dismisses it. It's not her business. She is intelligent enough not to ask for information unoffered, and so she redirects her gaze to his face and holds. "I bet I can take you." She's teasing - or is she? Her attention is on the dragons before her expression can make it clear, and then there's a soft, "Yeah. She misses him." Sirhyth, of course.

M'tan's crooked smile flashes fast at Risali's announcement of his charm. He winks at her, not hiding his laughter at her eyeroll. "You know you've always enjoyed my charm," he teases her, lifting the arm she punched to flex his muscles with a playful leer. "Look at these? Pure bronze steel. Glorious. All the girls will envy me." He tilts his head in consideration as he watches their dragons. "Misses him? In the barracks? They see each other at lessons." Sirhyth doesn't even flinch as Leirith curls about him. He stretches out one of those painful wings to drape over her, finding comfort in the contact that he didn't recognize he needed until now. He's still not going to show or tell he hurts. His amusement is rippling purple shades of light amongst those rolling, fog-like, shadows he curls around her mind. « You talk so fast. I don't know how to answer you sometimes. I was asking because M'tan asks people these questins - 'are you well', 'how's it going', it seems like a way to start conversation. So. I want to talk to you. Talk to me. » He'll leave it there, she will likely have many things to share with him without further prompting.

Garouth's been out doing his exercise routine over the water again, the flying drills he uses to keep himself in shape for the rescue wing duties he… doesn't currently have. That accomplished, his wings carry him in over land once more, until they cup. Oh look! Shiny bulks of dragons. He sees you! And so Garouth brings himself in for a landing, far enough from young gold and bronze so that his wings don't make that much of a wind… though his thoughts bring a sense of that even so, cold air shifting to meet them along with a reach of shadows that curve in the intentionality of a wave; a greeting and acknowledgment, given as he begins to pad forward and D'lei starts undoing his straps, giving a wave of his own - and a grin to go with it - before swinging off as he gets near enough. "Hey!"

Ugh, ugh, UGH. Risali's grey eyes are on M'tan with the kind of expression that says, 'Get out of here,' seconds before she drawls, "Envy you, M'tan? Or want you?" All asked as she reaches out to push his face away when he leers (playfully!) at her, ducking in the opposite direction as if she can't put enough space between them. "Because there is a distinct difference, and //now I'm questioning whether or not it's actually women that you like." But she's laughing, curbing the potential blow of words that, while playful, certainly may not be received as such. And then her attention is back on the dragons before grey eyes shift back to M'tan. "Yes, and yes, and that's why she misses him." Which earns M'tan a shoulderbump that translates into duh. Leirith settles under the offered wing (not that she can see, THIS MIGHT BE DANGEROUS, SIRHYTH) with a wuffle and a shift, and she meets her brother's amusement with amusement of her own - using bass and drums to shift shadows and make them into things macabre. She's used to shadows, after all. And she laughs. « Maybe I am not talking fast, Sirhyth, maybe you just need to listen faster! » A beat, and then, « Garouth showed me Half Moon Bay Weyr. I want to go there some day. We watched the sunrise. It made my minion sad, but she has a lot of emotions. Where are you going to go with yours? Me and mine are going to go everywhere. » a beat, as a cold she knows only too well sweeps in, and that gold head lifts like she knows where it's coming from but is actually looking in the opposite direction. « Sirhyth! It's Garouth! » ALL THE BADASSES. Is she projecting the desire to steal his body heat too? She is. She totally is. Risali, she looks away from M'tan and dragons to D'lei, who gets a softer expression as she breathes out, "Oh, thank Faranth you're here, D'lei. Maybe now M'tan will behave himself." SHOULDERBUMP TO FELLOW XANADUIAN WEYRLING. She is playing, of course, but she's reaching out one hands towards D'lei, flexing fingers as if to say, 'Come, come!'

M'tan's face is shoved and his laughter is a hooted thing - and then he's shoving back at her, just as playful, "What? You'd think all this hardened body would be for a man? Wasted!" He shakes his head, glancing towards his hand and a ring that resides there. "No, no. I'm all about a woman." He adds emphasis to the singular quality of that statement before distractions come in a shoulderbump and a finer-waggle to D'lei. "Oh, company," he drawls, moving to crack his knuckles to let the joints pop. "Delightful." Sirhyth's trying to keep up, he really is, but no matter how hard he 'listens' he feels like Leirith is a rushing boost of air in his mind. Those shadows gather into puppets on strings, the cold giving them reason to shiver as the young bronze looks in the right direction to the Garouth. « She is in a very loud mood today. You may come and entertain her, if you like. » His amusement is a ripple of movement amongst those shadowy-puppets. « She claims you are from Half Moon Bay? Interesting. What is it like there? »

"So when you say 'behave himself'," D'lei says with a grin to Risali as he approaches the pair of them, "Do you mean better, or WORSE?" His eyes shift to M'tan, the grin including him and inviting him to join in this terribleness that they will inflict on Risali. Or maybe D'lei is the one joining? What with the other already being here, and D'lei being the one approaching. DETAILS. Either way, he is pleased to be here! See the grin? Yeah, that. Garouth rumbles softly, a low sound in his chest as Sirhyth sees him and Leirith… hears him. Not that Sirhyth doesn't also hear him! Just, the gold and her pesky lack of eyes. « I am sometimes entertaining. She is sometimes loud. » Sometimes… or ALWAYS? There's a ripple of his own amusement, an understatement there as the wind stirs to motion the leaves and branches of his shadowed forest, and Garouth continues closer, taking Sirhyth's invitation as a willingness to have him curl himself to the other side of Leirith from the younger bronze, his tail swept back and around them both because, well, Leirith is tucked under Sihryth's wing, so as Garouth shifts his own wing he's kind of spreading it over both of them, just a bit. Assuming Sihryth doesn't raise an objection, anyhow. « I am not from Half Moon, » he corrects, though there's no displeasure; merely providing the right information. « I visit there. » He shares a glimpse of the bowl, as seen from the between-coordinates above. « I am from Monaco Bay. There… it is warmer. The colors are different. » Another glimpse, this one of a shore where jungle reaches to the edge of water in a splash of brilliant blue and green together.

