Xanadu Weyr - Shore of Lake Caspian
The cliffs that run along the shore come and go, various weyrs nestled along the tops of them or dug into the walls, but eventually they recede enough to expose a beach. The white sand echoes the rise and fall of the cliffs with a multitude of sandy dunes, endlessly creating tiny valleys that are constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of dragons. The dunes smooth out as the gentle slope approaches the edge of the deep blue water. The sand darkens, and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect.
The beach narrows to the southwest, leaving a path barely wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to a smaller, more sheltered cove. The sands are the same white, the waters the same blue, but they're calmer and more tranquil, more protected from the winds that ruffle Lake Caspian and the currents that tug beneath the surface.
Rough, wide stairs lead up to the meadow above and the road that runs along the top of the cliffs, passing through the fields and heading for the river mouth that can be just barely seen from here. The largest of the staircases up the cliff is located near the docks that jut out onto the peaceful blue waters.
Earlier in the day a perhaps somehow familiar blue landed on the coastal road. But then again in a weyr dragons landing is hardly something to blink at. The dragon now lounges on the beach, one of several soaking up the sun. His rider, well that's hard to say, there's a few milling about not so far from the sands, but then dragon and rider are not always found side by side either. One man, an aging rider grey slowly penetrating his brown hair, in particular however is headed in from the meadow. Whether not paying attention or lost in dragonic conversation is again hard to say for certain.
It's been one of those days - you know the sort. The kind where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. To start, the klah got burned to a crystalline residue on the bottom of the pot and the person making it didn't wash the damn thing before making new. The first draught of what should have been a lovely, rich brew was eye-watering bitter enough to make eyeliner repair necessary. Her office inbox must have been the scene of a firelizard squabble and the hot springs clogged and overflowed. It all went downhill from there and thus instead of lingering in the caverns to oversee the dinner hour to the end, Darsce has fled, on her way to the Treetop Cafe to have a much needed drink before heading home to face the needs of the man and boy-child who wait for her there. Presently she's slogging determinedly across the beach sands in spike heels, ignoring the fact that she's ruining the expensive shoes. Behind her trails a rusty-colored firelizard playing hopscotch with a silver tabby kitten (she's ignoring them too). She hasn't noticed dragons coming and going (or rather she's tuned them out as usual). That is until one of her heels snaps clean off. Iceblue eyes sweep the beach (no one to witness the indignity hopefully?) and that blue dragon is spotted. She freezes, unaware that she's stopped breathing.
No, no one to witness that. Or rather, no one who has by the looks of it. No one rushing to check on the woman or anything of the sort. Call it fate if you will though that the shoe broke at all. If it hadn't their paths likely wouldn't have crossed. She wouldn't have seen that dragon on the beach and she wouldn't have stopped. Her pause brings him closer however as he heads for the beach, still unaware.
Darsce would know that dragon anywhere. Her younger turns were spent likely crawling all over him, certainly having ridden with her- She squelches that. It's been roughly four turns since she's seen that blue on this beach… She bends in a graceful move to absently scoop up that detached heel, all the while staring at the dragon. No, she's not fond of creatures - of any kind. Or so it appears. But this is- "Siebith." It comes out in a whisper and then smoosh-thump-smoosh-thump she flounders in those ridiculous shoes straight for him, until she simply kicks them off and leaves them orphaned in the beach sand to stride closer in her sheer stocking'd feet. Her throat is tight, but she manages, "Siebith," a little louder this time. If he's flown here, surely- "You didn't come alone, uh, did you?" It's awkward, she doesn't expect an answer, not really. But she asks anyway.
The blue stretches, not so much moving his position, but sending a quiet ripple down his spine and flexing his toes. One blue-green eye opens slowly when his name is spoken, a lazy, sleeping cat-like blink following the second repetition. Tip of his tail twitching as she nears. He must have mentioned something to the man as he finally looks enough to notice the blonde beside his blue. Four turns, maybe alittle more and then how long before that that he was trying to drown himself? "He likes flyin'," he comments, coming up behind her. "Specially with pretty girls," a hint of a chuckle in the words.
