Xanadu Weyr - Hot Springs
The warmth that flows from this cavern is almost overwhelming for some, the steam rising from the shimmering pools as thick as the morning fog that rolls in off the ocean. Numerous pools are scattered here and there with ribboned walls that are natural in their construction. The water has a somewhat green cast to it, but it is merely a reflection from the ethereal light which is the glow down here that was so noticeable from the Lower Cavern Tunnel. People can often be found down here washing themselves or just relaxing.

Warning: Slight Language

Ka'el is out of numbweed. It's an annoying fact, because the only way he'll get more numbweed is if he goes back to the infirmary and asks for some. The following are not part of Ka'el's personality. 1. Going to the Infirmary without being forced to. 2. Asking for help. So! Instead of swallowing his pride and doing the logical thing, he's opted to go without. Granted, the pain from once purpled bruises on his stomach and sides have subsided considerably with the passing weeks, but there's still reddish spots here and there that have benefitted from the salve. So, here's the next best thing: The Hot Springs! Outside, the autumn air is fair and cool. A crisp breeze blows and the kitchen staff is getting ready for dinner. It's that inbetween time. Too late for lunch, not quite supper. Ka'el moves into the steaming springs with a firelizard in tow. The bronze alights from his shoulder and glides through the thick air, landing upon the stone to find a nice spot to lounge. The rider himself moves to the back wall to grab a towel for himself and begin the cumbersome task of undressing. Whhhyyy does he insist on wearing tunics that have to be pulled over his head? He gets it halfway there before he has to stop with a frowned wince, his shirt blocking his view of everything.

That in between time means one thing: freedom! Well, freedom for most. Kiena had earlier shifts at the forges today and there is no doubt that the bluerider has been there since the morning hours and even more likely that she went straight through lunch to! That crisp autumn breeze is a welcomed respite from the heat of the forges but rather than linger outdoors to enjoy it, she slowly picks her way through the clearing and up through the caverns and into another sort of heat. Only the steam from the hot springs is a welcomed thing as well and exhaling, Kiena pauses by the entrance. Normally she would wait until later hours to bathe but today it is needed far prior. She's exhausted, dirty and sweaty from a long day and being clean outweighs her desire to simply sneak back to her weyr. So she risks it and steps forwards, moving slow and a touch hesitantly to approach the back wall and claim a towel (or two) for herself. Blue eyes scan in darting looks, not wanting to stare but still scoping out the cavern. That is when she spot Ka'el in his current predicament, glimpsing just enough before dropping her eyes and focusing on gathering a few more necessary things one needs for a bath. Sadly, none include numbweed though Kiena is ready with a dry snort and snickered remark. "Stuck?" Ha!

Luckily, this time of day is also a slow time of day for the baths. Most who work are still working, and a bath will come after dinner. Oh, there's a few in here. An old uncle in a small pool over there, nakedly soaking and halfway asleep as he does so, and a woman clothed in a swimming suit who likely wouldnt've cared to keep that on in younger days, with a baby who doesn't seem to mind the ultra warm water as he splashes. But other than those three, it's just Ka'el. And Kiena now. But he can't see her because of that pesky shirt that's up around his neck and over his head with his arms up and … yeah. Kinda stuck. He snorts upon hearing the word in a voice that's familiar yet not familiar enough for him to place it automatically. "Maybe," he answers, turning in the direction in which the voice came from. "Now, you've got two choices, so think carefully before makin' up your mind. You can either stand and mock me in my poor predicament an' leave me here to fend for myself, or you can do your civic duty and pull this over my head. Again, think carefully," he says in his muffled shirt-covered voice. "Either will give you a reputation that you'll have for the rest've your days. So the question you should ask yourself is … who do you want to be known as? A cold hearted mockin' woman who'll leave a man to suffer? Or an outstanding resident of Xanadu who'll selflessly assist a resident in need?" .. See, Ka'el doesn't ask for help. But he has nothing against conning people into helping him!

Is that his best con? Kiena will note the three current bathers in her quick scan, but discards them all as non-threats. Hardly crowded, she allows some of the wariness in her to ebb away and aided only by Ka'el's continued predicament. Tucking her towel and supplies neatly aside, she'll turn to face the stuck bronzerider, hands resting lightly on her hips. A brow quirks up as he begins to list out her 'choices' and her mouth quirks into a wry smirk, leaving him to voice his spiel before she speaks up. Drawling, her voice is amused if not edging towards sarcastic. "Mhm, I'd be honest to say I'm quite tempted to leave you as you are and see how long it takes you to free yourself. It'd be the highlight of my day!" Surely that's a lie, right? The bluerider wouldn't gain amusement from the misfortune of others, would she? Hard to say, with her. Kiena snorts, eyes narrowing a little. Cold hearted! Her? … yeah, actually? In some cases, she is. Luckily for Ka'el, he does not fall into those categories and she adds in that same scoffing drawl. "But seeing as I'd like to bath in peace and not listen to you whine, I suppose I'll take the second option. What do you need me to do?" Shuffling sounds. Kiena's footsteps approaching and she will wait for instructions — if any — from Ka'el before she starts reaching out to tug at that tunic.