Risali is shoved, and while her body pitches forward, she laughs as she catches herself on palms and then gives D'lei an accusing look. "Whose side are you even on, bronzerider?" she hisses at him, as she corrects her position in just enough time to see rings, and put together that M'tan is in a relationship (because him pretty much SAYING SO wasn't obvious, NO) and - yep. SIDEWAYS SHE LEANS, to shove M'tan again while deviant eyes fix on the weyrling with challenge, "What are you going to do, M'tan? You gonna flex that hardened body at D'lei?" At which point her attention is back on the incoming male, tone dry with sarcasm as she breathes, "Stay calm. I think he can smell fear." Leirith? INSULTED. BY BOTH MEN. She'll show you who's loud when it comes time for a FLIGHT (hint: it's still going to be her. Also, what are flights? She doesn't know - yet). But she laughs, the sound spilling into the minds of both bronze dragons as Garouth situates himself and she saps all the body heat and lowers her head back to the ground, shifting in contentment. « Jealousy is unbecoming, or so says my minion, » she informs the both of them, amused as she makes music for shadow puppets to dance too, even as she pays attention to the images provided via Garouth.

M'tan angles a glance towards D'lei, "I highly doubt she means for me to be worse. I don't know why she keeps stalking me, if she's claiming it's not because I'm some robust bronzerider to drool over." He leans back on one hand, kicking his feet out before him as he reaches for another piece of grass to tuck between his teeth. He'll let Risali banter further with D'lei. "See?" he deadpans at D'lei, "Now she's encouraging me to flex at you." He snorts a moment and angles a finger into Risali's side. Tickle-poke! "Scared of whom? You? He should be scared of me." He angles back a crooked grin at D'lei. Sirhyth doesn't know what to think about the older bronze moving to settle beside Leirith, he can't make any claims, it's clear his clutch-sister wants the other male nearby. His shadows shift to a quizzical green, as a bronze wing ends up draping over him as well. Somehow, that added warmth, eases the ache of his strained shoulders and wings so he doesn't ask Garouth to move. He's not the sort of male to bother himself with postering and snarling at other males. He continues to dangle those shadow puppets to dance for Leirith's music, his mind expanded by the visuals Garouth shares with him. « These are very nice places to go. When we are older, Leirith and I will ask you take us to visit. What other things can you show us? It doesn't seem like my rider is going to stop teasing Leirith's anytime soon. You can entertain us. »

The answer is always Leirith. Unless it's some kind of bad question like, 'who is boring and terrible?' in which case the answer is Definitely Not Leirith. « Jealousy can be unbecoming. » Garouth agrees to her. « It can sit there like a wher in a bad mood, gnawing on your heart and becoming nothing. But it can also become anger, or hatred. » Maybe not quite what Risali meant by her words, but it's what Garouth takes from them. What he gives, well… that's the warmth of his body, the cool of his thoughts and the breezes that shift around music and puppets. « When you are older, yes. » Garouth agrees, readily enough accepting Sirhyth's invitation of himself to the tour group. « What do you wish to see? » His shadows clear for a moment around a view of Pern as seen from space, the whole planet spread out in vast possibility. He has a lot he could show them, which is good, because their riders… well. D'lei laughs. "I can probably muster the self control even if you do flex at me," he replies to M'tan, with a grin because this is all joking and teasing, yes? MAYBE but he's running under that assumption whether or not it actually is. "Though maybe we shouldn't test it too hard. Just to be on the safe side!"

STALKING HIM? The look on Risali's face speaks of murder, staring at M'tan with disbelief bordering on I hope you DIE as he just keeps going and then - grey eyes shift to D'lei and there's something there, something she tries to communicate to him silently as the tiny woman shifts away from tickle pokes (swatting at offending hands), and gains her footing. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, M'tan, but," and there Risali goes, taking the few steps that separate her from D'lei with an exaggerated sway of her hips that's not overdone, but definitely lends a little something to that bad-girl stalk she uses to close in on the rider from Monaco Bay. Fingers catch at his tunic, pushing up over abdomen, and chest to shoulders so that she can pull him down while she goes on the tips of toes and leans in. Forehead bonk? Happening. "I have all the bronzerider I need right here." She breathes it around a smile, grey eyes holding amber as she says it. And is she… is she going to kiss him? Nope. Risali falters in all that feigned confidence, blinking between amber eyes before cheeks turn red and the weyrling is drawing back with a quickness, shoving D'lei like he's done something wrong. She's just going to cross her arms, and clear her throat, and pretend like that never happened. "You should both be scared of me," she says, but it's strained, like what just happened didn't happen because she realized three quarters of the way through that it was a really, really bad idea. "I can take you both out. At the same time. No flexing needed." But she won't meet EITHER OF THEIR EYES ANYMORE. And she adds on, "Shut up, D'lei," like he's SAID SOMETHING. Leirith, well… Leirith keeps shadow puppets dancing with the persistent beat of bass and drums, listening to the conversation between bronzes more than she participates. Okay, that's a lie. She never shuts up. « Mine is the fiercest minion there is. She will win! » There's a shifting of Leirith's wings beneath the wings of both males, and then, « And anger and hatred are boring. There's too much to be excited about! Like where we are going to go, together. Show me the Fort Weyr! » Because she remembers that one, even if she is mesmerized by the view of the world as a whole.

