News From Cold Stone Hold

Xanadu Weyr - Nature Gone Wild Weyrbarn

The victim of one of the major storms to pass through the Weyr this past turn or so, this weyrbarn stands amidst the majestic trees of the forest like a testament to rebuilding and carrying on. Though it used to be little more than a shack, with a lot of hard work and effort, this structure has been returned to its former magnificence. Broad boarded dark wood walls rise two stories to a slate roof, a stone chimney rising up along the right wall crafted from smooth river stones. Windows with shutters often stand open, glass panes also propped up to invite breezes, or closed and latched to keep out the weather.

A smaller human sized door is nestled within the larger dragon sized one, and walking in you are treated to the vastness of space. Much of it given to Kalsuoth's couch on the left side of the building, the worn stone comfortable and perfectly sized for the brown. The human part has been built up from nothing, with fresh wooden floors laid and new furniture brought in. The walls are left to their natural wood, though many of the cabinets have a fresh coat of blue paint, and fabric accents also hold hints of blue and green to soften all that brown from the natural wood. A sitting area on the right side is reached up a few steps, nestled near to the fireplace. Beyond, the open floorplan boasts a kitchen and a laundry room, as well as a spacious bathroom with a wide, deep tub. A spiral staircase leads to the top floor, where there are two bedrooms - only one currently in use - and an office.

Just the kind of fixer-upper Thea would recommend for her son, if indeed she had anything to do with assigning the dwelling. It builds character, right?

It's late afternoon on a grey, windy autumn and the dinner hour approaches. With most drills and wing assignments finished for the day many folks are preparing to head to the caverns for their evening meal and some relaxation. There are riders out finishing afternoon sweeps, and others preparing for the evening ones. Search and Rescue will at times conduct nighttime drills, but that is of no concern to the Weyrwoman for this particular moment as neither of her offspring are in Galaxy Wing. There's a gentle pattering of cool rain into the minds of Kalsuoth and Isyriath from Seryth, the gold asking both in a three-way shared question where her rider may find theirs as she wishes to speak to them. Her tone is reserved for once, unusual for the serene warmth she normally employs and it's evident that she's shielding her own emotions and thoughts from them save for that enquiry.

Kalsuoth's thoughts extend from where he rests in the clearing outside the weyrbarn, informing the queen that his and Isyriath's are both within the barn. The fire is going and things are warm and cozy, the remains of an early dinner (or a big snack) spread out across the table as brother and sister sit and chat, laughing and catching up and all that good stuff.

Isyriath's response is wordless, as is often his way, an image of Kalsuoth's home reflected in the raindrops upon a spinner's web. Sensitive enough to understand what Seryth is doing, he doesn't push, but extends his own warmth towards her where hers is lacking, the touch there and gone as his presence withdraws. "No," Marel is telling Mur'dah, gesturing across at him with a cookie that's only had one bite taken out of it, "you fell down. You didn't mean to do it and you weren't pushed. You fell." And then she takes another bite of the cookie, smirking over at him.

It isn't long, probably because Thea has walked partway between the two weyrs before having Seryth seek them, that a knock sounds on that door. She doesn't wait for it to be answered, but enters, wiping her feet at the door although there's no mud on her shoes. She's dressed in a slim, calf-length skirt, jacket of claret over her white blouse and her hair up, appearing to have come straight from the office. She's not alone, either. Behind her is Tharen, who closes the door then likewise wipes his feet after entering. And though it's an unannounced visit this time his smile, though there, is less mischievous as he casts green eyes about the dwelling for his niece and nephew.

Mur'dah rolls his eyes at his twin and is about to reply when the knock comes and the door opens. Pushing to his feet, the brownrider's eyes take in his mother at a glance, and then widen when he spots his uncle, unconsciously tugging on the loose blue tunic he wears. "What happened?" he asks, heart thudding in a moment of unspecified unease. Afraid they're sending him back to Cold Stone, perhaps? He /almost/ says he's not going, but stops himself before jumping the gun.

Marel doesn't likewise jump to her feet, initially because she has to follow Mur'dah's gaze to the door and twist in her seat to observe the arrival of her mother and uncle. Her brows dip and lips part, but that's all she allows herself in the way of conveying any emotion at all, especially when her brother gets to asking that question. Ever the diplomat - and more so since her wing assignment - she merely turns in her seat and sits up straight, a nod given in greeting if only because it's her mother and her uncle at the door. However, her head remains tilted in a slightly quizzical fashion even if she leaves the talking to Mur'dah, for now.