His best con? Definitely not. Though why open with his most dastardly of deeds? The most conniving cons? Although the initial searing paint that came from lifting up his arms is gone and he could probably continue the motion of undressing himself very slowly and carefully, now that he has an audience, it seems worth his while to continue the game. Bathtime should be fun, right? Ka'el makes a snorted noise as she threatens to leave him as he is for her own amusement, but behind the veil of his shirt he's grinning. And the more that she talks, the more familiar sounding her voice becomes until he can finally visualize the face that goes with it. It's Kiena! And it's a Kiena who isn't going to leave him stuck in his tunic, hooray! He slightly bends forward at the waist, squinting faintly as he does so. "Here. Jus' pull the sleeves and it should come off over my head. Carefully mind you. I'm an injured man." With the shirt half off, residual bruising can be seen on his front and side, but life-threatening it obviously is not. When she tugs, he steps back a little to help out the process, and .. slip! The shirt is off and Ka'el can see again! He straightens, rubbing a hand to his hair. "I knew it was you," he says, eyeing the woman with a smirk. "And I wouldn't've whined. .. I'd've complained loudly and in a very manly voice." Grin.

If he had opened with his most conniving cons, he would have been back to square one and left to fend for himself while Kiena stormed off to leave him to his sad, sad fate. Foiled by a tunic! Bathtime is fun, for most but not for the bluerider and no surprise there. Just as it dawns on him as to who she is, so has Kiena puzzled out the face to the voice muffled within the tunic. Could that be why she helped? At least she sort-of (but not really) knows the bronzerider, if their few conversations are enough for her to deem him not-so threatening. No, Kiena won't leave him to suffer and once he gives her the go ahead and instructions, she'll tug carefully at the sleeves. A frown creases her brow when he mentions he's an injured man and for a moment she looks a touch guilty for her taunting banter. Just a wee tiny bit that's there and gone in a blink of an eye. "That'd explain it then." she mutters, only to stare at the bruising, almost forgetting to keep pulling before focusing back. She mutters next a curse — then he's free! — and she's stepping back, putting that respectful distance between while eyeing him back. Stare down? "Jays, you got the rough end of something…" Understatement? Kiena is oblivious to the nature of Ka'el's injury and will not pry about it. That is left to him to expand upon, and if he choses not to, she'll leave it be. More important matters at hand! Such as… bathing! Dropping her gaze first, she turns back to where she's left her towel and bathing supplies, but it does not keep her from replying to him, tone dry but amused. "Uh huh, I'm sure you did. And… that still sounds like whining to me! Manly voice or not." So there!

Ka'el takes back his shirt now that he's free from it, giving Kiena a grateful look as he does so. Her comment to his injury has his eyes lowering down and over to his side, looking at the remnants of a memory he'd rather forget. The edges of his mouth vaguely pull downward into a frown. "Yeah," he confirms, nodding a single time. "Other guy got it worse though, if y'ask me." Details aren't forthcoming, though his expression lingers on unhappily for a second longer before that mask is pulled from his face. Or is it, rather a mask is put on to cover it instead? Whichever the case, his smile gradually returns at her quip, and his eyes roll exaggeratedly as he too turns to gather things for bathing. Towel. Soap. All in one place. Pulling off his boots is yet another daunting task that he sits on a stone ledge to do. One at a time. Slow as molasses. He watches her from the distance, head vaguely canting to one side. "Huh. I thought you'd be at the festival in Fort," he comments as he sets one boot aside. "A friend've mine went to one've the … uh, events I guess. Somethin' about shinin' tunnels and sculptures, I think. She said she met your brother," he straightens with a grimace. "I don't know if she knows you personally or jus' by name or .. whatever. But she knew he was your kin." Likely not a huge secret. Maybe. "So. Why're you here an' not there? Don' tell me you don't like festivals. Everybody likes festivals." Alloy, the bronze firelizard that arrived with him, chirps lazily. Probably an agreement. Or just a lazy firelizard being lazy.