"I know," the words come out automatically because she does know. Dragons like flying but THIS one, well. She knows how much he does! But then the voice registers, things clicking in her mind and she whips around, frozen again. Not so surprised that the blue dragon transported his rider here but the tone, the old familiar humor in it that she'd not heard for well, eight turns prior to his departure four turns ago. Twelve turns altogether. A whole third of her life! Her lips move soundlessly, forming 'papa' and what she doesn't voice is said in her iceblue eyes: hope, joy and a yearning for this not to be another dream. "Are…you…real?" Her manicured hand reaches out to brush his chest, hovers there, the move incomplete, afraid she'll wake and be disappointed. Behind them, mindless of the tableau the kitten, led by the rusty firelizard, skitter-scrabble between their feet and head for that aged blue muzzle. Her chirp is sweet, seeming to say, Hello New Friend I haven't met! Gah - the cute! It's nauseating.
Uh-oh! His whole goal was to fly under the radar at least for awhile. At least until he'd settled in, see them from a distance. Then again he should have known the former Weyrsecond would have a tough time blending into the crowd. But did he really have to confront two of them on the same day? While Darsce's day might have been terrible, D'had's has been… well its just been and awkward at that. When she turns, she's met with an almost smile which quickly turns to something more akin to deer-in-the-headlights. The last person he was expecting it to be there was her. Almost afraid break the space himself he doesn't and it lingers between though. If it is a dream however, there must be something in the water for Mur'dah to have seen him as well. "Baby..?" So many things he could say, should say, yet that's all that makes it to his lips.
Darsce's entire day has been a nightmare. A dream at the end of it? Wouldn't surprise her to have the alarm jangle and pop it like an ethereal transitory bubble. Moreover, she hasn't seen her half-brother yet today, so he hasn't spilled the beans. The hope remains but mingled with it is some confusion. "You always call me Sunshine in my dreams…" she murmurs, this time taking the half-step nearer as tinted lips tremble to a half-smile. She'll wake soon. "I've missed you so," she admits readily. Her hand extends, completing the move to gently press the palm of her hand, not to his chest, but his cheek instead. Awkward? There's nothing but welcome shimmering in her iceblue gaze. No questions, no reproach, no accusations.
Perhaps not awkward for her, but for him, and he may be just as unsure as her as to whether or not its all just a dream. A lop-sided smile edges its way in for her, lasting only briefly. "You look like your mother, ya know that?" There's a resigned saddness in those klah colored eyes of his. Maybe not readily seen, but its there as her hand touches his cheek and he leans into it ever-so-slightly. "Missed you too sunshine," he returns, lifting his hand to press against her fingers splayed on his face in hopes of keeping that memory alive as his eyes close least she vanish into the sand at their feet leaving him to wake in Telgar's mountains.
Smooth skin where once rough stubble had sprouted to prickle her fingers, near enough to catch the clean scent of soap - that's different. The hand pressing the back of hers and that lopsided tilt to his mouth is the same however. Darsce is puzzled anew. Her dreams are different - there is not a whiff of whiskey. She tilts her head, squints at his hair. Cut. Nicely. Huh. She notes the expression in his eyes before the lids close. Heretofore they'd been clouded, hidden. "Daddy Darling, you're looking stylish; I approve." Flippancy usually works to restore her equilibrium but this time, ahhhh no. She's not dreaming, he's really here, which means he'll go…away…again. She is instantly the little girl he'd left by the tree. When she finds her voice again the words are not 'why are you here?' not 'how are you?' or 'why did you go?' her quiet plea is, "Please don't go."
A quirk of a lip and slight shake of D'had's head for that flippancy. He'd missed that too. If anyone could melt him it was always Darsce and Marella. Its those three little words that hit him hard. It was always there. In the back of his mind, this little voice - 'Papa, don't go.' The first time there wasn't much he could do. Then she and her sister had been best staying with their mother and he going his own way. It was for the best and he couldn't look back least he heard it. The last time there was too much anger, too much grief and pain in his heart for him to hear it. And now, now he finally hears it and she's not a little girl anymore. Peeling her hand from his cheek he holds it in both of his and while his eyes don't reach out for hers he nods, suppressing his guilt as he swallows least she see. "I'm stayin'," he tries to assure her and she just might see something for the first time - her father cry. A breath caught and a tear run down his cheek.