M'tan winks at D'lei rather than responding in any way, not wanting to focus on the unsaid between all this man-flexing-joking, not when he can watch Risali rise and stalk towards the bronzerider. He's totally unkind, as when all that head-bonking, failed-whatever-that-was, leaves Risali red-cheeked, M'tan tosses himself backwards and bursts out into a spiral of laughter. He doesn't stop any time soon, the humor catching hold of him even as he tries to rise to his own feet. His hands go up, as he snickers, looking to D'lei. "She is certainly all yours. Maybe you should teach her how to tackle you next time." He's that mean! Risali's watched closely, M'tan's toes curling in his boots as he prepares to spring away from any flying fists. Sirhtyh's entire body goes still as his mind latches onto that view of the stars around their planet. He tightens his mental claws, not wanting that image to fade so quickly even when Leirith's asking Garouth to share the view of another Weyr. « Did you travel to those stars? » he asks, mentally nudging the gold for her silence. Just once. This is Important Things to the bronzeling.

D'lei grins as Risali makes her way over, with an arch of his brows. Oh yes? Oh yes. Yes very. "Ah, Risaaali," he murmurs. His arm slides in around her as she comes close to him, circling her waist as he leans in with her downward tug, forehead to hers and their eyes now meeting with nothing at all in the world except that contact, their touch and… his brash grin softens as his fingers curl a bit tighter against her back, his other hand - down at his side - doing the same curl as he stops there as she falters and then shoves him back. His fingers tug at her shirt before he can manage to untangle them, both hands squeezing to fists for a moment against his side as he pushes his head and shoulders up and shuts up. By which we mean starts talking? Look, we never claimed he was any good at following instructions. "I would," he says to M'tan as he forces his grin to exist again, "But she bites." Ha. Ha. Ahhhh shards that doesn't really help, HI DRAGONS HE'S GOING TO STARE AT YOU NOW. Please to ignore him, and also that red that's clearly because of being mocked by M'tan. Clearly. Must be. NO OTHER REASON. Garouth ignores the discomfiture of riders, instead showing the younger dragons what he's seen. « To the stars… no. Nor to the moons. » A soft sadness, there, a wistful lack mingled with other emotions hidden among the shadows. « But I have been to where a Hold floats among the stars, though it is far from them… and no-one knows their coordinates. » Because distance is nothing to an adult dragon… not if there's the knowledge. That question answered - as best he can, anyhow - Garouth returns to Leirith's request. Zoom. ENHANCE! There's Fort Weyr, on the northern continent, and somewhere in there Garouth shifts from the space-view to the one flying over the mountains that hold that first-founded of the Weyrs.

The fingers that don't let go fast enough have Risali stumbling right back into D'lei's chest with a solid thunk - where she remains, for a moment, probably trying to pretend that M'tan is not laughing at her and D'lei is not making comments about how she bites, and if the ground could just open up and swallow her right now, that'd be great, thank you. "I like biting," she breathes into D'lei's tunic, in an attempt to diffuse the situation. "It's like kissing, only there's a winner." Okay, so maybe she's not helping things either, especially with those STOLEN QUOTES, which might be why she's catching D'lei's tunic again in her fists and then letting go as she swings back towards M'tan. "Alright, weyrling, get up." And yep, she's stalking over to him, curling her fingers in a way that tells him to stand. "I'm going to kick your ass." Grey eyes flicker towards D'lei, and then quickly away. "And yours too, bronzerider. Get in line." TAKE YOUR BEATINGS LIKE REAL MEN. Leirith… heeds her clutchmate, silent as they watch the stars and speak of the moon and - ah, there is Fort. Leirith's all bass and drums as she watches the mountains below. But? « We can look at the stars again. » She's all amusement, though she… observes the sadness and meets it with a wealth of healthier emotions: adoration, love, acceptance, badassery. « Unless it hurts you, Garouth. Then you can show us your favorite place! » HOW ABOUT THAT. A WIN-WIN FOR EVERYBODY.

M'tan's laughter doesn't help this situation at all. Risali's commands and threats only amuse him all the more. "You can kick my ass another day," he tells Risali with a cocky-crooked-grin. "Or perhaps I'll kick your ass. Whichever it ends up being. For now, I'm afraid Sirhyth and I have other places to be. So, you two, can - y'know, bite each other or whatever you get off on. Though I was under the Impression sex was still off the table." Does he seem like he follows the rules? He doesn't, so then- he encouages Risali, "Let me know how Leirith behaves when you canoodle, okay? I'll want to prepare Sirhyth for whatever upsets he may feel." His bronze doesn't have time to give much but an impression of thought to his friends: time spent with a green, a wide expansive view of the stars, and a cothold made of windows. « Another time I will join you, Garouth. Leirith » He bumps noses with the gold before he squirms his way out of the dragon-pile to walk beside M'tan as they leave. Could the bronze be a bodyguard in this situation? It's likely. Especially when M'tan goes and sticks his tongue out at Risali and tosses to D'lei, "Have fun! Play safe, children!" And then Sirhyth's copper hide is shielding him from view as they trek away.

