Compos Mentis

Xanadu Weyr - Clock Tower
The walls of the tower are the same dark gray stones that make up the outside of the tower. The central portion of the structure is open, so that one may stand in the center of the structure and see the top. Well…almost the top. A ceiling cuts off the view to whatever it is that's at the very top of the tower. Very little light comes in, just tiny beams of light from the arrow-slits in the walls. The floor is of dark hardwood slats, thin enough to have been worked easily but thick enough to provide protection from insects and wildlife that might be trying to get in.
A wooden staircase is built along wall, one that spirals up and up around the inner wall of the structure. It leads a workshop, where along every wall there are…clocks, of course! Clocks of just about every configuration one could think of, and quite a few that are outlandish enough to escape one's consideration at first. While most of these clocks are working, there are more than a few of them that aren't. The gentle ticking sounds fill the space, the clocks almost always perfectly in sync with each otherand with the ticking from the movement of the big clock aboveand the sounds mingling together to form an ordered cacophony of sounds.
Clock parts are strewn across a table in one corner. There are a couple of cabinets with parts in them like the ones downstairs—parts that are significantly smaller than those on the first floor. These are obviously for the smaller clocks that are built here. There are no less than two large grandfather clocks in this workshop, both working.
A thick support threads through a large hole in the center of the floor, extending from below to above. A chain hangs beside it too, anchored high above, and the spiral staircase continues up, past a door on the outside and on to more storage space, dedicated to piles of crates with springs and "little" parts for the clocktower's main movement. Of course, the word "little" may not be the best way to describe it; some of these springs and levers are longer than a man's arm. And some of the gears in these crates a man could actually put his arm through the middle of easily.

Hiding. It’s what E’tan trained himself into, these past few weeks. Since his short yet forced rest in the infirmary, he mastered the skill to the point he avoided crossing anyone’s path save for the bunch of workers on the sands. Today, on this rather chilly morning, he found a place ontop of the tower, eyes blurry as he gazes at the dawning sun trying to pierce the grey layer of the sky. He succeeded. In a way. But there is someone who can’t be shut out.

« I am worried » the whispering wind flowing in a certain goldrider’s mind insidiously. It carries an unusual blow of deep sorrow, the cosmic pattern distorted into a lightless strangling mass of emotion. What drove the bronze to bespeak her directly instead of her lifemate is left unknown. « Could you meet mine at the top of the clock tower? He won’t listen to me… All I get from him is » and Saburath throws the blurry image of a crying Esiae.

Saburath's request is not answered by the goldrider, but rather by the gold herself, though the dragon's mind lacks Sonyxaeth's usual quiet kindness. The shores of her mind are dark, stars muted by heavy clouds and rolling thunder, her reply simple, « She says no, but I will try. » Her effort is apparently met with success; though it takes quite some time and at least one argument, the goldrider eventually emerges on the clock tower ledge. Whatever image E'tan and Saburath had in mind, it is not the one that characterizes the woman now. Her gaze is hard, brow furrowed and lips pressed thin with no crying in sight. Though she's wearing a thin grey sweater and a red knit scarf to fend off the cool breeze, her arms are crossed over her person as she closes the door behind her with a click loud enough to draw attention. Esiae doesn't offer greeting, instead leaning back against the door to eye the weyrleader. She had been the one summoned, after all - E'tan could talk first.

The click sound has the expected effect but the bronzerider doesn’t turn around. He’s sitting on the ledge, legs crossed under him. Putting his guitar aside to stand up, a deep sigh escapes his lips. He hasn’t been stealthy enough apparently, the shape of the newcomer finally coming to view as he twists and gets to his feet again. “Shards…he did it…” And there is a moment. A short moment of silence that feels like years. Tani is there, standing, his guitar in one hand and facing the goldrider. It’s obvious now that it was Saburath’s decision to ask her to come, even if there aren’t that much protesting from the bronzerider. He does notice her gaze and closed face. Then he breaks the silence again. “Didn’t mean to bother you…” « You made her accept to come. You have my gratitude! » is Saburath’s thin light of hope piercing through Sonyxaeth’s stormy clouds.