Noting that grateful look as she peers from over her shoulder, Kiena will nod subtly and further will she witness the change in Ka'el. Not much of a change, but enough and she knows enough about masks and secrets kept to be able to pick it out in others. It's not her business though and the bluerider only smirks, turning away again as she begins to undress. Just as slow, but not because she is injured but due to her modesty. Never mind she's been in weyrlife for Turns now, she's holder at her core and she'll do her best to keep hidden no matter how awkwardly she has to twist to do it. Hence the aid of an extra towel, which she expertly wraps around herself. Shield in place, she's back to the conversation. "Good!" is her final quip on the matter of Ka'el's injuries and followed by a dry chuckle. Oh, if she only knew it wasn't to be joked about! Now it's talk of the festival out in Fort and Kiena's gaze lowers, head partially turned and enough of her features visible to see the frown and conflicted look etched there. "It's a bit too cold for me, but I went to investigate. A friend of yours, huh? … a Healer apprentice? And yeah, they got the ice and snow sculptures lit up at night. The tunnel is made of lanterns. It's — unique? Guess one of the few things so much snow is good for!" She shakes her head then, head lifting and her eyes now darting to fix Ka'el with a long and narrowed look. Hit a nerve, did he? "Just by name. I happened to be going to Fort when she needed a lift to Healer Hall, then to the Weyr. So I took her." Shrug. Nothing more! "Of course she'd have met Th'ero. He's the Weyrleader and probably was doin' his rounds as host. As for why I am not there?" Kiena pauses and again her eyes slide away as she begins to stuff her clothing away in some safe little nook to reclaim for later. "… I like festivals. Just, not got the time? Cold ain't my thing either and well… my brother and I don't exactly see eye to eye." That last bit is muttered and then Kiena's off to hurry towards the nearest and empty pool before he can reply, crouching down to set her supplies down before awkwardly slipping into the waters and not accidentally drag the towel in with her.

Ka'el turns his eyes from her as she begins to undress. He's always been modest, though rumor may say otherwise. Holdbred like herself, although immersed in weyrlife by now, having been here for nearly five turns, there are values that he keeps a hold of and likely forever will. And so, as skin is revealed his eyes remain elsewhere. On his boot for a time, that he gradually gets off, freeing both feet now. He rises again, using a ledge to help pull himself up, and once he's on his feet his pants are dropped. Gasp! What was that about modesty? There are shorts beneath though, and he collects his bathing items, including a towel, and makes his way towards the same pool that she's submerged herself in. "You know Kera then," he says with a grin, pausing at the edge. "I wondered who gave her a ride over an' back. Figured one've the taxis had made a stop." He stoops to put the soaps and things down, cursing in his head. He'd forgotten how much bending and stooping and twisting was required to get bath ready. Geeze. "I'm with you on the cold, though," he says as he rises. "I hate winter an' everything about it. Snow. Ice. Sleet The shardin' power outages." He shudders at the thought. "I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy the festival … though, the thought've goin' isn't too horrible. Free food. Free drink." He takes a step to the side, then slips out of his shorts and into the steaming water. His body tenses initially, but it isn't long before he starts to relax. He exhales a slow breath, eyes closing as he submerges himself up to the chin, allowing the water to tingle against his skin. It isn't numbweed, but it may do the trick. Eyes half open and gaze in her direction. "Must be the season of fucked up brothers." Oh, he heard her alright, and though his answer is belated…he does answer. But well, like her, he doesn't expect or press for elaboration. "Turnover's comin'. Everyone will be off then for the gather. You gonna go?"

Now why didn't Kiena think on wearing a swim suit under the clothes? Granted, she is just fresh from a day of work and likely never entirely planned any of this. Neither does it matter by this point but if she knew that her modest views were not so strange and somewhat echoed by Ka'el, then she'd likely not feel so awkward or threatened by his presence. Downside to starting coversations when wanting to bathe … but trying to hide at the same time. Doesn't quite work and so Kiena simply remains pressed against the wall of the pool, water up to her shoulders and as far from the bronzerider as she can get without having to lift her voice up to talk or likewise strain to hear him. As for her gaze? Pointedly turned away — for the most part. "How does transportin' someone to and from Fort once make me know the girl?" Kiena asks with a smirk, reaching up to begin unbraiding her hair, only to grimace and scowl as her fingers hit many a snarl and tangle. Ugh. "All very good reasons to avoid the winter," she agrees and then chuckles dryly. "Free food and free drink is the only perk? I suppose the festival isn't half bad. They did have some covered tents and a large, multi-roomed cottage for folks to wander to. Everyone there seemed to be enjoying themselves and I'll assume even your friend Kera did as well." Right? Silent while Ka'el settles himself, she'll grab some of the soap sand and begin to scrub at her arms and at his sudden remark on brothers has her laughing in a sharp and harsh tone. Just a brief burst, almost barked and followed by a snort. So… not lady-like. "A season? Try a lifetime and doubled." she shoots back, only to blush and look away with a faint scowl. Too much said? Must be, because she's latching onto the other strain of conversation, veering away from the talk of fucked up siblings. "Here you mean? Yeah. I guess? It'd be… kind of stupid if I didn't, huh? No excuse." Like with Fort. "You gonna go? Since Fort's festival ain't your thing neither. Though it's not like it's getting any warmer here either!"

