Ligeia is Searched!

Igen Weyr - Lake Shore
It is sometimes hard to tell where the bowl ends and the lake shore begins. Fine grains of gold, tan and orange hued sand layer much as the bowl walls in the distance beyond. The sand only gives way to thin patches of grass where the tall fence of the feeding grounds intersects the lake to the south and the smooth curve of the bowl wall rises on the opposite shore. At that intersection one can make out a small building and colorful fabrics where the Weyr's residents go to relax. The shallow lake waters shimmer invitingly, day and night, lapping at the fine grain sands. Engineered pipes are hidden beneath the bowl landscape and feed the lake as well as the grasses of the feeding grounds to keep the water levels from dropping past a certain point which is marked by a waist high obelisk.

It's winter and it's Igen but it's still somewhere in the warm part of the day before it drops precipitously into omg cold territory. This is not quite swimming weather, but Ligeia's not exactly out here to swim, either. NOPE. Sure, there are some ballsy brave no, definitely ballsy riders doing some skinny dipping out in the lake, but she's pretty comfortably settled on a towel, with a parasol popped up to lend some shade that'll be wholly unnecessary in a few hours, a cooler next to her, and a notebook opened in her lap. She's writing and looking at the swimmers - in equal measure allegedly.

And then there's Ila'den, who arrives in all dark leathers as if to contradict the choices of riders skinny-dipping in the lake, tempting hypothermia and important limbs right before Igen's unfriendly desert unwelcome becomes a freezing unfriendly unwelcome. The man is stalking, a predator followed much too closely by a blackened bronze who looks as if he were conjured from the depths nightmares and molded to haunt the living. It's not that there's anything wrong with him, per say, except that red eyes whorl in perpetual agitation and every step somehow manages to communicate violence, a visage ruined only by the honey-swept wingtips of his sails and what might be curiosity the moment he finds what looks to be a kitten on the beach. LOOK, WE DON'T MAKE THE RULES, THERE IS DEFINITELY A CAT and that tiny mew - as most animals would when faced with the ungodly TERROR of a dragon shoving their maw into their tiny, furry bodies - spits, smacks the dragon on his nose with some of them fresh SKIPPITY BAPS as she puffs up her little body to impossible size and then makes a run for it. NOT TODAY, DRATAN. (We have no clever way of merging dragon and Satan, WORK WITH US HERE). RIGHT OVER TO LIGEIA. PITAPATPITAPATPIT. Tumble. PITPATPITPAT. « I want it, » comes words that only Ila'den can hear, a demand that has the bronzerider's predacious gait slowing to something more sedate until he stills and that lone grey eye jumps from his dragon to Ligeia - who is also looking at the woman under her parasol now. "We can't just take her, Teimyrth" LIGEIA, OR THE KITTEN? « It is mine. » That low, rasping growl comes a touch amused as he says, "What if they make a scene?" A low growl from the bronze, but alas. RUN, LIGEIA. ILA'DEN APPROACHES (looking very much like he would rather not). "Nice umbrella," comes dry, because apparently this is how Ila'den strikes up a conversation.

THIS ISN'T HER FIRST HORROR RODEO. Ligeia lifts her head only at the sound of a kitten scattering sand in her immediate vicinity. Give her a one, two, three- "Ahhh-" the suck of breath bears the hallmarks of alarm but, to her credit, she does not scream. No, she's quick to recover, masking that gasp as a prelude to a pseudo sneeze that's turned away from man and dragon alike. MAYBE IT IS THE KITTEN'S FAULT?! Even if it were, she can't help digging into her bag for some plot-contrivance convenient jerky and shredding a bit of it to offer to el kitterino to coax it closer - and, yes, maybe away from senor nightmare dragonth right over there. She's not running, nope. She's just going to stand- er, sit? Technically sit - her ground here, with the notebook being flipped neatly shut lest the contents be exposed to the one-eyed man. "Yup, it is," with a hard-popped 'p' and a Vanna White sweep of free hand at the shade-producing device. "Though I guess it's kind of silly to keep it out now," with Rukbat starting to eye the horizon like it needs to escape from whatever HORRIFYING INCIDENT is about to transpire. "Is this your kitten here?" Does it have a name? Is Mister Meowstopheles a little too ridiculous?!

On account of the fact that kittens are really cute and can therefore get away with all manner of mischief, we will blame it on the baby and definitely not the bronze or rider who might be plotting to steal a random woman from the beach but are more likely planning to kittennap a kitten. Ligeia gestures to the horizon and Ila'den's brows rise, not bothering to look over his shoulder where she gestures because Rukbat is, indeed, forfeiting her reign to Timor and Belior and Ila'den is not forfeiting his sudden interest in Mister Meowstopheles to witness it. "It's not." His cat, he means, though it's hard to differentiate between whether he means the cat or the umbrella being a stupid idea and he doesn't bother to clarify because civil conversation is clearly not his forte. Instead he gestures at Teimyrth who, as if on cue, lowers his head and growls again, menacing despite the fact that he's not actually trying to be. HE JUST WANTS TO SEE THE KITTEN, OKAY. THAT IS HIS TINIEST MEW NOW, LIKE IT OR NOT. "This one seems to think it should be, though." A beat, as he looks to that proffered jerky and then back to Ligeia before he asks a raspy, "Is it your kitten?" Because that's important, and the kitten is cowering behind her UNCOAXED BY JERKY, but certainly pretending that it has found a sanctuary to hide and puff up within.