How little children understand adult motivations, always attributing things to themselves! In their tiny worlds, their faults loom large. It isn't until perspective changes with time, distance and maturity to give a clearer vision, if not a less emotional one that they understand many things factor into their parent's lives. Darsce's fingers curl 'round her father's hand with the grip she'd have liked to use that long ago day in Ierne. Mine! The word 'stayin'' draws but one sob from the young woman - the first he's seen since she was around eight turns old. Weyrfolk would be bewildered to see the brittle, oft sarcastic young woman in tears but they aren't present to witness it. Relief and joy - that's what prompts it. Her other hand is free; it and the arm attached to it are flung about the man's neck and tightens, her cheek pressed to that tear trickling down it. Into his collarbone she mumbles understanding for everything, his descent, his flight, "Stuff happened; it's been so hard for everyone." But she's keeping him, see? He's her higher window and she needs him.
D'had lifts his free hand to the back of her head, fingers brushing her hair as his arm rests against her back. Comforting. "Don't cry sunshine." Always a man of few words. So many things that could be said, that should be said yet those are the only ones that make it past his lips and even they get caught in his throat. Her understanding.. for that he shakes his head. He doesn't deserve that. Not yet. "Its not your fault. It was never your fault." It's all on him.
Darsce isn't having it. Fault…somehow isn't important anymore. "I know," she says, muffled from where her face rests, using as few words as her father does. And somehow they communicate. They always have. Not her fault, check. She's worked through most of the puzzle in the long turns after Ierne. After Seryth made that fateful jump. As if still in disbelief after all these turns, "She… made me be headwoman." Like, who in their right mind would have done that? And yet, "We all miss her." Even though Thea wasn't more than a… hm. Acquaintance? Boss? No… a mentor. "Things get… crazy." She ought to know?
She? Miss her? Two and two make four in a matter of a second and muscles tense. No, he's not going there and she can't make him. Not now. Not when he's just maybe getting them back. "Made you huh?" D'had half questions, pulling back only so much that he can get a good look at his not so little girl. "My little girl's all growed up."And along the way he missed so much - so says that sadness in his eyes he tries so hard to hide by putting on a smile for her. "Ya know, that's how I ended up a wingleader. Weyrwoman made me."
Darsce would be the wrong person to reminisce with about Thea. She caused that poor woman more headaches than most did for the former Senior, wasn't particularly close to her and certainly didn't know her on the level it would require to do so. No, her comment was along the lines of wanting him to know that she understands what he's left unspoken. Her arm loosens, she eases back to meet her father's eyes and sniffs in remembered pique, "Uh huh. I borrowed an AWLM's knot and sneaky-taught the mating flights class, so I guess she thought a proper job would keep me out of her hair." With a position that would require them to interact on a daily basis, so where's the logic in that? As for his first knot, shapely brows twitch up. "Reeeally." She smirks, "What'd you do to deserve that?" She never knew they were so alike! As for grown up, for once Darsce is unmindful of smudged mascara about her lashes, regarding her father as shadows cloud her blue eyes. Reminded of the lonely turns gone by, she nods solemnly, trying not to linger on the lines about his eyes. "Yes," she agrees and in that singular word the acknowledgment of loss, both his and hers. They missed a lot, speaking of, she tosses silver-blonde hair, icefire in her eyes, "Where's my wedding present? And Dariel's first three turnday gifts?" Oh she sounds miffed, but a teasing curl sneaks across her mouth betraying her ruse.
