Falter {Vig}

Xanadu Weyr - Forest
The trees grow thickly here, avians nesting in their branches and flitting about after insects. Flowers sprout up and speckle the ground between, the green of small plants and their blooms of bright saffron and cheeky rose that creep all the way up to the bases of the trees and adorn the fallen leaves and mulch of the forest floor. Those trees rise upward in their aged magnificence, gargantuan limbs casting often welcome shade, the general atmosphere and scent of the path is one of freshness and wild abandon.
A path winds its leisurely way through the trees, wide enough for wagons to pass. As it goes through into the forest, a number of other trails branch away, both more and less traveled. Many of them lead to private weyrs, but there's a few more trodden paths - notable among them a road to the feeding grounds, set against the western slopes.
The forest grows wilder the further north one goes, deep growth and ancient places, and the road splits in two against it. One branch leads to a clearing with a large stone building finished with wooden cladding, while the other turns back toward the meadow. Just before it emerges, a trail veers off to the Firelizard Theatre.

"Astronomical" - SVRCINA

Note: Backdated to fall after the Hatching

In those silent moments immediately after the Hatching, she fled.

Her steady stride broke as soon as she was past the flood of people in search of food and, while her stomach cramped and twisted, she did not join them. A blind bolt sent her in the direction of the forest, where night's drape hung heaviest, with stars largely occluded by an imperfect canopy of shadow. Nausea hit like a hammer, but she breathed her way through it with a rhythmic, slow and deep draw of air through nostrils and hissed exhalations through clenched teeth.

It was just as her mother taught her; as her grandmother taught her.

The worst of it passed quickly and she slumped, twisting to put her back to a tree and slow her descent. The robe snagged but, thank Faranth, it did not tear. She'd have to clean it later, maybe return it to her grandmother with apologies for the wasted effort. Not that she suspected the woman would accept it; no, more likely, it would be re-gifted as some kind of lesson.

Her grandmother was good at those.

Her chest ached and her eyes burned and it took a little longer than it should have for her to realize she was crying in great, sucking sobs that echoed faintly in the forest nook she'd found for herself. But she was alone and it didn't matter and while she drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them and hung her head, she let it all out without fear or shame. The raw nerve that had been tenuously covered by a film of hope was finally exposed and it sang with a pain that wasn't unfamiliar.

It just hurt more, this time.

Wasn't it supposed to hurt a little less?

Wasn't she supposed to be able to handle it better?

Great, wracking sobs turned into raw-throated howls that eventually faded to threadbare whimpers. The wellspring of suffering finally ran dry enough to leave her eyes burning for want of tears and she turned her head to wipe tears and snot onto her robe in a move that filled her with more shame and embarrassment than the crying had.

"Hey, kiddo."

"Hey, mom." Ligeia's cheeks burned and she looked away, off into the shadows. She hadn't seen the other woman's approach, foretold by the flickering of an oil-fed lantern.

Aglaia offered a smile that looked fugitive in the uncertain light and she crouched, setting the lantern down after scuffing an area clean for it.

"You're okay." Observation as much as hope; the words were carefully threaded through those states.

"Yeah." Ligeia turned her head to rub more tears away, but her mother was there with a cloth, offering it over. She put it quickly to work and blew her nose after, followed by a hard sniff and sigh.

"It's okay." Aglaia looped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. "Your dragon just wasn't there this time, that's all. You'll have another chance, if that's what you really want."

"What if it isn't?" Her words felt thick, forced out of her too-tight throat and past an idiot tongue that felt too large.

"Then it isn't and that's okay, too." Aglaia drew a breath and held it before letting it out slowly. "The only one putting any expectations on you is you, you know?"

"I know, I know," she hastily offered with a hiccup. "But you and grandmother, you both Impressed the first time and you were both around my age and I-"

"Shhh." Aglaia sighed and shut her eyes for a moment before looking askance at her daughter. "You can't compare your stride to ours, Lia. Your footsteps were never meant to fall in ours. And you might think you want to be in our shadow, but- those shadows are long and you deserve to walk in your own light. You already know how it was for us, for both of us."

Ligeia scrunched her nose. "I know," threatened to turn her into a truly broken record. "I just- I wanted-" but all of those thoughts, all of those fears, all of it welled up again and threatened to flood her eyes all over again.

"You have the benefit of time, Ligeia. Time that I often wish I had - and I know your grandmother does, too. Take use of it. See the world. Maybe you'll find where you're meant to shine - and if you end up Standing again, then that's your choice. But don't do it because you think you have to keep up the family legacy." Aglaia's voice took on a sardonic slant, paired well with a wry half-smile. "Besides, it's not that great of a legacy, anyway. It's just responsibility."

It wasn't quite enough to get a laugh out of Ligeia, but she did huff out a breath and that was enough.

"Do you want to go home?"

"I-" but Ligeia hesitated and her throat worked and tears welled up anew.

Aglaia's expression softened and she pulled her daughter in closer, with a kiss aimed for the top of her head.

"It's okay. You don't have to decide now, you know? And we can take you anywhere. We always will. You want to spend a few sevendays at Ierne, you can. Just ask. Okay?"

She didn't trust her ability to make words and settled on a nod that felt numb.

"Let's go get some food. Your grandparents are here, too, and I know they want to see you and make sure you're okay."

"Okay." Ligeia said the word but didn't feel it. Would that feeling pass?

She had to talk to someone before she could go - and who knew how long she'd have to wait to finally talk.

Soon, she hoped.


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