Thea steps aside to permit Tharen to cross the space to the table first, following in Tharen's wake. For the moment she leaves the talking to him and if the reaction of her twins troubles her, she doesn't let on. Her expression is serious but she is dry-eyed. Tharen is likewise solemn, no reassurance is forth-coming from him as he makes long-legged strides to close the space between Mur'dah and himself. His large hand opens and it's a handshake he seems to be after, though if he gets it, he'll pull his nephew in for a rough, backslap of a manhug before releasing him. "Your grandmother sends greetings and her love." That's said to the both of them, though he's looking at Marel with a questioning half-smile. No greeting for your own uncle? Thea, meanwhile, has drawn up to the table and asks them, "Mind if we sit with you two for awhile? Tharen brings news from Cold Stone Hold."

Mur'dah automatically extends his hand to his uncle, returning the pull and the manhug tightly. Let go, he nods and gestures to the two empty seats, pulling one out for Thea. "Our love to grandmother," he responds automatically, a slight dip in his shoulders betraying that particular worry. "Of course, please. Let me…here. I'll put a fresh kettle on." He can make tea.

Marel remains tensed, her hands folded in her lap and her back painfully straight, her gaze slowly flitting between Thea and Tharen to watch them for any sign of… well, anything she can possibly discern. She's no longer the young girl who left Cold Stone Hold and it shows in the distance she creates, already trying to shield herself from what she can only anticipate is something bad, coming from that place. But then Mur'dah mentions tea and she finally finds her feet, telling her brother, "Sit down. I can do it." Needs to. Something. But, before she does, the steps of her path wander enough to carry her to Tharen, a kiss to his cheek offered as she lifts up on her tiptoes. As she walks just behind her mother, she lifts an arm to loop it gently around her shoulders and rest her chin atop one of her shoulders too, a one-armed squeeze of a hug given before she's off again.

They've both grown up since he saw them last! Has it been over two turns already since their dragons hatched? Tharen is taken aback at both their maturity and the quick-progression of time, though he's also obviously proud of them if the quiet gleam of approval in his eyes says anything. He starts to nod to Mur'dah when Marel speaks, leans his cheek down for her kiss, one hand lightly in the small of her back as she does so, immediately releasing her to go afterwards and then he sits in one easy, casual motion. Thea is not placed to return Marel's hug-from-behind, but does turn her head to give her a soft smile before joining her brother and son at the table. "Tea would be wonderful. It's turned cold out," she says and Tharen teases her mildly, "You're getting soft, sis." Today though, the sibling banter lacks the old spice it used to have as Thea just flicks him a glance and a nod before looking back to Mur'dah and beyond him to Marel.

Mur'dah learns nothing, what with the women folk doing it for him. But he's just lazy enough to not protest his sister's taking over the tea duties, flopping into his seat again. Glancing between his mother and uncle, he stares for a moment before turning to watch his sister, fidgeting a bit. Something is up and the not knowing is driving him mad.

It's a bit like being on auto-pilot, if one can have 'hostess' programmed in as an automatic response. Marel is near enough to listen in as she sets about sorting out mugs and hot water (and plates and some of the biscuits she brought over) in as quiet a manner as possible, keeping from plates and mugs from clinking against each other or surfaces. Her gaze remains, for the most part, with her mother, uncle and brother, the motions of getting everything else ready steady and purposeful.

Thea is… not helping fill in the gaps of conversation. She's looking preoccupied and a touch strained. Normally she might offer to help Marel get those things together but today she sits quietly and idly focuses on the tabletop, semi-withdrawn, or so it seems. Tharen isn't one to be formal, not around family. And yet his easy affability is missing today as well. He could make small talk until Marel returns but he doesn't. Instead he rises and moves to where she readies the tea. "Let me help," he says quietly and without waiting for an answer begins poking about for sweetner, cream a small handful of spoons. Does she have a tray to put these on? He'll linger there, offering to carry it for her unless she sends him away.

Mur'dah watches his uncle move around the kitchen and turns his focus back to Thea. "Mom?" he asks quietly, reaching out to try and cover her hand with his. "What is it?" he asks gently, voice pitched low and soft, concerned.