D'had chuckles lowly, relaxing just a bit as her conversation moves on to weyrling lessons. "I'm sure that went over well," he replies, amused by the thought as he reaches around to muss her hair. Grown woman or not she's still his little girl. "Dunno," he replies as to what he did to deserve her. That of course was Niva, not Thea. Those lines around his eyes, those attest to the good times he made. He should have known she'd bring it up. If anyone were to call him out on any of it it'd be his girls. His hint of a smile falls at mention of her wedding. That's one of those things he hasn't been able to say yet. She's mentioned something else though, "Dariel?" the name foreign on his tongue.
Darsce's lips curl in scorn; this time her ire is genuine as her nose crinkles the way it does when one finds they've stepped in something unpleasant and found it on the sole of their shoe, "It was going perfectly well until Ka'el had to be an asshole about it! I knew enough from listening to you and Mother to tell them how it works but he-" She shakes off the past, recovering her poise. "They passed their test," she says proudly. But then ACK there's hair-mussing! Her evasive maneuver is too slow to avoid his hand and then she's busy tweaking and finger-combing her hair back into order, unfortunately missing her father's fading smile. She never met Niva, did she? Maybe brought to Xanadu for one of those visits as a child, but she likely wouldn't remember the woman. "Dariel," she says with a brightening of iceblue eyes visible between the shining strands she's fussing with, "is my son." Hers. When he behaves, that is. He's Jethaniel's when he's in trouble, of course. "He's four turns old and he's a genius." Of course, would she have given birth to anything but? "He's fascinated with machinery, like his father." Finished with her hair, she drops her hands, tilts her head to eye her father. "You should come meet him. Have dinner and stuff." What stuff? Probably involves eating something she didn't cook.
D'had nods given her explanation of how the lesson went a twitch of a smile for that. For the rest, he was already faltering. "Baby… I.. I'm so sorry." That's a word he doesn't often use. The last time he said that word to her was when Thea had told him he was going to be a grandfather (N'shen's weyrmate was pregnant) and he'd wrongly assumed it was her. Girls aren't supposed to see their daddy's cry - then again they aren't supposed to see alot of things he's done in the past. If for some unforeseen reason he wasn't able to be there for her wedding - for that he be able to forgive himself for missing such a thing. As it was, there yet not. Likely there only because his brother made sure he was. The name explained is just what he feared when she'd said it. Three turnday presents after all is somewhat telling. The second grandchild he's missed that he's heard of today. "I'm sure he is," he can only agree with her thoughts on her son, voice cracking with with the emotions he's refusing to uncork. As for those presents. "There's something I think I want you to have."
“For what?” comes out of Darsce’s mouth before she thinks. The wedding was a blur for her also - THE biggest day of her life, many guests, much dancing, expensive decorations, elaborate flowers, delectable cake, exquisite gown, sparkly shoes, stunning makeup, hair, nails….Jethaniel, her knight in shining armor. Her father could have missed it and she'd probably not have realized it until going over the guestbook, she was that distracted and well… the mix of emotions made for a stressed-out, over-excited, euphoric Darsce who probably cried several times somewhere between planning the shindig and leaving for their honeymoon. "Oh. That." Missing Dariel's early days and all that went with it. "Papa, you're here now. And honestly? You missed the stinkiest days, trust me. Diapers, spit-up and drool are no picnic." She seeks to pat his arm but ah, the words are a cover up and they both know it. Still, she's glad he's here and, "I forgive you," comes easily. Was she ever angry with him? Not really. He wants her to have something, he's said. "There is? Daddy, Darling, I was kidding about the present! You're my best gift." Her arm curls about his, claiming him and hugs it.
D'had gives a choked chuckle as she so easily skips to her son. "Trust me, you weren't no picnic yourself," he teases her. He lived through those days three times and the last time there were two of them at once. "I shoulda been there to walk you down the aisle," he should have been the one to give her away. But what's done is done and his guilt isn't going to change anything. Forgiveness however, it comes so easily from her lips. "Thank you sunshine," he replies, leaning to press a light kiss to her forehead like those three little words she just said were the greatest gift. "There is," he replies, doing his best to steer her towards the weyrbarn that's now his as she hangs on his arm.