« No, » Garouth says as he returns his perspective to those stars. « They are beautiful. » Is he sad? KINDA. But there are other emotions to be had as well, depths to the shadows and pleasure lurking as well as sorrow. « Another time. » he replies to Sirhyth, letting their stars together be a part of the same skies even of they may be far from each other through the vastness of the cosmos. And then Sirhyth is leaving, the better to keep M'tan from being murdered. (No wonder the bronzer doesn't sleep in the barracks!) D'lei is …. ha. Ha. Biting. Ha. This is fine. Okay maybe more than fine which is not exactly fine but. "…at least one." THANKS FOR HELPING, MOUTH. NOT. But at least he gets a brief break as Risa goes to threaten M'tan first, enough time to draw in a deep breath and - la la la, not hear that - and then it's his turn again and he's recovered enough to grin as he drops into a crouch. "So come at me." They fight naow?

"You WISH!" Risali calls after M'tan as he leaves, kicking… grass at him? Totally doing that. Because what are words when she's indignant with Risali-esque fury and - grey eyes blink as D'lei lowers himself into a crouch and… oh yes. The flush on Risali's cheeks may not be fully dissipated, but grey eyes are set in determination as she sweeps all that damn hair up behind her head, curling it until it's set in a messy, make-shift bun that she ties off before making her way back towards D'lei. But she doesn't get too close; instead, she stops just reasonable shy, and then shifts. She stands with her side facing him, head turned to look at him, arms coming up in fists as she takes a wider stance without really sinking her knees. There's an exhale, and then a softly spoken, "Don't hold back, bronzerider - you'll regret it." Like she might regret responding to comments about biting that earned returned comments innocent enough, but still blush-inducing. And so what if her breath catches, and so what if her heart is pounding a frantic beat against her ribs? That's just the adrenaline talking. …Right? Leirith is still (A FEAT!) when Sirhyth extricates himself from the tangle of shiny-dragon-hides, returning nose boops before moving closer to Garouth's heat with a low, rumbling sound of content. She thunks her body sideways into his, and crosses her tail over his, and shoves her face in between both of their bodies again. « They are beautiful! » A beat, and then, as if observing the image her brother shared only moments before, there is… a curiosity. « Is there something wrong with gold dragons? » comes, with perhaps a hint of self-awareness, as she brings her brother's memory to the forefront, and then Garouth's moon. There's a silence about her as she observes, picturing Faeth in her mind, tiny, and slender, and beautiful. And then herself, beside her, large with wonky headknobs and … there's laughter from Leirith, as if she finds herself hilarious. Truth be told, she's not even sure why it matters, because it doesn't outside of genuine curiosity, and so dancers are unleashed instead, in brilliant gowns of green with feathers that shift color as they move to capture projected stars in their hands - or try to, anyway. « I'm still a badass. » A beat, and then a wuffle of amusement. « So is my minion, though your minion makes her feel funny. He's doing that now. » YEP, FOR ALL THE WORLD. HELLO.

Because what better way to DISTRACT from ideas of GRAPPLING TOGETHER than by GRAPPLING TOGETHER. …look okay we never said D'lei was the smartest of bronzeriders, or that it's actually easy to reroute a steam train that's hoping someone will lay down some tracks. But. For all it may not be different enough, it is different. "Of course not." D'lei's grin shifts, tugged between softening and sharpening, first with the bottom curving down and then the sides tugging so that there's just a hint more teeth as he rolls on the balls of his feet, testing the ground under him as he studies Risali in… a different light. Maybe a couple of them at once. He sidesteps, changing his angle to meet hers. His own hands are lower, one near his middle, the other around his chest, and their curl is a loose one, ready to… see. Just what will happen? How will this tension resolve? Another sidestep, his eyes gleaming as he watches. Garouth? He's not worried. The stars are bright, and even if Sirhyth is gone, Leirith remains close and her dancers invade to swirl with stars that shake from the heavens to dance like fireflies around the feathered revelers who try to capture them. « You are. » Garouth rumbles, the firefly-stars pulsing with his voice. « There is nothing wrong with you. » Okay, yes, maybe HER EYES, but that is transient and has nothing to do with the love with which Garouth enfolds her. « You would be badass no matter what. That is you, not some color of hide. » It's what inside that matters! Like those FUNNY FEELINGS. « They recognize the badass in each other. »

It is different, and Risali yields to the differences, focusing on not being the train or the laid-out tracks, much like she focuses on D'lei's every movement. Every side-step that D'lei takes has Risali making one of her own, to maintain the distance between them, aware that he is bigger than she is, and bigger does not necessarily mean better, but it certainly means D'lei will have better reach. The trick? Getting close. And so she moves, footing steady, arms posed to protect her face or her body should he take a swing out of impatience, and she studies him. And maybe it's not only D'lei who is seeing Risali in a different light, but Risali who is also seeing D'lei, as she dances a fighter's dance with him to keep different kinds of dancing at bay. And then she moves, because the name of the game is control; she maintains eye contact as she moves with a quickness into his space, by bringing her back leg forward with a kick aimed to his thigh (but clearly meant for elsewhere, were they actually fighting), and if she is successful, she will continue forward, one hand slamming against the side of his face as if to bait him into that instinctive reaction to block. And if he does? Well, she'll catch the wrist of one arm and bring the other hand down on the back of his neck, forcing him toward the ground and into a position that she can control, aiming to keep pressure on his arm and his neck so that he can't bring them up and tackle her. If she's not? Well… that'll all depend on where he asserts himself, won't it? Like Leirith and her dancers, asserting themselves into Garouth's mind and catching the fireflies, their own dresses adopting the glow as they close gentle hands around dancing lights. But Leirith's curiosity is not sated, it… grows. « There is something wrong with me, » she tells him, laughing, lacking self-deprecation. « But one day, I will have my eyes. But that is not the kind of wrongness that I mean. Green dragons, they are… » Leirith filters, picking apart images and thoughts in much the same way her dancers seem to move and meld into one after another, after another, until there is only one left - and perhaps it is Leirith under that mask, or just another shadow-dancer meant to distract. « Preferred. » There is no jealousy in her tones, no anger, or envy (FUNNY BECAUSE GREEN, HA), or even accusation. It's… an observation, a statement of curious, perceived fact that doesn't diminish even as her attention turns to her minion and Garouth's. « Perhaps because they are smaller, they are more beautiful. » And it's her own appreciation for all of her sisters, as if she can see the beauty too, but does not understand why gold dragons are so… lacking in memories from all the dragons around her. She doesn't count. « She does think he is a badass, my minion. I suppose it is good to find the same qualities in people you love! Though, we will see who wins. » A beat, and then, « It will probably be mine. » Is she laughing? SHE SO IS.