Marel tenses at the offer of help, biting down on the inside of her lip, some amount of hurt or insult silently swallowed down as she perceives her efforts to not be satisfactory, yet she doesn't bat her uncle away from the mugs or the tray and accepts his assistance without remark, save for a murmured, polite, "Thank you," as she finishes arranging things and steps back, letting him take possession of the tray. Her steps carry her back towards the table, where she reclaims her seat and sits just as she did before, with her hands neatly folded and her back straight. "What's happened?" she finally blurts out. "Why are you—" is asked as she lifts her gaze to Tharen, but manners don't permit her to get as far as adding, 'here'.

Thea's hand remains still under Mur'dah's though she raises her gaze to his. Her eyes lack emotion - of any kind - and to his question, she just shakes her head, flicking a look towards where Tharen is. Tharen, bless him, means well. He's just trying to have them all seated when he states his reasons for this unexpected visit. The tray is set gently before Marel to serve and he steps 'round the table to sit once more. Dark brows knit over his glass-green eyes as he looks across to Marel and Mur'dah. There's no way other than to say it bluntly. "Thaden," not 'your grandfather' because somehow he knows how they'd take that, "is dead." He draws a breath, perhaps anticipating questions or maybe bracing for their responses while at the same time drawing a hand inside his jacket and removing two official-looking envelopes. These are placed on the table, one in front of Marel, one in front of Mur'dah.

Mur'dah watches his sister with a frown of concern, and then looks back at their mother. Turning his hand, he takes hers to give it a gentle squeeze. Brown eyes focus on Tharen, and at the news…Mur'dah just blinks, taking a sharp, shallow breath. He looks at his mother for a long moment, and then at Marel, and then down at the envelope. "How?" he asks, reaching for the envelope with his free hand, flipping it over and awkwardly opening it while he doesn't let Thea's hand go.

So much for not making noise. The spoon that Marel has only just picked up goes clattering back to the table and it's impossible to tell whether she goes pale in mortification at her mistake or in response to concern for her mother. It's not her twin or her uncle who she looks to when that news processes, but Thea, the envelope placed before only caught out of the corner of her eye. Mur'dah already has their mother's hand and so Marel, wishing not to crowd her based on how she might feel at such a moment, merely twists her fingers together in her lap and eventually drags her attention up to Tharen, only for it to snap back to Thea. "…How long?" she asks her uncle, only able to assume that it can't have been within the hour.

Tharen has obviously already told Thea, most likely arriving unannounced in her office not long ago. She doesn't look surprised. She doesn't look… anything. Not grieved, not glad. Her fingers curl around Mur'dah's when he squeezes hers and though it's the table she's looking at, she's not seeing it. "His heart gave out," Tharen answers Mur'dah, "in a rage about some… news from a cothold over the range. I warned him about his temper but." The look he shares with Mur'dah says 'you know Thadan'. "Late last evening High Reaches time," he adds for Marel's benefit. "And Rensea is taking this hard, despite he was a ba- ornery." So he's likely not slept and it is now dawn where he lives. "Those are yours," he adds firmly of those envelopes. And for the first time Thea murmurs lowly, to the tabletop, "I should go to her." Her mother.

Mur'dah manages to open the envelope, peering inside, but his main focus is on his family around him. He watches Marel for a moment, sharing a look, and then looks to their mother. "I'll go with you," he says, quiet but firm in that decision, because her betweening alone in this state is not something the teen wants to risk. He nods slightly in response to his uncle's look. A fitting end for the horrid man, but he doesn't say that. He tries to catch his twin's gaze once more.

Marel may have noticed the envelope, but it takes her uncle referencing them again to draw her gaze back to it, one finger traced along one of its edges as she peers over at Mur'dah. It's a quiet huff of a noise that escapes her lips as the manner of Thaden's end is revealed, neither a sigh nor a derisive snort. Just that noise, as if she has no words that'll do at the moment. She doesn't make to open her envelope just yet, either willing to let Mur'dah discover the contents of his first or too focused on planning ahead for what, "Me too," means for the immediate future. "I need to go home and pack, but— Me too."