Dubious flashes of lightning flicker through Sonyxaeth's mind, arcing between dispersing clouds. There are no words for now, but the intention is clear: don't thank her yet. Indeed, Esiae's brown eyes squint at E'tan before both brows raise, both gestures expressive and sarcastic, belying her mood even if her tone is relatively nonchalant. "You say that like it was me avoiding everyone for the last seven day. I'm pretty sure the builders have seen more of you than the rest of us combined. It's, admittedly, not what I expected." There is an implied 'of you' at the end of that sentence that she doesn't voice. Perhaps some part of her doesn't blame him, but unfortunately for E'tan, it seems the bigger part is bent on being serious, stoic, as she shrugs into the intimation that he's bothered her. "No bother. I've been granted several days' leave to be with my family now that…" Her careful facade crackles, but only for an instant, jaw tightening and head shaking as she pushes past it and continues, "now that the brunt of the chaos has passed. Zan'ri and I are leaving for Ista tomorrow." The underlying hint being whatever he - or his dragon - wants to say, he should say it now while she's still leaning against the door, gaze tired but expectant.

“I was seeking for your forgiveness….” the bronzerider’s white voice floating for a brief second before the words die in a slow agony. Every person deals with pain in so many ways, he’s aware of that and won’t ever argue. Protests don’t even raise when she bluntly expresses her disappointment. He’s been expecting the blame, he who so miserably failed at what he swore to do no matter what : To protect. Suddenly feeling the weight of the wooden instrument, E’tan leans to delicately put it against the wall before returning his icy blue gaze in her brown one again. The tension is palpable, turning breeze into a suffocating mist. He’s hurt, like everyone else but the wound is deep and reviving an old one. “But it can wait.” As in forever if it never comes. He’ll live with that and, eventually, face everyone else. Just…not now. Not yet.

"My forgiveness. For what?" The words leave the goldrider before she can consider them, brows arching just a tad higher before slamming down in a frown. Brown eyes assess him thoroughly before she makes a quiet noise that isn't quite a laugh through her nose, gaze rolling skywards. "Tell me you aren't blaming yourself for any of this." Her voice is flat, just as tired as her posture, but her gaze is just a little less unkind when it finally flicks back to him. Only a little, but it's something. "Because despite what the families say - and really, you shouldn't look to grieving people for rationale -" a pointed look from him to herself there "it wasn't anyone's fault. It's damn sad," she continues, those hairline fractures attempting to shatter her resolve again, but she pushes on as she's had to for the last couple weeks, "but there's nothing that could have been done differently." Words she's told herself endlessly, for sure, but clearly they both need to hear them. "So the only thing you need apologize for in my book is avoiding me." Her voice hardens again, but if he bothers to look, he'll catch the flicker of something like her old self that passes briefly over her features, there and gone again. "That was stupid of you, and you won't do it again." Brows raise as though to say: right?

“Nothing that could have been done eh? You sure about that? How about some common sense and shardin’ anticipation? With what happened before and the previous repairs, I /should/ have seen that coming.” Fists clenched in frustration, E’tan barely breathes between words. “And families….” his voice breaks there but he stubbornly follows. “…how good is it to face them without having anything comforting to say? How good is it to display a useless me? I’d rather die of exhaustion and harass those builders so it NEVER happen again….NEVER!” He’s fighting it, repressing it. All of his pain and anger involuntarily bringing tears to his eyes. “We were supposed to offer them a new life….not a gruesome death….” Finally succumbing to an extreme lassitude and bitterness, he nearly falls on the floor rather than sits, hiding his head in both hands, a murmur between sighs. “It should have been me…it should have been me…not them…..but me….” Her attempt at shaking him out of that misery is struggled by his fears. Fears of seeing disillusion in her eyes.

Slim brows stay right where they are, gently lifted, but it's Esiae's expression that changes, a wash of realization, sadness, and understanding finally mobilizing her still features. These arguments are familiar - ones she's had herself, ones she's resigned herself to, ones that perhaps she can reason him through. "What could common sense possibly have solved? Anticipation? E'tan," she says sternly, using his name on purpose in the hopes he'll look at her, "I've said before and I'll say again that you can't walk around expecting disaster at every turn. You'll exhaust yourself, and everyone else. It's nobody's fault that the flight happened in a blizzard, nobody's fault that dragons hit the ceiling. It was not and is not an unfair demand to have the ceiling repaired quickly. Perhaps we should have moved the eggs off the sands, but in talkin' that over with my brother, he said last time they did that it caused the gold a lot of stress, and it wasn't necessary for the life of the eggs this time, so why would we." It's the talk of family that really gets her, or perhaps the beginning of his break. She endures the rest silently, even his fall to his knees, considering him for a moment before pushing off the door and approaching him slowly. Though she comes to a crouch before him, she doesn't move to embrace him, instead pulling hands away from his eyes to tilt his chin up at her as best as he will allow her to. "Never. I don't care who dies. I don't care if it's your family, or mine, or sharding Faranth herself, it should never be you in place of someone else, Tani." Her voice is hard again, out of necessity to keep herself from crying again, but her hand smoothes back over his hair to soften them, her gaze serious but definitely not disillusioned. Merely resigned, as she pulls her hands from his face to spread them slightly, offering a hug instead, if he wants it.