Ka'el does notice that Kiena is avoiding him like the plague. She's waaay over there on the opposite side of their pool, though luckily it's a small enough pool that even at polar opposite sides, conversation can still continue. "Well, you know who I was speakin' of without me givin' a name," Ka'el notes of the apprentice healer. "Figured you knew of her, at least." He shrugs after and turns to reach up and pluck his own soap from the ledge to begin washing himself. Arms first, and then neck. Her reaction to his brother comment does give him pause though, and her statement is reason enough for him to give her a considering look. His brows lower, though it's a frown of thought more so than anything else. But when he speaks next, the topic is Turnover. "Yeah, here. An' it would be stupid of anyone not to go, yes. Or, at least if you don't go, do somethin' fun. It isn't often everyone gets the same rest day, y'know? If the eggs are hatched by then, then I'll be goin'. It's been fun every turn. One turn the party was on an island somewhere where it was summer instead of autumn. M'not sure if you were here yet for that one, but it was wicked. If the eggs aren't hatched … well. Then I'll be in the annex." A far less exciting setting than an exotic beach or even a Xanadu party field, but … what can he do? He lowers an arm, watching soap bubbles rise to the surface. "I get what you mean about brothers," he comments, voice lower now, yet still loud enough to drift across the steam and towards her as he brings the soap to the uppermost portions of his chest. "I don't know if it's good to know I'm not the only one with a bullshit story, or bad that other bullshit stories exist."

"I don't run transport… ever. Usually. Just happened by luck, so it wasn't hard to guess it was her you were talkin' about." Kiena counters from her end of the pool. Oh, she's quite content to keep avoiding him, occasionally glancing his way to be certain he's staying there on his side while she scrubs away. Quiet to focus on the task, she doesn't quite notice that considering look from Ka'el or the thoughtful frown. Only when she rinses her hands and then quickly ducks lower into the water, tilting her head back wet most of her hair does she actually glance sidelong to him. Leave it to talk of festivals to be neutral ground for this conversation! "True, not often there is a rest day. And something fun? Heh, right." Not in her vocabulary! Blinking, she tilts her head a bit as she tugs and pulls her fingers through her now wet but still tangled hair. Grimace, wince. The smirking though is all for the conversation, easing a bit when he mentions the eggs. "I wasn't hear for that celebration no and I'll take your word for it. And the eggs have been hardening for some time. Almost time then?" she asks, sounding genuinely curious for the first time before chuckling dryly. "The annex, huh? Sounds… thrilling." But necessary. Pushing her hair back over her shoulder, Kiena leans back against the pool wall and sinks until the water is level with her chin, about as close to relaxing as she will get. Now they're drifting back towards the conversation of brother's and the bluerider's expression is becoming closed and distant again — if it wasn't already. Eyes drift back his way and hold him under a long and lingering stare as if considering… weighing options. At last she sighs, sitting up a little. "I'd say a bit of both. Good not to be alone, bad that… it happens to others. And just when you think you've got the worst of the bullshit stories, someone else comes along with something worse. Sad, isn't it?" she drawls in a lowered voice.

Ka’el listens to her without interruption. There’s not much left to say about Turnover. It will happen whether he is a part of the festivities or in the Annex. He nods about it being almost time for the eggs. He can assume so, not really knowing the detailed facts about how long eggs incubate on the sands and just how long those particular eggs have been there. Those details would be known to the goldrider who has called the Annex home for the past … however long it’s been. His eyes drift from her at the sound of disturbed water. That mother, or foster more likely, is leaving a different pool with the baby, whose fingers are starting to shrivel. The old man remains, fully asleep now as is evident by heavy snores. Likely, he will shrivel too if he sleeps his way towards and through dinner. Ka’el eyes him, making sure his head is indeed well above water before he looks back to Kiera, dismissing the other topics to focus on one.
”It’s life, I guess. The good an’ the bad. It’s what they say anyway: There’s a balance in everybody, but I really think that’s bullshit,” he remarks as he eases back to rest his back against the smooth stone behind him. “It’s not even. There’re people who think the worst thing in their lives to happen is not impressing a dragon. And people who think their lives are shit because not everyone worships them and they don’t understand why.” Blue eyes flit to the ceiling in a brief roll, and afterwards he scoops a handful of water to drip through his hair. “Then, there’s people like you and me, who get dealt some real fucked up hands. Why?” A pause, then, “Because we don’t crack easy.” A single edge of his lips curve upward as an underwater hand touches gingerly at his ribs. Irony. “What’s your take?”

Should she have offered congratulations about the eggs? Seeing as their Kanekith's and for a moment the words are on Kiena's lips before she swallows them back. Maybe another time, if there is another time. She knows nothing of eggs or clutches, not the nitty gritty details at least and so she lets that topic slide. Eyes dart when that mother and child leave, flickering with a hint of suspicion. Where are they going? Away? Good. They will lower when she determines this and the old man is hardly given a sparing look. She chooses instead to listen, back pressed against the pool wall and for the moment content to simply soak in the hot waters. Bathing is done, hurried… but done and now she lingers only to work out the aches from work. That and Ka'el is leading on a rather intriguing conversation, even if the bluerider is prone to scowl through half of it. "Balance." she scoffs. "Yeah. Heard that all before too." At the examples he lays out, she too rolls her eyes a bit until she fixes him with a long, lingering look. That scowl eases to a thoughtful frown. Why? Good question. Very good question. "My take? Would be to say you're right. Cause we don't crack easy… I find folk who seem to get the worse fucked up things that fate can throw are the strongest of the lot. But why do we get the shit end of it all? No clue. It's got to be more than just cause we don't crack under it all. I'd say cruel luck?"