Thea lifts her eyes, seeking first Mur'dah, then Marel. Quietly, "Your grandmother will appreciate it. I appreciate it. I'd also understand if you'd rather not." She lets a long breath out. This isn't so unexpected; her sire was getting on in turns. But it is sudden. "We will sleep and go in the morning. I'll arrange the paperwork for your leave." Or if she forgets, her steward will, he's that kind of thoughtful. Tharen is silent, waiting for them to examine their papers. Those papers are identical. Both are legal documents entitling Mur'dah and Marel to one-third each of the profits from Cold Stone Hold's camilid breeding program from this turn forth. The projected amount of marks, denoted in the herdercraft coinage to be expected is generous, but they won't be wealthy. There is a draft included in each for the partial turn they resided at Cold Stone Hold and covering the turns since they left. This sum is significant. With it they could purchase a small cothold each with enough stock, seed and tools to make it profitable. Both are signed in Thadan's hand and witnessed by Tharen and High Reaches Weyr's harper. The remaining space is for their signature to receive it.

Mur'dah's first thought is, perhaps guiltily, 'Ka'el is going to hate me'. Staring at those words, he reads them a few times before he folds the paperwork and awkwardly shoves it back into the envelope. His focus is family, right now, but the glance he gives his uncle is a clear 'we need to talk about this later'. "Uncle, would you like conveyance back to Cold Stone?" he offers, "or would you like to rest here? I have a comfortable guest room," he offers, nodding towards the loft where the bedrooms both are. He glances at his twin again, licking his lower lip. "In the morning then," he agrees giving Thea's hand another squeeze.

When Marel finally brings herself to open her envelope and examine the paperwork within, her features pale even further and her eyes widen, first seeking Tharen as though to enquire after - or insist up there being - a mistake made, then her mother. Does she know? It's not the time to argue or ask and so she doesn't, folding up the paperwork very neatly to slip it back into the envelope, which she smoothes over on the tabletop, not quite sure what to do with it. Or maybe too sure what she would do with it, if she thinks of accepting it. "Grandmother needs someone with her," escapes her lips on the heels of her brother's offer to their uncle. "Stay," she invites Tharen, perhaps for her mother's sake. "I can go. Isyriath is steady. Always." There's a pleading note in her voice for those who might notice it: please let her do something.

Tharen can read looks. But he doesn't press for their signatures, either. He does smirk with a wry twist of lips and comment to all of them dryly, "The old man owed you at least that for the trouble he caused." On Thea's desk is a similar paper, giving her half of Cold Stone Hold's wool trade. Therein lies most of the profits that hold generates. She also has been given a back draft of credit, hers spanning nearly twenty turns. Those too, have been left unsigned, and if asked, she will tell them about her papers. Her gaze is steady upon both her children. She knows the contents of their envelopes but she will not seek to make the decision for them. Not this time. Tharen will allow them the time they need to decide. For now though, he shakes his head, rising. "Thanks for the offer, but I can't stay. I need to return to the hold. The High Reachian rider who brought me is waiting for me in the clearing. Come tomorrow with your mother." He doesn't really want any of them *Betweening* until the shock wears off. He does have suggestions for both of them. To Marel, "Can you choose flowers from Xanadu's greenhouse and prepare them for the trip *Between*? Winter is just ending back home." And to Muir, "Will you fill two sacks with firestone and bring them? I could ask High Reaches Weyr, but Thadan…" He frowns. They know. Thadan cut ties with High Reaches Hold turns ago. They will not be providing the fires for a pyre. Thea rises as well. "I'll walk you back." And she will do that. But she also needs some time alone.

Mur'dah glances between the others, giving his mother's hand a squeeze before he lets it go. He just nods as the others make their own decisions, fingers absently tapping on the envelope that rests on the table. He tries to catch Marel's gaze again, before looking back at his uncle and nodding. "Of course," the brownrider says quietly. "Tomorrow, then."

Somewhere between pushing her seat back - leaving her tea untouched - and standing, Marel's envelope disappears up one of her sleeves without a fuss, her attention not seeming to touch it again. Not permitted to do that which she wishes to, still she holds her tongue and bobs an odd little sort of curtsey towards her uncle, which looks an even more odd gesture when performed in her leathers. "Yes," she says simply, darting a quick look over at Mur'dah before she turns to her mother, her first step or two lurching until steadiness finds her again. Dipping down to Thea's level, she seeks to rest her head against her mother's for a few moments and then, her task given her, she strides out into the cold, her focus distant and likely already with Isyriath.

Thea's hand squeezes Mur'dah's back before letting go and one arm reaches to give Marel's cheek a gentle pat when her head rests against hers. Then she is also rising and heading out with Tharen. She's isn't unmoved or distant, just numb. Later… later she'll seek them out and accept-give hugs, but she won't cry.

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