And D'lei wants to see Risali's eyes, because they're what tells him what she's thinking just a moment before she does it. See, but not get lost in, because he could follow those eyes but that's not the name of this game. He's bigger. She's faster. Reach and speed, the challenges of fight or flight, and D'lei waits, patient, for Risali to make the first move. She takes initiative, which isn't the same as control but can lead to it. She makes the kick but it's not quite where she was aimed, another shift further around his hip (but still closer than might be comfortable// to where she would have aimed if this were a real fight) but just enough around that it's angled to veer away instead of toward, to bring them sliding past each other… or it would, if this were dancing; but this is a different kind of challenge, and D'lei folds into a crouch, letting that fist bounce from the top of his head as he takes the fall under his control instead of hers, a bend of legs and then an explosion upward as he tries to catch her new hind leg and throw her down by pulling it up, slung on his shoulder as he bounds from the ground. How stable is her footing now? How well did she land from that kick? Regardless of the answer he's in motion past, not delaying where she can kick him if she does recover her position… but seeking to disrupt in his pass before he rises and spins back to face her once more. Garouth rumbles as the fireflies pulse, their light shining through the fingers of the dancers and limning them with gleams that alternate between green and gold in how they shine. « Perhaps. » Garouth muses… « But I do not think so. » He turns his head, regarding Leirith with his eyes… because he can see her, even if she cannot yet do the same. « I think there are two reasons. The first is simple. There are more greens. » He pictures her own clutch, ONE GOLD and several green sisters… and then behind them, an echo of the Weyr with its four golds and dozens of greens. « The other… well. » Garouth laughs, with a rumble through the forest and a buzz as those fireflies twist and change, with stingers and raspy wings as they become bright-lantered stirges. « You frighten them. You are strong, and they wonder… what if they are not badass enough? » Garouth shares an old memory now, his own mother's mind with her ice and darkness gleaming through the fuzzy quiet of his egg. « They think greens are easier, because they are smaller. » A snort, as Garouth turns his head to watch the fight between Risali and D'lei, offering Leirith his eyes as another perspective on the battle between their minions, smaller Risali versus larger D'lei. « They are wrong. » Those people who think small means less; who think green is less than gold, or woman than man. But. Garouth knows that people think things, even when they're wrong.

Footing? Ha. D'lei catches Risali's leg as he goes past and she's caught, shoulders slamming into the ground with a sharp exhale of air that probably hurts, but draws no complaints from the weyrling. Instead of allowing herself to land completely, she uses the momentum of her fall in combination with curling her arms behind her head and rotating her hips, to curl in on herself, going legs-over-head in a controlled roll that ends with her toes on the ground, knees just above it, fingers applying pressure to keep her upright - like a runner, waiting for their mark, or a dancer. And there's an almost wolfish smile now, just shy of titillating, as grey eyes rake up D'lei's form, seeing him in a way that maybe she hadn't seen him before, and landing on amber with warm appreciation. "You know what you're doing," she breathes, and she moves slowly, regaining her footing, dusting clinging grass and dirt from her hands as she readopts her previous stance and moves back towards D'lei with her arms up and ready. Risali stays out of his reach, but she taunts him, throwing her body forward as if she's going to swing at him again, ducking back just as quickly and taking another side step away, looking for another opening, waiting for an opportunity, or perhaps simply baiting him into the attack this time. "Come on, bronzerider," she taunts, and her voice is breathy, low. "Hit me." And Leirith observes herself through him, lingering on her own colors, her own headknobs, the wrongness of her eyes hidden away from the world - with humor. She makes no self-deprecating remarks; the queen merely observes, as that lone dancer release their no-longer fireflies with excitement to see what they've become - something new, and she follows their flight through the forest on light feet, joined slowly once more by more dancers, until she is lost within them. And Leirith thinks, observing every angle that Garouth gives her until - « But they are beautiful. » And it's not resignation, it's merely… a fact. One that brings her back to herself and whether or not people are worthy. And she laughs, like Garouth laughed, because why anybody would want to impress her is really beyond the queen - for now. « We are all strong. Maybe we aren't all badasses, but my Minion tells me that there are different kinds of strength. » There are fighters, like Risali, who are tempests in waiting, and then there are those with a more quiet strength… like D'lei. D'lei who seems to hurt, but presses forward and still smiles. And maybe those are Risali's thoughts, filtered back to the bronze, but they are no less meant. So she watches the fight, amused, as Risali falls and gets back up again. « And maybe, every once in a while, they are all right. » Whatever that means. CRYPTIC BABY DRAGON SPEAKING OF THINGS SHE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND. « But my minion is definitely going to win. »