"Cruel luck." Ka'el repeats the phrase as he considers it, sinking down into the water until it's just below his chin. His injuries are barely felt now. The hotness of the water is doing wonders with easing the pain and Ka'el finds it easy to relax and allow his mind to ponder the contents of the conversation. "Luck's rarely been on my side…" he murmurs in agreement. "Every wager I've ever made I can only remember losin', an' it seems like from at a point in my life, every step I took or word I spoke has been the wrong one." He leans his head back against the stone. "Life isn't all bad though, huh? There's moments .. real good moments that've kept me from crackin'. Memories I'm gonna keep to remind myself that I'm not some sort've freak who gets his highs from self-destruction, y'know?" A mirthless smirk curves his mouth. "The shit that happens to me …" another touch to his ribs," I don't go lookin' for. .. Cruel luck's a good take," he says with a nod before his head vaguely cants to one side. "What's the story with your brother? I know you don't really know me well, and if it's not somethin' you want to talk about with a half stranger, I get it. But, it might help because I'm a half stranger. M'not gonna sit here and analyze you to death."

Kiena listens even though she has slipped back into silence and her eyes have lowered, lips drawn in a vague smirk. Her hands lift again but only to work her hair forwards again and begin the long process of braiding it. "That's rough… shitty, even. Not easy. Yet you seem to keep your head up above it all." she murmurs and then shrugs her shoulders. "No, 'suppose life ain't all that bad. Can seem like it but you gotta keep those good memories close. No matter how few, to keep your sanity." That comment about being freaks on self-destruction, there is a strange look that crosses Kiena's features and she chews at her lower lip. "Yeah. I know." she mutters. Hold your hand up if you're one? Not that she would or could, her hands are still busily braiding her hair. While she can't see exactly that he is touching his ribs, she may notice the movement and that has her frowning in thought… and curiosity. "Cruel luck is what got you so battered?" she asks and her tone is strangely… gentled. Almost sympathetic-like. Regardless, it's not her usual gruff and tough act. Then he asks that question and Kiena shifts, a subtle movement to show her discomfort at being pinned with having to answer… or not. "You are a half-stranger," she says, honest at least as she peers at him, eyes narrowed and suspicious. Yet… she's hesitating on that brink. Tell or not tell. Taking a deep breath, she exhales. Does it matter anymore if she clings to that past? "But of all half-strangers you may get it. Could be assuming but…" She'll take a chance. "Story with my brother is long and not all mine to tell. I—we're both from a rather ah… backwater fishin' cothold way out westward in the Emerald Isles. Close-minded, ignorant, traditionalist are the kind words used to describe Irondells. There are a lot more and far less kind." Kiena remarks dryly with just enough bitterness tossed in there. She pauses to wave one hand dismissively before continuing to braid, her eyes lowered but distant under a heavy frown. "Without dragging you into too much of my sordid tale, we'll just say that Th'ero chafed under our father's heavy hand. He's… or he was one of those self-destructive freaks, to take your term. But he'd always protect me. Well, he went and fucked up bad and I was left with only my other eldest brother at the cothold and it went all downhill from there. To put it very roughly." Lots of details missing there.

Ka'el doesn't push any further than he has already. That gentle nudge to let her know that she has the opportunity to tell her tell, if she wishes to. Ka'el will go on living without knowing. Perhaps with a subtle feeling of curiosity towards her after this, but still, is it not the type to press for information that isn't forthcoming on its own. So as she considers it, and him, he's quiet, content to watch the steam rise between them and feel the sweat form on his forehead as he soaks. She speaks, and his languid gaze sharpens enough to show that he is paying attention to her. He may get it? He smirks at that and gives his head a light nod. "I don't like to disappoint, so I'll say I just might," he answers before falling silent again, the sound of her voice and the uncle's snores the only things he listens to. Close-minded. Ignorant. His expression lingers on neutral for a time before he can feel the downward tug to his lips. Familiar words, those. He doesn't interrupt her. He doesn't answer her question either about his injury. Not now anyway, as he's listening, trying to piece together the bits of a larger puzzle that she's given him. "And then…you left?" he assumes at the end. "Are you angry with your brother because he left you there?" he asks, adjusting himself in the water a bit, sitting up some so that the water level is a bit lower than the neck, lingering at his collarbones now. "Leavin' can be hard. Bein' left behind, harder." His mouth twitches. "So hard that it can leave somebody battered in the end," he says, using her word. "I left an' paid the price. That's what happened to me. My family was…is…close-minded like yours. There're some things they won't bend on or give an inch for, no matter who you are. My brother made sure I remembered that." He explains his injury and his story with just as many holes of absent details as hers.