Six turns. Eltanin is six turns old again and lost in his sobbing. The endless hollow in his soul is devouring him whole. He can’t breathe. His vision is blurry with tears but he finally raises his head, helped with soft touches. There’s a wiping here and he blinks several times. He is not gone! He’s here! Right in front of him. Just as his heart starts to beat again and reaches out in a violent spasm, clinging his arms around that figure to never let it vanish. At that exact moment he lets go of everything, tightening his embrace to a dangerous point, fists clenched and crying freely. It’s strong, desperate and craving. Not his fault. He needed to hear that for so long. “I’m so…..sorry….Esi….so sorry….” He manages to say between hiccups, watering her back with his tears. Yes, for now the child is gone in favor of the bronzerider again who found refuge in Esiae’s arms. He does loosen up just a bit, ready to pull away if she ever wants to breathe again. He’s a mess and knows it but not afraid anymore. Something has been fixed in him.

Esiae is momentarily surprised by the fierceness of his embrace, 'oof'ing quietly as the air is pushed out of her lungs. Recovering quickly, she shifts her arms to wrap tightly around him, sensing the bronzer needs to be held as much as he needs to hold on. She doesn't try to shush or tut him through the crying, one hand smoothing over his back instead, pausing only to dash the occasional streak of tears from her own eyes. "It's okay, Tani," the goldrider murmurs, voice thicker with emotion than she'd like, but there's really no helping it - E'tan's sobbing robbed her of her stolid facade. "There's nothing to be sorry for. It was… awful, but it happened, and there's nothing about it we can change." It is what it is, and now they have to move on. So it goes, to borrow words from a famous author. She relaxes somewhat when he loosens his grip, but she won't let go until he does, instead resting her chin gently on his shoulder. "It'll be okay."

It’s hard to measure for how long they stay entwined like that but it does last for the silence is slowly embracing them again as E’tan’s sobbing decreases to finally stop. This place has never felt that peaceful and reassuring and by the way he’s still clinging to her, he has no intention to pull away. As she puts her chin on his shoulder, he closes his eyes, causing the last tear to roll down his cheek, his heartbeating syncing with hers. It’s only a deep needful breathing that slowly breaks their embrace, leaving the bronzerider staring in her eyes with one hand on her shoulder. “T-Thank you, Zee….” His voice is hesitating but at least he’s regained his rather normal self which is an exploit. A smile doesn’t break in yet though. It’ll take more time for him. Instead his full of gratitude gaze is locked on her, his hand moving again to dry tears on her cheek with a thumb. Moving on, yes, but it won’t ever be like it used to…

"No worries," Esiae murmurs, pulling back when E'tan does. Though she sniffles a few times herself, she's had the chance to grieve and to feel, so it doesn't take her long to manage a quick nod, wrinkling her nose with a small smile while he clears her face of tear tracks. Pulling her hands up into her sleeves, she does the same for him with a corner of the fabric before looking him over, head tilted to one side. "Is that why you've been avoidin' us?"

Mimicking hers, E’tan also tries for a smile. It’s not much. More like a ghost of what he used to display but at least it’s natural and coming right from his lightened heart. Slowly, he brings his legs close to his chest, putting his chin on his knees. “Mostly…” He begins, fighting back a wailing attack but somewhat succeeding. “This whole catastrophe brought back feelings I held back for too long…” The level of his voice drops as he grabs his guitar again. “It’s hard for a seven years old child not to feel guilty for his brother’s death…especially how it happened.” Playing a single chord, he raises a corner of his lip. Yeah. A smile. “You remind me so much of him…”

"Seems like it brought those kinds of feelings back up for a lot of people…" Esiae's lips purse beneath a gentle frown, but she nods as E'tan continues, dropping from the crouch so that her feet are tucked beneath her. Her gaze drops to the guitar when he picks it up again, watching him strum the chord before her eyes return to his face, lips quirking up a little to match his smile. "Yeah, you've told me that before," she says, hands fiddling with the tasseled ends of her scarf. "You also told me that was one of the reasons you stopped blaming yourself, though." Her brow tilts up just a bit at him, not accusingly, but perhaps a bit concerned and inquisitive, asking about it without really asking.