"Didn't used to," D'lei answers, with a gleam in that amber as he sweeps back to face Risali again, a grin in the mouth that's almost tucked away behind the angle of his face as forehead leads down to chin, eyes looking out from under the ridge of brows. And if it were a different moment, a different experience, he might be sad for that - for how he turned from clueless to competent in the realm of combat - but there's no room for sorrow in fighting; no room for anger, no room for anything except the flow of bodies as he models himself and her with a careful attention to how they flow. That's one of the things he learned, this state of fighting where the only emotions as he makes the constant stream of guesses are the sharp feedback of success or pain, the fierce joy of advantage or the learning sting of failure. He's learned, and now… he dances with Risali with fists, his body moving closer to hers and - there, there, the gestures that bring his hands to not-quite-touch hers, the attacks that are called off as she sees he's ready to block - or the feints, that he doesn't quite commit to enough to give her opportunity. Lies and truths and taunts, and now he feints, with a shuffle step forward and then a jab aimed down for her chest and all but hoping for the impact of her hand to block so he can pivot his own chest and bring his other fist in, to where the turn of her body to catch the first impact will make a ready target from jaw down to shoulder. Garouth laughs, over the hum of insect wings, the buzz of those iridescent creatures as they dart between the shadows and lead that dancer out through his forest. « They are. » he agrees to her, an easy admission to make. He likes looking at greens, enjoys the chase… but he is not afraid, either. He can face the music! And even disagree, at least a little. « Not all are strong… but many. In their ways. » All right? Garouth is curious, shimmer winged wasps buzzing back to crawl through the hair of dancers and seek their thoughts. « Are they? » SPEAK TO HIM OF SECRETS. As opposed to Risali's inevitable and not secret at all victory. « She already does. » So fierce, this fli- fight. This FIGHT that makes their eyes shine so bright at each other.

And so they dance, that intricate dance of give and take, of baiting, and being baited, of waiting to see just who it is that will seek an opening first - then it happens. D'lei attacks, and Risali's bringing her lower hand down on the wrist of the arm coming for her chest, shoving down without letting go as she tucks her shoulders in towards herself, bringing her other arm up. It's an attempt to throw him slightly off balance, as Risali catches at the back of her own head with an open palm, elbow bent to minimize available face-hitting-space and tucks her chin in towards her other shoulder, ensuring that D'lei's hit lands on her arm instead of on her jaw - even if it hurts (though it hurts a LOT LESS THAN IT WOULD HAVE). And there's a huff of pain, but she's moving again before it can register. If she is successful, she's wrapping the arm protecting her head around his forearm and twisting his arm in time with her own forward motion, until it's caught under her arm and trapped against her body with uncomfortable pressure. The hand at his wrist releases in tandem, to press to the back of his neck again to force him down, into a position of submission that she can control if it works. Only this time, she brings her knee up, with every intention of getting him in the face as she forced him down - should he succumb to her defenses, of course. It is the intent, anyway, though her success remains to be seen. And if she does land the blow, it's certainly with a lot less force than an actual blow may have had. And he can still probably get her feet out from under her if he can break that hold, but… well. WE WILL SEE. Like Garouth and Leirith, who see the dance happening, who see the way their riders are looking at each other while one of those dragons doesn't quite understand it, but… maybe she is beginning to. And for a moment, she is quiet, the dancers pulling bugs from their hair and turning them into decorations, pinning them into place as Leirith lifts her head as if she can look at Garouth and is, for a time, still. « Maybe I am strong, and maybe that is frightening. Maybe there are those who are not badass enough, and maybe there are those who are green and are easy, because they are small. » But it doesn't sound mean. She's as upbeat as ever, as if trying to unravel the universe that seems to be endless with discoveries for her - them - to make. « And maybe that is okay, Garouth, because maybe that is what makes everybody else interesting. » Or the combinations of those things, like her Risali, who is small, and strong, and fierce. And his D'lei, who is bigger, and strong, but more… gentle, in a way. Her curiosity turns back towards their riders, and Garouth's answer. « Does she? It does not look as if she has won yet, Garouth. » But she's laughing, because it is all in good fun anyway. Isn't it?

Contact, as the circling wait turns into the swift exchange of blows, the potential energy wound up in their muscles bouncing back and forth, redirected in part even as some of it lands with each blow, force transmitted - reduced into the friction of pain, added back again by the actions of their muscles. D'lei's arm is caught, that painful twisting seeming to screw his grin in broader even as it brings a gleam to his eyes that might not just be the rush of battle. But even so, he drops easy, too easy, down toward the ground… and that knee rushing toward him first. He turns his head, not trying to dodge it but instead hug it, taking that blow hard against his shoulder as he shoves his face into her thigh, the hollow between leg and torso made by the bend of her hip as his other arm comes around in the freedom given his wrist by the push against his neck… and he jerks to the side, using his weight, the inertia of his body to kick out her leg, even the hold she has on him that twists at his shoulder to lean into the pain and try to drive her to the ground. Because he's going down, oh yes… but if he can make it work, she's headed there first, the impact to earth to be followed by that of his own body. Garouth watches, and through him Leirith, though… the gold's sightless eyes see… well, him. Or at least, Leirith's mind sees his, her thoughts addressing his as they encompass each other though her eyes cannot yet actually see him. « Yes. » Shimmer-winged hair ornaments, their stingers the pins that let them adorn the dancers and make them sparkle in the shifting light of festival lanterns and dappled forest light. « Easy is not bad. To never face the challenge and become better… that is bad. But there is nothing wrong with easy. » A rumble, pleased in his agreement to her and no more mean than she is. « They are who they are. » So many people! Of so many kinds. And types. And perspectives and abilities! « Yet surely there are just as many kinds of winning as there are ways to be strong… or interesting. » So Risali has won, and so has D'lei. Even if… « I do not know which one will be on top. »

