Return from Fort

Xanadu Weyr - Beach

The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.

The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

Here in the South, the seasons are topsy-turvy. As the Northern Continent - such as Fort Weyr - it's just starting towards spring. Here, it's heading towards fall, and that means - absolutely nothing. Summer heat still lingers, meaning that N'shen, newly arrived back from his sojorn on the Sands, is clad in a pair of loose shorts, a sleeveless shirt, and absolutely no footwear what-so-ever, enjoying the last rays of the setting sun as he pads along the sparsely populated beach. Taozyuth is nearby, sprawled to catch every last inch of lingering sunlight.

Walking barefoot through the shallows, her skirts hiked up above her ankles, but certainly no higher than her knees — ladylike propriety after all — Natali is sloshing along through the water, her young green firelizard perched atop her shoulder, trilling softly in a sort of croaking voice. "Oh bother," the girl can be heard muttering to herself. "Old Ormond would never have known what to do otherwise," There's a rather angry kick at the water, droplets splattering up onto the beach, and then she's glancing up, eyes coming to rest on the sprawled bronze. She furrows her brow somewhat in thought, peering around for the sight of the dragon's rider. "Ah, hello," she calls out, as if some vain hope of being heard.

Fortunately, sound carries near water - and even more near salt than fresh. N'shen, not that far off from the girl, pauses in mid-step, twisting his head to frown back at whoever has interrupted his reverie. However, he can't hold the expression for long, and, turning around in a lazy about-face, he moves back towards the girl, hands dug into his pockets as he tilts his head to one side, studying her. "Hello. I know you," he adds without preamble, eyes narrowing slightly. "But - I don't think you're normally from around here…"

Natali comes to a stop, the water lapping around her ankles as she peers curiously at N'shen. "Yes," she says at last, "I think you do know me. I was up there," a vauge wave towards the water, in some hoped-for northerly direction. "… at Fort Weyr, I mean. Was one of the candidates. It was your bronze who was the sire, right?" she pauses, sloshing forwards so she's finally on dry land again. "I'm Natali, in case you didn't know." No nicknames for her, nuh uh. "I'm not really from around here." she states, "after well… the Hatching, I went back to my family. Father's a trader, and he sent me down here with Ormond. We're here to see about possible trading sites."

Clucking his tongue - he can't exactly snap his fingers while they're in his pockets - N'shen grins, relaxing slightly. "Ah - yes. I remember you, in that vague 'I don't remember a whole lot of anything' sort of way. Sorry," he adds, clearly nothing of the sort. "It's not to say yer forgettable or nothin', but, uhm - yeah. It was just a weird experience all around, y'know?" Rocking back on his heels slightly, he lifts an eyebrow. "Trade, huh? Lot of ship trade around here - not sure 'bout land trade. Ain't - Isn't - really my area of expe- exper- knowing things. Still, good luck with that. What kind of things do y'all trade?" A beat, then, "Oh. I'm N'shen. Nash. That's Taozyuth, in case you never caught his name." He jerks a chin towards the somnolent bronze.

"I think…" Natali pauses a moment, nibbling at her lower lip, "it was pretty weird for everyone. Me included. I'd never been in a Weyr before. Father's trade route usually stuck to the Holds. I was more than a trifle overwhelmed. I wasn't really used to the chores that much either. Some of them were all right, but others, yuck!" she makes a face. "Seemed more like drudge work to me." she pauses, scuffing her toes through the sand. "Well that's what we're here for." she remarks, "to find out about land trade, although Father might look at teaming up with someone in a ship if that means getting the good around." she pauses, smiling, and plucking at her skirt. "Fabrics, mostly. At least that's what my parents deal in. There's some other traders in their caravan who have pots and other goods you'd find in the kitchens and stuff. But Father says fabric is the big one." she takes a breath. "Ormond's here to protect me." there's a wiggle of her fingers at that — almost like quotation marks. "Pleased to meet you N'shen. And Taozyuth." She dips a curtsey.