Just as Ka'el won't push for further details, neither will Kiena. Not directly, never directly, unless she must know and perhaps once when she was younger and far more brash and bold. Now she's learned, after many blunders, to curb that part of her. Yet it lingers still and she has to clamp down on the desire to pry the poor bronzerider apart with questions. Not so much to be nosy, but because she can sense similarities. Vague, but enough to catch her attention and now when she stares at him, there is a different look to her eyes. So she was right in her assumption? Oh, she's paying attention now and enough that her hands drift to fall back beneath the water's surface and to her sides, no doubt clutching the edge of the stone seat tightly. Braiding forgotten, she remains at near chin-level deep in the waters, not even aware of the heat or steam or their surroundings. Just the conversation. "I left after enduring Turns in that miserable Hold and no thanks to either of my brothers or my father. And I barely managed that…" she mutters, mouth drawing back into a bitter and tense line. Snorting, she shrugs her shoulders. "I was very young when this happened. I poured a lot of anger and bitterness towards Th'ero for what he did and what it led to. So yeah, I was angry with him and still am. Not easy to forgive. He left me there, broke several promises and I had no idea what had happened to him, but he was free and I was trapped and without the only shield and protector I had. Cause… he couldn't keep from being self-destructive. I know better now but…" Kiena grimaces, fidgeting a bit as she begins to edge into details she doesn't wish to speak of yet but skirts them all the same. Lifting her gaze, she focuses sharply on Ka'el when he speaks of how hard it is and how one is left battered. His family closed minded too? "Holderbred?" she asks, her only question before she is silent again. Brows lift, realization dawning as her mind pieces together that part of the puzzle. His bruises… Her expression is blank and then shocked, but there is no exclamation or heated anger. Perhaps worse, she is only quiet and sympathetic. Understanding. "No clearer message, huh?" she drawls but there is a lack of her usual sarcasm, her voice softer. Gentled. "Not a price you should have had to pay." Kiena pauses then, uncertain of how bold to be in how she pushes forwards with him but now comes one of those moments where she has to know. Still, she takes a polite approach and gives him the escapes he'd need to evade her question. "If it's not so blunt of me to ask you — and don't answer if you don't want to but — I take it your family do not look highly on riders? Or is it the Weyr…?"

Free and trapped. A young Kiena, trapped in a family environment she didn't ask to be born into. Th'ero, free to live his life the way he wanted. Somehow, in the end, ending up as a weyrleader. Respected and revered, probably. And what of his sister? Did he think of her? Did he hope to go back and rescue her someday? Ka'el finds himself asking these questions silently, though of course the only one who'd have those answers is the weyrleader himself. Probably not the best topic of conversation from a complete stranger to someone who ranks so high. His own curiosity begins to gnaw, showing itself as a vague glimmer in his eyes but for now going checked. He nods at her assumption of him being holderbread, and as for the message being clear… He snort-laughs. "Crystal," he agrees. "Not that I was ever confused." Her last question is not answered immediately. Silence ticks on for a handful of seconds as he ponders the best answer. The best words to correctly portray the right answer. "A rider.. to them, has no purpose. There was purpose in a past life for them an' their dragons, but that life is gone, and riders an' dragons should've went with'm. People who choose to be riders now only do because they've sick hearts an' only half a human soul. The other half? Wicked. Mindless. Bestial. A rider's half animal an' live like animals. Think like animals. Mindlessly breed as animals do and abandon their bastard children to be raised by others. Dragronriders live lives not worth livin'." He speaks this like a verse memorized, tone monotonous, as if entranced. He blinks once, refocusing his gaze from where it dropped on the water and back to his face. "That's how my family feels about riders. So," a rueful smirk, "I'm not expectin' many more invitations to harvest gathers at home." He pauses for a time, listening to the softly reverberating snores. Then. "What did your brother do that had him leave?"