And D'lei is definitely not the only one going down, because Risali is going down too. There's a soft sound that escapes her when he takes her leg out from under her and twists, loosening her grip on his arm immediately because shattering it would be very, very bad. And she falls with him as he leans, fingers catching at his shoulders, legs coming around his hips as she tumbles, and tries to stay upright, but fails. Instead, Risali just adds more weight to D'lei's inevitable descent, receiving the brunt of impact with her shoulders - jarring, and unpleasant. And she lands hard, even as she tries to angle herself for the best possible impact, expelling the air from her lungs with a grunt and a wince when his body comes down on hers and still she holds on. And then it doesn't matter that her body is tired, and in pain, and that she can't breathe. Risa's crushing D'lei against her body, burying her face in his shoulder, and she's laughing. And for a time, Leirith chooses not to answer, the dancers shifting endlessly, without words, as the gold watches her minion and Garouth's tangled upon one another and all of Risali's emotions filter into her - too much - and so she shares the burden with Garouth. « I love you, Garouth, » the gold finally settles on, and there's something there. It's still upbeat, still innocent, and earnest, and meant, but there is something behind Leirith's words that carry a weight. Like maybe she is coming to understand things, even if she is not sure what to make of the things she is starting to understand. « But there are different ways to love different people, aren't there? » And maybe that realization makes her sad, even as Risali's laughter rings through her, shared between them, and her dancers continue to move, through the shadows, until their costumes are all… different. « Because of those differences. »

The potential energy of mass and tensed muscles and rebounding motion all crashes with the force of gravity to send them over, thud and whump as tensed muscles become loose to take the impact, that first skill of brawling of falling over without (too much) injury… and then even so there's a shiver of concern, D'lei's wondering if this was too much but NO, because THERE IT IS - the tightening again, the crush of muscles as somewhere in there grappling turns to hugging or at least crushing, and the laughter of NO BREATH BUT MUST LAUGH and the shudder of bodies together as the waves of adrenaline, and joy, and pain and pleasure crash as well, radiating up through the earth through Risali - through D'lei - through to their dragons with that intensity of emotions that IS NOT TECHNICALLY PROHIBITED but IS STILL TOO MUCH for young Leirith… or so a weyrlingmaster might say, but Garouth is there, his wing over the gold and his tail curled in around her, his body warm against her and his thoughts cool with shadows as comforting as they are spooky, full of mysteries and yet always open to her. The foxes bark at each other, chasing through the leaves. Somewhere, a porcupine-monster tugs out its spines to piece a rabbit-creature who shrieks with every strike - and begs for more. The wolves drag moss back to their dens, readying them for spring litters… and Leirith will understand, for these things are not hidden from her… only distant in the shadows of the forest, waiting for the time when she will see them and know/ what they mean. They are there, as Garouth is there in his silence with Leirith, sharing his thoughts with her even as they share in the emotions and sensations of their riders, as D'lei presses to Risali (or is pressed to her), is clung and held and pinned/pinning her with a squeeze and a fierce and joyous grin that she can feel in his body against hers even if she can't see it on his face buried in against her shoulder. Just like Leirith can see Garouth, even if she can't see him. He listens as she speaks, the trees shedding their brightly-colored leaves in soft tears - confetti - autumn, falling down around the dancers as they pass through the shadows into their differences that lie beyond. « Yes. I love you, Leirith. » A wolf steps from the shadows, joining a dancer to walk by her side with a companionship of quiet footsteps. « I do not yet know all the ways I love you. »

It will never be too much; Risali is tough, she can take it. And even better: she can give it right back. So she does, and here they are, in a mutual mass of laughing, shaking, protesting bodies that press against one another and share their delight at each other's strength and each other's existence. And Risali holds even tighter as if she's afraid letting go will chase the moment away, as if remembering how to breathe will somehow make this less, as if putting distance between the crush of her against him will somehow invite the outside world back in between them. And there is Leirith, or, well, her dancers. And they move, for once watching the forest instead of joining the forest, taking in the foxes, and the wolves, and the mismatched-but-somehow-together creatures without fully understanding. But she understands something, that each of them are different, that they love each other in different ways, even if she cannot comprehend what that difference is. And so she continues to watch Risali and D'lei through Garouth, hearing his words, but silent as she observes, as she tries to fit together pieces of a puzzle and figure out why it's so important that they fit. And then the dancers pick up autumn, to adorn it with their dresses, as Leirith nudges Garouth physically. « Is it important, Garouth? Because you are Garouth, and you will always be Garouth. You are mine. And I will always be yours. » And while the words may sound possessive, they are applied without the context of adult claim; she simply means she accepts him, that she will always accept him, even if they are foxes chasing leaves, or wolves gathering moss, or mismatched creatures that cause each other pain. « Because I love you. » And there's that upbeat, eager joy again, as she laughs with Risali, and her dancers dance. And Risali? Well, she finally loosens her hold on D'lei, shifting so that she can grab his face between her hands, and grey eyes (giddy, and bright, and laughing) hold amber as her fingers press over his jaw, and his cheeks, and his brows. "I'll teach you how to get out of that arm lock without risking breaking your elbow if you teach me how to get closer without losing my footing." And it's a breathy whisper, but, well… she says it so there.