Darsce laughs, a light, silvery sound that floats across the beach. He's one of the few who she'll share laughter with rather than laugh at. "I'm sure I wasn't. I'd ask 'what were you thinking?' but I can guess it wasn't babies." She snickers before adding with a delicate shudder, "I don't know how people deal with it. I hired a private nanny." After a few weeks of dropping dirty diapers out the second story window of her meadow cottage and leaving them to overflow in a barrel, untouched and unwashed, drawing insects… Her amusement fades when he explains and sorrow etches her mouth before a sweet smile - not the saccharine ones she uses when someone's out of line - a genuine one. "Yes," she agrees quietly, "You should have. It would have meant so much to me." She inhales as his lips touch her forehead, then says firmly, "But papa, you're here now. That's what matters." She's saying this as they walk arm in arm towards the weyrbarn. Behind them her shoes are left, forgotten in the sand for the tide to take. “What is it?” Always the curious one!
D'had can only shake his head at her. He's the wrong person to ask about dealing with babies, "Dunno, your ma wouldn't let me touch you till you were crawling and well…" He shrugs and just leaves it at that as they continue one. "You'll see," he says simple of this 'thing'.
He was never kept much for personal items. Before Thea his weyr had the basics and a few boxes of things shoved under the stairs. Growing up on a ship there wasn't much space for such things, or need. His weyrbarn today is about the same though in need of some relatively minor repairs. The basics are there though, the few crates and bags containing his things still piled in the middle of the floor where he'd left them after unloading Siebith on arrival.
"Its in one of these," he mutters mostly to himself. Digging into one of the two crates, the other filled mostly with what looks to be for fishing reels and smaller boxes of lures and things. "Wrapped up in red cloth."
Without missing a beat, Darsce snickers, "Lucky you?" In her opinion, changing babies' diapers ought to be used for, like, criminal punishment. As she walks to the door, her eyes drift towards the area Siebith used to use as a wallow and a bittersweet smile forms on her mouth. She says nothing, however and steps inside the weyrbarn with her father. Eyeing that pile in the middle of the floor gets boring, so while D'had rummages, her practiced and professional gaze inspects the place. "You need an interior decorator," she observes dryly. "This place is so yesterday. When's the last time you redecorated?" Tact, well, she isn't using it at the moment. If fact, she rarely employs it at all. Currently she means it kindly, at least. "I can help you chose a color scheme. Mur'dah can paint? And Marel might like to help you with your gardens. She did my wedding flowers," she asides before continuing. "Jethaniel can wire electric lighting, make you a gizmo to shunt your laundry to a receptacle for the washers to see to or auto-cook breakfast and have it waiting when you wake up if you'd like?" Not. One. Word on other electric contraptions he can assemble. "Hm. Not sure what N'shen can do other than look pretty." She stops her monologue to peer at her father. "Red material? Want me to help search?" Which might end up in her organizing all his possessions, but…at least they won't make a mess finding it?
D'had snorts. When did he redecorate? "Got here this mornin'," he points out. When would he have decorated? With so many ideas tumbling out of her mouth its a wonder if he follows half. "I'll manage," he adds though the words are just that. "Don't go volunteering them all at once," after all who's to say they'd want to help even? "Yeah, red," he confirms nodding towards the second crate, "might be in there." In other words, yes, she can help look.
In other words, not since Thea moved in. Darsce hmphs under her breath but mutters, "Fiiine. I suppose there's no rush." Though, speaking of the others, she quirks him a keen look. "Do… they know you're back?" Doesn't he live right next door to N'shen and Natali? How could they have missed that? But wait, nevermind, she knows how, heh. She busies herself with that next crate, setting items on the floor, categorizing them as she goes. She resists the urge to put them away where they'd belong. "I'd better not come visit and find things strewn willy nilly about," she warns her father sternly. What would she do about it? Ohh D'had, you don't want to know. "AhHA!" There is a shoebox size package wrapped in red cloth, which she removes. "This it?" she asks, holding it up. If he says it is, she'll waste no time in opening it because patience is not her forte, never has been and she is dying of curiosity now.