Does kitten have a collar? Does it have a REAL OWNER?! This is probably the time for Ligeia to check, with a quick peek-see-do under one arm, then another, as she tries to look awkwardly behind her in order to actually look at the lost kittenling. To buy time: "Mayyybe it is." She flicks a hazel-eyed look up at Ila'den, the illusion of coquettishness broken when a couple of the lads break out of the water and sprint for the shore, where their towels are, and maybe she's distracted long enough by the shoreline shenanigans that she briefly forgets whatever the conversation is. It takes a moment for her to recover, with a shake of her head and a blown breath and a sudden smile flashed to Ila'den and Teimyrth that's pure amiability and not at all apologetic. Okay, maybe a little apologetic. A LITTLE. She reaches back to try to patpat the kitten, to reassure it that, yes, it is okay to be a puffball of terror (preferably with a triangle tail, but #AllKittensAreCute) and if she gets all clawed and bitten up, well, this is fine. THIS IS FINE. "If he really wants it to be his, he can't growl at it. Has he ever met a kitten before?" Because REALLY. Brows lift a little as she studies man and beast alike with a sudden, sharp intensity. "They get all stabby murder-mittens if big things growl at them."

PROBABLY NOT. It's a collarless kitten RIFE FOR THE TAKING and Teimyrth is here to save the day. Or ruin it, probably, if you're looking at it from the kitten's point of view. BUT WE'RE NOT. We're looking at it from Teimyrth's, who has just enough dignity in him to snort at Ligeia's implications even as he drops his maw completely to the ground and flumps his whole ass body behind it. LOOK AT HIM. HE IS NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY THREATENING EVEN A LITTLE BIT, CLEARLY HE HAS BEEN AROUND KITTENS. Which would be a whole hell of a lot more convincing if he wasn't exhaling a long growl and leaving Ila'den to tilt his chin just long enough to observe the bronze's version of 'submission' before looking back to Ligeia. This means he sees when her attention strays and his own focal point follows the line of hers before he drags his gaze back to her with something much too amused and wolfish. "You'd be surprised," comes dry, "about how many felines he's won over." It's an amazing feat for a dragon as fiercely cruel as Teimyrth, but we don't talk about it. "The 'stabby murder-mittens' part is his favorite." A long pause, and then Ila'den is sinking down into a crouch, forearms to his thighs as he takes in Ligeia with another slow raise of his brows. "Have you decided on whether or not it's your kitten yet, or should I flag down a couple more naked men to distract you while we make a run for it?" Ila'den's too old to run, probably. HIS HIPS AND ALL (JUST KIDDING HE'S A DRAGONRIDER AND WE STAN A GOOD SLOWER-AGING HYPOTHESIS, FIGHT US).

Oh, thank Faranth there's no collar; it will make this next bit so much easier. Fortunately, Ligeia's no stranger to big ass dragons, so Teimyrth's FLUMPENING isn't too jarring. Nor is the GROWLENING, even if it does earn him some cautious side-eye from the Gal-That-Should-Have-Harpered. The kitten is carefully collected in her hands and drawn into her lap, while she shift-scoot-wiggles to better face both man and dragon, with the kitten kinda-sorta presented within the loose cage of her legs. Petting intensifies - which is to say that she's VERY VERY CAREFUL. "Well, it is my kitten," she replies, oh-so-sly, with a slanted look askance to Ila'den, "though I won't say no to the distraction of naked men." It sounds pretty smooth, honestly, but kindly do ignore the fact that she's still young enough to blush ferociously all the same. BETRAYAL. "Buuut. I might not be that surprised. I've seen some strange things in my life already. Mister Meowstopheles," because it's CANON NOW and also this is not how she expected to acquire a pet, BUT HERE WE ARE, "meet- um." Oh. Right. NAMES. "These two." SMOOTH. "I don't think the big one will bite. But I'm not sure about the other one," she adds, her voice dipped into a conspiratorial stage whisper. AT LEAST SHE CAN OUTRUN HIM (maybe but probably not, she's an academic, not an athlete and let's be honest, she'd probably be THAT GIRL in a horror movie that trips and eats sand before she's dragged off for nefariousness)

DECEPTION. DISGRAAAAACE. Ila'den watches the kitten be kitten-napped from his attempts and offers a sigh because Teimyrth, vastly affronted, lifts his head and growls all the more. "Ila'den," he corrects, filling in the blanks, "and Teimyrth," as he thumbs in the direction of his ire-wrought bronze. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mister Meowstopheles, and…?" Look, Ila'den doesn't do anything but wait, that lone grey eye fixing on Ligeia with the kind of tolerant patience any predator might display when they've found food and are pretty damn sure they're going to catch it.