Trapped Kiena was, but Th'ero was not living the high life. That was what her childhood mind conjured up but is the farthest from the truth. However, she cannot tell that part of the story as Ka'el already silently figured out, as it is his story and she only knows the bare bones. Another problem with so many holes in sharing of her past: it leads to the wrong conclusions. She left out a key point about Th'ero's "leaving" of the hold. He thought of his sister and in far better light than she ever thought of him. Definitely not a topic to broach on a first one on one meeting with Th'ero either, unless Ka'el wishes to see the other side of the Fortian Weyrleader's temper. Kiena grimaces and shakes her head as he agrees to her comment on his injuries and if she has any further opinion on the matter she's biting her tongue. For once! Attentively she listens, eyes widening as he recites out a near memorized verse. "Shards and shells." she breathes, "And I thought the Irondell's were twisted in their views. The don't hold riders up high either but I suppose cause they kind to such age-old traditions that it keeps 'em from losin' respect to that degree. Though my family would pay such respects /grudgingly/. How… Ah, I see." Don't pour salt into the wound! Kiena has to swiftly bite her tongue, lest she say something on the fly that damages more than does good. She's learned! "No, I wouldn't think so. But — their loss? It ain't… right. That sort of mentality. It's wrong." No offence? She seems to flinch a bit, as if expecting to have crossed a line that may not quite be there.
Then Ka'el steps in with another question, finding that 'key' she had left out. Kiena's gaze lowers, jaw tense and for the longest time she doesn't speak. Too much? No, she is only gathering her thoughts and when her eyes lift she is peering about the caverns. No one else? Good. To Ka'el, she fixes him with a look that is hard and serious. "If I tell you this, it must never leave your lips. Do you understand? Very few know and if I hear one word, I will know who to seek out." That is a warning, perhaps even a threat though what chance she'd ever have against him is… slim. Could be she's just boasting, using it to drive her point across that she is trusting him to a degree and she is not one to cross. But she holds him to it, not uttering another word until he agrees or at least settles the last of her doubts.

"Yeah, well.. I believed myself. Believed every word of it til I came here. Met riders … Even then, I still had my doubts, y'know? The riders I met.." Ka'el trails, wrinkling his nose briefly. Loud riders. Brash riders. Flirtatious riders. Riders with many mates. Too many mates. Too many children. And the first gold flight he witnessed. It was proving everything he was ever told to be true. But now, as a rider, not even a turn away since weyrlinghood .. of course he can't think those things true of himself, can he? That's an entirely different can of worms he'd rather not open right now, especially now with Kiena looking at him with those intense eyes that immediately has him focused on her and only her. The snoring of the sleeping elder. The fog-like steam of their surroundings? Forgotten. Dismissed easily as her words marinate in his mind. This is something important. Something…deep, he can tell. He rises to his full height in the water, lowering its level to mid chest as he moves closer towards her. He stays against the side of the wall, moving along its smooth circumference until he's a few yards from her. Still far enough to be considered distant, yet closer as secrets do seem to call for closer ranges of conversation. His eyes stay on her face, which notably is the only part of her she's keeping above water, but still. "I understand," he says upon pausing, nodding his head in visual answer. "You've my word that what you say stays between us."

"I know. I was fed some twisted and poisonous things too and warned off of the Weyrs. More so cause I was a girl 'n all. In fact, I recall being especially warned to avoid bronzeriders." Kiena remarks, her tone low and serious to start only to lift a little as she tries to lighten some of the discussion with humor. Best not to open that can of worms, not now. Later perhaps or never, but for now the bluerider is oblivious and her attention still completely focused on him and little else. Which is rare for her, to drop her wariness long enough to ignore her surroundings. What she doesn't ignore is his approach and while he keeps his distance still, she is on edge and looking poised and tense for flight, lifting out of the water enough that the edge creeps along her collar bone. Her eyes have narrowed and she slides a bit away only to pause. He's stopped and after a few seconds of hasty scrutiny she decides that he is no threat after all. That it was done to benefit them both, conversation wise, so she won't have to shout out what she's kept bottled up for Faranth knows how many Turns. Kiena keeps her eyes level with his and when he gives her word she will relent only after another long drawn out pause. Tension ebbs and she sinks back against the pool edge. "Remember how I said he was self-destructive?" she says in a low and hushed voice, eyes now leaving his to peer about the caverns. "He'd fight. Started as scuffles, then all out brawlin' and fightin'. I didn't get it then, I was too young but I know why now. He was lashin' out in the only way he could. He got it bad, back home. Our older brother was the fawned over pet, while Th'ero was more like a kicked and beaten dog who could never appease it's master though it tried. It started to warp him… he was maybe fifteen by this point? Not at all the man he is now. And I? Was unlucky to be born female. Th'ero and I were close for that, before he went and fucked up his life and mine. He protected me and I was his understanding sister and friend. We'd gone as a family to Torince and I was put in his care. We'd have been fine if some half-drunken lout hadn't start spouting off dirty remarks about me 'n being an Irondell girl. He snapped. Pummelled the guy good and hard to the ground. Got his ass served in kind, but they threw my brother to the cells. Father was furious of course and I suppose gave him the chance to rid himself of Th'ero. He publicly disowned him and left him with nothing in Torince while I was dragged back to Irondell. My older brother made sure to make my life hell then. No more shield." she shrugs then and her expression is twisted, conflicted. Nothing more and yet so much more to say but she lets it drift then and there. That's enough for now and she's wrapping her arms around herself, hidden beneath the water's surface but evident enough that she is uncomfortable.