Garouth stretches his wing, the tattered edge of it fluttering against Leirith even as the leaves fall in his mind and hers. « I… » A shiver, as the wind blows through the treetops and brings a hint of winter, and as Garouth continues he seems almost hesitant. « I am afraid, Leirith. » His voice is soft, a whisper beneath the trees. « I am afraid you will become different. That the time will come when you will not love me. » Even if his wolves circle her dancers now, tracing between their feet with furred bodies and quiet paws. Even if the winds tug at the feathered masks, the birds fluttering through the trees. Even if the beat of wings echoes her drums, the thrum of steady sound that warps to make the words of the forest. Even if… « I love you. » It's true, of course. Why else would he be afraid, if not because of love (and the risk of its loss)? What could matter more than His People, the ones he loves - each in their different way that suits them and their nature and him. Together… they are together. The pack, with all its many connections. They are together, Garouth and Leirith… Risali and D'lei, who presses to her, breathes not very well as he tries to get oxygen through her body and instead fills his lungs with the scent of her (and a bit of air to go with it), sweaty and adrenaline-sharp and Risali, and he's against her, in so much contact with her and feeling her with those heightened senses of fight that make her own body almost an extension of his, something he wants to respond to as if it were his own, as if it were his own feet stumbling to work against him, his own Risali whose hands he kisses as she lifts his head, or maybe nips with his lips and accidental-teeth as he burrows his head into them as she lifts him up to see him… and he grins to her, his hair wild and eyes bright as they meet hers - a mussed wolf, fluffy and clever and gentle but not tame. "Deal," he says, one word but that's all they need because THIS IS IT, THIS IS THEM, THIS IS WHAT THEY DO. And HE IS HAPPY.

And for once? Leirith's amusement subsides, her dancers still as the wolves circle and weave, then move again until there is only one dancer left among the them - and winter becomes her. She is dressed in gold, with a mask that sits crooked, but conceals, and over her shoulders sits a cape of black and red. And she kneels to the wolves in their forest, quiet as she listens, waiting, until fingers outstretch and find the brindled fur of a wolf. The dancer pulls herself closer to the wolf, in a hug like she has seen Risali give D'lei so many times, and she is unafraid of its teeth, or its claws, and she presses a kiss to the very tip of its nose around a smile. It may not be Garouth, but it is still… Garouth. « It is okay to be afraid, Garouth, » Leirith tells him, and her own voice is… gentle. She is young and unsure, but she understands that this is important, that Garouth needs something from her even if she is not sure how to give it, or what that something is. So she gives him what she can: her patience, her adoration, her respect, and her love. « I am here. » Because she has heard Risali say that to D'lei too, and she lifts her blind head to bunt under his chin as she shifts more comfortably against him. « Though you do not have to tell me. » Because she's heard that too, and she knows that it's important in the same way that her dancer holds to that wolf in their minds. She doesn't need him to explain, she simply needs him to know. « Because I love you, too, Garouth. » And she does, without expectation, and in the only way she knows how: loudly, over-the-top, undaunted, unhindered, and joyously. Like Risali looks at D'lei now, despite the flush on her cheeks, or the goosebumps that rise on her flesh when his lips and his teeth catch at her hands; she shivers underneath him, trembles against him, and meets his smile with one of her own. Because it's him, it's D'lei, and she's drowning in him. It's easy, to lose herself in the way he smells, in the way she fits, in the way thoughts that tell her just a little more clamor to be heard. And she can't let them be. So Risali has to move, because feeling him pressed against her is too much even if it's not enough. And it's the 'not enough' that scares her, because what will ever be enough? Risa's grey eyes are on D'lei's mouth, as if she can start there, find an answer there, and her smile fades with the intensity of that look. She's going to do something stupid if she remains, and break important rules, and so she does what she always does: she moves. And she's shifting herself out from beneath him, hesitant to do so, but knowing that she must. Because this is dangerous. And so instead, that smile is back in place if a little shaky, like her hand is shaky when she holds it out for him to help him back up once she's back on her feet. "From the top?" And if he says yes, then she will spend the day sparring with him, teaching him what she knows, learning from him, and perhaps laughing like they're drunk again, pressed against each other, until they have to do it all over.

The wolf, warm and soft (and strong, and fierce), with amber eyes that look to the dancer behind that mask, meeting her gaze and leaning to her. He kisses back, the lap of his tongue around her chin and over her lips, the warm whine of his affections that says without words what Garouth… has found the words to say, though those words are incomplete. Love - affection, desire; hope and fear, beauty and danger. Garouth croons, the loving whine of the wolf, and curls himself closer to Leirith, saying with his touch, with his mind, the same things that his words have said… and repeating hers, as she did his. « You are here. » And he is glad for that, the emotion strong and sweeping, love there and pleasure as his feelings and his rider's tangle in a complex web that doesn't matter, because they're both - all four of them - here. Even if Leirith doesn't understand everything, yet. Even if that is a brake on everything, that innocence that is slowly shedding away like autumn leaves drifting to the ground so that something new may grow in their place. Even so, they are here. And here is… unstable, even as it brings such feelings of safety and comfort and joy, because it's too close and not enough. The dancers poised in mid-leap, the tackle half-way made… but will she stick the landing, or will he tumble down? D'lei is so close to - Risali, feeling the shiver of a danger that… is exhilarating in its way, as danger is, but this one is still too much to risk. "This time, with feeling!" he says as he grasps her wrist to pull himself up… because he too can steal words from the harpers when he can't trust his own. His own words, his own voice, might say too much… but he can fight Risali with fists and grips and throws, the safer challenge of combat rather than the greater risk of feelings and desire and love. So they fight, until they're exhausted and laughing and sprawl next to each other on the ground because moving is hard ok? And then again. Because this. Them. Together. Tomorrow? Today.

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