“Yeah I know I’m hopeless….” comes E’tan’s reply along with another melodic chord. “Hopelessly complicated to be precise.” Is he the same broken sobbing person he was just a couple of minutes ago? Or is he hiding again? Hard to tell, but what’s certain is that there’re no tears anymore. “You’ve helped me in so many ways, Zee. And here I’ve done nothing in return. Not even being comforting…” Despite his words he doesn’t sound like he’s losing himself in self-pity again. He’s more angry against his own failure. Without even thinking about it, he starts to play a soft melody. The notes floating with increasing strength as the music slowly grows into a more determined tune.

[ OOC : In case anyone would be curious, here's the song : ]

Esiae slants him a wry look for that hopeless comment, but she shifts so she can sit next to E'tan instead of in front of him, hand rubbing over his shoulders in a soothing gesture. "You aren't hopeless, and not so complicated that you can't be understood," the goldrider says. "I just meant that… I don't know. When things like that happen, it rocks through everyone. I don't think that anyone who was there didn't feel it." She doesn't specify that 'it,' because clearly he knows what she means already. "And hey. To begin with, life ain't about give and take. You've helped me and everyone else in this weyr over the turns and I bet you don't even know it. Besides, I had more people offerin' me comfort than I knew what to do with, and half of them I sent packin'," she adds with a troubled expression, one which clears with a shake of her head. "You don't owe me nothin', yeah?" Pulling her arm back, she links her hands around her knees, content to listen to him play for now.

E’tan plays with passion and when the last note dies it almost feels like he’s finally given up on that heavy burden he’s been dealing with since he was a child. “So there is still hope?” The question coming out briskly but with a warmer smile from him. He doesn’t know if he’s been that helpful to Xanadu and its wonderful people but the goldrider’s words let him hope again. The wooden instrument on the floor again, he turns his head to look at her. “And yes, I owe you, Zee. I will never hide again. I promise. But….” His smile turns into a grin there as he follows. “…let’s make a pact?” Voluntarily trailing off to observe her reaction, he tilts his head. “Let’s swear that we’ll never let each other be miserable for the wrong reasons. And that, if needed, a kick in the butt will be authorized? Both literally and figuratively…” And with those last words he lightly bumps his shoulder against hers. “You liked the song?”

"'Course there is," Esiae replies with little to no hesitation. Though her gaze is distant, and still a little sad, there'll always be hope. Eventually, her gaze shifts back to E'tan, rolling with amusement when he insists that he owes her, but she doesn't argue the point again. Instead, she raises one eyebrow for his mention of a pact, a little smile flitting around the corners of her mouth before she finally flicks him a grin and a shake of her head. "Yeah, alright, that seems fair. We both need a swift kick now and then, I think," the goldrider says, returning his shoulder-bump with one of her own. "And yes, it was lovely. I didn't know you played."

“Rey taught me. Well, he desperately tried to have me play it properly, to be honest.” E’tan corrects himself. Once again he’s mentioning his late brother but this time, no more pain edges his voice. “Your Harper self certainly noticed some minor discord here and here.” Her grin is contagious and helps Tani finally get out of his previous torpor. “I’ve never thought about it that way but…I think that this song is more or less like life itself. Or should I say my life since it’s linked to the way I play it. Discords can’t really be completely annihilated…” His choice of word here betrays the remaining of his frustrations and his strong will to literally erase any previous damages and forthcoming ones. “…but it only adds soul to it. All that counts at the end is that it still carries emotion and turns out good at the end? Ahaaaa…” That tired sigh comes out, unexpected. “Don’t mind me Esi. I’m somewhat drained.” Here goes another playful shoulder bump. And with renewed optimism and determination, he adds. “We’ll go through this until something else rears its ugly ass….”

Esiae chuckles quietly for the correction, but she nods, clearly agreeing with his philosophy regarding discords and the part they play in the music as well as life. "They're a symbol of learning to be had, too, if you really think about it. There's still a long way to go, but you've come quite a ways to be able to play that well, and so on. I get what you're saying," she says with a sideways smile, patting his shoulder gently for that tired sigh. "Too right. We'll weather the storm when it comes. You should really consider getting rest for now though, you know. Leave the builders alone and go get some sleep. The rest of us will keep the weyr from burning down, promise."

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