Ka’el keeps his body relaxed, though whether or not this is because of any noticing of her tenseness is anyone’s guess. Not that there’s anyone here to guess besides old man McSleepy over there (whose head is thankfully still above water!) There is no judgment evident on his face as the story unfolds. Fighting? Ka’el has no background relationship with the Fortian weyrleader, having met him in passing only once or twice, and never long enough to have any sort of conversation with him. Thus, to know now that he was a fighter is perhaps not as shocking to him as it would be one who currently knows him better, but still there’s a faint frown that etches over his face as she continues on. Bits and pieces of this is sounding familiar… Not all together as a whole, but taken apart separately. Fighting. The cells. Disownment. These are the things that deepen that frown, etching lines across his face and darkening bright eyes. If he had hoped to have something in common with this smithing woman, which he did, this wasn’t it. A disconsolate past. A tortured family history. “What was the point of him bringin’ you back?” he finds himself asking. “Why not leave you with your brother? Or your mother? Was she…?” She hasn’t been part of this tale at all, he’s noticed. But other than that, he’s now noticed Kiena’s position in the water. Discomfort shown and tangible, and he bites back the influx of questions that still linger on his tongue, cursing the ones that slipped by unchecked. “I’m sorry,” he offers, brows furrowing now. “That was .. tactless. You don’t need to answer any’ve that,” said with a shake of his head and dismissive wave of his hand before it lowers back beneath the water’s warm surface. “Kiena. I know I’m half a stranger to you, but I’d like to think I could be more.” He pauses, thinking that over. “Less. … Less of a stranger, more’ve a friend,” he says with a vague grin. “I think I’ve said it before, but I really mean it. Come by my weyr sometime. We can kick around a bit. Play a game’ve ale pong. Not all’ve us bronzers are worth avoidin’.”

Kiena is always tense, to a degree and it's uncommon for her to be completely relaxed — especially in a location such as this. The hot springs are not exactly the most private of places and she's just dropped enough of her shields to allow this conversation to happen at all and part of her reaction is stemming from feeling vulnerable and exposed in a way that is far different than being nude beneath the water. Ka'el could hurt her bad in this state and she remains pressed against that pool wall, "relaxed" but truthfully ready to pull herself out in a heartbeat if she feels she must. So she'll continue to watch him, blue eyes narrowed thoughtfully but with lingering suspicion lurking. His lack of judgment both flatters and surprises her as she was expecting it. She's had it before. Told that she was being silly, that it's nothing but the past. Casually dismissed. Not now though and she'll watch the change in his expression as he absorbs it all. "What do you mean, 'bring me back'? Back home to Torince? I was a little girl. Th'ero was labelled as an unstable and unwanted troublemaker. Our father washed his hands of him, how could he not? The Irondell name was already tarnished and muttered about. My mother was there. She allowed it to happen but she had it just as bad." Her part of the tale it seems is omitted because Kiena saw no importance in it or does not feel it has any impact. Hugging her arms about herself, she will let them drop a bit when Ka'el apologizes though it's too late to not reply. Her cheeks are flushed, not so much by heat but by embarrassment with how quick she found her tongue replied. "Don't be." Sorry? Kiena is turning away then, giving him her back as she pulls herself from the water and hastily covers herself with one of the towels she dragged with her. Her legs will remain in the water though and she doesn't quite leave just done with soaking. "Why?" she asks, giving him a look that is now confused only to clear her throat slightly. Yeah, no. Not like that! She smirks. "You did say it before. And your weyr, huh?" That smirk edges more towards a crooked smile then and she snorts. "Sorry if I seem standoffish, but my track record with bronzeriders is rather bad." No need for explanation there. "Suppose… it can't hurt to take you up on the offer though. Mostly cause I've no idea what ale pong is." she drawls with a hint of dry amusement.

As she moves out of the water, Ka’el waits a little til she’s covered up before he wades nearer to where she now sits. He pauses just a foot or so away now, still in the water with his chest now facing the pool’s edge. His arms lift and cross, resting upon it, front pressed lightly against the smooth underwater stone. “I can only hope to meet your brother properly sometime. Not to bring any’ve this up,” he says with a headshake, remembering the promise, “but just to see proof, y’know? That things can turn out alright even after the worst has happened. The both’ve you are proof of that. You especially. You’re here now, a blue rider an’ smith with .. from what I can tell is a level head,” said with a crooked grin. “I don’t wish to forget my past. Not really. But, I don’t want it to, uh … define me? I guess that’s what you’d call it. Or, I guess better is: I don’t want it to consume me.” He moves his head, resting his chin upon his crossed arms, smirking up at her. “Standoffish?” Eh. Yeah. Other bronzeriders. “Eh, I wouldn’t call ya that. Just… eh, cautious. S’not bad to be cautious. And if you’ve never played ale pong before, then that’s reason enough for you to come over. I’ll set up a game. Teach you the rules. Watch you lose.” A grin. “You’ll enjoy yourself so much I’m willin’ to wager that before long, you’ll see me less as a bronze rider and more as, I dunno….a friend.” Here his grin softens until it’s more of a smile than anything else, and he’s content to remain in the water and chat and joke about games and other things until the caverns begin to sound busy with the sound of supper and the hot springs becomes more populated, at which point, both likely will flee, Alloy in tow.

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