As to the question of her siblings, "Ran into your little brother, the others," he shakes his head. No, he hasn't seen them yet though her guess is as good as any whether or not Mur'dah told any of them. Shifting through a few more things with little success he just shakes his head again at her warning, "I'll clean up." He will. He'll put things away eventually but it can't be guarenteed that she'll like the job he does of it. At her potential success he looks up and nods, "That's the one."
The box itself isn't overly large. Small enough to be easily held with one or both hands, large enough to hold what it needs yet not so large that it can't easily be tucked on a shelf or set on a dresser. Intricately carved on all sides. Waves, ships, shipfish. A relief carving on the top, pieces of which are painted to help bring them attention. Much time was put into its making by someone at some point in time. The edges are worn in places, some of the paint has chipped in spots. In the front, a small, somewhat tarnished lock.
You know, it's never occurred to Darsce - until now - just how many of D'had's kids are dragonriders: Marel, Mur'dah and N'shen. All here at Xanadu. Halimeda, herself (also of Xanadu), Rehsa and Evee of Ierne (Evee counted because, well… because she should be). Three out of seven. Nearly half can alert the others without even coming face to face. Let's not even consider firelizard-telephone because Darsce doesn't listen to hers, everyone knows this. Mur'dah ran into their father earlier, did he? "Huh. Squirt didn't tell me." Is she upset? Nah. But there's a concerned expression that says she'll go find him later. She lifts the red-wrapped box and, after unwrapping it, inspects it. "Nice workmanship," she observes - always one to have an eye for quality. The tip of one finger at last jiggles that lock as her attention turns to her father. "Do you have the key?"
Not to mention he has a dragon of his own he could have reach out to them. D'had can't really comment on the others and so he doesn't, instead shruging at her comment about not being told. "My Ma and Da got it for their wedding. My Ma gave it to me 'fore mine, now I'm givin' it to you." A simple explanation to where it came from really. Lifting his gaze to send a glance across the room he strides then towards where he's left his riding jacket to dig through pockets until he finds what he's looking for. A little silver key on a thin silver chain. Returning then to his daughter, "One condition," he says, holding the key hostage in his hand. "You don't open it here. Ya go home, open it on your own, with your husband, with your brother and sisters, I don't care. Its yours ta do with what ya will now. But not here."
Ah yes. There is that. It hasn't yet occurred to Darsce yet that D'had didn't reach out to his dragonrider kids. But she isn't sorting through much more than her own pleasure that he's back and she's seeing him right now. Her fingers trace the carving on the box while considering the trader half or her extended family. She's surely spent time with them aboard ship or in port. She… isn't D'had's oldest daughter. Not even his oldest son. Don't inheritances work that way? But no, wait. Uncle Larignen is her father's older brother and he didn't inherit this box. Hm. She's honored. There's a lump in her throat. She considers as he's going to get that key. "Not… here?" She blinks rapidly for a few beats. He… doesn't want to see her reaction? "Okaaay," she agrees with uncertainty. Then she smiles. "I'm not going to promise not to thank you later." So there!
This one doesn't and he might have explained if she'd asked, but she didn't so he doesn't. Or maybe it was in his explanation and she just didn't catch it. "Not here," D'had repeats at her question, stepping behind the young woman to brush back her hair and clip the chain around her neck once she's agreed. He's had practice at that. "Tonight, tomorrow, ten turns from now. You just open it when you're ready. Now go home baby girl, you got people waiting on you. I'll be here tomorrow." You know unless it really is all just a dream…
Darsce will surely ask him later. Later when all of this sinks in and she sorts it out. She is motionless while he fastens that chain, perhaps remembering him brushing her hair as a child and then a newly-arrived Xanadu resident full of questions about the past. Ten turns from now, nothing! There's this something mysterious in that locked box that he wants her to have. She's not going to wait until he's dead to open it. She'll be thinking about this and doing something soon, very soon. Unanswered questions, after all, tend to haunt people, she knows this. She turns to give her father another hug and a cheek-kiss. "I'll see you tomorrow." Because isn't that what she always says at the end of those dreams? Then she goes. Because morning always comes regardless of whether she likes it or not.