"Shards, don't do that," N'shen says hastily, dragging a hand from his pocket to raise it in a 'stop' gesture. "I ain't no one to be - uh, whatever it is you just did - at. I'm just, uhm… me." Whatever a 'me' is, as he's not sporting any knot that indicates exactly what his position is at this Weyr. "Fabrics, eh? I imagine you'll find some good trade for that here. The ladies all like their fabrics. They use 'em to dress people up like little dolls." Clearly, he's had his own experience with that. "Well - Xanadu's not like a lot of them Northern Weyrs," he states proudly. "And it ain't nothing like Fort! A lot more laid-back and stuff. Though you better watch out," he adds with a slight grin. "My step-mom's gold just rose, so she'll have a clutch soon, and I think that Kilaueth might be ready to go up again afore too long, too. They liked you at Fort, you might just find yourself back where you just were - only in a much better place," he smirks.

Natali blinks with some confusion. "But my mother says — " she pauses suddenly, purses her lips and frowns. "My mother isn't here," she finally comments at last. "I guess I shouldn't always have to do what she says." Straightening, the girl brushes her hand over the fabric of her skirt. "My parents would be awfully happy if people bought our fabrics. Father usually doesn't have a lot of the really expensive stuff, I think the weavers tend to horde that, but he can usually get good stuff most of the time. And if the ladies like dressing people up, then that's even better." she pauses, glancing at the young bronzerider. "Oh really?" There's some surprise in her tone. "I … I guess I'd just have to wait and see." a second pause. "If you say so."

"Eh. They always tell the people who don't Impress it's only 'cause their dragon ain't been shelled yet," N'shen points out logically. "I mean, I didn't have t' go through it but once, but some people gotta go through it loads of times before they find their lifemate. So maybe you just gotta try again. If you want a dragon," he adds, grinning crookedly. It's a good thing that his klah-with-cream complexion means his blushes stay relatively hidden. "Can't see why you wouldn't, but some people are just, uhm… different, like that." Yeah, totally not his original word, but he's trying for that whole 'tact' bit everyone seems intent on drilling into his head. Something about riding bronze, go figure. "But - yeah, as far as fabrics go, I know there's plenty of women here who like clothes and stuff, and the Weyr's weavers are always busy. And there's Black Rock, too, though…" He trails off, brow furrowing. "Anyway," he finally says, lifting one hand to flap it in a dismissive gesture. "At least you'll get to be near the ocean a while," he grins slyly. "Nothing better than the ocean."

"I think they said something to that effect," Natali remarks wryly, "that it took a few times for some people. I guess I can sort of see that. There were an awful lot of candidates and only so many eggs. Maybe it just wasn't my time." she's willing to accept that readily enough, her expression sober for a long moment before she shrugs. "I … really don't know what I want," she admits then. "I guess I was a little overwhelmed at being Searched so it never really sunk in that I could have a dragon. I've been a caravan girl all my life. I guess if I got asked again, I'd probably say yes," There's a sudden thoughtful look at the bronzerider, and beyond to Taozyuth, but she shrugs absently. "I'll send word to my father then. Ormond doesn't have a 'lizard." she grins and taps Bess's muzzle. "We might have a chance at trading fabric. What's at Black Rock?" This is a casual query, but then she's looking out towards the ocean. "We stayed inland. It's a mighty nice ocean."

That look to him - then to his dragon - gets a sudden grin, and N'shen shakes his head hastily. "I ain't askin' you to stand, don't worry. Y'got plenty of time t' think if that's what you want or not. But if you're gonna hang out in a Weyr, it does you good to think about it, hey? I mean," he adds, snickering, "I grew up knowing I had t' be a rider someday, you know? Didn't have anything else to do. No craft I wanted, and dam- er- darned if I wanted to be stuck doing menial chores all my life. Best thing in the world when D'had asked me to Stand - didn't even know he was my father, then," is added, "and then Taozyuth said he wanted me, and the world was right." It's a good thing Natali didn't spend much time with him at Fort - she'd be sore pressed to figure out how his prim and proper accent shifted to this 'good ol' Southerner' drawl. "There's always firelizard clutches around here, maybe we could find him one." He says nothing on the subject of Black Rock, instead offering a thoughtful "I love the ocean. Do you swim?"