"Ligeia," fills in the gap, padded with an easy smile. "Though- hm. I swear, I've heard your name- both of you? Before." But it's a passing thing, the sort of thing that floats to the surface of thought and pops like a bubble. "Well met, Ila'den and Teimyrth," is a smidge more formal, though only just. Also, she has her hands full of kitten. "Does he really want Mister Meowstopheles? Because, uh, he can just come visit whenever he'd like." Yes, she knows that's not the answer the dragon wants. Yes, she might be a little impish at the edges. Is she being A PROBLEM? MAYBE. If Ila'den's looking at her like a meal, then he's going to find she's more like a turkey leg at a Renaissance Festival - there's meat there but, man, there's a lot of bone and sinew, too. There was a point to this metaphor, but it seems to have flown the coop. WHOOPS.

"Ah, so you've discussed me," comes around a slow, wolfish smile. And then, "Ligeia," as if he is testing her name. The problem comes when it's suggested that they come back to visit the kitten, when Teimyrth's wingsails unfurl and then snap back in a shimmy of agitation, the bronze prowling now, a predatory back and forth that has whirling red eyes fixed on both the girl and his cat. "Right," comes from the bronzerider with the kind of resignation one usually reserves for giving up. In a better world, in a circumstance where Ila'den were a better man, this would end with him telling her good luck and politely walking away. BUT THIS IS NOT A DIFFERENT WORLD, AND ILA IS NOT A BETTER MAN, so he rasps a low, "Well, I'm out of naked men, but," is that a white knot he's pulling from his jacket? It is, and there's no ceremony in the way he tosses it in a gentle underhand throw to Ligeia and is still just long enough for it to land in her hands, or her lap, or wherever it lands. "But I do know that Xanadu doesn't allow their candidates to leave the weyr unaccompanied by a dragonrider, so here I am, Ligeia, come to fetch you home." AND WHAT IS THIS? IS THAT MAN RISING TO HIS FEET AND, WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF SHAME, REACHING OUT TO CATCH AT LIGEIA AND TOSS HER OVER HIS SHOULDERS? Yes. And if he's successful, he's exactly the jerk who's walking her towards Teimyrth, too. "Do you have hold of your knot and Mister Meowstopheles, little bird?" Okay, so… we're doing this.

"I've heard of you," Ligeia clarifies without actually clarifying, though there's a pull of her mouth to one side in thought. There and gone, for there's little time left to actually think when he's lobbing that knot at her oh-so-underhandedly - and it's not just a matter of him throwing it underhand, but that it's being thrown at her AT ALL - and leaving her to scramble and get her hands on it and keep hold of the kitten and summon her firelizards to zealously guard her notebook and bag whilst THE AUDACITY OF THIS BRONZERIDER plays itself out in a way so flagrant that if Rukbat had pearls, it would clutch them - if it hadn't also peaced out. Timor and Belior are equally lacking. IT IS A TRAGEDY. "Oh," is about all she can squeak out while she's hauled over his shoulder like some kind of trophy from a questionable contest and in even more questionable taste. She doesn't kick or fuss, though; she's easily hauled along to wherever he needs her, though she'll probably get all kinds of tore up by MISTER MEOW who is probably going to wreck her arm in the process, but it's a small price to pay. "Um." Breathless. Breathy. Wide-eyed. "Okay." Because what does a person DO when they're being whisked off? Catch their breath, that's what, and try to hold on with a barely audible, "Thank you," that's as heartfelt as it is whispered.

Look, Ila'den isn't without a heart. Maybe it's hard to see from over his shoulder, but Teimyrth certainly shifts to make the ascent up his much-too-large body easier for both, and Ila'den puts her down just before the climb, reaching out hands to take the kitten in an offer to spare her hands more pain while also extending his riding gloves to her. They'll probably be too big, but at least she won't come out from between with frostbite. "You're welcome, Ligeia," comes as softly as Ila'den can manage, his own honesty before he's reaching for helmet and goggles to shove those onto her head too. PROBABLY TO BLOCK OUT HER EMOTIONS. THIS IS A NO FEELINGS DRAGON RIDE, LIGEIA. DON'T MAKE IT WEIRD. "I'll take Mister for the ride, he'll be safe in my jacket, and we'll come back in a little bit for your things." You know, after he manages to remind her that candidates are very busy and he'll be happy to foster her kitten interim because he's SUCH A GOOD GUY AND DEFINITELY NOT CAVING TO HIS BRONZE'S WHIMS. The point is, THEY MAKE IT BACK TO XANADU EVENTUALLY, Ligeia kidnapped by a weyrlingmaster, and he does, at some point, bring her back so that she can retrieve those important things like he promised. But first, THEY RIDE!

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