Natali's grin is slightly hesitant then, but she does nod in understanding after a moment or two more of thought. "I really don't know how much longer I'd be here," she admits sheepishly, "Ormond could decide that we need to move on. But …" she pauses, "could always enjoy it while it lasts, right." His long explanation leaves her blinking, she working out exactly what he said with some considerable interest and ease to which the trader lass responds with a smile. "So your father was the one that searched you, but you didn't know he was your father?" She nibbles at her lip again, and grins. "How'd you not know that? I knew Ryrni was my father right off." But that's how she was raised, knowing exactly who her parents were. A brief shake of her head is made. "I don't think he's got the imagination to care for one," she admits, reaching up to rub the little green's chin. "Swim?" There's a spark of challenge in her eyes. "In lakes and streams yeah. I can climb trees too." She's a trader's brat, you see, and that's close enough to a weyr brat.

"Well, hope you don't stray too far," N'shen replies with a guileless grin. "Wouldn't want you to miss out on the chance to find your other half, you know." He jerks a head towards Taozyuth to indicate exactly what he means. At her stated confusion, he laughs slightly, shaking his head. "In the Weyrs, y'don't always know. I mean, most mothers try to keep track and stuff, and tell their kids, but my mother - she didn't want me to know who he was. Didn't want to bother him with an unwanted brat." Clearly, in fifteen turns, he's managed to work past most of his issues, and thus shows no discomfort in stating this quite easily. "I was born from a flight, you see. She broke her leg shortly after her green rose, so couldn't go between - and then, me. But she never told me, nor D'had - we actually didn't find out until after I Impressed." He shrugs - no big deal, to him, anyway, and switches the conversation to more interesting topics, like, "You climb trees? My step-mother has this /awesome/ tree outside her weyrhold to climb!"

"I'll have to think it over," Natali's lips twist into an amused grin. "It's not really any big plans I'd have made," she shrugs quickly and moves on to other things. Like the topic of Weyr children. "I understand," she remarks, eyes widening a little to show that yes, she really did understand. Trader morals might not be as loose as Weyr morals, but they're hardly as uptight as Hold morals. But still, there's a fine line to walk. "That sort of makes sense, you not knowing who your father was for a long time. And then she too is willing to take the subject in another direction. "Sure do," she boasts, somewhat proud. "I was the best tree climber in the whole caravan. Even better than the boys." There's definite interest in her eyes. "Your stepmother has a tree we could climb? Sounds fun. Maybe — " the sentence is cut off by a man bellowing from further down the beach. "Ooops. Ormond needs my help," she explains. "See you around sometime?"

"Just think on it," N'shen urges lightly. "Weyr always needs willing Candidates - so much better than the ones who're all 'oh, I don't know if I really want a dragon'." His voice is a wicked mimicry of a whiny holder girl. "Those kind set my teeth on edge - almost as much as bullies do." His shoulders hunch slightly. "But yeah, my step-ma - Thea, she is. Seryth's rider - she's got this big ol' tree by her weyrbarn that she climbs a lot, and she lets me climb. And I have a swinging rope in my weyrbarn, too." His lips twitch slightly. "I think I'm supposed to be too old for that, but phaw! What's the fun of being grown up all the time? Bad enough I hadda act all older at Fort." You know, the whole 'representing the Weyr' thing and all. As Natali is called away, his face falls slightly, then lights up again at her last words. "Yeah, I'm always around. Any rider can find me by askin' Taozyuth, and'll usually help out if you ask nicely. Nice meetin' you… again."

Natali nods fervently. "Definitely will think on it," she replies, stifling a laugh as he mimics a holder girl. "Oh my, those were awful weren't they?" There's a brief face made, the girl glancing down the beach, and then nodding again. "I'll ask. It was really nice to meet you." And with a wave, she hefts her skirts just enough to be able to run, and off she goes, dashing down the sand towards the older white-haired trader.

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